#everydayposer: Contents Under Pressure!

Ahhh, so we have been exploring stretching. And now we are coming to the time of year when we stretch our stomachs. Hello holidays! Let’s revisit the drawing of areas in the body that tend to have tension:IMG_1498

In my last post, I exhibited how stretching the back of the legs can have a release throughout the entire back side of the body. I also, in my blog before last, explained that stretching is a temporary thing due to the elasticity of muscular tissues. So here, in THIS post, we see that my little stick person rather than stretch regularly AND change lifestyle habits (in this case wearing those 1-inch heels), the heels have remained and tension patterns are still present.

No problem–if things get a little tight in the back, there is plenty of room in front, right? Except that this poor little stick person is likely to suffer from back pain if the abdominal muscles aren’t able to provide support. Enter the six-pack abs!

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Everything looks good now! And unfortunately, many, many fitness and health professionals will do exactly that: add tension to help with tension. Which works, sort of, until….

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We see A LOT of abnormal abdominal issues in our country. And not just at Thanksgiving. Issues that have to do with pressure (no stick pictures on what that looks like–I’m going to let your imagination run wild!). Pressure caused by tension. By each of us, to ourselves. It’s time to stop the madness.

Stretching may only create a temporary release to tight muscles. And that is a good thing to do because, even for a little while, you can relax. But more importantly, attempting to stretch an area that is tight lets you know that it IS tight. The next step isn’t to tighten up more, but to find out why the tension is there in the first place. And then start to change your lifestyle, slowly, and stretch, regularly, and you might find that over time you feel better. In many ways. You sleep better, don’t burp as much, your knees don’t ache as much, tension headaches disappear, constipation is eased, sneezing doesn’t require a change of pants…..you get the picture.

So, enjoy your holidays. Enjoy your family. Take a walk and stretch your legs together. Eat together. Sit on the floor together. Hang from a tree together. If you go shopping, look for shoes without heels for each other. I have some other gift thoughts as well: a Squatty Potty, toe separators–like from a pedicure–or toe separator socks, yoga classes (maybe from yours truly?), a hanging bar for your house–even better, line a hallway with several bars so you can monkey swing! There are lots of ways to relax and relieve pressure. And wouldn’t that be the BEST way to enjoy the season?!!

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.