We are constantly being reminded to accept the way our body looks and thats a good thing. But what about accepting the way it feels?
Should you accept that?
What if your body has aches or pains that seem to always be there. You don’t have to accept that.
We’re all getting older and with that we seem conditioned to accept that our bodies will experience certain aches and pains.
Now I don’t believe that those aches and pains are just because we’re ageing. It’s true that the two are happening at the same time – ageing and aching – but what if you could help prevent and ease them a little*?
This is where the practice of safe and sustainable yoga poses can really help. By working on developing stability and mobility in the body you can begin to gain control over your body’s function. But what can you do at home to help you today?
I think its very easy to become disconnected with what we need for our physical body. Perhaps choosing to rest on a sofa of an evening rather than sitting on the floor for some gentle stretching. When you think about it, it starts to make sense that if you’ve spent all day sitting at a desk you might be better off doing something counteractive when you get home, otherwise your muscles will start to think that your natural position is sitting and adapt accordingly. And if your body gets so used to sitting, what happens when you ask it to walk, run or play sport. That’s when the aches and pains occurs. Your body just isn’t prepared for that kind of activity. Plus don’t forget the strain that repetitive movement can have on your body. Unfortunately our bodies adapt to the movements we do the most which means we end up with imbalances and weaknesses if we don’t use our bodies in all of the possible ways.
Our bodies – the joints, the muscles and all of the other bits in-between – have so many different uses and functions that if we want to make the most of them we need to keep using them.
So how could you make a small difference today? Here are 3 ways you can help to take care of your body and help ease those aches and pains:
1 – BREATHE – In yogic terms, breathing brings in prana (new energy) and gets rid of apana (negative energy.) In scientific terms you are transporting vital oxygen to your cells and tissues. Breathing helps us to use the body in the way it was designed by promoting good posture and releasing muscle tension. So either way its a vital function for us to focus on. Begin by finding a comfortable seated position, ideally supporting your own weight rather than on a sofa. Close your eyes and focus on the natural rhythm of your breath. As you inhale, feel the rib cage expanding, filling up the lungs all of the way to the tops of your shoulders. As you exhale, take your time to let the breath leave your body. Count your breaths. Be purposeful about the time you set aside. Try sitting for 10 breaths and see how you feel afterwards. The great thing about breathing is that you can do it anywhere – on the train, in the office, even while your toddler is having a tantrum (i’d highly recommend this if you do have small people to look after!)
2 – MOVE – Each of our joints enables our muscles and bones to move in a variety of ways. So keeping them moving keeps everything working and ensures the body is more prepared when you ask it to move in a certain way. Focus on making circle motions with each of your joints in turn. Start with the neck, then shoulders, your wrists then your ankles. As you move be mindful. Notice how the body feels. Think about the types of movements you do regularly, which parts of your body is used the most and spend time each day moving that area. Be creative, explore how your body can actually move and try and do it as often as you can.
3 – RELAX – Never underestimate the power of savasana – the part of the yoga class where you get to lie down. Now you might think that this is counterintuitive to getting you moving but the practise of savasana or corpse pose at the end of class is valuable to your physical AND mental health. Just 5 minutes of purposeful rest can make the world of difference to your nervous system. It also provides a useful space to scan your whole body to see how its feeling. Where feels good and where needs some more attention. Use this time to focus inwardly on yourself. And if you struggle with staying still on your own, try setting a timer on your phone. Set it for 5 minutes and promise yourself that you will stay put for the whole time.
Most importantly of all…don’t just sit there…MOVE!
*I’m talking about the low level, niggly sort of pains rather than those serious ‘you should go to the doctor’ sort of pains. For that I’m not qualified to talk about. I am just a yoga teacher after all.