There's no such thing as a stupid question! Ask you yoga questions in the comments section below or over on the Yoga Forum.
Question 1: Easy Pose question: It feels comfortable to keep my hips even, my spine long, and my shoulders straight, but my stomach tenses up like crazy. More, I think, than is really necessary to sit straight. I try to relax but it keeps tensing right back up again, and I find I spent the beginning, meditative part of the session obsessing about it instead of setting myself up for a good practice. Do you have any recommendations? Seriously back to the basics, here, but this has caused me to wonder how much extra tension I carry there through a normal day. Thanks!
Answer 1: Hey there. The thing about easy pose (above) is that it's not that easy (at least for me). If it's the top of your stomach that is tensing up, it might be your body compensating for the chest trying to stay open (i.e. not slouching like we normally do). If it's the middle/top of the stomach tensing up, it may be a weakness in the core and the body trying to compensate for them while trying to keep the spine long and strong. I would suggest working on core strength and opening up the chest and see if that helps.
Question 2: I've been practicing pretty regularly for almost two years now. I am very interested in becoming a yoga teacher when my youngest starts school full time which will be another year and a half from now. I am trying not to let my fears get in the way of my dreams. I am not as flexible as I would like to be and that is putting a lot of doubts/fears in my head. Just wondering if you or anyone else have any advice or tips of things I could be working on now to prepare for a teacher training. Obviously, I will continue to practice regularly and hope the flexibilty comes but is there anything else? Books or videos that would be helpful? I'd appreciate any advice you can give me. Thanks!
Answer 2: I think this is a common fear amongst people headed into teacher training. I had similar fears (just generally not feeling like I knew as much as I should going into it). The thing is, no one goes into teacher training as an expert or master of all poses. Even afterwards - there are a number of yoga instructors who can't do a split or handstand. That doesn't make them any less of an instructor. We go to teacher training to soak up the knowledge and the experience. Along the way, we'll learn tips for practicing asana, but that's all secondary. My advice would be to take the pressure off yourself. Keep up a strong personal practice, and bring a nice big blank notebook to training and soak up everything you can. You're already enough.
PS: Some teacher trainings will have a suggested reading list, but if not, here are 22 books for yoga teachers that may be of interest.
Question 3: Hi, I have a request for a youtube video! I would love a yoga for glaucoma patients video- yin is nice but I miss the movement and space of a flow class :( Thank you!
Answer 3: I wish I could whip one up for you, but I don't really know exactly what glaucoma patients should or shouldn't do so I feel it would be irresponsible of me to make a video for glaucoma patients not knowing for certain what works or what doesn't work. I do know they shouldn't be coming into any inversions (this includes downward dog), but I'm not sure what else is advised, so my suggestion is this: if you know for certain what glaucoma patients should avoid, then go ahead and do any flow video- just modify for the downward dogs (go onto hands and knees and keep the head even) and skip whatever else isn't advised. If you're not sure what glaucoma patients should avoid then I'd suggest talking with your doctor and then relay that information to your yoga instructor to ask for modifications if you aren't sure.
Question 4: I hope that this e-mail finds you well. I have been reading your blog for over 6 months now, I discovered it through instagram and really find a lot of posts that have helped me and are beneficial in many ways. I once asked you about probiotics as I suffer from digestion problems, and they were a great help.
Recently I realized I have more and more symptoms of inflammation, and talking to a CrossFit coach who is very into nutrition, she suggested I try the GAPS diet. I had already read many of your posts about it, but never thought I would need it. I have always had eczema and it has been getting worse, I have been having urinary infections I never had before (I am with the same partner since a while), I tend to have acne and it also gets worse at times, I have always had hay fever and allergy to dust mites, it seems to have escalated too and I have many more intolerances to food than ever. I suspect it really has to do with my nutrition, I try to be careful but I stray and am not sure I am making the right choices.
My question to you is how do you get started on GAPS? I think you will suggest I read the book, but I am just afraid I will not be able to apply that diet in my hectic student life, with little time to cook. I also have an aversion for yoghurt, will other probiotic foods be enough? Do fermented vegetables taste good? It all doesn't seem very appealing to me. What other accessible literature can you suggest? I've searched for your posts on the GAPS diet, but I'm afraid to have missed out on an important one. I am looking for guidance on how to get started, basically.
I thank you already for your tremendous help with all posts you published, I hope I can find a way to incorporate GAPs in my life!
Answer 4: Hey there! Yeah, I would suggest getting the GAPS book and reading it through because it offers such thorough explanations for various parts of the diet, and how our gut flora gets all out of whack to begin with that I wouldn't be able to give an insightful answer in one little post. Basically, the idea is that we develop all these problems (from eczema to acne to allergies) due to poor gut health (leaky gut) and that once we "heal and seal" the gut lining, the symptoms we experience fizzle away. It's less about avoiding certain foods (although that is a huge part of it), and more about adding healing foods to patch up the gut and improve digestion.
Like I said, I highly recommend reading the book because even if you can't apply everything, you'll at least have a solid background understanding of what's going on. However, here are some tips:
- The diet is definitely labor intensive so that might be tough if you have little time to cook. That being said, a crock pot is the best thing to invest in (they can be inexpensive, too!), and will make your life a hundred times easier. I do all my broths in the crock pot and keep it on low, refilling the water as needed until the broth becomes watery.
- Fermented veggies? I personally like them but they're an acquired taste for sure. Who knows, though, maybe you'll love them! Don't know until you try. Making your own is easy and inexpensive (though it takes 7 - 14 days to ferment, so a long process), but if you're wanting to try some right away you can buy them at your local grocery store or on amazon.
- zero part of the diet felt appealing to me either but my body was in bad shape. I was willing to do anything to get better because I was in such physical pain from the severe bloating among other symptoms- I didn't care what I had to eat or drink to heal. The diet, in my opinion, is really hearty and delicious and most importantly, I am so much better than I was. I'm a year and a few months into the diet (remember, it's a temporary diet just until you heal up, not a forever diet - this is all explained in the book), and I feel better than I have in literally years.
- another book to look into is called Nourishing Broth and that explains all the benefits of broths, and has a number of recipes to try as well.
- My GAPS posts: why I started, 5 months GAPS update, 9 months GAPS update, 1 year update.
Question 4: I seem to have lost my balance! In class, I cannot hold any of my balance poses - including my favorite tree. While I do sometimes rush it or try to muscle through it during class, I'm finding that things aren't any better during my home practice. How do I develop my balance "muscles"?
Answer 4: Honestly, there is a lot that goes into a sturdy balancing pose. These balancing tips may help as well as the following:
- I really think the mind has a lot to do with it. If I'm feeling frazzled I won't be able to balance for the life of me.
- Maintaining a drishti - this is the focal point where we're to gaze during a balancing pose
- Making sure you're standing on firm ground - sometimes a yoga mat offers too much cushion for a good foundation. I recommend coming off the mat onto the studio floor. (Related Tips for a solid foundation.)
- Strengthen the little tiny muscles in the feet with this yoga video.
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