Chest Unlocking

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, some talk about the heart. As kids we express our emotions much more freely with less of a filter, then we typically do as adults. As a child, If we were excited to see someone, we would just run and jump into their arms. If we were upset, anyone within earshot would hear it. As adults we are taught to control our emotions, which is important to avoid flying off the handle, and function in society. However, this restraint can sometimes be over compensated, and then we have difficulty expressing how we truly feel.

happy pup2Our 7 month old puppy, Wiley, actually reminds me of this restraint as he patiently tries to become friends with our 10 year old cat, Azul. Azul will actually sit next to Wiley if he is calm. It takes so much self control for that little guy not to leap, lick and nudge Azul. Wiley has learned in the past Azul just runs away if he pounces. So now they sit close together with Wiley’s tail going 90 beats per minute wanting so much to play with Azul, and Azul just sitting there contently. It seems they have reached a compromise for now, but not long enough to be photographed yet.


As adults we do the same restraining with our emotions and excitement, holding in our fears and worries. Our chest tightens, shoulders slump forward and our breathing becomes more shallow and sometimes we are so unaware of this change. And, unfortunately overtime this position becomes normal and accepted. This is all exacerbated by our sitting postures of driving and computer work.

One way to reverse all this, and release the pent up emotions is with a simple chest opening sequence. Disclaimer, Yoga has so many benefits but practice at your own risk. Be gentle, if it is painful stop. If you have any questions contact me.

supta baddha konasanaStart to slow the mind, and allow gravity and props to gently open the chest, deepen the breath and relax tension in the muscles with Supta Baddha Konasana. Fold a blanket long ways and align it so when you lie down your spine will fall in the middle. supta buddha setp up Make a long loop with a strap and lasso yourself placing the back of the loop around your Sacrum (the flat part of your low back). Then place the other end of the loop around your feet. Sit in front of the folded blanket, gently tuck your sacrum (to avoid over arching) as you lie back. Slide the shoulder blades down your back to open the chest, make sure you neck is comfortable and then allow gravity to do the rest.

cobraCobra is a great way to strengthen the muscles along the spine, as well as warm up and begin to open the chest. The danger here is pushing to hard through the hands, and aggressively lifting too high before you are ready. A good way to prevent this is to focus on the legs, try to glue all 10 toe nails into the round as well as lift up on the knee caps igniting the front of the thigh.

clasped hands stretchStanding with your hands clasped behind your back is a great way to open the chest. If you have a tight chest or shoulders clasp your hands around a strap, shirt or belt instead. Begin in Tadasana, or Mountain pose keeping the legs active, draw the tail bone subtly towards the ground maintaining the normal curve of the low back. Then from there clasp your hands on your low back maintaining the above, extend your arms, drawing the shoulder blades down your back. Avoid letting the front of your arm bone come forward, or extending too far and arching through your low back.

puppy bridge

Bridge pose does so much. A strap can help prevent the knees from coming to wide. Again avoid over arching, instead create more space in the spine by drawing your tailbone towards your heels slightly. Avoid over gripping.

wide leg forward bend with strapThese 2 Wide Leg Forward Folds are a progression to the standing clasped hands. The important thing is to maintain the same foundation as standing clasped hands but with wide legs. It is important to bend through the hips and not through the low back, as well as keep the thighs engaged. Same as before a strap or shirt is always an option.

wall wide leg forward foldkauai down dogDownward Dog is always a great strengthener and if you avoid clasping through the shoulder joint it is a great way to subtly open the chest as well as the back of the legs. One variation to focus a little more on chest and shoulders and ease out the hamstrings is to lift the heels while sill keeping the front of the thigh active.

wiley childs pose

 Wind things down with a supported Child’s Pose. Place your forehead on a bolster, blanket or block. Here I am using the same fold as the first pose in the sequence. Have your knees wide enough for your ribs to graze them as you come forward onto your prop. Inhale lift the head, create length in the spine. Exhale draw your hips toward your heels. If you have tight quadriceps or hips then you may want to place a bolster or blanket on your calves to elevate the hips.

What is a Stress Fracture?

Having an active lifestyle is so important to maintain a healthy body and mind. But, sometimes we can over do it. A while back I wrote a peice on over training. These days I have been better about listening to my body, and have a better balance with Yoga, running and hiking. It is easy to cross the line, and some weeks I really have to hold myself back and have a Restorative Yoga Session.

However, in the clinic I do see patients with overuse stress fractures from excessive activities with not enough rest between sessions. Sometimes these stress fractures are diagnosed late because the patient is unaware of the symptoms, or other times the patient just push through pain.

fallbrook trail3

One of the most effective ways to avoid a stress fracture is to stop if there is continued pain or soreness. There is a time to push through fatigued muscles, and there is a time for rest. There is a fine line to building, and overdoing. If you feel your mind becoming caught up in the “I must”, or “I have to”, stop and review the reasons you feel this way. Are these thoughts stemming from fears? Remember, if you take care of yourself now more training days will come again quick. If you ignore signals the body is sending you, training and just doing activities you enjoy, won’t be available for weeks or even months down the road.

Just ListenSome reasons why a stress fracture may occur:

  • Prolonged training sessions
  • Impact forces
  • Training on hard surfaces
  • Lack of flexibility
  • Inability for muscle strength to keep up with activity
  • Over training
  • Misalignment
  • Change in diet (malnutrition) or change in menstrual cycle

5th met fxOne common location of a stress fracture in active athletes is in the 5th metatarsal or 5th bone of the foot, or in the Tibia or shin bone.

Some common signs and symptoms of a stress fracture are:

  • A deep nagging persistent pain, especially at night
  • Point tenderness
  • An inability to put weight on the foot without pain

If you are experiencing these symptoms make sure to visit your MD. You are diagnosed with a stress fracture through X-Ray, MRI or bone scan. Sometimes an X-ray may not pick up a stress fracture initially, so its important to be persistent with seeking care and rest if pain persists.  If you do have a stress fracture, the best thing you can do is rest. Depending on the location you may need a walking boot or crutches to allow the fracture to heal with less friction from every step.

If you have any questions please drop me a line:

Saving Up

As the Holiday season quickly approaches it is smart to take inventory now with how your body and mind are feeling.

lake hodges reverse warriorSometimes it is helpful to view your health as a bank account. When you take time to care for yourself it is like making deposits. The more deposits you make, the more you have to withdrawal during busy times, like the holidays.

When you have energy in your reserve then you feel less depleted and wiped. Which helps your mind to focus with family around pushing sensitive buttons. Instead of reacting to comments, you will have the energy to breathe, refocus and respond in a less argumentative manner, helping to prevent a cascade of heated tempers.

glorious sunsetTo help make deposits into your health bank account, take time to do things you enjoy and which replenish the system. For example, walks on the beach, play time with your pets, Yoga, meditation, or just reading a book. When you give to yourself you will have more left over to give to others which helps for a more relaxing holiday season. Taking care of yourself will also actually help your real bank account as well by preventing excess medical expenses down the road.

wiley beach walk

Fear of Rest

In our society it seems people value their importance by the craziness of their Calender. In the clinic and with my friends, as we try to coordinate schedules I hear it all. Everything from meetings, to lunches, Yoga reverse plank one legclasses, to running schedules, kids, friends, traveling, IOS update malfunctions. We are always moving, stimulated, texting, talking or sitting plugged in. I am a culprit as well.

On the East Coast I attended Relax and Renew a Restorative Training hosted by Physical Therapist, Yoga Teacher Judith Lasater. She reinforced the importance of relaxation and finding quiet and stillness. She also mentioned how sometimes we actually fear rest and the quietness, because the initial letting go can be painful.contemplation And, are we also afraid to be alone with ourselves?

It is usually in this first moment of actually beginning to relax that I realize how wound up, tight and anxious I was in the first place. The first phase of letting go can be uncomfortable physically and mentally. But, it is also in this phase that we receive important lessons our body and minds are telling us, or it is time to integrate all activities and feelings from the day.

relaxing wide leg foldMaybe we need to learn to be more comfortable slowing down, and turning in. Practice makes perfect. The more we stop, the easier and more comfortable it becomes. Until we actually crave the silence. In the beginning Judith recommends setting a timer for a few minutes while in a comfortable sitting or supine position. Sometimes knowing there is an end allows the mind to relax easier.

This is only one way to start at home. If you find you are distracted easily you might consider trying a Restorative Yoga class. Sometimes it is a welcome break from busy life schedules and active workouts or Flow Yoga classes. The next challenge is to unload our busy schedules by prioritizing. But, this is a whole other topic, and one of my biggest hurdles.

How do you slow down?


Summer Inspiration

These days life goes so fast. As we rush from one thing to the next, and cross items off the list, and look forward to the next one, it is important to take a moment and appreciate the now.

kauai storm motivation

This summer just flew by. Concerts, hikes, friends, Yoga, the beach, Camping with my husband and I couldn’t ask for more. At times, however, I had to remind myself to stop and enjoy the moment. And, as I take a deep breath in that moment I finally feel the tension melt away I didn’t even realize I was carrying. The pictures here were captured in those moments. I sunset

Camping in Idywilld

I meditation

Mid hike break

swamis sunset

One of the first Sunsets of the summer at our local beach.

purple sunset

On a beach walk after work.

backyard sunset
Caught in the backyard.

endless encinitas summer

San Diego’s endless Summers….