Scott, an enthusiastic golfer, came to me desiring increased hip flexibility and strength in order to improve his golf swing. As Scott shared his concerns with me, I observed his seated position with one leg crossed over the other throughout our meeting, a common postural habit. Everyday habits however, accumulate, causing uneven flexibility and strength in the hips. This lack of symmetry becomes highlighted and even reinforced in athletic endeavors, especially those that tend to favor one sided movement such as golf, tennis or baseball. Whether or not you participate in sports, do the following:
Take a moment to tune in to your body: as you read this, are your legs or ankles crossed the same habitual way you always cross them? Does one side of your bottom maintain heavier contact with the chair than the other side?
While brushing your teeth or fixing your hair, or stirring the pot in the kitchen do you tend to shift your weight to the same hip? Routinely favoring one side of your body over the other, even in simple everyday activities, will ingrain imbalances.
How about your shoulders? Can you align them gently down your back instead of rolled forward? Does your chin jut forward or flex down toward your computer or device, or can you allow the head to float on top of the neck, so that your cervical vertebrae are not stressed?
Now move your attention to your lower back. Is there a gentle arch or extension there, or is your lower back rounding, putting extra pressure perhaps on your lumbar vertebrae?
Are you allowing your breath to inhabit your body to keep you centered and calm? It is certainly more challenging for your lungs to receive oxygen if your chest doesn’t feel open also allowing your belly to soften for relaxing breaths.
A simple synonym for yoga is awareness. When you are aware of healthy alignment in everyday activities, and on the yoga mat, your muscles, bones, and breath will empower you toward self-care.
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