Many of us spend significant time sitting at a computer. As a result, we end up with muscle imbalances, like tightness in the hamstrings, quadriceps, low back, shoulders, chest, and anterior neck, and muscle weakness in the buttocks, abdominals, and mid-back. And this is just from sitting and working! Ironically, many exercise routines do little to counteract these tendencies because they either overwork the front body even more, cementing these dysfunctional postural patterns in place, or fail to include stretching of the contracted muscles while they are still warm and pliable. As a result, the worked muscle fibers become shorter and shorter over time. This loss of flexibility leads to a loss of energy and vitality. But why?
In proper alignment, the body provides a strong supple container for the free flow of prana (energy) throughout the body. When we hold our bodies in one position over a long period of time, such as sitting at a desk for eight hours, the resulting muscle imbalances create obstacles to this free flow of prana. Oftentimes, energy gets “bunched up” around the mid and upper back, neck, and shoulders while the rest of the body becomes energy deficient. Weight training or intense cardiovascular workouts are great, but unless we balance these activities with stretching the tight muscles and strengthening the weaker ones we end up restricting prana even more. This can result in any of the following: inflexibility in mind and body, fatigue, depression, pain, injury, tension, anxiety, and insomnia.
Yoga helps restore proper body alignment by using weaker muscles to stretch the tighter and stronger ones and thus re-establishes the free flow of prana in the body. This helps to alleviate the symptoms of muscle imbalance.
Dave (pictured) is a prime example of what I am talking about. He spends significant time at the computer each day, lifts weights, and runs. But he admits that stretching often gets neglected. As a result, he has started to feel fatigued despite his other good habits. The yoga routine shown addresses the muscle imbalances Dave – and most of us – experience as a side effect of modern life.
If you are experiencing any of the muscle imbalances I have described, please seek the guidance of an experienced yoga therapist to ensure you proceed in a safe manner. I think you will find that the side effects of incorporating yoga into your life are not only increased flexibility but more peace and vitality as well.