Monday, July 28, 2008

Snake Charmer, Undulation of the Week

If you sit at a desk or drive for most of the day, your back muscles probably get stuck in a certain (and probably not beneficial) position. The Snake Charmer undulation works the kinks out and strengthens muscles that have been sleeping while you've been working.

Friday, July 25, 2008

DeTox Your Body with Diet

As part of a 9-day yoga intensive workshop, we eliminated sugar, alcohol, and caffeine from our diets. I decided to go a step further and stay away from dairy and gluten as well, since I know my digestive system is sensitive to these foods. After a week on the “diet”, I notice more energy overall and that my muscles and connective tissue are much more supple. That led me to wonder, how do sugar and gluten make muscles and connective tissue sticky, and how does a good diet make fascia healthy?

According to the 20-Day Rejuvenation Diet Plan, when the body can’t fully digest food, it creates toxins that travel through the blood stream to other parts of the body. Also, when the body does not have optimal nutrition, its ability to eliminate waste is diminished, so the byproducts of muscle contraction like acids and calcium build up in the connective tissue.

Detox diets and regimens have become very popular lately, with wild promises and bizarre combinations. My father-in-law claims the best detox is to eat nothing but grapes for a day. I don’t think that you have to resort to coffee enemas or intestinal insult to clean your insides. Instead, I propose that there are two parts to a plan that reduces the load on our internal organs and allows them to function more optimally. Step one: eliminate foods that are hard to metabolize. Step two: make sure that the body is getting what it needs for optimal health.

It’s just common sense to avoid environments that are harmful, such as cigarette smoke, pollution, and noxious chemicals. Eating hard-to-digest food can clog up your system in the same way. According to Wikipedia, some foods to avoid when detoxing include caffeine, processed foods, sugar, and fried foods.

One of the advantages of eliminating junk is that you replace empty calories with more nutrient-rich food, but your body may need even more support. Water is essential for any cleansing process; the body depends on it for everything. Also, even with nutrient-rich food, many people need a vitamin and mineral supplement. Some people have found taking an enzyme supplement helps with digestion, making the nutrients in food more available. And, we can’t forget fiber, the colon’s vacuum cleaner. Dr. Weil gives reasonable diet advice, including an anti-inflammatory diet.

One more thing: if you’re asking your body to detox, it needs the energy to do it, and that means a good balance between activity and rest. Exercise enough to flush the waste products out of your muscles and stimulate your lymph system, as I outlined in a previous post, Detox Your Body with Movement. But also make sure you get enough rest, because that is when your body is best able to heal.

The liver, lungs, kidneys, intestines, skin, and lymph system are designed for daily detox. We can help them do the job with sensible eating habits. Be wary of extravagant promises though, as noted in the article from WedMd. The idea is to get healthier, not to deplete your system.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Yoga Blaze Community Event

I'm pleased to be co-sponsoring an event for yoga professionals (teachers, teachers-in-training, therapists) together with the Yoga Barn and Yoga Blaze on Saturday, Sept. 13 from 2:00 to 4:30.

The Yoga Barn
660 NW Gilman Blvd., Suite C6, Issaquah, WA

Enjoy an afternoon in the company of yoga teachers. Have fun. Share experiences. Hear how yoga was clinically proven to be effective for low back pain, more effective than physical therapy or home exercises in a recent scientific study.

You have the opportunity to participate in two free workshops and partake of refreshments and sangha. Come for all or drop in for any part that fits your schedule.

2:00 to 2:30 Undulation and Yoga led by Anita Boser
2:30 to 3:45 Social Time with light refreshments
3:45 to 4:30 Robin Rothenberg presents Safe Yoga Tips for the Low Back, including elements of the Essential Low Back Program, a yoga practice based on the National Institutes of Health study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Dec. 2005.

There are several comfy places for tea, coffee or dinner in Issaquah, so the socializing can continue afterwards, as well.

Undulation is the vital movement that nourishes joints and muscles. You’ll learn fun and easy movements to incorporate into Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose), Vrksasana (tree pose), and Chakravakasana. You can also use this technique to create ease after strenuous poses, to warm up, or to encourage your students with injuries or chronic illness.
Anita is a Certified Hellerwork Practitioner and viniyoga student-teacher.

Learn some simple sequencing secrets to keep your students’ lower backs stable and pain-free. Easy to work into any style of yoga practice, these principles reduce risk, especially in vinyasa and other flow practices that emphasize mobility. Based on the scientific study that has established yoga as a therapeutically healing practice for the lower back.
Robin has presented on low back pain at SYTAR (Symposium for Yoga Therapy & Research) and at the 2007 NAMA conference on anxiety. She is on the advisory board for IAYT, (International Association of Yoga Therapy) and is an adjunct faculty member at Mt. Royal College in Calgary.

If you have any questions, feel free to call me at 425-765-2713.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Feel Your Spine, Undulation of the Week

The best way to know what's really going on in your spine is to test your range of motion so that each vertebra receives individual attention. This works well for low back or neck pain.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tight Muscles Are Not All the Same

Most of my clients (or should I say most Americans?) have tight muscles. While tightness is certainly uncomfortable and a request for attention, it’s not a useful adjective for diagnosis, because tightness is caused by different factors. Treatment for one type of tight muscle can actually make another worse. I'll explain six types of tightness so you can respond to your muscles’ complaints more effectively.

#1 – Short and overused
After a long hike or intense workout, the muscles in your legs may feel tight and sore, because they have been overused. The muscles are contracted and could benefit from gentle stretching, especially while they are warm from activity.

#2 – Long and overused, but weak
When in an unbalanced posture, some muscles will be short and contracted and others will be long for counterbalance, which creates stiffness that feels like tightness. Computer posture is a great example, as shown in the illustration. The muscles in the front of the chest are short and overused, the upper back and shoulders are overstretched and working in a compromised, weakened position. They need to be shortened and strengthened. Isometric exercise like squeezing the shoulder blades together is effective. (As a matter of fact, half the benefit of a doorway stretch is stretching the front, the other benefit is shortening the muscles in the upper back.) Follow this link for shoulder blade squeeze instructions,S,89941.

#3 – Underused and weak
If a muscle isn’t used, it will atrophy and the surrounding connective tissue and fascia gets sticky and dense. In computer posture, several of the arm muscles fall into this category. Gradually increase strength through exercise to rebuild the health of the muscle and feeling of suppleness to the fascia. Multiple muscle exercises like mini push-ups or bench press is better than single muscle exercises on a machine. Here are instructions for a wall push-up:

#4 – Strained
Muscles that are overused to the point of strain tighten up for protection. The first step in healing is rest. Ice, heat, or a combination can help, too. Then gradually introduce exercise and stretching. You can read more about injury treatment here:

#5 – Trigger points
Strain can create trigger points and so can structural imbalance, poor posture, and being cold. These knots are often described as tightness. The best treatment is warming the muscle, pressing or massaging the tender points, and then stretching.

#6 – Scar tissue
Muscles and connective tissue that have been damaged, either from a sudden injury or continual microtrauma of poor alignment, repair themselves with stiff, inflexible scar tissue. Manual therapy like deep tissue and cross fiber friction massage is an effective treatment. Sometimes stretching helps, but overstretching creates even more scar tissue.

You can’t lump all tight muscles together and treat them the same way. For example, lengthening or stretching a long and overused muscle or muscles with internal scar tissue makes them even more stiff. Become aware of what underlies your internal feelings and you’ll improve your muscle health, prevent injuries, and discover new insights about yourself.
However, there are some types of exercises that are good for your muscles, ligaments, and joints at any time. You can read more about why here:
Also, download a free copy of 7 Undulatiosn to Relieve Office Tension and try seven exercises that relieve tight muscles in the neck, shoulders, hands, and back.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mermaid, Undulation of the Week

If you can't get to a warm beach, you can simulate swimming on your bedroom floor and use Mermaid to rinse the kinks out of your low back and strengthen your hips.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Stronger than Rock Hard Abs and Buns of Steel

Does your idea of a strong body include rock hard abs and buns of steel? It’s ironic that our metaphors for strength are rocks, concrete, and metal. Just remember that rocks and concrete don’t move, which is what the human body is designed to do.

As the Roman philosopher Ovid said, “Nevertheless hard though rock may be, it is hollowed by the wave.” The photos from my recent vacation on Oahu reminded me how powerful water is. So did the wave that gave me a face plant into the beach. I'll be picking sand from my hair for the next week.

Our bodies are mostly water. When you emphasize your fluidity, you gain long-term strength.