Friday, October 30, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
Yogabody: Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Asana, by Judith Hansen Lasater, Ph.D., P.T. is an immensely informative book that gracefully combines rigorous anatomical theory with yoga teaching and practice. Instead of merely relating a series of yoga positions and the muscles involved, Yogabody covers different regions of the body in clinical detail, discussing the anatomical structure and kinesiology and how they apply to yoga teaching. The book thoroughly illustrates the anatomical structures being discussed, with details such as the ligaments surrounding a joint and the individual features of a bone.
Lasater's expertise as a physical therapist is clear from the depth of her writing about the human body, and her knowledge of therapeutic yoga shows in her discussion of how to apply the anatomical concepts to teaching yoga.
"There is a simple way to tell the difference between a structural and a functional scoliosis. Have your student stand in Tadasana and then bend forward. She should not try to stretch out in Uttanasana but rather just hang forward. Now stand behind her and observe her back. If she has a functional scoliosis , the stretch will result in the soft tissue releasing, and her back will look even from side to side. If she has a structural scoliosis, it will be more apparent that one side of her rib cage is higher than the other."Here we see that the information given is useful to many bodywork and fitness professionals besides yoga teachers, but that some yoga terminology may need to be looked up. Overall though, a lack of familiarity with yoga terms, mostly asana(the yoga poses) names, should not be problem. Do note that the specific terms given are in Sanskrit, so even if you know what Down Dog is, you may not recognize the pose when called Adho Mukha Svanasana.
Yogabody: Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Asana, p. 76
The anatomy and kineseology come first, then asanas are used to show how the concepts apply to yoga practice. An experiential example is given of the movement of the head of the femur in the acetabulum:
"Ask your student to lie down on her mat for Supta Padangusthasana [figure shown]. First observe as she raises her straight leg up to an angle of 90 degrees. Many students raise the leg with an action that appears as if they are lifting the whole femur at once. Watch this action several times. Now suggest that she lift her femur in a different way: have her imagine that the head of her femur is descending just as she begins the action, in order to allow the rest of the femur to lift. It is as if the femoral head rolls down, back, and out as she raises the thigh and leg up. This way of thinking about the action is more in harmony with what the head of the femur actually does in the movement. Instead, most students just pick up the whole lower extremity and lift it. This way of moving does not allow for the femoral head to move deep into the joint for a mechanically sound movement with increased congruence. This type of movement does not follow the concave-convex law for this joint."If you teach yoga or are a dedicated student, the contents will you give an awareness and clinical foundation of why certain asana alignments are optimal, based on the structure of the body. If you aren't a yogi, but want to expand your knowledge of applied anatomy, you will still find Yogabody informative, and you may also gain an appreciation for the potential of yoga.
Yogabody: Anatomy, Kinesiology, and Asana, p. 107
I would love to take one of Lasater's workshops, even though I'm not a yoga teacher(yet). In the meantime, I hope any teacher I have a class with already has.
As the local fruit season concludes, I look for a substitute for my morning cereal. The winner is steamed sweet potato chunks. Colorful, sweet, and soft, they are perfect with my muesli mix and soy milk. As an important bonus, they are exceptionally nutritious. Sweet potatoes usually go into my soup as a contrast to the spicy things, and, best of all, my famous sweet potato ginger cookies. I will have a batch of those for clients next week(book at Positive Massage now!)
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
"The idea of the cool-down seems to have originated with a popular theory — now known to be wrong — that muscles become sore after exercise because they accumulate lactic acid. In fact, lactic acid is a fuel. It’s good to generate lactic acid, it’s a normal part of exercise, and it has nothing to do with muscle soreness. But the lactic acid theory led to the notion that by slowly reducing the intensity of your workout you can give lactic acid a chance to dissipate.
Yet, Dr. Foster said, even though scientists know the lactic acid theory is wrong, it remains entrenched in the public’s mind.
“It’s an idea we can’t get rid of,” he said."
It's an idea often heard in the bodywork world as well. Many people, including sadly many massage therapists, continue to believe and sell the idea that massage after exercise is important to flush lactic acid from muscles. Typically this is considered part of Sports Massage.
"For years, many massage therapists have been taught that lactic acid can and should be flushed from the muscles of athletes after intense activity. This truism has been passed on to clients who have also accepted it as fact. Both therapist and client thus have established and perpetuated a mutual belief system that purging of lactic acid is not only necessary, but also efficiently accomplished with the assistance of massage. Some beliefs die hard. This one and others related to lactic acid have been holding their own, not only in some massage schools and practices, but also in the community at large, despite emerging research to the contrary."
So, is there a benefit to massage after exercise?
Absolutely! There is a great deal of anecdotal evidence supporting the practice. While the success of Sports Massage may have been incorrectly attributed to lactic acid removal, it still shows substantial benefit to many people. But why?
My thoughts are that the benefit comes from two things. First, exercise and competition create stress, which massage helps to relax. Nothing like trying to outrun the pack, or holding a hundred pounds of iron over your head, to create stress. Second, the exercise can create hypertonic(tight) muscles or fibers within the muscle that manual pressure, stretching, and neuromuscular techniques may loosen. Note that both intense massage, IE Deep Tissue(also this blog post), just like intense exercise, can cause stress and tissue damage, therefore the more intense the exercise the less intense the massage should be.The myth of "flushing lactic acid" with massage has been refuted for years, yet I still hear it, and in Googling for other good articles to reference I immediately saw massage providers promoting it. Certainly seek massage after your workout or competition, but be wary of therapists or spas who either don't understand, or knowingly propagate, the lactic acid myth.
Palo Alto survives horrible storm!
The Bay Area had its first winter storm, and the news makes it sound like we were nearly annihilated. Well... I grew up in Ohio, and folks here don't know what a storm is, let alone winter. A light rain at 65 degrees with a 20 mph wind gust does NOT count as a "winter storm." So don't bother sending that care package, except for the really tasty bits.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
"Researchers found that people who were told to sit up straight were more likely to believe thoughts they wrote down while in that posture concerning whether they were qualified for a job.
Again we see the interconnection between mind and body. Just as feeling confident gives us better posture, better posture makes us more confident.
A wonderful comment I've heard occasionally from clients after their massage is "I feel taller!" What does that do to their confidence in themselves, and how does does it affect others' perception of them? It's all good, as the saying goes.