It is hard to know where to start on this point. Harder still to know where the stop!!

AGNI   The fire of digestion resides in the belly area. It is associated with the Guna ‘Rajas’ (a quality sometimes translated as passion). Its characteristics are energy and action.

APANA VAYU (ONE OF THE PANCHA PRANAS (FIVE ENERGIES))   The Female energy Apana (which moves downwards) is part of the bigger Prana that pervades the body. Apana is situated at the pelvic floor and its energy pervades the lower abdomen.  Its energy controls the functioning of the organs of digestion, reproduction and elimination.

BANDHAS (LOCKS)   One of the bandhas (Uddiyana, an energy lock applied when practicing breath control) contracts the abdominal muscles towards the spine giving the appearance of a hollow abdomen (the effect of this bandha is to encourage Prana to enter the Sushumna ultimately to create a higher state of consciousness as the chakras are stimulated).  We DO NOT use this lock in class (it is only applied in Pranayama practices that are broader than the Pranayama we practice in Bikram but it could be argued (I have heard some Yoga teachers use the name in asana teaching) 🙂 that a ‘lighter’ version of it is used in the ‘sucking in your tummy’ instruction 🙂

MULA BHANDA    This lock can be effectively employed in Yogasana to help build core strength and stability. It helps you hold postures longer, protect the lower back thus making the postures safer (more about this in Part IV).

YOUR SECOND BRAIN   Michael Gershon MD Author of ‘The Second Brain;… understanding of nervous disorders of the stomach and intestine’ explains that “You have more nerve cells in the gut than you do in the combined remainder of the peripheral nervous system” Gershon explains that this gut brain, properly known as the Enteric Nervous System {governs the function of the gastrointestinal system}, doesn’t “think” in the cognitive sense but it constantly ‘affect’s our thinking. “If there isn’t smoothness and bliss going up to the brain in the head from the one in the gut, the brain in the head can’t function.” Consider it has a major influence on your thoughts and emotions. So. You often ‘feel’ things here first. The expressions of those feelings don’t sound very scientific: You get a ‘gut instinct’, ‘knots in your belly’ ‘ butterflies in your tummy’. You know they tell you only your truth.  Isn’t it worth paying attention to what this area has to say.

BREATH CONTROL & CLEANSING    In Yogasana via breath, movement, compression, stretching, twisting, tourniqueting and then releasing techniques we are massaging the organs of the abdominal region.  In the Yoga world we hold that the benefits of such techniques are a major KEY TO HEALTH.

The contents of the abdomen are NOT symmetrical.   In class we palpate the abdominal wall in e.g. Kapalbhati which accesses and influences the deeper contents of the abdomen creating a pressure (massage) on them which in turn influences circulation.  Ever movement of the diaphragm has an impact on the organs below it.

People who work with the breath know it’s connected to the belly. Your diaphragm lies at the base of your lungs, directly over your liver and stomach. When your diaphragm contracts, it moves these organs out of its way, pushing your belly out slightly. Keep in mind that deep diaphragmatic breathing does not involve FORCING your belly out; it just requires a natural rise and fall, contraction and release.

If you breathe primarily using just e.g. intercostals without taking advantage of the diaphragm’s power, you’re LIMITING YOUR BREATH TO ACCESSORY MUSCLE GROUPS too weak and inefficient to fill your lungs completely. You are depriving yourself of LIFE FORCE.

IF YOU HOLD YOUR TUMMY RIGID continuously, creating chronic tension from not releasing, this restricts the movement of the ribs, your diaphragm cannot descend fully and you are sabotaging your breath amongst other things.  We do tell you to suck in your tummy or engage your abdominal core in class on transitions and in postures but that IS NOT an instruction to hold your breath!  Plus, you have to release the abdomen after the posture; you cannot walk around like that all day in real life!!!

Remember I have said many times, you cannot have a good inhale without a decent exhale so to start with engage your abdomen in a complete exhalation, place your hand there to help home in on the area and ‘feel’ your belly fall/depress on exhalation THEN allow your lungs to fill up naturally, relax your abdomen, do not force it outward.  This is a nice meditation too in Savasana.  Observe it without criticism or effort. Allow your breath to slow/resume its natural rhythm/pattern.

CHAKRAS   We don’t focus primarily on the chakras in our Bikram Yoga class but that doesn’t mean they don’t get attention!  They are energy centers. CENTERS OF POWER. The ‘Nadis’ are the ethereal tubes that allow Prana to move through the body, just as blood moves through blood vessels. Chakras are located at points where Nadis intersect; there are said to be 72,000 Nadis throughout the body and thousands of Chakras.  Both the upward current and downward current of energy must be open and flowing for us to be optimally healthy and whole. We experience energy primarily through our most open Chakras. If a chakra is overly open the energy received will cause excessively emotional reactions.  If you don’t understand your reaction to situations/people, if you feel your reaction is inappropriate one may consider trying to understand the Chakra of your body associated with that emotion and try to consciously move the energy to a different Chakra area.  There are thousands of books and much online to help you research this.  There are seven major chakras in tantric yoga philosophy. I refer to only 2 here, the ones in the abdominal region.

3rd MANIPURA (SOLAR PLEXUS CHAKRA)  Location: Solar Plexus/Naval/Xyphoid Process, Notch Where Ribs Join behind the stomach  Associated organs: are the digestion system, liver and gall bladder. adrenal glands, pancreas, liver, stomach, nervous system; regulation and distribution of metabolic energy  Governs: emotional issues, personal power, self-respect, courage, healthy humility;power of grace  Quality: ability to adapt and transform   Planet: Sun / Colour: Yellow / Element: Fire  Issues: power, will, strength, courage, effort

2nd SVADHISTHANA (SACRAL CHAKRA) Location: two or three fingers below navel on front of sacrum/sacral /center of pelvis    Associated with: the liquid part of the body, circulatory and urinary systems, womb, ovaries, testes   Governs: feelings of creativity; intimacy and vulnerability of sexual attraction; ability to produce and nurture our own children, movement and connection  Quality: experience life through feelings and sensations   Planet: Mercury / Color: Orange / Element: Water  Issues: duality, choice, desire, emotions, sexuality

I HOPE you will now be in the frame with the belly indeed being a SACRED SPACE and source of POWER from within that deserves your RESPECT.


Namaste ~ Trisha

AND YES, To be continued tomorrow… 🙂




Nov 2016