SI and Yoga

Clients have asked me how to maintain the changes to their body that they experienced from structural integration (SI). Common activities of modern life tend to work against maintaining the benefits of SI. Computer or desk work, being in a car and plane trips are all things that hold your body in a more-or-less fixed position and that tend to contract the body’s structure. Some exercises also have this effect, like jogging or biking. However, there are benefits from doing cardio so you may decide to make that trade-off.

A good stretching program, done consistently, is one way to maintain your alignment and length. There are a number of approaches to stretching. My favorite is a mind/body practice: yoga.

A well-rounded yoga asana (pose) practice will include many different movements, positions, and muscles. Yoga helps with both flexibility and strength. Additionally, yoga can help with mental focus, stress management, and breathing. For more information about the health benefits of yoga, see this article at WebMD.

If you have not practiced yoga before, once a week is a reasonable frequency. I suggest looking for a class through your local community education program or rec center. You might have better luck there in finding an entry-level class that is geared to students who are unfamiliar with the poses. DVDs are another option. However, I find that many are too advanced or too fast-paced for beginners. Some DVDs that I think can work for beginners are from Lilias Folan, Peggy Cappy, or the Basic Yoga Workout for Dummies. There are also online options. Yoga Journal has several nice beginner-level videos with Jason Crandall on its YJ multimedia site.

If you are an experienced yoga practitioner and regularly attend a class, now might be the time to develop a home practice. I find it helpful to practice yoga more often, and many dedicated yogis have a daily practice. A good home practice is the one that you will do! If your time is limited, you might only do one or two poses and a short relaxation. If you like vinyasa, your home practice could be 5 or 10 minutes of sun salutations followed by relaxation. I like doing sun salutations very slowly and meditatively. Holding a pose for 5-6 breaths can aid the muscles to relax into the stretch and build strength. For more ideas on building your home practice, see this YJ article.

Another good resources is the Yoga International web site. Some books I like are 30 Essential Yoga Poses by Judith Lasater and Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit by Donna Farhi. Look for these books from the author or at your local library or independent book seller.

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