A New Kind of Yoga: easy, relaxing, and fun. Good for people who have trouble
getting up and down several times in a class:
*people with hip, knee, and back problems
Twelve relaxing positions, done on a bed.
Each one releases a different stress reflex: so your body becomes integrated, whole, and balanced.
get up out of bed, and stand in gravity, everything works better: your nerves, your circulation, your mental state, AND--if
you want to get out and exercise--you CAN because you have energized and rejuvenated your core.
The focus is
on restoring natural breathing patterns in harmony with your level of activity.
You use your
breath to shift gears. Having a good breathing rhythm is like having the clutch working in your car, your body knows to use
low gear to get you up the hills, and high gear to relax and cruise down the highway of life. The brakes work, and your signals
all light up when they need to, and not when it's inappropriate.
It helps to
balance emotions and clear your thinking. It's great for relationships, as you can always respond to your boss, your mate,
or your kids in a more intelligent, compassionate way than if you are pushing too hard.
It is a truly mind-body experience: a yoga for the body, the brain, the breath,
and feeling your power, timing, and coordination.
*Disclaimer: all material shared on this site is the personal
experience of a well-seasoned yoga teacher, (40 years and counting) but is not meant to be used in place of professional medical
help and common sense. Post-op recovery poses are designed as an adjunct to physical therapy, chiropractic, registered nurse,
doctor, and other parts of the medical profession. It is always recommended that you use the information on this website in
cooperation with your medical professional who is seeing you through any kind of recovery period.
is not just for the young and the nimble.
Anyone can benefit from stretching, breathing, and release from tension.
* Fat Cat Yoga especially benefits
the person who might not have the time, energy, or ability to take a regular yoga class. It starts you on the road to finding
the energy you need to meet all the challenges of your life, and the motivation to take on a regular yoga routine. Yoga is
good for every body.
may 16, 2013
5:44 pm edt
The sacrum and the coccyx--which is the last three sacral bones fused together--form the bottom of the pelvis.
lot of weight presses down on this joint, (a good half of the body) and it is the one that most people have trouble with because
if it has lost its flexibility due to injury or emotional holding patterns, then you get low back pain, hip problems, knee
pain, and/or foot pain.
Like the neck, it is a negotiation point between one part of the body (the trunk), and another
The sacrum has to swing, more side to side if you are a woman, and back and forth if you walk like a man.
If the sacrum can't swing, it hinders the free movement of the legs, and increases stress on the joints and the spine.
up the sacrum is not easily accomplished once it has gotten out of balance. Auto injuries, bad posture, long bouts of watching
TV, driving, or sitting at the computer can all impact the health of this very important joint.
A good chiropractor
can help get the spine working again. If you have bad posture or sitting habits, core strengthening, movement education, and
physical therapy can help. If you stand on you feet all day, that really puts a stress on your back, so you want to make sure
you have a really good pair of shoes with cushion and arch support, and you may want to invest in support socks or pantyhose.
There are some wonderful solutions out there for the people who stand up all day for their work.
Work is the reason
yoga was originally started, thousands of years ago, as a way for farmers who did back-breaking labor to restore and recharge
their bodies at the end of the day. It became formalized, integrated into Eastern culture and then, more recently, our Western
lifestyle. It is a great deal more scientific than one would think just looking at the people in a class twisting and bending
in strange positions. The science evolved over the thousands of years that it has been practiced, and a properly trained yoga
instructor should be able to help you let go of the end of your work day too.
It is always good to find a yoga teacher
you trust, and start out gently when you first start to do yoga to help your back. The body has to learn new things and unlearn
bad habits. In class you will learn how to move, stretch, and strengthen in all the dimensions that the asanas provide. Alignment
is especially important, and the best yoga teachers will watch the class, and circulate to help correct a pose so that you
get the most benefit out of it.
Be kind, be calm, and be happy all the time when doing yoga. If the mind is disturbed
when you are doing yoga, then you are not doing yoga, you are doing exercise.
As you grow older, it becomes more and
more apparent how important the mental calmness is in moving through the asanas.
The breath will help you know if you
are calm, if you are breathing freely, no matter how hard the asana is, then you are probably getting the most benefit. It's
not how much you can twist, or exhibit your beautiful body, but how well you feel connected inside.
april 29, 2013
The Cranial Pump
2:55 pm edt
The reason for good postural balance, and how it ties into the central nervous system, can be seen by examining the junction
of the head with the neck. Just under the skull lies a region that moves spinal fluid from the head to the trunk of the body.
It has been referred to by some writers as the cranial pump, although there is no actual mechanical pump there, as you can
see with the heart, let us take a look at this area anyway.
As we walk, the head rocks on a bone called the atlas. This
creates a natural pumping action--if your head is in balance. The pumping action becomes restricted if the head is out of
The atlas is the first of seven neck vertebrae. All mammals have seven neck vertebrae, due to a change in
our Hox gene expression, and there was an evolutionary trade-off for that, it allowed us to develop a special bony
structure that allows for nursing our young. We can lay on our sides and turn our trunks to look at our children. If you look
at early dinosaurs and fishes, they don't have that kind of bony structure. They didn't need to nurse their young. They had
The human neck is unique in the mammalian family because we evolved a special shape and curvature that allows
us to walk upright and swivel our heads to see pretty much all there is around us.
All of the vertebrae in our spine
work as a unit--if we are working correctly--without injury or abnormalities.
The imbalance: that is where things begin
Without the free flow of healthy spinal fluid from the skull to the sacrum, there is a series of mechanical,
bioelectrical, and neurochemical stresses that contribute to a state of pain.
Think of it like a car: when you first
get a car, it should work well, be clean, and have that new car smell. As you drive it out of the dealer's parking lot, maybe
a bug hits the windshield. You take it grocery shopping and somebody leaves a scratch down the side from their bad driving.
And then it gets a flat. It is really hard to drive with a flat, (I know from personal experience) because it wasn't designed
to run in an imbalanced state.
Some things can be fixed in the human body when it gets dinged, some can't. But one thing
that always helps is to keep the fluids going and topped off.
So that's why your yoga teacher keeps telling you to
drink lots of water after class. Always a good idea. And don't forget those electrolytes!
march 13, 2013
7:58 am edt
The human body is bilateral, bipedal, and has two sides of the brain. When we walk, we usually move forward, and in order
to do that we must lean forward, and put our weight on one foot, then lean again, and put weight on the other foot. The motion
of walking consists of a series of logarithmic waves which add up to a spiral, if you are watching from above like a bird.
This can be proven by studying human anatomy. If you take the human body apart and peer into its depths, at the diaphragm
you will see an assymmetry where the vagus nerve comes out of the spine. If you look at the lungs, there is an assymmetry
because of the space the heart takes up on the left side. If you look at the shoulders and the hips, usually one shoulder
is higher than the other, and the opposite hip is higher (to compensate). If you look at the a person lying down, at the soles
of their feet, one foot will be more turned out than the other. All of these assymmetries add up as turns, which eventually
leads to a spiral that stretches from the top of the crown to the bottom of the feet. We are built with an inner spring. It
is a natural shock absorber for the human body structure.
This assymmetry is a good design. If we were perfectly symmetrical,
then it would not be as easy to walk on two feet, which is why it was so hard to build robots that walk. The scientists and
engineers in robotics had to study intensely what makes us able to walk, and to somehow mimic that in metal, cables, and microchips.
It is a very complex and difficult task, especially at the levels of the hips, knees, and feet.
However, there is one
thing that humans and bipedal robots have in common: they both have to deal with gravity. Indeed, it is gravity that makes
walking possible at all, otherwise we would just float off into space, or tie ourselves to something rooted in the earth,
like a tree.
Gravity pulls down on soft tissue, and it is our skeletal posture (held in a dynamic state of balancing,
falling, and catching ourselves) and core strength that keeps us upright. As we age, we begin to collapse in gravity, and
the way we collapse is a spiral.
To see that, you can look at an older person, and notice three things: one shoulder
is higher than the other, one foot, or both feet are turned out, or turned in, their shoulders are bent forward, (or they
can be overly straight, the so-called military stance) and their knees are stiff when walking. That is because they have lost
some of the original flexibility, and are compensating for the loss of the spring in their step.
To put the spring back
in your step three things need to happen: lengthening of contracted muscles and ligaments, integration of right and left hemispheres,
and strengthening of the abdominals, pelvic muscles, and midback. There must also be a neurological rebalancing of the spine
from front to back. Some people lean into their future, some people are drawn back by fear in the spine, and some people have
learned how to be in the moment.
Yoga is designed to help in all of these dimensions, especially learning to live in
the present moment.
february 28, 2013
6:30 am est
For years I looked for a solution for leg cramps, which was brought on by activating the legs in yoga class. I found that
if my students got good, deep sleep, helped their electrolytes by drinking mineral water, or drank orange juice/banana smoothies
regulary, they had fewer leg cramps. I have heard magnesium helps as well, so sometimes a soak in Epsom salts in the bath
will help.There is a magnesium oil and a homeopathic remedy with quinine on the market that are also supposed to help. I have
used the homeopathic, but have yet to try the magnesium oil. Both can be found at your local health food store, or on the
These cramps can also show up in the lower back, after shoulder stand and doing forward and back bending poses.
Then lying on your back with your knees up will help calm the area.
When you get a foot and leg massage, that sometimes
can induce a cramp. By putting pressure on the soles of the feet by standing or walking, or even have another person apply
a broad, firm pressure over the whole area of the sole will help the cramp to stop.
Where the cramp is located can be
significant in revealing a postural imbalance or an underlying condition, such as the aforesaid insomnia. With the help of
your doctor, you may be able to discover the cause (or perhaps multiple causes) of your leg cramps.
january 17, 2013
5:13 am est
Everytime you cough, you use a lot of muscles and nerve reflexes. It is your body going to war against any and all irritants
in your respiratory system.
The mechanism of a cough is as follows:
The diaphragm and external intercostal muscles
(the ones between the ribs) contract, creating a negative pressure around the lung.
Air rushes into the lungs in order
to equalise the pressure.
The glottis closes and the vocal cords contract to shut the larynx.
The abdominal muscles
contract to accentuate the action of the relaxing diaphragm; simultaneously, the other expiratory muscles contract. These
actions increase the pressure of air within the lungs.
Then you cough. The vocal cords relax and the
glottis opens, releasing air at over 100 mph! A cough has all the force of an minor explosion.
The point of the vigorous
release of air is to rid the body of dust, fumes, smoke, bacteria, viruses, anything the body needs to eliminate from the
lungs and airways. Even The bronchi and non-cartilaginous portions of the trachea get involved, collapsing to form slits through
which the air is forced, which clears out any irritants attached to the respiratory lining.
If you cough long enough
and hard enough, your intercostals will grow tired and sore to the touch. Even the joints where the ribs meet the back and
sternum can grow inflamed, causing sharp stabbing pain with every breath. This is a condition called intercostal strain. In
its mild form there will be a painful ache or soreness located around the ribcage. The pain is aggravated by deep breathing,
side bending and twisting. It can be treated with rest, ice, and a little aspirin. But if there is severe bruising, and muscle
tearing, there may be bleeding, and should not be treated at home, but by a professional: your primary physician and/ or chiropractor.
Physical manipulation may be needed to put the ribs back in place, and ultrasound can ease the pain, speed healing.
the body back to normal function, and getting comfortable with taking a full deep breath may take weeks, so be patient with
yourself if you develop this after a bad cold, or any of a number of respiratory ailments that can lead to prolonged coughing.
december 9, 2012
Getting a Cold
11:13 am est
I have a funny relationship with colds. I get about one a year, and I use that time to do a cleanse, dropping all my favorite
habits, like the morning cup of coffee, and eat only the purest of foods, be lazy, read the book that got put aside, and wear
big fluffy slippers.
I do a lot of natural things: salt water sniffs and gargling with Himilayan salt, deep breathing
in lemon peel steam, and drink Linden/elderberry tea.
This year was different. I got my flu shot, and that week, caught
my husband's cold, and that cold would not go away. I usually get over my colds quickly, 3 days most of the time, because
I don't fight them, but this one dug in deep, and went on for 10 days. I was miserable and depressed because I couldn't do
my walking regime, it was windy and cold outside, and the walks were giving me migraines. If I did yoga, I got headaches from
bending over. If I went to the gym, I got dirty looks because of my sniffling and snorting into tissues. And the worst part
is I got a sinus infection and had to go on antibiotics.
That messed up my gut, and I couldn't eat yogurt because that
was dairy, and all the other yogurts cost so much, I can't afford them. (My local organic grocer has soy, coconut, and all
kinds of wonderful fermented beverages, and they cost a pretty penny. You spend $75, just to get one bag of groceries, and
you wonder what you're going to eat besides your designer yogurt.)
So I fell back on some old probiotics I had tucked
away in a drawer. That did it.
Finally, at the end of two weeks of honking and suffering, I had my nostrils back, and
I could do yoga without getting headaches. I could go to the gym, walk up stairs, and hooray, I could even ride my bicycle!
november 16, 2012
The Startle Reflex
5:04 pm est
In evolutionary history, the infant clung to its mother while the mother moved around and hunted for food and shelter.
If the infant lost its balance, the startle reflex helped it to regain its hold on its mother by crying out, extending the
head and the legs, throwing the arms up and out with the palms up, and flexing the thumb, which acts like a hook.
the infant felt reconnected with its mother, the reflex relaxed and the infant was comforted by the mother.
after the first two months, or so it is said, but we still jump, thrash with our arms, open our mouths and eyes wide, and
let out a cry to indicate we have been surprised.
Once the surprise is over, we have various reactions: denial, laughter,
or anger at the person who surprised us. If it is a particularly good horror movie it is acceptable to cling to one's date
and upset their popcorn. But for most of us, mother is not there, and even if she was, she'd give us a strange look
if we latched on to her.
There is an adult startle reflex: jump, scream, run, and/or strike out. In certain people,
they are able to contain it, and respond rationally to a situation, using the frontal cortex instead of the brain stem.
is called self-control, and eventually it takes it toll.
Yet it is a prized attribute for our society, and is a good
thing to learn.
It helps control needless spending, auto accidents, and intra-family murders.
A good idea if
we want to continue as a species.
However, inside your body all kinds of things are happening: the stomach tightens,
heart pumps faster, the blood flows to the extremities, and the feet get ready to spring.
Unwinding becomes very important
it one leads a stressful life, especially if you are in public service. (Hence the "going postal" jokes.)
feeling of being wound up is an actual fact, and the body contracts in a spiral, centered around the stomach, where the stress
goes first, turning off the digestion so that all the blood is ready and available for fleeing or fighting. (Or if you are
a bunny rabbit, freezing and looking invisible.)
One of the best ways to unwind is to move, and let go of the stress.
about unwinding next time...until then have a great life.
september 14, 2012
Take A Break
1:30 pm edt
One of the most interesting techniques I learned from yoga was to take a breathing break. It can happen in seconds, or
last two hours, but I know that when I am tired, pouring more caffeine in my body is like pouring gasoline on a fire. Same
I am never happy with the results.
Breathing softly and deeply allows the tissues in your lungs
to absorb the oxygen in the air.
It also allows the pituitary, thyroid, and adrenals to make hormonal adjustments that
make your body more efficient.
It makes good sense to take a break and take time to breathe. It makes even more sense
to do it slowly and softly, and to give it a chance to percolate. (def.,filter or trickle through)
Same as thoughts.
august 3, 2012
9:17 am edt
The body has a way of adapting to stress: your breathing pattern. A good example of this is when you climb a set of stairs:
as you approach a level of oxygen stress, you start breathing harder. This gets more oxygen to your heart, and the muscles
in your legs, where you need it. That's your body shifting gears.
When you stop, your breathing gradually slows down.
That's shifting gears again.
When doing yoga, learning to manage your breathing through breathing practice is an essential
part of learning how to shift gears, so you always have the energy you need.
Yoga is a good complement to aerobic exercise.
It will deepen your lung capacity. Your lungs relax and open up, your connection to your central nervous system improves,
and the musculature surrounding your lungs gets fed. Feeding the muscles the nutirients and oxygen they need is the other
hand of strengthening your muscles by challenging muscles to make them stronger.
june 16, 2012
Getting Out of Bed
6:46 am edt
Four things happen to your body when you become bed-ridden after a surgery or an injury. Your spine becomes more elongnated
and loses its curves. This curvature is your shock absorber in gravity. The second thing that happens is you lose muscle tone,
so exercising in bed to help retain muscle tone is recommended until you can get out of bed, and return to an upright position.
The third thing that happens is your bones lose mass and become brittle: there are ways to counteract that loss. The fourth
thing that becomes obvious when you try to move is that you become stiff and creaky: this can be countered by gentle joint
The body is dependent on a fluid that is found in every living body tissue: ground substance.
It contains all the nutrients needed for rejuvenation and repair of damaged tissue. Movement drives the circulation of this
fluid, and by doing an ever-increasing strengtening regime while recovering from injury or surgery, it is suggested that you
move very, very gently your joints, your shoulders, hips, and torso to help the ground substance circulate. Otherwise it turns
to a thick gel: like jello, only instead of cold that makes the jello gel, it is the lack of movement that causes ground substance
to become thick and useless.
On the bright side, many, many professions have looked at this problem, and developed exercises
that will help.
While you are exercising hold a picture in your mind that you will get out of bed and when you do you
will feel grateful that you prepared yourself for it by retaining as much muscle tone and bone strength as you can.