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Archive for the ‘yoga’ Category

Kangaroo Arms in a Gumby World

Fighting red kangaroos

Image via Wikipedia

I have short arms.  I have always suspected there was something wrong with me.

It started back in grade school.  I loved to twirl on the bar at recess.  Never mind that I had a fear of falling forward – thinking my short arms would NOT save me from landing on my face – but I noticed that the other girls seems to have a much better turning radius than I.  I suppose my short arms actually prevented me from landing on my face and I’m not really sure how all the long armed gumby-like girls prevented hitting theirs.  I guess it was because they were not only long – but stretchy.  Mine were neither long – or stretchy so lucky for me that mine were  on the short side when I did finally master the art of twirling forward.

As I grew in height – my arm length remained short.  Anytime I would buy something with long sleeves – it would be several inches TOO long.  Oh I would roll them up or fold them over – and in the 80’s when it was chic to have arm bands for shirts, sweaters and jackets – I had a pair in EVERY color.  I was cool.  My sleeves didn’t betray my short ‘kangaroo like’ arms.

A few years ago – my daughter and I ventured into the scary dark abyss of hot yoga.  I signed up for 6 weeks of cleansing and stretching classes.  What I did NOT know – is this – in yoga you have to do poses and stretches where you have to move like a gumby and do a back bend and touch the mat behind your head.  My husband calls it “reaching for China” – and only a person with very long and stretchy arms like the super power of ‘elasticity’ – can hope to achieve this.  I found out really quick – that I do not have that.  When we would have to sit and try to reach and touch our toes – I would watch everyone do this with ease.  It was impossible for me.  The poor yoga instructor – I’m sure she did not know what to with me would smiled and say, “do the best you can – you can do the same thing by grabbing your ankles”  Bless her heart.  Isn’t that precious?

I have also noticed that driving in a car – because I am tall (5’9″) I usually have the seat all the way back – but then my arms are too short to reach the steering wheel – so I have to lean forward.  Not a great thing for my posture over the years.  It’s this way for my computer too – tall so I sit back – short arms so I have to lean forward to reach my keyboard – like I’m doing right now.

What to do.  My husband and children have teased me about this for as long as I can remember – and because I love to laugh along – I started saying they were “kangaroo arms”.  I happen to think kangaroos are very cute – short arms and all.  We will not mention that they also happen to be a little round and bulbous in their lower exterior – we will just stick to the arms for this illustration. 🙂  Because my arms are shorter than the normal person who is as tall as I am – it is a challenge to let them just “hang” at my side, elegant and poised.  NO.  Mine stick OUT – in a most bizarre way.  Not long enough to make it sufficiently over the mid section and hip area – they poke out a little.  My daughter has pointed this out to me many times – “Mom, do you have to stick your arms out like that”?  Bless her sweet little heart.  She thinks I actually have a choice.  And I guess I do – in a way.  If I concentrate very hard, close my eyes and visualize longer, sleek, gumby-like arms – then I can make them stick to my sides.  For a few seconds at least 😉

Here’s to all of you kangaroo-like people!  I salute you.  Going through life and doing things meant for only the ‘gumbies’ of the world – such as:

1. Reaching the top shelf in the kitchen or closet without asking for help or stepping on a chair

2. Reaching the steering wheel and resting your back on the seat

3. Doing any kind of stretching exercise requiring that you bend over and touch the floor with your finger tips

4. Resting your arms elegantly at your sides

5. Reaching a keyboard without leaning so far forward that you pull all your neck, shoulder and back muscles in the process – requiring chiropractor visits and massage therapy.   (The massage part is a bonus – by the way 🙂

What physical hindrances keep you from doing what you want to do?  Have people ever teased you because you looked different?  Did you ever feel inadequate and different?  I want to hear about it – mostly because I don’t want to feel alone here 😦  Share AWAY!

God Bless


Day 8 – Sticking My Neck Out – Literally.

Nuat phaen boran or Thai massage, side-lying p...

Image via Wikipedia

I carry my stress and tension in my upper body – neck, shoulders, arms, upper back and have done so for years.  Unfortunately – over time – it takes its toll.

I am under the care of a good chiropractor and now have a wonderful massage therapist too.  I really noticed problems starting last year when I had to direct  theater productions.  Since we only had done two of them a year – it is not something my body is used to.   And in directing during rehearsals and then in the four performances I use muscles that I am not accustom to – throwing my neck and shoulders in a foreign position and taking much therapy to resolve.  This year before I had to have a ‘conducting week’ I made sure I had a massage – a really deep tissue one – actually it was a Thai massage which was wonderful and gave me extra movement, elongating some of the muscles I was going to be using.  It really helped.

This last Sunday I went to a new massage therapist – someone highly recommended by a friend from church – and she was really excellent.  I felt like I got the best information and advice – as well as free massage lotions (she makes her own) and other gifts.  I probably learned more about the muscles in the neck and back – and what can happen over time due to poor posture and bad habits – (playing the piano, sitting at the computer) like we all develop if not careful.  It has sent me on a search to help correct some of the problems that have already started in my neck and back – and she even suggested acupuncture to help with some of it – as that procedure has greatly helped her.  I have even looked into using a Rolfer – and have been searching for information and testimonials from people who have received help by using this type of therapy and with similar problems to mine.

In the meantime though, it’s amazing what help you can find if you do a ‘search’ on the internet – and there are many exercises on youtube and other websites for the neck.  One site in particular gave some wonderful neck and spine stretches – and another video used some light weights to help get that posture back in the right place – instead of the head pulling forward – as happens to most of us as we get older.  Very good information – and I have been following this good advice and feel better in just a couple of days.  Amazing!

Last week – as part of my birthday present – Greg bought me a new office chair.  Not the cheap kind either – but one of those chairs with the lower back support.  It’s like a dream to sit in this chair – and easy to sit taller and better when you have a supportive chair to sit in.  It arrived yesterday and I was all SMILES when sitting in it to teach piano lessons – it made one of my students giggle 🙂  And of course they ALL wanted to sit in my new chair.  It looks like something from Star Trek!  Very cool!

I’m also back to yoga – as my massage therapist says there’s nothing better.  I have a weak wrist so it makes it dicey – but it is so good for my neck, spine and shoulders – so I am doing them anyway – modifying the poses where I have to.

At night before bed – I have 3 neck stretches that I’m doing.  Talk about a long good stretch!  Wow.  These are amazing.  I am sticking my neck out – literally. I also now sleep with a body pillow – as per the suggestion from my chiropractor.  It gives that added support to the hips and shoulders.  He sleeps with one all the time – and if you want to know the best way to sleep – ask your chiropractor how he sleeps.  I figure if it’s good enough for him – then I should be doing it!

Here’s to good posture and healthy ‘sticking your neck out’ moments 🙂

God Bless

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