Aligning the spine is not as easy as it should be. Humans are the first mammals with a curve in the lumbar spine, and while the curve is the all-important aspect of upright posture and walking on two legs, it also allows us to lean backwards habitually which messes mightily with aligning the spine successfully.
My approach to teaching about the body is to simplify everything as much as possible. Here is the simplest way I describe the way our body works—the bones hold you up, the muscles move you and the nerves tell the muscles to move the bones.
There are exceptions to this image but I find it to be extremely useful because—if the bones don’t hold you up, your ligaments (as I wrote yesterday) are holding you up which leaves the bones misaligned and then the nerves can’t move freely as they try to tell the muscles to move the bones.
Our nervous system runs the show that is our life. Anything we do, see, or feel is because of the magnificent human nervous system. The central nervous system is simple— it is the brain and the spinal cord housed in the middle of the spine.
The peripheral nervous system has a lot more going on but it is essentially the nerves that leave through holes in the spine that will receive and send information back to the central nervous system.
Your body works as well as your spine is aligned. Simple as that.
Aligning the spine successfully depends on two main factors—if your bones hold you up and your opposing muscle groups are balanced. Opposing muscle groups cannot be balanced if the bones are misaligned.
Chicken meet egg. Essentially, from my perspective, we are all splayed open in the front of the body and short and tight in the back of the body which prevents us from aligning the spine. Everything I teach in my yoga classes, in my walking program and write about on this blog is an attempt to help others reverse this pattern.
I have been working on this reversal in my own body for about fifteen years—practicing for almost twenty but aware for about fifteen—and believe me when I tell you that it is still a work in progress.