Dinah Washington was the first jazz singer that I got into. This clip from Jazz on a Summers day is amazing on every level. Dinah, the bamd, the audience. Enjoy.
Here is the weekend mashup for April 19th: A collection of interesting articles from the week that didn’t warrant a post of their own. Todays focus for whatever reason is on food. I know this is a body blog but I cook a lot and love life hacks so I couldn’t help myself.
First up… How to cut cherry tomotoes in one fell swoop.
21 MRI scans of fruits and vegetables. These are kind of freaky and it is a quiz of sorts. Good luck.
How to peel a whole head of garlic in ten seconds…
A perfect way to peel hard boiled eggs.
And let’s finish with something more in line with the theme of the blog. Gut feelings: the future of psychiatry may be inside your stomach
When it comes to teaching yoga class I have to admit that I am a fan of tricks that are a mixture of silly, fun, informative and hard work. I hope that both the of the core tricks that I do in this video fall into these categories.
Teaching yoga has its ebbs and flows and I often get into working on poses or body parts in class for a few weeks or a month and then forget about them, sometimes for years. The core tricks in the video above fall into that space. I am not sure why they disappeared from my mind’s eye but they made a return this past week and I have been having fun with them.
Watching myself on these videos is always a trip; mainly because I rarely think I do them as well as I think or even teach on the video. I truly didn’t think I was doing the fishtailing of the lower body that I mention in the video. Or at least not as much as I witness when I watch in replay.
The main thing that I see watching this video is how much I am weighted to my right side, a truism that I have written about on more than one occasion. But still it freaks me out to watch it digitally and see how off I am. Oh well, back to the proverbial drawing board.
A Couple of Core Tricks
- Either do plank with your feet on a blanket or wear socks.
- Pull yourself forward with your hands trying to keep your lower body as stable as possible.
- Go as far as you can or want and then walk backwards.
- Set up the same way with either a blanket or socks and then pike your hips up towards the ceiling pulling your feet as far forward as you can.
- Slide the feet back to plank and repeat.
For two weeks from May 5th – May 19th I am hosting the Be Your Own Healer telesummit. In this event you can listen to fifteen interviews I recently conducted with health professionals ranging from yoga teachers to doctors, coaches, rolfers and more.
This has been an awesome experience for me and I look forward to sharing it with all of the readers of the blog. Registration is free and if you want to join click on the links above or below.
One of the questions that I asked each participant was what led them down the path towards helping people. About half reported pain, injury or illness as a key factor in the flowering of their professional careers.
I thought about this as I was reading about the physician Vladimir Janda who is credited for defining patterns in the body that he referred to as syndromes.
I recently wrote about the upper crossed syndrome and the many muscles involved with it, and I am getting ready to look at the lower cross syndrome and the muscle at play in that imbalanced pattern.
Dr Janda contracted polio at the age of fifteen and was unable to walk for two years. At first his work focused on patients who had recovered from polio but soon found that his interests led to study and work with movement and muscle imbalance.
The syndromes as defined by Janda included the aforementioned upper and lower crossed syndromes and also the layered syndrome.
These syndromes speak to imbalances in muscles regarding both their strength and weakness, and tension vs. laxity.
Whatever the imbalance in question, it will ultimately have an effect on our movement patterns and our posture.
I’ll cover the lower cross pattern and the related muscles over the next week.
Register here for the Be Your Own Healer telesummit
Sitting between the femur bone of the thigh and the tibia of the shin are the meniscus, made of cartilage and designed to help absorb and distribute shock and also stabilize the knee during movement. There are a number of menisci in the body though most people automatically think of the knee when they hear mention of the word meniscus. The two menisci of the knee sit laterally (outside) and medially (inside).
Cartilage is a malleable connective tissue often found in the joints between bones. Though it is softer than bone, it is harder and less flexible than muscle. The elasticity of the meniscus, minimal as it might be, helps to balance and stabilize the knee. With each movement of the knee—flexion, extension, minimal rotation— the meniscus change shape to accommodate the movement of the joint.
One of most common orthopedic surgeries is to repair tears in the meniscus of the knee. As we get older there is less blood flow to the meniscus and since blood to essential to all healing, the lack of blood flow makes the meniscus more susceptible to injury.
Most meniscus injuries occur through a planting and twisting action. My first meniscus injury—set up by too much hyperextension—came during a softball game where I set my foot to pivot and while the knee turned the foot did not, resulting in a mini explosion in my knee.
When you hear the phrase torn cartilage the reference is almost always to the meniscus of the knee and surgery is often the choice people make for repair. Tears of the meniscus can take many forms in varying degree and arthroscopic surgery can get into the joint and clean those pesky problems up.
The question is whether those tears need to be repaired. In the case of the first of three knee surgeries that I underwent, the lateral meniscus was torn completely off its mooring and was reconnected. This is a more complicated procedure and requires way more time to heal.
When it comes to the more basic cleanouts— I had two of those as well—while the surgery is fairly routine I am not sure it is always necessary. For one, without a baseline MRI to use as a reference point, a doctor really has no idea when the tear he sees on the film occurred. Without that knowledge it is hard to make the correct decision about whether a surgical procedure is warranted.
Many years later I don’t regret having the surgeries that I had. I have no knee pain and I don’t limit my activities in any way. Also, the arthritis that I was told to expect to creep into the joint has not begun. But at the same time I have worked with numerous people who had meniscus cleanouts recommended and watched their pain dissolve through changing movement patterns and an exercise protocol.
This exercise, Block Between The Thighs At The Wall, was a life changer for me. It was the first exercise I got when I went to physical therapy after my initial knee surgery. I used a squishy ball at PT but use blocks when I teach it in class.
Developing tone in the inner thighs is absolutely essential when it comes to developing good posture and movement patterns that support the body.
The main thing to work on in Block Between the Thighs at the Wall is trying to isolate the inner thighs without gripping the butt or using the outer thighs and quadriceps too much. You can’t truly isolate the inner thighs but getting them to be equal partners in the work of the legs is worth every effort.
Block Between The Thighs At The Wall
- Stand against a wall placing a block between your inner thighs. Have with your feet 8 or so inches away from the wall.
- Bend the knees and make sure the kneecaps line up over the center of the ankle joint.
- Keep the feet parallel to each other.
- Engaging the inner thigh muscles against the block try to isolate them and use the quadriceps, gluteus maximus and the outer of thigh as little as possible.
See if you can start by doing this for three minutes and work up to seven, eight or even ten minutes. I had to do ten minutes in that first round of physical therapy before I moved on to other exercises.
Meet Jagwar Ma. Fairly irresistable psychedelic pop music from Australia.
The Weekend Mashup for April 12th: A collection of posts and articles from the past week that didn’t get a post of their own.
First up, how dogs drink.
Facts About Yawning: Why We Do It, Why It’s Contagious And More.
My mother’s eastern european cousins tried convincing her to not let me be left handed. Thankfully they didn’t get their way. The Evolutionary Mystery of Left-Handedness and What It Reveals About How the Brain Works
Finally, an eye opening video about WalMart and what a simple policy change would mean.
Spring is bringing some changes to the CoreWalking world. As of today we are expanding our store so you can purchase all the different components of the CoreWalking program separately. Books, DVD’s and video analysis will be available for purchase on their own.
There will be a significant discount for purchasing the products as a package but we have had enough requests for the opportunity to buy the different components separately that we are happy to make them available.
Two other big things are brewing as well.
We are about a month away from releasing our new DVD of my Psoas Release Party! workshop. This two DVD set will include a lecture about the amazing psoas, and a series of exercises meant to release this wondrous muscle.
We are hoping to have the psoas DVD ready for sale by the 1st of May.
The third very exciting project in the works is a telesummit Be Your Own Healer I am hosting between May 5th and May 19th. Be Your Own Healer is a symposium of fifteen like-minded thinkers that I have interviewed, asking them what it means to Be Your Own Healer. The results have been fun, exciting and stimulating.
Registration for the free Be Your Own Healer telesummit has begun at beyourownhealer.net.
Few things make me as happy as the transition from winter to spring. The last days of cold, the tease of tiny budding flowers and the anticipation of warmth all combine to fill me with joy.
And the new offerings from CoreWalking just feel like icing on the cake.
Lower back pain can often, though not always, be traced to an issue with the psoas muscle. The psoas—the body’s most important muscle—helps to hold the spine upright, facilitates good walking patterns and warehouses all of the body’s unprocessed energy.
The relationship of the psoas to lower back pain encompasses all three of these factors. Our unprocessed energy can lead to back pain for esoteric reasons that are unrelated to the big toe so I will refer you to other posts on the blog for that information.
But when it comes to walking and standing the big toe is easily connected to incidents of lower back pain as related to the psoas. Much of this pain can be attributed to a lack of support for the lumbar spine due to the misalignment of the pelvis, legs and in turn, the psoas.
The psoas attaches on the femur bone towards the back of the inner thigh. It is essential for the psoas to align in the back plane of the body at its top and bottom if it is to successfully hold the spine upright and initiate our gait. To do so the legs need to sit directly under the hips.
When we put weight into the big toe and the inner edge of the foot we activate the inner thigh at the same time. When we walk correctly the entire weight of the body falls on the big toe in order to push off to the next step. Pushing off through the big toe activates the inner thighs and sets the psoas back at its base.
This action also helps the spine to lengthen up. When the inner thigh moves backwards, taking the psoas with it, the psoas engages across the rim of the pelvis pulling the lumbar spine forward. The erector muscles of the spine react to the shortening of the psoas by moving in opposition and extending up the back of the body.
The easiest way to feel the connection between the psoas and the big toe is to stand up with the feet parallel and hip distance apart.
- Roll your weight onto the outside of your feet and you will likely feel the outer thighs engage and your inner thighs lose tone.
- Roll onto the inner edge of the foot particularly the mound of the big toe and feel the inner thighs tone slightly.
The power of this weight shift should not be underestimated. It is this grounding, or lack thereof, that can be responsible for a great deal of lower back pain. When we bear the weight of the upper body through the outer foot we lose access to our center and to the psoas muscle.
A great deal of the lower back pain that people experience comes from faulty load bearing and compression of the lumbar vertebrae due to poor posture and weight transfer.
If the psoas isn’t properly aligned at the back half of the inner thigh with the legs directly under the pelvis and the inner foot bearing its share of the load, the psoas can’t work in tandem with spinal erectors and the lower spine will be compressed which in many cases can lead to lower back pain.