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Episode 67: Natural Tooth Care, Shoulder Stretch & Popping Joints

In this Episode, You’ll Learn:
*My neck is popping, is it OK?
*Is decaf coffee ok?
*Do natural tooth care products work?
*How to do hangman pose if you cannot get into the 1st step?

Text Version

Carmen asks:

Q: My Yoga friend and I have been having the same issue with our necks. When driving or just looking to one side we feel a ‘pop’ in our neck. We’ve been doing headstand. Is this something related to headstand?

A: Carmen, the answer is maybe it’s related, maybe it’s not related. Popping can be totally harmless, and it can also be a sign of a problem as well, very rarely though. In most cases, popping is just a release of tension or a release of pressure. There are some people who say you should avoid over popping. You’ll find that people who pop their fingers or their toes a lot, they tend to be able to pop their fingers and their toes more, and some people say that can lead to joint inflammation. I’ve never seen anything definitive either way.

If you’re just feeling popping but no pain, I wouldn’t worry about it. It is possible that in doing headstand you do strengthen your neck and your shoulders quite a bit. It could be that in doing that process, perhaps you’re moving some things around and releasing some tension as well. So I wouldn’t be overly concerned about it, unless you feel pain, and then for sure be careful with your neck.

Claire asks:

Q: What about one cup of decaf coffee per day? Do you still think it has the same effect as caffeinated coffee?

A: Decaffeinated coffee is a pretty good choice. The problem with 99 percent of decaffeinated coffees is the caffeine is removed using a really toxic chemical that residues are left behind, you don’t want to eat it. So if you’re drinking decaf coffee, which is actually a pretty good idea, just make sure you’re drinking water-processed decaf coffee. It’s really hard to find. At a health food store, you can find it. I actually think Starbucks might have a water-processed decaf, I know they used to. But you always want to ask for water-processed decaf, in which case it’s a pretty good option. You still get some of the antioxidant benefits of coffee, and you can still get your morning coffee, without getting the effects. Just make sure you’re not getting that chemically processed caffeine. Good question.

Peri asks:

Q: I’m a yoga-enthusiastic guy, I’m 59 years old. I do yoga for half an hour in the morning and one hour in the evening. I do practice Sirsasana for 5 minutes as well. Is it bad to do Sirsasana (that’s headstand) for 5 minutes or more?

A: Peri, you can do headstand for a really long time. I know a guy who did a headstand for three hours. He set the Guinness Book of World Records for headstand. The key thing is, are you comfortable and are you pain-free? You don’t want to ever push in headstand. You can definitely push in handstand or even forearm stand, but in a headstand where your head is actually on the ground, you can do some damage to your neck, if you push. It’s a very, very safe pose, but just know your limits. You don’t want any pain or strain. It should feel very relaxed and natural. Lots and lots of people do five minute-plus headstands. As long as you feel comfortable and relaxed and you’re not feeling any residual tightness or pain, I would say go for it, it sounds great. If you’re doing that much yoga at 59, that’s awesome. I hope I’m doing the same when I’m 59.

Bobby asks:

Q: I started to read about tooth problems. I read a book called The Tooth Cure by Ramiel Nigel. I found it interesting that we can prevent or even cure tooth decay, but what this man is promoting is not a raw vegan diet and he even recommends a non raw diet. What is your opinion about this subject?

A: This is a great question, Bobby. There’s a lot of stuff coming out in the holistic health world, about natural tooth care. To be honest, most of what I’ve seen is rubbish. It’s really, really bad information. People are claiming that doing oil pulling, which is swishing your gums with oil or by using these sort of homemade soaps that you’re going to be able to reverse periodontal disease and things like this. For the most part, that’s not true.

Now, oil pulling can be great for nourishing your gums. A lot of these natural things like clove oil extract, peppermint extract can be really good for healing your gums. But in terms of reversing periodontal disease, I don’t buy that, and I haven’t seen any literature or any research to support that.

Surprisingly, the one thing that everybody’s against is one of the most effective things, and that’s fluoride. As soon as you bring up fluoride, everybody freaks out. And there’s a lot of reasons to freak out, because fluoride’s in a lot of our city municipal water supplies, and ingesting fluoride is a terrible idea. It’s connected with brittle bone, osteoporosis, all kinds of other problems when you ingest it.

But all of the studies showing its efficacy for tooth enamel, tooth strengthening, longevity of tooth, strengthening teeth, it’s all topical use. So that’s toothpaste and mouthwash and occasional fluoride treatments, if and when it’s appropriate. Usually that stops after childhood, but it can be appropriate. And for that, it is incredibly important, incredibly safe and incredibly effective. That’s why you’ll see natural toothpaste, even a lot of the organic, there’s no SLS or anything like that in these toothpastes and they’ll still put fluoride in there, because people know that fluoride used topically works great. Don’t swallow it, don’t put it in your water, don’t drink fluorinated water, but for sure use fluoride.

Now all these other natural things, they can be very, very effective. If you’re using things like oil pulling, swishing oil in your mouth, if you’re using peppermint oil, if you’re using clove oil or a natural toothpaste, it can be very effective. But more than anything, you want to make sure to go to the dentist every six months and use fluoride. Fluoride is awesome. Just use it carefully and use it safely. Thanks so much for that question.

Bobby, in terms of the raw food connection, a lot of raw foodists get into trouble because they eat way too much fruit and they eat a lot of dried fruit, like dates and raisins, and just like any sugars, those will ferment in your mouth. And so this why some people, when they’re looking at dental care, they look at the raw foodists who have been doing it for a long time, a lot of them have no teeth left. That’s a minority of the raw foodists. A lot of raw foodists have great, great teeth, but some people get too into fruits and they’re eating fruit and fruit juice all day long and their mouth is sitting in a bath of sugar and bacteria and cavities grow.

Raini asks:

Q: Do you have any exercises to help with bulging discs in the lumbar region? Do you have some yoga postures that you use? Can the yoga trapeze help?

A: A bulging disc in the lumbar region, lower back disc issues are some of the more common sources of back pain. People will say things like pinched disc, bulging disc, all kinds of different words. They’re basically just talking about the vertebral discs having some kind of inflammation. In terms of yoga poses that are helpful, there’s lots of different things.

I’ll show you really quick kind of the magic pose that everybody does. This is called the happy back stretch. It’s just a deep lunge, and what you do is bring your front foot out in front of your knee, put your fingertips down on the floor and sink down into that back leg and hold that for a good three to five minutes. What that does is that stretches your iliopsoas muscles on the top of that back leg, you do it on both sides, and it’s one of the easiest and simplest ways to relieve lower back tension.

Now, I know a lot of people are going to see this and they’re going to go, ‘Ah, that’s too easy and it’s not going to work.’ Give it a try. It’s one of these kind of magic poses that for some people is incredibly effective. The yoga trapeze is our inversion device that we manufacture and sell all over the world, it’s super popular. It’s a great, great choice. You hang upside down from your hips, and it gets instant traction on your spine.

Now, the only caveat would be, if your mobility is impaired, meaning if you have wasting away syndrome, if you’re above the age of 70 and not too agile, it might be a little tricky to get in there. That’s the only caveat there, but a lot of people are using that to relieve lower back pain.

Gloria asks:

Q: What is the best recipe for wheatgrass juice?

A: There’s only one recipe, Gloria, that’s juice it and drink it. A lot of people can’t handle more than one ounce at a time or they’ll get sick. People will call it a detox reaction. That’s not really what’s happening. Your body is getting too alkalined too fast, your stomach specifically, and it makes you vomit, in the same way you would with too much acid.

There are a couple of things I like to do with wheatgrass. If you take wheatgrass and mix it with pineapple juice or coconut water, I like that, too. But the best thing to do is just drink it.

Cindy asks:

Q: I can’t do the hangman pose. I can’t even get into the position. What can I do to build up to that pose?

A: Hangman, Cindy, and for everybody listening, is the pose that we teach against the wall, with your arms up. It’s a really, really powerful shoulder and upper back stretch, perhaps one of the more powerful pose. It’s really the only passive shoulder stretching pose that I know that we teach.

If you can’t get into it, which is not uncommon at all, Cindy, don’t despair, you’ll get it really quickly, you want to do it on the edge of something. I think you can see my desk here. Let me show you on the edge of the desk. So we’ll do the exact same pose, with our hands spread wide, and we’ll try to sink down into our shoulders this way, Cindy, you can do it on the edge of a bed, and just slowly get lower and lower, until you’re down on your belly. The one thing about this pose is you’ll progress very, very quickly. So while it might feel impossible today, use the edge of a bed, use the edge of a table, a desk or a chair, and I think you’ll find some progress really quickly.

Sergio asks:

Q: I just ordered the Flexibility Kit. I’m actually pretty flexible for my build, but incorporating your program in with my training. What’s your advice: Do I do it before or after strength training?

A: Strength training, meaning resistance training, meaning weights. This is actually a great question, Sergio. You want to do it after. Always do deep stretching after. You’ll see people stretching before a run. They’ll do kind of this bobbing, this kind of thing. Those are just warm-up stretches. That’s not stretching for flexibility. Nobody doing warm-up stretches gets more flexible. They maintain their flexibility, they prevent injury and things like this. Real stretching, deep stretching should be done after strength training.

And the reason is, is because on a nervous system level, it’s a totally different signal you’re sending your body. When you’re doing resistance training, it’s totally a shortening and a strengthening of the muscles. When you’re doing a deep stretching pose, it’s relaxed and letting go. And your nervous system has a tremendous effect on your strength and your ability to relax and let go, and the lengthening of your connective tissues and the elasticity of those tissues.

So do deep stretching after. For sure, do some really simple active warm-up stretches before you practice, but those are not for flexibility. People usually bob for 10 seconds or something, and that’s effective for what it is. But when you’re doing flexibility training, do it after strength training. This goes for running, this goes for cycling, this goes for group fitness classes. Do it at the end, do it after class or do it before bed, which is always a good option.

Gina asks:

Q: I received a bottle of Liquid Energy-B. I am currently taking another supplement that has B1, B6, B 12, so I am wondering if I can still take the Liquid Energy-B. Should they be taken together, or should I just take either one?

A: B vitamin complexes I’m not a huge fan of, and the reason is different B vitamins have different effects. A B vitamin complex sounds great, because you’re getting all these B vitamins at once, but most people don’t need all those B vitamins. And the more important issue is I find that B vitamin complexes give people terrible gases. Now, sometimes that has to do with the binding or the filling agents used in pressed capsules. We have a liquid form to get away from that. Sometimes that has to do with certain B vitamins just upsetting your stomach.

So, our Liquid Energy B is pure B12, methylcobalamin, which is the same form that’s in your brain. It’s very, very easy to absorb in the liquid form. It’s flavored with natural cinnamon flavor, so it tastes great and it never upsets your stomach. Don’t take them together. You would be getting too much B12, it’s irrelevant. I would take one or the other.

Now if that B complex is working for you, keep taking that. That’s fine. But if it’s not working, and specifically if it’s giving you gas or indigestion, switch over, try the Liquid Energy B and see how that goes.

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