EPISODE 12
New Diet, Challenging Poses & Toe Openers

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Trent asks:

A while back I received an email tip on balance referring to the toe openers used in nail shops. Lucas mentioned that he slept in them and his balance improved I was wondering if he or someone can give me some knowledge on how this works and how many days should I do this.

This is a great question, Trent, and this is a really weird thing to do, but it works really great. So, if you go to any department store, any supermarket and go to the nail section, you’ll find these little foam toe separators that people use to paint their toenails. There’s five little things and they go between each of your toes, and it spreads your toes apart, and they do it so that when you paint your nails, they don’t get all over your other toes. Anyway, they cost a couple of bucks, and if you stick them between your toes and you wear them for an hour when you’re in the house, watching television, or if you wear them to bed, even better. They do a really great job of stretching out your feet.

Now, that said, they can be really, really painful as well. It can be just fine, and then you’ll fall asleep and you’ll wake up an hour later and just want to tear them off, and so that’s kind of the routine. In terms of how often to wear them, as long as you get benefits from them. Usually people will go with them for a couple of weeks and then they find that they get the most benefits. But, see how it goes.

Again, it’s one of these really funny things, but if you have squished up, tight feet like I do, if your toes tend to squish together and you have difficulty spreading them, it really does affect your balance and this is one of the simplest ways. You
get these little foamy things, stick them between your toes and wear them in the office or wear them when you’re working, or you can put them on right before bed. It’s a really great idea.

Grace asks:

What is the minimum time between the 2 doses of YOGABODY Stretch? I forgot my tablets in the morning and it’s now 3pm. There’s a yoga class at 7pm. Can I take 1 dose of 3 tablets now and another dose at 6.30pm? This happened several times last week.

Okay, this is a really common question, Grace, and the key thing to remember is that YOGABODY Stretch and all of our formulas, they’re nutritional support formulas. They’re not performance enhancers. It’s not drugs, it’s nothing like that, so it doesn’t matter when you take it so much, except that it can disrupt sleep. So, I usually recommend people stop taking anything, any kind of supplement, even something simple like Vitamin C, after 5 p.m. in the evening, unless you’re taking something for sleep, obviously. And so, 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. are usually good times. You could also just take it with breakfast and lunch to keep things simple.

But, in terms of taking it right before class, these kinds of things, there’s no real benefit to that. We’re just trying to increase your mineral stores, and that happens, gradually, over the course of a few days or a few weeks.

Can I drink around 150-200ml of isotonic drink and treat this as part of the 400ml?

She’s referring to, in terms of taking a lot of water. I usually recommend people take a half of liter, like half a liter with all your supplements, each day, and for some people that feels like a lot of water. I’m not into these kinds of sports drinks or any kind of drinks like that, so I would just recommend taking water, Grace, and if you can, take a half liter. I know it feels like a lot, but you’ll get used to it, and it really will help your body with your flexibility and just with your overall health.

Steven asks:

I am very interested in taking your product the only issue is that I am allergic to Spirulina… Any suggestions on alternative supplements I could take and still get results?

So we have a few different formulas with Spirulina in it. Spirulina is a blue-green algae, and there’s a number of blue-green algaes, and some of them have really funny names, but the more common ones are Spirulina and Chlorella. They’re very unique, in that they’re freshwater algaes and they’re very high in protein and they’re very high in minerals. All your water-bound plants are 2 to 10 times as mineral dense as a land-bound plant. So, they’re really great for you.

I’ve never heard of anyone allergic to Spirulina. It’s an interesting allergy. I’m wondering what that allergy is. I’d love to hear more about that. Is there any alternative? Yeah, the best alternative is dark green vegetables, specifically things like kale, shard, collard greens, mustard greens, anything really dark and green and bitter, those are all going to be really great for you. They’re really high in magnesium, which is really important for relaxing your muscles, and they’re also very high in minerals and they’re very high in bioavailable vegetarian protein, as well. So, I would focus on dark green vegetables in the cruciferous family, and ideally juicing them, if you can.

Steve asks:

I’m on day 4 and I couldn’t sit with my ankles to my sides even with a pillow and towel. Also on back bends, do I need to put my arms all the way back? This morning when I did on the one small chair I have in my apartment, I tried to put my arms all the way back, but it felt like all my weight was heading backwards & I didn’t want to fall. Any tips would be great.

Okay, so the first thing is, when you’re practicing Lightning Bolt pose, which is a really powerful stretch for opening the tops of your legs, where you’re sitting on your knees with your feet apart. If you can’t do this, the key thing, Steve, is just to use more pillows and more blocks and figure out a way to make it work. The reality is that all these poses start off uncomfortable. It doesn’t really matter if you’re 6 inches or 12 inches or 2 inches off the ground, it’s all the same. It starts off uncomfortable. So, just do your best and find a way to make it work for you. Find a way to adjust and use props, so you can sit there for a longer time.

In terms of the backbends, when you’re doing backbends, Steve’s talking about Noodle Pose, which is a passive backbend we do over a chair loaded with pillows. So you take a big chair, put pillows on it, basically just flop over backwards. It’s a passive backbend. It feels really great. But, what Steve’s experiencing, is he’s feeling a little bit lightheaded and feeling a little bit dizzy. Again, you’ve just got to take it slow, Steve, and do what you can. If you get halfway back, that’s okay, just stick with it and you’ll get it slowly but surely.

Iain asks:

I am having difficulty at the moment with Supta Kumansana in Ashtanga Primary series (binding hands behind back) and the Pada Shirshasana sequence in second series (my right side is okay but my left side is too tight at the moment). Should I stick with the gravity poses anyway – as they are they are presented, or should I adapt it. Eg. extending the butterfly pose so that the arches of feet are under my forehead (similar hip and leg position to Pada Shirshasana) or perhaps just do Yoga Nidrasana (Pada Shirshasana lying on back) for 5 minutes- I am comfortable in this version.

Yeah, okay, so this is a great question. This is a student who’s fairly advanced and struggling with some challenging poses. The challenge with doing any foot behind your leg pose for a long period of time, is that you can tweak your neck. That’s the biggest risk. As long as you can get into it where your neck has no pressure, meaning you can get your leg far enough down your back or you can hold onto your foot, or whatever you’re going, you can for sure do an Shirshasana. You can do a supine version of that, and you can hold that for five minutes, for sure. That’s actually a great pose to do. You just need to be careful with your neck. That’s the key thing.

In terms of modifying it, it’s up to you. You can play around with it. You still want to come back to Blaster pose. As simple as that pose is, it’s really, really effective, and so I’d definitely do the Blaster pose, but doing some of these other poses are a really great idea as well. Again, just be careful with your neck in particular.

And there’s just one other pose which I would consider trying, which is the full side splits, which is almost never practiced, but since it sounds like you have a fair amount of hip flexibility and other flexibility, I would give that a try, holding that for five minutes, which is pretty intense. That will give you a little bit of a different range in motion in your hips than you’ve experienced before. That’s a really great pose, too.

Also at the moment I am having a bit of difficulty in Marichyasana D so any advice regarding this pose will appreciated too.

A lot of our strongest students get stuck on Marichyasana D. It’s a really funky pose. It’s a complicated pose. The really tricky poses in yoga are ones that combine flexibility of multiple area, and the ultimate is multiple area flexibility and strength. But, Marichyasana D doesn’t require any strength, but it’s multiple flexibility. So, you have your ankle flexibility, you have your hip flexibility, you have your lateral rotation flexibility. There’s quite a whole lot of things going on there.

In terms of what to do with it, the best advice is just to keep practicing and definitely work on stuff to open up your ankles, if that’s giving you problems. If it’s your hips that are giving you trouble, focus on the hip section of the gravity yoga poses. Those will be very helpful. And then, focus on the preparatory pose Marichyasana B and Marichyasana C are going to help you. Unfortunately, there’s no real shortcuts to that one. It’s a complex pose.

Steve asks:

I’m on day 4 and I couldn’t sit with my ankles to my sides even with a pillow and towel. Also on back bends, do I need to put my arms all the way back? This morning when I did on the one small chair I have in my apartment, I tried to put my arms all the way back, but it felt like all my weight was heading backwards & I didn’t want to fall. Any tips would be great.

Okay, so the first thing is, when you’re practicing Lightning Bolt pose, which is a really powerful stretch for opening the tops of your legs, where you’re sitting on your knees with your feet apart. If you can’t do this, the key thing, Steve, is just to use more pillows and more blocks and figure out a way to make it work. The reality is that all these poses start off uncomfortable. It doesn’t really matter if you’re 6 inches or 12 inches or 2 inches off the ground, it’s all the same. It starts off uncomfortable. So, just do your best and find a way to make it work for you. Find a way to adjust and use props, so you can sit there for a longer time.

In terms of the backbends, when you’re doing backbends, Steve’s talking about Noodle Pose, which is a passive backbend we do over a chair loaded with pillows. So you take a big chair, put pillows on it, basically just flop over backwards. It’s
a passive backbend. It feels really great. But, what Steve’s experiencing, is he’s feeling a little bit lightheaded and feeling a little bit dizzy. Again, you’ve just got to take it slow, Steve, and do what you can. If you get halfway back, that’s okay, just stick with it and you’ll get it slowly but surely.

Ramnik asks:

My hair are falling like crazy, I never had a hair fall problem. I am taking that YOGABODY Stretch and b12. I am also taking Omega3 capsule. Please this has become a matter of serious concern for me, looking at my hair I think of start taking animal protein again!

First of all, Ramnik, if this is really the first time your hair is falling out and it’s directly connected to your diet, I would say listen to your body. Maybe something is going on, and maybe you do need to eat some meat or some animal protein. Then again, it could be completely unrelated, but I would trust your body. If you feel like something’s going on, trust it. That’s a strange reaction, for sure. I’ve never heard of anything like that, but again, everybody’s different.

With my above diet and Tabata training I had good muscles on my legs which made my figure look better, as generally I have thinner lower body, so now with no animal protein, I have lost all the muscle on my legs and hips and these days I am doing less of that high intensity work out. What If I start doing that high intensity work out again will I will build up that muscular mass on my legs?

So the key thing here, Ramnik, is everybody’s body is different. If you’re looking to be very bulky, like abnormally bulky with muscles, I find that people really have a hard time doing that on a plant-based diet. Can you be strong? Can you build muscle definition on a plant-based diet? For sure, but you just need to make sure you’re eating certain things.

What I usually tell people is, if you’re trying to be – especially if you’re trying to eat 100% vegan, which is pretty challenging for most people, you need to be eating legumes or nuts or both all the time, like every day. If you’re not doing that, it’s going to be very hard for you to get enough protein. And so, if you’re not eating nuts and you’re not eating the legumes every day, and ideally multiple times throughout the day, you’re going to struggle, and especially if you’re trying to do some high intensity stuff. And again, your health might be just fine, but in terms of holding onto muscle mass, it’s going to be a challenge, just because you’re going to have lower than optimal protein in your diet.

Will my daily doing high intensity workout will interfere with the flexibility I need to have for the gravity poses. So can continue doing my high intensity workout along with the stretches shown in the gravity poses handbook?

So, the thing that I always tell people is do what you love. If you love resistance training, if you love cycling, if you love hiking, whatever you love, don’t stop doing that. Yoga is supposed to help you do what you love, not put you in a box so you can’t do other things. That said, if you want to maintain a high level of flexibility and you want to do intensity training, there’s a couple of things you need to do. First of all, anytime you have a high intensity day, let’s say you’re doing some sprints or let’s say you’re doing squats or you’re doing press-up routines or pull-up routines or whatever it is, you need to make sure, on that particular day, at least 25% of the time you dedicated to high intensity training, you dedicate to deep gravity pose stretching. That means, if you spent an hour doing interval training, doing high intensity, spend at least 15 minutes doing gravity yoga poses to balance it out.

And I would also suggest, on your days off, making sure you do a little bit extra gravity yoga poses. It’s absolutely possible to be very strong and very flexible at the same time. It’s not natural, though. We tend to be one or the other. Sometimes I talk about organic energy versus muscular energy, organic energy being sort of loosey-goosey wet noodle, open body energy, and muscle energy being very strong and rigid, in terms of flexibility. And we tend to go one way or the other in life, in general. That’s our tendency.

And so, moving towards balance is always the best, but it’s always challenging, so just keep that in mind when you’re practicing, and remember that you’ll need to make conscious effort to make that happen, or you’ll slide one way or the other. You’ll get overly strong and under flexible or overly flexible and under strong. It’s just, unfortunately, the way our bodies kind of move.

Mary asks:

I was almost able to do the full splits less than an inch from the ground, I practice every day. Now I’m like five inches from the ground and it doesn’t hurt, I just can’t get any further. What’s going wrong?

Okay, this is an interesting question, and the splits is one where you have a whole lot of nervous system stuff going on. If you ever meet somebody who tells you that in one yoga class they doubled their flexibility, like literally in one day, that’s always a nervous system thing. It really did happen, they’re not lying, they’re not exaggerating, but it was a nervous system shift that happened.

What I mean by that is, they’re going into, let’s say the full splits or the side splits or some kind of backbend, and they’re nervous system, their stretch reflex is so strong that their body does not allow them to go as deeply as they have the physical potential to do. And you can retrain your nervous system very, very quickly, sometimes in a matter of hours or a matter of days or a matter of weeks.

And you can also go the inverse, and I think that’s what’s happening here with Mary, because it sounds like you had the physiology to be able to get into the splits, and then suddenly it went away. I would take a really close look at what you’re eating, but also lifestyle stress. A lot of times, being stressed out, not having slept enough, being nervous about something, it can kind of manifest itself in physical restriction in your body, and that sounds pretty esoteric, until you experience it, and it’s very, very real.

So, I would take a look at that, and I’d also play around with, especially if you’re doing the splits, Mary, it’s called PNF, it’s Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. It’s a mouthful. I didn’t think I was going to say that properly, but I did. It’s called
PNF stretching. I have a couple videos on my YouTube channel, if you check that out. It’s YouTube/LRockwood, or else just search PNF stretching, the splits, or something like that. We’ll put a link to it in the show notes, as well.

But, PNF stretching is really, really effective for nervous system training. And if you’ve never done PNF stretching before, what it is, is it’s, again, it’s only useful in some poses. In other poses it’s worthless, in other poses it’s actually dangerous, but in the splits it’s quite useful. What you do is, you fully engage your legs for, let’s say, 10 seconds, and then you relax completely. That pulsing of that fully engaged, relax, fully engage, relax, allows your nervous system to relax and let you go deeper. Of all the poses it’s useful for, the splits is one of the most — it’s, in my opinion, the most responsive to PNF stretching. It’s actually the only pose I usually teach it in. So, I’d take a look at that, Mary, and I hope you find that hopeful. Yoga Swings