Talking JOGA and allergy season with Jana Webb

July 17, 2019
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The summer is here, but for many of us so is the allergy season. There are many ways that can be added to your routine and that can help improve not just your allergies but also your overall physical and mental state.

One such approach involves JOGA—a unique exercise, created by Jana Webb—that combines elements of traditional yoga and biomechanics of sports, and is implemented by many teams in the NFL, NHL and NBA. This season, Jana collaborated with REACTINE® to spread the word about her unique exercises and approach. We spoke with the Canadian entrepreneur and former participant of The Real Housewives of Toronto about her journey, importance of exercise and how JOGA can actually help with allergies (including special tips and poses from Jana herself!).

How did you come up with the word “JOGA”?

I had done my yoga training in Japan, and when I came back to Canada after about year of doing an internship with a medical centre, [I was referred] to the Calgary Stampeders. That is when JOGA was born, with an understanding that yoga needed to change. I started to change the positions into movements, and translate the vocabulary into words that made sense to athletes. At the time, I was also working with Henry Burris, the football quarterback. We had a conversation in my yoga studio in Calgary and he said: ‘You should name it something and brand it”, so we started to brainstorm. My first name and the word “jock” kept coming up, so we combined them into “JOGA”.

We read that you had a life-changing accident that led to the creation of your business. Could you share more about it? How did JOGA help you recover?

I’ve been in two car accidents. The first one—which I look at as a pivotal moment in my life—turned my life in the right direction. At that point, I was told to do yoga to manage the injuries, and I started to love all the breathing and relaxation components of it. But the physical aspect I was horrible at. That was the journey that started my creation of JOGA. The postures I created involve a combination of dynamic and static stretching, as opposed to traditional long holds. The movements within the postures are designed to improve athletic ability and agility, as well as coordination with the breath pattern. The movements are intended to build muscle memory and balance joint stability/mobility with an increased range of motion, which are indispensable to injury prevention. JOGA is the system that truly benefits an athlete in preparation and recovery for their sport.

Fast forward to 2016, when I had that collision in Dominican Republic, where I was training football players. Because of where I broke my back, I was paralyzed and my recovery was so much faster because I took care of myself. I really believe the reason I am walking today is because I was so strong in my core.

That’s the important thing that people need to understand: you have to be prepared for anything. Regardless of how we take care of ourselves—emotionally, physically, mentally—at some point in your life you will experience some trauma. All we can do is to prepare in the best way we can.

Nutrition plays a huge role in being fit and staying strong. Could you share some tips about your own diet?

If people could just eliminate sugar, that’s my biggest piece of advice and is something I’ve followed my entire life. It’s all about the mind-body connection. Sugar causes so much inflammation and when you have inflammation, you can’t think properly. Fruits or honey are fine, but the sugar I’m talking about is like white pasta or white bread, or sugar for your coffee.

Second thing is that every Monday, for as long as I can remember, I eat veggies and give my body a detox. Try to eat whole foods and give your body a break once in a while, so that your organs can reset themselves and do their job.

And the last thing is that I believe in having a balance, so extremes of anything are not good. Find what works for you and makes you feel good, and become more aware of that.

You’ve said that certain yoga positions can help tackle allergies. Can you share more about how and why you decided to create yoga poses that can help with this important seasonal issue?

About two years ago, I began experiencing allergies for the first time, and started with a preventative treatment, using Reactine to manage my symptoms. I then worked out and I noticed that I felt better after doing certain poses. From there, I began looking into and understanding the various yoga positions from a scientific point of view, the impact allergies can have and how yoga could help.

The main part of it is the breathing component: the focus on breath and how to improve your breath mechanics. The second piece is belly breathing for a relaxation, so it’s a lot about awareness. And as far as the poses go, any type of twisting is great, like a chair pose twist. Circulation is a part of it, since it helps to remove allergens from the body. 

Battling allergy season with JOGA: a step-by-step guide

1. Deep belly and chest breathing: promotes optimal diaphragm breathing, which strengthens breathing mechanics

Lie on back with bent knees

Bring right hand on lower belly, left hand on chest

Alternate breathing into belly and breath into chest for counts of 3

Combine belly chest breathing for full diaphragmatic breathing

2. Moving Airplane Sequence: increases circulation, which improves blood flow and helps eliminates allergens from the body more efficiently

Stand on one leg

Bend standing leg knee and straighten

Repeat 5 times

Repeat on other leg

The Moving Airplane Sequence.

3. Moving Seated Chair Twist: improves circulation to the internal organs, aiding in the “organ flush”, which helps the body detoxify and eliminate allergens faster

Bring feet, knees and legs together

Bend your knees and bring your thighs parallel to the ground, as if you’re sitting on an imaginary stool behind you

Bring hands to prayer position in front of your chest

Alternate upper back twisting from left to right, bringing your elbows to the outside of each thigh

The Moving Seated Chair twist.

4. Humble Warrior Series: chest opener, with focused chest breathing, opens the intercostal muscles supporting stronger lungs and heart, which is imperative for allergy sufferers

Bring stance into warrior position, with front knee slightly bent at 90 degrees and back leg straight, with back foot turned at 45 degrees

Interlace fingers behind lower back

Inhale, lift the chest up

Exhale, fold forward, bring front shoulder to inside of the front knee

Repeat 5 times

The Humble Warrior Series.

5. Diamond Belly Breathing: evokes the para sympathetic nervous system (relaxation response). Fighting allergies is mentally and physically stressful: this exercise is a tool to combat stress

Lie on back

Fold feet together and let knees open to make a diamond shape with lower body

Place both hands on lower belly

Inhale and exhale for counts of 5

The Diamond Belly Breathing.

Jana demonstrates these yoga poses that can help combat pollen-induced sneezing and wheezing as part of her partnership with REACTINE®. Visit Reactine.ca for more details on how to battle #ReactineSeason!

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Story by Darina Granik

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