Tip Tuesday: 5 Ways to Love Forrest Yoga Abs

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

I’ve found many of my students dread the abs part of class. So you might wonder how love and Forrest Yoga Abs can be in the same sentence that isn’t meant sarcastically. Believe it or not, you can find love in doing abs. ?Here are the top 10 ways to find love in Forrest Yoga Abs:

10. They help big-time with lower back pain
Ana Forrest designed the abs as a way to heal lower back pain. If you’ve ever seen some of the poses she does , you’ll see that they helped her do just that.

9. Abs are guaranteed to bring more aliveness to your body
I’ve yet to find the person who didn’t feel awake after a round or two of abs with a mat.

8. Let’s face it, it’s pretty darn cool to see some muscle definition in your abs

7. You’ll notice it helps you in other yoga poses
You use your abs in other yoga poses, especially inversions and arm balances, but there’s not a lot of traditional poses that specifically target the abs.

6. Stronger abs promote better posture
Abs are a great counter to “slump-asana.”

5. After doing Forrest Yoga for awhile, you’ll find the abs section in other classes to be a piece of cake

4. You’ll feel connections to your back, hips and thighs
When you connect into your center it’s pretty amazing to feel the pathways of connection to other parts of the body that awaken.

3. Abs help with digestion
As Ana would say, you start getting rid of your shit. Literally.

2. You may find peace with this area of the body
For a lot of the population, the belly is not a neutral place, nor a place we typically feel positive feelings about. If you’re uncomfortable with this area, you get to connect into it anyway and the feelings it might harbor.

1.You get connected to your power
The core is also the core of who we are. Cultivating a strong center in the body helps cultivate a strong center in the mind. Doing a few rounds of abs before doing something I’m really nervous about helps me walk into the situation with more confidence.

So much ab love!
Photo credit: Root Yoga Center

 

Tip Tuesday: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Agni Sara

Tip Tuesday is a weekly feature where I offer a few yoga tips that have worked for me in the hopes that they can help you too.

I get a lot of questions about agni sara.

Agni sara (agni meaning “fire” and sara meaning “essence”) is a pranayama (breath exercise) that literally stokes your inner fire. Fire is what you might feel in the abs, as this in amazing core strengthener!

What you do: You can do agni sara in other positions, but I find it to be most effective when done in horse stance. Take a wide-legged stance, turn the toes out, and bend the knees over your heels to sit deeply into horse. Brace your hands where the thigh and hip meet and straighten out the arms to provide traction for the back.

Agni sara is done completely on exhale when you’re empty of air. Inhale, then exhale all your air out strongly. Keeping press with the arms, pull the belly in and up, flaring the ribs (but without pulling in air) then push the belly out. Alternate between pulling up and letting go completely. A round is as many back and forth pumpings you can do before you need to take a breath. You can do agni sara slowly or experiment with fast rounds moving the belly in and out as fast as you can.

Questions I frequently get from students:

Am I doing it right? This pose feels ridiculous.
You will likely feel pretty ridiculous flapping your belly back and forth. If you’re feeling inhibited and serious, agni sara will change that really quick. Speaking of inhibitions, try lifting your shirt to show the belly when you’re doing agni sara. You’ll be able to see the movement you are able to create in the abs and start letting go of the self-consciousness you may have about this area.

I feel like I need to breathe almost immediately when I start pushing my belly back and forth.
It will take awhile to build up the length of your rounds of agni sara. Yours might be short when you first begin. How aggressively are you pushing the belly out? If you are too forceful with your pushing out of the belly (and/or the pulling in), you may find yourself gasping for air. Explore how you can move the belly smoothly, yet strongly back and forth.

Should I be bent over or should my torso be upright?
When you first start agni sara, you may be bent over more to get a sense of the pose. Eventually, you want to have the torso more upright, as this will help you lengthen and flare the ribs as you draw the belly up. The press from the arms into the thighs helps telescope your ribs up from the waist to free up the lower back too.

You could feel that agni sara is agony (it certainly could be if you tried to do it after a big meal or see question #2 above) Perhaps you didn’t know that agni sara is also ecstasy? Agni sara is a powerful tool for sexual healing as it
wakes up your orgasm muscles. When we told the teenagers at juvenile hall about these particular benefits of agni sara, specifically that it can help with stamina, they started requesting it every week!