Usually, a visit to a doctor’s office involves stepping on the dreaded scales. Unfortunately, the number on the scale isn’t typically one that is shrinking from visit to visit! But, a measurement of height might be a different story as we progress in years.
“In a French study, for instance, researchers measured 8,600 women over 60 and found that they overestimated their height by an inch, on average, and had lost about 2 inches from their tallest recalled height,” says berkeleywellness.com.
This roller coaster ride called “Life” we’re on can take a toll on our physical bodies, especially our backbones! Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, explains in yoga-teacher-training.org, “Our backbone is made up of vertebrae and intervertebral disks, which work as cushions between vertebrae. As time passes, and the aging process begins, these disks start to shrink and lose water content or fluid present in them. This is also the reason why people lose their height as they age.”
And uamshealth.com notes, “Dr. Pham Liem, a geriatrician at the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, says that we can shrink for several different reasons.
‘Older adults can get shorter because the cartilage between their joints gets worn out and osteoporosis causes the spinal column to become shorter,” he says. “Adults can also lose lean muscle mass but gain fat. This is a condition called sarcopenia.’
Sarcopenia is characterized by a decrease in muscle mass, which leads to weakness and frailty and also a decrease in height. Osteoporosis causes bones to become weak and fracture, which can also cause a person to become shorter.”
In the Huffington Post, Ellen Dolgen, women’s health and wellness advocate, states, “Starting at about age 40, people typically lose about half an inch each decade, according to Harvard Medical School.” She goes on to say, “One study of more than 3,000 adults published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found that women over the age 70 who lose two or more inches in two years are 21 percent more likely to fracture a hip in the next two years than are women who shrink less.”
The National Center for Biotechnology Information published a manuscript/study that indicates, “Height shrinkage, and to a lesser extent pre-shrinkage height, are also correlated with many later-life health outcomes, particularly cognition and biomarker measures. The shrinkage coefficients tend to be larger than for pre-shrinkage height, suggesting that current health issues are important in understanding the health of the elderly, not just events in early childhood. In general, the more the shrinkage the worse are these other health outcomes.”
Citing the same study, theatlantic.com says, “What the researchers show here is that height loss, too, can tell us something about how healthy we are. In adulthood, lifestyle factors that wear heavy on the bones, like drinking, smoking, and inactivity, promote shrinkage. Factors like education and where we live may affect our health — and height — in less obvious ways, perhaps because of the ways in which they are related to those lifestyle factors. And while it isn’t clear, either, how a causal link between a decline in cognition and a decline in stature could possibly work, efforts to promote and preserve cognitive health might help older adults remain tall, or vice versa.”
To counteract the apparently inevitable effects of aging on height, livestrong.com notes, “Some physical therapists and other medical professionals believe certain exercises can help decompress the disks of the spine and alleviate the symptoms of spinal decompression. Always check with your doctor before using exercises and stretches to alleviate spinal compression.”
Rachel Wilber, in fitfluential.com suggests, “Many recent medical studies have found that yoga has many health benefits, including a reduction of spinal compression symptoms. Focused yoga for back pain improves your posture, boosts your flexibility and improves your overall strength.
Practicing yoga improves your posture. During yoga classes, you will learn how to properly align your spine while seated and standing. When your spine is in proper alignment, the discs between your vertebrae will have enough space to spread out. They will decompress, allowing them to move freely in the intravertebral space, like they are supposed to. Practicing yoga regularly will help you to maintain a good posture.
By keeping the soft tissues of your back flexible, you can improve the symptoms of spinal compression such as stiffness and a loss of range of motion.
Practicing yoga restores the fluid balance of the discs in your spine. These discs naturally lose fluid as a person grows older. Professionals, such as those at Southwest Florida Neurosurgical & Rehab Associates know that when discs lose too much moisture, they become brittle, causing them to compress close together. A focused yoga routine practiced on a regular basis restores the fluid and blood flow to these discs. This helps to keep the discs strong and more flexible. It also reduces your risk of a fractured vertebra.”
And in the Huffington Post article previously mentioned, “Israeli researchers who measured more than 2,000 men and women in 1965 and 1995 found that those who exercised, either throughout their lives or just after they turned 40, lost about half as much height as those who had never exercised or stopped working out during middle age.”
“The physical practice of holding Yoga postures (asanas) is often referred to as the best for elongating muscles, lengthening the backbone, and strengthening the abdominal region. A regular practice of physical Yoga training and posturing provides a number of noticeable health advantages, along with spinal decompression,” notes Paul Jerard (referenced earlier in yoga-teacher-training.com).
Valerie Kiser, owner and director of Sunrise Yoga Studio and co-owner of East Coast Yoga Therapy, suggests, “Yoga teaches us to stand tall on our own two feet – both figuratively and literally. When we work in standing poses and seated poses, we focus on elongating the spine to improve posture, breathing capacity, and even digestion.”
While all yoga poses ultimately assist in strengthening the spine, Valerie suggests the Mountain pose, hanging in Dog pose, and, giving the yoga wall a try.
She says, “Hanging on the Yoga Wall allows us to experience gravity in a different way. It feels great to the spine AND the brain!”
If you aren’t “measuring up” height wise, consider giving yoga a try. You may find that, with consistent practice, you will literally stand taller and, because yoga is a mind, body, spirit connection, internally stand taller as well. Ditch the 4” heels and turn the shrinking into body lengthening power!
Questions? Email us at info@SunriseYoga.net!
Trying to find a class? Want to give the yoga wall a try? Check out our yoga class schedule and come visit us at the studio!
Are you familiar with the idea that one can entice a horse to move by dangling a carrot in front of its nose? The carrot is the “reward” the horse will supposedly receive for moving towards the carrot. It is a form of enticement.
All businesses, big and small, attempt to market to and entice potential clients to join/buy/download/connect with the business. Connecting with existing clients and attracting new clients are essential to the success of a business.
So, we’re curious . . . seriously curious . . . and somewhat puzzled by . . . goat yoga . . . and cat yoga . . . and beer yoga . . . and wine yoga . . . and naked yoga . . . and other “yoga and” types of yoga. Are these types of yoga serious attempts at connecting with clients? Are they marketing ploys? Are they yoga fads?
There’s no judgment here. At Sunrise Yoga, we offer many types of yoga classes but we haven’t tried goat, cat, beer, wine, or naked yoga. Valerie Kiser, owner of Sunrise Yoga, doesn’t own goats or cats, and while she might enjoy an occasional beer or glass of wine, she has no permit to serve either at Sunrise Yoga. And, again, no judgement, but the thought of being naked while instructing a group of yogis naked in downward dog at the Sunrise Yoga Studio is just not a visual she’s ready to tackle.
But people are connecting with goats/cats/beer/wine/nudity/whatever and yoga, and people are increasingly connecting with yoga overall, so is it the yoga or is it the “whatever” that inspires people to try yoga in these “out of the ordinary” experiences? Are these serious opportunities to connect yoga to the curious or are these fads or are these attempts to use the increasing interest in yoga to benefit causes and campaigns?
GoatYoga.net describes goat yoga as , “Animal-Assisted Therapy in a natural setting with an unexpectedly (there’s that word again) smart, social, and profoundly cuddly animal. It’s not a cancer cure, but it IS an unbelievable distraction from politics, work, stress, sickness or depression.” Lainey Morse of Albany, Oregon, began offering goat yoga from a child’s birthday party she hosted on the farm as part of a charity auction when a party attendee suggested offering a yoga class on her property. She agreed, but only if her goats could participate.
“In goat yoga, the point isn’t to sweat. It’s to have a baby goat climb on your shoulders during your plank,” says Agatha French with the LA Times. And goat yoga has become quite a big business as the interaction with cute goats and trendy yoga caught on.
CNN called yoga with cats “The Mewest Exercise Trend”. Similar to goat yoga, participants practice yoga with cats and/or kittens roaming the yoga space. But, unlike goat yoga, most cat yoga sessions offer the opportunity to adopt the roaming feline participants. NPR calls the relationship between yoga sessions with cats and cat adoption “pretty purrfect”.
And of course, dog yoga classes, aka “doga”, with adoption opportunities are equally popular.
Beyond cute animals and animal adoption efforts, yoga “carrots” are ever increasing. Or maybe the “carrots” aren’t yoga at all but other things that are latching on to the increasing popularity of yoga.
WorkforYourBeer says, “Beer yoga classes are an awesome way to exercise, socialize, and support local businesses in Charlotte. There are brewery yoga classes in Charlotte for everyone, whether you’re looking for gentle zen practice or an intense vinyasa flow that will leave you sweating. Grab your mat and head over to one of the many inexpensive (or free) yoga classes offered throughout Charlotte.”
Similar classes exist with wine and marijuana.
The ever increasing popularity of yoga excites us. Yoga is an ancient practice that continues to find ways to connect to and attract with modern day participants. The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from “the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. As per Yogic scriptures the practice of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with that of the Universal Consciousness, indicating a perfect harmony between the mind and body, Man & Nature.”
If it takes goats/cats/beer/nudity to unite an individual with yoga, then mission accomplished! Maybe that’s no different than music in a yoga flow class or adult coloring in Quieting the Mind. Maybe the “carrot” is insignificant.
If you could offer a “carrot” to attract people to yoga and meditation, what would it be? Let’s go ahead and eliminate “We’ll pay you to do yoga!” Sunrise Yoga doesn’t have deep enough pockets to go that route!
As always, we appreciate your feedback. Leave a comment or email us at info@SunriseYoga.net.
For instance, do you prefer chocolate ice cream over vanilla ice cream or strawberry ice cream?
If you like chocolate ice cream, you are likely to be flirtatious and charming! You lead a life of joy and self-love, while a vanilla ice cream lover, finds peace and balance in the everyday and relies more on intuition than logic. Strawberry ice cream lovers are energetic but introverted. Learn more about your ice cream personality at https://www.thekitchn.com/this-is-what-your-favorite-ice-cream-flavor-says-about-you-221822 and https://www.rd.com/food/fun/hidden-personality-traits-revealed-ice-cream/
So, what does your favorite yoga pose say about you? Does your most-loved asana reveal some insight into who you are?
Let us know which yoga pose is your “go to” yoga pose and tell us if the personality traits associated with that yoga pose truly capture the real you!
Outgoing, Accessible, Friendly
Grounded, Down to Earth, Enjoys a challenge
Unintimidated by discomfort, tolerant, Willing to show emotion
Creative, Thinks outside the box, Self-assured, Youthful
Finds balance in the midst of chaos, Thrill seeker
Secure, Open-Hearted, Communicates heart to heart
Not afraid of challenges, Faces difficulty head on, Fierce concentration/focus, Self-confident
Introverted, Calm, Level-headed, Lives according to their own standards
Easy going, Balanced life, Quietly confident, Enjoys the flow of life
The personality traits for the yoga poses shown above came from WellWellWell, DoYouYoga, and EliteDaily. If you need help finding your yoga personality, we would love to help! Find a class at Sunrise Yoga Studio appropriate for your level and we will assist you in connecting with your favorite yoga pose!
If you said “yoga”, you would be at least partially correct! The common denominator is Sunrise Yoga Studio’s founder and owner, Valerie Kiser!
Long before yoga had entered Valerie’s mind, she was a classically trained dancer! But the dancer, a talent usually associated with a more creative nature, started her career after college in information technology as a computer programmer in the very structured world of banking.
So, how did this dancer/programmer find yoga (or perhaps the better question is how did yoga find Valerie?)? If you’ve been around Valerie more than once, you know that behind her calm and friendly demeanor is a brain that is moving at warp speed with an energy level to match! While still working as a programmer, Valerie was also serving as a group fitness coordinator and personal trainer at a local gym.
In between training sessions and aerobic classes, Valerie noticed the gym would soon be offering yoga classes. Sign me up, she thought! I’m flexible! I can do that! Valerie says she, like many, had the misconception that yoga was all about the poses and knew little about the full body, mind, spirit connection that is truly yoga.
After a brief hiccup . . . it’s tough to do yoga while recovering from an appendectomy . . . her yoga journey began. And what a journey it has been! She began teaching yoga in 1999 and is a YACEP (Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider) through The Yoga Alliance. She became a yoga therapist in 2006 as a natural progression of teaching yoga and her desire to help students on a more personal level.
Valerie’s love of learning, her love of yoga, and her desire to help others through health and well being, kept her going as she spent five years traveling from Clemmons to Arlington/Fairfax, VA, and back, all while still working full time as a computer programmer, to acquire her advanced teacher training and yoga therapeutics certifications.
Valerie has completed a 1200-hour Advanced Teacher Training and Yoga Therapeutics certification from Sun and Moon Yoga Studios in Fairfax/Arlington, VA with JJ Gormley. Valerie is an IAYT-certified yoga therapist (C-IAYT). Valerie is also a Certified Prenatal Yoga instructor, a Relax and Renew Advanced Trainer ® (Restorative Yoga with Judith Lasater), an Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor, an Elise Browning Miller Yoga for Scoliosis Trainer and an iRest Teacher Level II (Yoga Nidra). Valerie teaches Cardiac Yoga ® (Cardiac Yoga is a registered trademark of M. Mala Cunningham, Ph.D. and is used with exclusive permission). Valerie is a 500-hour experienced registered yoga teacher (500 E-RYT) and YACEP (Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider) through the Yoga Alliance. Her first teacher training was completed with Cindy Dollar, an Iyengar-certified teacher in Asheville, NC.
Fifteen years ago, Valerie left behind the information technology profession and opened Sunrise Yoga Studio. At that time, Valerie was the entire staff, teaching in a single classroom. Now, not only does Valerie have a wonderful staff of instructors at Sunrise Yoga, and a beautiful, well-designed studio, she is also is also the director of the Sunrise Yoga Teacher Training Programs and offers 200 and 300-hour programs that are registered with Yoga Alliance and continuing education courses.
Additionally, Valerie is also the co-owner of ECYT (East Coast Yoga Therapy – an 815-hour program that certifies yoga therapists), a program designed to educate and empower yoga teachers in the art and science of Yoga Therapy as a means to promoting the health and well-being of yoga students. In June 2018, ECYT was awarded a Certificate of Accreditation through IAYT (The International Association of Yoga Therapists) and is 1 of 32 accredited schools in the world.
One might think it a bit crazy to ask what Valerie does when she isn’t working! If you have read this far, you might wonder when this dynamo sleeps!
Being the well-trained yogi that she is, Valerie follows the growth, balance, peace mindset (That’s even part of the Sunrise Yoga logo!). Valerie lives this out by enjoying being married to her husband, Jonathan (They’ve been married 20 years!), loving on their dogs, Casey and Louie, traveling and being outside. She recently took her first hot air balloon ride while on a trip to Arizona!
Valerie is also fortunate to have her mom nearby and her mom is a Sunrise Yoga student. Taking classes six days a week, Frances is like daughter, like mother!
You can find Valerie at the studio . . . a LOT! Seriously, Valerie teaches all levels of classes from Chair Yoga to Level 4 Yoga, Cardiac Yoga® to Yoga Wall, and special classes like her Wednesday night Select Your Study Sessions. Find Valerie’s classes through the Sunrise Yoga app, online, or through the studio.
You can contact Valerie by emailing info@SunriseYoga.net.
What?!? You’ve practiced yoga for a month, a year, a decade, and you find yourself up against the “wall”. Not the yoga wall! The wall of progress. The wall of no improvement. The flat wall known as a plateau. Ugh!
We can hit a proverbial wall in many aspects of life. Career. Relationships. Parenting. Weight loss. Creativity. And, it’s easy to give up, quit, stop, throw in the towel, when that “wall” shows up. Your friends, maybe even your yoga instructor, will tell you to look at how far you’ve come, to consider how things would be if you didn’t practice yoga. But, you still feel like you’ve failed and there’s no future progression for you.
Guess what! You aren’t alone!
Jessica Stickler, writing for Wanderlust, says, ““How does one overcome plateaus in yoga practice?” I thought to myself, ‘I have no idea.’ The more I thought about the question, the more I doubted my ability to answer it. I have been practicing for a modest amount of time, around eight years or so (and teaching for seven of those!), so I have ducked, dodged, hail-mary’d, ignored, and confronted many a plateau.” She goes on to outline three ways she has overcome the “wall”: the bull (work on it EVERY SINGLE DAY), the fox (find a way around the difficulty and then come back to the initial spot of frustration), and the sloth (Just keep going!).
Plateaus are inevitable. In fact, they are evidence that you ARE practicing yoga! A “wall” or plateau may actually be a nudge to try something new or different or to approach your everyday routine and practice with new eyes/perspective.
Senior Pure Yoga instructor, Sonja Rzepski, and Kay Kay Clivio, head of Pure Yoga’s teacher training program, recommend the following to push through a plateau:
1. Try a different style.
If your usual practice is a sweaty vinyasa, spend some time learning more about the logic of alignment in an Iyengar class, target your connective tissue and deep muscular release with Yin yoga, or try a new energetic approach with Kundalini yoga. Rzepski recommends sticking with it for four to six sessions before returning to your preferred or go-to classes. The idea is to look at your practice through a different lens, one that might trigger insights that will help you move past your plateau.
2. Book private sessions with your favorite teacher.
“Generally group classes are packed and there is no time for the breakdown of poses or to ask questions,” says Clivio. Getting closer to your source of inspiration will only make the fire of determination burn brighter. Three to six one-on-ones should be sufficient, per Rzepski, though you may want to continue them.
3. Explore the mind-body connection.
Asana (the physical practice of yoga) was originally conceived simply as a way to prepare the body for meditation. Try moving beyond the physical and explore the nuances of the breath or meditation (try the Headstrong meditations in the Equinox app). You can also learn more about the chakra system, the sister science of Ayurveda, or stack your nightstand with books on yoga philosophy. (Two Rzepski recommends: Light on Life by B.K.S. Iyengar and Healing Yoga by Loren Fishman.) “Learning more of the science of yoga can improve the depth of any practitioners postures,” says Clivio. “Not just seeing the postures as shapes and forms but a means to balance the energetic body.”
4. Dive deeper.
Move further into any aspect of the practice that inspires or challenges you. If you love inversions, take a workshop. Or, sign up for a retreat. This can give you renewed enthusiasm that will carry you past a plateau. Rzepski also recommends keeping a yoga journal to record and acknowledge your daily impressions and experiences. You may be making more progress than you think.
5. Get off your mat.
Karma yoga (the practice of service to others) is important, but often overlooked. Lose yourself in unselfish action by volunteering or simply look for opportunities for kindness and good deeds.
A plateau or “wall” may be telling you your body needs a break. “Consider taking a few days off from the physical practice of yoga and allow your body to rest. This is a great time to explore the more mental and philosophical aspects of yoga, such as the yamas and niyamas,” says Karen Costa of doyoudoyoga.com. She also recommends “going deeper” . . . “if your yoga practice feels like it’s turned on cruise control, one of the best ways to shift that energy is to deepen your practice. Perhaps this is a sign that you’re ready to transition from being a student to becoming a teacher.”
With the variety of yoga classes offered at Sunrise Yoga, if you find yourself on that plateau, consider trying a different class or a different instructor. Add in some Quieting the Mind classes, or explore Valerie’s Select Your Study classes. Take Karen’s Level 2 Flow class to move your regular yoga class to a more fluid, musically driven practice. Join Bill Smith in his
Sound Immersion workshop. Visit with Valerie and other yoga instructors in the FREE information session and class for the upcoming Enrichment and Teacher Training sessions. Ask Valerie about one-on-one training. Try conquering the “wall” with yoga wall classes.
Your “wall” is a message to you. Be in tune with you. When you stop and let the “wall” speak to you, you will find that the wall was of your making all along.
And, by the way, remember the “wall” you scaled to just get started with yoga? That “wall” was HUGE compared to the “wall” you think is in front of you now!
We are here to help. Send us your thoughts and/or questions to info@SunriseYoga.net.