Monday, January 23, 2012

YOGA: What do You Think about the "How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body" Article?

What do You Think about the
Do you have an opinion about the New York Times article,
"How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body” published on January 5, 2012
I love the article because it has gotten many people discussing the injury potential that comes from attending classes lead by inexperience or careless instructors. I think the title was brilliant because it made people LOOK, and read. It was an intelligent move to get more people to read the article since anyone who would like to write-off yoga due to a bad experience or injury stemming from yoga would have most likely passed on reading an article with a “positive” headline.
Hopefully after reading the article, anyone who had a negative experience with yoga may become interested in trying yoga again, armed with a little more information on how to find a decent instructor and to become more connected with themselves by listening to their body.
Sadly, not every Yoga teacher is like Black. All but one of my clients that came to me with shoulder, lower back, wrist, and hip issues due to yoga were those who had been taking Bikram classes. There were several Bikram studios near where I trained my clients. Some of the studios had fairly knowledgeable instructors; however there were many teachers who had no other background with yoga, human anatomy, or injury prevention. Many had no other knowledge or certifications other than what their Bikram certification offered.
Many first time participants of yoga trust that an instructor has the experience and knowledge to considerately conduct/"teach"/guide a class, and assume the instructor knows how to identify and address the physical limitations/history of activity/lifestyle of the participants in attendance.
The type of clientele the Bikram reputation tends to attract are high-intensity, hard working people who come from the no-pain-no-gain mind set, trying to “find” yoga and bring some balance and clam into their lives. There are also a large number of people who have a tendency towards self abusive behavior that gravitate to such classes in hopes to cure or cleanse themselves of such behavior. It is especially important with these demographics that there be a well trained, confident, and considerate instructor available to help guide such participants to embrace the benefits of a thoughtful and physically and emotionally empowering practice.
The mixture of an over-heated room and a person with an intense and competitive mindset can set a person up to go beyond their limitations.
It takes an attentive and confident instructor to help guide these participants in the right direction. A considerate and knowledgeable instructor is not always easy to find. Many of the best Bikram teachers hold several other certifications and continue to practice with other teachers and take classes at different facilities in order to continue their education and inspire themselves in order to inspire and educate anyone who comes to their classes. J
Another factor to take into account when trying to minimize the risk of injury to participants in a yoga class is the instructor’s ability to make corrections.
Some participants do NOT want to be corrected, guided, or addressed, even if what they choose to do in class is potentially injurious. Unfortunately, these participants limit a considerate yoga instructor’s ability to minimize the risk of injury for fear of complaints and even law suits.
Thank goodness I teach privately, which gives me the power to excuse anyone from class if they refuse to practice safely-within their bodies limitations and only progressing when appropriate. I will NOT let anyone injury themselves on my time, they are free to do that elsewhere, since there are many facilities that have instructors that are happy to ignore technique and good judgment.
I would love to hear your opinion on the article, and how you ensure your own safety while participating in yoga classes, or how you ensure the safety of your clients when leading a class.

Wishing y'all a Happy, Healthy, and Injury-Free Day!

WARNING: Running can be Humiliating!

WARNING: Running can be Humiliating!

WARNING: This post contains TMI, foul language, and other uncomfortable scenarios. Read at your own risk.
Imagine this: A fieldtrip. The school group has reached Crystal Cove State Beach in beautiful sunny, southern California. There are 3 bus loads of kids and parents lined up to use 2 outhouses before setting out on a hike.
Now, imagine a female runner who is 3 miles into a wonderfully intense 12 mile hill run.  She is feeling really good and strong, so she pushes it even harder. A smile of pride, excitement, and happiness is beaming across her face. She is propelled by this feeling of physical validation. She is really pushing the limit of her physical ability. She rarely has the time to do anything over a combined 7-12 miles a week and almost never pushes for speed. She is thrilled with how well her other training has done her body good. She is humming to herself and almost giggling, still smiling, so happy.
Then the smile is gone.
The smile has been replaced by an expression that would probably come across a person’s face if they were being encouraged to kick a sack of puppies or kittens.
She checks her Garmin, “Oh WOW a 7:46 pace for almost 4 miles! Yippee!!!” She almost forgets for a moment why the smile had left her face. Her average fast pace is about 8:30 on a flat course, and that is still usually a challenge for anything over 4 miles. It is easy to see how the thrill of this unexpected accomplishment on a hilly course could have distracted her from how her body was feeling.
She has never been one to train for speed. She enjoys distance at a relaxed, mellow pace for the sheer enjoyment of using her two legs and breathing fresh air.
As an opportunistic runner whose physical, personal, and professional obligations are not conducive to traditional marathon training, she makes the most of any chance she gets to add some miles into her weekly schedule.
On a day she feels well rested, and especially fit, she will choose to either challenge her speed or her distance depending on time constraints, weather, and whim.
On this day, all is going great so she is challenging everything…until her body reminds her once again why the smile has left her face.
She has experienced this feeling several times before.  She remembers the 2 times last year as she was training for Big Sur (she is training for Big Sur on this day) that she felt something similar, yet not so intense nor persistent…
“Oh no.” she knows what the problem is.  She thinks she can handle it. She taps into all the breathing techniques she knows. This has helped each time she’s been in this situation. “This feeling should be gone by now” she thinks to herself, as she tries not to panic. “Oh fuck.” The breathing really isn’t helping. This feeling has never been so intense before. “Oh shit.” The diaphragmatic breathing isn’t helping to sooth the situation. “Oh fuck!” Visualization and relaxation techniques are not helping. “Oh no…” she audibly whimpers “…oh, fuck...I’m gonna crap my pants…”
: (
Now, imagine this poor runner realizing the nearest bathroom/outhouses are more than a mile away. She starts running faster which only makes matters worse…
She twice almost scampers into the bushes along Pelican Hills resort but each time she attempts to take cover and take care of business, a golf cart maintenance guy drives by.
At this point she is crying.
She knows she is close to the bathrooms so the tears are not only of severe discomfort; they are partly from relief knowing the end is near.
She runs faster.
“I can make it!” She pants loudly, positively, letting her belly become heavy, trying to relax her bowels.
All the Kundalini breath work, and other kooky breathing and yoga techniques she can think of are finally paying off! The severe pain and discomfort attacking her bowels belong to someone else at this point. She feels as if she is flying, floating, sprinting…then she hits a stop light on PCH.
“OH FUCK! Fuck Me! Oh FUCK FUCK FUCK!!! MotherFucker!!! FuckShitFuckShitohFuck!” she is seething, whimpering, and audibly growling these words. The words are loud enough, or maybe the tension in her body and on her face are enough, to elicit alarm on the faces of the passengers in the car waiting to make a right hand turn. They look at her with creeped-out shock and concern.
The light turns.
She sprints across PCH and down the little pathway towards the Crystal Cove restrooms. Less than a ¼ mile to go and the hell will be over!
“…less than a mile. less than a mile…” Is her quick little breath-y mantra propelling her towards the restrooms, and then…
 “NnnnnnnnnnnOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! WhatTheFUCKKKKKKkkkkkkNnnoooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!” She screams as she sees 3 bus loads of children and parents waiting in line to use the only 2 outhouses for a half mile.
EVERY head turns towards the crazy lady wearing a plaid pink, black, and grey running skirt; a pretty lululemon Run Swiftly top; a white Nike visor, and awesome Merrel Pace Glove minimalist running shoes.
APPEARNCE: Civilized.
 “I’m gonna SHIT MY PANTS!!!!” she rabidly screams at the top of her lungs as she sprints towards the outhouses.
ACTIONS: Bat-ShitYoPants-Crazy!
“Kids, let the poor woman go!” The line monitor sympathetically and protectively orders as she reaches her arms out in barricade fashion to make way for the crazy lady who is now making inhumane noises between squeaks, squeals, and cries of pain and agony.
All the kids are letting out terrified screams that last for a few moments, til they realize they are not in any danger from the crazed lady. They then begin giggling hysterically and pointing at the woman who’s doing a crazed, writhing, stomp-dance and making animalistic noises.
Luckily an outhouse door swings open and a meek little girl tries to exit but is met by the loony woman. There is a brief pause til the woman pushes past and slams the door to begin over 5 minutes of sheer embarrassment that is partially concealed by all the giggling and screaming of the kids now chanting “She was gonna poop her pants! She was gonna poop her pants!”
Moral to the Story: Running can be an activity that can lead to humiliating experiences. Experiences that scare children, cause women to curse in public, and may lead to sh!tting your pants. Participate at your own risk!
Gotta funny “run” story?
I’d love to hear it!

Wishing y’all a Happy and Healthy Day!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

How to NOT Teach an Indoor Cycling Class

A Very Critical Review of an Indoor Cycling Class

How to NOT Teach an Indoor Cycling Class
It is not often that one hears an Indoor Cycling Class described as un-motivating, uninspiring, unwelcoming, and unsafe. Unfortunately, on a Wednesday evening in August, 2011 at the [Insert name of Large, Well-Known Fitness Facility Here] that is most likely what many participants in attendance experienced.
Indoor Cycling, also known as “Spinning,” can be a great way to enjoy a high-intensity, low-impact, cardio workout. With the right instructor, a participant can expect to be challenged, motivated, entertained, and educated all in the space of one hour. However, on Wednesday night the only thing the class provided was 45 minutes of eye-rolling and disinterest from an out-of-shape, over-the-hill instructor who didn’t have any regard for the safety of her clients, and who conveyed an attitude that she would rather be doing anything other than teaching the class.
The tone of an Indoor Cycling Class is usually set by the teacher before a class even begins. Most seasoned instructors, who take pride in the classes they teach, will make an effort to set the tone by greeting people when they arrive, as if they were greeting guests arriving to a party-with a little mood music, general interest, enthusiasm, and consideration.
It would be easy to assume, on this particular evening, the teacher wanted the hour long class to be an unwelcoming, uninspiring, and unpleasant experience. The instructor had her back to the entrance of the room while people were entering; she neglected to greet any of them as they arrived; there was no music playing before the class started; and the music still hadn’t been switched on till at least five minutes after the class was scheduled to begin. The word somber doesn’t even begin to describe the vibe of the room, the instructor’s personality, and the clients already in attendance, on this night.
The type of neglectful behavior, demonstrated by the instructor in the following minutes, would make most fitness professionals question the instructor’s credentials. Ten minutes before class was to begin, there were six people along one side of the room already set up on their indoor cycling bikes, while at least 15 bikes were mashed into a corner on the opposite side of the room. Around this time, several first-time participants arrived for class but were left standing, ignored and unassisted by the instructor, all the while being glared at by the six people already set up on bikes. Anyone in the fitness industry who is certified to teach group fitness classes, by a respected certifying body, has been educated on the importance of creating a safe and welcoming atmosphere for all in attendance. Perhaps the instructor skipped that chapter because what followed in the next few minutes would make most fitness professionals cringe.
After about 5 minutes trying to figure out what to do, one first-timer stepped up and began wrestling a bike out of the tangled mess in the corner. Once she got the bike dislodged from the jumbled heap, she fought to get the attention of the instructor who was busy hanging on the handlebars of a man’s bike, deep in conversation. The instructor looked up for a moment as the gal with the bike asked “Where should I put it?” The instructor didn’t care. In fact, her words were “Wherever you want, it doesn’t matter.” So the rest of the first timers, myself included, proceeded to shimmy the bikes haphazardly to the center of the room. Not once did the instructor offer any assistance.
It’s one thing for a fitness professional to neglect the importance of music before, during or after a class, and definitely bad form to be rude and inconsiderate, but it becomes a liability when an instructor neglects to help clients move heavy pieces of fitness equipment around a room. Considering the average weight of most indoor cycling bikes being a minimum of 114 lbs, and several of the people in attendance barely weighing as much as the bikes, the instructor’s neglect to offer any assistance is an invitation to an accident.
Once class began, it didn’t get any better than the introduction. Not once did the instructor bother to introduce herself; ask any of the first timers if they needed any help; go over any information about the bikes or what to expect from the class; nor did she go over any safety issues. The only instruction she offered throughout the class, other than reminding everyone to breathe, was to take a break or to drink some water.
When fitness enthusiasts choose to take an indoor cycling class, it’s usually because they’re looking for a challenge. Wednesday’s Cycle class was definitely a challenge. In fact, it became downright torture, an absolute test of endurance. Unfortunately, instead of challenging anyone’s physical ability, the only endurance challenge offered during this class was to see how long anyone could endure watching an instructor with terrible form and a scowl on her face as she mouthed the words to the mullet-hair-cut-inspired music from the late 70s and early 80s, or as she half-heartedly spoke in monotone while saying “Don’t forget to breathe. Drink some Water. Take a break.”
The Wed night class with this particular instructor would be hard to recommend to anyone who expects an inspiring, challenging, and enjoyable workout.  Any instructor who can drop the ball in so many ways, and ignore many of the important components essential to providing an excellent indoor cycling experience, is probably without hope. On a positive note, she did finish class on time.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Head for the Hills at 10am on Monday January 2nd

Hike one of my favorite trails in Orange County!
Feel free to Run, Walk, Hop, Skip, Jump, or Crawl your way
along a beautiful trail with amazing views.
Mountain bikers are welcome along the trail too.

There is a big map board at the trail head.
Pretty hard to get lost.
I will be heading off at 10am from the trail head at Coastal Peak Park off Ridge Park Road.
Click here for the Google Map Thingie to find your directions.
Parking is free and there are nice, clean bathrooms and drinking fountains.
Each man, woman, and imaginary friend for themselves.
Sorry, no pets allowed on the trail.
There are endless options for distances and directions, so choose your own adventure but plan wisely.
Bring your sunscreen, water, snacks, and anything else you think will make your day enjoyable.
I will most likely do a walk/run/scamper at a turtle pace.

My buddy Efrain will most likely run like a maniac.
No matter what, just take your time, go at your own pace.

This is a totally non-formal hike. I'm not responsible for anyone. I am off the clock at 8am and will just be out there enjoying the day, and hopefully the company of others who just want to get outside, move their legs, and breath some fresh air.
However, if anyone wants to do a stretch session when you are done, bring a yoga mat and we can meet up on the grass by the nice, clean bathrooms and drinking fountains.

I will most likely go kayaking after the trail, so if anyone is interested in joining me on the water, you can rent form Newport Aquatic Center or Southwind Kayak. Feel free to google the places to find them.

Happy New Year Everyone!