How YOGA helps to reduce lactic acid build up in muscles

My intention in this research is explaining how yoga is suitable for everyone, even though they don´t practice yoga as it is supposed to be. The asanas will help them to archive their goal in a better way. I´m going to talk about this topic and include yoga topics in every step that could be part of a recovery system for athletes.

Lactic acid is released into the muscles when they have used up their normal energy stores but still have intense energy needs. Small amounts of lactic acid operate as a temporary energy source, thus helping you avoid fatigue during a workout. However, a buildup of lactic acid during a workout can create burning sensations in the muscles that can slow down your athletic activity. For this reason, it may be desirable to reduce lactic acid build up in the muscles.

In order to reduce muscle soreness after a workout, it is necessary to do a proper warm up before exercising, asanas for me, is the best way to warm up because you using your breathing to warm up the whole body.  Surya Namaskar is perfect to warm up because it moves the spine in different directions and the entire body is stretched and strengthened, it´s also a sequence that can be performed by beginners or advanced athletes(sportsmen). Surya Namaskar will loosen the joins, increase the blood and lymphtatic circulation, exercises cardiovascular system and regulates the pingala nadi which is the solar energy channel in the body.

Even though small quantities of lactic acid is necessary and even good for your body in certain circumstances, it is still necessary to prevent lactic acid levels from building up too quickly. If you don’t, you will find it hard to work out comfortably or to the best of your ability.

Reducing lactic acid build up — though it won’t prevent DOMS – will help you to work out harder for longer, which is essential for any good athlete.

 

REDUCING LACTIC ACID DURING A WORKOUT

1.Stay hydrated.

2.Breathe deeply.-

The cause of the burning sensation you feel in your muscles while exercising is twofold: it is partly due to the buildup of lactic acid, but it is also due to a lack of oxygen.

You can ameliorate this by paying close attention to your breathing while you exercise. Be sure to take deep breathes in and out at an even pace. Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.

This will help to deliver oxygen to your muscles and stop the production of lactic acid.

The lack of oxygen could be fixed by practicing Nadi Shodhana before and after the workout in order to help the body gain a higher oxygen level than usual.

3.Work out frequently. Even if they don´t practice their sports daily, they can practice yoga 3 times a week to stretch and strengthen the muscles in a different way.

4.Be cautious when lifting weights. 

5.Decrease the intensity of your workout if you start to feel a burn. 

As you catch your breath, more oxygen will be delivered to your muscles and release the lactic acid. I recommend the Supine poses with a breathing sequence to help the body recover.

6.Stretch after your workout. 

Since lactic acid disperses 30 minutes to an hour after your workout, stretching helps to release lactic acid, alleviating any burning sensations or muscle cramps you might be experiencing.

Holding stretching poses like:

  • Eka Pada Uttanpadasana
  • Jathara Parivartanasana
  • Sethu bandhasana
  • Viparita Karani
  • Bhujangasana
  • Adhomukha Shvanasana
  • Paschimottanasana
  • Janu Sirsasana
  • Uttanasana

And ending in savasana with a breathing sequence of inhaling 6 times and exhaling 12 times. It will help the body cool down the right way and help the flow of oxygen through the body. This practice can take 30 minutes, this is the exact time the lactic acid takes to disperse.

Stretch your muscles lightly after any intense exercise, and also use your fingertips to massage the area gently.

This will also decrease any micro-trauma that may be responsible for soreness in the days following a workout.

7.Stay active and healthy.

At the end, my intention is to show that yoga could fit in any sport. Asanas are tended to fix positions, any movement done wrong in any sport can be fixed or adjusted if they practice yoga for their benefit.  

 

Energetic Anatomy: Chakras and Meridians

As I learn more about Chakras in this YTT course, I come to realise Chakras and Meridian points in TCM are quite similar and are often talked about together.

Definitions:  

Chakras: Disk, vortex, or wheel in sanskrit. These are non-physical energy fields that map onto our physical body from the base of the spine to the top of the head. There are 7 major chakras in our body:

  1. Root Chakra – Centre of Stability and Support
  2. Sacral Chakra – Centre of Sexuality and Imagination
  3. Solar Plexus Chakra – Centre of Self-Esteem
  4. Heart Chakra – Centre of Love and Self-Acceptance
  5. Throat Chakras – Expression and Communication
  6. Third Eye Chakra – Wisdom and Intuition
  7. Crown Chakra – Knowing and Enlightenment

Meridians: A network of energy pathways that carry energy like how arteries carry blood. These pathways create flow of information and link the connective tissues of the body with different organs and parts of the body. There are 12 Principal Meridians and they are divided into Yin and Yang groups.

  • Yin – feminine, dark, associated with slow, soft, cold and wet (represented by water, earth, moon and nighttime)
  • Yang – masculine and light, associated with action, speed and aggressiveness (represented by sun, sky and daytime)

The Yin meridians of the arm are the lung, heart and pericardium. The Yang meridians of the arm are large intestine, small intestine and triple burner. The Yin Meridians of the leg are the spleen, kidney and liver. The Yang meridians of the leg are the stomach, bladder and gall bladder.

 

Similarities

  1. Both energies need to be well balanced for a person to be physically, emotionally, mentally and spirituality healthy.

The degree of Chakra and Meridian activity in a person’s body is dependent on the person’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state of health.

In chakras, if there are deficiencies/excesses or ‘blocked’ or ‘open’ chakras, it might lead to certain physical and psychological problems. Eg. if root chakra is blocked or deficient, one may experience insecurity or fear.

In meridians, if the body has too much yin or too little yang, the body will be cold and slow, showing signs of low thyroid or metabolism. Similarly, if there is too much yang and too little yin, the body becomes hot and stimulated, showing signs of high thyroid state.

       2. Both have ‘tell-tale’ signs or symptoms that can be treated

In chakras, if someone feels that it is difficult to get emotionally close with people, his heart chakra might be blocked. If he or she is confused in his/her thoughts, it may be because of their 7th chakra (cognition may be overactive) etc. Yoga exercises (asanas or prayanamas) can help to solve these problems if one can be more aware of their emotions and problems.

In meridians, acupuncture points can be stimulated with needles or physical pressure to release or redistribute energy along the meridian pathway. If you feel tiredness or soreness in your body, acupuncture can be used to treat these points to improve body condition.

        3. Different yoga asanas can help to stimulate chakras and meridians 

In chakras, to overcome inertia and lack of motivation, one can do yoga exercises such as ‘Breath of Fire’, backbends and twisting poses) to help stimulate the third chakra and heat up the body and fill it with energy.

In meridians, if you want to bring forth the dark, slow, evening feminine energy of yin, you can do poses such as low lunge and forward bends whereas sun salutations and twisting poses help to create hot, bright, morning and masculine energy of yang.

        4. Interconnectedness with other parts of the body 

In chakras, a sensitive practitioner’s hand held over a chakra may resonate with pain in a related organ, congestion in a lymph node or even areas of emotional turmoil.

In meridians, if you press specific points along the skin where the meridians surface, they may be interconnected and you can feel the aches and tingles along the same meridian points.

 

Differences:

  1. Origin

Chakras were described as centers of consciousness in ancient Indian texts like the Yoga Upanishads and in the Yoga Sutras or Pantanjali.

The meridian theory was originally expressed by the Chinese on the basis of observations of illnesses and holistic treatment.

     2. Functions of the energy

The chakras are like pools or swirling disks of energy that bathe and fuel the organs in their proximity. They govern the endocrine system and carry information about the person’s history. They also encode and process physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual experiences.

In meridians, they deliver their energy to the organs. As the body’s energy bloodstream, the meridian system brings vitality and balance, removes blockages, adjusts metabolism, and even determines the speed and form of cellular change. The flow of the meridian energy pathways is as critical as the flow of blood. No energy = no life. Meridians affect every organ and every physiological system, including the immune, nervous, endocrine, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, skeletal, muscular, and lymphatic systems.

     3. Exercises to improve Chakra and Meridian 

One can perform yoga exercises such as meditation, prayanama or practice asanas to improve specific chakras.

The fluid movements of Sundao, Tai Chi and QiGong and techniques of acupuncture and acupressure apply the knowledge of the meridians to eliminate the blockages of energy and treat the disease.

 

Conclusion

Be it chakra or meridian, they work well together. Chakras bring energy into your body, while meridians sends the energy around your body. When they are in harmony, they are very powerful in enhancing your energy supply.

 

Angela

The Most Underrated Asana: Savasana 

“Lie down, close your eyes and relax” – the words we all look forward to hearing at the end of the class, meaning we’ve worked through some sun salutations, practiced asanas and are ready to rest. After getting into a comfortable position, taking a cleansing breath or maybe an audible exhale, we find ourselves in savasana, also known as corpse pose.

I think savasana is perhaps the easiest asana to perform but one of the most difficult to master, a form of conscious surrender. In today’s fast-paced society, people are so used to instant gratification and efficiency, where we want effects of our actions to be nearly immediate, thus find it hard to take a moment to slow down. I know I definitely do, where I used to really struggle just lying still for a few minutes and always had the urge to fidget. Even when I did self-practice, I often left out savasana because I wanted to get back to my day instead of lying around. On the other side of the spectrum, some find themselves falling asleep, where they let go and lose focus, enjoying the pose a little too much.

However, savasana has many benefits both physiologically and psychologically. It is an opportunity for us to physically and mentally relax each part of the body, usually starting from the feet up. By taking time in savasana, we can absorb the energy from the physical asanas and dissolve any tension in our muscles, letting our body recover and rest, as well as taking a mental inventory and checking in with how our body feels. Besides that, we can allow our parasympathetic system to take over, where we can slow down our respiratory rate and heart rate, and give our bodies time for them both to return to resting rate. Although the autonomic system usually works unconsciously, in savasana we can consciously notice and register how our breath and heartbeat is slowing down, and in that way, feel more relaxed.

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Practicing yoga asanas with an injury and how to modify

We’re taught in the YTT200 how to ensure correct alignment in postures to avoid injury, which is such a fundamental part of a safe and sustainable practice, but what about if you come to yoga with a pre-existing injury?

I tore my piriformis around 18 months ago – I was not fully warmed up, I was practicing in a cold room on a cold tile floor and I dropped down into hanumanasana on my right side, extended over my right leg into a forward fold and that’s when I heard it… RIP! The piriformis is a small muscle located deep in the buttock, underneath the Gluteus Maximus – it originates at the sacrum and inserts at the top of the femur. My glute was incredibly sore for several weeks and didn’t seem to be improving, I continued regular practice, determined not to let the injury stop me from progressing, despite the pain. Eventually, the isolated pain began to radiate down my leg towards the back of my knee and so I sought the advice of a physiotherapist.  The sciatic nerve passes directly behind, or in some people, through the piriforis and any trauma to the piriformis can cause pressure on the sciatic nerve, resulting in radiating pain or spasms. My original muscle injury had now led to compression of my sciatic nerve, making most standing asanas incredibly painful, in fact, it even hurt to sit down for any length of time.

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What was the biggest change that occurred during my first week of TTC?

I have just completed the first week of my TTC training.

I have learned so much in this past week, but one of the biggest lessons of them all was the importance of raising awareness to my own body, by giving myself ample time to study my body on a daily basis. I was able to notice slight quirks and conditions of my body by performing Asana.

When most people think of yoga, “flexibility” probably first comes to mind (I was also one of those people before I started TTC) but in actuality proper body alignment, stability and increasing are just as important as flexibility, if not more. Very basic Asana is performed over and over in the first week of TTC, to allow you to build the foundation of the aforementioned aspects.

With that being said, I noticed that there are similarities to poses that are difficult to perform, and poses that help realign your body.

For example:

・The unnecessary protruding of my butt during the chair pose was corrected

・I was told that there is pressure on my back when performing the downward facing dog

・My back hurt every time I performed a back-rounding pose, such as the Pawan Muktasana

・I couldn’t properly twist for twisting poses

etc.

The reason?

The cause of these problems was lordosis. Lordosis is an excessive inward curvature of the lower back.

During the class, Master Paalu said, “Stand with your back on the wall. If your fist fits in the curvature of your back, you have Lordosis.” I tried it and sure enough, my fist fit between my back and the wall. I noticed at that moment that all my problems with my back were being caused by the excessive curvature of my back.

The excessive curvature of my waist was causing imbalances in my shoulder blades, shoulders, and upper back. I always had chronic pain in the region between my shoulder blades and the spine below the shoulder blades. I would feel a huge knot just by breathing in deeply. I had always felt better after receiving a massage or going to a physical therapist, only for the pain to return after some time.

Master Paalu advised that I should focus on twisting my body, and I continued this for a while. I also researched and tried solutions for lordosis, and voila, the back pain that had long haunted me got much better! If you have pain in your shoulder and back like I used to, you just might have lordosis as well. You may be able to cure with just a little bit of training, as I was able to.

We, including myself, are part of a generation that is constantly busy and spend the majority of our days sitting in front of a computer or fiddling with our smartphones, and as a result have our wellbeing and time to focus on our bodies very low on our priority list.

Even just 10 to 15 minutes a day is enough, so I plan on performing Asana every day to be able to be able to understand where I may have issues in my body, and to be able to fix these issues on a daily basis.

Haruka

Yoga for a Happier Digestive System

Since six years old (or maybe even further back), I’ve suffered from constipation. It’s been common for me to empty my bowels once to twice every week. My family and friends who know about my constipation, used to say it may be because I don’t drink enough water or eat enough fibre, but that’s wrong. I drink at least 2 litres of water per day and eat a well balanced meal with enough fibre.

To ease my constipation I’ve tried incorporating yoghurt in my diet (which helped a bit) but stopped due to frequent skin break outs and a stomach bloat. As well as taking probiotic supplements, which didn’t seem to make a difference.

As time passed, I’ve ignored my digestive problems, telling myself that maybe my body takes a longer time to move the waste out of my bowels. But then as I commenced the 4 week yoga teacher training course, I’ve been going to the toilet to empty my bowels every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY! AND SOMETIMES EVEN TWICE A DAY! It’s been an amazing feeling, where my stomach feels empty and at ease.

I haven’t changed my life style, diet, sleeping patterns, etc. The only new thing that was incorporated into my lifestyle this past week has been yoga practice (asanas and pranayama).  Five days of yoga in a row, practicing the asanas along with pranayama for minimum two (2) hours in the morning before lunch.

One might suggest it’s because I’ve been “exercising”, but the answer is no. I’m a freelance spinning instructor, teaching minimum of five 45 minutes classes a week. I “exercise” enough, thank you very much. Sure you can get an “exercise” out of yoga, but I’d say I’ve been moving my body a lot more in different angles and planes, twisting my body along with proper conscious breathing which probably massaged my colon internally, thus stimulating elimination.

Yoga really does purify your body, especially your colons. I look forward to continuing this regular practice (partly) for a happier digestive system. You know what they say, happy tummy equals happy me.

 

— Miso

Menstrual cycle

The endocrine system is an intricate and complex combination of glands secreting a specific set of hormones which have an impact on the whole body.

 

If your hormones are not balanced well in the body, there will be some serious issues you may have to face!

 

It is quite obvious in women. We all know how drastic the changes in women who are close to their moon cycle are (I heard of men penciling down the dates in a calendar, as a note to self for the so called “no” days of their relevant halves). What causes that obvious shift in the mood, skin features, body changes and more to it, is the rather relevant revolution of the level of hormones in a woman’s system.

 

Let’s talk about this specific case.

 

The menstrual cycle is divided into 4 phases:

 

1.    Follicular phase

The ovaries are getting ready for the ripening of an egg (this is the phase between menstruation and ovulation)

During this specific moment the pituitary releases a specific hormone called the follicle stimulating hormone or FSH. This hormone stimulates the follicle (which contains an egg) to mature. Also luteinizing hormone or LH is released and it is responsible for ovulation.

At the beginning of this phase estrogen and progesterone are typically low. They will rise as the phase proceeds and will have the effect of boosting the mood and energy level and brain skills.

Estrogen makes the skin look beautiful, suppresses appetite, boost extroversion.

As this phase approaches the beginning of the next one, the lining of the uterus thickens, cervical liquid is being produced and it’s the most fertile moment for women.

 

2.    Ovulatory phase 

This is a rather short phase as it lasts for roughly 2/3 days. Thanks to the LH the dominant follicle will burst open and will release the egg into the fallopian tube. There are roughly 12 to 24 hours for the egg to be fertilized or it will disintegrate. A very interesting fact about this specific moment is that the cervix moves up higher so that only the best sperm can reach the egg as it will have to swim higher. The cervical fluid is fertile during this moment. Healthy fluid is needed to protect the sperm from the naturally occurring acid environment in the vagina.

Levels of estrogen and testosterone are peak high during this phase. Self-confidence and sex drive is generally high during this time thanks to the levels of these hormones. It is a good time to perform high energy activities.

 

3.    Luteal phase

This is the phase that occurs if the egg doesn’t get fertilized, therefore the body needs to prepare to release it. This phase last for about 12-16 days. FSH and LH levels will drop. So do estrogen and testosterone. (estrogen will reappear at the end of this phase). The follicle that released the egg will transform into the corpus luteum, a temporary endocrine gland that produces progesterone. It’s a hormone which produces heat, making the basal temperature of the woman rise. This is a typically infertile moment as the cervical fluid has a consistency which should prevent the sperm to reach the egg. Emotionally the woman will still feel quite energized at the beginning but will slowly wind down due to the effect of the rise of progesterone. Progesterone is naturally a sleep aid and antianxiety hormone. During the second week of this phase estrogen will rise slightly to drop again together with progesterone causing the uterus lining to shed leading to the next phase. This is the moment where PMS symptoms become quite obvious.

 

4.    Bleeding phase

This phase lasts 2 to 7 days. This is the lowest point of the woman. They may feel tired, withdrawn, introvert, and the energy will be at the lowest point.

This is a great moment for downtime. Yoga is still a great option here as it helps to reduce bloating, boost energy level and relieve cramps. Remember to avoid all the inversions during “those days” as the blood would flow back in the system. Energetically speaking bleeding is a downward flow, therefore the asanas chosen should follow the same “path”. Moreover, inversions require quite a bit of energy and this is the moment of the month when the woman feels less energetic.

Nevertheless, there are some who feel that their energy level are quite high making it somehow a personal choice. As a rule of thumb inversion should be held for a short time and women should enjoy the practice of more relaxing practices. Pranayama and meditation are excellent ways to cruise through this time. Best poses are twists, chest openers and legs up the wall. 

 

I also love to use essential oils to help me navigate through tough times. Lavender is an excellent oil. It has calming, relaxing, and balancing properties. It works as an analgesic, anticonvulsant and relaxant oil. It has many more property and is one of the safest oils to use.

 

 

Chiara G. May 2

Muscle anatomy: why does it matter?

During this third week of training, we spent a lot of time on learning the muscle names, functions, insertions and origins on the bones which may sound very boring and is definitely difficult to remember. However, being a yoga teacher or just wanting to practice yoga on your own require this knowledge, not only to help prevent injuries but  also to ease common muscle pain.

How many of us suffer occasional or constant lower back pain? I would say most of us feel at least discomfort on the lumbar area after being in a wrong position for too long (in front of our computers maybe) or carrying something heavy, or just standing up for a long time. How many of us know why it hurts and more importantly how to ease the pain? We might easily do a forward bend to stretch but what else can we do to avoid this pain to occur again? Well, learning about the muscle anatomy would definitely help in identifying the causes of this pain which for instance might be due to weak abdominal core muscles, or weak back muscles. In these cases, stretching the spine when it hurts will only be a temporary fix-up.  In addition, it is very important to work your core muscles and selected yoga asanas will help you do that.

The human body is a beautiful machine, every bone, every muscle is designed perfectly to accomplish its function. A well-balanced body with adequate strength of every muscle becomes light and free of discomfort in any position. On the other hand, a wrong habit, a lack of strength in some muscle and excessive strength on others will force the body to adjust to accomplish the movements by over straining some muscles, over stretching others. Up to my knowledge, yoga is the best practice to strengthen and stretch all the muscles in synergy for a well-balanced body.

– Stephanie –

Yoga world records and over stretching

Yoga World Record in Colombia and risk of overstretching

Yoga now has its own International Day on 21 June since 2015, so it’s not surprise that Yoga is often featured in the Guinness World records. From the oldest yoga teacher at 95 years old, largest yoga lesson involving 55,506 participants, the longest yoga marathon by one person of 103 hours or the longest yoga class at just over 35 hours. This last record took place in Bogota Colombia in 2017.

The class started with 18 students, but only 11 were able to finish. They needed a minimum of 10 to qualify as a group. They were allowed to rest for 5 minutes every 60 minutes.

Yoga classes are often designed to last 60 to 90 minutes maximum. A session of more than 30 hours is indeed very extreme. What can happen to the body at such extreme situation, to the muscles, to flexibility and to the mind?

There seems to be a lot of research on the benefits of stretching, but not so much on the dangers of over doing it.

Over-stretching can lead to injury, strains, loss of muscle strength, hyper mobility and general weakness. When a muscle is being lengthened, it’s not just the actual muscle being elongated but the connective tissue (fascia) as well. 

This connective tissue is an essential part of our body as it connects muscles to bones and bones to bones (tendons and ligaments are also considered fascia). It keeps organs in place, protects the vertebrae, brain and spinal cord. It comprises up to 30% of a muscle’s total mass and when we over stretch the fascia tissue can lose their ability to recoil. Even micro injuries in the connective tissue can lead to chronic pain. 

It’s very important to be careful with over stretching, specially young adults until the age of 21 as their bodies are still developing and their bones and muscles are not fully formed. When practicing yoga, it’s not how flexible you are, but how safely you are practicing so it’s enjoyable, at the end of the day, yoga is to be enjoyed now and for many years to come. During my yoga teaching course, Master Paalu gave us very good advice… choose 15 or so poses you can do for the rest of your life, poses that you can sustain and practice on a daily basis. Over-stretching and hyper flexing the joints is not going to allow me or anyone to continue with our yoga journey for many years to come. So listen to your body, do what you enjoy and warning: don’t attempt any yoga records!.

– Angela – 

Yoga world records and over stretching

Yoga World Record in Colombia and risk of overstretching

Yoga now has its own International Day on 21 June since 2015, so it’s not surprise that Yoga is often featured in the Guinness World records. From the oldest yoga teacher at 95 years old, largest yoga lesson involving 55,506 participants, the longest yoga marathon by one person of 103 hours or the longest yoga class at just over 35 hours. This last record took place in Bogota Colombia in 2017.

The class started with 18 students, but only 11 were able to finish. They needed a minimum of 10 to qualify as a group. They were allowed to rest for 5 minutes every 60 minutes.

Yoga classes are often designed to last 60 to 90 minutes maximum. A session of more than 30 hours is indeed very extreme. What can happen to the body at such extreme situation, to the muscles, to flexibility and to the mind?

There seems to be a lot of research on the benefits of stretching, but not so much on the dangers of over doing it.

Over-stretching can lead to injury, strains, loss of muscle strength, hyper mobility and general weakness. When a muscle is being lengthened, it’s not just the actual muscle being elongated but the connective tissue (fascia) as well. 

This connective tissue is an essential part of our body as it connects muscles to bones and bones to bones (tendons and ligaments are also considered fascia). It keeps organs in place, protects the vertebrae, brain and spinal cord. It comprises up to 30% of a muscle’s total mass and when we over stretch the fascia tissue can lose their ability to recoil. Even micro injuries in the connective tissue can lead to chronic pain. 

It’s very important to be careful with over stretching, specially young adults until the age of 21 as their bodies are still developing and their bones and muscles are not fully formed. When practicing yoga, it’s not how flexible you are, but how safely you are practicing so it’s enjoyable, at the end of the day, yoga is to be enjoyed now and for many years to come. During my yoga teaching course, Master Paalu gave us very good advice… choose 15 or so poses you can do for the rest of your life, poses that you can sustain and practice on a daily basis. Over-stretching and hyper flexing the joints is not going to allow me or anyone to continue with our yoga journey for many years to come. So listen to your body, do what you enjoy and warning: don’t attempt any yoga records!.

– Angela –