Graceful Warrior: A Case for Crying: Baby’s Developing Spine

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This post is dedicated to several of my friends who have recently had babies!

I am in the Sherry Brourman Yoga Therapy mentorship program, in which we have been reading the book The Thinking Body by Mabel E. Todd. It is fascinating, if you are into how and why the body moves and have quite a large vocabulary. You see, it was written in 1937, so I need a dictionary for both the anatomy terms and strange words that are no longer in use today.

While reading, I’m continually shocked at the insight that a woman had into the human body over 70 years ago (not for the fact that it was a woman, but a woman 70 years ago). If only all people in the medical field since 1937 had to read and absorb the concepts of this book, the world might be a different place. But, I digress.

The coolest thing I’ve learned from Mabel is about the development of the spine. We are born with a straight and flexible spine. Babies pelvic and lumbar (low back) muscles start to develop even before they are born as they kick and squirm about in the womb.

The ultimate goal of our bodies (in infancy) is to be able to walk. But, a straight spine is unable to carry the weight of the rib cage (thoracic spine) or the head, so the spine must develop curves to off-set these heavy loads. The first curve that develops is the thoracic. It curves away from the load it is carrying (the ribs), and becomes concave.

This is where the cool part kicks in: In order to develop/stabilize the opposing convex curves in the low back and neck, a baby must develop muscles in those areas. So to us the crying and kicking during the first months of life are heartbreaking, but they are absolutely necessary for the baby to ever be able to crawl or walk.

As I read this I thought of two different friends with two very different baby experiences. One had a baby that cried a lot, but started walking at 10 months old. Another had a very mellow baby that hardly cried, which didn’t start walking until almost 13 months old. My hypothesis is more crying=faster physical development.

So, dear Tyran, Jamie, and Shelley: as the babies are wailing, instead of fretting, just consider how their diaphragm and other spinal/pelvic muscles are getting stronger, stabilizing their little bodies for all the growing, crawling and eventual walking they have to do!

Isn’t the human body cool?

About Gina Shelton

We live in a dualistic world, or really a multi-istic one. As a woman, you are expected to be smart, caring, creative, and dedicated at your job, with your significant other and your family, plus you are supposed to make time for yourself in order to stay healthy and sane. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you start thinking of all the aspects of your life that you are constantly juggling.

For me, this is where yoga comes in. In the West, we mostly view yoga as a physical practice and that is definitely how I got into it. But what I’ve realized in my 10+ years of practicing yoga, is that it has become more than just something I do to stay in shape, it has changed the way I view myself and the world and consequently how I interact with others.

Over the years, yoga has helped me meal my crumbling marriage, my low back and hip pain deemed chronic by my insurance company, and is now supporting me through my next ventures: trying to start a business and a family.

My love of yoga (I knew it was for me in my very first class), led me to begin training to teach after a year. I took my time learning all I could and finally became a YOGA ALLIANCE registered teacher in 2005. Since then, I have become a certified yoga therapist through Loyola Marymount University’s Yoga Therapy program and will soon have my Yoga Alliance 500-hour teacher certification.

This blog will cover topics related to yoga poses and breath awareness that will help you to find the graceful warrior hidden inside you: Strength to manage the everyday stresses in your life as you gracefully create new habits and patterns that allow you to find comfort, health and hope in all areas of your life.

Gina Shelton is a Yoga Alliance registered teacher and Loyola Marymount University certified yoga therapist. She lives in Venice, CA with her husband and weimeraner puppy Fleur. You can read more about creating a healthy lifestyle on her blog