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Bridging the Gap Between Yoga and Functional Movement Part 2

 

YOGA & BACK CARE

The functional movement of Yoga is integral to our health and wellness, but did you know that Yoga can also benefit the health of your spine! Therapeutic movement and alignment based postures have been used to improve the integrity of the spine, as well as overall mobility of the spinal segments, all by nurturing your spine and caring for your back.

Your spine consists of several parts. Each segment has about 2 degrees rotation when turning. Your lumbar spine has 5 vertebrae and  is designed for stability, as well as load distribution through the hips to the lower limbs. Your cervical spine or neck counts 7 vertebrae. Your thoracic spine counts 12 vertebrae and is designed for mobility.

Our thoracic spine plays an integral role in our overall movement and ability to move freely. Lack of thoracic mobility is as common as lack of hip mobility. Lack of thoracic mobility forces your body to function in ways it was not designed for.

While participating in a class, or teaching your own class keep these anatomical and movement principles in mind:

 Breathe:  When we hold our breath, we hold onto tension. Quiet, introspective breathing, allows for relaxation and increased circulation to tissues whose vessels are constricted during times of stress

 Create Movement of the Spine With Flexion and Extension:  The spine needs movement to lubricate the joints and provide nutrition to the spongy disks between the vertebrae.  During movement, the disks soak up nutrients., therefore it’s necessary to reverse the curvatures for brief periods of time.

Balance Flexibility with Strength: Developing strong yet flexible muscles is perhaps the most crucial principle in back care. It is important to lengthen contracted muscles before working on strength. When lengthening the spine, its natural curves should be maintained, keeping the low back in its concave curve. The back’s curves are designed to absorb shock throughout the spinal column.

 The Importance of Yoga Sequencing: Sequencing yoga poses from basic to more advanced is very important. Start with postures that bring our attention to releasing the fascia first and establishing movement in the thoracic spine.

So the next time you find yourself saying….”awww my aching back”…. Stop, drop and roll out that Yoga Mat!

BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN YOGA AND FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT PART 1

What do Yoga and Functional Movement (FM) have in common?

In Sanskrit the word Yoga is derived from the root “yul” meaning “to control,” ” to unite,” and “to join;” meaning whole. There are many paths in yoga, all of which lead us to the same ultimate destination; which is optimal health and wellness in body and mind and a connection with something greater then ourselves. Functional movement aims to achieve the same destination, but does so through a more scientific modality. One rooted in understanding the approach to freedom in movement through the application of transformational biomechanics.

 Let’s take a closer look at the fundamentals of both Yoga & Functional Movement (FM):

  • Yoga: Anamayakosha – the physical body and its systems.
  • FM: biomechanics, anatomy & physiology of the human body
  • Yoga: Pranamayakosha – the energy body and breath
  • FM: deep diaphragmatic breathing & energy flow distribution
  • Yoga: Manomayakosha – the psychoemotional body
  • FM: sports psychology & emotional mechanics
  • Yoga: Vijnyanamayakosha – the watcher state or higher mind
  • FM: visualization & skill attainment
  • Yoga: Anandamayakosha – the bliss body, higher consciousness and the enlightened state
  • FM: homeostasis & equilibrium, in mind, body  & spirit

As a health practitioner of movement coaching we focus on aligning the body, and controlling movement through the use of transforming negative restrictions or “bio mechanical breakdowns” into symmetrical movement patterns. These movements are based on real-life situational biomechanics that affect us daily. They usually involve gross motor movement involving multi-joint movements that prepare the body for real life developments; which also place a high demand on the body’s core, segmental stabilizers and innervation of the body processes.

Yoga and Yoga therapeutics have been a growing niche market of the Western Yoga World for many years and with more teachers becoming more educated on human anatomy and physiology and more health practitioners understanding the benefits that Yoga modalities can have both mentally and physically on their clients, it’s easy to see the direct connection between the two disciplines. Both aim to teach on-going adaptation; which is required for people to remain injury free, and to maintain freedom of movement and peace of mind.

Join us next week as we look at the role of Yoga therapeutics and transformational biomechanics in rehabilitating back pain, a common issue in today’s society. Your spine will thank you! Namaste!

Chopra Yoga Center Is Coming To Vancouver

Set to open in June 2011, the Chopra Yoga Center is an upscale, full-service yoga, health, and wellness studio conveniently located in downtown Vancouver (451 Granville Street), and just steps from Waterfront Station.

In a custom designed space, the Chopra Yoga Center will offer a wide variety of yoga classes, including hot, power vinyasa, flow, and restorative yoga in its two spacious yoga studios. The center will feature luxurious washrooms and showers, a large infrared sauna, private massage and yoga rooms, and a tranquil meditation space. Personal instruction in Primordial Sound Meditation will also be offered.

Founded by mind-body healing pioneers Deepak Chopra, M.D. and David Simon, M.D., the original Chopra Center (located in Carlsbad, California) has helped thousands of people throughout the world transform and heal through the timeless practices of yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda.

Additionally, the Chopra Yoga Center will be home to Organic Lives‘ only downtown location,
selling fresh smoothies, juices, and an inspired menu of delicious Ayurvedic snacks. Organic Lives is an exceptional local Vancouver restaurant and store serving healthy and delicious tasting raw, vegan and organic food.

Are you interested in checking out the Chopra Yoga Center and Organic Lives’ new location when they open in June?

YIN & YANG: A RUNNERS GUIDE TO YIN YOGA

With the Sun Run and the BMO half/full marathon just around the corner adding a little Yin to your Yang could be your best preventative approach towards staying injury free this season.

As an ultra marathoner and Yoga teacher I realize that stretching is a crucial part of any athletes repertoire. Over time, as we age, and especially in competitive athletics when load is applied continuously our structural frame our connective tissue and joints are ultimately the most affected. This creates stiffness, limited mobility and sometimes injury.

 So how does Yin and Yang relate to human physiology?

Yang tissue make up muscles, are more fluid-filled, soft, and elastic.  Yin tissue make upconnective tissue (ligaments, tendons, and fascia) and bones are dryer, harder, and stiffer.  By extension, exercise that focuses on musculoskeletal tissue is yang; exercise that focuses on connective tissue is yin.

Through dynamic movement and the linear mechanics of running, we place 8 times our body weight with every gait cycle; which generates a large amount of heat within working tissue. So it’s no wonder so many athletes gravitate towards adding a little Yin to their Yang practice.

Yin Yoga provides a slower, calmer method of yogic stretching that targets the joints, ligaments and fascia/connective tissue in the body. When combined with deep diaphragmatic breathing; the vagus nerve is stimulated and the relaxation response within tissue is activated, releasing new depths in postures, deeper ranges of motion, or an increased flow of energy can be achieved by focusing on the deeper tissues of the body through this practice.

Moreover, a yin approach works to promote flexibility in areas often perceived as nonmalleable, especially the hips, pelvis, and lower spine, all areas that runners need to be mindful of during their peak training leading up to race day.

As you approach the Sun Run and BMO half /full marathon create space for Yin Yoga, it’s a great addition to your taper. Try YogaFORM on Saturday mornings on the North Shore, or if you are an evening Yogi; one of my favorite spots is YogaPod, also on the North Shore, Friday afternoons and Saturday evening bliss!

 Happy Yin, to all your Yang!

SkyTrain Passenger Has A Problem With Yoga

A passenger was kicked off the SkyTrain in Vancouver for wearing a “F*** Yoga” button.

The BCCLA has filed a policy compliant with the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner after a Transit Police officer would not let Jean Wharf board because she was wearing a button that said “F— Yoga.”

“I can understand it if it went against race, creed, gender or sexuality, but it’s just this little tiny pin with a punk slogan,” Wharf said. “It wasn’t doing anybody any harm than somebody who hasn’t had a bath for three days.”

Read the full story here at VancouverSun.com

What do you think? Freedom of speech or way out of line? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.

[TheGlobeAndMail.com]


MOVIE REVIEW: FIERCE LIGHT, WHEN SPIRIT MEETS ACTION

What does Yoga and Activism have in common?   COMMUNITY!

Last night I watched the ground breaking documentary, “Fierce Light, When Spirit Meets Action” an in-depth look at the power that is released when our spirituality/belief and activism meet.

Sparked by the movements of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu,  Thich Nhat Hanh, and Mandela, by igniting a global movement of positive, compassionate action. It is a global journey of social change motivated by love, and the necessity to save our world through ethical action.

When asked by students what my message is, I say I am an Activist for Compassion, thus my message is to be an activist for compassion.

It is here, where we see a direct correlation between Yoga and Activism; both deeply rooted in community. The growing popularity of yoga at this time of global transformation and shift of inward search for our own humanity is not a coincidence.

If we look at the definition of a Yogi it is someone who strives to live in harmony with the earth, our environment and embracing the connection with another; which is at the heart of belonging.

A yogi seeks self-realization through the practice of action to become a more centered and rounded partner of society. By living in an other-centered way rather than a self-centered way, the yogi lives harmoniously with the earth, with all beings and things, and ultimately with oneself. This is the very way of life that is reflected in our leaders who have taken compassionate action towards a better world.

The practice of yoga on the mat can provide us with very practical skills to enable us to dismantle our present negative culture, a culture of dis-ease, based upon the exploitation of the earth and injustice of our fellow human and to act with non-violence to shift the paradigm towards social change.

So the next time you are on your mat, think about how you can transfer the loving, compassionate traits evoked from your practice and take them off the mat.  Imagine individuals and organizations connected by a shared commitment to compassionate, positive action….that’s most definitely Fierce Action!

Transform.  Inspire.  Enable

YOGA: DO YOU MOVE WITH INTELLIGENCE?

A  well worn “Post-It” sits on my bedside table adorning this phrase; “Action is movement with intelligence” by B.K.S Iyengar; a mantra or better yet a metaphor for pretty much anything we do in life, on and off the mat. 

Question is…how often do we practice it?

Last night I stumbled upon an intriguing article from the NY Times called “Stretch/ When Yoga Hurts” by Lizette Alvarez and it reminded me of how necessary it is to take the time to move with careful precision and be mindful of limitations in our body.

 The foundation of her article outlines the exponential rise of injuries in Yoga over the last several years. Her top 2 findings below are agreeably valid:

1. The overzealous, eager student (we have all been there).

2. Poor alignment and bio mechanical asymmetries.

 As a YogaFORM teacher, Movement & Performance Coach I work daily with clients on corrective strategies to become more kinesthetically aware of their own unique mechanics, and it makes a world of difference on and off the mat.

Yoga is one of the best forms of therapeutic movement; as it provides an atmosphere where one can practice internal awareness, and become aware of their limitations while working towards methodical corrective mechanics.

 Therefore, to build upon my “Post-It’, intelligent action and movement implies focusing on improving the responsiveness in the body for an all encompassing awareness.

This means that each movement we make and the corresponding transitional movements require exquisite observational skill and mastery to cultivate alignment and prepare the body for automatic responsive sequencing. As you continue to observe, adjust and integrate into your postures, this will lead to less strain on the all the muscles, bones, joints, (CNS) Central Nervous System and (PSNS) Parasympathetic Nervous System responses.

When we move and act with intelligence and intention we open channels within our structural framework that results in improved alignment, a nurturing sense of balance and steadiness in postures for better symmetry overall. 

How’s your form? Do you move with intelligence?

Sources:  

NY Times article: Stretch/ When Yoga Hurts, by Lizette Alvarez: http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/24/24stretch/

 YogaFORM Links: www.fittotrain.com.  Blogroll: http://gimmedailymuse.wordpress.com/

My Yoga Online: Yoga For Everyone, Everywhere

What is My Yoga Online?

Founded in Vancouver, BC, My Yoga Online is a website that has been bringing the benefits of yoga, Pilates, meditation, dance, nutrition, and holistic living to everyone, everywhere – since 2005.

How do they do this?

By offering one of the largest and most diverse Mind-Body video and article libraries in the global arena. MYO streams hundreds of high-definition videos to people in countries all over the world. Their Premium, On Demand subscription service provides unlimited online access to the powerful benefits of yoga and wellness, wherever and whenever their members need them.

What are the benefits to Subscribing to MYO?

Apart from having access to so many high quality yoga videos, members are also able to share insights, ask questions and receive answers from experts, join forum discussions, track their goals, share, learn and grow alongside a global community of people just as passionate about health & wellness as they are.

MYO vs. yoga DVDs?

Unlike yoga DVDs that you can easily become bored with, MYO regularly adds new yoga, health and wellness videos to always keep your experience fresh. They also offer interviews with renowned teachers, experts, and classes on healthy living and nutrition–all part of a total mind-body program. Some of the yoga teachers are even from Vancouver, so you’ll be bound to notice a few familiar faces!

What a great way to support a local Vancouver company and become apart of the global wellness community!

For more information, visit www.MyYogaOnline.com

Enlighten Up – A Review

Enlighten Up – A Review

I have recently become fascinated with documentaries, while I never really seemed to have the attention span before to concentrate on a 2 hour documentary, I find these days I cannot get enough.

I recently watched, Enlighten Up! “A Skeptic’s Journey into the World of Yoga.” The goal? Kate Churchill, the filmmaker, is determined to prove that yoga can transform ANYBODY. She selects Nick Rosen, a newbie to the yoga world and follows him on his journey throughout California, Hawaii, New York and India over the course of six months.

The movie lets you see first hand Nick’s comments, feelings and interpretations about the practice along the way and his skepticism and curiosity with all things yoga. He meets with the likes of BKS Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois as well as many other teachers and styles from Bikrams to Kundalini in order to find the practice that will help to transform him, included in the film are lots of other interviews with “famous yogis” like Baron Baptiste, Gurmukh Khalsa.

The interviews and information is uniquely pieced together to play up the contradictions and information that is throughout the different styles of yoga. Whether you get a sense of the filmmakers goal that everybody can transform from yoga, it is a fun and amusing ride and makes me remember my first days of yoga and my personal skepticism on what I could accomplish or what may happen along the journey, maybe Nick Rosen needs more than six months to find out?

Here is a clip, if you haven’t checked it out I highly recommend it for a light, humuorous view at the different paths of yoga. Below is a video clip from the film, it is available on YouTube divided into parts as well as on NetFlix and at your local video store;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0dJbsA6ycU

Vancouverite Opens Yoga Retreat In Costa Rica

Vancouverite Opens Yoga Retreat In Costa Rica

Namaste Gardens is an all-inclusive yoga retreat opened by local Vancouverite, Jamie Wood. It is located in the central pacific coast of tropical Costa Rica and is a perfect place to escape from the cold.

The retreat specializes in all-inclusive yoga, always emphasizing restoration and renewal, and is designed to re-align mind body and soul.

Let us take care of you from the moment you land.  A driver will be waiting to bring you from the capital of San Jose to the small beach town of Herradura. Upon your arrival to Namaste Gardens you will be greeted our bi-lingual staff and shown to your beautiful accommodations. Swimming pools, hammocks, bikes and lush gardens are all at your disposal. Daily meals [local and organic (when available) ingredients. Vegan, vegetarian or non-vegetarian options are offered], yoga classes and meditation in the scenic gardens await you.

INCLUDED:
❖ Pick-up / drop-off from airport
❖ 3 Delicious meals per day
❖ Private swimming pool
❖ Snacks and fruit during the day
❖ Fully furnished accommodations
❖ Gorgeous tropical garden with private gardener
❖ Fully appointed yoga studio
❖ Private maid service and chef
❖ Air conditioning in all rooms
❖ 2 yoga classes per day
❖ 1 massage included
❖ Bikes for all guests
❖ Minutes from a beautiful beach
❖ Local phone and internet
❖ Professionally managed

They are currently hosting a retreat (March 3rd – 12th) and the next upcoming retreat is March 15th – 24th.

For more information, check out their website: www.namastegardenscr.com

*Yoga Teachers* Namaste Gardens is always looking for local yoga teachers to come down to Costa Rica and host. If you’re interested, get in touch with Jamie at [email protected]

Sacred Energy Arts Workshop – A Blend Of Yoga, Tai Chi And Qi Gong

Attention yogis in British Columbia! There is another upcoming yoga workshop happening in March (along with an AcroYoga workshop and Kriya Yoga in Victoria):

EXPLORING ENERGY THROUGH MOVEMENT:
SACRED ENERGY ARTS – A BLEND OF YOGA, TAI CHI AND QI GONG

Teacher: Classes will be taught by Matthew Cohen of Exhale Yoga, Center for Sacred Movement, in Venice, California.

Matthew Cohen has been fully immersed in the study and application of Martial, Yogic and Healing Arts for over 30 years.

His integrated approach to healing is potent and accessible.

He is the founder and master teacher at his Sacred Energy Arts Center in Santa Monica and also teaches at Exhale Center for Sacred movement in Venice, CA.

What you will experience:

  • Explore energy through movement
  • Feel your life force pulse through your body
  • Experience the fluid body in asana

The following classes can be taken individually or as a full weekend:

Saturday March 12, 2011

10 AM – 12 PM: Sacred Energy Arts Yoga Class ~ Balance and Flow

3 – 6 PM: Sacred Energy Arts Hips and Hamstrings ~ A Slow Deep Practice

Sunday March 13, 2011

10 – 12 PM: Sacred Energy Arts Yoga Extended Flow Class ~ Stoking the Fire

3 – 6 PM: Sacred Energy Arts Class ~ Taoist Yoga and Qi Gong

Pricing:

2 hour workshops         $50 + HST

3 hour workshops         $60 + HST

full weekend             $190 + HST

Location: Integrative Medical Centre, West Broadway & Ash, Vancouver, BC

Information & Registration: www.soulspringwellness.ca

Email: christina(at)soulspringwellness.ca

Phone: 604-649-8522

Himalayan Kundalini Kriya Yoga Workshop On Vancouver Island

What an exciting time for yoga in BC! There are so many excellent yoga workshops taking place during the month of March. Yogis on Vancouver Island will be especially interested in hearing about an upcoming yoga workshop taking place in beautiful Victoria, BC: Kundalini Kriya Yoga, as taught by Yogiraj Gurunath Siddanath.

Two teachers, one from Seattle and one from Portland will be traveling to Victoria to facilitate this day long workshop. The morning will be regarding self healing techniques and the afternoon will be devoted to Kriya Yoga. Attendees have the option of participating in either the self healing workshop, or the Kriya workshop, or both.

For those unfamiliar with Kriya Yoga, it is a meditation that is of the same lineage as Parmahansa Yoganandas.

Here is more info:

AcroYoga Workshops In Vancouver And Burnaby

AcroYoga Montreal will be putting on two lower mainland workshops during the first weekend in March. Jill Campbell will be co-teaching with Victoria’s Anthea Browne at Three Jewels Vancouver on March 4th, and Yoga Spirit in Burnaby on March 5th.

Here’s the info:

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