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.

10 Minutes To Get The Body and Mind Moving

Job, family, kid’s activities, dinner, home projects, pets and a million other things compete for our time every day. With all that noise and competition it’s tough to carve out time to take care of ourselves. Sleep deprivation is one option, and I’ve certainly used it in the past. But there are still days where even that isn’t an option.

 

Instead of stressing over missing a day (and for me, the grumpiness that fills my day), I have a quick (and in my opinion fun) way to get a little stretch and strengthen put back into the day. And it’s only 9 moves and 10 minutes. Full disclosure, this is not a super cardio, super stretch, ab ripping or other intensive set. It’s meant as a way to get the body (and energy) moving on days where there just isn’t time for anything else.

 

Empty Coat Sleeves (2 minutes):

Feet shoulder width apart, let the arms hang down at your sides like empty coat sleeves (hence the name). Start by slowly twisting side to side letting the arms flop against the body. Slowly increase the tempo and as you turn, let the opposite side heel come up. Play with the tempo and the slowly add breath to the movement. Inhale as you come to center, exhale as you twist. Start to slow the swings and let the arms come to rest.

 

Hip Circles (5 each leg each direction):

Root one leg into the ground, shift your weight to that leg, engage the abs in and up then inhale to float the opposite leg up, bent at the knee. Keeping the planted leg engaged, draw the largest circle you can with the bent knee. Reverse the circles. Slowly lower the leg, shift your weight to the second leg, and repeat on the second side.

 

Leg Balances – each leg about 15-20 seconds (2-3 sets):

Start as above, feet hip distance. Plant one leg, thigh muscles gripping the bone, engage the abs in and up and inhale to slowly float the other leg up, bent at the knee and hold while continuing to breath. Float the leg down, shift the weight to the other leg, and repeat on the second side.

 

Wall Push, each leg forward (3 sets, 10-15 seconds each):

Stand with palms pressed against the wall. Step one leg back a comfortable distance. Front knee is stacked over the front ankle, the rear leg is long and strongly planted into the ground. Engage the abs in and up, inhale and slowly exhale as you press into the wall (10-15 second) and release. Repeat two more times. Switch feet.

 

Low/High lunges – just a good stretch:

Starting with feet planted, hip width apart, step far back with one leg. Keep the front knee stacked directly over the front ankle. Place your hands either on the floor or a block for balance. Keep the hips square and lengthen though the spine. Keep your rear leg straight and slowly pivot up at the hip, lengthening the tailbone down. This is a great stretch for the hip flexors and thighs. Stay here for a minute or so and enjoy the stretch. Switch sides before moving on.

 

Standing Wide Angle Forward Fold – a good stretch and release the head to relax:

Start with the feet a comfortably wide distance apart, legs straight but the knees aren’t locked. Engage the abs in and up, lengthen through the spine and fold slowly from the hips. Only after folding as far as you can, release the hands to the ground (or blocks) and let your body fold down and release your head and let it just hang loose. Relax here for several breaths and enjoy the mini-inversion. To come out, place hands on ground or blocks and use your arms to push up to a flat back, bend the knees slightly and hinge up to standing. Walk the feet together.

 

Seated Forward Fold (legs together) for good stretch; keep back long:

Come to a comfortable seated position with the legs straight out in front. Lengthen through the spine and the heels. Engage the abs in and up and begin to hinge forward at the hips. Hold here for a few breaths. You can then release and fold forward, supported by your hands. Hold here and breathe. Engage the abs, press the palms into the ground to straighten your spine. Hinge up from the hips to finish the release.

 

Seated Twist (each side):

Leave one leg extended and lengthen up through the spine. Bend the other leg at the knee and place the foot to the outside of the extended leg. Keep the spine lengthened and slowly twist towards the lengthened leg. Breathe a few times and slowly release. Switch legs and repeat on the second side.

 

Savasana, focus on belly breathing:

Lie down on the floor on your back. Feet slightly more than hip width apart and let the feet fall open. Hands about 45 degrees from the body, palms up. Release and relax every part of your body. This may take a minute or two, but don’t rush. When you’re ready, focus on the lower belly. As you inhale, let just the lower belly blow up like a balloon filing with air. As you exhale, let the belly sink down towards your spine; repeat. Take as long as you want here, but to keep it short, about 10 breaths or so will do. To come out, turn slowly to the left, pause, then push up to a seated position. Pause again before standing up and moving on with your day.

 

And now you’re done. Short, sweet and just enough to get your body, energy and mind moving and staying sharp for as long as you need. As I said earlier, this isn’t a cardio blast by any means, but it will get you moving.

 

Once you are comfortable with the series, I encourage you to play with different types of breathing to either bring up or level out your energy and mind.

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.

The 7 Steps to Fixing Everything About Yourself

My screen is filled with all sorts of 3 step, 5 step, 7 step (even a 31 step) list of things you should/shouldn’t do articles and blog posts. Feeling inspired, I decided to write one of my own.

Some rights reserved by birgerking

Some rights reserved by birgerking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 7 Steps to Fixing Everything That is Wrong with You

 

  1. Read every 3-12 (or more) step blog looking to for any problem you didn’t know you had

Subscribe to every email list you can find. There are recommendations for all sorts of things you didn’t even know were wrong with you. I recently learned my Paleo-Vegan diet might one day kill me.

  1. Always assume you need to be fixed (for the best way, see number 1 above)

After all, if your life isn’t perfect, with the perfect mate, perfect skin, perfect make up, perfect pet, then you are obviously deficient in some way and it will likely kill you soon, or give you some horrible disease that can only be kept under control with medications that have side effects which include blindness, eye color change, loss of limbs and/or explosive heart syndrome.

  1. Chase every new super food, diet, cleanse, program, or whatever to work smarter not harder

Mother Nature is wrong. The only way to stay healthy and at your perfect weight without exercise, portion control or real food, is to cleanse, diet and gorge on super foods. Ideally all at the same time.

  1. Work on ‘improving’ yourself in as many ways as possible, all at once

With so many obvious flaws, and a limited life span thanks to a reckless diet and not enough super foods, you need to get started right away on fixing those flaws. And not one at a time, that’s going to take far too long. Jump in (unless your current medicinal side effects include brittle bone disease, then walk in) and start fixing everything all at once.

  1. Find the app for that

There is an app for pretty much everything out there. If you haven’t installed an app (or 2 or 3 or 10) to start diagnosing and fixing your problems; what’re you waiting for? You aren’t going to live forever.

  1. Take every self-help class you can from every self-proclaimed guru you can find

After all, they said they’re enlightened (better, fixed, whatever) and why would they lie? What the latest guru says contradicts the last one? Well, that last one was obviously a quack, and you need to go find someone else to tell you what’s wrong with you and for a mere $5000 payable in 12 easy installments, put you on the path to their next course..oh yeah, and on the path to fixing you.

  1. Run over anyone who gets in the way of your journey to being a better person

Whether this is verbally, physically or emotionally, don’t let anyone get in the way of you improving yourself. And anyone who tries isn’t really there for you and needs to be exiled out of your life. After all, who are these people to tell you that you aren’t broken? Family? Friends? What do they know? Show them the latest blog post on why avocados make the best under arm deodorant; they need to be educated or cut loose!

 

Follow these steps without fail, and I will guarantee absolutely nothing. I’m not saying some of the stuff out there isn’t good. Quite the opposite, some of it is great; thought provoking, insightful and inspiring. However, I also believe that we as the readers need to filter all the advice and lists through our own actual needs to support our own individual journey. Change is a very personal thing. I understand the benefits of coconut oil in cooking and other things; but I can’t stand the smell or taste of the stuff. So there really isn’t a need for me to read about how good it is for me. I’m still not going to use it.

 

In my experience, these lists are typically short and not very detailed, nor are they meant to be. I believe that they offer ideas to get the reader thinking so that we, the readers, can go and explore new ideas. Some (coconut oil for example) may never go any further. But others might set your world on end and start you down a path you hadn’t seen.

Image courtesy of pyrat_wesly.

Image courtesy of pyrat_wesly.

 

 

 

It’s still a good piece of advice to not judge a book by its cover. In this age of instant information and self-proclaimed knowledge, sometimes the content of the book (or blog post) shouldn’t be taken at face value either.

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.

 

Yoga (4 of 6)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.