Yoga again

Well, I’ve found so far that one difference between doing paper conservation and doing library preservation is that I sit in front of the computer more now. And it’s not ergonomic, so I contort myself to find ways to keep my knees from banging the desk and still be able to see the monitor and keep an eye on people who might be trying to leave with the valuable books in our open stacks.

Another difference is what I spend my time lifting. In paper conservation, it’s mostly big vats of water. In the library and archives, it’s dusty boxes. I’ve been doing a bit of nesting – opening boxes, drawers, closets – moving things from here to there – throwing away ancient and inappropriate book repair tapes and glues. It’s been fun, and there are treasures: Antlers! Rare board games! Paintings!

I’ll post some photos of the stuff soonish, but for now I’m busy getting ready for the AIC Angels, sorting through the generous donations from Hollinger, Metal Edge, and Talas. I’m also planning a Friends of the Library talk on our publisher’s bindings, which I’ve already posted about here; creating a digitization policy and procedures manual; setting up our Flickr page; developing a basic book repair program; attempting a preservation budget; and daydreaming about a conservation lab in one of the store-rooms – and running the day to day of the library, fielding reference questions, checking out books, and reading about famous mountains and climbers. I’m having a ball.

Now to the point of this post – no time for yoga class. BUT – I found the Yoga Journal’s practice podcasts! I did the one on sidebends this morning and it was really really good. Everybody do it!


Where are your shoulderblades?

Some of you may know that I am a yoga fanatic. I try to recruit yogis and yoginis everywhere I go. My co-workers are probably a little sick of my battlecry…”Are you breathing?”

But it helps me so much, when I am hunched over the bench, holding my breath while I scrape something off of something else, to remember to not only take a deep breath, but to continue to breathe, slowly and steadily. And when I try to do that, I realize that, not only am I not breathing, but my shoulders are up around my ears while I hold my head at a really strange angle because I’m trying to use both my bifocals and head visor, causing my neck to scream, my lower back to ache, and numbness to gradually shut down my hands. Generally not good for delicate work.

So, I take a deep breath, and push my shoulders back down.  In fact, I apply some of what I’ve learned in yoga class. Instead of just removing my shoulders from my inner ears, I try to push the wings of my shoulders down my back so that they think they can meet in the middle, and then I spread them out as if they could spread out to the sides, past my arms but without moving my arms forward. Okay, that sounds a little weird, but the motion spreads the shoulder blades out so that all the stress on neck and arms and lower back is dispersed, especially if I remember to tilt my pelvis so my lower back is relatively flat as well.

It’s impossible to hunch, that way, and breath can expand your lungs without force. It takes a bit of practice.

Yoga Journal is a great source for figuring out how to do Downward Dog, and here is an article on yoga anatomy.

If we’re gonna keep doing this work, we have to take care of our tools.  Body is one of ’em.  Happy New Year Resolutions!