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Benefits of yoga for the sedentary homo sapien

A friend of mine exclaimed that the community class I taught had too many core exercises and it was very tiring for them because their core was so weak. In comparison, I had a breeze demonstrating because my core is strong ‘see you can sit straight on a chair without the backrest’. Of course, I disagreed that my class had ‘too many’ core exercises – those are great for you – but it was then that I realised that I have subconsciously sat on the same chair for more than an hour without leaning on the backrest, and this is only possible with a strong core.

It never used to be like this for me. Like almost the majority of the population in urban areas doing our work and earning our salaries sitting on a chair, in front of the computer. When I graduated and first started working full-time, I spent so much time stationary in front of the computer that my shoulders ache almost permanently, and a salon-pas (medicated plaster for pain relief) is always within an arm’s reach.

I’ve never touched more than a couple of salon-pas since I started practising yoga more than 4 years ago. You will hear a very similar story from other regular practitioners. Here I’ll like to share a few reasons why yoga resolves a lot of pain issues created by our lifestyle and some poses for you to explore:

Yoga trains your core and protects your spine

Our core muscles are actually very important when protecting our spine. If you didn’t already know, anthropologists argued that our pain issues began when our ape ancestors decided to stand upright despite our spine being built for climbing. As a result, immense pressure and weight is placed on the spine – which is then curved at the birth canal.Disaster

As a result, lower back pain and other similar issues are extremely common. Yoga focuses heavily on building core strength, engagement, and the lengthening of the spine. Over time, a strong core will protect you from injuries to our poorly ‘designed’ spine by creating strong muscles around it to protect it. The lengthening of the spine also helps relieve some of the compression from carrying so much weight on our spine. These days, too much mobile phones and sitting in front of the computer has worsened the issues in our neck and spine (lordosis and kyphosis), and yoga counteracts this. Healthy spine, healthy life.

Yoga counter-stretches that are overused and activates muscles you don’t usually use.

Besides neck and spine issues, all that sitting infront of the computer has also closed up our chests, round our shoulders, and tighten our hamstrings and weaken our hip flexors. Chest-opening poses, shoulder stretches helps loosen the kinks and relieves pressure points for reduction of pain. Many yoga poses also stretches out the hamstrings and strengthens the hip flexors (which can get very weak from too much sitting). It is important to stretch and strengthen these to protect from injuries.

Hopefully these will convince you to give yoga a shot for maintaining and staying pain-free for life.

200 Hour YTT Oct’20