Yoga Therapy Workshop: Preventing & Relieving Low Back Pain

For those of you in San Diego I will be hosting a Workshop in beautiful La Jolla at Prana Yoga Center. See below for details. Hope to see you there!

Yoga Therapy Workshop: Preventing & Relieving Low Back Pain

Saturday May 3, 1:00-3:00 PM
at Prana Yoga Center. Sign up at or call 858-456-2806

Yoga wall traction2Do you suffer from low back pain, or wish to prevent low back pain from taking hold? There are a variety of issues that can cause pain, in this workshop we will work on a few steps to address this common ailment.

 ◌ Explore how the hips, pelvic position and core stability can affect the lower back.
◌ Understand why some Asanas work for some people and not for others.
◌ Utilize the Yoga Wall to create improved space between the joints.
◌ Learn Asanas to maintain the mobility, stability and length found in class.
Fee: $35 by April 30, $45 after

You can e-mail me with any questions or like Berry Happy Bodies on FB to keep up to date on where and when I am teaching.

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Vegan Penne and Broccoli with Creamy Chickpea Sauce

While talking to my Mom who lives on the East Coast I am reminded of how lucky I am to be here in San Diego. This time of year in the New England states can be so rough. With the drastic changes in temperature and never ending sleet, snow and icy rain, it can all weigh down on the soul. I remember when I lived back there when the sun did make an appearance I would try to run outside and savor the rays as much as possible.peekabo sunRight now in Southern California we are in a bit of a drought, with many days of sun and very little rain. So I’m sending you over there on the East Coast some Sunny Rays and Warm Air. And, a lemony recipe to bring a feeling of Spring.

No matter the coast, or the time of year lemons always bring a breath of fresh air and energy. This recipe is from One Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson. Whether you are a meat eater or Vegan, I highly recommend this book. So many quick and easy recipes. And, like my husband who loves meat, hopefully you too will feel satisfied by the complexity of nutritious combinations so much that you will not miss the animal products at all.

With Robin’s gracious permission I have posted the recipe exactly from her book. If you would like to view more of her recipes visit her website at: Robin Robertson’s Global Vegan Kitchen, or click on the link above to buy the book on Amazon.

Vegan Penne and Broccoli with Creamy Chickpea Sauce

penne and broccoli2Ingredients
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
5 Garlic Cloves chopped
8-12 ounces Cooked Penne (I used a Brown Rice variation)
3 cups Broccoli Florets
1 15.5 ounce can of Chickpeas
3/4 Cup Warm vegetable broth
2 Tablespoons Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast or 1 Tbsp mellow white miso paste
1/2 to 1 Tsp smoke Paprika
1/4 Tsp Oregano
1/4 Tsp Basil
1/4 Tsp freshly ground black pepper
Salt to Taste

1. Heat the oil or water in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and reserve.
2. Cook the penne in a large pot of salted boiling water, stirring occasionally, until it is al dente. About 5 minutes before pasta is done cooking, add the broccoli. drain the cooked pasta and broccoli well and return to pot.
3. While the pasta is cooking, combine the chickpeas and reserved garlic in a food processor. Add the broth, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, paprika, oregano, basil, pepper and salt to taste. Process until smooth.
4. Pour the sauce over the pasta and broccoli and toss gently to combine. Serve hot.

penne and broccoli4

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.

Vegan Corn Casserole

Sometimes corn gets a bad rap. Yes, it’s overused in many products that can break down quickly spiking your insulin, but there are two different types of corn. And, when corn is eaten closer to the source it does have some great benefits.

For you active Yogi’s, runners and cyclists it is a great natural carb (gluten free) to refuel your glycogen sources. Also, when your sweet buds and desensitized to sugar you will notice corn will add a subtle sweetness to a dish. Corn is also a good source of fiber, and nutrients, for more info click on the link.

This recipe is modified from Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, by Roberto Martin. It’s a great source for easy and adaptable Vegan recipes even Non Vegans would enjoy. For the original recipe head over to Amazon to get the book.

We actually doubled the recipe and filled a 13X9 and 9X9 baking dishes and had enough for the whole week and for friends.

Vegan Corn Casserole

corn casserole 4


3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 Yellow Onion diced
1 Can of Green Chilies (we used the small can from Trader Joe’s)
4 Garlic Cloves minced
1/4 Cup flour of Choosing (can use gluten free, or whole wheat)
1 Cup Vegetable Broth
1 16 Ounce can of Corn Kernels (or you can scrape some fresh ones of a cob)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1/2 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Tbsp Agave Nectar (optional)
1 Cup of grated Vegan Cheese (Diaya or Trader Joe’s Soy version both work)
5 Soy Sausage links chopped
1/4 Cup Green Onions chopped
2 Cups chopped Broccoli
1 6 ounce can of Black Olives

1. Preheat Oven to 350. Grease Baking dish (size depends on quantity made-if single 13X9).
2. In large pan heat oil. Then add Garlic and Onion, stirring until Onion is almost translucent 5-6 minutes. Then add broccoli and cook the vegetable mixture for another 3-4 minutes. Then add Chilies, Soy Sausage links, and Black Olives stir until well combined.
3. Slowly add in Vegetable broth, flour and corn to Vegetable mixture, gently stirring. Add in pepper, salt, Cayenne pepper, and Agave. Continue to mix until Broth Thickens.
4. When Vegetable mixture has heated through and is somewhat thick carefully pour into baking dish. Sprinkle Cheese, then Green Onions over the top.
5. Place in oven and bake for approx 45 minutes, until cheese is browned and there is bubbling in the dish. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

corn casserole2

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: