Tips for a Safe Yoga Practice

#truelove #allowing #dating

GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Tips for a Safe Yoga Practice
2014-02-16-PhilRolfe.jpg
This is an interview with Phil Rolfe, a physical therapist in Boulder, Colorado, who works at a clinic where he sees primarily spine patients. Boulder is quite the mecca for yoga. There is a
studio on every block, a teacher training happening every week, and every style of yoga. Named one of the top 10 “Fantastically Yoga Friendly Towns” by Yoga Journal, Boulder boasts over 40 yoga studios (for a population of about 100,160).

Rob: What’s the trend you’re seeing in your work with respect to yoga students and teachers?

The spectrum of my patient population consists of the very active athletes to those struggling to stay ahead of a degenerative process, such as osteoarthritis. Within that continuum, I see patients injure themselves specifically their back and pelvis doing yoga on their own or in a class as a student or teacher. I often see pelvic and lumbar dysfunction, which can be thought of as an asymmetric presentation of the lumbar vertebrae often including the pelvis. These dysfunctions can be corrected with manipulations (high velocity, low amplitude), mobilizations, or muscle energy techniques. I also see, with yoga patients who are experiencing back or pelvic pain, a shutdown of their local stability system, along with joint hypermobility. The key to treatment is to correct the dysfunction and assess for gross motor strength and flexibility issues. I test whether their spinal stability system is functioning, and educate them how to reconnect with this motor control system.

What are some of the common risks of injury you’re seeing in yoga practitioners

From my perspective, lower back and pelvic dysfunction resulting in pain can be seen with yoga practitioners. In the setting in which I practice, I rarely see a patient who does yoga struggling with upper or lower extremity issues. However, I’ve read the recent New York Times article by William Broad regarding hip pain and yoga, detailing the dangers to the hip complex specifically with regard to women. FAI (femoroacetabular impingement), discussed at length in this article and a cause of early degenerative hip joint changes, is a problem of the hip that is caused by abnormal hip joint architecture. This and other problems can result in different patterns of joint wear and tear. Now, if a yoga practitioner with one of these issues is performing a pose that impacts these abnormalities by pushing the hip range of motion to its limits, specifically in hyper-flexion, the long term effects may be disastrous. It’s good to note that FAI is not only impacted by yoga, and in my limited search, there is no research to implicate yoga; I did find quite a bit of research regarding running, hockey, and soccer correlating these sports to FAI. Ultimately our bodies need a balance of strength and flexibility and I think that this concept provides the basic construct to most healthy exercise programs. I consider excessive flexibility to be risky and may lead to a length tension ratio problem: too much length in a muscle reduces the tension that helps maintain normal joint mechanics. It can also change the normal forces in the capsule that surrounds a joint. Keep in mind that ‘more is not always better’ and that the threat of excessive flexibility needs to be considered with regard to the peripheral joints, as well as the spine.

To be smart and safe in doing yoga, what do you recommend?

The answer to this question will be within the definitions of flexibility, strength and stability.

Flexibility: flexibility is defined as the ability of an individual to move his or her joints through a full range of motion. Flexibility helps individuals to stretch without straining themselves. I don’t recommend attaining or striving for excessive flexibility. This would remove the body’s soft tissue restraints, muscular and ligamentous, such that joint stability may be compromised. It would be a rare occurrence that large amounts of flexibility are functionally necessary. I suppose that certain sporting activities, such as gymnastics or dance, require more musculotendonous length, but I can tell you that I have seen multiple patients from these sports who ultimately needed hip rehabilitation and/or surgical intervention at a relatively young age.

Strength defined by Merriam Webster is the capacity for exertion or endurance, and the power to resist force. Strength involves utilization of the prime movers or global mobility system to move the skeletal system. Too much tightness of a muscle can provide additional irritation to the joint system that it surrounds; conversely, too little length tension lessens the amount of joint support. Global mobilizers, which are gross motor movers, provide support to the stability mechanisms.

With regard to the spinal column, one of the most important concepts to understand is that strength is not equal to stability. For example, crunches or superman exercises do not make your back stable. In my experience with yoga, the functional strengthening component is excellent, the lengthening or flexibility aspect is great as well–in moderation; but there is no spinal stability work to keep the spinal segments safe. We need to be careful not to sacrifice stability for flexibility, the results can be painful. In my opinion, it would be prudent to consider stability training for yoga practitioners; certainly if they are experiencing spine pain.

Stability is medically defined as the ability of the spinal column, under physiologic loading, to maintain its normal configuration. Stable behavior is critical for the spine to bear loads and allow for safe movement. Stability involves a muscular system called the local stability system, which is a system that has a direct connection to the spine. These muscles are not prime movers; they are lower threshold muscles that essentially provide a stiffness around the spine. These muscles do not get tight and they do not offer significant movement of the spine. I think of spinal stability as the ability of the spinal vertebrae to stay within a neutral zone. When a spinal vertebra slides on another (sheer forces/out of neutral zone), there is an impact on the peripheral nerves as they travel through the boney opening of the vertebrae (foramen). This will irritate the nerve, cause an inflammatory reaction, and ultimately pain. The pain can be local or peripheral.

The pelvic floor can be a place to begin with stability work with the spine. Through engagement of the Kegel, we can connect with the musculature that provides stability to the lumbar spine and pelvis. Again, these are lower threshold muscles. The old ‘pull your belly button to your spine’ mantra is confusing the categories of muscles: expecting the global mobility system to go to work for stability system, and that simply is not effective. Remember that strength and stability are not equivalent.

Are there three tips to developing a safe practice?

1. Excessive flexibility should not be the goal of the yoga practitioner.
2. With back pain, strength does not equal stability.
3. If it hurts, don’t do it. Pain can inhibit the stability system.

How would you improve the safety of yoga in teacher training programs?

1. Teachers should be taught the proper hip mechanics to avoid FAI.
2. Yoga teachers should understand how to avoid sheer force compression, by teaching their clients to engage their local stability system.
3. And again, flexibility is a good thing if not taken to excess.

Editor: Alice Trembour

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Ugly Baby, Ugly Love and the Ugly Beauty of Life
We were eating lunch. He said “Don’t look.” I asked “Why”. He said “Sonya, do not look.” You know I did. Turned my head and there they were — a mother, child and store patron cooing over what can only be described as… an ugly baby. To be fair, the baby could have been making a face. If so, it was the face of sheer terror, not the face of colic. His face was stuck. The absurdity was that the woman and man just kept smiling like the kid wasn’t making this hideous face. My friend started laughing. I started laughing. I laughed until I hurled. That’s right. I threw up looking at that ugly baby.

Pause.

This awkward moment was brought to you by my inability to be polite or politically correct. We know that one woman’s ugly baby is another one woman’s pride and joy. That is obvious. My fascination with the ugly beauties of life is not so obvious.

Ugly baby is a term I enjoy using. It’s acts as a totem tethering me to reality. My ideas and dreams are like brainchildren in need of constructive criticism, less I fall madly in love with them and loose objectivity. I need honest people in my life who can answer the question, “Is my baby ugly?” I presented one of my ugly babies via email to the select few asking them to consider this question.

The phrase “ugly baby” solicits honesty. It provokes you to take a second look, hoping the irony isn’t true and daring you to admit if it is. I have used the term to encourage authentic feedback. I have learned that ego is expensive and it will cost you more than you are willing to pay. So ask the hard questions. That presentation proved to be the most responded to email I have sent to date, helping me to see the imperfect, perfectly.

This is a good practice in relationships, too. Consider Ugly Love.

It’s a life changing perspective I took up years ago when a friend challenged a bunch of us to pursue “ugly love.” He reminded us that the Bible illustrates God’s love toward man without any merit on man’s part (Romans 5:8) encouraging us to give our best even when people act their worse – especially significant others.

That’s an awesome kind of love. And it’s the kind of love that we’re called to give to one another. It’s easy to love them at their best. That’s why we gush and tell all our friends and get excited at the very thought of love. But all that is the ‘better’ — what about the worse? For your one true love, The One, your soul mate, your partner, your inspiration and your hope, are you willing to give your best when s/he is not at his/her best? Can you still love them when they have an attitude? Start tripping? Forget your birthday? Can you love them after the fight? During the fight? Can you love them when they ugly? MJQ

This is not drunk or abusive love. It’s sober love. It cuts through the superficial lists we create for dating and mating. It goes beyond flowers, candy and flattery, because it’s easy to hide behind those gestures. Ugly love asks “Who you are in the dark when no one is watching?” “Who are you when you are not trying to be impressive?” And it welcomes saying, “Nice to meet the ‘real’ you.” Ugly love is a vulnerable invitation to which only the mature heart can respond.

It works in friendships too through transparency. I have had the privilege of having what can only be called “truth telling” sessions with dear friends, male and female. We hold each other accountable and share true perspectives offering each person growth; laying the groundwork for lifelong friendships. I count and hold these friendships in one hand.

Both ugly babies and ugly love are intentionally awkward raising uncomfortable questions; asking us to consider the difference between what is true and what is truth. We are far too easily distracted, amused and deluded. Delusion is mental masturbation. What we are imagining offers an euphoric sensation, but in truth there is no substance. It can be too easy to treat feelings as facts or to empower our ideals as reality. This can be especially true in matters of the heart and in the pursuit of our dreams.

Go ahead. Ask for some ugly baby feedback on a precious project you are working on. Or take an ugly love perspective when dealing with a loved one. It can change your world. These power tools help us manage the ugly beauty of life — embracing fault while beholding beauty in the same courageous moment.

Play a Bigger Role in Spreading Love and Positivity! Here’s How
A little over a year ago, I had just launched my first book while raising an 8-month-old baby, a 2-year-old with a broken leg, and a kindergartner. The pressure, mama-related sleep deprivation, and the holiday demands made me feel like I was going to crack! Of course, to the world I was able to present a big smile, but one of my dear friends could see right through it. She ended up at my back door one afternoon unannounced with a beautiful basket full of wine, chocolate, cheese, and fresh bread. She sensed that I needed a night to relax (which I did, desperately)! Her act of kindness brought such love and hope to me.

Kindness etches an unforgettable memory and feeling in your heart.

I can think of dozens of times when I felt crushingly overwhelmed inside and a beautiful card arrived randomly from a dear friend, or I discovered a new voicemail and it was a message of love from a family member. Recently on a difficult day, a completely unexpected package arrived from a best friend who lives in Italy. The package had a stunning Italian scarf and a few funny aprons from Portugal. Her kindness completely turned my day around.

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” — Mother Teresa

These occasions always remind me how important it is to tune into those you love and extend a loving word or kind gesture when you sense they might need it. It is equally important to spread kindness to complete strangers. It always warms my heart when people offer to help me carry things through the airport as I am clearly struggling with my three kids by myself. Even a smile and commenting on someone’s beautiful sweater can brighten their day.

To take it to the next level, offer your kindness to those who really and truly need it… the poor, unloved, and destitute.

Try spending some time volunteering at your local homeless or women’s shelter to offer your love to people who feel dejected and deeply lonely. The mere act of looking people directly in the eyes and a warm hand on the shoulder can let them know that they are important.

Think of all the desperately lonely elderly people who get stuck indoors when the weather is cold and icy. My family used to deliver meals to “shut-ins” on Christmas Day. We would arrive to find an older person trying to make a celebration by herself and they would explain with some embarrassment that her children had all grown up and moved away. You could sense their extreme isolation in how much they wanted for you to stay awhile. I would always hug these people tightly, and could feel their bodies melt. Oftentimes, the hug would result in grateful tears, and I would hurry out to my car so I could cry openly. People in this world are painfully lonely. Please show them love and kindness!

How do you spread kindness? We often get wrapped up in the schedule and list, but this year, try to open your heart and mind to what really matters. Love to each of you!

5 Ways to Focus on Your Journey
I hear women whom I consider to be super pretty, ultra smart, and talented, put themselves down and compare themselves to others an a regular basis: “Look at my thighs,” “My stomach is so fat,” “Look how skinny she is and her baby is only three months old,” “I wish I could afford designer clothes like she can.” And the sad thing is, these women have every reason to have overflowing self-confidence.

Nearly all of us struggle with feeling fat from time to time, or like we aren’t always the best moms, we don’t dress fashionably enough, aren’t skinny enough, or aren’t successful enough. Internally comparing ourselves to other women does nothing but hurt our self-esteem and create negative emotions — we don’t need that in our lives!

When you have beautiful and talented girlfriends, it can be easy to wish you had their abilities, looks, things, or skills. There are women who have amazing figures, no matter what they eat, or who dress impeccably in nothing but gorgeous designer clothes, or who can decorate better than Martha Stewart. Those just might not be your natural gifts or abilities, and you know what, that’s okay.

Here are 5 easy ways to focus on your own journey:

1) Make the best of your natural gifts and abilities — Are you envious of other women because you aren’t using your own talents to the fullest? Your confidence will soar when you are taking the time to enhance and use your own unique skills and talents.

2) Take the best care possible of your own looks and body — Eat well, exercise, put on a little enhancing makeup, and wear flattering clothes. Working out does wonders for body image and energy. And, it’s amazing how much prettier you can feel by spending 10 minutes in the morning!

3) Be the best version of yourself — The way to live your life with the most joy is to simply strive to become the very best version of yourself. Use your God-given talents to make the world a better place, and play up your best physical features. Focus on your own journey and making it as enjoyable, fabulous, fun, and fulfilling as possible!

4) Stop comparing your body or beauty to others — You are unique and have beautiful features. You might find that you have to work harder than some to stay fit and thin, but maybe your hair is thick and absolutely gorgeous or your smile is show-stopping! Everyone has strengths, and the trick is to play up yours as much as you possibly can. Be kind, confident, and smile a lot, and everyone will be attracted to you no matter what.

5) Appreciate and learn from your friends natural talents — Try to appreciate and admire others for their natural gifts and talents. Coveting their looks or their possessions will bring you nothing but dissatisfaction with your own life. Do you want to be more fashionable, decorate your home beautifully, or achieve some other measure of success that your friend has? Observe and learn from the best!

How do you avoid self-deprecation and focus on your journey? I want to hear from you!

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