EPISODE 43
Green Coffee for Weight Loss?

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Chrissie asks:

I have a third degree ligament tear in my knee. What yoga can I do to help and what should I avoid?

I don’t know which type of ligament tear you have, an ACL, which is anterior cruciate ligament, that’s the most common one. There’s also three other types of relatively common ligament tears.

What happens is, the ligaments that cross the knee there, connecting your femur bone to your shin bone, so ligaments connect bone to bone. It’s really, really common, about 120,000 just in the U.S. each year have it, more women than men for some reason, and it can be really, really serious.

If you have a third degree tear, that’s a really, really serious one, and you want to be very careful, because they do not heal and they’re not repairable very well. There are things that can be done to get better and better all the time, but you’ve got to be really, really careful.

What yoga should you do? What should you avoid? Whatever you’re doing, make sure you’re working very, very closely with your doctor, your health practitioner. Work with somebody in person, because you want to be careful. For sure, you don’t want it to feel inflamed or worse. It wants to be feeling better and better.

In order to do that, you’re going to have to be really, really cautious. With almost everything, you do want to stretch, you do want to use it, but you want to be very, very careful. For all these types of things, standing yoga poses are very, very effective. The standing poses of any hot yoga sequence can generally be quite safe and quite effective. There’s a few exceptions, a few poses to stay away from, primarily ones where your knee is bent and laterally rotated. You’ll probably not want to be in the heat, though.

In any case, this is pretty serious, so make sure you’re working with somebody, and I’d actually consider working privately with a local yoga teacher, if you can. Maybe one or two sessions, just to develop a routine that’s safe and appropriate for you.

Devyn asks:

If you don’t take the recommended dose of YOGABODY Stretch, 4 capsules per day, will it be not as effective? I feel I’m not as naturally flexible as some other people. I’ve been stretching for what seems like forever, and I still can’t easily get into the splits. Any recommendations?

Devyn, there’s multiple things that happen when you’re trying to get more flexible. Nutrition is one of the things, the other thing is stretching and how you’re stretching. We talk about this all the time. Make sure you’re meeting or beating your hold times, especially if you’re doing the splits. You need to do really long holds. You need to work up to five-minute holds, as quickly as you can. If you’re working on the side splits, that’s five minutes straight. If you’re doing frontal splits, five minutes each side.

In terms of getting into it easily, that can take a while. You might be able to get into the splits this year, but it might be three more years before you can get into it without a warm-up. So it really depends on the person. It depends on what you’re doing. Make sure you meet or beat your hold times. Focus on plant-based nutrition, lots of water-based foods, and you should do really, really well.

Shannan asks:

Can I perform my PNF stretches for the front and side splits after or before my gravity poses? Also, can I perform PNF stretching every day?

PNF stretching is proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation. Those are some five-dollar words in there, bigger words than I’m usually used to using. Basically, what it is, is when you’re in a pose, you engage the muscles fully, really, really hard so they tremble and then you release and relax completely so you can go deeper into the pose.

It’s been studied and it works. It doesn’t work in everything. People get overly excited about it. It works very, very, very well in the splits. I love to teach it in the splits. You can incorporate it and do it with gravity poses, either before or after either one. You can do PNF stretching every day. It’s fairly safe. You’ve just got to be careful not to overdo it. You can really burn out your muscles as well. We have some videos about it as well, if you search my YouTube channel, I think the name of it is Ninja Stretching PNF Split Secrets. We’ll put a link in the show notes here.

Virginia asks:

I have a structural congenital anomaly in my right hip, femoral ante version. I have gone to a physical therapist who told me there’s nothing that can be done. I’m trying to relax in hip openers, but I’m not sure what to do.

Femoral ante version is like when you see kids whose feet are turned in 9 times out of 10, that’s what’s going on. A lot of times it corrects with age. Many times it doesn’t. People have different degrees of this. It’s very common for people to have structural imbalances. Sometimes people won’t even know about them until they try to do something, like a yoga practice, which might be more demanding in terms of range of motion than they’ve done before.

In terms of what you can and can’t do, that’s not something that I could tell you or diagnose over the phone. It’s not really within my expertise anyway. What I would consider doing is trying to work one-on-one with a yoga teacher, who can take a look at you and maybe take a look at working with a physio, a structural integration therapist, somebody who really understands the body and yoga, who can take a look at the imbalances in your body that may have developed from this condition and help you to work on a series of poses that might be helpful for you.

With one to two sessions with someone like that, they can probably give you some really great insight that can help you practice pain-free for a long time.

Blanche asks:

Everybody in Canada is talking about green coffee for weight loss. Dr. Oz is telling people to use it to lose weight. What is your opinion on that?

Blanche, Dr. Oz, I don’t know what’s happened to him, but he has sold out completely. Every day he’s flogging something new. First it was acai berry and then it was raspberry ketones and now it’s this green coffee stuff.

What happens is, every year in the weight loss industry, people go out and they try to find something that’s really, really high in antioxidants and they start selling it as weight loss. It’s not weight loss. Grapes are really, really high in antioxidants. You can eat all the grapes you want, they’re not going to cause you to lose weight by themselves.

The same with acai berry. Acai is amazing. It’s got tons of antioxidants, very powerful, amazing berry, but what does that have to do with weight loss? Nothing.

Green coffee, is there some interesting antioxidant properties? Yeah, for sure. What does that have to do with weight loss? Nothing. I don’t know why they’re doing this. I don’t know why this is legal. I don’t know why Dr. Oz is doing this. Don’t pay any attention. The green coffee won’t help.

Liron asks:

Can I read when I’m doing 5-minute yoga gravity poses to avoid boredom?

The answer is yes. Liron, do anything you can to help your body relax. Just make sure you use a timer. It’s easy to lose track of time and hold your poses for too long or hold them imbalanced, meaning longer on one side than the other.

Julia asks:

I have a weakness and an old injury. Should I continue to practice? My acupuncturist says no.

So here’s the deal with injuries. If you’re in the midst of an injury, if your injury is inflamed, if you feel your injury all day long, if you can feel swelling, if you can see redness, it’s time to take a break. After the initial injury, after the swelling goes down, after that initial pain, it’s start to get back into movement, and the reason you need to do this is because if you don’t you will heal weak. You’ve got to be careful, you’ve got to do this letting your teachers know, you’ve got to do this with the right advice.

But if you heal weak, your chances of getting another injury are very, very, very common, and it happens a lot. Somebody will pull a hamstring, they’ll quit doing anything for a year, then the moment they start doing anything, whether it’s yoga or running, whatever it is, they re-pull that hamstring, because they healed with imbalances and they healed weak and it happens a lot. You’ve got to be careful.

Kristian asks:

In your videos, I see you into down-dog, doing knees, chest and chin and also doing Chaturanga-style pushups in sun salutes. Which is correct?

There is no correct or right or wrong. You can do either one. So basically, knees, chest and chin transition is a classical sun salutation movement, from like a Sivananda, from an integral yoga. And a half pushup position, plank position, is more from like an Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga tradition.

They’re both great and they’ve very different and they have different benefits. Knees off the floor requires more upper body strength. It’s actually a very challenging pose that most people do wrong. Knees, chest and chin is actually a pretty good back opener and requires a fair amount of coordination and stability in your spine as well. So I’d practice both of them, they’re both really great.

Kai asks:

When doing hamstring stretches and I’m laying on my back, I lower my leg out to the side and I feel it in my left hip, instead of in my right leg. Is that okay?

The way our bodies work is, the story I always tell is when I do forward bends, I feel it in my calves. I don’t feel it in my hamstrings. My hamstrings are open, my calves are tight. So for me, a forward bend is all about my calves. It’s very weird, but this is common.

So you opening your leg out to the right and feeling it in your left hip, as long as it’s not an acute, funny, twinging, electrifying kind of pain, it’s probably just your body balancing some things out. Everything is connected to everything else, and so it’s just that tightness being transmitted over, and I wouldn’t worry about it. Chances are good that you’ll move through that quickly.

Is it more important to keep the knees together while doing lightning bolt pose, or can the knees come apart as long as they stay on the ground?

Your knees can come apart. Lightning bolt is a pose where you’re sitting on your knees, between your knees, bum on the ground. Eventually you’ll lay down on your back, a big stretch for the tops of your legs. The only thing here, Kai, is you don’t want your knees to splay way out. If your legs are making a V shape, you’re too tight. Come up and do the pose seated, until you can go back. Your knees should not come apart more than say three-fifths width distance between your knees.

I have made some great gains in my twisting ability using the twister pose. Are there any other poses that I can do?

Twister pose is a supine pose. It’s done on your back. It’s a great pose. For gravity yoga, it’s the best pose. Other gravity poses for twisting, I don’t usually teach other ones. The other poses I’ll teach are dynamic poses, different style of pose.

One of the best ones that you can work on is a twisted side angle pose. It’s a fantastic pose. It’s taught in most yoga classes, but it’s often skipped over. It’s a very common pose, but it’s taught very quickly and people don’t have enough time to get into it deeply. If you start working on side angle followed up by twisted side angle, as part of your normal yoga routine, you can get some really great benefits there quickly.

Maggie asks:

About 10 years ago, on an occasion of a stiff neck, my doctor said I have spurs in my cervical vertebrae. I am working in the office, so I have stiff neck and shoulders all the time. Can I do a headstand?

First of all, Maggie, and everyone listening, never learn a headstand at the wall. I don’t know why, but yoga teachers always want to teach headstand at the wall. Well I do know why, they want to do it so that you can do it right away. The problem is, if you do a headstand at the wall, anybody can do it right away and anybody is not ready for it.

What that means is, your whole body weight is now resting on a very weak, imbalanced neck and shoulders, and it can cause all kinds of problems. I get really upset when teachers teach it this way. A lot of people learned it this way, and it can work out just fine 9 out of 10 times, and that 1 out of 10 times people get neck problems.

When you do a headstand properly, when you learn it in the middle of the room day one, never, ever use a wall in headstand. In handstand, in shoulder stand, yeah, for sure wall. Headstand, never use a wall. As long as you learn it in the middle of the room, it can actually be really great for your neck.

Now, is it great for your neck, Maggie if you have spurs on your cervical spine, on your neck? I’m not sure. You need to talk to your doctor and make sure that’s the case. What you’ll find is that headstand done properly, strengthens your neck and your shoulders. Sometimes that strengthening can also be balancing and stability and can actually relieve pain. But again, everybody’s different. Do be cautious, do be careful and don’t use the wall.

Jeff asks:

While stretching, when the muscle is tight, tense or hard, is it a bad idea to massage it? Can you massage tight muscles?

Let’s say you’re doing the frontal splits, Jeff, and your quads, on the front leg, are very, very tense. You can certainly massage it. That can be a good way to help you relax into a pose.

I like to do pigeon pose, but I am not able to fully do it. What would be the best way to practice it?

There’s two poses that are commonly referred to as pigeon pose. Jeff is talking about the hip-opening pose, where your front leg is across you’re the matt. Your shin is going across the mat and it’s a deep hip stretch. The way to practice it, Jeff, is to do pigeon pose every day and try to work up to five-minute holds.

Instead of laying down over the leg, here’s what I want you to do. Put one hand on the knee, put the other hand on your ankle. If that’s not working, put your fingertips on the floor. Again, one hand on the knee, one hand on the ankle or fingertips on the floor. So you’re upright. When you’re upright like that, you have more leverage, you’ll get a lot further. A lot of people teach pigeon pose flopped over the leg. It’s really easy for your body to find a way to distribute the weight so you don’t get a deep stretch there. Practice it with your body upright most of the time.

There is a movement we do in my yoga class, where I’m on the tip of my toes, my bum near my ankles, bringing the pelvis up so I’m into a forward bend and it causes cracks in my knees. What can I do about the cracks in my knees?

Here’s the thing. In yoga, you’ll find that at different times, different parts of your body will crack. I remember my sternum was cracking every time I did a sun salutation for a while. My lower back used to pop a lot, my knees always still, every day when I do a forward bend, will pop. And my knees are totally solid, strong, never had a problem.

So it can mean nothing. It can also be painful, depending on what you’re doing. If you want to just make sure your joints are warmed up, that’s a really great idea. The way to do that is to bring your joints through a full range of motion. If we’re talking about knees here, that means fully extend your leg, engage the leg and lock the knee. That means bend down deep into a squat, and that means doing some lateral movements, so twisting your leg to the inside and outside, as though you were kicking a hackie sack, first on the inside and then on the outside.

If you’re worried about cracks in your knees, do that routine before you practice yoga. It should be quite helpful.

What do you think of cracking in general, like someone who cracks their fingers, cracks their neck?

I don’t think it’s a great idea. In terms of whether it’s safe or a medical problem, it certainly is habit-forming, meaning people who need to crack their neck all the time, they need to crack their neck all the time. And people who need to crack their knuckles do that as well. So I tend to not recommend it. There’s different opinions on whether it’s actually problematic or not. The general consensus, I found, is that it’s not a big deal. It doesn’t seem like a smart thing to do, in my opinion, though. If somebody else knows something about cracking joints, post it down in the notes. I’d be interested to hear.

Jeffrey asks:

Have you ever thought about teaching a class or thought of certifying instructors in the gravity yoga series?

Jeffrey, yes, we teach gravity yoga as a full class. We teach all the poses, it’s about 75 minutes long, been doing that for about 5 years. In terms of teacher training, we will have one. It will be coming up sometime in the next 18 months. It will probably be invite-only and a small course, the first one. So if you or anybody else is interested, please just get in touch with us, let us know. We’ll probably be doing that some time in the near future, either in Thailand or else somewhere on the east coast of the United States.

Kai asks:

I do Ashtanga yoga and I’ve spoken to my teacher, and I don’t understand why my hamstrings tighten up when I do a straddle stretch.

I am confused by this question, Kai. If you could send me more information for next week, I’d love to answer this. I’m just a little bit confused. You say your inner thighs have no tension, hamstrings tighten up. Saddle stretch, I’m just not 100 percent sure which pose in Ashtanga you’re talking about. Send me the pose name, and hopefully we can help you next week.

Irene asks:

Can I take YOGABODY Stretch at the same time as maca powder?

Maca, for those of you who don’t know, we sell it in the YOGABODY store. It’s called Mojo in our YOGABODY store. It’s a Peruvian root vegetable. That’s all it is, and then it’s concentrated. They get rid of some of the starch, so it’s easier to digest, but it’s basically just a root vegetable. It looks like a turnip. It’s an adaptogen, meaning it’s adaptogenic plants, which basically are kind of like all-purpose cleaners. They do lots of different things in your body.

What maca is most known for is its ability to balance hormones, increase libido and increase fertility, thousands and thousands of documented case on maca increasing fertility. A lot of people, even if they’re not trying to get pregnant, they like it because it balances hormones. It can balance hormones in women, raise testosterone in men. It does it very naturally. It is not a hormone in and of itself, so it’s very, very safe.

Can you take them together? Yes. In terms of all supplementation and super foods, I mean, maca is not even a supplement, it’s a super food. You need to be careful with your digestion. When you’re taking really, really strong, concentrated things, the breaking point would be your digestion. So if you take, for example, a normal dose of maca is like 2 to 5 grams, something like that. If you were to take 20 grams of maca, you would feel an upset stomach. If you were to take 20 capsules of YOGABODY Stretch, you’d feel an upset stomach. If you were to take 10 grams of Vitamin C, you’d have horrible gas.

So you really need to gauge your digestion. Sometimes you need to space out your doses, and just pay attention to what’s going on internally. A lot of times people will start taking some new supplement, and they’ll think, “Oh, it’s a cleansing reaction or this is supposed to happen or the gas is supposed to be there.” That’s not the case. Sometimes your body just needs to get used to it, sometimes you need to space our your dose, sometimes you need to take it with food, sometimes you need to take it at a different time of the day.

So can you take maca with YOGABODY Stretch? For sure. I do it all the time. I would just take it at a different time of the day.