Do It YOURSELF: The Story of Break-Neck

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I don’t live in your body, YOU DO! If a pose doesn’t feel right, it is down to YOU to listen to your body and back off. I’d rather you sit here the whole hour and just breathe, rather than get yourself into a position that contradicts your well being.
— Me
I also shock people with swarthy sailor talk. It is a blast of truth that affects your nervous system and allows you to repattern.

I also shock people with swarthy sailor talk. It is a blast of truth that affects your nervous system and allows you to repattern.

Thats usually how I introduce myself to a yoga class if I am subbing, or if there are newbies. Of course I expect some or all of the class to slip into 'DO WHAT YOU'RE TOLD' mode, without regard for your body's signals.  Thats why I walk around the class to remind everyone to breathe, and listen to themselves.  I also verbally shock participants with strategic sailor talk.  Its swarthy comic relief, with a blast of truth that hits home, HARD!  It interrupts rigid patterns we have created, and opens up a door for a new way to experience yourself/life.  Plus its fun!

Recently, a great opportunity arose during a Long Island yoga class that I subbed for. 

Let me set the stage.  Its mid-class, I'm sarcastically pushing everyone's buttons, with light-hearted reminders while they move and breathe. Saying things like:

Do what feels good. Don’t push past sensation. If your body is saying no and you’re ignoring it, thats rape. YOU’RE RAPING YOURSELF!
— Kim
Everyone was in their version of shoulder stand

Everyone was in their version of shoulder stand

3/4 of the way into class, everyone was in their version of shoulder stand.  I walked by a young girl who was looking uncomfortable.  She said aloud as I passed, ". . . this hurts my neck.".  What could I do?  How was I to proceed?   She vocally drew attention to her predicament, and I felt inspiration COURSING through me like a comedian during an encore.  I couldn't pass this up.  Here is how I responded:

Ok, push harder then. . . Further. . . Is that all you’ve got?  I wanna see blood! 
Are you fucking kidding me?!!!  If your neck hurts THEN STOP!
— Said a Yoga Instructor
Awareness gives you a CHOICE

Awareness gives you a CHOICE

Of course I said this loud enough for the whole class to witness.  Once all of the students noticed that sarcasm was evident, we shared a great laugh.  We are FAR TOO SERIOUS in yoga sometimes.  But this opportunity was perfectly placed to receive immense value from the experience.  Opportunity for:


You actually create your own freedom, and what is better than that, America? :)

You actually create your own freedom, and what is better than that, America? :)

It is the 'ah HA' moment when you go from being unaware to full realization of what you are doing/practicing/feeling.  Call it clarity.  You are mindful enough to realize a pattern, because you see it from a new perspective.  Yoga doesn't want to change you.  It simply wants to make you aware.  Why?  Because that awareness gives you a CHOICE.  Before the awareness, what you do or think is just the way.  You know the saying "its just the way its always been."  But when you see another perspective, options open up.  You actually create your own FREEDOM.  And what is better than that, America?  


There are always choices in EVERY situation.  But they may not be easily spotted if you've trained yourself to think a certain way.  Thats like feeling forced against your will.  And the funny thing is, its all our own doing!  We create our lives every day by what and how we practice.  If our practice is strong enough, it becomes a story.  That story is SO GOOD that we define ourselves by it.  Its our story!  We can't detach.  It is who we are. . . . . But is it really? 

There are ALWAYS choices in every situation.

There are ALWAYS choices in every situation.

The funny thing is, it is all US!

The funny thing is, it is all US!

You are the creator of your own reality.  Much like the situation I described, yoga didn't hurt that student, I didn't hurt that student, SHE WAS HURTING HERSELF!  Suffering is optional.  You might have to experience your own painful motivation to help you realize that, but it IS a choice.   If you're not aware of it, don't worry it will get louder.  Hopefully it doesn't get so loud that you're actually snapping your neck before you stop the momentum, but you get the idea.  The momentum is YOUR momentum.  YOUR story.  YOUR experience.  Make sure its one you enjoy, because you're writing the next chapter right now.

I'm Ready to live a new chapter

TOH Pool Safety and Health

Its summer for the northern hemisphere.  Levittown residents know this means the pools are open!  You've got your towel, flip flops, goggles, water bottle, but forgot your sunscreen.  DON'T WORRY!  Town Of Hempstead Health Department cares about keeping you well.  Something new at the pool is FREE SUNSCREEN! 


Something not new is BAD POSTURE.  Take a look at the background action.  What do you see?

You might not notice at first glance, but these people are off balance.  They're leaning so far in one direction that their body has to compensate in various places just to hold them upright.  Do you know what that means for their health (and yours) down the line?

Look again.  What do you see?  They're all standing with their hands on their hips.  Familiar?  Have you found yourself standing for a period of time and either crossed your arms over your chest or propped yourself up on your hips?  If you're like most people, you've done it without even thinking of it.  Your body does it on its own, its called compensation.

The postures in this photo are of people displaying rounded upper back and shoulders, and excessive lower back curvature, to name just a few deviations.  Even the lifeguard falls into this category, and he is living an active lifestyle. 

So whats the big deal?  Plenty of people look like this.  Its normal right?  Well it most certainly is typical of what we all see these days but so is this:

Lower Back Pain is the #1 Cause of Disability WORLDWIDE

Does that sound typical?  How about normal?  How about something is wrong here, and we are missing a huge component to our overall health!


Just like the postures above, this building is off balance.  Its falling down.  But it doesn't have any cool compensatory responses to keep itself upright on its own.  Instead it is getting propped up to stop the decline, at least for a little while.  Notice anything familiar?

This is exactly what the people in the top photo are doing for themselves.  Their muscles aren't working to keep them in accordance with their original design.  Some are 'asleep' while others are OVER WORKING, and the body is falling down.  It supplies the props just like the steel supports on the building, but it uses your arms instead.  

But we are different than the building.  We can adapt, heal, twist, run, jump, crawl, climb, push, pull you name it.  You see most of us lack QUALITY motion in our daily lives.  You are probably saying, 'I workout every day'.  But so is the lifeguard, and so is the other family beyond the frame of the photo. 

Michael Phelps a tremendous athlete, displaying musculoskeletal compensations.  

Michael Phelps a tremendous athlete, displaying musculoskeletal compensations.  

Most of the motion we give ourselves is repetitive motion that gets patterned into our body and stays.  Even the workouts we get at the gym are focused more on encouraging EFFORT rather than QUALITY.  Burn CALORIES, rather than have FUN (more on that in another post).  Do what the instructor says, rather than explore all motion.  We rarely take our bodies through full capable range of motion, much less strengthening it there.  So it holds tight to the pattern it considers 'safe' and forgets the rest.

Gyms focus mostly on effort to burn calories, not quality movement that creates sustained health.

Gyms focus mostly on effort to burn calories, not quality movement that creates sustained health.

If you WON'T move, you CAN'T move over time, and we head past compensation into dysfunction.  Sounds scary right?  Its not.  

Its just another adaptation that our body has in its bag of tricks to keep us as well as it can.

Thats right, compensations, dysfunctions, and adaptations are all in the plan. 

Because if we couldn't adapt, we would be like that building, hopelessly stuck waiting for someone from Monster Garage to weld upright stilts onto our falling torso.  The building needs to return to its blueprint design.  It won't last long with those beams holding it up, and it certainly won't perform like it did before, ie. holding hundreds of people inside safely.  

Your body needs to return to its design too.  And it can do it more easily than you think (more on that in another post).  If it does not, no amount of sunscreen will help get you to the pool when your back is out!

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