The classic cue “navel to spine, pull in your belly button” have become so ingrained that they almost seem part of the Pilates and Yoga script. But did you know that these cues are pretty useless and potential harmful!  

This might comes as a shock but here I hope to shed some light on why we do not teach them on Reformation Teacher Training courses and more importantly what we can say and do that will be much more beneficial to your potential new students. 

Not in the mood for reading here is a mini tutorial from our teacher training program.

Question 1. Why is the cue pull your naval so useless? 

The short answer is it does not address the complexity of the core and how it functions. It overemphasises our superficial abdominal muscles causing them to grip. Moreover it prevents us breathing properly which as we see below is the secret to core strength and a healthy pelvic floor.  

Question 2. What is the core? 

The core is basically what arms and legs attach to including your breathing diaphragm down and pelvic floor. Rather than just the elusive six pack muscles it is made of two interconnecting myofascial systems, the deep system and the superficial system.

The deep system is comprised of the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, inner abdominal muscles (transverse abdominals, internal obliques) and deep back muscles. The superficial system is made of the more familiar rectus abdominals and external obliques.  

Question 3. I thought I had to use that cue to protect my low back? 

So we definitely want to have core strength and stability to keep our low backs healthy. But this cue is definitely not the way. People with chronic low back pain often have very stiff lumbar spines and need to introduce adaptability, movement and appropriate load not more tension and stiffness.  

Most of us don’t have a core strength issue but actually a core coordination and organisation issue. A functional core work interconnects the two systems like a synchronised orchestra with each element having a specific role and timing being such an important factor. We don’t want a drummer going for a solo mid performance, just like we don’t need our six pack muscles contracting like crazy when we don’t need them to. 

Question 4. What has this got to do with breath? 

Well funny you should ask. Breath is the secret to dynamic, functional strength. They say a picture paints a thousands words well here is a video, a snippet of our dynamic core workshop which is part of both our yoga and pilates teacher training courses.  

Question 6. Okay so we are ditching the cue pull the naval in, what should I say? 

Great question! This really depends on the person in front of you. We need to assess how they are breathing, how the core is functioning and what their body needs. Often we need to undo years of pulling in stomachs which prevents proper breath capacity and guide people to super movable ribcage and a 360 breath. We teach all of this to you and let me tell you you will see the most amazing changes in your students bodies.  

Want to learn more about the core? Dive deep in our yoga, mat pilates and reformer pilates teacher training.

Pop your details below and we will send you all the info you need- dates, times, cost etc.

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