3 Aspects of Human Being Worthy of Daily Cultivation

There are 3 aspects of the Human Being worthy of daily cultivation; Body, Mind, & Breath. I will go one step further and state that these are a necessity.

Body: Movement is the key. Moving in a variety of ways is crucial, whether you do yoga, martial arts, Crossfit, run, climb, bike, hike, dance, etc. The key is move and keep learning new ways to do so. This will not only benefit the body, but the mind/brain as well.

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Mind: I will sum this up purely from my personal perspective. Mind is attitude, perception, thought process, mindfulness, ones ability to see things beyond the social norms. Mind is and may be the most challenging of all. For me it is an understanding of life and what is happening in and around me at all times. It is being compassionate and remaining calm in the present moment. It is being mindful of those whom I am communicating with, relating too and thus not holding judgment. It is a practice cultivated through meditation, reading, body movement practices, interactions with others, and reflection. Consistency in this area is by far the most challenging as I have so many social norms, environmental norms that I developed at a young age when I had no concept of this aspect of life and how crucial it would become. I feel that for the past 20+ years I have been working to change patterns of my mind and through this time I have progressed far but as would be the truth, I am only at the beginning. 🙂 For this reason and many more I am placing more emphasis on this aspect of my being. For myself, for my wife, for my family, client/patients, friends and general encounters with strangers. I feel this part of me needs more attention to detail and more practice and time developing. I feel I have great strides to make and I am excited for this.

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Breath: Breath is the essence of life, without it we will cease to exist. Breath is something we spend little time thinking of and we need to spend more time developing. Meditation and movement are to excellent practices which offer us a chance to develop our breath. And, these practices offer us 2 unique ways to do so. I believe meditation is the key practice as this teaches us how to calm the mind and body. Once learned one can then learn how to apply in different situations where a strong foundation and breath practice will serve. Examples include movement, stressful experiences and beyond. Yoga is an excellent practice for cultivating breath and breath within movement.

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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.

Why Iyengar Yoga is Perfect for Athletes

What is Iyengar Yoga

In short Iyengar yoga focuses on proper form and alignment of the body in yoga Postures. It incorporates tools such as blocks, straps, blankets and more to help people find their optimal position. In addition, more advanced practitioners of the practice are further instructed on breathing principles which are keys to deeper effects within the practice.

What you need to Know

Think of this a deep and prolonged stretching series that focuses on increasing flexibility, range of motion and overall muscular balance to the body. Most athletes suffer in some form or another in all 3 of the above. The Iyengar practice is an active practice where the athlete uses the bodies innate kinesthetic, anatomical and bio-mechanical principles to effectively stretch the body. While the postures make appear to be static they are far from. Using the concept of reciprocal inhibition and contract/relax such as in PNF techniques, the individual is meant to pay attention to the finer details and actively create the posture.

Athletes Do Not Need Another Workout

Athletes do not need more workouts therefore practices such as Vinyasa, Power or Bikram Yoga are not suited for their needs. All athletes have specific needs and it is important to provide them with the postures that suit. In the Iyengar system, the Teacher can pick the appropriate postures to address the needs. In addition, the deeper and more prolonged stretching will help to active the parasympathetic nervous system creating a relaxing feel and a gentle active recovery.

Conclusion

Athletes in general need far more specific work, much greater attention to detail within the work and generally simpler not more complex movements and instruction. We as Coaches and Sports Medicine Practitioners do not need to step beyond the basics to effectively address the challenges 95% of the Athletes and People we treat face in the Orthopedic side. Any movement provides the opportunity to be therapeutic, it is our ability to effectively teach and translate to the individual and their ability to do as asked that often determine the success. Iyengar Yoga is a system that allows us Practitioners to put our Athletes in positions that address common issues.

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

New Years Resolution Tips

My New Years Resolution Tips:

1) it all starts within you. Our attitude can have a tremendous impact on the state of our health. It is important to have a healthy relationship with yourself. This includes your mind, body and relations with others. Put yourself in places that help to foster this healthy attitude.

2) food is #1!!! Yes not exercise but food. I see plenty of people who exercise but are overweight and truly unhealthy.

A) Get rid of the sugar first and foremost!!!! This alone will have a huge impactOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

B) embrace healthy fats as a substitute such as avocado, nuts, seeds, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, almond butter, etc.

C)Eliminate dairy. This is often a huge cause of allergies and this is in large part to the production processes. If you can get fresh, raw made then do it but otherwise avoid.

D) gluten may or may not be an enemy. Best to eliminate and proceed with caution. I believe the verdict on this is still yet to be determined despite the common media perception.

E) eat your veggies! Dark leafy greens, garlic, onions and more! Steam them and enjoy. Cook in some healthy oils and and enjoy.

F) embrace spices and herbs in your cooking. There are ample health benefits and medicinal qualities.

3) move your body! Simple! Exercise is important and depending on your goals you can tailor the type, intensity, duration accordingly.

A) breathe! This is beyond important and often overlooked. But it is the hallmark of yoga, tai chi, qigong and many other healthy movement systems.

B) find some quiet time and meditate. No books, screens, or even other distractions. You can use music and candles. You can sit l, lay down or take a walk in nature. Breathe deeply and enjoy!

C) stretch! Our lifestyle changes the structure of our body and the relationships of various muscles, joints and affects the organs. For
Instance if you have round shoulders and mid/upper back it collapses on the lungs and makes breathing more difficult. This is one of many examples. So open and stretch. Yes, yoga is by far the best system and way. From here you can discover what works and do your own practice in time. Be mindful
And pay attention!

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.”