Category Archives: Yoga

tips to improving your standing bow pulling pose

7 Tips to Improving Your Standing Bow Pulling Pose

Standing Bow, Ballerina pose, dancer, Dandayamana-Dhanurasana, whatever you want to call it is a difficult pose to master.  It requires strength, flexibility,  and determination all at once whilst still breathing normally!  While all those things will come in time, here are 7 tips to improving your standing bow pulling pose.

Some pointers to think about as you execute standing bow pulling pose:

tips to improving your standing bow pulling pose1.  BREATHE, try to take a few focused deep breaths in the pose.

2.  Be sure to start with the knees touching together to ensure balance.

3.  Keep your weight toward the front of your foot, watch that the weight does not move into the heel as you initiate your kick

4.  Always remember that, “kicking and stretching are 50/50, equal, simultaneous.” When you increase the force of your kick you must also increase the energy of the arm stretching toward the mirror to maintain your balance.

5.  Just as in standing head-to-knee, the standing leg is your foundation, keep the knee locked by contracting your thigh.

6.  Bikram’s dialogue says to touch the shoulder to the chin, not chin to the shoulder. Keep your chin lifted and extend the arm forward to bring the shoulder and chin together, helping to properly align your shoulders.  Shoulder blade, scapula should be coming out of the body.

7.  On your inhales stretch your fingertips forward, on your exhales focus on kicking up harder.

 

Muscles Contracting:

  • Quadriceps
  • Gulteus Maximus

Stretches: 

  • Shoulders -Trapezius / Latisimus Dorsi
  • Groin – Sartorius / Hamstrings
  • Chest – Pectorals / Diaphram / Ribcage

Compresses:

  • Kidneys
  • Spine

Stimulates:

  • Circulatory System
  • Digestive System
  • Reproductive System
  • Urinary System
  • Endocrine System
  • Heart

Bikram says The Standing Bow Benefits us by:

  • Transfer of blood flow from one side of the body to the other improving circulation.
  • Sweeps blood through circulatory system clearing plaque off artery walls.
  • Stimulates circulation through out the body
  • Eases back pain through compression of the spine
  • Improves elasticity of the spine
  • Tones hips and buttocks
  • Trims and strengthens the thighs
  • Strengthens the ankles and knees
  • Opens the shoulder joints, helps with frozen shoulder
  • Helps alleviate carpal tunnel, arthritis, tennis elbow
  • Helps with cervical spondylosis
  • Good for prenatal recovery
  • Stretches diaphragm and ribcage improving respiration (breathing)
  • Flushes kidneys, bladder and urinary system
  • Alleviates gas, constipation and clears digestion
  • Improves balance
bikram yoga teacher training

Bikram Yoga Teacher Training–What to Expect

Congratulations!bikram yoga teacher training

You are about to embark on an experience of a lifetime.  Bikram Yoga Teacher Training is a crazy two month journey!

You will challenge yourself.  You will physically do more Bikram Yoga Classes then you ever thought possible.  Your mind will go crazy reciting dialogue day in and day out!

You get to learn from Bikram himself.  Hear his isms and sayings straight from his mouth.  You will also get to learn from some of Bikram’s own hand picked lecturers.  Ones to look forward to are Emmy Cleaves, Jim Kallet, Jon Burres, and Dr. Jim Preddy.

You will take yoga from world renown instructors such as Rajashree Choudury, Cynthia Wehr, Joseph Encina, and Emmy Cleaves.

You will eat a lot of nuts, goldfish, popcorn, and tuna.

Who Knows What Questions You Have

I can’t even begin to imagine the questions you have.  Write them below in the comment section, I will answer them!

Commonly Asked Questions:

Q. What do I need to pack?

Q.  What are most days like?

  • Each day you wake up in time to sign up for class at 8:30.  Sign in starts at 8.  You don’t need to be there right at 8 unless you want to wait in line to get your spot in the yoga room.  (It doesn’t matter, you will be assigned a line to practice on, yet people still lined up every day!)
  • Class run from 8:30-10ish.  After you normally have 2 hours to shower, eat, nap, and study dialogue.
  • At 12 you usually check in for either a lecture or posture clinic.  Don’t plan on having time between lecture/posture and class.  Bring a snack if you will need one!  Lecture or posture clinic normally runs until 4 or 4:15.
  • At 4:30 you have check in for evening class.  This is normally the class Bikram Teaches if he is in town.  Emmy usually taught Thursday mornings, and if Rajashree is in town she teaches one morning class per week.  Class will start at 5pm Indian Time and often ran past 7.
  • After class you have time to shower, eat dinner, study dialogue and relax until about 9.
  • Sign in for evening lecture, posture clinic, and/or movie nights usually was at 9 or 9:30 and evening session would last until 11, 12, 1am….who knows how late.  It’s up to Bikram.   I will say most weeks we were only up past 2 one night a week.  They like to keep the fear of late nights constantly on you, but they rarely do late nights back to back.

Q.  Is it every day?

  • The above schedule is the normal schedule Mon-Fri.  Saturday you only have class at 8:30 unless you are late or don’t sign up.  then you will have to do a makeup class at 11 called Team Saturday.
  • After Saturday Class you are free for the rest of Saturday and all day Sunday!

Q.  Do I need to know my dialogue before I get there?

  • I didn’t know one posture before I went to training and I did fine, however, if you are someone who stresses I would try to memorize as much dialogue as you can before you get to training.
  • You will have to say half moon posture in front of Bikram within the first week.  You might want to have that one memorized!
  • It takes a week and a half for everyone to get through half moon.  The sooner you go, the sooner you can use the time to start working on the rest of the dialogue.
  • That being said, if you don’t know it, wait until you do to get up there in front of Bikram!  He will rip into you if you haven’t put in the work!

Q. What are some tips for memorizing the dialogue?

  1. Line by Line:  This was the best tool for me.  I would pace in the hallways, or at the beach on the weekends saying one line at a time until I had it memorized.  Then I would move onto the next line saying the previous lines first.  Repetition was my best tool!
  2. In lectures or posture clinics I would write the first letter of each word over and over for a posture using the line by the line technique.  It helped ingrain it in my mind.
  3. Record yourself!  I would listen to the postures as I showered.  Make sure when you record yourself you leave a gap of time between each line.  Then you can work to say the next line, with a correction instantly following if you say it incorrectly.
  4. Many people liked round robin.  There are two ways to do round robin.  The first way is to say one line, then the next person says the next and so on and so forth.  Another way to round robin is to have the first person say one line.  The second person will then say the 1st and 2nd line.  The 1st (or 3rd you can play with many people) then says the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd line and so on and so forth until the posture is complete.  ***Round Robins are helpful tools to ingrain the words in your head, but they are kind of useless if you don’t know the posture well yet.

 

Q.  What do I eat?

  • Stock up on food on the weekends.  You will eat a lot of dry packaged, canned, and dried foods.  You will have  a mini fridge to share with your roomie.  The mini friedges surprisingly store a lot!  
  • Sample Grocery List: A Yogi’s Groceries

Q.  Where can I get food?

  • Walking Distance Grocery Stores: Trader Joe’s and Ralphs
  • Bikram Shuttle on Saturday and Sunday:  Target, Whole Foods
  • There is also a Subway, Taco Joint, In-N-Out Burger, Starbucks, ToGos, Thai Food, and Chinese Food within walking distance.
  • On the weekends I recommend taking the trolley to Manhattan Beach and hitting up real food.

Q.  How hot is the room?

  • The hot room depends training to training.  
  • At my training, the boiler was broken for 2-3 weeks.  We had a couple scorchers, but it wasn’t that bad.
  • I hear Fall Training 2011 sucked!

Q.  What’s with the no green rule?

  • Bikram will tell the story to your training.  It is a personal story about a personal friend as well as an Indian Wives Tale.  
  • I have heard in previous trainings he gets very upset if you wear green.
  • He didn’t really yell at anyone in our training…but I still never wanted to risk it.  LEAVE THE GREEN AT HOME!

Q.  Will Bikram really keep me up all night?

  • I was never up all night, but I was up until 4 a couple times.  
  • Don’t stress about the late nights, they don’t do them in a row and often if you were up late they will go easy on you the next day.
  • The worst part of the late nights were the anxiety over how tired you would be the next day.
  • Let it go.  Live in the present.  The Bollywood movies are fun!

Q.  What’s posture clinic?

  • Posture clinic is where you learn the dialogue.
  • You will be divided into groups of 20.  2 groups will be together at a time.  One by one each person gets up and delivers the dialogue for a given posture until everyone has completed the posture.  Some postures spam over 2-3 days.  Other times you will give 2 postures in a day.  Always be ready to give the posture you are on and the next one!
  • Don’t stress about posture clinic.  If you mess up the dialogue the worst that happens is you have to do it again.  Often they just check you off and tell you to work on it.  You put the pressure on yourself to memorize the dialogue because you want to teach!
  • You deliver your dialogue to 3 students doing the posture and 1-3 teachers who have come to visit and/or the staff.
  • Bring clothes that you want to teach in.  I brought many options to practice in, but few for lectures and posture clinics.  I wish I had brought more long and capri yoga pants.

Q.   What should I do in my free time?

When you get free time, WORK ON DIALOGUE.  That being said here are some fun things to do:

  • The beach!  Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Venice Beach, Santa Monica all are easy to get to via bus or trolley!
  • Venice Beach has awesome street shopping.
  • Santa Monica has a fare on the pier!
  • Disneyland
  • Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • Lights exhibit at the LA County Museum (It’s Free!)
  • The Getty Museum (It’s Free!)
  • Take a class at Headquarters
  • Hermosa Beach offers free classes to Teacher Trainees

 

used yoga mat for sale

Used Yoga Mat For Sale: Where Mat User Went Wrong

used yoga mat for saleLast year the Craiglist ad, “Used Yoga Mat for Sale” went viral.  For anyone who has done Bikram yoga, the ad is hilarious.  The ad, however, is only humorous to those who have learned yoga etiquette.  There are “rules” one learns over time to survive the hot room.  This said Mat user, obviously didn’t take the time to learn the rules.  So you can avoid having an experience like his, here is where he went wrong:

  1.  “She will not be pleased to learn that I need to lose 30 pounds before I propose to her.” Don’t go to yoga with your number one goal to lose weight.  Yes you will most likely lose weight, but if you are focused on losing weight you are missing the yoga!  Part of yoga is pushing yourself so hard that you create a euphoric effect.  When you reach this state, you don’t want to fuel your body with sugar and fatty foods.  Yoga is a double whammy because not only are you exercising, but you also cleanse yourself from the inside out in a way no other exercise does.  For whatever reason, the majority of people don’t want to eat the way they used to after doing yoga.  This is what makes yoga so good for weight loss.  If you think you can go and just walk through the motions in the hot room, you will not be successful in losing weight.
  2. “Begin small talk with my bride to be.”  You shouldn’t talk in the hot room.  If you are talking in the hot room: 1) You are not centering and calming yourself and 2) You are most likely upsetting others around you creating negative energy for your class.  
  3. “She introduces me to the class and everyone turns around to greet me just as I decide to aggressively adjust my penis and testes packed in my Under Armor.”  Try not to “adjust” yourself.  Any excess movements between postures creates extra heat.  You want to work to be as still as possible.  It is hard to do, but when you can manage to be absolutely still, you will almost feel cool between postures.
  4. “We are breathing each other’s body odor, expelled carbon dioxide and other unmentionables. (Don’t worry, I’ll mention them later.)…This room stinks of asparagus, cloves, tuna and tacos.”  The mat user is allowing everything to steal his peace.  Yoga teaches you to block out the unpleasant.  Do what you need to do to be at peace in your mind.  Pretend to be at the beach on a sunny day; Floating on a magic carpet ride in the desert; but don’t think about the smell, the heat, or the humidity.
  5. “My wife looks slightly weathered dripping sweat and her eyeliner is streaming down her face…The overweight Hispanic man two spots over has sweat running down his legs.”  He continues to look around.  There are a lot of distractions, and everything will steal your peace if you keep looking around.  Try to focus on your eyes in the mirror.
  6. “Is breathing voluntary or involuntary? If it’s voluntary, I am screwed.”  He loses control of his breathing.  Through class you should always maintain normal breathing.  That is your number one goal.  In fact, if your breathing isn’t normal, as an instructor I would rather you stand still until you can at least work to have long slow inhales through the nose and long slow exhales through the nose.  Once you are able to breathe in the room, your practice will improve.

No one ever said practicing yoga etiquette was easy, but give it a try!  It changes the experience.  I definitely didn’t have it right when I first started.  It was pure pride that kept me going.  There was no way I was going to let yoga defeat me.  Once I let that go, I stopped struggling in class…most of the time. 🙂

used yoga mat for sale

Used Yoga Mat for Sale

used yoga mat for sale

A Craigs list Ad that went viral:  Just a little yoga humor:

Used Yoga mat for sale. Used once at lunch hour class in December 2009. Usage timeline as follows:

11:45a
Register for hot yoga class. Infinite wisdom tells me to commit to 5 class package and purchase a yoga mat. I pay $89.74. Money well spent, I smugly confirm to myself.

11:55a
Open door to yoga room. A gush of hot dry air rushes through and past me. It smells of breath, sweat and hot. Take spot on floor in back of room next to cute blonde. We will date.

11:57a
I feel the need to be as near to naked as possible. This is a problem because of the hot blonde to my left and our pending courtship. She will not be pleased to learn that I need to lose 30 pounds before I propose to her.

11:58a
The shirt and sweats have to come off. I throw caution to the wind and decide to rely on my wit and conditioning to overcome any weight issues my fiance may take issue with. This will take a lot of wit and conditioning.

11:59a
Begin small talk with my bride to be. She pretends to ignore me but I know how she can be. I allow her to concentrate and stare straight ahead and continue to pretend that I don’t exist. As we finish sharing our special moment, I am suddenly aware of a sweat moustache that has formed below my nose. This must be from the all the whispering between us.

12:00p
Instructor enters the room and ascends her special podium at the front of the room. She is a slight, agitated Chinese woman. She introduces me to the class and everyone turns around to greet me just as I decide to aggressively adjust my penis and testes packed in my Under Armor. My bride is notably unfazed.

12:02p
Since I do have experience with Hot Yoga (4 sessions just 5 short years ago) I fully consider that I may be so outstanding and skilled that my instructor may call me out and ask me to guide the class. My wife will look on with a sparkle in her eye. We will make love after class.

12:10p
It is now up to 95 degrees in the room. We have been practicing deep breathing exercises for the last 8 minutes. This would not be a problem if we were all breathing actual, you know, oxygen. Instead, we are breathing each other’s body odor, expelled carbon dioxide and other unmentionables. (Don’t worry, I’ll mention them later.)

12:26p
It is now 100 degrees and I take notice of the humidity, which is hovering at about 90%. I feel the familiar adorning stare of my bride and decide to look back at her. She appears to be nauseated. I then realize that I forgot to brush my teeth prior to attending this class. We bond.

12:33p
It is now 110 degrees and 95% humidity. I am now balancing on one leg with the other leg crossed over the other. My arms are intertwined and I am squatting. The last time I was in this position was 44 years ago in the womb, but I’m in this for the long haul. My wife looks slightly weathered dripping sweat and her eyeliner is streaming down her face. Well, “for better or worse” is what we committed to so we press on.

12:40p
The overweight Hispanic man two spots over has sweat running down his legs. At least I think its sweat. He is holding every position and has not had a sip of water since we walked in. He is making me look bad and I hate him.

12:44p
I consider that if anyone in this room farted that we would all certainly perish.

12:52p
It is now 140 degrees and 100% humidity. I am covered from head to toe in sweat. There is not a square millimeter on my body that is not slippery and sweaty. I am so slimy that I feel like a sea lion or a maybe sea eel. Not even a bear trap could hold me. The sweat is stinging my eyeballs and I can no longer see.

12:55p
This room stinks of asparagus, cloves, tuna and tacos. There is no food in the room. I realize that this is an amalgamation of the body odors of 30 people in a 140 degree room for the last 55 minutes. Seriously, enough with the asparagus, ok?

1:01p
140 degrees and 130% humidity. Look, bitch, I need my space here so don’t get all pissy with me if I accidentally sprayed you with sweat as I flipped over. Seriously, is that where this relationship is going? Get over yourself. We need counseling and she needs to be medicated. Stat!

1:09p
150 degrees and cloudy. And hot. I can no longer move my limbs on my own. I have given up on attempting any of the commands this Chinese chick is yelling out at us. I will lay sedentary until the aid unit arrives. I will buy this building and then have it destroyed.
I lose consciousness.

1:15p
I have a headache and my wife is being a selfish bitch. I can’t really breathe. All I can think about is holding a cup worth of hot sand in my mouth. I cannot remember what an ice cube is and cannot remember what snow looks like. I consider that my only escape might be a crab walk across 15 bodies and then out of the room. I am paralyzed, and may never walk again so the whole crab walk thing is pretty much out.

1:17p
I cannot move at all and cannot reach my water. Is breathing voluntary or involuntary? If it’s voluntary, I am screwed. I stopped participating in the class 20 minutes ago. Hey, lady! I paid for this frickin class, ok?! You work for me! Stop yelling at everyone and just tell us a story or something. It’s like juice and cracker time, ok?

1:20p
It is now 165 degrees and moisture is dripping from the ceiling. The towel that I am laying on is no longer providing any wicking or drying properties. It is actually placing additional sweat on me as I touch it. My towel reeks. I cannot identify the smell but no way can it be from me. Did someone spray some stank on my towel or something?

1:30p
Torture session is over. I wish hateful things upon the instructor. She graciously allows us to stay and ‘cool down’ in the room. It is 175 degrees. Who cools down in 175 degrees? A Komodo Dragon? My wife has left the room. Probably to throw up.

1:34p
My opportunity to escape has arrived. I roll over to my stomach and press up to my knees. It is warmer as I rise up from ground level – probably by 15 degrees. So let’s conservatively say it’s 190. I muster my final energy and slowly rise. One foot in front of the other. One foot in front of the other. Towards the door. Towards the door.

1:37p
The temperature in the lobby is 72 degrees. Both nipples stiffen to diamond strength and my penis begins to retract into my abdomen from the 100 degree temp swing. I can once again breathe though so I am pleased. I spot my future ex wife in the lobby. We had such a good thing going but I know that no measure of counseling will be able to unravel the day’s turmoil and mental scaring.

1:47p
Arrive at Emerald City Smoothie and proceed to order a 32 oz beverage. 402 calories, 0 fat and 14 grams of protein — effectively negating any caloric burn or benefit from the last 90 minutes. I finish it in 3 minutes and spend the next 2 hours writing this memoir.

3:47p
Create Craigslist ad while burning final 2 grams of protein from Smoothie and before the “shakes” consume my body.

4:29p
Note to self – check car for missing wet yoga towel in am.

Link

yoga for everyone

 

Ultimately mastering yoga comes down to learning to breathe.  It is the breath that can help you push past your current state to improving your health.

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”-Emma Lazarus Quote on the Statue of Liberty.

My Story

I spent my youth destroying my body.  I was the shortest Volleyball player on my team.  That means that I didn’t care if I landed well to protect my knees, all I cared about was jumping as high as I could!  I pole vaulted for 7 years, hyper-extending my back with every take off.  I ran 8 marathons  (including the Boston!!) in 22 months.  If I could go back I would do it all over and I plan to continue to living my life actively as much as I can, but my body has taken a beating.  Bikram yoga has helped me make my body healthier and stronger for the activities I love!

The first time I went to a Bikram class I was shocked at how tough it was.  Dripping sweat, huffing, and puffing I kept telling myself you will not sit down, you will not sit down!   As the teacher reminded me over and over “Don’t wipe your sweat it will just come back.”  I thought F*** You do you see how much I’m sweating????–She was sweating just as much.  As I kept going back I began to see there was more to this than just fighting through and that was when I decided to needed to master this art.  If those flexible noodles could remain calm in this 105 degree torture chamber I could too!

My first big aha moment came about a month into doing yoga pretty regularly.   (I’ve told you before I’m pretty competitive so I started going 4-5x a week convinced I could master this strange, sweaty, art!)  One day as I was huffing and puffing, mentally begging the teacher to open the door, I heard the teacher say, “Relax, let it go, just breath.  Long slow inhales, long slow exhales.”  The teacher was giving me the answer EVERY CLASS at least 50x!!  How had I never heard this before?!?  I must have done 20+ classes and I hadn’t heard this message yet.  That was the day my yoga practice started to improve.  I started hearing all kinds of new cues I had been tuning at before and slowly but surely my tight hamstrings were starting to lock in Pada-Hastasana.  I could touch my forehead to the floor in between my feet, and on a good day I had become inches away from doing the standing splits!!  CRAZY!!!

Once I got over what yoga did for me, I began to talk to other people in my class and hear where they came from.   Their stories were way cooler than mine.  Bikram yoga helped people conquer addiction, avoid back surgery, stop numbness in limbs, aid in weight loss, the stories were endless. You do can have other type of surgeries for example you can contact a plastic surgeon Sydney has to get all your inquires resolve.

How Does Bikram Yoga Do this?

Bikram yoga teaches you to breathe through your discomfort so you push past your current health state one step at a time.  “If you will faithfully follow my directions, you will be relieved of your symptoms of discomfort.” -Bikram Choudhury.  He may not be offering you a cure, but what he does offer is often better than what the Doc has to offer.  One example is, Mary Jarvis, a Bikram Yoga Senior teacher.  She taught at Bikram’s Yoga College of India in San Francisco for 10 years before a car smashed into her almost killing her.  Her surgeon cautioned her against any physical exercise. She stayed in bed, popping pain pills, taking cortisone, and gaining weight for 6months. She went back to her doctor, deeply depressed and in so much pain she couldn’t raise her arms. He suggested fusing her spine. Mary didn’t accept this, so she headed back to the torture chamber.  It wasn’t an easy road, but after two years taking as many classes as she could, she is mostly pain-free and her postures have returned to her top form.

There are many similar stories with young people and senior citizens, in this case look for the basic of Exercising Together: 6 Benefits of Exercising for Seniors and Caregivers and  If you are looking for an answer to your pain, illness, depression; it doesn’t hurt to try….Just don’t take a month to remember to breathe! 😉

Breathe

How to Breathe: Do you Breathe like a hungry dog?

Do you know how to breathe?  Oddly enough most of you probably don’t know the most effiecient way to breathe.  Yoga can teach you to breathe, but for those of you who don’t feel like trying yoga yet, at least learn to breathe like a yogi.

“When the lungs do their job, they send fresh oxygen throughout the body, purifying the blood and allowing it to travel more efficiently via the arteries and the heart….Someone who doesn’t take practice yoga takes in oxygen the way a hungry dog takes in food.  When you come home at the end of your workday and finally feed him, he will fall on the food and devour it all in half a second.  (The part that doesn’t fall out of the bowl and go all over the floor, that is.)  Untrained lungs will also suck in all the air they can, as fast as they can.  In yoga we learn to sustain the breath, not gasp it all in and out, and that means our whole operation runs more efficiently…With each additional class, you will find that your breath becomes deeper and fuller.  Your lungs are like balloons–they must be properly inflated and stretched to become more flexible and capable of holding and processing more oxygen with greater efficiency.”  Bikram Choudhury Bikram Yoga

For my runners and those who take my classes, you will notice in class I am always telling you to control your breathing.  Work on developing a rhythm of long slow inhales, long slower exhales.  Your heart rate goes down when you control your breath.  The art of learning to get through exercise, to pushing through so that you get stronger and faster is learning to control your breath.  The next time you are in class work to breath all the way into your lungs, filling them completely and then work to empty them close to all the way–all the way if you can but at first just work to get most of that air out!  (When you are resting between sets, force yourself to empty them all the way.  This will help get rid of carbon dioxide faster, which is the main driver towards elevated breathing, not as most think a need a for oxygen.)

how to breathe

For my fellow yogis, I was reading Jivamukti Yoga, Practices for Liberating Body and Soul.

I found a picture very similar to this.  My past couple practices I have tried to envision air flowing into and out of my lungs like the above picture.  Nice and slow.  It has really helped me find a new focus.  Thank you Miko and Rebecca for creating such a great energy today in class 🙂

yoga autonomic nervous system

Yoga and the Autonomic Nervous System

We have all heard that if we are stressed we should try yoga.  Us type A personalities (yes I am a type A personality and used to be way worse before yoga!) may not be able to understand how 90 min in a hot room can help our stress level.  In fact, one might argue 90 min not working or being productive probably would stress them out even more right?—wrong!  Yoga does help with stress.   Stress is connected to the Autonomic Nervous System.  Yoga helps with stress by making our Autonomic Nervous System more efficient.

Let’s go back to the basics first:

Our autonomic nervous system really developed back when we evolved from apes into the species we are now, Homo Erectus.  Back then we had 3 concerns: eat, sleep, and don’t get eaten.  Therefore our bodies were programmed with hormones to help us seek food when hungry, sleep when tired in the best mattress of 2019, and gather all our energy when faced with a stressful situation such as encountering a bear.

Today

We still face situations that stimulate our Sympathetic Nervous System (the fight or flight system), they just aren’t in animal form.  Today our stresses come in the form of work deadlines, traffic jams, and juggling kids soccer practices, no doubt we need more helpful hints on how to handle these type of situations.  In fact, our lives have become so full, “stresses” often occupy our minds leaving us perpetually in fight or flight response.  What makes this even worse is fight or flight will triggers fight or flight.  It is a positive feedback loop and without conditioning your parasympathetic system to take over, your body begins to be in a constant state of stress.

What does Fight or Flight look like?

  • Elevated Heart Rate
  • Increased Blood Pressure
  • Adrenaline Increases
  • Breathing Rate Increase
  • Muscles Tense (Think shoulders up by your ears)
Remember, fight or flight is actually a positive feedback loop.  That means the symptoms of fight or flight lead to more fight or flight response.  What does that mean?  See below:
yoga autonomic nervous system

Our lives throw so much stress our way, that our brains never activate the “relax” or parasympathetic nervous system.  This is where yoga comes in.  Yoga Trains our bodies to use the sympathetic system when needed, and retrains our parasympathetic system to take over when we aren’t actually in fight or flight.

How does Yoga Retrain the Autonomic Nervous System?

Yoga creates a battle field between your sympathetic nervous system and parasympathetic system.  On one hand, you are exercising: increasing your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate activating your sympathetic system.  On the other hand there are actions and heat built into yoga that activate your parasympathetic system and help normalize your Autonomic Nervous System Function:

  • Bikram yoga begins and ends with a breathing exercise.  Breathing activates the parasympathetic system so you start and end activating your “relax” system.
  • There are stretches built into Bikram yoga in between “cardio” poses.  Stretching also activates the parasympathetic system.
  • Heat has also been proven to help regulate the Autonomic Nervous System making it more efficient.  -Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult 2000
After making it through a Bikram yoga class where your Autonomic Nervous System Battles between Sympathetic and Parasympathetic for 90 min we begin to condition ourselves to handle sympathetic responses better and shut them off quickly by activating our parasympathetic system.  This conditioning, makes sympathetic responses in the real world more manageable.  We begin to condition ourselves to breath when we hit that traffic jam so we don’t carry our stress into our work day.  If we do have a deadline at work we don’t cycle through sympathetic response, we focus and move on.  We still hit stressful moments, but yogis train their bodies to realize these everyday “stresses”  aren’t as stressful as a bear attack so they are able to tell their bodies to relax when stress is encountered.

The difference between a yogi and a stressed corporate worker is the yogi’s body balances fight or flight with relax better and yes the yogi can work in corporate America!

Have your tried yoga?  Did you notice a difference?  Let me know the changes you noticed!  I would love to hear your stories!

 

yoga helps running

Another Way Yoga Helps Running: Yoga Strengthens your Erector Spinae

yoga helps running

We spend so much of our lives slouching, weakening our erector spinae muscles.    Slouching trains us to have poor posture, leading to poor running form.  Yes YOUR posture effects you running form.  Weak erector spinae are the first thing that causes you to break your stride .  The problem with posture muscles is they are hard to strengthen once weak.  You can’t lift weights to help strengthen your postural muscles, in fact strength training with a weak core often leads to injury.

yoga helps running

This is why Yoga is great for runners looking to strengthen their core.  Yoga is resistance training that uses your own body.   When you first start practicing you can’t do many of the poses because of a lack of strength and body control, mainly in the core.  This is actually a good thing, because it is your body’s own way of keeping you from pushing too hard.  Then one day you’ll progress in the posture discovering how much more room you have to grow!

Yoga is a great medium for all because you get benefits even before you can do the posture.  That is right, you get benefits from trying to do postures.   Before you can do a posture, you are stretching a tight muscle, preparing your body to strengthen it in the future using your own body for resistance.  When you learn to finally control your own body you can then start to strengthen it.

Not Flexible Enough for Yoga | Hearts Expanding

Yoga isn’t just about stretching (although that is a huge aspect us runner’s can benefit from!)

What is your favorite type of yoga?  If you haven’t tried yoga, what’s keeping you from trying it?

 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Banana
  • 2 scoops protein
  • 1 tbs Sunflower Butter
  • 1/2 cup Coffee
  • 1 cup ice

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mind body connection

The Mind Body Connection

When people talk about the mind body connection, we get the sense that they are speaking of some spiritual thing.  Yoga was definitely the first place I really became aware of this concept.  It was something I was always trying to work for.  I needed to stay present, calm, and focused to find this Mind Body Connection.  While at Bikram Yoga teacher training, this abstract idea all of a sudden made sense.  The Mind Body Connection isn’t an abstract idea.  The Mind Body Connection is simply your spinal cord.  We all have a spinal cord.  What we don’t all have, is the power to control our own bodies to the degree we want to and that is how our Mind Body Connection deepens.

mind body connection

This is a simple explanation of what the spinal cord controls. Imagine if they listed the individual muscles, not the muscle groups. Then Imagine if the listed the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves and what they do!….I bet you would take better care of your spine!

Let’s break this down to something simple, drinking your cup of coffee in the morning.  In order to do this, your brain needs to tell you Aductor Pollicis, and your Flexor Carpi Radialis to grab the handle of the cup.  It also needs to tell those muscles HOW tightly to grab it, because I am guessing you don’t clench your cup as hard as possible.  Then a combination of the Biceps Brachii and Brachioradialis need to move your arm, hand, and cup up towards your face so your mouth can take a sip.  But before that happens your Pronator Teres and Protator Quadratus get a message to activate to a certain extent so you actually get liquid in your mouth, but don’t spill the liquid down the front of your face and chest burning your body.  And all that happens before the complex facial muscles take over to help you swallow!  All of that to take one sip, and I bet you didn’t even know you had those muscles!

Now imagine the complexity it takes to do a Standing Bow Pulling Pose.  I guarantee that person’s mind body connection is a little more developed than your average Joe’s!

The good news, is we can all deepenour mind body connection.  Even those lacking control of  parts of their body due to inactivity or a traumatic event can get more use of what they already had by consciously thinking about the movements they are trying to do.  Science doesn’t fully understand it yet, but these “miracles” where someone gains use of limbs they weren’t suppose to gain use of usually occur because the person WANTS it so badly.  I bet that person who WANTS it so badly is thinking about what it would FEEL like to move those limbs, over and over again.  Why wait until you don’t have it to strengthen it?