Simply put: “Hunting and gathering was humanity's first and most successful adaptation, occupying at least 90 percent of human history.” - wikipedia. In an existence of about 200,000 years, up until about 10,000 years ago, this is how our species lived. What we can draw from this simple factoid is that our life as “cultured beings” is minimal and new, in the face of the larger context of our history.
When I learned about breastfeeding for my kids, one of the first lines of the lecture was, “You are a mammal.” This simple statement was a radical concept. For many years, I had moved my body for the sake of dance and art and then for yoga poses and pride. That one statement began to strip away my cultured, learned paradigm. It drew me into a more visceral experience of myself.
We are animals. Up until 10,000 years ago, we provided for ourselves. In EVERY possible way. Fast forward 9,900 years and we have a world in which the work of finding and making food, shelter and safety is low on the list. We are now so cultured that our contrived created environment has actually affected our health. Why? Well, we no longer need to move to survive. We have ended up with a mostly sedentary life. The average teenager only walks an average of 11 minutes a day. That is scary. Slap that phone outta their hands and shove them back outside.
The top three perils of captive animals is disease, infertility and aggression. Does this sound familiar? I know you are asking yourself, "Did she just call humans captive animals?" The answer my friends is, "Yes, I absolutely did.” This is not a new idea, it is not even my idea, it is a needed correlation. Our designed world has led us to disconnect from our mammalian bodies. We have outsourced the very work and movement necessary IN our body TO objects and animals and other people. Like chairs, tables and machines.
Movement used to BE our day and it was a byproduct of our needs for survival. Now, we have to inject our day with contrived "exercise routines" that force movement. Herein lies the problem: When the majority of our time is spent in non-moving, non-laboring ways, then your exercise is a grain of sand on a long beach. Valuable but ineffective and not creating a real change.
Now I have been saying this for years. When you come to Yoga class all stressed out and weak and then you want to just rest and sleep. I will say “No, what will help you is to work and move MORE”. In smart, progressive, consistent and incremental ways everyday. To tip the scales, you need movement woven throughout your day, not just in the form of a quick vitamin. Vitamins don't translate like whole nutritious food does. The same goes for movement and exercise. Exercise is not as helpful if movement is not sustained on a continuous basis.
Pause: This is why I am back in school. I love this information. Why? Because it resonates with my experience! I would bet five bucks, it resonates with you too. It is why exercise just never feels like it is enough. To shift the tide, it will take really understanding that for more time, we have been hunter gathering bodies that move, climb, walk and run everyday. So just because we invented chairs, shoes, beds and houses doesn't mean our bodies are that different.
Yoga class invites adaptation, it makes you move in all ways with your body! We teach you how to introduce new movement and new shapes. It is still a contrived shot of adaptation but it is a start. Instead of weights or machines, your body is the focus. Yoga draws you into a meaningful relationship with your body. Your adaptable and generative, awesome freaking body.
YOUR BODY requires constant adaptation and movement. You don't need to run a marathon everyday either. Just start by remembering that you don't need chairs, you can walk, you can crawl on your hands. Slowly embrace your inner mammal. Ditch the shoes and throw a pillow away. Slowly introduce adaptation. Then, exercise will be dessert...not the main course.