Monthly Archives: August 2016

A Stretch Sensation – Good or Bad?

6There is a common belief among many people who exercise – whether yoga, weightlifting, running, cycling, etc . . . . – that there should be pain involved, particularly when it is a “strong practice”, or a “hard workout”. If the pain doesn’t exist, the following questions do  . . . . Was anything done? Was anything accomplished? Was progress made?

A participant in the most recent I Love Anatomy Online program sums it up this way:

I’ve been practicing all {your} principles + after doing a 60 -90 minute practices all week + moving w/ease + breath, I feel like I’ve just been moving + breathing, I don’t feel like I’ve “practiced”. Prior to this course usually something is hurting, strained, overused, but I’ve interpreted it as “I’ve worked out”, it’s just so strange to go thru my day + night “pain free” …..that I feel like I haven’t “done” anything….so my brain is catching up with the novelty that I can do a strong practice + not feel pain. AND I am making progress in areas where I was weak /tight/both or lacked mobility. Hope you understand what I’m saying, it’s just plain weird to not have twinges, tension during or after “practice”. This is how it’s suppose to be….functionalsynergy….?

I also see this in clients who are visiting me for the first time who ask me, why they are in pain, and then go on to show me a “supine (on your back) hamstring stretch” type movement and they are gripping, bracing and bearing down because if they don’t they won’t get a stretch sensation – and isn’t that what is needed to get out of pain?

The answer is a very simple and straightforward “no”. Having a stretch sensation does not support you in getting out of pain, nor does it support you in improving your performance. In fact, it will likely add to your pain and will likely reverse performance.

What?! How can the glorious, yummy and juicy stretch sensation be so awful?

Let me be clear – it isn’t the stretch sensation that is awful, it is that many people are using it as an indicator for doing a yoga pose, movemnt or other exercise correctly. A stretch sensation is merely that – a stretch sensation. It doesn’t provide any indication that you are doing a yoga pose or other movement correctly.

Let’s go back to the “hamstring stretch” story above. People can wince, brace, grip, and overuse their pelvis and still get a stretch sensation – and they won’t be gaining a release – they will be gaining more tension, bracing, gripping and poor neuromuscular patterning. They won’t get out of the cycle they are in, they will continue to maintain it and likely make it worse.

So what is the bumper sticker in all of this? What is your actionable step? When you are practicing yoga, stretching or doing other movement, refrain from using the “stretch sensation” or even the “strength sensation” as your go-to for measuring how you are doing. Instead, focus on how you are moving, and reducing the compensations in your movement patterns. You will become more efficient and more free in movement and feel so much better.

Here is your success,


Nourish Relaxation

By Susi Hately, B.Sc. Kinesiology

1 (1)

Relaxation is the state of mind that brings clarity and focus; it is the state in the body that generates muscle and fascia release, reduces pain, and generates strength. As it relates to yoga and other activity, it is the seed for cultivating vitality, and vibrancy. The more you can relax the safer, stronger, and more powerful your yoga, your running, your cycling, swimming, (insert activity) will be.

Doing Nothing versus Effortless Effort

Relaxation has many different meanings that run the length of a spectrum. On one end is doing nothing. Doing nothing is what occurs when sitting on a beach chair sipping a drink with little umbrellas. At the other end is experiencing effortless effort. Effortless effort is conscious action while being at ease; it is strength cultivated from inner softness.

Cultivating Effortless Effort: Cultivating the Seeds of Relaxation for Dynamic Asanas

Effortless effort is initiated by being mindful – mindful of how the breath moves through the body and of the sensations that arise. Sensations can be anything including pain, tension, fatigue, strain, fullness, emptiness, ease, softness, and warmth. Once mindfulness is cultivated and the initial sensations and flow of breath felt, you can begin to relax into them, to feel breath and sensations as if you are immersed in them. As immersion continues, the sensations dissipate; a new layer of sensations emerges and the cycle begins again. As each new cycle of sensations emerges and dissipates there is a natural resolution, a natural rejuvenation. Within this resolution and rejuvenation lies the seeds of vitality.

A Way In: Soft, Easy Breathing Conscious Breathing

Relaxation that leads to effortless effort can be initiated from within by soft and easy breathing. This type of breathing is nourishing, settling, calming, and quieting. It requires the mind to gently focus, to be aware of what is happening in the body – just as you would observe a beautiful garden, landscape, or piece of art – taking it in without judgment. To experience this, try the following two-part exercise:

Part 1

Lie on your back and willfully breathe in deeply. Feel how your rib cage strongly expands and contracts as you inhale and exhale. How does this feel for you? What do you notice? Rest for a moment.

Part 2

Next, imagine your lungs sitting inside your rib cage. Two of them, each one filling either side of the rib cage, with the tops cresting the collarbones and the base of each nestling on top of the diaphragm. As you breathe, feel the lung movement, the rising and falling. Notice how this rising and falling of the lungs causes the rib cage to rise and fall. Try not to use your will; let it occur from the inside out. As you let it occur from the inside out, you will probably feel your rib cage expanding more and with greater ease. You will also feel the exhalation becoming softer and calmer, as if you are on the top of a mountain allowing the breath to fill you – the lungs rise and fall softly, causing the rib cage to rise and fall softly. You will also notice less tension in your body.

Taking the Next Step: Integration

As you become familiar with this practice, take it into your yoga, or other activity – whether that is running, cycling, swimming, hiking . . . . Notice what is there. Often, people notice their mind quieting, they feel pain dissipating, or tension fading. As they continue to practice, they notice they are running, cycling or swimming with more power, more effortlessly. They get into “the zone” more easily. They recover more quickly and overall they just feel more alert, more at ease, stronger.

Enjoy Exploring,