According to a recent NASA study, astronauts in space can grow up to 3 percent taller during the time spent living outside earth’s gravity. That means that a 6-foot-tall person could gain as many as 2 inches while in orbit. That gain is short lived, however, and once the astronauts return to Earth their height returns to normal after a few months.
So, what does that mean for those of us who are earthbound? And why might this be of particular interest to yoga students? Well for one thing, this speaks volumes about the effect that gravity has on our spines. Fortunately, the practice of yoga can help you counteract this spinal compression and create more space without the expense of orbiting the earth.
Ever notice that certain poses can actually make you feel taller? Or that once you have stretched one side of the body, it feels “longer” and maybe even “lighter” than the other? Could it be that yoga students, like the men and women in space, are simply accessing “space” in their spine that is already there?
Decompressing – or lengthening – the spine with yoga frees us up to move with more agility and a wider range of motion. That increased mobility can lighten the spirit while promoting better overall health for the entire nervous system.
As for me, I have long believed that yoga is “out of this world”. I think this study supports my theory. So we all know I am short, but I wonder if I’m taller than I thought!
Even if you don’t know the name B.K.S. Iyengar, your yoga practice is influenced by him. He wrote numerous books and helped bring yoga to the west. His death in late August at the age of 95 has led me to reflect upon the teachers of yoga. Although I never met Mr. Iyengar, most of my teachers studied directly with him, and I fortunately received his wisdom through them. While I enjoy and gain a great deal from practice at home, there’s nothing like being inspired and invigorated in a class. I am most grateful for everything my teachers share with me.
Has it been a while since you’ve been on the yoga mat? Want to practice at a deeper level or more often but not sure how to get there? Has your practice at home become stale? I encourage you to chat with one of the great teachers here at Sunrise Yoga and let us help guide your yoga journey.
P.S. If you want to know more about Iyengar Yoga, please visit https://iynaus.org/
One yoga student walks into the studio one day, bringing along a yoga mat (although we provide them free for you at Sunrise Yoga!) and two little voices her head. One voice belongs to Ego, who can get very loud and almost impossible to drown out. The other belongs to Humility, a soft-spoken fellow who is easy to push around.
After stepping into the studio and unrolling her yoga mat, the student follows along with the instructor’s lesson for the day and at first everything is going fine. After a few preparatory poses, the instructor then says, “your next pose is downward facing dog”, which she demonstrates before carefully leading her students into the pose. So far, so good – right?
But it doesn’t take long before trouble breaks out when Ego and Humility start to have a very loud argument, and some of you may know that this is very distracting when you are trying to practice a little yoga. The argument goes something like this:
Ego: “We have been in down dog for ages! Has the instructor forgotten about us? This is killing my right wrist. I guess I haven’t fully recovered from that injury I had a few months ago. I don’t think I can stay in this pose any longer, but no one else is coming out of the pose and I don’t want to be different. I don’t want anyone to think that I can’t do it too. That would be embarrassing. Everyone will think there is something wrong with me, or that I’m not good enough to stay in the pose as long as they are. So I am just going to hang in there until……uh oh.”
Now all this time, soft-spoken Humility has been trying to get a word in, because Humility wanted to say:
“The instructor hasn’t said to come out of this pose, but my right wrist is really starting to hurt. I guess I haven’t fully recovered from the injury I had a few months ago. I wish I had mentioned this to the instructor before class, but I forgot. I’ll bet she could offer an alternate way of doing the pose. Meanwhile I don’t think I should stay in this pose any longer because that might cause injury to my wrist. I need to do what I think is best for me in this moment. I don’t know what others are doing, but I need to assume responsibility for my own practice and not worry about that.”
Don’t you enjoy eavesdropping on a good argument!
Who’s talking to you?