Yoga and the importance of abdominal strength

Yoga places a heavy importance on abdominal strength and the suppleness of the spine. Maintaining strength and suppleness in these areas ensures a consistent supply of fresh oxygenated blood to the internal organs and so helps to keep them at their optimum performance. Part of this is achieved through the subtle consistent movements of the abdomen as you inhale and exhale – your organs are getting a gentle 24 hour massage.

According to Yoga, all this adds up to a long and healthy life.

Well, it seems that Western science now agrees: a long-term epidemiological study in Canada has found that the best predictor of health and longevity, rather than being upper-body strength, cardiovascular fitness, grip strength or even whether you could touch your toes, is in fact abdominal strength.

If this news makes you think you should be getting to work on developing the perfect six-pack, it couldn’t be further from the truth.

Those surface muscles are a bit like window dressing. There are another 3 layers of abdominal muscles below the surface, and together these deep underlying muscles play the crucial role of maintaining the organs in their correct position and helping the diaphragm to move smoothly and freely – giving us the freedom to inhale deeply as and when we need. Which is, of course, all the time.

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