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.
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.
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.
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).
Those 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!
– 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.