Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift, that's why they call it present...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

"Yoga can KILL you?!?!" ...My VENT...

This article by William J. Broad, an author and a Senior Writer at The New York Times “The Science Of Yoga”

THIS is what got me… “It can lower blood pressure, spice up sex — and kill you.”


According to William- “Pulitzer Prize winning science writer and investigative reporter at The New York Times. Broad, 60, a longtime yoga practitioner” He speaks about the risks and rewards of yoga.

However, I have a few opinions of my own about what he’s written.

The VERY first thing he speaks on is “By far, the number one myth is that yoga is safe” He mentions poses that are harmful to the body and restrict the neck in ways that produce strokes and can lead to death. I will say that YES, there are SOME poses that if done irresponsibly, they CAN be harmful…but so can driving your car, playing baseball or jogging.

When starting something new, like an exercise routine, especially if you haven’t done it before you must be SMART about it and use common sense. Doing yoga and pushing yourself into postures you haven’t done before ISN’T smart and will lead to injuries! Being careless and not listening to what your body is saying to you EACH class (as every day is and will be different) can be harmful to your muscles, joints and skeletal system. I feel William missed touching on this completely as THIS is the reason why yoga can harmful.

He speaks on two ADVANCED poses. Shoulder stand and Plow. During my training, we didn’t get into these poses until the end when we had established most and/or full ROM (range of motion) of our shoulders, backs and necks that allowed us to perform these without the threat of injuries. In addition to already being flexible and advanced students we used plenty of props and had lots of support from each other, and our mentors. We were told to only move forward with supervision and to also listen to our bodies and how they responded to the poses. Some students moved into the full advanced posture and some didn’t need to as they already obtained the benefits of the posture by not going into the final stance. Personally, as a yoga instructor, I would NEVER teach these two poses to a class of beginners or even a class over 10 people as its too difficult and along with time restraints to make sure I’m getting to everyone for assistance and/or questions. These are two poses that require a LOT of attention to detail and supervision. If done wrong, or negligently, you ARE putting yourself at risk.
If you’ve ever gone to a studio before, you’re aware of the release form you must sign before practicing. This basically ensures you don’t sue if something should happen to you. This shouldn’t be looked as that you WILL hurt yourself, but because yoga is something that takes full concentration and requires you to completely tune into your inner mind and body; you need to be AWARE and present. You DO have to take full responsibility of yourself and know when to back off if something doesn’t feel right or hurts. As a yoga instructor we’re not always able to get to everyone in the class to assist where and when needed. You need to be vocal if something doesn’t feel right. Make sure the teacher is aware of all your past and present injuries as well. Last but not least, please understand that everyone is different so what you feel in your body may not be felt by someone else, along with flexibility and strength. YOGA SHOULDN’T HURT! If it does, you need to back off. It’s not a competition and no one is judging you.

He mentions how Yoga prolonging your life is “sketchy” Again; I believe it 100% can. Look at being healthy as a whole. If you’re exercising, and eating right, you’re going to live longer than those who simply aren’t practicing a healthy lifestyle. Those who practice yoga tend to be a little more health conscious than those who are just going to the gym. It’s typically a lifestyle than just another method of exercise. A lot of it has to do with how Yogi’s are portrayed by media and culture. I’m not saying everyone’s like that…as I am no vegetarian, but it’s usually the case. Studies show…these people live longer.

This was about the only thing I completely 100% agree with as it’s something I’ve been telling men for a while now. William writes: “Researchers at Rutgers University looked at their scans — their brains lit up in ways identified with sexual orgasm — and without messing with their private parts. I say, throw away the little blue pills, guys. And get to a yoga studio.” How many blogs have I done on THIS VERY SUBJECT?!?!

“Is yoga good for losing weight? No. That’s a big myth.”

Are you joking? I dare you to go do HOT Power Yoga (Vinyasa) for a week and NOT lose weight. Power yoga is faster paced style where poses are held for a predefined length of breaths and turns static postures into a dynamic flow. Of course a well-balanced diet is also needed for weight loss to occur, but yoga DOES help with streamlining, toning and with any exercise increased muscle which aids more calories being burned throughout the day. Really it all comes down to WHAT your intentions are. I wouldn’t recommend JUST a yoga practice to someone who is considerably overweight looking to specifically lose weight, but if you have a strong Pranayama practice coupled with a strong Vinyasa practice, you will find that lung capacity and oxygen/gas conversion and an elevated heart rate are greatly improved and will have beneficial results on the cardiorespiratory system.

Everyone has their own opinion at the end of the day. I personally haven’t won any Pulitzer Prizes or a Dupont…YET…so really at the end of the day, who am I to question THIS guy; but like him, I have my own opinions. I guess overall I just wish he would have spoken on WHY you can injure yourself from yoga. You shouldn’t tell people “You can DIE from Yoga!!!” and not tell them what the reasons for saying those things. We know that if we’re irresponsible when we’re driving our car…we can die! So we drive the speed limits, wear our seatbelts and we’re responsible (some of us) with our lives, you’re taught this. Same goes go yoga. If you’re NOT careful…you will hurt yourself and as a student, you need to know the HOW’s & WHY’s.
One of my goals is to get MORE people to practice yoga as I am a firm believer in its benefits and overall experience. I’ve said this many times in previous posts and I’ll mention it again. You should always make sure you’re going slow and being gentle with your body when starting a new exercise routine such as yoga. The teachers/instructors are there to help and guide you. Please take them up on their suggestions to speak with them one on one about you and your body. Never be afraid to ASK QUESTIONS as someone maybe thinking the same thing.

I’m done venting…Have a happy, healthy and SAFE practice everyone!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WHY is Yoga SO expensive?

This question came up when I was asking what questions people had about yoga. I actually laughed and at the same time was stumped! I have asked myself this quite a few times. Although it hasn’t stopped me from joining a studio AND taking the course as I knew it was something I loved and needed, it still left me dumbfounded.
Let’s look at the whole picture. You practice in a big open room with cork flooring (one of the cheapest flooring materials out there) There is little to NO equipment needed other than a mat, some all natural foam blocks and a rope (the blocks and rope are NOT required, but useful) You wear practically nothing other than some spandex shorts and tanks IF that. It’s not like a gym where you use machines, or even Pilates where you use an actual expensive Pilate’s machine…yet after doing my research, BOTH of these are cheaper than Yoga.

So let’s take a look at studio prices. I’m strictly talking from Toronto to Oakville as that’s what I’m most familiar with. Studio prices are pretty standard at $17 per class, $150 per month and $1200 for a year pass. These passes are typically unlimited so you pay one fee and go as many times as you want. All studios do offer a week or 10 day pass for $20 to try yoga at their studio unlimited. I appreciate this as it a great way to find the perfect style for you and your needs.
Even though we’re not wearing a whole lot during yoga, we still buy the most expensive yoga clothing. Lulu Lemon has been fitting yogis since 1998. They started in a yoga studio in Vancouver BC and have now gone worldwide and successfully designing suitable clothing for yoga, running, dancing, cycling and casual everyday life. I won’t lie; I am a BIG fan of Lulu Lemon! NOT just because of its Canadian heritage and HUGE outlook on positive healthy living, but because the clothes are well made and well designed! If you’ve bought Lulu Lemon before…you know what I’m talking about. The little hideaway pockets for keys, ipods, perfect flat double stitching and how they make your butt look is flawless. When it comes to clothing, I pay for quality. Don’t get me wrong, it does urk me a little bit paying $68 for a tank top.

So why do studios and classes have to be so expensive?

Personally I think it has to do with how we’ve categorized yoga and “living a healthy lifestyle” in the community. I think part of the problem is that “living healthy” is intentionally marketed towards people in higher income brackets, and not much effort is made to reach people of lower income brackets. Take Whole Foods for example. Shopping at your neighborhood supermarket is give or take $50…double that when shopping at Whole Foods and buying all natural, organic food.
A certain lifestyle is being marketed to a very specific subgroup of the public. “The 30-40 white woman who is a stay at home housewife/professional who cares about her health, appearance and obviously has lots of disposable income.” You KNOW it’s true! So now everyone who doesn’t fit into this category gets left out. Some studios offer a “Karma Class” which is a minimum of $5 to go and usually taught by training teachers (been there, taught that) So…you’re not getting the well-practiced yoga teacher that you get for $12 more, but at least you’re getting something right? What happens when you get hooked and want MORE though?
(It HAPPENS!) Sign up for more classes, more memberships, empty your wallet and the studio’s win again.

Lifestyle, health and wealth…it’s just business.

Obviously everyone wants to make money this day and age. That’s what life is all about now, and when you own your own business, it’s all about the hustle.
I’m one who teaches a lot of private one on one classes and I charge by the hour. I remember discussing the business side of yoga with my mentor during training and was told that we shouldn’t offer private classes for under $120 as he charged $150+/hr with several years of practice/teaching under his belt.
When you own your own business you want to make money. You need to pay rent, bills and other finances unseen from the consumer’s eyes. I remember when I started my studio I had to find a way to get the people to come to me rather than the yoga studio across the street. WHY was I different? What could I offer them that the other studio couldn’t? My prices were significantly lower and other than that, all I had to offer was ME. I learned that people will keep coming back because they like you, your energy and your classes NOT because of the price. If you can offer them what they desire, they’ll pay, and bring others as well. I feel like referencing “Field of Dreams” here…but I won’t.

Being a registered and certified yoga teacher I am blessed with the ability to throw down a flow where ever and whenever my heart desires and I KNOW what I’m doing. I know how to work my muscles and push myself as well. There is something to be said about going to a studio and being led by someone else though. Sometimes you just don’t know how hard you’re pushing yourself and need to be reminded. Home practices ARE not to be taken lightly. They require a LOT more concentration and a lot more focus. Having said that, because no one is there assisting or watching you, you do need to be careful you’re not hurting yourself and shouldn’t be practiced by beginners.

So, at the end of the day because of how we live we can’t expect Yoga studios to offer FREE classes, how would they ever profit? It’s a downward spiral from there. What I’m confused about is how we’ve reached residence where the alignment of yoga has everything to do with the culture of affluence in the world.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Most Frequently Asked Yoga Questions:

What is yoga?

The word yoga means "union" in Sanskrit; The union happening between the mind, body and spirit. What is commonly referred to as "yoga" can be more accurately described by the Sanskrit word asana, this refers to a system of postures and pose practiced as part of this discipline to promote control of the body and mind.

Yoga is different to everyone. Some use it as a means of just exercise; some use it as a means of awakening. At the end of the day as long as you’re in control reaping its amazing benefits, it doesn’t matter WHAT it’s used for.

What style of yoga do I pick?

There are so many different types and styles of yoga and it’s important to find the right one for you and your specific needs (if any) I advise you to try a few different styles before selecting just one, as well as switching it up here and there to try something new, meet new people and wake up the body and mind. There is definitely something for everyone!

Here is a list of the different styles you may want to look into:

Hot Yoga

How many times a week can I practice?

Like any new exercise regimen, you’ll want to start off slow. Your body maybe sore after the first few times so take it easy and listen to yourself. Don’t overdo it, or it may lead to injuries. Yoga has some amazing benefits that you will feel after the first session. I suggest 2-3X/wk to start and then as you get more comfortable you can increase your sessions and time. Remember to keep realistic goals and don't let time constraints or unrealistic goals be an obstacle, just do what you can do and enjoy it!

I’m not flexible, can I still do yoga?

Simple answer: Yes! You are actually the perfect candidate for yoga. Many people think that they need to be flexible to begin yoga, but that's a little bit like thinking that you need to be able to cook before you take cooking lessons. Arrive to class with an open mind and let go of all inhibitions and the practice will allow to you become more flexible with time.

Why do people do yoga?

There are many different reasons for why people practice yoga over other exercise routines as well as incorporate it into their current exercise programs.
To each their own really. You don’t “NEED” a reason. You do what feels good, right? I personally turned to yoga when I needed an outlet and found myself in my darkest hour. I continued with it because of the way it made me and my body feel. The strength and flexibility I developed was enough for me to get excited to remain a faithful student. The benefits yoga has to offer is overwhelming and I urge you to just give it a try.

Is yoga JUST Stretching?

Yes…and NO! Yoga is not a glorified stretching routine. Rather it’s a way to unite the mind, body, and the soul all while developing strength, flexibility and good health.

On one hand, when practicing yoga poses regularly, you can tone muscles without ever lifting a single weight. The reason is that in yoga your own body weight provides all the resistance needed to do everything from build biceps, develop deltoids and strengthening the core sculpting those abdominals.

On the other hand, YES, yoga is about stretching too. A regular yoga routine will go a long way toward increasing functional flexibility, and encourage the muscles and ligaments to work together therefore gaining increased full range of motion.

What do I need for yoga, what do I wear?

I remember the first day I went to a HOT yoga class (The room STARTS at 38.4 degrees) I wore a T-shirt and sweats…I almost DIED! I went to LuLu Lemon the very next day and picked up some fitted spandex and tank tops. Stores like Lulu Lemon carry a wide range of workout and everyday clothing to help aid in your yoga practice. These materials keep the sweat away from your body which in turn helps keep you cool and comfortable. When doing yoga you want fitted, secure clothing or it could get in the way while practicing. Men can usually get away with just wearing a pair of shorts. Making sure YOU’RE comfortable is the main thing.

Can yoga help me lose weight?

Firstly you need to understand there are many factors that lead to weight gain, and hinder weight loss such as genetic factors, lifestyle, individual willpower, and food addiction. Having said that, I do believe that yoga DOES have the potential to be very transformative on many levels.

The most obvious physical benefits of yoga practice comprise of loosening the muscles that have been tightened by inactivity, tension, and/or stress. ANY style of yoga will aid in the tone, length, and strengthen the muscles, which can contribute to the sculpting of the body, but not essentially to weight loss. You need to understand that muscle is denser and consequently heavier than the corresponding fat tissue. Combined with healthy eating and regular cardio activity, yoga will definitely help in contributing to weight loss. Just ask yourself…how bad do you want it?

What is the difference between HOT & Regular temp yoga and what are its benefits?

Hot yoga is done in a room that starts at 38.4 degrees, and this changes with different studios and practices as well. For example, Bikram’s practices in a room that’s 105 degrees and 60 percent humidity. As the class goes on the room will continue to get warmer with body heat and movement. Prepare to SWEAT!!
Mobility is probably the greatest benefit of hot yoga. Cold muscles tend to be more likely to tear while stretched. Hot yoga advocates that stretching warm muscles is more effective and lets you progress deeper into poses.

Now onto the immune system. Sweating releases the toxins from the body. Raising your core temperature simulates a fever-like environment in your body, elevating white blood cell production and fighting viruses and bacteria. Your body also makes additional proteins referred to as interferon’s which raise the production of antibodies. We all know that stress weakens the immune system; as a result taking part in such activities that lessen stress also reduces susceptibility to health issues.

Please note that hot yoga isn’t for everyone and you should make sure you’re in good health before you practice HOT yoga or start any exercise routine. Heat exhaustion and dehydration are very common and if you’re not familiar with the signs and symptoms of these two, it could be very dangerous to your health. Please also DRINK LOTS OF WATER!

WHY does it hurt so much and will it get easier?

You’re working the ENTIRE body, building and stretching stagnant limbs, joints and muscles that you’ve probably never stretched before. If you haven’t MOVED your body in a while then the results can be uncomfortable and sore. The GREAT thing is that if there’s a little pain and discomfort, it means you DID something. If there’s a LOT of pain, you may have overdone it. Yoga shouldn’t HURT. You should be pushing yourself all while staying in tune to your body and only going as far as you can that day. You want to push yourself, but NOT hurt yourself.

With time it will get easier as you increase your flexibility and strength. Yoga is wonderful as it allows for growth and the ability to move forward ever increasing resistance, power and focus. There is more range of motion in the body that not many people are aware of and you’d be surprised how far you can go with concentration and consistency.

Yoga for bodybuilders:

I’ve received a few questions in regards to this topic so I will try and touch on all aspects.
This is such a sensitive subject as pumping iron and stretching seem to be at the opposite ends of the fitness spectrum, not to mention what’s “right” in today’s society.

Yoga can and is being used in conjunction with body building to maximize the results one can achieve, prevent injury, and a host of other benefits. Through the use of slow, gentle, stretching exercises the fascia is elongated. The fascia is a very strong, protective sheath of connective tissue that covers all muscles and all muscle cells. When the fascia is stretched is allows for more room for the muscle underneath to grow and thus becoming bigger. Muscles become shortened and tight from the constant repetitive, short range of motion during lifts typical in bodybuilding training. This can lead to increased and frequent injuries throughout the joints and muscles. Over time it can hinder your mobility completely.
There are a number of reasons why yoga is a perfect partner to body building. Not only does it enhance your bodybuilding routine, but is also helps you to know your body better.
I did an entire post for “Men and Yoga” that speaks a lot on muscles, range of motions and benefits. Please check that post out for more on this topic.

Lastly, try to get over the fear! Yoga is one of the practices that consist of awareness and truly tuning into YOU! The great thing about a yoga class is that everyone is really concentrating on themselves so no need to worry about what others are thinking…and honestly WHO CARES! You’re doing yourself a BIG favor mentally, emotionally and physically and you need to appreciate all of that.

Why is yoga so expensive?

As I started writing this, I was half way down the page and realized that THIS can be its OWN blog post as I feel very strongly about this. Stay tuned…

Monday, February 6, 2012

Always LAUGH...especially @ yourself ;)

I actually laughed through out most of these two I've actually said a few of these things!!


"Shit Yogis Say"

LOVED this Tiny Devotions, well done!!

Shit Meditators Say"

"Namaste Mother F%ckers!"