Exercise 2 – Flexing the knees: The Importance of Letting the Belly Out
Standing with proper posture is essential for maintaining overall health and wellbeing. However, many individuals, particularly men, struggle with the concept of letting their belly out. This may be due to societal expectations or a fear of appearing sloppy or unattractive. However, holding the belly in and the shoulders up requires a significant amount of energy and can be detrimental to the body. The sucked-in belly makes abdominal breathing difficult and can contribute to emphysema. Additionally, this posture goes against our natural animal instincts and can be tiring to maintain.
Women often find letting the belly out to be particularly challenging due to societal expectations of feminine beauty. The image of the tightly sucked-in belly and stuck-out breasts as sexually appealing to men may also play a role. However, this image is often associated with adolescent girls and may not be attractive to mature men. In fact, the sucked-in belly can inhibit sexual feelings in the pelvis and prevent sex from being an expression of love.
Men may also fear developing a “pot” or belly bulge if they let their belly out. However, this fear is unfounded as the pot is often a result of a constricting band at the level of the navel or pelvic crests that prevents the downward flow of feelings and excitation. Energy in the form of fat then builds up above this dam, causing the bulge. By letting the belly out and allowing for a relaxed abdominal musculature, this constriction can be released and the pot may decrease.
Instructions for Exercise 2 – Flexing the Knees and Relaxing the Belly:
- Stand with your feet about 20 cm apart in your normal position. Notice if your knees are locked or bent, if your feet are parallel or turned outward, and if your weight is forward on the balls of your feet or backward on your heels.
- Bend your knees slightly and turn your feet so that they are parallel. Shift your weight forward onto the balls of your feet without raising your heels.
- Slowly bend and straighten your knees six times, and then hold the position for about thirty seconds, breathing easily.
- As you hold this position, focus on relaxing your belly. Do not hold it in or push it out, but simply allow it to be in its natural state.
- Pay attention to your natural breath as you hold this position. Notice if you are overinflating your chest or if your breath is shallow. Instead, try to allow your breath to flow easily and naturally, allowing your belly to rise and fall with each inhale and exhale.
- Repeat this exercise several times, focusing on maintaining a relaxed belly and natural breath. As you practice, you may find that this position becomes more comfortable and natural.
Questions for Reflection on Exercise 2 – Flexing the Knees and Relaxing the Belly:
- How do you normally stand? Are your knees locked or bent, and are your feet parallel or turned outward?
- How does it feel to bend your knees slightly and shift your weight onto the balls of your feet? Do your legs feel shaky or do you feel more secure on them?
- When you focus on relaxing your belly, do you find it difficult or does it feel natural?
- How does your breath feel when you allow it to flow naturally and allow your belly to rise and fall with each inhale and exhale? Is it easier to breathe this way or do you feel like you are overinflating your chest?
- Do you feel more aware of your feet on the ground and the flexibility in your knees when you allow your belly to be relaxed and your breath to be natural?
- What other physical or emotional changes do you notice when you focus on relaxing your belly and allowing your natural breath?
- How does it feel to let go of the societal expectations or personal fears around holding your belly in or pushing it out? Do you feel more relaxed or free in your body?
- How can you incorporate the practice of relaxing your belly and allowing your natural breath into your daily routine?