I am happy to introduce the readers of the blog to Lisa Kirsch. Lisa is a friend and chiropractor who helped me through a back injury five or six years ago. The modern chiropractor needs a new name. To borrow a tired sports analogy – Lisa has a lot of tools in her toolbox and chiropractic which has a bad rap in many circles is just one of the things she does.
Lisa has recently started her own blog and I asked her to share a post as a means of introduction.
The Importance of Being Symmetrical
Do you ever wonder why in certain yoga postures it is easier to hold the position on one side than it is on the other? One side might be tighter or more painful compared to the other, or perhaps you cannot even do the pose on one side?
The answer may be in the spine. Your spine is the central axis of the body and sometimes the fabric of the body gets twisted or torqued around this center core. Picture a Venetian blind when you pull on one of the cords and not the other. One side of the blinds get bunched up while the other side gets overstretched. You may only feel one tight hamstring but the fact that you only feel one and not both is significant. When the vertebrae in our spines are not where they should be, our muscles compensate for the misalignment by twisting, tightening or overstretching on one side compared to the other. We need to be conscious to see if this happening in our yoga practice. If we are asymmetrical, eventually over time it will lead to an injury.
Try these simple tests:
- Look in the mirror to see if your head is level. Are your ears at the same height? Is one shoulder higher than the other or pulling closer towards the mirror?
- Next, put your hands on your hips. Is one hip higher than the other or rotating forward?
- When you are lying on your back in savasana, check to see if both feet are turning in and out evenly. See if your hands are rotating in and out evenly. Is one shoulder closer to the floor?
- If there is an imbalance, in any of these positions, it is may be coming from a spinal misalignment.
An asymmetry may feel normal and can easily be ignored for a long time until it starts to hurt. The compensating muscles are actually working overtime to keep you feeling normal. You could be at less than your best and may not even be aware of it! You should correct the distortion at its source (the spine) in order to get the full benefits of a healthy yoga practice.
If you are out of alignment when you do yoga it is like hammering a bent nail. If you are in alignment when you do yoga it will help keep you in alignment.