I talk frequently in my yoga classes about mind body awareness; how that can be as simple as noticing when a ligament is tighter in one leg versus the other, and how just allowing one's self to take a second to reflect on why that might be could be exponentially helpful, or shift something.
Naturally, when my lower back suddenly started hurting about a month ago, I started my own diligent little inventory.
Was it the cardio I'd suddenly added back to my morning workout routine?
Was I going too deep in backbends?
Was it diastis recti?
Perhaps my newish bed?
Maybe I needed to lengthen my hip flexors, focus more on hamstring strength?
Or I bet the cultprit was the high heels I wore on a concrete floor for six hours?
Bad body geometry?
I mixed up workouts. Rested. Tried sleeping different ways. Wondered about my new mattress. Analyzed. Put my feet above my head a minimum of twice a day. Forgot. Limped around. Drank a glass of wine or four. No small amount of change seemed to work, nor lend any clues.
No clues whatsoever...until I accidentally hit the button on my Mac that activates the Photobooth app on my work computer. I was aghast. There, perched in the mirror image of myself was....ME, in all my horrific postured glory, leaning forward so far my face was within a few inches of my monitor, body cocked at an odd angle sideways, leaning back at a 45 degree angle with my tailbone jammed into the crease between the upright for the lumbar/back and the chair itself. My belly hung over my pants onto my lap.
My posture, ergonomic position, spinal alignment: awful, awful and more awful. Pathetic, actually.
And in that very moment it occurred to me, I have sat exactly, precisely like this for....YEARS. YEARS.
And naturally, my early expectation was that my micro adjustments would somehow radically shift something with four years' worth of muscle memory and the patient bad-postured dedication of a monk?
After a short amount of research I discovered this: for FOUR plus YEARS, 8000+ hours, I have sat, 8 to 10 hours a DAY, on a chair that is meant for sitting for an hour tops. It is a low budget, non adjustable conference room chair. I had long since scorned the thing because it pilled pair after pair of dress slacks, but it never did occur to me that it was also wrecking my back and my alignment.
We tend to teach that which we need to learn ourselves.
So today, I went to the ergonomics lady and tested and then selected and ordered a new chair. It is so fancy, I am surprised it didn't come with a seat heater option. Sliding lumbar support. Adjustable everything.
Ironically, I am wearing the new pair of dress slacks that arrived in the mail yesterday.
My chair will arrive within three weeks. I am at the moment typing standing up. Can't hurt, might help, right? And I resolve, in all my infinite yoga teacher wisdom, to not align myself with the expectation that one hour in my beautiful new chair, will immediately fix my 8000 hour mistake.
The next tectonic shift: this human should simply not sit eight hours a day.