Want to hike longer, stronger, with more ease this season? Let's look at what is required by our body.

Imagine a jaguar running. Notice the undulating spine, full breath, smooth leg movements in powerful hips, the stability of the pelvis with an ability to subtly rotate. Paws meet the earth with strength and suppleness, a rebound effect being received with each stride. As humans, our needs for performance, efficiency and ease in hiking are much the same.

Yoga therapy blends the art of yoga with the science of biomechanics. How do your feet connect with the earth? Are you fully receiving the ground force reaction that gives us spring in our step, or is there a diffusion or blockage of that energy? Is your spine supple or stiff? Do your limbs move freely in your joints? Do your shoulders carry you up the hill or do you allow your legs, buttock and hips to do their job? To maximize efficiency we need to feel which muscles are overworking, which need waking up and what it feels like when they work in synchronicity.

Try this movement to foster freedom between the hip and leg: Stand with one foot on a step, wooden block or thick book. Balance yourself with a hand on the wall. Swing the hanging leg forward and back in the hip socket gently. The upper body stays softly still. Notice what happens to the degree or smoothness of the swinging as you soften your belly, connect your foot firmly and evenly to the block. What happens when you connect your foot evenly to the block? What happens when you soften your jaw and your buttock? We will each have different answers to these questions.  Awareness helps us to listen to our body's inner wisdom.

Feeling is healing. Take responsibility for your own ease and power this spring. To learn more, contact Julie to arrange a private session with a home program to suit your needs. Or, gather your hiking buddies for a customized group workshop before heading out on our magnificent mountain trails.

Contact Julie via the contact form on this site (click here): <a href="/contact">julie at

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Physiotherapy, yoga therapy - what is the difference?

by Julie Seibt, Therapeutic Yoga instructor

When I am asked the difference between yoga therapy and physiotherapy, I am reminded of a one-liner from the comedic reality show, Duck Dynasty.

Phil Robertson, an irreverent, living Louisiana legend who gained fame and wealth from his family’s creation and marketing of a duck calling device, attempts to explain pet photography to his brother;

“Pet photography. That’s the degree you get when you’re rejected from a degree in aromatherapy.”

The myriad of healing treatments available to us these days can feel as confusing as Phil’s attempt to understand modern ideas.

Physical Therapy and physiotherapy are interchangeable terms. Physical Therapy is an American term, while physiotherapy or physio is commonly used in Canada, Great Britain and Australia. The shortened form of PT is often referred to in the spirit of humor as Pain and Torture. In reality, physiotherapists are healthcare professionals dedicated to promoting optimal physical activity including managing acute and chronic conditions and rehabilitating injury.

Yoga Therapy, or therapeutic yoga shares the same dedication. Both practices vary greatly with the individual therapists and their preferred techniques. Unlike physiotherapy, yoga therapy does not have a governing board to set standards. Although there are certification programs for yoga therapy, ranging from 80 - 800 hours, anyone can claim to be a yoga therapist. When choosing a practitioner in either discipline, it is important to feel safe, comfortable and to feel positive effects in your body in a short time. Get references or speak to other clients who have enjoyed success with the practitioner you are considering working with.

Often a physiotherapist only has time to treat the condition, for example, a torn rotator cuff. The yoga therapist looks at the whole person, and what movement patterns may have led to the weakness in the rotator cuff in the first place.

In physio, the client will usually be given specific exercises for an injury or condition, often with an instruction sheet to work from at home. The yoga therapist considers breath, mental, spiritual or emotional states, and compensatory movement patterns while guiding the client in the exercise. With this understanding, the client performs the exercises at home without compensation, from a parasympathetic nervous system response (“rest and digest”) in their pain-free range of motion. Results happen quickly when movement is pure and fosters ease, rather than tension.

From my experience as a yoga therapist, clients feel noticeably less pain in one to three sessions. I work under the premise that moving in pain begets pain, moving in ease creates more ease and optimal movement. Clients benefit from collaboration between myself and their physiotherapist as I bring the holistic, mind-body approach of therapeutic yoga and pure movement to the refined knowledge of a skilled physiotherapist and their array of treatments like ultrasound, electrical stimulation, heat and cold and more. This collaboration is especially effective as clients recover from surgeries like joint replacements, or with recurring injuries.

As a yoga therapist I have the privilege to focus on one person at a time for an hour, seeing their challenges in movement as their body’s unique way of finding balance - not as a thing to be fixed. The session can include breath awareness, movement, meditation, and stillness in restorative positions - depending on how the client is moving and feeling that day. I provide the stimulus for clients to access the support their body needs to do what they want to do without pain - whether it is playing on the floor with grandkids or shaving down their running time in a marathon. The body quickly responds to this new support by letting go of old patterns and pain, welcoming optimal mobility and a renewed sense of strength with ease.

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Are you pushing away or repressing pain?

Do you have belief systems or “stories” that are preventing you from feeling better now and in ten years from now?

From the perspective of therapeutic yoga, I use movement and breath awareness to help clients filter their “stories” to access their internal wisdom and move better with less pain. Some common stories or belief systems are:

”This pain is normal for someone my age”

“More is better”

“I’ve had this ache for years, it will take years for it to go away.”

“If I don’t push, then I’m not accomplishing anything.”

“We all get stiffer as we get older”

”I’ve always been this way, so I will always be this way.”

”I need to push my body now to feel better 10 years from now.”

These are simply myths, they might have truth for some and not for others. What is true is that as long as we are living we get older; illness and accidents can happen. That’s it, the rest are stories. Imagine you could be your own “myth buster” and knew how to honor your body so that it performs better for you now and ten years from now. Imagine you could do what you most love - long into life with more ease and enjoyment than ever before? I regularly see clients shed long-term patterns of tension, or aches and pains that they’ve accepted as “normal”. In a short time, they move with more ease, strength and vitality.

Here’s a simple exercise: Assuming you are seated at a computer, push your chair away from the desk to allow space in front of you. Rest your hands on your thighs. Notice your breath for a few rounds. Then slowly raise your arms to a comfortable height in front of you and lower. -Did your breath change? -Did you feel anything in your back, did your ribs lift or poke forward? -Did tension increase in your neck or shoulders - or anywhere else? -Did your legs or hips tighten? These are all compensations - your body’s way of making the movement happen. Now, for a few times, move your arms only as far as none of those compensations occur. This is pure movement.

The more you move purely, the greater your range of motion of arm bone in shoulder socket will be. The more purely the shoulder functions, the move ease and strength you will have with less pain and tension. The more your create tension through movement, the move tension and pain you will have. Now, imagine all your joints moving in their optimal range of motion for your body. That is how efficiency and true strength happens. That is how you can hike, bike, work, play - whatever your passion - longer, stronger with less pain, no matter your age.

Immerse yourself in Therapeutic Yoga with Julie in Hawaii. <a href="">Click here to find out more</a>.</p>

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