September 18, 2012
In honor of National Yoga month, here are two of my favorite strength balances. I chose to use these two because they were popular in fitness routines, a skill I used, and popular in yoga class. Practicing these tough balances can sure give a feeling of empowerment that can be carried into other areas of your life.
No time like the present, and with that in mind, it is time to learn and perfect “new” yoga strength moves for for just shaping your physique or for your fitness routine. Here are two poses that are terrific for core strength, balance, and great for shaping those shoulders and triceps.
I have decided to break down the “Dwi Pada Koundinyasana”, which can be translated to “two-legged side press”. Another variation is one leg arm balance, which looks like a side press with split twist, also known as “Eka Pada Koundinyasana”. I will explain two different variations and how you can advance them both.
Let’s start the breakdown by how to get in to Dwi Pada Koundinyasana pose. (Yes – this will take a considerable amount of shoulder strength, abs, and glute work for balance.) The shoulders should lean forward over your hands. The hands should be placed slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Both arms will maintain a slight bend in the elbows. Moreover, everyone has one side that is more flexible than the other, so try propping your legs on each shoulder to see which is more comfortable. (Another way to test your flexibility in your back is to lie on the floor with both arms to the right side and both legs to the left side, straight and in an L or V shape. One side should feel more comfortable as the back is stretched and twisted.) Lean forward and extend the bottom leg toward the side-front and parallel to the floor. Once you find your balance point, the other leg will be placed on the top. Now remember, even though one side will feel “easier” than the other side, it is very important to practice this movement on both sides, so you keep strength and symmetry in balance on both sides.
This skill can be advanced by adding a V-Straddle. Lift the top leg up towards the ceiling while the bottom leg remains balanced on the arm. The bottom leg should be placed between the shoulder and elbow. Another even more advanced variation is to add a push up in this pose. How? Balance! Keep your focus forward and down towards to ground. The elbows should remain pressed in toward your ribs as you bend towards the ground. (HINT: This is awesome when you add a beat or accent to your music as you do the push up!!) Try this first with the legs closed, then, see if you can try it with the V-Straddle. I used to use this push up variation in my routine.
The Eka Pada Koundinyasana, side press with split twist begins the same way. But instead of bringing the top leg up to balance on the other leg, it will extend back and up towards the ceiling. In this pose you will have to lean forward a little more to counter balance the length of the leg.
In addition, the twisted split press may be advanced by adding a push up. This requires more balance because the body is in a longer position. Make sure you can hold this balanced position for at least ten seconds before attempting the push up.
Both of the above skills are very difficult. If you begin now by practicing your skills in parts and building up the hold time for each of the positions, your strength will continue to improve. Give yourself enough time and patience to learn new skills. Challenge yourself and add new strength moves to your routine. What are you waiting for? Now is the best time is the best time to get started, right?!
**For more training routines you can check out my fitness and inspiration book, “Fast and Fierce Fitness Made Fabulously FUN!” This is a twelve week program, complete with exercise descriptions, photos of each movement, motivational guidelines, tracking system, progressions for each level of fitness, weekly upgrades on fitness programs, and most of all, FUN creative workouts that leave you more energized, looking great, and feeling fantastic!!! Or if you would like a more specialized program to specifically meet your NUTRITION needs and goals be sure to check out my online nutrition. Find out how you can be part of the 90 Day Transformation
Be sure to leave a comment and share with me some of your FAVORITE yoga balances or strength moves.
September 14, 2012
We all know that practicing yoga has many benefits. One benefit is it leaves you feeling more centered. Usually when we are centered within ourselves we gain a sense of balance. With that in mind, I have selected a balance pose that not only will challenge your stability, but also will be a great addition for your next fitness routine.
The pose I have chosen is a one legged free-hand headstand. Its proper yoga name is “Eka pada mukta hasta sirasana”. There are several steps to practice before learning this advanced pose.
First, begin with a good balanced headstand. If you are a little shaky with the headstand, it is a good idea to practice it against the wall so you can learn about your balance and center of gravity. After holding the headstand against the wall becomes easier, try practicing the headstand without the wall. Gradually bring your legs together above your head. Make sure both legs are straight towards the ceiling and the toes are pointed. Once the headstand can be held steady for ten or more counts then move on to the next step. Remember, your core is where the balance begins. The abs should feel like they are pulled in towards the spine and the glutes should remain tight.
The second phase of the free-hand headstand is slightly different. Begin with the head on the floor but the arms are in a new position. The arms should be fully extended behind the head at a wide V position. This will put more pressure and balance on the head and neck area so be cautious and go slow with this movement. Lift one leg up towards the ceiling slowly. Hold this pose with one leg vertical, allowing you to find your balance. The leg that remains on the floor can gradually lift off the ground. The legs can remain in a split variation. This enables the body to have a counter balance since the arms are so far behind the head.
Now that you understand the break down of the one leg free-hand headstand, who actually uses a movement like this? It is most commonly seen in break dancing routines. This type of dance uses a tremendous amount of spins on the head. Several break dance sequences finish in “frozen” inverted positions. The position performed in break dancing has a slightly different flair than a traditional yoga pose. The knees may be bent and the toes are flexed. Of course, this can also be choreographed into a fitness routine. The best example of this move was when it was frequently performed by “So You Think You Can Dance” finalist, Legacy. His break dance style is fantastic and uses this pose often.
This skill is great for a fitness athlete to incorporate into her routine. A great transition into this trick could be coming from a push up position or a downward dog position. This is a good set up for the head and hand placement down on the ground. It sets the athlete up with a lifted hip position making it flow easily into the balance.
There are a few simple, but showy, ways to get out of this move, (other than stepping the legs down and just standing up). First, by tucking the chin onto the chest and allowing the arms to come around the side, the athlete can roll out of the skill smoothly. A second easy transition is to rotate the hips and come down into a right or left side split.
A winning fitness routine should have a combination of strength, flexibility, and dance. Balance is a significant role in each of these requirements. Practice a strong basic foundation before building into more advanced skills. Be sure to create smooth transitions into and out of each skill. Enjoy practicing this advanced free-hand headstand balance!
**For more training routines you can check out my fitness and inspiration book, “Fast and Fierce Fitness Made Fabulously FUN!” This is a twelve week program, complete with exercise descriptions, photos of each movement, motivational guidelines, tracking system, progressions for each level of fitness, weekly upgrades on fitness programs, and most of all, FUN creative workouts that leave you more energized, looking great, and feeling fantastic!!! Or if you would like a more specialized program to specifically meet your NUTRITION needs and goals be sure to check out m online nutrition. Find out how you can be part of the 90 Day Transformation
September 4, 2012
Here I have selected to show you a chest opener for this week. Love comes from the heart, so lets open our chest and allow our hearts and love to flow freely, today and always.
Bhujangasana, or Cobra Pose is an excellent chest opener. Lying flat on your stomach with your hands placed next to your chest. On an inhalation begin lifting your upper body, from the back and shoulder blades. Then press down into the floor and lift your body higher.
Keep your eyes focused downward, as the head should be the last part that rises. The elbows remain in towards the ribs and the glutes should not be tight. It is common to want to squeeze through the glutes to get a higher lift, but they should be relaxed. All five toes from each foot should be flat and pressing towards the ground.
This pose should not be done if you are pregnant, have headaches, or back injuries. Cobra Pose will help strengthen the spine as well as stretches thru the chest and lungs, shoulders, and abdomen. It can help reduce stress and fatigue.
September 15, 2011
Many of you know I am an avid fan of yoga and enjoy every opportunity to practice when my body and time allow. I was invited to participate in this upcoming event, next Saturday. 100% of the proceeds of sales will be donated from Mak Attack Fitness Wear. We have decided to auction of some fantastic yoga pants.
The leader of this group is one of my yoga instructors, Garth Hewitt. He was practicing in Mysore, India three years ago when he realized how fortunate we are here in America. He is not wealthy by American standards, but by Indian standards he is extremely well off and so are all of you.
He has a car, a roof over my head and when he is hungry he has enough money to feed myself. He even has the luxury of having enough time every day to practice yoga. We cannot continue to take these things for granted.
We must wake up to the realization that we are extremely well off and there is more we can do to help those in need who are not. He was shocked when he saw ﬁrst hand the amount of poverty in Mysore, India and especially the number of children who are affected by this poverty. Many poor families cannot afford to feed, clothe their children and put a roof over their heads. The sad news is that there is nowhere for them to go unless organizations like Operation Shanti get involved.
Why Do I Want You To Be Involved?
As a (yoga) community, we need to not only honor our teachers, all of their teachers and the teachings of yoga but honor the place where the yoga we practice originated. It’s time for us to take our yoga off the mat and give back. I want you to take a moment to think about what it would be like to not have yoga in your life. We would not all have the privilege of making use of this incredible practice and science without a small handful of teachers from Mysore, India who helped bring yoga to the west.
Yoga has changed my life and I think it can change your life too. I want you to take your yoga off the mat and give back to the community where much of our yoga comes from. Together we can make a huge difference in the lives of a small group of children who otherwise wouldn’t have a chance at life at all. Through our yoga practice we are developing an increasing awareness and realization that we are not alone but that we are all connected. It is our job to reach out to those in need. It is our job to identify a problem and help to provide a solution. It is our job to help because we can.
If we organize as a yoga community and focus the collective power of our minds we can do anything. We will change the world. It’s time for us to move forward with action. I want you to get involved, to check in and to move through your life with purpose and intention. Let’s leave behind a better place than we found. Everybody deserves a chance. Let’s build an orphanage and give these children a chance that they otherwise wouldn’t have in life.
Check out some of the pants and Capri that we have selected for the auction. If you cant be there this weekend, but you purchase them online, we will still donate your costs to the orphanage. Thank you for your help!
For more info on the event you can register here. Hope to see you there!!
March 15, 2010
The Shape Up America Campaign
30-City Tour To Fight The Obesity Epidemic
We will be posting the videos from the event on Wednesday March 17th – so be sure to check back and enjoy the show!!
The City Council of Los Angeles has granted Michael Torchia’s declaration to make the week of March 14th, 2010 an Annual Holiday called “Health and Fitness Week” in the State of California. Mayor Villaraigosa will personally be awarding the honor to Michael Torchia at the launch of the Shape Up America Campaign 30-city tour. This monumental occurrence is only the first stepping-stone to creating awareness of this dangerously growing epidemic of obesity taking over our country.
Los Angeles, CA – Michael Torchia, founder of Operation Fitness, will be launching his Shape Up America Campaign 30-city tour with a free Health and Fitness Event at Pershing Square Park in Downtown Los Angeles on March 14th, 2010. Sinbad will act as Master of Ceremonies for the Awards portion of the event honoring Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (Health Advocate Lifetime Achievement Award) and Cesar Millan (Animal Health Advocate Achievement Award). Bodybuilding.com will also be auctioning off a rare piece of equipment from the historical Muscle Beach that has been signed by the legends of bodybuilding at the Award Ceremony. The proceeds will be donated to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s After-School All-Stars Organization.
This monumental event will feature Laura Mak and the Groove Attack Dancers in a dance performance/fashion show highlighting Mak Attack Fitness Wear. This high energy routine will be spotlighting “Jonsie” and Monika along with Laura Mak, and completely entertaining for the whole family. You will be on your feet ready to move as the show and music will leave you inspired. In addition, you will be able to see some fantastic Mak Attack Fitness Wear that is made with high quality fabric, energizing colors, yet functional for the day to day activities of the busy women.
Be sure to check out the free health screenings, fitness demonstrations for children and adults, nutrition lectures, healthy cooking tips/food preparation, athletic competitions, an obstacle course challenge, boxing classes and martial arts demonstrations, Pilates and yoga classes, chair and table massages, pet health seminars, pet fitness demonstrations and dog obedience training. The Airline Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) will also be setting up a flight simulator for the kids to use at the Shape Up America Campaign event in Pershing Square Park. In addition, Craig Fuller, CEO/President of the AOPA is creating a teen entrepreneurship pilot program, so kids can learn to become pilots at an early age.
The Shape Up America Campaign is designed to increase daily physical activity and healthy eating through education by means of programming, physical infrastructure improvements and city policy changes across the nation. The campaign targets all segments of our communities, including schools, city government, civic organizations, community groups, businesses, and other people who live, work and play in America. The goal is to show people how they can create fun, simple ways of working out, along with participating in stimulating activities at home, at the office, in a park or even in the wilderness. In addition, pet owners will learn innovative ways to get their pets in shape and on a healthy track with proper nutrition and sensible exercise.
Special guest appearances include: Bill Germanakos, the winner of the “Biggest Loser” (lecturing), Scott Mendelson (world renowned strongman who will bench press over 1000 pounds), Laura Mak (Internationally recognized fitness expert and Lifestyle Fitness Coach), Renowned Doctors, Fitness Experts, Holistic Practitioners, Pro Athletes, Bodybuilding Champions, and Celebrities from the entertainment industry.
Health organizations who have already joined forces for the Shape Up America 30 City Tour include: The American Diabetes Association, The Alzheimer’s Association, The National Fibromygalia Association, The Liver Foundation, The American Red Cross, The National MS Society, The American Heart Association, and The American Cancer Society.
For additional information on Shape Up America, send an email to Laura@MakAttackFitness.com.