Mindful Movement Matters

By Kari Kemper

It is rare for yoga practitioners, whether beginning or experienced, to not have something going on in their body during their yoga practice or during the rest of their day. This something “going on” may be a slight twinge here and there, or a bigger issue be it diagnosed or undiagnosed.

The main culprit? Our increasingly sedentary lifestyle. Our bodies in a modern setting, spend most of our days sitting, rounded a little bit forward. Sitting shortens the front side of our body and the back body is lengthened – becoming weak, tense and slack. The symptoms vary, but essentially the more you sit for an extended period, the higher the risk. How does the risk rank? Low risk: Sitting for less than 4 hours per day. Medium risk: Sitting for 4–8 hours per day. High risk: Sitting for 8-11 hours per day. Very high risk: Sitting for more than 11 hours per day. But we do yoga! Surely that counterbalances all of that sitting! Yes and no.

We all know and experience the physical, mental and emotional benefits of yoga. In my opinion finding any movement is a great thing to help keep us healthy and mobile without pain. However, we often get into the mindset of achieving – striving to increase flexibility too early, without understanding that strengthening, mobility and range of motion have equal if not more value; wanting that “full expression of the pose” to present in your body vs. using your body as it is today to give you the pose you need in the moment; or compromising engagement with momentum which often causes unhealthy habits for a long-term practice. Additionally, yoga is heavily weighted with forward motion and we need back body engagement to keep our spine and surround tissues healthy and happy.

Slowing down to dive deep can help not only heal your body and prevent future “something going ons” but can also enhance your faster moving practices giving you more awareness and intention. Focusing on quality over quantity, understanding how to engage movement mindfully, and discovering a few tricks to do outside of yoga can help counterbalance our longest hold of the day – sitting.

Join me for my Yoga for a Healthy Spine Movement Workshop Series. We will spend 90 minutes in each session, giving us space and time to dive deeper beyond what I teach during my weekly class. You can enroll in the entire series or take the sessions a la carte. After each session, you will receive a handout for an at-home practice.

Thoracic Spine Love
Thursday, June 6 6:30-8:00 PM
Spend 90 minutes moving, soothing, and strengthening the Upper Back. One of the most requested areas of focus during my weekly Yoga for a Healthy Spine class.
In this workshop, we will explore the movements of the thoracic spine and work on creative exercises to access the upper spine to create strength and mobility. From these exercises, we’ll practice a few yoga poses to experience a greater understanding how mobilizing and strengthening the upper back not only enhances your asana experience, but also is key to diminishing lower back sensitivity. We will also explore day-to-day ergonomics such as sitting at desk posture and how that affects your spinal health.

The Essential Core
Thursday, June 13 6:30-8:00pm
The core muscles are everything! They generate the strength, stability, and mobility we need to perform our everyday activities, including walking, running, carrying, climbing, and any kind of sport. They support the weight of the entire body, initiate all our major movements, keep us balanced, and protect our internal organs.
A strong, stable, and supportive core is critical for maintaining a healthy spine as well as a key factor for inversion practices. In short, they play a crucial role in our body’s biomechanics, and we wouldn’t get far without them. Spend 90 minutes exploring how to activate the core during yoga poses as well as using other forms of movement to find, strengthen and stabilize your core.

Happy Hips
Thursday, June 27 6:30-8:00pm
Tight hips? Hypermobile hips? Both can cause frustration in yoga and in everyday activities. In this 90-minute workshop, discover specific ways to move and engage your hips mindfully on the mat to unlock hip flexors and awaken hip stabilizers.
We will explore how the hips play a role in specific yoga poses and how to adjust alignment specific to your body. We will flow through a hip focused practice with poses specific to hip flexors, adductors, hamstrings, abductors, and external rotators pausing to discuss what’s really happening with the hips in common poses. Join me for this explorative session in asana work and other forms of movement to stretch, strengthen and stabilize to create happy hips.

I hope you can join me!