Up Coming Events

I can’t believe March is already here! 2015 is zipping right along. Soon you will receive more recipes and informational posts in your inbox, but for now here are some up coming Classes and Workshops I am hosting here in San Diego:

Yoga therapy for runners flyerTo register for this workshop click on the Body Mind link here.

Yoga therapy upper back neck flyerLocated at Embody Yoga & Physical Therapy. Call 619.261.6049 to register!

Letting Go and Moving Forward

The ending of one year, and beginning of a new one is always an auspicious time to review and contemplate the past. For the start of the new year, this can help to cultivate your true path to fulfillment of your life purpose. This can be especially true if you are healing from an injury or overcoming chronic pain. Sometimes when we are caught up in our cycles of pain, frustration, limitations, and ups and downs, it is difficult to notice the improvements and progress and healing from one month to the next. I have been down this path myself. And, when we are hurting, frustrated and stagnant our true path can become overgrown and difficult to follow.

camera photoHowever, the path can be revealed or made more clear, as you enter into 2015. First take a step back and look at your old patterns and thought processes with new eyes.

This introspection can be achieved by just sitting or lying quietly in meditation reviewing the year, or if you kept a journal reading over your past entries, or even looking at your calendar and notice how many appointments and fun activities you had scheduled in the beginning of the year versus now. You might pick up on subtle changes to your moods, activities, and schedule.

In the Physical Therapy world noticing very objective improvements, such as standing or sitting for longer periods, beginning to increase walking and hiking, relaxing more with friends and family, participating in hobbies, all with less pain, are all signs of improvement.

However, if you don’t review and look for these signs and changes it is easy to get caught up in the things you still can’t do now. For example, “I can’t run old route”, “I still can’t return to my usual Yoga class”, “I can’t walk the dog on our normal route”, “I can’t sit on my favorite couch”.  This thought process can create more tension and stress, even increasing and exacerbating your pain.

trail meditationWhen looking closely at those phrases you will notice one common theme, an old way of doing something. As you heal and overcome injury and pain, you also evolve as an individual and develop new ways of thinking and new neural pathways. Sometimes this is noticeable to yourself and loved ones, sometimes not at all.

So, it is unrealistic of yourself to expect to return 100% of how you were before the injury, because hopefully you are no longer that same person. And, it might have even been those old patterns, activities, and ways of thinking that lead to the injury or pain in the first place. Instead let go of the old templates and thoughts of what you should be doing based on the past or certain expectations, and create new templates for the present.

In the Yoga world the unraveling happens with a consistent Asana (yoga practice), Pranayama (breathing techniques), and Meditation practice working with the 5 Layers of Koshas (beings within), moving beyond a physical injury and Anatomy. In Mr. Iyengar’s book, Light on Life the chapters are broken down by Koshas. First is the stability through the Physical Body (Asana), then working with Vitality in the Energy Body (Prana), next is Clarity in the Mental Body (Manas), then Wisdom through the Intellectual Body (Vijnana) and last Bliss in the Divine Body (Ananda). Working with these Koshas sheds light to old ways of thinking, and helps to create new paths bringing us closer to our true Dharma (life purpose).

When I was healing from my back injury I had to completely change my Yoga practice from one of mostly Ashtanga and Vinyasa Flow to primarily Therapeutic for a number of months. I also had to stop running, and reduced my hiking for a period of time.

Downward dogWhen my body healed, instead of returning back to my old Flow classes and dropping into my old patterns and habits I started practicing more Iyengar Yoga. I also decided for my body running multiple times a week was not the best activity, so I let go of the thought that I had to run. Instead I started hiking and walking more, always ending with a short Therapeutic Yoga practice. To help keep my mind and emotions in the game I started a short daily Meditation and Pranyama practice. This is what worked for me, and I haven’t felt any nerve or intense low back symptoms in over a year. Once in a while I will feel an occasional symptom pop up on the radar, so my evolving and unraveling work continues into 2015. However, this is my path and my dharma and I accept it all just as it arrives. Yours of course will be different, and that is for you to discover.

What old thoughts, activities and patterns can you let go of? Ready to set on a new path for 2015?

Ojai hiking trailFor more insight on overcoming Chronic Pain and how the Brain is involved please check out my good friend Jo’s blog: My Cuppa Jo.






Holiday Recipes

The Holidays are upon us once again. It is so easy to get swept away in the madness, and lose track of time. To help make things easier I am providing a list of websites I regularly visit for recipe ideas. This season why not give yourself and your loved ones the gift of nutrients during this busy time?  Not only will you be replenishing all your systems, but you will be helping the earth, environment and not to mention all the furry friends. Try a Vegan Holiday Season this year, instead of a food coma it will be a food bliss. :)

Robin Robertson’s Global Vegan Kitchen
Oh She Glows
Main Street Vegan
Vega Blog
Vegan Coach
Oh My Veggies
The Flaming Vegan

A few to get you started. I hope you and your loved ones have a relaxing Thanksgiving.

Thank you for your continued support!

ventura boardwalkVacant beach in Ventura caught during the Holiday Season last year.


Oh, My Aching Back

Life happens. You bend over to play with your little one, or to just tie your shoe, and all of a sudden your back seizes up on you. Or maybe, once in a while your low back just grabs at you, and sends out warning signals that it needs a little attention.

I have been there. Through over a decade of driving a heavy clutch I would feel hints of discomfort in my low back, especially during long drives. However, no symptoms really stayed on my radar during that time. Until about two years ago, after one clutch too many, I felt my disc bulge and a very angry nerve down the back of my leg right there on the freeway stuck in traffic. I could barely walk when I finally arrived home. You can read more here.  I can also tell you, with a little knowledge, patience and help from your friendly physical therapist you can heal. Currently, my Yoga practice and life movements are full again.

lumbar spine2This post is not to help with diagnosing yourself, it is always important to have a Health Care Provider do this. And, in certain circumstances surgery may be required. However, when healing  it is helpful to be armed with knowledge about the condition. So today I will talk a little about the discs of the spine.

In between each vertebrae (the bones) of the spine there are discs and nerves. The discs are smallest in cervical (neck) region, and largest in lumbar (low back). It is the ratio of vertebrae size to disc size that allows for appropriate mobility with ease. The cervical region has the largest ratio and largest mobility, then lumbar and then thoracic (mid back).

The discs help to maintain space in between each vertebrae, as well as space in the Intervetebral Foraminas for the spinal nerves to travel through.The outside of the disc is comprised of the Annulus Fibrosus. Inside is the gel like Nucleus Pulposus. Unfortunately the discs’ periphery is the only part to receive direct blood supply, the center receives through diffusion. There is no nerve supply to the disc, but the surrounding structures; ligament, vertebrae, nerve root, facet and even the muscles do have nerve innervation and will let you know if there is an injury.

The movement of a disc can be compared to a balloon filled loosely with gel. If you push down on one end the gel with be forced to the other. This is natural and healthy movement for the disc which happens during our everyday motions. Movement keeps the discs hydrated, and our spines mobile. However, injuries to the discs can happen from repetitive movements with poor bio mechanics, tight muscles, unawareness of body positions, or asymmetries in the body, for example.

When an injury to a disc occurs there are four things which my happen:

1. Protrusion: there is no rupture of the annulus fibrosus but the disc will bulge, typically in the posterior direction.

2. Prolaspe: the outermost fibers contain the middle portion of the disc as it bulges toward the the outer rim, further than in a protrusion.

3. Extrusion: the annulus fibrosus leaks out into the epidural space

4. Sequestrated disc: part of the annulus fibrosus and nucleus pulposus leak all the way out of the disc and remain there outside of the disc.

Depending on what happened to your disc, and the severity, you may feel different symptoms in different positions or even activities involving pressure such as laughing.

Having a disc bulge however, does not have to be a life sentence for low back pain. I can tell you this personally. There are many things a physical therapist can do to help alleviate pain from the disc, nerve, facets, ligaments and muscles.

For example, stretching the hamstrings, working on posture in standing and sitting positions, and traction. In our clinic we are able to create a lot of ways to unload the spine and create traction with the yoga wall, as well as, open the leg and hip muscles through safe Yoga poses.

supta padagustrasana tractionOne of my favorite Asanas to help discs heal by lengthening the hamstrings with a little traction.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at berryhappybodies@gmail.com
or visit Embody’s website.