Thursday, 27 October 2016

Resistance Flexibility and Strength Training (RFST)!

Resistance Flexibility and Strength Training (RFST) ®:

  • is a revolutionary technique that empowers you to stretch and strengthen your body through the simple use of resistance
  • is also known as Resistance Stretching or Meridian Stretching
  • shatters the false myth that muscles become more flexible simply by elongating muscles, holding the stretch for whatever period of time, and breathing into the stretch

Resistance Flexibility & Strength Training (RFST) teaches you that:

  • in order to get a true gain in flexibility, you must continuously contract the target muscle group while elongating it
  • a muscle is only truly flexible to the point where it can continue to maximally resist while being lengthened
  • stretching without continuously contracting a muscle produces a false range of motion known as substitution, and ultimately results in over-stretching and injury
  • stretches can be reversed to provide strength training to the same muscle group

Resistance Flexibility & Strength Training (RFST) can be performed:

  • at any time and any place since no equipment is required
  • alone using self-stretches or with other person(s) using assisted stretching techniques
  • alone by the stretcher resisting against his/her own body, the ground, a wall, or other props
  • by two or more people using assisted stretching, where the stretcher resists the movement of the assister(s) while the assister(s) flex/extend, adduct/abduct, and/or inward/outward rotate the target muscle group
Meridian Flexibility System

The Meridian Flexibility System ®:

  • is a program of 16 powerful stretching exercises for each level of practice: beginner, intermediate, advanced, and assisted
  • is rooted in Chinese Medicine and similar to acupuncture and acupressure in that it is based on the various meridian lines that course through the body
  • provides 16 different types of stretches, each one uniquely correlated to:
    • 16 meridians
    • 16 major muscle groups
    • 16 organs
    • 16 high and low physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological traits
    • 16 genetic personality types
    • 16 classical hatha yoga poses
    • 16 body parts / tissues
    • 16 bone rotational interrelationships

The Meridian Flexibility System (MFS):

  • embodies a balanced approach to physical and mental fitness
  • is a predictable, noninvasive, preventative health program with resulting gains in physical strength and functioning, psychological fitness, and spiritual and emotional development
  • emphasizes that there are four aspects of stretching (position, resistance, breathing, and psychological) that correspond to the four aspects of oneself (physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental)
  • is based on an overall approach to health and well being
  • is rooted in the belief that one cannot be of sound body without sound mind
  • allows a person to overcome physical traumas as well as psychological and emotional obstacles

Front View of Meridians
Head View of Meridians
Back View of Meridians

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Gist of Stretching!

  • Step 1 would be finding a comfortable passive stretch, bringing your leg towards your face while keeping both hips square and your butt on the floor.
  • Step 2 is contracting your hamstring to bring your heel down towards the floor (with a straight leg) as resistance is applied. The resistance can be from a partner, as shown, who is pushing against your heel as hard as you are pulling it down, or you can apply the resistance yourself, using your arms to pull back on the leg. The idea is that the resistance is equal to the force you’re exerting in the contraction so that the leg stays in place even though it is doing work. This is also called an isometric contraction.
  • Step 3 is relaxing the hamstring. Assuming you find an increase in flexibility from doing steps 1-2, you would move your leg closer to your face until you find the new “comfortable” passive stretch, and then repeat steps 1-3 again.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Energy Flow Cycle!

The energy flow series through all sixteen muscle groups in a specific order. This order brings energy from one meridian muscle group and its associated organ to the next.
Energy Flow Circle

As per Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), energy flows from one meridian muscle pathway to the next in a very specific order. In TCM this order is called the 'energy cycle'. This order is determined by the depth of the muscles in the body and begins with the muscles associated with the gall bladder, with the next always being its balancing muscle group, in this case liver, and then on through all the rest. The cycle always includes two lower body, then two upper body meridian muscle groups, and then repeats two more of each. Ultimately all 16 have been completed.

Energy Flow Trellis

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Principles of Flexibility!

The Principle of Resistance Flexibility Training

Contracting and resisting while stretching is the central principle to Resistance Flexibility. It is usually best to begin in a position where the muscles are as short as possible and move into a position where the muscles are as long as possible while resisting. Do the opposite of this when you strength train a muscle. Most of the stretch actually occurs during the movement and not at the end of the range, which is commonly assumed.
There are four ways to Resistance Flexibility train by resisting and tensing: passively, dynamically, isometrically, or with assistance from other people or machines.
A muscle is only truly flexible to the point where it can continue to maximally resist while being lengthened. When a muscle can no longer contract maximally, it is being over-stretched and is subject to injury. 
A muscle is not flexible if it cannot contract at any point while being elongated, regardless of range.

16 Psychological Fitness Traits!

16 Psychological Fitness Traits

MMGHigh Personality Trait
(when being my best)
Low Personality Trait
(when not being myself)

Decision MakingDecisive, certain, loyal, dependable, courageous
DependencyIndecisive, guilty, cowardly, secretive, demeaning

FreedomLiberated, unrepressed, free-spirited, humble, proud, helpful, giving, independent
CodependencyOverly helpful, stuck, denying, irritable, frustrated

LeadershipTruth seeking, discerning, powerful, strong, protective, vulnerable
Passive-AgressiveManipulative, tyrannical, autocratic, grieving, powerless, oppressive

AmbitionCompleting, perfecting, idealistic, fair, principled, serene, resolved
Obsessive-CompulsiveHypercritical, controlling, procrastinating, stoic, manic

SobrietySelf-expressive, self-educated, work identifying, nonaddictive, sympathetic, potential promoting, tasteful, optimistic
AddictionAddictive, eccentric, digressive, vague, loose associations, overly frank

PeacefulCommunicative, empathetic, healthy routines, aware of connections, synchronicity
MartyrdomSelf-sacrificing, indifferent, moralizing, prudish, preachy, complaining, listless

Unconditional LoveRight acting, unifying, mediating, animated, solid, cheerful, imaginative, sincere
AvoidantLazy, inert, heavy, neglectful, fiery outbursts, forgetful

CreativityPassionate, equable, classy, self-affirming, aesthetic, beautifying, cultured, expressive, elegant, fulfillment seeking
DepressionHysterical, self-abandoning, melancholic, self-incriminating, discouraged

TrustMasterful, civil, knowledgeable, cultivated, aristocratic, problem solving, happy, genteel, mantra generating, heroic
ParanoidDistrustful, delusional, betraying, lustful, nervous, covetous, rude

Self-WorthCaring, graceful, sexual, respectful, good-looking, captivating, alluring, mood affecting, spontaneous, desirable
MoodyBiased, bad habits, presumptuous, moody, empty, borderline, erratic, morbid, unstable

Good JudgmentEthical, open, prudent, undisguised, karmic perceptive, philanthropic, transparent, validating, straightforward
MasochisticSelf-defeating, oblivious, stiff, closed, sentencing, implacable

AthleticRisk taking, lucky, stylish, restful, vigorous, revering, community connected
SadisticStressed, duplicitous, antisocial, violent, mean, intimidating, lying, obnoxious, loud, enslaving

PromotionalHonest, hopeful, successful, balanced, fiscally astute, motivating, cooperative, performing
NarcissisticVain, anxious about failure, deceitful, narcissistic, aggrandizing, exploitative

PhilosophicalObservant, wizardly, original, innovative, enlightened, meditative, ruminating, meaning seeking, humorous
SchizoidSplit, fearful, withdrawn, rejecting, greedy, regressive, retreating

ChangeableIndividualistic, integrity, enthusiastic, centered, calm
DepersonalizedOut of body, anarchist, frantic, officious, toxic

Good Health HabitsHealthy diet and exercise, healing, forgiving, hospitable, myth personifying
BrainwashingTroubled, diseased, angst ridden, demanding, eating disorders, destruction of property

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

9 Rules Every Yoga Teacher Should Follow!

9 Rules Every Yoga Teacher Should Follow. ~ Rob Pollak.

Nine simple things that every yoga teacher should do to make class a little more awesome - by Rob Pollak

Nine simple things that every yoga teacher can do to make class a little bit more awesome.

Rule 1:  Pay Attention to me!

Most yoga teachers really like yoga and also happen to be very good at it. These traits, however, do not mean that I’m taking your class to watch you be awesome. If that’s what I was seeking, I’d flip on your youtube channel.  Please don’t forget the real, live, disgustingly sweaty people right there behind you. So, goddamnit, pay attention to us!
The best teachers strike a balance between showing off their mad skills and watching students struggle to get the little things right.  They use their strength and ability to demonstrate or highlight certain aspects of a pose rather than to show off a one-handed side crow headstand that they’ve been working on in their Super-level eight goddess class.
If I leave class thinking, “Wow, that teacher was sooo good at yoga,” then something went horribly wrong. I should walk by the treadmills on my way out of the gym thinking, “Wow, I am freaking awesome at yoga.  Suck it, runners!”
A Yoga drawing by rob pollak - 9 rules every yoga teacher should follow

Rule 2:  Introduce yourself to your students:

Loyal readers of mine will remember that I’m working on introducing myself. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t introduce yourself to me first.
All it takes is a one second conversation in which the teacher comes over and says, “Hey, I’m [insert hippie name]. Have you done yoga before? Any questions? Namaste, bro.” Boom. Instant openness and camaraderie.
However, since we’re preaching mindfulness here, just remember to be mindful of your junk:
Rules every yoga teacher should follow - Rule 2 Introduce yourself.  Tips for yoga teachers by Rob Pollak

3.  Ignore Anything You Weren’t Supposed to See.

Look, things happen in yoga classes. Like the time I saw the entire left ball of the guy practicing next to me. Or how every time I jump from a standing fold into a push up, my shirt flies up a little bit, exposing the lower portion of my back (aka the upper portion of my ass). Look, I realize that the teacher is going to see everything that’s going on down there. Maybe he or she will even give it a once or twice over to size me up. Totally cool. There’s just no need to draw attention to the fact that I’ve got a little hair down there. Or that my love handles make twisting poses slightly more difficult.
How about we just agree to keep a few things between us?
In other words, maybe the moment my naked back and partially naked ass are exposed is not the best time for you to do that adjustment. You know the one. It’s when you grab my hips and pull them back or rest your hand on the sweaty small of my back and push with all your might. Yeah, save that for my first down dog. Just before the sweating starts.
I suspect we’ll both be happy with that agreement.
Tips for yoga teachers - Ignore anything you shouldn't see - a drawing by Rob Pollak

4.  If you’re gonna Om, Om loudly.

At first, I admittedly did not like chanting “om.” Now, I can tolerate it. Maybe sometimes it’s kind of nice. Oh whatever. You caught me. I like it. So what. This isn’t the place for judgment.
Listen up, teachers:  If you’re going to start with an Om, then do so with gusto-mmmm. Trust me, the class will follow your lead. But if you are timid and mousy with your om, then guess what? Your class will be quiet and timid and self-conscious when they holla’ back.
Also—and this is admittedly quite selfish of me—I’m 100 percent tone-deaf, so if you say it loud and say it proud, then I can join in without others noticing that I am the discordant MF’er ruining spiritual bliss.
Tips for yoga teachers - don't acknowledge tone deaf people during Om.  A drawing by Rob Pollak

5.  Remember my name and use it.

We’ve already agreed that introductions are key. Well, that’s the easy part. The hard part is remembering those names and then using them throughout class. A deftly timed “Nice job, Bikram,” or “Sweet crow, Baba,” or “Pull your hips back, Tara” really pulls those people into the class.
But surprisingly, even when the teacher refers to someone else by name, I find that I try harder.
I’m all, “I want that too.” “Hey look at me!” “Don’t you think my crow is good?” “I’m trying so hard over here, you guys!”
Even a “whoa, looking a little sweaty, Rob” wins me over.  Or, if you want to ignore rule three, I’ll even take an “I can see a little bit of your ass crack, Rob. Pull up your pants, you disgusting slob.”
Tips for yoga teachers - Remember my name and I'm yours forever - a drawing by Rob Pollak

6.  Go easy on the Rumi, okay?

Oh wow, you studied at an Ashram in India! And then you memorized all of Rumi’s quotes? You don’t say! That’s amazing!!! Sincerely.
But you know who doesn’t even know what an Ashram is? Guess who never took English 101 in college and doesn’t understand “quotes”? Oh yeah, that’s right! This guy.
That doesn’t mean you have to give up on Rumi altogether. What it means is that you should feel free to explain things to me. Even the stuff that seem painfully obvious. Because when you say a quote and then say, “well that speaks for itself,” what I’m thinking is “No. That doesn’t speak for itself. I hate this stupid class. I don’t get it. Wah wah wah poor me.”
While I’m thinking that, I’m sitting there nodding my head pretending to look like I have the slightest clue what you’re saying. Then I start thinking, “Damn, I bet she smoked a toooonnnnn of a pot in college.  That’s so hot.”
Tips for yoga instructors - keep the lessons simple, especially the rumi. A drawing by Rob Pollak

7.  Come On, Speak English.

For the first three months I practiced yoga, I mistakenly thought every Sanskrit word meant Savasana. For any non-yoga people reading this, Savasana is a made up word that literally translates to “lie on the floor while thinking about everything you were supposed to do today but didn’t.”
Yoga teachers of America, you know how to fix that problem? Just speak English. We all understand English (except the Latvian woman who sometimes comes to that Vinyasa flow class on Wednesdays), so everyone will be on the same page when you say “Do crow.”
An added benefit:  You may avoid that tattoo in Sanskrit. The one you think means, “Peaceful Warrior” but actually means, “judgmental douchebag”  Oops!
Tip number 7 for yoga teachers, sanskrit cartoon by rob pollak

8.  Be Considerate of Your Diverse Class When Giving Instructions.

So what if your class is usually all hot limber women? I’m here now, and I’d like to feel welcome, too! In order to make everyone feel at home, yoga teachers should give instructions that are mindful of the entirety of the class, not its largest component.
So no more “put this block under your bra strap,” or “you should feel a good stretch in your vagina.”
The bra strap is not an okay reference point - Rules for yoga teachers - a drawing by Rob Pollak

9.  Make Class Fun!

This goes without saying, but if I’m having fun, I’m not thinking about how much I hate the teacher for all of the horrible painful things she’s making me do. So make it fun.
One incredibly east way to make yoga more fun is by sharing this post with everyone you’ve ever met.  And then following this blog at or on facebook.
The nine rules for yoga teachers - rule 9 make class fun - a drawing by Rob Pollak

Monday, 17 October 2016

Healing with Yoga: Piriformis Syndrome!

Piriformis Syndrome:

Piriformis syndrome is characterized by buttock and/or hip pain that may radiate into the leg as a form of sciatica. This syndrome is thought to result from spasm of the piriformis which causes irritation of the sciatic nerve as it passes across (or through) the muscle. Spasm in the piriformis can be precipitated by an athletic injury or other trauma. The mainstay of treatment involves stretching the piriformis and its neighboring external hip rotators, with surgery to release the muscle reserved for recalcitrant cases.

Tightness or asymmetries in the piriformis muscle can create rotational pelvic imbalances. This, in turn, can lead to imbalances further up the spinal column, through the process of "joint rhythm". 

Figure 1 is an illustration of the relationship of the sciatic nerve to the piriformis muscle. Approximately 80% of the time the nerve passes anterior to the muscle, exiting below the piriformis. The sciatic nerve can also divide above the muscle, with one branch passing through the piriformis and another branch passing anterior. This variation occurs about 14% of the time. Other variations include the undivided nerve passing through the muscle and the divisions passing both anterior and posterior to the piriformis (without penetrating the muscle). Note that the sciatic nerve can penetrate the muscle without ever causing pain or other symptoms (as is usually the case). Persons with this variation may, however, be predisposed to developing piriformis syndrome from an injury.

Various relationships of the sciatic nerve to the piriformis muscle.

Diagnosis of piriformis syndrome is accomplished through a careful history and physical examination as well as radiological studies. The physical exam includes the FAIR test (flexion, adduction, internal rotation of the hip). 

Note that other causes of sciatica must be excluded before making the final diagnosis of piriformis syndrome. These include a herniated disc causing nerve root compression. Similarly, pathology affecting the hip joint must also be excluded. Accordingly, if you have sciatic type pain, be sure to consult a health care practitioner who is appropriately trained and qualified to diagnose and manage such conditions.

To review, when the hip is in a neutral position, the piriformis acts to externally rotate (turn outward), flex and abduct the hip joint. When the hip is flexed beyond about 60 degrees the piriformis becomes an internal rotator and extensor (and remains an abductor). Muscles stretch when we move a joint in the opposite direction of the action of the muscle. 

Figures 2-5 illustrate several yoga poses that stretch the piriformis. Parvritta trikonasana and the rotating version of Supta padangustasana lengthen the muscle by adducting and flexing the hip. Similarly, Parsva bakasana and Marichyasana III adduct and flex the hip joint, thus stretching the muscle (which an extensor and abductor when the hip is flexing).

Figure 2. Piriformis stretching in supta padangusthasana.

Figure 3. Piriformis stretching in Parvritta trikonasana.

Figure 4. Piriformis stretching in Marichyasana III.

Figure 5. Piriformis stretching in Parsva bakasana.

Figure 6. Supported setu bandha - a recovery pose which maintains the piriformis in a relaxed position.