Prana; Breath; LifeForce

There is an old Vedic story about Prana that we find in various Upanishads. The five main faculties of our nature – the mind, breath (prana), speech, ear and eye – were arguing with each other as to which one of them was the best and most important. This reflects the ordinary human state in which our faculties are not integrated but fight with each other, competing for their rule over our attention. To resolve this dispute, they decided that each would leave the body and see whose absence was most missed.

First speech left the body, but the body continued though mute. Next the eye left but the body continued though blind. Next the ear left but the body continued though deaf. Mind left but the body continued though unconscious. Finally, the Prana began to leave, the body began to die, and all the other faculties began to lose their energy. So, all they all rushed to Prana and told it to stay, lauding its supremacy. Clearly Prana won the argument. Prana gives energy to all our faculties, without which they cannot function. Without honoring Prana first there is nothing else we can do and no energy with which to do anything. The moral of this story is that to control our faculties the key is the control of Prana.

There are many forms of Prana from the physical breath to the energy of consciousness itself. Here we will focus on the physical. Prana is regularly referred to as life force, vital energy, or breath, and from the short story above you can see why. It regulates and controls all functions of the body.

Prana, our vital energy, relates to the air element, especially the oxygen we take in as that is what keeps us alive. If you think about air, it is mobile, continuous, and directional (the wind is coming out of the north today). Once oxygen enters our body it transforms into our vital energy, but it still has the characteristics of air – mobile, continuous, directional. There are 5 directions, or vayus, our vital energy can follow. In a healthy body the prana travels smoothly thru all 5 vayus, but blockages can restrict flow causing a dis-ease within the body. The 5 vayus are Prana (yes, same name but a sub-set of the larger Prana), Apana, Udana, Samana, and Vyana. Let’s explore each one a bit further.

Prana Vayu

This vayu rules inward motion. Think of everything we take in – inhaling, eating, drinking, swallowing. It also applies to the 5 senses. What are you watching, hearing? Because we live in an over-stimulated society we forget the need for silence and space. A healthy prana vayu allows for one to walk away from external distractions and return to a place of quiet and turning their attention inward. With weakened prana vayu, one cannot resist the tempting stimulants and is unable to focus.

Apana Vayu

This vayu rules downward and outward movement. Think elimination. Everything that comes in (physically, mentally) must come out. If not, dis-ease arises. On a physical level, this is food, birthing, menstrual cycle, etc. On a mental level, it’s the ability to let go of difficult thoughts, memories, experiences. A healthy apana vayu, one is regular, can conceive and give birth, experience difficulty and release it while remaining positive. An unhealthy apana vayu, body elimination is stuck or too much (lack of control), constant worrying, a feeling of instability and unsupported.

Samana Vayu

This vayu rules movement from the outside inward. It controls everything we ingest. We must digest, assimilate, and process everything, physically and mentally, we take in before we can eliminate it. Healthy samana vayu includes smooth digestion and turning difficult situations into learning experiences. Digestion issues, a feeling a depletion, inability to think and share difficult experiences is a sign of an unhealthy samana vayu.

Udana Vayu

This vayu relates to upward movement of our bodies and our perspectives. Healthy Udana has good, physical growth and willingness to reach beyond your current potential. When Udana is weak one become stagnant in their growth physically, in their life, and in their career. On the flip side, too much Udana lead to pride and arrogance.

Vyana Vayu

This vayu rules movement from the center outward. Vyana represents the whole body, single cell to the boundary of our skin to the energy that radiates past our physical body. It relates to circulation, keeping everything flowing and integrated – food, oxygen, ideas, emotions. When Vyana is healthy, nutrients reach where they are needed and are absorbed fully, proper energy is released, one can express their feelings, and circulate in the world confidently. A lack of Vyana causes bad health and illness, a feeling of separation, limitation of ideas.

So, why is this important?

These 5 pathways are tools that help us heal the various aspects of ourselves and move toward unity of mind, body, and spirit. They can also come in handy while practicing yoga. Come back next month when I explore working with the vayus in a yoga class.




Lessons from the Tetons

Last year I knew wanted to hike in Grand Teton National Park. What I didn’t know was that desire would turn into a 4-day adventure that would test my will and comfort zone along with bringing me up close and personal to the expansive beauty of nature. Most of all, it reminded me what Living feels like. And I would do it again in a heartbeat!

So, this was the first time I ever attempted a trip like this. I have camped for a weekend here and there, but I have always had showers and a way to contact someone in an emergency. This trip I have neither for 4 days! The initial plan was to loop around Grand Teton Peak in 5 days, 54 miles. Matt, however, was convinced we could do it in 4 (eyeroll, lol) and that meant at least 12.5 -15 miles a day hiking, and not to mention the 30lb pack we each were carrying.

A few weeks out I talked to the park and they told us their winter came late and was heavy so the trails were mostly snow covered but having the will (or some may call it stubbornness) we wanted to stick to the plan and encircle the Tetons. We walked out on a Friday morning keeping our fingers crossed the snow wasn’t as bad as they were saying. Low and behold we ran into a Warden and he said it wouldn’t be possible and gave us a new itinerary. We still were getting back to the Teton Crest Trail, or so we thought, just coming down a canyon not as far north.

So, on the second day we headed further into the mountains. We began to hit patches of snow and loose the trail occasionally. At first, it was fun and challenging but as the snow became more widespread and the mountains got steeper the fun and challenge turned into fear and survival mode. We got to the top of a peak with no trail in sight, only snow. I knew it was time to tap out and turn around when the stress/fear/anxiety/adrenaline, call it what you want, turned into tears. The walk back was slow and careful as the snow was quickly softening in the afternoon warmth. We made it back to solid land, set up camp, and made a backup plan to the backup plan.

By the end of our hike we still managed 10+ miles per day, 50 miles total, gaining and losing 1000-2000 feet each day. PHEW!!! The weather was almost too perfect, lol, because at 8500ft, above tree line, and not a cloud in sight, the sun is quite warm. Lastly, it was bittersweet to walk out and see crowds of people, cars and hear the dings of text messages.

Like I said in the beginning, I would do it again in a heartbeat because the beauty and simplicity of the backcountry outweighed any of the challenges - the sound of rushing water, wildlife in their natural habitat, humans being the minority. We probably drank the freshest and cleanest water we have ever drank.

We were Living. Living the way we are meant to live. We enjoyed pushing past our comfort zone every day. We found freedom and joy in the unknown, letting go of control and allowing nature to dictate our plans. It reminded us that the things we worry about are minuscule to the bigger picture and it is mother nature who is in control, not us. So, take that adventure, whether it be physical, mental, personal or professional, and see what using your full potential feels like.

What is WHOLE-istic Living?

Ahhh July!
The sun is shining.
Birds are singing,
Dogs are barking.
People are OUTSIDE:
Walking, gardening, reading a good book,
talking with friends--
Enjoying the very heart of summer. 
It doesn’t get any better than this, does it?
Unless you are in PAIN.
Or stressed out. 
Or completely overwhelmed. 
Then, no matter HOW nice the day, it’s tough to enjoy it, right?
I understand. 
I’ve been there. 
And that’s how I learned about WHOLE-istic Living.
It’s about more than “eating right” & “exercising.” 
It’s about connecting body, mind and spirit to be your BEST self. 
But what if you’re NOT your best self right now? 
Lingering injury? 
Soul-crushing anxiety? 
Restless, interrupted sleep? 
Stressed out and on edge? 
Diet after diet disaster? 
You’re not alone!
There are SO MANY people that share these same challenges!
It’s an ENDLESS cycle that can REALLY wreak havoc on your life!
So what can you DO?
HOW can you break the pain cycle and take control of your life?
What about an ALTERNATIVE TREATMENT option? 
Myofascial Release?
Have you heard of these but never tried them?
Have you wondered if they “really work” or are just another “gimmick?”
No worries!
Let’s find out what these alternative treatments are all about!
Got questions?
I’ve got answers!
Q: What, EXACTLY, is Yoga?  It just looks like stretching. . .
A: Yoga is WAY MORE than stretching!  Yoga treats your WHOLE SELF!  Medical News Today shared this definition in September, 2018: “Yoga is a mind and body practice with a 5,000-year history in ancient Indian philosophy.  Various styles of yoga combine physical postures, breathing techniques, and meditation or relaxation.”   Want to learn more? Check out the rest of the article here

Q: Do I have to be super flexible or have really great balance to try Yoga?  It looks hard. . . 
A: No! In fact, many people do yoga to GET more flexible and to IMPROVE their balance.  Additional health benefits of yoga include: improved circulation, increased strength and flexibility, decreased anxiety, calmer mood, increased focus and mental clarity, decreased stress. . . and the list goes on!  With advanced, beginner, and sitting “chair yoga” as options, yoga truly provides something for EVERYONE!

Q: I have never heard of Myofascial Release?  Is that some type of new trend? 
A: No!  Myofascial Release is a hands-on treatment technique that focuses on tissue restrictions. It was developed by internationally recognized Physical Therapist John F. Barnes back in the 1960’s when he was suffering from a life-changing injury and not getting 
relief from traditional medicine. Since then, Barnes has trained over 100,000 therapists and physicians from all over the world in his Myofascial Release Approach. Sound interesting?  Check out John Barnes’s website for yourself! 
Q: Does Massage really work?  I thought massage was a “feel good” luxury, like going to a spa. 
A: Therapeutic massage has MANY health benefits WAY beyond just “feeling good!”  Therapeutic massage works to improve circulation, decrease edema, and lower stress.  But don't think you have to grit your teeth through a deep tissue massage.  Many studies have proven that a gentler approach has a longer effect on the benefits massage offers.  If it is pain relief you are looking for, massage alone will only provide you temporary relief.  Massage in combination with John Barnes Myofascial Release is far superior when working with pain and trauma.
Q: I struggle with proper diet and nutrition.  I want to be healthier, but I don’t know where to start!
A: I understand! There are literally DOZENS of different and conflicting nutrition ideas and diets and, quite frankly, it’s overwhelming! So where to start? Go back to the basics. Try cutting out fast food and processed food and focusing on WHOLE foods—eat the apple not the apple pie! With whole foods you know EXACTLY what you're eating—a tomato is a tomato and nothing more.  Learn more by reading Dr. Mark Hyman’s book: Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? 
That’s a LOT of information! 
Do you feel a sense of hope?
Did one technique or idea stand out to you?
I hope so!
Want to learn more?
Go for it!
Sign up for a yoga class.
Make a myofascial appointment.
Schedule a massage.
Check out that nutrition book.
Try a new recipe—the sky’s the limit!
YOU are worth the effort!
YOUR HEALTH is worth the effort!
So go ahead—
Make your move!
Take that next step!
It’s YOUR health, 
It’s YOUR life!
Make it a good one!

Food Then and How I See It Now

Over the last few months Matt and I have really put a microscope on what we eat. It all started when we watched Dr. Mark Hyman’s docuseries ‘Broken Brain’ and ‘Broken Brain 2’. He connected diseases like Parkinson’s, Dementia, Depression, Digestive health, Autism, plus many more to our (America’s) diet. We choose convenience over cooking. We choose affordable over quality. We choose sugar-rich processed foods over whole natural foods. This way of eating is the cause for our chronic disease and obesity epidemic. Matt and I have learned so much when it comes to food over the last few months it has been a little overwhelming. Don’t worry, in this blog I will tackle the two main takeaways that we use every day.

1) Starch = Sugar

Sugar. You hear this word and think candy bar. But, did you know your body treats ‘healthy’ breads and pastas just like a candy bar? The body does discriminate between simple (table sugar) and complex (breads) carbohydrates. This statement was a game changer for me, “Eating two slices of whole wheat bread raises your blood sugar more than 2 tablespoons of table sugar” (What the Heck Should I Eat?). And then we have the government saying we should be consuming 6-11 servings of grains (aka sugar) per day. This amount of sugar ‘is essentially the metabolic mechanism single-handedly responsible for today’s global epidemics of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, dementia and cancer” (What the Heck Should I Eat?). Lastly, unused sugar is stored in your fat cells and no amount of exercise will get rid of it.

2) Fat is good for you

Like most of you, from a young age I was told fat was going to make me fat and clog my arteries and kill me. With that fear instilled in me, I consumed high amounts of carbs and very little fat. During this time, I was never fat (being an athlete helped with that) but I always on the heavier side of my ‘healthy weight’. So why, if I was following the governments guidelines to healthy eating, wasn’t I fit and trim? (See point number 1). Did you know fats keep us feeling full? They increase our metabolism? Our brain is made of fat and needs fat to function? So why is the government telling us to use fat sparingly? Now, there are still some fats we want to stay away from like hydrogenated vegetable oils (aka Crisco and margarine, vegetable oil) and too many Omega-6 fatty acids (vegetable oil, packaged and processed foods). Omega-6 isn’t necessarily bad for you but too much induces inflammation (disease) within the body. Aim to have a 1:1 ratio of Omega-3 and 6. Overall, don’t be afraid to put real butter on our veggies (or bread), whole fat dressing (reduced fat just means they added more sugar) on your salad, or yummy avocado atop your eggs. One final fun fact on fat: A 2012 Harvard study found that a high-fat diet, compared to a low-fat diet, increases your metabolism by 300 calories a day!

Overall, this is just the tip of the iceberg but a great place to start. Limit your carb intake and enjoy bringing healthy fat back into your life. Whenever I’m not sure about a food I ask myself, “Does nature provide this for me?”. If it doesn’t, then I look for something it does.

Enjoy and let me know how your journey with food has changed overtime here.

If you want more information pick up Dr. Mark Hyman’s book, Food: What the Heck Should I eat, and listen to his podcast, The Doctors Farmacy.

My New Favorite Recipe

Over the last month, Matt and I decided to change the way we eat. We recently listened to the docuseries ‘Broken Brain’ by Dr. Mark Hyman and his arguments on how our current diet, as a society (fast, processed, and filled with additives), affects our entire body hit close to home. With both of us having a history of anxiety and depression, family history of heart disease and cancer, we decided to look into how we eat a bit deeper. The shift towards non-processed, whole foods (out of all the ‘diets’ we looked at I prefer to follow the pegan diet) has been slow and harder than we thought but the benefits have out weighed the difficulties. Within just a month, our energy levels are higher, minds are clearer, and cravings have diminished.

I was eating a peanut butter sandwich on a daily basis and didn’t know if I could go without bread for more than a day, but I substituted an apple for the bread and before I knew it I hadn’t consumed bread in a week. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t think ‘bread’ is bad, it is the ingredients the corporations use in our bread.

This whole process had been a learning and growing experience for both of us but I will end with this: I have eaten some of the best food ever since this change. My favorite recipe thus far has been Curried Beef with Winter Vegetables. It is savory and sweet and hearty. A definite must try and let me know what you think!

If you would like more information on Dr. Mark Hyman and the Broken Brain series click here




Yoga & Religion

So lately, I haven’t had much inspiration when it comes to writing, and I won’t write something just to write it.  I have to feel connected to my words.  After getting a few questions from students and teaching at a new studio that’s located in a gym, I feel I need to distinguish between Yoga, Spirituality, and Religion. 

Yoga is many things.  It is a tool to strengthen and heal the body, mind, and spirit.  We affect the body through asana, the postures we perform.  We affect the mind through breath control and continued focus.  We affect our spirit by getting still and quiet so we can listen to our inner wisdom the outside world muffles.  What Yoga is not, is a religion.  You could very easily call it a science, a quantifiable system of methods to unite the body, mind, and spirit.

In this blog I will focus on the spiritual side of Yoga.

Yoga, for some, becomes a spiritual experience, leading to confusion about how its practice impacts one's religious beliefs. Fortunately, the vast majority of people who explore yoga actually discover that it strengthens and deepens their own faith, it doesn’t replace it.  Swami Satchidananda, founder of Yogaville Ashram and where I lived for a month, has always said, “One Truth, Many Paths”.  He believes that it doesn’t matter what religion you follow or if you use the name God, Allah, Buddha, etc., we are all just searching for the same thing, Truth.  He built the LOTUS, Light of Truth Universal Shrine, dedicating it to interfaith understanding and the Light within all faiths. Individual altars represent and honor the different world faiths and spiritual paths.  Yoga is not a religion.  It is a system to reconnect us to this light within, in turn, connecting us deeper to our believes.

Spirituality is different from religion.  Spirituality is a sense of connectedness with something greater than oneself that manifests within us.  It’s a feeling that develops within us, and Yoga helps us find that spirit within whether its through asana, breath work, or meditation.

On the other hand, religion is an organized system of faith or worship. It is a ritualized form of spirituality involving a specific set of beliefs, worship and conduct.  As a path for spiritual growth, yoga enhances and deepens many different religious practices. Yoga is not a system of faith or worship, but it does foster a sense of connectedness with something greater than oneself. In other words, yoga manifests spirituality in a way that is compatible with many different religious beliefs.


Georg Feuerstein wrote:

“Yoga, it is quite true, has historically been associated with India’s three great religious-cultural traditions—Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. Thus, the teachings of yoga are infused with many concepts that have a Hindu, Buddhist, or Jaina flavor…. In fact, we need not believe in anything other than the possibility that we can go beyond…our present understanding and experience of the world, and more significantly, beyond our current egocentric state of being.
How can yoga enrich the religious or spiritual life of a practicing Christian or Jew? The answer is the same as for a practicing Hindu, Buddhist, or Jaina. Yoga aids all who practice religion, regardless of their persuasion, by balancing the nervous system and stilling the mind through its various exercises (from posture to breath control to meditation). Yoga’s heritage is comprehensive enough so that anyone can find just the right techniques that will not conflict with his or her personal beliefs….
So, practicing Christians or Jews (or practitioners of any other religious tradition), should take from yoga what makes sense to them and deepens their own faith and spiritual commitment.”

For me, it’s the spiritual part of Yoga that keeps me coming back.  It helps clear my body, mind, spirit of all the negativity that’s constantly bombarding me, whether it’s coming from my thoughts or news or other people.  I believe in the benefits of Yoga, I teach all aspects of Yoga, I do not put it above your believes and religion.

A few further readings:

Resolutions vs Intentions

This is the time of year when we begin to look inward. What is being thankful? What is giving? Is receiving selfish? What do I want to change about myself in the new year?

For a long time, I did the New Years Resolution thing and without fail I always failed. I’d set goals, make a plan to achieve them, and I’d ‘be good’… for a while. I’d eventually fail at my plan and felt like a failure as well. I realized this approach of making a resolution wasn’t helping me make any changes. If anything, it made me feel ‘not good enough’ to change.

So, instead of looking at the New Year to make these big, life-changing resolutions, I decided to have an intention of feeling more peace in 2019. Being intentional allows me to remain present and align my commitments, activities, connections with an underlining sense of peace. I wake up and ask myself ‘how can I bring peace into my life today?’. If a part of my day looks to be more chaotic than peaceful, I can approach it with awareness and move through it more mindfully than if I was ignorant to the upcoming situation.

Here’s the difference:

Making a resolution means we are lacking in something and we will only be happy/fulfilled when we attain this ‘resolution’ and/or have changed who we are. Example: I need to lose 10lbs to feel better about myself and look good in jeans. I have to go to the gym for an hour every day and stop eating carbs.

Setting an intention doesn’t start from a place of lack. You intend to add to your life. It’s more about the journey than the outcome.

You can still want to lose 10lbs, but its not about fitting into high school jeans. It involves caring enough about yourself to eat good food and exercise. Naturally, the pounds will come off, but it’s not because you need to change who you are.

Intention setting is a daily process; you must live your intention. It is called a practice because it is an ever-renewing process. You will find as you become more intentional you reflect on your day more. Asking yourself if ‘this’ aligns with your intention, do I really need ‘that’ in my life. And we grow from a place of fulfillment not lack.

I would love to hear your 2019 intentions. Email me your intention at

Use the same email to if you need some guidance setting your intention.



Follow Your Path

This October was my businesses 1-year birthday.  What a ride it has been!  I had ups and downs, times where I felt on top of the world and times where I was close to throwing my hands up in the air and becoming an employee again (thank God I didn’t, lo).  I never threw in the towel though because of the huge amount of support I had from my loved ones AND deep down I knew this was my path. 

Following your path is harder than it sounds.  Many times, you have to go against the grain, against everything you were told as a child, against ‘the correct way’ (this is the way I did it, so you have to do it this way too).  As a child, it was all about following the right path; school, good grades, don’t question the teacher, college, career; and if you follow ‘the path’ you will make money and be happy.  I never heard a teacher talk about what it takes to be an entrepreneur or that it was even an option.  In massage school, a teacher told the class that going off on your own was so hard that it’s not worth the hassle.  Fast forward to having that job that was supposed to make me money and make me happy… I was making ok money and not happy.  I had multiple clients tell me that I was good enough to go off on my own, but I always shook it off because I believed everything I learned (or didn’t learn) in school was Truth.

For 11 years, I kept my nose down and worked for a company.  Deep down I knew the massage field was where I was supposed be, but half the time I was dragging myself to work and exhausted all day.  Only to get energy when I was walking out the door.  I would dream about having my own business, setting my own schedule, working from home, but the thought terrified me.  How the hell do I do that with no idea what the process was let alone the first step.

Long story short, over about a 6-month time frame in 2017 I went from an unhappy employee to a terrified but excited therapist going off on her own.  I realized that following my dream, my path, was scarier than staying an employee and I took the leap.

I put my 2 weeks in September 2017 and October 1st I took my first client as an entrepreneur.  The road has been hilly, mountainous at times, but I have enjoyed every moment.  When you are on YOUR path the downs are not really downs, they are challenges to overcome.  I am busier now with more hats to wear but it’s not exhausting, it’s fulfilling.  I am doing things that make me uncomfortable on a weekly basis but all that tells me is that I am growing as a person and as a business owner.  I am constantly brainstorming new ideas, new things to bring to the table, which allows my creative side to come out and control my overly analytical side. 

I now wake up looking forward to the day, not counting the hours until I have to go into work.

I am telling you this story to show you that what you believe to be Truth, what you learned earlier in life is not set in stone.  It is just someone else’s perspective, someone else’s path.  If you are battling with the same feelings of hopelessness, exhaustion, and monotony in your job as I did, look deep within and ask yourself, “Am I following MY path or someone else’s?”, and know that no matter how scary it may seem to leap, the other side is SOOOO worth it ;D



My Month at Yogaville

Words are hard to come by when trying to express what a month at Yogaville meant to me.  It was beautiful, simple, mind blowing, insightful, accepting (ok, maybe I found a few words); a place I didn’t just stay at for a month… a place I kindly called home for a month.  I found peace there.  I found my purpose there.  I found a connection to a part of me that I didn’t know was there. 

I took this journey with 8 other people; Lisa, Monica, Gwen, Francesca, Tia, Nancy, Leela.  I love them all for helping me grow.  With a large group you get many different personalities and perspectives, and when you are required to accept them into your life for a month you learn a lot about yourself.  I became close to a few and butted heads with a few, but it is the people I did not relate with that gave me the best insight about myself.  I very easily could have kept my distance and stayed in my bubble of comfort, but after a few days I realized I was missing a chance to grow by building a barrier just because my perspective was different than theirs.  I learned that, even though we may have different viewpoints, it is about respect, and when I am centered in respect I can counter with my viewpoints without being defensive, aka an adult discussion which we don’t see enough of lately.  When I drop my barrier and allow myself to truly listen whether or not my values align with theirs I give myself the opportunity to learn something new. 

The question I get most is, “what did you all do there? Just yoga?”.  Well, yeah, but what most people don’t realize is Yoga is more than your typical yoga class.  It’s a lifestyle that integrates the relationship between your mind, body, and spirit.  I meditated 3 times daily to remain focused on my goal and connect with my Inner Self.  I did a daily physical practice (alternated between yoga class and running) to stay strong in my body.  I read the ancient texts and went to discussions to deepen my understanding of Yoga Philosophy.  I worked (Karma yoga, aka selfless service) 24 hours a week in the kitchen, farm, and guest services to learn to give without expecting anything in return.  Doing this for a month helped me realize that there is more to me than just my body and mind.  I tapped into something deep within me, an energy that is constant, never-changing.  PEACE.  I have never felt as content as I did living in Yogaville. 

Wanna hear something crazy? (if you don’t think I am already, lol).  EVERYONE has this constant, never-changing, peaceful energy within them.  We just cover it up with thoughts, to-do lists, material items, things we are told from a young age are important.  Yes, we need these things to live, but… we can also have this serene sense of contentment as well.  THIS is what I did for a month.

I can hear you already… “I don’t have time to do all that stuff”.  Being home now I don’t either, but I’m slowly making changes to have time for SOME of the practices that I used while at Yogaville.  I am letting go of some of the old to make room for some of the new.  Is it easy?  NO!  But nothing worthwhile is easy.  Yoga Sutra 1.14 states, “Practice(change) becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break, and in all earnestness”.  In other words, change will not happen over night or in a week, it will come with consistency over a long period of time and with enthusiasm. 

Was it hard to come home? YES.  Do I yearn to go back? YES.  But, my path isn’t at an ashram, not yet at least.  I am here to empower others, YOU! my students and clients, to find peace in mind, body, and spirit.


Alternative Addiction Therapy by Kimberly Hayes

Hey there.  Since I have been gone for a month Kimberly has been generous enough share one of her blogs with me for you to read.  This is a wonderful article on alternative approaches to addiction recovery.  Addiction is so prevalent in our society right now that being open to all form of help is the best way to approach sobriety. Enjoy!

Alternative Addiction Recovery | What You Need to Know


There is no one perfect recovery. Everyone’s struggle, and everyone’s success, looks different. If you or a loved one are considering recovery from addiction, here is what you need to know about alternative recovery methods.


When They Work


Traditional recovery often comes in the form of a 12-step program, and usually places addiction into the hands of a higher power. This works for many, but if you have tried the traditional model before, and found that it did not work for you, it may be time for a new approach. If you are not religious, need a different structure, or want to take full responsibility for your own recovery, it might be wise to try an alternative method.


It’s important to know what options you have available before making a decision. You could speak to a specialist or a recovery coach and decide what is best for you. Self-empowering groups may be just what you need to get back on the road to recovery for good. However, if you need a good sense of structure, have strong religious beliefs or have not entered recovery before, you may want to start with a conventional 12-step program.


Holistic Treatment


Holistic treatment is one effective supplement in your addiction recovery. More and more people are turning to holistic practices to help them in various forms of treatment. It is often used in tandem with another form of therapy, as a way to treat the person as a whole, rather than to focus on only part of the problem. For example, detoxifying, while important, is only one element of a comprehensive plan for addiction recovery.


To truly get on the path of recovery, the underlying causes of addiction need to be addressed. Massage and essential oils may be used to help with anxiety. Acupuncture and guided imagery may be used to help overcome cravings. Exercise, yoga or hypnosis might help to give focus and treat underlying issues that lead to addiction.


Artistic Therapies


There are many forms of art therapy that can be used as a supplement to your recovery. Expressing yourself creatively can have numerous benefits. The core of art therapy is to work with your therapist or specialist to find healthy and creative ways to give voice to emotions you might have difficulty naming with words. You can work in a group setting to gain other insights and socialize or independently at home to truly feel able to explore yourself and your emotions. Art can be a powerful tool to help you process any past hurts that may have contributed to your addiction.


If you’re experiencing pain from withdrawal or cravings, you could try music therapy. If you find yourself negatively impacted by your stress levels, you may find catharsis in creating a plan with your specialist.


Keeping Positive


Recovery is difficult. There is no denying it. By staying positive, you give yourself a better chance of sticking to your path and avoiding relapse. What healthy things or activities bring you joy? This is especially important if you turned to your addiction because you find happiness elusive. If you have a chemical imbalance in your brain, you may have sought ways to feel good in the past. You need to discover new ways to fulfill those needs without use of your substance. If you can find supplemental therapies that bring you happiness during this time, you may begin to associate recovery with joy, which in turn may help you stay on the path while also bringing you positivity.


It is important to emphasize again that what works for one person may not work for all. Just because you tried something in the past and did not experience success does not mean there is not a plan that can work for you. Talk to your therapist and decide which path that might work best for you.




Kimberly Hayes enjoys writing about health and wellness and created to help keep the public informed about the latest developments in popular health issues and concerns. In addition to studying to become a crisis intervention counselor, Kimberly is hard at work on her new book, which discusses the ins and outs of alternative addiction treatments.


There are no Absolutes in Life

There are no absolutes in life, just the story we tell ourselves.  “I’m too old”, “I’m too fat”, “Be careful, I injured my shoulder 15 years ago”, “Eh, this is just what happens when we age”.  Any of this sound familiar?  It is when we identify with the thoughts our mind/ego tells us we hold ourselves back.  We begin to live our lives as if these thoughts are truths.  In reality, our thoughts are only interpretations from our past experiences, what someone else told us, our education.  None of these are concrete, set in stone truths, but what I have come to realize is that the longer we believe these thoughts the more they become apart of us.  Our identity becomes, “I’m old”, “I’m injured”, “I’m shy”, etc. when it should be, “I’m Katie”.  When we are so attached to a specific identity for so long we fear losing it because without it who are we?  We lose ourselves when we are so tunnel visioned and can’t see the whole of us, the hundreds of other attributes that make us who we are.  As long as we keep identifying with these thoughts, no matter what we try to change, we will remain stuck, imprisoned in the label, our story, we give ourselves.

Do you let a baby cry? remain in pain?  No, you do anything you can to lessen their discomfort.  So why do let our own self remain in pain?  The majority of us live with some sort of chronic pain and think that’s just the norm.  How did we, as a society, come to believe that living in pain is the norm?  That’s crazy!!!  We got to this point by putting a label on our symptoms and were told the only thing to keep this pain at bay is to take this medication.  We take the medication and we feel better, but when we go off the medication the pain returns so we begin to identify with the pain as being a part of us.  The problem starts by thinking a pill will magically make the pain go away, that we don’t have to do any work, we don’t have to be uncomfortable.  But we do have to feel!  We have to feel the pain to get past the pain.  Only when we allow ourselves to feel and let go of the label we gave ourselves will the pain leave us.

Do you have an injury that happened over a year ago and still caution people about it even though its completely healed?  I know I have!  But again, we put ourselves into a constant state of fear all because we let this injury become one with us.  We fear that pain the injury produced so we go into a specific holding pattern not allowing our body or our mind to move/think in certain ways, we become stuck physically and mentally telling ourselves we cannot do certain things, not out of pain, but out of fear.  What got me out of my holding patterns was someone asking me, “What’s worse?  Possibly feeling pain again or not living the life you want to live?”  So, I now ask you that same question… “Is it worth keeping the label of ‘being injured’ or letting that go and living the life you dream of?”

Aging… My least favorite label.  From a young age, we hear things like, “well, I am getting older so I just don’t have energy like I used to” or, “I can’t get on the ground any longer but… it’s just what happens when you get older”.   Now, I know that our body starts to breakdown after so many years, but when you label yourself ‘old’ you will become old.  Every thought you have will manifest into your life.  Do you want to manifest old, stiff, weak or do you want to manifest vibrant, active, and loving?  Our mentality determines how we see ourselves and it is what sets apart people who remain active into their 80’s (yes, I saw an 80+ year old running a marathon) and those who can’t get to the ground and play with their grandchildren when they’re 60. 

Putting a label on something is taking the easy route.  When you build a story around your symptoms you give yourself the ‘ok’ to stay exactly where you are.  You rationalize reasons why you can’t or won’t get better.  This kind of living keeps you in a constant state of fear where you are only able to react, never act.   Letting go will be the biggest step to finding a pain-free, anxiety-free, xyz-free life.  I will ask you one last time:

“Is it worth keeping this label?”

NEW ORGAN? Not news for some...

It has been 40+ years that John F Barnes has been educating other therapists on fascia and its qualities, breaking all rules and going against the healthcare paradigm that's been in place for over 100 years.  He knew he was onto something, the missing link in how we treat our clients and patients, and never once let anyone tell him differently.  He always said, "I may not have proof, but I have results" and that's all that mattered to him.  It seems as though science has finally caught up and those that needed proof to understand now have it.  This is an exciting time for all of us.  

After the news broke John was interviewed by former FOX NEWS anchor, Jenna Lee, offering this quote, “It is refreshing to see science is finally catching up to what I’ve been teaching in my Myofascial Release seminars for the last 40 years.  The fascial system is one of the most important structures of our body and is significantly tightened from physical or emotional trauma which produces crushing pressure on pain sensitive structures.  It produces symptoms of pain, headaches, fibromyalgia and a myriad of women’s pain and health problems.  The fascinating fascia is a liquid crystal three dimensional web.  In the space of the web, which is actually not space, but a fluid/viscous substance called the ground substance of the fascia which tends to solidify due to trauma and is the main transport medium of our body.  This means that whatever nutrition we ingest, the fluid we drink, the air we breathe, all the biochemistry hormones and information/energy that every one of the trillion of cells needs to thrive must go through the fluidity of the fascia.  I would highly recommend purchasing Dr. Jean-Claude Guimberteau’s book, Architecture of Human Living Fascia. He is a French hand surgeon and he represents over 20 years of research on the fascial system. If you go to page 163, I have provided a more detailed explanation of the fascial system and Myofascial Release.”-John F. Barnes

From the National Geographic website, they wrote, “It looks like a mesh.  The interstitium is a layer of fluid-filled compartments strung together in a web of collagen and a flexible protein called elastin (sound familiar? ‘Fascia is a tough connective tissue that spreads throughout the body in a three-dimensional fluid web from head to toe with no end and no beginning’-taken from my blog, 'What is this Myofascial Release thing?').  Previously, scientists thought the layer was simply dense connective tissue.  The organ has seemingly been hidden in plain sight, and scientists say they missed it because of the way tissue is studied. Before being placed under a microscope, samples are thinly sliced and treated with chemicals that allow researchers to identify key components more easily.  While the process is helpful for more easily spotting details, it drains fluid from the sample.”  The fluid component that the medical field has missed this entire time is what JFB Myofascial Release Approach is hugely based on.  From a structural stand point, when healthy, fascia is fluid and it slides smoothly along structures, but when a restriction forms the fluid dehydrates and becomes sticky, adhering to the surrounding structures and causing strain patterns throughout the body creating pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, and decreased range of motion. 

This fluid is also a transport medium of oxygen, nutrients, chemicals, hormones, toxins, energy and information throughout our entire being, almost instantaneously (4x faster than our nervous system!).  Restrictions in the fascial system disrupt this transport of vital nutrients and information causing disease, miscommunication and lack of nutrient/supplement/medicine absorption.

The fact that information travels through this fluid, the fascial system, means that what we once thought, everything happened in the brain, is outdated as well.  Our fascial system is an extension of our mind, or consciousness, connecting every part of our body together, forming the mind-body connection.  What does this mean?  Your thoughts, emotions, and memories flow throughout your body just like nutrients and oxygen and when you push down your feelings, don’t speak up, and bury your memories restrictions form within the fascial system just like a physical trauma would manifesting as pain, headaches, etc.  The majority of patients that have received JFB Myofascial Release after the medical field let them down time after time found relief from their symptoms because Myofascial therapists empower them to feel and let go of the emotional as well as the physical stress we put on ourselves.

For many years John has been talking about the missing link in the healthcare industry, the fact that doctors and physicians see the body as separate parts that work independently of each other not as puzzle pieces that fit together and without one piece the picture isn’t whole.  Myofascial Release therapists have known this ‘new organ’, fascia, surrounds, protects, and links EVERY aspect of the body from the single cell to the skin, mind to body and have hence looked at and treated the body as a whole.  This is why MFR therapists get the results they do.  This is why our patients, after trying everything else, come to us and finally find relief.

I am grateful to have John as my teacher and to be able to offer this amazing technique to my clients. 

*This information is based on John F Barnes Myofascial Release Approach*

Why the name ShaktiShiva?

My path in life, what brings me joy, is seeing people find relief in their body and mind through bodywork and yoga as well as empowering them to seek their full potential, something that many people lose sight of in the daily grind we call life.  When I came across the story of Shakti & Shiva something sparked and I new right then this was my business’ name.  Their story resembles our journey in life to maintain balance, that too much of a good thing becomes bad.  When we are in balance we find joy, love, and connection, but when we move out of balance chaos ensues and we become disconnected from ourselves, our bodies.  The way back to balance is understanding that something in our lives is too dominant or lacking, and through reflection and self-discovery the issue comes to light and we begin to move back towards equilibrium and towards healing and empowerment.

The following is a shortened version of Shakti & Shiva’s story.  Enjoy and I look forward to seeing you in a class or on my treatment table!

Shiva and Shakti are manifestations of the all-in-one divine consciousness - different sides of the same coin. In many pictures these two primal powers are each depicted as being one half of the same image; one side female and one side male. The left side is the Divine Mother, Pārvatī, the “feminine” energy, and the right side represents Shiva, the “masculine” consciousness.

SHAKTI means energy, power, movement, change, nature. It is the maternal principle – the provider, abundance. In the human as well as in the animal kingdom the mother offers nourishment, warmth and security. There is no greater love than the love of a mother. The mother carries and nourishes the child in her own body. When it is born she provides it with mother’s milk and raises it at the sacrifice of her own self until it becomes self-reliant.

SHIVA, on the other hand, is pure consciousness – the unchanging, unlimited and unswayable observer. Shiva has no desires whatsoever; these are inherent only in Shakti. Shiva is the empty, clear screen onto which Shakti projects her colourful film.

Through the splitting of the primordial principle at the advent of creation the duality within our lives came into being, together with a strong force that is constantly striving to re-unite with the other part.

Only when Shiva and Shakti combine can action, movement and creation arise. Until energy is impregnated with consciousness it is ignorant, disordered, aimless and “blind”. Energy alone can produce nothing; consciousness bestows upon it content, form and direction. Conversely, consciousness without energy is dormant power, sleeping energy, and on its own is unable to be the cause of anything.

The Body as One, Part 2

Like I mentioned is the previous blog, the idea of our physical body being only parts that are put together like a car is outdated and many now see the body as one connected unit.  The same goes for our mind-body connection.  For a long time, it was thought that our brain controlled and housed everything that made us human, our body a mindless machine, but new technology and research has begun to prove that concept inaccurate as well.  “Scientists have discovered a bidirectional network of communication between our mind and body by way of emotions” (John F Barnes).  What does this mean?  Our consciousness (thoughts/feelings/emotions) does not just reside in our brain, it flows throughout our body by way of a full body network, our fascial system.  And since the fascial system reaches EVERY component of the body (single cells to muscles and organs to our skin) so does our consciousness.  So now that I have the science-y part out of the way I hope the next few examples will help show you what this all means.

I’m going to start with a personal experience.  A few years ago, I realized I had developed a fear of mountain driving when I had a panic attack driving Trail Ridge Rd in CO, actually it was worse than that, even the hills and curves we drive to get to Devils Lake, WI would put me in a state of anxiety where I’d be gripping the sides of my seat and wishing Matt to slow down.  I have no idea where this fear stemmed from.  Now lets travel to my time in PA for my Myofascial Release internship with John F Barnes.  I decided to drive out there thinking the Smoky Mountains weren’t as big as the Rockies and that my anxiety would hence remain under control.  I was wrong, there were about 2 times I had started crying, and I was going at least 10 under the speed limit.  I finally made it to PA and started my week of working with John.  Along with working I also received Myofascial Release treatments.  I ended up in tears every time.  There was no talk therapy (which I have used in the past), just hands on treatment, and I hadn’t felt such relief in years.  The week flew by and it was time to head home.  I got in my car and started driving east into the mountains anticipating the anxiety.  It never came.  I drove through the mountains with ease and enjoyment taking in all the beauty of nature.  Now, I don’t know what exactly my anxiety was based from, but I do know that I held it in my body, not in my head.

Next, I’ll share a story John shares in his book, Healing Ancient Wounds.  He writes about a lady that came to him with neck and shoulder pain and chronic headaches.  She had been in a car accident a year prior and the doctors could not seem to find the cause of this continued pain for all the tests came back clear and physically she should be pain free.  (That’s the thing about fascial restrictions/emotional blockages, they don’t show up on any current tests).  The only thing the doctors could do was offer pain medication.  She finally ended up seeing John with her sisters urging.  In her second session she had a vision of a yellow fire hydrant and a flood of emotions concerning her children and what they would do without her.  She realized these were the emotions that had occurred during the accident and she was finally dealing with them, feeling them.  She was instantly free from pain and headaches after that session.  When she got home she drove to the crash site and lo-and-behold there was a yellow fire hydrant.  All that fear and emotion was stored within her tissues manifesting as pain and headaches. 

I hope these examples help you understand that your thoughts and feelings, your consciousness, are not limited to your brain but that they flow throughout the entire body primarily using the fascial system as their highway.  How we have become disconnected from our bodies is a whole other subject I look forward to sharing with you in the near future.  STAY TUNED!

For more insight read: John F Barnes book, Healing Ancient Wounds and,

The Body as One

Let’s travel back to wonderful High School anatomy class.  We learned about the body by separating it into bones, muscles, organs, and systems (the toe bone connected to the foot bone, foot bone connected to the heel bone, heel bone connected to the ankle bone...) as if we are put together like parts of a machine.  The issue with looking at the body in segments is you start to look at the body’s movements as separate actions and don’t take into consideration what the rest of body is doing.  Take for example a simple seated forward fold.  This stretch is meant for the hamstrings, right?  Go ahead, sit on the floor with your legs extended, feet together, and hinge forward at your hip joint keeping your spine long then relax your head.  Where do you feel stretching? Back of your legs? Lower back? Neck? Jaw?  If this stretch is for your hamstrings why are you also feeling it in those other areas?  BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED! 

We are not just put together muscle to muscle, bone to bone; our fascial system, which the medical industry used to ignore and strip away during dissections to get to the ‘important stuff’, has been shown to be an all encompassing ‘web like’ system that surrounds and penetrates everything from our individual cells to muscles and organs to our bones integrating our bodies into a whole, not segmented parts.  We grow out of a tiny sac of fascia called our embryo! Deane Juhan writes, “(fascia) contains many specialized structures, but it is really all one piece, from scalp to soles and from skin to marrow.  If all the other tissues were extracted, the (fascial) framework alone would preserve the three-dimensional human form in all its details.”

Why should non-bodyworkers care you ask?  Because the people in the healthcare field that still look at the body in segments will be looking at your pain in segments as well, your shoulder hurts so lets treat the shoulder.  John F Barnes writes, “the word symptom, derived from Greek, means ‘sign’ or ‘signal’.  Symptoms are not the problem, however, but signs of the problem, and treating them does not necessarily affect what they are signaling.”  In other words, we need to look at the whole body to determine where the symptoms are stemming from, aka the cause… treat the symptoms by treating the cause.  During a recent consultation, my client was explaining her hip issue and the options her doctor gave her.  The doctor said she needed a hip replacement, she refused, so he had her go to physical therapy.  The PT also said that her pain/symptoms would only go away with the surgery, but when she refused again they offered her a cortisone shot.  She distinctly remembers them mentioning that if her pain went away with the shot it was proof that her hip was the issue and surgery was the next step.  After the initial anesthesia wore off her pain returned immediately.  So, this doctor was going to do major surgery, a hip replacement, to rid her of her pain when her pain was not stemming from her hip at all.

When looking at the body as one unit it allows us to make connections we wouldn’t have seen if we were focused just on the symptoms.  We also see each body as unique and different understanding that the cause of pain in one person is not the same for the next.  A shoulder issue in one person can be due to a collapsed arch while another person with the same symptoms might have a tight psoas.  If we would just treat the shoulder the patient’s relief would be brief and down the road be given the same option as my client above, surgery, with the symptoms most likely returning shortly after.  I have been working with this client for many weeks now and the improvements I have seen just in her walk are amazing.  She is also standing up straighter and she says her mood has increased tremendously because of the more mobility she is noticing. 

I understand that people do need surgery occasionally but the amount of recurrence of the initial symptoms or even more issues is alarming proving that some doctors do not see the full picture.  I ask that before surgery make sure you have truly tried all options so that it doesn’t become just another band aid. 


Stayed tuned for The Body as One, part 2 where I will delve into the mind-body connection.

One Year

One year ago, today, I was at rock bottom on a 4-day bender.  I told myself it was ok to drink, Matt was gone hunting, he’d never find out.  (I should mention I had been trying to get sober for a few months, going to meetings and some other classes; however, sobriety never lasted more than 2 weeks at a time.) Well, I didn’t stop at the weekend and Matt found out and I still continued to drink.  Wednesday, November 30th, 2016 I woke up in a daze not remembering the night before and Matt was sitting on the edge of our bed.  He said we needed to take a break.  Those words stabbed me in my heart.  I knew right then that if I didn’t change not only would I lose the best man that ever walked into my life, I’d lose everything else as well.  I called my mom crying and said the most important words I have ever said my entire life, “I need to get help”.

That afternoon, I arrived a Rogers Memorial Hospital’s detox center in Oconomowoc. 

I returned home Sunday, December 4th broken but sober and Matt waiting for me.  It was tough the next few days, not necessarily with cravings to drink but beginning to feel emotions again, guilt from all the lies I told and feeling as if I didn’t deserve Matt’s love.  But he supported me fully, along with my family, and that had helped tremendously.

With it being the holiday season, attending functions/parties where alcohol was readily available was the biggest test for any newly sober person.  I knew that I would just have to leave if any cravings started to arise.  Again tho, it wasn’t so much the not drinking that was hard, it was attempting to socialize sober while having mild social anxiety.  But going through that ended up shining a light on where my addiction stemmed from, my own insecurity of not fitting in, not being a part of the ‘cool’ group. 

Over this last year, I used counseling, family support, and yoga to aid my sobriety, but it was yoga that gave me the coping skills and mental strength to remain sober.  Yoga also helped me realize the alcohol was a form of distraction for me, a way to become that outgoing, fun girl I always wished I was, but all it did was temporarily fill the emptiness growing within me, distracting me from the swelling sadness from not letting myself be who I was meant to be.  I was pushing the true Katie under, drowning her with alcohol all because I was looking for approval outside of myself.  I believed that if I was the crazy, outgoing, life of the party girl I’d finally feel like I fit in, I’d have more friends.  Wanna know the crazy part? All those friends I thought I had seemingly disappeared when I stopped going out in an attempt to stop drinking. 

What am I getting at?  Today, I sit in front of my computer writing this blog (and enjoying it, lol) because I have found my voice.  Today, I carried my massage table in and out of houses because I’m building my own business.  Today, I wake up every morning excited to see what life has in store for me.  I don’t think it was sobriety that got me here, it was taking the opportunity to learn from the process of becoming sober that brought me to this point.  I didn’t just stop drinking... I reflected, I let myself feel and cry, I finally accepted who Katie is, a kind, soft spoken woman that enjoys intimate gatherings over large parties.  This filled the emptiness within me with love, compassion, and confidence that I never had before.  

That’s how I got here today but everyone has their own journey.   I’m just glad I followed mine, so I could write this and maybe help someone to follow theirs.

Athletic Performance and Variety Training

Ok. So I am not one to do long posts but my experience yesterday during my run lit a few light bulbs for me that I feel other athletes will benefit from.

So, I have been doing trail races every month since April this year. With it being my first attempt at trail running I new my body would need to adjust and it would take time to feel comfortable and fast like I do on road runs. Comfortable and fast never really came. I struggled all year to run a trail without my legs getting to exhaustion and having to walk up the hills. Very frustrating because I have been following a training program for trail running diligently.

Fast forward to my October 21st race. I actually was not looking forward to it because of my experience all year long. I didn't want to work so hard to do something I love. The race started and things were feeling good as most starts do. I kept telling myself to keep pace, don't rush, you'll tire soon. That tiredness never came! I was running strong, getting up and over every hill with some sort of ease, and I had a smile on my face. I was enjoying it so much that it was then that I came up with the idea of this post. My mind wasn't focused on how many more miles or how crappy I felt; it was on how amazing I felt.

Reflecting back on my training, I asked myself what I did I do differently? (yes, all this still while running, lol) I started to implement CrossFit, more mobility focused yoga, and myofascial release; not to mention I became my own boss which affected my mentality tremendously!

For a long time, I was the person that thought, "if I need to do 'this', then 'this' is all I should do to get my body trained properly. Well, this run proved me wrong. It showed me that when you give the body multiple different avenues to pull from it is then that it will perform at its highest. When your body only knows one thing, that is all it can pull from; when it has strengths in many different areas it has the ability to switch from a gas tank that's getting low to a full gas tank. Each gas tank has different strengths but having the ability to give the low tank a rest and refuel is key. With the variety training I did I gave my body multiple tanks to use...

Run training: gave my body the endurance to get thru all 13.1 miles
Yoga: kept my stride long, body flexible, mind focused, fast recovery time to train strong everyday
CrossFit: gave my body the grit strength to get me up and over the hills
HIIT workouts: quick cardio recovery
MFR: faster recovery and injury prevention

So, what am I saying.... If you want to perform at your highest level, variety is key! Doing the same thing every day does not allow your body to reach its full potential.


Crossfitters Need Yoga

Hear me out, don’t run away screaming: “Yoga is for soccer moms and guys who want me to sit in a circle playing bongos”.  The truth is, it’s not.  Yoga may have gotten that rap over the past few years, but to be cliché “Don’t knock it till you try it”.  Chances are you may be already doing some yoga moves in your Mobility work, Pigeon Stretch (aka Pigeon Pose), child’s pose, cobra stretches and so on all have their roots in Yoga.

Benefits of Yoga for CrossFitters

Body Awareness

Knowing where your body is in space and how it’s oriented is not only good for your day to day health and well-being, but it also becomes extremely important in Olympic level lifts.  When your coach tells you to “Stick your butt out when you squat!” or “Keep your shins vertical!” knowing how that feels and being aware of that will be critical to actually getting in the right position to perform the lift.  I come from a yoga background prior to starting CrossFit, one thing that is always stressed is “engaging of the pelvic floor and deep core to support the lower back” just like CrossFitters do in squats or snatches.  That bit came easy to me because I already KNEW what it felt like to be in that proper position.  Body awareness matters.

Strength/Core Strength

Yoga isn’t going to up your back-squat PR by 50lbs, but it will help you develop strength, stability, and muscle endurance.  The balance poses alone will strengthen your joints preventing future injury when increasing your lifting weight, and some of the positions that you hold are quite challenging leaving you sore the next day just like a good WOD.


This seems to be a given, but notice how much Yoga movements reflect the mobility movements you are more than likely already doing pre- and/or post WOD.  These exercises will help to stretch out your muscular system and become more flexible so your body is free to do deep squats, kipping, and overhead press.

Should You Do It?

Absolutely!  As an athlete I feel it’s important to strengthen your whole body through a variety of means, but also strengthen yourself mentally by means of relaxation.  Yoga works the body, mind and spirit.  When this trio is out of balance things begin to break down and you will find yourself injured, sick, depressed, etc.  Balance in your routine is key.  But the bottom line is that you’ll gain benefits in mobility and flexibility that you might not gain as quickly by only doing CrossFit.

What is this Myofascial Release thing I'm hearing about?

It is unfortunate that this approach to healing the whole body and not just masking symptoms is not more accepted by healthcare professionals limiting its potential to help people.  From my personal experiences with this approach along with the tremendous relief my clients have seen in just one session I truly believe this is a modality everyone should know about. Lets begin at the beginning... What is fascia?

Fascia is a tough connective tissue that spreads throughout the body in a three-dimensional fluid web from head to toe with no end and no beginning.  Imagine the white stringy stuff an orange has.  This web surrounds every aspect of your body, from a single cell, blood vessels, nerves, organs, muscle, bone.... everything.  This web, therefore, supports, protects, connects, and separates these structures.  When healthy, your fascia glides over these structures like an ice skater on ice, smooth and uninterrupted, but when restrictions are formed from trauma, poor posture, inflammation, surgery, etc. the fascia binds to the surrounding structures putting increased pressure on them causing pain or malfunction.  The pressure generated by restrictions can be as much as 2000lbs/!!! 

So how do we get rid of these restrictions?  Many therapists go to the symptoms and forcefully break apart the restrictions giving the client temporary relief.  I say temporary for two reasons, 1) In the majority of cases the symptoms are not the problem but signs of the problem and treating only the symptoms may not affect the problem.  Thinking that the body is segmented (if the knee hurts treat the knee) is where most therapists get it wrong.  It's when you look at the body as a whole that you will find the cause.  Maybe the client with the knee problem has a rotated pelvis changing how her femur sits in the knee joint straining the ligaments and tendons around the joint.  You can relieve the structures around the knee (symptomatic pain) all you want but if you don't treat the rotated pelvis (cause of pain) her relief will be short lived.  2) "Force is all conquering but it's victories are short lived" Abraham Lincoln.  Anything done with force is always temporary.  Modalities like deep tissue, Rolfing, soft tissue mobilization do offer relief but how often do you say, "Oh, that massage was great!  She really dug my knots out" and a few days later your pain is back.  This is because these techniques are forcing the restriction to release.  I like to relate it to a rubber band.  You can force it taut and it will stay there as long as you hold it but let go and it snaps right back.  Maybe it's a little stretched out for a while but it always returns to its form.  Another reason these techniques are temporary are because they are not held long enough.  To get a full and natural release the tissue must be held for a minimum of 3-5 minutes at a comfortable end range for the client so that their body does not go into protection mode.  With relief only being temporary the next step usually ends up being surgery just layering another issue on top of the old never getting rid of the first.  

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying these techniques do not offer benefits.  I love receiving a massage for its stress relieving and relaxation benefits, and using all techniques in conjunction with each other will only provide the best well-rounded treatment for the client.

Myofascial Release(MFR) relieves the client's symptoms by getting to the root cause of the issue by treating the body as a whole unit and incorporating patience into the session.  Once a therapist determines where a fascial restriction is they will lay their hands on the restriction, press gently into the body then pull the tissue taut.  The therapist then holds there for no less than 3-5 minutes allowing the release to reach the collagenous barrier where long term change and healing begins.  This barrier cannot be forced to release which is what the other techniques attempted to do.  They do release the elastic/muscular barrier (which is why you still feel relief afterwards) but if you don't release the collagenous barrier as well the relief is only temporary.

Many cool things can occur during a fascial hold including but not limited to build up of heat, fluttering sensations, emotional releases, sensations(releases) elsewhere in the body other than where the therapist is holding, etc.  Most importantly an overwhelming sense of calm and lightness after the treatment.

I have been trained by John F Barnes and truly believe in this modality.  Stay tuned for further articles on all things holistic.  


Katie, LMT, RYT200, MFR1, SES, owner of ShaktiShiva