A Nerd At Heart (only some of the time)

An update of the end of season here in the Vail Valley, Jimmy Cliff and WALKING BACKWARDS

The mountain here in Vail closed yesterday, and our small town of Minturn feels like a ghost town. Many businesses are closed and many people are on their long awaited vacations. And true to timing, now that the mountain has closed, its been dumping snow here for the last day. One of the biggest dumps of the season. Of course. Except, as luck would have it, the weather cleared yesterday afternoon and evening for the (free!) Jimmy Cliff concert in Vail. We had to go.  Here are a couple of pics from the concert and one of snow that we took from the porch of First Ray Yoga this morning.

Downtown Vail, April 14th, 2013


Jimmy Cliff mid air

Jimmy Cliff

Snow from the First Ray Yoga porch this morning 









April Snow from deck


I’ve been given the advice here and there that I should, for lack of a better explanation, be more “flashy” in what I do. I’ve tried over the years to “sell” and try to be like other yoga teachers, but at the end of the day, I can’t. I gotta be me. So, I admit, in my love of teaching, movement, yoga and the human body, what I think about when I think of my next blog topic, isn’t too “flashy”, but its fascinating to me and truly, life changing! So, for this blog, here’s the topic: Walking Backwards – why and how.

In short, focusing on HOW I walk, sit, stand and move through life in every day movements literally saved me from a spinal fusion over a decade ago. I grew up dancing and became a professional dancer in a modern dance company. Through this wonderful journey, my body was a mess and I was in constant pain. At one point, I was told I needed spinal surgery because my lower lumbar discs were so degenerated. Through proper yoga alignment and the work of Sherry Brourman, PT, my life changed, and for the most part I’m pain free. And through all of this learning, is also why I’m a huge believer in PROPER alignment while practicing asana and AWARENESS in our every day life and movements.

While walking forwards, often, if we’re not aware of how to walk, this is what CAN happen:

– Our achilles and calves stay weak and tight

– Knees often lock, leading to knee pain and injury

– Gastrocnemius muscle stays weak from knees locking

– Hip flexors and thighs stay tight from walking with our legs forward, and not extending behind us

– Lower belly, specifically transverse abdominals, stays weak and literally asleep from knees locking

– Chest and ribs cage slightly leans back, keeping all the abdominal muscles weak and the lower back tight, compressed and weak

– Shoulders tend to roll slightly forward to compensate for the leaning backwards in the rib cage – this tightens the front of the shoulders, the chest, and makes the neck jut forward, weakening our neck muscles

SO, since I can’t explain in this blog HOW to walk forwards correctly without it turning in to a book, I encourage you to WALK BACKWARDS as often as possible. What walking backwards does, in short, is this:

– It gently forces our feet to work more, which will make our achilles, calves and your anterior tibialis muscle work more

– It gently makes our knees unlock, which is great for our knee health, and to strengthen our gastrocnemius muscle

– It will strengthen our hamstrings because we have to reach our foot back, it will also strengthen our gluteus maximus muscles and stretch our thighs and hip flexors!

– By stretching our quads and hip flexors, it helps to decompress our lower back and lengthen our spine – often times IMMEDIATELY relieving lower back pain!

– Helps to keep our rib cage from slightly thrusting back – when this happens, our spine lengthens and our abdominals have to work

– Walking backwards keeps the shoulders open and the neck from thrusting forward, helping to strengthen the upper back and neck

So, here are just a few reasons why I encourage you to walk backwards at least a few minutes each day. If your back is sore, walk backwards. Watch where you’re going of course, and try not to walk backwards in a foot of snow or ice. But notice, the more you do it, the greater the benefits!

If you’re in the Vail Valley area in June, please come by my workshop that I’ll be teaching at the Vail Athletic Club. The flier is below.


For my teaching and travel schedule, please visit my site at www.firstrayyoga.com – my travel schedule is at “Jamie’s travel schedule”, and my local schedule of workshops is under “local events” – the studio’s schedule is on the home page.

See you soon and let me know how your backwards walking goes!





2 thoughts on “A Nerd At Heart (only some of the time)

  1. Sabrina Huffman Cohn

    Thank you, Jamie. I miss you . Hope our paths cross again soon …. I can so often use a dose of profound and simple wisdom – so glad I have your blog. Love, Sabrina ……


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