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.