Why Do We Do So Many Standing Poses in Our Yoga Classes?

Why Do We Do So Many Standing Poses in Our Yoga Classes?

Most of us would love to have a great set of pins, you know the ones I am talking about… muscular, lean and that look absolutely awesome in whatever we choose to wear.

Genetics has a bit to do with what you end up with however working your legs, both upper and lower will get you the best legs you can possibly hope for. That is to say use them and you will improve them!

Love Your Gut

Love Your Gut

The vast majority of the population suffer with some sort of digestive disturbances, ranging from general reflux and heartburn to flatulence and bloating, with a smaller but still significant percentage experiencing constipation, diarrhoea, cramping and stomach pains, headaches, nausea, vomiting and feelings of fullness. Perhaps some of you have attempted to cut out gluten for a couple of weeks, to find the alternatives to your normal fare dry, crumbly, over sugared, gross. Others have put it all in the too hard basket and simply avoid certain social settings where noisy farting is inappropriate. Most often, you tell yourself that it’s just ‘normal’. To be fair, it likely does feel normal as you’ve been feeling bloated after meals for so long now it’s all you know. After all, it takes not being bloated and uncomfortable to know what it feels like to be bloated and uncomfortable.  This blog contains a few simple suggestions to treating your diggestive system with the love and kindness it deserves.

 

Practice is essential

 

When you step onto the mat in front of your teachers, whether it be for Yoga, Pilates or HIT, what you, as a student should work to cultivate, accept and recognize is the value in how you can take in the teachings that are being offered to you, and put them into your practice right then and there.

What was that instruction you were given in class??

As students of a subject, any subject, we should expect to practice.

Practice means looking, listening, choosing, applying the effort, and doing those actions that bring a steady experience through a more stable body, greater oxygenation of the cells and contentment with our own individual efforts.

Like any new language, whether it be Music, French, or Physical movement, the basics of comprehension, technique and application help establish the foundations of your understanding. The basics create, support and instil the confidence that is required for your individual progression.

Attune your ears to listen and receive and above all practice to feel.

Just turning up to class and performing is not enough, whether you are the teacher or the student. Practice is essential to understand your own body, mind and breath through the subject as it comes to you.

‘As a yoga teacher, I regularly observe students either limiting the freedom of their bodies movements because of fear, lack of understanding and/or pain, or attempting to break the bodies limits by using willpower and force in an incorrect manner. It is in my opinion that when the body is unprepared, both these approaches are fundamentally wrong.’

Come to classes to learn a method to progress that is step by step.

Learn the basic and never underestimate the value in learning them over and over again.

Your teachers have learnt to teach you step by step.

So let go and trust them.

Try not to let your desires get in the way of a respectful truth.

Maybe your right thigh is dull and does not respond to the instructions!

In the process of learning, work to understand and let go of the attachments, fears, aversions and false identities that influence your understanding. Come to the session with an open mind and an eagerness to change.

Why pay to stand before a teacher and then choose not to listen?

Come and be intense and determined?

Accept the teaching in whatever way it comes to you and enjoy the mental space that surrendering to a process invites.

Progress is not checked by your list of injury nor is it checked by your abilities to stand on your head for 20 minutes or lift 150Kg.

You all know the body a little, you have read about it and studied its systems at some stage in your life at school. This study of your anatomy and physiology gave you an objective knowledge of the body. What about your experience of your body, of being in your body, with your body? There are so many ways to measure progress, sensitize and educate physical movement and dare I say, to experience our very existence.

Check in with your motivations and look at the body, and get to know it well for it is the ONLY body that you will be given for this life journey.

Come to your classes ready to hear the teachings being delivered to you. Be disciplined in your approach and respectful of your own body and the teacher’s ability to ‘See’ you.

Be prepared to learn from the beginning, trust and value what experience has to offer you.

Watch who you become when you are challenged and deal with that!

Pilates Republic or Yoga Republic - Which one is right for me?

WHY WOULD YOU DO PILATES REPUBLIC CLASSES?

They are simple, effective and to the point.

They will give you greater control of your body, a strong, supple core and will make you feel frickin awesome.

Drawing on the principles that make Joseph Pilates’ original repertoire so effective, Pilates Republic classes are vigorous, physically demanding and highly, highly addictive.

The Pilates repertoire was designed to make your body strong, agile and ready for anything. It has no philosophical or meditative aspects.  Classes are presented in term size blocks that we call courses. They run in line with school terms and in levels 1 and 2.

Week 1 and 2 are always a refresher of the basics and introduce new students to the way the classes work.  Level 1 is not necessarily easier than level 2.  Level 1 focuses on the basics and builds strength, endurance and flexibility.  Level 2 classes are available by invitation
from level 1. They include training towards handstands, backbends and gymnastic ring work.

Classes are taught in a carefully designed, ‘layered’ format so that whether you’re a beginner or a gymnast there is challenge available to you.

If you enjoyed your class or want to know what to expect you can follow along to a basic warm up here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0beLgfY-ano

If you would like to try level 2 before level 1, we’ll assume you are currently physically active. We request that next time you’re in the gym or on the mat you go through our Pilates Republic heat map. Count your capabilities and decide for yourself. It’s a great little document that will be with you forever. You’ll never be without a workout designed just for you!

WHY WOULD YOU DO YOGA REPUBLIC CLASSES?

Because we could all do with a little more day to day inner peace. No?

Yoga is about a lot of things, but first and foremost it is about looking after ourselves, those around us and the world around us for mutual benefit.  Yoga translates roughly from the sanskrit “yog” as ‘yoking’ or tying together.

The practise of yoga aims to tie together our body, our mind and the other bit… soul, atman, consciousness… the bit that science can’t explain. A bit like water, milk and coffee combine to make a perfect latte.

Yoga Republic helps you do this through movement and breathing - asana and pranayama.  Whereas Pilates Republic classes train you towards outcomes - push you to achieve new things with your body - Yoga Republic, in essence doesn’t care what you can do with your body.

In the Yoga Republic we use our bodies to observe our response to challenge, to find a more peaceful relationship with ourselves and the world around us, and to be observant (some might say mindful) of the way we react to challenges.

That might make it sound like it’s all about challenge. It’s not.

Our morning and evening practise classes use vinyasa (flowing movement) and breathing to create suppleness in your body and equilibrium in your mind. We help you feel relaxed and calm as well as challenged. These classes are ‘open’ sessions. Open to all students.

Technique and application classes move a little slower and pay more attention to the details of asana. The classes are run in term size blocks that we call courses and we highly recommend at least one of these classes per week. In these classes we will hep you to find your way towards more challenging positions and deeper understandings of the poses you know.

 

If you still have questions about which class is right for you, call in to the studio and have a chat to one of the instructors.

FREE Strength Training workouts for Christmas/NY break

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The question keeps being asked: how can I maintain my strength base until next term?

The workout below focuses on two moves and two moves only:

- The Turkish Get Up

- Swing

Hang on a second, where are the squats, deadlifts, push ups amongst others? Don't these two exercises really cross those barriers and help me maintain my gains?

First of all Yes! Secondly... they'll give you a whole lot more for free :)

As some of you may now, Pavel Tsatsouline was the man responsible for popularising the kettlebell in America starting in the late 1990s. He had a long time relationship with the DragonDoorb but a few years ago broke away from DragonDoor and the RK (Russian Kettlebell Certification) and started a new organisation, StrongFirst. His most recent book is titled "Simple and Sinister" and it details his new version of Program Minimum, the updated version of the programming he described in the classic "Enter the Kettlebell" book.

Throughout the StrongFirst community, there are thousands of people globally who repeat this workout daily to keep fit and strong, from Navy Seals Special Forces to mere mortals like you and I. Personally speaking, if I have to choose one work out to complete most days to get me bang for my buck, it would be Program Minimum.

Equipment Required - Two Kettlebells ($100 second hand or from Aldi, ebay or other discount provider). Don't worry about getting anything fancy, just get something that does the job. An old dumbbell works, although not as ideal as the main weight isn't positioned over the wrist (more on each side) but we work with what we have. If you do choose to buy a couple of kettlebells then remember, these are legacy items, they will outlive you so as far as I see, your purchase will be a worthy investment. 

Starting weights - the creator recommended 16kg for an "average strength" man and 8kg for a woman. If you can go heavier that's great. 

Workout frequency - from 1-4x per week

Warmup - 10 minutes of wall squats (bodyweight squats facing a wall), "pump" stretches (a combo downward dog/hip flexor stretch), and "halos" (kettlebell passes around the head to warm up the shoulder). Nothing fancy, the actual program is minimal impact and should warm you up by design.

Swing workout - 12 minutes, sets of swings with "active rest" between sets (such as jogging, pushups, pull ups, planks, etc). The number of reps and sets is not specified and is left to the individual.

Getup workout - 5 minutes of continuous getups, alternating sides, no rest. Don't count reps (yeah right).

The progression is kind of nebulous. Eventually you graduate to the RKC "Rite of Passage" which incorporates snatches, clean & press, and complex rep schemes like ladders and randomisation that I have been coaching in the HIT sessions but for now, it's just increase the intensity through time spent on the exercises. 

What the above represents is a HARD continuous 30 minute workout. Our warm up strives for a perfect squat pattern, the kettlebell swing section works our deadlift movement and our Get Up practice will build raw strength, keep mobility high and hit endurance it a high level of mental focus. 

For those that are looking at the above workout thinking it looks easy, if you are like the thousands of StrongFirst devotees who can increase the intensity of the workout themselves while maintaining quality reps, the above an be devastatingly effective. That being said, the concept underpinning PM is lift/swing what you feel. Feeling tired, lack of sleep and energy? Muscles sore? Swings less, add in more rest time. Feeling fresh and full of zing? Overclock the eccentric part of the swing, move faster, rest less, lift heavier BUT keep quality form throughout. 

HIT Team: Get ready for end of term benchmarking!

For those of you that have been to the HIT sessions from the beginning you’ll know that I favour kettlebells. There are a few reasons why I them as my main training tool:

Full-body conditioning. The body learns to work as one synergistic unit linked strongly together.

Big results in less time. Kettlebell training involves multiple muscle groups and energy systems at once.

Increased resistance to injury: strengthening the posterior chain of muscle, stabilises shoulders, spine and hips.

The ability to work aerobically and anaerobically simultaneously. More bang for your buck.

Improved mobility and range of motion

Enhanced performance in athletics and everyday functioning.

Major calorie burning and EPOC (exercise post oxygen consumption). Contributes to increased metabolic rate, assisting fat loss/maintenance.

My teaching, research, and training over the last 5 years has produced a reductionist training program, culminating in my choosing to focus on the “vital few” movements. I have a similar approach to Strength Training, and have written about this in previous blogs. 

At the end of this term, and every term we're going to offer you the ability to benchmark yourself against the first of 5 Levels of Kettlebell proficiency that I've developed in that time. 

Here's what Level 1 looks like.....

1) 500 kettlebell swings. Time limit: 45mins. 16kg KB for females,  24kg KB for males

Your 500 swings is made up of the following, repeated 5 times:

50 swings + 3 pull ups, 6 push ups,  9 air squats

25 swings + 3 pull ups, 6 push ups,  9 air squats

15 swings + 3 pull ups, 6 push ups,  9 air squats

10 swings + 3 pull ups, 6 push ups,  9 air squats

2) Modified "Enter the Kettlebell".  Time limit: 45 mins. 16kg KB for females,  24kg KB for males

5 x Clean, squat and press L+R  plus 5 pull ups

4 x Clean, squat and press L+R  plus 4 pull ups

3 x Clean, squat and press L+R  plus 3 pull ups

2 x Clean, squat and press L+R  plus 2 pull ups

1 x Clean, squat and press L+R  plus 1 pull up

Repeat 5 cycles of the above.

For some,  the completion of the above will represent three months hard practice, for others it may take a year. As long as you train consistently, manage your own rest breaks as required (as opposed to keeping doing reps with ill looking form) and keep mentally sharp, the length of the journey becomes irrelevant. The results come from turning up and training hard.

We can extract certain components such as technique, endurance, certain movements, mobility, mental focus etc but in all honestly, just do it. Everything you need for a strong body and good fitness is in the above: Vertical pull, vertical push, ballistic hinge, squat, bodyweight work, endurance, strength. You name it, it’s there.

So for the remainder of term one we will continue to practice the basics as that’s where 90% of our gains are going to be made!

 

 

 

How to make progress in Strength Training

Calling all strength participants! Please read below for an overview on the key concepts that are underpinning this first term of strength.

 

It’s been fair to say we have a “keep it simple” approach with a focus on Systematic Overload applied to these movements:

 

• One large posterior chain movement (the deadlift is the right answer)

• One large lower body push (the squat is the right answer)

• One upper body push (bench press or military press)

• One upper body pull (pull-ups, rows)

• A simple full-body explosive move (kettlebell swings or snatches)

• And something for what I call an “anterior chain” move (an abdominal exercise). I think the ab wheel is king here, but you can also do some other movements best suited for lower reps.

 

Most of the above fit in our idea that we’re lifting for health not pure vanity. If we choose to  focus on the traditional gym muscles, the pecs and biceps, you WILL see it in the mirror but the really important muscles are the ones you see “when you are walking away.” The traps, the spinal erectors, the glutes, the hams and the calves usually don’t get a lot of media attention. They are the unsung heroes and are some of the primary muscles we aim to make stronger.

 

That being said, there is nothing wrong with wanting to look good naked! With this in mind, the holy grail to achieve this is the pow-wow combo of fat loss and muscle gain. As long as we have step one in the bag (dump sugar and sleep more), it then step two is about starting a strength training program and applying the following concept:  

 

“Systematic, consistent loading, as fast as your recovery will allow”.

....That’s the order of the day for Term One of Strength.

 

Let’s look at that in more detail:

 

Session one, we learn to deadlift. We were happy to get 20kg lifted with average form. Big high fives all round. Plenty of pats on the back, now let’s get down to business.

 

The following sessions in term one are spent tightening up technique and at the same time increasing the loads. We are currently on this road and continuing systematic, consistent loading with the result of making big increases in our weights lifted.

 

At a certain point, enough adaptation has occurred that even 2.5kg per week will seem impossible, so that is the point when complex systems like periodization are required. This will happen quicker than in a young male who is packing in the calories as we recognise that our demographic is different and weight gain just isn’t a priority. It is hoped that the last couple of weeks, people will start to plateau naturally. So, the point being to the above is, where do you think we would be if we started out on some complicated structured program?" I’ve said before when asked about goals for term one that there are no goals. If you really had to squeeze me, it’d be turn up, train hard, rest easy. They aren't S.M.A.R.T goals but fit my aim of keeping it simple in this initial introductory period.  

 

Volume: We are also increasing the reps from week five onwards in a systematic and consistent fashion so we create volume and density in our sessions at the same time as increase intensity via loads. This moves us through to a hypertrophy rep range by the end of the term and completes a full cycle as this is the rep range we were training in on the first session. Long reps for increasing lean muscle mass. Good grip strength and mental fortitude.

 

So, by now, everyone is getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. We’re pushing the weight and the reps up each week (when it’s getting easier) and by the end of the term we’re in a position to bring the rep range down and estimate one rep max (1RMs).

 

Term Two for those who return will see some periodization, sitting deep in the guts of strength training repping 3-5 reps now that we have built up a foundation level of conditioning and dialled in our good technique. This is the point where we aim to set goals based on our 1RMs set above, using assistance exercises, increased intensity and good form to us there safely and in a timely fashion.

 

Please feel free to ask any questions in class about any of the above and a huge well done to all those who have been training consistently since since the start of Oct.

What's in the programming of an HIT session?

White Dog HIT sessions can be summed up as: “I want results, I want to work fast and let my body experience physical stress but still in a controlled and methodological manner”.

I use kettlebells in HIT sessions a lot! They are easy to coach, can be punishing IF you choose the right weight and are very versatile in that you can swing, push, press, squat them as well as a number of other uses.

I use 3 main concepts when writing the HIT programming for the term and the following will give you an insight in how I lay the foundations:

Complexes - Chains - Ladders

 

A kettlebell COMPLEX is a series of exercises performed in a sequence with the same weight and without rest. All reps of an exercise are performed BEFORE moving on to the next exercise. Example:

Double kettlebell swing x 10

Double kettlebell snatch x 10

Double kettlebell squat x 10

Double kettlebell push press x 10

Rinse, repeat until thoroughly exhausted. The above workout would be performed multiple times with adequate rest periods after each set.
 

A kettlebell CHAIN is a series of exercises performed sequentially, but the difference is that you perform only one rep of each exercise in the sequence before starting the sequence over again. Each time the sequence of exercises is performed, it counts as one rep. Example:

Clean

Offset squat

Drop lunge+press

Offset squat

Change arm, cycle and repeat for 10 reps total (5 each arm)

Typically, we’d be pushing the above cycle for a set period of time, say 8 minutes trying to achieve as many reps as possible with impeccable form. This is what I call an AMTAP. As Much Technique As Possible and is the antithesis to the infamous AMRAP workouts that are so pervasive in the HIT community at present. R=reps.


A kettlebell LADDER is used with an exercise and you add a rep for each rung of the ladder. Clean and press example: You do 1 rep with the left and then switch hands and do one with the right. That would be the first rung of the ladder. Then do 2 with the left and then 2 with the right = rung 2. You can do 5+ rung ladders and multiple ladders

The best example of a ladder is Rite of Passage workout that I am a big fan of. Just google.  A simple push/pull workout that can be completed up to 3 times a week and can be toned down or jacked up depending on skill and energy levels that day. It’s a combination of two moves, a Clean & Press and chin ups. Two moves performed in ladders with compressed rest intervals. Simple, brutal and effective. ROP is the definitive staple of my sessions delivery in HIT as it’s been around a long time and has a whole community devoted to it and offering modifications and progressions where needed.


For those of you already doing HIT I hope that helps you to understand what you're doing in class. For anyone not signed up, it might help you make the decision to give HIT a go. My sessions aren’t the usual metafit, bootcamp-esque workouts completed to the beat of the drum or the voice of the drill sergeant. If I had to sum up the White Dog HIT sessions in 10 words… “Body conditioning through intense strength based movements, requiring mental fortitude”.