by Kathy Kleiver, Pilates Teacher at Bodytree Studio
Have you ever been behind a truck that appears to be driving at an odd angle even though it’s traveling straight forward? Or perhaps you’ve noticed a car with wheels that tilt inward or outward when viewed from the front or the back, and you think, “That can’t be good for the tires!”? You’re right: it’s not! These are signs a vehicle is out of alignment and needs to be serviced. Let these issues go and they’ll likely cause uneven and/or premature tire wear, steering wheel vibration, or a pulling sensation to the left or right making it harder to control the vehicle, any of which can ultimately pose a safety risk.
Now take a moment to stand up and walk a few steps, then stop and look down at your own feet. Yes…now! Are your feet pointing mostly straight forward, or is one (or both) angled in or out from your centerline? Just as wheel imbalance causes additional wear and tear on a car, foot imbalance can lead to bigger issues in our bodies that can compromise our health. There are obvious ailments like bunions and bone spurs, corns and calluses. But did you stop to think that if your feet aren’t working properly, your ankle, knee and hip joints can be adversely affected, having to create compensatory movements? Or that something as seemingly innocuous as your choice in shoes can lead to arthritis, decreased bone density and nerve damage?
Thanks (mostly) to Katy Bowman, MS, a biomechanist, author, blogger and podcaster, I’ve become obsessed with foot health. Her insightful book, Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief: The New Science of Healthy Feet, was eye-opening to me, having myself suffered from foot problems and pain over the years. I can honestly say that incorporating a few of her recommendations and guidelines into my life the last six months has had a positive impact not only on my feet, but on my entire body.
Here are a few of my favorite takeaways from her book:
by Sara Dwyer Lane, Yoga Teacher at Bodytree Studio
During your yoga asana practice you are responsible for making continuous decisions while you move. How is your breath in a posture or during transitions? Have you reached your edge? Should you push further? Should you back off? Is your movement serving your body and mind in the way you need it to today? Do you need to sweat or is your body telling you that you need something more restorative? These are important questions you should be asking yourself, instead of trying to attain that picture perfect pose. It’s more important to listen to your body than listening to anything else!
As I explore my own ever-changing practice, most recently I spend a lot of time thinking about the spine. I think a lot about the way I use and move my spine. And I spend a lot of time thinking about how I teach others to be aware of how they are moving and using theirs. Why pay special attention to your spine? You have heard people say ‘you are only as healthy as your spine,’ right? If you think about it, the mobility, flexibility, and strength of your backbone is absolutely essential to ALL other movements. These vertebrae that are so elegantly stacked and curved atop one another, carry your nervous system from your brain to each and every part of the body. It sends all the information our brain conveys to our various body parts and then returns the feedback to the brain. Besides students saying they aren’t flexible enough, the thing I hear most often is that their backs hurt/ache in various ways. Much of this is under-developed core strength, but more so it’s about being thoughtful about how we treat our back. I want to share a few common alignment myths to keep in mind as you navigate your own body, while being mindful of your spine, in your practice. These are some simple places to start.