Fascia in Fitness: The 1 Arm KB Swing Snatch To Improve Your Yoga Practice

Fascia in Fitness: The 1 Arm KB Swing Snatch To Improve Your Yoga Practice

Most of you will all be wondering why I have chosen to feature a complex strength exercise on a Yoga Blog site, but it is because, as a yoga practitioner and avid student in the art of movement, I have come to appreciate the common similarities between strength and grace. It all boils down to intention and state of mind. Over the past several years, I have focused my attention and intention on implementing different tools into my Yoga/Movement morning practice and I have found that a few specific exercises stand out. Some include patterns with a light club bell and others with a light kettle bell.

Understanding the importance load and strength have towards optimal vitality can help you adapt, become more versatile and more agile in many traditional yoga postures. The 1 Arm KB Swing Snatch can be a great tool for developing more strength for inversions, hand stands and isomeric, static postures in the overhead and mid range positions.

Today, I would like to feature a few of those movements; one in particular – the 1 Arm KB Swing Snatch.

The KB swing to snatch is a fundamental exercise in building strength endurance, but did you know that it is also a great exercise tool for strengthening your fascia system? The KB snatch requires a certain level of precision as there must be the availability of both tension and relaxation for the the acceleration and deceleration phases to move optimally. Below is a step by step approach to ensuring the health and safety of implementing this beautiful exercise into your strength/endurance routine. Or if you are like me, just adding a few reps per day into my daily movement practice.

The Exercise: The 1 Arm KB SnatchScreen Shot 2015-08-15 at 9.45.52 AM

1. Screen: Establishing a baseline for this exercise is critical to ensure shoulder health and minimizing risk. Ensure that the client has adequate shoulder mobility first, as well as thoracic mobility.

  1. Screen 1: Shoulder mobility screen – The FMS Shoulder Mobility Screen or Apley Scratch Test is a great test to ensure a client has optimal movement at the shoulder. Checkout the Functional Movement Systems for their shoulder mobility screens.
  2. Screen 2: Lumbar Lock Thoracic Spine Screen – This test can ensure the client has adequate mobility and symmetry in their t-spine. Because of the single arm rotational stress this applies to the spine and shoulders, you want to ensure the client has the avaliable range first. Checkout this video:

2. Mobilize: Choose appropriate mobility drill based on the screening. The T Spine Rotations Bow and Arrow is a great option. Checkout this video for variations on this drill.

3. Stabilize: Choose a stability drill that can offer versatility and reflexive control. A corrective approach to the TGU is a great option. Breaking down the posts can help build stability of the shoulder and postural muscles by offering a variety of loaded positions. Check out our blog piece here for a full breakdown.

4. Acceleration:

The value of the aacceleration phase offers immense benefits in driving power from the ground up. The hip drive engages the posterior chain, but also promotes extension, under tension of the deep front line and spiral line; while simotaneously counter balancing rotation of the load. Much like winding up a spring and stacking the joints, the deceleration phase then unwinds the spring by elogating the tissue while still under tension.

5. Deceleration:Screen Shot 2015-08-15 at 9.46.04 AM

The value of the deceleration phase offers immense benefits in eccentric strength endurance; specifically benefiting the deep back line and spiral line; while simultaneously creating a level of relaxation under tension as you move from the stacking of the joints into unwinding the natural spiral/rotation we can see in the follow through. This also gives the tissue time to transition back into the winding up, acceleration phase for the next rep.

6. What are the benefits for training the fascia system: Train the tissue, and by tissue we mean fascia. The benefits are endless and can enhance your traditional yoga practice.

  • Specific training can enhance the fascial elasticity essential to systemic resilience. Think whole systems integration.
  • The fascia system responds better to variation than to repetitive programs.
  • Proximal Inhibition can offer additional elongation benefits to activate the stretch reflex. Letting the more distal parts of the body follow in sequence, much like an elastic pendulum.
  • Complex movements require reflexive control and adaptation.
  • The fascial system is far more innervated than muscle tissue, this offers immense benefits to improved body awareness and opportunity for bio feedback.

For more information visit our various pages on Facebook, twitter and YouTube.

Clubbell Yoga Comes to Vancouver

Clubbell Yoga Comes to Vancouver

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

 CBY 7

Clubbell Yoga:

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

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

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

How is Clubbell Yoga compliment traditional fields of conditioning?

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

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

Who Can Benefit?

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


Vancouver Workshop: Clubbell Yoga & Anatomy Breakdowns

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

Click on this link to REGISTER

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

About the Co Founders:

Summer Huntington:

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

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

Scott Sonnon:

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

For more information please visit the following website:

Clubbell Yoga –

Primal 12 –

Win a Lifetime Membership to Yogi Surprise!

Win a Lifetime Membership to Yogi Surprise!

Attention all yogis and yoginis! A new company called ‘Yogi Surprise‘ is set to launch very soon. It’s a monthly care package designed to complement the active yogi’s lifestyle! Think of it as a mini yoga retreat delivered to your doorstep. Each month, Yogi Surprise will send its members 6-8 full size products ranging from items like unique yoga accessories and natural beauty items to herbal tonics, organic snacks, super food essentials and more! Sounds fabulous doesn’t it? And best of all, here’s your chance to win a lifetime membership:


The Power of A Story: How to Build Shame Resilience

The Power of A Story: How to Build Shame Resilience

“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable. That’s why it loves perfectionists – it’s so easy to keep us quiet. If we cultivate enough awareness about shame to name it and speak to it, we’ve basically cut it off at the knees. Shame hates having words wrapped around it. If we speak shame, it begins to wither. Just the way exposure to light was deadly for gremlins, language and story bring light to shame and destroy it. “ – Daring Greatly be Brene Brown


Yesterday I was given the opportunity to speak to an amazing group in Vancouver; The Twenty Ten Group. Invited by my good friend, fellow ultra marathoner and adventure seeker Graham Snowden.  One of my opening snippets of any presentation or talk always starts with the importance of telling one’s story. Telling our story can be a very powerful and profound thing. It can connect. It can inspire and it can heal. When telling my own story of triumph over adversity I am always reminded by Brene Brown’s work in vulnerability and more importantly “resilience tool” called “Gremlin Ninja Warrior Training.” I wanted to share a few of my thoughts on telling ones story of challenge, adversity and the long road to understanding and healing.  It all starts with shame vs guilt.


Shame is something we all have, but don’t want to talk about. It’s that little voice in the back of your head that tells you no, or can’t, or don’t. Shame is lethal.  Brene Brown’s distinction between shame and guilt is equivalent to an epiphany. Understanding the distinction between the two can make or break your resilience to fear and achieving greatness. It boils down to our self-talk.

Shame = “I am bad”

Guilt is “I did something bad.”

Brown’s Gremlin Ninja Warrior Training offers real and raw guidelines, with a step by step approach towards better understanding this human paradox, while at the same time building shame resilience.

Gremlin Ninja Warrior Training

We all have feelings of in-adequacy or failure from time to time, but without this there would be no feelings of success, joy and elation. There would be no evolution. The human race would become stagnant.  It is through our mistakes, we learn the path of righteousness and experience what it feels like to get back up and stand tall after being knocked over by life’s unpredictability’s and nuances.

Each of us at some point has come face to face with our enemy or have come to face to face with what hinders us, and in doing so we must prepare effectively to properly manage the situation and come out victorious. This is no easy feat and most often we are unprepared and wind up stumbling around in the dark searching for strategies.

In the book Daring Greatly, Brown uses the metaphors of masks and armor as examples of how we have learned to build walls in self-protection against the dark arts of discomfort of vulnerability, and a world where scarcity, fear, criticism, shame and never enough dominate our very existence.  Yet, we must contend that we cannot live an authentic and wholehearted life without removing the armor and letting go, so that we can let in.

That’s the thing about walls. We may protect ourselves from the outside, but we also shut ourselves, opportunities and people out as well.  Viking (fight) or victim (flight), are not viable options for dealing with vulnerability.  She offers practical daring greatly strategies to help us embrace vulnerability and courage; using the way of the warrior or the Ninja as opportunities to fear and shame resilience.

The Way of the Warrior and the Ninja: Combat Warfare

Ninja: The historical accounts of the Ninja are scarce, yet the early 15th century holds glimpses of emerging “spies” whose functions were espionage, sabotage, infiltration and assassination and open combat with a high degree of honor and valor.

Warrior: A warrior can be defined as a person skilled in combat and warfare.

Gremlin: a mythological creature commonly depicted as a mischievous creature who sabotages or dismantles.

What do all of these things have in common?

They have duality. They have a Ying side; where they act in accordance with their values; which are integrity, honor, discipline and trust in the system. Yet, they also have a Yang side; when we connect these definitions we can see that there is an opportunity for not construction of greatness, but de construction as well. Each one has a quality of sabotage and when it comes to fear, shame and guilt the mind has an amazing ability to mask these as “protectors.”

“You don’t have to do that, let someone else.”

“Why do you fix, what ain’t broken.”

warrior understands that most often the greatest enemy, or foe, we face, is usually ourselves. As humans we have a propensity to self-sabotage our best efforts through a masked villain called fear. This fear can be veiled in emotions like anger, dis trust, sadness, helplessness, bitterness, shame and guilt, but they all stem from one word, and that’s fear.

The ability to own and engaged with our vulnerability determines the depth of our courage and the clarity of our purpose; the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our own fear, resistance and disconnection. Humans are not perfect. Humans are imperfect, and that is what makes us authentic. Vulnerability is at the heart of being authentic.


Ask yourself these questions:

  • What drives our fear of being vulnerable?
  • How do you protect yourself from vulnerability?
  • What meaning do you place on the word “protection”?
  • What do you gain or lose when you build up walls and disengage for fear of failure?
  • How could you own and engage with your vulnerability/ your gremlins, so you can start transforming the way you live, love and bring about change?
  • Are you a leader in your own life? If not why?

Brown dares us to have the courage to be vulnerable, to show up and be seen, to ask for what we need, to talk about our feelings and have the hard conversations. She asks us to tell our own personal story of both trials and tribulations in an effort to live a life of courage and authenticity.  As the book cover articulates it is about transforming the way we live, love, parent, teach, and lead.

Meet Your Thoracic Mobility Mark: The Rib Pull Bow And Arrow

Meet Your Thoracic Mobility Mark: The Rib Pull Bow And Arrow


Last article we looked at the spine and how the nature of our seated, sedentary lifestyle restricts not only movement, but wreaks havoc on the surrounding joints, tissue and systems. We mentioned that we must address the entire spine when looking at improving posture and addressing compensatory dysfunction, however, it is clear that when we closely inspect the thoracic spine, it is profoundly different than the cervical or lumbar spine regions, because it is right smack in the middle of our structure.  The thoracic spine typically has twelve segments, and it has a ribcage attached to it, providing significant stability and support, which can also become tight, restricted and lack proper function. It is common to see a reduction in proper breath mechanics with an immobile t-spine.  It is located between the cervical and lumbar regions of the spine, therefore, because of the nature of its locations all bottom‐up or top‐down movements will be forced to go through the thoracic spine and when the thoracic spine is limited, so are the other regions.

If we can understand the mechanics of the thoracic spine, then we can use the principles of how the FMS systems of corrective movement can assist clients in creating meaningful, sustainable changes in movement and pain management.

We first must look to understand coupled motion; which can be easily explained by any movement of the spine in one plane is normally accompanied by a compatible spinal movement in another plane.  For example when there is spinal lateral flexion, this is always accompanied by spinal rotation. The lateral and spiral lines of our fascia matrix allows for our structure to properly rotate, twist and turn. Restricted thoracic mobility will cause changes in the joints that are meant to be stable (aka the ones above and below) this decreased stability in distal points, results in repetitive-injury, microtraumatic dysfunction and pain. Therefore, I would also like to add that most often when a client comes to me with shoulder issues or shoulder pain, addressing the thoracic spine is pivotal. Rarely are the symptoms of thoracic spine rotational dysfunction presented in the thoracic area.

In the last article I also mentioned the “anterior dominant society” which continues to play a significant role in addressing t-spine rotation. The majority client who have limited thoracic spine mobility, have also limited movement into flexion; therefore we most often see dysfunction in extension. The cobra pose was one mobility drill or stretch if you will, we used to improve spinal extension and anterior chain opening.

Therefore, today’s article features a great t-spine mobility drill to help improve mobility, rotation and release of both the anterior and posterior upper chain, as well as introducing rotation to our spiral and lateral lines.

The rib-roll thoracic spine stretch is one such corrective exercise. It not only focuses on rotation, but also re activates the rib cage and shoulder mechanics into working with the thoracic spine in rotation.  It has the ability to stretch many dysfunctional areas at one time and is and easy and effective drill to perform at home, at the office or pre workout.


How to Perform the Stretch: Rib Pulls (progression 1) and Bow and Arrow (progression 2)

  • Client should be in the side-lying position with hips and shoulders stacked.
  • If needed, use a cervical spine support to maintain a comfortable line with a “packed (neutral) neck.” Too much lateral flexion in the neck will enable the tissue to brace.
  • Flex the top leg up to 90 degrees and hold onto it with your bottom hand.
  • Place a support (foam roller or pillow) underneath the knee to lock the pelvis and prevent excessive lumbar spine rotation (if the knee is too low, you will turn this stretch into a lower lumbar stretch not a thoracic spine stretch)
  • Place the hand on your rib cage to assist with end range. Focus on the posterior shoulder blade as well, almost like trying to touch the top posterior deltoid to the floor.
  • Place the other hand is placed on your top. knee and is holding it down with the bottom leg straight.
  • At end range, assist with bottom hand, pulling torso farther into the stretch.
  • Look in the direction of the rotation and exhale on the rotation and inhale on the return to starting position.
  • Try not to strain your neck or pull too hard at the end range, this should be a gentle movement. A good benchmark of too much stretch is an inability to breathe through the diaphragm. This is a sign that your nervous system has reached a high threshold barrier.


Progression 2: Bow and Arrow

  • Client should be in the side-lying position with hips and shoulders stacked as per the first progression with knee under foam roller and shoulders stacked.
  • Place the hands one on top of the other in extension
  • Reach the top hand forward gently, pulling the shoulder blade away from the spine, then gently like drawing the bow of an bow and arrow draw the arm across the bottom arm and chest to open into your t spine rotation.
  • Take a few breaths and focus on allowing the posterior shoulder to work its way to the floor.
  • You should aim to take 3-4 breaths in each rep so that the connective tissue can relax.




An “anterior dominant” society

An “anterior dominant” society

yoga 1

Man’s Not so Great Invention (for our structure):

Over the course of human evolution there has been one invention that is used around the world, yet has de evolved our structure. That invention is the invention of the chair, and with this, our modern bodies have started developing tendencies and compensatory patterns. From the age of grade school we are taught to sit for hours in what we now know to be the hardest position for our structure to hold. The seated position is also the most amount of energy expenditure used and not in a positive burning calories way.

Those of us who are sedentary, or spend countless hours seated at a desk, as well as those of us who are active, seem to migrate to a group of similar mobility and stability problems as we age. Our society overall is what we call an “anterior dominant” society.  Almost everything we do in our lives results in muscle length and stretch imbalances, sloppy and stiff joints and as a result our daily posture compensates.   Many injuries have been linked to these structural changes ranging from cervical and occipital ridge headaches, to shoulder impingement or dysfunction, to low back pain and herniated discs, to mal aligned hips to plantar fasciitis. All apply.

One of the most significant tendencies I see in my practice is less than optimal mobility in the thoracic segment of the spine, rounded shoulders, forward head carriage and poor posture overall. At the least 80% of clients have some form of low back pain, and this usually comes with a concurrent trigger of pain or soreness in the upper neck and shoulders. It’s the chicken or the egg complex really. Pain changes movement. Which one came first? Most often, we don’t know, but what we do know is that addressing the major point of dysfunction is key, and that we must also address the joints above and below.

The T-Spine & Posture:

The thoracic region has a tendency toward stiffness and rigidity and most often could benefit from greater amounts of mobility and flexibility. The architecture of this region is designed for support, but poor postural habits can promote stiffness and then decrease the body’s natural ability to rotate. When this happens the joints above and below the thoracic region can become sloppy, less stable and this increases the client or athlete’s risk of injury. We need to ensure we do not just address these symptoms, but follow the breakdown of the whole chain and consider the rest of the structure, by looking at both a lack of optimal mobility in the T-spine, but also the instability of the lumbar and shoulders (the joints above and below).

A Functional Approach:

Changes in posture over decades cannot be reversed in a short period of time; we may not be able to change posture right away, but we can remove any negatives and poor postural habits at work, and in daily activities.  This requires a combination of therapeutic approaches and models, some of which could include:

  • Functional assessment of structure and compensation
  • The funcational opposite – postural positions that provide decompression and relief to the client
  • Lengthen shortened muscles
  • Release postural trigger points
  • Inhibit overactive muscle groups
  • Activate inhibited muscle groups
  • Strengthen synergistic force couples
  • Normalize proper joint biomechanics and arthrokinematics
  • Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS)
  • Corrective Intervention Strategies for pain management
  • Client education and management resources

Yoga and Therapeutic Movement:

As a yoga teacher and movement specialist, after I have assessed and evaluated my client, we move onto our corrective strategy; which will usually include addressing 1 or 2 dysfunctional patterns that have the highest risk factors, and we do so by implementing corrective exercises into their daily prescribed program.

Here is one of the key stretches/ yoga poses I offer clients who require more spinal mobility and postural change.

yoga 2


Yoga: Cobra Pose

One of the first stretches we give to clients when addressing postural imbalances and thoracic limitations is cobra pose. This particular pose focuses on the second bulleted point above; “the functional opposite.” If you spend hours seated in that anterior dominant position then this pose if a great way to decompress the structure and improve thoracic extension. Once you have achieved better extension and reduced tension in the front and back lines, thus making it much easier to move into rotational patterns.

                              Seated Posture           Cobra Pose

Head                          Flexed Forward            Extended Back

Upper Neck              Flexion                            Extension

Lower Neck              Flexion                            Extension

Shoulders                 Round Forward            Back / Packed

Thoracic Spine        Flexion                            Extension

Lumbar Spine          Flexion                            Extension

Hips                           Flexion                           Extension

Knees                        Flexion                            Extension

Ankle                        Dorsi Flexion                 Plantar Flexion


Extension exercises are often used in therapeutic approaches to rehabilitation, but this is an exercise I give to all clients who may not experience low back pain, but spend many hours seated throughout the day. Prevention of injuries is most important in the hustle and bustle of our society. Once you have increased extension in your thoracic spine, you can then start to move onto rotational exercises and stretches to improve mobility. Next week we will look at rotational exercises for improving t-spine rotation, as well as how this can affect the lumbar region and shoulder regions of our body.

Dare To Evolve: A Worldwide Evolution

Dare To Evolve: A Worldwide Evolution


Today’s blog post is dedicated to my very good friend, Shane Heins, founder of Dare to Evolve.  This weekend marks the first  Club Evolution 2 day intensive workshop in Vancouver, held at Engineered Bodies, Strength and Conditioning in Port Moody, BC.  As a Movement Coach and founder of YogaFORM, I am proud to be participating in this two day event, as well as providing the decompression YogaFORM cool down for our participants.

Shane`s mission has always been to empower people from the inside out, to use the physical sphere as a means of inward reflection and a vehicle for change. He believes; inherent within each and every one of us, resides an essence so noble, a being so gifted, that it bursts at the seams. It bursts with such brilliance as to be a beacon of light in the darkest corners of sorrow, a healing salve from the most tormenting prison of pain and unending hope in the face of grave calamity.

Dare to Evolve isn’t just a workshop designed to teach fitness enthusiasts about this new tool… called the club. It’s designed to be a vehicle for change. A tool from which you can connect with and build skills from the inside out, top to bottom, leaving you grounded, more in touch with your present self and able to overcome the obstacles that come with life’s unpredictability.

Connecting to your tool and grounding yourself were the first two key fundamentals of today’s workshop. Finding engagement with the ground allows us to firmly root. Finding activation in our “core” allows us to firmly balance and feel solid in our structure and finding flow in our movements allows us to feel connected to our body and mind. These are the principles The Club Evolution is built upon.

To pay tribute to his expertise and guidance in our industry’s movement revolution, I would like to feature some of my favorite inspirational articles from Shane Heins, which can be found at his Dare to Evolve website:

The Worldwide Shift.

We live at a time that is undergoing an immense transition from the way the world has “worked” for the last few generations: Economically, socially, technologically, and industrially. We are thus needing to redefine our place in this changing world and what the value is that we bring to it.

Which can seem insurmountable when thinking about overcoming the:

  • Pain and discomfort
  • Dissatisfaction
  • Depression
  • Sense of helplessness
  • Low energy
  • Frustration
  • Sleeplessness
  • Low self esteem
  • Anger

… to name a few of the things that so many of us feel in our lives.

But there is so much information out there, it is an overwhelming prospect just to start! Where do you start?

Straight to the Heart of the Matter.

Because that is where it starts. The heart. At the core of who you are is an incredible gift to the world. One that only you can unveil. In those moments when we feel the:

  • Heat in our chest
  • Fire in our gut
  • Intensity of inspiration
  • Exhilaration of joy…

…We catch a glimpse of our gift’s potential. But only a glimpse, as it won’t stay still for long. It’s energy is so great it can’t be chained down. Our ability to harness it, however, can. Harnessing it is what happens here at Dare To Evolve.


The Missing Link.

There are two primary modalities currently at the forefront of this modern transformation wave. There is the Self-Help stream and the Fitness stream.

Self-help resources and those that teach them have exploded over the last decade, turning it into a multi-billion dollar industry. It is not uncommon to walk into a household and see various copies of self-improvement books lining the shelves (We have some on our shelf too). Much of what is shared is really good information, with a few stand-outs leading the pack. But the approach generally tends to be via addressing the mind:

  • Unlocking mental blocks
  • Deconstructing mis-construed perceptions
  • Discovering unconscious thought patterns
  • Creating a framework to re-wire it all…

These are all very good, but the main difficulty with this approach is using the very source, that is causing us difficulty in the first place, in an attempt to change it:the mind. It can be done, but can easily turn into a convoluted path.

Now yes, the leaders of this pack also speak to the need of connecting to our emotions, essentially what lies at the heart of our motivation, but there is no real systematic way to nurture this. Most importantly there is no physical practice to tie it to. Why a physical practice? Because through the movement of our body, there is movement of emotion, freeing up movement of the mind.

The Fitness industry has been slowly, but steadily, changing it’s tune over the last decade, recognizing not only our need but also our desire for more than just a shapely butt, nice legs, chiselled chest and bulging biceps. It now speaks to training for the mind, body and soul. Which is amazing right? Shouldn’t it all be about more than just the surface “features” we develop?

The trouble is, most fitness professionals don’t have a means to translate the benefits of physical training into supporting the growth and development of the mind and the soul.

The trainers know moving the body is key, without a doubt, to the whole package of evolving our entire being. Yet despite all the lingo being used about fitness to enhance “mind, body and soul”, the approach is still largely to do so by:

  • Lose a ton of fat in the next 30 days
  • Build the chest and arms of a superhero
  • Tone up to get the shapely legs and butt everybody wants

From this also lies the risk of promoting the transformation of your physique as the source for developing your self-confidence and self worth.

To say that in achieving the ideal physique (as dictated by the industry itself) will be the source of your value in this world, may be well intentioned, but couldn’t be further from the truth.

To develop self-confidence and self worth, there needs to be more than just a shiny surface. Without the internal processes to match the external, it becomes a vicious cycle of starts and stops, of defeat, inadequacy and feeling unfulfilled. Sound familiar?


Bridging the Gap.

At Dare To Evolve, we use the platform of physical training (being grounded in what we instantly and tangibly feel as we come up against the tension and resistance generated over the years) as the vehicle for developing the innate qualities within us.

By consistently and systematically tapping into our inner qualities, nurtured through a budding intuition, we start interacting with our unique gifts regularly, gradually turning up the dial on the energy building as we harness the essence of what lies at the heart of who we are.

Harnessing the gifts that reside at the heart, we melt away from the inside out the chains and anchors that have tightened their hold on us.

Physically vibrant, driven by the very heart of motivation, we can now access with greater effectiveness and success all that the mind has to offer, as we strive to the heights of our capacity.

Dare To Evolve brings the elusive yet necessary bridge that connects the path to the immensity of our strength and power, unleashing on the world the gems of our utmost potential.


It Only Takes One…

… one you, one me, one us.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure…”

Do you Participate or Contribute?

“There is a fine line between Participate and Contribute.

That difference resides in the choice you make.

When we participate:

  • we are there, but it does not necessitate that we be “present”.
  • we need only take part, not take whole
  • we are in a position to receive without having to give.
  • we can do so without commitment

When we contribute:

  • we invest wholeheartedly in what lies before us 
  • we give of ourselves honestly to exploring the process
  • we step forward with the courage to share the best part of ourselves with each other
  • we value all present
  • we are grateful for all involved”


For more information on Dare To Evolve please click the link here.


New Shoot Pictures Yoga & Pilates DVDs

New Shoot Pictures Yoga & Pilates DVDs

New Shoot Pictures recently sent us some fitness DVDs for Vancouver Yoga Review, including four different yoga practices, prenatal pilates exercises, and even a ballet body workout. Filmed with some of the top yogis and fitness experts in the United Kingdom, these quality DVDs are just some of the offerings New Shoot Pictures presents. Read on to learn more about each one…


Elements of Yoga: Earth Foundation — Tara Lee is one of the UK’s renowned yoga teachers and has a popular three-part DVD collection called “Elements of Yoga”. The first DVD in the series is based on the earth element and is designed to build the foundations of a yoga practice suitable for all skill levels and abilities. This DVD is divided into three 20-minute sequences which can be played in succession for a complete yoga practice, or as separate sessions for those with time constraints. The practices build a strong foundation of stability in the body, mind and spirit. Ideal for releasing symptoms of stress, these practices leave viewers feeling grounded and calm. If you are brand new to yoga or at the beginning stages of your practice, then this is a particularly appropriate DVD for you.


Elements of Yoga: Air & Water Flow — The second DVD in Tara Lee’s Elements of Yoga series proceeds the earth foundation and was created as a flow based practice, focusing on connecting to natural air and water elements inside everyone. The practice is divided into three twenty-minute sequences and, like the first DVD in the collection, it can also be played in succession or individually. In addition, there are four bonus features: 10 minute balancing series, 10 minute core workout, 10 minute breathing exercise and a 5 minute relaxation. These sequences aid in forming space in the physical body by joining flowing mobility with breath as well as expanding the body’s chest and heart center. If flow yoga is your preferred style, then we’d certainly recommend this Tara Lee DVD.


Elements of Yoga: Fire Dynamic — The third and final DVD in the series, Tara Lee’s dynamic practice was designed to build heat and strength in the body while cleansing and purifying the mind and soul. It is divided into three 20-40 minute sequences which can be played consecutively or separately. In addition, there are 4 bonus features: 10 minute balancing series, 10 minute core workout, 10 minute breathing exercise and 5 minute relaxation. The fire element lies at the center of our being so this practice was created to strengthen the core as well as give practitioners a strong, fluid practice that will burn up toxins. Anyone looking to release heavy emotions and detoxify the body will surely benefit from this DVD.


Power Yoga & Kriya Yoga (For Anti-Ageing) — Yoga and meditation master, Yogi Ashokananda created a series of unique practices that are rooted in the ancient wisdom of yoga and meditation, yet have been reformed to correspond with modern lifestyles. Divided into three twenty-minute sequences, each program can be played individually or in linear succession. Practice One – Strengthening: This is a firm yet supportive practice of yoga, working through the whole body, rejuvenating along the way through each pose. Practice Two – Kriya Yoga Anti Ageing: Kriya Yoga joins the motion of the physical movement in bodies with its dynamic power helping to become cognizant of one’s own creative attainability, reducing the aging process and expanding cardiovascular ability. Practice Three – Power Within: The focus of this specific power yoga practice is on endurance as well as consciousness of one’s capacity to love and respect their spiritual and physical self. Yogi’s power yoga DVD is helpful for those looking for a yoga practice focusing on authentic Indian traditions.


Prenatal Pilates Strengthen & Sculpt — Exercise specialist, Caroline Sandry created this DVD for women at all trimesters so they can stay in shape while moving through the different stages of pregnancy. Practicing these programs helps moms-to-be stay strong and supple while preparing for the physical demands of labor and delivery. These routines have been carefully choreographed to help sculpt, tone and strengthen women’s bodies and are divided into a twenty-minute Total Body Workout, a twenty-minute Standing Workout, a twenty-minute Mat Workout, a seventeen-minute Bonus Solutions Section, and a Pregnancy Tutorial to benefit mother and baby. This DVD is a must for pregnant women!


Ballet Fitness — The sixth DVD sent to us was created by London-based professional choreographer Nicky McGinty. She presents six unique ballet themed fitness programs designed to target and firm specific body parts as well as provide an overall cardiovascular workout. Additionally, these elegant ballet routines help viewers locate and strengthen core muscles and flatten stomachs. These specific arrangements consist of barre work, floor work and a few lively dance routines. If you’re looking to sculpt a lean body and help shed unwanted pounds, then you should check out this DVD as it’s a great alternative to traditional yoga and pilates.

You can purchase New Shoot Pictures DVDs on Amazon (click here), and watch previews on My Yoga Online and YouTube.

Join Yogi Ashokananda & Other World Renowned Speakers In Vancouver

Join Yogi Ashokananda & Other World Renowned Speakers In Vancouver


Join yoga & meditation master, Yogi Ashokananda, and seven other world renowned speakers all under one roof in Vancouver! Organized by The Gift of Life Foundation, BrainSolutions 2013 Conference will be taking place at the end of this month at the Vancouver Convention Centre. This two day event will encompass everything from nutrition and detoxification to breathing, exercise and meditation.

BrainSolutions 2013 Conference

1055 Canada Place
Vancouver, BC V6C 0C3

When: August 24th – 25th, 2013

For tickets and further information,

Part 2 Movement Culture: 6 Degrees of Freedom

Part 2 Movement Culture: 6 Degrees of Freedom



6 degrees of freedom, is the foundational groundwork that embodies the ideology behind Prasara Yoga, Intu Flow and Free to Move styles of movement culture, founded by Scott Sonnon. An ancient health discipline forged in an era of need for a modern longevity discipline.

Intu Flow (Free to Move) and Prasara Yoga were designed around the “health first and forever” philosophy through an innovative approach called Circular Strength Training (CST).  A model that focuses on “prehab and post-rehab,” which consists of movement patterns that promote pain free mobility, dynamic flow yoga and natural athleticism, based on the three Rings of the CST System. In this article I present to you 2 of those rings and next week we will discuss the entire CST systems with all 3 rings.


This flowing, intuitive harmony of simple movement, structural body alignment, and simple breathing, assesses and addresses areas of weakness. Intu-Flow brings needed nutrition to connective tissue to “oil the joints”, and revive natural abilities and movement. Intu-Flow provides.

  • Deep relaxation and tension release
  • Increased focus and concentration
  • Enhanced joint mobility and sensory awareness
  • Superior athletic performance


Prasara Yoga is a form of movement which incorporates yoga poses, connected with simple breathing techniques. It is the union of body and mind through structure, breathing and movement to release one’s fears of the self in order to get out of the way of body and mind, in order to release one’s true natural flow.  Prasara provides counterbalance to the body through dynamic flow, thus compensating for positions adopted during daily routines or prior activities. Prasara represents the 3rd mode of Hatha yoga, incorporating both Asana, or postures, and Vinyasa, or breath linkage. Prasara’s “flow” moves the body through all “Six Degrees of Freedom” – its full potential grace as a three-dimensionally energetic being:

  • Heaving: Moving up and down
  • Swaying: Moving left and right
  • Surging: Moving forward and back
  • Pitching: Tilting up and down
  • Yawing: Turning left and right
  • Rolling: Tilting side to side


The Myths of Yoga

One of the main questions I am when I present people to YogaFORM is the same question I an asked when I explain Scott Sonnon’s approach, experience and background is ;“How is Prasara different than traditional yoga?” . My answer is always the same… ” let me ask you this first; what does the word or meaning of “Yoga” mean to you?

Yoga isn’t a “thing,” it isn’t a form of “exercise” (at least it didn’t start out that way over 5,000 years ago). Yoga is a way of life and the translation of the word, means to “unite.” I know this is big statement to make, but if we are to make “healthy living” a lifestyle we must continue to look at the whole picture, not as isolated events. Yoga, meditation, movement – are ways of life – not just things to get fit or keep fit. Another misconception about Yoga is that it’s about flexibility or “stretching.” Yoga isn’t about flexibility. It’s not even about stretching. It’s about removing the restrictions to your natural mobility, strength, power, stamina, and energy. Scott calls this our 6 degrees of freedom. Yoga is about all of these things, and so much more. It’s a way of life.

To bring about equilibrium to the mind, body and spirit; Yoga looks to both internally and externally create unity with your environment; therefore; Prasara, Intu Flow and Free to Move theories refers specifically to the integration of movement, with breath, with structural integrity in movement. In essence; it is not different, it is merely an approach that has evolved to address the needs of our community. It is a joint by joint approach to exploring range of motion, restoring function and stabilization to a body through time.

How can 6 Degrees of Freedom & The Free to Move Methodology Benefit You?

‘Yoga” is a vehicle from which you experience flow of movement and breath, an unbinding of biomechanical and emotionally charged restrictions to work towards your unlimited potential.

In corrective movement we place a high emphasis on identifying and addressing dysfunction and compensation in the body that arises from altered movement causing de stabilization, reduced mobility and tension in tissue health. Most often, I find myself re educating my clients on the neuromuscular adaptation of the integrated systems and one large factor – motor control. Because yoga is tool to be used to explore your interal and external environment it can play higher emphasis on the brain to body connection and the time required to process and adapt to better movement mechanics.

One of the largest benefits of Prasara Yoga, Intu Flow and Free to Move methodologies is the high emphasis on joint by joint movement, and the foundation of restoring movement, and reducing compensation  through compensatory sequences  in a class or client hour. In a client hour you have a 10min window for warm-up, therefore, ensuring that your movement drills are targeted and specific is the key to this style of movement culture. There is also a high degree of technical linguistic representation used in the course/class format, so that you can connect with your audience.




Aaron Cruz; Coach at Wolf Fitness Systems LLC, CST Head Coach, TACFIT Team Leader

“The journey is what brings us happinessnot the destination”- Dan Millman

Leading the classes was “Movement Guru,” as I call him is none other than Aaron Cruz, a leader in movement culture. His awareness, passion for his community and technical representation is by far, what makes him a success and a favorite amongst his clients. His energy is fluid, consistent and embodies a flow that can be felt when he walks into the room.

I attended several classes at Wolf Fitness Systems in Salinas California in February and ALL of their classes (Free to Move, Bootcamp, TacFit, Workshops) all incorporated a high degree of movement mechanics by focusing on the Big Three – Structure, Breathing and Movement – not only is emphasis placed on control of joint mobility, but integrity of how each joint connects to the other. Understanding this is the first step to breaking down compensated patterns, and uploading patterns of motor control for improved tissue health, muscle function and reflex stabilization.

“Impacted: I’ve learned to heal my past injuries (spinal pinched nerves, torn muscles) get in the best shape and health of my life, through mobility, yoga, clubbells and kettlebells. Wolf Fitness Systems blessed me with the opportunity to share this wonderful gift with the willing and determined. The clients I have trained inspire me and continue to. This is why I love what I do and everyone I can help live happier and healthier….even if its just a lil help “ – Aaron Cruz

Yoga Flow Video here:

The Science Behind RNT (Reactive Neuromuscular Training) – Motor Control

Motor control is an area of natural science exploring how the nervous system interacts with other body parts and the environment to produce purposeful, coordinated actions, but it is rarely used outside of human kinetics classes, athletics or the clinical practice because it can be very overwhelming to teach to the average person. The way I like to introduce this into a YogaFORM class or corrective hour is by addressing the body as the hardware, and the brain or “motor control” is the software. We need to de-install the software that is causing you to perform slowly, and reduce system health and upload new software that can promote your hardware to work more efficiently.

In a study done by the NCBI, titled Motor Control Theories and Their Applications focused on a study on the stages in motor learning in a yoga setting based on recent developments of the notion of synergies and the equilibrium-point hypothesis (referent configuration). The principle of abundance and the principle of minimal final action form the foundation for analyses of natural motor actions performed by redundant sets of elements. Two main stages of motor learning are introduced corresponding to (1) discovery and strengthening of motor synergies stabilizing salient performance variable(s) and (2) their weakening when other aspects of motor performance are optimized.

In another study titled; The Plasticity of motor control systems demonstrated by yoga training, the static motor performance was tested in two groups with 20 subjects in each (age range 17 to 22 years, and 5 females in each group). Tests were carried out at the beginning and end of a 10 day period.

The test required being able to insert and hold a metal stylus within holes of varying sizes for 15 sec. Accidental contacts between the stylus and the sides of the holes, were registered on a counter as errors. During the 10 days one group (the yoga group) practised asanas (physical postures), pranayama (voluntary regulation of breathing), meditation, devotional sessions, and tratakas (visual focusing exercises). The control group followed their usual routine. At the end of 10 days the yoga group showed a significant reduction in number of errors (Wilcoxon paired signed ranks test), while the control group did not change.

Our earlier study showed a similar improvement in children (9-13 years). It was interesting to note the same degree of plasticity in motor control systems in young adults. The implications for rehabilitation programmes have been discussed.”



In short, those who practice and lead a way of life that promotes the 6 degrees of freedom, mental fortitude and movements that help to restore function and improve tissue health, will lead a healthier and balanced life. The joint by joint approach places high emphasis on myo fascial lines and then understanding that “our bones should float;” or as Scott mentions in his indepth CST course that our connective tissue is the key towards unlocking the potential within our movements.

This style of movement and yoga in general can also be most beneficial for those who suffer from movement disorders, as it allows the space to explore function and control through a therapeutic approach that encourages nurturing, discipline and self healing. This data shows the benefits seen in populations with Parkinson’s, MS, turrets, and epilepsy show significant improvement to stability and mobility in the ankles and hips, as well as spinal orientation, tissue health and qualitative improvements in posture and control of breath in movement.



Injuries in Contact Sports: Rugby and the FMS Approach

Injuries in Contact Sports: Rugby and the FMS Approach

rugby canada

This past week I have seen 3 Rugby players of all ages, with all very unique goals and strengths stream into our clinic at Fit to Train Human Performance Systems. Each player shows some signs of dysfunction in movement that could potentially cause serious injury if not addressed, assessed and cleaned up. What I love about working with athletes is their drive and dedication to learn more about how to fine tune their mechanics for improved performance. More importantly, they are prepared with the mental fortitude to not look at weakness in the body as a negative, but to see it as an opportunity to mold, re pattern and adapt – to be stronger, fitter and more in tune with their surroundings.

Before, we move on to positional injuries, prevention and key pointers, let’s look at what’s happening  on the fields of one of the world’s most sought after sports.

Rugby Canada Sevens and Canadian U20 Men’s Team Tryouts:

Perhaps it’s the anticipation of our very own Rugby Canada Team playing in round 5 next week in the Sevens World series against Kenya, or perhaps it’s the anticipation of who will play for our Canadian U20 Men’s Team. Whichever, it may be, fans are in a tizzy, eagerly waiting.

First round of try outs for the U20 team were held on January 24th, in Shawnigan Lake, at the Canadian Rugby Centre of Excellence. 44 players from across the country were asked to come out, and only 26 – 30 players will make the team.

Completing a large selection makes for difficult decisions by Head Coach Mike Shelley and his selection team. “We’re working towards cutting it down to the 26 players that we’ll be taking to Chile for the Junior World Trophy in Chile in late May, early June” said Shelley.

Rugby is one of the most popular sports in the world alongside soccer and cricket. Yes, it’s true now soccer in some countries is also considered football. So let’s say Rugby is one of the most popular sports in the world alongside, soccer, football and cricket and has been gaining popularity, with more than 80,000 players registered with USA Rugby, 20,000 of these players are high school age. In Canada over 73,000 players of all ages, with over 55,000 of those athletes in high school as well.

With so many young athletes; it makes sense to focus our attention on injury prevention before an injury occurs, does it not? Yet, so many teams still treat, rather than prevent. When a team mate has to sit on the sidelines – the whole team suffers.

Do Not Sit on the Sidelines:

Due to the high numbers of physical collisions and tackles, musculoskeletal injuries are common. Fractured bones, dislocated fingers and elbows, cuts, sprained ligaments and strained tendons or muscles and deep muscle bruises. Let us not forget to mention elbows to the nose, cracked ribs, torn ACL/ MCL and of course bruised egos.

In a literature review for the BokSmart Program of SA Rugby, Murphy (2009) (Rugby Safety Program in South Africa) mentions that the lower limb is most prone to injury in the professional leagues. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (2004) mentions that the majority of studies have shown that the head and neck is the most common site of match injuries in senior rugby league players, while knee injuries are the most common site of injury in junior rugby league players.

The review goes on to cite a fairly recent South African based study done where the hip and pelvis accounted for 19% of all injuries and the knee followed as the second most commonly injured area, at 13 %.


Positions Play a Factor:

From a positional perspective it seems that its dependant on the country we look at for review.  In Australia, Murphy (2009), mentions that the scrumhalf is least at risk of injury overall, even though The locks are at greatest risk of facial cuts and cauliflower ear (external deformity to the ear caused by repeated blows).

A study conducted in Scotland in 2012 found that the majority of injuries were in the backline, with the wing sustaining most of the injuries at 21.6% and the centre next at 18.9%.  In Argentina, the flanker, at 16%, is injured the most. They also found that 53.3% of all injuries sustained by the forwards were specifically to the front row forwards.  Forwards are more frequently injured than backs because of their greater involvement in physical collisions and tackles.

These studies didn’t showcase players in rucks and mauls, but these injuries commonly occur to fingers and thumbs as well as abrasions and lacerations from cleats.

Stages of Injury: Pre-Season vs In-Season

The majority of training injuries occur in the early stages of the season, while match injuries occur in the latter stages of the season, suggesting that changes in training and playing intensity may influence the incidence of injury in rugby league.

Rugby demands the running and endurance of soccer combined with the contact and tackling that is similar to football. With running and fast cutting there is the potential for overuse injuries like tendinitis and bursitis. More common, however are traumatic injuries sustained during collisions with other players and/or the ground during scrumming, rucking, and tackling.

Prevention is Key:

Speaking of the U20, there is no one better to talk with than Coach Chamberlain. A UBC Thunderbird Alumni, and CFL vet, Mr. Bill Chamberlain coaches (and teachers) with Saint Georges High School in Vancouver; one of the most prestigious private schools known for cultivating and grooming leaders in our athletic community (Rugby being one of them).

Coach Chambo (as he’s called by his players) says, “Common injuries tend to be shoulders, hamstring pulls, knees, but lately its been hip stuff, “ says Coach Chamberlain.

When asked about the gaps in conditioning that may lead to injury he says; “the gap for me (as a Coach) is that the kids are working out more now and earlier on now. They have access to more then we ever did as far as how to get bigger, faster, and stronger but the gap for me seems to be in the flexibility area. Flexibility needs to be emphasized way more. But I am certainly not and expert. Try convincing teenagers to put down the biceps curls and squats and do more yoga…… That’s the tough part.

Coach Chamberlain is right! Flexibility ….more so mobility… needs to play a larger part in our young players up and comers success.

Let’s Narrow the Playing Field to  the Hips and the Spine:

After researching most common injuries and prevention techniques on how to prevent hip and spinal injuries, I found that the majority of articles out there was focused on traditional strength training and isolation exercises to..let’s say… “strengthening the lower back.” If it’s tight or hurts that must mean it’s weak right? Wrong!

One of the benefits to coaching the FMS systems and using this approach of screening, assessment and corrective intervention is that we focus on training movement patterns to not only identify dysfunctional movement and compensation in the body, but to also address the compensation patterns to “why” the injury occurred, what else has shifted in the body and how to clean up the pain and structural trauma, but also ensure the injury is not repeated.

When we look at the statistics of what positions have higher rates of injury we can also deduce how the injury most likely occurred. If the player can recollect the incident then we can also simulate and take into account the approximate angle, velocity, torque, and to a degree determine the undue stress placed upon the other structures and surrounding tissue. This, in its own right will have a compensation pattern that needs to be taken into account when treating a player for an acute injury.

Let’s review the “strength the lower back” again..


Training Isolation vs. Movement:

When I come across articles mentioning: “to reduce back injuries in Rugby and contact sports: strengthen the lower back,” I immediately ask why and how? I also ask what is the state of the other joints? The hips? The knees? How about the T spine? What about core stability? Yes, I said it – Core Stability.

Most Rugby players that are fit can plank for an hour. I could do push-ups on their back for an hour and they will plank like a champ, but does this mean that when they stand up, brace when running at top speed, cutting in and out, and then rotate to block (or take a block) of an opponent that their core will fire appropriately and be able to take on the rotational load without straining their back? My point is – we are not just talking about the back. We need to take a step back from the Kinesiology 101 class and see the body as a moving machine, not an isolated series of nuts, bolts and chains.

Isolating the lower back will not always deter injury. If it isn’t weak and you strengthen it more, you reduce the mobility and the joints above and below it will also have to either become more mobile and thus unstable. We must ensure we look at the whole picture.

Prevention of Back and Spinal Injuries in Rugby:

The lumbo-pelvic region of the hip complex sits at the cross roads of mechanical stress. Lack of motor control and instability can be replaced by generalized stiffness as a survival strategy, giving it the feeling of “weakness.”

Moving farther down the Rugby rabbit hole; ribs, vertebrae, and lots of muscle and fascia crisscrossing the front and the back of the thorax cause thoracic stiffness. Now, we don’t necessarily need a lot of mobility there, but in contact sports we want as much as we can get so that we have the elasticity of tissue to take on force. The low back or thoracolumbar fascia need to be stiff because it protects our organs. The back body most often takes the hit, as the anterior body  braces for impact or pushing through.

Apart from your thoraco-lumbar fascia, this also connects to your lower limb mechanics, via the glutes and hamstrings. The hamstrings are called bi-articular muscles because they cross both the hip and knee joints. This is an important consideration because a hamstring injury can affect your hips, low back, knees, and the motion patterns of the entire lower extremity.  Adductor pulls and groin pulls are also common in rotational injuries.  If we consider fascial connections (posterior line), we will see that a hamstring injury can affect a very large area and vice versa. If you have a back injury it can pull on this entire line and place undue stress on your anterior line AND your spiral line (one of the lines that support rotation).

This is why, I say strengthening the back or isolated exercises will not allow the athlete to properly prevent injuries from re occurring, and it rarely fixes the problem. What I do, is look at the most asymmetrical movements and apply that to the acute injury.


In our case we are talking about the spine and lower back. Therefore, when I assess my clients who specifically play contact sports,  I pay close attention to the following:

1. ASLR, and ask if it’s asymmetrical (1/3 or even even 2’s) I then break it down, is it a mobility issue or is it motor control? We are talking hamstring, hip flexors and quads, femoral movement in the hip socket, lumbo pelvic stability and trunk engagement.

2. Shoulder Mobility, most often there will be an asymmetry because of ball handling, bracing, protecting and repeated game dependent movement patterns

3. Core stability in movement and assess breathing mechanics in a range of positions. Notice I did not say the Trunk Stability Push Up Test (TSPU), primitive position (prone) showcases just the trunk in a “plank” variation. This does not always show true weakness. When we apply the load of gravity in standing and in movement, start to notice if the athlete can properly engage and balance intra abdominal pressure. Do they understand the mechanics of breath and integration of the nervous system etc?


Contact sports will incur injuries – that’s a fact, and we ladies love a good scrimmage. Ensuring you prevent injuries means taking a preventative approach and learning as much as you can about your own unique mechanics before injury occurs.  If you are at the high school level, you are in the prime time developmental stages of grooming your performance, so hit all the angles, not just the heavy loads and pushing weight. Understanding that muscle length, muscle and fascia tensegrity and elasticity will help you absorb force and re bound out of tackle quicker and more safely. Any type of “flexibility training” or “mobility” training needs to be unique for you. Yoga for Contact Sports… I may even start a class.

If you are currently treating an injury, ensure your health professional is not just treating the pain, but also taking into account compensations and screening for dysfunction.

The best way to prevent an injury is to be pro active:

  • Practice a balanced and structured training regimen involving strength, flexibility and endurance not just in season, but post season.
  • Seek advice on corrective movement and get screened pre, during and post season.
  • Always use proper technique when tackling, rucking and scrumming.
  • Learn proper positioning during game play to minimize risky moves and anticipate your opponent.
  • Use a quality, properly fitted mouth guard.
  • Participate at a level consistent with ability.
  • Adhering to the rules for the formation of the scrum, no showboating.
  • Ask your athletic trainer/coach or other sports medicine professional about any training or injury questions. We like to give you lots of freebie information.

Watch the next Rugby Canada Sevens game Feb 08th in Las Vegas against Kenya.  Happy Scrumming!


Yoga Social Book Club – March 4 at Banyen Books

Yoga Social Book Club – March 4 at Banyen Books

In the fall, I had the delightful opportunity to join Martina Bell and Angela Kariya for a yoga group book club meeting covering Active Hope, by Joanna Macy (read Angela’s fantastic review here).

The Yoga Social Book Club is meeting again on March 4  (free event at Banyen Books, 7-8:30pm) to discuss Stephen Cope’s The Great Work of Your Life – 10% off at Banyen Books this month! If you have an interest in the theoretical, social, and philosophical underpinnings of yoga, or just want to read a great book and meet new people for discussion, I would strongly suggest making plans to attend the book club meeting.

View full event details here: Great Work of Your Life -Yoga Social Book Club

Martina and Angela provided a warm and open environment for discussion and review of the topics and issued raised in the book. Guided by interesting and engaging questions, the book club got to know each other quickly in an evening of animated discussion, laughter and sharing.

These are two experienced yoga teachers, with a thoughtful and insightful perspective on a wide range of topics. Book club is open to anyone – no need to be explicitly involved in yoga. Just come and enjoy a great evening with interesting and engaging people!

About The Great Work of Your Life:

In this fast-paced age, the often overwhelming realities of daily life may leave you feeling uncertain about how to realize your life’s true purpose. But yoga scholar Stephen Cope says that in order to have a fulfilling life you must discover the deep purpose hidden at the very core of yourself. In The Great Work of Your Life, Cope describes the process of unlocking the unique possibility harbored within every human soul.

About Angela and Martina:

ANGELA KAYIRA & MARTINA BELL are registered yoga teachers in Vancouver. Combined they have been practicing yoga for over 22 years, taught for over 10 years and studied various styles and lineages in Canada, the USA and Europe. They teach Yoga Teacher Trainings at In Life School of Yoga.





 “Master your body ….. before you try to master your sport.” – Bill LeSuer

With the Superbowl just around the corner, many of the teams leading the pack are sharing some of their claim to fame success stories as to why they excel at their sport.

Most recently, the San Francisco 49ers chalked up their current success to many factors, but one stood out and that is – STRETCHING. Now, when I say “stretching,” I do not mean Yoga or general flexibility in those terms. I mean tissue health and that includes elements of mobility, stability and motor control. In this case, let’s look at mobility that is relative to the functionality of the sport – Football. The game of Champions.

The San Francisco 49ers’ two-year rise from the depths of mediocrity is widely attributed to their ferocious defense and to the speed and agility of their quarterback, Colin Kaepernick.  Some are saying that he might just become the most-bet-on player in Superbowl history, surpassing Peyton Manning. That is one big statement to make.

It’s been 18 years since the San Fran 49ers have advanced to the Superbowl, so why are they playing so good? How’s this for another possibility: Maybe it’s that they stretch a lot?

In the Wall Street Journal on January 16th, Several 49ers  made headlines saying “the explanation is a stretching regimen. We do these old school stretches—heavy, heavy squats with chains, a lot of flexibility, a lot of warming up when a lot of people in the NFL skip warming up,” said safety Donte Whitner. “That’s why we have a good, healthy football team right now.”

The 49ers we are told, stretch religiously (both static and dynamic based). Stretching often gets short shrift compared with weight lifting, agility drills and sprints. Let’s face it, if you want to see the face of determination and aggression, most likely you see a shot of line backer back squatting a small house. However, I can say from personal experience that I have made many a CFL player start to sweat and scrinch his face up with an passive active straight leg raise or trigger point under the scapular region of the shoulder.

In the Wall Street Journal, Mike Bracko, a sports physiologist based in Calgary, said stretching is considered a much lower priority in the NFL than “diets or weight training or jump-training.” However with the being said, the NLF is starting to take a new twist, seeing benefit to not just stretching, but “MOBILITY” training, ensuring their players muscle tissue has the right balance of elasticity and “pull factor” that can withstand the need for speed, quick movements, cutting and, of course stopping a 300lb tank if need be (on the field of off).

I had the honor of corresponding with Mr. Bill LeSuer,  THE retired Los Angeles Dodgers Major League Medical Staff who specializes in Muscle Tissue and Body Work Therapy. His work is known by many professional athletes and teams, and while flying under the radar most of the time, his skills are rated at the top of the list. He says…  “athletes spend thousands of hours training but almost always neglect the single most important factor in human performance….. their muscle tissue.”

Healthy tissue means healthy movement, poor tissue means poor movement, it’s that simple.  More importantly Bill says that when we add undue load to any dysfunctional pattern,” well  that’s a potential injury, is  just a ticking time bomb. Bill’s company “Flexibility Pro,” and his performance treatment techniques, focuses on precise palpation techniques, restoring pliability, flexibility, and range of motion, while at the same time working to remove adhesion’s, contractures, and restrictions in the muscle tissue; which lead to poor movement mechanics. How we stretch, is just as important as why we stretch. This is why I say it’s not just about stretching, it’s muscle tissue health. Stretching is one of the tools, in the muscle tissue toolbox.

FMS & The NFL:

Almost every player in the NFL is screened using the Functional Movement Systems protocol to ensure the coaches work with therapists and medical personnel to catch dysfunction pre season, in season and post. Functional Movement Systems screenings are utilized by several top professional and college sports teams, as well as a host of government agencies, private industries, and noted medical facilities, all over the world.

These organizations understand that it costs more to rehabilitate a team member following an injury than it does to prevent the injury from occurring in the first place. Here are a few of the organizations currently utilizing the functional movement screens:

  • Green Bay Packers
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Mayo Clinic
  • Montreal Canadians
  • New York Jets
  • Oakland Raiders
  • Orange County Fire Department
  • San Francisco 49ers
  • Secret Service
  • Stanford University
  • Texas A&M
  • Toronto Blue Jays
  • United States Government
  • University of Georgia
  • United States Military


FMS – Functional Movement Screen – Functional Movement Screen is a multi-part system used to evaluate the quality of a “movement pattern.” The Functional Movement Screen generates the FMS Score, which is used to target dysfunction in the body and is then further used to track progress through corrective intervention strategies to help restore functionality and normal movement. By screening these patterns, the FMS readily identifies functional limitations and asymmetries that can lead to injury. This scoring system is directly linked to the most beneficial corrective exercises to restore mechanically sound movement patterns.

Dysfunction in the body, if left untreated, can reduce the effects of functional training and physical conditioning and can distort body awareness. For this reason, The Functional Movement Systems screening process was created to gauge balance, stability, and mobility.

SFMA – Selective Functional Movement Assessment – The SFMA is a clinical assessment that takes the FMS Screen further. If during the FMS screen the coach and client find pain, this is then either referred to a clinical professional who can assess further, or if in a clinical setting, the professional can then further break that movement down by applying the SFMA Top Tier breakouts.

By addressing the most dysfunctional non-painful pattern, the application of targeted interventions we can focus on capturing injury and further risk of injury and this must include the assessment of body relative movement patterns, not just isolation at the point of pain. When the clinical assessment is initiated from the perspective of full body movement patterns, the clinician has the opportunity to identify meaningful impairments that may be seemingly unrelated to the main musculoskeletal diagnosis but are contributing to the primary complaint (regional interdependence).


Next weekend’s Super bowl game should be one to remember and let’s see if that 49ers new found mobility will bring a Super Bowl championship. In closing, the rule of thumb here for any athlete, or even any weekend warrior is to ensure you create a program that focuses on the long term health of your tissue. It makes sense to take the necessary steps towards catching injuries and breakdowns before they happen. The FMS and applied Corrective Movement strategies can help, but it also takes a team of integrated professionals to get you there. Surround yourself with reputable, caring professionals who work together to offer you to tools towards your best self – your best tissue health.

I know who I am cheering for, what about you?



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