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What to Expect in the Yoga Tune Up Level 1 Teacher Training

When I took the Yoga Tune Up Level 1 Teacher Training in August of 2012, I had no idea what to expect. Up to that point, the only Yoga Tune Up class I had taken was a morning practice with  Jill Miller, the creator, at the Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research earlier that year.

Like many others, I felt I already knew enough and was skeptical to spend $1000 on “another training”. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that the YTU Level 1 is not another training by any means.

One of my very first workshops for teachers.

One of my very first workshops for teachers.

What we teach in the Level 1 is not a cookie-cutter approach, but how to teach creatively and with anatomical fluency. Up until that point, I had wanted my teachers to tell me what to teach, in what order to do it, with just enough reasoning behind the “why” to be able to answer questioning students. I never fully understood what was actually happening in the poses or the movements beyond “twists always come after backbends”.

By 2012, I not only had my BS in Exercise Biology from UC Davis, but had worked as a Student Athletic Trainer and completed over 500-hours of yoga teacher training. But I still hadn’t figured out how to bridge the gap between science and yoga. I had spent hours in the cadaver and biomechanics labs trying to figure out what every structure was, what it did and how it worked, but none of that was relevant in yoga. Or so I thought.

As yoga teachers and movement professionals of any modality, we move bodies for a living. It is up to us to understand how bodies function and move so that we can do so with more intelligence and thought. You would never even consider for a second going to a mechanic who has never looked under the hood of your car, so why do we do trust people who don’t understand human anatomy with our bodies? To be honest, you’ve probably spent more time with your coach/trainer/yoga teacher/Pilates teacher than your doctor – do you know how much training they’ve actually completed on anatomy and physiology?

The Level 1 Training bridges the gap between science and movement not by giving you the answers, but by showing you how to utilize your resources and find them for yourself. While I did have anatomical training beforehand, there were many others who didn’t – and they too learned how to use their resources to build creative sequences, answer questions and think critically about WHY they were doing something rather than just doing it.

With all that being said, you may still be curious what happens each day in the classroom, so here you go:

Teaching the Yoga Tune Up Level 1 Teacher Training

Each day, with the exception of the final day, includes time in the morning to connect, go-over what was covered the day before, ask questions and decompress. We will review any hands-on adjustments or techniques that were taught the day before.

The morning also includes a 2-2.5 hr master class, with focuses such as Total Body Tune Up, Triangle and Twisted Triangle (aka Hips in many directions!), Shoulder Focus towards Downdog and all overhead motions, Core, Spinal Extension/Backbends and the ever popular RESTorative Hips day (which comes very appropriately at day 4).

Afternoons include anatomy discussions, hands on adjustments, partner work, and other exercises to help you develop your unique voice, anatomical fluency and teaching competency.

Each day concludes with some relaxation/down regulation and then you’re on your merry way! There is homework each night which helps to solidify the day’s lessons so that you can squeeze the most out of the 7-days.

The final day includes an in-class presentation of what you learned the previous 7-days. It’s only in front of the your fellow students and trainers, who love you to pieces and want nothing but the best for you – no pressure 😉

While there is a short therapy ball sequence at the start of each master class, this is not a training about YTU Therapy Balls, but every concept you learn will complement your movement practice. Many students also uncover their personal body blind spots during the training – the areas of our bodies that are overused, underused, misused, abused and confused that we have become blind to and/or ignore. Body blind spots can become catalysts for injury, so it only benefits you to uncover them before they put you on the sidelines for months with a significant injury.

If you’re thinking about taking this course, I can’t recommend it higher. Not only because you could possibly take it with me, but because the 7-days changed the trajectory of my teaching path. After 7-days I learned how to be authentic in my teaching, rather than parroting what I had been told. I learned how to easily craft 2-hour workshops, that I was then able to teach nationwide! It truly helped me to unwrap the creative potential that I know we each have within us and allowed me to stand out in the crowded sea of movement professionals.

Your next chance to take the Yoga Tune Up Level 1 Teacher Training with me and Nicole Quibodeaux is October 27th in Tarzana! This is the last Level 1 in California for 2016 and early bird pricing ends on 9/30 (which is THIS Friday!), so be sure to jump on it right away.

Learn more and register for the upcoming Level 1 Training here.


 

Upcoming Events

  • October 2: Banish Back Pain (Brea, CA)
  • October 15: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)
  • October 22: Mobility for Performance (Santa Monica, CA) just added!
  • October 27 – Nov 3 YTU Level 1 Teacher Training with Nicole Quibodeaux (Tarzana, CA)

Full Schedule + Events

Exhausted from taking care of those around you? Check out my Self-Care Startup Guide, where I’ll guide you through 15 days of ways to improve your mobility, stress levels and well being. Start prioritizing your health and wellness today!

Click here to learn more!

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Sciatica and Sciatic Nerve Pain Explained

Sciatica is not something you ever want to experience, trust me, this is from personal experience. While It is a common cause of low back pain and disability, few actually understand what sciatic nerve pain is.

The sciatic nerve is one of the largest nerves in your body – it is the blending of the nerves from the lumbar and sacral plexus (lumbar nerves 4, 5, and sacral nerves 1, 2 & 3). It runs from your lower back, down through the buttocks and down the back of the leg, where it splits into two nerves at the back of the knee. Think of it like an extra long data cable that runs from your spinal cord to your toes.

AE Wellness Sciatica and Sciatic Nerve Pain Explained

One of my more significant injuries was when I tweaked my back with the very common bend and twist (it was a perfect reason why you should train in all of the weird positions so the one time it counts is not the time you’re injured). I instantly felt searing pain in my lower back but I was at work, so I slapped some ice on it and went home when my shift was over.

It wasn’t until I began to wake up with intense pain on the outside of my foot a week later that I began to worry. There had been no injury to my foot, which meant this new pain a big red flag. I was experiencing sciatic nerve pain, which can manifest as pain anywhere along the length of the sciatic nerve.

When the sciatic nerve is entrapped or irritated at any point along it’s length, it can cause pain. It can happen if any of the branches off the spinal cord are entrapped from stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal where nerves pass through) or compressed by a bulging disk. It can also occur in the buttocks, as the sciatic nerve passes very closely to the piriformis. In some people, the sciatic nerve passes directly through the piriformis, which can be a problem if the piriformis is in spasm. The tension of this deep buttock muscle can cause create irritation as it rubs on the sciatic nerve, leading to sciatic nerve pain (also referred to as Piriformis Syndrome).

Check out my video below where I show on Skelly Kapowski where the sciatic nerve is and a simple massage technique you can do to ease sciatica.

What’s the best way to ease sciatica and sciatic nerve pain symptoms? Get up and out of your chair as often as possible! Sitting does nothing to help the health of your lower back and hips, so try to stand and walk at least once every hour.


 

Upcoming Events

  • September 15: Structurally Sound Small Group Series (Valley Village, CA)
  • September 24: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)
  • October 2: Banish Back Pain (Brea, CA)
  • October 15: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)
  • October 22: Mobility for Performance (Santa Monica, CA) just added!

Full Schedule + Events

Exhausted from taking care of those around you? Check out my Self-Care Startup Guide, where I’ll guide you through 15 days of ways to improve your mobility, stress levels and well being. Start prioritizing your health and wellness today!

Click here to order!

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Chronic Pain and the Gate Theory

Our nerves are not as smart as we think they are. They do one thing: send signals to the brain and spinal cord. It’s then up to the brain and spinal cord to interpret the message. While there are nerves for different tasks (movement, signals to the brain and signals from the brain), for the most part, they are simply the messengers.

When there is structural damage, such is the case with an injury (cut, scrape, broken bone, torn muscle or fascia), the nerves are telling your brain that something is injured and your brain is properly perceiving that as pain.

But sometimes, as is in the case with chronic pain (pain that lasts for longer than 6 months), the structural damage may no longer be present even though very real pain signals are still being interpreted.

The brain can still feel pain even when there’s not a physical problem to cause it. That’s not to say that pain is all in your head, it’s certainly not, but pain is much more complicated than we understand. The pain that is felt in chronic pain situations is 100% real and painful for the person experiencing it.

So how to help soften chronic pain? The current western medicine solution to chronic pain is with opiates (pain killers) what come with a host of serious side effects like addiction. Nerves do one thing – signal and will respond to any stimulus. If we can simulate the nerves with a positive sensation, such as touch, while it most likely still be painful for the individual, it may help to retrain the brain to eventually get out of a pain signal. This is the Gate Theory of Pain: that non-painful input can “close the gates” on painful input, and in effect, lessen the pain sensation.

While any type of therapeutic touch could be beneficial, self-massage with a pliable inflated therapy ball, such as the Coregeous ball, could provide non-painful stimulus to the nervous system.

I strongly recommend you find a practitioner in your area who can guide you through this process as every pain story is unique and complicated and it’s definitely not one size fits all for any of this.

Check out this Ted Talk below with Dr. Elliot Krane where he shares a specific patient case study in which they used physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychotherapy in addition to the pain-killers to help a 16-year-old girl overcome chronic pain.


 

Upcoming Events

  • September 15: Structurally Sound Small Group Series (Valley Village, CA) last chance!
  • September 24: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)
  • October 2: Banish Back Pain (Brea, CA)
  • October 15: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)
  • October 22: Banish Back Pain (Santa Monica, CA)
  • October 27 – November 3 Yoga Tune Up® Level 1 Teacher Training (Tarzana, CA)

Full Schedule + Events

Want to build a self-care practice but not sure where to start? Check out my Self-Care Startup Guide, where I’ll guide you through 15 days of ways to improve your mobility, stress levels and well being.

Click here to pre-order!

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Ankle Sprain Relief (with video!)

Ankle Sprain Relief AE Wellness

When you’re a kid playing soccer, an ankle sprain is a common occurrence. If you’re like 16-year-old me, you probably paused momentarily, slapped some ice on it, and then continued on your merry way. But a lifetime of sprained ankles and stiff-soled-shoe-wearing can cause the ankle joint to become very stiff and restricted.

Ankle Sprain Relief AE WellnessI can’t even recall the number of times I sprained my ankle playing soccer growing up. My last sprained ankle left me in a boot and on crutches for a few days (note that rain and Ugg boots do not mix well). Beyond some ice and minimal rest, as soon as I could walk I was back to my normal routine.

I didn’t even realize how stiff and limited it was until AFTER I tried this mobilization and felt the difference! Even if you didn’t play sports growing up, you probably have taken a wrong step or fallen and felt the pull of of tendons around your ankle joint.

Stiffness in any joint is an issue for the surrounding joints because they will have to become even more mobile to make up for the lack. After an injury, your brain will stiffen and tighten the surrounding soft tissues to brace and protect the area from further injury.

This ankle joint mobilization is super easy to set up and will do wonders to improve your ankle range of motion. When your ankles are moving well, the rest of your lower body joints (you know, the ones involved with every single step you take) will be very happy.

Grab a chair and your favorite pair of toted Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls. A pair of tennis balls in a sock will do, but lack the needed grip for the fascial stretch over the top of the ankle. I’m using the Therapy Ball PLUS in the video.

This mobilization helps to rehydrate and stretch the fascia over the top of the ankle, known as the extensor retinaculum, which stabilizes and protects the tendons and ligaments over the top of the ankle joint. After numerous injuries to the ligaments (ankle sprains) or limited motion in the joint in general, the extensor retinaculum can get a bit “sticky” and in need of a refresh. Don’t worry if it has been years, it is never too late to improve the pliability of your connective tissue.

Spend about 2 minutes on each side trying to move your foot and ankle through as many different ankle positions as possible and make sure you recheck your ankle range of motion after or between sides. A squat is a great way to check, but even just walking will help highlight the difference and improvement you’ve created.

Enjoy your new mobile ankles with this ankle sprain relief!

Have you ever sprained an ankle? What did you do after for recovery?


 

Upcoming Events

  • September 15: Structurally Sound Small Group Series (Valley Village, CA)
  • September 24: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)
  • October 2: Banish Back Pain (Brea, CA)
  • October 22: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)

Full Schedule + Events

Exhausted from taking care of those around you? Check out my Self-Care Startup Guide, where I’ll guide you through 15 days of ways to improve your mobility, stress levels and well being. Start prioritizing your health and wellness today!

Click here to pre-order!

SHARE THIS ARTICLE NOW:

Soreness vs. injury: What’s the Difference?

Injury-or-Soreness Ae WellnessAnytime you try a new movement, increase intensity or increase the load, the chances of you feeling something afterwards is high. But is it soreness or an injury? How do you tell the difference?

I have been enjoying a new workout format called Fitwall with my friend Nicole. The Fitwall is a bodyweight-focused interval training system that kicks your butt in only 40 minutes. After an intense 40 minutes I woke up the next morning and discovered that I was too sore to raise my arms overhead! Now to be fair, I increased the intensity too quickly on a new workout. Not the best idea. I had already done my own upper body workout earlier in the week, so the upper body stuff work targeting already fatigued muscles. I wasn’t worried the next day when I woke up sore because I knew what I had done and what I could do moving forward to feel better each day.

While both soreness and injury can be perceived as pain, there are a few distinguishing characteristics that can help you determine if you should spend more time on recovery or get some help.

Soreness usually occurs on both sides of the body. While the discomfort may not be the same intensity on both sides, you will most likely feel tightness, pain or sensation on both parts of your body that were involved. If you feel pain very  localized in one spot on your body (i.e right shoulder hurts right on the front of the shoulder vs. both shoulders being generally sore in the same spot) then it’s more likely that you have sustained an injury.

Soreness usually manifests as pain in the center of a muscle while injury is commonly focused around joints. If your pain is in the center of your biceps, it’s could be from all the bicep curls or drinking (of kombucha, obviously) that you did the day before. If your pain is right on the elbow or shoulder, it is more likely an injury of the tendon, ligament or joint.

While your soreness can be quite intense, it gradually diminishes with each passing day, and you’ll find that your pain-free range of motion returns rather quickly. If you find that your pain levels have not changed or are increasing, you definitely want to get yourself to a pro who can give you a full assessment. In general, soreness gets better each day while injury remains the same or increases in intensity.

Pain of any type can be scary, but understanding the difference between soreness and pain can help you plan your recovery. When soreness is very intense, gentle massage and stretching with the Coregeous ball can help ease stiffness and tension, while also helping to improve blood flow to the healing tissues.

As with any injury, when in doubt about any aspect, GET A SECOND OPINION. It will save you a lot of headache further down the road!

When was the last time you were super sore and what did you do to help alleviate it? Let me know down in the comments below!


 

Upcoming Events

  • September 15: Structurally Sound Small Group Series (Valley Village, CA)
  • September 24: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)
  • October 2: Banish Back Pain (Brea, CA)
  • October 22: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)

Full Schedule + Events

Want to build a self-care practice but not sure where to start? Check out my Self-Care Startup Guide, where I’ll guide you through 15 days of ways to improve your mobility, stress levels and well being.

Click here to pre-order!

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Why Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls are Awesome

While there are many myofascial release tools designed to be rolled, rubbed and scrubbed on your body, Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls are my absolute favorite. The smallest sized rubber therapy ball of the Roll Model Therapy Balls is perfectly suited for your every nook and cranny and here’s why:

YTU-Therapy-Balls-AE-Wellness

  1. They are grippy. When you have a new pair of YTU Therapy Balls, they start out a bit slick, but as you break them in, the surface becomes like smooth velcro, which allows it to grab onto your skin and every layer beneath it. This grippiness allows for a fascial stretch technique known as shear, which stimulates a nerve ending in the fatty layer beneath your skin. Stimulation of this nerve ending (Ruffini ending) turns up your parasympathetic nervous system and relaxes your entire body. If you need to unwind at the end of a long day, there is no faster way to flip your off switch than a rolling session!
  2. They are pliable. The rubber of the YTU Therapy Balls is designed to soften with use, which allows them to give as you roll over bones. A harder tool can (and most likely will) smush ligaments, tendons, muscles, vessels and nerves between the tool and your bone, which can potentially cause injury. An ideal tool is one that yields – allowing for a massage that is not also creating tissue damage.
  3. They are portable. The smallest of the Roll Model Method Therapy Balls is 2.5” in diameter. Even when toted, you can drop them in your gym bag, purse or backpack. I definitely don’t travel with a foam roller, but can easily include a pair of YTU Therapy Balls in my carry-on to ensure I arrive to my destination pain-free!
  4. They are affordable. A pair of YTU Balls is much cheaper than an MRI, X-Ray or visit to the orthopedic surgeon after an injury. Regular therapy ball rolling will maintain the health and hygiene of your tissues to stave off injury and pain – which will keep you moving away from the doc’s office, not into it.

Do you have a pair of therapy balls and are you not sure what to do with them? Check out my videos below that utilize the Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls. While some videos do use the Therapy Ball PLUS, you can easily interchange for the smaller YTU Therapy Balls.

What’s your favorite self-care move with the YTU Therapy Balls? Let me know in the comments below!


 

Upcoming Events

  • August 27: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)
  • August 28: Mobility for Performance Total Body Treatment (Santa Monica, CA) just added!
  • September 15: Structurally Sound Small Group Series (Valley Village, CA)
  • September 24: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)
  • October 2: Banish Back Pain (Brea, CA)
  • October 22: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)

Full Schedule + Events

Want to build a self-care practice but not sure where to start? Check out my Self-Care Startup Guide, where I’ll guide you through 15 days of ways to improve your mobility, stress levels and well being.

Click here to pre-order!

SHARE THIS ARTICLE NOW:

Injured Hamstrings? Try This for Relief

The Olympics are in full swing and we’ve already seen a number of athletes get injured. While competing at the highest level, athletes have access to support staff, body workers, and doctors, but what about the rest of us? What should you do when you have an injured hamstring?

Injured Hamstrings? Try This for Relief AE WellnessToday I’m focusing hamstring injuries, but the principles of soft tissue injuries can be applied to most any muscle in the body. While some injuries can be attributed to a freak accident (you fell, someone fell on you, landed wrong etc) they are often times the result of an accumulation of stress on the tissue and poor mechanics.

Many of us are the proud owners of hamstrings that are both weak and tight due to the 7+ hours a day we spend sitting. Our tissues will always adapt to the constant stressors placed upon them, and in this case, the myofascias (muscle cells and their fascias) become frozen in a permanent seat position from being stuck in the same shape hours a day. It’s not just sitting that is at fault, shoes with a heel, which is every shoe that doesn’t explicitly say it has a 0mm drop, can also contribute to more restricted hamstrings. When the hamstrings are stiff, they are less capable of being elastic when they need to be, which makes them more likely to be injured from being overstretched. Just like an unused rubber band gets dried out and crispy, your myofascias can become crispified when left unused for an extended period of time.

So what to do if  your hamstring is injured? If you are seriously bruised, get yourself to a doctor to make sure everything’s ok. If you’re pretty tender, proceed with caution, but always call in the big guns if you’re in over your head. First of all, let it rest! Constantly stretching and pulling on tissues that are already over stretched does not help with healing. Compression, like with a Voodoo band, can help to clear the area of swelling, as the swelling is what often contributes to the pain and decreased range of motion. I do not recommend icing this, or any other soft tissue injury. Ice has not been proven to be effective and could, in fact, be impeding the healing process.

A more effective plan of attack is to keep feeding slack into the injured area by way of rolling the surrounding areas with therapy balls. While most people go right onto the injured area and start rolling, therapy balls are microstretchers, and are not advised after an overstretching injury. Instead, myofascial release on the buttocks, quads and feet can help to improve blood flow in the entire limb, which helps move fluids (both healing and swelling stuff) through the injured site. After an injury, your brain is creating a soft tissue cast by tightening up everything in the area to protect you from further injury. Addressing this protective tension in the perimeter can help soften this entire response and enhance the healing process.

How to properly do a hip hinge

Your hamstring injury was not the result of one wrong move – chances are it’s the buildup of stress and stiffness from a lifetime of sitting and shoe wearing. Also, most of us do not understand how to properly do a hip hinge, which is a more efficient way to initiate the movement to sit, stand and pick things up off the ground. A proper hip hinge requires your to move only from your hips, and not your spine. When you hip hinge, your glutes and hamstrings are strengthened and stretched as they were designed. A true hip hinge involves moving ONLY from the hips, without any change in your spine. Learning to use your hips to bend will alleviate additional stress on the low back. Check out the picture to see what it looks like and I encourage you to practice in front of a mirror.

All of these techniques will not only help hasten the healing process after an injury, but can help to keep injuries at bay! The best part is that maintaining the health of your body takes only a few minutes a day. Learning to move from your joints will help to strengthen your entire body and teach your body to move efficiently, which can help prevent muscle injuries.

 


 

Upcoming Events

  • August 27: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)
  • August 28: Mobility for Performance Total Body Treatment (Santa Monica, CA) just added!
  • September 15: Structurally Sound Small Group Series (Valley Village, CA)
  • September 24: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)
  • October 2: Banish Back Pain (Brea, CA)
  • October 22: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)

Full Schedule + Events

Want to build a self-care practice but not sure where to start? Check out my Self-Care Startup Guide, where I’ll guide you through 15 days of ways to improve your mobility, stress levels and well being.

Click here to pre-order!

SHARE THIS ARTICLE NOW:

3 Tips to Help You Sleep Better Tonight

Maximize your sleep tonight with these few simple changes. Sleep is critical for your body to repair and recover on many different levels. Your tissues use sleep to recover and rebuild from the day. Your brain uses sleep to categorize and organize everything you learned, which can help you to better recall old information and absorb new information. Without a full night’s rest, you may have difficulty tomorrow with cognition, recall and a depressed immune system. While sleep needs vary from person to person, in general, adults need at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Any less, and you may be impacting your physical and mental performance for the next day.

Sleep Better Tonight AE Wellness

The first major sleep habit to change is to stop using technology at least an hour before bed. Two hours is even better, but start with one hour and go from there. Technology includes everything with a backlight (TV, cell phone, tablet, Apple Watch, etc). This can also include your e-reader, if you have one of the fancier ones that have a backlight. While the latest versions of iOS offer a feature called Night Shift that changes the color of your screen to help trick your brain into nighttime mode, it is still not the same as putting your phone away completely. (Learn how to enable Night Shift in iOS 9.3 here) The greater the gap between when you were last on technology and sleep can help you to fall asleep faster. I charge my phone, which is also my alarm clock, in another room. This removes any and all urges to check my phone after I am in bed and physically gets me out of bed when the alarm goes off in the morning!

Secondly, sleep happens best in a dark, cool room. Temperature recommendations are around 68˚, but if you fall in the No-Central-AC camp like I do, you’ll have to make due with what you have. When it is super hot outside, a cool shower before bed can help bring your body temp down to aid with falling asleep.

For darkness, keep all electronics and light emitting items out of the bedroom. This includes clocks, DVD players, TV’s etc. If there is no way to get rid of all the green and blue tiny lights in the room, the next best thing is a sleep mask (which also has benefits of it’s own!).

A sleep mask is one of the world’s greatest sleep inventions. You can get them very inexpensively on Amazon and it helps create total darkness no matter where you are. I always take my sleep mask when I travel because it guarantees a dark room even when I’m in an unfamiliar place. The pressure on your eyeballs of a sleep mask also induces a reflex called the oculocardiac reflex, which is the decrease in the pulse due to pressure on the eye. The pressure on the eye stimulates both the nerves in the eye and the vagus nerve, which governs your parasympathetic nervous system (aka “rest and digest”). The gentle pressure on your eyeballs is another mechanical signal to your brain and body to slow down and get ready for sleep.

Now, if you’ve turned of your tech devices and are still totally wound up and nowhere near ready for sleep, you might consider self-massage with therapy balls to help unwind. A mechanical stimulation (like the eye mask or pressure of the therapy balls) is a faster acting channel to relaxation than any chemical signal. Think about it – directly stimulating your nerves will always have a faster response than waiting for a chemical like a sleeping pill to get digested in your stomach, make its way across the stomach lining, across the blood-brain barrier and into your brain.

My favorite pre-bedtime routine is with a Yoga Tune Up Coregeous ball on my rib cage. The Coregeous ball is soft and air filled, and when placed directly on the sternum, you get the collective benefits of gentle pressure, soft tissue massage and deep breathing. Simply place the ball on your rib cage and breathe! For more detailed instructions, check out my video below.

Try these tips and sleep better tonight!


 

Upcoming Events

  • August 13-14: Structurally Sound Embodied Anatomy for Every Body Workshop Series (San Francisco, CA)
  • August 27: FREE Yoga Tune Up® Class at Athleta (Pasadena, CA)
  • August 28: Mobility for Performance Total Body Treatment (Santa Monica, CA) just added!
  • September 15: Structurally Sound Small Group Series (Valley Village, CA)
  • October 2: Banish Back Pain (Brea, CA)

Full Schedule + Events

Want to build a self-care practice but not sure where to start? Check out my Self-Care Startup Guide, where I’ll guide you through 15 days of ways to improve your mobility, stress levels and well being.

Click here to pre-order!

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Change is Always Possible

Have you ever not done something for fear of the outcome or fear that you’d mess it up? I recently had a student share her frustration with progress with me because she felt that everything she did caused pain. She was considering giving up all movement practices in an effort to avoid anything that might trigger soreness or pain.

I hate to break it to you, but even if all you’re doing is sitting at home, you are not doing your body and tissues any favors. The thing is, our tension, discomfort and pain can be caused by a number of factors, including (but certainly not limited to) overuse, underuse, misuse or abuse. Sitting at home like an ostrich with your head in the sand doesn’t protect you from sensation, but could be the very thing that is causing your pain.

There will always be a hill to climb or some challenge to overcome as you improve the flexibility and strength of your body to tolerate more and more activities. Maybe your goal is simply to walk to and from the curb or maybe it’s standing at a party for 30 minutes and not being extremely exhausted the next day. Every activity requires a certain amount of strength and flexibility to do them with efficiency. And while the process of building strength, flexibility and body awareness may seem like a never ending uphill battle, I promise you, it is not.

Change is Possible AE Wellness Quote

The practice of embodiment through self-care includes tuning in and improving your sense of self, both in stillness and motion, in addition to building strength and mobility. One without the other, is not complete. Having an improved sense of self will help you to better gauge when you are near to the edge of your own physical limitations.

 

I am adventurous and intentionally try not to limit myself for fear of outcomes. I suppose you could call me “ballsy”!(unless it has to do with heights and then heck no 😜) But even I have times when I over do it. For example, I recently went to Disneyland with my mom, and kept track of the distance we walked with our FitBit trackers. According to our trackers, we logged at least 8 miles! I made the mistake of not wearing proper shoes (don’t choose fashion over function!) and certainly paid the price. The next day, my feet were in a ton of pain and incredibly stiff. It took a week of stretching and therapy ball use to fully recover. Would I do it again? Yes, absolutely – you can’t let the fear of an outcome prevent you from doing something you love. Will I do things differently next time? Absolutely – I will be wearing sneakers!

Life is short and you only get one body to play with. Now you could choose to pack yourself away and never appreciate the wonderful machine that it is, or you could be willing to put yourself out there and experience everything that you want to. I’m not saying go run a marathon if you have no interest in it. I’m simply suggesting that you go whatever the heck you want to do. A regular self-care practice is essential to staving off injury and preparing your tissues for whatever comes your way. Just as you brush your teeth daily to prevent cavities, you should be practicing self-care to keep stress and injuries at bay. Having a detailed body map will also help you figure out the source of your pain. Did I roll my feet after Disneyland? Yes, but I also rolled my calves and lower back, both of which helped way more than the feet alone.

This isn’t to belittle those of you with chronic pain – I can’t even imagine what’s it’s like living in a body that is constantly in pain, but what I hope to encourage us all with is the idea that change is always possible.

It might be slow, it might not be what you expected, and it might be frustrating, but your body is constantly adapting to what you do to it. Even if it may feel like you are made of unchanging stone, your body is ALIVE. Your cells, tissues, organs and muscles all respond to the types of loads and activities you put them through. So if what you’re doing isn’t working, change it up. If what you’re doing is nothing, DO SOMETHING! Change, my friend, is always at your fingertips.


 

Upcoming Events

  • July 29 – Aug 7: YTU Level 1 Teacher Training (San Juan Capistrano, CA)
  • August 13-14: Structurally Sound Embodied Anatomy for Every Body Workshop Series (San Francisco, CA)
  • August 28: Mobility for Performance Total Body Treatment (Santa Monica, CA) just added!
  • September 15: Structurally Sound Small Group Series (Valley Village, CA)

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Want to build a self-care practice but not sure where to start? Check out my Self-Care Startup Guide, where I’ll guide you through 15 days of ways to improve your mobility, stress levels and well being.

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Self-Care and Hacking Your Nervous System

We often think of stress as that horrible overloaded feeling you get after an incredibly overwhelming workday, but did you know that your body endures stressful situations more often than you realize? While the feeling of overwhelm is a psychological and emotional experience, our bodies are an interconnected system of systems, meaning that the tiny stressors that happen throughout the day are related and affect all of you, not just a single part.

Self-Care and Hacking Your Nervous System with RelaxationWhen you are stressed at work, you might find that you are not hungry at lunch time like you usually are, an example of your psychological stress affecting your digestive system. Stress hormones leave no stone unturned, no corner undiscovered and no organ or system untouched in our bodies. This is why it is so important to develop ways to not only cope with stress, but help bring your body into states of rest and relaxation regularly.

Now don’t freak out if you’re not doing this already! Every little thing counts when we are trying to build the variability of our nervous system. Just as your cardiovascular system (heart and vessels) needs the stress of a workout (which raises heart rate) to maintain their health, we need the highs and lows in our lives to help us be more resilient. Yes, exercise is a stressor, and it is our ability to recover that determines “fitness” – the same goes for your nervous system.

If you’re always in a high stress situation, every little thing just adds on to your already massive levels of stress and stress hormones. But on the flip side, if you’re a sloth, it might take a lot of little things to get you to the same frazzled place as the high stress person. Neither one is better than the other. Personally, I would be bored out of my mind if I lived like a sloth, but my nervous system can not handle going at 120 mph all the time.

Developing a practice of self-care that allows you to settle into a more sloth like setting from time to time will help you climb the heights of the next mountain. You’ve probably heard the terms “fight or flight” and “rest and digest”, which are the layman’s terms for the two branches of your nervous system, the Sympathetic and the Parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the “fight or flight”, which to your body can be everything from the tea kettle going off in the morning to the semi-truck that cuts you off on the freeway. The parasympathetic nervous system is the branch of our nervous system that allows the rest and recovery processes of the body to take over. It should happen as you sleep, but if you are so intensely in sympathetic dominance, the slow trickle towards parasympathetic dominance may never get you back into the normal range where you function best. Stress trickles into sleep and manifests for many as teeth grinding or jaw clenching. If you’re one of these people, develop a pre-bed routine that helps you to unwind and relax (including everything listed below).

I’d safely bet you don’t need help finding more stressful states, so here are some ways that you can help coax your entire being into a more relaxed state:

  • Set strict boundaries to distance yourself from stressors. Electronics are a big one for many people. My laptop and cellphone are put to bed about 90-120 minutes before I plan on going to sleep so I have ample time to unwind from the day.
  • Have a regular self-massage practice. I roll a minimum of 3 times of a week with my YTU Balls, not just for the tension relief, but also because the texture of the therapy balls mechanically induces relaxation for the nervous system. A physical trigger for relaxation will always be faster acting than a chemical one.
  • Gut massage with deep breathing. My dog’s favorite place to be pet is her belly, but she only allows you to pet her there when she is fully relaxed. The Coregeous ball is the perfect tool for abdominal and chest massage, which feels like a big hug and can quickly turn down your nervous system. The ball also helps you practice deep breathing, which aids in relaxing your body and nervous system further.

Check out my video below for how to use the Coregeous ball and deep breathing for a double whammy of relaxation and improved breath mechanics.


 

Upcoming Events

Full Schedule + Events

Want to build a self-care practice but not sure where to start? Check out my Self-Care Startup Guide, where I’ll guide you through 15 days of ways to improve your mobility, stress levels and well being.

Now available for pre-order!

SHARE NOW:

Hi, I'm Alexandra Ellis, an anatomy loving body-nerd who enjoys breaking down complicated body concepts to help you maximize your performance for pain-free living.

Read my entire story here.

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