Cathy Madeo is an E-RYT 500-Hour RYT, YACEP certified yoga instructor, social media influencer, entrepreneur, and mom of 2. She has devoted her life to the study, practice, and teaching of yoga.
Women Fitness President Ms. Namita Nayyar catches up with Cathy Madeo, an E-RYT 500-Hour RYT, YACEP certified yoga instructor as she talks about her diet and her success story.
You began practicing in 1994 & teaching yoga in 2004. Often referred to as a teacher’s teacher who has dedicated her life to the evolution of yoga practice. Share your journey with yoga. Series of events that lead to the same.
In college, we were required to take a private group yoga class with an Iyengar yoga teacher twice a week for a year. I felt like I had found a home in the strange yoga positions and spiritual teachings. I then moved to Los Angeles, the mecca of yoga in the 1990s, and was influenced by my teachers at the time and the dedicated yoga students in LA. I got my certification in 2004 and began teaching in LA, then San Francisco. I moved to the east coast to return to school thinking I would start a “real” profession and stop teaching yoga. I was miserable. After reflecting deeply on what made me happy, I realized I was most content when being of service to others. So I left my corporate job to teach again.
When I came back to teaching yoga, social media was here and vinyasa style ran supreme in yoga studios. I began to think critically about everything I thought I knew about yoga. It was during this time of chiseling away what I thought I knew of the yoga practice, that I became my own teacher. I began teaching everything I uncovered in local yoga studios and eventually opened my own studio for a few years. Both my teaching and yoga career expanded from that point on in the online space and my life has never been the same, as my reach now spans the globe. I believe curiosity and the willingness to evolve is what has shaped my yoga journey and kept me on the lifelong path of yoga.
You suffer with chronic back pain due to spinal stenosis, a condition of the spine, you have been able to heal yourself. How did you go about gaining control over the pain & suffering?
Spinal stenosis is a genetic spine condition, it’s a narrowing of the spinal canal that tends to cause herniated disks and is degenerative. After over a decade of living with chronic back pain, I ended up needing emergency spine surgery in 2018 due to one of my disks rupturing and another one causing permanent nerve damage. I made a commitment right before surgery that no matter what happened to my physical body, I would continue to practice yoga.
While I recovered from my spine surgery, barely able to walk, I meditated, practiced pranayama, balanced my chakras, and I moved every day even if it was just my joints while in bed. Even after surgery, I was still in a lot of pain. Seeing doctor after doctor, therapist after therapist, I realized it was time to put my own knowledge to the test. I connected with my body in a new way that was less forceful and gentler; through this intimate experience, I began to heal. I then added strength building in the areas that had gone into atrophy, such as my glutes and leg muscles.
I called upon my own Activate Your Core method to rebuild my deep core muscles around my spine to better support my back. Now, I am stronger and more flexible than I have ever been in my life and I’m a much more compassionate yoga teacher.
This interview is exclusive and taken by Namita Nayyar President, womenfitness.net, and should not be reproduced, copied, or hosted in part or full anywhere without express permission.
All Written Content Copyright © 2022 Women Fitness
Besides being an E-RYT 500-Hour RYT, YACEP certified yoga instructor, social media influencer, entrepreneur you are a mom of 2 kids. How do you go about balancing your personal & professional life?
My secret is simple: I absolutely love what I do! I connect with people all over the world and knowing I have an impact on their yoga journey keeps me motivated. I know there really aren’t days off, so instead, I carve out times throughout the day to reset. I prioritize my yoga practice and workouts, meditation, snuggle time with my 6-year-old, and real talks over dinner or sharing funny TikToks with my teen. These are daily practices that keep me balanced and cantered.
Share your daily fitness & exercise schedule? 5 yoga asanas to kick start the day.
I love to move throughout the day! I often do conditioning for my body in the morning: such as walks outside, gym time, or my own Activate Your Core workouts. Later in the day, I practice yoga which can look like a full yoga class, a yoga practice focused on poses I’m still working toward or deep stretching.
5 poses to kick start the day?
- Supine twist
- child’s pose
- downward facing dog
- locust pose
- plank pose. Let’s go!
Your daily diet routine?
Foods you encourage women to eat and including yourself. Because I’m moving all day, I tend to eat small portions throughout the day and then a nourishing meal in the evening. I think eating healthy is relative to your body and lifestyle. I also think that learning to eat well is a trial-and-error process. Eat more of the foods that make you feel and look good and less of the foods that make you feel bad.
With regular practice, you discovered that by doing core work in different positions, not just on your back, muscles are challenged in new ways. Please elaborate on the deep mind-body connection and “Active Your Core”.
I developed Activate Your Core after years of suffering from chronic back pain. Out of desperation, I decided to research everything I could on the spine and the core muscles. I discovered that the deepest core muscle the transverse abdominis doesn’t actually need movement to engage and it’s designed to stabilize the lumbar spine. I realized that this deep core muscle could radically transform the way we move in our yoga poses and help us achieve true strength from the inside out. At the same time, I was motivated to be able to do challenging arm balances, handstands, and transitions.
I began to work deep core muscles and focus on using my core through these poses and my body radically changed in just a few months and I was doing poses I never thought possible. I also stumbled upon a study during my research that showed that when we employ external muscles to the core like the deltoid, our core muscles worked more. I found this to be true in my own body as many of the poses I was trying to achieve were weight-bearing on my hands, not your traditional core work on your back. This became a central tenant to my method, varying weight-bearing positions while doing core work greatly increases strength in all the muscles of the core, not just the superficial muscles we only target with core work on our back.
I started teaching what I learned locally to sold-out workshops and then discovered it was having the same effect on others, especially women. Many of these students had never considered themselves strong before but were now discovering their true strength.
A lot of misconceptions cloud women who practice yoga leaving them confused as to when, how, and should or should not do certain poses?
Please clarify 4 misconceptions you often overcome during practice and training?
- I’m not flexible enough for yoga. You don’t have to be flexible to do yoga, yoga makes you flexible!
- Arm balances and strength poses are for men. Strength can help increase your flexibility and learning to bear your own body weight in arm balances will empower you and build confidence. Yoga is a balance of strength and flexibility and the poses teach us something whether we are men or women.
- My mind is too active for yoga. Yoga is not about having any thoughts
- Yoga is boring. There are different styles of yoga and something for everyone! If you took a class and it was boring, try a faster-paced class like power yoga or vinyasa. Also, all teachers are different, find a teacher you vibe with.
How do you like to unwind your day?
I end most days in bed with yin yoga, journal reflection on my day, and meditation.
You make all the poses seem so easy to perform with ease and fluidity. According to you what are the key essentials to follow during practice?
- Listen to your body and respond. Sometimes we aren’t aware of the signals our body is giving us. Learn to feel sensations in your body. Once we can listen, then it’s time to go a step further and respond to what our body is telling us. That might mean accepting discomfort rather than running away from it, or it might mean not going too deep when we get pain signals.
- Learn to breathe consciously. Your breath controls your nervous system, the more you can learn to regulate your breath the more you can remain calm no matter the challenge on your mat, and off your mat too.
- Mindful movement. Be aware and intentional with every move.
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This interview is exclusive and taken by Namita Nayyar President of womenfitness.net and should not be reproduced, copied, or hosted in part or full anywhere without express permission.
All Written Content Copyright © 2022 Women Fitness