Apologies to those who sought a post last week. My time in Boston wiped me out so badly, I was terribly sick (with morning sickness) for the three days following my return. It was the return flight, not the YogaFit training itself, that did me in. I’ve never been on such a long flight in my life!
The final two days of my conference I spent in Anatomy and Alignment. Now, I’ve studied the bones and muscles that comprise the body before. It’s a part of every fitness certification you’ll take: study and memorize the major muscles and bones that move the body in its various directions and orientations.
A lot of people find anatomy boring. Frankly, I don’t blame them. When you’re sitting at a desk slogging through pages of bones and structures, trying to remember every term thrown at you, it is boring.
But this course wasn’t. We were up and moving and talking about how things like tight fascia in the sole of your foot can give you headaches. Yes, it’s true! A sore hip will cause back and shoulder problems. Tight muscles in your chest can contribute to carpel tunnel syndrome.
It was a fascinating class that finally put the puzzle together for me into one solid, complete picture. Finally I saw how a dorsiflexed foot stabilized the knee and even hip. Finally I realized how root lock, or mula bandha, actually originated–from the arch of the foot all the way up the inner thigh to the pelvic floor region. So often, as fitness instructors, we focus on one general area and forget that it’s connected to something else, which is connected to something else, which is connected to everything in the body. Here are a few wonderful examples:
- The breath is essential to life. It is also essential to oxygenating the blood and moving the lymph through the body (with repetitive motions) in order to cleanse the lymphatic system.
- Kyphotic, or forward rounded, shoulders inhibit breathing, tighten the chest muscles that stabilize the arms, loosen the upper/middle back muscles that stabilize the scapula and arms, and load the lower back. Hence, in addition to lower back pain, people working at office desks have higher rates of anxiety, panic attacks, headaches (tight neck muscles from deviations in the cervical spine) and lower self-esteem.
- A posterior pelvic tilt from constant or continuous sitting lengthens out lower back muscles, tightens hip flexors and abdominals. This tilt brings the low back into flexion, and increases the likelihood of a kyphotic upper back. Over time, the region can destabilize from lack of use, creating joint instability through both the hip and back, which is why something as simple as walking can cause back strain or even herniated vertebral discs.
- Gentle movement in all directions of the spine, particularly those that combat forward flexion of the spine, stimulate the synovial fluid in the joint capsules, reducing friction and increasing range of motion. Over time, opening up the chest (heart’s center) and building strength in the core muscles (abdominals, back, gluts–those muscles that stabilize the low back and pelvis) corrects postural deviation and improves the alignment of the entire skeletal structure. Movement with breathing ensures that this is done safely.
Amazing, isn’t it? And there is so much more. Sometimes, in fitness, we get swept up by thoughts of go, go, go. I encourage everyone to take a little time to study how the body integrates together. You’ll have a better understanding of how the mechanics in the body work so that you end up with a safer, smarter, more challenging workout regimen and diet that promotes strong, nourished bodies.
Go and learn something new today 🙂