Category Archives: posture and body mechanics

Stretching The Spine Is Natural Movement!

     I have always delighted in looking at this album cover art! The woman looks comfortable in her body, full of vitality and enjoying a Hot Summer Day (a great song on the album). She has an openness, her heart is exposed, unguarded. She is experiencing the breeze, the sun and life! She is wholly present in that moment! 

Along the same lines;

I remember a scene in a visually stunning Chinese *movie. Many people were harvesting or tending rice, they were all bending forward, down. A breeze came up and one by one everyone stretched their backs (similar to the woman on the album cover). At one point all of them were in variations of this position. They were not rushed, they all seemed to be listening to their own bodies needs, stretching their spines as much and as long as each needed to before going back to work!       

Think about this for a few minutes…visualize it…

(* I wish I had a clip or remembered the film’s title, if you know, Please comment below!)            

…When do you enjoy a nice long stretch of your spine? When are you most comfortable in your body?

 I often hear people saying “I don’t backbend” or “I can’t Backbend”, and I see some students struggle with the easiest “backbend” postures. I wonder how much of this has to do with our modern lifestyle and our  mindset, and our emotional health (self love, acceptance), to to feel free and safe! 

Do rounded shoulders and hunched backs reflect our wounds, our heartaches?  Is it some kind of armor over our heart?

As a yogi, I say YES, it is our wounds and our armor both!

I and many people find emotions come up when backbending! Even gaining just a little new suppleness around the heart, has brought me to tears. This is not a bad thing! If I have grief or sadness, isn’t it best to acknowledge it, give it some space and time to release from my being?

“The deeper sorrow carves into our being the more joy it can contain” ~ Kahlil Gibran 

I was recently at concerts where the music was amazing, yet few people were smiling and very few danced. I thought of this poem;

O wondrous creatures, By what strange miracle Do you so often Not smile?~ Hafiz

I simply wish for everyone to love being in their body, exactly as it is. To feel comfortable and have a sense of vitality, aliveness.

I wish for everyone to enjoy embodied movement, embodied rest, embodied closeness.

These are some of the many reasons I am passionate about teaching yoga. This is also why I am teaching a Backbending workshop this October.

See you on the mat, Christina 

 

Columbia Records It’s A Beautiful Day, The cover was designed by George Hunter and painted by Kent Hollister based on the cover of a housekeeping magazine from around 1900.

THE CUMULATIVE POWER OF YOGA

Dear Yoga friends,

 

– 4th Wednesday (8:30am)  every month at Versatile Vitality will be Restorative – be guided and supported in Asanas were gravity and your breath do all the “work” (mostly release of tension) and move deeper into relaxation. Gain awareness of the subtitles, the subtle body!

Individual sessions are available to design or refine your daily home-practice

THE CUMULATIVE POWER OF YOGA
Practicing 1 day per week will produce very little benefit beyond the class time.
Practicing 2 days per week will almost maintain your present level of physical, mental and emotional fitness.
Practicing 3 days per week will incrementally advance your level of physical, mental and emotional fitness.
*Practicing 4 days per week will make your body more strong,flexible and your mind better focused. Anti-aging benefits!
Practicing 5 days per week will make you physically and mentally stronger. And much more emotionally balanced. a
Practicing 6 days a week will unfold your very best in you. 
The seventh day… rest!

Peace,

Christina

Walking is the most underrated exercise!

Walking is the most under-rated exercise!!!

I was fortunate to grow up in a small town where we walked: to friends, to the park, to ice skate, for picnics on the grass.  I also walked several blocks to school.  Walking is great for many reasons, such as; focusing the eyes on sights at various distances, (vestibular functioning & eyesight) enjoying nature, trees, the sky,  fresh air, and using systems of muscular integration to propel the body forward and remain balanced.

Even if you are very active, if you are not walking regularly, you may not be resetting the body in an important natural way.

Humans were meant to walk. Walking is one way our body resets its natural alignment.  It is weight bearing exercise. Walking is natural movement that involves moving all of your muscles and tissue, increasing metabolism, lubricating the joints, increasing blood flow and oxygen to all the cells of the body, nourishing our physical being.

Walking energizes the body, as well as relaxes the mind: walking can even be a meditation. Walking can also be calming for the emotions, through appreciating beauty, nature, fresh air, sunshine, rain, seeing the people of your neighborhood; all this can lift your spirits.

Recently, I overheard a conversation between young people (mid 20’s) talking about numerous ailments, medications, and procedures, which hadn’t brought relief.  One young woman said “I wish I was in shape to exercise”, another responded “me too”.  I wondered if they considered a walking as a possibility.

I work with older people (up to 102 years old) some who don’t spend any time talking about ailments and medicine; because they are busy living life! They stayed active, they do daily walking.

In the past, (and for many people currently), our bodies are the primary tool of transportation, used with care and awareness for survival and longevity. Sedentary wasn’t an option! Now, the many conveniences of modern life: cars, furniture, chair-toilets, and media are enabling many people to be less mobile, less flexible, less connected and less aware.

Walking is enough to change the whole paradigm of the sedentary lifestyle.

A brisk daily walk, 30-45 minutes, is sound, healthy, preventative medicine.  It is that simple, yet not easy; breaking habits & starting new habits requires determination, commitment and an open, flexible mind).  Who knows, after this is a habit, you might find yourself enjoying yoga, dance, or a long hike!

It can be a real challenge to begin! Creating time may mean letting some things go…let them go!!! Invest the time to nurture personal health and peace of mind.  How does your self-talk, activity and lifestyle affect starting and continuing your walking routine??? Notice who are your allies for healthy Living??? Having walking buddies increases success! Who could be your walking buddy

 

How does our lifestyle affect our mobility?

 

Our mobility, health, physical, mental and emotional well-being are affected by the way we live.

 Lifestyle can be changed, and with understanding and patience it can evolve to support health of mind, body and spirit.

You may be pleased and surprised at the things you will be able to do with patience and practice. Being aware of daily activities and how to do them in such a way as to support health and well-being can make a huge difference.

 These are several factors inhibiting mobility which I have seen effect myself and most people I know:

 Outward focus focus on the job(s) at hand rather than keeping focus on the body doing the job.  In physical education and sports the focus is on the ball, with the team, and the competition. When introspection and body awareness are valued, movement becomes more fluid, safer, and meditative, leading to more useful mobility and reduction of stress.

Chairs – Think about it – sitting in chairs uses a very limited range of motion in the hips compared with sitting on ground, squatting, or on low cushions several times a day. In olden times and currently in many places, particularly in rural areas, people daily sit or squat on the ground or floors throughout their lifetime, not only when they are young.

chinese-women-seated-outdoors-mountainsMaasai-Assistantsmas033sitted

Cars – We walk far less than we did historically and compared to rural people. Walking is the most underrated exercise/ activity in modern culture. Many people don’t walk daily or for more than a few steps, many days of our lives, yet daily walking is great for our whole bodies including our posture. In many cities throughout Europe and places like New York, NY, people walk as their primary means of transportation. See my earlier post- Walking is the Most Underrated Exercise.

401_Gridlock cropped walkingscarrying, emma photo

Avoiding squatting & Seat-toilets –  Squatting uses a great range of motion in the hips legs ankles and feet Also squatting is the best way for the body to completely eliminate waste. There have been numerous studies showing that the more open position of the colon when squatting leads to easier elimination and fewer problems associated with it.

squat3 active

Shallow breathing- Yes, most all of us tend to do this! Deep breathing is essential to mind/body connection, physical performance, and true relaxation. Deep breathing and breath control are essential to progress in any physical practice. When I instruct new students to breathe deeply, more often than not, they do a fast shallow breath and hold it then exhale fast as well. Deep controlled breathing takes much daily practice.

“Sit still” – many of us are conditioned from early on to not move. After kindergarten, children in school move about very little for most of the 7 hour school day. e.g. no longer sitting on the floor, standing, stretching or free play.

To hold the body in one position, at computer, TV, phone, in a car, formed into a chair without some movement (especially of the spine) promotes poor posture and weaker core strength particularly when done over days and weeks and years (7 hour school day, 8 hour work-week).

Even infants and toddlers in car-seats and strollers need to move frequently (15+ minutes at a time I believe is a long time to “sit still” unless resting or sleeping, and there should still be room to move as the child intuitively will want/need to do).

children children2Those fidgeting children in school may have been doing (or trying to do) the right thing for their body!

Not resting –  when we are tired.  I love this picture! Restorative yoga, farm style!

resting – So much of the time people drink coffee or tea to keep going, when really they need a rest.     Quality rest is a benefit of an active lifestyle, remember how well you slept as a child after active playing all day?

We live in a culture of quick-fixes– We are way too easily discouraged. We expect instant and fast results, and tend to become discouraged if we don’t do something well within the first few days or weeks. Yet we all know that people don’t become masterful at anything without study and practice.

Because of all these trends in modern life, many people experience stiffness (inhibited movement)*, discomfort, and often even pain in the tissues of the body.  With lack of movement, there is also atrophy of the neural pathways; even your brain needs some re-training! *There are other factors also, such as age, injuries and illnesses that effect people’s mobility worldwide.

It may be disheartening to realize  how much we may have “lost”.

The good news is it can be gained back with patience and daily practice.

No wonder getting started is difficult! Do it anyway!  And accept yourself exactly where you are at, and enjoy the journey!

All the best, Christina

If you are interested in starting yoga, you may want to read this blog to know what you’re getting into What Yoga Is and Is Not.