Understanding why yoga places great emphasis on the health and flexibility of the spine on both the physical and metaphysical levels.

Shameem Akhtar

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The fuss yoga makes over our spine hints at the importance of spinal health for both our physical well-being and spiritual evolution. In the entire animal kingdom, human being has the most erect spine. Even among animals that occasionally resort to bipedalism, like the chimpanzee or a meer cat, this erect spine is not a constant. Yoga, a science devised from intently watching nature, had surmised there was something far beyond the biological advantage that bipedalism conferred that made us grit and bear the physical consequences of this evolutionary choice. This includes an excruciating delivery for the woman (the most difficult in the entire animal kingdom), since the passage of birth had narrowed due to the upright posture. It meant a prolonged infancy when the helpless human baby was dependent on its parents far longer, since a fully developed brain would have meant greater difficulty, especially for the mother, while the baby squeezed through the narrow birth passage. It meant tremendous burden on the knees, feet and legs which had earlier shared this load with the knuckles and forelimbs. There was also the extra load the human spine itself acquired through its S-shape that even today causes the most painful backaches as evolution continues to accommodate its choice.

Shameem Akhtar: a certified yoga shiromani with the internationally-acclaimed Sivananda Yoga Centre, Kerala (headquartered in Canada), she is also a certified yoga acharya (advanced level in teacher's training in hatha yoga) with them. (Both courses are set in ashram atmosphere with yoga training and practice extending from pre-dawn till night-fall). She has done the Sadhana Intensive course (also with the Sivananda Institute, at its Uttarkashi branch) which includes nine hours of yoga daily (with the majority of this focused on pranayama or breathing practices). She is also a certified yoga teacher with the Chennai-based Asana Andiappan Institute for yoga and naturopathy, and a certified yoga shiromani and yoga acharya with the Chennai-based Shiva Yoga Institute. She is also certified practitioner, trainer and master trainer in Neurolinguistic Programming (the latest buzzword internationally in mindpower training) with the US based American Federation of NLP, and was trained by the founder himself, Dr William Horton.



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