Healthier Yoga, Smarter Yoga With Dr. BookspanCopyright © Jolie Bookspan MEd, PhD, FAWM
Welcome To Healthier Smarter Yoga
Sometimes Yoga Isn't The Cure But The Illness -
Learn Healthier Yoga and Prevent Yoga Injuries
This is my Healthier Yoga Class syllabus. It is one page on my large no-charge web site DrBookspan.com. My work as a research scientist is evidence-based physiology and sports medicine. I fix pain and injuries, develop healthier training methods, and study the body in extremes of heat, cold, injury states, altitude, underwater, and different nutritional states. I studied many kinds of yoga for years around the world, to learn and to separate what was helpful from what was tradition and wishful thinking. Scroll down to see the many interesting findings.
Navigation links (Site Map) to all the fun articles and classes, and buttons to LIKE, TWEET, and SHARE, are at the bottom of this page and every page on this site.
What's On This Page
What is Taught || Class Structure || Practices || Focus || About The Teacher || Certification || Student Comments || What About Props || When Yoga Injures || Why Some Yoga Bends Are Unhealthy || Why Some Yoga Hurts Knees and Ankles || Recipes || Photos || Prevent Injuries || Karma Yoga Projects || Class Readings || Fix Pain Summaries
Class Texts and BOOKS by Dr. Bookspan
Available from the BOOKS page or at discount in class.
Come Have Fun Learning
No previous yoga experience is needed to take my classes, only enthusiasm to think, learn, and make an effort. Advanced practitioners and instructors are welcome. Teacher training is also available. We build skill, confidence, strength, and ability of your body, mind, and spirit each week. Break down misconceptions and change injurious movement habits. Come ready to move, think, smile, fix bad habits, use great energy, then generate more.
This page tells all about it. My Class page gives locations and schedules, and how to apply for instructor training.
Originally, yoga did not mean to do poses. There was no exercise or physical movement. It was systems of mental disciplines for better conduct. The word "yoga" means connection. It meant to connect your behaviors and thinking to the highest, kindest, most peaceful way. It did not mean to do physical poses.
Even the name "Ashtanga Yoga" which today is one of the most physical forms of yoga exercise had no poses or physical exercise. It was eight parts to mental practices (ash = 8) . That is how claims of mental calm and discipline came for "yoga." Not from poses but from the mental and social practices. More about this follows on this page.
We Do What Modern Yoga Claims - Body and Mind - At The Same Time
Originally "yoga" specifically taught mental not physical skills. Now that "doing yoga" means doing physical poses, many injuries occur. It also means many people are left wondering why they are not happy and peaceful from doing poses, or why they still can't deal with life situations, even though they "do yoga." My work is to educate to use yoga for better health both physically and mentally.
If you are strong and brave--or want to be--come learn in this exhilarating, physical form of yoga that combines the many parts that yoga intended. You'll use your brain for this often humorous fusion of tradition, sports medicine, and common sense.
Learn Why Many Poses Were Never Intended For Health So It Is No Mystery When They Injure
Many poses have origins in penance, in performance art for telling stories of war or devotion to deities or nature, for self-examination through self-punishment, are repeated out of tradition and dogma, and many reasons other than the health of your knees, back, and other physical parts. That is why "the right way" to do poses can often mean copying how the move is done for those other reasons, healthy or not.
In my classes, I teach you how to use healthier positioning and body mechanics during each move, how to use that ability when moving from pose to pose, how to use the same healthy changes when you pick up your things to walk out of class, when moving around at home and work, when fixing meals, and for all you do. We also practice the mental and emotional learning of how to be happier and stable.
Will Yoga Give You Mindfulness And Peace And Focus And Strength?
No, it's not automatic from doing poses. We practice it deliberately during the poses, with specific understanding how to apply it to all you do the rest of the time. Then you live the mindfulness and peace and focus and strength, instead of waiting for it.
The more you use this page to prepare for class, the more we can apply healthier changes in class, and go further, rather than start explaining everything from the beginning in class.
We Use The Brain as Much as The Body
As an instructor, I believed I was supposed to instruct - to teach. My yoga classes are taught, rather than a follow-along. New students often come expecting to only do specific gestures no matter how bad for their joints, and not have to think or learn health. They are surprised, some even angry - a yoga irony - especially when they are wearing expensive yoga apparel with printed maxims about love, understanding, or "openness."
These same people often come to my class because their doctor said yoga will fix their back or knee or foot pain. I see how they stand and move in injurious ways. I tell them how to easily spot and fix those things right then, so that we can start class using that knowledge while they move. They are angry (again). They don't see why I am talking when they are there to do the magic poses that will fix them. I explain once more that poses cannot fix them when they are moving their knees and back (and neck and so on) in obvious injury-causing bad angles and slouches. They are peeved, and say they know they have bad posture, and the yoga will fix it. Here is a secret: yoga doesn't fix it. Read more to see what does.
What is Taught
- Injury prevention by changing unhealthy stretches and movement patterns while we move - Not all yoga moves were ever intended for health.
- Learn which yoga poses injure or are ineffective, and how and why to change them. It's ok to change yoga to make it healthy if your purpose of doing yoga is health.
- To be able to tell what is healthy or unhealthy movement, and which your body is doing. Then to be able to move out of unhealthy position into healthy position. Quickly and easily.
- Healthy ergonomics for daily life, not merely a list of poses. Instead of striking a static pose and claiming it gives you good posture, we learn what is healthy body movement. We practice it with poses and learn to use the same healthy positioning for all daily life movement.
- How people miss accomplishing the purpose of yoga by "doing" yoga - doing gestures whether the intent or the point is achieved or not. For example, stretching in a way that does not give the intended stretch. Or moving in an unhealthy way when you are doing yoga for health. Or believing yoga will make you a better person without practicing that during any real life encounters. Much of the original yogas were social, spiritual, and moral practices that never involved moving the physical body. Modern yogas added poses for exercise. Poses alone don't give you the mental benefits of all the other forms.
- Understanding yoga myths, injury prevention, partner yoga, and how to transfer healthy movement, breathing, focus, and positive thinking, not only to class but daily life.
- How to improve muscular and mental strength and endurance and how to consciously transfer that to real life.
- Confidence, determination, positive spirit by keeping going even when we really use the body.
- Make an effort - that's why it's called exercise.
- Learn to stop whining when life challenges you (yoga class as metaphor for life) - "Closed minds are easily broken when the face hits the mat."
- Remember sense of humor.
- Instead of contortions as a goal in themselves, we use knowledge of what is healthy movement and learn to apply to that to everything else you do. For example, how to reach arms up and get an actual stretch of the shoulder - without rounding or raising shoulders which is bad for the rotator cuffs, and without leaning the upper body backward which compresses and folds the lumbar spine and loses the intended shoulder stretch. Then we apply that to all moves, and then to reaching up at home and work.
- Poses are only a small part of a total yoga practice. In our classes we include Raja Yoga for emotional mastery, Jnana Yoga for learning and wisdom, Karma Yoga of good deeds, and several other parts of the whole practice.
- If your expensive yoga t-shirt says that yoga makes you peaceful, strong, and open minded, then do not complain or yell at the teacher when class uses your body to work, or your mind to learn something new and different.
- We start with a short "Sermon On The Mat" of a fun quick story from yoga theory, tradition, history, and vocabulary. We use that time to turn focus to class, learn mental skills, and leave the day behind. I include a quick way to benefit your sitting positioning while listening.
- We stand and review healthy body positioning for all segments. Then you use and practice that during every move we do in the class, and, if you learned the real purpose, still applying the healthier ways to bend to gather your things, and to walk out to daily life with a good sweat from moving for the hour, as well as learning.
- Class moves flow from one to the next without stopping. This is called "Vinyasa." Vinyasa is a beautiful graceful way to learn movement transitions and focus. I cue each move with both breathing and positioning reminders. Vinyasa is not a separate style of yoga, but a way to do whatever yoga you do. In this class, we not only breath and flow from move to move in Vinyasa, but practice healthy positioning skills and ability to notice and correct yourself. In real life you need to transition movement continuously without bad habits. We practice it.
Why We Stand For Many Parts of Class Instead of Lying Down
- Most of my class moves are taught standing and moving so you can practice your new healthier positioning during class to how you need it for real life when standing. Then you apply it the same way after class for all your other standing and moving, for injury and pain prevention during real life.
- It is established that sitting and lying down is not as healthy as activity. Obviously it is far less exercise, and no help for balance. What sense does it make to sit at home or work all day, then change clothes, go to a yoga class, to sit, kneel, and lie down? We learn relaxed focused habits for standing, moving, and balancing for real life. If the only way you can "relax" is to lie down, how can you know how to get things done or have a real life in a healthy relaxed manner? We learn and practice how to be relaxed at the same time as standing and moving - that is how mind AND body works.
- We directly increase strength, balance, and flexibility, so that most kneeling poses are not needed. Why add to knee compression when you can exercise your leg, arm, and core muscles by getting off the knees.
- The moves we learn while sitting, directly incorporate how to change the sitting you do in every day life to healthier positioning.
What is the Difference Between My Beginner Yoga Class and My Advanced Yoga Class?
- My beginners are coached and shown how to know and use healthy position of their shoulder, neck, back, knees, and happy mentality in each pose. After that, you can do the same poses using healthy movement and mental mechanics without being taught in full, just reminded.
- How long should the above take? Ideally, five minutes. Ten at most. It is mystifying to spend an hour repeatedly teaching healthy mechanics to people, who then go to their next fitness class and bend badly to get their weights, lift using bad body mechanics, bend over wrong to get their water bottle, and slouch to dress and leave class, and complain about life. Of course, practice and reminding helps. Come to class often to practice applying healthier movement to all you do. Since not everything fits in one class, come regularly for new fun learning.
- The most frequent complaint about my classes is that they are "advanced." The most advanced thing we do is actually have to think and learn what is healthy, know if you are doing that, and adjust if not - knowing what you are doing compared to what you think you are doing. I consider that the most elementary and baseline of things that you can learn and do. It's like the moral directive to go out in the world and be good. To me that is basic. To many it is advanced. Either way, it is needed and you can get it here with me. I give you opportunity and support to be able to advance, and that's good.
- What about practices that are more advanced for the body? Everything I teach shows skills everyone needs at all ages for baseline health, balance, strength, range of motion, and mobility to be independent and prevent injury. Things like being able to stand, balance, and move and stretch at the same time. Being able to lower to the floor and rise from the floor unaided are major markers of long term health. It may seem physically hard for people new to it, and they may call it "advanced" but it is a basic ability crucial to your baseline health.
Letter From A Yoga Instructor
On Oct 17, 2009, Yoga instructor Anya Muzychka wrote:
"Dearest Jolie, Oh my god, I finally see the light inside the tunnel.
Thank you so much for your most wonderful topics, advice and for all that you do! Thank you very much for SHARING this invaluable information. I was wondering why my yoga *didn't work* - and that's why I consciously STOPPED teaching it! Seeing that there is something missing - something is not quite right. I am hyper flexible (very loose joints - which I do not consider a blessing at all) myself - and what I found out recently thanks to you - that I also have a hyperlordosis and I crane my neck so often and now my hip joint is not happy when I do even simple stuff.
THANK YOU SO MUCH AGAIN for how to fix it. YOU ARE SO WONDERFUL and I am so happy to meet you!
Best wishes, Anya Muzychka"
Dr. Jolie Bookspan is a research scientist and injury specialist that Harvard School of Medicine named "The St. Jude of the Joints" for methods to fix pain, even pain thought hopeless. Her training and pain rehab innovations are used by military and top doctors around the world. Yoga instructors, personal trainers, and fitness experts come to her as patients, along with athletes and physicians.
Dr. Bookspan is a 4th degree black belt in karate, former undefeated full-contact Muay Thai boxer, Master Instructor of the Year 2009, and Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. She began learning yoga as a child with her Grandmother, certified in several yoga systems around the world, and is a registered yoga teacher (RYT) above the 500 hour level with over 5000 documented class hours.Honored with The Humanitarian Award for work in World Community Health. She has written 11 medical textbooks, encyclopedia chapters on science and physiology, and books to change medicine and exercise back to health. Dr. Bookspan studied and taught in India, China, Nepal, Thailand, Japan, the Netherlands, and North Africa, and brings you their art, medicine, music, and magic
Anyone Can Steer The Ship When The Sea Is Calm
It's easy to be calm and focused sitting in a quiet room staring at a candle. Or counting breaths. What about real life when babies (of all kinds) are screaming and you need to stay safe and in charge? You need to use muscles to balance and move in healthy ways even when it's hard or you are concentrating on something else, to breathe normally, and to stay calm and courageous to live in a strong and capable manner in an uncertain world.
Different kinds of yoga specialize in certain parts of yoga - to meditate while sitting, or to stretch, or breathe, or do gestures, or concentrate on sounds or colors, but they kept the original claims of making the whole person strong and straight, and the mind focused in difficult circumstances.
The yoga I teach gives many skills and direct lessons to train thinking, concentration, emotional strength, and body all at the same time, to stay strong and focused even in the real world. Once you learn the first few moments of this way of meditation, the secret is that you are supposed to use it all the time, not only when you are separate from life "meditating." Instead of sitting, we practice it standing and moving. Then you remember to apply it while cleaning the house, raking leaves, and interacting with people.
My opinion is that the romance of Zen is for amateurs - it is surviving the daily "nuts and bolts" of life that is the Zen.
How To Get The Benefits of Yoga - Remember All The Other Parts
A common claim for yoga is that it gives you complete benefits for mind and body. How can doing poses do that?
The answer is that it's not the poses. What else do you need?
The word yoga means union or connection. It doesn't at all mean to do any poses. The logical question is "connection to what?" The answer is that there are many different parts of yoga to connect to. Poses are only one small part. Originally, poses weren't even any part. Doing poses in modern yoga practice doesn't give you the benefit of all. You need to include the other parts.
Most yogas don't involve poses. Raja Yoga teaches behavior modifications for thought and action so that you learn how to control your emotions and connect to your own peace all the time, even during difficult times - self mastery. Jnana Yoga connects to wisdom and learning. Karma yoga practice connects you to your community and your highest self through good deeds. Originally Ashtanga yoga was eight divisions of mental practices. Much later an entirely different modern yoga of physical poses used the same name even though it wasn't remotely the same as Ashtanga. All the yogas that move your physical body are part of the Hatha yogas. They can give some physical benefit depending how much you work and if you use healthy position during the poses.
Think about a common best seller in supplement stores - the bottle of pills promising weight loss. Big letters say you will lose weight and feel great. Who wouldn't want that? In small print at the bottom it says that you also must stop eating junk, and you must exercise, and eat less, plus practice good mental health. But you think that taking only the pill will do all of it.
Think about beautiful music. You go to hear an orchestra play a beautiful symphony. Only the triangle player shows up. It's great, but it's not the symphony.
Think about a magnificent meal. You are hungry and have heard of this delicious healthy meal. When you get to the restaurant, they put a turnip on your plate. A turnip is nice, but not enough for nutrition.
The same thing happens with yoga. People say "yoga" and think it will do it all even though they only include the single item of poses, or breathing drills, or lying on the floor or sitting with eyes closed.
Poses are one small part. Remember to include all many the other parts of yoga to get the total benefit.
Do You Need Yoga Props?
People buy beads, and bowls, and scarves, and blocks, and mats, and straps, and stones, and special shaped cushions (because it has to be THAT shape), and tapes, and videos, and downloads, and talismans, and feathers, and smoke, and mirrors all to "be simple." People seem to need externals when they feel they have no power or control inside. One or two externals, as reminders, are good to get the general concept until you can do it yourself. Or if you can't reach the floor in a balancing move, why not practice balance rather than lean on a block?
Why a yoga mat at all? You can exercise any time without one, and often do. You can get a helpful stretch whenever you need on any floor, stair, or pathway. But for yoga, which is often far less exercise or stretch than doing a small bit of regular light exercise, people pay plenty for the mat and think you can't do "real" or "safe" yoga without one. They purchase extra foot and hand mitts with non-slide surfaces rather than use personal muscles and practice of balance and slip control that is needed as a real life skill. People do more complicated moves on ice skates than in yoga, and learn to not slip. People buy gel knee cushions to kneel for moves that would be far healthier, and more realistic stretch and exercise when done off the knees.
In one yoga studio where I taught, I asked students to use their brain and think about a simple idea that a mat is not a NEED, but something you may like and want or be accustomed to, and that's ok, just be conscious of your choices and why - that is mindfulness in action. That is how a studio preaching mindfulness and openness and knowledge fired me that day.
What Students Say About Healthier Yoga With Dr. Bookspan
"Dr. Bookspan teaches us ways to exercise and live daily without doing harmful things to our bodies, not just do poses. Take this class. It will positively affect your thinking and change your life."
- Lily Stepnowski
"You are a wonderful instructor, teacher, mentor
and have the rare ability to make people feel that the magic IS inside, not worn around the neck."
- Stuart Wood
"The class is very physical and the best exercise I have done.
You accomplish something that you thought you couldn't."
- Jon Aguila, Architect
"The class made me think and learn to control my actions. To be able to concentrate in a crazy world. This class is the best thing you can do for yourself. I will take more classes."
- David Stockett
"Dr. Bookspan's Yoga is an "attitude" without one."
- Alane M. Salvatore
"Dr. Bookspan's class is the best thing I have ever done for myself.
She knows how to encourage people to challenge themselves,
and has an infectiously positive/optimistic attitude - unlike any yoga teacher I have ever encountered. The class challenged me and showed me that I can push my body (gently) in ways I never thought possible. I was amazed at the moves/poses I was able to do. My life is better Take this class!! If you want to push yourself a little and learn some really great yoga and draw on Jolie's rich experiences and knowledge."
- Geoff Belforti
"The class is more encouraging than others, wonderful, and fun.
Dr. Jolie Bookspan inspires me in many ways. I learned to keep trying and smile."
- Ukari Iesaka
"Dr. Jolie truly cares for all her students, shows it in her daily life,
and knows more about the true purpose and practice of yoga
than any yoga teachers I have encountered in my long life."
- Mr. Sharma, India
"This class has been so amazing in that it has taught me a different kind of yoga.
My job is extremely physically demanding and I have previously been injured on the job and attended physical therapy where I learned how to heal. This class makes me feel like I learned how to not get hurt!! I found it impressive that I worked so hard and felt so relaxed afterward and it's not the typical "slow" yoga. I can't wait for kickboxing. Dr. Bookspan's perspective is fantastic and inspiring."
- Laura Singewald
"We never felt physically better and more in shape, and happier, than when we took Dr. Jolie's classes"
- Juan and Mariu Rico
"I was a yoga teacher more than 20 years
and told my students yoga fixes injuries. However, yoga was paining me greatly- wrists, knees, neck, elbows, back...
After only a class with the Doctor Jolie showed me why and I was already feeling improved.
I learned the smarter technique of yoga and also, what she was saying:
how to use the better way of moving even outside of the class session."
- Kali Rajyana
A Success Story From A Yoga Teacher
On Nov 14, 2012, jdaj jdaj wrote:
"Dear Dr. Bookspan,
"Thank-you for everything that you have done for me, giving me hope and a way to alleviate my pain through functional movement. All the questions I've had regarding movement and posture you have answered, thank-you. I found you after I completed my Yoga Teacher Training and I became bed-ridden. Disk degeneration in my lower back was the cause of my pain and no hope for recovery was the prognosis from the doctor, and then I found you. I've bought many of your amazing books and I've given copies to my family and friends and the local Reading Center has purchased two of your books."
A Success Story From A Patient
On Oct 12, 2014, at 4:31 AM, James Michie wrote:
"Years of high impact sports and a misspent youth in a gymnasium had left me with persistent knee soreness, lower back pain and a horribly painful shoulder all on my dominant left hand side.
"I'd spent thousands of dollars on physios, chiropractors and 'specialists' who'd injected me with cortisone and pushed me out the door telling me there was not much more they could do. Around this time I discovered yoga and in my usual obsessive way i signed on at a yoga school and practiced 4 hours per day for a year. I'd even had the yoga school's swarmi a 120kg man stand on my back with wooden shoes on and proceed to grind into my back with his wooden heels!It was real desperation stuff. Surely, I thought, if people had been practicing yoga for thousands of years to cure all sorts of physical ailments then all I had to do was stick to the program and i would be healed. I couldn't understand why my lower back felt worse and my shoulder continued to ache.
"By pure chance, a "Dr Jolie devotee" crossed my path and urged me to look at her web site. That was when the penny dropped. I realized that all these 'traditional' yoga poses: forward bends, shoulder stands, spinal twists had been making things worse not better!"I was fortunate enough that Dr Jolie agreed to a personal appointment with me and I flew out of my jungle yoga hide away and headed for Philadelphia. I learned that many of the poses that are taught in yoga are working in complete opposition to how the body functions.
"I discovered that I had a considerable forward head tilt and a very tight hip flexor muscle. Dr Jolie taught me healthy yoga techniques; neutral spine, correct my forward head tilt and stretch out my hip flexor muscles effectively, and this made all the difference. Right away. My lower back pain continued to leave me (for the first time in 20 years !) and after a couple of months of remembering to practice holding my head in healthy position, and stretching out my hip flexor muscles using healthy position during my regular walking and activities, my shoulder and knee pain vanished.
Your SuccessesSend your photos and stories of changing bad yoga to good and I will feature them here with your name and photo rights. I never post any letters to this site or others without your permission. Write even if you don't want your story public. Only stories specifically requested will be posted to help others. The rest, I still treasure. Send to - Success @DrBookspan.com.
Why Some Yoga Injures
Not All Yoga Poses Were Ever Intended for Joint and Muscle Health
An important thing to know is that not all of the many kinds of yoga are good for your health. Many developed from reasons having nothing to do with self-benefit or knowledge of your joints. Many poses were intended for penance, austerity, or purification through pain. The word, "sacrifice" comes from the Latin word meaning "to make holy" and there are moves intended to produce pain and sacrifice. That does not mean that pain will make your knee joints holy. Group suffering is often a good seller too. Many standard yoga poses were originally dance moves or war and fighting stances. Many were performance art - contortions to make some coins in the marketplace and to entertain. Dance, like football, is not done for the performers' health.
Think of runway models stomping, tilting, and exaggerating their motions. They go to training to walk like that, called "the right way" - which means for their art form, certainly it is not healthy, and often not even attractive to those who know healthy movement. Yoga has many of the same kinds of distorted movements which were for specific purposes (art, story telling, tradition, soothing through self-harm, penance), and often changed over time, getting further from the original idea.
These moves were all swept up, without examination, into classes that believe any yoga is only for health, and any move will be healthy no matter how harmful. This is like taking the practice of the priests who flog themselves with nettles for purification, and the penitents of the Middle Ages wearing uncomfortable hair shirts, and making that a pop specialty fitness class with health and fitness claims and certifications.
I took the above photograph when I studied in India and Nepal. Yoga contortions were well known as performance art. See the outstretched hand? It's not a yoga mudra for enlightenment, unless you mean from the bills and coins he is clutching while asking for more. Viewers had to pay per photo, or for gawking time. The health was from the fun of it for the audience, not from the poses. This pose is also known to jam the femoral head (top of leg bone) into the hip socket, often eventually stripping or tearing hip socket cartilage. Then, upper class people do these poses, thinking it is only for health, and many wind up with hip pain and damage.
If you are doing yoga to exalt to deities, to do penance, for purposes of causing pain to purify or remember earthly and heavenly purposes, then poses that injure the body are understandable. Not all poses were intended to be for health. If you want to do yoga poses for health, why use the unhealthful ones?
Claims of Strengthening But Not Doing Strengthening
As with many art forms, people often specialize. Yoga classes became stretching, or "the breathing" or "mind and body" - omitting (often forgetting entirely) the original purpose of deliberate application to real life, like thinking that being a better person through religion comes from doing a series of gestures inside a room of worship. Some classes focus on "the breathing" thinking it will, in itself, automatically help real life in some way, forgetting that how it works is actually applying it when you stand up and have a real life. The same applies to healthy body position. "Posture" is not a single exercise, or holding in place, but knowledge that you apply when you move in class, move into and out of poses, and even more importantly, when you leave class and have a real life of motion, housework, interaction with family. Not all the yoga styles are good exercise or enough exercise. Most are not enough for strength or cardiovascular health, and a few other key health needs -- remember, they were never intended for that. But the claims of total benefit are retained, even for styles never intended for those paths. More on this in class.
Saying One Thing and Doing Another
It is ironic to see students of yoga classes claim yoga fixes posture, then immediately after class sit slouched to dress and bend in unhealthy way, missing the point and lesson of learning anything claimed to be posture and health in class.
Below are two photos of that problem, strangely common among yoga devotees. This student came to my class for the first time having done years of yoga elsewhere, stating she believed yoga fixes her posture, listened (impatiently) to all I explained and repeated about using healthy position for real life, then refused to actually use healthy posture during the poses in class, and did the following after class:Immediately after my entire yoga class devoted to teaching how to apply healthier positioning to all you do, the student in the above photograph is slouching and sitting badly to put on her shoes.This student bent over to get her things with unhealthy back and foot positioning after an hour of my teaching why not to do that, and better ways to use instead.
Yoga Was Not Always A Peaceful Or Ascetic Practice - And Still Isn'tYears ago Yogi sects murdered each other for power, followers, money, sex, land, and all the usual reasons groups oppose each other. Now in modern times they sue each other, each claiming ownership of the practices they sell (while claiming they do yoga for peace and knowledge for all, and openness and love and sharing), charge enormous sums of money to people who think they will learn how to be simple, and do poses and practices that are not entirely healthy.
How Yoga Adds To Back Pain, Neck Pain, and Herniated DiscsInjuries from yoga are not just overuse or doing poses wrong. Some moves themselves are inherently unhealthy for the joints and connective tissue.
Poses like shoulder stands, plow, rabbit, and others that compress the spine forward are medically documented to put herniating forces on discs in the neck (and promote bone spurs).
Touching toes bent over from a stand or sitting leaning forward make the same herniating forces on lower back discs. Note how many yoga poses you may do in a forward bending position. People rarely need any more forward bending after a day sitting at their desk, sitting to relax, sitting to commute and so on.
Most people have heard it is not healthy to bend over and pick up a package, but will go to gyms and yoga classes and bend over the same way to pick up weights or touch their toes. It is the same bad bending. It is not necessary to do any forward bends to stretch. More is in the Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier article, and in detail with many photo examples in the books.
Yoga Forward Bends Are Like Bending Over Wrong To Lift Packages
Most people know that rounding your back to bend and lift is unhealthy over the long term. Armed with that, they leap to the idea that doing the same bend but with a straight back will prevent problems and be healthy. However, bending over forward with a straight back increases load on the lower spine. The same is true for sitting forward bends - with different forces added for the different joint angles and load distributions of sitting. Learn more about this in the Fixing Disc Pain article.
No hip hinges are healthy or functional for bending in real life
Please mentally adjust the hip hinge drawing (second from left) to include the several different variations of hip hinges.
- What about the common, "roll up one vertebra at a time?" That came from dance. It never was based on healthy spine positioning, but positioning as an art form, and a brief range of motion to be done now and then to make sure everything moves, not to be done to continually practice a rounded back.
- I did studies that found no relation between hamstring flexibility and lower back pain - click to see why it is so often mistakenly prescribed for back pain.
Healthier Back and Hamstring Stretches
There are many healthy ways to stretch the hamstrings and back.
Back. Squats and low squats are back stretches. Bending using a healthy crouch / squat all day for the usual things you need to reach and retrieve gives built-in back stretch throughout the day.
Do not increase the inward curve of the lower back. Swaybacked position (large inward curve) hold the lower back in shortened position, leading to tightness. If you can't squat fully, hold on to a pole or other sturdy support in front of you and relax down into the stretch.
LIfting heels shifts weight to the knee joint (left). Keep both heels down to get better back stretch (right)
Hamstrings. Combine stretch and balance, and practice healthy upright spine position with standing hamstring stretches.
Yoga and Back Spasm and Tightness
There are common descriptions of people who bent over forward or sideways for their poses and suddenly felt their back seize up in spasm, or felt it creep up soon after. Sometimes the same poses are mistaken for cures. Yoga is often prescribed for back pain, however many common poses and practices are causes of pain. Here is how to tell more for yourself:
Back spasm and tightness can often be quickly relieved with specific brief stretches that directly lengthen specific muscle(s) in line with how they are shortened in spasm. Unfortunately, sometimes a stretch that should be used only on the rare occasions needed to take out a lumbar spasm is mistaken for something to do daily - like forward bending stretches, which when done all the time, cause their own kind of back pain (explained above and in the Disc Pain article). Yoga Triangles and twists are more examples. When used for a brief stretch - meaning two to three seconds at most - and not forced too far, can give a nice range of motion, give a brief healthy spongy movement to the discs. If a spasm is along that specific side area, then a brief 2-4 second Triangle (simple side bend, no yoga classes needed) or specific direct gentle twist, if done right and specifically along the position needed could release it - used as a one or two-time application. When Yoga Triangle and twist poses are regularly done and maintained static for the long periods of time held in many classes, they put sheer force on the discs (a large component to herniation) and restrict circulation. Regular long side bends, forward bending, twists, and triangles are not needed or healthy.
If you go back to habits that make pain return, and claim you have to do yoga every day to fix it, then your yoga is not fixing the causes. It may even be the cause. See the Fix Back Pain article, the Fix Disc Pain article, and Fix Back Pain Felt From Standing, Walking Running (S.I. Facet, and spondy pain).
Use Warrior For Healthy Lunging To Bend For Everyday Life and Chair Pose Principles for Healthy Crouching
Use poses to practice them, then use good bending and balancing for the rest of the day.
My student David from Belgium, yoga teacher, demonstrates
Change Swayback To Neutral Spine - Don't Practice and Reinforce Swayback In Poses
See how the the lumbar spine has excess inward curve. This is swayback. It is not healthy yoga.
Swayback is not a healthy spine curve. It is too much. It is a major cause of mystery back pain.
Fixing swayback to neutral means simply moving your hip from tilted to upright and vertical. There is no tightening. Three is no sucking gin of the stomach. The movement is from the spine. Using neutral spine instead of swayback during lunge and warrior poses is healthier for the spine, and gives a far better stretch for the hip.
Below is a short video of (mostly) changing overarched swayback (hyperlordotic) lower spine (swayback) to neutral for lunge and warrior poses:
Note that in this video, my student David does not fully change hip position from tilted to vertical. He also does not bring arms to vertical, but keeps them forward which reduces shoulder stretch. In your practice, make the pelvis vertical, not tilted. Practice and stretch so that your arms are upright vertical, not forward.
More about neutral spine description and stopping back pain from hyperlordosis on the Abs Page.
Use Neutral Spine in Chair Poses, Squats, Mountain Poses
Don't overarch the lower spine inward, or push the hip and backside far out in back when doing Utkatasana or mighty pose, which is standing and bending knees until in a sitting position.
Use my Neutral Spine page on this site to learn and practice. Use neutral spine instead of overly-arched to practice movement the way it is needed all day for real life. Make yoga something that benefits your real life movement habits, not trains artificial, unhealthy motion you don't even need.
There are many poses that would be fine but are done in unhealthful, injurious ways. In other cases, the moves themselves are inherently unhealthy for the joints, not merely overuse or doing things wrong.
Several yoga poses directly twist, overstretch, or pinch knee cartilage. Over time, injury builds that may not show as much in people who do yoga and little else, until their knees encounter resisted motion for walking, running, or sports, or from a trip or fall.
Not long ago, people in yoga or sports did not intersect much. Now, the previously more sedentary yoga populations try running, aerobics, and sports. Athletes are being told that yoga will give them magic benefits. Knee injuries bloom when they go back to sports, making the staunch yoga camps claim sports are the culprit, when it was the knee damaging motions in yoga and other stretches.
The knee is a primarily a hinge joint, like the hinge on a door that is supposed to move only to open and close. The door swings toward you and away. If you lift upward on the door, it pulls and twists the hinge. Do this often, and you will loosen it. The door begins to creak and rub and make noise. Think of sitting cross-legged (tailor style). Your lower legs face towards you and your knees face away. All is fine at that point. Now picture, as with lifting upward on a door, you lift the foot and lower leg to rest it on your thigh in Lotus position, or lift it in some pigeon poses as in the photo later below. Unless you rotate the upper leg fully at the hip, the knee pulls upward and twists, overstretching the lateral (outside) ligament and pinching the medial meniscus and soft tissue.
How to picture rotation at the hip joint instead of twisting the knee joint? Think of a stapler. Like the door just mentioned, the stapler has a hinge like a knee joining two sections, like your upper and lower leg. It opens and closes on that knee hinge. If you pull the upper or lower part sideways, it twists or shears the hinge. To get the stapler to move or face sideways, you need to turn (rotate) the whole thing.
Twisting knee cartilage is not healthy or necessary
Hero Pose, (Supta Virasana)
Hero pose begins sitting on bent knees, meditation style, which often is fine. The knee hinge swings like closing a door, normal bending. Then you pull the feet outside of the upper legs, like pulling upward on the door hinge. If you do not inwardly rotate both upper legs at the hip fully, your knee twists at the hinge, overstretching the medial (inside) ligament, pinching the lateral meniscus and soft tissue. In "W" sitting, both feet face outward. Not a problem for the knee unless the hips do not fully rotate (whether relentless W sitting is eventually is too much at the hip is a separate question).. Runner's hurdler stretch is the same issue, one leg at a time.
Even though yoga may call for "doing both sides" and following each motion in one direction with one in the other, twisting both the medial and lateral sides of the knee cartilage by doing both Lotus and Hero will not cancel each other, but can overstretch and degenerate both sides.
In hero pose, you need to rotate the upper leg bones inward from the hip to avoid twisting the knee.
Warrior Poses 1 and 2
Warrior poses are like a lunge. Check the following:
Check your front knee. Is it inside the line of your foot? Do your foot and knee face the same direction? Keep them in the same direction to prevent twisting knee cartilage.
Check if your front knee sags or tilts inward, which unequally loads the knee. Keep your knee above your foot.
Although common to do warrior pose with the back foot turned outward, it is better stretch and function training, and also better for the knees to keep both facing directly forward.
For the shoulder, a common injury accumulates from warrior poses when the upper spine and shoulders are rounded or forward when lifting the arms. The rotator cuff gets crushed between the arm and shoulder bones.
For the lower back, it is common to increase the inward curve of the lower spine when raising the arms. These people think they are reaching overhead when they are only leaning backwards and their shoulders are not getting much stretch at all, or are getting compressed, as described above. Keep shoulders down and relaxed, not raised. Keep upper spine straight not rounded forward. Lower spine stays neutral with out increasing inward curve.
Notice and prevent the front knee form tilting inward (medially) instead of holding over the foot.
Mighty Chair Pose (or Chair Pose)
This pose is just standing and bending knees until in a sitting position. It is mild effort for the thighs, not as much as if you did actual good bending throughout the day, or squats. It is not valuable for any functional motion. It is often overly-stylized into an highly artificial position that takes the health out of it for the joints. Remember that it originated as an art form, not for health or learning how to hold your body in any healthy position or training how to sit in a healthy way Often people bring the knees far forward of the feet in order to make balance easier. They may allow knees to sway inward. They may face knees in different direction than the feet, making a twisting at the joint. Often people raise arms overhead with the body tilted forward, compressing the rotator cuff, and practicing poor upper body placement (see the Fix Neck Pain article). These are all ways of taking a move that does not have to be bad and making it unhealthy. At best, it is little exercise. To get real and built-in exercise instead of straining in chair pose a few moments a week, use healthy half squats (Fix Knee Pain page) for daily bending and get hundreds of healthy bends built-in your day.
Hindu Squats: One-Legged Heel-Up Deep Bends
Hindu squats may not twist the knee as much as pry it. Picture a tool to crack nuts - two handles joined at a hinge, like your upper and lower leg joined at the knee. Put an object (for example, a soccer ball) between the upper and lower leg and try to close the heel toward the upper leg - if the ball does not compress, the hinge (knee) pries open. That happens with low squats on the toes (heels up) if you have large or heavy legs. If you have slender legs, the heels can come closely, like bending your elbow so that your lower arm rests along your upper arm. Slender legs do this, while muscular athletes and large people may leave knee joints vulnerable to injury.
Keep the whole rear leg turned downward. You get a better anterior hip stretch, and when you lift the foot, the knee can bend like a hinge, not twist.
It is fine to modify the pigeon pose if you want to sit a bit to the side as pictured below, instead of keeping the back knee and leg rotated to face straight downward. Sitting to the side greatly reduces the stretch, especially to the rear hip's front muscles that need the stretch, but usually no big problem to the knee. When the pose continues to lift the back foot and lower leg for King Pigeon, if you lift the foot up without facing the knee downward, you twist the knee joint.
Thank you JoyThruYoga.com for pigeon photo
One Legged King Pigeon
King Pigeon starts in pigeon pose then bends the rear knee and lifts the body so that your weight kneels on the rear kneecap. A healthier way to do this and get a better stretch for your hip, is to move your back leg further back so that weight rests on your lower thigh, not kneecap. This change also gives a better stretch.
Healthy Ankle Position Is Straight, Not Bent
Avoid deforming the ankles in seated poses
Notice if you bend the ankle upwards when sitting cross legged. It is not good for the ankle and you lose the intended stretch from the hip.
You lose a stretch from the hip and also practice an overstretched ankle position, predisposing to sprains.
Habitually stretching the ankles sideways loosens ligaments. LIgaments are meant to hold the joints in place. They are not supposed to stretch like muscles and tendons. Making the side ligaments of the ankle loose predisposes ankles to several problems including sprains, because you create excess length in ligaments which are supposed to prevent the ankle from bending at the side that much. More about this bad habit for the ankle, and how to fix it, is on the Bookspan Basics page.
Thank you Word Freak for photo http://flickr.com/photos/wordfreak/731966122/
In all the "tiptoe" poses, or Samatvan, whether standing or squatting, use awareness and muscular control to keep ankles straight, not tilted.
Practice healthy ankle positioning habits during poses.
Arches - Control Arch Position To Prevent Slouching and Flattening
Allowing feet and arches to slouch into flattened downward tilting position can create foot, knee, even hip pain.
As with preventing other slouches, you can prevent arch flattening using foot and ankle muscles to maintain healthy foot position.
Notice and correct arch position during standing poses, then progress to maintaining level arch during one-legged poses.
Do not force level position, or strain or create new pain elsewhere.
I have taken several yoga teacher certifications. Each gives different, plausible-sounding rationale why knee twist poses help, but the anatomy is just off enough to come to wrong conclusions. In one, they taught to deliberately twist the lower leg on the upper "to protect the meniscus." Twisting does not protect, but twist in a damaging way. There are two bones in the lower leg, allowing some rotation, but twisting injures other structures. Another teacher training stressed extreme knee twisting as a stretch in itself, stating that any increase in motion is beneficial, especially from joints. Knee laxity results.
Without muscle and positioning training, you predispose yourself to instability when giving the knee challenge, like going back to sports, or from a fall or blow. Another certification teacher training taught that knee twisting is beneficial since it allows great range of motion in case you fall down with your knee twisted backward. Sounds plausible for that one fall (unless you fall differently), but for every other day in your life, extra space can allow the joint to 'rattle' and rub and wear prematurely. In another class we were made to sit in Lotus, then, still folded in Lotus, rise to knees and swivel from knee to knee to waddle around the room, compounding damage from putting body weight on the twisted strained joints.
In each yoga teacher training and class I take, I hear teachers tell about their knee pain and surgeries. They don't know why. They think they need more yoga and do more injurious poses, getting relief or distraction for the moment, then pain comes back. Movement in general often relieves pain for the moment. No need to repeatedly add injury to get temporary relief. Stop the causes and the pain stops.
There are assertions that many people do these stretches and not everyone gets knee pain, so they must be fine. Smoking and unsafe sex also do not have a one-to-one association with immediately bad consequences every time. Some stretches and movements twist the knee and overstretch cartilage. If you do these poses and have pain, it is one place to think about.
There are other yoga poses with problems for knees, ankles and other joints. I will keep adding when I can. More about fixing knee pain, see the Fix Knee Pain page.
"Send a fool to pray to God and he will bruise his forehead"
~ Russian Proverb
Sit and Rise Without Your Hands
"Quick and Easy Strength and Balance Exercise."
My student Ms. Han demonstrates sitting and rising without hands.
Stand To Dress Youself - One Legged Balance Stance with Crossed Leg
In yoga, this pose has many names including Half Chair, Half Ankle to Knee Pose, Standing Ankle to Knee, Flamingo Pose, Standing Pigeon (Utkatasana or 'powerful pose') and others. I called it "putting on shoe."
Being able to stand and dress yourself is a bare minimum baseline health skill. It makes no sense to pay for yoga classes, get changed to go to yoga classes, and do yoga poses of the same skill, yet not be able to dress yourself while standing in real life.
Joe Blatt demonstrates balance and posterior hip stretch with the "Shoe Stretch." He is balancing, not leaning against the door. I know because I took this photo.
Class Readings For Each Week
I had originally created an extensive class syllabus for hundreds of classes. For each class, I provided free movies, readings, concepts, stories, enough for years of different classes. I had uploaded them to my Fitness Fixer column, which ran on Healthline from 2006 to 2010. After the Healthline company ended my column, they were supposed to keep the articles, but removed almost all of them, and replaced mine with their own articles that sell their products. I found a BlogSpot archive that still has some of the articles grouped together on one page and included those limited links below.
Class Week 1Textbook Readings:
Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier: Introduction page 8. Overstretching Bad Habits In Daily LIfe 87-98. Hamstring 28-34. Lower Back 58.
Health & FItness THIRD edition: Preface page 8, Why Should You Be Active pages 10-19, Making Bad Exercises Into Good Movement 97-125, Getting Out of Shape and How To Avoid it 133-137.
Healthy Martial Arts: Forward, Introduction, Lifestyle, to page 8. Flexibility 60-101.
Fitness FIxer Helpful Overviews:
Not all yoga moves are needed all the time. Not all were intended to be for health. Avoid dogmatic application of yoga with Getting the Right Yoga Medicine.
Focus doesn't mean staring at a candle. Some info on focus, the seventh limb of Ashtanga Yoga, for real daily life: Which Ancient Exercise Gives Focus and Concentration? (Healthline took this one down. It is now on my Emotional Health page).
Fitness FIxers on Healthier Stretching:Here is why we don't stretch hamstrings by bending over, either standing or sitting: Sitting Badly Isn't Magically Healthy by Calling It a Hamstring Stretch. This is now on my Hamstrings page
I did studies that found no relation between hamstring flexibility and lower back pain. See why it is so often mistakenly prescribed for back pain.
Perspective"The Blind Men and the Elephant" is a poem by American poet John Godfrey Saxe (1816-1887) based on a fable from India. School children used to learn it to understand how people, even whole countries come to blows, not over truth, but their own limited viewpoint:
It was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind
The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me! but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"
The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried, "Ho! what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 'tis mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"
The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"
The Fourth reached out an eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
" 'Tis clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"
The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"
The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"
And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!Moral:
So oft in theologic wars,
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!
Problems come when people insist that yoga is the total "heal-all" or that it provides health and focus and discipline and exercise, forgetting that their form of yoga is only part of the whole, and that many of the yoga styles were never intended for that one result, let alone all results.
Modern yoginis wearing expensive yoga clothes printed with cliches of love and openness get angry and superior at others who don't "know" yoga - when theirs is another part, not the one they learned. Think how often people and countries come to blows over the same.
Class Week 2
Textbook Readings for Class Week 2:Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier: Achilles Tendon 12-17. Sitting 18, 23-24. Daily Life as Stretching 103-104.
Health & FItness THIRD edition: Innovations in Stretching 55-70, You Don't Need A Gym For Real Fitness-Fitness As A Lifestyle 82-96.
Healthy Martial Arts: Abdomen and Core 43-59. Prevent Injuries 162-196.
Class Week 2 Short Fitness Fixers:
Read the sections above on stopping knee, ankle and foot pain and watch the short looping GIF videos.
Fitness Fixers on Healthier Stretching: Fast Fitness - Don't Shorten Hip When Stretching Hamstring. Healthline took these down. Check the BlogSpot archives for hip and hip strength.
Class Week 2 Fitness Fixers for Healthier Ankle positioning information:Fast Fitness - Sprain Prevention and Rehab Training. Healthline took these down. Check the BlogSpot archives for ankles.
Week 2 Short Fun Movie to Watch:
Using strength and moving the body is wonderful, and if you feel effort, that's the idea. I teach many of the moves in the following video in my yoga and other classes. Beginners can start learning them with me with good success, if they work and try. I have had yoga instructors who come my classes, curse and storm out at the first effort, whining that it is effort. They claim yoga makes them strong and loving, then throw tantrums, but that is for another story. Watch this short video to see children do some of the moves we do:
Week Two Mind Set Uplift:Reset your goals and never complain that my class is hard again:
Class Week 3
Class Week 3 Textbook Readings:Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier: Warrior balance 36-37. Downward Dog 14, Shoulder 61-63. Neck 71-74. Cobra 75. Leg 18-20. Ankle and Hip 25-27.
Health & FItness THIRD edition: Exercise Gimmicks 38-40, Abdominal Muscles-What They Do May Surprise You 71-81.Healthy Martial Arts: Healthy Mind 123-127, Spirit 128-141, Breathing 142-144.
Class Week 3 Fitness Fixers for Healthier Yoga:"Fast Fitness - Prevent Wrist Pain During Pushups and Cooking,"
"Knee Pain When Running - Check Your Yoga."
It looks like Healthline took these down. Check the BlogSpot archives for wrists and this one for knees. Also see my Fix Pain movies about knee, ankle and foot positioning on the Patient Success page.
Class Three Mind Set Uplift:Does yoga give you love and acceptance and peace and good posture, and cure all injuries? Try "Air Pushups." I found that Healthline took down this fun article. I put most of it back on my web page about Fitness as a Lifestyle. Check for it there.
Week 4 and Onward
Stretching Smarter Stretching Healthier:
Handstand stretch 40. Warrior balance 36-37. Yoga on the ball 28-39. Downward Dog 14. Boat 76. Face 84.
Shoulder 61-63. Neck 71-74. Cobra 75. Leg 18-20. Ankle and Hip 25-27. Stretches That Make You Tighter 85-86.
Fitness Fixer Readings
Warrior 3 or Virabhadrasana III
Stand on one foot, stretch arms forward with one leg lifted back
"Fast Fitness - Stronger, Straighter Upper Back with a better Warrior 3" - Healthline removed this one. Come to class for the information and 3-D graphics. Example photo below. Quick instructions are part of my Six Quick Stretches. See the Stretching page.
Plank, Chaturanga Four-Legged Staff Pose - Holding a pushup position
Fast Fitness - Strengthen by Changing Your Plank - Healthline removed this one. See short gif movie, below.
Plank, Chaturanga Two-Legged Staff Pose - Lifting one arm and leg
"Abdominal Muscle Exercise - Better, Different, Not What You Think" - Healthline removed this article. See how abdominal are supposed to work during real life on my page for Abdominal Muscles and Spine Position.
The short gif below shows fixing swayback to healthier neutral spine for chaturanga poses, planks, and push-ups.
See this movie and others on my Flickr Account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/thefitnessfixer/17003384442/
Mighty Chair Pose
Instead of artificial, over-stylized chair pose, we use simple half-squat for good bending as a functional daily lifestyle action to strengthen legs, stretch achilles tendon, and avoid bad forward bending that degenerates lumbar discs.
Nice Toe Stretches When Sitting in Seiza (kneeling with backside on lower legs)
Healthy Toe Stretches
Pascimottananasana Pose is forward bending while sitting with legs straight in front.
After sitting rounded and slouched all day, you don' tneed more sitting bent forward. Over time, it pushes discs outward. Pascimottananasana translates as "back extension" stretch, although anatomically it is back flexion. Why Pascimottananasana Pose injures the vertebral discs whether it is done with straight or rounded back - "Disc Pain, Not A Mystery, Easy To Fix."
Instead of Pascimottananasana, we use other stretches to get wonderful hamstring stretches without the damage to discs - "Sitting Badly Isn't Magically Healthy by Calling it a Hamstring Stretch." It is gone from the Healthline site. See my page on Hamstrings.
More about flexion and rounded back under body weight. A common risk of lower spine injury in yoga - Photos and understanding of a common slouch and why it hurts - Prevent Back Surgery.
Prevent wrist pain and compression during Chaturanga - "Fast Fitness - Prevent Wrist Pain During Pushups and Cooking."
We don't use The Stretch You Need The Least.
Notice and correct this mistake in ankle positioning in Sukhasana or easy sitting pose, Padmasana or Lotus pose, and Baddha Konasana bound angle cobbler's pose. See above section on knee and ankle injury.
How To Start with an Easy Handstand - Adho Mukha Vrksasana (means Downward Facing Tree Pose)
Description used to be in my articles - "Quick and Fun Arm and Body Strengthener" and another helpful article on ekapada, or one leg stretch - "Leg Stretch that Strengthens Arms." Healthline removed these. Try my Blogspot Yoga archive -
and the Blogspot archive of FItness Fixers on Handstands -
A lot more about handstands is on my Fitness as a Lifestyle page.
Scroll down to the Handstand section.
Spot and fix the commonest mistake that overly compresses the lower spine in handstand, swayback - "Fast Fitness - Fixing Your Handstand to Neutral Spine."
My student Dennis demonstrates an easy step up to wall handstand PLUS changing swayback lumbar spine to neutral spine:
In the first few seconds, my student Dennis steps each foot back and up onto the wall
The red arrows and frown show where he allows swayback lower spine. Swayback causes spine joint compression and shows lack of abs use.
The green arrows and smile show the change in spine and hip position to neutral spine. Healthier for spine, more exercise.Thank you Steve Kramer PhotoEnvisions (http://seatraveler.com) for arrows and faces indicating teaching points.
Emotional and Mental Fitness Training For All Classes
Mental & Emotional Training - short stories for stronger happier emotional health.
This page originally had numerous quick healthy recipes with photos and videos from my Fitness Fixer column. When the Healthline company ended the column, the posts were removed.
Until I add the recipes back, one by one, enjoy quick helpful stories with a few recipes on my page for Healthier Nutrition.
"Talk doesn't cook rice."
-- Chinese proverb. Get to class!
Class Updates and Karma Yoga Through Sharing
Get instant updates about classes, new projects, Fitness Fixes, and other. Short and easy on my Twitter:
Karma Yoga Through Doing
Vibrant, happy, physical. We learn to focus and breath *while* you move, instead of one at a time.
Koundinyasana B or Aka Eka Pada Koundinyasana
Double Viparita Dandasana B
Asanas (poses) go by many names for different reasons. Founders differed with each other. Disciples disagreed what their teachers said. Different languages translate differently. Different people like different names.
To Be Injury and Pain-Free
- All techniques in this class are intended to decrease injury potential and improve function starting as soon as you begin using them.
- You should feel effort and exercise in your muscles during and after class, but no strain, twisting, or pain to joints. If something hurts, you may not be positioning yourself properly. Check with me.
- Do not do anything that increases joint pain or injury potential.
- Pain may occur if you use bad positioning habits and exercises that strain muscles and put joints into unhealthy positioning. Don't do that.
- Keep healthy common sense and use your brain.
- Practice until healthy motion becomes natural and the way you move for all daily life.
- Ask questions.
- Enjoy improving your mind and body. Smile. Relax. Breathe.
Certification for various yoga levels and Instructor training may be earned by top students through guided study with me directly. Information to get started is on the Class page Yoga section.
Eka Pada Bakasana A
or Eka Pada Galavasana -- Eka = one, Pada = foot. The sage Galava was a pupil of Vasishta.
Bound Utthita Trivikramasana (Utthita means extended)
Fix Pain Summaries
on This Web Site To Learn Healthy Movement and Avoid Yoga Injuries
Stretching and Flexibility for Real Life
Stretch the way you really need for real life and to feel better, starting right now
Fix Your Own Neck Pain
Change the cause and quickly stop the pain.
Inspiring Patient Stories
How real students and patients fixed their own life-long injuries using Dr. Jolie Bookspan's sports medicine techniques.
Bad Exercises and Ones To Do Instead
How to spot harmful and helpful exercises for your back
Bad Discs and Sciatica
Learn about disc degeneration, herniation, and sciatica, and what to do to fix them yourself
Fix Your Own Knee Pain
Simple, often overlooked ways to stop knee pain and injury
Fix Chronic Lower Back Pain (Standing/ Walking/ Running)
One major overlooked problem and exactly how to stop the pain right away.
Patient Success Stories
How readers fixed their injuries
Natarajasana A - (Two hands) Nata means dance or dancer, The names comes from "Raja" which means king.
The pose is dedicated to Shiva, King of dancers.
I found that it's not romantic to do stretch and yoga on the rocks, it's pointy.
If this information fixes your pain, send it to a friend (the article, not the pain) with full reference and citation.
Don't worry about people stealing your ideas.
If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.
- Howard Aiken
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Drawings of Backman!™ copyright Dr. Jolie Bookspan from the book The Ab Revolution™ No More Crunches No More Back Pain
Entire site is education only. Nothing is medical advice. See your doctor first and use your brain