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November 1, 2022

A fun new look at yoga with Emily Sharratt

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Emily Sharratt is an editor, writer, and qualified yoga instructor. She has been teaching for over seven years, as well as having a regular practice for almost 20. Her teaching method encompasses a wide range of yoga styles, from Vinyasa Flow to Yin. And she considers the final relaxation the most important part of class.

On episode 562 of the 40+ Fitness Podcast, we discuss her new book, Yoga Animals


Let's Say Hello

[00:02:12.940] – Allan

Hey, Ras, how are you doing?

[00:02:15.090] – Rachel

Good, Allan. How are you today?

[00:02:17.130] – Allan

I'm doing good. Crazy busy, but good.

[00:02:21.340] – Rachel

That's good.

[00:02:22.990] – Allan

Yes, we've got our daughter's wedding coming up. In fact, I think this episode I will actually probably be on an airplane to Mississippi where my daughter is getting married. And yes, it's going to be kind of insane the first part of the end of this month and the beginning of the next one because I'm just putting so much into trying to get the Crush the Holidays Challenge thing done. I'm really excited about the structure of it this year. It's a little different than it was last year. All new videos, everything is all new. So I'm like completely almost recreating it from the ground up and it's going to be a lot better than it was last year. So I'm hopeful we get enough people in there. We get a lot of people in there because it's a really good challenge. If you have struggles during the holidays of eating too much, I call it eating season. If you have trouble with eating season. This is a way for you to not lose ground during the holidays by keeping you focused for most of it and then working on Mindset every day, finding something within ourselves that's going to help us get stronger mentally so we can get stronger physically and healthier and all those other things.

[00:03:35.380] – Allan

So you can go to 40plusfitness.com/crush and sign up for the Crush the Holidays Challenge. And then of course the retreat. That's going to probably be almost be planning that probably every day all the way until it goes live in May. But just trying to put some structure to it, understand it so that when it comes time to put it out there and market it that people know what it is and it's not going to be like your. Look, there's a ton of different types of retreats so it's almost everything under the sun. But it's not a boot camp where I'm going to beat you to death with exercise and stuff for five days. There are exercise sessions that are optional, but I encourage people to come. And then we're going to do some movement, we're going to do some things. A lot of that outside, but the other part of it is that we're going to have Mindset discussions and I'm trying to make it as accessible as possible. So I'm going to try to do a broadcast of the first session. So the first session, well, not really the first 1st session, but the sit down session is a Mindset.

[00:04:40.830] – Allan

So we start working through Mindset. And so about an hour and a half, we'll have a live session and I'll have it available online for free. Or you can upgrade to the recordings if you don't happen to be able to listen live each day when it's going to happen, which I think will probably be something like nine to 10:30 or something like that. But a lot of people can't just be online every day or watching zoom every day during those hours. So if you can't, there will be recordings and that will be really cost effective for you to get those. And each day there'll be a thing you're working on with Mindset. I'm going to do a workbook so the whole course thing will have a workbook for you to work through. The people that are here, we're then going to go into it. So there's implementation that happens after the lesson here. If you're at home, you're doing that on your own, but if you're here, we're walking through it.

[00:05:35.950] – Allan

so that's that. And then they'll probably there will be, be a VIP level for the people that are here. The VIPs will get to stay in Lula's, but we only have six rooms. So that's going to be limited to six people in the VIP unless someone is nice enough and two people that know each other or are okay. So we'll just go in and we'll both go VIP together and maybe work out something on that since they're sharing a room, but it's going to be limited to 6 VIPs and they'll get more so they'll have more access to me with some deep dives. They're going to get some awesome additional workout stuff that we'll do each afternoon. They're good to see parts of the island and things we'll do outside that the others won't get to do. And I'm going to throw in a couple of other little cool things to help them with their wellness over the course of that week. But that's starting to line up. I'm going to structure it and get it all organized, but still pretty new. So if you're interested in the retreat, I need to see an interest list.

[00:06:40.750] – Allan

Or at some point I'll just say, okay, I'm doing this for myself and that's not going to be fun to have six empty rooms here in Lula's and nobody here for me to go say, okay, it's time for the morning walk run. It's just not going to be that cool. So I need to see if there's some interest, and if I see that, then I'll go ahead and really get this thing pushing forward. But you can go to 40plusfitness.com/retreat and that will take you to the retreat interest form. You just put your name and your email and that lets me know that, yeah, there's people that are raising their hands saying, I'm definitely interested in the Bocas portion of this, or even if it's just, okay, I may not be able to do the Bocas thing because of travel and passports and all that. You will need a passport, but those things, maybe that's outside the realm of what you want to do or can do. There will be a broadcast of it and recordings if you need those as well. So a lot of moving parts with the wedding. It's also getting into busy, starting to get into busy season here in Bocas with our national holidays.

[00:07:43.320] – Allan

So it's just bang, bang, bang, bang.

[00:07:45.810] – Rachel

Of course. It sounds very busy, but exciting too.

[00:07:49.020] – Allan

Yeah, a lot of new stuff and getting out of some old stuff, which is still very sad, but everything has its chapter to turn the page and move on. So how are things up there?

[00:08:00.690] – Rachel

Great. Mike and I just spent the weekend in Detroit. He and I ran a 1 mile and a 5K race on Saturday and then I ran the half marathon on Sunday and a bunch of our running friends from our run club here did the full marathon on Sunday and it was just a beautiful weekend in Detroit. So we had a great weekend. I'm exhausted from all the running around, but seeing the city was wonderful. It was nice to get away.

[00:08:27.700] – Allan

Good, I'm glad to do that. All right, so are you ready to talk yoga?

[00:08:33.040] – Rachel



[00:08:57.710] – Allan

Emily, welcome to 40+ Fitness.

[00:09:00.370] – Emily

Thank you.

[00:09:02.890] – Allan

I saw the title Yoga Animals and I was like, this is perfect. This takes everything about yoga that would keep someone away from yoga and literally just kind of makes it happen. I've gone to yoga and I can tell you I'm one of the least mobile human beings on earth because I fancied myself as a bodybuilder when I was younger. So my lifting style and the things I did were not functional. They were to build bigger muscles. So I lost a lot of mobility by not being mobile when I had the opportunity to be mobile. Twenty-five years of a sedentary job did its damage as well. And what I like about the idea of these poses being named after animals is when you really think of it that way, instead of some Esoteric name or Indian name or something, it just opens it up. And I'm like, I could see parents or grandparents in their living room doing these poses and their kids just kind of like saying, wow, this is cool, I can do this peacock pose, or I can, there's a ton of different ones out there, but they just all sound fun. And particularly when you say it's an animal, I'm going to do the cat pose or I'm going to do the downward dog or the upward dog.

[00:10:27.060] – Allan

You know, all those poses just sound fun when they're put that way. And so, like, when I did do yoga, it's like I was in a room with a group of people, they were all much more accomplished than I was. The instructor would actually get up and walk over and, like, push down my hips to try to get my legs in the right position. And so it's just kind of one of those things where I knew I needed it, I needed the mobility, but it was just even for me, as someone who was generally fit, it was intimidating.

[00:10:58.600] – Emily

Yeah, I mean, we have tried to move away from that, pushing people down, things like that. It's a little bit old school, but yeah, to say the animal first thing, I think the storytelling element to yoga is a big part of its appeal. I mean, maybe in some cases it's also a bit off, but in a debate, people might prefer the kind of exercise a bit more straightforward. But for me, the storytelling was definitely what kind of enticed me in. And it's why a lot of the movement might overlap with Pilates. But for me, pilates will never quite have the same appeal because it feels a bit more like I'm sitting down or getting on my mat to do the exercises. To do my physical exercises and doesn't have that element of story which I love so much in yoga. Personally speaking. Anyway. But I think it's true of children as well. Children really engage with yoga in a very immediate way. My own children do as well. It's kind of nice to see.

[00:11:56.160] – Allan

Now, one of the things I liked about the book was that you had illustrations in there just to kind of give us an idea of what the pose or the movement looked like, which was really cool. And there were over 30 poses, 32 poses from the wild. Again, it's just something that just draws me into that to enjoy that. But you had those illustrations and I had written down the name of your illustrator, but those are really good and made it a very beautiful book.

[00:12:23.670] – Emily

Yeah, absolutely. Well, actually, there are two illustrations to the book, so there's one who did this stunning, very kind of very realistic, but also very artistic animal drawing to match along with their name, as we say, that's Jade Mosinski. And then the other Jade, the other illustrator, also Jade. Her name is in here somewhere. I hope it's in here somewhere. Jade Wheaton. And she did the kind of step by step illustrations which were really what we were very careful to get right, because obviously they're quite minimalistic in their style. But when you're thinking of people practicing from home without a teacher there supervising and making sure everything done safely, it felt extra important to make sure. So there's quite a lot of me standing back and saying, could you just slightly tweak this? And then sometimes saying, we can't find any photo references online. Could you please do it for them? Whoops. It is in the midst of yeah, in the midst of a lockdown, sort of being at home and getting people to photograph me. Taking this as step by step, it's not so much the finished poses, which you can always find photo references for, but it's the step by step to get into them all.

[00:13:38.100] – Emily

The kind of little bits to match along with my illustrations. That was my instructions. So, yeah, I hope they are useful for people. We certainly took care to get them right.

[00:13:50.200] – Allan

Yeah. And I think that's what's really good about this is you have full descriptions, so even if you didn't have the illustrations, it would work. The illustrations just kind of enhance for those of us that are not visually impaired. It really does enhance our ability to see what that looks like, which allows us to emulate it a little bit better.

[00:14:09.820] – Emily

Yeah, true.

[00:14:11.660] – Allan

So why is yoga a great movement practice?

[00:14:16.910] – Emily

Well, I'm a firm believer that there is a yoga practice for everyone. And I have spoken to a lot of kind of friends and family and people who are a bit skeptical of that notion. They say no, but like you said, almost, I'm really inflexible. You'd be surprised how many people you get saying I couldn't possibly come to your yoga class, so I'm really inflexible and I think that's exactly why you should come to my yoga class. Yes, but then equally you get people who say, oh, they struggle to kind of sit still with you, maybe to get to the meditation side of things. I really believe that you can customize your own yoga practice to suit yourself. And for me, that's kind of fundamentally what yoga is. It's the practice of checking in with your body, with yourself daily and seeing where you are on that given day, in that given moment, and providing yourself with what you need. So for me, my yoga practice is very different from day to day, but maybe some days I just want to sit and do some breath work, a bit of meditation, some very gentle structures kind of achieved for in my body.

[00:15:23.790] – Emily

Some days I might want something more dynamic or something more playful or silly, especially if I've got one on both of my kids kind of crawling over the map. Then it takes on a different tone and I just really believe that. It's a bit like when people say they don't like reading and I say, oh, you found the right book. I kind of feel the same way about yoga that they need to define the practice that suits them and it can look completely different from anybody else's and that's the beauty of it. And I think what makes it really special and maybe different from most other exercise forms I can think of.

[00:15:54.820] – Allan

Yeah. And what I like about it is not only are we building mobility with that we need, but you can also use yoga to build strength. I've been in a yoga class that was all about stamina, kinda weird, but it was yeah, we moved a lot, we held some poses, but we moved quite a bit. So it was an intense little workout, body weight workout. And that's the other thing that's really cool about it is yeah, you'll need a mat probably, and you might want a yoga block, but that's your investment about it. So it's something anybody can afford to do.

[00:16:35.510] – Emily

Yeah, I agree. And that's helpful to have. But as a push, you could practice your yoga with a towel. It's just something to stop you from slipping, especially if you are doing kind of a bit more of a cardiovascular session. It might get a bit sweaty and depending on what's cushion if you're kind of holding for longer. But really it is a very kind of low requirement and something that you can practice on your own. So you don't need gym membership, you don't need personal trainer, you don't need any, generally speaking, would recommend that people do attend some classes, whether it's in person or online, just so they get a bit of a sense of how to practice safety. They have some kind of guidance when they're starting. But yeah, it is incredibly flexible in that way, practicing any corner that you can find a little bit of floor space for yourself.

[00:17:35.740] – Allan

I think one of the reasons that yoga has taken off, I remember 20 years ago, people talk about yoga and it's like, oh, that's that woo woo stuff. It's left the woo woo, and it's now mainstream for sure. And I live on an island, and I could tell you I can't throw a rock and not hit a yoga instructor. But one of the other things that I find very valuable about yoga is that it was really centered on understanding and feeling your body. There's a meditation aspect to it. And you mentioned breath work. I'd like to talk about breath work and what that looks like and why that's important.

[00:18:20.660] – Emily

So, again, in terms of you go back to yoga's roots, breath work is really fundamental. It's one of them. I won't go into all the details of that. I'm not the expert to do so. But there are various kind of limbs of yoga of which physical yoga is only one. So the yoga that we're talking about here really is the practice of having yoga is only one limb of a full yoga practice, and breath work is one. So it's come back there in the fundamentals, but if you just take it in maybe a more kind of media accessible level for those of us who don't have the background in the spiritual scriptures of yoga, it's something that, again, that I think everybody needs. And there's a breath work practice for everyone and for every scenario. And it's something that you don't need to do as part of full yoga practice, especially once you've got into the habit. So I think people often are like, I don't need to be taught to breathe. I've been doing it for blah blah numbers of years. But you'd be surprised how many of us don't breathe. That for what we think of as that yoga breath, that diplomatic breath, right.

[00:19:27.070] – Emily

Kind of down into the lower abdomen, of course. And then when you say that, when you're teaching new students, I say, I do appreciate that your air is not actually going into your belly, but that kind of effects of inflating your belly as you apply the diaphragm and the time it gets fished out, those deep, full breaths. We do them when we are born. We're kind of born being able to do them, but we unlearn them. And I think we can get into especially we have very stressful lifestyles. You get some shallow upper chest breathing and we need to be taught again just for our general health. But it's amazing what it can do for kind of mood regulation. And like I say, it's something that when you've got into the practice of it, first of all, your general breathing is better, but you also have something you can take with you into other aspects of your Life. So. It's something I've used in childbirth. I've used some parenting. Very regular, calming breath. I try to model as well. If I've got a stress of work situation going on, it's that kind of a hard reset, turning yourself off and on again, that you go, okay, let's go back to the basics.

[00:20:47.800] – Emily

And you notice that you feel calmer. You feel more in control. Your heart rate gets slowed. It's a really incredible practice. And there are loads and loads of different yoga breaths which can be used in different ways. Once you've been doing yoga for a while, some of them will start be sort of dropped in quite casually into a yoga instructor sort of parlance. But as I say, it's not even necessarily you don't need to know the names, but how they make you feel is really quite striking. And they're useful tools for all of your life.

[00:21:25.310] – Allan

Yes. And as you mentioned, with kids and stress and things like that, this is actually an off switch to your nervous system going into this fight or flight. So most of us in what's going on today and everything that's going on in our lives spend a lot of our time in this fight or flight mode. And so taking this time to really check in with your body to breathe in deeply, which, again, we have to relearn because we stopped doing it. Stress breathing is chest breathing. And when you sit down and start breathing into the abdomen and you really get those deep breaths, it just slows everything down inside your body. And as a result, you're stressed less. And so it's a huge tool for you to manage your stress. And the cool thing is you can do it anywhere. My boss would call me on the elevator on the elevator up to my boss's office. Because it was almost always bad news. That's corporate life. But it was almost always bad news. So I would just do box breathing in the elevator, just going up to my bosses so that I didn't go in there in a complete fight or flight mode.

[00:22:37.230] – Allan

So I could go in there as calm as I could get. But it was a tool. And so this is a tool that you'll learn as a part of a yoga practice. And you've got that built into the way that you set up these programs, which is quite dynamic. Now, as you look at these poses, the animal yoga animals, you use a mix of vinyasa, flow and yen. Can you talk about what those are? Because I think we get thrown these foreign words.

[00:23:04.050] – Emily


[00:23:04.630] – Allan

And so it just kind of seems like okay. I don't even know what that means. Can you just talk about what those two things are and the value of each?

[00:23:13.170] – Emily

Yes. So, vinyasa I Think It Literally Needs To Be kind Of Put In A Certain way. But Actually The Way I Use It is that It's a flow rather than yin, which is more static and I'll go into more details about yin a minute. But in a yoga session you're quite often hear the instructor say if you'd like to take a Vinyasa and that's the little they mean. That's a sequence in the middle of a sun salutation where you basically flow through top of a plank, down onto your front, up into a cobra or an upper facing dog and then down facing dog. So that's just kind of wrestling through very quickly and people say you like taking a vinyasa now if you want to rest, you can come straight down with facing dog. Really essentially what we're using vinyasa for is a flow of poses strong together and one of the benefits one of the uses for it is that getting the kind of cardiovascular side of things into your yoga practice. Getting the breath going a bit faster. Getting the heart rate going a bit faster. Growing through more quickly. Getting everything moving around the body more quickly.

[00:24:26.220] – Emily

It has a bit of a dance like feel to it as well. So there's just pleasing to the brain in that way and then yin is not part of the traditional yoga system but it's something that is becoming increasingly popular now. I think part of yin is actually what you were just talking about there with the breath work is about a kind of hard reset of an early system. So what you're doing is you're holding a pose for longer. So you might take a gentler variation of the pose to begin with because our tendency from our modern lifestyle is to kind of muscle into the most extreme version of the pose and then hold but that's exactly the opposite skin. That's not what you're supposed to do, you're supposed to be accommodating yourself, maybe using props. We probably use more props in yin than other forms of yoga. So you can have a bolster or a blanket or cushion for like that. You get yourself supported in a pose and they're really only kind of a handful of pose that we really need to routinely in where it's more appropriate. And then you suddenly you hold and you come to your breath and come to look at yin.

[00:25:36.900] – Emily

It might look like nothing very much is happening at all because somebody is surrounded by all these cushions and they're not gonna talk. But actually it can be really challenging because first of all, once you're holding it for longer you start to notice areas of discomfort in the body but also in the mind. That's where your mind starts to get a bit chatty and so it's a really useful practice for flexibility just on a physical level because it's where you can really access those deep muscles and practice the art of properly letting go. It's very good, I would say, on a psychological and emotional level. Again, to kind of give yourself this break and to send this message to your nervous system. There is no urgency. There's no rush. We're resting here. We are not in any danger. We're just going to go deep inside and soften and see where it takes us. And of course, I would always say, and I'm sure any yoga state, if it gets too much, if you're really in a certain way, you're in pain. We don't want pain. But if you're in extreme discomfort, of course you can always come out.

[00:26:43.840] – Emily

This is not being enforced, but it's really interesting to see what comes up, both physically and emotionally. All sorts of things can come up. You might see people have a little cry in a yoga session, yoga session when they emerge from the pose, because it's just released all sorts of things that we hold in these pockets of tension in our body. So that's the kind of difference. And my personal yoga practice and the yoga that I teach tends to include a mixture of both. I might sometimes teach a session that's much more yin based, for whatever reason, or much more kind of restorative yoga, or I might teach them more than one. But equally, sometimes in classes, I incorporate elements of both. Certainly in this book, I incorporate elements of both because I think the mix is really nice and really kind of beneficial for us. And it's what I find the most effective myself.

[00:27:31.990] – Allan

Now, as I went through the book and I was just looking at some of the different poses, I was like, okay, well, that one looks like I could do it. That would take some practice. And I think that's why we call it a yoga practice, because there's some of these I'm like, there's no way. I think that's what's cool about the way you set up the book is now you also give us a structure for how we can put these together, focusing on the ones that we can do and then trying the ones that maybe are right on the edge of our capacity so that we improve. So this is something that can be progressive over time. As you get into your practice and you get better, you can add some of these other more difficult elements. And I think that's great. Can you walk us through the structure? Because you set up a structure, starts with breath work and ends with your final relaxation. So you start in a very nice, wonderful place, and you end in a nice, wonderful place, and there's a lot that happens in between. Can you walk through that?

[00:28:37.540] – Emily

Absolutely. Talking about the structure of the book with the publishes, I said, this is how I plan this is how I literally plan every class that I do. You start with breath work and you end with relaxation. And actually, I would always start with a convincing meditation as well as time allows. So that was part of my training. But for me, this structure is how you kind of say you kind of hit up the key points because it doesn't have a yoga. But for me, you have the option by following through this structure in the book to see what I can do. The most fully rounded yoga session. And you say you don't have to do everything. I think if you do everything, it would take quite a long time. So great if you've got the time to dedicate. But the way I would kind of plan if I forgot half an hour to an hour to myself and I want to do a yoga session, I would always try and start with just some quiet time, just to kind of check in with myself and my body. Some breath work needs to overlap. So again, I find the breath work really helpful way to just get into my body and kind of out of my mind and set the tone for the rest of the session.

[00:29:53.800] – Emily

And then I would do that on the floor. So I would have always come through from my breath work. I've been through cat cow, which is a really nice way of warming up the back. And again, like you've done before with that piece of sedentary lifestyles and sitting at computers on bones. That's probably the first place that we're like. Yes, you need to kind of warm up through the spine and it takes you from facing dog and up to standing. I would always start off my leg sessions quite early on with some sun salutations because they're like a way of warming up the whole body. You might get the breath, you might do some slow, some that's fine as well, but you're warming up all the muscles that prepares you for any other stretching or strengthening you're going to be doing. Maybe get the heart rate up a bit, maybe get the breath a bit faster. And then from some sun salutations, I would move to a standing sequence because it's kind of a natural progression, I suppose. You're still standing and still on your feet, so you move to a standing sequence which might also, depending on the day, it might also go fast or more slowly.

[00:31:00.750] – Emily

It includes some poses that..But the warrior sequence I've got in here to kind of link from Stanley poses and then again, while you're on your feet, you might do a Stanley balance pose. Balance is a kind of famous part of yoga and people get a bit hung up on it, but it is again, this is a way of checking you with where you are at a given day. It's a good way of improving strength and getting the two sides of the brain working together, which is kind of really important for us at all ends of our lives. Then for me, then, when I come down to the floor, so I might start off with a seated twist. We've got half a little bit of fishes in the book. And then got Deer Pose, which is a nice yin, really gentle pile twist option. And then I would move to my forward fold section of the plan. And so there are a couple of really classic portfolios that aren't included because they don't really fit within the animal theme. But you could have like a Paschimottanasana, which is a seated forward fold the legs together is quite famous for a wide legging one.

[00:32:00.630] – Emily

Here we've got butterfly and cow space. So they're good hip openers. They're kind of getting a stretch opening into the back of the body. A folding inwards. For me, forward folds are my personal challenge, I've got really kind of strings safe. So it was a good moment kind of checking in and seeing how I'm feeling about that today. And then you see some hip openers on the ground. So we've got Swan and a lizard, actually and one legged pigeon, frog actually we've got a good few hip openers so it's a good place to come and see them from when you don't forward folds. And then I would move onto my back bends. So they obviously are kind of reverse of the forward folds. You're opening up the front of the body. It's very important that you kind of carefully engage the core, the lower belly to protect the back. So people can be fooling themselves into the back ben because they look really spectacular and might feel really good at the moment, but you have to see the caution. So we've got Seal, we've got locusts actually is a good kind of gentle opener. Camel is a stronger one.

[00:33:13.180] – Emily

And then I move into some inversions and arm balances. So we've got Dolphin, feathered peacock, pro and crane famous ones. Balances blindfold. We've got a good few of these arm balances and inversions. And then I would always do after these, I would always do fish as a nice counterpost. Much chest safe now. And then we start to move to more restorative ones that's kind of cooling it all down. So we've got Rabbit and crocodile and then again, not animals but corpse pose savasana. We would always wind up a class and like I say, it doesn't really matter to me how long or short the session is. I would always make sure I have that kind of cooling down and that calming time, even if you end up for a minute, I think it's really important. So in the book I kind of talk you through a guided relaxation where you're relaxing to pass the body in turn. There are various different kind of formats you can take. But the kind of key thing is lying in illness, pulling your body down, kind of coming back to that breath. That's kind of how I would structure a class.

[00:34:30.790] – Emily

And that's how you can work with the book as well that you can kind of work through and you can shoot maybe one forward fold rather than all of them. One back bend, one hip hop and one inversion and or arm balance. Or as I say, if you love those, you can try them all. The kind of option there to do a nice router session, several. And you can go back up and do something different each time.

[00:34:54.450] – Allan

Yeah. I think it's pretty easy to see that this is going to run you through a full body thing. You're going to be connected to your body as you do these things. And we're really talking about building strength, building stamina, mobility, pretty much all of it at this point. And then again, just bringing yourself down at the end for that final relaxation. Now, I know from the book that your favorite pose is the one legged king pigeon.

[00:35:26.890] – Emily


[00:35:27.700] – Allan

Okay. Which I would aspire to, but that's a long ways off. I'll just say I can't do it. I'm just saying I can't do it right now.

[00:35:38.490] – Emily

It's a work in progress. Yeah.

[00:35:40.840] – Allan

Now let's talk about we talked about mobility, strength and all, but for a lot of us that are sedentary, I mean, office jobs, we're sitting at our desk now. We've got our smartphones. And so we're down there and it's becoming somewhat what a big problem where people's shoulders are starting to round down, their necks are craning forward, and we're just losing posture that we would have had before if we were doing the things our ancestors did of moving around, foraging, hunting, all the things we would do. We don't do those anymore. Now we're keyboard warriors and we're phone warriors. And so that's what we're doing and it's messing with our posture. If we wanted to put together a few of these poses that we could do on a fairly regular basis to kind of offset some of that posture problem, what are some exercises that we could do and what do they look like?

[00:36:36.340] – Emily

So I'll just say, as a general rule, that whenever you're doing yoga, if you have an instructor there, you'll hear repeatedly drop the shoulders down back, drop the shoulders away from the ears. Because as you say, it's just so common place that the shoulders creeping up and back is rounding. But if you wanted to just practice, if you want to take a couple of minutes and just practice a few of these, I would definitely start on all fours as possible with cat cow. The instructions are all there in the book, but it's really coming from that position of all fours. And you move the spine through its range. It's kind of range of spinal flexion and you get really nice delivery rounding into the shoulders in tap. But then you also get the counter movement in cow and just. You know. As I said before, as soon as you do it, I think 90% of us are going to think. Oh. Yeah. You really noticing where the discomfort is back bend is really good for countering that rounding. But as I mentioned before, it's important to make sure you're engaging the core that you're connecting with

[00:37:36.450] – Emily

Your kind of core muscles, your muscles, you're protecting the back. You're not just really it feels like an itch or to scratch and you might fling yourself into it because it feels initially very good, but you don't want to cause any injuries, especially if it's not a fitted or movement. So when working with any of the backbends, and like I said, Lotus is actually a really nice, gentle one, you can do lotus in a more extreme way, but when you're just used to follow the instructions to do it in the book, it can be really gentle. It's a way of working all the muscles in the back in a gentle way, but it's really good for strengthening. So I think strengthening your back as well as opening countering, the rounding is important, but you want to make sure the back is strong. We want to kind of keep the muscles strong, especially as we get older. So you have to say cat cow and Lotus, seal or maybe in the book you go from Sphinx to seal. Sphinx is a gentle version as well. So it's where you come onto your front and you have your elbows under your shoulders and forearms parallel and then sprawling through the collarbones.

[00:38:46.150] – Emily

Drop the shoulders away from the ears and that can be a really nice gentle one just to kind of hang out in. And then finally I'd say maybe crocodile, which is an alternative way to take your final relaxation, but it's prone rather than on your back, so that can be quite a nice one as well. Opening into the back body in a really gentle way. But even if you're just sitting at your desk and you do a few shoulder rotations each way, shoulder, shoulders, up and down. And I know it's really hard, but keep working on kind of lengthening, lifting up from the crown, sending the tailbone down, just to try to make it that you don't have to think about it, but to begin with, you will have to think about it a lot. I think it's really important because it can, of course, later in life, if we're not kind of really thinking about that posture all the time.

[00:39:34.570] – Allan

Yeah, I think it's pretty easy to see that all these names, they sound fun. Crocodile, dog, cow or cat. These are all fun. And so if you're doing this, and you start doing this as a practice and you've got kids or grandkids around, they're going to come play with you too. And I think that just makes us a really special thing that you can share with them. Because one, it's getting you healthier, it's teaching them and they're seeing a great example of someone who's trying to improve themselves and you're just building a better relationship with the people around you that are enjoying this with you. And again, the book does a really good job of explaining how all these movements and poses work so you can just start working your way through it getting better and better because again, it is a practice. There's probably I'm sure there are lots of people that are in yoga that can do all the poses in there and not have a problem with them. I'll tell you, right, I'm not one of those people. But it does give me something to aspire to as I know that, okay, I have a mobility issue and this is a pose that's going to help me deal with that.

[00:40:45.370] – Allan

Or I have a posture issue and these are some poses that have been put together that I can go through and do in a reasonable amount of time. I mean, the posture poses you talked about, literally, you do a warm up and you sit down. I would encourage breath work and then you get into some of these and really do a lot for your posture and probably less than 15 minutes, including your warm up. So really easy and accessible. And the book makes it clear what you're trying to do and where you're trying to go. So I really appreciate that.

[00:41:19.460] – Allan

I define wellness as being the healthiest, fittest and happiest you can be. What are three strategies or tactics to get and stay well?

[00:41:29.740] – Emily

I would say it's finding a form of movement that gives you pleasure. So whether that's the over, whether it's completely different. For me, I was somebody who never enjoyed PE or gym class or whatever at school and I wish that yoga or something had been an option. I wish there had been more options, basically because it was very much about kind of committed to sport, which is not my personal thing. And it really put me off exercise for a long time. So finding something that gives me pleasure, it's not a chore, I might still have to kind of remind myself to do it, but it's something that I always feel kind of better for and I know through perhaps I always feel better for doing. I would say personally, for me, it's important that it fits within your life. So, I mean, by all means, like I say, it gives you pleasure to kind of go really out of your way and go to a friend who's really into figure skating and she goes very far across London in order to do her figure skating because there aren't that many race, but that's fine. But for me, I do a lot of walking because it fits in.

[00:42:35.250] – Emily

I build it into my life and it means it never gets neglected because it's literally how I get from A to B 9, 10. I walk most of my day. I go to work, I drop my kids to nursery. I walk to the train station. I walk everywhere. I also personally, for my kind of well being, a connection to nature. So that's also a big part of this book and how I kind of access what I wanted to talk about in this book was how I think we can feel in our modern lives very cut off from the natural world. But I do account for a lot of popularity of yoga with being that it is about reconnecting to nature in nature's most immediate representative, which is yourself. So you are not set of nature, you are part of nature. And it's reminding yourself of that and reasserting that. And so maybe it's not a yoga practice for everybody, but maybe it's just stepping outside, taking some deep breaths, going to the park. For me, that's a really important part of it. And do yoga outside. So much better. So, yeah, I'd say those are my three personal strategies.

[00:43:49.780] – Allan

Thank you. Emily, if someone wanted to learn more about you, the things you're doing and your book Yoga Animals, where would you like for me to send them?

[00:43:58.170] – Emily

The best place for that is my Instagram account, which is at EmilyTreeYoga. You can also find out more about the book from the publishers. But yeah, so the Instagram account is a good place to go. And there is a YouTube session online that I did go with the book. So I will apply that link.

[00:44:21.240] – Allan

Okay. You can go to 40plusfitnesspodcast.com/562. And I'll be sure to have links to the book, to Emily's Instagram and to that YouTube video. Emily, thank you so much for being a part of 40+ Fitness.

[00:44:36.280] – Emily

Thank you. Lovely talking to you.

Post Show/Recap

[00:44:44.140] – Allan

Welcome back, Ras.

[00:44:45.750] – Rachel

Hey, Allan. What a neat book. I really would love to get my hands on a copy to see the different animal named poses and what they look like. I personally enjoy yoga, and I have my athletes do yoga on occasion. I wish I did it more often. I need to make it a more regular practice, but I love it. That book sounds wonderful.

[00:45:06.550] – Allan

Yeah, well, I'll name a few more about the cat cow and things like that. Some of these, you'll know, like, you'll know, downward facing dog and upward facing dog. And then there's things like the bee breath and the lion, the camel, the dolphin.

[00:45:23.790] – Rachel


[00:45:24.610] – Allan

The peacock, the rooster, the fish, the rabbit, the frog.

[00:45:29.070] – Rachel

Don't know any of those.

[00:45:30.450] – Allan

Butterfly, I would say. I didn't know half of these either. They resembled other stretches and things that you see out there. I think a lot of us what was weird to me is she didn't do one that I use a lot. And it's the bird dog. Yeah, I use that for core training. Whenever I'm training someone, I like to have that as one of the exercises in the core training because it does so much. I was surprised she didn't have that one in there. But anyway, yeah. And then besides having the exercises in there explaining why you're doing what you're doing. And then how to do it. And having some images of you in that position or moving through that flow. It's just pretty clear and there's a structure to it. Which is what I actually found very exciting about this. Was because you go to a class and then they're just going to say. Okay. Next we're going to do this. And if you don't have a background in yoga, because she's done yoga for over 20 years.

[00:46:30.100] – Rachel


[00:46:30.730] – Allan

And then she's been teaching for seven. So for her, it's second nature to put a workout together and put a yoga workout together, similar to I can sit down and put together a workout, you can tell me what's going on with you and any injuries, and then I can help you put together a workout. That's the skill set that you develop. But she gives you the structure that she uses for you to basically use to start. And so you can say, okay, I need some breath work. I'm going to do something. Sun salutation seems to be something that's non-negotiable in her workouts that's going to be in there. So you kind of go through that process and then it's standing and the different movements and flows and then into the relaxation at the end. But it gives you that structure saying, okay, I can pick and choose. So it's not like a buffet where you just load your plate with everything. You pick a protein, you pick a vegetable, a couple of vegetables, and then pick a starch and then maybe pick a dessert, which we'll just call the relaxation at the end. But you kind of get the idea that makes it very easy for you to go through.

[00:47:35.830] – Allan

And it's a gorgeous book, by the way. I was fortunate enough to be able to get a hard copy while I was traveling through the United States and were able to have it here. So it's something I'm definitely going to incorporate in my mobility work. So in addition to some of the other things that I do, some of these poses are going to be really good for areas where I'm not as mobile as I need to be. And so I'll probably go through that book and I may not follow her structure, but I will definitely incorporate some of those exercises and movements into the mobility work that I am doing already.

[00:48:14.010] – Rachel

That sounds wonderful.

[00:48:15.280] – Rachel

Yeah. I prescribe different yoga videos for my athletes because as runners, we just get so tightened up, especially those of us that don't stretch regular basis as we should. But doing a yoga video, it's very relaxing. And like you discussed, it really does help you to practice your breathing and get deeper breaths in because like you mentioned too, we tend to breathe in a really shallow, inefficient way, especially the more stressed and anxious we get. And taking those deep breaths like you had mentioned is just so relaxing. It just resets the whole system, and that is super helpful for relaxing your muscles after a workout or a run. Like what I do with my athletes.

[00:49:00.510] – Allan

Perfect. All right.

[00:49:02.550] – Rachel

Anything else you want to talk about?

[00:49:03.940] – Rachel

No. Great book. I'd love to get my hands on one.

[00:49:07.110] – Allan

All right. So again, if you're interested in learning more about the retreat and being on the interest list, go to 40plusfitness.com/retreat. And we're doing the Crush the Holidays. It's going to start November 20, so sign up, shuts off November 19. So don't miss your chance to get out there and do that. There's all kinds of prizes and things that happen along the way to include referral, prizes and those types of things. So get in early, get active in the group, get active in what we're doing, and Crush the Holidays.

[00:49:37.680] – Rachel

Sounds great.

[00:49:38.800] – Allan

I'll see you next time.

[00:49:40.180] – Rachel

Take care.

[00:49:40.870] – Allan

You too.


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