Happy, Healthy, & Horsey: Creating More Bend (in Me!)

Flexibility for all!

Let’s start this week’s column with a cute photo of Kaliwohi, because, well, horses.

Kaliwohi pondering the meaning of life. (Hint: the answer is GRASS.) Photo by Esther Roberts

And then I’ll show you the latest updates on my bind-ability, courtesy of a regular yoga practice, cleaner eating, and striving to ignore that stubborn scale. All the photos throughout the rest of this week’s column are by Sarah Frances Smith. The left photo in each pair was taken in mid-March; the right one in each pair was taken last week. My apologies for the weird lighting, but I think they’ll do for our purposes of discussion.

Generally speaking, weight change up or down is a slow process. Granted, my own progress has seemed Mo.Lass.Es. Slow. But progress is progress, so I am grateful.

In the above standing photos, the past six weeks have seen my posture continue to improve. One of the regular movements in DDPYoga is “shoulders back! chest out!” to release any lingering tension after every few moves. I’m delighted to see how my shoulders are naturally realigning; my back never hurts these days, which is delightful! An added bonus is the fact that my chest muscles are toning up, which gives – ahem – “the girls” a bit of a natural boost, as well.

While I wish the belly would just shrivel up and go away, what I’m learning is that humans, just like horses, have to strengthen our “engine” (hind end for horses; glutes and other large muscle groups in humans) before the core (belly in both) becomes strong enough to hold everything together and the fat (hay belly for humans; belly fat in humans) burns off. A slow process indeed, but long gone are the days of needing size XL pants; these days, the L size is getting a wee bit looser, week by week.

In March (left pic), I could only bend this far by allowing my hips/rump to slant backwards out behind me. Last week (right pic), as you can see, my legs are much more vertical, which means the quads and glutes are lengthening and getting stronger at the same time. My goal is, eventually, to have my legs as perpendicular to the ground as the door frame behind me in these photos.

Six weeks ago, my squat (aka “catcher’s pose”) required me to spread my feet quite a bit to balance myself and strive to “sit deep.” Now, I can hold my balance on a much more narrow center of gravity (notice how much closer my feet are together in the photo on the right) and squat a little deeper, as well. Bonus – I even have sufficient balance to reach out and pet a cat. Or two! #PhotobombCats

This pair of progress pix may well be my favorite to date. In March (left pic) I was SO proud of how much better I was at this “roundhouse kick pose” than when I began DDPYoga in January. Now (right pic), My spine is much more upright – I’m not having to use my body to counterbalance my lifted leg. Yes, my right arm in the right photo is a bit outstretched for balance, but still, the additional height, flexion, and even flexed foot makes me super happy about how much more athletic my body is becoming, bit by bit.

Want to join me on this journey? Check out the Facebook page (public) and ask to join the group!


Go Riding!

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