The spine is designed for both mobility and stability, and often, we can have too much of one and not enough of the other. For optimal daily functioning, to live a fully functional life, we need a certain degree of mobility: enough to look behind us while backing up a car, to look both ways before crossing a street, to get down to and up from the floor, or out of a bathtub, to tie our shoes or to play our chosen sports. We also need enough stability to lift and carry objects or and children without risk of injury.
Normally, yoga classes tend to focus more on mobility than stability. But there are no health benefits to being able to do deep backbends, and in fact, flexible students are more likely to experience back problems than stiffer students. While an optimal amount of spinal movement is required to safely and comfortably engage in our everyday activities, live a full and normal life. This should not come at the expense of spinal stability, however.
Spinal biomechanical research has found that there are two keys to safely exercising our joints:
The arc of this class follows this advice. It begins with a yin flow to help mobilize the spine in a safe and effective way: the spine is moved in all six of its possible directions while not bearing any loads. This is followed by a yang flow designed to help create stability: the spine is loaded while in a neutral position and the core muscles are engaged to create stiffness. Repetition of these postures helps to build endurance, and building endurance iswhich is more protective for the spine than building strength alone.
Bernie has been travelling the yogic path for over 35 years, starting with a daily meditation practice that he established in his mid-twenties, in order to deal with stress in his business career. In his early forties, he was introduced into the physical practices of yoga through Hatha yoga, which assisted him greatly in his meditation practice. He has a degree in science and spent 30 years as a senior executive in the high tech, space industry, but he also continued to feed his intense curiosity about psychology, mythology, anatomy and philosophy, which culminated in his writing several books about yoga, mythology and anatomy. Today, Bernie is a yoga teacher and educator offering classes, teacher trainings and workshops in Vancouver, Canada. He continues to write books and maintain his website, www.YinYoga.com. .