Recently, a few people asked my advice to better handle themselves in the kitchen and avoid creating tension while cooking and eating. So here I am with some pointers to help you stay centered while eating and mostly to help all those kitchen chefs out there!
Look at the bottom of this page for two easy yoga poses I recommend you to practice before you start cooking even if you don’t have a regular yoga practice. It will remind you how to use yourself in the kitchen!
To write this blog, I went online to get some pictures of common mistakes done by people when in their kitchen.
Here is what I found. Does this look familiar?
On these pictures, you can notice the neck part of the spine craning forward from the upper back. You can also notice the mother bending her neck sideways to squish the phone between her shoulder and ear while doing three things at once as it is often the case with parents of young children.
Repeating these motions daily takes its toll on your body and then they become the basis for how you move in other activities. The head is quite heavy and when the neck is craned the way you see on the picture on the right or bent to the side as in the picture on the left, it creates tension in the neck and imbalances. Eventually it brings the shoulders rolling forward as well as you can see in the picture in the center. Only it happens progressively and then you find it feels totally natural. It is so easy to confuse what is natural with what is habitual and promote injury without being aware we are doing it!
HOW COULD YOU DO THE SAME ACTIVITIES IN A LESS HARMFUL WAY?
1) Allowing your head to rest at the top of the spine would be a good start.
2) Allowing your knees and hip joints to release away from each other ever so slightly so as to lean forward from those hinges instead of letting the neck do their job. Sitting at a kitchen table could be better when possible.
3) Feel the support under your feet and let the whole body chop these vegetables not just your arms and wrists, the more you release through your support, the stronger you actually are to get thru the tough vegetables.
4) Using your speakerphone or some headphones is a must if you are on the phone while cooking or if you spend much time on the phone. It allows you to keep your head on top of your spine more easily.
5) If you are a mother, beware of the Mother’s Hip Syndrome. Avoid carrying your children favoring one hip over the other. It will progressively distort and corrupt your postural sense and it will become the basis for all your movements! This syndrome started a trend that got me into serious trouble much later and it took a while before I got over it!
6) Sitting at the table is the same as sitting at a computer (see my blog on that topic), you want to hinge forward towards your plate from your sits bones instead of letting your neck crane forward. The more you need to get close to your food or table top for any reason, the more you need to keep your chair back so you have room to lean forward from the contact with the chair keeping your back relaxed. Try it and see how much easier it is on your neck!:)
7) Last but not least, observe how you reach for something in your cabinet shelving. The higher you reach, the more you need to remember to release all the joints between your hand and feet….it will give you access to your maximum length without hurting any part of you in the process!
All these recommendations help you to sit, stand and move in a more integrated fashion that promotes increased health and well-being!
If you are also interested in learning about Integrated Nutrition, a perfect adjunct to what is presented on this blog, check Paul Pitchford book “Healing with Whole Foods”
Best yoga poses to practice before starting your kitchen work:
Utkatasana or Chair Pose & Garudasana or Eagle Pose
Keep this nice alignment which allows the back of the neck to be relaxed
while your head and your tail bone release away from each other! Enjoy!