Consider a Cleanse

I'm 8 days into a 21 day cleanse.  This cleanse is a variation that comes from the book: Eating Clean: the 21 Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation and Reset your Body by Valpone.  You can also check out the Netflix documentary called What's With Wheat? on a similar topic.

Through the years I've seen friends and family members try different cleanses and I always thought they seemed too difficult or too weird to try.  Or, I just wasn't interested (read: I was threatened). But then recently all the signs were telling me to try one.

What the heck?  I gave birth to my second son WITHOUT ANY MEDS so I can do just about anything, really.

The cleanse I'm doing for 21 days is basically this.

Caffeine (even decaf coffee)
Added sugar
Citrus (except lemons)
Night Shade Vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant)
Pre-packaged foods

1 tblsp of organic apple cider vinegar diluted in 8 oz water with honey/day
Fresh, organic fruits and vegetables
Eggs (I added this)
All nuts (except peanuts)
Organic chicken, turkey, fish and beef once/week
Brown rice & Quinoa
Lots of water
Herbal tea
Mineral water
Organic maple syrup, honey

Then, after 21 days I can gradually add in the foods I miss and see how my body reacts. Based on that, I decide if I want to add them in again, and to what degree.

After 8 days I've noticed some changes.  At day 3 all the inflammation left my body, especially my face, fingers and even toes.  At day 3 I started sleeping better.  I have more energy after I eat a healthy meal and don't feel sluggish.  Sometimes I feel too amped, like I'm seeing crisper around the edges of things.  (No, I'm not also on acid.)  Sometimes I feel just odd, and wait for it to pass.  Some days my eyes have dark circles under them, but I'm thinking this will go away.

When I tell people I'm on a cleanse they laugh and say it sounds boring and some even get defensive and say they don't want to do one.  I never asked them to do it with me, but they still feel like I'm challenging them or something.  I'm not.  Really.  It's just something I wanted to try and now I'm trying it.

What does this have to do with yoga?  Well, many of the yoga passages I've been reading lately have forced me to rethink some of my daily and nightly habits.

This yoga thing isn't just about what happens on the mat.  In fact, it's really about what happens off the mat,  and we are forced to ask ourselves - can we carry our yoga with us as we go out into the world, or onto the couch with our nightly habit of red wine, dark chocolate and Netflix?  Our yogic teachings may be telling us to consider a cleanse every now and then and just see what happens. Notice, without judgment.  That's what I'm trying to do, and so far, so good.

Yin Is In!

When I first started taking yoga classes I focused on vinyasa flow classes.  I didn't know what I was doing, and that seemed like a good place to start.  It was.  But then, as my practice grew and I learned more about different types of yoga, I saw the benefit in branching out and trying new styles.

One style that always intrigued me was yin.  It seemed so different from "regular" fast paced, flowing yoga.  Yin was quiet, inward and deliciously difficult.  

Yin is a relatively new type of yoga.  The yin style of yoga has always existed, but it wasn't until 30 years ago that Paulie Zink, Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers gave it a name and began refining and defining yin.  Bernie Clark, another yin guru, created a website devoted to it:

How is yin different from restorative yoga?  Both of these are passive practices but yin digs down deep into our connective tissues and restorative does not. Yin is NOT appropriate for people working through an injury.  Once an injury is healed, then yin may help restore range of motion and mobility.  Restorative, on the other hand, is very appropriate for those healing from injuries.

Yin is done when the muscles are cold.  You get on your mat, usually settle in with a meditative pose for a few minutes, and then begin your first yin pose, and hold for anywhere from 3-8 minutes, or longer.

Doing yin with the muscles cold (that is, not warmed up) allows the work to go deep into the connective tissue - the fascia that connects bones, ligaments, tendons, joints and muscle.  Most forms of yoga are active practices that work our muscular half, the "yang" tissues.  Yin is a nice complement to yang styles of yoga.  Many of us have active yang lifestyles that could use balancing with some inward yin awareness and acceptance.

Both yin and yang are necessary.  As Bernie Clark says, "We can be yang-like for only so long before crashing.  We can be yin-like for only so long before stagnating.  We need balance in all things."

There are fewer than 30 poses in yin.  And most of these focus on the pelvic area.  Here is a list of the poses from

Go try a yin class sometime and see what it adds to your practice.  Be patient. You may not fall in love with the first yin class you take.  Try a couple classes, experiment with different teachers before you decide if it's for you.

I teach yin in Reno on Wednesdays at 10:30am at the West Street Market. Sign up here:

Yoga Poses for Lower Back Pain

Have you noticed that very few people have ulcers anymore?  Low back pain is the new ulcer.  Read about this low back pain theory in John Sarno's book, The Mindbody Prescription.

Do you sometimes experience low back pain?  Most people do, whether they have sedentary or active lifestyles.  Here are a few yoga poses to help alleviate low back pain.  I suggest you do them in the order listed, and end with your version of Savasana in a comfortable, quiet, relaxing place.

Please consult a healthcare professional before doing yoga if you have back pain issues.  Make sure you have approval before starting any new exercise routine.

On your back (Supine)

Knees to chest (Apanasana)

Hamstring stretch (Supta Padangusthasana)

Thread the Needle/Reclining Pigeon


Reclined twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

On your belly (Prone)

Low Cobra (Bhujangasana)

Sphinx Pose

On your hands and knees

Cat (Marjaryasana)

Cow (Bitilasana)

Cow/Cat together

Inhale cow, Exhale cat

Child's Pose (Balasana)

On your feet

Half Sun Salutations (Modified Surya Namaskar A)

1. Place hands at the heart in Tadasana  

2. Inhale the arms up

3. Exhale swan dive forward with a flat back and slight bend in the knees

4. Inhale halfway up, place hands to shins, with a flat back

5. Exhale, fold with a slight bend in the knees if necessary

6. Inhale, reverse swan dive up with flat back, bringing the arms up

7. Exhale the hands back to your heart

Note: "Flat back" means neutral spine.

Squat/Garland (Malasana)
with a block

On your back (Supine)

Circle knees over chest both directions (Apanasana variation)

Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)


Legs over a chair

Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Yoga for Baseball Players

I teach yoga to youth sports clubs and athletes.  Young baseball players benefit in many ways from yoga.  I start my classes with fifteen minutes of foam rolling, followed by an hour of yoga.   
What does yoga, this 5000 year old practice, offer baseball players?
Mental toughness and calmness - Learning breathing techniques and holding poses while staying present in the mind helps athletes get in the zone and stay totally focused in tough situations.
Flexibility - Becoming more flexible in key areas like the hips, groins, neck, shoulders, spine and wrists helps players in the following ways: 
Open hips = less stress and strain on the knee joints, helps with quick, reactive moves on the field
Open groins = help with quick movements turning in either direction instantly on the field
Flexible neck = full rotation allowing for looking over each shoulder without moving the body
Flexible shoulders = reduction of stress on joint and increases power of the throw
Long, flexible spine = ability to look over the shoulder and throw out an opponent
Flexible wrists = ease of gripping the ball and the bat and recovering from diving catches

Strong Core - Strong abdominal muscles promote proper posture, support the back and make twists easier which helps players increase the speed at which their hips turn when up to bat or when running.
Stability and balance - Balance poses help keep the players' ankles flexible and strong.  This allows them to make quick changes of direction, and get strong push offs to initiate movement.
Overall, yoga helps baseball players with focus and concentration, flexibility, strength, coordination, mental calmness, balance and confidence, which is not only important for improving their game, but also many other aspects of their lives.  There is a reason yoga has been around for so long.  It works. It's a game changer.

I suggest that athletes incorporate some amount of yoga into their daily lives to complement the other healthy mental and physical activities they already do.  I encourage my students to try a little bit of yoga and/or foam rolling every day.  And,  3-5 yoga sessions per week is ideal.   This can be done at home, in a studio, at a gym, on the field before or after practice, in school, in a hotel room, etc. Five to ten minutes of yoga a day is better than none at all.  Do what works for your body, use props for support if you have them, get into your own head, stay present and let the benefits of yoga become clear to you.