Yoga: My Lunchtime Escape

Photo courtesy of MiiiSH

Photo courtesy of MiiiSH

Stress management and work don’t usually go hand-in-hand. But to maintain a healthy lifestyle, finding ways to relax during the “daily grind” is vital. One of our employees in Portland, Michelle, gave us a great guest blog post about how she’s using yoga to take a breather in the middle of the day. In her own words, here’s Michelle’s yoga story:

Scrambling to answer a ceaseless ringing phone, speed-reading through emails and shuffling through mounds of mail; it makes even the most devoted employees day-dream about an afternoon soaking up the sun on a warm beach (Piña colada in hand, of course). Unfortunately for me, all I see when I steal a glance out of our office window is a menacing grey sky, complete with sideways blowing rain. That’s a devastating contrast from my Malibu beach day fantasy. But this week, just as I was about to clock out for my regular lunch time ritual of adding hot water to my cup of “Suddenly Soup” and hunching over an old copy of the Portland Business Journal, a calendar invite popped up for “Group Yoga” in the training room.

Meet Michelle, our first time yoga-ing guest blogger.

Meet Michelle, our first time yogi and guest blogger.

As if kicking off the high heels and slipping into stretchable pants wasn’t rewarding enough, I walked into a warm oasis that awaited me in the heart of India training room. Our yoga instructor, or as I like to refer to her, “Tour Guide through Nirvana,” greeted us with a welcoming smile. The unfamiliar, yet tranquil sounds of yogi tunes were peacefully playing in the background while I found my way to my destined yoga mat, which would serve as my lunch time escape.

For the next hour, my mind focused on flowing through the practice with as much pace, rhythm and structure as my uncoordinated body could handle. Most importantly, my mind was NOT focused on work. Deep synchronized breathing replaced desperate panting from schlepping huge boxes and endless phone calls. My wrists (that are usually cramped from furious typing) were now lucid in holding a downward dog. Most importantly my mind got a mental vacation while I journeyed through an entire hour of zen.

For the next month, momentarily putting work OFF and getting my “chi ON” will become my weekly routine. Luckily, I’m pretty flexible, so I was able to twist into a few bound half-moon poses. But if I’m being honest, my yoga talents were really showcased during the Happy Baby Pose, Corpse Pose, and my personal favorite, Shavasana: see nap time. 

If you have a Hawaiian vacation on the books, that’s probably the best option for relaxation. But for the rest of us, lunchtime yoga is definitely (a very close) second best option! 

Physical Therapy and Shoulder Pain

hoob1jpg-5dd85fd15bea6e75 - CopyYou feel it every time you reach over your head or try to throw a ball with your kid; the dreaded shoulder pain. Turns out, shoulder pain is one of the most common reasons people visit an orthopedic surgeon (with “impingement syndrome” being the most common diagnosis). Not only is it painful, but chronic shoulder pain can hinder your ability to work, exercise, and take part in a plethora of leisure activities.

Without knowing where to turn, lots of us are quick to jump to pain medication or surgery for relief, but few realize that exercise and physical therapy can make a huge impact, and it can actually fix the problem in the long-term. We asked Portland area Physical Therapist, Colin Hoobler to weigh in on the benefits of physical therapy when treating shoulder pain, and here’s what he had to say.

“Research tells us that physical therapist-led exercise therapy is as effective as surgery in the long-term, decreasing pain and boosting function after three to eight weeks (J Rehab Med 2009). When combined with manual therapy, exercise therapy can reduce pain faster than surgery, boosting your quality of life (BMJ 2010).

Key exercise therapy components include:

  1. Strengthening your rotator cuff and upper middle back. Your rotator cuff muscles (there are four) keep your upper arm bone safely within your shoulder socket during arm motion, preventing pinching of sensitive tissues. Upper middle back muscles help maintain posture, which also helps minimize shoulder impingement risk. The incline dumbbell row is a great exercise you can do with minimal equipment to strengthen the upper back and neck.
  2. Lengthening your shoulder and chest muscles. A tight shoulder is a painful shoulder, so stretching daily can help improve flexibility so forces are more evenly distributed.
  3. Manual therapy. A physical therapist skilled in manual therapy can work wonders before you do your exercises to reduce pain and tightness.

Despite compelling research, many people with shoulder pain do not receive effective exercise guidance to reduce pain and fix the underlying problem (Eur J Phys Rehab Med 2013). As a result, they continue to have chronic shoulder pain after relying on medication and/or surgery due to faulty intrinsic shoulder mechanics.

Learning how to safely and effectively treat your own shoulder conservatively probably will take several weeks, but the long-term benefits are well worth the effort.”

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Learn more from Colin at his clinic: “Overcoming Shoulder Pain: a New Approach” on October 19th

If you live in the greater Portland area, and you’d like to learn more about physical therapy from Colin, he’s hosting a workshop at his Beaverton Clinic on October 19th. All proceeds from the event will benefit Bonnie Slope Elementary School, and you’ll learn how to effectively use exercise to treat your nagging shoulder pain. To learn more, visit

Get a Tune-Up at the Healthy Life Garage

AutoshowJust as you take care of your vehicle for maximum performance, the same applies to your body. For the third year in a row, PacificSource is bringing the popular Healthy Life Garage to the Portland Auto Show.

Join us this weekened – Jan 24-27 – and start your journey to becoming healthier with a free, preventive maintenance “check up” for yourself. We’ll be doing blood pressure readings and balance testing, while feuling you up with healthy treats like apples and dip, infused water and samples from Dave’s Killer Bread.

Physical therapist Colin Hoobler will also be on hand to teach you about managing joint pain. And kids always enjoy our Plinko game with nutrition trivia.

So while you’re checking out some cool cars, drop by and take a healthy break with us.