One way to begin strength training is to buy a set of dumbbells and start moving them around. Over time, bit by bit, we come to understand that we can get better benefits by being more precise: we start organizing our lifting into sets and reps, measuring the amount of weight lifted, planning out which days to train, and so on. What a good trainer understands though, is that there is a step missing here.
This past week has been really busy. Actually things have seemed rather busy for a while now. It is at the point that the piles of 'to be done when I get the chance' on my desk have dates at the bottom of the pile that would be way past due if they were cartons of milk. Some of it if it were packaged cheese. At least I am not at the dried bean stage.
Chaturanga Dandasana, or Plank pose, can be both physically and psychically challenging for the yoga practitioner as the entire weight of the body is balanced across the hands and the toes. It is important to practice this pose in alignment to avoid overstraining the wrists and elbows. Keeping the elbows over the hands at a ninety degree angle and the arms pulled in tightly to the body is correct. Our tendency is to muscle through this pose by only using the front side of the torso, which causes us to incorrectly splay the elbows out and away from the body.
Someone recently asked a question about the history and practice of traditional yoga, and I suggested reading up on the 1893 world parliament of religion. I thought it might be helpful to explain why this event matters for people who do yoga.
I have enjoyed a rich and deep yoga practice for most of my life. My mother practiced yoga when I was young and my sister and I would relish the shoulderstand pose throughout our childhood, if we could keep from giggling at the same time. I trained concurrently in dance and understood the importance of balance in movement--for safety, for beauty. As I have evolved, I have experimented with many different schools within Hatha Yoga and love them all for different reasons. I relish the gym yoga classes where we would collectively power and flow through the most challenging poses.
Ever wonder why most group instructors or trainers end classes or sessions with deep breathing? No, we're not finding ways to waste those last few minutes! Well, ok, sometimes. We're usually doing one of two things or both:
Over the years I have seen quite a few runners find their way into the yoga studio. Typically the reason cited is “I'm so tight!”. Stretching muscles tight places is a benefit a runner can certainly get from yoga. I do think there are some others as well. I also think it is useful to think about what kind of practice, and what sort of asana work might best serve the runner's needs.