At the end of the day, you creak out of your chair like you’re 20 years older than you truly are. Modern technology is amazing, but all this screen time is making your body feel crickety and sore.
Self-love is an inner and outer journey. Today you can practice loving your spine, your neck, and your back from the wisdom of Joan Craig. Relieve your back pain and regain some of your vitality and flexibility.
Joan Hope Craig is a teacher, coach, and guide for personal, professional, and spiritual growth. Her specialty is alignment – helping you align your body with yoga therapy and align your mind with meditation and yogic lifestyle.
Connect with Joan at www.choosejoyfulhealth.com
Watch the interview here or read the transcript shared at the bottom of this page.
Joan’s purpose is to help others become aware of their spiritual energy and use it to make life-enhancing choices. She founded Choose Joyful Health to remind herself and others that we have a choice to be in our natural states of joy and health. Besides her direct work with clients, she writes and teaches about how a holistic lifestyle leads to health, happiness, and a sense of purpose. In 2020, she published Change Point: Simplify Your Life, Find Inner Peace, and Do What Matters. She was previously published in Crossing Cultures with the Peace Corps, and in 2005, released Yoga with Joan, an audio CD available on Amazon, Spotify and iTunes. She is a Certified Yoga Therapist, Health & Well-being Coach, Personal Trainer, and Fellow of Applied Functional Science.
Seeds of Self-Love with Joan, Episode #2
Joan: the body is like clay, your body will adapt to whatever you do on a regular basis.
Rachel: I’m here with Joan, she’s a yoga therapist and a health coach.
Rachel: I’m curious. This year, I’ve had a lot more time in front of the computer.
Rachel: I’m a little bit hunched and I wanna have some more ideas. I wanna bring the self-love to a, to a place with my body. I’m curious if you have ideas for what I can do to start giving my spine more love and self love.
Joan: Yeah. A super important topic, and I think we all relate to what you’re feeling.
Joan: Some people were working on the computer a lot before 2020. but now all of us are on the computer to some extent, even people who weren’t in all before just doing zoom meetings and doing FaceTime with your friends and family. Definitely, you know, our arms are in front of us, so it’s just physically happening.
Joan: You know, there’s a physical pull and I like to tell people that the body is like clay, your body will adapt to whatever you do on a regular basis. Right. So. You know, if you, um, play football, obviously you’re gonna build your body to do that thing. If you ride your paddle of board. Is what I’ve learned this year.
Joan: Mm-hmm thank God. I had a paddleboard during quarantine, but what I learned is it works the anterior deltoids in the back. Oh, wow. A lot. And I had to do extra stretching because I was getting tight in the front of my shoulders. Wow. The same summer that I was also on the computer a ton. So we definitely need to do it.
Joan: Uh, and I could probably talk for 10 years about that. So I’ll just wrap up your first question. we’ll get back and we’ll get more into it, but in general, The front of the body, the muscles are bigger and stronger than the muscles on the back of the body. Okay. People often get into trouble at the gym.
Joan: Cause in the mirror you can see the biceps and the pecs and people build those up a lot. Yeah. But you can’t really see those smaller muscles, the rhomboids, the lower trapezius fibers in the back. So we have to even just being alive right now. We have to actively stretch the front and strengthen the back. Mm. If we’re not doing that.
Joan: Gravity wins and the repetitive motions win. Oh yeah. Not to be depressing, but have to be, you have to be active about
Rachel: it. I’d rather be depressed thinking about what I don’t want than 10, 5, 20 years down the road, be like, oh great. Now I have this problem and it’s maybe too late to fix it or fixing it is gonna have all these other.
Joan: Well, and, and both of my work for the last 15 years has been with people who are, I would say between 55 and 70 mm-hmm and it’s never too late. Yeah. It’s never too late. But, it’s certainly easier to prevent a problem than to address it once it’s there.
Rachel: Yes, that’s true. I like preventative.
Joan: And in fact, I’m gonna fix my legs so that I can sit yes.
Joan: Properly. I’m gonna
Rachel: sit side saddle here. I’m slow.
Joan: So we don’t fall into the camera.
Rachel: And then when you were talking about clay, I was thinking about little frog here, so, okay. How, okay. So you said we should stretch the front, strengthen the back. How can I make my clay work in that way? What are well, here’s
Joan: a really, really something.
Joan: Yeah. Yeah. One is, um, if you catch yourself when you’re walking and this would be easier to demonstrate standing up, but we often walk with our palms facing back. Mm okay. Yes. So this, this, the hand is a symptom mm-hmm , you know, What we call internal rotation at the shoulder joint. Oh. So if you go in public, if you’re in a public place and you just start to watch people walk, like even at the grocery store, they don’t have their hands in the cart.. A lot of people walk with their hands facing backwards. So it’s just. Showing the arm is here. Mm-hmm this is too tight. And this is two weak says this very simple solution.
Joan: It’s just to flip your hand. Yes. And even just right now, you just flip your hands and pull that thumb back even here. Yes. Just pulling the thumb down and back. You can feel. The rhomboids between the shoulder blades, lower trapezius fibers that pull the shoulder blades down. Mm. So that they’re not riding up here, like a turtle shell.
Joan: Yes. So, I mean, if I have. 30 seconds to a minute to give anybody a posture tip. I would say flip your palms whenever you think about it. Wow. And then once a day, go up against a wall mm-hmm and push your thumb. Oh yeah. My chiropractor told me about that and it’s amazing. Like, even for me, I work on the subway, but when I push my thumbnail into the wall, like mm-hmm, , there’s some work there.
Joan: Yeah. I can feel it. I can feel it right now.
Rachel: And it makes me think when I see pictures of people who are feeling. Exuberant joyful life. Oh, you know, it’s like this openness. Yes. So I feel that there’s also something happening in my heart. When I do that, this stretching, this opening, I feel like I’m open to receive.
Rachel: My body’s open to receive
Joan: and it feels good. That’s really perceptive. And, and we should should link to this video. There’s Ted talk. Oh, okay. Great. Ted talk, Amy Cuddy. Who’s a Harvard social scientist and she researched. The hormonal responses to posture. Wow. So she had people get into a posture like this. Oh, like, it’s basically what you do in a waiting room.
Joan: You’re looking at your cell phone. Mm-hmm like, you know, and then she tested their saliva to measure the testosterone and the cortisol. Wow. And, uh, we think of testosterone and sometimes we think of it as just for men, but we all have it. Yes. And it’s not just like. About big muscles and right. It’s really about your sense of confidence and your sense of energy.
Joan: And, um, the cortisol of course is stress hormone. Mm. So when people were in this flexion, mm. This is flexion and okay. And the side note, um, I, a Roth who started rolfing, , which is also an structural integration work. She, um, said all negative emotion is expressed as flex. Wow. So if we think about it, what does fear look like?
Joan: Yeah. What does anger look like? Yeah. What does stress look. Yeah. You know, where we don’t expand. So anyway, then she had people stand in what they called, like the wonder woman or Superman. Yeah. Which again, we’re sitting down to be in this beautiful garden. Yeah. Froggy. But if you’re standing up, you would open up your feet and put your hands on your hips and stand like this mm-hmm , which is how superheroes stand mm-hmm and the results were, of course your cortisol went down and the testosterone went up.
Joan: Wow. And this one. And opposite for the other. Anyway, it’s, it’s, it’s a really great Ted talk
Rachel: that gave you the, I think I actually have seen that, but I didn’t remember the hormone part, so I will definitely. So you’re
Joan: totally right. It’s it’s, there’s no separation between. Mental emotional, physical. Yes.
Rachel: Oh, that’s amazing.
Joan: And you can, you can approach it from either direction. I think. Yes. You can work on the physical to improve the mental, emotional, or you can work on the mental, emotional to improve the
Rachel: physical. Yes. You know that two way street. One of my truths that I tell myself is. it’s been expressed is all paths lead to Rome, but you can get there from anywhere.
Rachel: There’s nowhere that you can’t get where you need to go right from where you are. So I love that. And you know what, it also makes me think of that. I think I wanna do is. So, when I’m around you, I always have better posture , you know? Yes. But in a good way, I’m always like, even talking to you on the phone, I’m like,
Joan: wait a minute.
Rachel: Um, and it made me think, okay. I could put up a couple pictures in my house of people with this openness. Yeah. Cause the mirror neurons, and we wanna. Mirror what we’re seeing around us, you know? Right. We naturally start adopting that. So thinking, okay. If I’m see if I have a picture on the wall or screensaver on my phone.
Rachel: Oh yeah. Good of like this or that or the power then I’m like, okay, I can, I can do that.
Joan: I love that. That’s great. That’s a great way to make it practical. Yes.
Rachel: And maybe remind me, I’m hoping. Yeah. Other than
Joan: just calling you . Ooh, cool.
Rachel: OK. If there’s any other questions I have for you
Joan: at the moment, back to the, like the theme of self love.
Joan: Yes. For the, and wanting to talk about the spine specifically is what you asked me to talk about. So we talked about the physical, right? We can do our work. That’s that’s like practical. We need to do the work. Mm-hmm we have to keep care of this body mm-hmm and then the emotional side mm-hmm recognizing when we’re stressed that we may.
Joan: Going into the fetal position basically. Right. Um, and, and using movement to get out of it. And then when you brought up this topic with me, there was one other thing that came to mind and, um, we both have read, uh, autobiography of a yoga. Oh yes. By Paramahansa Yogananda , which is a fun word to say my name, they just say, I dunno if I’ve ever said his name out loud, so I’m
Rachel: glad that you did.
Joan: I practiced. OK, good. But he said. The brain and the spine are the altar of God. Wow. Because it’s through the nervous system that we experience my head awareness of consciousness. I mean, you know, if we didn’t have a nervous system, we wouldn’t feel. But we wouldn’t be alive, right? Yeah. But we wouldn’t feel present inside ourselves.
Joan: So someone can become enlightened with, with spinal problems. Right. Even you can have a spinal problem and still become enlightened, but it, it helps to bring energy to the spine, literally because we’re coming, whether it’s the chakra system or physical system, we want energy to flow evenly up through the spine, into the brain.
Joan: Wow. So that’s just another way of looking at it. I love that. I mean, I feel like that we could spend hours going into, or we could just, you could
Joan: about it first few hours. You could spend your whole life working on that. And that would be a good pursuit.
Rachel: Yes. Oh, that’s so wonderful.
Joan: So we talked about mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual.
Joan: Pretty good. Yeah. I feel like we and social, cause we talked about mirroring. We do learn our moves from our parents and from our,
Rachel: the people around us. Yeah. I was thinking my kids are more likely to. Jump around, move their body and all face. Oh my God.
Joan: I didn’t realize, I didn’t realize how old and still I had become until I hung out with a five year old.
Joan: Yeah. She doesn’t sit still. I was like for one second, I was like, my life become really still. Yeah. I realized that. So, yeah. They’re great examples.
Rachel: Yeah, that’s good. Okay. One other little thing , a practical thing. I’ll be sitting at my computer, working sometimes immersed in a project, which is great.
Rachel: I love that. But then sometimes I’ll realize it’s been two hours and I haven’t gotten up and I don’t know other than drinking, lots of water. So you have to get up. Do you have anything that you do. To remind you, oh, now I need to shift. Now I need to straight. Now I need to get up and move my body for one or two minutes.
Joan: Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, I think having timers and things like that can help too, but if you’re really into what you’re doing, you might just turn it off and I’ve done that before. That’s what I do. Yeah. I turn it off. I think that, you know, Yeah, that is a great question. I mean, eventually my body demands yes.
Joan: That I move and I’m, I’m a creating in a creating mode right now, too. So I think it is a challenge when you have that creative energy flowing that you want to get it into the document you’re making or the artwork you’re making. Right. I think, I guess the other thing to, to just sort of balance that out though, would be carving out time. if you can bookend your day. Yes. Good. You know where there’s some limits and boundaries. Like for me, I might push hard and I might get through something I really wanna write down. But at 7:00 PM, I mean, that’s, for me, mm-hmm, it is non-negotiable the computer has to be off. Right. So I think everyone’s gotta set their own boundaries with it.
Joan: Yeah. But it’s a great question. And, uh, maybe we invite some viewers to comment. That would be great comment. It may be different for each person too. Yes. Yeah. Right.
Rachel: Because for a period of time, I think timers did work for me, but now they don’t sometimes
Joan: you’re like, oh, I’ll go in five minutes. And mm-hmm
Joan: Yeah. Yes. And
Rachel: as you say, I like that book ending, cuz I definitely know if I make a point to be active in the morning and in the evening. Okay. Then at least, even if I had this chunk of time, that was very still. Crunchy Huy over that there’s other times where the fluidity’s coming back and I I’m moving
Joan: and stretching well, in, in the bottom line is no matter how creative you get with the standup desk, you know, ergonomics, we weren’t supposed to be sitting around all day.
Joan: Right. We were supposed to be growing food and hunting. Right. Um, or, or tending the tending the field or whatever, so right. Ergonomics is, is important because modern life dictates that a lot of us do need to sit at a desk to make money. Yes. Um, but it’s not a replacement for, as you said, kind of moving in a more fluid way.
Rachel: yeah. That’s, that’s true. Yes. Now I’m thinking of other ways. I might even look at the objects in my home
Joan: to help me facilitate some more movement.
Rachel: Yeah, the ergonomics of it. Hmm. Well, anything you’d like to say in closing, I
Joan: think I’m done with my S at this point, there is something I say often is that it’s never too late and everyday matters.
Joan: So we always, every moment, the choice we can, we can choose what we’re gonna do right now. Mm-hmm so you. Say, watch the video. I’m gonna get up. Yes.
Rachel: or you can be like, I’m gonna, yeah, right now, get up before the video’s over and start like stretching and doing.
Joan: Aw, wonderful. Thank so much for having me.
Joan: Thank you. Thanks for frog for hosting us. Yes, . We’ll see
Rachel: if frog has more to say next time, but you know, sometimes silence is
Joan: golden mm-hmm
Rachel: I will put Joan’s links below. Literally every time I’m around her, it’s more wisdom. My life gets richer, brighter, more Joyful. .
Rachel: I have better posture. I encourage you connect with her and reach out, that, that you do. Her links will be below. take care everyone.
Rachel: Thank you.