EPISODE 56
Nine Days of Drinking Milk?

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Debbie asks:

I can’t lift over 5 pounds using both hands. How could this yoga trapeze help me? I have degenerative discs in my neck. I am going to be 62.

So, Debbie, that’s a challenging question. First of all, 62 is still quite young, and if you’re having trouble lifting 5 pounds my advice would be to get whatever help you need to make sure that you can start to rebuild your strength. Even if you have degenerative discs in your neck, you definitely want to be able to lift at least 5 pounds. You probably should be able to lift 15 or 25 pounds quite easily, especially if you’re doing it with both hands.

In terms of how the yoga trapeze can help, so the yoga trapeze, we don’t talk about this much but people use the yoga trapeze a lot for TRX-style band training. That’s a big, long phrase, but basically what people will do is they’ll do things like supported push-ups and supported pull-ups using chairs, and they’ll also do static holds where you just literally hang and hold your body weight and these can be very, very gentle and very safe ways to start to build dynamic strength.

All that said, the yoga trapeze can be great for you, but if you’re in a position where you really don’t have the strength to lift 5 pounds, I would really recommend going to a gentle yoga class to start off with and perhaps working with a person trainer who can help you with some really, really light free weights, perhaps even 1 or 3-pound handheld dumbbells that you can start to build some strength with. Strength training is incredibly, incredibly important, not to the point where you’re a body builder, but to the point where you have functional strength, where you can lift weight above your head, where you can support your own body weight.

In terms of supporting your neck and helping to heal that injury, all of these things will help. Everything in your body is connected. It’s really one unit, when we start looking at connective tissue and the web of the way your body is connected. And so I wouldn’t be surprised if developing some really, really simple tone and strength in your upper body, like in your neck and your shoulders and your arms, through some very, very safe and guided resistance training might help to relieve the pain in your neck very, very simply.

And so sometimes that’s counterintuitive, but in many cases strengthening the connective tissues around a weakened area can be very helpful. In any case, Debbie, I hope that’s useful for you. Please keep in touch, let us know how things are going.

Georg asks:

I will do a Pranayama retreat for 9 days at my yoga university in Switzerland. I don’t like milk, and our teacher recommended us to drink milk. What do you think I should eat during the intensive pranayama?

Georg, I don’t like milk either. I think milk is just a really complicated food, for a number of reasons. I rail on milk a lot. The one thing that I will tell you is that everybody’s body is different. Some people do okay with it. If you’re looking at allergenic foods, foods that cause an allergic reaction in the body, milk, on most people’s list, is number one.

And what does that mean? Well, for some people that means they might get some gas and bloating. For other people it might mean they get some acne. For other people they might become constipated. For other people they might get brain fog and they might have signs of mood disorders and all kinds of other neurological stuff, if the inflammation is going from their gut all the way up into their brain, which does happen.

All this sounds kind of alarming. I’ll be talking more about this in the future, but I can’t tell you how many people feel much, much better if they reduce or eliminate dairy from their diet, specifically milk. Milk has the highest concentration of lactose, and casein in the protein in milk. Bovine protein, in general, is hugely problematic. We just don’t do well with it. Cows are these weird, freaked out animals. I really don’t think they’re a good source of nutrients.

So what should you do? So yes, yoga teachers always recommend milk. Yoga teachers love milk. They want you to drink kefir and curd and yogurts and milk all day long. It’s terrible for yoga practice. I’ll never stop talking about that, because it’s really terrible.

But what should you do? What I would do is make sure you bring some stuff with you. The stuff to bring would be some really nice nut butters, sesame seed butter, for example, one jar of that is a lot of nutrition and it’s really, really dense. So if you’re going away for 9 days, a 16-ounce jar of raw tahini of sesame butter is really fantastic. Almond butter is another great choice. Other things you might carry with you are nuts and seeds.

Most people, the biggest reason they think you should drink milk is because of the calcium. Ironically, the countries where there’s the most milk drinking, which is Scandinavian countries and in the United States, there’s also the highest level of osteoporosis. So it doesn’t seem like the calcium in milk is very useful. There’s actually some research suggesting the calcium in milk is harmful. Calcium is very, very abundant in all sorts of things in the plant kingdom and in the animal kingdom. I don’t think you should be getting it from milk.

The other thing that milk has, the best thing in terms of nutrition, is the fat. And most places now, they take the fat out. So they kind of take out the worst things and leave the most allergenic things, which are the proteins in milk. So you’ve got this really high protein, really hyper-allergenic food, and it’s just a disaster.

So anyway, I won’t go on more about that, but I suggest nuts and seeds. That works well for people. Of course people do have nut and seed allergies, but a much, much lower occurrence and tends to be related to molds and tends to be related to very specific nuts and seeds.

Etienne asks:

I am doing the gravity poses for 4 months and I’m wondering if I should change the exercise so that the body does not get used to it and continue to get results.

This is a great question, actually, and we haven’t had this before. The answer is yes, perhaps. So if you’re doing, for example, the butterfly pose, your knees are going all the way to the floor, your chin and perhaps even your chest is touching the floor, you can start to do different poses to challenge your body more.

Whenever you start to feel your yoga practice feeling easy or routine, it’s always good to start doing different variations. At some point we’ll release an advanced gravity yoga series, doing things like full splits, holds for five minutes, side splits, box splits, hold for five minutes, a pose I call the jackknife which is a really intense hip and psoas stretch, you can hold that for five minutes.

But if things are still working for you, if you’re feeling challenged by it, it’d say stick with it. If things are starting to feel easy, for sure you can start to mix it up.

we do this kind of exercise for all our life without building imbalances?

The correct answer to that is no. Almost everything you do in your life, whether it’s writing with a pencil or driving a car, is going to create a muscular imbalance. The beautiful thing about yoga is of all the things out there, yoga, dance, gymnastics, these are things that tend to move your body toward balance, and I would say yoga more so than the other activities, simply because in general it’s gentler and less extreme.

But that said, you’ll still probably develop imbalances your whole life. It’s just part of life. But for sure, yoga is, in terms of the longevity of your practice, there are people who have been practicing their entire life, for 60-plus years, 70-plus years, and it gets better and better with age, as opposed to worse and worse, like most activities. Somebody who’s been running for 30 years usually has very serious knee problems and who knows what else. That’s not to say anything’s bad about running. Running is fantastic, but the injury rate is so high, and that’s the same in many, many sports, from tennis to skiing to everything else. One of the most fantastic things about yoga is it can be lifelong and it can be really, really healing throughout your life. Quit Coffee