25 Apr

Your Knee Is a Hinge–Part 1

I’ve been posting some Asana Quick Fix videos on my Facebook page and YouTube lately to address some really easy ways to make your yoga poses better for you body. Check them out, if you haven’t already!

Let’s Talk Standing Lunges

In standing lunges with an open pelvis, like warrior II and side angle the front knee happens to be bearing the weight of most of your body. So it’s critical that you keep it safe as possible.

What can damage the knee? When the front knee is rolling inward. This happens a lot and is primarily because of poor range of motion in the inner thighs. If you are trying to open your hips and your flexibility is poor in the inner thighs then you just happen to drag your front knee in the same direction as the hips are going.

This is bad.

Maybe not once or twice or thrice but if you keep practicing yoga like this you won’t be practicing forever.

knee hinge joint

The knee is a very simple joint. It’s a hinge. It opens and closes in one direction like a door. Imagine you had a door that moved up and down as you opened and closed it. You’d be like “this door is fucked up”. Feel free to say that to yourself every time your knee caves in in warrior II. “This knee is fucked up”.  Because it definitely is not safe for it to be moving that way.

So how do I fix it?

How can you keep your front knee from caving in and getting all wonky and out of alignment and fucked up? Don’t sacrifice the knee for open hips!

Try this:

Come into warrior II or side angle. Look down at your front femur. If it is not parallel to the edges of the mat and the knees is caving in here’s what you do:

Turn the front of your back hip down toward the floor and watch the front knee realign, like magic!

Check out the video below for a little more explanation and stay tuned for part two!

16 Apr

Links for a Sunday Morning

Muscle Cramps: How To Handle Them (And Why They Aren’t So Bad) – Fit for Real Life

Cramps often happen because your nervous system doesn’t know how to use the tissue in whatever position you’ve put it in, and so it sends lots of signal to the tissue, and the cramp occurs. Frequently, this happens when your muscle is already in its shortened position, and you then ask it to fire in that position.

A Detailed Look At How Complex Equal Pay Day Really Is – Fast Company

Hired found that on average, companies were offering women between 3% and 30% less than men for the same roles. Hired’s lead product data scientist Jessica Kirkpatrick writes, “Our data—which spans technology, sales, and marketing roles—shows that 69% of the time, men receive higher salary offers than women for the same job title at the same company.”

Dozens Suspected of Cheating to Enter Boston Marathon – Runner’s World

In the past two years, you’ve had to be a good bit faster than your qualifier in order to gain entry to Boston. But exactly how much is a moving target. For the 2015 race, athletes had to run at least 1:02 faster than their qualifying time to earn a bib, leaving out 1,947 runners who met the posted standards. It got more selective for the 2016 race. Successful entrants had to be at least 2:28 faster than their time standards, and 4,562 runners were not accepted.

How can you tell if a goal is Achievable & Realistic? – Fast Company

On one end of the spectrum, some goals are in the delusional zone. That would be me deciding I want to play in the NBA. Those are just demoralizing. On the other hand, easy goals do little for you, either. There has to be some element that you might not achieve it. Otherwise it’s not compelling.

Fewer Americans Are Visiting the Local Library and Technology Isn’t to Blame – The Atlantic

In other words, there’s empirical evidence that usage tracks investment. If libraries receive more public funds, more people use them. And if governments invest less in its libraries (as they have since 2009), fewer people visit—though the drop in visits from disinvestment isn’t as strong as the rise from investment would be.

Being an overweight teen could come back to haunt your health – Vox

The association between a higher body mass index in youth and cardiovascular death later is very robust and it didn’t change in light of a very extensive sensitivity analysis.

Michael Pollan and the Luxury of Time – The Atlantic

Europeans fought for shorter workdays, more vacation time, family leave, and all these kinds of things. Those haven’t been priorities in America, it’s been about money. You see in the countries that fought for time, they cook more often, they have less obesity. There are real benefits to having time. There’s often a trade-off between time and money.

12 Apr

More Stability with Less Work

Core Strength Meridian

From a weight lifter’s perspective, bracing the core is super important to get you to lift the load at hand without injuring yourself. It helps you stabilize when you are moving a lot of weight in one plane.

But what if you’re not moving a lot of weight? What if you’re just holding a Warrior pose? Or walking your dog? Or playing shinny? Is all that effort to brace your core really necessary?

Core stability is all about control, coordination, and agility.

I recently took a workshop that really intrigued me. It was with Suzi Hately at the Yoga Conference in Toronto about how to find more stability in the core with less work. She spoke from a therapeutic perspective about how core stability means control, coordination, and agility.

Agility is key. Firm bracing of the core muscles is great for something like weightlifting but can be limiting when your body needs to be responsive and to change direction quickly (ie. be agile).

So how do you evoke the core without actively engaging it?

Try this:
Lay on your back with the knees over the hips and the shins parallel to the floor. Press your hands into your knees and knees back into your hands. This requires the core to work, but we want it to work naturally, without forcing it.

Notice:
Can you evoke the core rather than forcing the core muscles to engage? Can you breathe smoothly and easily? Can you do this exercise with less effort?

Then notice if other muscles in the body are engaging or firming up. Are you holding tension in your shoulders? Chest? Hip flexors?

Your body is so smart that it will do what it needs to do to get the job done. In this case, if there is some weakness in the core muscles then other muscles will compensate in order for you to make this exercise happen. Cool, right?

If you find these compensatory muscles working, can you really soften them without forcing relaxation? Like butter melting in a pan, like a foot sinking into wet sand.

When you have completely softened all your compensatory muscles and you’ve stopped forcing your core to engage then you will find the point of stability for your body. It may be weaker than you think!

For me, when I do this exercise, I find it damn near impossible to stop my hip flexors from doing all the work once I stop bracing my abs. It’s as if it is harder to do less work and to find ease in the exercise.

And that’s what the core should core provide. A sense of lightness and ease.

So see for yourself what happens when you work your core less and tap into your true stability.

10 Apr

Links for a Sunday Morning

My Stomach Is All Over the Internet. Here’s Why. – Runner’s World

When I see my stomach, I sense a disconnect between how it looks and how I feel, which is strong, powerful, and fast. And I’m so psyched to be a mom and have my husband and my boys alongside me.

Sit yo’ a** down! The importance of sitting on the toilet – Pelvic Health & Rehab

The sphincters cannot fully relax, which means that the bladder and/or rectum could not fully empty, meaning that now we are getting a backup of residual waste left in the body. If this becomes a regular occurrence we can begin to see issues arise within the bowel/bladder systems.

The Worst Thing That Could Happen to Facebook Is Already Happening – Inc

According to confidential data obtained by The Information, more than 60 percent of users share no personal content in a given week, while the remaining 39 percent share an average of five posts.

Doing Exercise You Hate Is Bad for Body and Mind – Daily Beast

As long as we’re using exercise for weight-loss—as an exchange for our dietary transgressions, we risk missing out on the amazing benefits that come from incorporating physical activity into our lives—for the rest of our lives. 

Call A Random Swede? We Tried It Out – NPR

As a way to “spark people’s curiosity about Sweden” and foster communication between people from different countries, Sweden’s tourism association launched “The Swedish Number,” a project that connects anyone in the world with a phone to a random Swede.

The Five-Minute Meditation That Will Stress-Proof Your Mind – Huffington Post

Begin to question whether this internal stress or tension is appropriate to the situation. (In other words: No, you aren’t in mortal danger because your apartment is messy and your to-do list is long.) And with a mindful perspective comes peace.

A Workplace, an Ashram, or a Cult? – Slate

Her lawsuit claims that Jivamukti’s teachings about the student-guru relationship are “more akin to a cult” than a yoga school and that its leadership exploits “Eastern philosophy and beliefs, as superseding western sexual harassment and anti-discrimination laws.”

Should you walk or run for exercise? Here’s what the science says. – Vox

Running improves your health more efficiently than walking does and has greater health benefits per time invested. But even a small amount of running carries more injury risk than walking. And a lot of running (i.e., ultramarathon training) can well be harmful, while the same is never true for walking.

07 Apr

3 Ways to Bring Calmness to Your Power Yoga Flow

yinyangYin Yang Decal from CaymanHillDesigns

If you’ve been to a yoga class taught by me you’ll notice (rather quickly, I might add) that the class is challenging. It’s high energy, fast paced, and it gets your heart rate pumping and sweat dripping.

It is the definition of yang, through and through: hot, active, muscular, powerful, exhilarating, go-go-go.

And we need go-go-go in our lives. We need to be physically active in this energy-generating way. It’s how we stoke our internal fire. It’s how we get stronger. It’s how we gain power. It’s how we practice resiliency in the face of adversity. It’s how we grow.

But we also need to create balance in our fitness regime, just like in our lives. You can’t thrive forever on a continuous stream of high intensity stimuli from intense bootcamp classes to rigorous hockey practices to long endurance runs to workplace stress. Your internal fire will burn out.

Can we bring relaxation to our stress? Yin to our yang? Can we balance our nervous system so we’re not all fight or flight and no chill & still?

Well, that’s kind of the point of yoga.

Actually, the best time to connect to the stillness in your mind is when your body is moving. When you become so immersed in your movement that your mind stops, time stops, you are IN THE ZONE, my friend.

Sitting still leads to all sorts of thoughts you never knew you had. Sitting still and trying to connect to the stillness in your mind is, like, way more advanced, amiright?

3 Ways to Bring Calmness to Your Power Yoga Flow

1) Breathe

Constrict the throat in your “ujjayi” breath. It stimulates your vagus nerve to activate your parasympathetic nervous system making your body want to chill & be still. Also, making your exhales longer than inhales helps slow the heart rate and calm you down.

2) Be Curious

Approach your body like it’s something to be explored and not something that needs to be better, slimmer, stronger, taller, bendier, and on and on. When is curiosity ever stressful? Tap into your innate sense of curiosity you give yourself the opportunity to get out of your judgment zone and just feel something.

3) Get your jam on

Some might argue that music distracts the mind rather than helps you tap into it. Maybe when you’re sitting still, but when you are moving through a power yoga flow music is a great way to get out of your head and into your body. It silences your thoughts and encourages your awareness to be with your body as it moves in space to the sound of the music. Just you, your body, and the beat.

02 Apr

Links for a Sunday Morning

Will Self Driving cars put the final nail in the coffin of privacy? – The Atlantic

In this near-future filled with self-driving cars, the price of convenience is surveillance. . . The more personalized these vehicles get—or, the more conveniences they offer—the more individual data they’ll incorporate into their services. The future I described might be a ways off, yet, but there’s no reason to believe it’s especially far-fetched.

Why are our kids so miserable? – Quartz

The generational increases in externality, extrinsic goals, anxiety, and depression are all caused largely by the decline, over that same period, in opportunities for free play and the increased time and weight given to schooling. . . Play is brain-building for babies and young children. There is a sequence of how children develop, from the moral and emotional to the social and intellectual.

Why is travelling alone still considered a risky, frivolous pursuit for women? – Guardian

All travellers should take safety precautions, regardless of age or sex. Nobody is suggesting that women shouldn’t make the same sensible preparations as their male peers. But any attempt to constrain women’s movements solely on the basis of gender not only feeds into the idea that violence against them is inevitable, instead of tackling it, but also ignores the very real threats they face at home.

How a Fitbit May Make You a Bit Fit – NY Times

Is the data we collect with these devices actually useful? For this to be true, the wearable has to be telling you something you don’t already know. Your device’s digital output, with its decimal points and automatically uploaded charts, certainly seems more accurate and richly detailed than the everyday sensory data you collect automatically from your body. But whether it really is remains an open question.

Outside of Canada, Media has a Different Take on Ghomeshi – Canadaland

The trial made international headlines, but those writing about it abroad had a very different perspective on the verdict and ruling than that of our news media. Most of our news orgs focused on the witnesses, while international publications zeroed in on Justice Horkins. 

Can mindfulness meditation offer drug-free pain relief? – CBS News

Even when the body’s own opioid receptors are chemically blocked, meditation is still able to diminish pain using a different pathway. The findings come at a time when the U.S. is in the grip of an epidemic of prescription opioid abuse and overdoses.

Exercise in Futility – The Atlantic

What if physical activity doesn’t help people lose weight? New research suggests working out might slow metabolism down.