2.15.2011

6 and 1/2 Minutes to Feelin' Like a Bad A$$

I've said it at least once, if not a dozen times. Sometimes, it's the little victories that keep you inspired as you battle The Bulge. That's why I don't just weigh myself, I take my measurements and I look for those little benchmarks, like my endurance, pace, current weight used in resistance training, etc.

In my last post, I'm pretty sure I mentioned that I did upward facing dog and didn't even think about it -- other than to think, "Holy Yoga, Batman! I'm doing up dog and not even thinking about it!" Upward facing dog, or up dog, is a real test of upper body strength. Most everyone is familiar with downward facing dog, or down dog. That's where you turn your body into an inverted V: hands and feet on the ground, and butt up to the heavens. You do your best to "raise your sit bones" and lower your heels to the ground. It is a pose that even beginners can do at their first yoga session. The heels probably won't get to the ground -- I've been practicing on and off for 13 years and my heels only make it to the ground if I'm in shoes, doing down dog as part of a cool-down from another workout -- but it is definitely accessible.

Upward facing dog is not a beginner's pose unless you've already spent a few months (years) lifting weights with your upper body. To assume the asana that is up dog, lay on your stomach with your hands, palms on the floor, at your chest. Now, push up, raising your entire body off the floor -- with your toes uncurled so you are on the top of your foot, and let your pelvis drop so your back does a big curve. Because of the position of your feet, the majority of your body weight is on your arms, with the added torque of the dropped pelvis coming into play. Your back and core do not help in this pose, unlike in plank. Now that you are in up dog, hold the pose -- but not your breath.

But enough about up and down dog. Today's post about 6:37 to feeling like a bad ass has to do with plank, side plank, advanced side plank, and chaturanga, with a little down dog thrown in.

One of my trainers/instructors is hard core. Her classes are awesome, but they are HARD. It is a significant achievement if I can leave a class of hers and not have wussied out at some point on something -- "taking a break" as it is kindly called. At Saturday's and Monday's resistance training classes, she did a combination resistance band and body-weight-as-resistance class, generally choreographed to music. After a brutal bicep song, and a little later crucifixion of the triceps, up comes "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.

For over six minutes, we cycled through plank (which is basically the beginning position of a push-up on your toes), down dog, chaturanga (which is basically the bottom of a push-up, where you hold your body as close to the floor as possible without actually being on the floor), side plank (start in plank, then rotate your body so you are on one arm and the sides of your feet, with the free arm raised to the sky), advanced side plank (in side plank, take your bottom foot and extend it out so there is no weight on it and you are holding it off the floor), and a few short breaks in child's pose. And, we can't forget down dog with movement, where you raise one foot up to the ceiling, then lower it around to the side, bending your knee to touch your elbow via your obliques while lowering your body into plank. Our arms were already tired. In side plank, you could see our arms shaking as the muscles struggled to support our weight. Aside from child's pose, there was no break for our arms.

Other than chaturanga, which I'm still probably years away from really being successful at, I didn't wimp out. Not once. Advanced side plank? Oh, yeah. For some, this may not seem like the biggest deal, but for me it is. See, less than a year ago, holding plank, let alone side plank, for more than about 10 seconds was difficult if not impossible. I just didn't have the upper body strength. Through resistance training, regular yoga practice, and weight loss, I have gone from not being able to support my weight on my arms for more than 10 seconds to being able to do it on tired muscles for over 6 minutes. To top it off, I really wasn't sore the next day.

Now, to get over my inhibitions and master crow...

1 comment:

  1. Awesome. That is great! I'm going to have to look up crow. I don't do yoga but maybe I should. I looked up upward dog and tried it - yeah, it's hard, but good. Hmmmm...when is the next yoga class at my gym? :)

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