FYI. What Is It?

 

FYI. What Is It?

What is Functional Yoga Instruction?

Functional Yoga Instruction is a cutting edge approach to the ancient art of hatha yoga.

After experiencing pain in my wrists, shoulders, hips, and knees from doing yoga, I developed FYI.

Imagine yoga and physical therapy getting married and having a kid… that’s Functional Yoga Instruction.

When I applied the FYI methods to my practice, my pain slowed down, stopped, and reversed itself.

I began teaching these techniques to my students right away. They experienced the same results. People wrote and told me they felt stronger, had less pain, and enjoyed yoga for the first time in their lives.

But, I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Here’s how it all began…

History

In 2003, I was knee-deep in classical hatha yoga. I was practicing ninety minutes a day, six days a week. I remember reading that the only way to feel the benefit of yoga was to only practice yoga.

So for about two years, I only practiced advanced hatha yoga. The sequences contained many handstands, arm balances, vigorous back bends, etc.

A curious thing happened to me at the height of all this: my wrists shoulders, low back, and my knees were in pain.

I asked my teachers, “What can I do? My shoulders hurt.”

The teachers would say, “Do more yoga, your shoulders will get stronger.”

I continued to practice but everything continued to hurt.

Again I asked ask my peers and teachers, “What can I do? My wrists still hurt”.

And again they said, “Keep doing yoga. Your wrists will get stronger.”

This reminded me of Albert Einstein’s quote… “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, and expecting different results.”

I was frustrated because the thing I thought was helping me was the thing that was hurting me.

One day, I had a conversation with a friend of mine, a physical therapist, named Darra O’Keefe.

She talked about the therapeutic benefits of yoga and I talked about sticking my foot behind my head.

She paused, looked at me, and asked, “Why do you need to be that flexible?”

I was stunned.

Up to this point, I was surrounded by enablers and teachers who were telling me to “go for it”, “go deeper”, and to “push harder.”

But Darra’s powerful question stopped me in my tracks.

Why does anyone need to be that flexible? Why on earth would anyone need to externally rotate their thigh bone so much? Why on earth would anyone have to hyper-flex their lower or upper back so much?

In my mind, the answer was, “to get deeper into an advanced yoga practice”. I had no other reason.

It got me thinking.

Around this time my teacher, Doug Swenson, was talking about softening his approach to yoga. He took out some of the handstands and some of the other postures that are very demanding. His idea was to try to make the practice more restorative in nature.

This conversation also got me thinking.

All these ideas and conversations got my mind working and the proverbial “light turned on in my mind.”

I had my Einstein moment: “I have got to change what I am doing if I want my body to heal!” At that moment, I made a decision to change my approach to yoga.

It happened in three clearly defined steps.

 

It’s hard to believe I used to practice like this and wonder why my neck hurt.

Step One

I began to look outside of the “yoga box.”

I stopped looking at the body from the perspective of a yoga pose. I began looking at the human body for what it was: a physical entity that must obey physical laws.

I realized the body’s physical function doesn’t have to do with Patanjali’s ancient text. It has everything to do with principles of anatomy and kinesiology.

Here is what I mean, if you want your elbow to bend, the biceps must shorten, and the triceps must lengthen. This is Sherrington’s law of reciprocal innervation. It states, “When a muscle contracts, its direct antagonist relaxes to an equal extent allowing smooth movement.”

If we obey this law we will get the result we want. If we disobey this law, although we may get the result we want, the risk of injury will increase.

 

Step Two

I looked at the way power lifters and other elite athletes moved.

“What?” “Why?”

The answer is simple, “It has nothing to do with yoga.” It has everything to do with correct alignment and correct movement patterns.

Allow me to illustrate. An elite level power lifter can lift over two and a half times their body weight off of the ground. Without injury.

Yet yoga students can strain their backs using only their body weight to manifest a yoga pose.

“Huh?”

That’s right. It’s because the weight lifter is aligned correctly and utilizes optimal body mechanics to achieve a positive outcome.

The yoga student is not.

“Huh?”

The power lifter understands that if they are misaligned and using improper muscle function, they will get injured.

The yoga student is not aware of these ideas. It’s because most yoga students are not taught safe and proper technique.

 

Step Three

I began to apply this new found wisdom to my yoga practice. Slowly but surely, I began to slow down and analyze all the principles that go into each yoga pose.

I would ask myself, “Which muscles affect this movement?” or “How can I create more stability here?” and before I knew it, my postures were much stronger.

My body felt balanced from side to side and top to bottom, but best of all, my injuries began to heal.

Why was this happening?

Because the focus was on correct mechanical movement instead of deep hyper extensive stretching.

I felt like Paul Revere! I knew I had to spread the word. I knew I had to start helping people -just like you- move better and feel better.

So… What is Functional Yoga Instruction?

Functional Yoga Instruction is a cutting edge approach to the ancient art of hatha yoga.

You will use yoga with correct technique to improve and build your movement patterns. This will balance your muscle groups and restore your body to a highly functioning machine.

In other words, the stuff you learn on the mat will carry over to the stuff you do off of the mat.

Your weightlifting will improve. Your running will improve. Your swimming will improve. Your ability to bend down and pick up groceries will improve.

All your physical activities will improve because you are practicing and obeying a philosophy and a method that reflects the laws of human anatomy and human performance… not mindless stretching. 

Who do you know that will benefit from this?

 

Brian Friedman
Owner/Director
WinterGardenYoga.com

 

PS – if you want to experience the benefits of FYI for yourself, check out our popular video downloads.

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