Archive for the ‘Wild Yogini’s Parinamana’ Category

Its a common MIS-conception that working on flexibility – aka: Doing Yoga – will detract from strength training.  In my Yoga classes, strength and flexibility are twins.  (Not so much in the typical ‘gym yoga’ or ‘gentle yoga’ classes commonly passed off as ‘real yoga’.)

As a true Yogi – balanced between the mystic and the warrior – I know full well that flexibility IS strength, and strength IS flexibility.  One simply cannot exist without the other.

Those who do strength training – weightlifters, bodybuilders, Olympic lifters, strongman sports – must work on flexibility after lifting.  This is the best time to increase flexibility .. when the muscles are fatigued.  In fact, YogaWOD after lifting will promote muscle growth while decreasing post-exercise soreness.

You see, after lifting, the muscles tighten or shorten; and its this tightening that makes the muscle look ‘pumped up’.  However, this pumped look shortens ROM (Range of Motion), so without deep stretching and flexing exercises afterwards, the ROM stays shortened.  And no one who strength trains want to decreased ROM.

Mind you, just because a stretched out muscle looks smaller, that doesn’t mean it is.  It simply means the muscle is not bulging, but is ‘smoother’ and so capable of a greater ROM.

Next comes the connective tissue, which is damaged during strength training.  One of the reasons for resting between body sets is to allow the connective tissue to recover.  Akin to muscle, connective tissue also shortens .. which again makes YogaWOD after training critical to your overall workout.

Why do I teach strength in my Yoga classes?  Because its traditional, that’s why.

Yoga was not meant to turn us into human pretzels.  Those crazy Yoga poses we all see in coffee-table books are just that .. CRAZY.  All they are is what ONE person can do; they were never intended to be done by all practitioners of Yoga.  Nor is this new or ‘controversial’, for there are several Traditional Hatha Yoga texts – which are hundreds of years old – that relate the same thing.  Honestly, my Yoga ‘teachers’ need to crack the books.

When it comes to Yoga, strength training is a must.  Without it, one risks injury through over-stretching.  And just like in strength training, flexibility comes AFTER.

In my classes, I have the class do several warmup asanas (poses) to prep the body for the strength asanas.  Once done, I have them do the complimentary stretching asanas for the muscles and connective tissue just employed.  Its a win-win combination.  My Yoga students rock some serious asanas with grace, strength, control, mobility and confidence.  I teach them how to work WITH their body, instead of fighting against it.

So there it is!  If you not adding Yoga flexibility to your strength training, then your cheating yourself.  And if your not doing the body weight/strength asanas in your Yoga practice, then you are unbalanced – and we all know the importance of balance in Yoga!

Live Deliberately!

Yogini Valarie


If you didn’t see Madonna’s halftime performance during Super Bowl XLVI, then you probably heard about it.

Regarding the music, the comments range from ‘great’ to ‘boring’, but regarding the presentation, there are loads of questions like, “How old is she?”, and “She looks great .. what is her secret!”

Madonna is 8 months older than I am.  This year, I will be 53 and she will be 54.  We are both in great shape.

So what is her secret?  Well, just google ‘madonna diet exercise’ and you will get “About 37,700,000 results” (do a + 1 after I post this blog).   😉

For most of us interested in health and fitness, we know such things, or at least are aware of them, because they are part of who we are and what we do.  Namely .. being and staying healthy and fit.

Madonna’s approach to fitness has varied over the years – again, just like many of us who follow and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  During the 80s she was dancing and swimming, and by ’86, hired her first personal trainer.  That introduced running, biking and gym time.  By the ’90s she was doing Ashtanga Vinysasa Yoga, and by ’00 she began incorporating a combination of Yoga and Pilates, Ballet, gyrotonics, and elliptical running/movement.  Today, she averages 2 hours of exercise a day, six days a week.

Likewise, her diet has changed over the years.  As a young adult she was a vegan – for 20+ years.  Famously, she follows a Macrobiotic Diet.  Recently, being interviewed by the Japanese press, she told them, “I have a Japanese chef in London that travels everywhere with me. I probably eat more Japanese food than you do.”  This diet is one that includes fish, grains and vegetables.

So does this mean to be fit like Madonna one needs to follow her exercise and diet schedule?

No, not at all.

What it does break down to though is discipline.  Bottom line here is that for any of us to get in shape and stay in shape we need to stay focused on the goal.  If that means taping a picture of Madonna on the refrigerator door, then do that.  Whatever it takes for you to get motivated and stay motivated .. DO THAT NOW!

You can either lift the weights or lift the remote control.  What kind of life do you want to live?

Live Deliberately!

Yogini Valarie

Was watching some barefoot running videos this morning, where peeps are running on the hard packed sand of the beach at water’s edge.

I don’t advise it.  Best to start in the soft sand.  It has more shock absorption, and allows the body to acclimate to the concrete-like surface at water’s edge.

Running on the earth – dirt, grass, sand, rocks – is the best way to allow the foot to get familiar with its new found freedom of being un-caged.

Some of the vids I saw this morning showed nasty looking feet that were swollen, with puffy ankles and flattened arches.  This is *not* how they are supposed to look!  My feet – after years of barefoot running – are strong, flexible, non-swollen and with healthy arches.   Here are some examples of healthy barefoot running feet:

Barefoot Ken runs marathons .. and has healthy, non-swollen feet and ankles ..

Non-swollen running feet and ankles ..

More non-swollen feet and ankles ..

This brings us to the  Tarahumara (technically, the Ogumi) .. a tribe in Northern Mexico that I encountered and spent time with while backpacking/camping in the early ’80s.  Amazing human beings .. beautiful outlook on life.  They inspired me to explore barefoot running.  Oddly, they are rarely listed as “elite athletes” ..

Copper Canyon’s Ultra Marathon ..

The only peeps running barefoot in the early 80s – tmk & experience – were the Omugi (Tarahumara), so I learned what I could from their example.  Since the mid- to late-90s, barefoot running has hit the mainstream, becoming so popular that now there are ‘barefoot running shoes’ (Vibrams, Minimus, etc).

All these years later, I am still a  trail runner .. Rocks, Roots and Ruts Baby!   In fact, running and Yoga have been the two main physical currents of my life.   I always do Yoga barefoot, and when I run, I go both bare and with Vibrams (KSO .. thin/minimalist sole) .. five days a week.

Physical fitness begins with the sole ..

Bless those who challenge us to grow, to stretch, to move beyond the knowable,

.. to come back home to our essential nature.

Bless those who challenge us, for they remind us of the doors we have closed

and doors we have yet to open.

-Navaho prayer

Within moments of breathing deep – as in YogaWOD – stress hormones are burned off and endorphin levels are elevated. This combo takes all of us from down/depressed to feeling good, confident, capable and exuberant. Meaning, we become better able to interpret and so navigate the sources of stress. Life is good, and made easier with exercise!

But if your depressed, it’s really hard to get up and exercise .. let alone just move.

Often what we need in sadness is compassion .. for someone to care about us, to be concerned about us.  So if no one is around, it becomes very easy to slip deeper into depression.

All the more reason to be self-motivated, to truly power the self through the self.  After all, true love begins with self .. it must start from within.

Exercise helps us grow in self-confidence, it opens doors of creativity, it teaches us new approaches to old situations.  In short, it gives us solutions!

To begin, acknowledge that your unmotivated, unconcerned and just don’t-feel-like-it.

Then ask yourself if this is really who you are and want to be.  Sometimes it takes us not liking our self to realize how much we don’t want to be ‘that person’.

Next .. take little steps.  Change is best is small doses, like when a child first learns to walk.  During my darkest moments of depression .. I simply stopped, breathed deep, and took in my surroundings, whatever or wherever they were.  That moment of pause always brought a sense of calm abiding.

Find a friend to exercise with .. and if there is no one, consider the gym a great place to meet new friends.  Honestly, do you think you’re the only one who is sad and lonely?

Working out totally changes the body and mind.  For example, it gives your metabolism a boost, pumps up your cardiovascular system, releases loads of endorphins – giving you a ‘happiness rush’, relieves tension, reduces anxiety, helps us regain confidence, and aids us in a healthy and productive way.

Then, network with others where you exercise.  Let’s say you decide to walk in the park.  If so, then join that parks local social networking list, or find a local walking group.

In addition to adding exercise to your life, change your house as well.  Pick up the clutter, open the windows to let fresh air in, go out to lunch and eat by yourself, go to a shop you’ve never been in but thought about.  Do something different!

Treat yourself to something special because you are worth it .. indeed, you are worthy!


Live Deliberately!