It's nearly the dawn of a new year and I know that many people will be thinking about their resolutions for 2019. I prefer to have 'intentions' rather than resolutions and aim for small steps or changes towards better habits instead of goals that are way too challenging and forgotten by February!
Here are some ideas of small changes you could choose to incorporate into your daily life.
1. Go barefoot (around the house obviously). Our toes and feet are nearly always scrunched up in shoes, socks and slippers and rarely get the opportunity to spread out and stretch. Also our footwear tends to be narrow and rigid. The feet are our foundation and foot problems can affect knees, hips and our back too. Try going barefoot when you can and also stretch your toes and feet. If you have cold feet then look at buying some ToeSox.
2. Sit on the floor more. Modern life dictates that we sit on chairs and in cars a lot which keeps our hips in a flexed position. Tightness in the hips can lead to back issues so how about sitting on the floor whilst you watch TV or read in the evening. Try to sit in a variety of different ways (cross legged, kneeling, straight legs out in front or angled outwards or, best of all, squat! ) It might just catch on in your family and if you have animals they'll love that you're closer to the floor (or maybe they're watching you from the comfort of the sofa!)
3. Stretch your wrists and forearms daily. Often it's only during your weekly yoga practice that you put any weight (stress) through your hands and wrists. When we stress our joints, bones and tissues they get stronger. Try stretching your wrists whilst you wait for the kettle to boil. Push your hands together firmly in prayer or practice some of the wrist exercises that we do in class.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others. You are unique. We are all so different (there's no average or normal) from our DNA through to our body proportions, connective tissue and joint size. This uniqueness affects us in everything we do, not just yoga. It's why some people need more sleep/exercise/food than others. We should celebrate our uniqueness.
5. Move more, and more and then a bit more. Unless you're suffering with acute pain, gentle movement usually helps us when we have aches and pains. When we don't move enough we get stiffer. If we don't move our joints through their full range of motion they lose that range and the muscles surrounding them also suffer. You don't need to do hours of yoga every day; just a few stretches and moves here and there. Always move with intention and be mindful of any sensations that you feel. These sensations are your body's feedback - tune in to it.
Let me know how you get on - Happy, Healthy New Year to you with spread out toes & happy hips and wrists!!