"Don't Leave Before the Magic Happens"
I never noticed my posture. I walked, cycled and moved as many people do, mindlessly and as my body would have me. I dabbled in yoga classes in college as I initially began my movement practices in hopes of finding some “Zen”. My attendance was sporadic and I decided, instead, to prioritize my workouts with strength and cardio as “most important”. Many years later I decided to sign up for yoga teacher training at The River Power Vinyasa. My best friend was leading the course and I wanted to expand my offerings as a personal trainer. It made sense in the flow of my life. I spent 200 hours between June and August practicing and learning about the art of yoga. I was asked to practice outside of my training as well during the times that I was not in training. Yoga, Yoga, and more Yoga! Literally ALL the yoga!
I remember I was driving to work one day about 2.5 months into YTT. I felt obnoxiously uncomfortable in my car seat and adjusted it without thinking. When I got to work and caught a glimpse of my seat I was absolutely shocked and a little confused because I had, unknowingly, adjusted it to a 90deg angle. I had a friend look at the seat one day while I was driving and commented on how uncomfortable it looked. I realized a few days later that the only logical explanation for the event was a physical adjustment of my spinal posture. My body had changed in a way I hadn’t even considered and in a way that I would not have notice in the mirror; changes to my INSIDES. WOW!!
Very recently it happened again. This time I was driving from Boulder after my movement class and became hyper aware of the head rest pressing against the back of my head and forcing it forward. My low back hurt and it was driving me insane. At the next light I pulled the head rest off the seat and experienced INSTANT relief. Yet another physical change in the internal structure of my body! Again, “WOW!!”
One of my students recently experienced a very similar adjustment in the biomechanics of his body. This particular student was an avid participant in Crossfit. He eventually ended up injured and started coming to my weekly bootcamps as a fitness substitute while his injuries healed. Over some time I got to know him a little better and he started coming to my gentle yoga classes multiple times a week. Last week he explained to me that after a few months he noticed that his feet turn in more when he walks, runs and exercises (he suffers from duck feet). MUSIC TO MY EARS! Can you imagine the tension release that would be required for the hips to NATURALLY allow the toes to switch from a “duck foot” to neutral?!?! Needless to say, I’m blown away! This wasn’t even a goal of ours. It happened on it’s own because he started a yoga practice.
If you take a look around you’ll notice that the general population stands forehead leading with hunched shoulders. Upon further investigation you’ll notice an exaggerated curvature in the lumbar or low spine (low back). All of these physical limitations that our bodies express (i.e. Range of Motion, mobility, strength, flexibility) ALL concentrate into our lumbar spine, our middle, resulting in “low back issues”. When we engage in a CONSISTENT movement practice that is focused on mobility, flexibility, ROM and core strength we naturally begin to experience lengthening and release of chronically tight muscles. With this release our bones adjust to their natural position because the muscles are no longer pulling them out of place. Inflammation and pain are reduced. Strength and stability are acquired and we become resistant to injury.
The takeaway message here is really simple. Do yoga. Do it often and do it for the rest of your life. Strength and Cardio practices are important in their own right but if we want any kind of longevity in our movement, from standing and walking to riding bikes and flipping tires a mobility and flexibility practice is PARAMOUNT!! Know that the results of yoga may not come quickly. It took a good year for myself and my student to experience the change. Just stay patient and know that everything inside of you is changing at a glacial and long lasting pace.