Pooch accompli

Let me preface my denouement by saying, it’s not about the waist. Well it is and it isn’t.  Yes, I am delighted that with not very much exertion I lost—drum roll please—an inch off my hips. And that, consequently, I found myself trying on size 4 jeans at Prana for the first time ever (granted, they size their products generously). But the biggest thing I noticed was a sense of strength emanating from the center, and an inner refusal to slouch, slump, or cede my ground in any way.

So how does pooch pudge translate into power spot?

Kristin Savory, a licensed acupuncturist and nutritional therapist who co-led with De West the “Healing Your Core” program, talks about diastasis as “an energy leakage.” “With a hole in our middle,” Savory says, “we can’t be our strongest. And it’s impossible to have good posture, which is fundamental for our vitality.”

Even if your split is minimal, or it’s been decades since you’ve had kids, the healing your core work helps you gain awareness of how you should and shouldn’t be using your belly. I limited the time I spent toting my daughter around, gentled my yoga practice to what was within my alignment capacity, carried myself better, and let my car time double as my static abs workout.

And all those crunches we think are so good for us? Not so much. In fact, doing crunches can not only actually create a split, it definitely makes diastasis worse. Explains Savory: “Crunches are initiated from the rectus abdominis only. When the rectus is in action, it pushes the abdomen out—effectively “pooching” the stomach and creating a bigger split.” It’s sadly ironic, because mothers, desperate to tone their tummies, turn to sit-ups as the solution.

Checks for the people
It’s hard once you know about diastasis not to embrace your healing with a fervor akin to religious zeal. I find myself wanting to tell all my mom friends about it, and to stealthily push my fingers into their navel, measuring the gap. So I understand, when I ask Savory her most important message about diastasis, her response. “I would like to see everybody get checked,” she says. “There are so many implications in terms of health.” (West and Savory periodically offer free checks—go to healingyourcore.com for more info.) It’s also hard to stop wanting to check yourself all the time, as of course anything body related can slip into obsession. Savory calls it the “check monster” tendency, best nipped in the bud by limiting yourself to a check once every week or two.

The power of core
Again, how we feel about belly goes much deeper than simply how our belly looks. Finding the right alignment, from the center out, involves our most intimate sense of self—and self worth. “If we can line up spiritually,” says Savory, “we can receive what we need for how best to serve in the world.” Many people who have done the program, she says, report that it has given them the strength to do things they hadn’t been able to do before. So there you have it: The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single pooch.

Elizabeth Marglin is a freelance writer who has recently had articles published in Natural Health, Backpacker, Colorado Home & Lifestyles, and FitPregnancy. She just finished coauthoring The Mother’s Wisdom Deck, an oracle deck designed specifically for mothers, which will be published by Sterling Publishing for Mother’s Day 2012. Before she became a mother her life included travel, adventure, meditation, yoga, rock-climbing, and reading. Now diapers, whining, domestic drudgery, boogie butlering, and stain removing comprise the bulk of her day-to-day activities. Save for the rich vein of never-before-imagined love that flows through her life, keeping her merrily afloat, she would need to be talked down from the edge. She lives with her husband and has two children, Jordan Luca, age 4, and Oriah Jasmine, age 1.