Experience the healing power of Ayurveda as we tap into its divine wisdom storehouse to transform our Yoga, up-level our health and live with more purpose, power, clarity and bliss at this transformational course with Yogini + Ayurveda Specialist Insiya Rasiwala-Finn.
As part of our 500-hour training, I co-teach a course that I called Yoga and Mind Body Medicine. It’s a course I spent years dreaming up. My vision for it was to offer a Western science-based perspective on understanding the gross and subtle benefits of yoga on our body-mind physiology. I enlisted a colleague Dr. Lawrence Cheng—a Harvard trained integrative medicine doctor and yogi who teaches Mind-Body Medicine in medical communities—to present with me. I knew this was going to be groundbreaking.
However, when we listed this course under our Blissology Yoga school’s 500-hr training program on the Yoga Alliance website, we immediately received an email, telling us not to use the words “Medicine” or “Healing” in conjunction with Yoga.
Why is this an issue? Yoga Alliance explains that “the risk comes from suggesting that a yoga teacher or school is diagnosing and/or treating a mental or physical health condition. The words ‘heal’ or ‘healing’ imply this. These claims are within the scope of the practice of medicine and/or licensed health care professions.”
As an alternative to the word healing the phrases “improving health” and “increasing well-being” are suggested.
This meant we had to get creative with what we called the course on Yoga Alliance’s website. Eventually, we settled on “Yoga and Western Science.”
I understand that the medical community does not want people who have graduated from a 200-hour yoga training to describe themselves as healers, or treat someone with a sore back or cancer without the proper medical training nor does anyone want to be legally liable for endorsing someone as capable of healing issues for which they are not qualified.
Yet, the data about the evidence-based healing benefits of yoga and meditation is increasing with each year. The benefits are so real that it is getting harder to dismiss all yoga as a “quack science.” I would love to see a day in the future when well qualified yogis (and doctors) will be able to claim that yoga is both “healing” and “medicine.”
Will this ever happen? Skeptics do not think so and go to long lengths to tell us why yoga is not healing, or medicine. In his article titled “Yoga Woo“, Stephen Novella, a clinical neurologist at the Yale School of medicine writes, “Yoga is simply exercise plus a lot of ‘Woo.'”
“Yoga, if practiced responsibly, seems to be a reasonably effective form of stretching and exercise. There is insufficient evidence, however, to conclude that it is any superior to any other form of exercise of the same duration and intensity. There are concerns about the safety of yoga, as it often involves extreme stretching or poses that the average person might find not only difficult but physically harmful.”
I’ll share more of my thoughts on this topic in Part 2 of this blog. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you, what is your opinion? Is Yoga Medicine or not? Should the word healing be used by some practitioners of yoga?
Join globally renowned yogis Eoin and Insiya as they travel to Insiya’s homeland of India for an ocean-side retreat in laid-back, beachy and beautiful Goa, a destination known for its long stretches of uninterrupted beaches, energetic markets filled with the bustle of India, delicious cuisine and diverse culture, as well as the perfect place to dive deep into your yoga practice in the arms of mystical Mother India.
Whether you are preparing to hit the ski hills this season, play golf next season, perform fall yard work, or simply are wanting to continue to walk and perform all your household chores with ease and efficiency, it might be helpful to be knowledgeable about the term ‘core’ and how timing of our core contributes to quality of movement whether we are participating in sports or activities of daily living.
The ‘core’ can be interpreted in many ways, depending on who is explaining it. Some leading spine researchers debate that a true ‘core’ even exists (O’Sullivan 2012 interview here). Scientific reviews of high level (level 1) evidence conclude that there is not any one superior exercise for chronic low back pain. The popular belief that core stability exercises are essential to prevent and address back pain is not supported by research (don’t shoot the messenger) (Smith et al 2014). Sure, these exercises may help some people; but not for the reasons we may think. This debate is for another post. That said, we all likely have heard of the ‘inner core’ described as a group of muscles surrounding the trunk and described as a cylinder. The main function of these muscles is said to create spinal stability and control the intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) when the rest of the body is in motion. There are 4 main muscle groups that make up the inner core: Transversus Abdominus (TA), Multifidus (MF), Pelvic Floor muscles (PFM), and the respiratory diaphragm. TA is the deepest abdominal muscle that wraps around your abdomen like a corset, and is connected to tissue surrounding the spine. When TA engages, it assists in increasing the pressure inside the abdomen, which
can be one of many factors that contribute to trunk stability. MF is a deep spinal muscle which makes up the back part of the core. It is a postural muscle that helps keep the spine erect. The PFM’s are the bottom part of the ‘cylinder’ or core. More information about the role of the pelvic floor and the factors that influence its function is here.
The respiratory diaphragm makes up the top part of the cylinder. When all of these muscles engage in a coordinated manner, they help to maintain the pressure in the abdomen which then provides the stability to the spine and pelvis. It is important to note that the timing of these muscle engagements is needed for efficiency of movement and function, which is why I often like to refer to this phenomenon as “core timing” instead of “core stability.” For optimal core function, these muscles will activate in a sophisticated and coordinated during movement and are ideally engaging at a variety of intensities, automatically, throughout all movement, all day! Julie Wiebe, PT, describes the core strategy system as ‘piston science.’ Antony Lo, PT, discusses the refined recruitment that continually changes in response to each task as “tension to task.”
A common misconception is that “strong abdominals protect the spine”. In fact, as described above, the abdominal muscles make up only one part of the core. Furthermore, coordinated ‘timing’ of the engagement of the TA is important and not just the mere ‘strength’. The famous “6-pack” or Rectus Abdominus muscle that many fitness fanatics train is not the muscle we are trying to target here. Instead of engaging TA adequately, you may be using or over-recruiting the Rectus Abdominus (as evident by the abdominals popping out and up) to compensate for the TA that may not be recruiting appropriately.
Core timing or core training can play an important role in any rehabilitation program. A healthy core means a healthy foundation from which our limbs can move with more power and efficiency. However, can we actually volitionally ‘train’ each muscle to engage in a perfectly timed and refined way? It’s quite a sophisticated and automated system: there is debate on whether or not we can actually cue the timing of the core adequately. That is also for another post!
For now, I will say that in my clinical experience, cueing breath and ease of movement seems to improve core timing (therefore movement efficiency and performance) more than actually cueing TA, PFM’s or MF to voluntarily ‘engage.’
Brent Anderson, PT, PhD, explains a similar approach, and uses two real-time ultrasounds to illustrate this concept here.
Core timing can be an essential part of any regular workout routine. Whether you enjoy recreational sports, competitive sports, pilates, yoga, or enjoy working out at the gym, addressing your core (through breath) can improve your abilities and enhance your overall performance.
If you experience low back pain, then a visit to your physiotherapist or other trained health care professional would be a good idea. See “Truth About Back Pain” for more info on myths vs truths about back pain and the myth of core stability here.
**This article is not intended to act as medical advice, nor to diagnose or replace your current treatment. Please seek clearance and guidance from your licensed healthcare professional prior to participating in any of the tips, advice, practices or movements mentioned in this article.
By Shelly Prosko, PT, PYT, CPI, Blissology 200-hr YTT graduate
Check out Shelly’s teacher profile to learn more.
I start my day at 6:40 AM, I’ve barely slept. It’s probably the most upsetting day of my life. I remember being this upset when my dad died but this situation is different; people are supposed to die. Trump was elected willingly.
My body feels heavy and my heart has sunk. I just can’t find the light easily. People keep telling me, “dude, you are all about love and people need your light more than ever.” This is true. The world is calling on all of us to step up our connection to light.
Here in Miami I went to a great class with a member of our Blissology family. I felt stiff and it was hard to move, even though the class was awesome.
What I realized is that I just can’t rush back to “happy, happy” and “all is positive” thinking without going through my process.
Someone tells me after class that they were going to post: “good mourning” as their Facebook status. But she didn’t because she didn’t feel like they should be in mourning as a light-worker.
“No,” I said, “ We have got to grieve. Painting on a happy face is not the solution.”
I told her about an expression my Body Mind Psychotherapy teacher has called “emotional constipation.” The last thing we need to do is to stuff our emotions down. The analogy of trying to force a beach ball under the water is apt here. This will only result in it popping up again with greater velocity. I can’t just flip a switch. There is a lot to mourn at the moment.
What specifically? Well, I am currently in Florida (a state that Trump won by 1% of the vote) setting up next year’s EcoKarma event that will help transplant coral on the rapidly dying reefs here.
It feels so futile to do this work when we know that we have anything but a proactive climate-change supporter in the White House.
Long before Trump was ever President-elect, when he was a reality TV icon, I cited him as representing the opposite of the yogic values of love, kindness and compassion.
The purpose of yoga to me is best expressed in a quote attributed to Albert Einstein:
“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us “universe,” a part limited in time and space.
He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and whole of nature in its beauty.”
This election is a movement away from a widening circle and back to the smaller circle… one that comes with a wall.
After class on my way home, my little son, Ananda grabs my hand and he walks me through the warm Florida morning sun to a bridge overlooking an inlet.
“Let’s find some fish, Dada!” He urges enthusiastically as he tugs on my hand towards the rocks under the bridge.
It’s full of fish when we take the time to look. There are mussels, parrotfish, urchins and he even points out a flounder fish to me that perfectly blends in to the rocks.
His joy is heartening. We shift our focus to the plastic bags and beer cans under the bridge. We spend ten minutes collecting them and I vow to make cleaning the plastic up from Miami waterways part of next year’s EcoKarma event.
I walk back to our friend’s apartment holding his hand. I realize the value in the sphere of influence we do have; our friends and family.
I am giving a class called “Chakra and Cello Chill” tonight in Miami. Even though my stores of positivity seem low, it’s ok. This is where I am at now. I am not rushing my way out of it or pushing things away.
All I can do is share my healing process. I am clear about the three things I need most right now.
One, is that I need to shed tears. This is essential to unblock the knots that I feel. Tears are what I need. They just haven’t come out yet and I know I need this.
Secondly, we all need to create a space of retreat. To pull in. We need to be ok in our small circle as the first step. We need spaces to release. We need to feel we are not alone and take solace in being parts of a tribe that understands us.
Lastly, we need to realize that being a light worker is ideally a feeling of lightness. Right now it’s a feeling of heavy. We need to trust in the heaviness and know that it is the journey down that brings us back up eventually. We will rebound
Good luck, Everyone. We will heal. Just don’t rush the process.
We will build a kinder world. Light soon, but first tears.