by: Yuri Elkaim

Hope you enjoyed yesterday’s post and that you’ve realized just how important regular stretching truly is.

We’re back today with another great contribution from our friend Kris Fondran and the Shapeshifter crew.

Take it away Kris…

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Nothing compares to the wonderful feeling of lying on a massage table while someone rubs, kneads and caresses your body with warm oil…

I abandon all sense of responsibility as strong hands dig into my muscles and release the stress and tension I accumulate each day. My body relaxes and my cares and worries drift away. For a moment that feels like an hour, I am truly relaxed and disconnected from whatever got me on that table in the first place.

I really enjoy getting a massage — and who the heck doesn’t?

But that’s first problem with it. The word “getting.” I’m not actively participating in the process.

Massage can be an effective treatment for acute muscular injuries or for immediate reduction of bodily stress. But it also lulls you into a state of passive relaxation. Because you’re not actively engaged in the process, you don’t develop awareness of the connection between the tightness or pain in your body and what caused that discomfort in the first place.

Yes, patterns of tightness may melt away during a session. And many people report feelings of temporary relief. But that tightness doesn’t stay away. The best you can do — with week after week of expensive treatments — is hope to keep it at a distance and keep it from getting worse.

Who goes into treatment seeking temporary improvements?

If you want to make long-term changes to your life — ie. to get in shape, become a better athlete, or rehabilitate an injury — then awareness of your present state and active participation are essential.

I found these things through the practice of yoga.

Yoga has been called “the science of right living.” That’s because the techniques of yoga work on all facets of a person: physical, mental and emotional. And the best thing is that this life-transforming practice can be tailored to YOUR current state of health, your desired goals, and your level of dedication.

When most people think of the benefits of yoga they think only of flexibility. But there’s so much more to it than that.

Incorporate yoga into your life and you may lower your blood pressure and pulse rate, improve your circulation, improve the function of your internal organs, reduce and relieve chronic pain, detoxify your body and slow the aging process, increase your energy, strength and stamina, sleep better, experience less stress, anxiety, and depression, elevate your mood, and more.

You don’t need a masseuse to do this for you. And you don’t have to drive across town or show up for an appointment.

With yoga you can take charge of your own health — no hourly fee required!

That brings up another problem with passive techniques like massage: the cost. Unless you’ve got great health insurance, it’s impossible for most people to schedule a massage on a regular basis. It’s a wonderful treat, but an impractical long term solution for the issues that are causing you daily pain and stiffness.

Sure, I’ll get a massage whenever it’s offered! But I’ve learned to rely on myself and the tools of yoga to promote long lasting change.

I believe that any successful transformation requires a direct connection between the goal and the desired outcome. It’s vital to take ownership of where you are right now, how you got there, and where you want to be.

Unfortunately, so many people today are disconnected from their bodies.

Just walk down the street and watch people and you’ll see what I mean. Poor eating habits, inactivity and stress have laid the groundwork for this disconnect between body, mind and spirit. But it CAN be restored with time-tested, proven methods.

Yoga brings you back into balance by facilitating the body-mind connection.

Positive new behaviors are introduced and nurtured by reinforcing your awareness of your movement patterns in the physical postures and by connecting these movements with your breath. It’s simple, but incredibly profound.

When your body hurts, your overall mood and demeanor is affected. Even if you’ve got a high pain threshold, there comes a point where chronic ailments really start to get you down, and you seek relief through a pill, injection, or surgery to “feel normal again.”

That’s the beginning of a long downward spiral. And you’re losing more and more control of the outcome every step of the way.

If you’re the type who wants to avoid medical interventions, then massage can be a great starting point. Passive natural techniques should be part of your plan, but they shouldn’t be the entire plan.

If you want to banish chronic pain, muscle imbalances and other issues for good, then you must be actively involved in the healing process.

You have nothing to lose but your pain.

=> Yoga vs. massage – what do you think?