On July 1st I am slated to submit my paperwork to the Yoga Association of Alberta for my 500 hour Hatha yoga teacher certificate. I started my yoga teacher training back in 2017 and had the goal of completing it before the end of this year. (ok- by the time I turn 40!)
Truth be told, my actual goal was to have my 300 hour certificate not my 500 hour!
Interesting how what you think you can do is not always accurate. In this case, I exceeded my expectations!
Now with Covid-19, I'm not sure if this deadline will be reached.
Training has been modified and I might not have all my hours (maybe 10 hours short) by the end of June.
Big deal, not really. (More on that below…)
Now as promised, here are my three hatha yoga tips that I am currently implementing on (and off) my mat.
1. What is your foundation?
For years I have listened to Adriene (from the Yoga with Adriene fame) cue about your foundation. Yet, it wasn't until I really listened to my senior teacher, Melanie, as we deconstruct each pose or asana that I have really heard AND implemented the focus on foundation.
So, what IS the foundation?
It is whatever is supporting your body on the floor. From hands to thighs and head to feet, any body part that is on the ground, in any pose.
My laser focus is on my feet, particularly when I am standing. It has made a significant difference to how I practice on my mat but also in day to day life. Have you given your feet a second thought lately?
2. Have you done a side bend today?
When building a good lesson plan, a yoga teacher must include certain types of movements (I'll save most of them for another day!) Side bends are movements that our body typically doesn't do in a day. We love to move forward and sometimes backward but not often side to side.
Connecting breath and side bending has been one of my favourite things to do. Opening up through the ribs and side abdominal muscles is a release like no other.
So if your day doesn't include a side bend, on the mat or not, I encourage you to move your body in that direction today! Just think arms up overhead like a morning stretch. Allow the torso to shift the arms from side to side (don't forget to hold to one side for a second before switching to the other side).
Photo credit: Kenzie Checknita @chekenzie
Ahhh…feel the sweet release. ✨
3. What is the outcome in your yoga practice or to a specific yoga pose?
I might need to say that again.
Nothing, nothing, nothing.
One of the main learnings of yoga is to let go. Yes, in a flexibility sense. But also let go of the OUTCOME. It doesn't matter.
Looping back to my earlier statement, you can now see that my attitude and perspective about wrapping this whole accreditation up in July 2020 isn't a big deal. It's not the point. It's not the destination (tell my 2017 self that!)
Yes, one day I will have my 500 hour certification but I hope to have the 750 hour and 1000 hour and yoga therapist designation too.
All in good time.
Right now I can focus on my foundation and feet, my side bends and not worrying about what happens in the next minute or month.
I hope you'll give these tips a try too.
Be sure to reply to this email to let me know which of the three yoga tools you are going to use right now!
Stay well and happy moving, Lisa
It was scary.
I hadn't moved my body in the water for a year.
Could I still ask my body to swim without pain? Would I be accepted into this new sport and find the same community I once had?
It was different. Yes.
But I was able to find my place again. Although I had pain, it didn't interfere with my movement. 🤽🏻
I successfully played three seasons of water polo, competing at the national level and representing Sakatachewan at Nationals. , if you don't know, I don't do anything half way! I even tried out for the Junior National Team. All awhile, still being fascinated with the human body.
My mental health improved and I was finding my groove.
Fast forward a couple years and low and behold, I was sitting in pre-med at the University of Alberta. I knew I wanted to do something with the human body. I was struggling to find my first year university self (, that's such a tough first year!) when a friend suggested that I go through the University calendar and pick all the classes that INTERESTED me not classes that I had to take.
Turns out I highlighted every Physical Education class (now known as Kinesiology) in the calendar!
Needless to say, I found my place once more. My undergrad and graduate degrees opened my world of not only understanding movement for others but movement in my body too.
I'm not going to lie. I have chronic pain. As I sit and write you, my pelvis is twisted on the right and slightly tipped forward.
Ouch! I know.
Additional injuries over the years have also left my body altered and changed.
But I manage my pain with my yoga practice, massages and acupuncture. Mentally I have recognized that my issues typically show up in my tissues. Although not perfect, I am able to manage my pain. A big part of it is moving my body. I look at each day as a new day to move my body. And so I offer you...
Now, I am so fortunate that I have a career that provides me the opportunity to be of service to people and their pain. I really like what Susi Hately, a yoga therapist from Calgary, Alberta says,
I teach people how to listen to their body when it whispers, so they don't have to hear it scream.
All and all, maybe my fall was suppose to help direct me into service and to my passion, helping people exercise. Maybe I am a better clinical exercise physiologist because I get it. I've been through injury and pain. AND I still deal with a body that doesn't always feel great.
My silver lining showed up many years later. And I found my calling.
Has a silver lining shown up when you least expected it?
And with that, I have three videos to share with you (you will see me in most of the videos ). Once we are back to our new normal, you'll see these videos airing in your Alberta doctor's waiting room TVs. Poke around the HUTV website and find some more videos that have credible and valuable information.
Lower Back Pain
Exercises for Low Back Pain
Questions and Answers with Exercise - Hurt vs. Harm
Before I go, hit the reply button and let me know how moving your body helps with your aches, pains and injuries. We all have a relationship with pain at some point in our lives.
Stay well and happy moving, Lisa
After a year of rehab, scans and treatment, it was determined that I had a sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction. Meaning that the joint between the sacrum (triangle shaped bone at the base of the spine) and the pelvis were no longer functioning properly on the left side. I also had piriformis syndrome. The piriformis is a deep muscle that attaches to the side of the sacrum. My left piriformis was overactive and tight, likely due to the SI joint displacement from the impact of my fall.
As I laid on an exam table at the clinic one day, an orthopedic surgeon told me that I had to quit my beloved, synchronized swimming.
At that moment I'm certain I didn't realize the trickle effect the loss would have on my young teenage self. And what it would do with my pain levels.
Reflecting on it now, the loss of community and friendship that came with losing synchro was one of the greatest pains. I fell into a depression that was a struggle to come out of.
My solace was walking. This was the only thing I was "allowed" to do during my medically directed year off from exercise.
Every evening I would go out for a walk after supper. I was out so much (with my cassette tape Walkman on of course!) that kids from my high school would see me and ask me where I was going.
Walking was my medicine. It was what allowed me to have a sense of control on what felt completely uncontrollable.
As the year lagged on, I helped coach new swimmers and took the time to learn more about the human body. I was intrigued with what was happening in my body but also with how the body moved. I continued with my yoga practice (this is the actual practice - its still a good practice, vintage and all!) and tried my best to find what would be next for me.
I knew it would be related to physical activity. And I knew that it was likely sport. I just wanted to move my body again!
I took the time to reflect on what I was good at. IT was being in the water.
Then rolling into my next year of high school, I was asked to play on my high school water polo team.
I was hesitant in the least. Would my body be ready for sport again?
The pain was still present. But tack on the mental pain as well.
But, maybe this is just what I needed.
Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash
I love how the world presents things to us when we need it the most. Here are a couple things that landed in my lap this week that worked so perfectly for my newsletter this week. Enjoy!
Emotions, Back Pain, Yoga: How are they all connected?
Exercise Can Help Reduce Chronic Pain, Researchers Say
More to come about my pain...
Stay well and happy moving, Lisa
It was a Friday night on a cold evening in December 1992.
I was at the University of Regina for my dryland training session. I had long sessions on Friday nights, 1 hour dryland training and 2 hours in the pool.
You know, my smile comes from somewhere - years of training as a synchronized swimmer! 😁
My coach had my team running laps around an upstairs office space. Amateur sport training in the dead of winter at its finest. What happened that night changed the trajectory of my life forever.
Running in opposite directions, my teammate and I ran around the corner at the same time and collided into each other.
Unexpectedly, I absorbed my teammate's impact, as she fell on top of me and we both fell, me backwards, onto the cement floor below. I landed on my low back with a high impact force.
We both took a moment to realize what just happened.
I started to feel sensation in my back and tried to continue on with the remaining minutes and hours of practice.
I began my journey with pain.
My parents were ready and willing to get me help (thanks Mom - I know you are reading this). I did physio, massage and yoga. At its worse, I went to physio three times per week for months.
I was self-conscious that I had to wear a brace around my pelvis under my clothes and that I had a lift in one shoe to help balance out a leg discrepancy as a complicating factor.
While friends were memorizing the names of Lip Smacker lip gloss, I was learning about the piriformis muscle, the alignment of my spine and how to operate a TENS machine.
I was also learning about pain. I was in pain. And I was presented with a new norm, a body that no longer functioned as it once did.
I know pain. So many years later, I am still learning about pain.
This week I'd like to share with you a few new videos I was shown in a recent Yoga Teacher Training course. It is a unique way to look at emerging pain science.
If you are like me and pain is in your life, I highly encourage you to watch these videos. And share them with others you know are dealing with pain.
Why Things Hurt
Back Pain - Separating Fact from Fiction
More to come with my story of pain…
Stay well and happy moving, Lisa
Missed my most recent newsletter? Don't worry, I've got your back. Find all my exclusive letters here on this private blog. ~Lisa