When Does our Natural Spine Become Compromised? (and how do we manage this?)

Today’s intention – how does your body feel right now? Stiff? Sore? Injured? Got a Fit Bit?

When did you stop being able to squat down or sit on the floor easily? When did your body begin to ache and not move quite as easily as it once did?

We can all blame this on “getting old” but truth is, thanks to our chair culture, we have forgotten how to move organically and we are not encouraged or taught from a young age to look after our spine. We sit on our bums for hours most days and chances are, the stiffness started to creep in the moment we started school. The age of technology has of course, made things much worse because even children with developing spines are often hunched over gadgets and devices.

Once we begin working – desk bound for the majority and add driving, stress (and age of course) – is it any wonder that so many of us end up at the doctors looking for “answers”?

Thing is, hours of sitting and non-organic movement that restricts breathing and puts more pressure on the spine will not be undone by taking one yoga class and never turning up again. Realistically, it’s unlikely all this damage can be undone by taking one yoga class per week and changing nothing else. It’s also extremely doubtful a doctor will be able to simply fix this stuff for you without you having to do anything.

Once again, it comes back to lifestyle and rethinking what it is you do and how it is you do it at every single moment of every single day. Certainly, regular yoga classes can bring about this kind of awareness – the kind of awareness that leads to positive change, but it won’t happen in one class and it won’t necessarily happen after six months of yoga if we are still heading off to class with a results-based mindset and competitive approach: In other words, our yoga class is something to be “done” and gotten out of the way so we can impatiently move on to the next thing…(tick!)

It might surprise you to know that in some instances “Fitbits” (for an example of how being results-focussed may not work in the long term), have been counter productive. That is, instead of incidental activity being part of what normal, active people just “do”, many have become caught up in the idea that once they have done their “10,000 steps”, they are done! All is good for the day! However, it’s only a guide for a minimum amount of movement generally required by a human body.

How about thinking about it this way instead this week; Rather than counting your steps, why don’t you switch off your Fitbit and count how many hours you end up sitting on your bum either in a chair or on a couch or in the car? Try and notice how you tend to move. From your head? Chin? Neck? Chest? Hips?  How much asymmetry is involved in your daily life or activities? Most sports with very few exceptions are asymmetrical. Most of us can only write with one hand. We carry bags on one shoulder, children on our hips….

Become aware of these things because it’s only then, we can start to adapt and create better habits that will serve us through what could possibly be a very long life. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be in pain and have limited movement for 20 or 30 years or so and trust me, it’s only going to worse if we don’t consider these things now.

See the floor? Get down on it. Play! (PS head to my Pinterest page to see an amazing image of BKS Iyengar demonstrating dhanurasana on his 92nd birthday!! Age? I don’t think so….)