EPISODE 20
The best drinking water

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Gerry asks:

Recent x-rays have shown osteoarthritis on my right and left hips and also in my knees. Are there any specific poses I should use or not use to improve this situation with regards to hips and knees?

So, for a lot of people suffering from arthritis, yoga can be very, very helpful. For other people, it might be too much. For sure, work with your doctor. The thing that I’d focus on is a really gentle practice, a Hatha yoga practice, something like a Sivananda, or if you’re going to a local studio, it will often be billed as Hatha yoga or gentle flow. They use different names for it. You might want to avoid stronger practices like hot yoga, power yoga, Ashtanga yoga.

The other thing I’d recommend, is there have been lots and lots of clinical studies with Methylsulfonylmethane, which is one of the key ingredients in YOGABODY Stretch. You can get it from our supplement or you can get it from other supplements, but MSM has really, really been shown to be very, very helpful for arthritis.

Niko asks:

You say your gravity poses are not just for people who want to become very flexible, but also for people who want to lose pain in their bodies, specially back pain. My main goal is getting to a better posture. Do your poses help for that, or is there a danger of getting highly flexible but keeping all your bad positions?

I think what Niko’s talking about is meaning be really flexible but you still have bad posture, meaning your shoulders are hunch and maybe you have a sway back or something like that. This is an interesting question. In general, when you gain flexibility, your imbalances start to correct. A lot of times you’ll hear about people starting yoga and they get taller, and they don’t physically get taller, but what happens is they improve their posture, like they stop swaying their back or their shoulders straighten up or they change the positioning of their spines

If I want to work on my posture with strength exercises, does your stretching program reduce the benefits of that?

If you’re doing strength practices, let’s say you’re doing sprinting or you’re doing weight lifting or whatever you’re doing that’s strength training, do it before you do deep stretches. So deep stretches, they send a different signal to your nervous system. They basically say, relax, release, let go, and strength resistance training is just the opposite. It’s flex, tense up, be strong and fast. So, you just want to stretch after, if you’re doing deep stretches, you want to stretch after you work out. It’s great to stretch as a warm up before any kind of physical practice like that, but do your deep stretches afterwards.

Dhiraj asks:

I am having trouble with The Flamenco stretch in your book. I am unable to get my feet very high, so gravity is going against me.

This is a really common question. In Flamenco pose, you’re laying on your back, it’s an asymmetrical stretch, so you do one leg at a time and you usually use a belt or a strap on your leg, unless you’re flexible and you can grab your foot. So, this is a common issue. You’re holding onto the belt and your leg is beyond a 45 degree angle. It’s a 50 or a 60 degree angle. Basically, it’s not very far up off the ground, right? So then gravity is actually pushing your leg towards the floor, instead of pushing it towards your face. That’s okay. The gravity will still work.

What you do is, you must make your arms straight and your leg straight. That usually means grabbing further up on the strap and then straightening your arm all the way. And when you do that, you’re able to relax back and gravity pressing your upper body down, lifts that leg up. Your upper body is much, much more heavy than your leg, so it will work just fine. It’s going to feel awkward, no question about it. Give it some time. It’s going to be really helpful.

Michelle asks:

I’ve been surprised to find that if I take more than 4 days a week and stretch at home daily, I actually don’t gain flexibility, but rather maintain. On the contrary, if I take a week off, I have a major flexibility gain until I start stretching again. What do you think is happening? How can I get myself more flexible working on it daily?

Okay, so what happens is, when you’re stretching daily and you’re taking classes and doing all these things, your body gets sore and your body may be getting overworked. It doesn’t sound like you’re overdoing it to me. Four days a week sounds great. It sounds like you’re doing lots of great things. Sometimes when you take a recovery day, you will notice that, wow, your body makes some big breakthroughs. I think it’s a sign you’re doing things right. I wouldn’t worry about it. It seems like you’re on a good trajectory if you’re practicing four days a week and doing some stuff at home. It sounds perfect. Just keep working, and you’ll feel some great benefits. I would not be at all discouraged or concerned.

Leon asks:

I have a question about The Wide Dog gravity pose. (Wide Dog is like a Downward Dog, but you bring your legs really wide and you sink into your shoulders.) When in The Wide Dog, should my arms be straight so I feel my shoulders stretching out?

The answer is yes, Leon. Your arms should be straight. Your legs should be straight, if you can. You could also bend them, and you want to really sink down into those shoulders. You might feel this in the backs of your legs. You might feel this in your shoulders. You might feel it in a funny place, like in your middle back. That’s okay, just stick with it. It ends up being a really great shoulder opener, and it can be a really great hamstring and calf opener for some people as well.

Sandy asks:

What kind of drinking water do you recommend?

This is a great question, Sandy. The best water I like is if you can get good tap water. Some places have good tap water. I was recently in Amsterdam. There was really great tap water there. I was also recently in Wisconsin, in the Midwest of the US and there was really great tap water there. Currently, I’m in Barcelona and the water here is bad. It’s not good at all. You can taste it right away. So I filter it. I use a Brita water filter. I don’t know if it’s an actual Brita brand, but the idea is the same, a carbon filter. Carbon filters are pretty darn good. They’re not amazing, but they’re not bad.

You can get these amazing filters that take everything out of your water, but then your water becomes this hyper solvent, and what that means is it dissolves all kinds of things and when you drink it, it can be a really effective way to get minerals out of your body. There’s a lot of controversy around this, and the reality is sometimes it’s good to have that chelating affect of water where it pulls minerals, bad minerals, out of your body. But in general, I like to think of that water as dead water, because it doesn’t have any minerals left in it and it’s pretty lifeless, whereas even something like a tap water can be better.

That said, there are places where tap water under no circumstances is good and you always want to filter or do something else. So it really depends on where you live, but in general, if you’re drinking enough water, which I hope you are, it’s totally impractical to buy your water. People are always saying, oh I only buy spring water, or I only drink Fiji water or whatever it is. It’s ridiculous. If that’s what you do, you’re not drinking enough water.

So, you need to have an abundant supply, which means you’ve got to filter it somehow. Reverse osmosis systems, those are a common high end system. There’s good things about it, but again, it kind of takes everything out of your water. It was originally invented for industrial uses so they had pure, pure, pure water with nothing in it. And again, it sounds great, but the problem is you have this amazing solvent then. It goes picking up all these things in your body that you’ve worked hard to get in there, like vital minerals and things like that. So, I’d recommend drinking tap water if you can and use a high quality carbon filter, and usually you’re good to go.

Angela asks:

I’ve recently been told about the GAPS Diet. Have you heard about it? What are your thoughts regarding this lifestyle change?

I don’t know the GAPS Diet. I know tons and tons of diets. I’ll take a look into that and I’ll get back to you, Angela.

Priti asks:

After trying the gravity poses, the one thing I have the most trouble with is The Wide Dog. I have no idea what kind of stretch I’m supposed to be feeling.

This is the same question Leon had. Priti, don’t worry about it. Just do a normal Down Dog, but bring your legs really, really wide apart and bring them closer to your hands and drop your head completely. If it feels too awkward, you can do it on the edge of your bed for a while, and you want to get deep into your shoulders. If you’re not feeling it on the floor, go to the edge of your bed or the edge of a table, and you’ll feel that deep in your shoulders.

Cait asks:

I had a left leg injury a few years ago from running and consequently my hip became very weak and locked up. (This is a common thing. You get injured and then you get an imbalance.) I’ve tried everything, physical therapy, the chiropractor, stretching, ice, heat. Someone told me to try Bikram yoga. It made my pain reduce a good deal, but I’m still not 100 sure. When I go running, I have pain in the lower back and hip the next day. Any suggestions on some poses that might free those hip muscles? I’m only 26.

Okay, so the first thing is, Bikram yoga can be really, really great for healing. Now sometimes, you just have to be careful, because that heat can mask pain. So if you have an acute injury in particular, it doesn’t sound like you have an acute injury anymore, but if you do in particular, something that’s inflamed, you go in that heat and the pain will disappear for those 90 minutes. But then it can come back vengeance, so you do have to be careful with the heat in that regard, but hot yoga can be very, very healing in some cases.

The best thing I’d recommend, it sounds like you developed some muscle imbalances. Probably one of the most beneficial things you could do is pick up a regular, athletic, well-balanced yoga practice. It sounds like you’re an athlete, like you like running and things like this and you like the Bikram yoga. I might suggest something like a power Vinyasa yoga, a flow yoga, an Ashtanga yoga. They’re all very similar. They come with different names, but that might be something you find challenging to your athletic side and it will also help you work on holistic flexibility and a balanced body. Chia Seeds