if your brain drew your body
it would look like this...
As far as your brain is concerned, your hands are bigger than your entire torso and legs.
No wonder a paper cut can drive you crazy, but you’ll ignore that aching back for 20 years.
There are a number of reasons our knees, hips, spines and shoulders break down before their time, but this is a big one: we just don’t have enough awareness of them built in. We have to train it in. Your brain pays attention to whatever you decide to pay attention to, and if that’s your body, your brain will map more of that information in. Becoming more aware of how you move builds your brain and protects your body: a win win any way you look at it. Changing up your movement patterns is a great way to build the body map in your brain, but concentrating on your breath does it too. Spend 5 or 6 minutes breathing deeply and slowly today, and explore the whole inside of your torso with your mind while you do. Feel the rib cage move. Get under your shoulder blades. Trace the spine. Circle around the inside of your pelvis. Just notice yourself. Map yourself. And have fun! Your brain doesn’t know what it’s missing.
If you want to know more about this, download this file from my teacher training program...
Here's an explainer video I made to give you a short, easy way to understand why you hurt.
how to walk
how to walk, part 2
You’ve got to work at keeping the back foot facing forward - that’s the hard part. Lifting your arms isn’t required, but it makes your legs work harder automatically. You’ll wobble and shake at first, but stability builds quickly - your body wants to do it right. When you get good at it, close your eyes. A minute or two per day on each side is a good practice; longer if you like.
If you want to live with your own happy hips for the long game, you’ve got to practice having happy hips now.
Gravity is the science that keeps you from floating off planet; they teach you that in grade school. It’s also the science that crushes your bones if you don’t resist it, and maybe they didn’t teach you that.
Homeostasis is the science of your amazing body’s constant effort to be healthy, and you might not have learned that either, because so much of it is happening deep inside without you needing to think about it.
Life without back pain (or hip, knee, neck, and shoulder pain) requires you to think about it. You must think to seek muscular skeletal homeostasis, by resisting gravity and moving without unnecessary force.
That, my dears, is the whole point of The Yoga You Need, and yes, it’s a science.
do you love your feet?
Seriously; they deserve it. Tiny but mighty, they take hit after hit all day long, carrying all your weight, putting up with your crazy shoes, and allowing you to just sag your carcass on top of them while you stand around, forgetting that gravity is crushing you - and them - every minute of the day.
It’s no wonder our plantar fascia falls apart, and if yours haven’t yet, lucky you, but for sure we all know what it feels like to have tired, aching feet at the end of a long day.
Do you thank your feet, for all they do for you? Do you give them the love and care they need?
I’m not talking pedicures, people. It doesn’t have to cost money to give your feet the love they deserve.
fighting gravity, part 1
When your doctor says you have compression in the spine, she/he is telling you you are human. We ALL have compression in the spine eventually, because gravity is constantly pulling us downward, crushing the bones over time. Fortunately, we also have muscles, and a brain. If you want to live without chronic skeletal pain, you have to resist gravity with your brain and your muscles.
fighting gravity, part 2
If compression is happening because gravity is happening, we must take responsibility for fighting against gravity, and as often as we can, decompressing. In a typical yoga practice, inversions are a common tool for decompressing: we get the spine upside down, gravity pulls on it in the other direction, and we feel lighter, brighter, more spacious and mobile. But off the mat, most of us are upright most of our waking day, and unless you are an instagram selfie star, you don’t necessarily feel comfortable popping up into a handstand in the grocery store. The good news is, you don’t have to be upside down to create more space between your bones. You can easily do it by just standing correctly, mindfully, and strong.
Good standing fights gravity, and leads to a life with less pain. It’s #theyogayouneed
fighting gravity, part 3
If you want to live with less pain, strong and stable hips are key. And it doesn’t matter if your body is breaking down in the hips, back, shoulders, neck, or knees. Everything feels more supported when your hips are supportive. Unfortunately, we spend so much time sitting, our most powerful muscles are often the weakest. We sit without strength, gravity crushes, and pain is the inevitable result. If you could do just 4 simple exercises every day to create a more stable, supportive base, choose these. Standing on one leg builds strength and balance automatically. It requires mental focus and makes your heart beat faster and your breathing deeper. Gently strengthening the front, back, inside and outside of your hips while you do it makes you feel lighter, brighter, better. You move more competently and confidently. You feel solid, stable, supported. You feel held. That’s how you are supposed to feel. That’s how you are made.
So try it today:
5 seconds each
3 reps for each
1 better day.
It’s #theyogayouneed Guaranteed.
fighting gravity, part 4
In cartoons, skeletons can stand, sit, walk around, even dance. That’s part of the myth that your bones support themselves. They don’t. Without connective tissue (ligaments, tendons, muscles, interstitial tissue and skin) holding everything together, your skeleton is just a pile of bones on the floor. If you don’t activate the muscles to support yourself, and hold the space you have between the bones, you are just a pile of bones on the floor. You might still have a human shape, but it’s a delusion. Gravity is crushing you. You have to hold your skeleton. It does not hold you. And that means gentle stretching and movement every day, including moving through the full range of motion of every joint in your body. That means: wiggling and bending your toes, circling your ankles, bending your knees, moving the leg bones around in your hips, bending your spine forward, back, side to side, wiggling and bending your fingers and thumbs, circling your wrists, bending your elbows, moving your shoulders up, down, forward, back, and around, turning your head from side to side, and gently around in circles. None of it needs to be aggressive, but it does need to be as far as it goes in all directions. You must hold your bones, and own the space between them, to have the pain free body you were made for. That’s #theyogayouneed
fighting gravity, part 5
I see these pictures online and feel compelled to correct them. What the original pictures are trying to say is that sometimes, one side of the body will feel tight because the other side is weak. But that’s only part of the story. If the side that feels tight were strong, it wouldn’t feel tight. It’s weak too. “Tight” is something a muscle DOES, not something it IS.
A healthy muscle can tighten, stretch, and relax. That’s what muscles DO. Strong or weak, healthy or unhealthy, functional or dysfunctional, that’s what a muscle IS. And you can stretch a “tight” muscle all day long. It might make you feel better in the moment, but it will never fix the tightness. The muscle feels tight because it is weak/unhealthy/dysfunctional, so “tight” is the only thing it can do. And strengthening is what makes a muscle strong. Stretching will never do that.
Stretching provides the temporary feel-good. Strengthening provides the fix. If you want to live without pain, you need strength on all sides. Not ironman strong, just strong enough to feel good.
There’s no such thing as a tight muscle. Tight is an action. Weak is the state of being that creates the tightness. Strength comes from squeezing your muscles, not from stretching them. In all of these pictures, you are looking at the main points of weakness in the modern sit-down, hunch-over human. We feel tight because we are weak. All 4 sides. Stand up. Move around. Squeeze everything. Stretch everything. Squeeze everything again. Functional muscles don’t feel tight unless you tighten them. They don’t stay tight. You have to squeeze all your muscles, a little bit, every day, for them to function properly. That’s #theyogayouneed
But your body is designed to heal, feel good, and function without pain for 100 years. We blame the body when it breaks down, but mostly it is the world we've created, and the way we live in it. Your body does the best it can, until it can't anymore.