Why Yoga is The Best & Most Complete System of Movement

When we think about the human body and movement we must simply look at anatomy and biomechanics. The body is able to only do so much in terms of these 2 biological mechanisms. All movement systems have these things in common, some focus more on special aspects of the bodies mechanical system and therefore anatomy which is completely logical. This does not mean to denigrate any specific system over another. However, in terms of physical therapy, body awareness, body balance structurally and mechanically, and simple body harmony nothing compares to Yoga. Now, one caveat, not all yoga systems under the umbrella of Hatha Yoga are created equally. Again, this is not meant to denigrate any particular style.

First lets take a deeper look into why Yoga is the best for the aforementioned reasons.

One, Yoga can be and in best learned in a slow manner that focuses on awareness of how the body moves into and within a particular posture known as an Asana.

Two, Yoga is a combination of multiple movement factors including, flexibliity, strength, neuromuscular coordination, balance, mobility and breath.

Three, Yoga is moves the body through and within multiple planes and in various manners of movement. This high level of coordination requires one to have the strength to obtain the position, the ability to coordinate multiple muscles to make the movement happen and this create the mobility and flexibility required to obtain the end result.

Four, Yoga requires coordination of multiple high level elements of human movement done with 100% attention to detail and held in place for time all while controlling heart rate and respiration to a well below other traditional movements.

Five, building off of 4, Yoga was designed as a breathing practice with movement following breath. This means the breath drives the movement. It is to be done in a controlled manner through the nostrils. It should follow the edicts of steadiness and ease as then should the movement. Therefore, all students move at a different pace which makes the Mysore practice so brilliant in its ability to have all students do the same practice taking into consideration their personal breath and their personal ability within the posture.

Six, it is a moving meditation practice and that is a prime focus of Yoga. Meditation in action and in stillness.

I can go on but I believe this is a great start to the conversation. I know personally Yoga has helped improve my other movement system practices not only physically but mentally as I am better able to control my breath and mind. While we often associate Yoga with stretching and flexibility that is a very short sided view to a much more complex and highly evolved system.

The best place to start is with the Iyengar method. The student is taught about the postures in a slow, controlled and supportive manner. Practicing in this light will help students evolve into other forms if so they choose and thereby enhance their awareness and ability to perform the postures as asked by the system or more playful methods which give freedom to the teacher to sequence.

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The Anti-Sit Plan for Better Posture and Pain Relief

Sitting is and leads to problems with pain by encouraging bad posture. There has been a movement toward standing desks and the like which presents a list of other problems. However, moving between sitting and standing throughout a traditional work day will help. But, we must embrace the truth, you need to reset your body and one of the best ways is through postural training using yoga and stretching methods. Regardless of what you might read on the internet, in my 20 years I have seen personally and know a number of other professionals whom have been at this game longer than I see tremendous success in using and applying yoga and stretching principles.

Here is a guide to some great postures and a great start. Most important is to do them and do them daily. Do not stress over time, etc. just practice and all will come especially if you stay consistent.

The Anti Sit Plan

Low Back Stretching Guide for Pain Relief and Management

As a professional Sports Medicine Practitioner and Yoga teacher its is all too often I see patients with lower back pain. Here is a sample of some of the common yoga stretches/movements I use both for patients and in Yoga classes I teach. Note there are other things that will support a health back including learning how to use your deeper core muscles (Transverse Abdominals) in yoga this relates to the uddiyana bandha (located at or near the navel and means to bind. It is best to work with a trained professional who can teach techniques to strengthen the Transverse Abdominals or a Yoga Teacher who can teach you how to use the concept in your practice.

This guide is purely based on stretches that done daily will help you improve the strength, mobility and flexibility of the body supporting the low back and spine. Yes, there are many other poses/movements that will help and I encourage you to listen to your body and do what works and make it a regular practice.

Please feel free to share. Also, you are welcome to reach out and email me with any questions.

Warmly, Joe Sarti

Low Back Pain Guide

Guide to Shoulder Stretches for Health, Mobility and Better Posture

The following document includes some basic and effective stretches for the Shoulders. Included is variations for differing levels. As always there are additional things that could be added in to any health shoulder program. One is simply adding these into your daily regimen of stretching. Another is doing joint mobility drills such as rolling the shoulders, swimming motions, etc. that take the joint through active and various ranges of motions. Third, one can add in simple strengthening exercises from pressing, to side/lateral raises and more commonly rotator cuff exercises.

Hope this guide helps and if you have any questions please feel free to email. Also, please feel free to share this guide with anyone you feel can use these stretches.

Shoulder stretching guide

Yoga for Running (PDF link included)

Yoga for runners

When ever designing a Yoga based program one must take into consideration a couple things.

1. What type of running is this person doing and any additional training or factors that might influence the biomechanics.

2. How does this apply to their body specifically.

From a simplified and general approach I look 3 major joints and their associated muscles: Ankles (calves, peroneals, tibialis anterior/posterior) , Hips (gluteals, hip flexors and yes hamstrings, quads and adductors) and Knees (same as hips and ankles as this is a junction for the other joints). Note: I do take into consideration the shoulders, spine and neck which easily incorporates into the yoga poses for the Ankles, Hips and Knees.

List of Poses

1)  Downward Dog

2)  Kneeling Lunge (and added variation with quad stretch)

3) Triangle

4)  Instense Side Stretch (Parsvottanasana)

5)  Wide Leg Forward Fold

6) Heros pose or Malasana aka Garland as a substitute)

7) Pigeon

8) Bridge (supported is more gentle where as unsupported more of a strengthen/stretch)

9) Supta Baddha Konasana (lying bound angle)

10) Legs up the wall

How to Incorporate and utilize these Yoga Postures.

These can be mixed and matched but are best done as set forth here in this list. No less than 30 seconds per pose and for one sided, 30 seconds/side. Best done post run.

For a pre-run warm-up use dynamic running drills such as ankling, Marching and Skipping A & B, walking lunges, bodyweight squats, high knees.

This link contains pictures and modifications.

https://www.icloud.com/pages/AwBUCAESEJNfNU4mc_XlsGk4aR3owiMaKXAk8pK8wp_mZ3on8KAE3i-ZWKoZ6ardWSpKlZ1u3YrL60-6bn5eRJo4MCUCAQEEINoRBE4o2-9Ta8eIcWGbB6I1mTBsB8C1YCSu13IDwqRK#Yoga_for_Running

The Power of The Body and PNF techniques

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) is a crucial piece of movement application. I use this daily in my practice and teachings. Too me this is far more important than foam rollers, yoga tune up balls, band assisted stretches which are good but only as good as your ability to know how use your body. The body itself is a powerful tool, the most powerful especially when combined the power of your brain and body working together. Learning PNF will get you further in all aspects of a healthy, pain free body and for high end performance.

This is a great summary from an article Bandha Yoga – The Scientific Keys

“Sports medicine experts long ago perceived that this particular reflex arc could be carefully manipulated to lengthen muscles. Using this knowledge, they invented a technique called proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), or facilitated stretching. It is the most powerful method for gaining length in muscles to improve flexibility. Yoga uses stretching, so why not use PNF in our practice to deepen the asanas?

It is important to remember that any powerful tool, including yoga itself, is a double-edged sword (like a surgeon’s scalpel). If used carelessly, it can cause injury. This is also true of facilitated stretching. The key to using techniques like this is to apply them slowly and with care. They are like a tincture of medicine, so use less muscular force rather than more. 

Facilitated stretching works as follows: after warming up, we take the target muscle into a moderate stretch. This establishes the muscle’s “set length”—a measure in the brain of how far the muscle can lengthen. Stretching a muscle produces tension at the muscle-tendon junction and stimulates the Golgi tendon organs located there. The key to PNF is to then gently contract the same muscle that we are stretching. This combines the biomechanical event of positioning the body into a stretch and the physiological event of intentionally contracting the stretching muscle to amplify the tension at the muscle-tendon junction. The Golgi tendon organs fire more intensively, producing a powerful relaxation response. We then stop contracting the target muscle and “take up the slack” by going deeper into the stretch. The net effect is a new set length.”