Reviews

Review: Onnit Academy Durability On Demand

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 4.36.32 PMA comprehensive library of tools for joint and tissue health at your fingertips 24/7! There are so many online programs these days for every niche in the health and wellness industry, and it can be hard to navigate which ones are truly best for you and, or your clients wellbeing.

When it comes to mobility and ensuring the health of tissues and joints, it’s important to choose a program that aims at recovery and longevity. Not just standard warm up and cool downs for training days. Recovery is the key to ensuring you move well without pain or restriction for not only the long haul of your sport, but for your life.

Why is joint health so important?

Inevitably, each of us is subjected to the experience of aging and its detrimental impact on quality of life. The degradation of joint and tissue health are a large part of what leads to the increase in chronic pain and reduction in function that people experience.

Why is tissue health important?

Our tissue over time starts to lose it’s viscosity and pliability. This means at the cellular level our tissue loses water and elasticity and becomes stiff over time. What this also means is that as we age, we must take more time and effort to reclaim that lost elasticity and mobility to the tissues that act upon our joints. By addressing mobility issues in both the tissues and the joints we can allow greater access to range and rotation which improves the overall durability of movement.

Prevention versus treatment:
As a corrective movement coach working in both the clinical as well as the performance arena’s for nearly 2 decades, I have learned that prevention is the KEY to longevity to any given sport, and of course in life. No matter what genre of the industry you work in:

– Sports Development
– Bodyweight Training
– Unconventional Training
– Mobility
– Corrective Exercise
– Strong Man
– Endurance
– WHATEVER!

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 7.40.47 AMThe one thing every sport, and of course life, has in common is the necessity for optimal recovery and sustaining durability over the long haul.

That is why I chose to create a comprehensive system of recovery strategies that are designed to provide the public with the tools through this systematic approach to maintain and improve the health of your joints and the tissues that support them.

 

Benefits to a Durability practice:

  • Learn to apply the Body Mapping process as a tool to regularly assess the current state of various joints and tissues.
  • Understand the impact of fascial health on longevity and performance.
  • Utilize ground based drills to help increase strength and skill in targeted movement skills.
  • Develop a systematic approach to Decompression as an integral part of a performance enhancement program
  • Release unwanted restrictive tension through the practice of a Restorative Mobility practice.

At the Onnit Academy, we would argue that having the tools to positively impact yourself and others with a comprehensive joint health program is likely to provide the greatest return on investment of any physical activity.

Let me introduce you to Onnit On Demand. As the Onnit Academy Durability Master Coach my hope is that these tools can help identify and address movement limitations, tissue and joint compensations, and even reduce pain.

If you are all about optimizing your health and vitality, and interested in learning how Durability and movement competency can translate, as well as compliment, other movement based systems of training out there, then this channel is for you!

I invite you to take my 4-week challenge.

For $9 a month, you will access to full 4 week programs that help you integrate recovery, decompression and movement preparation into your daily lifestyle. With educational tutorials, an e book and full length follow along videos you will start and end your day restoring movement.

Feel free to contact me at [email protected] for questions, comments or just a good ole chat!

Subscribe HERE.

Sources:

Onnit Academy Durability

Part 2: Post Event Recovery Using Fascial Stretch Therapy

Part 2: Post Event Recovery Using Fascial Stretch Therapy

It’s 730am and it’s already hot and humid In Vancouver BC and today, is the big day! It’s Sunday June 28th and my day starts on the start line of the Scotiabank Half Marathon.

Starting out slow and steady the first half of the racecourse is a gradual uphill. Considering the heat I decided to maintain just below my race pace to ensure I didn’t start out too quickly and waste energy or dehydrate myself early into the race. As I embarked on the end of the climb, we started the gradual descent that would last for the next 4km. As I approached the 10km mark I realized that my body felt different – it felt light and “something” I couldn’t put my finger on. I scanned by body the usual suspects… and pondered for a moment … I felt “un-injured.” That is the best way I can describe it.

For the last several months, my peak training runs has been plagued with ankle compression, tight shins, and an impinged left meniscus with radiating ITB discomfort. Moving on down the rabbit hole, the left lower back causes me daily pain from adhesions scar tissue, and let’s not forget about an anterior tilt in my pelvis on the right side. On a pain scale it’s low day to day, but in training its moderate enough to place my attempts at a personal best at a stand still for nearly a year.

For the first time since last November, my body felt light and I didn’t feel the normal compression of my ankles or the tension, the soreness in my knee or the pain of the lower back. As I closed in on the 15km mark, I realized my tissues felt great. Crossing the finish line at 2:13:19 I hadn’t achieved a personal best, but with a temperature of 31 degrees and limited muscular discomfort it was a big win!

The only change I had made to my training had been the integration of FST into my recovery days post long run for the past several months.

So why don’t more athletes’ consider fascia in performance and recovery programs?

This is a common question I am asked, and the bold answer is – because not many people know that much about it. Fascia is complex and our understanding of it is still in its infancy – and, quite frankly, it can be hard to study. It’s so expansive and intertwined it resists the medical standard of being cut up, divided up and named for textbook illustrations. Furthermore, its function and form is even more complex, yet it’s subtler than that of the other systems in our body.

For the majority of medical lineage it’s been assumed that bones were our frame, muscles the motor, and fascia just packaging. Well this is wrong. Our bones are meant to float, and it’s our fascia that holds us together and provides the super highway for neurotransmission, hydration and communication.

Recover, Restore, Realign:

As previously mentioned FST places a high priority on the assessment of each client and even though it feels predominately tissue based during the hands on treatment; each FST session includes joint and tissue mobilization, as well as integration of the nervous system and dynamic corrective movement.

Half and full marathon training places a great deal of repetitive stress on our tissues and joints beyond their capacity to recover naturally and thus placing a high degree on both wear and tear on the muscles and fascia system that inevitably cause it distress. Therefore, restoring this finite framework is crucial.

I had an opportunity to briefly connect with Chris Fredrick, co founder of the Stretch To Win Institute, who offered me a deeper insight into the power FST can have; on not only an athlete’s performance, but why the fascia system is by far one of, if not THE most important system to consider in both training and recovery.

“Some of the criteria essential for fascial fitness and training aim at:

  • Elastic recoil
  • Undulating/rhythmic movement
  • Proprioceptive refinement
  • Hydration
  • Dynamic stretching

Chris goes on to say that “All of this is accomplished with FST, so FST satisfies criteria for training fascia according to top researchers.” He also went on to note that in my particular case with an impinged meniscus; “FST often helps relieve impingement after using the closed chain movements to assess. This is because it addresses spiral & lateral lines.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 4.40.44 PM

Post Event Re Cap:

The day after the half marathon, Matt Keen, assessed my overall biomechanics post event. As you can see from the above figure of the before session and after session there is an immense change in my posture. I think these photos can speak for themselves. You can see a taller standing posture, my hips look more aligned, and the shoulder hike is significantly reduced. Prior to this session I had also spent an hour rolling and stretching.

In conclusion,  receptive motions, compression, sticky adhesions, contractures and stiffness form between fascial surfaces that aren’t regularly moved, or moved often that cause wear and tear and over time these adhesions get strong enough to inhibit range of motion, and cause possible injury.

If you are plagued by nagging injuries that you can’t seem to self manage, perhaps invest in sourcing out a professional who specializes in fascia stretch therapy and corrective movement. It could be the missing piece of the puzzle to unleashing your greatest movement potential.

Sources:

Chris Fredrick, co founder of Stretch To Win Institute and Fascial Stretch Therapy

Matt Keen, owner and FST therapist at Keensense Personal Training 

Part 1: A Review of Fascial Stretch Therapy for Athletic Recovery In Runners

Part 1: A Review of Fascial Stretch Therapy for Athletic Recovery In Runners


Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 4.40.14 PM 

Fascial Stretch Therapy, otherwise known as FST, is a partner assisted stretching technique developed by Ann and Chris Frederick at the Stretch to Win Institute of Fascial Stretch Therapy. Founded in 1999, FST was designed for athletes, but is also effective and beneficial for people of all ages and activity levels.

What is fascia?

Fascia is the connective tissue that permeates and envelops all structures of the body, essentially connecting them all together in one web like matrix.  Fascia extends from head to toe, front to back, inside to outside without interruption and is the most influential factor affecting your mobility, tissue extensibility and optimal joint range of motion.

In a normal, healthy state the fascial system maintains the body in a delicate balance of tension and elasticity.  With the proper amount of tension, fascia helps support the efficient alignment of your bones while being elastic enough to permit full, unrestricted movement. Without the wonderful world of fascia, we would literally just be a pile of bones on the floor.

Unhealthy fascia?

Faulty movement patterns, poor postural habits, dehydration, stress form aging, over training; can all have a disastrous affect on this system, causing it to shorten, thicken and tighten (like “shrink-wrap”). Over time, the accumulation of these restrictions begins exerting abnormal pressure on joints, nerves, blood vessels and even organs and can create pain in seemingly unrelated areas of your body. It can create adhesions, contractures, stiff tissue.

Furthermore, compensation in any area of the body can increase the sympathetic tone and inflammatory response. This can lead to poor performance, poor sleep, pain and unhealthy movement.

What does this mean for you, as an athlete?

At some point in an athlete’s career he/she will experience some form of discomfort or injury. The human structure is complex and the best approach we can take is one rooted in prevention and optimal recovery. Managing stress, recovery and hydration are key elements in the success of any athlete and their performance; which is why FST can be a benefit to any athlete’s program.

Stress Management – Physical activity is associated with an improved quality of life; therefore moving well and pain free directly results to improved performance. Stress can be positive or negative, and our central nervous system cannot differentiate between mental or physical stress. FST can help reduce an athlete’s stress response and improve parasympathetic activity to encourage mental clarity and mental fortitude leading up to the main event. 

Recovery – Running injuries can be related to poor running technique, as well as poor elastic bounce or rebound.; which can result in micro trauma from overuse. Studies show that the majority of running injuries is caused by miro-trauma to collagenous tissues (Elliott, 1990) (Stanish, 1984).

Hydration – Approximately two thirds of the volume of fascial tissues is made up of water. During application of mechanical load, whether by stretching or local compression, water is pushed out of the more stressed zones, similar to squeezing a sponge (Schleip et al., 2012).

 FST

What does an FST session look like?

Fascial Stretch Therapy™ (FST) is assisted stretching performed on a specially designed treatment table; which comes equipped with comfortable padded straps that aim to stabilize the parts of the body not being worked on.  It can be performed exclusively or in combination with a massage treatment or after a corrective exercise session.

As an athlete, I cycle structural integration (KMI) at least once every couple of months and add FST as part of my taper program 1-2 weeks prior to my main event.

On Sunday, I will be running in the Scotiabank Half Marathon, as part of the Pain BC Charity Challenge team, with a hope of a personal best.

Matthew Keen, owner of Keensense Personal Training and Fascial Stretch Therapy has been my go to FST guru for the past several months and I have noticed a great deal of difference in my tissue. Leading up to this event, I have had a chronic anteriorly rotated right hip; which causes the hamstring point of insertion to be painful and tender, with resonating tension down the entire back line, into the plantar fascia.

Our sessions resemble a fluidly choreographed dance between the therapist and client working with your breath to ease into a gradual series of gentle, but deep stretching patterns. The experience is relaxing and pain-free and for me, was more like a movement meditation. Matt’s ability to map out the body and see the spiral patterns that are unseen by my eyes also offers me a deeper perspective on how I am holding my tension.

What are the benefits of Fascial Stretch Therapy?

  • Improved Flexibility and Mobility.
  • Improved Overall Range of Motion.
  • Restoration of normal joint space, posture and tissue alignment
  • Improved Circulation and Oxidation to the tissues and systems.
  • Improved Energy through increased parasympathetic tone.
  • Increased Muscle Activation and Relaxation.
  • Improved Physical and Emotional Well-Being.
  • Improved Muscle, Joint and Nerve Function.
  • Decrease Pain and reduced stiffness in hypertonic tissues.
  • Decrease Compression and Pinching in Joints and Nerves.

Next week I will offer a post event review of my next session with Matt Keen, and how FST can influence recovery post your main event.

Sources:

Keensense Personal Training and Fascial Stretch Therapy

Stretch To Win

“Fascia In Sport and Movement” by Robert Schleip et al.

Clubbell Yoga Comes to Vancouver

Clubbell Yoga Comes to Vancouver

Yoga means Union, to yoke. The Clubbell Yoga practice is a modern expression of the yoking of two very effective ancient systems, eastern Club swinging and Hatha Yoga. Yoga means many different things to many different people, and many ‘yogis’ follow a specific lineage that resonates with them. We recognize that Yoga can be a spiritual practice, it can be a devotional practice, and it can be a physical practice that leads to other intellectual studies.” – Orgins, of Clubbell Yoga, Summer Huntington

 CBY 7

Clubbell Yoga:

Clubbell Yoga is a fusion of strength and intelligent movement. For those of you who are new to Clubbells it is a tool relatively new to the Canadian market, yet well distributed in the USA, Europe, and abroad. I had the opportunity to chat with Summer Hunington, Co-founder of Clubbell Yoga to learn more about this workshop coming to Vancouver BC, this January.

Clubbells are a unique tool, which require precision, stabilization, and  a good deal of articulation under load. What makes the clubbell unique ,is its design, in that the majority of the weight is distributed above the handle, creating a longer lever to control under load. When held upright it requires more muscle activation and motor control in the shoulder complex, postural muscles and trunk stabilization to keep it steady and to transition from movement to movement, while maintaining breath and flow. Drawing from Summer’s experience as an adjunct teacher in Kinesiology,  a leader in the community of Yoga, and as a head CST coach, she is paving the way for movement culture.

CST is the “flagship” professional certification course at RMAX International pioneered by Scott Sonnon, a refined, coherent, cohesive and comprehensive approach to the industry of movement culture. CST has rapidly emerged as a leader among the premier training modalities in the health / fitness and strength / conditioning arenas.

How is Clubbell Yoga compliment traditional fields of conditioning?

One of the greatest myths of our time is that “hardcore” trainers tend to not have a background in yoga, nor do they see the benefits. Those who “lift;” don’t do yoga and vicer versa; that yogis don’t have much knowledge in training for power and don’t life. This is a misconception, and it has left many “lifters” injured due to lack of dynamic mobility and “yogis” injured from overuse and improper alignment.

Clubbell Yoga aims to bridge the gaps between these two groups and reeducate the benefit of integrating both into a seamless practice.

Who Can Benefit?

Both of these disciplines compliment each-other, and are designed to build from the ground up. This means you do not have to be experienced in either discipline; this workshop is designed for all levels in both fields of study.; especially for active professionals involved in sport. You can be a beginner or you can be experienced. The glorious thing about both disciplines is that you can go at your pace. There is an introduction to both modalities; which can have endless benefits for both body and mind.

CBY 3

Vancouver Workshop: Clubbell Yoga & Anatomy Breakdowns

Come learn about glute activation and core with Accupuncturist and NKT specialist Carolyn Watson and Summer Huntington, co-creator of Clubbell Yoga. They are both very dynamic teachers who will improve your understanding of yoga poses involving glutes, give you anatomy breakdowns and hold discussions and breakout sessions. Yogis, trainers, pilates instructors and everyone in between are invited to this workshop in the heart of Vancouver, BC.

Click on this link to REGISTER

VIP Registration – $99
(Register before December 15th, 2014)
Early* Registration – $129
(Register before January 16th, 2015)
Registration paid in Full – $150
(*VIP and Early registrants can borrow clubbell at event)

About the Co Founders:

Summer Huntington:

Summer Huntington is a Head Coach at RMAX International, co-creator of Clubbell Yoga and owner of Fit Body Wellness. Her primary objective is to help bridge the gap between strength training and yoga by infusing weighted Clubbells into traditional vinyasa classes. She holds an undergraduate and masters degree in Kinesiology: Human Movement & Performance, is an adjunct professor and is an experienced yoga teacher.

Summer practices and teaches vinyasa flow yoga and Clubbell Yoga with an emphasis on alignment, thoughtful sequencing and cultivating a soothing meditation through movement. Summer has been a longtime student of Scott Sonnon, founder of the Circular Strength Training (CST) method, which is mind-body exercise using a Clubbell. Her joint-mobility, Prasara yoga and Flow Fit background allow her to help students to unlock bound areas and allows for training of the nervous system.

Scott Sonnon:

Scott is the founder of RMAX International, CST and Tacfit. Scott has now taken his success in martial art, fitness and yoga off the mat and into the classrooms, as an international speaker advocating for children and adults facing labels of learning difficulties, facing the ravages of obesity, the trials of post-traumatic stress, the dangers of bullyism and the challenges of accelerated aging in joints and soft tissue.

For more information please visit the following website:

Clubbell Yoga – http://www.clubbellyoga.tv/

Primal 12 – http://rmaxi.com/primal12/

Book Review: Active Hope by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone

Book Review: Active Hope by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone

When many of us think about the state of the environment it can feel like such an overwhelming task to create change. The book Active Hope by Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone is an invitation to explore how we can remain positive, replenished and active in the work to sustain the environment.

Any change process requires us to look at ourselves first and how the culture we live in perpetuates consumerism, individualistic attitudes, and creates messages that negate what is truly happening to the environment. What is called  “the business as usual strategy” that prevents positive change from happening. De-constructing this business as usual strategy is not about feeling guilty about how or what we consume rather it provides an opportunity to bring awareness to capitalism, mass consumerism and the ecological impacts in a critical and compassionate way. This awareness raising provides pathways for individual, community and global change.

As an eco-philosopher and scholar Buddhism, Joanna Macy weaves in Buddhist philosophy and eco-spirituality through the book. It is easy to forget just how integral the earth is to our survival, plants, animals and the whole eco-system. Active Hope reminds us this earth we live in something to hold with great reverence and gratitude for. We can become “active participants in bringing about what we hope for” – Active Hope provides practical tools to help us to remain energized, re-connected and inspired so that this planet earth is sustainable for future generations.

 About JoannaMacy and Chris Johnstone

Ecophilosopher Joanna Macy, PhD, is a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. A respected voice in the movements for peace, justice, and ecology, she interweaves her scholarship with five decades of activism. As the root teacher of the Work That Reconnects, she has created a groundbreaking theoretical framework for personal and social change, as well as a powerful workshop methodology for its application.

Chris Johnstone is a medical doctor, author, and coach who worked for nearly twenty years as an addictions specialist in the UK National Health Service. Chris has been a trainer in the Work That Reconnects for more than two decades, working with Joanna on many occasions and running facilitator trainings in the United Kingdom.

About the Author: Angela Kayira teaches Yoga at Heart Centre Yoga in Burnaby. Her teaching is informed by her work as a social worker. Angela is a registered Yoga Teacher (E-500 RYT), the co-director of In Life School of Yoga and co-hosts the In Life School of Yoga Book Club.

 

Nada Nidra: The Adventure of a Lifetime

Nada Nidra: The Adventure of a Lifetime

One rarely expects to go to a yoga class and not move at all. But during Yoga Nidra, that is almost exactly what happens.

One Yoga for the People hosted Nada Nidra: The Adventure of a Lifetime Friday night.

At first read, “The adventure of a lifetime” sounds a bit dramatic, but after experiencing Nada and Nidra yogic techniques, one really feels as though they have been on an internal adventure. Yoga Nidra is an empowering practice that guides you towards living in the moment. Heather Eschuk led the ancient Nidra practice, which was complimented by Mike Nichols’ chimes, crystal and Tibetan singing bowls.

The practice began with a beautiful sea of Oms. In a hot room full of so many voices, it was a lovely sound and a nice opportunity to explore the sound of your own Om without judgment. Before class began, Mike advised students that some people can find the sound of the bowls a bit intense; and that participants are welcome to cover their ears or lie on their side. He and Heather also mentioned that students are welcome to move during the Yoga Nidra if they feel the need, which was nice to know.

Mike began the class with a few Yin poses – Caterpillar, pigeon, a little self-jaw-massage, some supported bridge pose and gentle twists – to the sound of the bowls, which helped to bring the attention deep into the body. After this, Heather began to pilot us through the Yoga Nidra experience, which took about 50 minutes. Everybody spent most of the Yoga Nidra in a physical Savasana. Towards the end, as students became more awake and restless, we were encouraged to practice some gentle postures.

Towards the end of the practice, Heather summed up the experience of Yoga Nidra perfectly by calling it: “presence in your own innate wellbeing.”

Check out Heather’s website: www.heathereschuk.com. Mike teaches at Shine Yoga in Vancouver.

Yoga & Vogue-ing with Madonna

Yoga & Vogue-ing with Madonna

Madonna is coming to town September 29 and on Friday night, she was honoured by a special yoga practice led by Amy Holt in Langley.

Amy’s Yoga Vogue to Madonna was a 90-minute yoga practice in tribute to the musical powerhouse and style icon. The class consisted of 30 minutes of flow, 30 minutes of fun partner work and 30 minutes of more restorative and Yin-inspired poses, all to the soundtrack of Madge, including songs like Material Girl and Vogue.

The first third of the class included some sexy flow sequences, groin openers, and hip thrusting that made you feel as though you were in a music video. In the middle of the class, we got into partners and did funky paired-up poses including Balasana and Upavista Konasana with one partner draped over the other’s back (gentle thigh massages optional), and a delicious Thai Yoga back massage exercise.

Double Down Dog

Amy Holt and Desiree Cabalfin demonstrating Double Downward Facing Dog Friday, September 21 at Yoga Vogue to Madonna at Hari Om Yoga in Langley.

The beautiful Amy wore a black, sequined mini-dress and purple tights. Colourful photographs of Madonna taken throughout the decades were sprinkled around the upstairs studio at Hari Om Yoga Langley, where the special Friday-night class took place. It was a full house – mostly women, but a couple of male Madge-lovers, too. Several of the participants were ticketholders for Madonna’s Vancouver show.

And as if there weren’t enough spice during the practice, there were sultry treats waiting outside after class: candy kisses and spicy dark chocolate.

The event was one of Hari Om Yoga’s $10 Friday-night events, which they schedule almost weekly throughout the Fall.

A REVIEW: THE INTEGRAL ANATOMY 4 PART SERIES BY GIL HEDLEY

A REVIEW: THE INTEGRAL ANATOMY 4 PART SERIES BY GIL HEDLEY

 

“The Integral Anatomy Series” by Gil Hedley

Gil Hedley, is a Ph.D. and founder of Integral Anatomy Productions, LLC, and Somanautics Workshops, Inc. Hedley’s 4 part series of dissection of the fasciae, allows the viewer to gain a deeper understanding of the fascia system and grants us different kinds of access and insights, as well as enhances our ability to see certain tissues through the highlight of the multiple layers of the deep fascial lines and the superficial fasciae lines.

Each part of the series presents the anatomy of human form, layer by layer, from an integral, whole body perspective, not isolation. Now, these DVD’s are not for the faint of heart, but if you feel comfortable with paying tribute to those who have offered their bodies to science after they have passed and are interested in the dissection process of our multiple layers, then I highly recommend this 4 part series. It is quite frankly – fascinating.

A Short Intro into Visceral Fasciae:

Visceral fasciae (also called subserous fasciae) suspends the organs within their cavities and wraps them in layers of connective tissue membranes. Each of the organs is covered in a double layer of fascia; these layers are separated by a thin serous membrane.

Gil Hedley dates back the two means of fascia from Greek times of dissection, meaning:

1. Broad Sheet

2. Wispy and cloud-like

Understanding viscera and somatic healing offers the framework for how fascia works.  It allows us to also investigate relationships with our internal and external environment, to increase our awareness of continuities both intrinsically and extrinsically and heighten our sense perception as we build on the framework of our integrated system.

The onion and tree model is a functional simplification of the human body and is used as a metaphor to visualize this webbed matrix of myofascial layering. Each layer is significant with braches (much like a tree) that permiate each layer with those layers getting thicker as we reach its core (much like the human body) of the fascial lines of superficial vs deep.

Superficial Fasciae and Viscera:

We can reference the whole mass of the viscera as a deep layer, much like the deep layer of an onion or branches of a tree, as with the case of Neurovascular trunks and limbs.

The skin is the terminus of those visceral branches from the neurovascular trunks, as they interface directly with the external environment of the body. The primary form of our shape – is via our superfiscial fascia, that ebbs and flows and holds our tissues in a concise manner. It is the shaping layer in conjunction with our skin. Keeping in mind; the skin is our largest organ; which is resilient, strong and has fantastic integrity. When  we use the onion-tree model we can see that the skin and superfiscal fasciae have a special relationship and work as partners to give the human body shape, as well as the shape of the organs. The skin of the organ is known as the visceral layer and visceral fascia is less extensible than superficial fascia and plays an integral role in communicating the sensory input from our nervous system and sensory impulses.

A comprehensive understanding of these deeper layers requires a thorough understanding of the more superficial ones. Due to its suspensory role of the organs, it needs to maintain its tone rather consistently. If it is too lax, it contributes to organ prolapse (2) Ref. Wikipedia

The Superfiscal fascia is a great suspensory web of perception of a particular frequency range, in which the neuromuscular pathways branch out amongst the yellow finery of our sensory fleece. We can separate out tissues, layers and pathways of connection which we hold dear due to our mental conception of the body.

Deep Fasciae and Viscera:

The viscera are not limited in their physiological function or anatomically extent to the thorax, abdomen or the cranium but mentally we need to divide these lines up in order to understand the conceptually. From an integral viewpoint the visceral are meant to be non local phenomena , they are co mingled with all the tissues of the body. We can speak of the visera of the arm or leg – but there is no disconnect. When the heart beats, the movement and balance of pressure is not solely felt in the viscera of the chest, but through the whole body – all tissue is integrated.

The deep fascia can be a more thickly woven set of fibers and has a different texture and tone of the superficial fasciae. It is thicker and we can usually see more fiburous white striations and/or lines like the rings of a tree outlining the muscles and bone.

These thick layers of the deep fascia leverage tension and compression in the body. Through movement we can create vectors of “pull” and at the dissection level, watch the translation of the movement in the fascia, with the restrictions of components like, scar tissue. Scar tissue is not smooth, nor is it easily manipulated. Its structure is hard and tense; therefore we can assume that this will, no doubt lead to increased tension in the fasciae in the surrounding tissue.

What can we learn from fasciae dissection?

The largest benefit I have taken away from this 4 part series is the integration of all the systems that contribute to our form, the contours and comprehensive over laying structures that work together.

One interesting factor in dissection is seeing first hand the interplay of the superficial fasciae and the wispy interconnection of the adipose tissue just under the skin layer; which we cannot get from books, anatomy charts/maps or real life movement patterns.

In Yoga and corrective movement understanding the framework and connection of the fasciae system to the musculoskeletal anatomy is one of the most beneficial additions one can make to their professional resume. Understanding the tension and compression pulling factors on the multiple fasciae lines, in association of the kinetic chains can directly influence a client’s success on and off of the mat.

 

Sources:

Gil Hedley’s 4 Part Seiers “The Integral Anatomy Series”

  1. Skin and Superfiicial Fascia
  2. Deep Fascia and Muscle
  3. Cranial and Visceral Fasciae
  4. Viscera and their Fasciae

Take a quick peek at an intro to each video here – http://www.gilhedley.com/ghvideo.php

Upcoming workshop in Vancouver (Squamish, BC) in Dec 2012 – http://www.gilhedley.com/index.php (I’ll be there).

Fall in Love with Flying at che baba’s Yogasilks!

Fall in Love with Flying at che baba’s Yogasilks!

Recently, I had the outstanding pleasure of attending a 2hr Sunday session of “Yogasilks” at che baba, yoga and cantina, 603 Kinsgway in Vancouver. It was the most fun I have had in a yoga class since I tried my first partner yoga class last year and got the taste for “flying” poses.

And fly you will! Led by the uber-talented kiwi-born Vancouver teacher, Yogasilks founder and long-time yogi, Ross Howatson, this class hosted 10 fresh-faced and excited beginners to Yogasilks and we had an absolute blast.

Suspended from “silks” – think: long, stretchy, silky sheets tied at two corners –  suspended from the ceiling, students are led through a series of yoga poses ranging from Warrior 1, Trikonasana, hip openers, heart openers, core strengtheners to breathing exercises, relaxation and gentle inversions.

With an adventuresome group ready to take on the thrill of the silks, we were challenged with a few fun and crazy cirque-de-soleil-esque moves: fallen angel (sees you threading through and dropping out of the silks – safely though!), handstand (with legs threaded through the silks – what an amazing experience!) and a few more inversions (think Sukasana, easy pose, but upside down and dangling). Ending class coccooned sweetly in the silks with a guided relaxation, I left feeling settled and grounded. Not to mention, my hips, legs and back felt amazing all week!

Ross did a brilliant job of encouraging, humouring and challenging the Yogasilks students. I would strongly recommend this 2hr workshop to anyone who loves hanging around, playing, having fun and trying something new in your yoga practice.  I fully intend to be back on a regular basis!

After the workshop, the participants all enjoyed tapas at the attached cantina. The food is simply incredible. A sweet little spot, che baba was started by a young local couple, Allison and Stephan, who love sharing yoga, great food, and creating community.

Try Yogasilks. Seriously. Bring your friends. You will fall in love with Ross, the silks, che baba and the whole experience.

Che baba runs 2hr workshops on Sundays (first two weeks of August cancelled for trainings), which are a great introduction for beginners. The studio runs a regular Yogasilks drop-in class during the week, which will start back in the fall. In the meantime, che baba also touts a full drop-in schedule of other classes, which would be a great excuse to do some yoga before enjoying a meal at the cantina!

Love the idea and want to get teaching it? Yogasilks classes are currently in development at other studios and teachers will be needed! Che baba only has a few spots available for Yogasilks Teacher Training, Aug 11-12, 9am-5pm (delicious lunch provided by the cantina), $640+hst. For more information please contact Ross Howatson at [email protected]

Make time for Yogasilks in September and enjoy flying and hanging around! Please comment below if you have already attended a session and let me know about your experiences!

Book Review: The Four Desires by Rod Stryker

Book Review: The Four Desires by Rod Stryker

Creating a life of purpose is more than goal setting sheets and vision boards!

By Martina Bell – Co-director of In Life School of Yoga, host of the Vancouver Yoga Social Book Club and founder of ESL Yoga®

I didn’t really feel the need to read yet another book on how to find my purpose, set intentions and manifest my goals. And when I finally settled into my armchair next to my bookshelf, which presents a stately collection of self-help, yoga and other how-to-find-happiness bestsellers, I anticipated that within a few days Rod Stryker’s book would be comfortably placed up there –  that I enjoyed the read but that my life would still be pretty much the same; except with any luck “The Four Desires” would have shed a slither of light on one of life’s most profound questions: how to create a life of purpose, happiness, prosperity and freedom?

Before moving on, I would like to clarify that I’m not “unhappy” per se (actually quite the opposite is the case) or don’t see value in what how-to-set-your-intention DIY books commonly suggest: write a goal setting sheets, make vision boards and trust!

Rod Stryker’s approach

Even though the book opens with a bold Tantric promise introducing itself as “a road map to fulfilling your material and spiritual desires, both your short-term goals and the enduring longing that all human beings have […] for lasting peace and freedom.” I couldn’t help anticipating what was to come: a journaling activity asking me to listen to my heart and write out my intention in the present or past tense to create a sense of immediacy; complete a meditation visualizing the intention as manifested to create a sense of reality; and to make up a vision board followed by a promise how the universe would manifest this vision board if I only believed in it.
But as I read on, I realized that in this book, setting an intention was not even the beginning as it offers a much deeper and elegant process.

Rod Stryker offers an explanation of desire; “it precedes your every action, since before you can do, you first have to want” and of the human need for two kinds of fulfillment, fulfillment through attainment [material] and fulfillment independent of circumstances [spiritual].

Chapter three goes on to explain the four desires according to the Vedic tradition in greater detail:

The four desires

  1. Dharma – “the longing for purpose, the drive to be and to become who you are meant to be”
  2. Artha – “the means necessary to accomplish your dharma […] material resources”
  3. Kama – “the desire for pleasure of all kinds”
  4. Moksha – “the longing for liberation, true freedom”

Then the journaling activity did come. Rod Stryker calls it “The Dharma Code” which is a statement that clarifies your soul’s reason for being. To say “The Dharma Code” is a written account of one’s ideal life is a simplification, the instruction of how one’s supposed to distill one’s individual Dharma Code did echo what other books suggest:  Imagine yourself later in life and somebody you know and appreciate giving a tribute about your life and what you accomplished.

Your Dharma Code: Not just another journaling activity

Not only is Rod Stryker’s style engaging and his weaving of ancient Sanskrit with timeless teachings elegant; it is his suggestions how to proceed AFTER the Dharma Code has been distilled that offers a new level of depth in the process of manifestation. As such the Dharma Code marks the beginning, rather than the end of the journey. And this is what distinguishes “The Four Desires” from other books of this genre – after all at this point you’ll only find yourself on page 76 of 320.

How to serve your Dharma Code: Intention

Unlike a Dharma Code which signifies more a general approach to life, an Intention is much more particular and “result-oriented, aimed toward fulfilling a particular goal”, it is a combination of desire and determination and much more than a wish! To explain the seven-step process to draft your Intention (Sankalpa) here would go beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say that it involves a deeply revelatory meditation and journaling activity (yes!). And it is intention after all which when it serves your Dharma Code propels your life forward.

The incredibly deep and enlightening remainder of the book explains how to overcome resistance, how to free yourself from fear (including an amazingly daring meditation or “life-style” practice! Get ready for a life changing experience!) touches on the secret of success and closes with a beautiful explanation of the importance of adjustment and contentment, the two underlying principles for every step in the book.

Tantra means to touch, allowing your heart to be touched   

Unlike the other self-help books I’ve lovingly read, the Four Desires hasn’t made it onto my now crowded bookshelf – and for now at least it won’t.  This book has touched my heart and it is a book that I keep close to my bed side, my sofa and my Puja. This book is so rich in teachings that reading it only once does not suffice. I also open it to inspire my meditations or contemplations. It is to my – admittedly very limited – knowledge not only one of the most applicable books, but also one of the rare ones that give practical instruction as to how create a life of purpose, happiness, prosperity and freedom which work, because now my life is actually not quite the same.

About the Author: Martina Bell is the co-director of In Life School of Yoga, host of the Vancouver Yoga Social Book Club and founder of ESL Yoga®.

 

BARE ALL BAREFOOT PART 4: PERFORM BETTER & BE “PARASYMPATHETIC” TO YOUR FEET

BARE ALL BAREFOOT PART 4: PERFORM BETTER & BE “PARASYMPATHETIC” TO YOUR FEET

For the past week and a half I have been re-experiencing the same physical breakdowns that have plagued my ultra running for nearly 2 years. These include:

  • Left hip hike (also known as lumbo-pelvic dysfunction)
  • Left side – minor referral in the SI Joint and glutes
  • Left  side- dislocation of T2, T8 and T10
  • Right side – Medial  “Soreness” around the right knee
  • Right minor “plantar fascitis”

Aka – a whole set of awesomeness. Now, reviewing many of my earlier posts, does this not sound a lot like breakdowns in the spiral line; which many runners and ultra linear athletes fall victim to. Most of us tend to go directly to the source of our pain, and for me this has always been the left side of my low back  everything else is really just along for the ride. However, when we follow the line itself we can see that all of these “symptoms” are merely just that – referral and energy blocked area of the larger scope of the issue; which is instability of the pelvis due to improper foot placement when running.

FACT – I am a heel striker! There I have said it, my skeleton is out of the closet. Another confession, I pitch forward and forward head carrier. You now know all my secrets. This brings me to my next food for thought on the runners list of recovery and preparation – manual therapy. I am a big advocate of RMT and FST, as it allows us A-types to chill out, focus on proper parasympathetic integration and connective tissue work to passively (but actively) break up binding in the areas of blocked energy.

Be “Parasympathetic” to Promote Whole Body Recovery:

On Friday, I had the opportunity to hop on Gael Bishop’s massage table and within minutes was literally feeling those areas unbind and release. An integrated approach to health and wellness, as well as, performance enhancement is key to any persiodized program.

How can RMT and FST assist with recovery and prepare the tissue for your next phase in training? Moreover, What general effects does massage have on the parasympathetic and sympathetic divisions of the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system?

“The purpose of massage therapy is to prevent, develop, maintain, rehabilitate or augment physical function or relieve pain (Massage Therapy Act, 1991). Massage Therapy is recognized as one of the oldest methods of healing, with references in medical texts nearly 4,000 years old. It is a widely accepted and effective treatment for reducing stress, decreasing muscle pain and stiffness, and for aiding in rehabilitation and postural realignment.” This little snippet of a excerpt was taken directly from Gael Bishop’s website.

Gael has been in the fitness industry for over 18 years and continues to inspire her clients to achieve their goals.  Her experience as a Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Registered Massage Therapist places her clients in very good hands.  Gael is committed to teaching her clients to “Trust Their Strength”, learn about their bodies and discover a new level of health and well being.

The human body is a finely tuned interaction of organs and systems. “the close inter-relationship between the somatic, autonomic and endocrine systems makes it impossible for pathologic changes to take place in any one structure without causing adaptive changes in other structures.” Edner, quoted in Chaitow (1983).

The Autonomic Nervous System is a system of nerves and ganglia that act as an interconnected web or “communication highway” with the distribution and reception of predominantly involuntary impulses to the heart (beat and contractile force) smooth muscle (vasoconstriction or dilation of arterioles) and glands (increasing or decreasing their secretion).

It can further explained by looking and the two sub-divisions – the sympathetic and the parasympathetic systems. While the sympathetic nervous system serves all parts of the body, the parasympathetic Nervous System is confined to the head and trunk.

Generally associated with the fight/flight response by its role in sedating the body and restoring it to the resting state it was in prior to sympathetic stimulation, where the ANS is a modifier of activity; either increasing or decreasing movement to respond to external and environmental stimuli.

Massage stimulates the sensory and proprioceptive nerve fibres of the skin and underlying tissues, and that these messages pass along the afferent fibres to the spinal chord, producing various effects in any zones supplied from the same segment of the spinal chord. … Such reactions are called reflex effects. When we take into account the make-up of the fascial system, an interconnected matrix which resemble, at the microscopic level, mini tubules that send nutrients and transmit nerve impulses to every aspect of the human body and every system; therefore, the benefits of massage are great. It can not only produce a local effect but may can establish a soothing effect on the body as a whole; as it can increase the sympathetic response.

Massage also may cause vasodilation in the skin and muscles by stimulating receptors of the sympathetic nervous system. Deep tissue massage often leads to a sense of relief and peace during or after the event – even if some of the deep tissue work is painful at the time of treatment. If we (as the client) also focus on linking this treatment with deep breathing – the brain can then be signaled to secrete the necessary hormones necessary to relax tissue even further, which aids in recovery and relaxation.

“Painful, stressful, and emotional experiences all cause changes in hypothalamic activity. In turn, the hypothalamus controls the autonomic nervous system and regulates body temperature, thirst, hunger, sexual behavior, and defensive reactions such as fear and rage.” (Tortora and Grabowski, 1996). Therefore; it is also safe to say that the parasympathetic system is integral to maintain “being chilled out,” as many athletes tend to be very “A-Type” keeping our muscles in tune with our response systems will aid in all aspects of our performance and phases in training.

“Back’ Tracking to the LPHC:

Taking a quick review of my own personal physical stress, the lumbo-pelvic complex. THE lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (LPHC) is a region of the body that has a massive influence on the structures above and below it. The LPHC has between 29 and 35 muscles that attach to the lumbar spine or pelvis (1,2). Above the LPHC are the thoracic and cervical spine, rib cage, scapula, humerus, and clavicle. These structures make up the thoracolumbar and cervicothoracic junctions of the spine, the scapulothoracic, glenohumeral, acromioclavicular (AC), and sternoclavicular (SC) joints. Remembering back to our 4 part series “Shouldering Responsibility,” we identified that the shoulder is not solely comprised of just the glenohumeral joint, but there are 4 joints to consider.

The LPHC is directly associated with both the lower extremities and upper extremities of the body; which is why promoting the relationship that exists between the hips and the shoulders is important to note. Because of this relationship and dysfunction of both the lower extremities and upper extremities can lead to dysfunction of the LPHC and vice versa. In the LPHC region specifically, the femur and the pelvis make up the iliofemoral joint and the pelvis and sacrum make up the sacroiliac joint. With runners, and improper gait cycles, the femoral head of the femur can literally jam the hip socket and compress the joint, shortening the leg and adding compression to all the lower limb joints (hip, ankle and knee).

Collectively, these structures anchor many of the major myofascial tissues that have a functional impact on the arthrokinematics of the structures above and below them. It is no wonder that there can be no isolation of one area to soothe the pain associated with biomechanical breakdown – it is a series or sequence of release and corrective control needed to effectively “treat” my “so-called” injury. RMT and FST sessions is an integral part of recovery days and during my peak training (especially gearing up for a 101km ultra run in late May).

Connecting the Nervous System to our Feet:

One branch of the nerves found in the feet stems from the largest nerve in our body, the sciatic nerve. Hence, the importance of your peids and the appreciation of the force and loud we apply on our feet per day. We know that the hands and feet house the majority of our bone structure. Our feet come with 26 tiny bones and last week we looked at the integration of the arch (plantar fascia) and the Achilles Tendon; which act as springs in our body to effectively distribute energy and loud through human locomotion.

The sciatic nerve consists of two nerves, the tibial and the common peroneal. These nerves are tied together by connective tissue and the wonderful adaptability of our fascial systems (primarily connected to the spiral line in the case of my LPHC). The sciatic nerve sends its two branches down the leg into the foot. In the foot these nerves branch out again, with many divisions nourishing the entire area. Thus the importance of regular manual therapy on the posterior and spiral lines are integral to optimal functioning and performance output for any athlete with similar symptoms of bio mechanical breakdowns. Add in a little traction – and as they say “Bob’s your Uncle” (Bob actually is my uncle so I can this without generalizing all the Bob’s out there.”

More than Just a Reflex: “Reflexology”

If you are an athlete, make sure to ask your RMT or FTS therapist to treat the feet, or even add in Reflexology; the trigger points in the feet can also aid in more than just “muscle and tissue” release, but in identifying the areas of pain that are usually associated with organs and areas of other discomfort in the body. Hence why all these manual therapies are important at one time or another, much like our bodies, there is no isolation of one being better than the other. A unifying theme is the idea that areas on the foot correspond to areas of the body, and that by manipulating these one can improve health through one’s qi.

Around the world and throughout history, reflexology has been rediscovered time and time again. Archeological evidence points to ancient reflexology medical practices in Egypt(2330 BCE), China(2704 BCE) and Japan (690 CE). Reflexology is an alternative medicine involving the physical act of applying pressure to the feet, hands, or ears with specific thumb, finger, and hand techniques without the use of oil or lotion. It is based on what reflexologists claim to be a system of zones and reflex areas that they say reflect an image of the body on the feet and hands, with the premise that such work effects a physical change to the body.

This concludes our 4 part series on “BARE ALL, BAREFOOT.” Next week we will have a 2 part series on Golf, Fascial Stretch and Stability. Get Ready to “Swing” into action!

Sources:

BARE ALL, BAREFOOT PART 3: A Review of “The Perfect Runner”

BARE ALL, BAREFOOT PART 3: A Review of “The Perfect Runner”

The Perfect Runner is a stunning film of the evolutionary process of “running” or better yet – “human locomotion” and begs the question, are humans literally born to run?

The documentary “The Perfect Runner” debuted on CBC’s “The Nature of Things” in March and naturally I was eager, eyes peeled to the screen, giddy with anticipation of hearing yet another story of “why I love running so much and why it has always felt natural to me.”

The Perfect Runner follows anthropologist and host Niobe Thompson on his own quest with the “barefoot professors”; Harvard scientists, Dan Leiberman and Dennis Bramble, who ignited a fire with the barefoot running boom that has taken over the world of bipedal endurance athletics with their theory that humans are “born to run.”

These two leading proponents of the “born to run” hypothesis, speculate that we were programmed to run before our brains grew enough intellect to know it! Let me clarify – “because the growth of the human brain proceeded after the emergence of the running body, it was not our intellect that first guaranteed our survival on the ground,” says Leiberman.

 

Bipedal Homo sapiens  – The Natural Endurance Athlete

Let’s take a peek at the mechanics of what makes us unique – The body of Homo sapiens can do two things remarkably well: stride efficiently and regulate body temperature. Leiberman and Bramble show us that the human body is loaded with specialized running features.

The human leg, from the spring mechanics of the arched foot to the neuromuscular web of the facsia lines that bind an interconnected matrix from the tips of the toes to the scalp, following the network of long tendons running up the calf and thigh, is a perfectly formed marriage of muscle and energy-returning “springs”.

The gluteus group is an area that most runners lack stability and strength in and yet (because we sit on it all day for work, humans are not meant to sit, we are meant to move), it ­ is unique to humans among the primates because it propels us forward while stabilizing our torso as we stride and progress forward. Another key mechanical asset, is the nuchal ligament (described much like a large rope) – runs up the back of the head to stabilize the cranium during running, this allows for proper head carriage during locomotion and if we didn’t have it – we would have bobble heads.

Our longer arms, in comparison to our primate cousins, are structured to swing as counterweights to our body’s motion without tiring our shoulders. The muscles of posterior chain and anterior chain, along with the deep arm fascia prevent the shoulders from wobbling all over the map, and literally hold the arms in a perfect sequence as they swing in conjunction with our stride. And then there is our elongate form – long legs, narrow hip, tall torso; which give an elite runner a stride length of 3.5 metres, much farther than any four-legged competitor.

It is relentless natural selection that has promoted the survival of runners; the Homo body form emerged rapidly in response to the changed environment, a classic evolutionary “state shift”.

The Barefoot Debate:

Over the course of the last couple posts I have outlined various reasons why being barefoot is advantageous, as well as why runners are advantageous. The vote still stands that neither one is better than the other, it just depends on your why, when and how.

Pros to running in shoes are protection from the elements and shock absorption. The cons of running with shoes are more hell strike, which actually increases stress into the body. Running barefoot has the benefits of better proprioception and body awareness during movement, research shows that habitually barefoot or minimally shod humans tend not to land on their heels, and instead strike the ground in a way that leads to reduced stress and very low collision forces. We use our natural springs.

 

“Why is one of the world’s poorest countries home to some to the world’s best distance runners?”

This is an excellent question!  In a visually stunning exploration of the human body and our apelike ancestors, we learn how for over 2 million years Homo sapiens have survived in changing environments across the globe – a world ripe with predators.

Africa, is the heart of the world’s top endurance athletes, and uniquely enough is also the birth place of human civilization. Something called the “Persistence Hunt.” The Perfect Runner features unique footage of the only “persistence hunt” ever filmed; which helps unlock the mystery of why humans made a series of paradoxical trade-offs as they evolved, losing strength and natural defenses as they became hairless bipeds on the scorched African plain.

For the past 2 million years, humans have proactively hunted for food – no surprise here. Using this practice called “persistence hunting”, hunters tracked and ran their prey to exhaustion. Yes, the cheetah may be able to sprint and out run the human, but much like anaerobic threshold training any body (man or animal) can only sustain that energy output for a certain amount of time. Homo sapiens would track the hunt and ultimately through endurance – paying close attention to sustained energy output.

On the other side of the globe and moving from one of the hottest places on earth to the coldest – Niobe travels to the most remote part of Arctic Russia, a place where running is still a way of life in the small rural villages. A herder’s life is constant movement – coined “cowboys without horses, running alongside their reindeer” over the ankle-breaking tundra.

 

Taking Cues from Natural Runners:

Niobe goes on to say – “Meanwhile, in the world of elite endurance running, coaches have been taking cues from natural runners for decades, learning from the success of the Ethiopian, Kenyan and Moroccan athletes who dominate the international top ranks. AtNorth America’s Athletics Coaching Centre at theUniversityofAlberta, a long-standing collaboration with Ethiopian runners, including the legendary Haile Gebreselassie, has insured that the rising generation of North American athletes emulates the best African runners. Coaches eschew cushioned running shoes, concentrate on foot strength, use barefoot running as a training method, and always promote forefoot-strike techniques.”

This is definitely a movie worth watching, one that even if you are not a runner, is a great tool to visually see the evolutionary process of hominid and bipedal endurance. Now, I have a hankering to go out for a run!

 

Sources:

The Perfect Runner: http://www.theperfectrunner.com/

Dan Leiberman, Professor of Human Evolutionary Biology, HarvardUniversity: http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~skeleton/danlhome.html

Time Rich Cash Optional: “An UNCONVENTIONAL Guide to Happiness”

Time Rich Cash Optional: “An UNCONVENTIONAL Guide to Happiness”

PART 2: A Review of Time Rich Cash Optional, a book by Cliff Harvey

Hap.pi.ness ~ state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.

Un·con·ven·tion·al ~ not bound by or conforming to convention, rule, or precedent; free from conventionality.

Cliff is the Author of Time Rich Cash Optional (an unconventional guide to happiness) and Choosing You! ~ How you can choose to live the life of your dreams.

I have spent the last week nose down, knee deep in Cliff’s book “Time Rich, Cash Optional. An Unconventional Guide to Happiness,” and seriously I cannot put it down.

Apart from the raw and down to earth feel, ability to paint a clear and “unconventional” picture of how to tangibly achieve our purpose, and even getting to the root  of how we place meaning on words like: “TIME,” “RICH,” “CURRENCY,” “HAPPINESS”… etc. – this book offers well-crafted exercises helping you along your own journey to the age old mantra…. “Don’t worry, be happy.”

I would like to share with you a couple of my favorite chapters.

 

Chapter 3: Becoming Unconventional “Why being normal doesn’t work”

“If you are not living the way you would like to, you have to ask yourself: why not? What ever you are doing is leading to a set of results. If those results are not the ones you want, then you obviously have to change your actions. Taking this step is not easy. We have been told over countless years that normal is good and abnormal is bad. We have been conditioned, and we have told ourselves that “fitting in” is the best way to progress in life. The problem is that this isn’t even remotely true.”

Fitting in is safe. Fitting in provides the anonymity to “fly below the radar” and not open yourself up to criticism; however, no one who ever changed the world did so by being normal”

“There will never be the “perfect” time to do something.”

I love this chapter! Why? Quite simple really, I have never tried to be normal, quite the opposite actually. Many of my students enjoy the “unorthodox or unconventional” nature of my classes and workshops and my whole life has been centered on being authentic and unique to the best of my (at sometimes eccentric and nutty) ability. However, with that being said, I have also found myself straying from my real purpose to fit others definition of “normal” and so this chapter truly re-affirms self coaching strategies to hone in on staying true to your path and your own truth in life.

 

Chapter 4: Work, Live, Play “Becoming a ‘Life Artist’

“Our relationship with “Work” defines how we feel about it. The idea of work provides a lot of mental stress to us – it is our relationship with our work situation that makes it stressful. The approach that we take to our work day defines how we actually perceive it. We can love what we do because we enjoy the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment it gives us. When we are very good at something, and we are able to translate it into a career, it can be as if that’s what we were put on this earth to do.”

What if we don’t have this? What if we do not know exactly what we want to be doing?”

We have all pondered these questions, and luckily practices like yoga and martial arts, even long distance running (since I do this, I can preach its value), enables us to tap into the center of the brain that starts to process… the larger, more profound questions of life. Ultimately, Cliff, and other wise peeps before our time, distinctly state that we, and we alone have the power to change and manifest our purpose – our happiness in life.

As Cliff so valiantly puts it; “your job is a conduit for your life’s purpose. Creating YOUR art, expressing YOUR truth,’ it’s pretty simple when you take away all the smoke and mirrors and fluffy stuff we humans like to put forth to make it all so dramatic. Reality is this – if you loved your job, loved how it made you feel, well, would this not make you in essence “happy.”

Happiness is an experience, a connection, not a store bought item. It’s a fragment in time, and if we choose to live and love to the fullest in every moment, then we can string all of those moments along to make a lifetime of – happiness.  Dalai tells it best…

Consider this passage from one the Dalai Lama quotes on happiness:

 “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

Consider the following. We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities. For this reason it is hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.

Happiness is determined more by the state of one’s mind than by one’s external conditions, circumstances or events- at least once one’s basic survival needs are met.” – Dalai Lama

 

Last week we introduced Cliff and his message of lasting “awesomeness.” I gave snippets into his life, and why he chooses to pass on his experience to help others live happier, healthier lives through his lectures and workshops. Read the following Q&A segment to learn more about Cliff’s up coming workshops and book tour.

Part 2: Interview with Cliff Harvey

Q. In writing your book Time Rich Cash Optional, what was your ah-ha moment? What brought you to write this book about time, currency, and unconventional means of achieving happiness?

A. I think the ah-ha moment actually came well before actually writing Time Rich. The most profound awakening (in this respect at least) came when I was traveling inSouth America. I spent many months wandering, and in some respects I think I was trying to reconnect to my purpose.

I absolutely love what I do, and at the time I also loved what I did. But I felt like I could do so much more and was struggling to get a handle on ‘how’ I could work and be in order to be of the most service.

I came to realize however, that the most important thing that I can do in my practice, life, writings and teaching is to encourage happiness. I can do this moment-to-moment, day-to-day…in any job! And so finding my ‘perfect’ job or work-life path completely imploded in upon itself as a concept, and all that was left was each breaking moment.

And so in many respects even as I was writing Choosing You!, Time Rich Cash Optional was beginning to formulate in my mind and many of the themes began appearing on cliffdog.com (my blog).

Its eventual form was heavily influenced by what I could see occurring in the world economy at the time and the situation that we are still playing out (with the GFC and its aftermath.) Many, many people have begun to re-evaluate what actually drives their happiness, passion and purpose…

Q. “Close the door, change the record, clean the house, get rid of the dust…stop being who you were and become who you are.” – Paulo Coelho (The Zahir). This quote resides on your facebook page and considering this article is about being “Unconventional” I am told you religiously wear no shoes, you prefer bare-feet. How does a strength coach winning world records in weightlifting, stay so zen and balanced? How do you regulate this duality?

A. Ha ha ha. They key is that there is no duality, and no dichotomy. The moment is the moment, whether sitting in meditation or lifting 380lb with one hand from the floor! We can so easily fall into the trap of seeing thing as being of the mind, or of the body, or of the soul or spirit. But in reality these are all aspects of the human condition and cannot be separated. Although we may have a focus there is no such thing really as a solely physical, mental or spiritual exercise. The bare foot thing is interesting. It was only when I lived in Vancouver that I realized this was something out of the norm. Growing up in Aotearoa (New Zealand) it is pretty common for people to not wear shoes for a good portion of the year (although this is declining.) There are so many health benefits in my opinion for this, but also other subtle nuances. Being barefoot is a great metaphor for a simpler, less material existence. Walking barefoot is also a beautiful, mindful exercise – one that connects us with Mother Earth. Finally it’s a great way to encourage people to walk more softly (another great analogy for taking care of this planet we share…)

Next week we explore, “Conscious Communications with the self and other” and relate this to how we explore our meaning of communication and connection on and off the mat.

 

Sources:

Time Rich Cash Optional: an unconventional guide to happiness:  http://www.timerichcashoptional.com/

Website: www.cliffharvey.com

Blog: www.cliffdog.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/choosingyou

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