Yogis, stop duct-taping your body! Redefine “the core” & shift your movement patterns to address the root of back pain and collapsed posture.Recently noticing the smell of mildew in my office, I discovered that the air conditioner, braving sweltering summer heat, had been leaking water surreptitiously onto the carpet for weeks. Being the not-so-handy, book-nerd, yogi-artist, bodyworker type that I am, I decided to wrap duct tape around the edges- which totally worked! For a week. Misunderstandings of what “the core” is abound in modern pop & fitness culture, often causing more harm then good. When back, shoulder or hip pain inevitably strike, we’re often told we need to stretch more or “strengthen our core,” which often translates as “do crunches” so we get busy with the ol’ ten minute ab video. Stretching and crunching is a little bit like duct tape. Instead of getting to the root of the problem, which in the physical body is unhealthy movement patterns, spinal weakness and the muscular tension and asymmetry they cause, we “just put some duct tape on it!” Usually not from laziness but from ignorance. Our mysterious bodies are composed of many interconnected webs of muscle. Some muscles are shallow and superficial, like the “six pack” muscles on the front of the abdomen, others are deep postural muscles that allow us to sit, walk and move functionally, like the intricate ribbon-like muscles of the spine or the complex webbed musculature of the pelvic floor. When we overuse superficial muscles to get through our day it’s like walking around patched up with layers of duct tape. Our unsupported spine, the sacred center of the body, gets progressively weaker, suffering degeneration & further collapsing our posture. Without getting to the root of the problem, low grade inflammation creates chronic discomfort and layers of duct tape, or muscle tension, continue to get patched on, creating barriers to our wellbeing. As yogis, we are committed to seeing beyond the superficial to the universal life force that illuminates our lives from the inside out. When it comes to addressing chronic bodily discomfort or fixing an air conditioner leak, this means we’ve got to get to the source. Instead of incorporating a few exercises, we must shift the way we relate to our bodies so that our lives become an organic practice of therapeutic movement and an empowered emanation from the deepest parts of ourselves. Unlike a few exercises, efficient movement patterns treat the root of discomfort and imbalance, improving energy levels, circulation, digestion and calming the nervous system to reduce stress while increasing our sense of living purposefully. To make this shift our body-mind, we must move beyond pop science and fitness marketing to redefine the core, releasing the delusion around the superficial abdominals. Thanks to the media, you might think a “six pack” looks sexy but it has very little to do with healthy movement or bodily comfort, or even whole body strength! Technically, the core actually refers to the entire abdomen, from the collarbone under your neck to the sitbones at your hips. Getting to the source is not always popular in our culture. To experience greater freedom (moksha) in your body-mind, mucho tapas is required (and no, I’m not talking about delicious Spanish appetizers). Tapas is the inner fire at the core of your energetic body generated by sustained commitment to a purpose. As yogi’s, if we lean into our breath and inner body awareness as the primary tools on this journey, committed to liberating our tissues to their natural state of ease and strength will, over time, also liberate our mind from excess, scattered tension and old, limiting belief patterns- HUGE BONUS! Start connecting to the root of your core, the root of your power in movement, by experimenting with these four steps in your practice. 1) Strengthen your Posterior Chain, (aka your back body) The human body was predominantly designed for walking long distances to gather food with an occasional sprint to chase prey. The primates from which we evolved lived in and climbed trees. Our arms are made for holding children and each other, our necks for holding heavy loads atop our heads. In the modern world where we may sit, drive and lie down more than we stand and walk.
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