Yoga is truly for everybody with many styles available to meet your physical, mental, and spiritual goals. The difference between yoga and other fitness practices is that yoga is meant to help you heal. This healing process happens as you develop a deeper connection to your body and awareness of the signals it is giving you in order to prevent injuries.
As a yoga instructor, I am blessed to be able to share such a positive, life-changing practice with people, on and off the mat. When I first started teaching yoga, it never really occurred to me how my practice would work its way into my life off the mat, but it has.
I’m frequently asked, “So what do you do for a living?” When I state that I teach yoga, I usually get many responses about how much yoga has made a difference in someone’s life and how much they love their practice, but occasionally I get the “yoga…I’m not flexible enough to do yoga” response.
I respond that for that reason alone they are perfect for yoga, as yoga creates flexibility, rather than flexibility creating yoga. While I find it sad that people think they have to be flexible in order to take a yoga class, I also understand where this impression comes from, because with the growth in the popularity of yoga, there has become more growth in the amount of celebrity yoga instructors and yoga models who can twist themselves into various pretzel poses.
Holidays are a time for family, friends and — let’s not kid ourselves — food. I love to go away for a few days and eat things I normally don’t in amounts that would shock a Sumo wrestler. Hence, it may be the season to be jolly, but it’s also a time when it’s all too easy to pack on the pounds along with the cheer.
If your hips are tight, it makes sense that you increase the likelihood of injuring your knees. Running, jumping, pivoting and acrobatic endzone catches or goal shots put a lot of pressure on the hips.
Let’s stop and think for a moment: If you get hit on the football field, for example, the energy of the body hitting you has to be absorbed somewhere in your body. And if your hips lack suppleness and don’t give in to this energy at all, then the energy will go to the point of least resistance — the very vulnerable knee joint.
A flexible hip will not always avoid a devastating knee injury, but it will help a lot! So let’s talk about keeping the hips open and a safe for long life for your knees.
There is a quote that sums up my experience heretofore with yoga better than anything else I’ve ever read. I don’t know from whom or where the quote came, or I would totally give the person mega props and a huge, bear-like, electronic hug. The quote goes a little something like this:
“My yoga practice is no longer the battlefield of a long-waged self-improvement project by an overachieving person. It has become what I always hoped it would be — a place for love and acceptance.”
I think this quote embraces the yoga journey for many of us, because let’s be real here: How many of us started yoga because we wanted a thinner waist and perky yoga butt? How many of us, in the beginning, saw yoga as something we would conquer rather than embrace? How many of us saw someone in Crow Pose and said to ourselves, “I can do that shit.”
Over time, however, as we dove deeper into our practice — no doubt bumbling, grunting and falling along the way — our hardened layers begin to peel away, and we were left with the lingering feeling that yoga is something more than a way for us to gain strength, flexibility and balance. As we emerged from Savasana, time and time again, we began to realize that something else — something besides exercise — is going on here.
The most common reason for sports-related injuries — whether you’re a recreational athlete or a pro, from ages 10-80 — is overuse and abuse. In my experience, most injuries arise when athletes disconnect from their bodies. Their eyes are on perfection, or the competition.
It follows that the best prevention is to become acutely aware of your body — its shape, its symmetry, how it feels, the range in the joints. Many sports can create asymmetries in the body because they are one-side dominant (think of swinging a baseball bat or golf club or tennis racket). It’s your job to recognize these imbalances before they become injuries. To help you, I’ve identified the top 10 most common sports-related injuries and given you a few yoga poses for athletes to to help correct the imbalances and asymmetries that cause them.
Setting a goal to run a marathon is life altering and monumental. But the training leading up to your marathon may be filled with blisters, mental challenges, muscle fatigue, weakness and injury. Yoga can help you:
The NYC marathon and many other races are approaching. Here are my top six yoga moves for runners — from weekend warriors to serious marathoners — to do daily before training, after a workout and, most importantly, after the big day.
Few things outrage me more than bad posture. I get really bent out of shape when I see people who are literally bent out of shape. It is so simple to improve your posture, and it is totally free and requires no gym membership.
Here are some Don’ts:
1. Don’t lean into one hip and cock it off to one side.
2. Don’t slump your spine like a willow tree.
3. Don’t emulate the posture of Paris Hilton.
Here are some Do’s:
1. Stand up straight.
2. Point your toes forward.
3. Have some respect for your own structure.
Okay, good, glad I got that off my chest.
We’ve said it hundreds of times in our decades of sharing fitness with the world, but we all need a reminder now and then. In order for fitness and weight loss to be successful long-term, exercise and changes in your diet must be integrated into your lifestyle. And the only constant in life is change. Your diet and exercise routine has to be flexible. Your mindset about them both has to be flexible. Enter a key word: moderation.
A few months ago I wrote a blog on the perils of overstretching that seemed to strike a chord with many of my students and readers. But for every overstretched yogi or yogini out there, there are four times as many folks who are bound up and moving like the tin man! Most folks I meet want to know how they can become more flexible, not less flexible. So I dedicate this blog to all of you who wish to become more supple and mobile. Let the bending begin!