FOCUS OF THE WEEK: THE SPINE (July 29/13)

794a637c7dec8eaccb54aac6c1bbd2f6Yogis believe that the spine is like an antenna, through which we receive, assimilate and redistribute life’s energy. They also believe that the key to a long life is a healthy and flexible spine, hence the importance of posture, stretching and creating space.
Surely you must have noticed when you first came to yoga two things improving almost right away; the posture and the breath.

When you look at the spine from the side you can view it as having two columns. Obviously it is one same contraption, but let’s pretend for a minute and look at it as two separate parts: the anterior column made of vertebrae and intervertebral disks and the posterior column made of spinal processes (these are the little bumps sticking out when you look at someone’s back)

Here’s a basic engineering fact:
The front of the spine is designed to react to compression forces, it’s the weight bearing part of the spine. The back of the spine is designed to react to tension forces. Both together move and articulate courtesy of ligaments and tissues which have the ability to snap back to wherever they came from.

Forces of compression and tension in the spine make it a highly dynamic structure that inherently and stubbornly seeks to return back to a neutral place because of the way it is put together, and that’s the key information I would like to convey to you today, because that’s when your spine is at its healthiest: when it is back to a neutral position, following it’s natural curve.
You may already be aware of these facts but are you really paying attention to the health of your spine, when you hunch or slump the shoulders after an exhausting day, stick the ribcage or the bum out in an effort to seduce your date, sit cross legged at your desk typing away at your keyboard while squeezing the phone between your ear and shoulder because you are a talented multitasker, or jot your head forward to satisfy your inquisitive mind…

Any action that takes your spine out of alignment for a long time will start to wreak havoc in the body. In other words, maintaining the natural curves of your spine is crucial to your health. So come on, whatever it is you are doing now, straighten up, you owe this new day a healthier and stronger you.

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