We keep reading about how good walking is for us, but then it stops there sometimes doesn't it? For us to get the benefits of it, we have to actually go outside, and take a walk. Although this article says even a treadmill in your office can help, we all know that a walk outside is EVEN BETTER. Especially if you can get out into a forest. (Have you heard about how great forest bathing is?) However, if you can't get to a forest don't let it stop you. Just open your door step outside and start walking, smile at the people you pass on the street and know that when you get back to your desk and to work, your brain will be that much happier for it. Read more about it here.
Have you ever noticed people as they move, do some parts seem to move while others just hang there like a dead weight? While going past a high school the other day I couldn't help but watch the teenagers going by, and saw how few of them were really moving well. Heads were far forward and their arms didn't move at all as they walked. There is something strangely disconnected about the movement, it lacks vitality and energy.
When we are moving well, there is a sense of ease through the whole body and that is seen as well in the movement of the arms. Like the pendulum of a grandfather clock the arms should be long and light and swing smoothly forward and back as we stride down the street.
The simple act of swinging your arms is going to support the flow of lymph in your body. It will help maintain the length of muscles in your arms. If you are used to keeping your elbows bent all the time, then your biceps are going to be in a chronically shortened state. SO, by simply going for a walk and letting your arms swing freely, you get to bring the natural length back into those babies. Isn't that great? So, what are you going to do now? Get on out, feel your arms relax by your side, start moving and feel how your arms can easily start to swing as you hit your stride. Walk on. Have a great day.
The picture above is my daughter, climbing the walls, it's a regular thing around here, up and down, her arms are strong, her legs are strong and she is deeply connected to her centre. I love watching her move for the ease and freedom that is there, my hope is that she can keep this, the love of movement is a healthy thing, and one we should be encouraging in our children. We are never too old to start moving though, so, look to the movers for inspiration, and join in when you can, in whatever way you can.
If you read my post last week you might feel more inclined to get out and WALK. This week I figured I would continue with that theme. Walking (well) is really the best movement that can be had.
If you aren't much of a walker, getting into the habit of it can be a bit challenging, feet may ache, hips may feel funny, these are all things that can happen when we begin to use our bodies in a way in which they are "unused" to being used. (does that make sense?). Here's the thing, there SHOULD be ease when we are walking, but if our bodies aren't properly aligned, (see last weeks post if you are curious about this) then things WILL HURT. Your feet may hurt a whole load if you aren't properly loading them, if your feet roll in as you walk, you will bring excessive tension to the outer areas of your low legs, this may hurt your knees, or further up the chain, your hips, if you keep walking like this. So what to do? Release the areas that need releasing, work on "stacking" the parts up one over the other very nicely and then start VERY slowly to get out and move. ALSO, get yourself OUT of positive heeled shoes. Even if you think they make you look fabulous. The long-term effects of them is terrible. Ideally we want to wear shoes that are the same level from front to back, shoes that have a flexible quality to them, especially around the fore-foot, and that have a wide toe box. Our toes "should" (ooh I know that is a loaded word) be the widest point on our foot.
One of the best things you can do is get in the habit of releasing your feet, - sit in a chair, or on the floor and put your fingers between your toes and stretch them out, find the space between each of your toes. If it's ok on your knees sit back on your heels with your toes tucking under and stretch out your toes, then do the same thing with the feet lengthening to stretch over the tops of your feet. NOTE, you can also do this in standing.
ALSO, stretch out those calves! Every day. In standing, elevate the front of your foot (you can use a rolled up yoga mat or blanket or get fancy and buy a calf stretcher which is a foam half dome) and drop the weight down through your heel and straighten your leg to lengthen the calf, specifically (with a straight leg) the gastrocnimeus.
Do these little releases every day. Add to the list, switch things up when you feel ready. If you are uncertain about any of these things, then just ask me about them when you come to class. I'll happily help you out with some guidance and pointers.
Many people find that walking on concrete is killer, and yes IT IS. So, walk on the grass beside the sidewalk, even better, get yourself onto some trails that are softer and move on them. Balance on logs, jump over streams.
I have been heading over to North Van on a regular basis with friends and family to go for walks, nothing major a few hours, but it really does a body good.
Above is our family walk last weekend at Cypress Falls in West Van. That is a picture of my daughter shortly after she fell into a creek. Then I saw a big burned out tree. There's so much to explore when you get outside and play. Enjoy. xo
Do you naturally feel a bit more ready to get out in the world in the spring time? If you do, then hopefully this information can help you move into spring with more of a natural stride in your step.
We think that walking should be a pretty straightforward activity, and it is, kind of, but one of the problems with walking , is that we take our imbalances - maybe a head forward posture, or, a tucked tail, or a pelvic thrust or any number of other things, and then we head out into the world with these traits and get walking, and then we find that we fatigue quickly, or that after our walk our hips feel more stiff, or our shoulders hurt, or, our feet or knees. Does this sound familiar?
I bet it does, it does for me. I find that as time goes by, when I stand still, I can keep everything all in place, but as soon as I start moving, it seems like everything falls apart, I catch my profile in a store window and gasp, – IS THAT ME? Yikes, no wonder I have pain. (Aside from the obvious one that I am walking on concrete, which will create its whole other level of strain.)
So, I thought I'd offer up some little insights as to how to get a body walking with ease.
First is to get about 60 or so percent of your weight nicely over your heels, with the rest of the weight then spreading out quietly across the rest of your foot. To get the weight nicely placed, try putting your hips in line with your heels, your rib cage over your hips, your shoulders over your rib cage, you head then resting nicely on your shoulders.
THEN, move from this place, feel the lovely pendulum swinging movement of your legs from your pelvis, and get your arms swinging in the same easy way, directionally forward and back (opposite to those legs!!) and head on out for a walk.
Let's start with that, and then we'll add on some more over the next while. Enjoy the walk, with not so much of a spring in your step, but a smile on your face as you stride on by.
this is mostly just a compilation of blog posts that i find to be helpful from Katy Bowman of Aligned and Well. I put it together for a student who has been having some back pain. Hopefully you will find it helpful as well.
here is some info on how to release the pelvis from that tucking position and strengthen from there. note that if you read down and follow the comments you can learn even more from them.
this is a great one on finding a healthier standing position
part way through this article she talks about finding "neutral pelvis"
this article and the next are all on learning to do Healthy Squats!!
this article is an interview with Katy Bowman is on kegels and the issue with them, i like how she talks about WHAT THEY DO to the pelvic floor and the pulling on the sacrum which has a delumbarizing (is that even a word?? i mean reducing the lumbar curve) effect as well.
it's a fair amount of reading. but Katy is pretty hilarious i have been following her for years and i am now in her training course, and as a yogi have found it to be super helpful to fill out the stuff that yoga just doesn't cover.
Dr Pickler's studies and teaching on babies developmental patterns has had a big influence on many people over the years. This website put out by the Pickler/Loczy Fund is a great place to learn about them.
Here is the shortest excerpt of it to give you an idea. "It is said that in Budapest, "Pikler babies" can be recognized even when they are older because they move with grace and freedom. Dr. Pikler believed this is because they were not sat up before they were ready to move into a sitting position on their own, were not walked by having their hands held but were allowed to learn to walk at their own pace, and were not strapped into swings and infant seats, but were allowed to move naturally and at will and freely and allowed to spontaneously follow their own in-born developmental time-table."
I really resonated with this post by Danielle Laporte:
Want to get unstuck? Maybe it’s time to stop analyzing it.
You can work out your family of origin issues, and neuroses, and past life traumas with your shrink or your shaman. You can talk talk talk it out all day long (I know, I’ve done it). You can trace the cause of your wounds and why you’re so stuck. But at some point, eventually, who cares WHY you’re stuck. Instead of focusing on how you got to where you are, you’ve got to shift your attention to where you’d rather be.
I’ve had at least a thousand conversations about success and desire. And I’ve noticed that when someone starts over-explaining WHY they’re stuck, it can be an indicator that they’re not 100% interested in getting unstuck. Recapitulating the past can provide a lot of comfort and confirmation. But…
As the saying goes, “Who cares why the elephant is standing on your foot? Just get him off.”
When I worked one-on-one with strategy clients, I began starting our session with this: “I’m asking you, for this hour together, to try to not talk about your past. We’re here to create your future, let’s just declare that the past has little bearing on where you want to go.” Some folks squirmed, could barely resist slipping into old stories. Some people were like, “What a great idea. I’m so tired of my story. Let’s move forward!”
Sometimes you can’t see why you were stuck until after you get unstuck. Hindsight and high-sight solves a lot of mysteries. In the mean time, you’ve got a new story to write, and it looks nothing like your past.
Susan T. Klein writes,
Bone is the deepest, densest tissue of the body and thus it conducts the greatest currents of energy. Bone is at the core of who we are and through it we know the essence of our being. When all else is gone, as a tree stripped bare in the season of winter, we can read its code; we can see its essential nature and know what was, through reading the bone. Bone does not yieldto gravity, but acts as a conductor, conducting energy, and connecting us to the system of nature, to the greater whole. It is through the bone that we stand as a ridgepole, “the tai chi”, between heaven and earth. When all else is gone, it is the bone that remains. It is bone, which holds our self-identity, our essential selves and our will power. Dropping away from the superficial and deceptive strength of the muscles we access strength from coordination; we access power connected to the knowledge of self-identity and the spirit of will available in the bone. Our power and identity come from working at our deepest physical level – the bone.
For those of you that came to the Yoga class at the BC Nurses Union Conference, I want to offer a heart-felt thank you. It is always a delight to offer this teaching to you.
Here is some of what we covered. This first video pretty much takes you through the sequence that I did on the ball at the beginning of class. I have been doing and teaching this sequence for years, and though it seems simple (and is) it is remarkably effective.
This is an interview with Sue Hitzmann on understanding more deeply what fascia is.
Here's some useful techniques to use on the hands and feet, and face as well!
I'll add more in the next few days. Just wanted to give you a bit to go on. Thanks for everything.
There is a great big run on your money when it comes to outfitting people for running shoes. We are told to get support, wear orthotics to help extend the life of running shoes. All kinds of stuff. Dr Nick has been researching this area for ages, and advocates Minimalist running shoes, and he makes a pretty good argument for it. He unfortunately doesn't give any good advice for how to strengthen the muscles he talks about here that can be weak and can lead to some of our foot problems. But hey, that's what the internet is for. Just google it.
Some of you may have been following the big hoopla about the minimalist shoe company Vibrams being sued. Yes, No? I think their shoes are great. (I don't wear them but I do wear minimalist shoes.) But hey don't be a fool, if you have been wearing very supportive shoes most if not ALL of your life and you then go and get a pair of Vibrams, put them on and start running all the time in them, THERE WILL BE CONSEQUENCES. You cannot then turn around and blame the shoes, yes, you wore them you got hurt, maybe you needed to ease into it. Again, there's tons of info on the net about how to do that.
Here is more info on how to connect with ground and what shoes to wear.
Here is a great resource for those of you that are curious about "what lies beneath the surface", especially if you are a ball roller, this way you can have an idea of what you are doing. Scroll down the article to dive deeper into the pelvis, to view the attachments of the psoas from multiple angles. it's quite something. enjoy.
this is an article that may put to rest the idea that Rest and Icing (RICE) are the best approach to take in order to facilitate the healing response in your body.
Here is a short excerpt of the longer article:
March 20, 2014
by Gabe Mirkin, MD
When I wrote my best-selling Sportsmedicine Book in 1978, I coined the term RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression,Elevation) for the treatment of athletic injuries (Little Brown and Co., page 94). Ice has been a standard treatment for injuries and sore muscles because it helps to relieve pain caused by injured tissue. Coaches have used my “RICE” guideline for decades, but now it appears that both Ice and complete Rest may delay healing, instead of helping.
In a recent study, athletes were told to exercise so intensely that they developed severe muscle damage that caused extensive muscle soreness. Although cooling delayed swelling, it did not hasten recovery from this muscle damage (The American Journal of Sports Medicine, June 2013). A summary of 22 scientific articles found almost no evidence that ice and compression hastened healing over the use of compression alone, although ice plus exercise may marginally help to heal ankle sprains (The American Journal of Sports Medicine, January, 2004;32(1):251-261).
Healing Requires Inflammation
When you damage tissue through trauma or develop muscle soreness by exercising very intensely, you heal by using your immunity, the same biological mechanisms that you use to kill germs. This is called inflammation. When germs get into your body, your immunity sends cells and proteins into the infected area to kill the germs. When muscles and other tissues are damaged, your immunity sends the same inflammatory cells to the damaged tissue to promote healing. The response to both infection and tissue damage is the same. Inflammatory cells rush to injured tissue to start the healing process (Journal of American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Vol 7, No 5, 1999). The inflammatory cells called macrophages release a hormone called Insulin-like growth Factor (IGF-1) into the damaged tissues, which helps muscles and other injured parts to heal. However, applying ice to reduce swelling actually delays healing by preventing the body from releasing IGF-1.
Go in and in…
Be the space
between the cells,
silence in which
Be sugar dissolving
on the tongue of life.
Dive in and in…
as deep as you can dive.
Be infinite, ecstatic truth.
Be love conceived and born in union…
Be exactly what you seek,
until there is only essence,
the All of Everything
expressing through you
Go in and in…
and turn away from
that you find…
From: Go In and In
I read this in class today, it is a short excerpt from Orit Sen Gupta's book, The Heart of Practice.
"In practice, we develop our seeing, and with time we see more, and more subtly. According to the Yoga Sutra, and the Upanishads, this subtler seeing leads us to see things we never imagined we would see. For instance, when we are very attentive, we can actually see the diaphragm. It's a seeing even if it's not the seeing of the eye, and it is extremely precise.
Seeing can become endlessly subtle. We don't need necessarily to want it, or to ask for it, but we should know that once we've started on a path that it may lead us to places we didn't expect, didn't know about, and couldn't have imagined. Just as a child of five can't imagine his body and his thought when he will be fifteen, so we can't know where this path will take us and how we will perceive things as our vision develops. But we can say that if we persistently practice, our ability to see will deepen and widen."
Many of you have read posts that I have linked to before from Katy Bowman who I have a great deal of respect for. Here is one on children and their grasping reflex, and how to encourage their hanging and grasping abilities, which will REALLY help them out later in life. http://breakingmuscle.com/family-kids/katy-bowman-and-biomechanics-human-growth-necessity-monkey-business
Also, here is one on great footwear for children, and why "supportive shoes" are really not such a good idea. We haven't evolved over all these years to be wearing heels and arch support. Get those feet using the ground optimally as a child and as an adult you will be extremely grateful.
It's super fascintating stuff to me, I hope you find it interesting as well.
Along those lines, here's a link to a great article in The Atlantic about children and playing and what has happened to them as a result of the sterile play environments we have created for them in our "new and safe" playgrounds. Not to mention how we feel so unsafe leaving our children to fend for themselves in playgrounds, hovering all the time to keep them safe.
I am offering a Pranayama, Mudra and Mantra workshop on the 30th of March.
This work is so important to me, and is a really special part of my own home practice. It is something that i find quite challenging to really dive in and teach in our regular classes as there just isn't enough time to do so! Establishing a regular Pranayama (breath awareness) practice is crucial if we are saying that we do "yoga". it is one of the branches of a yoga practice. And, for me taking the time to connect to breath then really allows our Hatha Yoga practice to blossom, as well as our Meditation practice. They go hand in hand. And speaking of hands, using Mudra (hand gestures) is an excellent way to prepare for any kind of Mindfulness practice. Throw is some Mantra (sound) and there's a great practice, right there. Please come join me. Sunday March 30th from 2 - 5 pm. $45.
i really like what Tyler Ward says here. and it makes me grateful to have yoga in my life. it's the stuff that helps to bring balance to all the other "stuff", paying teachers, answering emails, etc, all important, and necessary things to do in order to run a business, but also part of what can become that "busyness" in life. Making space for yoga allows me to do most other things with a bit more ease.
Becoming less busy isn’t primarily about slowing down or working less, nor is it some self-indulgent ambition.
Becoming less busy is simply about your career not being the only work you have time to do. It’s about being free to do other work, like family, friendship, & self development, as well.
Becoming less busy is about defining success on your own terms and designing a lifestyle that you believe in deeply - no matter how fast or slow it may be.
read more here http://www.tylerwardis.com/becoming-less-busy/
there is more and more info out there these days to support these findings. In the yoga world, we often talk about our belly being our second brain, our emotional brain.. http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/11/18/244526773/gut-bacteria-might-guide-the-workings-of-our-minds