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Function over Form

Some of you may know that in October I was in a car accident. Nothing serious but enough of a shock to the system that I ended up with neck and low back pain.

The car accident was a total pain in the butt (literally and figuratively) and it derailed things in my life quite a bit. However, the healing process has also been really inspirational.

As a natural health care practitioner, I embrace the idea that injury and illness can be some of our greatest teachers. These hardships force us to turn inward and explore the healing journey firsthand and also help build compassion for what our patients are dealing with.

Post-accident, I was forced to stop much of my current yoga practice and transition to a more gentle and therapeutic practice (more similar to what I teach).

What I discovered in my body was fascinating and surprising. Sure, I had tight and sore muscles, but it was more than that. When I tried to do things, it seemed like the wrong muscles were trying to work. That and everything felt stuck together, my shoulder blade, my ribcage, my hips, the front and side of my leg.

In terms of yoga, I could still make the correct shape or form for most poses or asanas. However, I could tell that what was happening in terms of which muscles were working was different from side to side and different from before my accident.

The form of my yoga practice was there but I was missing the function- the correct support of my muscles coordinated by my brain. The other thing I noticed when I tried to do yoga was that I had pain afterward. Doing these movements that had been beneficial to me for years was now making a problem worse rather than better.

I needed to slow down and re-learn how to do something I had been doing for 20 years.

I’ve spent the last few months revisiting many teachings I’ve learned over the years about biomechanics, somatic science, and kinesiology. I’ve been down the rabbit hole of trying to get the right muscles to fire in the right order to heal from my accident.

I’ve also been fortunate to interface with some awesome massage therapists and chiropractors to help me with this process.

The process has been inspirational. I have been reminded of how complex the symphony of nerves, bones, muscles, and tendons that move our body is as well as how good our bodies are at creating patterns of compensation when we are injured so that we can keep moving even if we are moving in a less efficient way.

Releasing these inefficient patterns of compensation is difficult but not impossible. This process of neuromuscular re-education was my inspiration for this Spring’s yoga session, which I have titled, “Fun With Functional Yoga”.

I designed the class incorporating elements from western traditions of somatic science (biomechanics, Egoscue Method, and the Feldenkrais System) to directly support a traditional Hatha Yoga practice. The course work moves through the major regions of the body, starting at the feet, to support proper coordination of kinesthetic chains of movement.

This is an ideal course for those dealing with injuries and also for those who are interested in exploring where their body could work more efficiently. For more information about the class click on the following link.

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