I love things that go fast. Cars. Jets. Spaceships.
Nothing goes as fast as a spacecraft heading out to the stars. There’s something that excites my soul when I look up into the night sky and think that someday, our children may live among the stars.
There’s a problem with that. In fact, there’s lots of problems, most of which have to do with our attitude. But there’s one problem in particular that has lots of medical types worried.
People don’t do well living in space. Who knew?
That’s the point. No one could know. No one has ever tried living in space before. Everyone who goes up is doing an experiment on their own body. The people who live up there for months at a time are at the most extreme.
When doctors examine these “long-timers” they find that they have lost bone and muscle. They go soft.
So far the solution has been bicycles and other aerobic type equipment. In the movies you see big circular rooms where people run in artificial gravity. The problem with all of these solutions is that they require fancy equipment that weighs a lot. The biggest problem is that none of those conventional exercises can address everything our bodies need: strength, stretching, flexibility, coordination, balance, control, all tied to our breath.
The only exercise that tackles all of these components is yoga. And here’s the surprise. You don’t need gravity to yoga!
I’ve been thinking about this a long time. Yes, my head is constantly in the clouds, but that’s how I deal with all the troubles we get into down here in the dirt. So every time I do a down dog, I’m thinking about how I’d do the same thing in zero gee. And I’ve finally got it licked.
Believe it or not, we take gravity for granted. You can’t do that if you live in space. We need it to keep our bodies healthy. And yoga can help. The trick is to realize that yoga is really about the balance of forces. And space travel is all about understanding the balance of force.
Like our mat, or the blocks, or blanket, or even a mirror, gravity is another tool we take into our yoga practice.
If you are a true yoga minimalist who doesn’t believe in tools, good luck! Your body is a tool. The ground is a tool. And gravity is a tool. You need all of these.
In space, we’ll have a set of tools unique to practicing yoga in zero gee. And those tools will keep our future space travelers healthy and balanced for the many adventures yet to come. Those tools won’t take up much room, or much weight. Yoga can even be done at any time, not just during an authorized exercise break.
Yes, the next time you watch a space travel show, think about how they will stay healthy. They probably won’t be running in circles or riding a stationary bike. My guess is that they’ll be doing a half-moon, as they travel to the moon.
Yoga. Not just for earthlings.