Vegetarian Diet

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Cheryl asks:

I have a broken foot and am wondering if you could please tell me what the best poses I should be doing right now. I do have an air-cast and can take it on and off but I can’t seem to put too much weight on my foot yet.

Cheryl, in terms of dealing with broken bones, you don’t want to mess around. So, I wouldn’t do anything weight bearing, unless your doctor says it’s okay. For sure, follow your doctor’s advice on this. Whenever people get injured, especially with yoga, they really want to push it, and it’s really good to keep range of motion and do the most that you can, but I really wouldn’t push it too far. Make sure your foot heals up well.

If your doctor does recommend it’s okay, I’d do light stretching to gentle stretching. Definitely don’t push it, and don’t try to make flexibility gains when you’re healing. Just try to keep your range of motion and your connective tissues loose and limber.

Deborah asks:

When doing yoga, do you have to continue to weight train and do cardio? I practice 3-4 times per week – Ashtanga. I am not sure if I should keep doing everything else. If I bump up yoga to 5-7 times per week, do I still have to add cardio in?

This is a question people often ask. The question is, is yoga enough? Meaning, if you do yoga, is that enough to stay fit, or do you need to do cardio or do you need to do weight training? The truth is, there’s lots and lots of different and conflicting research, but the most common research that you’ll find is that the healthiest people, the people who live the longest and have the longest health benefits, a lot of times what they’re doing is really simple exercises like walking for 30 minutes or 60 minutes a day.

So, in the short term, we like to think about really extreme exercises like hardcore cardio, like long distance running, like interval training and weight lifting. I love all of that stuff, but if you want to look at it practically and you want to look at what really gets people results, I don’t think you really need to go extreme. So, if you’re doing Ashtanga yoga 3 to 4 times a week, or amazingly, 5 to 7 times per week, I think you’re doing amazing for your health. I’ve seen people doing that and just having exceptional health. So if it was me, in my opinion, I’d say hats off to you, you’re doing a great job.

AM elimination. It was a technique or something….. Obviously I want to practice with an empty colon if possible.

Okay, so Deborah is trying to figure out how to have a bowel movement in the morning. If you go to my YouTube channel, we’ll include a link here in the show notes, you go to YouTube.com/LRockwood. You’ll find a video there called “Nauli Kriya” and I made this video a number of years ago, and it’s how to do a real simple abdominal cleansing practice. If you have trouble having bowel movements, if you have trouble in the morning particularly, do this practice. After three or four days, you’ll start to have regular bowel movements in the morning. It’s one of the most powerful things you can do. I could talk about it for 10 minutes, but if you watch that video, you’ll get it very, very quickly.

Vegetarian diet – with no dairy – is there enough protein in this diet? I have been a little afraid to go totally vegetarian due to high carbo content and no protein. Can you recommend some resources on this?

This is a great question. Whenever you talk about vegetarian or vegan diet or plant-based diet or raw food diet, people always say, where do you get your protein. And the real question is, where do you get your calories? Because, almost no one in the modern world, in developed countries, has protein deficiency, it’s very, very, very rare.

Now, they might not be eating enough protein to support the muscle mass they’re trying to build, or they might not be eating enough protein to support their level of activity, but they don’t have a true protein deficiency, in the same way that it’s very, very rare to see a Vitamin C deficiency. It’s very, very uncommon.

Now, that said, we want to have good protein. We want to have lots of protein, and you want to make sure that you’re not getting all of your calories from simple carbs, like you mentioned. This is a really great point, Deborah. The real risk of a plant-based or a vegetarian or vegan or raw food diet is that you start to replace all the protein you used to take with simple carbs like sweet sugars, sugar sweeteners. Even sweet fruits can be a very poor replacement for what used to be protein.

There’s lots of different recommendations on this, and it depends on your body, but for many people, what it means is if you’re going to start going on a plant-based diet, you need to increase the amount of fat in your diet. And this is very controversial, and you need to eat really high quality fat, which would mean raw fats, cold, processed fats, ideally whole food fats, things like coconut, things like avocado, things like nuts and seeds.

But, you do need to replace those calories. So if you stop eating as much protein and you start eating more plant-based foods, start eating more amino acids, you do need to replace that. So, the key thing to remember is, yes, you can get enough protein in most cases. If you’re doing weight training and you’re trying to become a body builder, if you’re an extreme athlete, you might find it challenging, on a plant-based diet, to get the protein that you need. I find that most people can do it.

The one thing that I always say, and this is really, really, really simple, if you’re eating a plant-based diet, you need to eat either nuts or beans every day. So if you don’t like nuts or if they don’t agree with you, nuts and seeds, or if you don’t like beans or if they don’t agree with you, you’re going to be really, really challenged, because those are very, very important for your diet, for a protein source. So, think about that. You need nuts and seeds, and you need beans, one or the other, or ideally both, and you need them every day. So if that thought horrifies you, you’re probably going to get into trouble and you might want to take a second look.

Claire asks:

I’ve just ordered some of your Liquid Clarity B12 because a recent blood test showed a B12 deficiency; I was wondering whether the B12 deficiency might be down to my Whey protein supplementing? In the way that Whey isn’t beneficial for the digestive tract I was worried that might have been the reason for not absorbing B12 efficiently?

B12 deficiencies are very, very common. B12 is a vitamin that we cannot make; we need to eat it. And a lot of people are deficient, and one of the big reasons is due to stressful lifestyles. It’s also due to mineral imbalances; it’s also due to digestive challenges. There’s a number of different reasons. Vegetarians are more prone towards B12 deficiency, but just barely, just barely. The general population, it’s a very, very common deficiency.

It’s one of the things I like to supplement at least at some point throughout the year. Maybe I don’t take it all the time, but at least at some point throughout the year, I like to take B12. We need very, very little of it. It’s measured in micrograms, but it’s very, very important for your nervous system, for your mood, for your energy levels. Very interesting vitamin.

So, could it be due to your whey protein supplementation? I couldn’t really say yes or no. It could be due to a number of factors. I wouldn’t get so focused on that. If your hunch is that your whey protein is doing something bad for you, I’d trust that hunch, but I don’t know that I’d blame that whey protein specifically.

Any advice on hip pain? – I love to run but my hips flare up every time I do, are really painful and put me out of action for about a week afterwards – I find a foam roller or acupuncture is awesome for relieving it but time works the best!

So you want to be really careful with your joints, specifically your hip joint. If we’re not talking about muscular pain here, if we’re talking about true hip joint pain, you need to be very, very careful with this. No matter how old or how young you are, hip problems can happen at any age. I have friends who’ve had hip replacements in their 20s, and of course people 60-plus have had multiple hip replacements, so you want to be really careful.

I would get that checked out. You really don’t want to have hip pain. It could be as simple as sort of a pseudo arthritic condition coming from a mineral deficiency, it could be something like osteoarthritis or something, so I’d definitely get that checked out and be careful.

Lawrence asks:

Your gravity yoga tips have really helped my Ashtanga (Pr.series) although I still struggle to bind Mariachasana-D and a couple of the other Padma poses. I am sure it will come but I really hope you might have a solution for an inguinal hernia I’ve had for the past five and a half years. Do you have any advice or exercises to help? Are there extra Yoga poses I could do outside of my practice?

This is a really great question about hernias. The truth is, Lawrence, I don’t know much about hernias, so I’m not the guy to ask. I would definitely check with your doctor. The one challenge with alternative health, whether that’s yoga or chiropractic or it’s Chinese medicine, is a lot of times we try to have solutions to everything and in some cases we don’t. In this case, I would for sure check out a conventional doctor, allopathic doctor, and make sure you’re getting good advice there.

Graeme asks:

Do you have any advice for issues related to shoulders and elbows? Left elbow tendon is inflamed and it is also causing grief in left shoulder. Have resorted to doing chataruanga standing and against the wall to get my elbow in and alignment better.

I have a couple of really important things here, Graeme. Shoulder and elbow problems in yoga are most often caused by poor alignment in Chataruanga. It’s basically, put yourself on the floor and do a really sloppy pushup. That position is how most people do Chataruanga. It’s not the proper way to do Chataruanga, and it can lead to really sore elbows and shoulders.

The proper way to do Chataruanga is really, really easy. Close your eyes for a moment, you can visualize this. Come into a pushup position, a plank position, and bend your elbows less than halfway down. So, you’re really way up high, way up high in a half pushup position, and what you want is a 90 degree angle between your forearm and your biceps, basically, your forearm and your bicep, a 90 degree angle. Most people have like a 30 or even a 25 degree angle. You want a 90 degree angle with that forearm going straight up.

What that means is, your heart is way out over your hands, way, way forward, and you don’t need to ever go any lower than that. Now, this looks easier, but when you practice it, you’ll actually find it’s much, much harder than collapsing into your shoulders and your elbows. So do that, and when you go to class next, talk to a teacher, get your teacher’s input and make sure you’re doing that properly, because that’s going to make a big, big difference for you.

Saravanan asks:

In recent days when doing Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend), I’m getting pain in the mid of my back, on either side of my spinal in the mid section only. If I continue for 2 or 3 days, I feel the pain during my daily routine activities also. If I avoid this for 2 or 3 days, then there is no pain. Please guide me in overcoming this.

Okay, so anytime you’re getting pain in stretches that carries over into your day, something’s going wrong. You’re getting too sore or you’re straining something. In this case, you’re probably doing something to your lower back. So, what I recommend is a couple of things. When you’re doing Paschimottanasana, for now, micro bend your knees, so bend your knees a little bit to relieve that back pain, and I’d also work on some asymmetrical stretching. That’s with one leg into your groin and all the different variations of that. Asymmetrical stretches can be really good for balancing imbalances. It sounds like you’ve got an imbalance going on.

Ciara asks:

I’ve reached a point in my yoga practice where i realized pain is not good. And now I’m trying to retrain my mind/body to do postures the right way especially backbending. Whenever I do backbends especially full wheel, full camel and dropbacks my lower back hurts. I know I’m supposed have my feet grounded, hips push way forward., abs, gluts and thigh muscles contracted, chest up. Is there something I’m missing?

Well, everyone’s got a different approach to doing backbends. It sounds like, Ciara, you’re doing some pretty deep backbends, doing dropbacks. If you don’t know what a dropback is, that’s when you’re standing up and you basically lean backwards and drop your hands to the floor, in a full wheel backbend pose. It’s a deep back bend and you need to be pretty open for it. It sounds like you are open.

The one thing that I would recommend is not to really engage your glutes or your thighs. In fact, I’d try to relax your whole body, as much as possible. When I think about a dropback, what you want to try to do is as little as possible. So, engage your thighs as little as you can to support your body weight. And in terms of your butt, your glutes, you want to relax them completely. Squeezing your glutes is one of the easiest ways to jam your lower back, and so before I even do a dropback, I’ll put my hands on my bum and shake it, just to make sure my bum is completely relaxed. That will make a huge difference for you, and you’ll feel a lot more freedom. You really want that dropback to happen on its own, without any kind of tension in your body. It’s much, much easier said than done, but give that a try. Relax your bum, hopefully that will help.

Daniel asks:

I was wondering if you knew a good way to gain weight. I am 24 years old and have a high metabolism and work at a very physical job, so although I am gaining muscle I am losing weight and have under 3% body fat. What is a good source of calories?

So under 3% body fat is extremely low. That’s like endurance athlete, professional athlete, low. Now, there are some people, specifically vata body types, if you’re familiar with ayurvedic body types, who tend to have really, really low body fat. Especially for men, that might not be a problem at all, meaning you might be very healthy, but it sounds like Daniel wants to put on some weight so he’s not so thing.

So, here’s the thing. The same things that make you gain fat, can also help you to gain weight. You just want to eat healthier sources. So, the quickest way to gain weight is liquid calories. So if you’re trying to lose weight, one of the first things you want to cut is liquid calories. So all your fruit juices, all your sodas, all your coffees, anything that has calories in it. That’s the quickest way to lose weight, is to cut out liquid calories.

So, the quickest way to gain weight is to add back in liquid calories. Why liquid calories? Well, liquid calories get absorbed very quickly into your body. They tend to not trigger the satiation feeling in your body, so you don’t feel satiated. Oftentimes, you can drink a very large smoothie or a shake and not even really feel it. It’s not as though you ate a meal, even though you have a meal’s worth of nutrients, of macro nutrients, of calories in your body.

The key thing, what I’d try here, Daniel, is adding in liquid calories that are very, very healthy, and low glycemic so that you gain muscle and not fat, because I don’t think you really want to gain fat. You just want to put on some weight. So what I would recommend, are two things. High fat and high protein shakes, and you want to use really high quality protein. If you’re using plant-based protein, I like, we
call it yoga protein. It’s brown rice protein. If you’re using animal proteins, whey protein concentrate is what you want. Forget about the isolates. And if you’re using any other kind of protein, don’t. They’re all crap. All the soy protein isolates, all the weird P proteins, like forget about all that stuff, it’s just going to give you real bad digestive problems and allergies and things like this.

So, protein shakes can help. Second of all, fatty smoothies with very little sugar. So for example, let’s say you took one banana and you added coconut oil and protein powder to that. You’d have a very low glycemic, very low in sugar, very, very protein and fat and calorie-dense shake that you could do, that could add about a meal’s worth of calories to your day with very little impact on your hunger.
Meaning, you could eat your normal meals, and you could start to gain weight that way. So, kind of a long-winded explanation, but I hope that helps. Give that a try. Add in some healthy, low-glycemic liquid calories.

Valerie asks:

I’m wondering if someone is able to do the splits, is that a more advanced form of Lunge 2 or is there something special about Lunge 2 that would be better? Similarly with The Butterfly, would the next step be The Butterfly with legs extended to both sides?

So, this is an interesting question, and what you’ll find in yoga is that poses that seem like a step two are actually quite different. So for example, if you’re in a deep lunge, like a crescent lunge or a Warrior 2 pose in yoga, it looks like you’re halfway to the splits, but they’re actually very different poses. And when you’re in a Butterfly pose, like a Baddha Konasana pose, to extend your legs, which is like a Konasana pose, is actually quite a different pose and it will involve and engage different muscles and different connective tissues that are inter-related.

And like everything in yoga and health, everything is holistic, so one pose will lead into the other, but I wouldn’t necessarily think of them as one being advanced and one being not advanced. They’re really just different poses with different benefits, and they’re both great. Yoga trapeze