Your body is like a Porsche: the engine is in the trunk. Your glutes are the largest and strongest muscles in the body, but how do you harness their power? The magic of Bowspring is in using your glutes.
After creating a Radiant Heart by filling the ribcage, the second instruction of the Bowspring is to mound and lift the base glutes. By engaging the lower fibers of the gluteus maximus, the pelvis goes into anterior tilt (the top of the hips move forward and down, the tail and sit bones moving back and up).
The primary results: a toned, lifted tush; a soft sway in the low back; a long, full, curved belly; and lots and lots of sweat.
[Sidenote: This action cured my hamstring attachment overuse injury in 2 hours. After a year of pain in my hamstring attachment, I had no pain after Two. Hours. And it’s never come back.]
Growing up in the modern fitness industry – including years ballet and yoga – I was encouraged to hug in, pull back, and tighten. That always made intuitive sense: when you hug muscle to bone, it tones. Muscles shorten when they contract. So for years I tucked my “popo” (listening to a favorite ballet teacher), pulled my belly button back and up, and kept as many muscles toned as possible.
And generally, both on and off the mat, I tried to hide my guts and butt. This posture is now the picture of physical beauty: flat, compressed abs, and a tight butt.
Animal wisdom in the body helps unpack the symbol of this tucked tail. My dog only tucks his tail in two circumstances: when he sleeps curled in a ball and relaxed, and when he’s afraid – guarding his sensitive bits from bigger dogs and thunder. (Don’t ask me about the thunder thing.) As humans, we pull our belly back and tuck our tail to brace for impact — whether physical or emotional.
Let’s be clear: the cover of fitness magazines celebrates health and beauty in a tucked tail with a tense body.
Our culture’s picture of beauty is a picture of fear.
I dare you, right now (while sitting) to untuck your tail and let your belly be full, and then lengthen it along a curve from the base of your ribcage all the way down to the pubic bone and hip creases. Notice a few things:
1. How hard is that to do? How many sentences can you read before any habit of “belly back, tail down” sneaks back? (Don’t worry, me too.)
2. What part of your body lets go as you do that? What part hardens?
3. What happens to your breathing?
4. How does it feel? As you get used to the shape, what’s your emotional intuition?
I Want to be Seen.
As a woman who grew up just a little too large — this shape feels radical. In the beginning, it felt wrong. I was terrified someone would see me. For 30 years, I thought I was supposed to get rid of my belly — or at least hide it. Letting it be full and long was terrifying. What if someone saw?
And now I’ve realized, that is what I desperately long for: to be seen. My greatest hope is for someone to see me, exactly as I am, and accept me for that. I do not want to squeeze myself into someone else’s ideal, I don’t want to have to lose or gain or fix or change — but simply to be loved as who I am.
And that, my loves, is radical.
I have to do that for myself first. I have to be willing to use all the gifts of my body, without hiding, without shrinking, and to find the strength that’s already here. Bowspring helps me do just that.
This is the second in a series of posts about the Bowspring practice. Read more here.