Building A Better Yoga
“I couldn’t believe it because I knew all of this language from engineering, but I didn’t know that people studied it related to the human body. This was what I was looking for. This was how I was going to answer all the questions that I had that I wasn’t getting from the yoga world.”
“The end goal is to increase a person’s capacity to tolerate load, whether the tissue’s intact or not, because what do you do when someone’s in pain? You expose them to load so that they can do the things that they want to do. That’s the really cool thing about it. The body is adapting, whether you are in pre-hab or post-hab, the processes are the same.”
“If there’s 100,000 words in there then I’ve probably deleted 200,000 words.”
There is no day quite like Jules Mitchell day on The SpiritBros Podcast!
Jules Mitchell is a yoga instructor and author. Her new book, “Yoga Biomechanics – Stretching Redefined,” presents an innovative exploration into the nuances of movement through postural yoga (asana) and other movement modalities.
Jules brings together her expertise in the field of biomechanics with her love of asana and delivers what I believe will be a cornerstone in teacher trainings for years to come.
I am a HUGE fan of Jules Mitchell. I was an early adopter of her blog, and read through its entries multiple times in my search for healthier, more durable ways to explore movement and training. I even used some of her principles in my own workshops, so thanks Jules for helping me earn a paycheck!
A Loaded History
Yoga has a deep history, there’s no doubt about that. But the appearance of a comprehensive and systematic physical practice is arguably a very recent development. Yoga is now a worldwide phenomenon and there are countless new styles and innovations popping up on a daily basis.
Faced with this diversity, creativity, and frankly, untested innovation, it is necessary to examine the pros and cons of postural yoga. What are its strengths and weaknesses, and where can we improve in the way we teach asana?
Enter Jules Mitchell. Both a passionate yogi and a devout engineering and math geek, Jules has made it her purpose to create bridges between science and yoga, and share her discoveries. Over the past years, she has quietly attracted a following of teachers looking for answers that aren’t available in more orthodox settings of yoga study.
Through her online and in-person workshops, she offers knowledge and tools that allow yogis to explore postural practice through the lens of biomechanics. Yes, there is stretching in yoga, but have you ever thought about what stretching really is? About how the loads and forces created by movement impact tissues of the body differently based on their nature? And about why is stiffness good? These are all subjects Jules explores in her teaching and writing.
Forces Of Nature
We covered a variety of topics in the podcast. From the process of writing her book to travelling internationally as a teacher, we explore how Jules chooses projects and manages her professional career.
She also gives us some essential theoretical context, such as the difference between anatomy and biomechanics, and in what ways the study of the latter can shed some light on issues such as hypermobility and injury.
A Las Vegan And Two SpiritBros Walk Into A Bar
Jules also happens to be quite a fun presence behind the mic! A self-described “Vegas girl,” she gives us insight on what drew her to yoga, and what she loves about the practice. She entertained Scott and myself with some unbelievable stories, including one about her father and Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino. We also got to hear about a controversial tweet that made Jules take a two week vacation from Twitter!
Be warned! There’s your life before Jules Mitchell, and your life afterwards. Listening to this podcast might irrevocably change your perspective on postural practice and send you down a rabbit-hole of geeky bliss. I highly recommend it! 😉
Jules Mitchell on The SpiritBros Podcast!
Want to spend some more time with Jules? Looking to level up your practice through biomechanics? Check out these links:
- [2:15] Jules’ unbelievable ‘Hans Landa’ story.
- [5:55] On changing her name.
- [7:05] On what draws her to the wellness and yoga worlds.
- [7:35] On travelling the world to teach yoga and biomechanics and how and when this started in her life.
- [9:20] When did Jules first encounter the term ‘Biomechanics’?
- [12:05] “I remember the day the teacher put up slides, and there were graphs that showed how bones, and ligaments, and tendons behaved under stress. I was like, ‘Whoa! Like engineering stuff, they have this for the human body?’ Literally my mouth was hanging open, the teacher probably thought something was wrong with me. I couldn’t believe it because I knew all of this language from engineering, but I didn’t even know that people studied it related to the human body. This was what I was looking for. This is how I am going to answer all the questions that I had that I wasn’t getting from the yoga world.”
- [14:05] What is the difference between anatomy and biomechanics? What are the basics of biomechanics?
- [15:20] On some of the limitations of biomechanics research when it is applied to the human body.
- [18:05] How she feels about her blog today, and how her book is a more mature and complete rendering of what drew her to share what she was learning with the world.
- [19:35] How did Jules discover yoga?
- [22:55] On why, as a proponent of cross-training, Jules still considers yoga her #1.
- [23:50] What does Jules love about yoga?
- [26:25] On how she applies the scientific mindset to her yoga practice.
- [28:35] What changed in Jules’ yoga practice when she began studying biomechanics?
- [30:35] What is stretching?
- [33:20] Jules on being the #1 bestseller in ‘dance textbooks’ on Amazon.ca.
- [33:55] On passive versus active stretching.
- [36:05] On senior teachers and hip replacements. “It sucks, but we don’t really know if it was the yoga or not.”
- [37:25] What is Jules’ longevity strategy?
- [38:25] On the catch 22 of hip replacements.
- [39:45] How do you define injury?
- [41:05] “The end goal is to increase their capacity to tolerate load, whether they’re injured or not, whether the tissue’s intact or not, because what do you do when someone’s in pain? You expose them to load so that they can do the things that they want to do. That’s the really cool thing about it, it doesn’t actually matter.”
- [42:00] “The body is adapting, whether you are in pre-hab or post-hab, the processes are the same.”
- [42:40] On how setting range-of-motion as the benchmark in yoga asana is arbitrary.
- [45:55] How does Jules stay connected to the spiritual side of yoga?
- [48:25] Jules on teaching group classes.
- [49:35] Who is Jules’ teacher training for?
- [54:05] What are things Jules was teaching ten years ago and is now teaching differently?
- [55:35] “Why in yoga do we put everyone in a pose, and then tell them all the things they were supposed to do to get there.”
- [57:05] On stiffness. “That was just me trying to be controversial.”
- [1:01:25] Over the years, what is the most controversial thing Jules has caught heat for on social media? “Yoga therapy is the worst thing to happen to yoga.”
- [1:04:15] On writing a book. “If there’s 100,000 words in there then I’ve probably deleted 200,000 words.”
- [1:08:20] Did Jules do anything to celebrate finishing her book?
- [1:11:25] How did she know the book was really done?
- [1:14:35] Did Jules have a star reference for the book?
- [1:16:15] On the entrepreneur aspects of her career, including how she gets word out there, her marketing strategy, funnel, social media, etc…
- [1:18:00] On her online courses.
- [1:20:00] On hypermobility and yoga.
- [1:20:25] How does Jules find balance through a busy travel schedule?
- [1:22:45] As a yogi/entrepreneur, what is something Jules does really well, and what is something she needs to improve on?
- [1:24:35] On breathing and biomechanics.
- [1:25:35] What was Jules’ best failure in life?
- [1:28:40] What is Jules’ dream for 10 years in the future?
- [1:31:00] Who are some of Jules’ mentors?
- [1:31:35] On the communities she is a part of that help sustain and inspire her.
- [1:33:35] The final Scott question!
- [1:35:20] En-Lightning Round.