I’ve posted something similar on this before, and often speak passionately about it - the importance of honouring a baby’s neuro-motor developmental milestones to occur organically without rushing into sitting or standing.
I’ve also ruffled some parents’ feathers in the process, as a number of them are adamant (and also prided themselves) that they have “trained” their child to sit and stand sooner than their peers.
The proliferation of chronic neck, shoulder, mid, lower back pain and spinal issues are not just happening amongst the adults I’ve worked with, but increasingly manifesting in children and adolescents as well. With most adults not being able to get to the ground and staying there comfortably, babies are often coaxed out of rolling, crawling, creeping sooner than they are ready for with sitters and walkers, as well as being trained to interact with a world that mostly hovers above them rather than at a level closer to the ground.
A lot of the rehabilitation and movement education work I’m exploring centres around developmental patterns. It involves getting back onto the floor to rediscover and relearn our gross motor skills from the ground up. This is also important in rewiring neural pathways in the brain stem (heart rate, blood pressure etc) and limbic system (emotion, learning, memory) that offer us a sense of safety in our body’s relationship to gravity and the environment. We learn how to move through different planes, and also learn how to fall with ease and grace. This has a profound effect on our nervous system’s ability to self-organise, self-soothe, and build resilience.
Perceived safety dictates our cognitive and conscious ability to "control" our responses, and is determined by factors such as our pre-disposition, trauma history (including intergenerational trauma), conditioning, power differential, our environment, our mental and physical health, our sense of belonging etc etc...
One of my teachers Richard Freeman would always say in class, "Stiffness is a blessing".
Being hyper-mobile, yoga asanas came easily to me as a practitioner. When I was a new teacher, I'd be teaching 18 classes a week and demonstrating everyone of them on my dominant right side, and doing physical assists on the other.
Then I got very involved in "universal principles of alignment" that'd prescribed systematic methodology of getting into poses, working into end range, and accomplishing peak poses for a recognition of my practice, not forgetting the photo ops.
When I got into my 40's my right hip started clicking, my thoracic spine lost its kyphosis, my head feels to heavy for my neck and shoulders, my SI joint felt wonky and sore at times, and I'm always in a state of feeling like I'd jump out of my skin UNLESS I'm bending myself into deeper stretches.
Something wasn't right. If Yoga is the path to freedom and bliss, my body felt shackled to the ball and chain of a yoga mat.
I got into somatics first through the wonderful Feldenkrais classes with Tara Eden in Chiang Mai. Subsequently I dived into Body Mind Centering's embodiment work of non linear movement and understanding of the nervous system in psychosomatic relationships, learning to listen to the body through sensory awareness into different biological systems, to re-learn and repattern very conditioned ways of inhabiting our body, through self inquiry, using the body as a baseline.
Now I can walk, run, sit, hike... do the functional stuff normal humans do for extended periods - pain free and with presence. My movement repertoire consist of a mix of different activities in addition to mat yoga - swimming, rock climbing, dance, resistance work - so my body's neural mapping gets wired in a variety of possibilities. I've also been working with yoga practitioners and teachers on preventing / rehabilitating repetitive injuries through therapeutic bodywork, yoga therapy which addresses the person through the different layers, and somatic movement education - learning so much about the body-mind as an integrated whole.
I really hope more yoga people are waking up to the message in this article, so we can create a much more sustainable, enriching and mindful dialogue to this ancient tradition. As Richard Freeman says in the first line of Yoga Matrix, "Yoga begins with listening."
#ahimsa #satya #aparigraha
Yogini, Certified Yoga Therapist, Movement Educator, Bodyworker, Wanderluster, Homemaker, Student.