Colonics, Swimming & Juices

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Amy asks:

I recently bought the stretching poses, and I’m doing it every day. (I think she’s referring to the YOGABODY Handbook.) I have very tight hips, and The Lotus for me is almost impossible. Are there any poses apart from the two in the hip sequence that I could do?

This is a really great question, Amy. One of the things we don’t really cover in the gravity yoga series is how to get into Full Lotus. It’s one of those poses that’s really challenging, and hopefully at some point here in the future we’ll do a short video training on how to prepare for Lotus pose.

The key thing you need to make sure is that you can do enough lateral rotation of your leg so that you’re not straining your knee. If you feel knee pain in Lotus pose, you can really get into trouble.

So, a Lotus pose, for those of you who don’t know, is called Padmasana, and it’s when you have your legs crisscrossed and both of your feet are up on top of your thighs, like a classic meditation pose. The challenge with it is that it involves hip flexibility. It also involves hamstring flexibility. It also involves the flexibility of your foot and ankle, and even to some extent your knee, but it’s more the rotation of your knee.

So, in terms of what you can do, Amy, for sure the Blaster pose and Butterfly pose are really great. There’s another pose which is called a Double Pigeon pose, I’ll see if I can include a link here in the show notes to that pose, which is really, really effective and safe, if you’d done it right. It’s a really great question though, Amy. Let me give you a rain check and see if we can put together a quick video for you that will be helpful.

Thelma asks:

I swim and would love to learn to flip in the pool. Any suggestion?

Thelma, swimming is one of the most complimentary activities for yoga that I’ve ever found, and one of the great things about swimming is it doesn’t tighten you up like a lot of other cardiovascular exercises do. In terms of learning to flip in the pool, I’m the wrong person to ask on that, but yoga can certainly help you get more flexible, which I have heard that divers do appreciate.

Geraldine asks:

Does the body make a difference when it comes to holding poses for 3-5 minutes? Does the length of the pose held make the difference? I am 61 years old with a bit of arthritis.

So, Geraldine, it does make a difference. There’s a couple things that happen. The first big thing that happens is there’s a nervous system shift. So, again, not all yoga is for flexibility. There is yoga for all different kinds of things, but we’re just talking about flexibility here, just to clarify.

What happens is, after you hold a pose for at least a minute or so, you start to have this nervous system shift, where your nervous system goes, okay, let me relax into this. But, your stretching reflex, which is a reflex in the body that resists allowing you to stretch. That goes away over time.

So the time thing, the first thing it affects is your nervous system, and the longer you’re in a pose, the more your nervous system relaxes. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re at a theme park and there’s a big roller coaster ride, and you go down the first big drop off and your whole body clenches up and your face gets really tight and you grit your teeth. You do that three more times. Well, on the third time, it’s much less scary, physically. What happened is, your nervous system has adapted. It’s understood that it’s okay that you’re not going to die, and the same thing happens with poses. Hopefully they’re not as scary for you as a roller coaster, but you get the idea.

So, yes, the length of the time really makes a big difference for your nervous system. The second reason is, when you’re working in your connective tissues, you need a little bit more time or it just ends up becoming a warm up stretch, as opposed to a flexibility stretch. Both are valuable, but to gain flexibility, it really just takes more time, especially with big muscle groups like hip flexibility, your back, your hamstrings. These are large muscle groups, so it takes more than just the 20 seconds that fitness people will often teach you.

Blanche asks:

What books do you recommend to make green juice and fruit juice smoothies? I bought a new blender and need a good recipe book.

Blanche, we have one in our YOGABODY store. It’s called 108 Super Juices and Bendy-Bodied Smoothies. I don’t know if I said that right, but it’s a really great one. There’s 108 recipes in there. In terms of other ones, there’s a website I like called vegweb.com. It’s a free website. There’s a bunch of great juicing recipes there. Other than that, I like to check out YouTube. There’s often great videos on YouTube, and green juices, for sure, are a really great thing to add into your diet.

Donna asks:

My son is 12 years old and studies dance but he is not very flexible. Is it safe for him to take YOGABODY supplements? What exactly do you mean when you say relax? What does a relaxed body look like, and how much do you stretch when you cannot fully stretch?

Okay, so 12 year old, no, Donna, it’s not recommended. Most of our supplements are designed for people with some kind of mineral deficiency, and that tends to be adults. Kids usually are doing okay with their mineral balance. We also just don’t recommend anything for children, just because kids’ bodies are changing and it’s not something we recommend. So, I wouldn’t recommend taking it for kids, first of all, because it’s probably not necessary. Second of all, none of our things have been formulated for children. Everything is formulated for adults.

In terms of relaxation, what does it look like when you relax? Well, it’s a good question. It basically means you do nothing. So, you let your whole body be limp and soft, as opposed to strong and tense, and that’s really, really important for flexibility training because everything in your body, your muscles and connective tissues, stretches better when you’re relaxed.

Jeremy asks:

I am wondering if it’s okay to concentrate on my hamstrings and thighs first, before going on to the other parts of my body?

This is a really common question, Jeremy, and yes, if you have a trouble area, like for example your hamstrings, it sounds like the tops of your legs are ones that really give you trouble. Starting there is a really great idea, so do what works for you.

Jo asks:

In The Hangman pose, I can hold for just about 30 breaths and do 3 sets of 30 breaths, but the day after my trapezius muscles are very sore. Is this normal? Am I doing something wrong?

Jo, you’re not doing anything wrong. 3 times of 30 breaths is great. I’d see if you can just keep pushing that up a little bit and you’ll get up over a minute very shortly. It’s normal to feel sore, especially if you have overdeveloped or extra strong traps. It’s normal for them to feel sore.

In the Noodle pose, the pinching in my lower back is very bad, and I can’t really even get into the pose, even though I have tried using different pillows, different chairs, adjusting the position. The same with The Lightning Bolt.

Okay, first thing, in Lightning Bolt pose, Joe, don’t lay back. So, forget about laying back. If you’re feeling a low back pinch, you’re not ready to lay back. So don’t lay back at all, no lower back pinch. So that one solved.

In Noodle Pose, a chair can be a little bit uncomfortable, so the thing I always recommend is adding tons and tons and tons of pillows, like maybe four pillows, so your back really, really rounds. If that still doesn’t work for you, you can use a fitness ball, an exercise ball. The thing I don’t like about the fitness balls is they’re usually too small to really do much. So if you get one, try to get an enormous one, it comes up to about your chest, if you can. If not, fill it up as tight as you can so it’s really, really as big of an arch as you can, and give that a try.

Richelle asks:

What is your point of view on colonics? I was at a local vegan-raw restaurant this weekend and the owner gave me a brochure recommending it.

Great question, Richelle. I’ve been working in detoxification and body cleansing since 2001, so over a decade now, and the thing that you can’t deny is some people get really fantastic results from colonics, meaning they do a colonic and they just feel fantastic. It’s one of these things that I feel is actually quite risky, and you need to do it in a proper facility, ideally with a nurse, and it’s really not for everybody. The people that it’s best for is if you’re on a cleanse and this will just help you to have bowel movements faster, or if you suffer from chronic constipation.

The risks here, in my view, outweigh the benefits for most people. And the risks are, there is a very serious risk of infection when you’re inserting anything in your rectum. It’s just the same as sticking a needle in your arm. You’ve got to be really, really careful what you’re putting in there. There’s also a risk of upsetting the microflora of your colon, and people put all kinds of strange things in their colonics, like coffee, apple cider, vinegar and even living probiotics. I don’t feel comfortable with any of that. I just don’t know that there’s enough research. I’ve never been able to find enough research that it’s really a good idea.

The key thing to remember is that most people do colonics trying to remove the so-called colonic plaque, colon plaque. There is no such thing as colon plaque. It’s kind of an urban myth that’s created by people who sell these pills that are supposed to blast out your colon. Your colon is perfectly fine. If you don’t believe me, go to YouTube and type in “Colonoscopy.” You can watch lots and lots of colonoscopies, which are fairly disgusting, but you’ll see that your colon is clear. There’s nothing blocking the edges of your colon, unless you’re about to die. It’s very serious if you have blocks in your colon.

But, there’s a myth that there’s bubblegum and pennies and toothpaste and all kinds of stuff jammed in your colon, and there’s not. So, that stuff is not there. A very sick colon will look grey and it will be lifeless, that’s true, just like sick or diseased skin. You’ll find that on YouTube as well, but there’s not colonic plaque. So why do we do colonics? Well, when you’re cleansing, let’s say you’re doing a juice fast or even something more extreme like a water fast, your body starts to throw off toxins at a very fast rate. Because your body’s releasing body fat, which is where many of your body toxins are stored, not in your colon, in your body fat, they get into your bloodstream and your body wants to get them out as quick as possible.

We remove toxins three ways: Through our breath, through our urination and bowels and through our sweat. This is why yoga is so powerful for detoxification, because if we’re doing it right we’re sweating, we’re breathing deeply, and it encourages elimination. And so, when you’re doing a cleanse, it’s really important that you do have regular bowel movements and some people on cleanses get constipated. So if you’re getting constipated and you’re on a cleanse, you can get a colonic.

In terms of finding three feet of fecal matter and all this kind of stuff, this is urban myths and these are things that they sell on the internet. A lot of time what they’ll sell you is these powders, these clays and things, that make your stools a very dark color, a black-rubbery color, and they sell you laxatives. So you take something that make you poo a funny color, and then you take a laxative and then out comes this big black thing and you get all freaked out. But, don’t worry, there’s nothing in your colon. Your colon is not blocked unless you’re on your death bed.

But, there are toxins in your body for sure, and if you’re doing a detoxification, do a colonic. Really, really long answer there, Richelle. I hope that was helpful and not confusing.

Apollonia asks:

I’m doing the splits and I’m not that flexible. I’m wondering if the back knee stays bent.

The answer here is it depends. So if you’re doing a passive version of the splits, you can do whatever your body wants to do. If your knees want to bend, let them bend. If they want to go straight, go straight, but you just want to relax all the way.

Now, there’s other versions, other variations of the splits, where you might engage your back leg. Like let’s say your toes are tucked under in the back and you’re flexing the front foot, that’s fine as well, but if you’re doing a passive stretch, just relax all the way. The thing you don’t want to do is let your body roll all the way over to one side, which it will want to do. You want to try to keep your body centered over your hips, so your hips are squared off over the ground. That will give you more gravity, getting you deeper into the splits.