EPISODE 77
Loosing Weight, Healing Journey – Katrina Love Senn – Aspartame

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Katrina struggles through her teenage years with her body, weight and self-image. She admits to dieting from very young and very unsuccessfully. Katrina delves into how she changed her life after a frightening situation in Australia. We also have lots of answers to your question ranging from how to do a behind the back arm reach and tips on proper headstand technique to whether or not yoga is appropriate for people with hip issues. The nutritional tip is regarding aspartame, an artificial sweetener, you won’t want to miss this episode.

In this Show, You’ll learn:

  • Loose 60 pounds
  • Life transformation
  • Natural healing
  • Headstand tips
  • Aspartame (artificial sweetener) advice

Links & References from the Show

Got questions?

Lucas:

Welcome to the Yoga Talk Show, your one-stop destination for all things yoga, health and wellness. So hello and welcome, everyone. I’m here today with Katrina Love Senn, and she’s in the U.K. and I’m here in Spain. Thanks so much for joining us, Katrina.

Katrina:

Great, thanks. It’s great to be here.

Lucas:

So for those of you who haven’t met Katrina, Katrina is a yoga teacher, trainer, an author and a speaker. She’s the author of a really great book called Losing Weight is a Healing Journey. She and I co-created a DVD called Yoga for Weight Loss about a year ago, and really interesting story, really interesting teacher, has a very unique perspective and unique approach. So I’m happy to introduce you to Katrina today.

So Katrina, before we get started maybe you can just give people a really brief history of how you discovered yoga. I’ve found there’s kind of a couple of different stories. A lot of people have the rock bottom story, like me, and I think yours as well, and then other people have the kind of new age Bohemian, where they just kind of do it for fun. (01:07) So maybe you can give us a little bit of your creation story, how you became a yoga teacher and a coach and an author.

Katrina:

Yeah, great. Well hi, everyone. (01:17) Really, how my story started was almost the complete opposite of how my life is now. Throughout my teenage years, I really struggled with my body, I struggled with my weight and I struggled with my self-image and really got on the dieting path very young, very unsuccessfully. Some diets would last longer than others, a few days, a few weeks, but eventually I’d always end up kind of ending the diet and getting on that vicious cycle of binging and really hating myself and hating my body. And I was the sort of person that loved food and hated exercise, so any diet book was almost just reading it was like, oh gosh how can I give up food and start exercising.

(02:07) And that went on for quite a few years and really came to a head when I was about 19 and I was overseas at a conference in Australia, and I woke up and I had a lot of stress leading up to this conference and it was this particular morning I woke up in a hotel and my body literally wouldn’t move. I tried to will my body to move, and it just wouldn’t. And so the doctors came in and pretty much put me on the first plane back to New Zealand, and I went through the medical system, really just going through all the different tests, trying to work out what was wrong with me, and I was just so exhausted. I was sleeping 20 hours a day, day after day, and just didn’t even have the energy to get out of bed.

(02:58) All the tests came back, and my thyroid was out, my glucose tests were out, my adrenals were out, but the doctors still didn’t really know what was wrong with me, and the recommendation was for me to take experimental medication. And as soon as I heard it, I just thought, well you don’t really know what’s wrong with me. How can you suggest a cure? And so this intuition, this inner voice within just said no, don’t do it, and I guess in my teenage years I’d struggled a lot with asthma and eczema, so I’d been in and out of the doctors’ offices quite a few times. Even though their medications and prescription would help, it never really got rid of the asthma or the eczema. So something within me just guided me to keep asking more questions and not go down that path of experimental medication.

(03:55) And so that was really how I found out about yoga, because I started on a whole different journey. And it was kind of scary at first because I didn’t really know what I was doing and my doctors were — didn’t really understand what I was doing. So I just started working with my mom, and she was great. She went to the library, this is before Google, and got lots of different books out and started to learn about a natural approach to healing and a natural approach to health. And it was just so exciting, that I just sort of jumped right in and started to learn about nutrition, started to learn about food and started to learn about stress and just literally doing all the different things that were creating my body to be really unhealthy.

Also, just listening to these books, I really realized I needed some health along the way, and my doctor wasn’t really able to provide that help, and so I started going to lots of different natural health practitioners. And some of them I resonated with and some of them I didn’t, and I think that was really the big thing, was just really finding somebody that I could really work with and that I clicked with. And I found an amazing naturopath, and I just knew as soon as I met her that something between the way that we connected, I was going to be able to get better.

(05:29) And so we started working together. She started teaching me about food and how — I was the sort of person that I was sort of an A-type personality. I was up first thing in the morning working really hard, and then always the last person to bed at night. So I started to learn how to manage my lifestyle and make different choices for myself, and that’s when I really discovered yoga as well and was able to integrate it into my life.

(05:57) And it’s just one of those things that I started quite slowly with yoga and just got more and more into it. So a couple of years on the healing journey, and not only did my body get better but I went back to my doctor and he took all the tests and my adrenals were back to normal, my thyroid was back to normal, my glucose levels were back to normal, and yeah, I was in excellent health. I got rid of my asthma and also lost over 60 pounds in the process. So no dieting, no drugs, and the amazing thing was I was eating more food than what I’d been eating before, when I was really sick and really struggling with my weight.

Lucas:

This is one of the most interesting things about weight loss that a lot of people don’t realize, is a lot of people who are carrying around extra weight are actually eating less food than people who are not. And it’s really, really a mind bender, and I’m just always fascinated with all the paradoxes that are in the world, but especially in health. I feel like almost everything is counterintuitive. You go into the health food store and there’s almost no health food there. You know? It’s really, really a challenge.

One thing that always sticks out in my mind, too, is we’re kind of on similar paths and people always say to me, oh wow you must be so healthy, and all these kinds of things. And it’s like, well yeah sometimes I am, and I’m always trying, but part of it is we teach what we need to learn the most. And I always say, if it wasn’t for my yoga practice and the attention I put into getting really clean food and meditation and pranayama, like I just don’t think I’d be alive, because the amount of stress and the amount of things that I take on and that I try to do in my life, it’s just really ridiculous. And so as a teacher, it’s interesting to take on that role, and some people listening I’m sure can relate to your story and some people listening probably say, well I feel like I need to lose a little extra weight, gain some energy but I can get out of bed in the morning. But part of it is, and part of the reason why your message is so true is because you’ve been to the extreme, where you literally couldn’t get out of bed.

So for people who are new to yoga and new to yoga for weight loss, one of the most common questions I always get is about calories. And I used to teach yoga in Hong Kong, and in Hong Kong there’s the biggest electronic escalator in the world. It goes up this hill, and it runs — well, I don’t think it runs 24 hours a day. I think it stops at 2:00 in the morning or something. So all the drunk partiers get stuck on the escalator. But in any case, it’s this huge escalator, and people commute to work on an escalator. They’ll be riding an escalator for 20 minutes. And all up the escalator there were these ads for Bikram yoga, and Bikram yoga had just arrived in Hong Kong and it said burn 1,000 calories per class, get a sexy butt, all these kinds of things.

And what’s interesting is I’m a huge advocate of hot yoga. I just find that people really transform their lives with it. But the calorie thing is just so irrelevant. I mean, a lot of times people getting the most results don’t even do the class; they just lay on the floor. And it’s really, really hard to get people off of the calories and back into the hormonal balance, back into the stress relief, because that’s where it’s really at. I meet people who do the most gentle yoga practice you could imagine and their entire life is transformed, and I meet people who do incredibly athletic practices and they’re still struggling with their weight because perhaps it’s not addressing what they need to.

(09:39) So what do you think about this whole how many calories does yoga burn and how does yoga compare to body jam or spinning and these kinds of things? How do you respond to those kind of questions?

Katrina:

Yeah, that’s a great question. I get it a lot as well. (09:53) I think the whole calorie in, calorie out thing, the formula, we’ve been taught it, like what you’re saying, Lucas, about what we know about health, it’s so prevalent and yet it’s so wrong. Your body is an amazing, amazing multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, moving, living organism, and we’re not a machine. We’re not a formula. The whole calories thing, I think over time will get proven to be more and more obsolete, because for me really, it is about taking a healing journey, and it’s relevant for everyone, whether we’ve got weight to lose or whether we’ve got weight to gain. But also it’s like how do we nourish ourselves, realizing that we are multi-faceted? There’s a physical aspect to us, which is often where we start with yoga, but as we go deeper we realize that there’s also the mental and the emotional and spiritual component.

(10:58) And so for me, it’s moving as far away as I can, and with my clients as well, away from the whole calorie in, calorie out thing, and moving more to how can we heal ourselves? How can we nourish ourselves? What is it that makes us feel good? So what food nourishes us? What emotions nourish us? What thoughts, beliefs? Really focusing on supporting and creating supportive beliefs. I call it the inner and outer world, so the outer world being our physical body, so that’s maybe perhaps focusing on the food that we’re eating, the movements that we’re doing in our lives. And if you look at our bodies, our bodies want to move, but it’s not as easy as like a calorie in, calorie out.

It’s just more about, if you look at your arm, even now, just take your right, your right arm, and just really gently move the right arm and just notice how your right shoulder works, notice how the hands starts to just float out, and if you’re really bringing your attention back to your breath and just breathe into your heart, and just observing how your body likes to move, moving your attention out to the left arm, the left shoulder, and just notice there’s a natural movement there. There’s a natural flow.

(12:20) And that’s what I teach in my yoga practice, in my yoga classes, is just really encouraging people to really play with their bodies and see how your body wants to move. And some days, especially in the morning, our bodies want to move much more gently, and then obviously as the day goes through we start to warm up and we start to get a little bit more movement and there’s more flow. There’s more space. But really just looking at moving that conversation on from calories, because it is so prevalent, and yeah, for me it’s just so off the mark because it just totally misses the importance of rebalancing our hormones, really reconnecting back to who we are, what’s important to us on all levels, not just the physical but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually, our inner world.

Lucas:

So there’s this traditional view of a yoga teacher who walks into a room and teaches a 90-minute yoga class and kind of goes home, and I did that myself for quite a while and I still sometimes do that. But what I find is that most yoga teachers who hang around for any period of time, they start to develop kind of a unique thing. I like to teach people about flexibility and raw food and even yoga business and all kinds of other weird stuff.

(13:37) And I know that you’ve kind of got a specialty as well and I know you do something you call a breakthrough session, and I wonder if you can kind of tell people what that’s all about. I think a lot of people are familiar with personal growth and development, but when it’s tied in with something more tangible and actionable like yoga and wellness, I just think people get better results. So maybe for people who’ve never heard of something like that, maybe you can introduce that concept.

Katrina:

(14:02) Yeah, so for me one of my passions is transformation, and I believe that all of us have something amazing to do and to be here in the world, and often it’s fear that holds us back from really connecting to that special thing. And so in the breakthrough healing session, what I really encourage people to do is to look within and to take that time to be with yourself and to really honor and trust that inner voice that lives within you, really listen to all of the dreams that’s there inside of you. What is it that would really light you up? What is it that would set your world on fire?

I think when you really get into those conversations, things like the type of work that we do becoming really important, because if we’re not doing work that fulfills our soul, that nourishes us, that flame doesn’t really have a chance to burn. In my yoga practice and in the breakthrough healing sessions, I really encourage people just to really trust that voice and really connect with it, listen to it.

For me, my dream was to go traveling, and in my family no one had traveled. I grew up in quite a small, rural area in New Zealand, very bottom of the South island, so almost as close to the Antarctic you can get, and I just had this dream, ever since I was really little, to go to France, to go to Paris and to see more of the world. And my family just thought it was not possible, because they themselves had never even left the country, and I didn’t even have a passport. And that dream just stayed with me, and not only to do that but to teach yoga, to travel the world, to be working with people, helping them to really live their dreams and do the thing that brings them alive, is what the breakthrough healing sessions are all about. It’s almost like going into that space. If we don’t learn it in school, if our family isn’t open to it, it’s not really discussed in a family situation, so it’s really how can we have those really inspiring, courageous conversations. And so I feel really blessed to do one-to-one private session with people, and also yoga retreats in beautiful places, helping them to really connect with their dreams. So yeah, that’s what the breakthrough healing sessions are all about for me.

Lucas:

It’s interesting. I’m a personal growth and development junkie. I read pretty much everything. Half the books I read I don’t even tell anybody about, because I’m so embarrassed. I was the guy in New York on the subway, I’d have a brown bag over the book so people didn’t see. Literally everything from the Power of Positive Thinking to every single Wayne Dyer book to every Marianne Williamson book, I’ve read them all. And it’s interesting when you make that shift, because for many, many years I was just such a hard-headed, stubborn guy, and I remember when it happened. I was hanging out with some guys that I really respected, and they were talking about something from Tony Robbins. And I said, who’s Tony Robbins, and they said, oh you’ve never heard of it? You’ve got to read this book. So they gave me Unlimited Power, and literally that night I just stayed up and I read the whole thing and I felt excited/embarrassed/awkward/geeky all at one time, and that was kind of it.

And I realized you know what, it’s okay to work on yourself. It’s okay to want to improve and to want to have power, personal power, to want to be healthier than you are. It’s all okay, and it’s as awkward and as goofy as it sounds, and that’s okay, too. And when you make that shift, it’s just kind of exciting. It’s really empowering when you look at your life and you go hey, there’s a couple of things here that on a regular basis I don’t like, whether it’s my weight, whether it’s my flexibility, whether it’s my lifestyle, whether it’s the city I live in, and I live in a really, really special time where there’s a very good chance that if I put my mind to it I can change. It’s always frustrating to me when I meet somebody who is not willing to pick up that book, but I understand the place they’re in. But sometimes you need a breakthrough session with somebody like you. Sometimes you need to pick up that random personal growth book in the airport, and really whatever works for you.

Once you start down that path though, there’s really no limit. Your world can really, really open up and you’re really just limited by your imagination, which is surprisingly limited, and it’s an exciting place to be.

(18:58) So for somebody who’s listening now, as we wrap up here, somebody who’s thinking, I want to get into personal growth and development, I want to be able to travel, I want to have a healthier relationship with food, if you had to pick just a few things, pull a few of your best tips or recommendations or resources or yoga practices, are there a few things that come to mind?

Katrina:

Yeah, definitely. (19:19) So the first thing is really take the time to listen to that voice and trust it as well, because that voice has got important information for you, and really look at the source of any frustrations in your life at the moment, because that frustration has a gift. Inside that frustration, it’s like your higher self is urging you to find something, a new way, a new way of being, and it’s saying you don’t have to live like this. There is something else.

(19:46) If you’ve got a job that you’re not enjoying, if there’s a relationship that you feel stuck in, if you’re in a body that you feel trapped in, if there’s something that’s not working in your life, have the trust and faith that there is something much, much more exciting on the other side of that. And so use your current frustrations and pain as a springboard for you to move forward, and then take the time to be with yourself, whatever that means, whether it’s a meditation, whether it’s a shavasana (20:13), whether it’s going on a retreat, just really honor that intuition because that voice is so important. And it doesn’t matter what everyone else doing; what matters is what you want to do. And when you look back on your life, think about things in the last few days and approaching leaving this life, what is it that you want to do? What is it that you want to leave? What is the legacy? What’s the difference that you want to make?

(20:46) And really trust that now is the time to move that forward, and you don’t have to change everything. It’s more baby steps. And often we think when we want to transform something, gosh, everything has to go out the window. But what I’ve discovered is it doesn’t have to be like that at all. Sometimes that is the best way, but often it’s just making small, incremental changes, especially with your health, especially with your yoga practice, just making tiny, tiny steps every day.

(21:10) Use a vision board. There’s so much power in your mind and in your imagination and your visualizations. Whatever it is that you think about, is often what will manifest. So you want to think about the things and create the things intentionally that you do want to bring into your reality. Be very careful of your words; your words have power. So obviously we don’t have much time to go into it, but the words that we speak and the tone that we speak them in, they have a resonance. And we want our vibration, want our resonance to be as high as possible, to really attract the things that we want to bring into our lives. So really use the power of your mind.

(21:54) And use your yoga practice. Find a yoga teacher that you absolutely love working with. If you love doing a yoga practice at home, just really find how your body wants to move, and eat foods that make your body feel fantastic. Keep it as simple as possible, and usually if it comes out of a tin or it comes out of a plastic bag or it comes out of something that’s been interfered with by man, it’s probably been processed. So if it’s got an expiry date on it, like a manufactured expiry date, you probably want to leave it on the shelf and choose something that’s much more natural and more simple. So go with the simple stuff.

Lucas:

Well great. I think we’re on the same page in terms of transformation. When students come to yoga class, it’s really easy for a yoga teacher to think, oh this student really wants to learn how to do triangle or improve their backbend or whatever it is, and there’s some of that going on. And once you turn into a yoga geek, you do get interested in that stuff. But at the end of the day, it’s relatively meaningless, and that whole transformational aspect of yoga is what really excites me.

And so we live in a really interesting time with yoga, where the level of yoga asana practitioners has never been higher, ever. There’s 15 year old kids on YouTube who are just phenomenal. They’re better than the best Indian yogis 10 years ago. It’s just kind of amazing. But none of that really is indicative or represents what’s interesting about yoga, right? There’s always been contortionists and there’s always been people doing amazing things with their body. None of that’s even interesting until it changes your life.

And we do a lot of yoga courses, and one of the interesting things about teacher training courses is the story is so often the same. It’s I had this job I didn’t like, had this relationship I didn’t like, had this city I didn’t like. Now I’m here and I’m trying to figure it out. And so they’re doing these sun salutes or these headstands or these whatever it is, and they’re using this as a tool saying hey, let me start with my body. If I can transform my body, if I can find a couple more inches in my hamstrings, if I can lose a couple of pounds, if I can do this, probably it will inspire me and enable me to make all kinds of other changes in my life.

And I just think it’s easy for yoga students to lose perspective with that and to get too obsessed with yoga poses. Yoga is always fun and that physical challenge is always great, but if it’s not helping you to transform and self-actualize and become a really, really exciting, pleasant person to be around, you’re probably doing something wrong, in my opinion.

Katrina:

Yeah.

Lucas:

Great. (24:21) So for everybody listening, if they want to learn more, if they want to read your book, if they want to connect with your breakthrough sessions or join you on the retreat, what are the best ways for them to connect with you?

Katrina:

(24:55) Yeah, so my book is called Losing Weight is a Healing Journey, and my website is my name, KatrinaLoveSenn.com, and I also run an online yoga magazine called Yoga Girl Revolution. So there’s lots of articles and resources there for you to take your yoga practice further. So that’s probably the best ways to get in touch.

Lucas:

Perfect. Well, great. Thanks so much for sharing your experience and your story with us, and we’ll talk to everyone very soon.

You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers. Welcome to the FAQ round. If you’ve got something that you want to ask, send your questions to podcast@YogaBodyNaturals.com. And now, let’s hear what’s going on with our listeners.

Ruva asks:

(25:47) I have to do an arm reach behind the back for P.E. (that’s physical education for those of you who are not in the U.S.). So my hands touch, but I can’t do it with my left arm. Will this thing help me, or would you recommend something else?

Anybody who grew up in the U.S., you know what these physical education tests are like. They’re really humiliating. In front of a big group, you’ve got to do as many sit-ups as you can, as many push-ups, and then they have something called the stretch test. The stretch test was something I always dreaded. I just hated it so much. I hated stretching with all my might. Even just this 10-second thing, trying to touch your toes, was horrible. I remember I was about 12 years old and I could get just past my knees, not even. With my fingertips I could get past my knees. When I reached down to touch, I was touching my knees.

When Ruva is asking about reaching behind the back, I believe they’re talking about reaching one hand up behind the back and one hand over your head to touch your fingertips, which is actually a pretty deep stretch. Will these poses help? Yeah, for sure they’ll help. Any stretching will help, and this can help for you as well. The key thing is you want to work on long-hold poses. We teach a series called Gravity Yoga, and the area you’d like to focus on is the shoulders, and we do quite a few different shoulder stretches and you’ll find them very helpful.

Alison asks:

(27:10) A chiropractic visit aggravated (?) a sports-related concussion I had and I was bed ridden for two weeks in early December with horrible migraines. After six weeks I was finally able to function normally, but I still have a lingering, constant low-grade headache that worsens whenever I do something with impact, but I’m having back pains right now. Would yoga be okay? Are there moves I should avoid?

Alison, you’ve got to go see somebody right away. A concussion with lingering headaches, with back and neck pain, that sounds like really bad news. It sounds like nervous system stuff, it sounds like who knows what. You’ve got to go see somebody. I’d get a couple of different opinions. You don’t want to mess around with that. That could be something really serious. I wouldn’t do anything until you go talk to a profession. Not some crazy guy like me on the internet.

Anonymous:

(27:59) What’s the difference between Hatha yoga and Vinyasa yoga?

Great question. So Hatha yoga is a term that refers to basically two different things. One is Asana, and one is Pranayama. So these are big, fancy Sanskrit words. Basically we’re talking about yoga poses, like forward bends and backbends and triangle poses, all that stuff, and then Pranayama which is breath extension practices. There’s also Kriyas involved in there, which are cleansing practices. But essentially when we talk about Hatha yoga, we’re talking about all the physical practices associated with yoga. All the stuff you do.

The other types of yoga are like Raja yoga and Japa yoga and Yana yoga, which are yoga studies, yoga of mantra, yoga of meditation, spiritual practices, basically everything you see really popular right now when you search on YouTube and you see guys doing handstands and flips and all this kind of stuff, all that stuff is Hatha yoga.

So Vinyasa yoga is a type of Hatha yoga. Now here’s where it gets confusing, and I might have added to this confusion, is yoga teachers will often use the term Hatha flow or Hatha yoga to refer to a more classic style of Asana practice. Things like a Sivananda practice or an integral yoga practice, are often referred to as a Hatha yoga practice. I don’t know why we’ve done this, but we’ve done this. Studios put these on the schedules; I do it, too. But the reality is, Vinyasa yoga is Hatha yoga, but when you look on a schedule and you see a Hatha class, it tends to be slower moving, less postures, more restorative, more emphasis on meditation and breathing than a Vinyasa yoga practice.

But these terms are all transliterated. They’re all East meets West import, so there’s a lot of variation. You might find your Hatha flow class is exactly the same as your Vinyasa yoga class. The key thing is to go to the studio, see which class you like, see what resonates with you.

Ariel asks:

(30:01) Do you know any positions that will reduce breast fat? I wear a DDD and do not want to have a reduction, but I could benefit (?) by losing a cup size or two. Thanks so much.

Ariel, this is a really common question, where people want to do what’s called spot reduction. They want to reduce the fat on the bottom of their arms, they want to reduce the fat on their inner thighs or their outer thighs, the fat on their bum, the fat on their breasts, it’s very common. Spot reduction is very difficult to do, except when there’s a hormonal imbalance. Let me give you a very, very visceral example to illustrate this.

Someone who injects insulin, insulin is the fat-storage hormone, it’s also something that diabetics need to use to control their blood sugar, if they inject it in the exact same place, for example on the side of their abdomen, they’ll actually develop fat stores right around that hormone. That is a hormone-induced spot fat deposit, and this does happen. And belly fat also happens. Everybody’s known somebody with a beer belly. Beer bellies happen because alcohol is very lipogenic, and it’s lipogenic in the lower abdominal region. So if you drink a lot of beer, it tends to accumulate lower abdomen fat.

So in that way, if you were to have this kind of thing where you had insulin-induced fat gain in one area of your body, if you had alcohol-induced fat gain in one area of your body, by reducing that offender, those insulin shots or — please don’t do that if you’re diabetic and listening — or by reducing that alcohol, you might be able to reduce that belly fat. But for the most part, everything else reduces in a proportional way.

What does this mean? Okay, Ariel, let’s say you have a 30% body fat or 26% body fat. Very common for women. Let’s say that’s your body fat. If you take your body fat from let’s say 30% down to 20%, which is a very big reduction in body fat, your breast size will oftentimes reduce proportional to the rest of your body. It’s a real shame, because a lot of people want to do the opposite. They say, oh I wish I could just put my extra fat from my bum into my breasts, or I wish I could just burn fat on my belly; the rest of my body is lean. Most of us deposit fat uniformly. We have different patterns. You’ll see some people are very, very overweight and they’ll have a very slender face. You’ll see people who are very thin and have a very fat face.

Unfortunately, these are just challenges that we deal with. More than anything, you probably want to look at your overall body fat percentage. If it’s quite high, you want to look at specifically your hormonal balance and specifically how your lifestyle and your food are contributing to that. If your body fat is say over 30%, you might want to look at changing your lifestyle and changing your dietary habits, to reduce your body fat overall and that should have an impact on your breast fat as well.

Indu asks:

(33:09) Is power yoga better than general yoga? What do you suggest? What is the best one? I’m a little confused.

Here’s what happened, Indu. There’s a style of yoga called Ashtanga yoga. It comes from Mysore in Southern India. They brought it to the U.S. Ashtanga is a funny word. In the U.S. we’re really scared of foreign terms. We don’t even like to watch foreign movies or foreign films; we make a whole other version in English just so we can watch it. It’s a very strange thing we do. In any case, Ashtanga was a funny word, so a couple of people, Beryl Bender Birch, who was one of my early teachers, really, really nice teacher on the East coast, she called it power yoga, and so did a guy named Bryan Kest. I also like him a lot. I’ve taken a bunch of classes with him in Santa Monica. They both started calling it power yoga, and it made it easier and more accessible.

Beryl Bender Birch pretty much taught Ashtanga yoga in its traditional form. Bryan Kest brought in a lot of different creative elements, fitness elements, but it was still essentially Ashtanga yoga at its core, and it still really is, although there’s a lot of variations and things. At its core, the base is still there. So is power yoga better than general yoga? There’s so many different styles of yoga. It’s kind of like if you walked into a dance class, people can be doing swing and ballroom and tap and all kinds of different things. They’re very similar, but very different as well. The best one for you is the one you love, the one you keep going to. Keep that in mind, and you can’t go wrong.

Courtney asks:

(34:36) Can you provide any advice on how to build up to be able to do the headstand position? Right now I cannot hold my legs on my own. I can do the shoulder stand fine, but I need to build up to the headstand. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Courtney, you can learn the headstand. You can learn it in six weeks, at the most. Four important steps. Listen carefully. So the first thing is, don’t use a wall. Don’t ever use a wall. Forget about the wall. The wall is no help for your headstand. Never was, never will be. Okay, so we have no walls. We’re in the middle of the room. Second of all, don’t use too much padding. Some people use crazy cushions and pillows and pads, and the ground is too unstable. Use enough padding so you feel comfortable, but try to reduce, if anything else. You don’t want to use too much, or it will just be too squishy for you.

The next thing is we’re going to break headstand down into four steps. Step one, put your head on the ground and put your feet on the ground and stand up. So you’re in downward down with your head on the floor. That’s step one. Stay here for as long as you want. You might stay here for a week. Step two is you walk your toes in closer to your elbows, so you’re still in that down dog with your head on the ground. Step three, this is where everybody starts jumping and flopping and falling around. Forget about it. Step three is bend one leg into your chest, not into the air, bend one leg into your chest, keep the other leg straight on the ground in that down dog with your head on the floor. Still with me? Okay. The last step is you bend both knees into your chest. Forget about going up into the air. This is step four. That’s a headstand.

Now eventually your legs will go up into the air. It will happen all by itself. You don’t need somebody to spot you. You don’t need help. You just need to take your time. Use those four steps. I should make a video on this. I’ll try to make a video on this on my YouTube channel. My YouTube channel is YouTube.com/LRockwood. I’ll make one of those for you, Courtney, hopefully in not too long here.

Annie asks:

(36:26) I don’t have a lot of time. How many days a week should I practice yoga?

Every day, Annie. Practice every day. Make some time for it. That’s my answer. If you don’t have time, do it almost every day. If you don’t have time, do it most days. If not, do it once a week. As much as you can is great.

Emma asks:

(36:41) I have a hip condition. Do you think yoga will help? Are there any poses that would be uncomfortable for my hips?

Emma, that’s a tough question. What’s the hip condition? Do you have problems with the joint? Do you have a hip replacement? Yoga can be very, very helpful, but there are certain conditions, like hip replacements, where you need to be really careful and you need to be really cognoscente. So without knowing more, I couldn’t give you any tips. For sure, talk with your yoga teacher. Talk with a physio, with a good chiro, and think about poses that you could adapt to whatever you’re dealing with. But again, without knowing more, I’d hesitate to give you some deep hip stretches without knowing what kind of condition you have.

Hope that’s helpful for you. I love questions. I’d love to hear from you, too. You can email in your questions, Podcast@YogaBodyNaturals.com.

It’s now time for the bendy body nutritional tip of the day. Raw food, edible insects, tropical oils, why not? It’s all fair game. Here we go. Let’s talk nutrition.

(37:48) Today’s nutritional tip is about aspartame, or NutraSweet. Aspartame is a terrible, terrible food additive. If you look at the history, the patent research, Equal had a patent on NutraSweet for 30 years on aspartame. The brand name was NutraSweet. And for 30 years it was included in all kinds of things, from sodas to sugar-free cookies to all kinds of other things.

(38:15) Now, the interesting thing about aspartame is it’s many times sweeter than sugar. The scary thing about it is if you read the potential side effects, it’s everything from chronic depression to weight gain, to death. It is really, really scary. Now of course that only affects a small percentage of the population, but what is a small percentage of the population? For me, 1 in 1,000 is way, way, way too many, considering that aspartame is in literally millions of foods on our grocery store shelves.

(38:48) The way aspartame works is it connects to your taste buds on your tongue in the same way that a sugar wood, a sweet sweetener wood. And so it tricks your body into thinking that it’s sweet. The taste of sweet. It does this without calories. Now how this affects your body is very, very individual. For some people it instigates an insulin flush, where your body goes, oh wow a bunch of sugar is coming, and it floods your body with insulin. In terms of how that works for everybody, it is different. But what researchers have found is across the board, people who drink diet sodas on a regular basis tend to be heavier, on average. Now people would argue, well they’re heavier and that’s why they’re drinking diet sodas, because they’re trying to lose weight. I don’t think that’s true. I think it leads to sugar cravings, I think it encourages and establishes a very, very strong sweet tooth. I think it causes an insulin flush, which reduces your blood sugar which causes sugar cravings, and I really think it’s a dangerous, dangerous food.

(39:46) It’s the one food I will physically yank from my kids’ mouth, if somebody gives them chewing gum that has aspartame in it. I will physically yank it from their mouth. I’m that afraid of it. I think it’s a terrible, terrible food additive. I think they’ll look back at aspartame he way they look back at mercury that used to be include in women’s cosmetics. I have a feeling that in the future they’ll look back at us as complete fools for eating this food and having this food be so pervasive in our food supply. So that’s my thoughts on aspartame. That’s today’s nutritional tip of the day, is dump the aspartame. I’d rather you eat sugar.

You’ve been listening to the Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood. You might not know this, but I live and die for your iTunes reviews and ratings, so help me out. Head over to the iTunes store and give me some love. And when you’re done with that, you can grab the complete show notes, links to everything mentioned in this show, plus all kinds of other yoga shenanigans at YOGABODYnaturals.com.