My yoga practice isn’t fancy. It’s relatively simple and functional. What you might not know about me is that I experience debilitating back pain if I do not practice yoga and strength train. I’m convinced that years of being a computer programmer sitting at my desk with bad posture working 60+ hours per week left me with carpal tunnel and disk protrusions in my neck. I’m naturally flexible, and my hypermobility leaves places like my sacrum and shoulders unstable. I did physical therapy last year to figure out my imbalances, and that helped tremendously. Thankfully, I’m pain-free through a balanced practice of yoga, walking on the treadmill and strength training.
One thing yoga teaches me is awareness. I receive signs such as a twinge in my back or neck, numbness in my fingers or sharp shooting pains down my leg indicating to slow down or stop. I’ve ignored and pushed through these signs and end up on the couch. When I listen and acknowledge the signs, I slow down and rest, stretch or strengthen. I often joke with my fellow peers that I can’t risk throwing myself up in the air anymore because when I fall, it will hurt….for days. It’s hard for my ego to take a child’s pose or legs up the wall when I see everyone practicing handstand or some impressive inversion or arm balance. I once did those things and now I can’t. So I close my eyes when the teacher cues for those poses, and I get into child’s pose and focus on my intention. Nowadays, my intention is to remain calm and make it through the day without screaming at my two awesome kids. By the way, lion’s pose is great for this. I'm a caregiver, so when I can’t function, my family doesn’t function well, and so on.
You’ve probably heard, what we do on the mat, we do off the mat. When I accumulate clutter or stress in my body, I make space by stretching and strengthening. Similarly, when I have a lot on my plate in my personal life, I let things go or bring in things or people that help me for the better. Lately, I’ve been on the mat more in student mode than teacher mode. That’s because I need more yoga to ease the stressors of getting the new studio site set up. My energy is elsewhere at the moment, and I’ll go back to teaching yoga more when the time is right. I’ve also increased connections with fellow teachers and friends because they give me a lot of emotional support and just brighten my day. Yoga helps immensely with the stressors of life. For me, it’s therapy – in body and mind. So, my yoga practice isn’t fancy, and I don’t feel pressured into it to be so (it’s practice). I stretch and strengthen to make room and stabilize my body and mind, on and off the mat. ~Katherine
Here’s a simple yet effective sequence of poses for your back. This is great anytime but if you’re like me, sitting at the desk can take a toll on your spine. Poses: cat/cow, child's pose, reclining twist, happy baby and legs up the wall.