Dear Lower Belly,
I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’m proud of you. It used to be that all you wanted to do was hang out. You embarrassed me in front of my friends. It went beyond simply not looking good — your lack of support was hurting my back. But lately, things have started to change between us, and I wanted to let you know I’ve noticed.
You’ve been working hard, Lower Belly. In the past you relied on everyone else — hip flexors, back, glutes, even shoulders — any other part willing to help you, you took advantage of them. I just wanted you to do your fair share. Lately though, you’re changing your ways. You’re becoming more responsible and it looks good on you, Lower Belly.
Before, when I’d ask you to pull in, you’d complain, and compensate by puffing out my ribcage and lifting my shoulders. That didn’t help me at all. But now, you flatten against my spine like you learned in pilates class. You hug in and support me. Lower Belly, I’m really liking the hugs.
I’m thrilled by this new trend in our relationship. I can feel your strength when I do developes, supporting my leg extension. Best of all, Lower Belly, I can tell you’re helping my balance and pirouettes. You’re giving me hope and I feel badly for the years I badmouthed you. I didn’t believe it was possible to have supportive abdominals, but now I realize I was wrong. Lower Belly, I’ve never been so happy to be wrong.
My relationship with my lower belly has been (and still is) a work in progress, but I’ve started making strides lately and so can you. It’s never too late to fix your relationship with your abdominals — even if you think it’s impossible. A lot of people think you need to do hardcore crazy ab exercises and they do them wrong and puff out their stomachs and it doesn’t work. Remember, the rabbit lost the race, right? Slow and steady is the way to win. Here are five easy “abs exercises”:
1. While brushing your teeth: As you curl over the sink, tuck your pelvis under and round your lower back and hollow your belly out. Bend and soften your knees. Hold your belly in as you imagine spreading the vertebrae in your lower back. Keep holding as you brush.
2. While putting on your shoes: Sit in a chair or on the edge of your bed. Pick up one leg to put on your shoe. Round your spine pull your belly in. Grab your shin and pull your knee into your chest with your hands. Use your abdominals pulling in to assist your leg moving into your chest. Switch legs.
3. Lie on the floor. Bend your knees and put the soles of your feet on the floor. Tuck your pelvis under and flatten your spine to the floor and hold for a count of 10. Repeat 5-10 times.
4. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Sit up tall with your arms out in front of you. Collapse your belly like being punched in the gut. Curl your tailbone under and pull your belly into your spine as you slooowly roll down through your spine, vertebrae by vertebrae until you are lying flat on the floor. It is particularly challenging in the lowest part of your back to go one little vertebrae at a time. Relax your shoulders away from your ears, pull your belly in and keep working on it. When you reach the floor lift your head and roll back up. Try not to use momentum.
5. Lying on your back bring your right knee into your chest. Pull your belly in and hold your shin with your hands as you lift your nose to your knee. Be sure your shoulders are relaxing away from your ears. Hold for a count of five. Lower your head and keep your belly in as you extend your right leg back to the floor and bring your left knee to your chest. If you want more of a challenge, keep your head lifted when you switch sides.
Interested in taking ballet with me? I teach Saturdays 12-1:30, and Tuesdays 7-8:30. 380 Broadway, Buzzer #5. Arrive early to get a spot.