The Physical Therapy Rationale for using Resistance Bands in Asana

As Physical Therapists, we’ve “grown up” with resistance bands as our second skin, and have spent years analyzing and understanding the science behind it: accommodating resistance, increasing proprioception, moving from mobilizing & stabilizing, and neuroplasticity of the motor homunculus

Have you heard of accommodating resistance?

This term refers to the unyielding resistance the bands impose on the body as we use our own optimal mechanics and awareness to create movement and therefore forces.  Each movement has a range of motion (ROM) component, whether it’s a bicep curl, squat, or warrior 3 to half-moon pose.  Within that ROM there are multiple systems at work, the instructing and organizing of the nervous system/brain, the mechanics of the skeletal system and joints, and the force generation of the muscular system where certain muscles are stabilizing, others are mobilizing, shortening, and lengthening. Intelligently placing the resistance bands on the body during the movement creates accommodating resistance which influences all of these systems.

Within the muscular system specifically, if we are working with the body is appropriately stacked and moving in and out of neutral joints than we can access, educate, and strengthen the “weaker” or less efficient areas of those muscle firing. Because this resistance is accomodating and unyielding, the muscles will strengthen both eccentrically (while lengthening), not just concentrically or shortening.  The added resistance will help generate increased force and power in those ranges.  


Resistance Bands for Stability & Mobility

Ever feel like you aren’t using the right muscles to stabilize during movement? Maybe your low back muscles are really tight or you have a lot of tension in your neck with plank.  This could be a case of your deep stabilizing system not working to its most efficient and supportive role during movement.  Resistance bands placed accurately, and cued well to the individual’s needs can provide valuable feedback and force for the deep stabilizing system to work against. This constant force educates and helps recruit  the abdominal core, shoulder stabilizers, or hip stabilizers to work against throughout a range of motion and/or functional movement.  

In this example, Giulia is using the resistance band to cue her transversus abdominis to co-contract with internal/external obliques and multifidus together in order to stabilize the pelvis,  spine and trunk into her version of neutral.  This can aid in creating space and arthrokinematics that allow for optimal spine and hip mobility.  Using techniques like this can be extremely useful when dealing with injury, injury prevention, or instability around the hip joint.  To be specific, when dealing with chronic hip injury, one of the largest obstacles that physical therapists tackle is neuromuscular timing.  Which muscles turn on first during movement, and do they have endurance to remain on to stabilize the joints involved?   Resistance band techniques like this can have enormous benefits for injury sufferers when done appropriately.

Resistance Bands for Cortical Re-organization

Have you heard the term smudging?

Coined by Dr. David Butler, it refers to changes that happen in the brain often in response to chronic pain.  The corresponding body part (for example, the hip’s) representation in the motor cortex becomes less differentiated, more blurry, and can be smudged and “blended” with other body areas. Movement in that area becomes less fine, accurate and differentiated.  

These changes occur within motor homunculus or cortex.  The homunculus is a representation of the physical body within the brain where motor outputs arise from.  Representation is larger if the body part is used often and has high level of differentiation of movement and sensation,  finger representation is larger than hips/trunk.

When rehabbing from a long standing injury, or chronic pain, a combination of movement with awareness of the area will facilitate the un-smudging or the re-differentiation of that body parts’ corresponding region in the homunculus.  Using an external tool, like a resistance band, may strengthen the signals going to and from the brain to that body part, as the body part has

To illustrate this concept, let’s think through chronic hip pain and and smudging that would occur.  The hip is one of the smaller regions represented in the homunculus (since it does very little fine motor activity), and has a low density of proprioceptors (the sensory receptors like ball-bearings that tell us where we are in space), making it a tough area to rehab.  It’s often hard for those with chronic hip pain to “find” their glutes or deep 6 rotator cuff muscles, this is in part why.  Those muscles are responsible (along with other surrounding muscle groups) for centering the hip ball and protecting it in the socket.  Underuse, inadequate timing and/or firing of use of these muscles, can lead to hip joint injuries during loaded postures and transitions like high lunge to warrior 3.  Simply performing the transition without an external force may not solve the problem of recruiting and unsmudging.  In this video, Threes Physiyoga Methodtm teacher, Giulia Pline shows several ways to use resistance bands to add load and change forces to increase awareness and recruitment within the hip muscles.  Using the resistance bands helps to heighten focal awareness and muscular challenge which i will generate brain differentiation and pathways through neuroplasticity.  

Yet another Physical Therapy based rationale for utilizing resistance bands in yoga asana to benefit those with pain, neuromuscular changes, and strength deficits.  Viva la resistance!


The LOTUS life - Part 3: My Real Life Post Partum Yoga (which is never the same each day, and that’s OK)

The summer season has always been my favorite. Jam packed with fun, adventure, friends and family. It has been a challenge to find the time for self care in the midst of all this summer fun.  However, kids playing and swimming, also means kids sleeping! So in the early morning hours I can snag the time to check back in with ME. I spent the summer working on embodiment, improving biomechanics, and motor learning. This is a snapshot of the process that was repeated again and again all summer long...


My first thought was to sit outside on the deck in a chair and listen to the birds chirping and breath. But, Oh boy I can’t get out of my own way… to do list taking over, vacation plans, groceries list, this week’s schedule.  UGGG it feels yucky, can’t focus, can’t get a full breath.

I walk back into the mess of a kitchen and lie right down in the middle of chaos and put my legs up on the chair.  I need to get grounded, so to the ground I go.  So what if I end up with cheerio crumbs in my hair!


I start by feeling my back body.  Clearly I am functioning in a state of hyperarousal.  I am living in my front body as I am ready to meet the needs of everything that is coming my way.  I’m living in state of fight or flight ready to respond to the needs of the baby and kids.  This triggers a response in my sympathetic nervous system and hijacks my nervous system and begins to run the show.

How do I break the cycle? With the tool of optimal breath. Yet another reason why I must restore my breath.

So lying on the kitchen floor I allow myself to get grounded, feel rooted and connected to the hardwood. Next I must get into my body.  I notice the temperature in the room, the sounds, the breeze.  Then I check in with the temperature of my toes.  I feel the breath coming in my nostrils.  And I find I’m still pretty much in my front body…

I dive into the exploration of my back body… hmmmm it’s kinda hard.  I feel where I am making contact with the floor.  My glutes, my mid back, shoulder blades, back of arms, back of head. Upon this exploration I recognize I am totally gripping my posterior pelvic floor (gripping my butt).  No need for that. I am fully supported by the floor and and invite my body to  relax.  I give my posterior pelvic floor permission to release and I feel a broadening and spreading of my pelvic canister and low back.


Ok great now let’s check in with my breath.  Where is it naturally going in my body? Not a surprise that I am flaring the front of my rib cage again. I knit my hands together and place them gently over my lower front ribcage,  Hands to Body - another super useful check-in technique in the practice of mindfulness.  The hand placement is also a soft reminder to keep that part of the ribcage quiet.

Now I can begin to breath laterally with expanding the ribcage fully for each inhale. Then I can begin to move the breath posteriorly into the back of my ribcage to fully access my deepest breath. After a few minutes bathing in the nourishment of these deep full breaths I check back in with pelvic floor function.  My pelvic floor is broadening and releasing to allow for the inhales and upon exhale there is a subtle upward lift and engagement.  My pelvic diaphragm is moving in concert with my respiratory diaphragm and the breath is smooth and expansive.

I lift arms overhead and find a gentle sidebend still lying on the floor and explore the rib cage movement on each side.  I still find it is easier to sidebend to the right and much more limited to the left.  A gentle reminder of the work that my body has been doing for the past 10 months.  I remember to breathe with gratitude for this body and not with judgment of where I think I should be in this postpartum recovery.

And then BAM! The baby is crying.  Up off the floor.  Time to test the practical application of this breath and practice. Pick up the baby. Hold him heart to heart in front of my body. As close to midline as comfortable. I feel my feet, balanced and grounded and my breath filling and expanding my back body. Wow! I feel an expansiveness that I haven’t been able to access in a long time. My ribcage is lifted off my pelvis and I feel taller. My front line of postural support is kicking in automatically with my improved breathing mechanics and I feel lighter.


I get three rounds of good full inhales and exhales and then OH NO! My butt is gripping and my front line of support in fatiguing.


My pelvis is seeking support and my body goes back to old habits and grips in the posterior pelvic floor and glutes. It’s not functional. It shifts my core and I lose my stacked alignment and access to posterior breath and diaphragms. This gripping pushes the head of my femur forward and into external rotation.  These changes mean I can not longer stack my system to work efficiently.  I have lost the even grounding in my feet and the weight has shifted to my heels.  My pelvic girdle is pushing forward and my shoulder girdle is compensating by moving back and increasing my thoracic kyphosis.  (See image 1 vs stacked posture in image  2) This shearing of my pelvic and thoracic canister inhibits my pelvic and my respiratory diaphragms.  Therefore robbing me of the benefits of a deep nourishing breath and closing the gate on my access to the parasympathetic nervous system.  The rest and digest part of the nervous system that heals and calms and revitalizes the body, mind, and spirit.

No need for despair! I know I can access and find these improvements again and again and again. I sway for a minute in a figure 8 fashion feeling my feet and encouraging a release of the butt gripping.  I’m coaching myself gently “Regroup… ground feet, stack system, fill with breath, check in on pelvic floor action for broadening on inhale, slight lift and engagement on exhale.”

Small, sustainable changes, doing them mindfully and often, REALLY OFTEN.  This is how we can reprogram the system.  We can re-establish the conversation between mind and body and make lasting changes in the brain.  This un-smudges the motor homunculus in the brain and allows us to access a more efficient way of being.

Put baby down and repeat...AND REPEAT AND REPEAT

I have given many tools throughout this blog post. To recap:

  • Get into your Body. Feel sensations, temperature, effort, tension, ease and space

  • Address Biomechanics stack the system for efficient breath and function

  • Clarity for Motor Learning repeat the improved patterns for functional use

Greek Kale Salad with lemon Olive Oil Dressing


When I’m not lying on the floor in my kitchen trying to calm my mind and breath I am usually creating something with my little helpers.  We love the abundance of fresh veggies in the summer that we get from Old Ford Farm in New Paltz, NY.  Salads made with fresh greens are such a blessing after the long, cold winter.  However, the truth is, I get really sick and tired of making salads everyday so let me tell you a secret...using Kale as your base can get you 3 days out of 1 salad prep session!  It will last even after it’s dressed and taste better with time. If you have tried kale chips and hate them please, please give kale another chance! No more salad prep every night and it’s a fabulous go to that is already made for lunch. There are tons of variations of kale salads but this is one of our favorites.

From Gimme Delicious

Prep time: 10 mins

Total time: 10 mins

Author: Layla

Serves: 4


  • 1 large bunch (about 10 ounces or 3-4 cups) kale leaves, finely chopped

  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

  • 1 cucumber, seeded and diced

  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced

  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese


  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

  • ¼ cup lemon juice

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • Salt and pepper, to taste



  1. To make dressing: in a small to medium mixing bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Whisk until combined.

  2. To make the salad: combine all the chopped ingredients in a large bowl, pour dressing over salad and mix. Sprinkle with extra feta cheese just before serving.

  3. Prepared and dressed salad can be stored for up to 48 hours. (With fresh ingredients I find it still very good up to 72 hours)

Restoring PostPartum Breath to Facilitate Postural Change: The Tools I use

Post #2 of the Lotus Life.

Here we are...  Straight from the chaos of a mother’s closet. I am literally hiding in my closet writing this.

  Post #2 straight from the chaos of a mother’s closet. I am literally hiding in my closet writing this.  

Post #2 straight from the chaos of a mother’s closet. I am literally hiding in my closet writing this.  

 I sit here amongst the boxes, bins, and bags of clothes (and shoes) that used to fit, or may one day fit again or maternity stuff I am done with and nursing gear that is temporary.  This to me just highlights the level of transition in this glorious postpartum journey.

I’ve spent a lot of time checking in with my body as a tool of my mindfulness practice.

 I am more and more aware that the starting ground is a very different body than I have had for the past 30 something years.

The methods of exercise, strengthening, and improving performance that I called upon during the many years of my athletic career are not appropriate for the restoration of my current physical body.

There are moments that this is saddening.  I love strength training, plyometrics, agility, climbing, running, and playing any sport.  The reality is my most central axis of movement is not functioning to provide the safety and stability to perform those things I love.  The work must start very deep inside. So it’s time for a contemplative pause and perspective shift.  I can take a moment to modulate the emotional freak out about how my body is failing me and reframe my perspective to self kindness.  I have actually carried a human being and been its sole provider for the last 9 months.  I am so grateful to have shared that time and experience with each of my children.  The truth is this body has done wondrous things. For that I am grateful. MY WORK IN THE RECOVERY PROCESS WILL GO MUCH FURTHER IN THE SPIRIT OF SELF LOVE.     


Let’s begin…or get to work restoring breath...


I start by opening my yoga blanket one fold and roll it up to a long tube.  Fold the tube into a circle and lie prone.  The cut out in the center leaves space for the breasts to rest more comfortably (thank goodness since I am nursing) This helps to passively close the front of my ribcage and facilitate some spinal flexion.  In this position I can access the lateral breath in the posterior (back body) rib cage/mobilize posterior ribs: they have been closed from postural changes of pregnancy.  This positioning facilitates diaphragm movement in the posterior body.  My glutes are totally relaxed and not gripping.


How many? How much?

The answer is:  As many as I can do with undivided attention,  and as much mindful awareness as possible.

 When my mind begins to wander and I can’t FEEL the work in my body it is time to stop.  That may be 3 breaths, it may be 10.

 The work needs to be authentic, not just feeding the ego by completing 10 reps.

I know that I am at the beginning of this process and my body is more comfortable relying on the same poor posture of gripping my glutes for stability, overextending my spine in my thoracolumbar junction (the top of my lumbar spine region), closing down my back ribs, and living on the outer (lateral) edge of my right foot and leg, where I found support during pregnancy.  I go back to those  habits when I am carrying the baby, lugging the car seat carrier, putting the stroller in the car.  But my mindful awareness to breath into my back body will help me access my deeper stabilizing musculature and change the posture pattern problem.


Next up...Legs up the wall, checking in with pelvic floor

I place a bolster under my pelvis and a blanket folded perpendicular to the bolster to align the spine. After finding that the belly breath that I had easily accessed in the past is now causing a sense of downward pressure in my pelvic floor,  I realize I have to make a CHANGE and initiate the same lateral breath as the previous exercise.

The change starts with my cueing.

This is how I access the mind-body connection and can make lasting changes in the message my brain sends to my body.  Instead of beginning by expanding the belly, ribs, and chest outward as the 3 part breath is often taught, I start with expanding the ribs laterally.  I then feel a natural expansion of my belly without downward pressure and a slight lift of my chest.  With expansion of the ribcage east to west I find the belly still expands with the breath but not to its full excursion. This is a more functional expansion and without creating the downward pressure on the pelvic floor.  It’s now much more comfortable for me to take a fuller, deeper breath.

After establishing a smooth lateral breath, I can begin to visualize the pelvic floor relaxing and widening with the same east west direction as the ribcage during the inhale.  I continue the breath work mindfully with an idea of creating space in my body. Upon the exhale I visualize an upward and inward lift of my navel and pelvic floor. I am not changing the position of my pelvis and I am absolutely not engaging my glutes or gripping my butt.  The work is from my pubic bone and up the front of my spine.  

Accessing my deepest central axis.

 I am able to facilitate spinal decompression with this breath. It feels great to maintain the decompression to grow and open the space with each breath.  Check out this video from Shelly Prosko, a fellow Physical Therapist and Physioyoga Teacher, with variations of this breath by adding in the internal and external rotation of the hips with breath. The next challenge will be to take this breath into standing…


In the more functional and real life position of standing I work to access the same breath.

 I am looking to decompress the spine and learn how to stand upright again with the goal of restoring the natural, healthy curves of my spine.  Any kind of dowel or stick will work here.  In the few minutes I have to work, I grab a golf club.

  • I hold the club over my head with arms extended and begin to find my east west breath.

  • I then mindfully connect my pelvic floor with the breath.

  • My lateral breath allows me to create the same spinal decompression in standing. It feels like I can lift my ribcage off my pelvis

  • This gives me a feeling of growing tall and making space  

  • I want to begin to explore my ability to maintain the space with movement

  • Keeping arms extending I work toward a small side bend.  

  • The added movement brings back my faulty movement patterns of course makes my ribs flare in the front and close down in the back.  

  • With conscious effort I can use the breath laterally to facilitate a floating neutral rib cage to  unstick the ribs in my back body while knitting my front ribs together to correct the faulty movement.  

  • I have to reign in the movement and shorten the side bend to stay neutral in the ribcage and breath with ease.  In the pictures you will see the difference between sides.  This highlights my very stuck back ribs on the right.  

I also explore rotation here with the golf club behind my back.  I am attempting to maintain contact with the golf club and my back, not pulling away from it as I rotate.  My foundation is the same here.  

Find my breath.

Expand laterally.

Appropriate pelvic floor movement with breath.

Spinal decompression.

Neutral rib cage.

Small exploratory movement in rotation.  

Staying mindful and generating self love.


I must fuel my body to do the work of motherhood.  This is a wonderful time of the year to get back into eating a fresh, local veggie-centric diet.  One of my favorite go to recipes are quinoa veggie omelette bites.  They are bite size (that means I can eat them with one hand, no utensils...Amazing!) I can also prep them in stages and they are even freezable.  All good things during this fast paced adventure.  The first step is preparing the quinoa.  I like to use the tricolor quinoa.  I make a big batch 1 or 2 cups of uncooked quinoa. This gives me enough to also make a quinoa salad with the rest.  If all I can accomplish today is cooking the quinoa, it’s cool, pop it in the fridge and finish your bites later or the next day.


1 cup of cooked quinoa

½ cup shredded cheese

4 egg whites

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup fresh chopped leafy greens (spinach is  my fav)


Bake in mini muffin tins at 350 for 15-20 mins


I place 3 or 4 in small snack size ziplocks and throw them in fridge or freeze them

Defrost in fridge or on countertop

Eat them hot or room temp, add hot sauce if you need a kick! Fuel up mamas!

The LOTUS life - The muddy and murky recovery of postpartum spirit, mind, and body

Post 1: Restoration of breath

So I found myself pondering the question… is it ok to sip coffee during my pranayama practice? Because after 8 months of nausea and vomiting while carrying my beautiful baby boy I would really, really, Really like to sit down and enjoy a hot, steamy, perfect cup of coffee in the only quiet 5 minutes of the morning.  Therefore, the choice is a tough one… breath or coffee.

My physical therapy geek mind knows that the breath is way more valuable, with longer lasting benefits.  Still not an easy choice.  I have been through pregnancy three times. Each time with hyperemesis, nonstop nausea, fatigue and depression.  With every pregnancy I thought, “I can beat this, I’ve got the tools, bring it on…”  Every time pregnancy won.

Everything changed, my diet, physical practice, patience and energy levels, mental focus and outlook of life, and the foundation of it all MY BREATH.  I’m pretty sure aliens invade my body during pregnancy.  The good news is they leave about 24 hours after the birth of a precious little healthy human being.  However, my body is left in a state of no clue how to operate efficiently. I am left breathing with less than half of my capacity and using my neck and accessory muscles to move my breath.  I can’t figure out how to open the back of my rib cage, especially on the right side.  It feels like my ribs have been superglued together in the back and held open with retractors in the front.  

With the awareness that I am now a breathing trainwreck, I decide to get to work.  I roll out my mat (yay! feeling excited to be back on the mat) and start with a three part breath.  Lying on my back, bolster under the knees.  I set the timer and commit to 5 minutes of breath practice. With baby asleep and older two children at school, Let’s get to work!

I feel belly expand (uggg that feels like a lot of downward pressure), next trying to move ribs, and chest lifts (finally an inhale).  It feels very foreign, not very comfortable, and super uncoordinated.  I get 2 minutes into my work and BAM sure enough baby starts to cry.  So I’m up off the mat and once again breathing like a trainwreck.  At least I have gathered some information about my body and will modify and take a different approach to facilitate an improved breath for my next round of mindful breathwork.

March 1, 2017.  2 days before delivery, huge belly, low load = havoc on the normal curves of the spine

Making this a daily practice sounds like a dream.  I’m shooting for 3 days a week.  I don’t get so overwhelmed if I make a weekly plan.  I am the mother of 3 small children.  I am dodging curve balls all day, every day.  In the practice of self kindness I will allow myself the wiggle room.  

Stay on board for more restoration of breath post 2 with appropriate modifications… and BAM the baby is crying!

The LOTUS life - The muddy and murky recovery of postpartum spirit, mind, and body

Who am I?

My name is Emily. I am a mom, yogi, physical therapist, an educator and a business owner, and co-director of the Threes Physiyoga Method. I have been blessed with three amazing teachers; my six year old son, 4 year old daughter, and our new addition a sweet little baby boy this past spring.  I am writing straight from the trenches of mom life.  I have worked and taught in hospital settings, private practices, yoga schools and studios, colleges and communities, but this blog is a personal journey.


Why did I want to start a blog?

We live in a culture where postpartum care is not easily available. Due to limited resources, support, knowledge, money, time, energy and personal drive it can feel like an uphill battle.

My personal biggest challenge is that being a mom is constant.  The demands impact all avenues of my health. There is a need for women to know more about their health and wellness during their postpartum journey to recovery. We will explore postpartum issues of spirit, mind, and body through a realistic lens of the chaotic life after babies.

In this blog you can expect to see posted:

The practical therapeutic application of yoga, the science, healthy recipes, helpful tidbits, and gentle reminders of the connectedness that we are all in it together.

Yoga is a practice.  There will be successes and failures. It’s the mud and muck, the crazy and wondrous, I am writing to share the Real story.

Who would I love to connect via the blog?

Women, Mothers, Fathers, Health Care Professionals, Yoga teachers, Spiritual Practitioners.

Whether you are a mother of newborn, or had babies 5, 10 or even 20+  years ago this blog is for you.  It is also for health care professionals and yoga teachers that work with women who have had children.  I hope to connect like minded people that are resources in the areas of spirit, mind, and body to address the needs of women during the peri and postpartum journey.  

In successfully blogging this journey I hope to:

There is a lot of room for physiyoga here. I hope to Introduce, explain and explore the usefulness and practicality of physiyoga.  My hope is to empower you to ask the questions, learn the skills, and connect with the community that will support you in the journey.

Why you need a RETREAT to REFILL (based upon why I know I need one)

Why you need a RETREAT to REFILL (based upon why I know I need one) 

It doesn't stop, and it feels like too much.  You're spinning in a world of teaching classes and privates, commuting, eating on the run and balancing your home life.  How are you supposed to dig into your energy reserves on a daily basis to share that energy with your students without the occasional self care refill? I can tell you that in my personal experience, I burnout.  For me, burnout looks like feeling uninspired in my teaching, resentful of my schedule and unable to be truly present like I want to with my family.  Being completely honest.  So in order for me to do my job to the best of my ability, I really need to take care of me first, then those around me including my students. This is why Francesca and I decided to put our first ever retreat experience together. 

Here are 4 Reasons Why YOU Need to RETREAT to REFILL:


Taking a walk in nature can calm the nervous system. Studies show that immersing yourself in nature allows the brain to reset, stress hormones levels to decrease, and awareness of oneself to increase. One of the postulated mechanisms being discussed is that this allows the prefrontal cortex, the brain's command center, to dial down and rest, like an overused muscle. Dialing down to settle in will be the goal of the mellow movement component of this retreat.  You may even increase your creativity while on retreat, as further science shows that nature provides happiness, which leads to creative thought, and is also the medicine for the persistent grind and connection to technology. If you need to read more, this article, in National Geographic, is full of research that further convinced me. 


We all know that our brain clears out the clutter while we sleep and that we learn and synthesize information best after a good night's sleep, but why? A new study out of Switzerland demonstrates that "poor sleep keeps the the brain's synapses excited and blocks the brains ability to learn".  Picture yourself waking up from a restful night of sleep far away from all your typical distractions, ready to learn new material and incorporate into your body at once. 


Connection with others according to the Dahli Llama and Desmod Tutu in  the truly inspiring, "The Book of Joy:  Lasting  Happiness in a Changing World"  is the number one fuel for creating and maintaining joy within our lives.  Being able to connect with oneself, in order to understand and relate to others reminds us that we are all connected in our journey together and brings satisfaction and happiness. Come grow this with us. 

This is why Francesca and I designed the structure of the retreat the way we did. You get a dose of didactic, scientific physiyoga knowledge in the form of a 2 hour workshop with me,  and then you get to immediately apply it into your practice.  For me, that's the best way to learn, and for my students, that's where they come up with their best ideas and questions.  We will  navigate the nervous system, investigate how foot and ankle kinematics affect the rest of the body from the ground up, and dive deep into how the core functions as a canister. 

Hope to see you there. Info below. 
With love. 

3 Ways Yoga Teachers should Approach Students with Injuries.


The three of us have been knocking around ideas on how to share more of our message within the Yoga community.  Social media and blogging is hard for us, with kids and clinics to manage. But we have made a goal to produce more.  We thought that a good one out of the gate would be sharing an article originally shared on Yoga International. We will share it in two installments. This article outlines some or our core beliefs and reasons for teaching.   


Diana, Helen and Emily



The Issue:  A knowledge gap exists between what yoga teachers know of anatomy and how to apply it to prevent and address injury among a rapidly expanding number of yoga students.

The Solution: An asana-based movement assessment rooted in science to uncover suboptimal movement patterns in relationship to applied anatomy and kinesiology.

A growing focus on yoga-related injuries and the use of yoga to rehab injuries spotlights the knowledge gap between a typical yoga teacher and one who can detect, assess, address and prevent injuries.


Improved yoga teacher education will heighten awareness and deepen knowledge of applied anatomy and kinesiology in order to detect root injury causes and design optimal asana movement patterns.

1.  Ask about the history and presentation of the student’s injury

Yoga teachers have become the frontline for a student when they have an injury. Often, a student’s yoga teacher is the first person they ask about their injury and how to address it.  

In order to give appropriate and intelligent guidance and recommendations, the teacher should ascertain certain essential information. First, inquiring about the history and nature of a student’s pain can provide valuable information about the type of injury and whether continuing to practice yoga is appropriate. These questions include: when did the pain start? Is the pain better or worse with exercise? What is the nature of the pain (i.e. sharp, achy)? Are there any pins and needles associated with the pain? What is the intensity (1-10) scale?  

From these answers a knowledgeable teacher can advise the student whether they should avoid all asana, go right to the doctor, or take it easy in class with some specific modifications.

For example, if a student complains of worsening hip pain that started 3 months ago, is sharp in nature and doesn’t improve with movement, it's possible the student may have an injury to the joint itself or the surrounding cartilage and soft tissue. Understanding the severity, intensity and nature of the pain is essential. In this case, the student should be advised not to participate in asana practice and see a physical therapist or physician. Not only can this shorten the overall duration of injury, but improve the student/teacher relationship. It is vital that the student can trust the teacher’s opinion when asked for advice about pain or an injury while practicing.


2.  Be able to explain what is happening when common yoga injuries occur

As yoga has become a significant player in the world of movement and wellness, it is essential that the yoga teaching community upholds a working knowledge of common yoga injuries. Currently, most RYT 200-hour certifications include only 20 hours of anatomy and physiology education, with only 10 of those hours considered “contact time.” That’s just enough to cover the basics. Basic anatomy and physiology without application is difficult material to incorporate into classes and 1:1 sessions.  

Given that student injuries are common, it’s imperative teachers become familiar with the pathophysiology of injury, i.e. what common yoga injuries are and how they are caused. In order to fully appreciate the injury and healing process, the teacher needs to understand how the human body actually links together; how muscles contract to move joints; how the shape of a joint dictates which movements are possible and safe (and which are not); and how joints can be affected from movements and restrictions elsewhere in the body.  

Whether or not your students tell you this, many yoga students feel discomfort or, sometimes, pain. Students may intentionally push through pain or be told to go to their limit, breathe, then go further. There is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ pain. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate. Pushing through bad pain almost always leads to injury. The sensation of muscle elongation is different than that of ligament or joint capsule stretching and also different from scar tissue restriction. These sensations may feel very different to one another. To address this globally, teachers should be encouraged to take a step back, investigate, and understand the injury before giving intelligent cues and modifications. Also being cautious about long holds and repetitive postures is essential.

Pain is relative, individual and complicated. In addition to mechanical complication that may elicit pain, other contributors can include emotional stress, nutritional status, a ‘type A’ personality, and other social factors. When a teacher has awareness of this and is asked advice about a chronic pain or injury it brings an opportunity for the student not only to get advice for their asana practice but also to be referred to other healthcare professionals that can work together to fix the problem by diving deeper into the biopsychosocial factors of the issue. 


3. Assess movements that may contribute to the musculoskeletal cause of injury

Most yoga teachers by virtue have a keen sense of body awareness and are great at teaching optimal, safe movement.

Using an evaluation tool for the assessment of movement patterns may assist in picking up any dysfunctional and suboptimal movement (we are in the process of investigating our tool's reliability). With appropriate training in anatomy, biomechanics and kinesiology, teachers could use this tool to assess movement that may contribute to injury. Many injuries are the result of repeated stress to an area. If the body is moving in an aligned, supported and fluid way, injury would be less likely to happen during yoga class.  

However, if there is a breakdown in movement, a dysfunctional pattern or improper alignment and load, some areas will be exposed to less than ideal mechanics.  If loaded irregularly and repetitively this area may  become injured.

For example, in high lunge, if the foot is over flat or pronated, the knee tends to move inward toward the midline, which may draw the hip forward and internally rotate the femoral head. If we continue to follow this up the chain, we may see a subsequent twist in the pelvis and upper trunk. Repetitively loading in this pattern is likely to result in a part of the chain eventually breaking down. In this instance, the hip.

A smart asana-based assessment to highlight dysfunctional movement patterns will include an examination of a student’s ability to stabilize during movement. The entire kinetic chain (the joints above and below the injury) must also be observed and tested for possible contribution to misalignment, dysfunction and muscle recruitment.  

When assessing hip pain, a student that has sharp pain and finds limitation in pigeon pose may have a bony variation or osteophyte at the joint, either on the ball or the socket, which causes pain by impinging on structures such as the hip labrum. This bony variation can cause restriction in the movement of the joint, often felt as pinching. If this student deepens in a hip opening pose, the chances of causing injury increase. The best course of action in this occurrence is to start by referral to a physical therapist or physician.

The same complaint of sharp pain and limitation in pigeon could be a direct result of a rigid foot and ankle in the presence or absence of direct hip joint damage. The role of the foot and ankle is to sense where we are in space (proprioception) and send information to rest of the body via receptors in the joints, soft tissue and skin, as well as provide a stable but mobile foundation to our lower limb while standing, walking and running. With a rigid foot/ankle proprioception is reduced, the bony structures in the lower leg may become stiff as the musculature around them compress instead of lengthen. This restriction can result in compensatory movement occurring higher up the chain in the hip and lower back. A stiff ankle or foot may cause the femur to be held more forward in it’s socket  and therefore more likely to repetitively impinge or bump into the hip labrum during functional movements. This shows that hip pain may be caused from a direct issue in the hip, OR, from an issue further away in the chain, in this case, the foot and ankle. Therefore It is essential that the whole chain is assessed and addressed along with any local hip treatment.


*If you want to learn more, including how to use our asana based movement assessment, join us this Fall in NYC for the 100-Hour advanced YTT*

** Our next blog will outline 2 additional approaches yoga teachers can take with injured students, stay tuned**



In response to: "Study Finds Yoga Injuries Are on The Rise": A Physiyoga Perspective

We'd like to share some thoughts in response to this recent Yoga Journal article.  

An article released last November by the Orthopedic Journal of Sports Medicine reviewed statistics on yoga injuries from 2001-2014. The findings revealed that injuries more than doubles in that time with a total number of injuries over 29,000.  

That's a problem for an industry and practice that is centered around health and well-being.

The highest prevalence of injuries were in those over 65, as more and more people of this age begin to practice, it unveils a new set of needs and teaching parameters that  perhaps should be treated as a special population.

Why so many injuries....perhaps because yoga is predominantly represented in the US as a physical practice.  The minimum requirement of anatomy and kinesiology taught to teachers is only 10-15% of  the entire 200-Hour Teacher Training curriculum, as required by Yoga Alliance for a a registered school.

The truth is that 200-hour teachers are under trained for what they are teaching in classes.  Without substantial anatomy and biomechanics education, they may well lack the understanding to keep students safe alongside offering guidance to those with injuries.

A Commitment to lifelong learning of yoga and materials which support it (anatomy, biomechanics, neurophysiology) will continue to build the success and participation of this practice. It will help preserve the sanctity, beauty and the respect yoga deserves from others involved in the wellness movement and healthcare communities.

We believe that by raising the bar of movement science education for yoga teachers, they will be enabled to participate more freely within our healthcare model.  

To facilitate that, we provide a multi-faceted training program and thorough certification process for our teachers.  Once certified, they become members of a group of teachers within a directory.

It is our goal that this directory will be the place physicians, physician assistants, physical therapists, nurses who have limited yoga exposure will turn to in order to refer their patients to a qualified yoga teacher to continue their path to wellness.

We agree and support Yoga Journal's 4 ways to avoid yoga injuries and would like to add:

1.  For those new students that are over-65, always always always start with a progressive beginner's course

2. Researching your teacher: if you are a beginner and/or slightly older and/or have injuries or conditions that may need extra care, then you should look for an E-RYT 500 with additional movement science education, e.g. a Physiyoga Teacher or a teacher with a medical health profession.

3. Choose smaller classes for more 1:1 guidance and/or gentle adjustments. Listening to your body = knowing your body, this takes time and a softness that isn't taught in many vinyasa style classes these days.



Diana, Emily & Helen 



What does cueing level hips mean? A conversation about hip-pelvis dissociation


One of the MOST common biomechanical breakdowns that we see in yoga asana practice is a lack of pelvis-hip dissociation.  When this happens over and over in standing poses, it can lead to repetitive stress injuries of our hips, pelvis, sacroiliac (SI) joint, low backs, and all the way up the kinetic chain to our cervical spine and down to our toes.  





It is the movement of the hip joint without excessive movement of the pelvis and lumbar spine. 

The hip joint moves in 5 directions, flexion, extension, abduction, adduction and circumduction. When control or mobility is compromised, the movements of the hip joint will include excessive movement of the pelvis. 


When poses are performed once or twice without dissociation, our bodies should be ok, they are resilient. Done hundreds, thousands of times in yoga classes over years, and our bodies will break. Hip joints will degrade, muscles will spasm, tendons will fray.   

Learning how to teach dissociation and why it is so difficult is the responsibility of the yoga teacher who is invested in the safety of their students and the long term injury prevention of yoga as a practice and philosophy. 

For more, please check out this clip from our 100-hour advanced teacher training in NYC. 

Meeting our Students where they are...

Diana here, writing on behalf of all three of us.  

Dear our beloved past, present, and future students, 

Emily, Helen and I, have heard you.  We've received your emails and FB messages regarding your interest in our training and we are thrilled to hear it! We started PYG 2.5 years ago as three Physical Therapists and Yoga teachers who are extremely passionate about raising the bar of the yoga teaching profession via safety, injury prevention, and usable, practical knowledge about the body and mind.  

It has always been our goal to be the gold standard in trainings in this arena as we feel our experience as 3 PT's seeing a combined thousands of bodies and patients in our clinics have given us the skilled eyes, hands and ears to develop this curriculum FOR YOU and the Yoga world. 

However, knowledge and skills aren't the only things that make trainings successful, what is almost more important is understanding your audience, respecting their needs, catering to them and creating a program that MEETS THE STUDENT WHERE THEY ARE.  And, that is EXACTLY what we aim to do.

We understand that to be the gold standard, we must continually work together with you all, and HOLD THE SPACE TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN AND GROW. 

Therefore, we are restructuring our training schedule and offerings starting immediately.  It took a lot of hemming and hawing, back and forth chats over Skype, with wine and/or coffee, our ultimate goal to find the best solution.  

Here's what we came up with.  We will postpone our Fall Advanced Teacher Training 100 hour program until 2017 and use the next few months to teach more of our PYG Foundations course.

The foundation course is 10-20 hours of entry level anatomy& physiology, kinesiology, understanding the systems of the body including the nervous systems, connective tissue,  and,learning how to structure a 1:1 session and work with students with injuries.  This material is perfect for incorporation into existing 200-hour trainings or for a students with a 200 hour YTT.  

If you have an interest in this course, let us know, we will come to a studio near you! Or.. if you know a YTT that could use a practical, physical therapy based anatomy training, let us know, we'd love to be a part of it! 

Very sincerely and with love, 

D, H & E. 

What does it mean to teach the middle?

Read Diana's recent article in Yoga International..

"When I’m working with students to increase mind/body awareness and re-educate their neuromuscular systems, I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “Wow, that’s so subtle. That’s all I have to do?”

We are a society of doers and non-doers, extremists in all capacities. There’s something to the saying that everything in moderation does a body good. In talking about movement, specifically yoga, this concept can be applied in all types of practice. It can be applied in all class levels from the heat-building flow class to the restorative, slow class. It can also be applied at the individual level—the student's need either to push harder or submit to minimal work."

Continue reading here

Yoga teachers - FAQ about the course

Who are we: 3 experienced physical therapists who are blending their clinical experience with their yoga knowledge to improve the understanding of optimal and suboptimal movement in yoga practice. 

Who it is for: Yoga teachers who are looking for a greater understanding of biomechanics. This knowledge can then be applied to their own practice and their teachings.

Why should you do it: Having completed a 200-hr basic YTT you may feel hungry for more anatomy and movement knowledge. This course gives you that. It is what you have been waiting for..

What is it: An advanced 100-hour YTT. Pre-requisite: YTT 200hr certificate.

What it consists of: 4 modules, an asana-based assessment tool, learning how to SEE the body move, improvement and growth of knowledge foundations, learning how to IMPROVE suboptimal movement patterns and progress practice and teaching safely.

When will you use it:  All the time.... during your own practice you may feel enlightened as to why your hip is always tight in one spot. During your teaching you can assist improvement in all sub-optimal movement in your clients whether in classes or private 1:1 sessions. 

Where: Next immersion (2x5 days) Feb 26th - Mar 8th 2016, Full course (4 weekends) Fall 2016, Kula Yoga Project, New York.