Explanation of Chart No. 11
The exercise shown here is based upon the principle of respiration. It strengthens the abdominal muscles of breathing and frees the diaphragm.
By putting the legs close together and tensing them first, the muscles of the legs, the abdomen and the deep muscles in it are made rigid for the lifting motion. The psoas magnus [psoas major] and the iliacus are the two deep muscles of major importance here. They rise on the anterior surface of the lumbar vertebrae and are inserted as one head into the lesser trochanter of the femur. They are the main muscles involved in raising the legs.
The crura of the diaphragm also have their insertion where these muscles rise in the lumbar region. So the exercise of these muscles also acts on the diaphragm direct, via the crura, in a synchronized rhythmic action.
The two hands support and push in under the sternum and the ribs to give additional release to muscular tension and stagnation there.
This exercise also reduces the abdomen, relieves bloat, and improves the digestion and elimination by toning all anterior muscles. When done regularly, a few minutes every day is sufficient to notice all these benefits.
1 - Before raising the legs, be sure to straighten and tense them and place them tightly together to raise them as one unit, in order to obtain the most benefit from this exercise.
2 - Push firmly under the sternum to support, specially exercise and free these muscles during both movements of raising and lowering. This assists in freeing this region of congestion and gas pockets, strengthens the muscles and relieves bloating.
3 - Start with three or four lifts of the legs to begin with. Then increase the number as you grow stronger. Do this several times every day. The benefit is visible and the toning is excellent.
4 - When the diaphragm is free, the heart is free to act without fear or apprehension.
1 Modern exercise coaches recommend keeping the small of the back flat on the floor during this exercise. Arching the lower back can strain the back muscles.