Fitness Magazine

Life-Changer: Bending Over Differently

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Nina
Life-Changer: Bending Over DifferentlyI decided to share a link to an article Lost Art Of Bending Over: How Other Cultures Spare Their Spinesabout yoga teacher and back care expert Jean Couch and her advice for changing the way we bend over in our daily lives today because for the last few weeks I’ve been following her advice and, wow, the results have been wonderful! I’ve had ongoing low back pain due to mild scoliosis and arthritis in m lower spine for some time now, and although I address those issues in my personal practice, there has still been room for improvement. Since I’ve been following Jean’s instructions for changing the way I bend over in my daily life (you know, to pick up something off the floor or put something on a low shelf) my low back has felt so much better. 
It makes sense that what you do in your personal practice a hour or two per day could easily be undone by your habitual activities throughout the rest of the day. And while most of us know about sitting and standing with good posture, this alternate way of bending over, which is something people in many other cultures do, was not something I was aware of (gosh, am I just super late to the party?). 
If you’re interested, I really think you should read the original article Lost Art Of Bending Over: How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines and, especially, watch the video! But the basic gist is that most of us in western cultures tend to bend over by first looking down with our heads, then contracting our abdomens and bending over with a rounded back into a C shape, which stresses our back muscles and can lead to back pain. The advice here is to change this habit by bending your knees first and hinging back from your hips so you take a kind of table shape, with your spine remaining in it’s natural curves. Here are the instructions from the article:Life-Changer: Bending Over Differently
  1. Place your feet about 12 inches apart. 
  2. Keep your back straight. 
  3. As you bend your knees, allow your pubic bone to move backward.  
  4. Fold over by allowing your pubic bone to slide through your legs, down and back. 
Unfortunately, tight hamstrings can make it difficult to bend over in this way. (Because tight hamstrings are common among those with a sedentary lifestyle, this may be why hip hinging” has virtually disappeared from our culture.) So if this describes you and you want to try this method of bending over, you should also be regularly stretching your hamstring muscles (versions 1 and 2 of Reclined Leg Stretch are both helpful for this). I learned a couple more things from spending the last couple of weeks (and I hope the rest of my life) bending forward in this new way: 
  1. It takes a lot of mindfulness to break a lifetime of habits regarding unconscious movement, but it is possible to do it. My husband said he noticed I had started bending “weirdly” but didn’t say anything because he figured I’d tell him about it eventually. 
  2. I really had no idea how many times a day I was bending over while I was doing housework and just living my life (I knew about the gardening problem) until I brought my awareness to it. So, so many! 
If any of you have already tried this (or worked with students this way) or if decide you do want to try it, I’d love to hear from you. Subscribe to Yoga for Healthy Aging by Email ° Follow Yoga for Healthy Aging on Facebook and Twitter ° To order Yoga for Healthy Aging: A Guide to Lifelong Well-Being, go to AmazonShambhalaIndie Boundor your local bookstore.For information about Nina's upcoming workshops and retreats and other activities, see Nina's Workshops, Book Signings, and Books.

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