Headstand on beach

Do yoga inversions help drain lymph?

Do yoga inversions help drain lymph? Basically, yes. In the same way that inversions, such as headstand and shoulder stand, help return blood to your heart, turning upside down can assist lymph drainage from your legs. However, it isn’t necessary to invert to keep lymph moving. Your body has other means to accomplish the same…

Do yoga inversions reverse the flow of blood?

Do yoga inversions reverse the flow of blood? Although yoga teachers sometimes say this, the answer is no. The blood in your body only flows in one direction. From your heart’s left ventricle, it’s pumped through a network of arteries to the capillary beds that surround the cells of your body. That’s where your cells take…

The glutes and hip pain in yoga

“Don’t contract your glutes.” I’ve heard this instruction many times from yoga teachers, especially during backbending poses, but it’s always puzzled me. The gluteus maximus – the large muscle of your buttocks — is the prime mover in actions that require hip extension against gravity, such as climbing stairs or standing up from a squat….

Yoga anatomy video: Knee alignment in Warrior II

Just put up a video clip from my first knee workshop last Tuesday at the Shala, about preventing patellofemoral pain in Warrior II. If you missed last Tuesday, I’ll be doing two more workshops about the knee. This Tuesday, February 4, we’ll go over repetitive stress injuries and what happens when you hyperextend your knee….


What happens when you stretch a muscle? (part 1)

  “What happens when a muscle stretches?” This frequently asked question — a perennial query during anatomy trainings — deserves a few blog posts, especially as the mechanism is often misunderstood. Stretching targets muscles in two ways. First, it directly affects muscle and connective tissue itself. As you’ll see in this post, those effects are temporary and short-lived.  Stretching…

Research review: The effects of bhastrika in the elderly, part 3

In my last post about this study (1), I described how four months of pranayama practice affected respiratory function in elderly yoga practitioners. Today, we take a look at how the practice of bhastrika impacted heart rate variability and the functioning of the autonomic nervous system. Before delving into heart rate variability, a review of the autonomic nervous system is in order. The autonomic nervous system…