Exercise 1. The Wall
This is a very simple exercise, but for some it may not be easy at all. All that’s needed is a wall. Stand right up against a wall, like my friend and fab yoga teacher, Jo Zukovich, is doing down there. The idea is to get as much of the back of your body—without forcing anything—right up against the wall. You can stand either with your feet together, that is heel-to-heel, big-toe-to-big-toe (like Jo is doing) or with your feet hip-width apart and parallel (easier). If you stand with your feet apart: 1) don’t exaggerate the width of your hips (most women do) and 2) make sure your feet are actually parallel!
For most people, the heels, buttocks, and upper back (including the backs of the shoulders) will be touching the wall, but the lower back (aka the lumbar area) won’t be. But don’t worry too much about what is and isn’t at the wall. For all of us it will be different.
The back of your head will likely not be at the wall—but we want it to be. Gently, move your head back so that the back of your head is touching the wall. Make sure that you don’t just throw your head back and tip your nose up; keep your gaze straight ahead. Now, just stand there and feel. Pay attention. Try to maintain this for two full minutes. Breathe.
If you try this twice a day for a week (that’s just 28 minutes, you can do it!) I promise you will learn some amazing things about yourself! You will feel different. Stronger!
Let me know how it goes…
You find yourself sitting at your desk — and suddenly you become aware that you’re slumping, again. Your chest is caved, your head is hanging, and so far forward you might as well be typing with your nose. Or, standing in line at the supermarket, you look at the people in front of you: all slumpers. Then you check in with yourself… slumping! Why?
We’ve all heard about good posture and its many benefits, but we all continue to slump. Slumping seems natural, doesn’t it? Well, in a way it is. A really interesting thing to understand, if you want to do something about your posture, is this: In the womb, our spines are in flexion; we are curled in that really sweet embryonic curve, the one you see on the ultrasound. We remain that way until we’re born. It is only the moment we leave our mother’s body that we open up, so to speak, and extend our spines for the first time. I don’t know about you, but this blows my mind.
Look at these darlings—and check out all that adorable posture can teach us. For one thing their backs are straight because they haven’t yet acquired the curves in their spines that growth, gravity, and time will form—the very curves that give us flex-ibility, that ability to both flex and extend that keeps our spines healthy.
I found myself in an interesting situation last week. It was in connection with one of my favorite blogs…
I looked at the blog early in the morning, as I do most days. As soon as I saw the title of the day’s post, my heart sank. I got a lump in my throat, and I thought, “Wow, big mistake.” You see, the title of the post was the title of an old song about a really horrible time in history and a violent act that took place back then. I’m not trying to be mysterious by not telling you what blog and what song; that’s really not the point here. I don’t want to be snarky. People make honest mistakes. So, you’ll have to trust me when I say the use of this particular song title was wholly inappropriate for a blog post of any sort.
I stared at the post, and then read it to make sure I wasn’t missing something that might justify the use of that title. I wasn’t. I knew I had to reach out to someone on the website’s staff to give them a heads-up. Since I’m not personally acquainted with the people, the easiest and fastest way to do that was to write in the blog’s comments area.
I’ve been tweeting about the back spasms I’ve been having for the past couple of weeks, mostly because it’s easy (if not especially healthy) to lie on your back and tweet. But when I started feeling better, I started doing tadasana. Tadasana (or as most people know it, Mountain Pose) is yoga pose #1. I have always loved it for being so seemingly simple, yet so nuanced.
Yes, I love tadasana for many reasons—but right now I’ll concentrate on one: it’s good for your back! Once you have learned to do tadasana you know what it is to stand up straight. Then you begin to realize how your body craves the ease of good posture. Tadasana becomes a touchstone that can quickly clue you in to both your physical and emotional states.
I grew up in a family where we didn’t have a lot of money, but it was always far more important to have quality rather than quantity. I would still happily rather own two really good dresses than 10 cheaper ones, but once in a while I succumb to the really strange notion that maybe I can get a little bit of quality (whatever that is) for a little bit less. And what happens? Cheap shoes, like the ones I wrote about in my last post.
Every time, after I’ve tossed “the deal”, I swear to myself, again, that I will never, ever, let it happen, again. Over the years I have gotten better; I succumb to the strange notion less and less often. It’s always a waste, buying inferior quality in order to “save” money—a waste of time, energy, resources, and yes, money. So, I have made a rule. (It only works if you actually like to shop, but it does work!) This is it: Never shop for what you need when you need it…
Cheap shoes. It’s a term I find myself using for anything of inferior quality. The umbrella you bought at the drugstore because you left yours at home, the one that turned inside-out with the first little flutter of wind? Cheap shoes. The extra bathing suit you bought on vacation at that “boutique,” the one that mysteriously became see-through the moment you exited the water? Cheap shoes. That inexpensive scarf that looked so good on the rack, the one that caused your neck to turn purple? Cheap shoes!
I was surprised when I saw these shoes on a blog that I admire and read every day…
I was surprised because I own a pair — and had already regretted buying them after they’d given me blisters a couple of hours into their first wear (first sign of cheap shoes). Then the other day, I got caught in the rain without my spare pair of flip-flops (carried by every smart NYC woman in summertime, especially when a torrential downpour is expected) and this is what happened to my feet after walking in these shoes in the rain.
I will continue with this rant soon, but now I have to go and soak my stained feet. Cheap shoes!