Sitting Not So Pretty

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We sit at work. We sit in our cars. We sit at home. Is it any wonder we feel caged and constricted in our bodies, limited in our range of movements?

The Silicon Valley lifestyle is not a kind one when it comes to our bodies. Long drives to work, sitting for 8 to 14 hours a day at our jobs, unwinding in front of the TV or getting back in front of the computer at home – all of this wreaks havoc on our posture and our ability to perform natural movements, such as folding forward and backward.

When we sit in a chair, our hamstring muscles partially contract, even though they are not actively working. The subsequent muscle tightness prevents proper knee and hip movement, contributing to knee pain as well as tight lower back muscles. And a poor seated posture can translate into poor breathing, which often results in pain.

Any wonder why sitting is dubbed the “New Smoking”?

Befriending our hamstrings can give us relief from back pain, improve our posture, improve our range of motion around the hip, and help us sit more efficiently, which can ultimately improve our ability to breathe.

Want more info? Check out the “Roll Out Your Forward Fold” workshop coming up on Saturday, May 30. We’ll explore strategies to unwind our hamstrings and “fluff” our buttocks. And we’ll take a closer look at the knee and its neighbors.

Yin Yoga is For Livers, aka, People Who Live

IMG_4264.JPGYou’re already working out 3-5 times a week. You’re eating healthfully (mostly). Maybe you’re doing a couple of Vinyasa classes a week too. And now we’re asking you to add Yin Yoga to your busy schedule. What’s up with that?

What’s up is that Yin Yoga gives your body (and mind) something it may not be getting in your normal workout routines.

In Yin Yoga, you hold a pose for longer periods of time, around 2-10 minutes, sometimes longer. Typically, you relax the muscles and let gravity stress your tissues (ligaments, fascia, tendons, and even muscles). In some classes, you’ll use props to support you. And you breathe, become still, and find space where no space was before.

This gentle pressure applied to the body’s tissues over time lengthens and strengthens these tissues, increasing range of motion (ROM) of the joints and, ultimately, flexibility. The body becomes lighter and moves with greater ease as the muscles have freedom to generate the forces required of them. Too much stiffness, and our bodies compensate, muscles don’t activate effectively, or at all, and we move around sub-optimally, and often in pain. Yin Yoga can help optimize our movements.

The focused breathing helps reduce anxiety and stress, two factors known to cause serious health problems if not addressed. By breathing deeply, we activate our parasympathetic nervous system, causing us to relax, and down-regulate, which helps us manage and relieve stress on every level.

When we become still, we have an opportunity to observe ourselves. There is sensation inherent in Yin Yoga. When we sit with this sensation, we have an opportunity to see how we react. This increased awareness of our bodies and our minds gives us space and freedom to choose our reactions, not just react.

Yin Yoga is ideal for just about everyone and can enhance and improve any movement art or exercise regime. For example, athletes and semi-athletes who live with movement-specific-related stiffness, such as tight hamstrings from cycling, tight hips and IT bands from running, or tight backs from golf, can not only feel better with Yin Yoga, but can also see marked improvements in athletic performance.

And those of us living the Silicon Valley lifestyle can see a huge life improvement as this “self work” translates into “soul work.”

It only takes adding one Yin Yoga class a week to begin to see these changes. Fortunately, once you get the hang of it, Yin Yoga can be done anywhere, any time. Chances are, you’ll like the results so much, you’ll want to do it more than your other workouts!