Yoga Tune Up® Yoga Tune Up Blog

Yoga Tune Up® Blog

The Psoas / Quadratus Lomborum Relationship: Part 1

By: | Wednesday, August 24th, 2016 | Comments 0

Ever ponder what muscles are involved when you’re standing straight up? What muscles are primarily involved in keeping you upright?

You have a couple dozen soft tissue postural supporters running from your feet up your body to your head, which work in conjunction with one another to maintain your vertical posture and stabilize your joints.

With more than 600 individual muscles in the human body, there is only one that connects the upper and lower halves of your body. It is the psoas, and it has an important job to do. The psoas major’s origin is at the anterior surfaces of the transverse processes of the lumbar vertebrae and the lateral surfaces of T12-L5 and the intervertebral discs in this region. It inserts on the lesser trochanter of the femur. The psoas major contributes to spinal flexion, hip flexion and unilateral side bending of the torso.

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Bunions and More: Post-Bunion Galore

By: | Friday, August 19th, 2016 | Comments 2

On Wednesday, I told the tale of my bunions. Today, I’ll discuss techniques for foot care I’ve had time to research while I rest my feet post-surgery.

Here are a few movements I will include in my (future) daily foot care from Katy Bowman’s book, Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief.

  • Holding hands with my feet! Interlace my opposite hand to surgical foot, gently spreading and stretching the tissues between my toes. Lots of full deep breaths! Always supportive.
  • Stretching the gripping muscles. Starting with toenails, lay down the top of my foot behind me, keeping my heel centered. Increase the stretch, when possible, by straightening my back knee and reaching back (extending) from my hip.

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Bunions and More

By: | Wednesday, August 17th, 2016 | Comments 3

I have written at least a couple dozen blogs since my last entry many moons ago. And they are all in my head. Time to put thoughts on computer.

At this very moment, I am semi-reclined with my left foot elevated and iced following surgery a week ago. My hapless disregard for the health of my left foot over the years allowed a debilitating hallux valgus, AKA bunion, and hammer toe to progress and require surgery.

There is some controversy as to the origin of bunions. According to researchers who examined over 2,400 adults from the Framingham Foot Study, significant heritability of bunions was found.  This study claims to be the first findings of heritability of foot disorders in humans. I am not convinced.

Although I am only a study of one, my experience over the years goes like this: Commit the time and effort to manually flexing and stretching each individual toe downward toward the sole of the foot, repetitively, daily. Include ankle and foot joint mobility, and lower leg muscular flexibility and strength exercises.

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Once Upon a Time in a Cadaver Lab: Anatomy in Action

My initial thoughts on anatomy training and entering the cadaver lab are found in my post from Wednesday. Today, we enter the lab.

The day was set up brilliantly. The morning had a lecture on upper body. Then we went into the lab and explored the upper body. It was FREEZING in there, but the formaldehyde smell didn’t bother me at all. Each of the eight bodies had a grad student in charge so you could ask questions. They would help you locate the muscles and nerves that look NOTHING like the anatomy books. The grad students had already prepped the bodies for us so there was no cutting.

We were told the age of the person and how they passed. I was shocked at my curiosity. I did listen and learn. And I did touch. Let me tell you, after memorizing the four rotator cuff muscles from a book, you think you’ve got it and then you go look for them…It was probably the first time I began to understand that we are truly all one, intertwined, connected mix of muscles, tissues, nerves, everything is all together. There’s not a perfectly perfect supraspinatus just sitting there waiting to be examined. We were in the lab for about an hour and a half, going from body to body. I said a silent blessing to each and every body and felt an immense amount of gratitude for them.

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Once Upon a Time in a Cadaver Lab

Once upon a time, I went to a cadaver lab. I never imagined I would go to a cadaver lab when I became a yoga teacher!

This blog was inspired by a  yoga podcast with guest Ann Votaw. Ann discussed her tour of a cadaver lab at NYU. Her interest was piqued when she became ill, and the possibility of death hit close to home. She decided to attend a cadaver memorial, where families meet the doctors who are learning with these forms. It’s a powerful and beautiful reminder that bodies can be honored in the present moment and beyond.

The amazing human form

The amazing human form

In my first training, which was VERY solid in the land of mass-marketed teacher training programs, we learned anatomy. We had our 12 required hours, and I memorized the bones that I needed to memorize for the anatomy portion of the final exam. Anatomy is such a minimal portion of trainings which makes me really sad because we deal with bodies. And then there’s biomechanics – which is not even discussed in most trainings. I’m lucky enough to have studied with teachers who are bringing this information to teachers. I’m grateful for any and all that I can learn about the body as it helps me show up for whoever shows up in my classroom. Read the rest of this blog post »

The European Workout: Hittin’ the Streets!

By: | Friday, August 5th, 2016 | Comments 3

On Wednesday, I talked about preparing myself for the rigors of travel. On to the trip!

Metro rides are perfect for hanging and shoulder movement. Stephen Goldberg, in Clinical Anatomy Made Ridiculously Simple, reminds us that “shoulder movement depends not only upon the movement at the Glenohumeral (GH) joint, but also upon movement of the scapula.”


Posterior musculature of the GH joint

A host of muscles including trapezius, pectoralis muscles, deltoids, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, and more help to stabilize the humerus bones in the GH joint, lift the arms overhead, and rotate the scapula in order to achieve a hang. Stretch, stabilize, and strengthen comprehensively with a hang!

Hanging in the Metro

How? Step onto the Metro (Mind the gap!), and grab the overhead bars, keeping feet on the floor and shoulders depressed (relaxed down). Resist the urge to allow the shoulders to hike up to your ears or conversely to pull them down towards your pockets. Keeping the chest in line with the pubic symphysis, begin transferring more and more weight off of your feet and into your hands/arms until you notice that one of the above alignment points begins to buckle. Congrats, you’ve found your edge! So hang out and get a little comfy for a moment.

The upside is that even on the most crowded of metros, the higher bars tend to be the least popular (most people scrambling to sit as if enacting a game of musical chairs). So there is usually room for a hand or two to practice your hang.

Not ready to hang? Try warming up your shoulders with a Yoga Tune Up®  exercise, Halo Arms, to being priming your limbs for hanging. Note: if you have shoulder pain or hear clicking, crackling, etc please see your doctor or physical therapist. Read the rest of this blog post »

The European Workout

When traveling, I have an agreement with myself: Walk to each destination (as much as possible) and take stairs in lieu of escalators. Sound insignificant? Try these small adjustments at the airport with luggage, or, as in my own experience, coming out of the Tribunal Metro station in Madrid and experience how quickly these little modifications become heart racing feats.

For some of us, setting up a consistent workout routine is a challenge, for others, we already have a fixed routine but, when our location or schedule changes, we allow the new environment to be our reason for throwing our movement practice out the window. Enter the “European Workout.” Read the rest of this blog post »


Where ever you are in North America, there is a Yoga Tune Up® or Roll Model Method® training coming your way!

Level 1 Teacher Training

The Roll Model® Method – The Science of Rolling

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Self-Care Techniques for the Busty Crowd Part 2: The Re-Bustening

On Wednesday, I talked about how my large bustline has caused postural habits and issues with mobility and pain.

Today, I’ll outline some areas I concentrate on to improve my overhead position for lifting, and try to improve my posture.

First up, the pec minor. In my experience, when your chest pulls the rest of your body forward all day, your pecs feel like beef jerky. Here’s what most folks don’t think about: the extra tissue on top of the pecs and in the vicinity of the armpit makes it tricky to dig in and work on the musculature of the anterior shoulder. A Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Ball and a yoga block at the wall is a great idea, but I would suggest the ALPHA. If you have access to a rig in your gym, it’s an even better tool to lean against; you can put your arm through a much wider range of motion as you lean into the ball.

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Self-Care Techniques for the Busty Crowd

Do you guys know how hard it is to find information on alleviating the aches and pains of carrying around heavy breasts? Nobody look at my browser history for a minute.

Like many women who are “blessed” with a very large bustline, I developed early, which is exactly when my bad posture habits began. When you’re still a kid, you’re not all about drawing attention to your body. So I covered up with large clothes, slouched to hide myself as best I could, and avoided activities that involved jumping around. I really avoided physical activities in general until I was in my 20’s.

When I began practicing yoga in a studio in my mid 20’s, I wasn’t surprised to see a whole bunch of bodies that looked nothing like me. When I started CrossFit at age 30, I wasn’t surprised that there were certain activities I wasn’t fond of due to what my coach would simply refer to as my “anatomy.”

What I was surprised about were these weird movement and pain patterns I started to discover in myself. My overhead shoulder position is poor, and I started to notice anterior shoulder pain when I worked on overhead lifts. I sought out resources. I learned about mobility and started to figure out what was going on in my upper body.

Then I found Yoga Tune Up®, and everything got real nerdy. The upper edge of my trapezius and my neck extensors are what hurt all the time. My thoracic spinal rotation is limited. My humeri sit well in front of where they should. My Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls became my favorite tools for working on myself.

I’ve developed a bit of a protocol for working on the posture and pain issues wearing these heavy appendages on the front of my chest have caused. First up, my busty legion, a bit of restorative yoga (yay!). Read the rest of this blog post »