29 Aug Physiotherapy and Yoga: guiding you back to a state of Connection
By Darcy Stubbings
A Holistic Journey Back to the Origin
Since the beginning of our existence as a species, human beings have used their bodies as a means for travel, a vessel for the exchange of food, water and oxygen, a canvas to explore creative movement and individual expression as well as a medium through which we can connect to others.
Fast-forward two million years to the mid-16th Century and we meet Andreas Vesalius – a Belgian-born anatomist and physician whose lifelong work studying the human body led to him being coined the Father of Anatomy. Further scientific endeavors that followed contributed to the unveiling of many of life’s biological mysteries, from how many muscles, joints and bones we have in the human body to the incredible role of the brain and central nervous system in bringing about balance to our day-to-day movement.admin
The problem was that as we continued to learn more and more, we began to conceptualize the human body as a unified object that held very few differences from one individual to the next. The body was approached as if it were the penultimate example of engineering, a replica of a well-oiled machine.
This particular paradigm continues to be an integral theme in many forms of modern day movement education and treatment. We are taught a ‘fix-it’ mentality whereby any internal messages such as the communication of pain between the body and mind, must be either ignored or handed over passively to an intelligent health professional to treat.
So how does this all relate to Yoga?
Yoga is a system of physical, mental and spiritual practices that originated in Ancient India over 5000 years ago, which guide one’s awareness towards that ongoing conversation between the body and the mind. From a physical point of view, Yoga involves adopting a series of postures (called Asana) that create strength, flexibility and balance in the body.
When Yoga was first practiced, humans were predominately a nomadic species who secondary to their lifestyle and nutrient-rich diet were flexible, strong and neurologically balanced. The only time their nervous system would shift into a state of ‘fight or flight’ where the heart rate and level of stress hormones in the blood increases, was when threatened by an external source such as a predator.
Nowadays most people live in a constant state of ‘fight or flight’ due to prolonged sitting, a highly-acidic diet (e.g. fast food, sugar, coffee), stressful working conditions and minimal exercise. Many of the world’s leading health problems such as Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity and Diabetes are historically at an all-time high because of our environmental and lifestyle habits.
Yoga is medium through which one can recalibrate back to a state of homeostasis.
Yoga directly addresses the physical tension created by stress and poor postures (such as slouching all in a chair) through gentle movement, calm breathing, stretching and body awareness. It furthermore can restore muscular length in areas that have shortened and help to develop core stability in areas about the spine and pelvis that may have become weak due to under-use or pain. There is a common misconception that one needs to be flexible to do Yoga, however this is a myth! The true practice of Yoga does not require you to strictly adopt the ‘perfect’ Downward Dog or triangle pose, however encourages an exploration within your own body through the medium of such poses.
So how does Physiotherapy come into this story?
Physiotherapy is a western-based allied health profession that incorporates hands-on techniques and exercise therapy to assess, diagnose, treat and prevent a wide range of health conditions and movement disorders. It offers a personalized understanding of your own body that when combined with the eastern concepts of Traditional Yoga will guide you on your own path of self-exploration and discovery.
A regular Yoga class involves exploring various movement patterns throughout a wide-range of motion. In our normal daily routine, we tend to adopt postures (such as sitting, standing and walking) that stay well within our end of range. Therefore there is an associated degree of risk in a regular Yoga class if the participant is continuously adopting postures that involve hanging out at end of range, without activating the relevant muscles that stabilize and support that area of the body. PhysioYo is a Yoga Therapy run by physiotherapists who are yoga teachers. In a PhysioYo class you will be guided step-by-step through your practice as you learn to embody techniques that cultivate holistic strength, stability, flexibility and body awareness.
Over time a consistent Yoga practice will help you to create a strong sense of independence towards your healthcare. It will allow you to move away from the outdated paradigm of relying on a health clinician to ‘fix’ something that is supposedly ‘wrong’ and instead connect you to the source of that discomfort or pain, insofar as you can empower yourself to listen to the source, alleviate any discomfort and prevent a future occurrence. It is through truly listening to your body with a sense of gentleness, connecting to your breath mindfully and observing whatever thoughts arise, that will allow you to take the reigns of your healthcare and enjoy being a stronger, healthier and more balanced version of yourself.
At Physio Body & Sole in North Sydney we offer Yoga Therapy classes and individual yoga therapy sessions that taught by physiotherapists. Contact us on (02) 9099 8087 or email firstname.lastname@example.org