Backbone

"What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us into the world, miracles happen." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Throughout last week I focused the practice in the classes on the lumbar region of the spine. In one class I shared the quote from Joseph Pilates: "You are as young as your spine is flexible" and added to the quote "...and as strong as your abdomen". While the sacral or pelvic region when muscularly activated roots us to the ground, the lower back supports the upper body allowing us to connect to the surrounding world and each other. I used the word "backbone" to clarify my point that without the support of the lower back and abdominal muscles we would not be able to stand in our inner truth as we connect and express ourselves or support others. It took me a long time to develop a strong backbone and it's still developing. At the rudimentary level a strong backbone depends on the gut health. Eating the wrong foods and we end up with visceral fat that stick to and build around the liver, kidneys, spleen, and pancreas resulting in weakening digestive and vital organs, and causing the potbelly impossible to lose through exercises. The congestion causes by the excess obstructs the circulatory system and disrupts the blood-brain barrier resulting in a truly toxic inner environment that expresses the kind of miracles none of us wants--various psycho-physiological conditions too complex to cure with drugs, surgeries, or yoga. 

Shared insights are godsends. When the miracles in you speak to the miracles in me we grok each other serendipitously. Sometime it takes desperation to believe in miracles. For a long time I believe in the literal meaning of the Middle Path. So, instead of cutting out grains from my diet completely I reduced the intake. The death of my dad mysteriously became the final straw. My body was weakened and my lower back was in extreme achiness that upon reading the book "Undoctored" by William Davis, MD, I started to experiment with zero grain intake. The truth is, what balance to some is extreme to others. If grains are poisoning my body then the only way I would know this for a fact is by stop eating it completely. Within a week the gunk I felt was stuck in my joints and bones were gone along with the ache in my lower back, nagging sciatic sensation in my left leg, and bloating in my belly. And most importantly, the food craving was gone after a couple days of an intense withdrawal--shakiness and strong desire for carbs. Apples and bananas were my substitute drugs for grains. Though, they contain high carb and high sugar they don't contain the opioid substance found in grains that disrupts the blood-brain barrier causing my mood swings. Desperation is the desire to get you out of bad relationships, works, and diets. Like stopping daily abuse at home or at work, getting rid of an unhealthy diet means stopping the daily influence. You get the heck out of the cycle of poisonous relationship and develop a strong backbone because of it. You are no longer on a diet trying to restrict your contact with the poisonous agent be it a person, a task, or food. You are living on plentiful, non-poisonous, nutrient-rich relationships, activities, and foods. 

Once the poisons in life are truly gone you feel great (almost) right away. And this is the only solid clue to whether you are just swinging from one bad diet, relationship, or job to another or you are actually in your elements living and expressing your daily miracles. The requirement for a strong backbone is flexibility. Once out of my daily intake, like alcohols, grains can be consumed safely once in a while, appropriate to how healthy I am at the moment, in small amount. The requirement for flexibility is awareness. Without it there is rigidity which leads to all sorts of addiction. Addiction is driven by the need to control. I'm aware that my craving is still happening. Though I stopped the over-consumption of bananas and apples I've been shopping for clothes aggressively. I can't consume glutinous food but I can consume sweet looking dresses! I can't control what my body craves but can I not control how it looks? Developing a strong backbone is first and foremost cultivating the awareness of your vulnerability, desire, and weakness not just physically but also psychically. My yoga classes are immersed in the body-mind awareness. The Sunday Flow class is muscular and fun. It attracts a lot of people because, I believe, its main development is the strong physical backbone that requires strengthening of internal and external abdominal and oblique muscles as well as integrating the back and pelvic muscles. I integrate physical awareness with energetic awareness by including passive stretches, Pranayama, and meditation to increase fluidity in the ligament system and flexibility in the mind. I invited the participants in the last Sunday Flow as they rested between the hard core poses to "observe the great amount of sensation the body and heart were containing and any judgement or criticism that the mind was holding". When we are aware of what we feel and how we think, we can transform the wonder within into the daily miracles that strengthen the body, expand the heart, and grow the intellect in us and for each other.