Hi, I’m Andrew, and I’m a middle aged father of 3. In any given week I spend 70+ hours in front of technology and books, and this is simply not healthy for my spine. Then again, my posture problems predate my technology use by decades.
I’m tall and thin. By nineteen I was 6’ tall, and I weighed in at a whopping 138 lbs. In addition, as a kid, I was shy, timid, a nerd, and I didn’t hit my teenage growth spurt until I was 17. This created a perfect storm of poor posture; a shy, timid, studious, scrawny little kid, hunched into himself to hide.
Eventually came the day that I wanted to make a change, and that day came in university. I began martial arts training and lifting weights. I gained some muscle (not a lot, ectomorphs don’t gain muscle mass easily), but the martial arts training opened up my world. I gained confidence and learned to overcome my shyness. And in the process, I wrecked my back.
I will always be glad for my years in karate, judo, ju jitsu and kickboxing. I would not have had the career I have had, I would not have met my lovely wife (seriously; I met her in a karate club), and would not have had 3 my wonderful boys, had I not taken that path. But.
But (as my kung fu teacher might say) while I wanted the benefits, I never asked the cost. And the cost was serious, long term back issues. I ended up with forward head tilt, hunched shoulders, and a twisted back with two flat spots in my spine. By the time I quit competing, and reduced my time in the karate club from obsession to hobby, the damage was done, and in the meantime, I was commuting, working long hours on the computer, and had discovered computer gaming.
At 40 I had real problems. I was in constant low grade pain, with serious headache and migraine problems, and I was permanently stooped. I knew I OUGHT to do something about my posture, but I lacked both motivation and knowledge.
My second boy provided the motivation. He is physically a near perfect mirror of me, and one evening while I was watching him brush his teeth, I saw HIS posture. It was a perfect reflection of mine, and the circle closed.
When I was his age, my always mother told me to “Stand up straight,” just as I would tell him to stand up straight. And, just as I learned my posture from what my parents DO (they’re also slouchers), as opposed to what they SAID, he had learned poor posture from my actions, not my words. Whenever I feel myself slouching, I recall that moment, and straighten up.
Time, effort and a helping of luck provided the knowledge. To ease the physical problems I tried physiotherapy, massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, and I can’t remember what else. Some therapies were better than others, and while some provided a piece of the solution, none provided a complete and permanent solution. No matter what I did, I remained stooped, and the pain always seemed to return. Then luck intervened.
My wife and I had been doing yoga and Pilates casually for a few years, during which time I was playing hockey regularly (another exercise which is murder on the back). After recovering from her second pregnancy and delivery, she ramped her yoga up to 3 – 4 times per week. After the winter hockey season ended, I joined her in that regular practice. And then a miracle occurred.
I fell in love with yoga the same way I fell in love with karate, and for similar reasons; it was what I needed, mentally and physically, at that time. It was through the exploration of yoga that I found my path for healing and improving my back, and developing the tools I needed to fix my posture.
Today, I write to reach out to the posturally challenged. We live in a time, in a culture that is structured to ruin our spines, and along with them our physical health and mental well being. I hope you’ll join me on a journey to repair them all.