Find Comfort in the New Year

We all need some comfort each day. But you FIRST need to realize that you are uncomfortable and ask yourself WHY. So many of us disconnect from what we feel each day in order to just survive. You may unconsciously find ways to create the comfort you so dearly NEED. From the first cup of coffee in the morning to foraging in the pantry at the end of the day, these subconscious actions don’t deal with the true source of discomfort and don’t really give us long lasting comfort.

So we must first deal with the discomfort, not avoid or keep pushing through discomfort in order to create lasting change for the better. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • When do you feel discomfort?

  • Where do you feel that discomfort in your body?

  • Is the discomfort a physical experience or does it correspond to emotional or mental discomfort?

  • What would directly affect the discomfort that you feel right now?

Because the primary goal of Yoga is to “yoke” our physical sensations with emotional and spiritual sensations, movement may help you find answers to the questions above. You can start on the floor with cat/cow creating gentle movement and exploring comfort vs discomfort. Most yoga classes progress to standing poses. So you’ll want to try those too.

In this video I will address 3 out of 4 of what I call the “Fundamental Four“ (here’s a handout for detailed cues). Fundamental because they are the standing poses performed in almost every yoga class. It is important that you are familiar and comfortable in these poses. My instruction will help you learn the poses and make them your own with both COMFORT and EASE.

Namaste,

Stephanie

P.S. Are ready to really find out the source of your low back pain? My 4 Module Online Course, Yoga for a Better Back, is a commitment to feeling better in the New Year. It takes 8-12 weeks to complete, but will give you a much better understanding of WHY your back hurts and HOW you can make lasting change.

What's Really The Cause of Your Poor Posture?

I had a discussion with my yoga students about posture. This group of women are all in their 50s and 60s, and each of them (like me) remember a grandmother or other adult admonishing them for a bad posture. We talked a little about why there is an emphasis on a good posture in our culture. Our conversation led me to look into the history of posture.  I found this statement from an interesting website, ThePowerofPosture.net:

"In 18th century middle-class society, proper posture was an essential ingredient in formal situations. The body positioning of strangers was shrewdly evaluated as a measurement of upbringing, physical attractiveness, trustworthiness, self-control, and dignity. Respectable people regarded erect posture as the very thing that set us apart from the animals. Likewise, collapsed posture was seen as a manifestation of immorality and stupidity, a symptom of poor character that lead to things like masturbation and other failures of self-control."

With those strong statements you can understand how our beliefs around posture were formed.  I wonder how close you hold the belief that our posture tells us something about the essence of the person?  In my training as a physical therapist, my beliefs about posture and whether posture is an "impairment" have changed over the years.  In my early career, I was trained to believe that we could "train" and ultimately "change" someone's posture.  But with practice, I began to doubt whether real change in someone's posture could be sustained. When posture was the main focus of treatment, it led to frustration on both the patient and my part.  I also began to wonder how much a person's posture really "resulted" in someone’s pain.  So over my years of practice and now integrating yoga, I have a broader perspective regarding the role that posture plays in our lives, Body, Mind and Spirit.  

Body:

I believe that MOVEMENT in and out of posture is much more important than MAINTAINING a STATIC posture.  It seems that no matter what posture we assume: sitting, standing, slumped or erect; if we sustain that posture for LONG periods of time there will be trouble.  Joan Vernikos, in her book Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, states that the problem is not how much we sit during the day (8 hours +), but how long we sustain that posture without moving.  She advocates frequent low-intensity movement throughout the day to combat the negative effects of sustained sitting.

Mental:

I have seen how changing a person's posture can change also their attitude and affect. 

Try the alignment practice describe in the video placing 3 points of your body along the wall.

Do you notice a difference in your mind and body between these two positions?

When I did this activity at a health fair, the majority of people said yes, they could feel a difference in their body. The improved posture brought awareness to their breath filling lower into the body, chest or belly.  But what was also amazing was how the look on their faces transformed.  With an improved upright posture, people raised their eyebrows and the corners of the mouth, that's right, into a SMILE.  

Spirit:

Why is it so hard to maintain a "good" posture?  Many Physical Therapists and others "Body Workers" focus so much on our posture as the source of pain in the neck and back.  I believe that if it was ONLY a problem of the body, then it would be an easy fix. Improving strength and flexibility should be enough.  We blame our jobs, our computers, and our hand held devices on a curved spine. 

But I have come to view this curved spine as a protective position.  We wear this curved spine like a “Turtle Shell or Amour of Protection”.  Some people even have their shoulders drawn up around their ears.  So I have wondered, what are we trying to protect?  Our heart as the source of love?  Our throats as the center of expression?  Maybe our efforts should be focused on how to allow our Spirit to Shine and our True Self to emerge.

Brene Brown, in her book Braving the Wilderness, says for wholehearted living you need to have a Strong Back (COURAGE), a Soft Front (LOVE AND ACCEPTANCE, even for yourself), and a Wild Heart (LIVE YOUR TRUEST SELF).

I think that advice just may be the solution to the postural dilemma.

Namaste,

Stephanie

It's not degenerative discs causing your pain, it's your hips!

Click on the picture above or this link: https://youtu.be/Oc0xJ65OJvs

Most of my patients and clients with back pain have tight hips which ABSOLUTELY contributes to their back pain.  In this video you will learn physical and emotional reasons WHY your hips are tight (hint: too much sitting and too much stress while you are sitting). I will lead you through a few moves to assess your own hips to see if they are tight. Then I will provide 3 ways to do something about it!  And YES, yoga poses are included!

You will want to watch this video along with a few others that help you MOVE and strengthen your BACK and CORE. Then you will have the tools to perform the yoga series provided in this FREE DOWNLOAD: Yoga for People who Sit.

Take a week to watch and learn. And in just 4 short videos and some consistency of performing the yoga series, your back CAN FEEL BETTER.

Namaste,

Stephanie

P.S. If you like my videos and you are ready to take a deep dive into really HEALING your back, check out my online course: Yoga for a Better Back.

Can I do Yoga if I Have Back Pain? 3 Do's and Dont's to get you started.

The simple answer is YES! But not all yoga is created equal. Some cues provided by yoga instructors were not meant for people with back pain. YOU need to be the one in control of how your body feels and how you perform each yoga pose. In this video I provide some tips, i.e. Do's and Dont's, whether you are just starting out with yoga or trying to keep your practice going.

AND here's a FREE CLASS to get you started! This 40 minute class uses poses that are discussed in other videos AND you stay supported on the FLOOR. It is gentle and safe for anyone with back pain. Let me know in the comments how you like it.

https://stephaniecarterkelley.com/y4bb-sign-up