Stretching in the Winter; Safe Ways to Stretch When It’s Cold Outside

One of the reasons people take up yoga is to get more flexibility. Men are especially known as being less flexible on the mats than their female counterparts. During the summer months when it’s warm outside it’s easier to get a goodcartoonbigguyyoga stretch, especially in the beginning of a class. It typically doesn’t take much to get the muscles loosened up and ready to go.

 

But during the cold winter months, it can feel like an hour or more of warm up is needed just to get the muscles loosened up to take a class. And for those that are naturally less flexible, it can be very frustrating and potentially injurious. What can be done during this time of stress, super tension and cold? Is all hope of flexibility lost? Fear not, for there is still hope.

 

The key to getting a good stretch while minimizing the risk of injury is a good warm up sequence. Waking the muscles up, getting the blood flowing and getting your whole body warm are the three tips to getting the most out of stretching in the cold months. First a little on why it works, then a handy little set you can use to get yourself fired up inside and ready to go.

 

Why it works

During the warm months (weeks if you live in New York), the ambient heat from nature helps the body to relax. The body, muscles and connective tissues are in a pretty constant state of being warm, and as a result are more relaxed. This state of relaxation is what allows the muscles to stretch and lengthen when stretching exercises are done.

 

Now think to the winter months. It’s cold and the wind is slicing through every layer of clothing you have on. Most

Image courtesy of shootingafly.blogspot.com.

Image courtesy of shootingafly.blogspot.com.

people actively pull in towards their center during this time. This is a protective reflex buried in our bodies. What it also does is put the muscles into a constant state of tension. While tensed in this fashion, the muscles are far less likely to stretch safely as they are actively shrinking and pulling in. And that’s why injuries such as pulled muscles occur. But, take those same tense, cold muscles and warm them up first, and you create a safe state for the muscles to stretch.

 

How to warm up your muscles safely

  1. Take a few minutes to acclimate to the warmer workout environment (assuming it is warmer)
  2. Start *slow* and then build the intensity of the warm ups
  3. Stay focused on the fact that these are indeed warm ups and while some of the exercises contain a little cardio, this is not the cardio portion of your work out
  4. Be honest with where you are in getting warm; some days you may need a little more time to warm up adequately, treat yourself to that time
  5. The more body parts you warm up, the safer your work out becomes; avoid warming up just the legs or just the back in favor of time on other parts of your work out

 

To help get you warmed up, I’ve drawn up a list of exercises that will get the whole body warm and the blood pumping.

 

Warm up set

  1. Body tapping – tap your body, shoulders to palms (palms up) and back (palms down). Tap the around the body and finally tap down and back up the legs. This should leave you with a tingling sensation telling you that your blood is flowing now.
  2. Hand squeezes – make a fist as tight as possible and open as wide as possible, repeat 30 or so times
  3. Elbow and shoulder rolls – rotating the joints to open them up both physically and energetically
  4. Hip, ankle and knee rotations – same idea as the shoulders and elbows
  5. Squats – slow motion and holding
  6. Plank/push-ups – slow, steady push-ups with holding planks in between
  7. Jumping jacks – any variation
  8. Coordination drills (hand/knee and hand/foot) such as ladders or mountain climbers

Yoga (2 of 6)

A note to avoid lateral foot work drills before you are warmed up. Those put a lot of pressure on the connective tissue and muscles of the joints. If performed cold you run a greater chance of getting injured.

 

I know that I’m warmed up enough when I have little beads of sweat just starting to form on my forehead. Another good sign is when I check in with my shoulders and quads. When I feel those loosen and relax, I know I’m ready to start my work out safely.

 

This kind of a deliberate warm up isn’t always an option. The top question I get is how to get into a class safely when

By Kennguru (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Kennguru (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

this type of intentional warm up isn’t possible. The short answer is to manage the intensity of your work out. If you’ve not had the time to warm up before a class, cut the intensity of the work out down until you are warmed up. You can still do the exercises, but instead of going full bore, you can lessen your effort or limit your range of motion until you feel you are warmed up and ready to go.

 

In the end, it’s about listening to your body. It will tell you when you are and aren’t ready for something. Everyone is different and every day is different. Some days you may need to just think about getting to your work out and you are set to go, no more warm up needed. Other days maybe the warm up is all you ever get through. There’s nothing wrong with either of those extremes or anything in between. Push your limits, challenge yourself, but do it safely so you are able to stay healthy and don’t have to recover from injuries.

The Beauty of Death – Savasana

A lot has been written about Savasana and its importance to a yoga practice. The time to integrate, absorb and make space for the work done during a practice is crucial to physical/emotional/spiritual growth. That time of rest allows the body and mind to reset and adjust to or find new

Image courtesy of  { lillith }.

Image courtesy of { lillith }.

changes.

 

This integration time is key to yoga. But does it have to be unique to yoga? Think of other activities, sports, forms of exercise that are popular such as Pilates, running, weight lifting, etc. They tend to lack this crucial time at the end.

 

Crucial there is a strong word, but appropriate I believe. I think about the conversations that happen after a long run. Everyone is gathered around their cars saying good bye and there is a number of runners who want to nap because the run was tough. They are tired and sore and their bodies just want to rest.

 

Typically they don’t nap. They rush back to their lives and families and jump right in. As a result, the next day can be physically and mentally tough. Even later that day there is a feeling of being drained and lethargic. Feeling this way myself, I decided to try one of my wholly unscientific experiments.

 

Image courtesy of andreasivarsson  / Flickr.

Image courtesy of andreasivarsson / Flickr.

I did a hard run. Felt tired and knew that I would feel that run the next day and that if left to my normal course of action I would feel drained later. I went home, pulled out my mat and put myself into savasana.

 

I ran for 90 minutes, so I gave myself 15 minutes to incorporate. To be clear, this wasn’t a nap. I was awake and aware and guided myself through savasana just like I would after a yoga class. This includes a little stretch and settle, attention to breath and walking myself through the entire release and allow process.

 

When my time was up, I slowly moved out of savasana and stepped back into the flow of my day. That afternoon, I felt great. Not just great, amazing. That drained, sluggish feeling never showed up. I was amazed and thrilled.

 

Being aware that it just could have been my energy for the day, I repeated this process, not just for running, but for any physically demanding exercise I engaged in. I found a place where I could put myself into savasana quickly after the workout. I kept the same focus on breath, release and allow each time. And each time the typical mental or physical fatigue that would normally follow, never showed up.

 

Intrigued, I wanted to see if the reverse were also true. I took a few yoga classes and (after speaking with the teacher ahead of time to explain) I skipped savasana. Incredibly (but not unexpectedly) I didn’t feel quite as good later that day.

yogaleavepose

I’ve heard many times in many classes that yoga’s real work begins when you leave the mat and that the greatest challenge is to carry what we learn in yoga into real life. I’m not sure it was meant quite this literally, but I appreciate the results of carrying savasana into my other pursuits.

 

I’ve had such great experiences with this that I build time into the end of most of my workouts to find a quiet spot have a little integration time. I’ve found that physically it helps my post workout recovery by minimizing the physical impact of even the most challenging workouts.

 

Emotionally, yoga isn’t the only place where “stuff” can come up. Any intense workout can stir the emotional pot. Without this time, there is a great possibility that we can miss the opportunities to deal with what comes up in these other forms of exercise.

 

And finally mentally. Savasana is transition time. Just as there is typically a centering before yoga to move from the daily life to the mat, savasana is the transition back to life off the mat. Other forms of exercise have warm ups, or we develop our own routines to get our heads focused on the work out. I never really took the time to build a transition routine back. Until I found savasana.

 

Don’t take my word for it. Try it out. Take your next work out or two or three and build in a little savasana time after the work out. See if you find a difference. It’s been said everything is yoga. Yoga ends in savasana, so why can’t a good run?

Yoga: Path to Enlightenment or Damnation?

While visiting my in-laws for Christmas I was taking a yoga class in Dallas, TX. Nice place, good teachers and close by. My first class there was great. It was a Vinyasa flow with lots excellent transitions, a tough work out and a little quirkiness thrown in for good measure. At the end after savasana, the teacher simply said ‘a thanks for coming by I’ll be outside if you have any questions,’ hopped up and left.

 

I’m not a huge chanter, but after an invigorating workout and a good savasana, I like an OM thrown in. It helps me wrap up the integration phase of the class. But not that day. I stretched a little more, took my time and wandered out to the front desk. I started chatting with the teacher and during the conversation I asked why no OM at the end of the class. She looked like a chanter (for those that have been going to classes for some time, you’ll know what I mean).

Image courtesy of Ajna Chakra.

Image courtesy of Ajna Chakra.

 

She explained that in that section of Dallas, the studios wrote into the teacher contracts that there would be no chanting. The studios were afraid of backlash from the very influential churches labeling the yoga studios as a place of false worship and urging the parishioners to no longer go to classes there. It’s Dallas, and that is a very plausible scenario. The churches hold an incredible amount of sway and I’ve seen firsthand how the bishop/minister/preacher can speak for or against something in the community and how the impact of that can make or break an organization.

 

 

 

 

So I did some exploring. The good news is that not all studios have that restriction, and there are even some that are very chant/yoga/Namaste everything over the top to balance things out. The unfortunate side is that many of the schools close to where I was were strictly non-chanting.

 

This raises (yet again for many I’m sure) the question of is yoga a religion. Some believe it is and that it will lead you down the path of ruin. Yoga has roots in many religions and references deities, spirits, God and all sorts of other religious based topics. I don’t view yoga as a religion. I view it as a spiritual practice. For clarity, I will define the two as I use them.

 

Spiritual Practice – any physical or mental activity or action that align my mind, body and spirit in an attempt to bring me closer to harmony with the universe and all beings/things in it. This could be my morning cup of tea, it could be a yoga practice, it could be a Tae Kwon Do class, helping at a soup kitchen or meditation, among other things.

Image courtesy of  { lillith }.

Image courtesy of { lillith }.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Religion – following a prescribed set of practices, physical and/or mental, with the intent of following a specific set of guidelines as proscribed by a particular deity or deities. This could also be done to bring the practitioner closer to said deity or deities. This would be Mass, Communion, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Baptism, Naming Ceremonies and more.

Image courtesy of Beth Levin.

Image courtesy of Beth Levin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I believe yoga is spiritual and can be used to support any religion. In my brief research, there doesn’t appear to be a specific deity or religion that “owns” yoga or claims to be its sole root uncontested. Ganesha, Buddha, Shiva, Brahma and the like are referenced in various styles yoga, but none of them are the total focus.

 

When I was going through my yoga teacher training, one of the guest teachers led sadhana (morning practice before the class work started) and spent the entire time referencing Jesus and God. Instead of using the name of Brahma when referencing creation, he referenced God. This theme was so prevalent that the end of class was closed with Amen instead of OM. Linda Johnsen wrote an interesting piece comparing the similarities of yoga and Christianity.

 

I’m not a religious person. Too many rules and too much reliance on how others interpret what someone else may or may not have said (think the Telephone game but after thousands of years). My opinion, try the yoga class. There is no requirement to chant; you can just sit there quietly as I have done many times.

 

Image from: Virtuousplanet.com

Image from: Virtuousplanet.com

If it just doesn’t feel right, don’t go back. But if it does feel right, if it does feel like a step closer to your religious beliefs, why not keep going. For the guest teacher, yoga is a part of his religious practice. He uses the physical postures in it to bring himself closer to the teachings of God and Jesus. They have Catholic Calisthenics after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether the class uses Buddhist references and mantras, Catholic ones, Jewish, Hindu, Islamic or some other, I believe yoga is a spiritual practice that can be used to support any religion. If a spiritual practice is available and it brings you closer to your religious beliefs, is that a bad thing? More importantly, if it can be used by one religion for support, does that mean it can’t be used by other religions?

 

 

10 Reasons Yoga is Good for Men

Yoga has a long history of being beneficial physically, mentally and spiritually. On top of that, at one time yoga was also only taught to men. Interesting as that is, yoga today seems to be perceived as a woman’s domain. That small obstacle aside, what are the benefits that interest men today? How can yoga help me in today’s world where I don’t have the time or inclination to sit on the top of a hill all day, live in a cave at night and survive on nothing but meditation, the dew from a leaf and the energy of the universe? I’ve put together my top 10 benefits modern men get from yoga.

 

  1. Flexibility of both the mind and the bodycartoonbigguyyoga

In a world where we sit all day, every day in front of computers and in meetings, muscles tighten up and physically we lose range of motion in the hips, shoulders and back. Mentally, all that staring and concentrated focus leads to mental stiffness where we lose the ability to see things from other perspectives or points of view, diminishing creativity and problem solving. Flexibility from a yoga practice can counteract these effects.

 

 

  1. It pushes us out of our comfort zone

    Image courtesy of David Flowers

    Image courtesy of David Flowers

Physically yoga makes us stronger, more flexible and helps to keep us healthy. When paired with a structured breathing practice, yoga can also open up emotional locks. Growing up, boys are often taught that emotions are for girls and that the best way to deal with them is to stomp them down and lock them away. It’s how I grew up. Through my meditation and yoga practice, I learned how to let go of that control. I can now experience my emotions but not be ruled by them.

 

 

 

 

  1. It teaches humility

Standing or sitting in a class and listening to the instructor guide the class into a posture and think “you want me to put my >body part< where??????” Emotionally and mentally I find humility comes to me in the form of little life lessons. Something as simple as remembering to breath during stressful times, or something more profound, such as releasing resistance to change in my life.

 

  1. It teaches us to laugh at ourselves

There can never be too much laughter in the world. Laughter is contagious and an instant mood changer. Don’t believe me, try not to laugh or at least smile when a baby starts laughing. It just can’t be done. Learning to laugh at ourselves relieves stress, tension and things like fear, failure or embarrassment.

 

  1. It gets us away from everything electronic

    Image courtesy of mrsdkrebs.edublogs.org.

    Image courtesy of mrsdkrebs.edublogs.org.

Ironic, I know as I sit here writing this on my computer. However the benefits of disconnecting are numerous. Putting aside the gizmos opens up space for our friends, family and ourselves to come center stage in our awareness. Without the distractions of the next ping-like-tweet, insta-pin-snap-ring-whatever, allows for our brains to stop being digi-distracted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. It shows us it’s okay to take care of ourselves too

    Image courtesy of Moyan_Brenn   / Flickr.

    Image courtesy of Moyan_Brenn / Flickr.

As men we spend a lot of time taking care of others, especially our family. A very wise friend of mine once gave me some advice; don’t forget to take care of yourself. The point he made was that if I did nothing but give of my time, my energy, myself, I would very quickly burn out and have nothing left. At that point, I wouldn’t be able to be helpful to others. Instead, taking some time for myself, to take care of myself, would allow me the ability to stay charged and be able to continue helping family and friends.

 

 

 

 

  1. Strengthens muscles we didn’t remember we had

Take enough yoga classes, and no matter how fit you are, there will eventually be some class that either modifies a known posture, or introduces a new one that finds some muscle or muscle group we didn’t know we had. I don’t always realize it that day, but the next day, I feel it.

 

  1. It can help us be more patient (eventually)

    Image courtesy of like_shipwrecks    / Flickr.

    Image courtesy of like_shipwrecks / Flickr.

Standing or sitting still is tough. With technology that keeps everyone connected all the time, instant gratification just isn’t fast enough anymore. Sustaining a posture, a breathing technique (or both) allows us to move past the point of struggle and resistance to a point of acceptance. Not acceptance of things which are not good for us, but acceptance of change, acceptance of others and most importantly, acceptance of ourselves. That acceptance breeds a humble, strong mind.

 

  1. It can reduce stress

Feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Sweat and distraction are great cures for that. Getting the body moving opens up the muscles, ligaments and tendons. Fresh blood gets circulated throughout the whole body. Putting your entire focus onto the workout at hand opens up mental space to clear out preconceptions and allow for new points of view to be evaluated. I’ve solved more than one tough problem while on a yoga mat or out for a run.

 

  1. It teaches us to breathe

    Image courtesy of kootenaycommunityyogatherapy.blogspot.com.

    Image courtesy of kootenaycommunityyogatherapy.blogspot.com.

In, out, repeat. Breathing is automatic and happens without conscious thought. However, when we think about it, focus on it and guide it, breathing becomes much more than something that “just happens.” Breathing becomes a tool to unlocking our potential. Through breathing we can calm our body and mind. We can also use breath to energize ourselves and create focus and clarity.

 

Yoga is beneficial for pretty much everyone. I think the viewpoint that yoga isn’t for men or excludes men is very limited for both yoga and men. I believe a male perspective on yoga, the sutras and the like adds flavor and a unique view that might otherwise be missed.

 

With this list in mind, I encourage all the guys out there to try out a yoga class. I’ve posted before on ways to approach yoga classes and some translations for what gets said in those classes to make the introduction a little easier. Find a yoga class and if nothing else, just breathe.

Essential Tips for Beginning Yoga Students

Yoga can be intimidating. Walk in to a class filled with bendy, twisty, super in shape people with designer clothes, personalized mats and a language of their own. Throw in the Sanskrit, chanting and occasional harmonium and it can feel like walking into an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Image courtesy of wisdomquarterly.blogspot.com.

Image courtesy of wisdomquarterly.blogspot.com.

 

My first few yoga classes were unsettling to say the least. Incense, strange musical instruments (the harmonium), lots of Sanskrit chanting and a little bit of over-sharing were what met me. But with some encouragement, I kept going back and today, I’m comfortable in that environment, chanting, Sanskrit over-sharing and all, even if I don’t always participate.

 

I thought about what might have made my entrance into this world a little less traumatizing, and I’ve written a brief Beginner’s Guide to Yoga to (hopefully) help others with the transition. I’ve broken this down into three sections; Entering the class, During the class and Leaving the class.

 

 

Entering the class

  1. The Yoga teacher will be friendly; genuinely friendly, it isn’t a mugging or a con.
  2. The funny smell tickling your nose is incense, it’s supposed to calm your energy; it still makes me sneeze.
  3. The front of the room is for the people who want to be seen typically; beginners are better off moving to the sides; it’s a great vantage point and the whole class won’t be looking at your butt.

    Image courtesy of NazarethCollege    / Flickr.

    Image courtesy of NazarethCollege / Flickr.

  4. Grab props (blocks and a blanket especially) if available, and if the teacher recommends anything else, grab that too; props are your friend.
  5. Introduce yourself to anyone who isn’t meditating or face down in some odd looking stretch. This is a community environment (most of the time).
  6. Don’t take it personally if someone you try to strike up a conversation with ignores you; Namaste!

 

 

 

 

During the class

  1. Don’t compare yourself to others in the class – some of them have been going for years, and looking around to see who is better is just going to distract from the purpose of yoga, being in the present.

    Image courtesy of shootingafly.blogspot.com.

    Image courtesy of shootingafly.blogspot.com.

  2. Be kind to yourself – yoga can be challenging, both physically and emotionally, accepting that every day is different and working to your best for that day is the best thing you can accomplish.
  3. Leave the outside world outside the door – for whatever time there is in class, forget the outside world and connect with yourself.
  4. Don’t worry about the sanskrit or the chanting – whether you choose to learn the sanskrit or develop/have an interest in chanting, neither is required for yoga.
  5. Yoga (unless otherwise stated in the class description) isn’t religiously affiliated. It promotes good, nice, friendly things (except for that person that ignored you in #6 above); you are not required to shave your head, get an Om tattoo or anything else that doesn’t feel comfortable.
  6. Be prepared to sweat. Yoga is hard work and uses muscles most beginners either forgot or didn’t know they had in the first place.

 

After the class

  1. Give yourself a minute before jumping up and running out. The first few classes can be very tough, and a good savasana can make you loopy in the head.
  2. Talk a moment and talk to the instructor; especially if the class felt comfortable to you. Learn to tell what makes a good class for you so you can find others like it. It’s also good to occasionally experience classes you don’t feel so good about so you know what to avoid.
  3. Ask questions about the teacher, the studio and other classes. Especially if you liked the class and the feel of the studio.
  4. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Water is your friend, especially if it’s a hot yoga class.
  5. Be ready to be a little sore later.
  6. Don’t take it too seriously – yoga is about personal growth and improvement. The most authentic and wisest people are also the funniest in my opinion. Laugh at yourself, laugh for no reason, laugh when you fall and laugh when you soar. Like Om, laughter is a universal sound. You don’t believe me; try not laughing when a baby starts giggling uncontrollably.

 

Yoga is different from other forms of exercise in many ways. It also has a number of similarities. My best recommendation is to go in with an open mind, ignore whatever is just too weird at the moment, be kind to yourself during the class and have fun. Worst case, someone looks at you like you are a barbarian because you eat meat. Best case, you find a new fun way to build your mind, body and spirit and quite possibly, make a new friend.

By MIT-Libraries [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Flickr

By MIT-Libraries [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear of the unknown is a terrible reason not to do something. Not liking it after you’ve tried it is perfectly fine; you tried it. I have yet to find a yoga studio that kidnaps innocents out of the classes for brainwashing and robe fittings; at least they don’t do it on the first day. So try it out. You might just like it.

Yoga Postures for Men: Camel

 

Camel (Ustrasana) is a posture I like a lot. The posture itself requires strength, stability and control. However it’s one of those postures that gets queued almost exclusively in the feminine. Some of the most common include open your heart, spread your joy and open yourself to your inner goddess.  Instead I like to queue this as a way to strengthen the abs, back and legs and stretch the shoulders and chest.  As someone who sits in front of a computer all day, I really like the stretch.

 

Why this posture is especially good for men.

 

Strength building

  • Legs
  • Back
  • Abs
  • Glutes

Stretching and Expanding

  • Chest
  • Lungs
  • Abs
  • Shoulders
  • Spine

Stimulates and Regulates

  • Circulatory System
  • Adrenals
  • Kidneys
  • Balances Metabolism
  • Energizes the mind and relieves stress

 

Start kneeling (place a blanket under your knees if that is more comfortable).  Lengthen through the crown of the head and the tail bone in opposite directions.

Yoga -5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Engage the abs in and up and place the hands into the small of the back for support. Inhale and lengthen to move the head backwards and the chest up towards the sky.  While this does open the chest, I like the extra support for my lower back that comes from slightly squeezing the shoulder blades together.  In addition to supporting my back, this is great for opening and loosening the shoulders.  If you type all day like I do, or just have burly shoulders (not really me), this can give quite the head-rush as blood vessels open in the shoulder and neck leading to the brain.Yoga -14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a block inside each foot and place one hand at a time on the blocks. Again inhale and lengthen the spine while opening the chest to the sky. If it is comfortable, move the hands to the heels or ankles and push the hips forward.  Again, the key here is to lengthen through the back and not to compress it by trying to bend all the way back on day one.  Yoga -21

 

Finally, if it’s comfortable, let the head gently roll back fully opening the chest.  There aren’t too many opportunities to stretch across the chest and shoulders.  Breathing into the belly here helps keep the abs engaged to keep pressure off the lower back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To come out of the posture, begin by first lengthening through the spine and engaging the abs even more. Next place the palms in the lower back for support and lift through the head to come back up right slowly.  The first few times I did this, I came out too quickly and ended up a bit dizzy.  If that happens, just sit with it until the dizziness subsides.

 

Key points when doing camel include lengthening instead of bending in the back (especially the lower back) and lengthen the neck to not pinch it by letting it flop when fully opening the chest.

 

One other important note on this posture, don’t rush it. We sit so much all the time; in front of computers, video games, televisions, etc. that the lower back eventually becomes a solid mass and loses its flexibility. Camel is a great posture for countering that, but if done too deeply too quickly, it can lead to injury. Much like the camel crossing the dessert, slow and steady with this posture.

 

Yoga Postures for Men; Chatarunga

When I first started yoga I did a lot of Vinyasa flow type yoga. Inevitably there is a series where I start in Down Dog and move through Plank – Chatarunga – Up Dog back to Down Dog. It wasn’t until I went through my yoga teacher training that I began to understand that Chatarunga was an actual posture separate from Up Dog.

 

In taking the time to break down the posture, I came to understand why it is often rushed through in most yoga classes; it’s a challenging posture. By challenging, I mean mentally as well as physically.

 

The first thing to understand is that Chatarunga is not a push-up. I love push-ups, but the physical alignment is a little different and the tempo and breathing are (typically) different. This change in tempo (much slower in theory) and the precision of the posture can increase the resistance to this posture.

 

Yoga (1 of 6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first step is to start in a good plank. Shoulders over the wrist, long back, extending through the crown of the head and the heels in opposite directions and engage the abs.

 

Yoga (2 of 6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

You want to avoid moving straight down like a push up or “dropping” down as I have been queued on multiple occasions.  You also want to avoid any drooping or mountain butt posture.

 

Yoga (6 of 6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead shift your body forward so the shoulders move slightly past the palms.

 

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Coordinating your breath, exhale and slowly lower your body toward the ground. Stop lowering when your triceps become parallel to the ground (avoid the chest bump on the mat).

 

Yoga (5 of 6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inhale and slow push back up to plank or push back to downward dog.

 

Yoga (2 of 6)

 

 

 

 

 

Slowing this posture down and recognizing it as a posture of its own is the first step to discovering a fantastically challenging, dynamic and versatile pose. As you play with this asana, you’ll find it fits into a great many places in a flow and the challenges it offers and the work it does to help the body and mind make it irresistible.

 

If you would like to share your experiences, I encourage you to leave comments here.