Sunday, September 18, 2011

Upper body and core strength building, the old-school Ashtanga way

The topic of building core strength in yoga practice has resurfaced lately in the blogosphere. For instance, in his latest post, Patrick gave a very detailed review of his experiences and thoughts at a workshop he recently did with Brock and Krista Cahill.

I don't know much about the Cahills, but I do know that regular practice of Ashtanga offers many opportunities for building core strength. A lot of it starts with the basics. In particular, the Surya Namaskars and the vinyasas between postures (especially working on jumping through and jumping back) is really effective for building core strength. In particular, if you are really intensely into building serious upper-body and core-strength, you should try doing what I call the super-updog-downdog transition: Basically, when you go from updog to downdog, instead of going straight from updog to downdog, you first go back into chaturanga from updog. And then, from chaturanga, you push back up into downdog. Trust me, this really works your upper-trunk (especially the latissimus dorsi) and core muscles. I'll confess that I don't have the energy/discipline/whatever to do it regularly, but it's seriously hardcore stuff. In the video above, you can see Chuck Miller doing it at 1:05-1:07, 2:54-2:55, and at 4:47. Maty does the same thing at 2:20-2:24 and at 4:37. Give it a try, and tell me if it works your core :-) If I were a better yogi, I would try it myself (but I'm not).

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