I heard about a new kind of yoga at work. Two different people told me about it on two consecutive days. They both said it was like no yoga class they had ever experienced. Naturally, my curiosity was peaked.
They told me that it used gravity to access joints and create greater mobility. From the brief descriptions they gave me, I got the impression that it was a 'less it more' philosophy of movement. It sounded like something that might be good for my chronically tight husband whose hands, shoulders, and even feet have restricted range of motion. He also gravitates to slow, purposeful living, simplicity, and minimalism. So I mentioned it to him one evening. As I suspected, he was immediately onboard with the concept and signed up for his first class.
Personally, I was skeptical. My background with a masters degree in kinesiology and 20 years of working in an industry that preaches 'no pain no gain' caused me to doubt the effectiveness of this program. Admittedly, I had already begun to reject the 'punishment' philosophy of fitness that requires you to push your body beyond your limits, but this new (mostly passive) yoga was a bit too far outside of my comfort zone.
To gain a better understanding, I read, talked to participants, and even took a class myself. The yoga is called Kaiut Yoga, and it is named after the Brazilian founder Francisco Kaiut. His yoga journey started when he was 5 years old with a serious injury to his hip that inspired him to seek integrated modalities of treatment to control his chronic pain and dysfunction. He became a chiropractor, studied yoga, and developed the Kaiut method over the last 20 years.
The Kaiut International website, stated, "It has been designed to work through chronic pain & injuries, general aches & stiffness, and work for the inflexible, hyper flexible and the aging body." As an educator about the negative impact our sedentary lives have on our bodies, this was a philosophy I could get behind.
My husband became a member of a local yoga studio called Yoga Loft here in Boulder where he began attending Kaiut classes 3 times a week. After every class he came home and told me about the positions they did, and I would scratch my head and wonder how a few positions held for a long time were beneficial. But then I started to see a transition in my husband.
This 47 year old man who had always had a forward head position began standing taller. He had greater range of motion in his shoulders. His middle back pain that he complained of daily became a non-issue. In the past when he would lay flat on the ground, he couldn't stay there long without a pillow under his head. It always looked so uncomfortable for him, almost like his head was in a hole. After a few months of Kaiut Yoga, he could lay on the ground comfortably without a pillow.
One day my husband said, "Watch this." Then he proceeded to stand without shoes on and lift his toes several inches off the floor. At first I didn't understand the significance of this milestone. This was something I've always been able to do (as a hyper-flexible person), but it was something that Troy had never been able to do as long as he could remember. To me, it was proof that Kaiut Yoga was impacting the ligaments, fascia, and neuromuscular pathways between the brain and the joints. It was a breakthrough moment for me concerning the value of this yoga practice. Kaiut Yoga was halting the rigidity that comes with aging, and it was making my husband's body more supple and functional.
Now my husband is enrolled in teacher training for Kaiut Yoga. It's a year-long program taught by Francisco Kaiut himself. He still goes to class 3 days a week and practices at home. He continues to make improvements and hopes to teach his own students someday soon. This is the first Kaiut Yoga teacher training in Boulder which makes me extremely thankful to live here. New programs and products related to wellness tend to launch in Boulder because it is known as "ground zero" for wellness.
After every training event, I learn more about Kaiut Yoga from my husband. He reminds me often that Kaiut Yoga is about FEELING the sensations coming from the joints in the different positions. It's a mindful connection between the brain and the joint so that the natural intelligence of the human body can address any dysfunction. Participants who are both young and old can do this kind of yoga. It doesn't matter if they are overly tight or overly loose (like me). All body types and ages are finding new levels of body awareness and trusting gravity and the brain to correct joint imbalances.
The results speak for themselves with testimonials from long time yoga teachers finding rest and healing for their joints. Francisco's clients that have been with him for year regain and maintain movement in spite of aging.
Together, my husband and I hope to help spread the word about the benefits of Kaiut Yoga. I encourage you to find a class, open your mind, and give it a try. #
Winter is coming.
The first snow fell on brightly colored leaves this year. It surprised me because I hadn’t mentally prepared for winter to come, yet. This was my wakeup call to dig out hats and gloves and decide if we are going to get ski passes this year. It also triggered another wakeup call - a bigger, more important winter is coming someday. (No, it doesn’t involve white walkers.) The winter of our lives is coming in the form of old age, and I wonder if we are preparing for it?
While winter can be as beautiful as all the other seasons, people usually fear it because aging means pending death, possible sickness and pain, and lost independence. According to the CDC, there has been a major shift in the leading cause of death over the last century from infectious disease, to acute illness, and now to chronic disease and degenerative illness. They report that “Two out of every three older Americans have multiple chronic conditions.” Some of that is inevitable, but like Dr. Andrew Weil said at the recent International Council on Active Aging conference, the aging process can be separated from disease. Therefore, our goal shouldn't be anti-aging, but anti-diseasing.
Whether you are like my parents and quickly approaching your winter, or like my children whose winter seems far off, there are things you can do now to prepare. Just keep in mind that preparing for seasonal winter is different than preparing for the winter of life. Because nobody is getting out of this life alive, the goal is not to survive until spring, but rather to enjoy our winter with a body that still functions and is relatively free from chronic disease.
I know it’s hard to think about the pending winter in the midst of our spring or summer years. When we are young, our bodies are flexible, functional, and disease free. I watch my children and see strong, vibrant lives preparing to bear good fruit, and it's difficult to imagine that they won't always be this healthy. Most of us only start to contemplate our exit plan from this earth when we approach our autumn. Like brightly colored leaves, we shine with confidence and life experience during this stage, but we also begin to notice the slightest hint of brittleness around the edges. The culmination of inactivity, poor diet, and bad habits tend to show up in this season.
Here are 6 ways we can start today to prepare for the pending winter of our lives. We don't have to wait until we are near winter. The sooner we start, the better prepared we will be.
The pending winter of our lives does not have to mean pending disease. Instead, we can improve with time just like cheese, whiskey, and leftover chili. Winter is coming. Embrace it. Prepare for it. Welcome your winter with open arms and a warm heart. #
I am a wife, mother, and exercise physiologist with one foot in the world of travel and one foot in the world of fitness.
This blog is a mixture of travel adventures and wellness topics that impact how we live at at home, work, and school.
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