Sitting Pretty

I’m teaching a workshop at Samsara Wellness Center. Saturday, June 18th, the day before Father’s day. The workshop is titled “Sitting Pretty.” I wrote my own blurb which reads:

Hamstrings holding you up? Or hamstrings holding you back? Join me for a workshop designed to improve circulation, release stress, and elevate overall health of the body through poses that focus on hips and the lower back.  In this workshop we will explore a variety of postures, sequences, and stretches to increase the range of motion through the hip joint and pelvis.  During the last 15 minutes the students will enjoy a deeply relaxing guided meditation. Be sitting pretty in no time. Strong, supple, healthy hips not only alleviate many persistent back pain issues, but also affect the digestive system. Be well! This workshop is appropriate for all levels.  Props are available at the studio. You can even borrow a mat!

Please attend! Please come! Really. I’m inviting you, personally. $20 for two hours is affordable. What could be more valuable than feeling comfortable in your body? The wellness of your body contributes to the wellness of your mind. Who can concentrate when racked with pain? I know I couldn’t. In my teens, 20s and 30s I was a casual yoga practitioner. The kind of person who knew a little yoga, did a little yoga, traveled more than most and read quite a bit. That paltry resume stood me in good stead after sustaining a stress fracture to my hip. In response to catastrophe I start yoga in earnest. Since my 40s I’ve done yoga daily using yoga for recovery, for physical and mental therapy. The books I read and the travels I took added understanding to my undertaking.

Abbreviated yoga history lesson:

Traditional Yoga predates the widespread use of chairs. What did people do before the proliferation of office furniture ? In a word: squat. In most parts of world people still squat. Squatting creates a natural healthy alignment for internal organs, such as the large and small intestines. The quintessential 1970s yoga pose Lotus? Why was it popular then and outta style now? Because Lotus is difficult for people who can’t barely squat. In the 1970s we certainly had chairs. We used ’em. We sat in ’em. But we weren’t married to them. We didn’t have laptops; we didn’t have Facebook. We weren’t tethered to occupations that required sitting eight to ten hours a day. Public schools still celebrated recess, sports, free time and gym. Now? Not so much.

Children sit longer hours than ever before.

The average child in the 1970s walked or rode her bike to school. Today’s children and adults sit in traffic. We commute farther. We commute slower. We sit and  we sit terribly: slouching, slumping, straining our necks and low backs. Exercise? We work out on average 60 hours a year. I know, yeah. I thought that was a crazy low number myself – but what it amounts to is a little over one hour a week. If you add up all the people you know who never ever exercise, that’s a lot of people. Add to that number the people you know who think housework is exercise. Include the ones who think gardening is exercise. Video games are not exercise. All those people at zero exercise do pull down the national average. For the rest of ’em? An hour a week at the gym may be all they can get away.

Is it any wonder Lotus pose remains elusive?

I suggest releasing the rigid dichotomy between working out and work. Get up at least once an hour to stretch. Walk to work if you can. (Move closer to work if possible.) Walk during work. That’s right. Take a break and walk around the block when your co-workers are taking a smoke break. Squat at least once a day. Twice is better. Squatting won’t take more than a minute. Reawaken your psoas muscles. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel. More positive, more confident. Strength and flexibility affect mental ability. People in pain have trouble focusing. People without pain can be fully present, undistracted. Undiluted. 

Enlightenment has a synonym, “insight.”

Being aware is the same thing as being enlightened. Until and unless we become aware of what is causing us pain we can’t rightly address the pain. Trouble is when pain becomes overwhelming Western medicine responds with opioids. Mind numbing makes awareness challenging. Sometimes a little discomfort is a powerful tool. If my hamstrings cry out in resentment or agony when I attempt Downward Facing Dog I owe myself the courtesy of inquiry. Awareness becomes consciousness. Once conscious of my habits I can alter my lifestyle. Unenlightened beings are mos def at the mercy of others. I’ve met people who’ve suffered in agony for years, taking higher and higher doses of legally prescribed drugs. When I ask them if they’d like to try yoga the reply I hear?

“I can’t do yoga! I can’t even touch my toes!”

I’m not sure how or why toe-touching eclipsed the lotus pose. Rest assured you don’t have to be able to touch your toes to do yoga. You don’t have to be able to do a Downward Facing Dog. You don’t have to be able to do a lotus pose. That will all come in time. Maybe. Most people find their flexibility improves. Consistent practitioners improve faster than inconsistent ones. Mindful, focused practitioners improve faster than unfocused, thoughtless, and careless ones. Earnest seekers find. Posers? Not so much. The less in shape you are, the quicker you’ll notice the benefits. Come to the workshop if you already practice yoga. You’ll enjoy the sequence, the meditation, and the information. Come even if you’ve never done yoga. I’d love to meet you!

You’ll be sitting pretty in no time.