Styles

Yoga + Spinning = Spynga

Spynga, the yoga and spinning philosophy is about living authentically: Yoga + Spinning = Spynga! The routine involves a half-hour of cycling on a stationary spinning bike and then 30 minutes on the yoga mat for lengthening and strengthening poses.

Based in Toronto, Spynga was created to bring the owners’ two favourite exercise regimes together and make them accessible to people in a non-intimidating environment. Their studio is set up as though you had a bike in the middle of your own comfy living room. No gym-style fluorescent lights or unsightly carpeting. The zen-like room has wood floors, high ceilings with a chic chandelier and large windows that let in loads of natural light.

Currently, Spynga does not have a location in Vancouver, BC. However, Vancouverites can enjoy a similar class called YRide at YYoga.

Anila

My first power class was lead by a very stern and straight-forward teacher. She started with a curt introduction for the new people, myself included at the time, and lit the fuses underneath our butts immediately thereafter. We did some partner work in balancing poses and I ended up in my first full wheel. That was actually the last class I saw my friend in; I think she may have stopped her practice altogether.

For me it was another handhold for my ascent up the mountain that yoga is. That kind of brisk yet solid pacing and concise manner in which she spoke was something that locked me into my practice. She never waffled or forgot her sequences. She made sure we knew where she was taking us. She asks us to build a practice from our experiences in life whether they be ones to cultivate or ones to shed. Instead of reading from a book or notes she gets us to dredge the depths of the self.

Anila Lacroix likes to push the boundaries as much as shatter them. Many of her classes involve doing things that we normally wouldn’t fathom in any given day, say hugging strangers or share personal stories (if you want to, that is) with the class. Odd as they may be she’s just putting the yogic way into practice; to open up and connect in every way.

www.yyoga.ca

Her voice is strong and fierce if not simply bold. Yin classes are ones where people go to in order to relax and be soothed by words and chants. I come out of her classes feeling like I want to destroy a marathon or leap to the moon. She can supercharge your brain by the way she instills you with the facts of life and yanks your inner power to the surface. If you can’t tell it’s quite difficult to describe her aura. I do encourage you to try her ways.

During my recovery period she imparted a very interesting method of resetting the mind. A few days here and there, when my eyes didn’t aggravate me so much, I sat/lay/crumpled somewhere quiet and imagined my brain as a field. I would then imagine a plow running through the soil and scrapping all the old growth and leaving the field bare for new seeds. I’d imagine the new seeds being planted as ideas, sprouting into whatever I wished them to be.

If you get to know her you’ll find out she’ll always have a little something for you to help you through the spats that life has with us. She can revitalize you with a word and spur you with a breath. She’s amazing.

AntiGravity Yoga – Weightless Aerial Yoga In Vancouver

AntiGravity Yoga is aerial yoga, encouraging fitness through levity. The belief is that through the pursuit of anti-gravity, a lighter existence can be achieved. Inspired the gracefulness of aerial art and Vinyasa yoga, this unique type of yoga is a fusion technique often seen as a bridge between fitness and traditional yoga modalities.

Flowing silk hammocks are hung from the ceiling that suspend participants and help them achieve seemingly impossible yoga postures. And unlike traditional yoga inversions, going upside-down in an AntiGravity yoga class is weightless. There’s zero compression of cervical spine, so it’s very therapeutic for the body.

The concept grew out of AntiGravity, an acrobatic performance troupe founded in 1990 by Christopher Harrison, an aficionado of yoga, who designed the fitness regimen around hammocks. For more information regarding AntiGravity, visit their official website: www.antigravityyoga.com. AntiGravity yoga classes are offered at Steve Nash Sports Club in downtown Vancouver. Visit their site here for additional information, and their current schedule.

Stand Up Paddle Yoga Vancouver – SUP Yoga!

Take your Yoga off the mat and onto the water!!!

SUP Yoga Vancouver has combined Stand Up Paddling with Yoga to teach you to breathe, move and be present not only on the water but in your everyday. SUP Yoga will tone your core, build your stability and provide you with a fun learning environment to play and have fun with your practice outside the studio.

SUP Yoga classes will include on land Yoga teachings to prepare you to take your sequence of postures onto the water. On the water we will flow and move while floating and enjoying all the elements of the wilderness and landscapes from snowy mountain tops to beautiful ocean sunsets.

Combining breath with movement you’re sure to find moments of fun, laughter and focus while moving with the water on your board.

*Learn to SUP lesson is a prerequisite for SUP Yoga lessons.
*Previous Yoga experience is an asset – but not required.
*Wear comfortable clothing that you can move and stretch in – dress in layers for the weather and conditions (rain or shine).

For lesson information and pricing, click here, and for the current SUP Yoga monthly schedule, click here. Visit their official website www.standuppaddlevancouver.com, or find them on Facebook. For additional info regarding SUP Yoga, contact [email protected]

FIND BALANCE OUTSIDE THE LINES: THE LATERAL LINE

We live a world were our structural language is centered around cause-and-effect. Western world requires us to understand systems by dividing them into their own unique parts, in order to define the contribution of each identifiable bit in relation to the whole. The concern with this line of thinking is that the human body is not assembled out of parts, it is a uniquely connected whole.  

Yoga and fascial based philosophy works to embrace the very notation that when you change or impact the structural components of one line, you innately effect and structurally change them all. Thus, we are a sum of all parts – a web of connected myofascial mass.

Last week we looked at the role of fascial communication, a great tool towards linking mind and body, and over the last several weeks have looked at 4 out of the 12 fasical lines related to athletics and prevention of injury.  In this article we continue to discuss the interconnected web of our fasical system with the Lateral Line.

For many linear athletes a common structural breakdown related to a lack of lateral stability, or a lack of rotational mobility, stem from a weak link in the lateral line.

Why? Simple – runners and cyclists are forward motion repetitive athletes and if not balance out with lateral mobility and rotational stability based movement patterns, common strain patterns can start to surface; such as knee pain, ITB pain, or pelvic deviations.

The Anatomy:

Your lateral line transverses each side of the body, starting at the neck, with then scalenes and sternocleidomastoid, then connects to the iliocostalis cervis, traverses in a woven pattern  to your torso at the external and internal obliques,  lateral ribs and intercostals, and deep QL’s. Following along the lateral line then connects fascially over your TFL, IT band and gluteus group; which further connects over the fibular head to your peroneals and then the fibular malleolus.

In movement the lateral line creates lateral flexion in the spine, abduction of the hip and eversion of the foot, as well as acts as an adjustable “brake” for lateral and rotational movements of the trunk. It also helps to balance out the left and right sides of the body.

The repetitive habitual movements seen in running and cycling, forms one’s posture, and the posture requires changes in the structure – the body’s fascial ‘fabric’. In other words, a gesture becomes a habit becomes a posture and eventually lodges in our structure. Thus compensations can occur and becomes a reality, like rounded back or forward head carry, but can be treated and fixed.

Adding in rotational mobility drills and side flexion and extension movement patterns can improve overall performance and establish balance in all the lines discussed previously.   

In Yoga the lateral line can be strengthened by integrating these asanas:

  • Half-moon pose  
  • Triangle pose
  • Gate Pose
  • Lateral Side & Extended Angle Pose
  • Mountain Pose with Lateral Flexion

Soft Tissue Release to these areas can reduce tension to the lower mechanics:

  • TFL (tensor fasciae latae)
  • ITB (Illiotibal band)
  • Gluteus Group

 Sources: Thomas Myers – Anatomy Trains

Yeah, I Speak Yoga

I don’t speak Korean. At all. But I speak some yoga. So when I recently attended my first hot yoga class in Bundang, South Korea I somehow knew the language.

The room was hot and humid, much like the weather outside but stronger. My sister, who frequented this studio over the past year, told me to get acquainted with the room before class started. Sitting cross legged, I settled into my space in the sauna-like, wooden panelled room. Mirrors lined the front wall so I could see myself slowly melt – I decided to keep my focus inwards and away from my reflection.

The cute, yet serious teacher greeted the class. I prepared myself for what may be my most difficult yoga class to date: hot and in Korean. To my surprise, our teacher began leading us through a few body awakening movements which I followed smoothly. Neck stretches – right then left, forward then back. Then arms into a standing half moon on each side. Hey, I thought, I’m actually doing yoga in Korean.

I had no clue what she was saying vocally, but the universality of the practice made the class much easier to follow than expected. She counted aloud in English a few times, which my sister says she always does. In mountain pose, she explained the correct stance thoroughly in Korean and it was as if I understood word for word what she saying, “have your feet hip width apart, tuck your tummy, engage your core, and relax your shoulders.”

It is amazing how something can be completely foreign, yet thoroughly understood in the same breath. Despite how displaced we may be culturally, we can still find a kula through yoga, even if it’s in a place far away from our community.

Chataranga Dandasana

My subject today is the dreaded chatarunga (dreaded by me, anyway).

Source: yogaflavoredlife.com

We all have poses that teach us about our limitations. For many people these are poses like paschimottanasana or other hamstring zingers. But there is the other side– the upper body strength poses– like chataranga. I have been blessed with flexible, long hamstring muscles, which makes yoga much “easier” for me. So my challenges are different. I can find full hanumanasana on some days, but I cannot do a sun salutation!

Chataranga continues to elude me.

I do yoga because of how it makes me feel, because of how it allows me to be in the world– the freedom I get from my practice both in my life and in my body. But there is a part of me that would like to be able to do a vinyasa properly. So I get up every morning and do my yoga and muddle through my vinyasas. My difficulty with chatarunga teaches me to be humble and to continue to experiment in my own body.

Strength and ease in chatarunga is different for me than it is in other postures, but just as worthwhile to explore. Every vinyasa is an opportunity to laugh at myself and let go of any expectations that I have. I aspire to do the pose like this guy:

Source: blog.ricecracker.net

CYCLE THIS! NOTHING SUPERFICIAL ABOUT THIS MYOFASCIAL LINE

In celebration of the Tour De France, the next myofascial meridian we will focus on is the Superficial Front Line (SFL); which functionally balances out the Superficial Back Line (SBL) in the sagittal (anterior-posterior) plane. *applause*

France is a bit far, but for those of you gearing up for local cycling spec events, listen up! Cycling requires strong quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes, but, overusing these muscles without maintaining proper form can throw mechanics off balance and excessive wear on joints can occur.

As we know a common occurrence in medicine is to treat symptoms, and isolate the pain referral point, however, symptoms are not always where the problem begins but rather where they are being expressed, hence the need to prevent, rather then treat.

Road cyclists are susceptible to many overuse injuries. Most injuries usually occur at the hip or knee, with the forward posture of cycling we see many clients with rounded shoulders and unbalanced postural mechanics.

The solution is simple = prevention an take precautions by stretching your fascia.  To understand the structural functionality better, let’s look at the anatomy.  

The Superficial Front Line (SFL) runs on both the right and left sides of the body from the top of the foot to the skull including the shin, the quadriceps group, the rectus abdominis, sternal fascia  and sternocleidomastoideus muscle, connecting to the temporal bone. In terms of muscles and tensional forces, the SFL runs in two pieces – toes to pelvis, and pelvis to head, which function as one piece when the hip is extended, as in standing.

In the SFL, fast-twitch muscle fibers predominate and function in movement to flex the trunk and hips, to extend the knee, and to dorsiflex the foot. Chronic contraction of this line creates many postural pain patterns, pulling the front down and straining the back and neck, thus cyclists are more predisposed to structural breakdowns in this train.

In Yoga,  stretches are focused in backbends and sequenced stretching the front of the body – the SFL.  As with cycling specific muscle recruitment, two obvious muscle group to release are; the quadriceps group and hip flexors. This opens the front of the hip and helps to reduce anterior pelvic tilt, which aids in reducing lumbar lordosis. Other key muscles that can lack functional integrity are the neck, which is  important to release forward-head posture, as well as reducing stress to the SBL.  

The breathing and meditation techniques in yoga can turn your simple ride or intense workout into a moving meditation and can power up your cycling in many ways.

Take 10mins a day, get off the bike and hit the mat. Here are a few key anterior opening stretches and quintessential backbends to implement into your routine:

  • Warrior I and Kneeling Lunge – Virabhadrasana opens hips, hip flexors and abdomen
  • One legged King pigeon Pose Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – hip and SI joint opener
  • Fish Pose – Matsyasana – Opens the chest and throat/neck
  • Upward Facing Dog/ Cobra – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana  –   flexibility of the spine

 Happy Cycling!

A REVIEW: HELPING YOU REACH YOUR PEAK WITH THREE PEAKS KINESIOLOGY

Fascial stretching in Yoga vs Facilitated Fasical Stretch Therapy…. Whats the diff? Well they both rock, but sometimes our body needs a little more hands on TLC!

Fascial stretching and building a strong, flexible and dynamic myofascial web is an integral part of optimal health and wellness. The physical and functional demands of everyday life, work or sports can take a toll on the body, leaving you feeling less energized and more prone to injury.

Over the course of the last month we have started to unlock the benefits and understanding of fascial stretching in a Yoga class format, as an integrated approach, combining spinal mobility and fascial meridian lines with traditional Yin Yoga practices.

We know that Myofascial restrictions arise due to high amounts of pressure exerted on the bones, nerves, blood vessels and muscles which result in headaches, limited mobility, pain and disease., but what about those times when a class just isn’t enough? Perhaps you have a nagging injury or need a quick tune up? If so then you may wish to implement a one on one facilitated fascial stretch therapy session into your routine!

Last Friday I had the opportunity to have my very first Fascial Stretch Therapy session with Paul Turner, a renowned Kinesiologist and founder/owner of  Three Peaks Kinesiology (3pk), the premier facility for myo-fascial stretch therapy in Canada, located in Langley, as well as Vancouver.

Having suffered a dislocated rib a few days before the session and gearing up for the Scotiabank Half Marathon on Sunday, I needed a miracle.  My body was in need of rapid improvement and I had a 2 day window. Being a teacher of YogaFORM and fascial release techniques, I knew just fascial stretch yoga postures were not going to be enough.

One of the most significant distinguishing differences between fascial stretch in Yoga and facilitated one on one fascial stretch therapy was the methods a therapist can use in a one on one setting. Myofascial release is an effective hands-on technique that works in the form of sustained pressure into fascial restrictions to remove pain and result in unrestricted motion.

Hands-on therapy, traction techniques and massage enables the therapist to set the myofascial system back to it’s equilibrium, so you feel freedom from pain and are able to enjoy unrestricted motion of our body.

My experience was beyond amazing! When I walked into Paul Turner’s office, he assessed I had a dislocated rib, a compressed left femur and compressed left ankle; as well as a collapsed left arch (due to a weak lateral line and anterior meridian line). After an hour of blissful facilitated stretching.  I walked out with a new musculoskeletal body – no compression, fully mobile ankle joints and a reset rib cage! On Sunday at the Scotiabank Half marathon I started the race strong and pain free. It was indeed a miracle!

My review – you gotta try it! Private one on one fascial stretch therapy can give you rapid results from pain and restriction, and supports longevity and anti-aging ability and can effectively reduce painful muscle spasms that can restrict your movement; especially if you are an athlete.

Thank you Paul!

For more information on Paul Turner,  Three Peaks Kinesiology and on going courses, visit: http://www.3pk.ca/index.html

PET + POSE 2012 YOGA CALENDAR PHOTO CONTEST

Calling on all yogis!  Last month I posted a “Yoga Teaser” on a national event, linking up yoga communities for a global cause. Well, the details are in!

The Ladybird Animal Sanctuary (LAS), an animal rescue group made up of three Canadian singer/writers (Melissa McClelland, Janine Stoll and Lisa Winn) are on a mission, to bring much needed awareness and support to our furry friends.

The LAS sole purpose is to help as many dogs, cats and other domesticated animals in need, and in celebration of the joy of yoga and the beautiful relationship we share with our pets, the LAS is looking YOU to submit a Pet + Pose Photo for their 2012 calendar.

Here is the challenge:

Take your best pic of YOU and YOUR Pet (or your neighbors) – we want to see a beloved pet in the photo with you. The more creative the better, they are looking for anything fun, playful, beautiful, poignant, peaceful… you name it. Anything that expresses your wonderful relationship to your yoga practice & your best furry pal.

The LAS will choose 12 winners from across Canada who will be featured in our 2012 calendar, which will be sold in yoga studios throughout our country. The Grand Prize winner will get the cover photo and all winners will receive a gift pack with yoga and pet related goodies. Alongside your photo will also be a short description of you, your photographer and your animal. The best part of this whole project is that all proceeds from the sales of the calendar will go to helping animals in need.

To enter, please send the following to [email protected]

  • 1-3 photos, ideally 8×12”, 300 dpi (jpeg or pdf)
  • A quick description of yourself, your pose, your pet + your photographer friend (max. 200 words).

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: AUGUST 31, 2011.

So Get Your Best Downdog, Updog, Cat Pose or Pigeon Asana On!

Check out thier facebook page for more details and connect with the Song Birds behind this great cause!

Ladybird Animal Sanctuary Pet + POse Yoga Photo Challenge: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=218722811484946&ref=ts!

Namaste & Good Luck!

Sweating with Shiva Rea’s Prana Flow

My favourite teacher just got back from training with Shiva Rea in Venice Beach, California. In the last two weeks, she has brought her new lessons back to her Flow class on Thursday nights – her classes, though  typically marvelous, have since been nothing short of challenging, sweat-inducing brilliance!

Shiva Rea. Source: http://shivarea.com/about-gallery

Shiva Rea teaches a unique style of Vinyasa called Prana Flow which is an “energetic, creative, full-spectrum approach to embodying the flow of yoga” (www.shivarea.com). It is indeed an “embodied” style –it encompasses breath-driven exploration of effort and a wave-inspired fluidity of movement that gets your heart pumping.

On a normal day, I can work up a sweat in my practice no problem. During a Prana Flow class with one of Shiva’s students, I feel immediately like I’m firing on all cylinders – the prana is moving no doubt! My teacher called me a “wet seal” when she saw me smiling and dripping sweat all over my mat.  This is a freeing practice, with lots of lightness and dynamism to get you through a tough practice. Glorious!

Clara Roberts-Oss Source: http://pixieyoga.net/id3.html

Valeria Pongracz (Hari Om Yoga, Langley) and Clara Roberts-Oss (Semperviva, Yaletown Yoga, Flow Yoga and Wellness, Vancouver) are two of a very select few teachers in BC working towards certification with Shiva Rea. They both teach a rocking class that, if you haven’t already, cause you to fall in love with movement.

Clara teaches classes and hosts workshops primarily in Vancouver. Check her out on http://pixieyoga.net/ for a full listing. Clara will be out in Langley’s Hari Om Yoga for a one-week Vinyasa Flow Yoga Teacher Training and Immersion in late September (more info available on www.hariomyoga.com).

I can’t wait for tomorrow’s Prana Flow class!

RUN’YIN TO YOGA: A GREAT WAY TO TAPER

In celebration of Vancouver’s upcoming running events; proper running mechanics and prevention of injury are key elements to any runner’s success. Last week we identified fascial elasticity in Yin Yoga, and the benefits aligned with the Spiral Line Meridian (one of many fascial anatomy trains).

Today we look at how Yin Yoga can be a great addition to your taper for an upcoming race. Common lower limb mechanical injuries associated with distance running (to name a few) are  ITB syndrome, knee pain, shin splints and plantar fascitis, which can usually be attributed to  a breakdown in the structural framework of a fascial meridian, most injuries are not muscular in origin.

The Spiral Line myofascial meridian is somewhat more complicated than the other fascial trains, as it forms distinct spirals of deep myofascial connections looping around the legs and torso.  This is a complex fascial meridian and has functional implications.

Focusing specifically on the lower limb mechanics and to jog your Yoga brain from last week; the spiral loop starts at the anterior hip (ASIS), which then follows the TFL muscle and ITB, connecting to the tibialis anterior (shin)  just below the lateral knee to its insertion on the base of the 1st metatarsal. Then continues up the peroneus longus (outer lower leg), to the insertion of the biceps femoris (lateral hamstring) that attaches on the head of the fibula.  It then follows the biceps femoris to its origin on the ischial tuberosity (sitting bone). 

Repetitive load bearing movements; like running can breakdown our fascia and interconnected neuro web, thus placing stress on the entire meridian line; associated joints and muscles. This can cause minor, sometimes major imbalances, that can go undetected until acute pain or discomfort manifests (ie. muscle pain, strain or tears). 

 The result?  A reduction in performance, agility, speed, endurance and power execution, to name a few.

The best way to prevent injuries from even occurring is to invest in fascial stretching and therapeutic movements used in the Yin Yoga style.  Leading up to any race or event your 1-2 week taper period should include at least 2 Yin classes to reinforce fascial elasticity and improve mobility and flexibility within the joints.

 If you are gearing up for the Scotiabank half marathon & 5km next weekend,  try out this sequence for taper bliss:

  1. Start with 3-4 mins of soft tissue work: foam rolling the mid back, glutes, ITB, quads and hamstrings.
  2. Always begin with T-spine mobility (improve upper running mechanics)
  3. Kneeling Lunge (hip flexor/psoas stretch)
  4. Dancers Hamstring Stretch  (toes pointed to stretch shin)
  5. Pigeon Pose (to stretch glutes and SI joint.  Add in thread the needle for rotational mobility).

 RUN. YIN. REPEAT.

Sources: To learn more about fascial elasticity visit YogaFORM at http://yogaform.wordpress.com/

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