Working Happier – Stella Grizont – Meal Timing

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Stella Grizont is the founder and CEO of Woopaah, a company that focused on The Science of Happiness, “hacks and skills to flourish.” She creates immersive play experiences for people at work to feel happier, more creative, and connected.

Her clients include Google, Columbia University, and New York City’s Department of Transportation. Stella was one of the first people to earn a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.

In this Show, You’ll learn:

  • About positive psychology
  • If happiness is a real thing
  • How to use the Scream truck
  • Some gravity yoga tips
  • If being a vegetarian is required for yoga
  • How to optimize meal timing

Links & References from the Show

Got questions?


Yoga students, if you love to learn about yoga, health and wellness, plant-based nutrition, flexibility and mind/body biohacking, you have come to the right place, my friend. Welcome to the Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood, where my goal is to make your yoga practice just that much easier. Find us online at YogaBodyNaturals.com. We’re also on Facebook and YouTube. Check us out. Now let’s get on with the show.

So hello and welcome, everyone, Lucas Rockwood here. This is the Yoga Talk Show. Thanks for tuning in. We’ve got a great show this week. We’ve been talking a lot about mind/body wellness, we’ve been talking about finding flow states and this week we’re going to be talking about happiness, which is something I’m always interested in. I guess who isn’t, right?

My special guest today is Stella Grizont. She is the founder and CEO of Woopaah, a company that’s focused on the science of happiness, and their tagline is hacks and skills to flourish, which is a really cool tagline. She creates immersive play experiences for people and corporations to feel happier, more creative and connected. Her clients include people like Google, who I’m sure you’ve heard of, Columbia University, New York City’s Department of Transportation, and Stella was one of the first people to earn a Master’s in applied positive psychology, which if I understand correctly is like the science of happiness, which is a really cool degree I didn’t know existed.


Thank you so much. I’m excited to be here.


So I’ve got a bunch of kind of crazy questions like I usually have, but before we jump into that, just tell people a little bit about what does it mean to be a happiness psychologist. (01:40) What is your work and your focus about?


Sure. (01:44) Well, positive psychology is a very new field. It’s kind of like the startup in science. It only officially got on its way about 15 to 20 years ago, when Martin Seligman, who was the head of the American Psychological Association, had this epiphany where he recognized we have such amazing tools and empirical methods to study what’s wrong with people and how to fix it, how to get people from negative five to zero. He’s like, well why don’t we use those same tools to figure out what’s right with people and how to amplify it? And how do we get people from zero to plus five?

(02:24) So positive psychology is an investigation of what makes life worth living. How do we make what’s awesome about it even more awesome? What’s really exciting about this field is that it’s finding applications in all sorts of realms, like education, like health and wellness, technology, social media, literature. So it’s really exciting to see how this has taken off and beginning to really make its way into so many realms.

(02:56) And so my particular focus in positive psychology is helping people really live more full, awake, alive, creative lives, especially when it comes to the work domain, because we tend to spend most of our waking hours at work and that’s where I feel we have an opportunity to make the most transformation. And while we’re at it, it’s helping our companies and our organizations grow because happier employees, employees with higher well-being perform much better. And so that’s my area, and I tend to like to do things in a fun, playful and unique way, so we use a lot of non-traditional methods to get people into a state of positivity. So that was a long answer to your short question.


That’s great, I love it. I’m fascinated. Like a lot of people, I’m obsessed with this idea of happiness, and I float around in yoga circles and this is something people talk about and they make documentaries about and they go to *** (03:58) trying to find. But I have kind of a tough question for you. I’m not sure, is happiness even one thing? And I always kind of lump it in the category of words like love. People fall in love with their Facebook friends, and they’ve never met them. So that love is very different than a married couple of 40 years.

We have these general words that we toss around, and I certainly toss around the word happiness. But the example I always give is I like to listen to bands like Radio Head, for example. Their songs are really, really depressing, and they make me really happy. It’s all very confusing.

(04:38) So from your professional experience, your research and your work, is happiness a real thing? Going after happiness, is this something we can actually quantify and measure, or when you give me a one to five happiness scale and I give you a one to five are we talking about completely different things?


That is a really good question, and I really appreciate it because language is so important, and happiness is a very loaded word. I totally agree with you. (05:08) We’ve actually, in the field of positive psychology, began to distinguish happiness, and what we really actually choose to go after is something called well-being, and what well-being means in, when we talk about it in positive psychology, is it’s the state of having a flourishing life.

(05:28) How we measure well-being, because it is kind of this ambiguous term, we use very specific, measurable things to identify what it is and then be able to measure it. So for example, just to give you a metaphor, weather is a very ambiguous thing, but when we’re talking about the weather we can measure the temperature, the wind, the humidity, the barometric pressure. So those are all markers in which we measure how it actually feels outside.

(05:59) So to measure your well-being, we measure positive emotion which is where happiness comes in, we measure your sense of engagement, the quality of your relationships, your sense of meaning and purpose and your sense of mastery and accomplishment. And so all of that rolled up comes into this term that we call well-being, where the end goal is to have a sense of flourishing, not just happiness, because happiness implies you’re feeling good all the time, and while that’s really awesome we just are — the nature of our lives, we can’t feel good all the time. First of all, emotion is fleeting by nature. It doesn’t stick around as much as we’d love joy to kind of always be there. We have moments, and then it kind of fades and different emotions come in and out. So if we were just constantly chasing happiness, that’s what we would be in, is a chase.

(07:00) So happiness is really awesome and it has a lot of benefits, or feeling positive emotion has a lot of benefits, which we can get into, but what I want to emphasize to everyone and whoever I kind of come in contact with is that happiness is not enough. And you know this, everyone knows this because hey, if that was all we were after we would never have kids, we wouldn’t take care of the elderly, we wouldn’t go after the things that were really, really hard, because sometimes babies are crying and they get sick and even though we love them they’re not a pleasure to be with all the time. But the journey is very meaningful, and that’s probably some of the most meaningful, fulfilling work you can do is to raise a child.

(07:47) So that’s why we have a more, kind of balanced perspective when it comes to what we look for, which we call well-being. And well-being in itself, I know that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but again how we define it is through those drivers that I mentioned, which also we kind of have an acronym for called PERMA. PERMA is an acronym for positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment. So that’s an easy way to remember it.

(08:18) So to answer your question, yes happiness is a loaded word and happiness is just part of the equation that we look at.


It’s interesting. With health I find the same thing. People will try to attribute health to one thing. We do a lot of work with nutrition and weight loss and things like this, and people will try to say it’s all about sugar or it’s all about exercise. The thing we always teach is everything is everything. It’s all about everything. If you look at holistic health, you can’t just skip one thing. You can’t just not sleep or you can’t just not have good, close friends or loving relationships, and I think that’s probably the same. Of course we need these catch-all phrases, but I love the way you’ve broken that into categories that we can think about more specifically.

Stella, I’m a self-help junkie, I always have been. I love all this stuff. It doesn’t matter how cheesy it is, over the top, I read all this stuff and sometimes I read it privately because I’m embarrassed at how cheesy it is. But over the years I’ve kind of gotten down on a lot of self-help, and I’ve gotten increasingly embarrassed about it, just because there’s kind of this emphasis on what some people call smile or die, like this idea that when everything’s great you can just be in a state of flow forever. And I feel like I’m a happy person, but I’m pretty regularly not happy, and that doesn’t feel wrong to me in anyway.

(09:49) And so I’m curious, do you think a lot of this self-help stuff is off track, are they missing the boat? What is our real pursuit here? We can’t be happy all the time, right?


Yeah, yeah, thank you for bringing that up and being so authentic about your experience. I’m the same way. When I’m speaking or giving workshops, people look at me and because I love what I do I am like beaming with joy, and normally my disposition is to be quite happy and smiley. That’s how most people see me, but that’s not the way I am all the time. I can get really moody and very cranky and very irritable all the time.

(10:35) And I think it’s so important to recognize that we are whole, and that is part of our wholeness, is that other side that doesn’t always feel good. I think where maybe some of the self-help is going wrong, and it’s not just self-help but also our society and also marketing, which I used to be a part of and I’m not against, but we get all these messages, essentially, that we’re supposed to get happy all the time, and when we’re not we feel like there’s something wrong with us. So we begin to judge. You’re not judging because you’re like, hey I’m okay with it, but a lot of people feel bad about feeling bad, which just makes it worse.

(11:23) So my advice to people is to recognize that that’s just part of being alive, and negative emotion is really useful. It’s full of information that gives us insights into what might need a change or where is there some work that I need to do. And so what I’ve practiced, and I’m still practicing, I’m by no means a master of this, but I welcome it in and I invite it in, and when I’m not feeling in a great mood I ask what is this about, what am I noticing and I just try to be an observer of what’s happening, rather than run away with it. Because most people want to run away, numb or distract themselves away from the discomfort, which just creates more resistance.

(12:16) I kind of liken negative emotions to a nagging child who just wants attention. Unless you give it attention, the child is just going to get louder and louder and louder, and the same thing happens with your negative emotions. If you don’t acknowledge them, they’re just going to keep going at your attention, distracting you from what you really want to focus on, until you heed and just say, oh I recognize that I’m really angry.

(12:47) And there’s some fascinating research that shows that when we actually acknowledge and label our emotion, that it dissipates much quickly, in terms of negative emotion. There was a study with people who were going into the MRI, when you’re about to go into that machine which can be quite scary, the attendants would ask patients how they were feeling, and the patients who actually responded and said I’m feeling quite anxious, what we noted is that their anxiety went down after actually saying it out loud. So there’s a lot of value in acknowledging how you feel, not running away from it, and just being with it a little bit, because it’s telling you something. And so I think we’d all be much better off if we felt more okay about when we’re not feeling okay.


Yeah, in my world I work with a lot of yoga teachers, and I used to teach professionally all the time, all day. I worked in a very large studio in Hong Kong, very, very large studio, so there were dozens of teachers at the facility at anytime, and we had this break room with like this amazing view of Hong Kong. You’d go after class and you’d see the teachers say, how are things going? They say, oh life’s amazing, I love being a yoga teacher, changing lives, and then five minutes later they’re crying in the corner. It’s just so typical.

And meditation centers I’ve spent so much time there, same kind of thing. People with this smile plastered on their face, and they’re locking themselves in the bathroom and crying, and it’s just so — it’s ironic that the communities that are so focused on well-being are very often — they just want to turn their backs on these just totally human behaviors and feelings that we have all the time. It’s certainly been my experience.

Just in the past two years I’ve sort of adopted this pattern of exactly what you’re talking about, which is just I’m like your typical emotionless male, and so I have two or three emotions. They’re basically anxiety, frustration and stress, these kinds of things, but just naming them, it’s just been so helpful. Even if I’m in what should be a really, really positive place, like if I’m teaching in a yoga retreat or if I have a group in and somebody says hey how you doing, I’ll just be really straight with people. Hey, I’m feeling really, really stressed out and anxious. How are you doing? Not in a way like pity me, but just hey this is my reality, and it’s really interesting when you give us something like that a name I just find that it dissipates so quickly, while ignoring it just creates this kind of boiling point inside.


(15:38) Absolutely, and it’s so hard, especially as a teacher I would imagine, or I work with a lot of managers, when you’re trying to pretend like there’s nothing wrong people can sense that there is. And so then what’s happening is you’re kind of making both of you pretend that nothing is wrong, and that just creates even more resistance and challenge, even if on a subconscious level people know but maybe they don’t really recognize it on a conscious level. We’re so perceptive. We’re very, very perceptive to energy, to facial experiences and we can really tell. And so by sharing how you’re really doing you’re helping kind of give context, and then you both can move on, or your class can move on, and then things shift much faster. So I think that’s really awesome that you are honest about where you’re at.


I’m curious. From your work and your research and you’re working in corporate settings, too, where you can see kind of a wide variety of people. (16:53) Do you feel like people now are less happy based on those indicators that you use, those metrics that you use? Are people less happy now than in the past, or is this just part of the human condition? Is our struggle now the same as it was 20 or 50 or 100 years ago?


That’s a great question. (17:11) Well, we can measure this. We have measures of different countries and how they’re doing in their happiness levels, and Americans aren’t doing that great. I mean, they have relatively high life satisfaction, but it’s kind of been flat to going down. The numbers aren’t top of mind right now, but essentially the other measure that’s really quite alarming to me is American sense of community and loneliness. So what we’ve seen since the 50s is a huge decline in community, and we’ve also seen that the average number of confidants, people who you trust and can go to has gone from about 4 in the 50s to less than 1 today.

(18:16) So people are feeling more isolated and lonely than ever before in terms of what we’ve measured, and about 40 percent of Americans today report feeling lonely. Relationships are our number one driver of happiness. They impact the longevity of our life, they give us so many things. And when people are feeling lonely, it’s not just a state that doesn’t feel good, but it actually triggers a lot of stress hormones, high cortisol levels. If you’re lonely studies have found that the next morning you wake up with heightened cortisol levels, your sleep is interrupted. If you experience chronic loneliness over time, your executive functions are diminished, meaning you make poor decisions because essentially you believe no one loves me so why should I care, and then you go and you eat things that aren’t good for you, maybe you engage in relationships that aren’t good for you. And so it’s kind of a tricky place to be.

(19:25) And again, I think that comes from feeling bad about feeling bad. When people are feeling lonely it’s hard for them to be vulnerable and reach out and say, hey I need some company. Can you come over? Or can you talk? I’m feeling lonely. That’s kind of a very vulnerable place to be, and in our society in America in particular, and I know you have an international community, I think in America we’re very individualistic, and we’re so proud in our ability to be self-sufficient that sometimes we forget that we are social beings and we actually need the social connection for our own well-being. Love and feeling like you’re belonging to something else is just as important as the sun is to your bones, as food is to your body. We need to have that. It nurtures our life. And that, for me, is very alarming.

(20:38) So it’s ironic because we have hundreds of thousands of Facebook friends or Twitter followers, but in most cases that’s what sociologists call social snacking. It doesn’t give you the full meal. It kind of gives you a little bit to hold you over maybe, but in most cases it’s not totally satisfying. And if we could just understand that when we feel lonely it’s just an evolutionary response, it’s a signal that says, hey time to go be with other people. It actually came from back in the day when cavemen and cavewomen were really vulnerable to the forces, animals and little food, they needed to cooperate and they needed to be together in order to survive, and if you were out there in the middle of the wilderness all by yourself then you were feeling probably lots of worry about your ability to survive. And so that’s kind of manifested itself into this kind of trigger of oh my God I’m feeling lonely, I need to go surround myself with other people to feel safe and to feel good. We don’t want to shrug that off. We just want to pay attention and be able to say, hey let’s hang out tonight and go from there.


So I want to talk about your I Scream truck. I lived in New York City for a long time and I used to work at Starbucks on Park Row. This was when I was a teenager. And Park Row it’s right downtown, right across from City Hall Park, and this was back when Starbucks was a new thing. And so we’d open at 6:00 in the morning, there’d be a line out the door, hundreds of customers. It’s a funny thing because I’m like this big anti-coffee guy now, but I used to be this big bean pusher. I was handling beans all day.

In any case, I had this boss, I really great guy named Barry, and after work we’d be counting out our tills. There was a basement underneath, there still is a basement, still there, and we would count out our tills and there was a walk-in cooler where they had all the milk and all this stuff, and he’d make each of us employees go into this walk-in cooler, close the door, there was a way to open it so we weren’t going to die and we had to scream our heads off. And we did this, and it really took a lot of convincing because most people really haven’t opened up their voice since they were a kid, I mean full-throttle, let it rip until your vocal cords hurt kind of thing. And this was way back in like 1997, so this was a long time ago.

And I heard your I Scream truck story and I thought, wow this is like Barry’s walk-in cooler on wheels. (23:33) So tell us about your I Scream truck, how all that works.


Sure. I’ll just give you a little bit of story of how I designed it. And for people who are thinking Haagen-Dazs, it’s not real I Scream that you eat, it’s called I Scream as in scream out loud. (23:54) And it’s a truck that can pull up to your organization or your community, where you can just go in and have a 10-minute experience where you actually get into your body, so we do a lot of movement, and then you work your way up to like a big scream, and then there’s about 5 minutes of deep relaxation.

So people describe it more of a yoga experience, actually. It’s only about five percent screaming, because you can’t scream for that long, and most of it’s just about getting into your body and then doing some deep relaxation, by giving you a really playful outlet to just let it all out and do whatever you want. And there’s really colorful design inside. We have those fun foam pool noodles that you can whack around, there’s a soft, green grass kind of rug there, so it’s actually quite a playful experience, even though what you can be going in with it may feel quite heavy. The point is to just play with the process of letting it out, whatever it is. It can be positive, it can be negative.

(25:05) And the story behind that is one day I was also in New York, New York City apartment and a small studio and I was feeling really overwhelmed, that kind of overwhelmed where you just want to get out of your body and it was a really tough moment in my business. Well, it wasn’t tough. Actually, my business was growing so fast I was overwhelmed with what to do. And my boyfriend, now husband, at the time he was my boyfriend, moved in and again, very small studio space and I was just really kind of stressed out and all I wanted to do was scream. I just noticed how I was feeling, and I labeled it.

(25:54) And I just thought to myself, here’s an opportunity where I could kind of hop over the emotion, distract myself with going back to work, or I could go through it. And what would happen if I actually did? And I was a little worried that neighbors would call the cops, but I decided to go for it anyway, just to experiment, to see what would happen. And I felt amazing. After I screamed and I kind of punched my couch a little bit, I felt so giddy and light, I literally felt like I lost 10 pounds and I was just laughing. It was such a release for me. And I just called up all my friends and I said have you ever gone through this, do you ever feel like screaming and they said yes, and I just thought, God, I just have to do something about this and give people a space, especially in New York City because we’re all like one top of one another, you can’t even raise you voice.

(26:56) So I created the I Scream truck, and it really took off. We did a lot of free community work, where I would take it straight to Wall Street or to midtown Manhattan, where I felt people might have needed it most, and during peoples’ lunch breaks they would go inside and have a scream. And we also participated in Summer Streets, which is a very big New York City festival, and we had kids go in, teenagers, older people, all ages and it was just so fun to see the experience of what happened before and after, and we got the most amazing stories. Like this group of brothers, ages 5 to 12 went in, so they all went in together, and they came out with new language about how to handle their stress. And I don’t even mention that in the truck experience. They’re in their by themselves, but it’s an audio experience, and these little kids suddenly had a new awareness for how to deal with their anxiety.

One man came out and said, wow I was really hurting inside and no one knew, and now the pain is gone. And then you have young girls go in and they’re like, wow that was really fun. It’s a different experience and it’s whatever you want to make out of it, but I just wanted to give people the space to play with whatever’s coming up for them. It’s not primal therapy. It’s about just dealing with the present and being expressive. And some organizations really want this for their employees because they’re stressed out, and we’ve done that work. And when I can I take it out to my local community, which now happens to be the Bay area, and we do that here. So it’s been a really fun experience to do that for others.


I love it. I wish there were I Scream trucks on every corner in big cities. I think that would be absolutely amazing. There are so many tools that are always being released and there are so few, at least a proportion of stress management tools are so low. I mean, with sensor technology and quantified self-movement, there’s getting to be more and more things we can use, but I’m excited to see more things like that. High-tech, low-tech and everything in between, just being embraced by people because stress of all kinds, for all ages, is such a big issue.


It really is. It’s amazing that I was surprised, I actually didn’t intend for kids to use it, and I was really surprised that they wanted to go in, they weren’t scared to go in and they actually had really profound things to say afterwards. So it’s really interesting. We think that we’re the only ones who are stressed out, but kids are really stressed out. Their schedules are packed, they don’t get to play as much. That’s a whole other ballgame, but yes, I would love for there to be an I Scream truck on every corner. That is my dream, actually. So if anyone listening wants to help me do that, please give me a call.


Well great. Well Stella, I know you have a new Udemy course, I know you’ve got a great website. (30:21) So for people listening who perhaps run a corporation, for people listening who maybe run a family, for people listening who want to learn more about you and your work, where is the best place for them to connect with you?


Great, well thank you. (30:36) Yes, I have a course that I just developed for people who can’t work with me directly, you can learn all about the science of happiness and well-being. It’s a great foundational course in understanding what are the drivers to help you live more fully. We give you what I call happiness hacks to really rewire the way you think and act so that you can manage your negative emotions, control your negative emotions, kind of eliminate boredom, create more richness and connection, really understand your higher purpose and how to turn struggle into meaning, and really some amazing productivity hacks to really help you succeed.

(31:22) This course is on Udemy.com/ScienceOfHappiness, and I’m celebrating because the class is only 2 months old and we just got our 2,000th student. So I’m giving everyone 50 percent off the course right now, because I’d love to keep up this momentum, and kind of the more people empowered with this information the better off we all will be. So if you are interested in taking the course, you can use the promo code YOGABODY, and that will give you 50 percent off, so it’s $97 so it will be $49 for you, and it’s self-paced so you can start and stop whenever you feel like, and that’s my course, and then if you want to learn more about what I do, you can check out Woopaah.com.


Stella, thanks so much for joining us. Thanks for sharing your knowledge, and everybody please do check out Stella’s course. I’ve actually just started it two days ago, and I thought it was really, really great. There’s not a lot of people talking about these issues specifically, in practical ways. And aside from one-on-one work or therapy or counseling or coaching, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of tools like this, and video learning is just so powerful.

So again, thanks so much for joining us, and I hope to talk to you very soon.

You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers. Welcome to the FAQ round. If you’ve got something you’d like to ask, please send it into [email protected]. Now let’s hear what’s going on with our listeners.

Lisa asks:

(33:22) I know you talk about not drinking coffee, but is it hurting my performance and/or flexibility to have just one cup a day? I have just one cup in the morning and do not have any other caffeine, and I’m otherwise very healthy, eating whole food, real food, drinking lots of water.

Lisa, don’t worry about it. You’re doing just fine. What tends to happen is most people who drink coffee also drink soda, also drink tea. Very quickly caffeine becomes a very strong addiction, and people are giving themselves dehydration, a nervous system fry, they’re leading to these swings in energy which tend to lead in swings in sugar and blood sugar and creates a huge problem. Sounds like you’re doing just fine. I wouldn’t worry about it. I don’t like coffee, but again, if you can handle things in moderation that’s great.

Carrie asks:

(34:08) I have an extremely tight shoulder, and I’m having a hard time pulling off the Hangman. (Hangman is a gravity pose where you lay against a wall, stretch your arms up the wall and relax your head.) Pretzel Arms is also awkward but doable. Any tips?

Okay, so the fact that Hangman is difficult means you should practice it more. That’s a good sign. It’s really normal. When people do Hangman, when they first start, people tremble and sort of have this emotional release. It’s a really, really intense pose. The good news is it opens you up really, really quickly. Just take your time with it. In terms of Pretzel Arms, that’s another really awkward one, but just stick with it. Do the best you can. As soon as you can get as deep as you can, relax completely. Those aren’t the most exciting tips in the world, but it’s what will work.

Kayer asks:

(34:56) I’m a male ballet dancer, I’m quite flexible, I have a very long, lean body, I have long limbs and arms so it takes me quite longer to stretch than the average person. Do you happen to have any of the most effective stretches for hamstrings, including splits, and any deep stretches to open my hips? Oh, and my left leg is more open than my right, and it feels different when I’m in class using my left leg than my right. What should I do?

Okay, so in terms of imbalances, that’s totally normal and everyone has the same. The challenge here is that if you’re a dancer people will have one leg that they spring off of. The same happens with street dancers, like break dancers, they’ll often spin on one hand and it can really, really screw things up long term, when you prefer one arm or one leg or one side of your body for a power move like that. You can build some really big muscular imbalances. So whenever you can, try to balance it out. Even in practicing things like forearm stand and handstand, you naturally kick up with one leg and not the other. I always practice both. Same thing sitting in Lotus, naturally it’s right leg first. Always switching back and forth is a really good idea to try to move towards balance, but you’ll always be imbalanced.

The theory about having longer limbs and taking longer to stretch, I’ve never heard that. That’s interesting. My experience has been that people with longer limbs, I have really long limbs as well, is actually they tend to find more room, simply because they have a little bit more leverage. If you think of a lever, you think of the hinge, a longer limb gives you a little bit more leverage. People with short arms and short legs, they tend to be better balance and generally all around tend to be more stable in balancing poses, but my experience has been they struggle more with flexibility, and again, just because they have less leverage to work with. In terms of taking more time, that might be true. I don’t know. I’m not sure that is true.

In terms of hamstrings and hips, for hips Blaster pose is one we teach all the time, I really like Blaster. We just put a new video up on our YouTube channel, YouTube.com/LRockwood, it’s called Blaster pose. If you search that I think it will come up. I don’t think anyone else has one. In terms of stretches for the hamstrings, I like really, really simple things. It sounds like you’re a flexible person. I’d recommend doing some strong poses like full frontal splits, hold it for five minutes on each side. It’s a really, really powerful pose for your hamstrings, and it will get that back psoas muscle at the same time, give you kind of a double whammy.

Emily asks:

(37:27) Is it true that most yoga schools require teachers to be vegetarian? Should a yoga teacher or a student be a vegetarian?

Emily, no. I would say a very small percentage of schools require people to be vegetarian. Some schools do offer only vegetarian food during courses. We used to do that at our courses, and then over time we realized, hey we’ve got to let people make up their own minds, it’s a personal decision. But a traditional yoga training ashram, for example, they’ll often serve vegetarian food only.

Should a yoga teacher or a student be vegetarian? The truth is, it doesn’t really matter. It’s a personal choice. It matters to me and it probably matters to you. We all have our opinions about it. But can you be healthy and be a meat eater? Yes. Can you be healthy and be a vegetarian? Yes. Can you be unhealthy and be either of those? Absolutely, for sure. And so you have to find what works for you.

There are certain movement practices that lend themselves well to a really light, water-based, plant-based diets. Yoga happens to be one of them. When you look at more advanced teachers and students, the propensity towards a plant-based diet is much, much higher than you’ll find in other athletics. I don’t think that’s coincidence. I think that’s performance-related, not just tradition-related. But that’s been my experience.

Jason asks:

(38:41) What types of yoga gives you the most meditative state while practicing? I really want to relax my mind and stop thinking about so many things.

Good question. There’s lots of different styles of yoga. Any strong athletic class can often lead towards a meditative feeling towards the end of class. If you’re really trying to get into meditation, the bridge practice is usually Pranayama. Prana means life force or energy, yama means extension, big fancy word for breath extension, extending your breath. So all Pranayama practices in yoga are about lengthening and extending the breath longer and longer. Walking around right now you might be taking 8 or 10 breaths a minute. When you start doing Pranayama practice, you might take 3 or 5 or even 1 breath per minute or less. And that has a profound effect on your entire nervous system. It stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the calming, relaxation. It moves you into alpha brainwave state. It’s really a measureable and significant physiological reaction on your body.

And so if you’re interested in getting into meditation, yoga poses are really great for preparing your body, but probably you want to get into learning some Pranayama practices. In terms of meditation prep, it doesn’t get must better than that.

Hope that’s been helpful, Lucas Rockwood, Yoga Talk Show. Send in your questions to [email protected].

The food you eat affects your body and mind every day. Welcome to the nutritional tip of the week, where we explore plant-based diets, super food nutrition, edible insects and new tropics. The goal here is mind/body biohacking for a better you and a better planet. So hey, let’s talk nutrition.

(40:27) Today’s nutritional tip of the day is all about timing of your meals. Traditional pop health bodybuilder fitness, weight loss, fat-burning belief is that you need to eat a whole bunch of meals to lose weight. What I mean by a whole bunch of meals is like 4, 5, 6, even 8 meals a day to lose weight. I’ll tell you what this is based on, and like everything there’s always a grain of truth. But the reality is, for most people trying to superimpose a schedule on your meals is probably not the best or the healthiest way for you to eat.

(41:00) So here’s what happens. There is a whole community of people, bodybuilders, who know more about nutrition than your average Joe. They know a ton about nutrition. They’ve understood the hormonal affects of food, probably longer than most medical doctors, if we’re looking historically. The thing that’s a little bit challenging is they’re eating for physique, not necessarily eating for health. And so above all else, they want to get very low body fat and really high muscle mass. To some extent that’s a healthy pursuit, but many of them take it to an extreme.

(41:32) And so what people are trying to do, like for a man for example to get their body fat below 5 percent, for a woman maybe they’re trying to get down into the single digits, in order to do that you have to really do some very, very conscious hormonal biohacking. And one of the reasons that bodybuilders, weight lifters, people who are really trying to lean out will eat multiple meals throughout the deal is to control their insulin response. And insulin is the fat-storage hormone. Fat storage is not a bad thing. Fat storage is a natural thing. Fat storage is a survival thing. A healthy body can store and burn fat very, very quickly, very readily, it’s very adaptable. This is part of our genetic heritage. This is part of our ability as humans. We are not designed to simply be the exact same weight all the time. Like all animals, we gain and burn weight readily, and a healthy body can do that very quickly.

(42:27) So the challenge is, a bodybuilder doesn’t want to do that. They want to be lean all the time. And so one of the common eating habits, and I’m really stereotyping here, there’s plenty of bodybuilders out there who are — they eat very, very healthfully and they understand all of this and they eat in a way that’s for optimal health. But if we’re being stereotypical and we’re talking about someone who is trying to win bodybuilding contests and things like this, they’ll often eat 5, 6, 8 times a day and they’ll eat less, and what that does is that reduces the insulin response and it reduces their body’s ability to store that food as fat.

(43:02) And so when we eat foods, specifically carbohydrates or proteins but mostly carbohydrates, your body will release insulin to handle that sugar, to manage that sugar. One of the things it does with that sugar is it stores it as fat. It also helps to synthesize protein into muscle, and if you eat a lot of protein like bodybuilders do, even that protein will have an insulin response. It will spike your insulin levels. So let’s say you have a bodybuilder who’s eating like 8 or 12 or 15 chicken breasts a day, if they space those out over the course of a day and they do severe carb restriction, maybe they’re eating 50 grams of carbs a day, something like that, what they can do by spacing that out is they severely limit their body’s ability, hormonally speaking, to store fat.

(43:48) Now for the common person, they think wow, fantastic, I’m going to eat 8 meals a day, my body’s not going to have enough insulin to store fat, I’m going to be lean and ripped. The reality is it doesn’t really work like that, and you really need precision and timing and the discipline and especially that extreme carbohydrate restriction to make this work. And even when it works it’s usually very, very short lived. Right after any kind of bodybuilding contest most bodybuilders gain a ton of weight, sometimes a staggering amount of weight like 20 pounds within 48 hours. A ton of that is water weight of course, but a lot of that is a hormonal backlash that happens when you do that to your body and put it in that starvation mode.

(44:28) So big, long answer, but meal timing, do you need to do it? Not necessarily. There are people who live in monasteries and temples who eat one time a day. There are people who eat two times a day. There are people who eat 8 and 10 times a day, and that can be very healthy. It doesn’t really matter. It depends on you. It depends on what you want to do. If you’ve very, very active and athletic and you need to be on your feet all day, smaller meals throughout the day might give you more sustained energy. If you have a sedentary job or if you need to sit still and concentrate, for example whenever I’ve gone to any kind of meditation retreat, any kind of spiritual retreat, they feed you very little and they stop feeding you very early in the day, because having your digestive system empty is great for concentration. And having your body being satiated with less is very important as well.

(45:16) So what’s right for you? One thing that we know for sure is that consistency is very, very helpful. So in order for your body to adapt to whatever kind of schedule you want to impose upon it, the best thing is consistency. So if you want to skip breakfast but you eat lunch every day at noon and you eat dinner every day at 6:00 p.m., your body can adjust to that very, very likely. There is a very high likelihood that your body can adjust to that just fine. If you’re someone who eats a huge breakfast, eats lunch and then doesn’t eat anything after dinner, doesn’t eat anything in the late afternoon, again, your body can adjust to that but you need to put it on a cycle.

(45:50) With my different experiments over the years, I’ve done pretty much everything. For about a year and-a-half I used to quit eating at 3:00 every afternoon, and I just felt really, really amazing. It kept me very, very lean, my attention and my energy was very high. My hunger the next morning was very healthy, and I just love feeling just hungry for a meal. Not starved, but just very, very healthy appetite. There’s been other times when I’ve done that sort of hormonal experimentation and I have eaten 8 times a day. I found it to be really tedious and draining. The digestive energy to always have my digestive system working, I didn’t enjoy it. But it certainly did give me energy, my body temperature was higher, I sweat a lot, I was very warm. I’ve also done things where I ate as little as one meal per day when I was in meditation center. I would eat breakfast at 6:00 a.m. and then nothing else all day long, and that worked, too. Within a few days I was able to acclimate to that.

(46:43) Now what’s interesting is you do acclimate, meaning your body really changes. Your cycle really changes. I don’t mean you look like a completely different person, but the energy in your brain, the concentration, your tendency to fidget or not fidget, to daydream or not daydream, it’s very, very noticeable. These are not small things. When you go from eating 3 or 4 meals a day to eating 1 it’s very, very dramatic in terms of what happens. So should you eat 5, 6, 8 times a day do you need to do that to lose weight? Absolutely not.

(47:13) What is the healthiest thing for most people? For most people the healthiest thing is to keep your energy and your blood sugar balanced. For most people that means eating two or three meals a day, maybe a couple of snacks, but it really varies widely. If you’re getting absolutely starving between meals, probably you’re setting yourself up for a bit of a blood sugar rollercoaster, which can lead to all kinds of different metabolic challenges. If you’re eating tons and tons of food all the time, you’re of course setting yourself up for the same kind of thing on the other end, where it can be really easy to gain too much weight, to eat too much or just to disrupt your sleep or any number of other things.

(47:50) So should you time your food, should you try to superimpose 5 or 8 meals on yourself if that doesn’t come naturally? My feeling is no. You should eat based on your natural rhythms. If you’re eating healthy food and you’re not hungry, don’t eat. If you find that you’re eating very sporadically and you’re unable to find a rhythm, that’s a good sign that perhaps you’re not listening to your own body’s signals. But again, most people eat two or three meals a day, maybe a couple of snacks, and they’re good to go. There’s no reason you need to eat 5 or 8 meals a day.

Hope that’s helpful. We’ll talk to you soon. You’ve been listening to the Yoga Talk Show with Lucas Rockwood. If you like this show, I always appreciate reviews and ratings on the iTunes Store. It helps other listeners find out about what we’re doing, and it keeps me motivated to dig around and find new and diverse topics to share with you. For complete show notes, links to everything discussed in the show, along with a ton of other free yoga videos and online resources, please head over to YogaBodyNaturals.com. Thanks so much for listening, and we’ll talk to you very soon.