#everydayposer : Think INSIDE the Box!

Here is some wellness news that I came across in a recent Time Magazine (Feb. 16, 2015): mindfulness helps children in learning. Whoa! As opposed to mindless learning? We need studies to figure this out?

Maybe so.  It seems that we need to qualify everything. Even things that should be common sense. A colleague of mine recently gave a public talk about alignment and Restorative Exercise™ (RE). Someone in the audience wanted “proof” that the theories behind this approach to movement was valid. Well, the theories behind this approach are that 1-movement is a biological requirement and 2-bodies respond to that which we do most often, not what we do most enthusiastically (read more).

I’m going to propose a proof: bed sores. Stasis eventually brings about cell necrosis which, I’m pretty sure, isn’t good. Here’s another: overuse injury. Repetitive movement creates friction and eventually, tissue damage. There may be studies that confirm these findings, however, I’m going to suggest that it is sufficient for this rant er, blog to simply rely on common knowledge.

About this blog: it is about what you do at your desk–inside your “box.” Are you able to work without creating physical damage? If your desk job IS causing health problems, then how does that affect your success and eventually, your company’s?

Sitting is the new smoking and standing work stations have become all the rage, but standing has problems as well. Going back to RE, movement is the biological requirement. So it’s not sitting OR standing, but rather changing positions that is going to be most beneficial to your workday/life outcomes.

Here are some changes of positions I have devised behind my desk:

standing on my rocks!

standing on my rocks!

squatting on my BOSU!

squatting on my BOSU!

lunging on rocks and BOSU!

lunging on rocks and BOSU!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Changing positions often will help to relieve the pressures our bodies feel, both in stillness and repetitive movements like typing. Small stretch breaks should occur every 20-30 minutes with a complete change in position to follow. Remember, it isn’t what you do at the gym for one hour, but how you move your body (or don’t) for the other 15 hours of the day that counts. These 3 positions change the degree of my hip flexion, the rocks create a variety pressures on my feet and “encourage” me to alter my stance, and altering my relationship to my screen allows my arms, head and eye positions to change. The BOSU has tons of other movement options when I’m not doing desk work as well. And the rocks are fun to try to pick up with my toes.

Another very cool and hip way to change positions often is to get an IKEA “Bekant” desk. Of course, between sipping kaffe and looking suave and making the desk go up and down every 5 minutes because COOL! and needing to run to the loo because KAFFE! and HAIR! I doubt that my work outcomes would be very good. But if you show this video to your employer and suggest that you need either one of these (with the very cool matching  chair, file, and attitude) OR a much cheaper BOSU and a pile of rocks–I’m betting you’ll get an okay update your desk in some way. Bring some proof if that is what it takes, too. This blog will suffice.

 

 

Everyday Poser–Walking in the Snow!

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Here is what my neighborhood looked like this morning. Usually when things go winter around here, I get asked (told?), “you didn’t walk TODAY did you???”

Yes. I walk everyday. Walking is the best pose you can do for your body, yogis. And walking on varied surfaces is important for all kinds of reasons. Mostly this morning, my lateral hip muscles got a bit of challenge. These are called the Tensor Fascia Lattae. Which always makes me want coffee. But I had it before I left the house and I LOVED my morning practice of “walkasana” in the snow. See:

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Everyday Poser–Elbows off the table!!!

 

Everybody has said it, thought it, or had it yelled at them sometime. Why is it such a big deal?

The distance from the heart to the head is why. There is a reason why deep conversations are called “heart to hearts” and an argument is referred to as a “head to head.” The person in this photo is obviously bored. Her heart isn’t into the lovely meal, the company at the table, not even the wine! When we lean on our elbows, the anatomical action is a collapsing of the chest and the heart (along with the support structure of the spine and ribs) moves away from the head. The head is heavy. When it is place in a forward position, tension begins to rise in the occipital joint (head/neck connection) as well as in the jaw. Distant heart, heaviness, and tension do not lead to happy meals. Even if there is a toy.

Open your heart this Thanksgiving and sit tall. Become an #everydayposer and bring yoga to the table!

Elemental Dance

ahhh. I just finished up another summer of outdoor yoga classes. Although this summer we had the first rain day in three years and there was a morning at the end of July that we thought we might freeze…it was a good summer, truly a gift. Beautiful sunrises that got earlier, then later, until last week when we started in the dark fog of our little lakeside beach. By the time we finished our final Surya Namaskara there was light and birdsong. 

I love living here. I grew up in Northern Minnesota and moved to Houston, Texas in 9th grade (so my father could continue to provide food for our family), which is a pretty big move in many ways. However, both places landed me close to a large body of water. In my late twenties, while my husband went through graduate school, I experienced being landlocked for the first time in my life. Nashville has a lot to offer, even a river, but it doesn’t have a Great Lake or the Gulf of Mexico. I found myself missing the presence of water terribly.

What is it about being by water…big water…powerful water…that speaks to me? I learned respect on the shores of Lake Superior. In Galveston, I learned freedom (I took a lot of beach “sick days” in high school). Here, with the Grand River, Spring Lake, and Lake Michigan surrounding me, I am learning connection. These bodies of water, past and present, speak to me and flow through me in ways I find mesmerizing and intriguing. 

Sun Salutations teach you how to flow from one yoga posture to another. Each pose is like a great body of water: powerful, with much to teach the practitioner. Respect goes to the Warrior; freedom to Down Dog. These basic postures take us from foggy darkness to great light. Flowing through them is like changing from river to lake to ocean. We maintain the same fleshy substance but create a completely different identity and sense of self. A Vinyasa practice teaches connection and dance. 

I am born of an earth sign (Taurus), so water has always attracted me, but it also can frighten and challenge me. Maybe because I grew up on such a deadly shore, or maybe because I like the stability of earth beneath me. Water can move so swiftly and deeply. I’m more of an admirer of water and a lover of swimming gently in calm water. I need water like the earth needs rain. Likewise I love to hold a yoga posture and absorb all it has to teach me. I find a flowing practice like Vinyasa challenging, but that isn’t a bad thing. I have to learn to ride the waves of change with a sense of mastery–which means I need to modify and not let my ego overrun my abilities. There is more to connection than flowing from pose to pose; I also need to connect mind to body in a loving embrace 

The elements in nature have so much to teach us about ourselves. Step outdoors–do a bit of activity in the elements. It doesn’t have to be yoga. Do what you love. Let nature speak to you. Listen. Connect. Dance and be free. In yoga we don’t “exercise,” we “practice.” What do we practice? Being present. Why do we call it “present?” Because it is all a gift, including the challenges.