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Choosing You: An Interview With Cliff Harvey – “Live the S*** out of life!”

Choosing You: An Interview With Cliff Harvey – “Live the S*** out of life!”

“Life has to become, more and more, closer to laughter than seriousness” ~ Osh

Choosing You! by Cliff Harvey

For centuries we have looked upon motivators, great leaders, gurus, elders, chiefs and other influential people in our lives to inspire us in progressing through our own personal journey of greatness.

Our traditions, experiences, trials and tribulations, passed down from one person to the next are a form of story telling that can give us a glimpse of the common thread that lies within each of us – the power to live a life of abundance, and a healthy happy long life in connection with those closest to us.

I have been given the opportunity to probe the mind of someone I consider to be “a guru”, “a great leader”, a “change maker”; someone who has lead me on a personal reflection of my own, to discover my own truth, my pursuit for compassion and love; and I wish to share that with you over the next several weeks.

In May and August 2012, Cliff Harvey; author, motivational speaker, world recognized mind-body-coach and naturopath will be holding workshops and seminars inVancouver(focusing on several areas of Life and Purpose, Spirituality, Holistic Health and Wellness), whilst on a North American speaking and book tour.

Cliff began his journey in the health and wellness industries as a strength coach and nutritional consultant and has had the privilege of working with Olympic medalists and world champions,RugbyCanada, BCRugby, Emirates Team NewZealandand Field HockeyCanada,  as well as populations with chronic illness and special populations. Cliff also holds specializations in the areas of Psych-K; as an Advanced Facilitator; Reiki Level lll (Master); and is a Homeobotanical Therapist. Aside from his workshops and seminars, Cliff is also an accomplished author; his books including the 2007 release: “Choosing You” and his latest offering: “Time Rich Cash Optional: an unconventional guide to happiness” released in 2011.

Over the course of the next 4 weeks my Saturday morning blog will take you on a journey of personal reflection, as I introduce Cliff’s methodology and holistic teachings, in hopes of giving you a glimpse of his upcoming workshops and seminar scheduled this summer.

An Interview with Cliff Harvey

Q. Let’s start with your upcoming workshops; currently inNew Zealandand what your thoughts are forVancouver?

A. The real focus, both here and on my North American tour is to roll out a weekend workshop based on the exercise from both Choosing You! and Time Rich Cash Optional. There’s also be a lot of additional material drawn from 14 years in practice helping people to be happier and healthier. I’m really excited to be able to connect with people in that type of setting and present some extremely practical tools and exercises to help them deeply connect with their life of passion and purpose and to set and achieve the right goals…the goals that will make it a reality.

Outside of that I will be presenting several workshops on the Mind-Body connection – both from a health/life perspective and also for athletes to achieve sporting and performance success. The final workshops are focused on Holistic Performance Nutrition and Conscious Communication skills…so really there is something for everyone!

Q. You have two main portals; your publishing and work as an author and speaker and your holistic clinical work as a natuopath and mind-body coach (among a plethora of other modalities). You are incredible accomplished for an early 30 year old, and seem to have achieved what most work up to later on in life, what has been your driving force to excel? How have you balanced all the work, play and education? How do you manage it all?

A. That is a great question Sarah…

So often people start with ‘How do you fit it all in?’ Not what the driving force is!

I guess the driving force for me has been quite simply that I had a realization that whatever we do, if we are living a life that is congruent with our ethos and values and congruent with our highest purpose, is a conduit by which we can make people happier. All of the things I do in practice and in my speaking and writing have that as the end goal or highest purpose. I also have very eclectic tastes and marry that with a tendency to become super-engaged (some may say obsessed!) in things that interest me. So I have done, and continue to do several different things as part of my work-life. I see the whole complex (work-life-play) as being one in the same, especially when you love what you do, and do what you love.

Take today for example: I got up around 6am, had a leisurely breakfast, then did some writing, planning for clients, communications (email etc) and then headed to the gym at 10am for my usual training day which consists of 90min of weightlifting and a further hour of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. After that it’s home for a short siesta in the sun and then back to the office to either see clients or do more writing or project work. It’s currently 6pm NZ time and in effect I have trained for 2.5 hours, chilled for some time and worked or 7 hours thus far, I may or may not go for a surf, a walk on the beach or to a friends for dinner. It’s not a conventional schedule and some may see it as hectic, but really it’s not…it’s just a flow of life.

So often people think they ‘don’t have enough time’. But that just means that they are spending time on the inconsequential. I sometimes wonder how to fit all the things I really want to do and love doing in, but that has quite a different context to feeling like time is the enemy. The key is to simply look at life as an adventure. Do things, try things, love things. And part of that is loving to lie down, chill, relax and have quite time too. My latest book looks at the idea that time is the very currency of life, and therefore happiness…

Q. Why “Choosing you”? This is a title that I am sure jumps out of the stands for most people, and as we know the title of the book is usually the hardest to “choose” when writing a book (or at least that’s what I have heard from authors). What is your personal connection with the title?

A. Choosing You! is a book about the power that we have in choice. The title actually came to me early on in the process (as did Time Rich Cash Optional) and I think that it sums up very effectively the onus of the book, which is that you can choose who you want to be and how you want to live, and you can do it right now. 

Q. In 2001 you were diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, and you mention in your bio that this lead you to re evaluate your health and the meaning you placed on what constitutes “health.” Can you elaborate of some of the fundamental changes or epiphanies you have had re structuring your life and living with Corhns?

A. The diagnosis affected me on many levels. At the time I became very sick, lost around 36lbs and was constantly in severe pain, unable to eat many foods as everything seemed to affect me negatively and was heavily anemic due to blood loss. It was at that time that I had a great realization – that LIFE is a choice. I could allow myself (a choice) to slip into a semi-permanent hospital bed (or a grave!) or decide to fight for life. I chose the latter and the rest is history. Things didn’t correct themselves over night but it was certainly the turning point on my road to recovery. In the subsequent years I had many realizations of the interconnectedness of the mind, body and spirit in health, and this lead me to become much more holistic in my clinical practice, and incorporate spiritual concepts that I had learned over my youth and adolescent years, and in doing so integrated a lot of what previously was my home life and work life, until even they gained greater synergy.

The most important thing that hardship does though is makes you more human. The various things I’ve been through, from illness to grief, trauma and loss, have all made me more empathic, more compassionate and ergo a better person and better practitioner. 

Cliff Harvey, ND, Dip.Fit, HbT, Adv. Psych-K, Reiki lll

Learn how you can transform your deepest driving desires and intentions, as well as how to access your hidden potential and recognize the possibilities that are always unfolding around you. Feel free to follow along and purchase Cliff Harvey’s books, “Choosing You” and “Time Rich Cash Optional” and unlock the tools and inspiration to move to the next phase of success and fulfillment, with effortless ease.

Join us over the next 4 weeks as we look at Cliff Harvey’s integrated approach and vision for his upcoming seminars.

Week One: a Hip Guide to “Unconventional” Happiness

Week Two: Conscious Communications with the self and other

Week Three: Mind-Body Strategies for Optimal Performance on and off the mat

Week Four: Choosing You! Connecting with your life purpose

 

Sources:

Katoa Health Publishing: www.katoahealth.com

Website: www.cliffharvey.com

Blog: www.cliffdog.com

Twitter: www.twitter.com/choosingyou

Facebook: www.facebook.com/cliffharveyauthor

Author’s Amazon Page: www.amazon.com/-/e/B004JBBX66

Shouldering Responsibility: The Mastery of Integration, Are You “Packing”?

Shouldering Responsibility: The Mastery of Integration, Are You “Packing”?

Yoga is both a personal expression and a private odyssey. It is the martial art of the soul, and the opponent is the strongest you’ve ever faced: your ego. — Scott Sonnon”

 

Myofascia is a flexible network of tissue that surrounds, cushions, and supports muscles, bones, and organs, and at the microscopic level, its structure are microtubules that transfer nutrients, sensory input and act as a riverbed containing the flow of interstitial fluid; which is a critical influence on the immune and hormonal systems. Fascia is also our protective barrier and our primitive shock absorber that sits on top of and intertwined within our muscles and organs. In daily life, this connective tissue is an underlying determinant of movement quality, free flow of energy within the tissue, mood, alertness, and general well-being.

On Thursday night I was given the opportunity to come out to a Police Judo class at SFU, operated and instructed by Vancouver Police Officers with Odd Squad Productions; Sgt. Toby Hinton and Al Arsenault. Both Judo and Yoga activate the deep arm fascia and, as we know shoulder and elbow injuries are common place in both of these sports. When postures or arm locks are performed incorrectly, or when too much force is applied, this can lead to serious injury if not performed correctly.

As part of our Shouldering Responsibility series, our focus is going to be two fold (1) to showcase the importance of the fascia system in relation to Judo and Yoga (2) to educate on proper shoulder stability and “shoulder packing” which is used frequently in both Yoga and in Judo, primarily in arm locking, counterbalance/ transfer of energy and integration of the nervous system and communicating our visceral threshold.

The Mastery Of Sport:

Judo (otherwise known as the “gentle way”) is a martial art rooted in combat sport, grappling and joint maneuvering. Very practical for law enforcement and relative tactical training, but it’s also very closely linked to Yoga because of the grace and flow and mutual respect between the teacher and the student.

A style of Yoga closely linked to martial arts; (one that I have been practicing quite recently) is called Prasara Yoga; which embodies the 3rd mode of Hatha yoga, incorporating both Asana practice and Vinyasa, or breath linkage. Prasara Yoga is  founded by Scott Sonnon, formerUSAnational martial arts team coach, international champion and internationally acclaimed Yoga Teacher and Author. This style of Yoga provides counterbalance to the body through dynamic flow and resyncing the breath through movement and structure.

The Fascia System: Integrative Primitive Patterning

The fascia lines that deeply affect shoulder stability and engagement can be broken down into smaller, integrated segments, such as the:

  • Fascia over deltoid
  • Subscapular fascia
  • Supraspinous fascia
  • Infraspinous fascia
  • Pectoral and axillary fascia
  • Clavipectoral fascia

For a review of the deep arm lines please see our previous article from week 2 (Shouldering Responsibility: When Mobility Goes Over(your)head). Most injuries are connective-tissue (fascial) injuries, not muscular injuries—so how do we best train to prevent and repair damage and build elasticity and resilience into the system.

All of these fascia lines come into play in both the arm locks in Judo, and shoulder stands/inversions in Yoga. As previously mentioned, we have 4 joints to consider when loading the shoulder and arm or counter locking when force is applied. These joints are  the glenohumeral joint (GHJ),  acromioclavicular joint (ACJ), and the sternoclavicular joint (SCJ),  and the The scapulothoracic joint.

Shoulder Packing:

Keeping the integrity and movement of all 4 joints within the shoulder complex; to maintain scapular stablity on the tspine as the scapula rotates upwards, the scapula’s position on the tspine has to be maintained through the application of force to full posture or to full joint lock out.This requires what is now being called shoulder packing, – maintain the scapula’s position on the tspine while it upwardly rotates, making sure the sub-acromial space is not compromised.

As I engaged with the movements I realized how important the role of the fascia system is, by way of communicating the visceral response to joint locking and nervous system integration. In Yoga, most of our transitional poses (downward facing dog, rockstar pose, shoulder stands and head stands) require a great deal of shoulder and upper extremity stability. There seems to be some confusion as to what packing the shoulder actually is, when to do it and why.

Keeping the shoulder packed does not mean to limit or stop the normal scapulo-humeral rhythm in an overhead movement or subduing an opponent. In fact, packing the shoulder will actually reinforce and create proper overhead movement mechanics, as well as “turn on” the deep arm fascia which enhances sensory output and nervous system integration with the fascia reinforcing the intentional focus on proper motor-programming.

In shoulder stands and inversions, as well as in arm locks which are followed after the basic throw thechniques in Judo – known as the Ashi Guruma (Foot Wheel) and Deashi Harai (Advancing Foot Sweep). There needs to be simultaneous engagement of the lat, serratus, and traps in the proper sequence as the humeurus moves into the overhead position.

This keeps the scapula stable on the tspine while it properly upwardly rotates, allowing the rotator cuff to build and maintain tension for humeral stability, keeping the humerus in the glenoid with the proper PICR as it moves into the overhead position. This keeps the sub-acromial space uncompromised and impingement potential at its lowest.

To see this in action, I came across this video by way of Jena Fraser, RMT and West Vancouver Chiropractor, Dr. Carla Cupido at Baseline Health, this video represents how shoulder packing protects the shoulder joints (gleno-humeral [GH] & acromio-clavicular [AC]).

Watch how space is preserved and structures aren’t jamming into each other when the subject raises their arm for a overhead press using fluoroscopy imaging:

1. With no shoulder packing – muscling the arm up – http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bkJi23yKTDs

2. With shoulder packing – a stable complex/proper biomechanics –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ibmcNJta5vk

 

Sources:

Flouroscopy of the shoulder complex: Video found via Jena Fraser, RMT with LifeMark Richmond Oval and Dr. Carla Cupido with Baseline Health -West Vancouver Chiropractor.

Scott Sonnon Prasara Yoga – http://www.prasarayoga.com/index.php

Scott Sonnon –  http://www.rmaxinternational.com/flowcoach/

Vancouver Police Department Police Judo – http://vancouver.ca/police/about/judo-club.html

Odd Squad Productions – http://www.oddsquad.com/

Transformation at Kushala Yoga

The yoga studio formally known as Kula Yoga has recently changed their name to Kushala (Kushala is Sanskrit for well-being). This change is perfect timing as they are celebrating the expansion and grand opening of their new Port Moody location in Suter Brook Village.

Along with an amazing view and masterful instructors, the new location has two studio spaces, a retail shop full of yoga goodies, a tea lounge and a wellness center! There are also rumors that another location will be opening in early 2012!

What I love about Kushala is that they offer a wide variety of classes, so there is definitely something to meet everyone’s needs. Some of their more unique offerings include: Sunrise Hatha at 6am, Wild Thing Wednesdays (a class designed for more advanced yogis), Yoga 101 (for the beginner yogi) and Pre-Natal Yoga.

Kushala Yoga also specializes in teaching the philosophical side of yoga with courses such as: Prana 101 (students learn meditation and breathing techniques) and the Dharma Series that takes a closer look at Eastern philosophies.

What I enjoy most about Kushala is the extremely warm and inviting atmosphere that only a great yoga studio can provide!

For more about Kushala, please visit:

http://www.kushalayoga.com/

 


Ode To A Great Cup Of Tea

Source: http://www.sreducation.ca/everyday-sred-tea/

It’s cold and rainy outside. I’m at work early snuggling with the studio cat Charlie. I had a hot cup of coffee this morning on the way in, but realised as I was making tea for the students upstairs (soon to finish class), there is not much better on a cold rainy October morning (or evening for that matter) than a large, hot, flavourful cup of tea.

I just finished reading Taya’s article this week about Libre Tea Glasses and decided to continue with the theme of the marvelous brilliance of tea!

At the studio I work at (Hari Om Yoga) we provide complementary herbal tea to shoppers and students. We regularly stock tea from David’s Tea (multiple locations) and Tea Time (North Vancouver). Among my favourites are David’s Tea’s Pink Flamingo, Crème Brulée, Baked Apple (ohmygodsogood!) and Exotica. From Tea Time, their Honey Lavender, Corsican Pear, Blueberry Bang and Rose Petals blends rock my socks.

There are many reasons tea is a beautiful thing. It smells delicious. It looks delicate and heavenly. Dried tea has a beautiful sound when shaken in the bag before steeping. A nice cup of tea smells and tastes so brilliant. Good tea is worth discussing. It creates community and better health. Tea feels good to drink – promoting warmth, comfort and balance. It’s hydrating after a yoga class. Tea can lift your spirits or provide grounding, depending on your mood. Have I mentioned it tastes great?

I could go on and on about the marvels of a great cup of tea on a cold, rainy day. Instead, I’ll finish with an anonymous poem that sums it all up perfectly:

When the world is all at odds
And the mind is all at sea
Then cease the useless tedium
And brew a cup of tea.

There is magic in its fragrance,
There is solace in its taste;

And the laden moments vanish
Somehow into space.

The world becomes a lovely thing!
There’s beauty as you’ll see;
All because you briefly stopped
To brew a cup of tea.

Laughter Yoga

Laughter yoga was created by Dr. Madan Kataria in 1995 in Mumbai, India.  The idea came to him at a time he was writing an article ‘Laughter- The Best Medicine’.  It originated as a ‘Laughter Club’.  After two weeks of telling the same jokes, the participants became bored.  Dr. Kataria’s wife is a yoga instructor.  He consulted with her in further developing the ‘Laughter Club’.  They discovered that there were a lot of similarities between laughing and pranayama exercises.  Laughter yoga was born, resulting in a blend of Yogic Deep Breathing, Stretching, and Laughter Exercises that cultivate child-like playfulness.  Dr. Kataria came to the realization that the body cannot tell the difference between real and pretend laughter.

I took my very first Laughter Yoga class at Open Door Yoga on Commercial Drive.  I have to say, there were a lot of times when I thought to myself, what the heck am I doing.  However, the laughter was contagious.  I left the class feeling happier and lighter.

Give Laughter Yoga a try.  Go with an open mind and an open heart.

Namaste.

 

 

THE RADICAL ROAD OF A SPIRIT JUNKIE

to heal is to make happy. Spirit is in a state of grace forever. Your reality is only spirit. Therefore you are in a state of grace forever.’ ~ A Course in Miracles

 

On Monday night I was joined with many friends and like minded powerful women as we sat and listened to Gabrielle Bernstein tell her personal journey on her North American book tour, “Spirit Junkie.” An event held at the Planetarium and hosted by Conscious Divas, a local company that holds “Dive Date Nights” and events that empower young women to follow their dreams share and tell stories of life, success and well… everything! And as always, the universe seems to unfold when it is needed most.

Touted as a role model for Gen-Y women, Gabby’s writing sets a vibe that draws you in with a down-to-earth tone and she speaks to you almost like a loving sister imparting wisdom for inner peace and joy.

So, how does a New York City publicist and party girl turn into an urban go to guide and inspirational guru for the next generation?

Part memoir and part guide, In her new book, Spirit Junkie: A Radical Road to Self-Love and Miracles, Gabby shares her personal story of how she transformed her life, offering her spiritual journey as a guidebook for overcoming fear, changing perceptions, and creating a life you’re psyched to wake up for. She has traded self-doubt and addiction for a new kind of high and In 2005 she became a student of A Course in Miracles.

Spirit Junkie is Gabby’s second book of brilliance, “Add more ~ing to your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness was her first, and since then she has been guided to teach those spiritual principles to the next generation of seekers. Spirit Junkie is her personal story that acts to instruct us all on how to “expect miracles” in our own lives, and to Be the Change, by Be-“ing” the Love throughout our own lives.

One of the topics Gabby spoke of most was her delight in dropping the “f” bomb – FEAR. The most important lesson is that we have a choice to live in fear or love. When we make the decision to project our fears onto the world, fear is what we will experience, its that simple. When we begin to shift those fear-based perceptions to love, then miracles occur and we start to make changes that affect the rest of our lie decisions.

I highly recommend this book, as well as checking out her numerous online websites that give you the opportunity to download meditations, inspirational vlogs and of course connect with other hip and fab women co-mingling in what Gabby calls – Power Posse’s!

Gabby Bernstein ~ http://gabbyb.tv/

Her Future ~ http://www.herfuture.com/

Conscious Divas ~ http://www.consciousdivas.com/

Emily Millen

You’re looking to feel like a marshmallow, you say? Perfect, read on!

Emily Millen happens to be one of those people that perplexes me. The first time she wafted into the room I didn’t believe that she was always so soft-spoken and ripple-free. After a year of taking her classes I’ve come to realize that I still have no idea. She could have a penchant to cuss up a storm when away from the studio for all I know. Hey, I know I do.

But I digress. I’ve only ever taken her power and hatha classes and I have to say both are the most consistently mellow practices I’ve experienced. Not that she’s predictable, but you’ll know what to expect unlike, say, Liv Hilde. However, Emily is as equally stable and strong as Liv and floats into inversions as if someone had her on puppet-strings. Seeing her perform these feats you’d be hard-pressed to imagine that she (if I remember correctly) tore her ACL some time ago along with some other knee parts.

Those injuries (fascia-types) can be long-term and extremely debilitating but she told the class one day that mended her injury through sound healing. She proceeded to demonstrate and got all of us to try it; humming the alphabet one letter at a time in different pitches and tones. I admit it was awkward though I can’t deny my back felt oddly loose and limber without actually moving. Oh, and that’s another thing about Emily’s influence; you may feel like you’re not doing much but she’s actually getting you to work every atom in your body. I wouldn’t say it’s effortless (since she’s putting her full effort into the class) but it’s a certain type of minimalism. There’s a cliche that everyone uses that fits here but I don’t feel like typing it.

Bright and beaming is what you’ll always get. (http://yyoga.ca/welcome/our-team/emily-millen/)

With that experience in mind, I practiced both sound healing and minimalism after my eye surgery (PRK) and again after tearing my hip flexor. I wonder how I would’ve handled those recovery periods if I hadn’t met her or the likes of Anila and Alex, two other teachers that remind you to just take it easy. The yoga community is very fortunate to have teachers that stretch the spectrum of pure power and complete softness, and the best ones teeter between the two. Emily is one of those teachers that can effortlessly switch from all-out to wind-down at the appropriate moments. I imagine her injury had a part to play in the  forgiving nature of her practice and how she can do so much while seemingly doing little.

Her power classes on Wednesday (both regular and upside downs) aren’t too strenuous and she normally doesn’t suggest insane postures if there are more than a few newcomers. She’ll put in a headstand in the upside down class as it’s relatively accessible and adventurous enough already. She’s conscious about how intimidating yoga can get and I’m sure it wouldn’t do to traumatize anyone. Her hatha class on Saturday evening is excellent for those looking to start up or veterans to go shake it out. I try my best to attend since it ends/starts any week on a fine note.

After my tearing my hip flexor the first class I went to was hers since I knew her experience could help. It was difficult to move my leg without using my hands, but she showed me all the variations I could do without compromising the tender integrity of my healing hip. That one class provided me with an enormous amount of flexibility and strength the next day, which is excellent because sitting motionless with an icepack on the hip only got me so far. That and I was getting batty from immobility.

The other nice part about her classes is that her way of speaking, her tone, can put one in a trance. More than once I’ve snapped back to my senses at the end of a savasana to realize that I don’t recall doing anything between the starting “aum” and hearing her ask us to sit up from savasana. That may be why her classes seems like a breeze; you’re not aware you’re doing anything at all. It’s difficult these days to come across people such as Emily; people that make you feel at ease without trying too hard to be funny or wax philosophical.

AntiGravity Yoga with Ingrid

There are so many variations of yoga popping up all the time.  When I heard about AntiGravity yoga I was intrigued.  Currently it is only offered at Steve Nash Sports Club.

You perform the poses in a hammock which is made of a structural fabric that is connected from two overhead points. It acts like a swing or soft trapeze.  You are very safe.  The benefits are said to be a relief of compressed joints and alignment of the body.

Ingrid was my instructor.  She was well trained, friendly and allowed that fun, playful side to come out.  I felt like a kid again when we started swinging.   I especially liked all the inversions that would not be possible otherwise.

If you are looking to mix up your regular yoga routine, I highly recommend you try this class.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

THE FASCIAL PROTECTOR: THE EMOTIONAL DIVIDE


Fascia keeps us together in recognizable form. It is a tough, stiff, elastic connective tissue that is the protector – the foundation of our energy force, all our other systems in the human body.  This fascial net serves as a barrier from the outside world against pathogens and transmits immediate feedback to your brain about your surroundings.

In Yoga we practice mindful meditation and asanas to bring peace and harmony to our state of physical and mental being.  As a teacher, coach, and student of Yoga sometimes I find my own practice just isn’t enough to heal my body from the constant compression and mileage I place on my structure day after day. Sometimes, it needs a little more TLC.

As an advocate for an integrated approach and what practitioners are now calling, “structural integration,” it’s no wonder the fascia has gained traction within the medical and holistic communities.

Have you ever thought of the connection of our emotions and thoughts connected to our fasica system?

As we know we have well over 16,000 thousand thoughts per day and that can (and does) affect our bodies. Emotion can be stored as a memory within the body cells and when emotions become trapped within the tissue energy can become blocked, when left can result in physical symptoms, like pain and discomfort, anxiety and interrupted ease, throwing our fascial connections and relationships to our bones, joints, muscles and organs off balance.

In these instances your body is in a self perpetuating cycle. i.e. your mind starts to affect your body and vice versa and thus to break the cycle, we need to change our thought pattern, we need an intervention.

This past week, I spent a few hours with an amazing holistic practitioner, located in Vancouver. Robin Turner is a registered Kinesiologist, who specializes in Fascial Stretch Therapy (FST). Over the course of both our conversation and my own FST treatment we discussed the importance of whole body breathing, emotional restrictions in our tissue,
all of which is connected to the fascia system and reflex receptors.

With any deep bodywork there is a potential to release some emotions or memories stored in the tissue. This is a great opportunity to probe your mind and reconcile with any pent up unresolved thoughts that affect your optimal well being. The slow FST dance your coach takes you through stretches, not only fascia, but also alters the collagen and softens the viscosity, causing greater ease in movement and less pain in your daily existence.

The principles and ideology behind Fascia Stretch Therapy and Yoga are very familiar and they share many commonalities. As part of our own path and duality of life we must understand that the stress we place on our minds and bodies require a balance of this duality (ying and yang), and it is in these lessons where we learn to navigate our path to better, more mobile health and wellness.

Much like after Yoga, after a session of myofascial work it is important to honor the emotions you are experiencing, embrace them and learn from them. When we do this, we open the door to not only better movement and symmetry, but a better relationship with ourselves and our surroundings.

 

For more information on Robin Turner, BHK, RK, CFT-1 and FST, please visit : Body Engineering Personal Fitness Inc. at www.bepersonalfitness.com

THINK TANK REVIEW: BRIDGING THE GAP BETWEEN STRENGTH & CONDITIONING AND YOGA

Tonight I was given the opportunity to attend a “Think Tank” session to discuss the ‘state of the industry’ in health, fitness and sports performance. Carmen Bott, newly appointed Director of the NSCA of BC invited over 30 health professionals to openly brainstorm and discuss strengths within our scope of practice, industry standards, pitfalls, trends and presentation topics, as well as, what we would like to see implemented into the next NSCA Conference. A wish list if you will!

L.A Clippers Blake Griffin, Mens Health Magazine 2011

Who was in the room? Strength coaches, personal trainers, educators, RMT’s a physiotherapist, athletic trainers, FST’s, a yoga teacher (me); and at this networking gig… there was no pink elephant in the room, just unbridled passion for harnessing human potential.

Honored to be invited and to sit next to these leaders in strength and athletic performance, I quietly wondered if this was a little out of my league. Many years ago I made the slow transition out of sports conditioning to Yoga, then to corrective movement; therefore, what could a Yoga teacher possibly bring to the table?

I had a realization.  The goal of a health professional is not to solely enroll in courses, or engage in discussions we already know the answers to, but to continue to learn and evolve our scope of practice, so that we can integrate a holistic approach to better serve our clients and our industry.

A background in the physiology of flexibility, the fascial system and the traditional holistic methodology of “Yoga” would be a very beneficial topic up for discussion in this group and on the flip side, learning more about strength conditioning and athletic based performance metrics would most definitely offer me the chance to better communicate with my clients that fall under the auspices of athlete and strength based populations.

As we know, teaching fascial stretch or Yoga to a rugby player, will be much different then teaching Yoga to an endurance athlete or a dancer. Why? Genetics, muscle tensity, sport performance, gender etc! Our genetic make-up and muscular and fascial composition make all the difference. As a Yoga Teacher, read this next sentence…

“Each has a unique genetic make up that requires a specific repertoire of movement patterns, release techniques and conditioning metrics for improved mobility and stability  for better movement and performance mechanics.”

Now, re-read that sentence if you are a strength coach? Doesn’t it sound like we are trying to achieve the same destination? The answer is YES, we just look at the mechanics a little differently.

This is why understanding the dynamics of strength coaching is so important if you teach to a population inside athletics. Moreover, an integrated approach is so integral to anyone with the goal of improved movement and human potential for that fact.

What is the NSCA?

The National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) has become the worldwide authority on strength and conditioning for athletic performance.  They have achieved this accreditation by supporting and disseminating research-based knowledge and the practical application to improve athletic performance and fitness on a myriad of levels.

This think tank was a great representation of how we can each play a role and impact the evolution of our industry and better serve our clients. The science and the health sectors are constantly changing, and with the integration of holistic wellness outreach, I truly believe there is much to be learned and benefited from when we combine the science of biomechanics and human kinetics with the art of traditional Yoga. A practice that for over 5000 years has been rooted in the very embodiment of human performance potential – mind, body and spirit.

For every Ying, there is always a Yang!

Sources:

To learn more about the NSCA please visit:  http://www.nsca-lift.org/

To learn more about Carmen Bott please visit:  http://www.carmenbott.com/

CRANK IT OUT CYCLISTS: BETTER POSTURE MECHANICS

“Cadence: the number of revolutions of the crankset on a bike per minute”

Understanding the role of fascia in healthy movement, sport and postural distortion is of integral importance to athletes that spend a lot of time in their sport of choice.  Today we explore cycling, as we near the date of the Vancouver to Whistler GranFondo!

As we know, the most common sports-related injuries primarily are overuse injuries, due to restrictions and repetitive load. As the name implies, an overuse injury results from wear and tear on the body, particularly on joints and fasical lines subjected to repeated activity.

Cyclists can experience overuse injuries because of the amount of time clocked on the bike, (this is especially the case with cyclists that use tri-bars). Possible causes, could include poor handlebar or saddle position. A poorly placed handlebar might be too low, at too great a reach, or at too short a reach. With your back bent low over the handlebars, you have to tilt your neck up to see ahead. After a long ride, the neck muscles may tighten up and go into spasm from this awkward position. A saddle with excessive downward tilt can be a source of neck pain.

To understand the mechanics and the muscles of the upper extremity, can be divisible into  several groups, corresponding with the different regions of the limb. These are known as the Deep Front Arm and the Deep Back Arm Fascial Lines:

  • Muscles Connecting to the upper extremity to the Vertebral Column
  • Muscles Connecting the upper extremity to the anterior and lateral thoracic walls
  • Muscles of the shoulders, arms, forearm and hand

Primary muscles associated with the front and back arm lines are then divided up into 3 tracts each, however for purposes of cycling related muscle injuries and  fascial breakdowns we will filter our focus towards the primary muscles cyclists experience pain referral or stiffness in.

This includes; the upper trapezius, rear deltoids, rotator cuff muscles, which sometimes results in shoulder impingement. The levator scapulae from improper cervical spine alignment and forward head carry. The pectorals major and minor; which increases rounding of the shoulders). Even stressing out as far as the thoracolumbar fascia and sacral fascia (opposite side of thoracolumbar fascia) due to the kyphotic positing on the bike.

Most of the time spent in corrective movement usually center around anterior extension and posterior stabilization, but positioning of the bike and how we hold our upper frame (shoulder and pectoral girdle) is of the utmost importance.

One great addition to any cyclists program – cycle coaching on and off the road. Taking it inside can have many benefits so that you can take out the external environment and focus solely on gaining feedback on how to correct your compensations, improve your leg turnover, posture and ergonomics on the bike.  Then you can take the knowledge and apply it to your long endurance rides.

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite spots – Cadence Cycling Studio on West 6th in Vancouver. Mike Porter, owner and Lululemon Ambassador knows the cycling realm. Cadence instructors are cyclists, health nuts and coaches and even though delightful in real life, on the bike they will drill into you the necessity of working hard, correcting your form and…well…cranking it out! Cadence is set in a boutique urban industrial style setting, where puddles of sweat can easily be mopped up, as it goes without saying each cyclist will be pushed to their limits and within their unique mechanics for better riding performance.

Next time you ride don’t forget to think about the impact on your muscles and fascia, always take time to stretch. Try these post ride:

Deep Arm Line & upper Mechanics:

  • Cat Flow Series for Spinal extension and spinal articulation
  • Arm Circles standing or supine on foam roller – (Chest, shoulders, scapular stabilization)
  • Neck Stretching Series (through flexion, extension and rotation to release)
  • Thread the Needle (rotation through the T-spine and back line)

Lower Mechanics:

  • Kneeling Crescent Lunge -Psoas/Hip Flexors (Improves leg turnover and reduces hip impingement and femoral compression)
  • Supine Hamstring Stretch with Band – Hamstrings/Calves (for more leg turnover on the backpedal stroke)
  • Half or Full Pigeon Pose – Hips, SI Joint, Glutes (This leads to less hip rock and less knee rotation while pedaling)

Happy Cycling!

VISIT CADENCE CYCLING STUDIO: http://cadencevancouver.com/

Enlighten Up!

Enlighten Up!

“A filmmaker is determined to prove that yoga can transform anyone. Her plan: select a subject, immerse him in yoga and follow him until he finds a practice that transforms him. Her subject: Nick Rosen a skeptical, 29 year-old journalist living in New York City. Before he can say OM, Nick finds himself twisted up like a pretzel surrounded by celebrity yogis, true believers, kooks and entrepreneurs. The more he investigates yoga the more contradictions he discovers, straying further from Kate’s plan. They circle the globe talking to mystics, gurus, mad men and saints searching for the true meaning of yoga, encountering things they never could have imagined. They don’t find the answers to their questions, they find much more.” (www.enlightenupthefilm.com)

BREATHE DEEP FOR INSPIRATION

“Two poles of a battery between which energy flows – in this way bandhas conduct breath through the body. Working against the force of gravity and achieving lightness; a union between the respiratory and pelvic diaphragms.” – Unknown

Last week well known Strength and Conditioning Coach Carmen Bott  CEO of Human Motion Strength & Conditioning (and friend – shameless plug),  asked an amazing question to her fellow friends and team:

 “Connective tissue then, in its various shapes and consistencies, forms a continuous net throughout the entire body. It contains many specialized structures, but it is really one piece, from scalp to soles, from skin to marrow. – Deane Juhan.

So then, how do we isolate the pelvic floor?”  – Carmen Bott

My extension of this question seeks to explore the answer as it relates to Yoga and the connection between the abdominal diaphragms (the respiratory and pelvic diaphragms), in addition to the activation of the mula bandha (in scientific terms the pelvic floor) through deep breathing techniques.

First let’s look at movement and posture for a moment and begin with the simple fact that “posture” comes from the Latin word placement – it is an action, much like sitting or standing. We are never truly placed in stillness, as we are always moving, shifting, balancing and adapting – even in the stillness of mediation and yoga. Therefore, as outlined in our on-going exploration of the interconnected fascial web – isolation is not plausible.

Secondly,  let’s recognize that the pelvic floor is not solely a muscle; its function is complex as it acts as a diaphragm and plays an integral role in breathing mechanics, but is commonly overlooked.  In actuality all three diaphragms pelvic, respiratory and vocal come together in yoga movements that are coordinated to facilitate the breathing cycle. Feeling how breathing works is a good way to realize the power of the diaphragms working  jointly, or sometimes working against one another, as seen in faulty mechanics.

Today’s article, we  are looking for reciprocity between the respiratory and pelvic diaphragms. When relaxed and in balanced acture, they face each other (like a beach ball) with a top and bottom. Understanding that we are always moving and our posture is constantly changing, the positioning of the shoulders-to-spine and spine-to-pelvis can vary; therefore  balance and reciprocity between these two diaphragms (like a slightly deflated or overly inflated beach ball) can be compromised. Balancing of the respiratory and pelvic diaphragms means an equal balance between 4 main muscle groups; which Tom Myers calls the four pillars.In easiest terms – a  constant balance of the back muscles, psoas complex, and the abdominals with breathing supported, ensures that the pelvic cavity is properly pressured.

In Yoga deep breathing techniques are used to bring about an awareness of the muscles associated with breathing, align proper intra abdominal pressure and calm the body into a state of stillness.

Of particular interest to Yoga practitioners is the action of mula bandha (pelvic floor) or as Carmen Bott’s question asked “So then, how do we isolate the pelvic floor?”

We already know isolation is not truly plausible, but through breath we can engage the pelvic floor and associated fascia– simply by initiating a lifting action produced in the pelvic floor muscles that also includes the lower fibers of the deep abdominal layers through breath.  Mula bandha is an action that moves apana upwards, and works to stabilize the central tendon of the diaphragm and fascial net.  Inhalation, while this bandha is active then requires a release of the attachments of the upper abdominal wall, which then permits the diaphragm to lift the base of the ribcage upwards establishing energetic dynamics of the pelvic girdle and aids to properly pressurize the pelvic cavity.

When relaxing the body in the more supported, horizontal, restorative practices and postures, it is important to remember to release the bandhas and constrictions that are associated with vertical postural support. This gives rise to zen-mode-relaxed breath work!

 Deep Breathing Yoga Exercises:

  • The Stimulating Breath /  Bellows Breath:  which aims to stimulate the pelvic floor/mula bandha and reflex actions of the diaphragm through quick exhalation)
  • The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise: (nurturing and calm meditative breath work to balance out the breath cycle)
  • Breath Counting: (designed to lengthen and strengthen the breath cycle through targeted breath counting)

All of these breathing exercises are adapted from various yogic breathing technique, all of which aim to raise vital energy and increase alertness, a clear state of mind and a physical stillness through movement and unify the abdomen through the respiatory and pelvic diaphragms – your organs will thank you for co-mingling support!

Sources:

Posture in Action, Anatomy Trains: Tom Myers (http://www.anatomytrains.com/)

Breathing Exercises: For a complete breakdown of breathing exercises link to Dr. Weil at   (www.drweil.com)

Carmen Bott, M.Sc, B.H.K,  CSCS: Founder & President of Human Motion Strength & Conditioning (http://www.humanmotion.ca/home.php) Blog: (http://www.carmenbott.com/blog2/)

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