Does Yoga Fit Within Our Current Performance Model?

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July 3, 2015
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July 3, 2015
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Does Yoga Fit Within Our Current Performance Model?

As most of you know I took a bit of a sabbatical in 2014. It was a wonderful (and scary) time for me in so many ways. One thing that I have wanted to do for several years was take my 200-hour yoga teacher training certification. With the extra time I had during 2014, I was able to accomplish just that.

Why did I want to do this? So many reasons:
1) Yoga is the basis for the majority of our movements in the weight room. Really? Yes. If you look at many exercises we perform with an external load in the weight room, yoga uses those same movements, without external load, for body control, core strength and balance. It is amazing to me how much we externally load our athletes when they cannot even control, support or move their own body weight. Don’t’ get me wrong, I am not saying never load people, but loading dysfunction does not typically result in improving dysfunction.
2) Yoga is the basis for the majority of our movements when training. Really? Yes. I remember being at Perform Better 2014 watching some of my amazing colleagues demonstrate some “new” exercises to the participants. As I was watching I was thinking: ”oh, that movement is wild thing”…or “oh, that movement is side angle”. As I began looking at our ground-based movements, movement preparation exercises, and body control exercises, I realized that so many of them are rooted in yoga.
3) Even the anatomical position is yoga. Really? Yes. Tadasana is a fundamental pose in yoga. And guess what…it is the anatomical position! Everything we have learned regarding planes of movement, joint movement, posture, upper and lower crossed syndromes, etc. have stemmed from tadasana!
4) Yoga is not religious. It’s not? No. There is no religious association with yoga whatsoever. In fact, Hinduism adopted many principles of yoga, not the other way around. So whether you are a Christian, an Atheist, Buddhist or Jewish…there is no conflict of interest with your spiritual beliefs and your yoga practice.
5) Yoga is not just an exercise class. It’s not? No. In fact, the physical part of yoga is one limb of eight. Let’s look at the first 4 limbs.

Limb 1: The Yama’s: The Yama’s are the “Do Not’s” of living. Basically, this limb talks about having moral restraint and universal morality. You mean don’t be a jerk to people? Yes. Don’t hurt someone? Yes. Don’t be egomaniacs? Please don’t. Be truthful? Yes. I don’t care what religion you are, what initials are after your name, or how much weight you can dead lift….I’d say most of us could and should agree with this limb.

Limb 2: The Niyama’s: The Niyama’s are basically the “Do’s” of living. You mean be clean and wholesome…even including what I fuel my body with? Yes. Be contempt and thankful with what I have, instead of wanting what someone else has? Yes. Have honest self-reflection and consider how I can become a contributing member of society? Yes. Again…. I don’t care what religion you are, what initials are after your name, or how much weight you can dead lift…. I’d say most of us could and should agree with this limb as well.

Limb 3: The Asana’s: THIS is what we all picture as yoga. The poses. The movements. The “exercises”. As I said, this is one part of eight, and all eight are important. The asana’s are simply what typically gets people into yoga. They want to exercise, they want to feel better, and they want better posture. Whatever the reason, we seek an exercise class to help us achieve these goals, and yoga sounds just as good as any class the gym is offering. Why not?

Limb 4: The Pranayama. There is an entire limb dedicated to the breath! What!?!? I know. Crazy, right? I have been talking about the thoracic spine and the diaphragm for years now. Those of you who know me know that my favorite muscle is the diaphragm. It seems like people from all disciplines are discussing breath and breathing these days. Yogi’s have literally dedicated a significant portion of their practice to breath. And they have been doing so for centuries. We are just barely catching up.

I won’t get into limbs 5-8 right now. They can be a bit deeper, and my main goal right now is to get you to say, “ok, fine…I don’t hate yoga”.

If you leave this blog:
1) Recognizing the yoga is the basis for many of our fundamental movements that we currently teach our clients
2) Knowing the anatomical position and they way we describe planes of movement are based on yoga
3) Realizing that yoga is much more than a bunch of postures, and
4) Thinking Sue is not a complete weirdo for loving the diaphragm and all things breathing related…

Then I have accomplished my literary goal for the day.



  1. Brian says:

    I agree that yoga is a basis for our movements whether loaded or un loaded. Enjoyed your Perform Better hands on presentation in Long Beach, CA this past summer, too.
    Small suggestion, in Limb 2, I believe you want to be “content” and thankful which we are for your sharing of knowledge.


  2. Sarah says:

    Hi Sue, I’m wondering if you could help me with a question, Kelly Starrett pointed me in your direction, he thought you’d be the best person to ask. There seems to be a big discrepancy between how body alignment experts and how breathing experts think we should breath. The breathing experts all teach abdominal or diaphragm breathing and the body alignment professionals all say that thoracic or rib breathing is the correct way to breathe. When I noted that my baby belly breathes I was told that it is because she is weak and hasn’t yet learned to breathe properly. Please could you help clarify this? You ‘re so NOT weird for loving the diaphragm 🙂

  3. Sue says:

    Hi Sarah!

    Lol! Thanks for not thinking I am weird for loving the diaphragm!

    Also, I had no idea the comment feature was on on my blog, so glad I got your message!! To others who have left messages, I am on it now!

    Great question for sure and one that remains debated. My personal feeling is if your baby is neurologically developed (for his or her age) she is breathing just fine! She isn’t weak. Babies will belly breath for sure as they are great at utilizing the diaphragm as a prime mover for breathing. They haven’t developed bad habits yet, so in fact, in my opinion, he/she is “stronger” than the rest of us. No compensation yet! I bet your baby also has me element of rib expansion, as he/ she should. The lungs live in the chest, so the chest should expand. It just should not expand more, or first, when compared to the belly (diaphragm decent). And it should not move superiorly while at rest (towards the ears).

    Does that answer your question? Let me know if not!

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