EPISODE 71: Are Energy Drinks REALLY that Bad (for yoga)?
In this Episode, You’ll Learn:
* Right clothes for yoga
* Are decaffeinated products alright to drink?
* How to develop flexibility of ankles and wrists
Q: The gravity stretching poses you have two per day. If you hold for 2 to 5 minutes, how do you get to 15 minutes?
A: Sharon, in our gravity yoga series, in our book and our DVD, there’s basically a 5-day sequence. And most days have three poses and we’re working up to 5-minute holds on either side, so that gets you up to 15 minutes. There is one day, like the hamstrings for example, where there’s just two poses but you do set on the right, set on the left. The hamstrings day usually takes 18 or even 20 minutes as well.
And so, the key thing is if you’re getting through the poses very quickly, yes, you could do them a second time. Some people also do multiple days in one day, so they do day 1 stretching and day 2 stretching in the same day, and that’s just fine as well.
The key thing is to try to maximize your hold. So if you’re holding for 2 minutes, try to get up to 3 minutes. If you’re holding for 3, work up to 5. Of course, always work safely and there’s poses where you need to be extra cautious, but that’s what we’re working for, those long-hold poses.
Q: What about energy drinks? Would it be bad for your flexibility?
A: So, energy drinks, usually people are talking about things like 4-Hour Energy, things like Gatorade, Powerade, even a lot of vitamin waters, some of these are worse than others. Something like a 4-Hour Energy is basically a vitamin cocktail with a whole bunch of gross preservatives and flavorings. The vitamins themselves is actually a pretty good idea. All the other stuff they put in the 4-Hour Energy, I’m not a huge fan of.
When you think of Gatorade, Powerade, Pocari, there’s tons of these different things, a lot of the vitamin waters as well, the problem is there’s just a bunch of sugar in there. A lot of times there’s less sugar than a soda, but there’s still a whole lot. And so, do you want that sugar? Do you want those preservatives? Do you want those colorings? Probably not. It’s not going to affect your flexibility, but it is going to affect your total health, which of course has a ripple effect. But I’d stay away from those, if you can.
We have something that’s called Total Hydration. It’s an electrolyte add-in. You can also get like Pedialyte, which are baby electrolytes which people use. One thing that we found is a lot of our hot yoga students were using Pedialyte, which is a baby electrolyte formula, and so we designed an electrolyte formula for them. It’s called Total Hydration. Whatever you use is fine, but you want the stuff with no aspartame, no colorings, no preservatives. You just want electrolytes, which are trace minerals that help to balance the water in your body.
Q: For the following gravity poses, what clothes aren’t okay to wear and what is okay to wear? What clothing would you recommend for this practice?
A: This is one of those things where kind of the yoga industry has gotten people thinking they need all kinds of fancy clothes. The truth is, anything will work, anything that’s loose fitting and comfortable. Some of these microfibers and things are kind of nice because they whisk away water, but at the end of the day whatever works.
Most people I know who practice at home, practice in sweatpants. A lot of people practice in their underwear. Whatever works for you. I wouldn’t get too hung up on it. Something that’s lose, something that moves and ideally something that doesn’t absorb too much water, if you’re sweating. If you’re not sweating, whatever works. The least important thing on your to-do list.
Q: I just started yoga and want to become really great at it, but my flexibility is horrible. I’ve never drank coffee, but I started drinking decaf and green tea. Are decaffeinated products okay to drink?
A: We’ve talked a bunch about this. Coffee, I’m kind of a coffee hater. I’m not a big fan. I used to be a big fan. It’s really crap for your nervous system and for your hydration. Those are the two biggest reasons. And coffee is really popular right now and people are drinking it all over the place. I don’t think it’s a great idea. Tea is much, much better. There’s a whole lot less caffeine in your dark teas. I’m more a fan of your non-caffeinated herbal teas, your infusions.
In terms of decaffeinated teas and decaffeinated coffees, the problem is to get that coffee out they usually use some pretty toxic chemicals and there’s traces, there’s residues in that. So it becomes a really processed food, so I’d stay away from those. Now, there are water-processed decafs. Water-processed decaf tea I’ve never heard of, but it probably does exist. And those are pretty good options. But again, I’d go for the infusions, I’d go for the natural sources over a chemically processed or even a water-processed product.
Q: I’m preparing to go on the second round of my spiritual quest and I’m wondering where the buzzing place is for like-minded individuals are to go at the moment. I tried practicing myself at the beach in a hut in India for a couple months, but in the end it was too much. Where would you go?
A: This is a great question. In 2006, I went to India kind of on a similar deal, kind of trying to find myself like I think a lot of people do, and everybody’s got their own thing. I think some people can find themselves in Toledo, Ohio, and I think some people can find themselves in Rishikesh in India and there’s no right or wrong way.
In terms of buzzing spiritual places, I don’t know. I find that a lot of the spiritual places are filled with some of the least spiritual people in the world, meaning your Ashrams and your temples, most of the people there you’ll find are really, really imbalanced, really struggling in life. The more balance, more spiritually connected people that I’ve found tend to be in really, really integrated positions in society. Those people be like your social leaders, your business leaders, school teachers, anybody in a leadership position, I find, to be the most spiritually grounded.
So, just my perspective, but 10 years ago I went looking for people living in isolation who I thought were really spiritually advanced, and these days I just find that people who are really integrated have so many more challenges, whether it’s life challenges, financial challenges, family challenges, that in order for them to stay balanced it’s a whole lot bigger deal than when you’re hanging out in an Ashram and somebody’s making your food all day. But that’s just me.
In terms of places that I’m interested in visiting, I don’t know. I don’t know where I’d recommend. A lot of people go to Rishikesh, which is in Northern India. A lot of people go to Kerala in Southern India. It’s kind of up to you. What I would encourage you to do is don’t look too far. A lot of times what you’re looking for is right next door.
Q: It seems that I have a problem with my wrists and my ankles. I cannot bring my hands behind my back in a reverse prayer position, and I cannot feel the tops of my feet to the floor. Even a simple pose like a hero pose makes me feel very uncomfortable. I would like to know how to develop flexibility in my ankles and my wrists. What would you advise?
A: Okay, good question. Tara, I’ll just show you this one really quickly. So, she’s having trouble bringing her hands behind her back in a reverse prayer position, which is like this. This is kind of a complicated position. You have your shoulders involved, you have your wrists involved. If you can’t do this, the way to start is just by grabbing elbows, but that’s not really going to help your wrist, which is a really good thing to point out. So, if you can only get to here, where perhaps your fingertips are touching or even way down here, start there and you’ll find slowly you’ll be able to work it out.
In terms of other poses that help, check out our Wrists, Twists and Ankle series in the gravity yoga pose series, whether it’s the book or the DVD. Either of those are great. In terms of getting your feet to the floor, the other pose she was talking about is what’s commonly called a hero pose. We call it hero. I don’t know what it’s called. But it’s where you sit down between your ankles and your knees are either parallel or even touching. This is a really, really intense pose, in terms of stretching your ankles.
And so if you’re feeling uncomfortable in this, Tara, this is a really good indication that this is a great pose for you. Now, the thing you have to watch out for here is your knees. You’ve got to be really, really cautious and overly cautious with your knees. This can be very intense. But if you’re feeling a big, big stretch in your ankles you’re doing something right. Practice this one all the time. If you’re watching television, if you’re watching a movie, just keep getting into this pose. You’ll find this stretch is the best.
It is a good question, because there are some poses that demonstrate flexibility and other poses that develop flexibility. That hero pose is definitely one that develops flexibility, so go ahead and practice that one to develop that ankle flexibility.
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