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Shannon Brady

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Letting go of Western patterns to find space in the body

As I willed my knees down in a cross-legged seat on my yoga mat, I thought about what patterns over my four-plus decades of life got them to this stuck in mid-air state, despite daily yoga practice the past three years or so. To be fair, they’re a little closer, but we’re talkin’ a millimeter per year and no more. My outer hips are just tight. (Or to be specific, my gluteus medius and tensor fascia lata for the anatomy geeks.)

Years of distance running, cycling, and swimming have certainly kept my hips locked in forward motion, but what else?

I thought about this as my fabulous teacher/employer/studio owner announced before class an upcoming two-hour hip opener workshop we ought to sashay our fannies into next month. She emphasized how our Western culture isn’t the most conducive toward healthy open hips and butts.

She’s got that right. And she got me thinking. Back to my trips to Vietnam, Northern Thailand, Shanghai, where shop owners and food vendors would sit in a beautiful malasana squat for hours on end looking as comfortable as I might feel were I reclined in a Lazy-boy with my heels kicked up. How is that possible??

A glance around my apartment bears clear evidence of Western habits resulting in not so happy hips, butts, shoulders and feet. And backs. And…pretty much every other body part.

Sectional sofa, check. Monster leather chair, check. Plushtop mattress, shoe tree with all sorts of high-heeled ridiculousness, the loo, even. Check. Check. Check! All these modern conveniences mean our bodies don’t get to peel open and work with gravity. Step beyond the apartment and the caved-in culture continues – in the driver’s seat, at the office hunched over a keyboard, the plastic seats at the DMV. Sigh.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not racing out to buy a futon (been there done that), or dine Moroccan style on cushions every night (though some nights sound pretty fun!), but I can do a few things, and you can too:

1. Sit on the floor. You probably did as a kid, so why not now?

2. Employ a no-shoes indoors rule. Feel your feet already. Walk barefoot through grass and all kinds of wonderful is headed your way. I always think of fun, summer lazy days growing up when I walk barefoot in the grass.

3. Take svasana. On the floor! Not your plushtop. Practice hard enough prior, and you might just fall asleep – experiencing the same type of slumber as a good part of the Eastern culture that doesn’t require mounds of cushy under your spine.

4. Attend Laura’s Hip Opening Class at Yogasphere April 21, 2013.

5. Any more ideas?? I’d love to hear them so please share!

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