Squat for Life

My son Alex is starting off his career as a Strength and Conditioning Trainer. He just graduated from URI (University of Rhode Island) and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise. I am so proud of him and his ability to think for himself not to just go with the mainstream.

Here is his take on Function vs Strength:  “It’s been debated over and over again.  Most stick with one side or another.  This is a problem because they’re basically the same thing!  Look, squatting to depth is a functional exercise no ifs, ands, or but(t)s about it.  You can focus on strength by adding a heavy external load, take away or lighten the load and you are working on the functional squatting pattern.  I know functional training is more complex than one movement pattern, as well as strength training, but when we combine these two modes of training we can make the most progress.”

He is absolutely right. We squat every day when we sit. In China you often find people squatting, reading the newspaper while they wait for the bus. It is a function of longevity. If done correctly there is little risk to the knees in fact it is a part of maintaining health knees. Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong all encourage daily squatting practice.

Body Mind Connection

Yoga is a “Body/Mind/Spirit” experience.  We know the physics of movement; “a body in motion, stays in motion” and through continual flowing movements of yoga we become more cognizant of ourselves and learn to relax the body and clear the mind, especially of the more obvious stressors; job, finances, relationships, etc. Through breath and movement we align our bodies and connect to a relaxed state.

The mind and body connection may be obvious to some but unrecognized by others. As we loose the connection to our feelings many think of these pains and discomforts in our body as warnings about impending disease when most of the time you can calm them by just feeling the feelings and recognizing where they come from then releasing them.

We have sayings that express exactly that connection. Let’s look at some of the ways we express discomfort, what our mind is saying and how our bodies might be manifesting.

“he carries the weight of the world on his shoulders” – Stress – Shoulder pain, frozen shoulder, unnecessary surgeries…

“the hairs on the back of his neck stood straight up” – Fear, anxiety – Heart problems, arrhythmia, mental disorder…

“Pit of the stomach” – Dread, nervousness, knowing that your love is not returned… – can lead to IBS, stomach problems

“heart is heavy ” – Sad, overburdened – depression,

“head about to burst” – Angry – addictions

These sayings imply a mind/body connection, right? The ailments that sometimes lead us to seek a physician when all we need is to take some time for self-reflection? You’ve heard the saying “you are what you eat.” How about “you are what you think, feel?” Because we are a society that is encouraged to hold back feelings to keep us from being vulnerable or embarrassing to ourselves or others we have learned to ignore the instincts that tell us many things about ourselves. Over time stress in our body lay the foundation to many diseases that when not moved out, can get us hooked on unnecessary medications, bring us to the emergency room or worse, CANCER!

However, we can release these physical pains through exercise, meditation, a good cry or a big pillow to punch. Ancient eastern cultures have recognized the connection to body/mind/spirit for thousands of years and we are just now adapting the remedies they discovered like Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, and meditation.

Adding just a few movements a day to move the discomfort can result in a better nights sleep, being more focused and feeling more connected to self  and others.