Tag Archives: injury


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! 😉

More Fuel for the Barefoot Fire

Runners’ World just blogged an interesting research topic (thank you Miha: http://sweatscience.runnersworld.com/2012/02/barefoot-versus-running-shoes-which-is-surprisingly-more-efficient/

The research showed that running with shoes is actually more energy efficient than running with minimalist shoes.  As I am adding more fuel to fire the barefoot vs.shoed running debate I wanted to give a couple reasons to use minimalist shoes.

A good place to start is when x-training and Strength Training:  These are excellent activities to use barefoot shoes.  Minimalist shoes allow you to utilize your stability muscles and foot muscles more, making you stronger for repetitive motion activities (running) where we are likely to need more support. Make sure to not overdo it since going barefoot can increase the risk of fungus and infection always stay clean. the number one solution for when something does happen though is to always keep healthy and wash as often as possible!

Using them at work if you have a job that puts you on your feet during the day is also a great place.  I wear my Nike Frees while training clients every day.   (They actually help me demonstrate balance exercises better because I am able to use my “yoga” muscles better with less support since I am used to balancing in yoga barefoot.)

Because barefoot shoes help you build up the muscles in your feet they are also a GREAT tool to use in coming back from a plantar fasciitis injury or achilles injury.  Both injuries require a very gradual build back to your old running speed and mileage.  This is one reason why previously injured runners seem to be making the transition to barefoot running best.  They have already hit rock bottom and are unable to run.  Therefore the small steps they make towards recovery are success enough where a non injured runner would try pushing too far.  As the the injury begins to fade and mileage increases, the muscles that protect the foot and knee and hip joints have had proper time to develop allowing a runner to adapt to barefoot running.

Now that I have told you some of the positives of barefoot running, the question then comes to down to you.  Do you want to be a barefoot runner?  On one hand if you do it correctly you are the stronger runner, less prone to injury.  (ONCE AGAIN IF YOU ARE ABLE TO DO IT WITHOUT GETTING INJURED!)  On the other hand research is coming out to show shoes make you more efficient.  (This means if you were to race barefoot and with shoes (that are the lightest possible) your shoed self would beat your barefoot self.   What runner do you want to be??  –There is no right answer.  Your preference and goals are your answer 🙂


If you are interested in some minimal shoe choices check out http://www.squidoo.com/courtneyjulia .  I would love to hear which ones you like.

Do as I say, not as I do

I runners am just as stubborn as you are.  I too make mistakes.  I’m known to push  too far and too fast than a smart training program would prescribe.

On Sunday I did my 3 mile recovery run in my Nike Frees just to see how it felt–TOO FAR runners!  You should run .5-1 miles at most when starting with minimalist shoes.  I also ran my normal pace. (You should run slower at first.)  Part of the run was downhill and that was where I felt my knee.  (Not smart since hills bother my knees in normal shoes.)  I kept running and my knee stopped nagging.  I felt fine Sunday night, but sure enough Monday morning 1.5 miles I felt a sharp pain in my knee.  4 strides later I shut it down and hit the stepmill and then after foam rolled foam rolled foam rolled!  (I may keep trying stupid things but I have done enough to know how to fix them or not make them worse!)  Tuesday I wanted to try running again but decided from past experience I should be PATIENT and take at least one more day.  I did the stepmill again and foam rolled instead.  Today I hit the an awesome 6x400m speed day and am proud to report I ran my hits at 9.0, 9.7, 9.9, 10.3, 10.3, and 10.6!  Pain free!

Moral of the story.   If something doesn’t feel right, shut it down!
Then give yourself rest.   Your body will tell you when it’s ready to go again!  If I had run yesterday I wouldn’t have hit those speeds.