Vegan Meal Replacement Powder Comparison

To power my day, I start it with a vegan breakfast smoothie. Smoothies are a great way to pack big nutrition into a glass. I’ve tried many vegan meal powders. Some are chalky, some are cloyingly sweet. Others are delicious, but expensive or lack an important ingredient.

I’ll spend more for creamy texture and better taste, but within reason. I just spent a couple of hours researching what is available and came up with some statistics. I’m sharing the results and hope it helps you with your search for a favorite product at a good price.

Click on the chart and spreadsheet below to see larger images.

Vegan Meal Powder Comparison
Vegan Meal Powder Comparison Spreadsheet

Product Review: Best Exercise Foam Roller: PhysioPhit Foam Roller with Trigger Points

I’ve long been intrigued with the therapeutic value of foam rollers.  Yoga does a great job of stretching muscles, but does not necessarily work into deeper layers of musculature.  One study, among many with positive results, from the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John’s, Canada indicates that foam rolling alleviates muscle fatigue and delayed onset soreness. I’d also been told anecdotally, from several fitness instructors and personal trainers, about their personal positive experience of increased range of motion from foam rolling after exercise.

The facts were adding up, so I purchased 2 foam rollers: a basic smooth surface high-density version and a PhysioPhit Foam Roller with trigger points. Perceiving the PhysioPhit as more akin to an ancient torture device, I babied myself by first working with the smooth roller. Hey, don’t judge! It’s like I tell my yoga students: “Find your undeachiever!” Let’s face it, people push too hard and, well, I really should practice what I preach.

Taking it slowly with the smooth roller, I targeted the outer hip and thigh. This felt like a leg muscle lengthener, a gentle kneading. It targets a wide area – the entire width of outer leg. Rolling face up with it under my back also felt fairly gently, more Shiatsu than deep-tissue massage. I did try it in a seated position to roll out my hamstrings and calves, but thought it largely ineffective for those areas. I wasn’t able to get enough downward pressure into the roller.

SibiI was now ready for round two. Enter the PhysioFit. I again started with the outer hip and thigh. If I were writing this on paper, you would see my tear stains. My TFL (tensor fasciae latae) and quadriceps could barely take it. I wanted my mommy. Instead, I got a curious head tilt from my dog. Thanks for the support, Seabiscuit.

Next up, calves and hamstrings. From a seated position, I stretched my legs out over the PhysioPhit. Just by lightly pressing my legs down into the trigger points, I easily generated pressure deep into the muscles. I could have pressed down harder, but didn’t want to worry my pup again.

In a conversation the next day with a personal trainer, I commented about how intense the PhyoPhit was. I couldn’t believe it when she said it’s only that intense when muscles and fascia are tight. What?! Excuse me? Some people can roll on that torture device and enjoy a pleasant massage? Well, that should be me, because I do yoga, a LOT of yoga. This led to a discussion on fascia and now I am committed to foam rolling.

Months later, it has gotten better. Initially, I was using both the smooth roller and PhysioPhit. Now, I exclusively use the PhysioPhit. I see results in less time with less effort. It has become an important recovery tool for after a workout, a yoga class, a run, or whenever my body is feeling a bit tense.

 

 

 

 

Product Review: Using Medi-Dyne Prostretch for a Deep Calf Stretch

calf muscles

Are your heels so far off the floor that your Downward Dog is a Downward Don’t? Do you suffer with tight calves, hamstrings, or plantar fascitis?  If so, the Medi-Dyne Prostretch might be just the tool you need to improve your yoga practice.  As a recreational runner and yoga teacher, I’m personally aware that running can result in uncomfortably calves tight calves. Yet, I’m not willing to give up running for the benefit of my yoga practice.

Let’s take a minute for a brief anatomy review. There are 2 primary muscles in the calf, the gastrocnemius (a.k.a. gastroc) and the soleus. The gastroc, think rock, is the bulbous muscle superficial to the soleus, which lies under it. Both have a role in plantarflexion (pointed toe position) of the foot. Because the gastroc originates at the femur, it is the primary plantarflexor when the leg is straight. On the other hand, the soleus is primary when the leg is bent. This tells us that, in order to stretch both, we need to extend the calf in both bent leg and straight leg positions.

Medi-Dyne ProstretchSo, what’s a yogi to do?  While poses such as Downward Dog and Warrior I are effective for stretching the calf muscles, using the Prostretch is a more focused approach. First, it also allows for the calf to be stretched with a straight or bent leg. Second, with it’s rounded bottom, it allows for a rocker motion that simulates the foot motion which occurs during running. The stretch can be gradually deepened by rocking back so the heel sits lower than the ball of the foot. Finally, combining all that goodness with a v-shaped cradle, you’ll find it can release the fascia (connective-tissue) and achilles.

Every so often a product comes along that I want to tell the world about it. The Prostretch is one of those products. I use it every morning when brushing my teeth. I love the feeling of release and have fun rolling around on it. So, get yourself a Prostretch and the next time a yoga teacher says that Downward Dog is a restorative pose, it may actually feel that way to you.

 

 

Yoga Teacher’s Quick Tip: Who did I adjust?

Parivritta Trikonasana AdjustmentI’ll be the first to admit that, hard as I try, my memory often fails me while teaching classes. There is a lot to think about and my mind tends toward entropy. Here are a few questions that frequently pop into my head while teaching:

  1. What is the next posture in this sequence?
  2. Did I cue the correct side?
  3. Last, but not least…Who did I adjust on the first side of this posture?

This post addresses #3. When I was first teaching, I used to wander around the room, assisting the people I deemed most in need of an adjustment. This resulted in me zig-zagging randomly around the room. When the time came to adjust the posture on the second side, I couldn’t remember who I had adjusted on the first side.

Here is a quick tip for remembering to adjust the same person on both sides. Break the room into sections (front right, back left, etc.) and stay in one section for a particular asana sequence. Within that section, move from person to person. Place yourself in that section for the second side and you’ll be surprised at how being in the right place at the right time will trigger your memory. Hope that helps bring more consistency to your adjusting.

Mindfulness over lattes

I recently stopped by a local coffee shop to grab a soy chai. It was a typical day, I was going through the motions. A woman ahead of me was attempting to order, without speaking. Yes, no speaking, only hand gestures.dog listening

She communicated her order fairly smoothly. It was apparent she was a regular. When handed her drink, she walked to the side to add her milk and sugar. That’s when things got loud. She was banging carafes around. Metal thumping on wood. Glass clanging against metal. The sounds were punctuating latté orders and chats between friends. Then it occurred to me, this woman was deaf. She was unaware of the cacophony of sounds. My next thought…how often do I, do we, hearing intact people do this? All the time. We clang, rush, close ourselves off, mindlessly going about our day.

The stark parallel between not being able to hear and not listening was made so strikingly clear to me in that short encounter. I think of this day, this woman, when I catch myself disconnected, preoccupied with my thoughts. She unknowingly, taught me a life lesson over lattes.

So, today I took a moment on this unusually warm Winter’s day just to sit outside on my deck. To feel the sun on my face. To hear the wind in the elm trees. To think of this woman with gratitude. Give yourself a moment today, as well, and let me know how it went. Namaste.

New Yoga Class Sequence for Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana

One Legged King Pigeon Pose

Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana

I just posted another class that warms students up to practice One Footed King Pigeon Pose, Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana.
It includes lots of shoulder and hip flexor stretching and backbending. Check out a full yoga class sequence here.

In the full expression of the pose, the yogi’s head is touching the feet. However, for most of us mere mortals there will be some space there. If your shoulders are not flexible enough to reach back for the toes, use a strap around the ankle for support.  Also, always remember to engage Uddyana Bandha when backbending.