I didn’t get on my mat as much as I usually do this week. In fact, the last two weeks I have spent more time at the desk than I have anywhere else. Being so used to ample daily movement, I couldn’t believe how stiff, sore and cranky my low back got in such a short period of time.
As I shared this with the students in both of my classes yesterday all of them nodded in agreement, emphasizing how they knew exactly what I was talking about for many of them are forced into sitting day after day after day. How is it that we’ve gotten to this place in society that it is expected of people to sit for hours on end!? From the young vibrant and supple age of 5, sometimes even younger, we are forced into sitting AND sitting still!
Biomechanist and movement guru Katy Bowman, who has a number of published books and a great podcast, shares this about sitting and sedentary lifestyles,
“…researchers have discovered that sitting time itself is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, even in those who exercise regularly. Regular bouts of exercise do not undo the effect that sitting has on the body. The link between sitting and cardiovascular disease has to do the with physics of how your blood flows through your arteries. Different types of flows promote different types of plaque accumulation. Plaque accumulates NOT because of blood chemistry, but because of the action of the cells flowing within the blood vessels.”
In her book Move Your DNA, Bowman shares more about sedentary lifestyles, and the difference between exercise and movement practices. She shares how swapping sitting for standing isn’t a ‘cure’ either, but certainly a better option. As I am no biomechanist, and I honestly don’t know how to explain the what’s, how’s and why’s of blood vessel geometry and blood flow (but you can read more here), I do know that learning about this is absolutely fascinating and rather alarming. The good news, is that one of the recommendations to help support proper blood flow is… regular STRETCHING!
My yoga has drastically changed over the last two decades. Initially, I craved regular bout of power and punch from my practice. And not that I don’t get that these days, but it happens far less frequently. These days, my body needs simple movements, and deep, slow and controlled ‘stretching’. The years of study and practice have afforded me the ability to organically move through postures based on what I need to either sooth and nourish my aching muscles, joints, bones and organs or strengthen them through asana, breath and meditation practice.
And this is why and what I love to teach! Every day with every session and every teacher I practice with I am blown away at the depth of wisdom that abounds all around me – within and outside of my body.
What are you learning about your body and the conditioning you are forced into? What can you start adopting today to make an impact of your physical betterment?
PS : Check out this short form Flow Practice of the classes I taught yesterday aimed at easing and supporting low back health.