#everydayposer Holiday 108

In yoga, the number 108 is considered auspicious–mathematically it is the total of 1x2x2x3x3x3 (each digit being auspicious alone, too). If you repeat a practice 108 times, it is believed to bring about change. On Winter’s Solstice, we repeat 108 Sun Salutations to bring change to the length of our days. Well–hopefully that would happen regardless, but it’s nice to take some credit 🙂

Okay, so there are LOTS of ways to bring about change besides repeating a series of asanas. Mantras, repeated 108 times, can bring about a change too. Or how about listing something and including 108 items on the list? Last year I listed 108 reasons why I love what I do. It really created a sense of gratitude within me for the wonderful opportunity of the practice and community of yoga.

This year, I want to list 108 ways we all can become an #everydayposer–and change habitual patterns for better health. I’m doing this in one attempt and without taking a break or planning or proof reading! Here goes:

  1. Sit on the floor rather than the couch
  2. Change your seated position every 30 minutes–get creative!
  3. Wiggle your toes RIGHT NOW! Even if they are in shoes
  4. As soon as your toes are out of shoes, stretch your toes apart from one another
  5. Try to lift your toes individually–even if you have to help them
  6. Roll a ball around under your foot–moving from the toes to the arch slowly
  7. Stretch the bottom of your feet by pressing toes down and lifting your heel up
  8. Stretch the top of your feet by turning your toes under and pressing your ankle forward
  9. Stretch your calves (I do this at the bathroom sink–try a rolled up towel!)
  10. Rotate your ankles in complete circles–if there is a part of the circle that is choppy, go slower there
  11. Flex your feet strongly and try to move your shin bones by turning feet out an in.
  12. Put a small soft ball behind your knee and do #10 again
  13. Stand up and see how that feels now! Then do the other leg/knee
  14. See if you can lift and lower your kneecaps while sitting
  15. See if you can lift and lower your kneecaps while standing
  16. See if you can balance on one foot and count to ten without wobbling
  17. See if you can balance on one foot while lifting and lowering your kneecap (on the balance leg)
  18. Stand up and close your eyes–notice any movement or discomfort when you do
  19. Try it again while balancing on one foot.
  20. Read about proprioception
  21. While standing, place weight in your heels and see if you can lift the front of your feet (one at a time)
  22. Check your toes and see what direction you are pointing them
  23. Compare that with what direction you would LIKE to go
  24. Align your “wheels” (ie feet)! Honestly, we do this to take care of our cars–but what about our bodies!!
  25. When you bend over, notice what part of you bends
  26. Next time you need to bend over, try a different part (ie–bending at your hips rather than your back)
  27. See how many ways you can bend over!
  28. Bend over at your hips and hold it for 30 seconds at least 3 times per day–you can totally hold on to something!
  29. While hanging out for that stretch, feel the back of your knees. There will be two indents in the knee “pit”–try to move them so they are pointing straight back (you will need to rotate your thigh a bit).
  30. When you are ready to stand up, try to use the back of your hips to do so
  31. While you are sitting on the floor, tuck and untuck your pelvis–try to sit on the front edge of those “sit” bones (the pelvis will be untucked and you will feel your back of hips stretch again!)
  32. Roll a ball around under one of your butt cheeks along the sit bone.
  33. Check out how that feels! Do the other one
  34. While standing, try to press down more on one foot and see if you can feel the other leg float up off the floor (don’t bend the knee or try to “lift”–just press down enough to make your standing leg longer)
  35. Do that whenever you are standing in line at Meijers instead of reading People. Switch legs when one gets tired
  36. Walk sideways rather than front ways down one hallway in your house. Every time you go there.
  37. While waiting somewhere there are chairs, kneel on the seat with one leg. Press your hips forward slightly until you feel a stretch at the front of the leg
  38. Always chose to do something different than sitting if you can!!
  39. If you need to sit to be polite, don’t lean back–use your core musculature rather than the chair back
  40. To activate your abdominal muscles, rather than doing a “crunch” move–which would make your pelvis tuck (and remember # 29!) try pulling your front ribs down. Blowing hard will give you the “feel” for this
  41. Try to get the feel and also be polite by not blowing hard all the time!
  42. When your ribs are in the correct position, your sternum will be vertical
  43. Now try to sit up “straight” without moving your rib cage.
  44. So let’s get into shoulders, shall we?
  45. Look at your hands when you stand up. What part is facing forward?
  46. Do you like slapping your legs when you walk?
  47. Or what movements DO your arms make when you walk?
  48. Try to turn your elbow points back and thumbs forward–see how that feels at your shoulder
  49. Notice how your feet and knees should point forward and elbow points should point backwards. Think about this often–check where they point whenever you think about it.
  50. Stretch your fingers apart right now!
  51. Stretch your knuckles by interlacing fingers and pressing your fingertips into the back of your knuckles
  52. Do it again with your fingers interlaced the “weird way” (switch which index finger is on top)
  53. Stretch one finger at a time with the wrist underside pointing up and the finger pressing down
  54. Spread your fingers apart and flip your hands palms up/palms down slowly. Notice any stretch sensation in the shoulder.
  55. Now, with fingers spread and palms up, bend at the elbow, press your elbow into your sides and then slowly turn the hands outward–rotating at the shoulder. Hold when you feel a stretch. You might want to have a cookie platter in each hand while doing this. It’s nice to feel useful.
  56. Go out into the snow and make snow angels!
  57. Pretend you are a dog and crawl around on the floor
  58. Pretend you are a monkey and hang from a branch
  59. Pretend you are a bipedal human and go for a long walk
  60. Pretend you are a cat and take a nice nap (or try to jump up on the counter in one easy leap–your choice!)
  61. Try to move your shoulder blades around on your back. Move them up, move them down. Move them toward one another and move them apart.
  62. Hold them down and apart and now move your arms all around.
  63. Find out which movement of your arms also moves your shoulder blades. Slow down and move in tiny little circles in that area (still keeping your shoulder blades in place)
  64. Be ready to ask a question if you are called on 🙂
  65. When you are driving, try to press your rib cage back into the car seat while lengthening up through the back of the neck.
  66. With the new air bags, your hands should be lower than 10-2, so at a stop light, check your hand position–switch to 4-8, turn your fingers out and stretch your wrists. Then please place hands firmly back on the wheel to drive, but maintain the lower hand position.
  67. If you are stopped for a longer time and don’t need to watch for a light, keep the back of your neck long and rotate your face as far right and left as you can. Then tip your head down on the right and left sides. If someone DOES honk, just waive friendly-like.
  68. Check your chin position right now! Is it jutting forward? Give it a little tuck in and back. Do this EVERY time you look at a screen–computer, tv, or phone.
  69. Right now! Look outside if you can and soften your gaze, letting your eyelids relax a little bit.
  70. Play “eye spy” and name all the things you can in your peripheral vision.
  71. Bring your thumb up in front of your eyes and focus on it. Slowly pull it closer and farther away. Then to the right and to the left. Let your eyes follow.
  72. Then roll your eyes around in circles.
  73. Rest your eyes and close them gently.
  74. Find a place to sit outdoors and listen to all the sounds you can. Name them as you hear them. Then see if you can listen to the quiet within you and soften your hearing.
  75. Breathe through your nose. Notice the air on the edge of the nostrils and list as many things as you can about the sensation of breathing there.
  76. Now, check out what position your tongue is in inside your mouth. Is it pressing anywhere? Can you soften it and feel a gentle presence all around your soft palate? How does that change your nostril breathing?
  77. Stick your tongue out as far as you can.
  78. What tongue tricks can you do? Circles? Can you make it wide? My favorite–can you make ripples in the edge?
  79. What about your jaw? See if there is any tension and try to relax it.
  80. Then belt out a few Christmas tunes! Pretend you are Bing Crosby and move your jaw all around while you do!
  81. Stand up right now and stretch! We’re almost there!!
  82. Now sit down as far as you can without a chair. Hold please.
  83. See if you can make your shins vertical
  84. See if you can untuck your pelvis
  85. See if you can press your ribs back and spread your shoulder blades.
  86. See if you can lengthen the back of your neck
  87. See if you can move your arms all around
  88. See if you still like me 🙂
  89. Okay, now stand up again
  90. And then try #82-87 on one leg
  91. Now I know you don’t like me
  92. Remember the season is about loving everyone and peace and good tidings
  93. Now sit down and find a comfortable posture
  94. Close your eyes
  95. Let your head hang down a bit
  96. Follow your breath from your nose to your chest and focus on the movement of your breath around your heart
  97. Feel the movement of inhale, and then the movement of exhale
  98. Imagine that whenever you inhale, your heart opens a little bit
  99. Imagine that every time you exhale, you let go a little bit of anything that isn’t really important
  100. Focus on what IS really important and let it move into your heart space
  101. Pay attention to what you are feeling
  102. Listen to what your heart is saying
  103. Forgive yourself
  104. Accept where you are and be fully present to everything that is happening in this moment
  105. Imagine a future that is in line with your heart’s desire
  106. Allow your imagination to run wild
  107. Know that your intuition is very wise and that it speaks through your imagination
  108. Write down 108 ways that you can become the change you wish to see in the world

#everydayposer: Contents Under Pressure!

Ahhh, so we have been exploring stretching. And now we are coming to the time of year when we stretch our stomachs. Hello holidays! Let’s revisit the drawing of areas in the body that tend to have tension:IMG_1498

In my last post, I exhibited how stretching the back of the legs can have a release throughout the entire back side of the body. I also, in my blog before last, explained that stretching is a temporary thing due to the elasticity of muscular tissues. So here, in THIS post, we see that my little stick person rather than stretch regularly AND change lifestyle habits (in this case wearing those 1-inch heels), the heels have remained and tension patterns are still present.

No problem–if things get a little tight in the back, there is plenty of room in front, right? Except that this poor little stick person is likely to suffer from back pain if the abdominal muscles aren’t able to provide support. Enter the six-pack abs!

IMG_1499

 

Everything looks good now! And unfortunately, many, many fitness and health professionals will do exactly that: add tension to help with tension. Which works, sort of, until….

IMG_1501

We see A LOT of abnormal abdominal issues in our country. And not just at Thanksgiving. Issues that have to do with pressure (no stick pictures on what that looks like–I’m going to let your imagination run wild!). Pressure caused by tension. By each of us, to ourselves. It’s time to stop the madness.

Stretching may only create a temporary release to tight muscles. And that is a good thing to do because, even for a little while, you can relax. But more importantly, attempting to stretch an area that is tight lets you know that it IS tight. The next step isn’t to tighten up more, but to find out why the tension is there in the first place. And then start to change your lifestyle, slowly, and stretch, regularly, and you might find that over time you feel better. In many ways. You sleep better, don’t burp as much, your knees don’t ache as much, tension headaches disappear, constipation is eased, sneezing doesn’t require a change of pants…..you get the picture.

So, enjoy your holidays. Enjoy your family. Take a walk and stretch your legs together. Eat together. Sit on the floor together. Hang from a tree together. If you go shopping, look for shoes without heels for each other. I have some other gift thoughts as well: a Squatty Potty, toe separators–like from a pedicure–or toe separator socks, yoga classes (maybe from yours truly?), a hanging bar for your house–even better, line a hallway with several bars so you can monkey swing! There are lots of ways to relax and relieve pressure. And wouldn’t that be the BEST way to enjoy the season?!!

The Back of the Heel is Connected To…The Back of the Head???

In my last blog, I talked hamstrings. Now let’s look at the cervical compression that the drawing showed:

IMG_1494

I WILL eventually get to low back issues, but this post is going to address the connectivity of connective tissue. How it’s all, you know, connected.

Here is a selfie of me checking the tension in my neck by dropping my head (passively–I am not “pushing” my chin down) and very scientifically measuring the distance between chin and chest with my fingers:

photo 2

I apologize for the poor color and want you to know that taking a selfie one handed with an Ipad is REALLY HARD to do!!!

But–can you see that my chin is clearly two fingers away from my chest? And then I did about 5 minutes of calf stretching (2 minutes each foot done singly and then 1 minute of both legs together) and my selfie now looks like this:

photo 1

Barely one finger. And I emphasize that I was NOT pressing my chin down, it simply released to this position after stretching my lower leg. GO NOW AND TRY IT YOURSELF!! Now, in my last blog I wrote that stretching a muscle doesn’t necessarily result in a lengthened muscle, however, that said, it isn’t for naught that we “stretch”. Fascia DOES respond to tensile (ie stretching) forces and responds by allowing an increase in mobility. I love fascia. You should too. Stretching an area of the body (in this case the lower leg), results in an increase of flow–blood in/lymph out–and an overall softening of the fascial fibers. Sort of like wetting a dried up piece of leather–well, in a way exactly like that–the fibers soften and become malleable. The fascial system has wide ranging connections–along our back side it has fibrous links from heel to forehead. This is similar to grains in wood–if you look at a chunk of sawed wood you will see how one line flows into another.

Stretching DOES serve a purpose and it is something we all need to practice, because our lifestyles don’t regularly take all of our joints through a complete range of motion. Generally our shoes shorten the potential range of the ankle. Our chairs limit knees and hips to a 90 degree angle–which is really not an exciting place for those joints to be. We just need to begin to rethink the whys and hows of our stretching practices. In this example increasing the fluidity of my lower leg resulted in relaxing the tension in my neck. But there is a catch: if my daily activities lead to a reduction of mobility in my lower leg, stretching that area will not have a long lasting effect. In fact, I checked my neck mobility again after a couple of hours of sitting and it was right back where it started. I didn’t feel like taking another selfie, however. Sorry.

Stretching is one part of a whole body movement program. In the very distant past, our ancestors had to do a lot of wide-ranging movements that created multiple demands on their bodies. We have adapted to our current lifestyle–which doesn’t include those ranges of motion and isn’t a great thing for optimizing our health. While our necks are relaxed, let’s stretch our minds together and explore more about what whole body mobility means! Watch for my next post for more!! This is sort of starting to feel like a mini series 🙂

The Silence of the Hams #everydayposer

I’m talking hamstrings today. How tight are yours? Many of my clients come to me with a goal to reach their toes again. I sympathize–I have reached longingly for my toes too. But tight hamstrings aren’t the end of the world, right? I mean touching my toes, while nice to do, isn’t really a problem, is it?

Spoiler alert: it is. Well, it is important to have mobile posterior hips if you value your pelvic floor. If you wish to end chronic back pain. If you would like to rid yourself of tension headaches. If breathing matters…

Wait, a minute! Our ability to breathe depends on loose hips? Yes my friends, the old saying is wrong–it is TIGHT hips that sink ships. Here is a relatively poor, but sort of accurate drawing (I did myself!) of two bodies:

IMG_1494

The posterior body of the drawing on the right is tight. All over. And eventually, this poor stick figure will begin to have some amount of trouble in the tight areas. We tend to seek help for low back problems and lay low for tension headaches, but this tightness is a whole body issue–and symptoms will continue to crop up along the posterior connections as long as there is any amount of tension anywhere.

So, we can stretch out of it, right? I’m sorry, but no. “Stretching” a tight muscle is much like stretching a tight rubber band. It just springs back to its original length. And to complicate matters more, all your tissues are connected. Stretch your back, but not your hamstrings, you still have posterior tension. It shouldn’t be hard to reach our toes at all–small children do it easy breezy. So we get old and tight, nothing to be done, end of blog. Wrong again, banana nose. Let’s check out the difference of those two stick figures again and look at what started the back body tension: the one inch block beneath the heel. Which is my equivalent of drawing a shoe.

But, I know that you don’t wear high heels shoes, right? Now I’m the wrong one. Here is a photo of my husband’s running shoe (he LOVED doing this project by the way):

IMG_1495

When seen from the inside, there is a one inch rise from the ball of the foot to the heel. I don’t encourage you to take a band saw to all your shoes, but know this: ANY amount of rise in the heel will crumple your back side into a screaming knot of pain someday. Will you change your shoes now? Run a band saw through them maybe? The length of your connective tissues (muscles, tendons, fascia and the like) depends on what you do all day, everyday–not what you do for a few minutes in an exercise class, even one like yoga where you “stretch.”

I’m running out of words and time for this post. SIGN UP to get my posts and the next installation which will be how to test the posterior body’s tension!! A REAL cliff hanging kind of ending, I know, but you can handle it. In the meantime, check your shoes!

Motivation, Me, Malala & YOU

I want to know–what motivates YOU? I’ve been struggling with a new blog post for over two weeks now. Lots of ideas; that part wasn’t a problem. And I like to blog. But I just haven’t been able to get the work done. I want to, because I want to give away another of Katy Bowman’s books, Move Your DNA, and THIS post will reveal the next way to win. Feeling motivated? Read on!

Unknown-4

But I want to motivate you, my dear reader, to not only try to win a book, but to change your life. I can’t do that for you–I have a hard enough time changing myself! Knowing what motivates you would be helpful.

I can tell you what motivates me: fear and pain. Yep those two get me going every time. When I see people struggling with mobility I am motivated by fear of becoming them. I would like to keep moving as I grow older. And when, in my 40’s, I started to hurt myself by moving forward (aggressively, you know, from fear), pain motivated me to evaluate how I was moving.

Maybe that is why I haven’t been motivated to write this blog. Because until now, the deadline was far away enough to not be afraid of missing the opportunity to share with you. And of course, it is always sort of scary to write down something really personal, so that motivated me to do anything else. And, since I’m using this format to gauge my readership, I might painfully discover how little my blog is really read.

But. Here I am!! And if you are reading this, yay! And I have to admit, I am also motivated by inspiring people including students, teachers, and leaders. This week Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize. At 17. Her motivation was a dedication to seeing girls get access to education in Pakistan. She motivates me to be a teacher worthy of her efforts and the efforts of all my clientele that come to me to learn how to move and become healthier.

And REALLY I want to know: What motivates YOU???? Here’s how you will register to win Katy’s book: answer my question. Reply to this blog or comment on On The Path Yoga’s Facebook page with your honest answer. I will put your name in the drawing and let you know by the end of October if you are the winner. Thank you! By knowing what motivates you, I can be  a teacher worthy of your time.

Viral vs. Vital–ALS Ice Bucket Cha(lle)nge

My friend Allison nominated me and I accepted the challenge–only if you know me well, you know that I am a bit rebellious. So, I’m going from *challenge* to *change* and offering up a new way of accepting her challenge.

In Allison’s video she defined ALS with the following from the ALS Association: “A-myo-trophic comes from the Greek language. “A” means no or negative. “Myo” refers to muscle, and “Trophic” means nourishment–”No muscle nourishment.” When a muscle has no nourishment, it “atrophies” or wastes away. “Lateral” identifies the areas in a person’s spinal cord where portions of the nerve cells that signal and control the muscles are located. As this area degenerates it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region.”

I really appreciated her using the challenge as a teaching opportunity and I hadn’t taken the time to research ALS, so I looked into the disease a bit more. I found that these symptoms have no known cause, so there is no known cure as of yet. It has a little genetic connection (5-10%), but not enough to be considered a cause. There was one study from a couple of years ago regarding nutrition and eating a diet rich in anti-oxidants and Vitamin E–both of which are good for nourishing motor neurons and in that way, may offer hope and help for those already diagnosed with ALS, but again, not enough of a link to be causal. What could my dumping a bucket of ice water on my head do to help this bleak outlook?

But WAIT! I just spent 7 days in an intensive certification week on developing neural pathways and studying mechanobiology, which according to Katy Bowman, MS, in her new book, Move Your DNA, is “a relatively new field of science that focuses on the way physical forces and changes in cell or tissue mechanics contribute to development, physiology, and disease.” (In fact, this area of study is so new, my autocorrect is sure I made a mistake on mechanobiology.)

Here’s the short on my Ice Bucket Challenge: I decided to USE MY ARMS rather than douse them in ice. I do that every year anyway (the photo below was from two years ago in November on Lake Michigan–I’m in the blue bikini). Also, having grown up along the shores of Lake Superior we spent our summers challenging ourselves with icy water. Been there–done that.

679867_4937858404979_3514960_o

BUT what I didn’t do much as a kid was climb trees. Part of my training to become a Restorative Exercise™ Specialist was working on my ability to manage my body weight with my arms and increase the nourishment to the very tissues affected by ALS.

SOOOO HERE IS MY CHALLENGE TO ALL OF YOU–It may not go VIRAL, but it IS VITAL to the health of your motor neurons no matter what, so go out and climb a tree, hang from a bar, USE YOUR ARMS! Somewhere, someone suffering from ALS wishes with all their heart they could do this. Here is my answer to Allison’s challenge:

IMG_1467 IMG_1464 IMG_1447

AANND since it was more than 24 hours, and I didn’t actually douse myself with ice water, I will also make a donation–with a note that says 1) increase funding for ALL research through our National Institute for Health, and,  2) READ KATY’s BOOK! Sometimes what looks like prevention could be a cure!

I’ll end with another quote from Move Your DNA, “Our general lack of awareness of the mechanome should not muddle the fact that many of the processes occurring in the body, including genetic expression, can be regulated mechanically. When you understand this, you quickly see how searching for a health solution without considering your ‘movement environment’ inevitably produces results that are limited in scope and benefit.” (p 31)

21st Century Yoga #everydayposer

A friend of my daughter just got back from an extended trip to India. He brought her a couple of cool gifts, one of which she stuck onto the dash of our car. I don’t like car time, but I might just have to spend a LOT more time looking at this:

2014-07-23 13.44.45

 

It’s a solar powered prayer wheel. It happily spins all day long glowing brightly in the corner of the windshield. It is maybe the best way I can imagine to enhance the driving experience. Ever.

But, maybe the best part of all is the instructions that came with it:

2014-07-23 13.49.21

 

Hard to read in the photo, but I wanted to prove that I didn’t make this up–so if you doubt me, maybe zoom in and look very carefully.

Instructions

1. Banned by the compulsory rotation forcibly cone.

2. If the solar lenses and base surfaces have dirt, please dry, clean cloth wipe gently. Do not add any cleaner is wiped. 

The back of the instructions go on to just as clearly describe what a prayer wheel is and how it works metaphysically–not too difficult a task at all to do in a foreign language.

So. My fellow students going through the Whole Body Alignment training come from many backgrounds, including midwives, physical therapists, yoga or pilates instructors, people with bad hips, people that love science, and I’m sure many, many other areas as well. You can imagine that we all talk in different languages and have subtle (or not so subtle) differences in expressing what we mean to our clients. We probably know what we mean, but in complexity do express is not correct use.

In a recent discussion online (we have a *secret* facebook page), a yoga instructor asked about the cuing often used in yoga to “press into the 4 corners of the feet.” This is an instruction I personally used to employ as well, but no longer. It was a long and thoughtful thread and I appreciated reading everyones’ translation of what that cue should mean or why it is useful or just plain wrong. Since the teachings of yoga originate from the same place as my new solar prayer wheel, maybe, just maybe, something has been lost in translation. Another thing to consider is that premodern yoga teachings were directed toward a very different population.

Which is why I no longer use that cue. I see loads of bunions and crooked, gnarly-looking toes which speaks to me of TOO much pressure already in the front edge of the foot. So my instruction is to back weight into the heels and go from there exploring the movement sensations of the front and sides of the foot. Other cues which I find no longer pertinent include “lift your kneecaps” since many people cannot lower them, and “tuck your tailbone” since most of our population already has a posterior tilt to their pelvis. Pressing, pulling or tucking something already engaged in that activity is too much effort in one direction. Physically and metaphysically, yoga is essentially about balance. Therefore, I need to understand the forces in the lives of my students–right now and in our cultural setting–that affect them in a negative way and introduce a practice that remediates imbalances in body, mind and spirit.

Yoga has and continues to evolve. The tenets remain that were laid down in the Sutras of Patanjali, but the way we practice today is far different than thousands of years ago. If you would like to know more about the changes in modern yoga practice, I highly recommend Mark Singleton’s book, Yoga Body.

As teachers, we need to evolve yoga language and practice to guide our students toward physical and mental liberation so spirit can be fully experienced. That can only be achieved by knowing their current physical condition and mind set. Culturally, there are many commonalities, so this is becomes easy to discern as we observe our students practice. It is also helpful to actually know your students–not to teach to such a large class that you aren’t aware of their personal limitations. And then we must learn the language of instruction that compulsory clarity do not body distort.

Sunday Morning Coffee

I love Sunday morning. Even though I’m not currently involved in a religious community right now, having been brought up in a tradition of observing a time of reflection, it sticks.

So, I have my coffee and one of two things result: quiet time on the deck or a meditative walk with week-in-review-time in my head. Guess what: it is time for a rant.

I almost titled this blog “Dear Exercise Science Major Please Note: The Foot Does NOT Pronate” because that is what this rant will be about. But I like “Sunday Morning Coffee” better because it sounds nice and I’m nice and I really don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But, then again, this isn’t about feelings, it is about understanding. One thing a college education should teach you is how to discern information, especially information within your field of study.

So, last week was Father’s Day and I took my wonderful spouse out for brunch. It was a glorious, kick back in your chair kind of meal out on a deck, casual enough to put our feet up on the extra chairs. Seeing my husband’s shoes, our really nice waitress struck up a conversation about running and shoes and she pronates and is an Exercise Science Major going into Physical Therapy. And I said, “feet don’t pronate.”

Please know this. It is important. Pronation is a movement that only happens in a human body within the relationship between your wrist and elbow due to the fact your radius and ulna can rotate. ROTATE. So if you are told by a shoe salesperson that your feet “pronate” (which they don’t), and you need expensive, supportive shoes to “fix” pronation, what the SHOE salesperson is trying to sell you is essentially snake oil.

 

You don’t need special shoes. You need hips that are strong enough to align your knees. I can explain this or I can just send you to this video clip by Katy Bowman. She is the shit, so watch her explanation please!

The lateral hip is pretty stinking important. Keep yours strong. Because what is rotating is your knee. Not. your. foot. Your feet most likely turn out, but that is called eversion, which is most likely due to you shifting your weight forward in your foot toward your big toe knuckle. Let’s just say there is a bunch wrong with that and stick to the knees for now. You don’t want your knee to rotate, mkay?

And so now I can go finish my Sunday morning walk, practice using my lateral hip, and return to coffee on the deck. Have a beautiful day my friends!

Whew! The most obvious title would totally suck…Spring, Cardiovascular Health and YOU! #Everydayposer

Geeze. We’ve been waiting for spring for.ever. It’s mid-April and yesterday there was snow, north wind, and temps in the low 30’s. But we know it will come, right? right???

Well these bushes are ready! The little buds are just waiting for the first warm temps and they will burst into blossom.

IMG_1326

They will get the needed water to mix with sunlight and perform the miracle of photosynthesis and probably all of us will burst into song.

These little buds get water up from the root by a process of fluid dynamics called transpiration. Notice the geometry of the branches: sort of straight and with little forks. The buds are located on the outermost aspect of the branch. None of this is accidental. There is a specific design of this bush that allows for maximum fluid flow of water up to the buds against the flow of gravitational pull. Physics isn’t just a good idea, it is the law my friends.

Essentially, this little bush sucks. And I mean that in the most earth-loving-can’t wait-for-May-flowers kind of way. And guess what! Your body sucks too. And I mean that in the most you-are-beautiful-and-a-miracle kind of way.

Throughout my college education and subsequent career in fitness, the emphasis of health was cardiovascular function. Of that function, we focused on heart rate, checking usually every 10 minutes to make sure we were working “aerobically.” This is probably familiar to most fitness enthusiasts. The only thing about checking heart rate is that it is based on a conceptual theory that the heart is responsible for oxygen uptake. Which is wrong, according to those darn laws of physics.

The little bush doesn’t have a heart and fluids move just fine. Your body has a very similar geometry of vascularization that creates fluid flow out to your “buds” which are your muscular cells. If we only emphasize the heart muscle, we might be missing out on large areas of the other 600+ muscles that are within your skin. All of them suck when they move. Which makes “cardio” more about circulation than about heart rate. Which means it isn’t just about moving the biggest, oxygen sucking muscles when we exercise, but really it is about moving all of them as much as possible.

I know lots of “fit” people that cannot move their toes. They cannot actively stretch their hamstrings. They cannot control their shoulder blades. If you cannot initiate a full range of motion through your motor functioning, those muscles are not metabolically active. In other words, they don’t suck. Which is bad.

If you want to learn more about how much you suck as well as how the other aspect of fluid dynamics which includes your lymph system, which does not have a heart muscle at all, which is the part of you that drains toxins out of your body, which if your muscles are not metabolically active creates inflammation, which sucks in the other not-nice-high-blood-pressure-and-pain kind of way, come to my Yoga & Aging serie on cardiovascular health May 3. It might put a little “spring” in your step 🙂

Everyday Poser–Yoga in the Loo

I hear this a lot: “I don’t have time to do yoga.” That is why I started this feature of my blog called #everydayposer and am featuring ways to sneak postural awareness into your life. I would love for you to make time to come to classes, too, of course. And especially classes at On The Path Yoga (wink wink). But, even if you come to classes two or three times a week, it is the daily practice of awareness that will begin to bring your practice to fullness and light.

So today, let’s shed a little light on your bathroom. How much time do you spend there brushing your teeth and you know, sitting around? Two ideas to bring yoga into your day without adding a minute of time to your schedule:

#1 a calf stretch while brushing teeth or washing hands:

IMG_1311

Most of our back body tightness starts here, so to relieve back pain, this is the BEST way to start your day! (Even better than Folger’s in your cup.)

#2 a deeper squat whilst sitting:

IMG_1312

I sort of can’t believe that I’m posting a picture of me on the toilet, but, here it is with our bamboo Squatty Potty that we have in the studio. So that makes this photo sort of classy. I have a less classy version at home. And I had a member describe the Red Green version her husband created with paint cans and duct tape. Super classy!

The importance of this position for proper elimination can’t be overemphasized. It is the design of the body to squat to poo, but most American toilets have the hips high–sometimes even higher than the knees. Anatomically, the rectum is in a forward position and cannot easily relax unless the hips are flexed closer to 30 degrees. A squat also does a whole lot of good for low backs, too. And healthy knees. Not to mention how important it is to take the hips through their entire range of motion.

So there you have it. Two ways to integrate postural awareness into your day. If it seems too basic to be yoga asana, well, try to come into Warrior pose with calves, hips, or lumbar that are too tight. Try entering into a meditative state while feeling constipated. I’ll end with a quote from Vanda Scarafelli: “As the sun opens the flowers delicately, unfolding them little by little, so the yoga exercises and breathing open the body during a slow and careful training. When the body is open, the heart is open.”

Open your heart when you close that bathroom door and try a little yoga in the loo!