Rediscovering that Perfect Body
The image of the body
beautiful is constantly with us, whether in the media, with new looks of the
rich and famous or in adverts for new and miraculous
supplements or exercise
What is a perfect body image?
Well it tends to have toned hips and legs with a pert bottom, a strong
stomach and an open
chest. Only the
genetically gifted or determined fitness freaks seem to embody this ideal, and
yet this is in fact how everyone is designed. We all have bigger
in our legs than our
arms because nature
intended us to use our legs as our means of transport. Around our middles are
muscles in a similar shape to a girdle that hold our internal organs in the
right place. Along our spines are muscles similar to struts that can hold the
spine long. In the middle of our body we have a big hinge, the
surrounded and protected by big muscles (thighs,
which help us move around it.
So if we move using our hips as a hinge and our legs as support they will be
fitter and toned. If we then hold ourselves upright using our "girdle" and
maintain a long spine with our "struts" we will then not tend to let our
stomachs bulge and our
Exercises to redefine an ideal body
Most of the stomach exercises we are used to performing seem to make the
abdomen bulge out, but the
core muscles of the
body are made active by pulling in. Therefore, begin by lying flat on the floor
on your front.
Rest your forehead on your hands and feel the weight of your body on the
floor. Feel the front ribs and pelvis pressing into it. You are going to try to
pull your stomach up off the floor, keeping your ribs and pelvis down.
Begin by simply pulling the tummy up and lowering it down. How high can you
pull your stomach up from the floor? Can you feel the lower spine lengthen? Have
you created a gap underneath your body? When you feel confident with this, move
Keep the lower ribs firmly grounded on the floor and your hip bones and pubic
bone flat on the floor. Now pull your tummy in as high as you can. Feel the
lower spine lengthen and push your legs straight - so straight that you feel
your toes spread.
Push your left hip and upper thigh up by squeezing the buttock and lifting
your left foot off the floor. Is your tummy still in? Repeat, inhaling alternate
legs up, exhaling them down. Can you begin to feel that the tummy can remain in,
while the lower spine is kept long, even when you move your legs? Try to gain
control of those pulling-in muscles as your limbs are moving.
Lengthen the raised leg from the thigh, as opposed to lifting by squeezing the
buttocks. This exercise has the advantages of pulling your tummy in and of
relieving tension from the front of your hips - a major cause of
pain. It can also lift the buttocks and add shape in quite a short time.
The pubic lift starts in the stomach. It is very easy just to squeeze your
bottom to tuck in your tailbone, which provides the same action. Pay attention
to the feeling of the correct action - allowing pressure to be equally
distributed throughout the body will relieve problems.
Sit with the soles of your feet on the floor and your knees in the air. Sit
up as high as you can, pushing your sitting bones down into the floor. Cup your
hands on your knees, so as not to use your arm strength to interfere with the
As you roll back, point your toes into the floor and feel your thighs work
and lengthen and your knees push down towards the floor. As you come up, pull
your heels towards your buttocks. The hamstrings and deep
abdomen will engage to pull
Look down at your stomach and pubic bone so you can see how you are moving.
Using both hands, grab hold of your lower ribs and lift them up. Now suck in
your stomach and all the muscles that connect from the pubic bone all the way up
the front of the body.
As you roll backwards, keep lifting your ribs. You will find that your stomach
will pull in as before, but now also up into your rib cage, making it possible
to feel a lift in the body as you roll down. Try to detect the origin of the
movement in the groin. The fact that the tummy pulls in so hard gives a feeling
that the pubic bone is lifted, which is turn tucks the spine between the
buttocks and rolls you down.
Incorrect: If you simply lean back, rather than roll back, the tummy will
bulge. If the arms lengthen before the pubic bone has rolled up, you will know
that you have simply leaned back from your chest. This will most probably be
accompanied by your abdomen pushing out. The pressure here is in your lower
back, not spread evenly in the body, and will cause you problems and pain
In this exercise extend through your legs to your feet, feeling the work in the
thighs. Push your chest high off the floor so you can feel the space between
your shoulder blades. This will strengthen your stomach muscles, and train them
to hold your insides in.
Lie on your front and tuck your toes under your heels. Place your hands
together, thumbs on your sternum, tucking your elbows in towards your ribs and
then push yourself up to balance on your elbows and toes.
Lift your pubic bone into your stomach, as in the stomach curl. Practice
pulling your abdomen in and up without sticking your bottom out, as that will
disengage the stomach muscles, which is the part of you that this exercise is
Alternative: if you find this too tricky, rest your knees on the floor,
but make sure you really pull your pubic bone up into your stomach and lengthen
the lower spine, or the hip flexors will get a good workout and nothing more.
Incorrect: This shows the classic collapse that usually happens when
people try this exercise for the first time. The extremities, especially the
toes, take the weight of the
body and the lower spine collapses and will soon begin to feel the strain.
Through rediscovering how our body is meant to move by feeling it from
inside, the perfect body is achievable, and your own ideal
body will emerge. You
have to put time and intelligence into regular practice of course, but this can
include walking, bending
playing games, entertaining and household chores, for they all involve you
moving, and it is in this moving you can exercise, and enjoy discovering your
body. Discovery does not have to be limited to set practice times for it is in
the moments off the mat, sitting at your desk or doing the washing-up that you
understand the satisfaction of living correctly through your body.
Perhaps most interestingly, when you do start to move as you are meant to, your
preconceptions of what you should look like fall away. An infinitely more
satisfying feeling replaces them, that of a feeling of being at home within your