Do you see a difference between your Yoga Body and your Daily Body?
Would someone observing you (without you knowing it) perceive a difference?
What is your Yoga Body focused on while on the mat? Core strengthening? Flexibility? Proper Alignment? Relaxation?
All of the above? What does your Daily Body remember between classes?
Does it remain strong, flexible and does it display sustainable good posture? Or not?
Often, there is a bit of a discrepancy between those two bodies
and yet they impact each other greatly in a positive or negative way
depending on how in touch you are with your body wisdom.
DAILY BODY STORY
Do you find yourself slouching at the computer or on the couch? Do you find yourself crossing your legs always favoring the same side crossing over the other? Or if you are a parent, do you favor one hip over the other to carry your young one? Or maybe you crane your neck forward and down to read or send text messages?
As you sit at your computer, you probably try to stand more upright once in a while and you bring your shoulders back and lift your chest up. Doing so you may be arching your back and this feeling becomes a synonym for feeling taller, only is it sustainable for long? Not really, unless you are a chronic holder, seconds later, the synergy of your whole body reclaims the habitual slump. Does it sound familiar?
The fact is if you repeatedly spend time in a distorted position, you start distorting your skeletal structure in a way that is so habitual that it feels more natural than the natural way. As a result, your skeleton is not organized for effortless balance, so your muscles are overworking creating stiffness and tiredness or giving up all together into an inevitable slouch. You can’t wait to go to your yoga class to stretch and strengthen yet why is your back not getting strong enough to stay upright in a sustainable way?
The danger of regularly catering to harmful habits is that, although it may feel comfortable in the moment,
it weakens your postural muscles because you do not let them do their job.
YOGA BODY STORY
You finally make it to your yoga mat, it feels so good to stretch and move your body. Whether you do power yoga or gently yoga, you enjoy yourself because this is the style of yoga that speaks to you. But whatever the style, you are also bringing with you your Daily Body habits to the mat. You may be aware of some of them but habits can become invisible to your awareness after a time.
The confusing thing is that, you can still feel better on some level because yoga is a wide field of many colors, the asanas being only a small part of it. However, how you use yourself on and off the mat must be addressed if you are to get the most out of your practice and truly prevent injuries even if you choose to challenge yourself on the mat? Stretching tension or building strength can be beneficial if done in line with your innate body wisdom. Overdoing can be seductive and often misleading because of the element of physical pleasure and instant gratification it includes. And this is true both for stretching and strengthening!
How can you know for sure if you are in line with your innate wisdom of your whole body when you listen to parts of you at a time and your sensory appreciation is no longer fully reliable?
The woman on the beach is an example of distorted torso to gain the end of touching her toes.
An integrated pose that respects your innate body wisdom as the woman in purple is more beneficial!
SENSORY PERCEPTION & INJURIES
As mentioned earlier, your Daily Body sensory perception gets somewhat corrupted over time. As a result, it needs a bit of reeducation. Without regaining accurate sensory perception, you cannot truly rely on what you feel while practicing yoga or engaged in daily movements and yet most people do. As a matter of fact, it is my experience that this is the real culprit in most yoga injuries. Whether they happen on or off the mat, the majority of neck back or joint injuries if you are a healthy yogi, tend to start with your Daily Body habits brought to the mat.
SENSORY PERCEPTION REEDUCATION & BODY WISDOM
Controlling your habits on the mat then catering to them the rest of the time is not going to get you out of the tension cycle. It is like collecting water from your dripping ceiling when it rains instead of fixing the roof problem in the first place!
On the surface, it may seem that tension is the problem and yoga the solution. However, you will get more out of your yoga when unnecessary tension is dealt with for what it is, a symptom of something else that needs addressing to get lasting results. And sorry to say that no costly gadgets can get around the need to regain accurate sensory perception!
You have a wonderful mechanism in your body called “Postural Mechanism” and it is an ambassador to your Innate Body Wisdom. It is in charge of handling your posture, fluidity of movement and balance. When you learn how to stimulate it, you can stretch and strengthen without taking a chance to overdo. In fact, as you unlearn your harmful habitual patterns, you keep empowering that mechanism to do its job. And it is available to you 24/7.
When not aligned above support and relaxed, gravity promotes slouching.
When aligned above support and relaxed, gravity promotes effortless good posture.
Do you want to learn more about this mind/body approach to natural good posture? Do you want to learn how to reclaim efficient moving for balanced living? Join my latest FREE 6-part EMAIL SEMINAR: "How to Unlearn Habits that Create Body Stiffness On and Off the Mat" (Based on the Alexander Technique Principles and Facts)
This is one of the clearest, most accessible description of “debauched kinesthesia” that I have come across in a long time. The images are very imaginative and help to explain why exercises done in our “normal” way can sometimes do more damage than good. Best always, Cathy
Thanks Cathy for this great feedback especially considering you also are an Alexander Technique teacher!:)