The backbone of youth
The backbone of youth
BY : LYDIA NEUBAUER
The Backbone of Youth
It's not a fountain...
For ages people have been searching for ways to stay young but many don’t know the secret is in your spine. Youth is not some gold infused oil you digest (although that sounds divine), or some burning chemical peel (not divine), but according to many renowned yogis, you’re as young as your spine is flexible.
Keeping ourselves young can mean different things to different people. Some people love botox, others love green tea, and some people even swear by a glass of red wine with a cigarette everyday. It’s a culmination of things that age us: stress, unhealthy habits, lack of sleep, dehydration and the list goes on. Now as much as I want to rave about crystal facial rollers (I will soon, stay tuned) keeping our spine flexible is another way to retain our youth, on a deeper and more subtle level. But before we go spending money we don’t have, or refusing to laugh because it causes wrinkles, let’s take step back and think about the importance of spinal health.
We work out our abs, legs, and arms but tend to overlook the spine which is an issue because keeping your spine limber is crucial as it allows for more mobility. The spine is the central line of our nervous system. Your spine is like a charging cord for your brain. Just like your phone’s charger, you can bend it any which way you want and it will still remain charging.
But as time goes on you fold the charger up in the same way and in the same place time after time, making for a finicky charger at best or one that doesn’t work at all. In the winter we constantly hunch over to stay warm and to devour the contents of our cellphones and computers. As a result, we are now on the decline of evolution when it comes to spinal function. Keeping the spine healthy releases our most potent energy to move the body how it’s supposed to, allowing us to maneuver through the world each day.
Here are a few quick spinal exercises I love to do in the morning to wake me up and keep me youthful:
Seated Cat/Cow & Sufi Circles
Come to a comfortable cross legged pose, ideally on top of a pillow, blanket or a block. Grab onto your knees and close your eyes. Feeling your seat grounding down and a long line of energy moving up your spine, begin by inhaling and puffing your chest out, opening up your shoulders and releasing your head and neck back. Exhale round your spine bringing your naval inward and rounding your shoulders and releasing your head and neck down. Continue moving with your breath. For sufi circles (spherical cat/cow), inhale and rotate your spine forward and to the right, exhaling as your release your spine back and to the left. Inhale forward arching spine moving toward the right again and repeat as you create these big circles. Close your eyes and continue to move in the same direction for about 2-3 minutes, then switch sides.
Come onto all fours or tabletop placing your hips directly over your knees and your shoulders directly over your wrists, creating four perfect 90 degree angles. On an inhale, gaze up, open your shoulders, drop your belly and arch your back for cow pose. On the exhale, release your spine rounding your belly up and inward, rounding your shoulders for cat pose. Move as fast or as slow as you’d like, just be sure to move mindfully with your breath.
Staying in the tabletop position, make your cat/cow one fluid motion, again moving spherically as if using a spatula to clean out a bowl. Let yourself move organically here.