More Gymnastics, Less Yoga

My workouts have been shifting the past few months.

I’m starting to diversity my workouts away from forceful and obsessive asana practice. At the time, I’m trying to incorporate the following:

  • more vinyasas – either Ashtanga or more intensive flows
  • strength training – arms and shoulders)
  • regular core work
  • myofascial release at least once a week
  • cardio via a Tabata class on Cody

Backbends and flexibility have taken a backseat right now. Handstands aren’t a priority until my shoulders and core are stronger. In a way, I’m trying to take more of a gymnastics approach to the bodyweight movements that I’ve been working on.

For example, after watching Daniel Scott’s tips on headstand training, I started working on straddle and tucking in my tripod headstand:

You can see that I’m focused on toe point, quad engagement for straight legs, balancing away from the wall and good, clean reps*. These are aspects to good gymnastics training. I’m not aiming to be a professional at all, but it makes a difference to your overall practice to have regular, good habits.

I’m also making miniscule progress on my L-sits! Following a tutorial from Ryan Hurst of Gold Medal Bodies, I am using push-up bars to work on starting from a tuck position into a full L-sit:

Legs are shaking but holy cow, my quads are starting to “get it”! I didn’t realize that trying to start from the floor up was so tough until Ryan pointed it out; it was the wrong starting point and it was causing a lot of turmoil and frustration. The push-up bars, therefore, do a number of things:

  • Increase height to make lifting and a variety of movements easier
  • Relieve pressure off the wrists
  • Allow quads to start engagement while in tuck (which can’t be done if you start from the floor)

I know, I know … my videos are super boring and I make too many of them. They are short, they look pointless unless you take an interest in gymnastics or bodyweight movements. But what’s actually pretty fascinating is when you watch videos months later; the movements I started with – given a specific type of work or an asana – are so shoddy and poor that I practically turn red watching some of them. The rewarding part is subsequently watching and realizing how far you’ve progressed.

Take, for example, my chaturangas when I started in September 2014. Watch this and you can see the common errors (i.e. hiked butt, hypermobility in the spine, lack of shoulder strength, dropping elbows past the shoulders). I’m pretty sure I blessed the internet with ‘The World’s Ugliest Chaturanga’ (fast forward to 0:50):

Then compare it with this one from 8 months later (May 2015). Clean, smooth, controlled and of course, SHITLOADS OF CORE!!!!

This is where I feel really awesome. And this is how I remind myself that my small day-to-day efforts are cumulative over the long run!

*My shoulders were starting to burn by the second straddle lift. I opted for finishing the entire set four times consistently in half an hour rather than trying to increase reps and exhaust myself.


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