That’s just some damn good advice... in many respects.
It’s also the title of this 2 minute video (above or find it here) in which Leslie Kaminoff, co-author of Yoga Anatomy, talks about a basic principle of healthy movement: distributing movement throughout the entire body or getting “a little bit of movement from a lot of places rather than a lot of movement from just a few places.”
When we do the same movement over and over again, we wear out certain joints, overuse certain muscles, weaken our overall systems, and increase our risk of injury.
Kaminoff uses the example of over-emphasizing axial extension (elongation of the spine) during a yoga class, as many of us yoga teachers tend to do. He points out that this can do more damage than good because by not allowing the spine to fully articulate, we risk wearing out the hip joints and joints in the lower back.
This is an important point for those of us that teach and practice yoga to remember. We should put a priority on moving the entire body in a wide variety of ways during our practices. This is something that I see as a potential advantage of yoga which, depending on the style and method of practice, includes a wide variety of movements compared to other exercise regimes.
At the same time, we don’t want to throw out axial extension as one of the healthy movements of the spine.
Practicing elongation of the spine while in poses like Mountain Pose (Tadasana) or the Warrior Poses (Virabhadrasana 1, 2 and 3) is a great way to counteract all of the slouching that many of us do at our desks, in the car, or on the couch. Practicing that axial extension can help us build up the strength in the core (abs, back, and hips) needed to find and maintain good posture.
In the end, this issue comes back to the first law of the universe (according to Danae): It’s all about balance.