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Back to Balance

As a culture, we Americans tend to have trouble focusing on the present, and it’s no wonder. Life is complicated enough without 400 channels to choose from, laptops, cell phones, GPS, PlayStation and Xbox Games, etc. Then there’s the pressure to have the right house in the right neighborhood and the right car in the driveway, and to send our children to the right schools and make enough money to keep them there. Life is hard before you even get to your relationships with partners, family, co-workers, and Friends—if you even have time for interacting. We are constantly trying to cram three days’ worth of activities and work into 24 hours.

We are generally sleeping less and not very deeply. We rush everywhere, so our nourishment habits are quite poor. If you live in a big city, your situation is likely even more intensified, and when we do try to get healthy, the most popular and accessible choices are the extremes—power yoga, spinning, extreme sports. When we jump into situations which our bodies are not ready to handle, without the correct guidance and warm-ups, exercise can actually harm us.

And most of the time our injuries have nothing to do with sports or working out. It just takes a moment: that questionable move—contorting your body to reach something or bending over to lift something that’s too heavy with no support and locked knees. All of a sudden your back is gonzo! Ouch, what happened?

Try this little exercise when you have a few moments to yourself to help you stay more conscious and in the moment:

Find a quiet space. Sit comfortably on the edge of a chair, close your eyes, and breathe in and out through your nose. Feel your feet flat on the floor. Notice how your whole torso expands and contracts as you breathe in and out. If your mind wanders, count how long it takes for the breath to come in and fill your body and then count your exhale too.  focus on your breath like this for three minutes. Open your eyes. Notice how you feel. Keep that sense of presence in each moment—you can use the breath at any time, eyes open or closed, to connect to your center.

When you pay this kind of attention to your body and reconnect with sensation and emotion, it’s highly unlikely that you will injure yourself or your low back.

Excerpted from Back to Balance: Heal Your Spine, Heal Your Life, by Raven Sadhaka Seltzer; reprinted with permission.

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