Too Much Rain Over Paradise.

By Renee’ Fulkerson

According to the National Weather Service, Hanalei received a record 27 inches of rain in 24 hours. Wainiha got nearly 20 inches of rain in 24 hours. The Princeville Airport got 8.6 inches. The Princeville Airport recorded 12 inches of rain, Kapahi 9 inches and Mount Waialeale nearly 18 inches of rain over 24 hours.

LIHUE — The state Department of Transportation expects to open a one-lane route on Kuhio Highway to Wainiha and Haena by May 7, weather permitting.

Much love, respect and gratitude for all the support, love and well wishes. Namaste

Aloha, With that being said Inner Breath YogAlign Class at Fit Lab Kauai will be canceled until further notice as I am a resident of Haena. Blessings

It Began to rain

and rain

and rain

and rain

 The morning after

Locals and tourist moving to higher ground

Last minute efforts to move vehicles to higher ground

The main road in and out ~ is somewhere under there (12 mudslides total)

They have arrived the military, supplies and nourishment

Blackhawk helicopter evacuation

The calm after the storm

We gather in community and the healing and recovery begins ~ Aloha

YogAlign Inner Breath Yoga Kauai (52)

Your core impacts everything you do; make sure it’s strong.

By Kim Squire, Lawrence Memorial Hospital

Physical therapists can determine what is contributing to a patient’s pain by evaluating core strength and posture, locating muscle imbalances and assessing harmful movement patterns. A therapist focuses exercises to get the most benefit for an individual’s needs.

Jill just celebrated her 40th birthday. She works sitting at a computer and has stopped going to her Zumba class because she has constant lower back pain.

Friends and family are concerned and urge her to “get into shape.” A quick search on the internet indicates that “core weakness” may be contributing to her problem.

“Core” is a common word to anyone who has had treatment for back pain, exercises regularly or participates in any sport activities. But this word can be confusing: What exactly is my core? Should I be doing more sit-ups? How can I get help with strengthening?

The core has many interpretations. Some people describe the core as a “corset” of muscles that provide stability for movement and protection of the spine.

“The core has everything to do with everything we do,” said Gary Gray, a physical therapist at the Gary Gray Institute in Adrian, Michigan.

Others from his institute describe it as “everything from your nose down to your toes.” Other sources define the core as the torso, which is a long list of muscles that make up the areas of the belly, mid and lower back, shoulders, hips and neck. It also includes the pelvic floor and diaphragm.

The core has more than a few roles in our body. It provides stability to our body so we effectively can move our arms and legs. It allows us to sit up straight and efficiently align our skeleton to transfer forces.

You may have heard the phrase “neutral spine,” which refers to the position of your spine when all three curves are in proper alignment and there is the least amount of stress placed on the spine joints. Your core allows you to find and maintain that position. Weakness or inefficiency in core muscles can lead to inefficient movement patterns, injury and pain — which is the case for Jill.

Listening to the advice of others, Jill decided to hire a personal trainer. But she made some common mistakes during her exercises: she stood with a slumped posture, held her breath during exercises, held her stomach muscles tight during exercise and performed high-intensity exercises before understanding how to correctly activate the muscles of her core.

Although the exercises with her trainer made Jill feel more in shape, her back pain persisted — especially while sitting at work. Jill decided to visit her doctor, who told her to see a physical therapist for evaluation and treatment.

Physical therapists can determine what is contributing to a patient’s pain by evaluating core strength and posture, locating muscle imbalances and assessing harmful movement patterns. They work with patients to make goals and a specific plan to reach those goals. A therapist focuses exercises to get the most benefit for an individual’s needs. For example, active tennis players should focus on exercises that strengthen their cores and give them power when serving the ball.

It’s common for physical therapists to find that a person has a strong core but is unable to activate the muscles effectively. For instance, Jill may have strong muscles as a result of her exercise, but she struggles to find and maintain her spine in a good posture.

Knowing how to correct your posture and “turn on” the core muscles can make a huge difference with back pain. It takes training and awareness to correct your own posture and real core conditioning to hold your good posture throughout the day.

Jill’s physical therapist taught her how to find her core muscles and how to activate them. Once she was able to locate them and hold a contraction, the therapist had her work on using her core muscles while sitting, standing, reaching and lifting.

She also made some changes at work. Initially, Jill started with a lumbar support in her chair to help her sitting posture. She then progressed to sitting on a ball at her desk. She also made sure to get up and stand or walk around the office every 30 minutes.

Within two weeks, Jill was able to use her core muscles without thinking about it or reminding herself. Her back pain improved and she felt less tired at the end of the day. Jill had consciously found her core muscles and engaged them throughout her day, and her back pain no longer stopped her from being active. She was able to be more energetic afterward and rejoined her Zumba class.

— Kim Squire is a physical therapist at LMH Therapy Services. She can be reached at

We Are All Outdoor Women: Lifting Our Voices Above Society’s Ideal

words by Carolyn Highland

There are many spaces where women are told how to be: how to speak, how to act, how to dress, how to think; spaces where we are put into boxes and labeled “right” or “wrong.”
In my North American experience, women are raised in a society that can make us feel that we’re not good enough unless we adhere to the narrow standard set for us. It is easy to carry this attitude into the wilderness, causing us to assume that we must also occupy the outdoors in a “certain way”. “Real” outdoor women don’t wear makeup. “Real” outdoor women are always decked out in technical gear. “Real” outdoor women have to be one of the guys.
It’s as though we have to fit into a singular image of an outdoor woman to be taken seriously.
But when you step outside and observe, you will come to the realization that a singular image, a singular reality, is a falsehood.
We don’t tell the wildflowers that they aren’t the right color, or the river that it has too many curves. We don’t tell the mountains they are too tall, or the trees that they should have more leaves. We look at the wilderness as it is, not as we think it should be.
“Real” flowers and rivers and mountains and trees look all sorts of different ways; they are each right and perfect and enough — as we are.
Getting outside may look different to all of us, but each of want to feel free, strong, connected with something greater, and get a hit of the magic that the outdoors provides.
Women everywhere are working to reject the narrowness of society’s ideals. Within public lands, open spaces, and wildernesses — not just in North America, but beyond — are women standing in their truth — whatever that looks like to them.
Recently, Outdoor Women’s Alliance’s Colorado Front Range Grassroots Team entered into a conversation demonstrating what “getting outside” means. Individual women shared their favorite photo of themselves outdoors and the story behind them. Headed by the original poster, Alicia Copenhafer, the response from team members was overwhelming.
Below are some of the photos and stories taken from the comment section of this post. From the larger comment thread, this selection provides a sample representing the diverse backgrounds, ability levels, and sources of happiness in the outdoors that exist within our community and the moments that illustrate what outdoor women look like at their self-described best:

Holly Ables


“… at the age of 41, I successfully hiked my first two 14ers: Mt. Grays and Mt. Bierstadt. Here’s to never being too old to accomplish great things!”

Meg Atteberry


“This was one of my favorite days in the mountains. If you would have told me three years ago that I’d be comfortable with class 3 and 4 exposure I would have likely laughed at you. But here I am, about to tackle a pretty exposed point, just for the fun of it. The end of this climb marked over 35,400 feet of vertical gain for the year — that’s up and down Mount Everest 1.2 times, from sea level. Without the growth I’ve experienced through pushing myself in the wild I would not have the strength to quit my career and pursue my passion for writing and the outdoors.”

Sarah Banks


“I look ridiculous. I love this picture. I was afraid and excited; it was my first time kayaking. I get down on myself for not being nearly adventurous enough in the great outdoors of Colorado but I’m making small changes to get out there and have a little fun.”

Sarah Beaton


“At 25 weeks pregnant, I conquered a 14er. Climbing high peaks wasn’t new to me, but it was new to be hiking while pregnant. Just after this photo was taken, I fell face first onto the gravelly path after my leg unexpectedly gave out. Instinct kicked in and I protected my belly, but it cost me being able to put out my hands to cushion my fall. I ended up with two sprained ankles, a pulled groin muscle, and a contusion on my lung — but baby was okay! The reason I’m proud of this photo is because I’m not letting pregnancy restrict me from doing the things I love. I’ve also learned that there are limitations and that’s okay; I’m still a strong woman!”

Maggie Burns


“This photo is on day two of my first backpacking trip last summer (2016). We hiked Segment 9 of the Colorado Trail. I was by far the slowest out of the group and had to be okay with asking for breaks. I kept telling myself the mountain wasn’t going anywhere, but in big group it’s always hard to ask for breathers. The summer of 2015 I had a pulmonary embolism and I haven’t been the same since that diagnosis so this trip was my first big feat since. It helped me prove to myself that I could do anything I put my mind to. Even in the struggles of elevation gain, the long days with a heavy pack, I did it. I feel so much happier and alive outside. After this trip, I felt empowered to do anything, to try any new sport. I just needed the confidence in myself, my legs, my feet and my mind — and this trip helped me find it.”

Felicia Casares


“This was the day I summited Quandary Peak. My first 14er just happened to be in the winter. As an oxygen-dependent person, my climb was dependent on if we could haul enough oxygen up the mountain to complete this hike and to make sure my regulator did not freeze in the conditions. It took some planning, but we did it. It’s humbling to know you can’t live without medical intervention but that doesn’t mean you can’t live! Every mile tells a story; a story of struggle to draw every breath and muscles that want to quit, a story of the relentless pursuit to prove that you’re out there doing exactly what you love to do!”

Alicia Copenhafer


“This is one of my more recent favorites … I was coming off a bad streak of depression and hadn’t had the energy or desire to get outdoors most of the spring and summer. But this day I got out and was happy. I’m not doing anything [hardcore] but the story behind this day was a turning point for me. And that’s why I love it. That’s why I felt empowered this day.”

Cynthia Dang


“When I was 25 I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and suffered from debilitating migraines almost daily. I was an athlete and lover of the outdoors. I realized, as I approached my 27th birthday, that I had never attempted to summit a 14er. I decided to show my doctors what I was capable of [and planned to do Bierstadt, a 14er in Colorado’s Front Range], for my upcoming birthday. The week of my birthday ‘party’ to summit Bierstadt, I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I almost didn’t go, but I’m a stubborn person and I had to prove that just because my body was failing me that I wasn’t a quitter. My (now) husband, brother, and some of my closest friends started the trip to the summit with me at 6 a.m. It was very painful for me and I was super slow compared to the rest of my party. With the summit in sight, weather began rolling in. At my pace, it wasn’t safe to [continue to the summit]. We made it to 13,705′ and had to head back down. I spent nearly 9 hours on that mountain with some of the most awesome people I know. I was really bummed that I didn’t make it to the top, but I’ll try again in the future.”

Audrey Dignan


“Last summer, I hiked the John Muir Trail with one of my best girl friends (pictured) from college. On day 20 of 23, we reached Forester Pass (13,143′), the highest pass on the trail. Over those 20 days, we met some of the kindest, most generous people, and I learned more about myself than I ever expected. The transformation from day one to day 20 is hard to put into words, but my body language in this photo shows it well. I can’t find another picture where I am this confident, strong, and comfortable in my own skin.”

Jordan Fisher


“A very rare selfie: I taught myself how to ski last year and, after quitting a job that led to complete burnout, made it a goal to get out as much as possible before finding the next job. This was me on day 19 of my first [ski] season ever. I was super stoked and proud to be crushing blues by myself and loving life when 19 days before I didn’t even know how to get my skis on and was petrified of the lifts.”

Amy Franco


“When I moved to Colorado, my outdoor experience consisted of strolling around open-air shopping malls. [But then I took a] trip down the Arkansas River with my parents. I was instantly hooked! To take on a challenge and look back when you reach the end is so empowering. I now own a whitewater kayak and will … be getting a raft of my own!”

Krystal Kobordo


“On top of the Petit Grepon in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park after a day full of cold temps and gusty winds, and two, relatively sleepless, nights camping.”

Emma Longcope


“Another climber snapped this photo of me feeling powerful as I pulled the lip of an overhanging serac in [North America’s North Cascade mountains]. Alpine ice climbing is raw and real and wonderful, and I’m grateful for the opportunity this recent trip offered for me to learn all I could and dive into a whole new environment.”

Maureen Ostaff


“This was me on my first real ski tour. I started skiing somewhat late in the game — my late 20s — after more than 10 years of snowboarding. An accident left me with two broken arms, pins, and plates holding my bones together and no way of getting back on the board anytime soon. I didn’t want to give up on the mountains. So skiing it was … Relearning a process when you were already familiar with one system was a true challenge and I have to admit, very frustrating. … But this struggle taught me grit, persistence, and humility. It was one of the best lessons I ever learned, and I am carrying it with me in every aspect of my life. Change happens, challenges happen, but it can be so worth it to struggle and adapt. There are some amazing views waiting atop that mountain!”

Stefanie Hutchinson


“This picture makes me smile every … time I look at it. It was taken by my boyfriend on my first trip to Red Rocks, Nevada to climb. Usually I’m the one taking pictures, so I rarely get any pictures of myself outside, let alone ones that I like! But this picture is different: I had been scrambling for about an hour, looking for a climbing area; I hadn’t showered in a week; I felt gross, grumpy, and tired. Prompted by my own strained breathing, I took a moment to check out the scenery. This is when my boyfriend … captured this picture, and every time I look at it, I feel absolutely confident in my own beauty. I can be disgustingly sweaty, but as long as I am with the ones I love in the places I adore, I feel gorgeous.”

Kerigan Jenkins


“This is not the most [hardcore] adventure I have ever been on, and probably not even the most scenic (don’t get me wrong, South Dakota was beautiful) but this is my best friend from basic training, Hannah, and I exploring in the woods of Custer State Park, South Dakota. This was the first time we had seen each other since ‘basic’ and the entire weekend really was a blast with some seriously perfect weather, especially for February. This picture really embodies what I feel every single second while I’m outdoors: just pure, uncensored happiness!”

Tory Johnson


“This is from my first backpacking trip in 2009. I had only recently gotten into more outdoorsy pursuits and wasn’t convinced it was for me. I went on this school-sponsored, three-day trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park because I had this [hardcore] petite female professor who was leading it. It was hard, I borrowed lots of gear, had food almost stolen by cockroaches, but it was also awesome. I felt super accomplished after waking up at 3 a.m. and hiking up a lava cliff.”

Cassie Johnson


“This picture was taken on my first ever hike and ride. I believe in doing things big, so I picked a 14er to carry my snowboard up — Quandary Peak to be exact. It was also my third-ever Colorado 14er. This picture makes me so happy because it shows me that I’m capable of whatever I put my mind to. I can’t wait to see what else my body can withstand. I think it’s important for us to see what our bodies are really capable of before our time here is done. This was the beginning of a new chapter for me, a chapter of adventure. Always choose adventure!”

Annavi Jones


“This was me on a 420-mile tour through Wyoming. This day was the most beautiful and the most intense! I did it alone, not with a team, and every second of struggle was worth it.”

MK Kasunic


“Five years ago, I was serving coffee at your typical mountain-town espresso shop and I had a long talk with a coworker about 14ers. I’m a [Colorado] native, yet had never tried to climb one of those peaks. I’m stupid stubborn, so that day, I told her if I ever did one, I wanted to try and run [it]. Life has a weird way of working out … I drove out of Denver (and a rainstorm) at 9 p.m. to summit Guanella Pass — where the full moon was the clearest I had ever seen — […] and went up on my merry way. I saw the most intense comet I have seen to date, got to run by the clear light of a full “Sturgeon Moon”, and was star-struck when Orion’s Belt perfectly aligned with The Sawtooth [peak], none of which I could’ve planned if I tried. Here’s a pic of me trying to make my frozen face smile. Sometimes adventure and inspiration strikes at random moments; I’m glad I continue to answer the call!”



“Not my hardest or most challenging adventure, but I love that my kiddos love the outdoors as much as I do and that I get to share these experiences with them. If I can raise them to love and respect the environment, and experience some [awesome] adventures while doing it, I’ll be one proud mama!”

Alexei Kissell


“This is my favorite picture because it was the pinnacle of my ski bum year. I wanted to spend a whole season skiing, but I’ve always put my career and school first, so it was hard for me to fit [a season of skiing] into my life. After graduating, the company I had co-opped with offered me a job and gave me the option of starting in July. I jumped on it. My brother invited me to live in his closet in Big Sky, Montana for the ski season. We were in [roughly] a 450-square-foot condo with three people and [a dog]. It was easily the best year of my life — I got 101 days in. This picture is from the last weekend at the resort. It had taken me a couple months to get my skiing and lungs to a point that I was able to ski the expert terrain of Headwaters Ridge, but when I did, it took my skiing to a completely different level, [with] steeps unlike anything I’ve seen before. These are two of my friends from that season, I’m still close with both. Taking advantage of that opportunity in my life was the best decision I’ve ever made.”

Janesa Landon


“This is me on my ninth 14er. I was in a car accident a few years ago and since then I have been dealing with a lot of neck and back pain and not-so-great side effects from a concussion. I have been struggling with severe anxiety, which tries to scare me away from any of my outdoor activities in fear of being hurt while being away from my kids. I really struggled throughout this hike and kept asking myself why I was doing it. I felt it might be my last. Then I made it to the top. It rejuvenated my soul and it reminded me why I love the outdoors. I need to stop letting fear and pain get in my way and I need to keep moving forward with my life.”

Sam McCarthy


“I travel solo frequently … I just came off a three-week road trip with my dog and stopped to stretch my legs once I got back into Colorado. It was the 11th anniversary of my dad’s death, so I soaked in the mountain air, cried a bit, and laughed at the memories. I was exhausted from the road, heavy with so many …emotions, and just really dang happy.”

Cheri Merrihew


“Three years ago, I shattered the lower part of my face in a road riding accident. I used to love road riding, now I love to mountain bike. It took a while, but I feel so happy, free, and unafraid now. My latest trip to Crested Butte was amazing and I had my best ride ever. My dirty legs are my mark of victory over fear.”

Susanna Nilsson


“Last year I was first on the scene of what emergency responders call ‘a special death’, which means that it’s an incident that really stays with you on a personal level. Trying to assist in the resuscitation of [the deceased] was challenging to me emotionally and I dealt with some PTSD after the incident. My boyfriend and I had a U.S. Pacific Northwest camping trip planned about a month after the incident. … I found so much healing and growth on that trip. This picture was from backpacking [in Olympic National Park]. Nature is truly amazing! I was able to live presently, to sleep peacefully, and to feel strong and empowered and normal again just by focusing on the wonderful challenges of backpacking, camping, hiking in a beautiful and remote corner of our country. Being in nature made me feel whole again.”

Leslie Resnick


“A decade and a half plus of planning: I summited and skied from a 15,000′ peak in Kashmir, India. 52 years young and still bagging peaks and continents!”

Amanda Sandlin


“This was taken at Lincoln Lake, Mount Evans, Colorado. I’ve been making the 1,000-foot descent to this crag almost every weekend this summer and found a new passion project I’m about to send before the season is over! It’s called ‘Dream Snatcher.’”

Abigail Wilson


“I had the amazing opportunity to go to Fontainebleau, France … for a climbing trip. The entire trip was challenging for me because of my anxiety. However, being able to climb every day balanced me. I’m proud of this moment because I topped out moments later after struggling with it!”

Carolyn Highland


“I love this photo because it is such a symbolic visualization of how I felt while it was taken — an absolute part of the landscape. Our silhouettes blend nearly seamlessly into the snow in front of us, hardly standing out against the fading light. A group of us had just skinned to the top of A-Basin on a weeknight in the spring, and my friend Deeley (the one doing the handstand) had yelled to us before we could take shelter in the warming hut, ‘No, you’ve gotta come see this.’ I felt so wildly in love with my life and the planet at the moment this was taken, in awe that this could be what a random Tuesday looked like. That feeling, of spinning, dizzying aliveness is something I aspire to at all times, and something I most often find in the wilderness.”
Editor’s Note: Punctuation and spelling in the above quotations may contain corrections to spelling and punctuation, when needed, with respect to the original quote. However, the meaning and message of the quotation was not altered in doing so.
. . .

About the Author

Carolyn Highland says: “I have a tattoo on my left instep of the word ‘Atrévete,’ which means ‘dare yourself’ in Spanish. It’s about living boldly and creating the life you want for yourself. After graduating college with a degree in creative non-fiction writing, I spent time on New Zealand’s South Island, Chile’s Atacama Desert, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the coast of Maine, finally landing in Colorado to get up close and personal with the Rockies.
“In any given weather I can be found trail running, hiking, backpacking, snowshoeing, nordic, backcountry, or downhill skiing, or just staring up at the mountains with my jaw dropped and my heart full. I believe that the best way to protect our planet is to inspire the next generation of little outdoor women to love the wild and fight to keep it beautiful, and as a result am pursuing a career as an outdoor writer and an outdoor educator. Pass the stoke!”
Find her online:
Twitter: c_highland
Instagram: c_highland

Mobility, Stability, & Flexibility: Clarifying Our Concepts in Yoga

By Jenni Rawlings

Mobility, stability, and flexibility are qualities we’re often taught that we are working to improve through our yoga practice. These terms are somewhat ambiguous, however, and it’s common for each of them to be interpreted differently by different sources. As a result, not all yoga teachers approach these concepts the same way. In this article, I will clarify the concepts of mobility, stability, and flexibility and present what I consider to be the most helpful definitions for each as applied to the practice of yoga.


Let’s start by examining the concept of stability. The phrases “core stability,” “shoulder stability,” and “hip stability” are all common uses of this term in the yoga world. But what exactly does stability mean?

Perhaps the most common understanding of stability is “not moving” or “stillness.” In yoga, the idea is often that in order to be stable a body part should be prevented from moving. When we apply this notion of stability to our yoga practice, we are inclined to hold parts of our body rigid. Some examples of this “stability as rigidity” strategy are the common practice of drawing the lower abdominal in throughout a yoga practice, the emphasis on non-moving, protracted shoulder blades during the movement into chaturanga dandasana, and the belief in the importance of a “neutral spine” that neither flexes nor extends in the majority of our yoga poses.

But despite the widespread understanding of “stability” as meaning “unmoving,” this is not actually the true textbook definition of the word. In kinesiology (the study of how the body moves), stability is technically defined as how well a system can return to an orientation after a perturbation. For example, picture a yoga student in side plank (vasisthasana) who is strong and actively engaging through her bottom arm. If someone were to come up and bump this student (i.e., initiate a “perturbation”), her body would move somewhat in response to the bump, but then it would most likely quickly return to its original side plank position with little disturbance. This is an example of a stable side plank. “Stability” in this sense doesn’t mean that no movement happened—it means that when an unexpected bump happened, the student had control over her position and could return to her side plank shape efficiently.

Now picture this same yoga student in side plank, but this time her bottom arm is not very active, and instead of using muscular engagement, she has “locked out” her elbow joint and is leaning into the ligaments of that joint. If someone were to bump her in this version of side plank, it’s likely that she would fall to the floor, because her arm was simply propping her up in the pose, rather than being strong and contributing to the stability of the shape. This is an example of an unstable side plank—after a perturbation, the system could not return to its original orientation.

We can therefore consider stability as being less about rigidity and more about having control over one’s movement.

The Difference Between Mobility and Flexibility

Now let’s turn our attention to the concepts of mobility and flexibility. Although these two terms are often used interchangeably, they actually mean different things! There are two main sets of definitions for these terms in the field of kinesiology. In the first version, flexibility has to do with the extensibility of the muscles and other soft tissues that cross a joint (e.g., “flexible hamstrings”), whereas mobility has to do with how the joint itself and its associated structures move (e.g., “mobile hip joint”).

The second version of mobility/flexibility definitions is more relevant to us in terms of yoga. In this version of definitions, flexibility refers to how far a joint can move, whereas mobility is “the ability of an individual to initiate, control, or sustain active movements of the body to perform motor tasks.” [Ref] In other words, flexibility is simply a matter of range of motion (e.g., “How far did the shoulder move?”), whereas with mobility, we look at a range of motion and determine whether someone has the ability to actively control their body within that range (e.g., “In this stretched position, can the person contract their muscles with a significant amount of force—or do they have no strength there?”).

Put another way, mobility has to do with movement (as one might ascertain from its name), while flexibility is more about a static position of a joint—something that can be captured in a still photograph. Consider hanumanasana, yoga’s forward split pose. In hanumanasana, how low you can get your pelvis toward the floor is a measure of how “flexible” you are. However, this static position doesn’t tell us much about how well you can actually move. The majority of yogis who can come into full hanumanasana, resting their hips on the floor, are certainly very flexible, but they may not actually be very mobile. Their bodies can move passively into this position with the help of gravity, but they cannot generate much force in their muscles, if any, while that deep into their joints’ range of motion. In other words, they do not have active control over this position. Instead they can only sit there, leaning on their ligaments and other connective tissues to hold them up. Someone with a high degree of mobility, on the other hand, could slide into and out of hanumanasana without their hands on the floor to help them—using only the strength and control of their leg muscles. (And how many yogis do you know who can do that?)

To summarize, flexibility is purely a matter of distance (How far can the body move?), while mobility is a matter of neurological control and strength (How well can the body actively move itself within that range of motion?).

For many years there has been a widespread assumption in our culture that flexibility is a quality we should pursue because it reduces our risk of injury and generally makes our bodies healthier. Now that we have a better working understanding of flexibility versus mobility, we are realizing that it is actually mobility, not flexibility, that decreases injury and increases joint health and resiliency. In fact, there is a significant lack of scientific evidence to support the notion that increased flexibility decreases injuries; numerous scientific studies have actually concluded that there is no correlation between stretching for flexibility and injury-prevention. [Ref, Ref, Ref]

If we are interested in building healthier, more resilient bodies through our yoga practice, we should be working on mobility, rather than flexibility, in our asanas.

Mobility, on the other hand, is a known means for decreasing injuries and increasing tissue health. The more strength and control that we have available to us in all of our ranges of motion, the better prepared our body will be to catch itself in an unexpected fall, for example, and the stronger and less injury-prone our tissues will be when we enter deeper ranges of motion, such as yoga’s hanumanasana. If we are interested in building healthier, more resilient bodies through our yoga practice, we should be working on mobility, rather than flexibility, in our asanas.

Here are two practical examples to demonstrate the difference. When we interlace our fingers behind us and lift our arms in yoga, as we often do in shalabhasana (locust pose) or prasarita padottanasana (standing wide-legged forward bend), this is a flexibility stretch for the shoulders. That’s because the interlaced fingers basically “prop” the arms in this position without the shoulders having to do much work. If, however, we come into this interlaced position, and then keep our hands as close together as possible but release the interlacing of the fingers—now our shoulders are suddenly working to hold themselves in this same position. This is now a mobility stretch, which is developing active control and tissue resilience in the shoulders’ range of motion.

Let’s return to the example of hanumanasana (forward splits). When we work on this pose the way we normally do, by sinking our pelvis toward the floor without any active work in our legs, it’s a flexibility stretch. We aren’t teaching our body how to control itself in this position—it is simply passively pushing toward our end range. But if instead we were to put the front heel on a yoga blanket and work to slide that foot forward (without our hands on the floor to help!), moving the foot only as far forward as we had the strength to control the movement, and then slowly sliding the foot back toward us again—this would be an example of working on mobility in hanumanasana. This approach to the pose would train our active control of the position, and because of the muscle contractions involved, the tissues of our joints would be signaled to grow stronger and more resilient—all of which contributes to a healthier body, reduced risk of injuries, and better quality of movement.

Mobility and Stability

Remember, flexibility is a matter of how far joints can move, and mobility is a matter of how much control and strength there is when moving into and holding those positions. Now recall our definition of stability, which is the ability of a system to return to an orientation after a perturbation—in other words, how much control over a movement there is. The surprising reality is that stability and mobility have extremely similar definitions—so similar, in fact, that some people consider them to be the same thing! If you are working on joint mobility by building strength and control through a range of motion, then by definition, you are also working on stability. The body is stable when it can control its position.


This brings us to the topic of people who have been told that they are “hypermobile.” People with hypermobility have joints that can move beyond a normal range of motion. Hypermobile people generally do not have control over their excessive ranges of motion, and they are often referred to as having “unstable” joints. Within the context of our second set of definitions, the term “hypermobile” would be a misnomer, however. As we’ve discussed, “mobility” refers to ranges of motion over which we have control. When a hypermobile person moves into a range that is beyond her ability to control, this is by definition no longer mobility—this is flexibility. A more accurate term for hypermobile people, therefore, is “hyperflexible.” In a perfect world where we have clarified all of our terms, those with hypermobility would be referred to as having hyperflexibility instead.

Hypermobile/hyperflexible people are often cautioned against practicing yoga because there tends to be so much emphasis on flexibility in most yoga classes, which is the last thing their bodies need more of. But if more yoga teachers focused on mobility over flexibility, yoga would actually be very beneficial for those with hypermobility. This would require a decreased emphasis on visiting unstable end ranges in yoga classes and an increased emphasis on building strength and active control within currently available ranges of motion. This would allow hypermobile people to continue doing the yoga practice that they love while creating the important stability that their bodies need.

The Importance of Clarifying Concepts

We use a variety of words to talk about the body in yoga. The better we understand the concepts they describe, then the more effectively we can apply these concepts on the yoga mat. On the surface, the terms stability and mobility seem like they could be opposites. But once we clarify their definitions, we understand that they are actually so similar that they could almost be the same concept. Flexibility and mobility, on the other hand, are two words that on the surface seem as though they could be synonyms. But once we clarify their definitions, we understand that they are actually quite different, and that a working knowledge of their difference has the potential to change the way we practice and teach yoga.

Upper Body Strength


Strength is one of those words that gets people’s attention particularly if they feel they lack it. There is no denying that being strong feels good. More than that though, mobilizing our upper bodies sets us on a path to improving breast health, better bone density and enhanced breathing. Who doesn’t want that? Upper body strength in particular is a concern for many people, but for women in particular. If the question is how to achieve it, the answer invariably seems to be, “I need to go to the gym and lift some weights.”

Lifting weights with an upper body that has been mostly sedentary for years will only reinforce your current shape. If we are not using our upper body in a variety of ways, we are adapting to that lack of use and when we do go to lift something heavy or reach up for something high, we wonder why we struggle to do it or why it hurts.

We tend not to use our arms very much other than in very small motions. How many times a day do you lift your arms above shoulder height or carry something heavy? Upper body tone keeps the joints of your shoulders, elbows and wrists stable. Optimal tension in this area keeps the upper spine upright. There is huge potential for movement in the upper body but for most of us, our arms and much of our shoulders spend most of the time out in front of us. This limited use sets the tensions, our range of motion decreases adapting to what we do most frequently and before we know it, we have frozen shoulder, neck issues and not a great deal of range in this area.

So if upon reviewing how much you move your upper body on a day-to-day basis and you find the answer is, not very much; it’s important to start by mobilizing underused tissues. Our modern lifestyles are not going to give us the movement these body parts require anytime soon so some restorative work is necessary to begin to mobilize the area and develop strength once we’ve identified what’s stuck.

So where to start?

Day to-day:
• Each time you go to walk through a doorway, raise your arms above your head. Notice if your rib cage wants to travel with your arms. Can you get your arms up without taking your rib cage with you. Your arms might not go so high.
• Put some of the stuff you use in the kitchen most frequently at a higher level so you have to reach for it. Notice how we make everything as convenient as possible, missing out on movement our bodies require.
• Get down on the floor on all fours and get up again. Do this several times a day.

Here is a move to begin to wake up the sleeping parts! It will help you to unstick your upper middle spine, mobilize your shoulder blades and get some blood flowing into the area.

Rhomboid Pushup

Start on your hands and knees. Let your knees and wrists fall directly under your hips and shoulders.

Keep your arms straight and your elbows pointing behind you.

Let your head hang and your pelvis and belly relax towards the floor.

Slowly allow your torso to move towards the floor. Your arms should stay straight and not change position. This will allow your shoulder blades to come together.

Then press into the floor with your hands and move the entire spine up towards the ceiling. Your shoulder blades will slide away from each other. Don’t round your upper back or tuck your pelvis. Try to isolate the movement to your shoulder blades.

Your spinal column maintains its original curve as it moves towards and away from the floor. Not to be confused with the cat/cow exercise.

Repeat 5 times and slowly increase the repetitions. Do them EVERYDAY.

Sneak Peek: Furniture-Free Home Style From My Fave Movement Experts

By Petra Fisher A.K.A Petra Fisher Movement

It’s true – going furniture-free is a thing! Getting rid of regular chairs, tables, sofas and beds is one of the easiest ways to add more movement to your life. You get instant movement variety and you build in lots of strength and flexibility opportunities. It’s a serious game-changer when it comes to maintaining your whole-body health and wellness.

But, let’s face it, it also seems a bit weird at first. I can speak from personal experience – your partner might not want to get rid of the sofa! And what happens when you have guests? And what would it all LOOK like?

Well, my friends, I decided to tackle this one head on. I’ve asked some of my very favorite movement people to share photos of their homes! I asked them to show how they’ve created movement friendly living spaces that work for their lives.

I already live with minimal furniture, and I was blown away by how these amazing women have integrated movement into their lives and their style.

Full disclosure: I’m hoping that seeing these spaces inspires YOU to invite more movement into YOUR life by rethinking some of your living spaces. Let’s check them out!
Galina Denzel
I met Galina at my very first training week with Katy Bowman. She’s one of the best (and healthiest) cooks I’ve ever met, and you could never turn around without catching her doing some sort of crazy exercise like standing on one leg. She’s a seriously incredible health coach and wrote one of my fave books too –Eat Well, Move Well, Live Well: 52 ways to feel better in a week. It’s a great book, packed with simple and practical healthy ideas, and Galina truly walks her talk.

Galina and her husband Roland Denzel are both health authors and health coaches. They live in a two-story condo in Southern California. Galina is a Nutritious Movement Restorative Exercise Teacher and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner who specializes in working with people with chronic pain, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. She blends nervous system regulation and restoring whole body and natural movement to facilitate the healing that wants to happen for all of us.

Galina can be found at

Why did you pick these spaces to share?

These are the spaces that I most often find myself in at home. I love the floor and the stairs as I can move my body the most, while still being able to focus.
While I enjoy standing up I do that at my stand up station at work and I stand there all day long, so when I work from home, study, or do creative work, I love to sit on the floor and stairs. It allows me to be centered, while also lets me put my body in positions I don’t get to at work with my students. The stacking tables and Indonesian desk are my favorite surfaces and the “stairs couch” is our morning hang out place to stretch, read and sip on coffee. My step kids also love to sit on the stairs while we cook.



What was hardest about transitioning to less furniture for you?

You know, the hardest thing was that I love snuggling on a couch with Roland. And there is something about organizing the home around a couch and coffee table that I am used to just culturally. We don’t entertain a ton and when we do our guests naturally gravitate towards the kitchen table that has chairs and benches. Being able to invite them on cushions on the floor has worked for some, but not for others.

What do you love most about using less furniture?

We are about three years into this home transition and we both find that it’s easier to get up and down.

My body feels more fluid and more able to get in and out of positions. This ease of movement is just delicious and pleasurable to experience somatically.

I also have tons of space to roll on balls and do other soft tissue work while watching TV (the TV is not pictured here, but it’s up on the wall). There is a certain level of freedom to just be able to plop on and off the floor any time and anywhere.

I also love that it’s easy to clean, there are many ways to arrange the furniture and it looks neat and open. I am a bit of a minimalist when it comes to stuff. I don’t like having many things anyways and we move often, so it’s truly been a blessing for our lifestyle.


What’s your favorite furniture-free space?

My round wool carpet. I love to sit on it, do my movement practice on it, dance on it. We often just clear everything off of it and we dance together.


Do you have any tips for people who want to create more movement-friendly spaces in their own homes?

#1 Be brave and get rid of the big bulky things. If you cannot physically move it easily yourself, then maybe it should not be there.
#2 Pay attention to how you like to move and what kind of space you need at home and create it. Don’t squeeze yourself in a corner between a bed and a dresser – this is no way to create a movement practice.
#3 Your space should be dance friendly, whether you dance or not – dancing is a good way to check a space for freedom and air. Have all of your toys close by (rollers, bolsters, balls, straps, bands, ropes).
#4 Do not be afraid to spend several hundred dollars on pillows and blankets to make your space pretty and cozy, so it’s the colors and shapes you like. It’s always going to be cheaper than buying couches and furniture, and it’s easier to clean.

How does your partner/family/guests feel about living with less furniture?

We wrote a whole chapter in our book Eat Well Move Well Live Well, called “furniture minimalism”, where Roland shares his feelings. He has welcomed it, but we are also very flexible about it, for example we have a regular bed with a firm mattress. My step kids think it’s a bit weird, and joke that even our bench by the window, which kind of looks like a couch is made of copper to discourage one from getting too comfortable for too long. Many of our guests who love to move are happy to roll around and sit and stretch on the floor. Others stick to the kitchen area and chuckle about it. Pretty much everyone finds it quirky, but not so quirky that they won’t play along.

Carol Robbins
My friend Carol actually lives in Toronto but in the Beaches area – which is so far from me that we see each other more often at out-of-town trainings than in our own city! Carol is basically brilliant at whatever she does, and has two of the most lovely and hilarious cats ever, who often join her for movement time.

Carol not only lives in her home but also teaches out of it, so she’s a true example of how you can make your space extremely versatile when you have less furniture. She’s a Restorative Exercise Specialist since 2013, and has been teaching movement since 2000, so she brings incredible depth and perspective to her work and life. As well as her cats, she shares her home with a tolerant husband who has agreed that she can store all his heirlooms in the basement.

You can find Carol at:


Why did you choose this space to share?

I chose this area because it is my living room. I’ve been thinking about the meaning of that description, and how in my suburban youth, the living room was an area where almost no living was done, only on very special occasions. Otherwise, you were in the family room.

I think the whole house should be for living, and I’m fascinated by minimalism and Japanese aesthetic, where rooms and pieces have multi-functions.

I find myself needing less and less by using the same spaces for more and more.

This necessitates movement continually to re-arrange things to serve different purposes. For example, the side tables are stools that I use for class. There are several poufs and buckwheat zafu that I sit on that are also class props. (The cats prefer the chairs.) The light swings away so that I can use the wall for exercises, and there is no artwork for that reason. I am planning on painting a mural on that wall soon.


The living room is also my teaching space, and it only has chairs and a rug in it if I’m entertaining. Most of the time it is empty and we sit on bolsters or cushions near the fireplace.


The Acapulco Chair is an inside/outside piece and it lives in the protected south-east corner of my porch in good weather, where I will sit cross-legged in it in the very early morning to have my coffee. So in that way, my living area is even not bound by the walls and doors, but expands beyond into the private porch and yard, where I have several hanging opportunities, and rock paths. Even my cats go out there with me (and they are usually indoor cats).



We have a permanent floor to ceiling mirror in the space, which is great for teaching but was also an architectural element to fill a dead and dark space between the basement door and the cupboards. It is like an opening to another room, and is an optical illusion.

I keep my work equipment and reference books in the cupboards beside the fireplace.

My clients like the gas fireplace on those chilly winter mornings. The window ledges are wide enough and at a perfect height to place a laptop for standing desk opportunities, as is the railing outside on the porch, which I call my “summer office.”

What was the biggest challenge about transitioning to less furniture for you?

The biggest challenge to transition to a furniture free home for me was getting rid of all the stuff. We still have a lot of stuff in storage that needs to go. It takes up all the room in the basement and the garage, so we have these airy open spaces that make me feel very happy and clear-headed, and then a few steps away there is chaos! Eventually it will all find another home I hope.

The bedroom is my Japanese room, where I sleep. My husband still prefers his more traditional space, so we sleep separately. At this stage in our lives, we enjoy being able to keep our own hours and habits. The cats sleep with me. The rice tatami mats are beautiful and authentic, as is the futon, from Japan. I have another bedroom with a bed that is kind of in between a floor bed and a traditional bed – it’s on a low platform. So there are many ways to transition!


Where do you go to find awesome movement-friendly furnishings?
Tatami mats and futon from
Zafu and poufs from
Acapulco chair from the Bay


Jennifer Gleeson Blue
I met Jennifer in 2014 at my first Restorative Exercise training, and I’ve been a huge admirer of hers since then. She has an amazing soul and deep insight into helping her students nurture positive change in their bodies and their lives. She’s just starting to settle in a new home with her husband and son after a long year of travel and transition (they moved from Philly to Santa Fe with a lot of stops and soul-searching in between), so she’s in the middle of actively figuring out how to integrate movement into her new home space.

Jennifer is a heart-centered movement teacher and Restorative Exercise Specialist. She equips women who are on a journey to stop battling against themselves — their physical and emotional pain, their limitations, their family and even the culture at large — by transforming their fight, embracing their vulnerability and moving into their truth and wholeness.

Jennifer can be found at


Why did you pick these particular spaces to share?

Other than the kitchen, these are two of the spaces we use the most and they are the ones that don’t still have moving boxes scattered around! My husband and I both work from home and we home school our son, so having space to play, work and rest well really matter.



How do others feel about living with less furniture? Your partner? How about your family and guests?

My husband has been totally on board since the beginning when I first made the suggestion to ditch the couch. It’s a choice we made as a family to bring in more movement and we’ve continued to evolve our space together, adding or taking away as we feel best suits our lives and our values around hospitality.

The guest issue is a harder one. I love for people to feel comfortable! In our last home, we had a different space set-up that allowed us to have a traditional dining table that we used with guests and a low dining table that we used daily and I liked that balance. Overall, it’s worked so far, and yet I’d like to figure out how to become even more flexible with space so as to meet varying levels of movement ability and comfort.



What do you love most about using less furniture?

Ah! So much! To start, I love the simplicity of the visual landscape and the simplicity of cleaning and I also love that space can be transformed relatively easily (roll up the bed!).

But what I really love is that I have to work harder in my body. Like most of us, I’m under-moved. Every bit of support I can take away requires that my daily tasks require a greater quantity and variety of movement.

Now that I’m pregnant, I’m really noticing the extra effort it takes to get in and out of a floor bed and up and down off the living room floor. I’m profoundly grateful to myself for having made these choices, knowing how nourishing it is to my body to move more and move differently, especially during this time.

The Freedom Of Going Furniture Free

I have been transitioning to a less furnished life, more movement-filled for at least four years now. Although getting more movement was my main motivation, I’ve found there are many other unexpected benefits.

The biggest ones for me are freedom and flexibility. Our space is easy to re-arrange and I do so every day. Our living room alternates as a movement studio, my office, and our dining room, simply by changing out simple furnishings like our coffee table, my movement props, and my yoga mats. There’s something I cherish about this versatility – it makes me feel very resilient and versatile – like I can deal with the unexpected changes of life itself more easily and with more grace.

As I interviewed my fellow movement teacher friends, I was struck by how we all mentioned how much we love the freedom of going furniture-free. There’s something amazing about changing your relationship with your living space. It’s empowering to both body and soul. For sure we all have very different spaces and very different lives, family situations, and personal style. But at the same time, we all seem to share this sense that a movement-friendly space is one that holds all kinds of opportunities to live in creative ways that nurture our bodies and support our values.

In closing, here are a few thoughts to help you on your own transition.

Furniture Free Isn’t Really Furniture Free

It’s good to remember that ‘furniture free’ is really not the best term for this type of lifestyle. It’s an alternative approach to furniture and space that allows more movement. It’s more minimal, the furnishings are typically smaller and closer to floor level, and they’re chosen to give us comfort, warmth, and options as we need them. The point is to make your life better, not to make it horrible, so pick stuff you love that lets you achieve both your movement goals and your life goals.

Transition At Your Own Pace

You don’t need to do this all at once. Starting can be as simple as getting a yoga bolster and sitting on it while others keep using the couch. Here are some ideas to help you transition.

Feeling The #FurnitureFree? We’d LOVE to hear from you.

Getting inspired? Maybe you already have some gorgeous movement-friendly space in your home? We want you to show us your space – so we’re running a fun Instagram challenge contest. Here’s the deal:

We want to see your furniture-free style!

Contest runs Wednesday March 14 noon EST on until 6PM EST March 17.

#SHOWUSYOURS ~ Head over to Instagram and share a picture of your beautiful furniture-free home! What do you love best about your furniture-free life? How do you make it cozy? How do you make it beautiful? How does it make you feel?

Here are the rules to participate:
– Repost the contest photo that’s going up on Tuesday evening on @movementrevolution
– Share your photo tagged #showusyours #furniturefree #movementfriendly #movementlifestyle
– Tag and follow @movementrevolution, @AlignmentRescue, @GalinaDenzel and @jengleesonblue on Instagram

6 (six!) winners will get their homes featured on my next blog post about furniture free home style so other people can get some serious inspiration! I’ll pick my favourites for style, creativity and movement awesomeness in the hopes of showing other people how easy, fun and awesome it can be to live #furniturefree 🙂

Yoga for Daylight Savings Time Blues

By Charlotte Bell

If you’re feeling unusually tired this week, there may be a good reason for it. On Sunday, we turned our clocks ahead. This means you may be struggling to get to sleep in the evening, and struggling to wake up in the morning.
Any time change affects our bodies’ circadian rhythms. It happens in the fall too, but common wisdom is that the spring time change is more difficult. Some people’s bodies adjust in a day or two, while others can take a month or more. Generally, people whose sleep patterns are already iffy experience more problems adjusting.
The problems are twofold: it’s harder to get to sleep in the first place, and to add insult to injury, you have to get up an hour earlier. Here in Salt Lake City, at 6:00 am last week, there were just the earliest inklings of light beginning to filter through the windows. Now it’s back to total darkness when the alarm goes off. Because our sleep cycles are based on light, our bodies get confused.
Studies show that disrupted sleep patterns associated with time change can increase the risk of strokes. Workplace injuries and car crashes also tend to spike after springing forward. Sleep deprivation can affect our mood and productivity as well. On the plus side, my cats have been pleasantly surprised at being served their meals an hour earlier!
How to Help Your Body Adjust
Like it or not, we do have to adjust to the new time, since the rest of the world has sprung forward. Here are some suggestions that might help:
Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the evening. Both these substances can disrupt sleep. It’s best to stop caffeine after lunch, at least for the first few weeks after the time change.
Avoid screen time before bed. Screens are a light source. Light suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin. For the same reason, avoid turning on lots of lights in the evening. Also, engaging with the news or with social media, can cause obsessive thinking, a huge culprit in suppressing sleep.
Avoid loud music or vigorous exercise in the few hours before bedtime.
Expose yourself to bright light as soon as you can in the morning. This can help reorient your circadian rhythms.
Practice yoga for daylight savings time. Try a restorative yoga pose (or more than one) in the hour before bedtime. There are, of course, lots of choices, but the one below, Supported Viparita Karani, a.k.a. Instant Maui (a term coined by Judith Hanson Lasater), is a classic sleep-supporting pose.
Yoga for Daylight Savings Time: Instant Maui
Gather two or three yoga blankets, a chair, a yoga mat and an eyebag if you have one. Place your chair on top of the mat with the seat facing you. Fold a blanket so that it’s about 12 inches across and 2-3 inches thick. You may need more than one blanket to achieve that height. Place the folded blanket in front of and parallel to the chair.
Lie down, resting your pelvis on the blanket. Make sure that the fleshiest part of your rear is slightly off the blanket toward the chair so that your torso is horizontal. If your torso slants toward your head, Instant Maui will not be very relaxing. If your legs don’t feel comfortable on the chair, you can move it closer or farther away.
Our bodies naturally cool down in Restorative yoga, so you may want to have another blanket handy to place over your entire body, or at least over your torso. If you have an eyebag, place it over your eyes. Set aside your to-do list. Do nothing. Stay in the pose anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes.
When it’s time to come out, fold your legs in toward your torso, roll onto your side and relax for a few breaths before sitting up.
Restorative yoga is not about stretching. It is about settling and opening. If you feel any discomfort, including a strong stretch, in Instant Maui, you may want to experiment with your props. The ideal Restorative pose yields little physical sensation. This is especially true when you’re using the pose to support sleep.

Lost Art Of Bending Over: How Other Cultures Spare Their Spines

By Michaeleen Doucleff

To see if you’re bending correctly, try a simple experiment.

“Stand up and put your hands on your waist,” says Jean Couch, who has been helping people get out of back pain for 25 years at her studio in Palo Alto, Calif.

“Now imagine I’ve dropped a feather in front of your feet and asked to pick it up,” Couch says. “Usually everybody immediately moves their heads and looks down.”

That little look down bends your spine and triggers your stomach to do a little crunch. “You’ve already started to bend incorrectly — at your waist,” Couch says. “Almost everyone in the U.S. bends at the stomach.”

In the process, our backs curve into the letter “C” — or, as Couch says, “We all look like really folded cashews.”

In other words, when we bend over in the U.S., most of us look like nuts!

But in many parts of the world, people don’t look like cashews when they bend over. Instead, you see something very different.

I first noticed this mysterious bending style in 2014 while covering the Ebola outbreak. We were driving on a back road in the rain forest of Liberia and every now and then, we would pass women working in their gardens. The women had striking silhouettes: They were bent over with their backs nearly straight. But they weren’t squatting with a vertical back. Instead, their backs were parallel to the ground. They looked like tables.

After returning home, I started seeing this “table” bending in photos all around the world — an older woman planting rice in Madagascar, a Mayan woman bending over at a market in Guatemala and women farming grass in northern India. This bending seemed to be common in many places, except in Western societies.

“The anthropologists have noted exactly what you’re saying for years,” says Stuart McGill, at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, who has been studying the biomechanics of the spine for more than three decades.

“It’s called hip hinging,” McGill says. “And I’ve spent my career trying to prove it’s a better way of bending than what we do.”

‘Table’ Bending Versus ‘C’ Bending

When you hip hinge (left), your spine can stay in a neutral position, while the hips and upper legs support your body weight. When you bend at the waist, the back curves, putting stress on the spine.

Rice farmers in Madagascar pan for gold to supplement their income.

Samantha Reinders for NPR

For starters, McGill says, it’s “spine-sparing.”

When people bend with the cashew shape in their back — like we often do — they’re bending their spine. “That puts more stress on the spinal disks,” McGill says.

Disks are little rings of collagen found between each vertebra, which form a joint. But they aren’t made for tons of motion. “They have the mechanical characteristics of more like a fabric,” McGill says.

“If you took a cloth, and you kept bending and stressing it, over and over again, the fibers of the weave of the cloth start to loosen up and delaminate,” he says.

How To ‘Table’ Bend

To hip hinge:
1. Place your feet about 12 inches apart.
2. Keep your back straight.
3. As you bend your knees, allow your pubic bone to move backward.
4. Fold over by allowing your pubic bone to slide through your legs, down and back.

Bending motion GIF

Eventually, over time, this fabric can fray, which puts you at risk of slipping a disk or having back pain.

On the other hand, when you hip hinge, your spine stays in a neutral position. The bending occurs at the hip joint — which is the king of motion.

“Hips are a ball and socket joints,” McGill says. “They are designed to have maximum movement lots of muscle force.”

In other words, your boots may be made for walking, but your hips are made for bending.

“Bending at the hip takes the pressure off the back muscles,” says Liza Shapiro, who studies primate locomotion at the University of Texas, Austin. “Instead, you engage your hamstring muscles.”

And by “engage the hamstrings,” she also means stretching them.

“Oh yes! In order to hip hinge properly, your hamstrings have to lengthen,” Shapiro says. “If you have tight hamstrings, they prevent you from bending over easily in that way.”

Tight hamstrings are extremely common in the U.S., Kennedy says. They may be one reason why hip hinging has faded from our culture: Stiff hamstrings are literally hamstringing our ability to bend properly.

But hip hinging isn’t totally lost from our culture, Shapiro says. “I just saw a website on gardening that recommended it, and many yoga websites recommend bending at the hips, too.”

And the hip hinging is sprinkled throughout sports. Weightlifters use it when they do what’s called a deadlift. Baseball players use it when they bat. Tennis star Rafael Nadal does it when he sets up a forehand. And in football, players kneel at the line of scrimmage with beautiful hip hinging.

Toddlers younger than 3 years old are great hip hingers. They haven’t learned yet from their parents to bend like a cashew.

Whether or not hip hinging will prevent back pain or injuries, doctors don’t know yet, says Dr. D.J. Kennedy, a spine specialist at Stanford University and a former weightlifter.

“We don’t have these randomized trials, where we have people lifting things hundreds of times and see how their body responds to hip hinging,” Kennedy says.

Still, though, Kennedy says he tries to hip hinge as much as possible.

“I think hip hinging intuitively makes sense, just given how the spine functions,” he says. “So I try very hard to do it.”

So how in the world do you do this mysterious bending? Back in Palo Alto at Jean Couch’s Balance Center, she tells me the trick: Find your fig leaf.

“Stand up and spread your heels about 12 inches apart, with your toes 14 inches apart,” she says. “Now, if you are Adam in the Bible, where would you put a fig leaf?”

“Uh, on my pubic bone?” I answer shyly.

“Exactly,” Couch says. “Now put your hand right there, on your fig leaf. When you bend, you want to let this fig leaf — your pubic bone — move through your legs. It moves down and back.”

So I try it. I put my hand on my pubic bone as a pretend fig leaf. Then as I bend my knees a bit, I allow my fig leaf to move through my legs. A little crevice forms right at the top of my legs and my back starts to fold over, like a flat table.

“Now you’re using the large muscles of your hips, such as the glutes, to support the whole weight of your body, instead of the tiny muscles of your back,” says Jenn Sherer, who co-owns the Balance Center with Couch.

And she’s right. My back relaxes, while my hamstrings start to stretch. And boy are they tight!

“Wow! My hamstrings are stretching like crazy,” I yell out, while I’m bent over like a table.

“Yes,” Couch says, chuckling. “That’s why we call it the world’s best hamstring stretch. We find that the bend feels so good for some people, they never want to get back up.”

CorrectionFeb. 26, 2018

Liza Shapiro says many yoga websites recommend bending at the hips. A previous version of the Web story mistakenly said waist.

The 7 Most Common Causes Of Lower Back Pain Lower back pain is the most common symptom presented to GPs in the UK. Read more:

By Oliver Eaton, ProHealth Clinic

Lower back pain is the most common symptom presented to GPs in the UK. According to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics almost 31 million days of work are lost every year due to back pain. Treating all types of back pain costs the NHS more than £1billion per year. The costs of care for low back pain alone, exceed £500 million a year. Lost production as a result of low back pain costs the UK economy £3.5billion a year.

According to NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) low back pain results in many problems, including impaired quality of life, mobility and daily function; long-term morbidity; a higher risk of social exclusion through inability to work; reduced income; reliance on sickness benefits; and social isolation through disability. Low back pain represents a considerable burden to individuals, families, society and the economy (for example, loss of working days, and early retirement).

To be able to prevent the occurrence of low back pain it is important to first understand what causes it:

Improper lifting techniques

One of the most common causes of acute low back pain is from lifting something without adopting a proper lifting technique. If you lift something without bending your knees, or twist whilst lifting, then it puts pressure on many of the structures in your lower back that can cause pain. A proper lifting technique ensures all the weight and pressure is distributed throughout your leg muscles.

Tight buttock and hamstring muscles

Even if you do use a proper lifting technique, your lower back can still be left vulnerable to injury if your buttock and hamstring muscles are too tight. These muscles attach into your lower back so play a big role in supporting your back when lifting something up from the floor. Also, these muscles are designed to absorb the force from each walking step we take. If the muscles are tight then that force transfers straight through into the lower back. The average person takes approximately 6000 to 10,000 steps a day, so you can imagine over time it can cause pain in the lower back.

Poor core strength

Your core muscles are responsible for holding your spine and pelvis upright in every movement that is made, preventing us from falling over like a rag doll. It also protects certain structures within the spine from injury. These structures include discs and ligaments. If your core muscles are weak then it can lead to too much force from a particular movement going through your lower back causing either a ligament sprain or slipped disc. Poor core strength can also lead to poor posture in routine activities such as sitting and standing.

Poor posture

Poor posture is one of the most common causes of chronic low back pain, and can be the reason why a low back injury fails to get better. In our busy day to day lives the postures we adopt are often subconscious and habitual. Poor posture whilst sitting can cause muscles and tendons to overstrain, leaving them vulnerable to going into spasm.


Inactivity causes many of our low back muscles to lose strength and forget how to coordinate. If our muscles lose the ability to coordinate then it can leave the low back vulnerable to injuring from simple routine movements such as getting in and out of a car. The age old saying applies with inactivity when people say if you don’t use it you lose it.

Weak mattress

We spend a third of our lives on a mattress sleeping so it’s not rocket science to understand that an old or weak mattress can cause low back pain. Depending on the sleeping position, a weak mattress can put your low back muscles under strain. You may feel as if the position you dose off to sleep in is comfortable but if you are in that position for up to 8 hours then it can leave muscles vulnerable to going into spasm.


Misalignments are the most under recognised cause of chronic low back pain. They can be caused by several things such as limping from a previous injury, soft mattresses, repetitive movements, pregnancy. Misalignments of the spinal joints puts pressure on the low back muscles during every movement you make. Misalignments of the pelvis can often cause a difference in leg lengths. This can cause your body weight to become unevenly distributed between both legs, causing pain on the side of the lower back that is bearing most of the weight.


Oliver Eaton is a qualified and registered osteopath, Medical Acupuncturist and Musculoskeletal Injection Therapist. He specialises in the treatment of sciatica, arthritis and headaches/migraines with patients travelling from across the UK and Europe for treatment. He is one of the leading practitioners in his field on Harley Street, having built his reputation on achieving results with patients who had previously had no success elsewhere.



Tracy Lorenz Coaching

by Tracy Lorenz

“When working a full-time job AND starting my own coaching business meant there wasn’t time for trips to the mountains, I had to look at the adventure around me,” says @tracylorenzcoaching. “I joined a group of open water swimmers at San Francisco’s historic Dolphin Club. The club only started allowing female members in the late 70’s; now we’re almost equal numbers. The ocean doesn’t always look like this; it’s stormy, foggy + windy on most days. But it’s the people that get me to show up. I’ve learned lessons from women thrice my age, and seen girls half my age crush our long ocean races. They leave me inspired + always wanting more. They are my community of adventure, where I am always enough, just as long as I show up.” :: #outdoorwomen