Elemental ChromiumMetal as a music genre is identifiable by its attributes of strength and power. These sounds are performed by humans expressing power and strength as technique in their playing styles. There is nothing overly delicate or fragile, nor soft or forgiving in metal music. This characterization of being carries over to Metal Yoga, where the skeletal framework is aligned to positions, over a short interval of time, inducing structural integrity inherent in the biomechanics of the human body. The repeated alignment creates a memory and awareness that translates into the unlocking of potential power and ultimately empowerment through knowledge that contributes to wisdom.

Beginning a session, which I will call an interval, one may feel inflexible and hardened by the situations of modern life that irritate and wear one down. This beginning state of hardness can be called the Chromium state, a state of physical and mental hardness, a general rigidity. One can move through soft metal states like a Lead state, ending an interval in a state of Mercury, a liquid metal, or ultimately in the Gallium state. Elemental gallium does not occur in free form in nature, but as a brittle, solid, silvery metal it will melt in your hand above about 85 °F. Gallium in this sense is a good metaphor for the scarcely real experience among yoga exercisers and poor meditators with actual spirituality, awareness, and enlightenment. The molecular structures of the hardest metals form lattices that combine to exert stability and strength over the span of their surfaces and interiors, while others can be malleable; the combining of different metals with special attributes to achieve specific results has resulted in the most spectacular and most beautiful metal objects the world has seen.

Chrome Engine

To pick up where we left off in the last entry, we work on advancing out of Chromium. Because the majority of individuals move repetitively and cause muscle injuries that require healing through stretching techniques, it is most important to begin by carefully and slowly stretching from the center outward. At the center for these purposes is the spinal structure, and this muscular center spans the entire length of your trunk to the base of your skull; the spine is your power center. When radiating out from a point with an ever increasing radius, the most minuscule radial motion results in greater distances in circumference. These beginning motions should be small and gentle at first at the spine, but can result in appearances to be greater motions at the extremities which when outstretched will trace greater circumference distances. Because it is also paramount to choose at discretion beginning movements that take the spine into movements within all planes, a variety of movements are available at this stage of stretching and lengthening from the core that will lead to greater strength potential to be unleashed in movements of later states during the interval.

Since the first ten minutes of sitting and breathing covered in the last post is also a time to activate and focus on root chakra energy, the beginning spinal movements serve to move that energy up the spine to energize the rest of the body during the interval. Good spinal choices are Cobra, Lord of the Fishes, Bridge and its variations, Cat/Cow, Sphinx, Alligator, Canoe, even Child’s Pose and Sleeping Baby for initial relaxation, as well as poses that can begin by stretching the hamstrings so tightness of the spine is not exacerbated by the back of the legs. Staff Pose is a good opener to these, sitting as tall as possible and seemingly doing nothing while the tiny muscles around each vertebra are brought to action.

Next I will talk about standing strength poses that use an awakened spine throughout the extremities and our Metal state moves from Chromium to softer metals like Iron, Copper, and Bronze.

The heat of the summer is finally upon us, and with this we are forced to wear less clothing in public. This is a good opportunity to feel good about your midsection when at the beach or picnicking in your bathing suit. If you’ve been eating properly and exercising regularly week to week as explained in Part I of this entry, your abdominals should look great or be well on their way to looking amazing, a model of health. If this is not the case, you know exactly why and what habits to cut out of your routine. I will begin to introduce some yoga poses and movements that specifically target the abdominals to build strength, stamina, and endurance to the midsection and surrounding areas. I recommend including one or two of these movements into your regular asana practice and putting them in rotation so you can experience all of these movements within a week and start the cycle again. I don’t recommend only doing these movements and no others as you will gain more benefit from engaging the entire body and including these to target the midsection rather than engaging the whole body and excluding these.

I am a big fan of the Side Plank Pose. Others may know this movement as the Iron Cross. The reason this pose is so powerful is that it challenges your balance, your ability to hold up your own weight on one arm at a time, and it targets the external obliques where things like muffin tops can form. It is classified as a basic one arm balance pose, so if you can’t do it, don’t be discouraged and keep trying; each time you revisit the pose, the body will have adapted and it will become easier with subsequent attempts.

Side Plank

Illustrations by Sharon Ellis 

Like most yoga poses that seem difficult at first, holding this position becomes easy when you find the neutral alignment of the spine and legs with the effortless structural support afforded by the arm position against gravity. If you enter this pose without the notion of struggling, you should naturally arrive at a pretty close approximation of how to hold this pose with minimal effort and therefore the least strain on maintaining balance. This exemplifies the simplicity of the pose, yet the difficulty of achieving it. Breathing can be deep in this pose, but this runs the risk of destabilization. Also, the use of abdominal and thoracic musculature in stabilization of this pose makes deep breathing difficult in side plank. By finding the efficiency afforded in neutral alignment from shoulders through spine, hips, and legs, minimum effort can be combined with minimum breathing that is not too shallow in order to provide the muscles with enough oxygen to hold the pose.

Great, but how do you get in and out of the pose? This is a challenge in itself! I recommend starting in a pushup position. Looking at the diagram above, imagine rotating the body so the chest is facing the floor and both arms are now on the ground holding you up. This moment is crucial, because just as the above illustration shows a neutral efficient position with minimal stress in any one specific location, so must the pushup position start in a neutral position where both arms hold up the body and the biomechanics of the skeletal system against gravity essentially hold you up effortlessly. This pushup position is called Plank Pose. So, to get into Side Plank, we momentarily start in Plank.

But what of the feet? This is another crucial point that must be explained or will cause problems. In an ordinary pushup position, your feet are hip-width apart, and this is where we start. Once you are balancing efficiently in Plank Pose with your spine down to your ankles in a straight line, begin to rotate the body to one side while lifting the opposite arm off the ground. Your feet will naturally rotate and your heels will fall to the side while your feet are still apart, and this will help stabilize you as you get fully to one side and lift one arm straight up to the sky. Once you are successfully in Side Plank Pose in an efficiently balancing neutral position, you can place one foot directly over the other as in the illustration. To complete the pose, turn your head in the direction on the lifted arm as shown.

Because I tend to challenge myself further, I like to add motion to the pose by slightly dropping the hips a few inches, carefully stretching the side that faces the floor while slightly contracting the side facing the sky. Then I bring my hips back up to a neutral position and symmetrically lift the hips a few inches, stretching the side that faces the sky, while contracting the side facing the floor. Do this while breathing smoothly and as deeply as balancing will allow. Then, drop into pushup position and balance on the other side, using the arm that was reaching up to hold up your weight, and repeat the hip dropping and lifting movements while breathing smoothly and deeply. You’ll know when you’ve had enough, and when it’s too much you just might fall out of the pose.

Boat Pose

My next favorite pose that sums up much of what yoga asana is all about and is great for targeting the abdominals is called Boat Pose. This one is particularly difficult for me because my legs are quite long in relation to my torso, and those of you with shorter legs and longer torsos may find this pose easier to some degree, so you can push yourself harder and get better results!

To perform Boat Pose, you will have to start by lying flat on your back with your arms at your sides. Breathe in smoothly and deeply for a few breaths while relaxing physically as much as possible and preparing mentally for exerting large amounts of tension for a short time. These two extremes of going from intense relaxation to controlled extreme physical tension is the essence of yoga asana, and swinging back and forth like a pendulum enables you to reach new, previously unexperienced realms of both extremes. Because yoga asana can be so intentionally strenuous and extremely relaxing, done regularly it can restore health and synergy to the human body where it may be lacking through dysfunction, revitalizing and renewing to a state of youthful strength and appearance.

Still lying flat on the ground and ready to exhale, the only place the body should now bend is at the hips. Keeping the spine straight and erect, slowly start to fold in the middle by evenly bringing your torso up off the ground and bringing your legs up at an equivalent angle. In the meantime, keep your arms in front of you and parallel to the ground. Once you are feeling secure in your balance and are aware that you are continuing to breathe without interruption, take this pose to the next level where you will reap all the benefits of abdominal strength and toning: tense up your abdominals as much as you can while making tight fists with your hands, tighten and tense up the muscles in your legs, and keep a steady breath. Become metal, become steel in this pose, and just as you previously relaxed and prepared for extreme tension, breathe and prepare for extreme relaxation as you are putting yourself into the most tense expression of your body in this position. It is not necessary to express any tension in the face, and it is not recommended to create or express extreme tension in the face, so be aware if you do this involuntarily, and learn to separate the two; expressions of extreme tension need not be expressed in the face at any time in any yoga pose, and throughout this focus and concentration you can carry this practice into other aspects of your life. When you’ve had enough, slowly come down evenly and return to the original lying position, and feel the new depths of relaxation you are able to achieve with the next few breaths. Prepare again and repeat, preferably for a total of 3 to 4 repetitions.

Shoulder Stand

Shoulder Stand is another pose that although is not directly targeting your abdominals like these previous poses, it uses the abdominals and back muscles together to stabilize the body in an inverted posture. The reason I am including it in this entry is that it activates the thyroid in the chin lock position and will push your metabolism forward out of a slump so you can burn extra unwanted fat in the body. The illustration below shows an unsupported version of the Shoulder Stand, but to begin doing this pose you will want to support your back with your hands, and therefore your legs can reach higher straight up, lengthening and standing tall while upside-down. Keep in mind that this pose is not called Neck Stand. Because the entire static weight of the body is resting in the muscles that raise, lower, and rotate the scapulae, these muscles need to be strong enough to support that weight, otherwise the cervical spine will be subject to what the shoulders cannot handle. A related pose is Plow Pose, and it has similar chin-lock benefits with added stretching of the spine extensors. Often, I will first attempt Plow Pose before Shoulder Stand, and in that order Shoulder Stand is both a relief and seemingly easier to endure.

To get into this position, you will start by lying flat on the ground on your back, and with an exhale bring your legs up by bending only at the hips. Now that your two halves of your body are at a 90 degree angle, with your arms at your sides slowly lift your pelvis off the floor and begin to bend your arms at your elbows to bring your hands to the small of your back for support. Continue lifting the pelvis until the hips straighten out once more and the only angle now is the one between your neck and torso at the shoulders. Your chin should press firmly against your sternum as you reach high with your feet and support your back tightly by reaching for the thoracic spine in the middle of your back. Breathe smoothly and deeply while pulling in the navel and activating the gluteal muscles. You should begin to feel the heat that this pose generates rather quickly, and before you come down out of the pose you can expect to be covered in sweat.

 There is a very effective isolation exercise called Prone Iso-Ab, in which you are in pushup position but instead of being on your hands, you are on your elbows so you are lower to the ground, creating a lesser angle with the ground and therefore more stress for the abdominals. The yoga asana that resembles this is called Dolphin Plank Pose, and it is essentially the same movement for the same purpose. Above is an illustration showing a similar pose, called Chaturanga Dandasana, creating the lesser angle not by being on the elbows but by remaining on the hands and lowering oneself down to this abdominal stress position. This pose is really just Plank Pose lowered down, and is actually called Four-Limbed Stick Pose, so you are transforming from a plank to a stick. Stay in this pose anywhere from 5 to 20 breaths at a time, finding first minimal effort to maintain the position without weakness. Then, just as in Boat Pose, attempt to ramp up the tension to become stiffer, most like a stick, and petrify yourself while keeping the abdominals in mind before you relax out of the pose momentarily, lie down, and begin a again.
Belly Twist

Finally, the Belly Twist, or Jathara Parivrtti, is a great way to end your abdominal stressor movements to tighten, shape, and tone that midsection. With the body supported by the floor and the main action provided by gravity, breathing method becomes very important to achieve specific effects. By choosing how to direct the breath, either to the abdomen or the thoracic structures as in mula bandha, extraneous muscle tension can be released from the lumbar region or the costovertebral joints. The twist although is in fact for the belly, the lumbar spine does not twist as it is extremely limited in axial rotation (5 degrees total!) A neutral spine must be maintained, meaning without lumbar flexion for example. Lumbar flexion during the rotation would put pressure on the lumbar vertebrae and discs, particularly loading the T11-T12 disc. Furthermore, spine extension would lift the far shoulder off the floor, compressing the brachial plexus, often resulting in a numbness or tingling sensation in the arm.

Belly Twist  Legs ExtendedWhen doing this Belly Twist with legs extended, there is more adduction of the top leg which can lead to more internal rotation, lengthening the iliotibial band, along with good stretches of the gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus, the piriformis, gemelli, and obturator internus.
Although it is true that this is not a complete and definitive list, it is enough to get one started, particularly at an easy level where most need to begin to sculpt and strengthen the midsection, which includes the spine. With the dietary guidelines from the previous post that tell you how to eat and not what to eat, one to two weeks of regular exercise and invigorating yoga moves like these will greatly surprise you, and quite possibly those around you. Spine health and abdominal strength are very important for sustaining life, and in the next few entries I will focus on specific poses not yet mentioned here that do just that.

As I write this, it is still somewhat cold outside this spring in New York City. If you follow my advice to the letter in this post, and I’m going to try to include as few letters as possible for your benefit, you can have killer abdominals in time for summer. What’s more, this advice will guarantee that you will keep your sexy midline throughout the winter months so that you don’t have to battle your belly fat over and over again. A trim waist is a sign of good health and tells others that you are strong and healthy. Whether you could stand to lose 6 inches off your gut to get into better health or you want to resemble an ancient Greek statue, what I tell you will get you there.

First, I must state that you won’t be able to do it by yoga alone. As a matter of fact, most people who succeed tend to get it done without yoga at all. But, by incorporating specific aspects of yoga that focus on this goal, you will naturally coax your body into a state of constant metabolic health that will be one of the many key angles of attack on your excess body fat to get it done to keep it off permanently.

Diet is the most important element in lowering your body fat percentage which will make or break your efforts here. If you get this wrong, you will have a trim waist, and you will never have six-pack abs no matter how hard you try to do everything else right.  Do yourself a favor and re-learn what you think you know about food if you have a gut right now; what you know is probably completely wrong, or you know what you’re doing wrong and just don’t do anything right. I’m not going to dwell on the subject of diet, because this should be made the simplest part of this multi-faceted confrontation with your fat cells. You know what you’re doing wrong, so stop it. And if you’re a vegan or a vegetarian and you’re fat, I’m sorry but you lose — it will be imperative that you figure out how to get enough protein in your diet so you may want to read my blog entry The Argument for Vegetarianism, Part 2, while focusing on getting all your carbohydrates from vegetables which is what a vegan or vegetarian should be doing; step up to the plate and delete all pastas, breads, grains, cereals, sugars, anything that is a processed simple carbohydrate, or if you gorge on these, start by cutting them down to 1/3 or less of your overall intake. If you’re anything like me, these are the reasons you don’t have abs, so come to terms with that fact and make the change.

The last thing I will say generally about diet is that when the human body has grown fat, many things come together in a sneaky, underhanded way to make it so, and in this entry I will attempt to explain how to unravel those multiple tight bonds that choke the life out of us. A fat, even slightly fat, person is one who can be seen as an otherwise healthy person who is being tied down independently at each limb and is unable to move as freely as possible. As we loosen these reigns and eventually free our tied down wrists and ankles and bound torsos, only then can we create the natural snowballing effect, or exponentially accelerating runaway train of vibrant energy that is a high metabolism that keeps us hungry in true hunger for true foods, those that your subconscious animal mind knows you need, not the foods that your thinking, habitually dependent, corrupted behavioral mind seems to want. This will be accomplished by understanding what your daily caloric intake is, and what percentage of that intake is comprised of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, and most importantly what kinds of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. So, as you may be starting to understand, the more complicated you make this, the higher the chances of failure; the simpler you make it, the simpler it will be to eat the right proportions of the right foods and make no mistakes whatsoever. I recommend this, unless you have over a year’s time to make this your goal.

Burn calories. Choose your weapon. Typical failing dieters think that just by eating less, they will start to lose weight. If you stick with it, and basically eat a lot less, a lot healthier, and consume solid, nutritious meals, you will. End of story. This is the Law of Thermodynamics, which in this case states that the only way one will lose weight or body fat is if one consumes less calories (food and drink) than one expends (activity, movement combined with breath). Keep in mind that if you have a slow metabolism and while eating a lot less you consume over 40% of your calories in the form of carbohydrates and don’t burn those calories every day as you eat them, you’ll stay fat. If you didn’t know this, now you know. This is why you see so many skinny-fat vegetarians around. They eat very little, and they eat healthy in general, but they consume too many carbohydrates and don’t burn them off day to day, and that gets stored as fat under the skin. Fat under the skin is exactly what you need to get rid of to have a trim waist, so you must do the opposite of this carb-heavy intake, and you must choose a method of activity that will be ruthless. In choosing your weapon, you have either cardiorespiratory exercise (heart and lungs is what this means), or anaerobic activity that pushes you to a level of constant fat burn, or both. Constant fat burn sounds like the right choice if you ask me, and this means strength training, which is where I come in.

I don’t do cardio. Ever. Here’s why: I don’t need to. I perform strength training movements with a level of intensity (constant elevated heart rate) within a specific amount of time (40-60 min.) to complete a specific range of sets (15-25) in a gym environment three times a week. If I were to perform cardio exercises during that same time frame, my body would begin a cycle of overtraining which leads to exhaustion and injury. This is also how I do yoga, which can be cardio if vinyasa, and as I just stated, I don’t do cardio.

There is a very little known fact called Excess Postexercise Oxygen Consumption, or EPOC, which can be explained as the elevation of the body’s metabolism after exercise. Your goal will be to maximize this. Built into the variability and your possible maximization of EPOC is the genetic construct that your body has its own objective to expend as little energy as possible. In order to do this, the human body is a highly adaptable organism that readily adapts to the demands placed on it. By maximizing the oxygen consumption needed for the duration of a training session as well as for the recovery from the training session, the body can continue to adapt to greater demands and continue a high metabolic rate during and after exercise to burn more calories at all times, even though the body will adapt to specific demands over time and begin to use minimal energy to perform them. What this translates to is the higher the intensity of the training session, the greater the magnitude of EPOC. Furthermore, splitting the training session into multiple sessions (usually two) of equal time has the greatest effect on EPOC, and therefore the greatest effect on burning calories and body fat reduction.

If you’ve followed me so far, this next paragraph will blow your mind. Fat and glucose are your major sources of fuel for exercise. A fire cannot burn without oxygen, and so for these fuels to be used more efficiently, the body must be able to receive enough oxygen, allowing fat and glucose to be “burned” as fuel. The waste products of this fuel burning are carbon dioxide and water. This is where the importance of your lungs as accessory fat burners comes into play. The amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide exchanged in the lungs normally equals that used and released by body tissues, allowing us to use these respiratory gasses to estimate caloric expenditure, a method called indirect calorimetry, measured with a metabolic analyzer to detect an individual’s respiratory exchange ratio, or RER. This ratio is the ratio of carbon dioxide produced to the volume of oxygen consumed. It is a known fact that the human body uses the highest percent of its fuel from fat when the body has an RER of 0.71, indicating at first blush that whatever exercises you do, just make sure you’re at an RER of 0.71; this is exactly what I do and therefore suggest for you to do as well. The only problem with all this scientific data analysis is that in the real world the only time the body can be at 0.71 RER is when it is completely at rest.

Mind blown? This means you can’t burn the most fat by doing cardiorespiratory exercise. This means the people that only go to the gym to use cardio equipment to lose fat are doing it wrong. They should say they are just going to the gym to burn a few calories in the hope of burning and losing fat. Getting back to EPOC, you may have already figured it out, but if you haven’t I’ll spell it out for you. If you train three times a week doing weight training at a high intensity for your fitness level, you will maximize the caloric expenditure (oxygen consumption) during your training session by keeping your heart rate elevated for the entire duration of 40-60 minutes, and you will maximize the oxygen consumption (caloric expenditure) needed for the recovery from the training session. This means as you rest throughout the day and during your sleep until you are ready for another 40-60 minutes of exercise, you will attain an RER of 0.71 and therefore burn fat most efficiently. This also means that without lots of rest, you won’t burn as much fat, and with less rest, you will get fatter. Of course, you just have to give yourself a good reason to deserve the rest, and the two aspects of intensity followed by rest neatly sum up yoga in action. Cardiorespiratory training typically stops being effective as soon as you stop performing the cardio exercise, meaning it only works as you are doing it. This is great news for constantly counting your calories burned on the treadmill, but takes greater time management and greater discipline leading to higher possibility of failure, not to mention loss of major muscle tissue (if it’s not in the fat burning RER, it has to burn something) when done for over 20 minutes at a time.

The next entry will focus primarily on yoga poses and related movements that will target your abdominals to strengthen them, shape them, and thereby making your spine happier about not overcompensating for weak abs. Other poses will be suggested solely for metabolic quickening through thyroid activation. Until then, start burning fat, rev up your metabolism, and start feeling healthier and stronger on a cellular level through proper nutrition.

The Science of Yoga

November 7, 2011

If you haven’t opened up to the benefits of asana followed by meditation to start your day, you probably have a good reason! Keep in mind, though, that “I don’t have enough time” is not a good reason. I mean reasons like, “that’s not for me”, or “I am not interested in joining a cult”, or “I don’t believe in God”. If those sound like your reasons, you’re in luck! Spoken in general American terminology, Yoga is actually called Flexibility Training, followed by Mental Therapy. Maybe you are in top physical condition and don’t need any kind of flexibility training, and maybe your mental health is in a state of perfection; therefore, maybe you don’t need Yoga.

The science of Yoga from the perspective of Yoga goes far beyond what we here in the West require as proof to feel logical understanding, trust, and security to become involved. Our “required proof” lies in the realm of exercise science, stuff we can make sense of on a practical level way before the profound concepts beyond and including humanity are accepted, less understood. Because I am aware of this resistance and general incomprehensibility in our culture, I will begin to describe yoga in terms of exercise science and explain the aspect of meditation as a mental health maintenance protocol.

I’d like to start with the word Posture. To most people, yoga means putting yourself in different poses, or moving through a series of poses. We all have an idea of what poor posture is, and definitively poor posture and repetitive movements (even sitting at a computer on a daily basis like I’m doing now to type this is repetitive stress) create dysfunction within the body. The body treats this as an injury, initiating a repair process. Adhesions form and can become permanent structural changes in soft tissue along lines of stress with an inelastic collagen matrix. Here’s where it gets scary: muscle fibers can be prevented from moving properly because these stress-induced inelastic remodeled soft tissues act as roadblocks in the neuromuscular system. This is the worst case scenario of why good posture is so important, and every physical yoga posture is one that has been scientifically designed in the yoga world, just as in the exercise science world flexibility training restores the normal extensibility of the entire soft tissue complex and every stretching technique is one that has been scientifically designed in the sports medicine world.

Next time, we’ll match and compare yoga postures with stretching techniques. It is important to note that yoga is not a stretching technique, but within the similarities the common denominator is the human body. By explaining the benefits of stretching techniques, we will explain in a “modern” way the positive effects of yoga in its smallest sense, or the physical benefits of a regular practice.

In Part I, we established that the mind controls the body, and that you have complete control of your mind. Whether or not you take responsibility for the control of your mind is up to you, and any and all results ultimately will rest upon the application, use, or neglect that you exhibit. Attitude is the arrow launched after the purpose has been decreed.

The next step takes us outside of the mind to bridge the gap between the intention and the enacted result. This is assessment, and the ideal is objectivity. This is a difficult and shaky bridge for many to traverse because it is fraught with manifestations of personal subjectivity that lead to destructive criticism, lack of confidence, pessimism, self-doubt, and ego battles. If you truly understand that one simple sentence you just read, then you can move on triumphantly over this bridge and watch the bountiful rewards of positive assessment grow to their ultimate potential in this step.

Assessment is a basic, dry, no-nonsense procedure that is ongoing and unweighted. If it isn’t that, it is ineffective. If your two first steps, attitude and assessment, or just one of them becomes inefficient or ineffective, you will be one of the majority of people that call themselves old and try to corral others into talking and agreeing about their collective oldness. So keep it simple, keep it unweighted with thoughts and judgements that are sabotage, and do the following with optimistic joy.

Forget your past history about your physical existence in this body. If you have historical precedents about  what you can’t do and will never be, throw them out now. These will weigh you down and are loot bags for the pity party. When you look at yourself in the mirror, take note of how much space your body occupies from the bones that hold you up to the outer layer of skin that you can see. Make realistic notes for yourself about what the next step is from here so that when you get to that next step and see yourself in the mirror you will be poised for making a new note about the next step after that. These incremental steps should be able to be met by you in timeframes no shorter than a week and no longer than 3-4 weeks. Any other steps that fall outside of this range are either unrealistic or impossible to keep track of and will prove ineffectual and a form of self-sabotage.

Your physical form in this world is a highly malleable one. There are more soft parts on our bodies than hard parts, and all the soft parts can change shape and can be under your control. If you’ve never taken control over your soft parts or never considered it as a power you have, now is the time.

Understand that you are what you eat. If you go about this with an eating disorder your body will look disorderly. After assessment you can now empower the direct results by being discerning with the quality of materials you use to build your structure, to create your physical representation of the art within. In the next part of this series, we will discuss being the gatekeeper of the entryway that makes or breaks your physical body.

More Yoga Muscles

November 10, 2010

Do you, or have you ever gone to a health club? Whether you belong to a gym or not, it can be an intimidating place because of the way most health clubs are run. You enter through the front door and have to pass the front desk by either signing in or swiping a card across a laser, or having an employee enter a number into a computer for you. Now you enter the facility and it’s all up to you. Everyone is there for varying reasons, working toward different goals, and at different stages of attaining those goals. How do you know what to do once you join a health club? You’ve paid your money, you’ve shown up in your workout duds, and you’re in a sea of people off doing their own things. Some people may be coupled with personal trainers, guiding them through focused plans with supervision. The truth is, if you don’t feel confident that you know enough about your body and what brings results without hurting yourself or pushing you along that edge that will promote changes that you want, hiring a personal trainer is a good idea. And this brings me to Yoga.

No matter who you are, what level of fitness you are at, or what your physical fitness goals are, a personal trainer will tell you, among other things, that the suggested place to start is stabilization training. This doesn’t mean benching, or squatting, or curling, or pressing anything that comes near your maximal strength ability. Think of putting your fast twitch muscles on a temporary vacation so you can concentrate on your slow twitch muscles, the ones that require oxygen to work and can endure longer durations of use. These are the muscles that stabilize your body when you think you’re not doing anything, like standing straight, sitting upright, bending over, or moving your body to change positions for any reason. This is one of the reasons Yoga has become so popular here in the US as a fitness trend. As a whole, Americans do less from day to day because more of their work and home activities are becoming more automated, causing a deterioration in the conditioning of the stabilization muscles of the body. Yoga happens to condition exactly those muscle groups through the asanas, preparing the body for movements that can be built upon a strong core.

Of course, there are many different kinds of Yoga that one may choose to practice, and all or some of the above may not apply to your practice. Also, in order to build a solid stabilization base, very specific core adaptation variables have to be chosen for the possible goals of any individual. A general fact is that Yoga produces a stronger body, and is much larger in scope than stabilization exercise. Yoga goes beyond the body and tunes what can be referred to as the psychology, awareness, and spiritual aspects of living, something that is absent from all forms of conventional fitness training that deal only with the body, its systems, biomechanics, motor control, and flexibility. Yoga is not flexibility. If it is any one thing, it is steadiness. It is important to understand that while most people will be drawn to Yoga for fitness or social reasons, the goal is to move past all physical connotations and attachments, as these are only inroads to the destination. In the gym, the destination is just another road, and this is perfectly fine if you understand it.