Can Downward Facing Dog Wreck Your Shoulders?

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Since Moksha Yoga Westshore has opened their doors, I have been reminded of my love for anatomy, movement and yoga. Not only that, I am reminded of how much I love to teach other people these things! As there is an influx of new students, I have been paying a lot of attention to people coming into postures for the very first time. One that is particular interesting is Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Practically every style of yoga practices this posture (besides Bikram, most Yin styles, and I’m sure there are a few others out there).

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Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

BUT, should everyone be doing this posture? My answer is No. Definitely not…at least not always in the beginning of his or her yoga-journey. As the title of this article states, it could be a DOWNDOG disaster for some people’s bodies. While there are a number of things that could prevent your shoulders from being set into the proper position to take DownDog- a very common reason is a shortened Pectoralis Major muscle, which contributes to internally rotated shoulders.

 What activities (or lack of activities) make you a candidate for having shortened pecs? Too many “push” exercises (punching, pushups, planks), sitting with improper posture at a computer, desk, in a car, spending all day at a sewing machine (!MOM!), sitting and texting, sleeping for 8 hours curled up in a little ball, if you are a rower, swimmer, or perhaps you have had your heart broken and your shoulders have slumped forward in an effort to protect the body; or you were bullied or lack confidence, so you walked around for years with your head down and shoulders rolled in, instead of walking with your chest forward and head held high…I could go on, but as you can see, there are many, MANY reasons why your shoulders may be internally rotated.

How to tell if you have internally rotated shoulders? Stand up, shake your arms out, let them fall to your sides naturally and see which direction your thumbs point. An ideal situation is to have your thumbs point forward in a natural standing position. Knuckles pointing forward (or  ‘caveman arms’) is an indication of internally rotated shoulders.

Why does it matter if your shoulders are internally rotated? The shoulders are not a stable joint to begin with (they favour mobility over stability); however, the shoulders are MOST stable when they are externally rotated. This means that all of the structures surrounding the shoulders are in the proper place and the shoulder is working as efficiently as possible. Over time internally rotated shoulders can cause a whole host of injuries and pain in the body.

If your knuckles do point forward (from the exercise above), you may notice that you have troubles/restrictions when trying to reach your arms overhead. OR, you may be able to get your arms over your head, but the head of your humerus is smashing into the acromion or, to be more technical, “the greater tuberosity can “impinge” on the undersurface of the acromion, compressing the subacromial bursa and irritating the supraspinatus tendon” (http://www.dailybandha.com/2011/04/shoulder-kinematics-in-yoga.html), making things very uncomfortable (not to mention, not very sustainable over a long period of time).

The MMA fighter in the picture below is extremely fit looking, but as you can see, his shoulders are internally rotated, meaning they are not in an ideal position.

A tight Pec Major may be contributing to rounded shoulders and be causing havoc in your downdog.    allisat-use

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Now, what the heck does all of this have to do with your downward facing dog? Since your shoulder position is a very important piece of this posture, if you are heading into your downdog (or plank, or chaturanga for that matter) with internally rotated shoulders, you are creating a very unstable and unsustainable position that will more than likely cause injury over time.

Is your Pec Major the cause of all of this internal rotation? Maybe, maybe not. But it is definitely worth looking into if you practice yoga. Can Downward Facing Dog wreck your shoulders? If not practiced with proper alignment, there is a likelihood of shoulder issues that may develop.

Practice smart and you’ll be whipping out that downdog for years to come.

Peas, love …and stable shoulders.

Meg

As a bonus- check out the video below! Jill Miller, creator of Yoga Tune up, gives a very simple assessment tool that will allow you to identify a few other obstacles to your downward facing dog, as well as a different posture that may save your shoulders.

Life Lessons

“When a baby comes into the world, its hands are clenched, right? Like this?” He made a fist. “Why? Because a baby not knowing any better, wants to grab everything, to say the whole world is mine. But when an old person dies, how does he do so? With his hands open. Why? Because he has learned his lesson.” “What lesson?” I asked. He stretched open his empty fingers. “We can take nothing with us.”
― Mitch Albom, Have a Little Faith: a True Story

The Quickest Way to Improve Performance…and Your Life.

Originally posted on Align4Sport:

Very often I hear about the negative internal dialogue that has a tendency to run and rule the minds of many, many athletes (and pretty much every single other person out there…).

There is no advantage in approaching performance or life situations thinking, “I can’t” , I won’t be able to do this”, “I’m not good/smart/fast/strong enough”. A lot happens in the body physiologically when we start to think negatively; it can cause powerful changes in our brain’s chemistry that can profoundly influence coordination, balance, concentration and muscle response accuracy.

You may not even be aware of the constant fight that goes on in your mind. But, for the most part, there is a lot of mental chatter going on. And if you just silently responded in your head, “no, there’s not“…well, I prove my point.

So, how do you get rid of the negative voices? How do…

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House in the Sky, Three Cups of Tea & Lone Survivor.

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The last two books I have read are: House in the Sky & Three Cups of Tea. Pair that with my recent viewing of the amazing movie, Lone Survivor (which, by the way was one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time) and it leaves me thinking a LOT about international development and education for children in developing countries.

There is a quote that stood out to me in Three Cups of Tea. It was during a conversation between an American and a Pakistani about America and Osama Bin Laden:

“…As a military man, I know you can never fight and win against someone who can shoot at you once and then run off and hide while you have to remain eternally on guard. You have to attack the source of your enemy’s strength. In America’s case, that’s not Osama or Saddam or anyone else. The enemy is ignorance. The only way to defeat it is to build relationships with these people, to draw them into the modern world with education and business. Otherwise the fight will go on forever.”

House In the Sky is another amazing read (which I’m sure will be a movie soon enough). While the book doesn’t detail what happens after author (and Albertan) Amanda Lindhout survived 460 days as a hostage in war-torn Somalia, a quick google search will reveal that she founded the Global Enrichment Foundation. Lindhout firmly believes that her captors were products of their environment, and if they would have had the opportunity for education they might have made different choices in their lives.

And the final piece of my trail of thoughts comes to Lone Survivor; I don’t want to give any spoilers, but if you watch the movie, perhaps see if you can make the connection with what I am writing above.

My sister said today that one of the ways to start thinking about your life purpose is to consider the following question: “What would you do if money wasn’t a factor?” I really believe that if I had the money and the means, that I would start my own charitable foundation that would help to educate children around the world. I see truth in the quote that is listed above: The enemy is ignorance.

That is about as far as I have come with my reflections; the wheels are turning though…

On a side-note, if you have not checked out either of those books, or the movie, I would highly recommend it.

Until next time.

One (or three) Things YOU are Missing from your Morning Coffee

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I am a BIG coffee fan. I love, love, love to sit and have a nice warm drink in the morning.

I have started to drink a variation of “Bulletproof Coffee”. If you are not sure what that is, well, if you do a quick google search you will find a lot of hype around it, especially within the Crossfit community.

The original recipe is something along the lines of:

  • Coffee
  • UNSALTED grass-fed butter
  • MCT Oil or Coconut Oil
  •  Blend everything together

What I put in, is much better! …but pretty much the same.

I blend

  • 1 tbsp (or less) of butter (organic, unsalted, grass-fed if possible)
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil
  • Half a scoop of protein powder (both chocolate and vanilla taste good).

It. is. amazing.

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I know what you’re thinking… “Butter in your coffee!? That sounds absurd! Isn’t butter bad for you?”

Well, if you follow health trends, then you’ll know that for YEARS we have been told that saturated fat makes us fat. Howeverto quote Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, “there is not one molecule of evidence to suggest that saturated fat consumption causes obesity”.

“What’s certain is that saturated fat is a key component of our cell membranes, and essential for the production of certain hormones. It also acts as a carrier for important vitamins, and is vital for mineral absorption, and many other biological processes”. More can be read in the article, here; it goes into the stigma butter (and saturated fats) have somehow had bestowed upon them.

As for coconut oil, which is also considered a saturated fat. Everyone loves it; regardless of whether they are using it to cook at high temperatures or for cosmetic uses. So I don’t feel the need to say too much about it (feel free to click here to read more).

What IS important to note, is that there are many claims on the internet that type of coffee helps to curb appetite and aid in weight loss. Maybe it does, maybe it doesn’t. But I would like to point out the obvious -this is not a coffee that you would have for breakfast with bacon, eggs and toast. Unless you are working out a crazy amount and need that many extra calories in your diet. For me, this coffee replaces my regular breakfast.

Well, there you have it! Three things you are missing from your coffee: Butter, Coconut Oil and Protein Powder. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Peace.

Quote

Negative Self T…

Negative Self Talk

“You’re so Stupid”, “You can’t do anything right”. Suddenly there are two battles raging: the one against an external opponent and the internal battle against yourself. Out of nowhere, in the heat of battle, a little voice inside begins a relentless litany of self-critism. What was once a unified fighting force against an outside opponent becomes a divided fight within….A battle that must be waged on two fronts is far more difficult to win.”
– From The New Toughness Training For Sports by James E. Loehr

Come Back Kid

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With my life settling down in beautiful Victoria, BC, I’m officially making my come-back to this blog! How long will this come-back last? Who knows…but the nice thing is, it’s my blog and I can come and go as I please :) However, perhaps this time I’ll be a little more consistent with my writing.

I am currently living out the true military wife life; Julien has been deployed to the Arabian Sea. The length of time he is gone seems to get longer every time I hear it mentioned; the last I heard was 9 months, but who knows…

Since Julien has been gone, it’s just been me and this guy:

DSC_0011He keeps me pretty good company though :)

So, these next few months will be full of my musings, perhaps some recipes, yoga-talk, anatomy, mental training and/or any adventures I happen to take on.

Get excited.

From,

The remaining St-Aubins

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(missing from photo: Kitty) :)

Next Chapter

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As I write this today, I realize that I have been MIA from the posting world for a while. There is a reason for it and I finally feel as though it is time to come clean!

….I stopped being a Vegetarian… *GASP*

I am sure the yogi gods just rolled in their graves. But hear me out…

I went to the Doctor and had a nice little chat about all my health issues. It was then recommended that I just TRY incorporating a weeee bit of meat into my diet. I was VERRRRRYYYYY reluctant; when I finally came around to it, it felt very foreign. But then something started to happen… I felt better. For the first time in YEARS, I stopped taking my 2 hour afternoon naps. I used to be exhausted AAAAALLL of the time. I was losing my hair, I was having skin issues (not to mention many other problems that I don’t feel the need to discuss). But when I started incorporating meat into my diet, everything changed… for the better.

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Now, I DOOOO believe that some people can be vegetarians and live happy and healthy lives. However, I have done some research with ‘O’ blood types (which is what I am), and it appears that ‘O’ thrives when they eat more meat. I believe it is an ‘A’ blood-type that does better with little to no meat. In reading about ‘O’s, I started asking my vegetarian friends and my meat-eating friends questions about their diet and their energy. More importantly, I started asking vegetarians who had stopped and started eating meat again. EVERY single person I spoke to that did not feel healthy as a vegetarian/vegan was an O blood type. Coincidence? I’m not sure.

I do care about animals and Julien and I do not buy our meat from the Supermarket, but rather we go to a local farm. I’m not trying to justify the change in my diet, but I do want to make the point that I still care about the conditions of these animals and I do not OVER consume. For the first time in YEARS my body feels good, and that is something that I can’t deny. And yes, I’m sure people are going to think that I didn’t do vegetarianism “right”. But I am telling you, I had the iron supplements, the kale, the spinach, the legumes, the protein powders…you name it, it was probably in my fridge.

In the end, you gotta do what’s right for your body and being a veggie wasn’t for me. I REAAALLLYYY REAALLLYYY wanted it to be. But it wasn’t. I digress, I could rant about this all day.

In other news, I have finished my Yoga Tune Up Teacher Training and feel more aware and informed about anatomy and physiology than I ever have before. (The pic is of Jill Miller, Founder of Yoga Tune up)

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Oh and am super stoked to be moving into …this:

Home

That’s all for now!

Big changes happening all around, but I can’t share everything at once!

Peas

Clean Eating – Giveaways

staubin357:

Check out this AMAZING GIVE AWAY!! Brittany is a wicked person and is totally inspirational! Check out her blog (and of course this giveaway!)

Originally posted on gingersneezes:

So folks it is finally here Gingersneezes’ very first giveaway!  I couldn’t be more excited especially because of who is donating the prize!  Seeing Gingersneezes is doing a 50 day Clean Eating challenge the prize is completely perfect!  The generous people over in Tosca Reno’s shop have donated an AMAZING gift filled with a bunch of clean eating essentials!

I figured now would be a great time for a giveaway to help pump up all of your motivation to stay on course.  I find that generally speaking heading into week three of something can be pretty challenging.  Week one you are all full of motivation and energy to succeed, week two you are starting to feel some positive effects of your lifestyle change, and then week three sinks in.

It is a point in a lifestyle change, a cleanse, or some type of challenge where your motivation may have dwindled a bit, you might be…

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