Yoga

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).

GET YOUR “GABA” ON: YOUR BRAIN ON YOGA

GET YOUR “GABA” ON: YOUR BRAIN ON YOGA

It has long been known that Yoga has Ying and Yang properties. Each style, no matter if its restorative or power has an effect on both the mind and body and it works, not because the poses are relaxing, but because they are stressful. It is your attempts to remain calm during this stress that create yoga’s greatest neurobiological benefit. For instance for A-Types, Restorative, Yin and Hatha styles can be very mentally challenging and on the other hand for those who find body weight exercises challenging and linking breath with movement (as in Vinyasa, and Power yoga) can find the transitions and posture challenging.

Your brain tends to react to stressors, feeling of  discomfort and disorientation in an automatic way, by triggering the physiological stress response; which results in activating anxious neural chatter between the prefrontal cortex and the more emotional limbic system. The stress response itself increases the likelihood of anxious thoughts, like “Oh man, I’m totally going to pull something,” or ” how long do I have to hold this one legged eagle pose”. And in fact, your anxious thoughts themselves further exacerbate the stress response. One should not give into the speed wobble or what we coaches call “the shake n’ bake,” this is all just a neurological response to the challenge.

Interestingly, despite all the types of stressful situations, both physcially and mentally  a person can be in (inversions, running away while being chased, box jumps at the gym or even finishing your boss’s expense report by 5 o’clock) the nervous system has just one stress response; which should you leave you with some comfort as you just need to learn to feel the signs and then switch on which attitude you wish to combat the stressor with – like a light switch. The specific thoughts you have may differ, but the brain regions involved, and the physiological response will always be the same.

So what does this physiological stress response “feel” like? The physiological stress response can come in the form of an increase in heart rate, breathing rate, muscle tension and elevation of cortisol and other stress hormones, sweating and that feeling of “fight or flight… our primal feelings.

Stress and Mental Health has been a large focus on many health strategies around the world, and Yoga is one of the most beneficial, therapeutic and holistic forms of treatment one can invest in, but of course I am bias. See for yourself…

Yoga & GABA Levels:

The World Health Organization reports that mental illness makes up to fifteen percent of disease in the world. Depression and anxiety disorders both contribute to this burden and are associated with low GABA levels. Currently, these disorders have been successfully treated with pharmaceutical agents designed to increase GABA levels.

According to the researchers, yoga has shown promise in improving symptoms associated with depression, anxiety and epilepsy. “Our findings clearly demonstrate that in experienced yoga practitioners, brain GABA levels increase after a session of yoga,” said lead author Chris Streeter, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology at BUSM and a research associate at McLean Hospital.

“This study contributes to the understanding of how the GABA system is affected by both pharmacologic and behavioral interventions and will help to guide the development of new treatments for low GABA states,” said co-author Domenic Ciraulo, MD, professor and chairman of the department of psychiatry at BUSM.

“Western and Eastern medicine complement one another. Yoga is known to improve stress-related nervous system imbalances,” study researcher Dr. Chris Streeter, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry at BUSM and Boston Medical Center, said in a statement. “This paper provides a theory, based on neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, to understand how yoga helps patients feel better by relieving symptoms in many common disorders.”

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine, New York Medical College and the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons hypothesized that there are certain imbalances in the brain when a person has depression or stress-related conditions. Such imbalances include low activity of something called gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA); low activity of GABA is linked with epilepsy, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and PTSD, researchers said.

The researchers hypothesized that yoga works to increase the activity of GABA; resulting in amelioration of disease symptoms. This has far-reaching implications for the integration of yoga-based practices in the treatment of a broad array of disorders exacerbated by stress,” the researchers wrote.

Here is an excerpt from an article in Psychology today (Sept 2011):

“The fascinating thing about the mind-body interaction is that it works both ways. For example, if you’re stressed, your muscles will tense (preparing to run away from a lion), and this will lead to more negative thinking. Relaxing those muscles, particularly the facial muscles, will push the brain in the other direction, away from stress, and toward more relaxed thoughts. Similarly, under stress, your breathing rate increases. Slowing down your breathing pushes the brain away from the stress response, and again toward more relaxed thinking.

So how does this all fit together? As I stated before, the stress response in the nervous system is triggered reflexively by discomfort and disorientation. The twisting of your spine, the lactic acid building up in your straining muscles, the uneasy feeling of being upside down, the inability to breathe, are all different forms of discomfort and disorientation, and tend to lead reflexively to anxious thinking and activation of the stress response in the entire nervous system. However, just because this response is automatic, does not mean it is necessary. It is, in fact, just a habit of the brain. One of the main purposes of yoga is to retrain this habit so that your brain stops automatically invoking the stress response

Some people might think that the stress response is an innate reflex and thus can’t be changed. To clarify, the response is partly innate and partly learned in early childhood.. Yes, the stress response comes already downloaded and installed on your early operating system. However, this tendency is enhanced, by years of reinforcement. In particular, you absorb how those around you, particularly your parents react to stressful situations. Their reactions get wired into your nervous system. However, just because a habit is innate, and then reinforced, does not mean it is immune to change. Almost any habit can be changed, or at least improved, through repeated action of a new habit.

To give an example of changing a similarly innate reaction, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you have a gag reflex. This gag reflex gets in the way of many college freshmen as they struggle through the college socialization process of chugging a beer. Most have a difficult time. However, by the time senior year spring break rolls around, many of them have learned how to largely suppress that reflex. Like your gag reflex, just because your stress response is innate and automatic doesn’t mean it can’t be reshaped through sustained, and intentioned practice.

For some people waking up at 6:30AM to go to a yoga class would automatically trigger their stress response. The good news is that you don’t actually have to go to a class to practice yoga. The poses most people associate with yoga are just a particular way of practicing yoga called the asana practice (“asana” translates to “pose”). The asana practice challenges you in a specific way, but life itself offers plenty of challenges on its own. Under any stressful circumstance you can attempt the same calming techniques: breathing deeply and slowly, relaxing your facial muscles, clearing your head of anxious thoughts, focusing on the present. In fact, applying these techniques to real life is what yoga is all about. Yoga is simply the process of paying attention to the present moment and calming the mind. Over time you will start to retrain your automatic stress reaction, and replace it with one more conducive to happiness  and overall well-being.”

 

Sources:

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/07/yoga-brain-stress-depression-gaba-anxiety_n_1324564.html

Harvard Health Publications: Yoga and Mental Health

Pyschology Today: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201109/yoga-changing-the-brains-stressful-habits

“TMJ” YOGA & YOUR TEETH

“TMJ” YOGA & YOUR TEETH

Temporomandibular joint disorder, TMJD (in the medical literature TMD), or TMJ syndrome, is an umbrella term covering acute or chronic pain and inflammation of the temporomandibular joint, which connects the mandible to the skull. The primary cause is muscular hyper- or parafunction with secondary effects on the oral musculoskeletal system and are seen quite often in individuals who suffer from high stress, poor sleeping (clenching of the teeth) and poor posture.

The temporomandibular joint is susceptible to many of the conditions that affect other joints in the body, and in our clinical field of corrective movement management, we see a lot of this common disorder. However, TMJ is what seems to develop after a long period of time where the client goes untreated or neglects to acknowledge the breakdown signs.  Over time, our bodies adapt to our everyday movements to make it easier for us to function and get through the day; however, in time, these adaptations come at a cost and slowly change and pull our bodies out of alignment.

This specific disorder transcends the boundaries between several health-care disciplines — in particular, dentistry and neurology, corrective movement and pathology — there are a variety of treatment approaches and bridging the gap between your dentist and movement coach may be the key towards living pain free.

Yoga isn’t just for your muscles, it can also help protect your teeth and limit your trips to the dentist and need for oral corrective care.  But, if you do have to go to the dentist then we have the team for you.

The teeth have it! Oral Care is a great place to start

Dr. Melissa Skinner, Dentist and local athlete, has graciously offered to lend her experience and expertise on oral care, relaxation and TMJ so that we can understand this specific disorder that plagues so many and often goes mis diagnosed. In addition to the exceptional team and the great office location;  your dental experience is more like a spa. You have your own private booth, TV and head set and blanket. Yes, I said your own TV! All one would need is a green juice and a mani/pedi and you have a day at the spa.

Graduating top of her class from UBC School of Dentistry, Dr. Skinner is committed to lifelong learning, and is a member at the Kois Centre in Seattle, Washington. After finding numerous clients with TMJ related concerns, I took the liberty to ask an expert. Here are a few questions I posed to Dr. Skinner:

Q.  Hw often do you see TMJ (or even the initial signs) in your patients? And how does this affect their oral care?

A.  Temporomandibular disorders are very common and seen daily in the dental office. Those with jaw joint pain have difficulty opening their jaw, and commonly have limited opening. This affects oral care because it is more difficult for these patients to brush and floss their teeth.

Q.  Sleep clenching seems to be a contributor to TMJ pain. Since this is more of an unconscious act many perform due to disruptive sleep and stress. What are your thoughts on this and how can it be prevented?

A.  Clenching and grinding of the teeth are common habits that present themselves by chipping or wearing teeth, tired facial muscles, sore jaw joints and sensitive teeth. It can be caused by a poor bite and stress. Treatment is a removable appliance worn nightly that protects the teeth from further damage. Prevention is through bite correction, relaxation therapy, counselling to manage stress, yoga, and physiotherapy.

Q.   Most of this blog piece centers around the muscles and poor posture being the major cause, but in many cases it’s the teeth that can be the initiator. Correcting the way the teeth fit together seems to be where practitioners should start when confronted with TMJ. How does one check to see if their teeth are contributing to stress and pain?

A.   A bad bite can lead to clenching and grinding of the teeth. It’s a good idea to have a dentist check the bite to see if there are unhealthy tooth positions. If one tooth hits before the others, the chewing muscles become protective. Rather than bumping into that spot each time, the teeth close and the chewing muscles maneuver around the interference. This places extra strain on the muscles and they eventually become tired and painful. Interestingly enough, to reduce the pain, we clench our teeth harder! Babies do this by biting against a teething ring to decrease the pain of erupting teeth.

Q.  We know that such tightness and compression in the jaw and neck can lead to arthritis, cause nerve pressure, an increase in neck muscle injuries and in oral care does this affect the necessary salvation and inner workings needed to protect our teeth and oral cavity?

A.   As we mentioned, the teeth take the abuse from  clenching and grinding. Our teeth are not meant to take forces all the time. So they wear down, crack, get receding gums and become sensitive. But, the rest of the oral cavity and saliva flow are not affected. So long as the patient isn’t on medications, that can commonly cause dry mouth.

Q.  Are there specific treatments that you suggest in your profession to help treat TMJ related pain?

A.   Any TMJ pain is worrisome.  I know this is a sign that something is out of balance. It is possible that if nothing is done, the pain can get worse quite quickly.  It’s important to try to identify what is causing the pain. Is it the bite? Is the patient clenching their teeth and wearing  the joint? Does the patient have arthritis? Are there high levels of stress? … Once we know this, we go ahead on treat the pain. A splint to wear at night is a very common treatment to protect the teeth and provide some jaw relief by opening the bite.  If it’s a bite issue, we treat anywhere from tiny tooth adjustments to full orthodontics. Stress management is important for some patients. Others with muscle fatigue would benefit from massage therapy and physiotherapy that specialize in the jaw joint.

Q.  Since tooth decay is one of the leading causes of disease in children, how often do you see signs of problematic symptoms that could lead to teeth clenching, stress and changes in children’s oral structure?  And what advice can you offer to new parents to help steward their children into positive practices at home?

A.   A cavity in a baby tooth can get large at a very fast rate. This can cause a toothache. Pain can cause clenching, poor eating habits, poor attention and increased stress. Cavities also cause the teeth to shift forward in the mouth. This causes crowding of the permanent teeth.

My advice is to start oral hygiene habits early. Even when a baby has no teeth, it is a good idea to clean the baby’s mouth with a washcloth during bath time. Praise your kids when they clean their teeth, and be involved! Be a good role model, check that their teeth are clean and help them brush. Try making it fun by placing stickers on a calendar or using a cute timer to let your child know when it’s been long enough. Of course, getting regular dental visits is not only important to check for cavities, but teaches the child to love the dental office.

Q.   I feel very privileged to not only have you as my dentist, but as my friend and supporter. Third Street Dental is the key sponsor for the upcoming “RUN4MOM” Memorial run focused on supporting the positive face of mental health and education on the mental well-being of our community. What do you do to stay healthy? And Who is your dentist?

A.   Being healthy helps me tremendously at work. It helps me manage stress and helps my body handle the physical demands of dentistry. I absolutely love  hiking with my adorable Labrador. I enjoy yoga and love running. I recently ran my first half-marathon!

My dentist is the amazing Dr. Gail Landsberger, who also works with me at Third Street Dental!

 

What Muscles are Affected?

Most of the time it is a result of poor posture and ergonomics at work, living with stress and not knowing how to relax and often those who hold stress in their shoulders and neck and after long periods of time begin to forward head carry. We call this upper crossed syndrome (see previous blog post on upper cross syndrome – )  When we talk about forward head carry, there are many muscles that help with head and neck movements. The top 3 that I find with clients that are hyper tonic (high stress) are the longus capitis; which helps to reduce the lordotic curve of the cervical vertebrae and is a deep flexor muscle in the neck whose job is to laterally flex, rotate, and flex the head and neck.

Next up we have the anterior scalenes, and the sternocleidomastoid (SCM). When the SCM is overworked it becomes fatigued quicker eventually leading to chronic forward head posture (head/neck extension). The levator scapulae is also a high functioning culprit where it’s main function is to lift the scapulae. It also works in conjunction with the pectoralis group (minor particularly) and the rhomboids (postural muscles).

As the muscles pull down on the base of the skull and upper neck, they also pull up on the scapula. All this adds up to compression on the cervical vertebra.

How can Yoga help?

Decompressing the muscles around the jaw line and neck are crucial to limiting stress in this area, and it starts with the practice of meditation, deep breathing and sensory awareness. Practicing a simple modified vinyasa sequence of child’s pose to downward facing dog to upward facing dog can help the flow of blood to the jaw and cranium, as well as improve the articulation of the spine.

Sequences to improve posture and reduce stress to the jaw and neck muscles:

  • Seated meditation (focus on softening the tongue and facial muscles
  • Seated cat flow (working in all 6 motions of the neck, extension, flexion, lateral extension, rotation)
  • Cat flow series to child’s pose vinyasa (mentioned above)
  • Cobra and sphinx poses (to help relax spine
  • Supine cervical and lumbar corrective movement (passive hip rotations)
  • Bridge pose variations to promote length in the spine and occipital ridge trigger release.
  • Soft tissue rolling with the foam roller (mid back, lats, glutes)

Conclusion:

I believe it is an important practice to work with other health care providers who believe in a holistic approach to optimal wellness. Dentistry is one of the most neglected pillars of our health and ultimately, it should be one of the first. For more information on Third Street Dental and Dr. Melissa Skinner, please see the information links below.

Dr. Gail Landsberger. Dr. Melissa Skinner. Dr. Henry Tom.

Fun Fact:

Third Street Dental is a community driven family oriented practice. This July 29th Dr. Skinner will be participating in my annual “RUN4MOM” Memorial Run that takes place over a span of 57km, supporting mental health and suicide prevention in our community.  They also support a plethora of community initiatives centered on youth and family well-being.

Sources:

Song of Good Hope

Song of Good Hope

There are times when a great yoga practice starts with a thoughtful poem or lyric and ends with a fantastic song.

Trust me, find a space in your next practice for Glen Hansard’s “Song of Good Hope,” from his newly released CD Rhythm and Repose.

The first stanza, “If we’re gonna make it / Cross this river alive /You better think like a boat /And go with the tide” is such a sweet and perfect line, well befitting a yoga practice.

In so many ways, yoga is all about going with your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual tide. Hard to struggle and resist the natural ebb and flow, those disorderly fluctuations of life – better yet to prepare yourself as best you can, steer in the right direction and trust that “you’ll be fine babe, it’s just rivers and streams between you and where you want to be.”

I love this song. I hope you do too.

 

PART 4: BECOME A GOLF MASTERMIND WITH SPORT NLP

PART 4: BECOME A GOLF MASTERMIND WITH SPORT NLP

Mind-Body Connection

Every athlete, whether it be an individual or team activity, knows that the body affects the mind and the mind affects the body. There are many factors that influence sporting abilities; genetic inheritance, fitness levels, technical skills, leadership and coaching, but the most neglected is our mental abilities.  Although many sports performers will spend a lot of their time on their fitness and technical skills, the mental side of the game is often neglected and rarely a factor in the mental approach into their performance strategy.

If you are an athlete then you have most likely experienced being in the “zone,” known more specifically as the state in which you are performing at your physical and mental best – some describe this as the state of “flow.” As a yoga teacher; I can say I know this well and this is best known when your physical body, your breath and your intention/mental state are linked in equilibrium or balance… when you are literally… flowing from pose to pose. They don’t call it “Flow” for nothing!

Mental strategy literally teaches people to be able to go into ‘flow states’ to consciously by using a combination of meditation practices, communication and language and using what we call our “motivated state” or “anchoring” (which is used in NLP).

A practice used to “call up” a certain somatic feeling usually evoked from a song, memory or visualization tool that the athlete can focus on to filter through the “crap,” (negative thoughts, emotions, fears) in order to stay in control and apply skill. As a coach we help our athletes find this state by encouraging them through verbal cues. Using words that contain the feeling of confidence, control, being present etc aid in an athlete mentally tuning in.

This can also be a certain “pep talk” you give yourself or something you do before each game. Have you ever noticed goalies in hockey who tap the net in a certain pattern – that’s an anchor, and it fires up their motivated state.

For example, Fred Couples always hikes his shirt sleeves in a very particular way. The anchor can be internal, a word or sound or even movement.

Mind-Body Communication

In sport psychology this can occur when an athlete has entered an unconscious process or state outside of their normal conscious awareness. Your sub conscious is in tune with the systems performing the work because you are so focused on harnessing that “feeling,” filtering out the unnecessary atmosphere.

NLP techniques are used in sports to build mental strategy; not only by top level athletes, but anyone looking to improve their skill level and these techniques directly transfer to all areas of life. NLP provides the tools and techniques to discover HOW a top performer in any field does what they do. It uncovers the unconscious mental processes and associated thoughts, images, words and feelings that make up a peak performance state. Once uncovered in this way, these processes can be ‘programmed’ or installed in someone else who wants to achieve similar results.

You can use NLP to maintain the motivation to train so as to take your skill sets to the next level, you can learn to “get over” mistakes and to learn from errors rather than dwell upon them and you can learn to have the confidence to compete to the best of your ability.

In modern sports the ability to effectively access these flow states where the athlete is optimizing their mental skills, capacity and cognitive thought can mean the difference between a successful performance like a PB in a marathon or endurance sport, yards achieved, goals attained, or improving your handicap (as seen in Golf).

NLP and mental strategy is half of the battle when it comes to the game of golf. Golf isn’t just about the skill and perfecting the swing; it’s about analyzing the terrain, your opponents, the external factors and because of the slow nature of the sport, it takes a great deal of control, concentration and mental stamina.

The Mental Game of Golf:

“A handicap is a numerical measure of a golfer’s playing ability based on the tees played for a given course. This is used to calculate a net score from the number of strokes actually played, thus allowing players of different proficiency to play against each other on somewhat equal terms. The higher the handicap of a player, the poorer the player is relative to those with lower handicaps.”

Most athletes look to lower this number so that they can play with higher ranking athletes and improve their green time.

In an article called “Why Lessons Fail and Why Learning and Practice Programs Succeed” by Mike Vanderwolf (Director of Instruction at the McClerry Golf Academy) said this about performance and he directly relates it to the mental strategy of golf, as well as communication from the coach to the athlete:

One can see evidence of performance differences but physically effort does not store itself into long term memory until up to six hours after the practice stops. Thus, a second session is always appropriate in order to measure learning.

Now learning a new skill or transforming the elements of a skill in golf may have several parts and it is rare that all the parts can be understood and worked on by the golfer in a single session. Most if not all of the elements to be worked on may be identified in a single session, however to actually work through the stages of learning from: cognitive / verbal (gaining a sense of) to training the skill in a variety of contexts* (creating a dominant motor pattern, brain – nervous system – muscles) to automatic (the skill is executed without thought in context) will take several sessions. – Mike Vanderwolf

The teachers methodology must have the opportunity to progress from a “Command” style (basic  description and demonstration), to a “Practice” mode (providing feedback to the students effort) to  “Guided Discovery” and “Divergent Learning” (allowing the student to begin to make the decisions based on appropriate questions asked by the instructor) and ultimately to “Individual Awareness” (the students sense of the differences in efforts) and an ability to make desired movements and achieve desired outcomes without emotional judgment.”

Linking effective mental strategies with our skill and performance enables us to break down fears, understand the scope of the game, to anticipate the terrain, and to keep our composure, reactions and attitudes in moments of critical judgment. Moreover, to learn to transfer models of human excellence, human behavior and performance , as well as work to adopt the strategies, techniques and physiology used by our sporting role models to achieve excellence in a fraction of the time.

Try to remember back to when you had an amazing string of holes, teed off without a slice, or sinked your puts without saying to yourself … “get in the hole already.” In short, it seemed like you were in effortless flow, that each moment linked to the next.?

Now, imagine how you felt when you had a poor golf game… when we are out of the zone, the poor performance seems to repeat itself over and over again. What if you could learn the skills to get your head back in the game and enter flow whenever you needed to? Well, you can and a large portion of this strategy is building on your mental capacity to move past the fear, negativity and all the “stuff” that decelerates our performance.

If you are looking to improve your game and be a cut above your competition, improving your mental strategy may be your answer.

Sources:

Mike Vander Wolf (McCleeryGolfAcademy) http://vancouver.ca/parks/golf/lessons/pdf/golftips_2010jun.pdf

NLP – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NLP

Thought Models NLP- http://thoughtmodels.com/

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®.

 

PART 3: DO YOU HAVE GOLF TENSEGRITY?

PART 3: DO YOU HAVE GOLF TENSEGRITY?

Tensegrity: continuous tension members, and discontinuous members operating with maximum efficiency – Buckminster Fuller

Our body’s are like a continuous pressure/tension/compression structure; the head pilled on to the thorax, the thorax piled onto the hips, the hips piled on to the feet, and the connective tissue, without it – the skeleton would just fall to the ground. Our bones float in soft tissue, and thus connective tissue needs to be able to elongate, as well as shorten to counter balance the specific tension and power output placed on the body structure.

This thought process comes from the idea of Buckminster Fuller, where he states that the myo fascia and soft connective tissue act as an architectural structure… or body geometry of sorts.  Tensegrity refers to a system composed of compressional elements (struts in the case of architecture, and bone in the case of humans) that are held together, upright, and/or moved by a continuous tensional network; which slide over one another, like a matrix, and interwoven fabric of soft tissue.

Through pulling mechanisms via tension and compression these components re-enforce the tensional integrity of the compressional elements and body structure.

If you can imagine a spider web and the matrix of that web,  if you were to pull on one piece of that tensional network (or the web), it would have an affect on the rest of that tensional network, this includes the bones and even the organs. Therefore, to put it bluntly, tensegrity of the tissue offers extra support in a tensional way, not in a compression way.

Over the course of the last two week we have looked at the integration of both proficient screening tools – the TPI and the FMS/SFMA screens. Integrating these two screens will allow you to now only assess biomechanical dysfunctions in the body, but breakdowns in the specific movement patterns associated with golf performance.

We also broke down the golf swing into two common styles, to showcase the common breakdowns associated with each in the golf swing patterning. We take this one step further by filtering our attention towards two of the fascial lines (keeping in mind, when we improve the functionality of one line, we will irrevocably impact them all, as they are all connected). These are the lateral and spiral line meridians.

The Lateral Line Anatomy

Peroneal muscles > ITB > TFL/Glute max > External/Internal Oblique & deep QL > Internal/External intercostals > Splenius cervicis/iliocostalis cervis/SCM/Scalenes

The Spiral Line Anatomy

Splenius Capitis > Rhomboids (opposite side to splenius capitis) > serratus anterior > External/internal oblique > TFL (opposite side of obliques) > ITB > Anterior tibialis > Peroneus longus > biceps femoris >sacrotuberous ligament > sacral fascia > erector spinae

Postural difficulties in the body will affect your golf game – there is no doubt. The S posture in golf or rounded shoulders will limit your swing and performance, but it will also create more tension on your spiral lines and compression of the joints.

Your lateral line and spiral line meridians are the two main fascial lines that allow the human body to rotate and change direction. Since golf is all about rotation, this is where our focus will be to showcase the importance of balance and proper tensegrity needed to be as efficient as one can, on and off the green. It should also be noted, that even though these two lines are the primary components of rotation, flexion and extension patterning also plays an integral role in rotation (thus, the earlier commentary on posture and rounding of the shoulders).

Many of the clients I work with have restriction and bound tension around the pelvic girdle, upper neck and connections with the lats and scapular regions. This causes a decrease in rotation and a choppy flow through of power through the swing. It also limits the necessary movement of the knees and ankle joints on the upswing.

Thinking about multi-segmental rotation can be a bit daunting, however, once broken down can be a little easier to implement an effective intervention program. Your corrective drills should include a sequence that allows you to separate shoulder and hip rotation, so that you can functionally improve your rotational flexibility, stability and strength while increasing your active range of motion and optimizing the sequence of movements provided.

Below are a few steps to start you on your way to better rotation:

Step 1:  First determine which rotation is limited – left or right – and then take into account the actions of the muscles in these associated lines. How does it feel when you move?

Step 2: Go deeper, once you have established if the rotation is more limited left or right. Ask yourself, which muscles are internally rotating, which are externally rotating? How does the body shift – does it feel like a stiff movement left to right through your golf swing, or does it feel smooth? Choppy etc? Where do you feel the restrictions?

Step 3: Corrective Drills:  Start by treating 1-2 restricted areas with a few corrective movement exercises/drills combined with soft tissue release.

Step 4: Re evaluate:  the movement and swing pattern to see if there is improvement in the pattern. If the movement has improved then these drills should be integrated into your workout sequence for a week or until the wing becomes more natural without as much prep.

Step 5: Progression: This is when you then move onto the next phase of the corrective movement progression.

An area that is often left out of the corrective or coaching equation , is flexion and extension of the cervical spine and muscles associated with the neck. We need to keep in mind that our flexion with rotation in accordance with range of motion needs to be tested from the cervical spine pattern, as this can also influence both of these lines.

Treating the appropriate musculature at the neck, shoulder and muscles associated with all 4 joints of the shoulder girdle will be a necessary component to improving rotation and your golf game.

In closing remember – soft tissue release first and sequenced movements that are corrective in nature will help you improve the tensegrity of your soft tissue, improve joint range of motion and stability of the joints, as well as improve your club swing!

 

Matthew Kocel’s Fantastic Sound Journeys on Now!

Matthew Kocel’s Fantastic Sound Journeys on Now!

Matthew Kocel is a throat singer, visionary musician and healing arts practitioner driven by his mission to inspire unity through the universal language of music and sacred sound. The harmonic overtones of his voice –  two, three, or more notes at the same time – vibrate the core of your being with extraordinary sensations, awakening a deep spiritual presence beyond words.

Having personally attended a number of his events, I can vouch for the marvelous sensations and deep sense of calming energy his sessions create. He is leading a number of events in the coming weeks – including one this Friday night at Live Yoga in White Rock!!  The Healing and Cave adventure on July 28 is going to be simply awe inspiring…

See below, or Matthew’s website, for a full listing of his events.

Pause for a moment. Take a deep breath, and let this healing music take you on a journey to your inner sanctuary of peace.

Friday, June 15, 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm

  • Sound Healing Concert & Journey
  • Live Yoga:15186 Buena Vista Ave, White Rock, BC, Canada
  • Space is limited. Purchase advance tickets at Live Yoga or by phone 778 545 9918 email [email protected]
  • $25 +hst

Thursday, June 21 – Sunday, June 24, 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

  • Mastery of Deep Trance States – Bridging Potential
  • Vancouver School of Theology (UBC):6000 Iona Drive, Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Accessing your deep deep self is the gateway to the answers you seek  Matthew will bring his music and healing sounds to help facilitate rapid transformation and healing in this dynamic experience with Harry Nichols and Kathy Welter.
  • $499

Friday, June 22, 8:00 pm – 9:30 pm

  • Sound Healing Concert & Journey
  • Hari Om Yoga:20230 64 Avenue, Langley, BC, Canada
  • Space is limited. Purchase advance tickets at Hari Om Yoga or by phone 604.539.0566 email [email protected]
  • $20+hst

Friday, July 20, 7:00 pm

  • Healing Sounds of the Cosmos
  • Inspire Studio:1411 Cornwall Avenue,  2nd floor, Bellingham, WA, USA(MAP)
  • Doors open at 6:45. Mats provided, feel free to bring and extra cushion or blanket for you comfort.
  • $15 advance $20 at the door

Saturday, July 28, 2:00 pm – 7:30 pm

  • Horne Lake Sound Healing & Caving Adventure!
  • Horne Lake Caves Provincial Park:Vancouver Island BC, BC, Canada
  • Take a guided 3 hour “Ice Age Adventure” with Brad Morris and Matthew Kocel along with a group of fellow soul journeyers in the magical caves at Horne Lake!
    This thrilling trip starts off with a 20 min hike to the entrance of the Riverbend Cave. During the hike an informative and entertaining guide will explain how the Ice Age created these caves.  While exploring, you will be energized by the amazing energy emanating from crystal formations that are over ten thousand years old!
    Between these two magnificent caves you will see an underground waterfall, marvel at the amazing crystals and squeeze through the ceiling galleries – a small taste of “wild” caving!
    Don’t forget your camera!
    Healing Journey and Prayer Offering
    After visiting the Riverbend Cave, we will enter a series of marble passages and underground spaces in the Main Cave before diving into a powerful sound healing journey and prayer offering guided by Matthew Kocel,  capped off with group toning and chant.
    This is an incredible opportunity to amplify, broadcast, and anchor your deepest prayers for the Earth and humanity.
    Can you imagine how powerful it would be to chant in the deep caverns of an ancient cave in total darkness?
    Do you have prayers you wish to offer to our Mother Earth?
    The Crystal Caverns at Horne Lake are a natural, crystalline temple, just waiting for you!
    Feel into the intention and possibility for what this journey has in store, and you will know in your heart that this will indeed be a magical, once in a lifetime spiritual adventure!
    $144
PART 2: “DOWNSWING” INTO ACTION ON THE GREEN

PART 2: “DOWNSWING” INTO ACTION ON THE GREEN

Poor mechanics, a lack of flexibility and muscular imbalances can negatively affect a golfer’s game. Large deficits in trunk rotation lead to lateral body movement which displaces your center of gravity and throws your golf swing off balance.

Today’s post is all about the “swing.” Understanding the interconnected relationship bewteen the musculoskeletal system,  the fascial systems and cognitive neurological responses to performance based movement patterns; all of which can impact your golf game for the positive or the negative, depending on your strengths and limitations. This statement seems obvious, however most golfers do not really know where to start when attempting to “improve their golf game.” At the end of this post I offer some tips on corrective movement preparation and mobility based stretches for pre and post green action.

The best place to start is at the beginning – Tee’ing off and the swing. The swing should be assessed as an overall structure and much like when you leave your house, you ensure you have your wallet, your keys, your phone, your necessities. Your swing is much the same – don’t leave the proverbial home without checking the below.

Breaking down the swing pattern:

  • grip
  • address setup, alignment and posture
  • backswing
  • downswing
  • impact and follow through
  • follow through and impact with the ball

This can be further divided into 2 styles of swing patterning, depending on the clients bio mechanics.

1.  “Tail swings the dog”

This occurs when the body passively twists about in space in reactive motion to accommodate the movements of the arms and club coming across and in front of the body. The terminology “the tail swings the dog” gives an accurate visualization because the central axial of the torso has to reactively respond to the active movements of the appendicular torso (arms and hands) – try to say that 10 times fast! Those who are limber or especially younger athletes, will experience this style of swing because of the increased mobility in their joints, and ability to rotate with ease. They usually have a light, lithe torso that is very flexible and pliant and it can easily move about in space in reactive, but passive, response to forces generated by the actively moving arms/hands/club. This concern here is over rotation, which can decrease power output because of additional lag time bewteen the up and down swing.

2. “Dog swings the tail”

In contrast most adults and individuals who “get in the game” later on in life, as well as the corporate golfer will most likely will have a heavy, non-pliant central torso, which may not easily twist about in space in reactive response to arm movements across the front of the body. What we visually can see is the central torso (“dog”) actively powers this type of golf swing while the arms/clubshaft (“tail”) are passively swung around the rotating torso in response to forces generated by the large muscles of the central body.

When using a “dog swings the tail” type of golf swing, a golfer has to primarily move the central torso so that the shoulders rotate around the central torso’s pivot axis. As the shoulders rotate, the arms are forced to move because they are attached to the central body at the shoulder joint, and the arms are passively flung around the body by the rotating shoulders. This will be the main focus of this post since it is also a higher percentage of the “golf” population in my clientele.

Both of these styles are not 100% efficient, and can reduce power output and energy distribution through the many phases of the swing, however, many golfers will fall into one of these styles. The goal is to work towards multi segmental awareness so that the movement and transfer to energy can effectively make contact with the ball, this requires a full body integration with separation between lower and upper halves during the swing (aka – your hips are stable and move WITH and in conjunction through the rotation that is initiated in the trunk and upper body during the first phases of the up swing.

On other notable factor with this style is that lateral shift that can occur. The lateral shift  is quite common when golfers have tight hips, s posture or kyphosis in the spine. The hips should move freely in rotation in an ossicallating manner, but rather than oscillate, the body has to compensate by shifting laterally in up and down swing, adn this can slow down and inhibit the upper body rotation – thus weakening your downswing.

Lateral deviation of your body during the backswing or downswing often results in a myriad of issues; such as:

  • Loss of balance
  • Reduced power
  • Poor accuracy
  • Over slicing the ball
  • Topping the ball
  • Poor shoulder and postural mechanics

Coaches Corner

Mike Vanderwolf, the Director of Golf Instruction at McCleery GolfAcademy allowed me to sit in on one of our mutual clients coaching sessions. Our client is an avid female golfer and fitness enthusiast. Her limitations primarily stem from past injuries with the respect to the hips; which has limited rotation and  multi segmental ability to differentiate upper and lower halves, as well as extension patterning in both the anterior and posterior kinetic chains and fascial lines. Her strengths however; deeply impact her ability to perform well, even through these limitations. Our client has the strength to effectively power through the swing and is spatially and kinaesthetically aware in her proficiency when addressing her set up and posture for the swing.

Mike’s cueing during this coaching session focused on improving our client’s compensation pattern to continually hit too far right. Her limitation – being able to rotate properly through the hips, rather than just shift the weight and to anchor the lower body and lead with the upper body, rather than a lateral shift and reduced swing; which results in faulty swing mechanics, reduced impact during the downswing and follow through.

For today’s post, we will look at the down swing, as this generally seems to be a compensation issue for many golfers. When the downswing can be corrected, the upswing and impact with the ball becomes more efficient.

Getting Down with “The downswing:”

The first purpose of the downswing process is the need to generate swing power. The second purpose of the downswing process is to ensure that the clubshaft moves in space in the “correct” manner so that it will allow the golfer to produce an in-to-in clubhead swing path through the impact zone.

How that pivot action occurs can be seen in the kinetic link theory diagram below. The kinetic link theory is based on the belief that energy is transferred from one body part to the next body part in a set kinetic chain sequence and that energy is conserved during this energy transferal process (according to the law of conservation of momentum).

A key notable characteristic of the golf swing are the major biomechanical movement patterns involved in the downswing action; which evolve in a certain set sequence. This sequence is called the kinetic sequence; which starts from the ground-up with a pelvic shift-rotational movement.

During the initial phase the golfer actively shift and rotates the pelvis during the start of the downswing, pushing into the floor to connect the body and movement with ground resistance forces, this transfers load and the result is to torque the pelvis in a shift-rotational manner. This transfers the next sequence of movement to the upper torso and shoulder complex, where the body then starts to rotate around a rightwards tilted spine. This combined transfer of force and load results in what we call “the pivot action.” The pivot action essentially drives the swing from a swing power perspective.

Mike’s reccommendations for our mutual client is to work on multi segmental rotation in a variety of postures (supine, standing, all fours etc). A better understanding of the movement patterns and distribution of load through a rotation are key to improving overall performance on and off the green. Corrective movement and mobility/stability re patterning can effectively aid in improving movement where there is restriction and binding of the muscle and fascia, as well as cognitively understanding the relationship of the kinetic lines and sequencing.

This requires a certain balance of movement preparation drills both before her coaching with Mike and before hitting the green, a dynamic sequence that can “warm up” the necessary kinetic chains and fascial lines to lubricate the joints and aid in proper circulation of both energy and nutrients.  In the gym, this includes adding in reactive response specific multi segmental rotational drills that focus on motor control and swing pattern for all the phases of the swing pattern.

An effective 8-10min movement prep drill could include:

  • Soft tissue release with the roller, magic stick or foot roller (or all of the above)
  • Soft rolling patterns (upper and lower)
  • T-Spine rib pulls and arm circles
  • Hip Flexor Stretch with Core Activation
  • Kneeling Lunge with lateral stretch
  • Reverse Lunge with twist and reach
  • Walking knee cradle
  • Leg swings (forward and side to side)
  • ITB cross overs with hamstring integration

 

Key fascial stretches to consider for passive post golf or alternate days:

 

  • Cat Flow Series   (Anterior and Posterior Lines)
  • Thread the needle  (Spiral and Back Lines)
  • The Bretzle or Thomas Stretch (Anterior and Spiral Lines)
  • Triangle (use wall for posture)   (Lateral Lines)
  • Pigeon Pose  (Lateral, Spiral and Back Lines)
  • ITB Supine crossover (Lateral Line)
  • Hip Mobility with cervical integration using soft tissue pressure pointing (Posterior and Spiral Lines)

 

Next week we will look at the fascia system and integrated lines in golfing. This 4 part series is not to be missed!

 

Happy Putting!

 

Sources:

 

Mike Vanderwolf, the Director of Golf Instruction at McCleery Golf Academy – http://mccleerygolfacademy.uschedule.com/Home.aspx

The Fundamentals of Hogan, David Leadbetter – book

TIME TO TEE OFF: TPI vs. FMS

TIME TO TEE OFF: TPI vs. FMS

Our golf specific 4 part series starts with understanding the scope of prevention and screening techniques widely offered by both medical and fitness professionals. Over the course of the last decade I have worked with more and more golfers who experience similar mechanical breakdowns, whether they are recreational or elite golfers – the corrective component should be an active part of any person’s golf game.

53% of amateur golfers and 30% of professional golfers will play with an injured back or performance hindering injury this year. InAmerica, more than $50 billion is spent annually on back pain-related healthcare costs. Therefore, with stats like these – it pays to invest in proper coaching, and bio mechanical corrective tools, like the TPI and FMS/ SFMA screens. When used together and tailored to the athletes goals, can lead to not only prevention of injury, but advancement on the green.

The TPI Golf Screen is one of the most valuable tools in the toolbox for any golf, fitness, or health professional who works with golfers, even at the recreational level. Both screens can help identify physical limitations that shape a player’s swing and contribute to painful movement.

What’s the difference?

TPI – Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) – the leaders in elite player development. Is a screen to showcase mechanical dysfunctional and breakdowns, related to the measure of risk of injury or poor play specifically in playing golf. There are 13 individual tests within the Level 1 Screen plus additional tests introduced at Level 2 for the wrist, ankle, and neck.

FMSFunctional Movement Screen (FMS) – is a ranking and grading system to showcase mechanical dysfunctions, breakdowns and asymmetries within the fundamental movement patterns performed day to day, and relates that to physical activity. The SFMA (selective functional movement assessment) takes it one step further is closely related to the TPI screen in it’s specificity to breaking down movement even further to better pull out dysfunction.

 

Both aim to sequentially offer corrective intervention techniques for improved overall movement in the client’s chosen sport and daily life.

One way to organize the TPI screen is along the global movement patterns within the SFMA. This structure won’t provide the same level of prioritization as within the FMS, as it is more indepth and used within the clinical setting more so that the gym floor, but we can begin to combine and connect the individual tests using the SFMA Top Tier seven assessments, along with the TPI specific tiered movement pattern assessments.

 

Top “Swingers” for Golf Specific Corrective Intervention:

 

1. Cervical Patterns/ Pelvic Tilt Patterns: making the argument that considering they are both affected by the other (meaning the top and bottom of the spine – when one moves, the other must follow). It makes sense to screen both of these elements. Lower crossed posture (S posture in TPI terminology) with a pelvic restriction, will have a similar effect as a cervical restriction due to the interrelationship of spinal segments. This is extremely common and cannot be over looked.

2. Upper extremity in Postural Alignemnt: 90-90 screen falls into this category along with the 90-90 in golf posture. The 90-90 golf posture test puts more emphasis on shoulder mobility and posterior line in conjunction with the back line, spiral and lateral fascial lines.

3. Multi -Segmental Flexion and Multi-Segmental Extension, as well as Upper Quarter and Lower Quarter Screens: both apply equally. Setting up your physical intention starting out on the tee, you need to be able to differentiate upper and lower extremity to ensure proper follow through and minimize lateral shifting; which directly relates to a reduced mobility and rotation in the hips necessary to power out and connect with the ball. Moreover, the S-posture commonly seen in poor golf mechanics is directly related to these specific assesments.

 

Full TPI Screen (cross over with the FMS and SFMA), consists of the following:

 

  • Pelvic tilt
  • Torso rotation
  • Lower body rotation
  • Overhead deep squat
  • Toe touch
  • 90-90 shoulder and 90-90 shoulder in golf stance
  • Single leg stance
  • Lat length
  • Upper quarter (without and with scapular stabilization)
  • Lower quarter
  • Glute bridge
  • Reach roll and lift
  • Leg lowering
  • Ankle inversion/eversion
  • Wrist (multiplanar)
  • Partial squat/ankle eversion
  • Cervical spine

FMS and SFMA: (Top Tier  Assessments – applicable for golf and integration with the TPI)

  • Cervical Spine Assessment
  • Upper Extremity Movement Pattern Assessments (& Pain Provocation Patterns)
  • Multi-Segmental Flexion & Extension Assessment
  • Mulit-Segmental Rotation Assessment
  • Overhead Deep Squat
  • Single Leg Stance

I would also be inclined to implement the trunk stability and rotary stability depending on the clients overall performance. Much of the swing pattern stems from being able to differentiate upper and lower extremities, rotation at the hips and powering through the trunk with flawless technique. This sequence is key to a golfer’s performance in tee-ing off.

 

Applying Corrective Interventions:

  • If the player is in pain, the first priority is to get them out of pain, much like in the FMS, if they score a “zero” a.k.a feel pain, refer directly to a physiotherapist or golf specific athletic therapist.
  • Address the breakdowns  that are most relevant to the player’s swing pattern. A major concept upon which TPI is built is the body-swing connection. How the player sets up their stance, body positioning in relation to the ball and how the player swings the club is an expression of his or her underlying movement ability or restriction pattern.

 

  • Correct all the failures you can visually see. You can only correct one movement pattern at a time. A big issue we see are clients and coaching programs that become too scattered and it will overhelm the client and most likely your own perscrption. Start with the lowest scored test or largest asymmetry (visual breakdown) and start to clean it up with corrective work off the  green and practical application on the range or on the green. Most often we find when one pattern is cleaned up, they will innately affect the rest of breakdowns (usually for the better). This will give you more of an accurate overall assessment of the clients performance in their swing, chipping, putting etc.

 

  • Have a prioritization scheme within the Screen. It is designed to give you the major movement patterns, but after the first screen, you should start to get a feel for the client’s specific mechanics. If they pass certain tests with flying colors, there is no need to rescreen them every time on that test. I screen clients every quarter on the full screen, but every 4-6 weeks I will screen the prioritized movement patterns, and each session will ensure there is an increase in movement and better performance – this comes from communication and active engagement between myself and my clients golf’s pro.

 

This is part 1 of a 4 part series on golf specific correction and intervention strategies. Next week we will look at the fascial components and tensegrity of the lines associated with the swing. We will also breakdown corrective drills to improve your tee off, based on the balance and integrity of this massive structure – we call our Fascial System.

This will be a great post for those of you who have inconsistent drives, slice the ball or have mobility restrictions in the hip and spine.

Much of the fascial system integration in performance based movement can be found

Birdie Up and Happy Golfing!

 

Sources:

Gray Cook, MSPT, OCS, CSCS, Author – Movement and Functional Movement Systems, SMFA – http://graycookmovement.com/

Thomas Myers, – “Tensegrity” Anatomy Trains – http://www.anatomytrains.com/at 

 

How Becoming a Teacher Made Me a Better Student

How Becoming a Teacher Made Me a Better Student

I had been practicing (and intermittently teaching) yoga for years before I decided it was time to take my Yoga Teacher Training at Live Yoga in the summer of 2011 and finally certify to teach. I picked a teacher that I loved (Dan Clement from Open Source Yoga) and embarked on an experience that would change me in more ways that I could ever imagine.

Although I had been attending classes for all those years, it wasn’t until I became a yoga teacher that I truly started learning what it means to be a student of yoga.

I’m not saying that understanding yoga is inaccessible to students, or that the light of yoga only comes with teaching it. For me, it wasn’t until I needed to articulate to others the benefits and purposes of yoga that I truly started integrating my knowledge into my own practice.

Many experiences as a teacher have deepened my personal practice: when students ask me about the philosophy behind the practice, or the anatomy behind the body; when students describe sensations or emotions during poses and how yoga helped them to heal; when students want advice for rehabilitating injuries and conditions; when students push too hard in class, or not hard enough; when students recount failures and successes and how yoga helped them to develop a fulfilling life.

Teaching so many wonderful people has enriched my own understanding and appreciation of yoga in profound and unimaginable ways. Here are a few of the things I have learned and integrated into my personal practice as a result of teaching and observing my students:

  • My body is unique and beautiful. Seriously. Nobody has my bones, my history, my evolution with my body. Nobody knows my body like I do and how it moves, how it responds and what it needs to feel healthy. My practice needs to be sensitive and respect this uniqueness. Sometimes that means I don’t do a pose even though my neighbour is doing it. I’m ok with that now, because my body is mine and I need to take care of it.
  • I require and deserve respect, patience and love. At All Times. Absolutely and without exception.
  • Every class/day/experience is an opportunity to learn (about myself and others). It doesn’t matter who I am talking to, who I’m learning from or which students are in front of me. Every person has a story that is interesting, full and inspiring. Even in mundane or tense moments of life, there are opportunities to learn and grow.
  • I deserve compassion and care, from others and especially myself. In yoga you explore your body (and spirit at times) and learn things. Sometimes you learn that you can’t do certain poses or exercises, while at other times you learn you can. This ebb and flow is an integral part of the practice. It is not yet another chance for judgement, repulsion or disappointment. I may never get into poses that make me look like a pretzel- that doesn’t mean I am less spiritually developed, physically fit or deserving of love! I try to understand and love myself for all my limitations and abilities alike. They are what make me ME.
  • Yoga should be shared. There is so much variety in yoga. So much that can help with health and wellness. I am to spread the word. Not in a dogmatic way, but in a way that expresses and abounds from the passion and belief I have in what I do.
  • Yoga isn’t about getting your legs behind your head, it’s about integration, health, vitality and wellness. That’s right. No one is meant to do ALL the poses that have ever been invented. There are a variety so you can pick and choose what works for your body. I do what feels safe, good and beneficial, I modify some to suit my needs, and I always give myself permission to leave some poses out completely.
  • I aspire to live my yoga on and off my mat. The more I learn patience, determination, how to overcome challenges, enjoy successes, demonstrate care and compassion on my mat, the more I want to be the person I am on my mat, all the time.
  • When I soften my practice, things open up (but sometimes when I get too soft, I need to energize too!). I used to practice power, hot and flow yoga all the time. I thought that to improve and get stronger at yoga, I needed HARDER classes. I have started to realize that a consistent, softer practice, with lots of intention, exploration, alignment and care has wielded far greater results for me. I make time for Yin and Restorative now. I make time to rest and breathe. I am gaining strength and energy with less tension. My practice is getting more advanced in a natural way – and I am having so much fun doing it!
  • Committing to my practice sets me free – whether that means a full practice in the morning, or just a few minutes of breathing, reading or relaxation at the end of my day. Making the practice of yoga part of my daily routine keeps me connected and fulfilled.

Sharing the wisdom of yoga as a teacher has made me a much more sensitive, caring and dedicated student. I am so blessed to share a practice that I love with others, and have them teach and inspire me in my own practice as well.

I hope that as a teacher, I continue to learn and get inspired by my students, so that I can deepen and expand my practice always.

My beloved teacher Dan Clement is running a 200hr YTT at my home base, Live Yoga in White Rock this July. Feel free to drop in on one of my classes at Live Yoga or Hari Om Yoga (in Langley) and share your light with me! Or comment below and share what you have learned from teaching/practicing yoga!

Amy, loving life from any perspective. (Photo, Roxana Albusel Photography, www.roxanaphotography.com)

 

 

 

Passport To Prana – RENEW & WIN! Contest

Passport To Prana – RENEW & WIN! Contest

Do you have an expired Passport to Prana card?

Renew your card between May 1, 2012 and June 30, 2012 and be entered to win a 1 MONTH PASS at your favorite participating studio!

To renew, simply log into your account at www.passporttoprana.com and click on the “RENEW CARD” tab.

If you have misplaced or no longer have your card, purchase a new card and email [email protected] about the renewal contest and you will be entered in to win.

IS YOUR FASCIA HYDRATED?  H2O TO GO

IS YOUR FASCIA HYDRATED? H2O TO GO

“No Body Likes a “Crampy”… I mean “Crabby” Athlete! Your hydration levels may be the culprit of your poor performance, and let’s be honest, if you’re feeling more than just muscle cramps (perhaps mental cramps) and poor perforamce; drink more water so you can go the ultra distance.”

As an ultra runner, I have been prone to injuries from time to time – wait… what am I saying. Okay, as an ultra runner I have pretty much had EVERY injury and this year has been no exception.

So why do I run? Because the feeling of accomplishment, of all those long hours running at the crack of dawn when the city is silent, the endless and countless miles clocked, and more importantly, the insurmountable, evolutionary personal changes, maybe a better word would be – epiphany – makes it all worth it. For me, it’s about the choice to run, when others cannot or do not have that choice – it truly that simple.

Last week I suffered intense abdominal pain; which is unnatural for me as a clean eater and for the most part I live a gluten free lifestyle, almost vegan (primarily out of the convenience of “I don’t cook” and prepare quick meals). As it turns out, this abdominal pain was an intestinal blockage (I know, I know… highly attractive), but one contributor to this was dehydration, but rather than “muscle dehydration,” my body had “organ dehydration.” Which means because of the amount I am currently running, training etc – my water intake has not been enough to sustain proper efficiency and even though I drink a lot of fluids – it ain’t enough and hasn’t been for some time.  Combine this with the high stress, of my second ultra event on May 20th “Walk In Her Shoes for CARE Canada, an event I am also organizing single handedly – I guess you could call  it a stressor… but I love it… but my innerds are a little agro. And looking back, my muscles have been “crampy” primarily in the calves and hamstrings a little more than usual.

Why do we Cramp?

Many endurance will experience muscle cramps at some point during their training or racing. An article that outlines this on going discussion very well is from “Utra Fitness” online where they look at the differing theories of where cramping comes from (in simplest terms).  Their findings can be broken down into 3 pillars; however, I am narrowing my scope to reflect and comment on the first two;

  1. Dehydration and electrolyte depletion
  2. Abnormal spinal reflex activity
  3. Carbohydrate depletion

“Using a definition from Dr. Martin Schwellnus a cramp is “a painful, spasmodic, involuntary contraction of skeletal muscle that occurs during or immediately after exercise”(1). While most athletes understand what a cramp feels like there is much confusion as to what causes cramps and how they can be prevented. “ (ultrafitness)

In the 1930s a theory was put forth that dehydration and electrolyte depletion were the primary causes of cramps. This is still a popular theory that has come under fire recently and how does that relate to post running??? Since my pain was associated post run (actually a week after my last long run of 52km)?

The article goes on to say that Schwellnus and Noakes , put forth the new theory that abnormal spinal reflex activity could be the real culprit behind muscle cramps. This theory is built on the understanding of muscle fatigue leading to abnormal functioning at the spinal level of the muscle contraction mechanism; which causes the muscle cramping during activity.

Review of anatomy 101, receptors called muscle spindles cause muscles to contract when they are stretched; while other receptors called Golgi tendon organs (GTO) cause muscles to relax when they are contracted. Both types of receptors are needed to help protect muscles from over-stretching and over-contracting, respectively. These receptors act on muscles by sending an electric signal to the appropriate motor neuron, which is located in the spine, and as we know the fascia assists with all of these responses.

During a normal contraction, signals from both receptors are in balance. According to the theory, when a muscle fatigues the activity of the muscle spindles increases (causing a contraction) and the Golgi tendon organ activity is inhibited (no relaxing) leading to muscle cramping.

Looking at these two theories; I would say that both hold a high degree of merit and (in my opinion) there is no dichotomy between the two. I would say they both contribute to cramping during and after a competition requiring a high degree of volume and/or endurance.  Let’s take a look at fascia and hydration and also the tensigrity of the fascia itself as a contributor for cramping.

H2O To Go, Your Fasica & Hydration:

Ergo, a great opportunity to revisit the fascial system and integration of the above…

The fascia is our body’s protector. We also know that at the microscopic level, the fascial make up resembles that of micro tubules that acts as a transfer/communication highway to move nutrients and transmit nerves impulses to and around the body. The nerves themselves, along with blood vessels run through the fascia. Therefore, if the connective tissue is tight, the associated tissues will have poor nutrient exchange.

In times of stress, and high volumes of load, along with what we are here today to discuss – dehydration, this exacerbates the situation because toxic metabolic waste products build up which will further aggravate pain receptors and reduce proper transfer. Needless to say, this can create a mechanical breakdown and a vicious cycle that undoubtedly creates more muscle tension, leading to further thickening and hardening of the fascia, which will further limit mobility and performance!

One important fact to note is that the fascia holds imprints of our posture and even old injuries, which is one reason why older injuries can still affect present day overall functions and/or re surface at a later date. The fascia (amongst other systems) dictates our shape and freedom of movement.

Are you Tense?

Fascia thickens and hardens where there is chronic tension. Chronic tension can then lead to joint restrictions, movement impairments, pain, decreased performance and/or cramping and twitching.  Manual physicians; (ie. Chiropractors, Physical Therapists, Osteopaths, Acupuncturists and other non-physicians) can manipulate the fascial ‘networks’ in a variety of ways, either directly or indirectly. This is done by breaking up fascial binding and tone of the tissue, as well as re patterning and “waking up” the parasympathetic system. Also very important in recovery and rehabilitation.

I know from personal experience, there is no way I could fully operate as an ultra-runner without regular tune ups from my health team. There are certain things we cannot do on our own; which us why an integrated support team is essential. For more info on my health team please see under sources.

Fascia is composed mainly of collagen fibers, together with water and other proteins which provide a glue-like quality. Due to the regular alignment of the fibers, fascia often has a crystal-like appearance. The connective tissue fibers extend deep in between individual muscle cells and between practically all cells of the body. Fascia tends dry out as we age, becoming stiff and tight. Proper hydration, vitamins, minerals and overall nutrition assist with the rehydration and overall health of the fascial network.  Regular movement of the fascia through exercise and mobilization helps to greatly reduce the fascia from stiffening and ultimately effecting performance.

The Hydration Study:

The Fascia Research Group , is part of the Division of Neurophysiology, of Ulm University, Germany say that,

‘When fascia is being stretched, water is being extruded from the ground substance and simultaneously there are some temporary relaxation changes in the longitudinal arrangement of the collagen fibers. When the stretch is finished, the longitudinal relaxation of the fibers takes a few minutes to revert (provided the strain has not been too strong and there have been no micro-injuries); yet the water continues to be soaked up into the tissue, to the degree that the tissue even swells and becomes stiffer than before.’

So, how important is recovery and rehydration? I would say very! During the recovery period of the elongated tissue (minutes, even hours after), a gradual re hydration of the muscle should be expected; which is also in conjunction with the balance of the tissue through a gradual regaining of the initial tissue stiffness.  Active loading and subsequent rest in proportion to each-other will achieve the desired outcome.

Dehydration as little as 2% of body weight can begin to significantly impact performance. For an athlete that has a higher sweat rate (greater than 2 liter per hour), that level of dehydration can occur after 30 minutes of exercise in hot and humid conditions. Additional, research has shown that level of dehydration can slow 10-km run times by 6.3% compared to running in a hydrated state. That equates to a race time almost 3 minutes slower if you usually run a 40-minute 10k!

This of course depends specifically on someone’s unique mechanics and factoring in muscle fibre composition, sport they engage in will affect muscle tissue response etc etc, and as we have seen above – stretching as well.

Yin to Your Yang:

Passive stretching and Yin Yoga stretches can load the tissue and fascial lines in a way that induces a temporary decrease in tissue water content; which has been shown to contribute to alterations in tissue stiffness; however, this is to be expected with any load placed upon the tissue. When the tissue is in a state of elongation the question then becomes; how long will the tissue remain in elongation, as well as how important is rehydration recovery.

Conclusion:

The key factors in this article today are to ensure that you are aware of your personal mechanics and body responses during, before and after your training. If you decide to venture into the realm of ultra-distance athletics, take the time to understand the force applied and the necessary nutrients your body will need to sustain you, not only during the performance, but the months and weeks (sometimes even years) leading up to your goal. My greatest lesson learned is to never underestimate the power of the body and the will and drive to succeed. In all the chaos of the last 2 weeks, I forgot to listen to my body and even though during the taper, we decrease our mileage – it is an essential time to get our bodies ready by recovery, resting and fine tuning the mental and emotional aspects of our journey.

If you are unsure of how much water your mechanics need – ask a professional. Also, keep in mind electrolyte balance is essential as well. I always make sure to have at least 2 options with me at all times. Eboost; which is a special blend of active vitamins and minerals focuses on 3 vital elements of the athletes super world (endurance, immunity and recovery).

The Key Ingredients of Eboost:

For ENDURANCE: Glucuronolactone, Chromium, Vitamin B12, and Anhydrous Caffeine For RECOVERY: Minerals (including potassium and sodium for electrolyte replacement), and essentials vitamins including Vitamin C For IMMUNITY: Vitamin C, Zinc, Selenium and Copper. You really can’t go wrong, and super tasty (Pink Lemonade, is my fav).

I also put a few drops of Elete Electrolytes, provide balanced ions of magnesium, potassium, sodium and chloride, just a few drops in your water and you are ready to rock. Happy running!

Nourish the body and the soul will grow.

 

Sources:

Health Team:

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