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EPISODE #68: Tight Hips, Quit Coffee & Yoga Trapeze “Hang”

In this Episode, You’ll Learn:
* Yoga poses for hip area
* How to quit coffee
* Toxicity in swimming pools
* Few Tips for hanging in the Trapeze

Text Version

Olga Asks:

Q: I found out that I have no turnout. (She’s referring to a ballet turnout.) Apart from the turnout in my hips, I also need do develop the turnout in my knees and my feet. Could you please recommend some effective and safe postures for these parts and maybe some tips for the hip area?

A: Olga, I’m not dancer. I wish I was. Most dancers can do a whole lot more than I can, a whole lot more than most yoga students can. What Olga’s referring to, in terms of turnout, I’ll see if I can show you my feet here. Turnout meaning, turning your feet out to the side here, and this has to do with a number of different things. But basically what we’re talking about is your hips. You are right, it does have to do with the lateral movement of your knees and your ankles, but for the most part, the biggest thing is your hips. In the same way if you can sit in a full Lotus, this is similar to the turnout position.

But again, I’ve never taught somebody to turnout, because I don’t really turnout, I’ve never done ballet. But I would guess, Olga, that all the hip-opening poses that we teach would be really helpful. So that would be thing like the Blaster pose, which is that deep lunging pose, I’ll show it to you really quickly. Blaster pose is like this. We bring our ankle in front of our knee, and we come down on our fingertips or our elbows and drop your head down, and that’s a long-hold gravity pose. So you want to hold that pose for a very long time, three to five minutes-plus, on both sides.

We also teach the Butterfly pose, which you’ve probably heard of. In yoga, they call it Badhakonasana, which is where you fold forward. You can do that passively. But, if you have no turnout at all, you’re probably going to need to work for quite a while before you can do a full turnout. It’s a pose that demonstrates flexibility, as opposed to develops it. But again, probably the best thing to do is to talk to somebody who does ballet, because this is not something that I teach.

Alison asks:

Q: When in a forward bend, I am getting my hands flat on the floor without too much trouble, but my legs start trembling as soon as I take the pose, before I get anywhere near the floor with my hands. If you have any thoughts or advice, I would be grateful.

A: Alison, trembling is okay, it’s natural, it’s normal and it tends to go away with time. And then in some poses, it just doesn’t go away, like a really intense pose. Right now it sounds like for you, it’s really intense. So what Alison is talking about, she’s doing a forward fold like this. She’s getting her hands flat to the ground, but she’s really trembling.

So there’s a couple of things you could do, Alison. You could bend your knees a little bit. A micro-bend in your knees might make the trembling decrease. It could actually make it increase, but more than anything, I wouldn’t worry about the trembling. The trembling is usually a nervous system response. It’s part of your stress reflex, where your body is kind of fighting it.

Normally, through habituation and the practice, that trembling will subside. So, I wouldn’t worry about it. It sounds like you’re doing a lot of things right. That’s great that you’ve got your hands flat to the floor. I’d keep working on that.

Ginny asks:

Q: If your brain is lacking blood flow from missing your morning or afternoon coffee, can you simply put your head below your heart to increase your blood flow and get you past the cravings?

A: This is an interesting question. Coffee is a really controversial topic. Coffee beans have all kinds of really, really interesting antioxidants in them. It’s one of the most antioxidant-rich foods on the planet. It also has a bunch of stimulants in it, which is really problematic. And most commercial coffee also has a ton of micro-toxins. These are small molds and funguses, things like aflatoxin, and it’s not really very well regulated in coffee.

So, coffee can be fairly toxic, and also just that stimulant affect is not something we’re really looking for in yoga. You’ll find that some even professional athletes will use coffee as a performance enhancer, but again, they’re kind of riding their body to the max. I don’t think it’s a great idea for yoga students. It leads to dehydration, it leads to stiffness, can lead to joint pain and all kinds of other things. So, I’m not a big fan.

If you’re trying to come off of coffee, the thing I always recommend is go from coffee and then go onto caffeinated tea, like an English Breakfast, Orange Pekoe tea, and then from there move onto a green tea and then from there start to work into herbal, non-caffeinated teas. I like really dark ones. They taste similar to a caffeinated tea but don’t have caffeine. I like Rooibos, I like Honey Bush tea, I like a really dark-brewed peppermint tea. Those can all be really helpful when you’re transitioning, even a chai tea that’s made without any black tea, without any caffeinated tea.

In terms of getting blood flow to your head, so what happens is, your brain is protected from blood pressure. What I mean by that is, when you do inversion, your head doesn’t explode from the blood pressure. There’s basically a protection device in there, a muscular protection device, that keeps your brain from getting too much blood.

One time I had a really bad injury and I had to take muscle relaxants, which is something I would never do unless I had to. I couldn’t get out of bed. And it was a really interesting experience/scary experience, because I did a headstand while I was taking muscle relaxants and I’ve never felt the pressure in my head build so quickly, because that muscle was artificially relaxed.

So for the most part, will it increase circulation into your brain? Perhaps. Is it going to increase it to a dangerous level? No. I don’t think it’s going to help with your coffee cravings, but give it a try. One thing I would recommend trying is transitioning slowly from coffee off of caffeine, because those first two days can be really brutal. Most people get really severe headaches, like borderline migraines, and they get very, very dehydrated and constipated and it can be really painful. And it goes away really, really fast, but for a lot of people it’s too much to bear. So, I hope that’s helpful.

Destiny asks:

Q: I am starting gymnastics in two weeks. What stretches and moves can help me get more flexible?

A: Again, most gymnasts are much, much more advanced than any yoga student. Ballet and gymnasts, they’re in a completely different category than most yoga students. There’s some exceptions to that, but I’m not an exception to that. In terms of gymnastics, most of the gymnastic practices that you’ll do will be much, much more challenging than anything you’d ever do in a yoga class.

That said, we have tons of gymnasts who use our gravity yoga stretches to supplement their gymnastics workout, specifically in the evenings right before bed. And so they’ll go to their gymnastics practice, it might be an hour or two hours, and they’ll do a number of different things. A lot of dynamic movements, and they find that complimenting with the passive stretches, like that Blaster pose we looked at, like the Hangman pose for your shoulders, Lightning Bolt, all the different gravity yoga poses we teach, a lot of people find these are really helpful. So, you might think about that. But just one caveat, most gymnasts are far more advanced, in terms of their physical ability, than yoga students.

Patty asks:

Q: I teach aquatic classes, and I am in the pool for two or three hours a day. I attended a detox seminar over the weekend that focused on the hazards of chemicals in our everyday environment. I need the facts to present to my work facility to verify the dangers and make a change to salt water.

A: Patty, this is a really controversial thing, especially in a big pool, a public pool. People are urinating all the time, and there’s all kinds of other things in the water. Urine’s actually sterile, so aside from just being gross, it’s the least-dangerous thing. There’s all kinds of pathogens and things that can grow. Saltwater pools are fantastic. They’re very, very expensive and difficult to maintain, when you have a big, big public pool. That’s why most things are bleached. It’s just cheaper. So, chlorine is the most common.

In terms of the toxicity, there are certainly things that are much higher risk for you than others, and swimming in chlorine, I don’t think is something that you need to have a huge worry about. But again, if you’re spending two to three hours, it is something I would think about. I’m sure you’re feeling that in your eyes and in your hair. As a kid, I used to swim all the time and my hair was completely frazzled and fried and my eyes were permanently bloodshot. And even today, they remain very, very sensitive. I think I really damaged them as a kid, just from being around so much chlorine. In the kid’s pools especially, the chlorine levels are so, so high.

In terms of research about that, the most interesting research I’ve seen is if you take a look at the use of effective microorganisms, in terms of pools, and then if you look at spa pools, and those are the people who are really using salt water. But again, it’s not as simple as it sounds. A lot of the saltwater pools, like here in Barcelona, they have one right near the sea, it makes it a lot easier. They’re actually pumping and filtering seawater. So, I don’t have an answer for you, but that’s an interesting thing and if I was spending two to three hours a day in the chlorine, I would be a little concerned as well.

Monique asks:

Q: I need to hang the yoga trapeze, but I need to wrap an open-ended strap around a 24-inch diameter ceiling beam and then securely close the hanging straps. Would this work for installation?

A: So, a 24-inch beam is like this. Monique, that’s definitely going to work. That’s a really, really big, strong beam. You would wrap it over and hang it. I’ll show you my yoga trapeze. I have mine hanging from bolted hooks in the ceiling. But if you have beams, that’s even easier.

So the place that people find beams are in their garage, on porches, in the park they’ll use a swing set, or some people just have exposed beams in their house, which makes it very, very easy to set up. So, Monique, that’s a great option. You can take it down and put it up really easily.

Raini asks:

Q: Do you have any suggestions on specific poses using the yoga trapeze to heal a strained back? Also, are there specific yoga poses that are good for strengthening the lumbar region of the spine?

A: Raini, if you’re using the yoga trapeze for back pain, the biggest pose that we use is just a passive inverted hang. So you hang from your hips, you cross your arms above your head, again, I’ll show this to you in a little bit. You just hang upside down. I try to hang for seven minutes or more. That’s what I like to do. And it’s very, very effective at getting traction on your spine.

In terms of strengthening your lumbar spine, there’s a lot of different options you can do. Check out our YouTube channel. It’s, like my name, and you’ll see a number of different things. But some of the best ones for strengthening your spine is the core work. Your core work and your lower back muscles are one in the same. It’s the same region. All your abdominal muscles support your lower back.

There’s a number of different things we do, including inverted dips and we do a plow pose and all this stuff using your arms and legs together, are very, very powerful. Again, I’ll show you a couple things here in a minute.

Aga asks:

Q: What do you think about vinyasa yoga practice and flexibility? It seems to be better for my cardio fitness than flexibility gains.

A: So, one of the biggest mistakes in popular health and fitness is kind of drawing the line in the sand, like this is cardio, this is strength. You need X amount of cardio and X amount of strength. It doesn’t really work that way, and the more modern research, like in the past 10 or 15 years, shows that it’s kind of arbitrary. In fact, some people get better benefits doing no cardio at all. And all that said, I love Vinyasa yoga practices, it’s my main practice, it always has been. Vinyasa yoga can be really, really great for building strength and flexibility.

One of the great things about a Vinyasa practice done right, and done right means the breath is coordinated with your movements and it stays at a very steady, fast pace, one of the best things about it is it can be very, very warming. So your body gets very hot, and when your body’s very hot it makes it easier to stretch more deeply. Now again, if you’re working with a troubled area, like really tight hips or locked up shoulders, it can be very beneficial after that Vinyasa practice, or in the evening to do some deep stretches to supplement it, and use gravity yoga poses. That’s a really great way to go. But Vinyasa practices are fantastic. They go under the name flow yoga, Ashtanga yoga, power yoga, they’re all derived from Ashtanga Vinyasa and they’re very similar structures and series structures. The key thing is that you’re in a class that has a steady rhythm, that gets you nice and warm.

Hey there, it’s Lucas here, and I just wanted to show you the yoga trapeze. We had a couple of questions about the trapeze, so I thought I’d just jump into it. This one’s hanging here in my daughter’s room, she plays with it a lot. So the first question was, how do you get traction on your spine, and the simplest way, I’m going to take a hold of the longer handles here, and the key thing is I’m going to spread my legs really wide. This keeps me safe. And as I go back here, I’m going to keep my legs really nice and wide, and I’m just going to hook my legs here. And then from here, I can hang upside down and grab opposite elbows above my head.

And this is a really, really basic pose, and this is one of the more common poses that we use on the trapeze, and you can hang here for a really long time. I try to hang for seven minutes-plus. And what it does, is it just gives you free traction on your spine, so it’s a really, really simple way to lengthen out your spine.

Now, the other question had to do with mounting. I’ll point the camera up here and show you how mine is mounted. Mine is bolted right into the ceiling. Now, if you had a beam you could just go right over the beam, which is even easier, but I’ll show you how my bolts work. These are just IKEA bolts that go straight into the wood. Let me show you here. So I’m just going to take a look up at the ceiling here, and these are bolted right into the wood. This is one of the more common ways. And the other common way that people do it is they’ll go right over a beam, a beam in the garage or a swing set or a tree branch, and that works just fine, too.

So, this is the yoga trapeze. I hope that was helpful. Now, let’s get back to the show.

Marcie asks:

Q: I worked on Hero pose for a month, and I’m to the point where I can sit on my ankles. However, my ankles crack and pop like crazy, it doesn’t hurt, but I have to do this every day now. Is that normal? Do popping ankles like this have an effect on the body?

A: Marcie is doing a Hero pose like this. She’s sitting between her ankles, and she’s feeling a lot of popping. Now, mine just popped, too, a very light pop. Mine usually pop here, sometimes my knees will pop a little bit, too. A little bit of popping normal. We talked about popping last week’s episode. There’s kind of different viewpoints on it. For the most part, it’s generally thought of as no big deal. If you’re finding over popping and you’re feeling like your joints are feeling loose or not stabilized, you might want to go check it out, but probably, for the most part, I wouldn’t worry about it, especially in that pose. It requires a great bit of ankle flexibility. You just need to give it some time.

Q: The same thing applies to lying spinal twist on my back and twisting poses. I have to crack my back daily to feel aligned. Is this normal?

A: Yes, that’s another pose. When you’re doing any kind of deep stretching, she was talking about doing it on her back, but any kind of deep stretching like this, where you’re in any kind of deep stretching pose, in general many people will feel a slight pop or a release, even every day, and that’s a normal thing. I wouldn’t worry about it.

Q: I do high-intensity interval workouts all the time but never build up an appetite like I do when I do yoga. 30 to 45 minute into my yoga practice, I’m all of a sudden starving. Is there a science or reason behind that?

A: It’s an interesting reaction. If you don’t know what high-intensity interval training is, there’s different variables. But people will do 20 seconds really intense and then 10 seconds off, or they’ll do 90 seconds really intense and then 30 seconds off. There’s different intervals that people use. But it’s a very, very short, very intense anaerobic exercise protocol, where you do things very, very fast and intense.

It has some really, really interesting metabolic affects, specifically it increases your insulin and leptin sensitivity, two really important fat hormones. It also tends to reduce your hunger, which might be what you’re noting. It also tends to have what people call an after-burn affect, where it tends to have long-term fat-burning benefits.

In terms of why you’re feeling hungry in your yoga class, I don’t know, but it’s an interesting thing. It might be related to the length of your practice. It might be that your body’s glycogen stores are running out. I’m not really sure, but it certainly is true that high-intensity interval training tends to be really effective for reducing hunger.

One thing I would suggest you do, I’d suggest everybody does this, it’s really interesting, is buy a blood glucose monitor. You can get them at the pharmacy, any pharmacy in the world, they’re very inexpensive, and start doing fasting blood sugar tests in the morning and throughout the day. We’ll talk more about this in future episodes, but get a grasp on how your blood sugar is reacting at different times during the day. So take your blood sugar before yoga practice, take it after yoga practice and see what’s happening to your blood sugar, and maybe you can gain some more insight there. It’s a really interesting topic, and we’ll talk more about that.

M W asks:

Q: I am allergic to barley. Would it work taking various supplements separately?

A: So barley grass juice extract is in our YOGABODY Stretch formula. There’s a very small amount of it, and most people who are allergic to barley grass or different grasses can take YOGABODY Stretch with no adverse reactions. But, of course, if you have a strong allergy or if you have any kind of dangerous allergy, for sure, be careful. But, many people can take it. So, if you’re someone who has a light allergy, it might be worth trying.

In terms of can you take the supplements separately, yes, absolutely. Start with methylsulfonylmethane, which is MSM. Take one to three grams per day. Get at least 500 mgs of vitamin C. You might consider a little bit of magnesium, and then use some dark green algaes, if you can, if you can handle a spirulina or a chlorella. That should work just fine.

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