Have you ever heard of Gut Smashing?
It sounds disgusting and it feels disgusting too. After practicing and teaching Ginastica Natural for a few months now, one of the biggest issues I have identified in myself is my lack of ability to maintain softness through belly breathing. Like I have said before, there are many contradicting ways that you can practice breathing but contradicting does not have to mean conflicting. My great friend and teacher Dr. Eric Goodman once said, "there are many ways you can get from LA to Santa Barbara, you can take the 101 or you can take the coast, I like to take the coast." Same goes with breathing; decompression breathing allows for a very forceful and deeply stimulating diaphragmatic breath, which creates real structural changes, belly breathing does something else.
In Ginastica Natural we focus a lot on the breath and belly breathing mechanics, especially to conserve energy, cool down and to calm the nervous system. My lack of ability again forced to me to question why and how I got this way and so when I woke up on Christmas morning and found that my dog Sadie had wrapped up a Yoga Tune Up Coreageous Ball and put my name on it, I got to Gut Smashing.
Gut Smashing is a technique I learnt about a year ago following the work of Kelly Starrett and his mobilitywod program. He talked about this weird thing called gut smashing, which he would use to alleviate lower back pain and down regulate (calm down) the nervous system. The idea being that by using a soft kids ball, like the ones you can find at CVS, we can effectively go in from the front and mobilize or massage some of the deep muscles which connect to the spine, like the psoas which often times can become hypertonic and contribute to lower back pain. The first time I tried this, it was excruciating and then I fell fast asleep in the middle of the afternoon for a few hours. Not only can you reach and massage these deep core muscles but you also stimulate nerves pertaining to the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system, hence why I slept so deeply.
Fast forward to today, I'm looking for ways to create more flexibility and control of this great big muscles that attaches to my lower ribs and see what I can do to soften things up a a bit. And that's exactly what this technique does. It allows you to go in under the ribcage and grab and pull muscle and fascia in a way that softens it up, creating greater control of those belly breaths. You feel the fascia wrapping all the way around and if you watch the video above you can learn more about how and why this technique does exactly what it does. Another disclaimer, it doesn't feel nice and you shouldn't do it on a full stomach!