Yoga Isn’t Only About Flexibility

At the beginning of March I attended a Professional Yoga Therapy Course, which taught me about medical therapeutic yoga. I honestly was a little intimidated when I arrived. Many of my colleagues at the course, although physical therapists, are also registered yoga teachers. Deep down I thought, "what am I doing here, I can barely touch my toes!” Years ago I consistently took yoga classes and struggled to find a strengthening component because it seemed like it was all about flexibility (which was fine then because I had more of it at the time). Over the last few years though I’ve noticed my body feeling tighter, less flexible, but I still wanted the strengthening component within a class. There are a lot of wonderful yoga classes and instructors out there, but I didn’t ever find one that resonated with me and what I wanted out of a class.. Strengthening and flexibility. I’ve also worked with so many patients who have been injured in a class or want to take a class but feel they are not “flexible enough”.

If you are looking for any of the previously mentioned, please continue reading as this is for you!

Yoga, as I was taught it, is about quality of movement, use of muscles, function, safety when performing poses, strength, and last, but not least, flexibility. What's ironic is not once during the class did we do "a hamstring stretch" but by the end of the week I was able to more comfortably move through my spine, touch my toes, and felt stronger than I had in a long time. My chronic neck and thumb pain had resolved and although I could feel my weaknesses, I could also feel my strengths and learned how to utilize them to heal heal myself. 

I am excited to be able to bring what I learned to all of you. You do not need to be a “yogi” to be successful in yoga and reap the benefits of it. I would say that yoga is for anyone who wants to move better throughout his or her daily life. It’s for someone who wants to feel strong in what they do and medical therapeutic yoga is one tool that can be used to help you achieve those goals. It's appropriate for a person who already practices yoga, for someone who would like to but doesn't feel comfortable going to a class, or for someone who wants physical therapy due to an injury. We can use yoga as a tool to evaluate, assess and treat to get you back to doing all of the things that you love. I'll be sharing more over the next few weeks so stay tune for more blogs and videos of exercises you can start to do to feel better in your own life.

I so enjoyed the opportunity to be able to learn from Ginger Garner, a physical therapist and RYT who created the Professional Yoga Therapy Institute as well as Shelly Prosko, B.Sc. PT, PYT, CPI.

Here are some links to learn more about the Professional Yoga Therapy Institute, Ginger Garner, and Shelly Prosko, all of which are leading the way in reforming healthcare, both in how assess, treat, and utilize medical therapeutic yoga.

Want to improve your run? Read on for 3 simple steps you can implement now!

1.     Hydrate. You’ve heard this time and again but that’s because it is true! Making sure you are hydrated before a run can improve your run. Dehydration can cause fatigue and muscle cramping, which are the last two things you want to feel when heading out for your daily run. So increase your water intake, even by 1 glass a day. You will feel better and your body will thank you for it!

2.     Rotate. This might be new to some, but the mechanics of how we run (and walk for that matter) include trunk rotation. If your upper back is tight and lacking that motion, this can lead to injury and insufficient oxygen intake. Our bodies need this motion not only to move properly and prevent injury, but for adequate oxygenation which fuels our cells affecting our muscles and giving us energy.  

Try this: Throughout the day, when seated in a chair, place your right hand on the outside of your left leg and rotate your body to the left using your arms to assist you. Once at the end of your motion (remember you should not feel any pain), take 3 deep breaths focusing on letting the air fill up the right side of your lungs; repeat to the opposite side. Do not hinge at your low back. Increasing this motion will improve your running and help prevent back pain.

3.     Increase your cadence. Research has shown that if you are having leg pain (i.e. knee pain, the dreaded IT Band pain, ankle pain), increasing your cadence by shortening your step length may be beneficial. A shorter step length can result in less force on your joints, which can help treat or prevent injury as well as increasing your efficiency!

If you find you are having any difficulty with your runs and you've tried the above suggestions, it may be time to seek out the care of a professional. Remember it's always easier to address an issue earlier than later.

Questions? Feel free to contact me at: I'm always happy to help.

I hope you enjoy your runs in this beautiful weather! Until next time!



"No Pain, No Gain"…. Right?

Have you ever heard the phrase “No Pain No Gain”? I’ve worked with thousands of patients over the years and have heard many comment to me “You know what they say, no pain no gain… right?” The truth is I cringe every time I hear this comment as it actually only applies in very specific circumstances.

I often tell people if it “hurts so good”, or is uncomfortable but tolerable and you’re not holding your breath, then what you are doing is most likely safe to proceed with. But, in my experience, if someone is holding their breath and counting the seconds until the exercise, stretch, or motion is over, then it is too intense! Holding our breath because something hurts can lead to tensing of muscles you want to relax or not use during an exercise, injury and other situations including passing out!

So the next time you are working out, doing something physical or working with a trainer, physical therapist, etc., remember that many times “No Pain, No Gain” can actually lead to “More Pain, Less Gain”. Listen to your body. If you are unsure if you should be feeling what you are feeling, ask the person you are working with or seek out a consultation to learn more about if what you are doing is safe and how to be effective, efficient and successful in your exercise routine! 

Have a wonderful weekend!


What is all this fuss about foam rolling?

I recently taught a foam rolling class and it was filled with individuals who either owned a foam roller but had no idea how to use it or had used one in the past but found it to be too painful to use. So what is it with the foam roller and how can it benefit you?

Foam rolling is a technique used to help massage muscles using a deep tissue approach. It is meant to help relieve muscle tightness and soreness allowing  for  improved tissue mobility and decreased pain. There are many different densities of foam rollers and each one will have a slightly different effect on your tissues, depending on how deeply you want / need to massage your muscles. Less density, or a softer foam roller, is often most appropriate for those new to rolling vs a higher density foam roller will provide the deeper tissue work that is sometimes too intense initially. Remember, foam rolling will be uncomfortable but not so much so that you are gritting your teeth, waiting for it to be over with! If that is happening, decrease the amount of pressure you are applying and take slow, deep breaths as you roll through some of those tissues that are more sensitive than others. 

Want to learn more? Foam Rolling 101 will be held at Joy of Pilates on Wednesday, March 18th at 4:35pm. This presentation will talk more in depth about foam rolling and be filled with techniques to help you relieve muscle tension from head to toe! Please bring a foam roller if you have one, otherwise there will be some available for use. Please RSVP to Cost is $20.00. 

Exciting Announcement!

Baker To Bay is excited to announce that services will now be offered at Joy of Pilates, 2130 Grant Street in Bellingham! Services will continue to be offered at your location of choice and I look forward to serving you, be it in your home or a relaxing treatment environment. Call or email today to schedule your visit!

Have a wonderful day!