Shoulder Pain, Balanced Diet & GI Cleanse

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Jack asks:

I have your book, which is very helpful. My problem is, I’m on pose overload, so many positions to choose from. Which ones complement each other? Can you recommend a series that would provide a good workout with variety or where I can locate them?

Jack, in terms of pose overload, there’s certainly a lot of yoga poses. There’s definitely hundreds, some people would say thousands. Lots of them become variations, but the core poses, there’s not all that many, but there’s a good, solid 50 poses that are really commonly taught in Hatha yoga classes.

If you’re talking about something for a good workout, if you’re talking about something athletic, the two places that I often recommend people are towards hot yoga series, we teach one called absolute yoga, there’s also Bikram obviously and Moksha yoga is great and Barkan method. And the other one I recommend is an Ashtanga yoga primary series, and from Ashatanga yoga, lots of different derivative practices have come. Power Vinyasa flow practices, all of which can be really good.

It can be a little overwhelming at first. If you can, if you’re looking for something athletic, a good workout, I’d encourage you to try to check into a local studio for a while. Spend at least a month or two as a regular member, get yourself well established, it will be a lot easier for you to have a home practice. Home practice is, of course, the best, and the goal I think for everybody, but you’ve really got to get a foundation somewhere, especially if you’re looking at doing a full athletic style of Hatha yoga at home.

Kathie asks:

I took a yoga course and apparently injured my inner left thigh. I cannot even put my left ankle on my right knee to put a sock on my foot. I have tried stretching, relaxing, acupuncture, chiropractic, essential oils, all to no avail. It has been 6 months since the injury, and I’m now very depressed. This muscle has not come back to its former flexibility. Any suggestions?

If you’re getting that kind of pain six months after an injury, there’s probably something really, really serious going on. Your inner thigh is a strange place to feel that. It could be any number of things. Inner thigh, sometimes people will be referring to one of their hamstring muscles or could even be one of the quads or it might not be something muscular. In any case, six months is way too long. You need to go get that checked out right away.

It sounds like you’ve done the alternative thing, you’ve gone to an acupuncturist and a chiro. I would suggest going to a mainstream allopathic sports physiologist, somebody who deals with injuries but who has an M.D., a medical doctor. They might need to do an MRI or see what’s happening in there. That sounds serious. Let us know how it goes, let us know what you find out. Take it easy and be gentle on yourself.

Tonya asks:

I really want to order your yoga trapeze. My husband says if I do, he cannot use it as he gets dizzy hanging upside down. Is there a cure for this condition?

Yeah, it’s interesting, Tanya. A lot of people get dizzy hanging upside down. But interestingly, for whatever reason, it tends to go away. I don’t know why, I guess it’s just practice. When people start doing inversions in yoga, like headstand and handstand, they’ll often get dizzy initially as well, and your body just get’s accustomed to it. The only cure that I know of is just practice, in the same way that somebody who lives on a very windy road, the first time they drive they might get car sick. Very, very quickly, their body gets accustomed with everything that is vertigo-related, it tends to be just conditioning.

Miika asks:

How long do you warm up before stretching? I don’t know how long is enough. Do you usually start with simpler stretches?

If you have time, it’s good to do a nice, long warm-up. If you don’t have that much time, shorter is okay, too. All of the gravity yoga deep stretches that we teach are safe to do even if you do them cold. If you do warm up, you’ll find you get deeper in your stretches. I often recommend people do gravity yoga poses after any kind of athletic workout, a run, after going to the gym, after doing an athletic yoga class.

Alternatively, just at the end of the day, you’re pretty warmed up. You’re relatively loose, much more so than in the morning. In the morning, you might find you need more warm up. So, do you have to warm up? No. If you want to warm up, there’s lots of good options.

I like to do some sun salutations. You can find links to that on our site. Sun salutations, I like to do what I call moon squats, which I think work really well. I also like to do push ups, and I like to do long-hold handstands, so a handstand at the wall, hold it for about three to five minutes. That will get you warmed up really quickly.

In terms of starting with smaller stretches, just start carefully and move slowly, take your time. If you’re less warmed up, you’ll find it’s a little bit harder to get into your practice, but you’ll get into it. It’ll just be a little bit tougher going.

Corinne asks:

Any advice for neuralgia? My husband suffers from it, and we try to avoid taking pharmaceuticals.

Corinne, that’s potentially a really serious condition, and for sure not something I would turn to a yoga teacher for, myself included. With anything neurological, nervous system, I’d for sure get a couple of different opinions, but you know, there’s a time for pharmaceuticals and there’s a time to avoid them. With a condition like this, if it’s really debilitating, I would for sure go see a good neurologist or two and get a couple of opinions.

Nagham asks:

I have a question regarding the healthy diet plan and cutting out dairy products. My breakfast and dinner are usually based on dairy. Can you give me other options of no dairy breakfast or dinner that I can start having a healthy diet plan?

Yeah so dairy, if you ask people why they eat dairy, almost everybody will say they’re eating dairy for calcium. The dairy marketing materials, dairy board, has convinced us that we all need gobs and gobs and gobs of calcium all day long, and milk is the best place to get it. There is a lot of calcium in milk. Calcium deficiency is really not that common, more common is an inability to absorb calcium. Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in our diets, it’s all over the place, relatively easy to get from all kinds of foods. Absorbing it is another matter. That’s why they’ll stick Vitamin D in milk. It’ll be enriched milk to help you absorb that calcium.

The other challenge with dairy, the main challenge, is that it’s difficult to digest. And depending on where you’re from, it might be easier, it might be more difficult. So, people in Northern Europe, in Holland, in Scandinavian countries, they digest milk very, very well. People in Asia and Africa, they digest milk very poorly, and everybody else falls somewhere in between and all of this gets worse with age.

And so what does it mean to not be able to digest it? Well it can mean anything from having a slight upset stomach, to having acne, to having chronic inflammation, to having all kinds of degenerative digestive disorders, to having mood problems, to having all kinds of things. And in different countries, there is a huge, huge deal in the United States, for example, cheese and milk and yogurts are in all kinds of things, specifically breakfast.

So what can you do? It sounds like I’m guessing that you’re eating vegetarian, and if you are, the challenge with vegetarian is most people become breaditarians or they become milkitarians, and all of their lost calories form meat gets put into dairy and wheat. And if we’re comparing the three, meat, dairy and wheat, meat is like sent from god, in terms of its nutritional value. There’s all kinds of problems, in terms of consuming it, in terms of the environment and ethical and moral concerns and these kinds of things, but nutritionally meat is vastly superior to anything bread-based, anything dairy-based. Most meats tend to be hypo-allergenic, meaning even though they digest slowly, they don’t cause inflammation, they don’t cause digestive problems, they don’t cause allergenic reactions and things like this.

So, in terms of what to do, the key here is to try to get rid of the dairy, and you’ve got to replace it with something. So what’s really nice about dairy, is it’s got a ton of fat, and potentially that’s really good fat. Now most of the time, by the time you get the dairy, it’s been cooked and it’s been homogenized and it’s been packaged and preserved and processed, at least a couple of times, if not four or five times depending on what form your dairy is in.

So that fat isn’t as good as when it started, but the best thing about dairy is its fat. It’s a very, very great source of saturated fat, potentially. Most of the fat coming from the dairy industry right now is just kind of a toxic waste dump, something you want to avoid.

In any case, if you want to remove dairy, you need to find a good source of fat and a good source of protein. The problem will be if you start swapping out those dairy calories, that fat and the protein that you’re getting from your milks or your yogurts. If you start swapping that out for wheat, like breads and pastas and rices, any kind of grain-based stuff, that’s going to really screw up your blood sugar, increase your hunger, decrease your energy, increase your body fat.

So you’ve really got to try to find low-glycemic options. The best thing to eat for breakfast is the same thing you should eat for lunch and dinner, which is just balanced, whole foods. That means eating nice, healthy fats all the time, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. That means incorporating salads into every meal, if you can. If you’re eating animal-based protein, eating lightly or minimally cooked animals from a source that you trust, ideally something that’s wild caught or raised as close to wild as possible.

But for sure, your risk here is grains. So if you’re trying to remove dairy, naturally most people are going to eat more bread and they’re going to eat more pasta and rice. You need to try to reduce those, because those are going to get you into trouble. We can talk more about that, but hopefully that gives you some ideas to get started.

Li asks:

I don’t know how to eventually do frontal splits. Do you know how can I practice it at home to quickly get some results? How long and how often should I stretch every day, and should I do this before I get my legs down on the floor?

Here’s what you want to do, is if you’re really trying to get the frontal splits, practice it every day, unless you get really, really sore, but otherwise practice it every day, and work up to a five-minute hold on each side.

Now, you’ve got to use a clock. I always tell people this, and they don’t use a clock. They just get down there in the splits and moan and groan while they’re watching television. You’ve got to use a clock. Use a clock, work up to five minutes on both sides. Do that every day. You’ll see big, big results very quickly. Don’t push yourself too hard, too fast. If you’re at one minute right now or two or five minutes, wherever you’re at, just work up to a five-minute hold, and then you’ll be golden.

Now the key thing is here, when you’re not all the way down, you need to support yourself. So this is a deep, heavy stretch, you need to put blocks on either side of you, or books or pillows underneath you, something to support you so that you’re not overly leveraging your front and back leg.

Jihad asks:

How often do I have to use GI Cleanse and Liquid Energy-B?

For those of you who don’t know, GI Cleanse is a fiber supplement that we sell. It’s made from pure psyllium husk. Psyllium is unique in that it expands to about 50 times its size with water. So it’s a bulking agent, and it helps to increase bowel movements.

In terms of how often you should use it, it’s quite safe. It’s not a laxative stimulant, so it’s not going to create any kind of imbalances, but ideally you want to be getting most of your fiber from food.

That said, if you’re on a cleanse, like if you’re on a juice cleanse and you’re not eating much fiber, if you’re just backed up or blocked and you’re not having regular bowel movements, taking GI Cleanse irregularly, as needed, to get you regular, is a good idea. I like to take it right before bed, and usually you wake up in the morning and you’ll have a bowel movement.

If you’re finding yourself reliant on fiber supplements for more than a month, you need to seriously reevaluate your diet, because you should be getting that fiber from your diet. That said, almost everybody gets in a situation, on a pretty regular basis, where for a number of reasons they’re dehydrated, they haven’t been eating balanced, they’ve been traveling, whatever it is, they’re not having regular bowel movements and GI Cleanse can be very effective for that.

Liquid Energy-B is a B vitamin supplement that we sell, predominately vitamin B12. It comes in a really easy to absorb form, the same form that’s available in your brain. How often should you use it? Most people feel more benefits from Liquid Energy-B with irregular use. That means let’s say four or five days a week, six days a week, take a day off.

This is something you might use for two months, six months, a year, and then you might take a break from it for a while. The best way to judge is if you need it right now is how you feel after you take it. It’s one of these things that when people have B12 deficiencies, which lots and lots of people do, both vegetarians and non-vegetarians. As soon as they take it, they’re just blown away by how good they feel, how clear they feel in their head. There’s a natural lift in energy and mood, and as long as you start to feel those benefits, there’s a good chance that you should keep taking it.

You can, of course, go get your B12 levels tested, which is a great idea. It’s inexpensive. Any blood lab can do that for you. But it’s a fair guess that many people are lacking in B vitamins, and so I recommend taking it irregularly. I just have a bottle sitting next to my desk, and I probably take it four or five times a week. And there are also times when I take it seven days a week, and there are times when I go a week without it. You just try to gauge your own vitamin needs, your own supplement needs, and of course I do get blood tests every year as well, which is helpful. But with all these things, you just want to figure out what works for you, and you don’t want to create a dependency on supplements. You just want to use supplements as a supplement, to supplement your diet.

I have a big problem with both my shoulders. I over stretched my shoulder ligaments through martial arts exercises, and I’m in deep pain because the bones are rubbing on each other. I am trying to exercise and do some stretches, but every time I feel a lot of pain on my shoulders. Do you have some easy exercises I should do to avoid pain and the bone movement and build muscles?

Okay, so this is a really, really serious question, and I want you to take it really seriously. If you don’t, you could have problems forever. I just had the first shoulder rotator cuff problem of my life recently. Don’t really know why. I think it was actually something unrelated to any kind of exercise. I was opening a jar, believe it or not, just kind of tweaked my shoulder blade. It was really bad. It took about six weeks to heal, and now it’s fully back and it’s really back in shape. But for a while there, I couldn’t really support my weight in a push up position, and it happened all at once. It didn’t build up over time, it just tweaked.

I don’t know what’s happening here, but this sounds like a rotator cuff thing to me. I don’t think your bones are rubbing together. I think you’re feeling an irritation in that rotator cuff. In any case, get this checked out and take it really seriously, because you want to make sure you heal quickly as possible and you heal strong and you don’t further exacerbate this problem.

The key pose here that really will save the day is called a forearm stand. A forearm stand is kind of a challenging pose, unfortunately, so it’s not something that everybody can do. But I was doing forearm stands, every day I would do about 10 of them for 30 seconds each, and it really, really immediately relieved the pain. It also built strength and helped to support that shoulder joint really, really well.

If you’re unable to do forearm stand, which might be the case, you can do the same thing at the wall, where you put your hands on the wall as though you were doing a shoulder stand, but support your weight with your feet. We’ll make a video about this soon. It was really remarkable how helpful that was. And this variation, this wall version of forearm stand, is something that’s taught by lots and lots of people, including sports medicine therapists and physios and all kinds of people, specifically for rotator cuff, because it’s been found to be so effective.