Tag Archives: conditioning

Defy Gravity

Yesterday I tried aerial conditioning at Lab5 Fitness in Capitol Hill. I was excited, this is a new thing not many places offer. Basically you perform core strengthening moves supported by long, non-stretchy straps suspended from the ceiling. This intensifies a lot of regular exercises. For instance, doing a crunch with the strap on your sacrum leaning back forces you to lift about 60% of your body weight as opposed to a normal crunch’s 30%.

It’s a difficult learning curve, so I think the second class would feel much more like a typical workout as opposed to experimentation. In yoga, we learn to trust our limbs. Our arms holding us up in handstand, our leg balancing us in warrior III. Trusting the extra appendage was difficult for me. Even though the teacher insisted it could hold up to 3,000 lbs, it was hard to fight my natural instincts and put trust in this accessory.

My favorite part of class was being upside down, shown here, you lean back with the strap around your sacrum and wind your legs above you. In this position, even the smallest movements are challenging because you are supporting the weight of your entire upper body. It was amazing to do wheel and bow pose with the strap holding you, you could really see the range of motion in your spine without having to hold yourself up.

In the end, we ‘cocooned’ ourselves for a five minute savasana. It was amazing, your own little microcosm, rocking you gently back and forth. It was fun and different, if it’s available in your city give it a try. Be fearless!

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Asana of the Week: Flip Your Dog!

Flippin’ the dog

I couldn’t find a specific Sanskrit name for this, but I believe it’s a variation of Camatkarasana or ‘wild thing’ pose. A beautiful heart opener and upside-down-dog. I fully intend to bring this into a full wheel some day…

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Yoga for Cyclists

On Sunday my father and I went to a “yoga for cyclists” seminar hosted by teacher Kelli Refer from The Grinning Yogi in Seattle. I do not cycle, but my retired father rides every day, about 100 miles a week, sometimes more.

One thing I know for sure- whatever you do, yoga makes you do it better. So, I dragged him to the seminar, thinking something catered to cyclists would be a better time for a somewhat inexperienced yogi.

It was a great seminar, it was obvious the girl leading it had spent much time and energy writing and illustrating a book of yoga poses and breathing techniques for a cyclist.

Everything was very appropriate for the typical cyclist- there were sequences for 2 minutes and 5 minutes. Modified half sun salutations, quads, heart openers, and hips were emphasized.

At the end I asked what two stretches would be the best to do. I couldn’t imagine my father in our garage busting out sun salutations. She decided on a modified ‘wing pose’ and a modified dancer’s pose. My very favorite stretch was a super intense quad stretch we did by placing our shin flush to the wall and bending the opposite knee.

We all left with a poster and information sheet to refer to.

Kelli’s official Yoga for Bikers blog is here.

Buy a copy of Pedal, Stretch, Breathe here.

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Let’s get physical: Bar Method

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Yoga feet pretending to be bar method feet for the day.

Yesterday a friend took a fellow yogi and I to a bar method class. I was curious about it because it is based off of dance/ballet and is said to kick your ass.

First off, it’s a strict practice. I did not get the feeling that this was specific to this studio. They are strict about all participants wearing long pants and socks. During class, many people including myself were called out to change their alignment, straighten, lengthen, push further, etc. it reminded me of taking ballet classes when I was a girl. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, a little self discipline can’t hurt.

It was a challenging class. You can really feel every muscle in the targeted area engaged, and everyone’s legs are shaking, a good sign the instructor assured us. It’s fast paced, you go from one thing to the next without getting bored.

The most challenging part for me was when we draped our bodies with a straight spine resting our forehead on the bar. Then, lifting your leg far behind you, you do a series of pulses and lifts, and your glutes BURN.

It’s strange working your muscles hard like that and not breaking a sweat, but I felt great afterwards.

My only complaint is that the small amount of stretching we did after strength moves lasted less than five seconds per side. I could have easily stayed a minute per side.

I could never love anything more than my yoga practice, but my friend finds it to be a nice compliment to her usual running routine. I love the intention and blissful high I get from yoga, but I’m always open to things that will bring me more in tune with my body.

I read an article about doing something ever day that’s out of your comfort zone, and that foot picture is mine. I hate my feet, so it’s a vulnerable thing for me to put them in the spotlight like that!

I’d love to hear about your experience, let me know!

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asana of the week- wheel

my wheel… more of an ellipse.

Chakrasana

Oh yes, we’re back-bending on this fine Friday. I recently did a yogathon at Urban Yoga Spa– two hours of hot power vinyasa, two hours of hot hatha, and two hours of yin/yang yoga. Sometimes I think I’m a special brand of insane. During the first two hours of power vinyasa, we did 5 wheel poses.

The teacher, Odessa, quoted Baron Baptiste saying: “Wheels are like pancakes. The first two are never any good” So we did two more. And when called up for the fifth, she invigorated us with another Baptiste quote. “This last wheel…is the difference between walking out of this room, and FLYING out of this room.”

I can’t say no to that, I want to fly.

  • Begin setting up for bridge pose, heels drawn close enough to the sit bones that you can brush your heels with your fingers.
  • Bring your hands mat-width next to your ears with your fingers pointing towards your feet.
  • Press into the four corners of your feet, inhale and on your exhale life your tailbone to the sky.
  • Push firmly into your hands and forearms to lift yourself up. I like to take a little pit-stop with the crown of my head on the floor, so I can go up with strength rather than momentum.
  • Draw the shoulder blades down the back, straighten the arms as much as possible.

More articulate instructions here.

Troubleshooting. If you think you’re going to die, stick with bridge for a while strengthening your back by NOT clenching your glutes. If your low back is yelling at you, make sure your feet are parallel in a number 11 and experiment walking them closer or further from you.

More. Come to your tippy toes, bring one leg into your chest and straighten it to the sky. Repeat on the other side. If this still hasn’t got you sweating, try some wheel pushups by simultaneously bending arms and legs…as if you’re doing an upside down pushup on the ceiling?

I’m still perfecting this one, any tips?

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Asana of the week- side plank

Vasisthasana

vasisthasana

Sorry to be throwing so many pesky planks your way, but this is a true power move. Everything is working here, every muscle is alive. It incorporates strength, balance, and it introduces us to our obliques. Again, no amount of bicycle crunches pack that much of a punch.

  • Begin in plank. Bring your heels together and pivot onto your right heel, stacking the left on top.
  • Open your body to the side, reaching your arm up stacking your joints.
  • Squeeze your right side to the sky.
  • Look up into your palm.
  • Repeat on your left side.

Troubleshooting. If you’re having problems with balance, place the toes of your top leg behind your bottom leg into a variation of wild thing pose.

More. To really fire up that core, take your top foot to tree pose, OR lift it so it is parallel to the ground. To really get going- take your top foot to tree pose and leave it there, then pivot to a regular plank pose and do three complete pushups. Repeat on the other side.

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olympians & Yoga

I had to talk about this great video if only for the fact that my home studio, Urban Yoga Spa, is featured. Olympic soccer player Alex Morgan has practiced yoga for four years. She does hot power vinyasa, which she says makes her muscles recover from long practices, and helps her focus and mental stamina. She goes on to say that yoga is ‘rehab for her body,’ and that she needs an hour every once in a while to focus on her breath.

I love hearing about athletes doing yoga because it does so much for the body and mind. It reminded me of an article last week about an Olympian doing yoga at The Grinning Yogi on Capitol Hill. With all the intense training they do, yoga must feel like a treat to their muscles and joints.

I highly encourage you to watch this video filmed at my home studio, it’s beautiful and reaffirms why we all spend the time we do practicing yoga.

Here are some articles on the benefits of athletes doing yoga.

Yoga training with Olympians

Why every athlete should do yoga

Pro athletes who practice yoga: Lebron, Shaq, Andy Murray, the Philly Eagles & more!

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Asana of the Week- Dolphin Plank

Makara Adho Mukha Svanasana

Dolphin Plank

Planks are hard. But planks change your body. No amount of crunches will give you the results that dolphin plank will. Shaking is good, and be sure to BREATHE. This is a really simple move, but it’s sure to get you bikini ready.

  • Begin in Down Dog. Shift your weight forward to plank pose so that your shoulders are over your wrists.
  • One at a time, lower your forearms to the floor with your palms facing down. Place your elbows where your hands were, and spread your fingers wide. You want your body to be in one straight line, with your heels over your toes.
  • Keep the muscles in your tushy relaxed, draw your shoulders away from your ears, and gaze between your hands.

Troubleshooting. If you’re not feeling it in your abs, suck your belly into your spine and hold it there. If your back hurts, lift your bum and readjust your shoulders. Keep your neck long without straining.

More. Lift your right leg, lift your left leg. Alternate straightening your arms one at a time keeping your tush from dropping to protect your low back. Tap your knees to the ground and squeeze them up twenty times. Go longer than you think you need to.

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