"You can turn the faucet on and off, the heat on and off, and the light switch on and off, but you can't turn gravity off." Jean Couch

 

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Gravity is either your friend or your enemy. At each moment in your life, it's either holding you together or tearing you apart. 

In modern posture, we take our pelvis forward of the centre of gravity, like the man on the right.  The negative effects include: strain in every joint, tense, weak muscles, vulnerability to injury, and pain in our backs, feet, necks, knees and shoulders.

Spinefulness (spinal mindfulness) is based on a study of populations with a very low incidence of back pain. In these cultures, people remain strong and upright into old age. Spinefulness teaches you how to align your spine with gravity as you sit, stand, walk, bend and even sleep. 

Noelle Perez, of the Institute D'Aplomb in Paris, conducted extensive research into differences in lifestyle that might relate to back pain. The common thread is posture: pain-free people stand, sit and move slightly differently than we do.

In fact, they do what all human toddlers do in order to walk while balancing a 10-pound weight on top of their spines.

• they put their buttocks behind them, in line with their legs.

• they have a straight back, that rises from a short sharp arch where the lowest spinal vertebra meets the sacrum.

• their bones bear weight and their muscles relax.

By age three, most of us have taken on the posture of our parents. All children want to fit in. And children and adults alike mirror the posture of the people around them. Posture is cultural. That's good news in a traditional village, especially among people who carry weight on their heads. Children maintain a relaxed upright posture, in line with gravity. In heavily industrialized countries, children imitate adults whose bodies have been thrown off balance. We sit in badly designed chairs and car seats, work long hours hunched over computers and slouch on soft couches.

No wonder we look like this:

SPINEFULNESS teaches us how to regain the balanced posture that is  our birthright. Living on the axis, in harmony with gravity, puts our centre of gravity back in the centre. It allows our joints to move as they were designed to move, without friction.

Spinefulness reduces or relieves joint pain in all parts of the body and is especially helpful with low-back problems. It's non-invasive. It can be done in loose, comfortable clothing, no special clothes required. It's accessible to almost everyone. If you can get up and down from a chair, you can take a Spinefulness class. If you can get up and down from the floor, you can do an intensive. And it puts you in charge. Spinefulness teaches you why your back hurts and how to change your posture to make it stop.

Here's how to learn more:

Come to a  SPINEFULNESS Intro Session: In 90 minutes, you'll see a slide show that will change your perception of posture forever, as well as receiving individual assessment, hands on guidance, and instruction in how to sit without pain. Small group, of six students.  Registration required, $20. Add your name to the list by emailing Eve at evej@shaw.ca. Next intro: TBA

Attend a 5-week SPINEFULNESS Series: Five two-hour sessions on Tuesday evenings.  Small group with individual assessment and hands on adjustment. One session per term. Next date: Tuesdays, October 30 to November 27, 6 to 8 pm.  $350  + GST, $300 + GST if payment is received by October 4. Returning students who have already taken a Spinefulness weekend or series, $250 + GST = $262.50. For more information go to: https://www.yogaon7th.com/events/five-week-spinefulness-series-with-eve-johnson

Accelerate your learning: SPINEFULNESS Weekend Intensive: 10 hours over the course of a weekend. Small group with individual assessment and hands on adjustment. Good for out-of-towners, or to immerse yourself in the work. Limit of six students. $350 + GST, early bird, $300. Next weekend intensive: TBA

SPINEFULNESS private and semi-private classes, for those who cannot come to class times or want individual attention.One person: Four classes, $400, paid in advance, $125 for a single session. Two people: Four classes, $440, paid in advance, $135 for a single session.

Weekly SPINEFULNESS Practice  Class: Openings and exercises that make Spinefull posture more accessible, along with continued refinement of sitting, standing, bending and walking. Open to those who have taken a Spinefulness series or weekend, and also to Eve's registered yoga students. Next session: Mondays, November 5 to 26, 5:30 to 7 pm. $105 for four classes, includes GST. Class limited to 10 students.

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EVE JOHNSON is a certified Spinefulness teacher and a certified Iyengar yoga teacher.

She first connected with Spinefulness through Thea Sawyer's book, Put Your Back at Ease, then experienced the enormous benefits of hands-on Spinefulness in the course of a weekend workshop at the Balance Center in March 2016.

She especially values Spinefulness for the presence and ease it brings to yoga postures and to everyday life.

Spinefulness is a registered trademark of The Balance Center in Palo Alto, where Jean Couch has been teaching aligned posture since 1992.

In the early 1980s, Jean was an Iyengar yoga teacher. She wrote the Runners World Book of Yoga and  The Runners Book of Yoga, and became the one of the first nationally known yoga teachers in the US. Despite her practice, she had persistent pain, including severe sciatic attacks for 10 years. Her search for an answer led her to Noelle Perez, whose research into populations without pain is the foundation of Spinefulness. Noelle, in her 90's and still teaching, lives in Paris where she directs the Institute d'Aplombe and continues to develop the work.