I came to yoga very late, but the yoga hour in the morning on 6 days of the week is something I look forward to. After 6-7 months, my back creaks a little less and I can almost touch my toes. While I’d put my general fitness level around 6- 7/10, flexibility would be in the 4-5/10 range. And just as I am patting myself that I am almost making the halasana and moving towards a perfect surya namaskar, young Mr Kamal throws a tougher asana in!! And this got me thinking – is the human body supposed to be this flexible or was it ever so in its evolutionary history?
As I watch others in the group (mostly women) of varying ages go through the hour of yoga, I pick out the many body types. Body strength and flexibility and the upper and lower body are fairly independent things. The only one who has both strength and flexibility of upper and lower body is our instructor. Most of us have various combinations of these, though it appears to be totally unrelated to age or size. And so back to the evolution question!
Over time, man has evolved from qua-draped with the strong arms needed for hanging from the trees to a biped. The early hunter gatherers had strong bodies, which changed with the onset of farming and communal living. And as the physical demands and environmental challenges changed gradually over the millenia, the body too evolved. In the two centuries since the onset of the industrial revolution, accelerated by the silicon revolution of the past half century, life has changed so dramatically that there is very little in common between us and our ancestors of 1815. And, how can this not affect the continuing evolution of the human race?
It seems to me, that if daily life does not demand physical activity or dexterity, then evolution induced changes to metabolism and physical attributes will set in, albeit slowly. The metabolism does slow with age, as alas I have learnt from experience. But, maybe the collective metabolism of the race is set to slow!! If activity is not part of essential daily routine of life, to expect everyone to find motivation and time to add daily exercise as an additional activity is unrealistic. In fact, it may only be adding to stress by driving the guilt factor. And, so maybe the time is here, to adopt a radical new approach to living, within the realities that surround us!!