Free Download! Transforming the Soft Tissues: Overcoming Common Barriers to Yoga Practice

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Julie Gudmestad

Julie Gudmestad Julie Gudmestad, PT, C-IAYT has been active in Portland, Oregon, as a yoga teacher and licensed physical therapist for over 40 years. She has integrated her western medical knowledge with yoga training into a unique teaching style, and regularly teaches anatomy and asana workshops throughout...

Between 2012 and 2016, the number of people practicing yoga jumped from 20 million to 36 million in 2016, according to the Yoga in America study by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance.

However, the study found, in the same period the number of lapsed practitioners was almost as high as the number of people practicing, at 31.8 million. That begs the question, why do so many people discontinue their practice?

In this insightful talk, physical therapist and Iyengar yoga teacher Julie Gudmestad highlights some of the most common physical limitations that affect people who come to yoga. From stiff hips, tight hamstrings, and low back tension, to tight shoulders and “text neck,” Julie looks at underlying factors that present barriers to practice for a huge percentage of Americans. Importantly, these not only limit the ability to practice yoga comfortably and safely, but also affect our general level of comfort and range of motion.

With a large percentage of people now working at the computer in a slumped over posture, Julie notes, a growing problem is the displacement of the shoulder blades as these move away from each others (protract) to accommodate the forward hunched posture. Julie lists a couple ways to identify whether someone is dealing with protracted shoulder blades and the different ways in which it affects our yoga practice. She  also gives an overview of the cascade of issues—from headaches to dental trouble--that can arise in daily life as a result of shoulder dysfunction.

Julie describes what happens anatomically when our shoulders get stuck forward, and offers insight into how we can work to counter this imbalance and reclaim our full range of motion and our comfort. “There have been lots of studies that have shown that the soft tissue can be retrained,” Julie explains. “It’s one of the things that I love the most about the human body and the human mind. If people get their mind around the fact that they can learn something, it’s actually stunning what changes can be made.”

Also check out Julie's course on YogaUOnline: Dump the Slump! Unlocking the Shoulder Girdle in Yoga: Trapezius and Scapulae