Why I don't practice Wheel pose even though I can do it well.

My pre-baby body could do so much with asanas… actually so can my post-baby body, but I’m at a stage where my post-baby body should not be doing that much with asanas. To be specific, I had diastasis recti — abdominal separation after pregnancy. While my belly is no longer the flat washboard with a six pack that it once was, it’s still strong.

Separation of the abdominal muscles are not exclusive to postnatal women. In fact many men with a pot belly also have diastasis recti. Specifically it’s when the connective tissue that holds the left and right sides of the abdominal wall together gets stretched or torn 2.5cm or more. It is the most common around the belly button area, but can occur anywhere between the end of the breastbone and the pubic bone.

It’s not just about cosmetics and regaining that pre-baby body. With an abdominal separation, comes a host of problems, such as trunk instability, lessened mobility, back pain, poor posture, pelvic floor dysfunctions and other issues.

Core muscles comprise of four parts, resembling a cylinder:

  1. Transverse abdominis, rectus abdomens, external obliques and internal obliques (basically all the muscles of the abdominal wall

  2. Multifidus muscles (small muscles between the lumbar spine)

  3. Pelvic floor muscles (the bowl-shaped group of muscles at the base of the pelvis)

  4. Diaphragm (the parachute like muscles at the base of the lungs)

Anatomy illustration of Core Muscles.jpg

How to address the parts that are still separated? Crunches don’t help. Practices like Uddiyana Bandha (solar plexus lock) helps, Kapalabhati (the skull shining breath) and other poses that bring my belly inwards and upwards.

Sadly there are a group of poses to absolutely avoid and will get many yogis gasping in horror. Here they are:

  • Any pose that causes the abdominal wall to bulge outwards on exertion (crunches, head lifts, sit ups, boat pose, etc.)

  • Any poses that twist the upper torso in one direction and the lower body in the opposite direction (triangle, reclining twists, revolved side angle poses, etc).

  • Upper spine flexion that causes the ribs to flare out (Standing back bend, Camel, Wheel, Upward facing dog)

  • If the separation is bad, even planks and four point pose aggravates the separation just because gravity pulls our bellies downwards.

Here is my frustration… I can do all of these poses well… really well. If I do practice them, I feel that my belly sticks out the next day… so I have to avoid it if I want a flat belly. But I also want to move and enjoy my practice without restricting myself… what would you do?

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