This month at GAIN Mobility
We’ve been concentrating on over head mobility during Fitness Yoga classes this month, with the secondary focus of handstand progressions as well. The progress in both these areas have been fantastic. Shoulder strength and mobility improved and some fears overcome. March sees the focus shift to hips. Working on hip mobility is a huge benefit to all. A seated life style (the office and lots of driving for example) can really mess with our hip mobility, which can transfer problems to our back. Getting open and mobile hips will not only help with reducing injury it’ll also help with our squat position and the power we can generate from that full hip extension in our lifts.
There is also an emotional element to hip openers. There appears to be a link between opening the hips and the release of old tension and trauma, whether it one large event or lots of small ones. It has been suggested that when we hear bad news or suffer grievances, the natural response is to hug our knees to our chest or choose the foetal position, and with this contraction of the hips we seem to embody the trauma within the muscles there. Stretching the hips seems to release some of that tension. So over next month, don’t be surprised if you come away from class feeling a little relieved, teary or lighter. You’ve just taken your yoga practice a little deeper.
On Sunday March 17th we have The Upside Down Workshop at 1:30pm at GAIN Fitness.
This will be 90 minutes of working on both headstands and handstands; we shall start by learning about the benefits of inversions and why I encourage GAIN Mobility members to learn the skill of one or the other. We shall then warm up and start with various headstand progressions and then positions (as there are plenty to play around with). We then move onto handstands and various progressions to work on getting into them. If you already have handstands we have various inversions for you to work on to challenge yourself further. It cannot be stressed enough. This workshop is inclusive for all, no matter what your current upside down ability.
Click the link and use the password: gainfitness19
To try out 7 days of Core Strength.
February UpdateHow are your New Year's resolutions going?
January has passed us by in a blur of chilly days and 5k runs. Most of us will have started the year ready for normality to resume after the Christmas break, but with a few resolutions added in for good measure.
A lot of people use January as a time to set new goals, reestablish good habits and try to break bad ones. But as we reach February, how are your resolutions holding up?
Creating new habits is never easy. But once they're created, they're hard to break so getting through the early stages is well worth the work.
At the start of January GAIN Mobility hosted a Mindfulness Meditation workshop and we discussed getting meditation into a busy schedule and how plausible it would be to keep it up. Here are the top take away tips for creating any new habit.
What's important when starting something new, such as meditation, is to reward yourself. Something becomes a habit when there is a reward at the end of it. The reward being the feeling of calm after meditation, or the endorphin hit after a work out, or the fresh minty feeling you get after cleaning your teeth (yep, cleaning your teeth is a habit).
So look for the reward in the habit you're creating, no matter how small.
The second thing we require when making a new habit is a trigger, something that makes you want to carry out said behaviour. Something such as your alarm clock could be a trigger. If every morning your alarm goes off and the first thing you do is meditate, over time the alarm will become the trigger to meditate. Or perhaps, finishing work is your trigger to go to the gym. Or your first coffee of the morning marks the point at which you're ready to get outside for your run. Each of these things can be a trigger which leads you to carry out your new habit. Find the trigger and work with it to help ingrain your habit.
We also require motivation to continue with our new habit. I'm sure we all know how motivation ebbs and flows and is never quite where it needs to be at the times we need it most. So to help tackle this motivation speed bump, break down as many barriers as you can before starting a new day.
Sunday night motivation might be at an all time high, so now is the time to get the mat out, next to the bed ready for your morning meditation. Or to get all your gym gear out and ready to put straight on so you can go to the gym. Perhaps its having your food ready for the next day so you can maintain your healthy eating. Use your motivation highs to knock down barriers that might occur in the future.
If you're finding the barriers are down but you're still not consistently getting your new habit in, it could be worth looking at your goals. Are they realistic, are you trying to do too much all at once? Thirty minutes of meditation every day might be overkill to start with. Hitting the gym six days a week could be leaving you feeling sore and unlikely to go back. Try to start small and build up. If you make five minutes of meditation each day to begin with, it's more likely that over time you'll increase this willingly and already have the five minute habit to build on. Perhaps start with the going to yoga once a week, and the gym two or three and work up from there.
Sometimes getting started is the way to kick start your motivation. The action proceeds the motivation, and usually once we've started something we're likely to want to finish it. Starting a run with the aim of doing 5k might seem daunting, but when you hit that half way point it's highly unlikely you'll give up. You'll want to keep going and get the satisfaction of finishing what you started.
Build your A Team:
If you spend a lot of time with people that don't have similar habits or goals it can be much more challenging to stick to something new. If no one else in your circle goes to the gym or your friends scoff at the idea of meditation, it's likely to knock your motivation on the head. You could try encouraging your loved ones to join you at the gym. Or get to know the other members of your yoga classes, so you're able to create some accountability within the group. "See you on Wednesday" can have a powerful effect on your motivation come Wednesday, knowing you've told someone you'll be there. Start by telling the teacher and work up from there.
It's not all or nothing:
What we must remember is that it takes time to build a habit, depending on the complexity of the new task it could be from 18 and 250 days. But the longer you stick with it the easier it becomes. Week one will always be much more challenging than week eight. Bear in mind that if you miss a day, it's not all over. Step away from the 'all or nothing' concept. No damage has been done by missing one day, look to start again the very next one and get back on track.
Finally a little self love:
Looking at setting a habit for the sake of someone else, or what people might think of you rings alarm bells. This habit will most likely fail. Set your goals from a place of self love and not something your ego might want. If you want to get healthier then you're likely to succeed. If you want to join a gym because you want to look better for other people, you're less likely to stick to this habit. Be kind to yourself and keep your goals in line with your own principles and beliefs. If you go off track for a little while, get back to it with love ('I've been busy and trying to get more in would've been too stressful.' 'I'm excited about this goal again now'.) Frustration and lack of belief in yourself will become harder barriers to break in the future, ('I can't stick to anything'. 'I'll never be mobile'. 'I just can't wake up early'.) These negative thoughts become our truths if we tell ourselves enough. Let the truths you tell yourself have a positive impact on your life.
Yoga is not for everyone for countless reasons. For some, it’s a lack of time, others a lack of desire or understanding of what yoga is. Some find it’s not a cost they can justify. Or if there is only x amount of hours in a week to workout, yoga is not how one of those hours should be spent. If you’re not interested you’re not interested, but for those who aren’t sure what it is, or who have never tried yoga, we thought we’d fill you in.
GAIN Mobility was created with CrossFit in mind. As a yoga teacher, a CrossFit coach and a Personal Trainer at GAIN Fitness Norwich it was hard not to notice how the way people move was holding them back from their full potential in CrossFit classes. And more alarmingly, it was putting them on a fast track to injury. This got me, and other coaches a little worried. We always encourage members to stretch at the end of class, but is 5 minutes enough to undo years of sitting at a desk? Or years of endurance sports such as long distance running? Carrying children on one hip? Or even years of building muscle in a ‘regular’ gym? The list goes on, and the answer is probably no. 5 minutes stretching at the end of class probably won’t do much to change or improve any ones range of movement.
GAIN Mobility’s Fitness Yoga classes take into consideration the common struggles of the everyday CrossFitter, such as the struggle with overhead mobility. There are so many factors that can cause this but unfortunately, a lot of us spend most of our days at a desk causing our range of movement to suffer. It also helps terrorise our squat, rendering us unable to squat to full depth, or causes pain when we do.
The wonderful thing about CrossFit is that we are able to train around most injuries, and we are able to rest the afflicted ailment. But when the injury recovers it’s likely to reoccur, due to the fact our mobility may well be the same or even less due to not keeping mobile during our recovery period.
Yoga, or what we consider yoga today, was designed thousands of years ago with the goal of being able to sit comfortably for hours on end to practice meditation. No joke. The postures we practice were designed to increase the muscular endurance and flexibility required to sit and meditate for hours (or even days). Have you ever tried sitting on the floor cross-legged with no support, with a straight back for more than half an hour? It starts to burn.
So straight away our basic yoga postures look to improve our core strength, our hip mobility, our ankle mobility and the position of our spine to name a few. All of these directly improve our ability to perform well and avoid injury from CrossFit.
Having always come at yoga from a strictly ‘fitness’ perspective, I trundled off to Nepal do a second and third teaching qualification in hope to gain some spiritual insight into the practice. Having always been a bit of a sceptic I was pretty disgruntled that from day one we were expected to chant and sing mantras. Little did I know that these would become such an ingrained part of my day that without them I felt a little lost. There was a huge focus on meditation and mindfulness throughout both the different styles of yoga I went to Nepal to learn about. Never once did I expect these aspects to affect my Fitness Yoga practice. Nor did I think it would help CrossFit in any way. It turns out I was wrong.
For those of you who haven’t done yoga before, may I use this opportunity to tell you yoga is hard! I was asked a few weeks ago if any calories were burnt during a yoga class. If you’re unsure, come along and try it. (That GAIN Fitness members now books into the Wednesday night class that’s included in her membership, every week without fail). It does depend on the style of yoga you practice, but you can burn a lot of calories in just 45 minutes. We’ve had members in class with a heart rate of 165bpm, we’ve left puddles of sweat on the mats, we’ve been out of breath, shaking with effort and feeling the deepest burn, in muscles we weren’t aware we had. It’s been announced mid class that “Yoga is harder than CrossFit” before, so there you have it. Yoga is challenging, and yoga in Nepal was just as challenging, so much so that during one particularly gruelling class our Guru announced almost flippantly, “pain is temporary.” This very quickly became something like a mantra to me. During holds that were uncomfortable and challenging I’d repeat to myself (in my head) “pain is temporary, pain is temporary, pain is temporary”. Then before I knew it, the hold was over and I’d achieved holding that posture much longer than I would’ve without the mantra. Just by reminding myself that the pain was soon to be over, that the pain was making me stronger, better, fitter, more mobile and so on. Strangely enough, when I got back from a month in Nepal, my first CrossFit class hurt, a lot, and this little mantra got me through that work out and has continued to help with many since. I’m not claiming that you have to use this mantra to make yourself better at CrossFit, but what yoga does offer you when practiced, is a calm patient and resilient mind. This will enable you to push harder into a workout, hold on for a bit longer, lift a little heavier and take yourself away from the pain of what you’re actually doing.
Being more aware of our thoughts and how they affect our actions is a huge part of why we meditate. If during a workout you tell yourself “I cannot lift this barbell it’s too heavy”, or “if I do another burpee my lungs will definitely explode.” The odds are you’ll stop, you will spends seconds or minutes trying to recover before talking yourself into getting down on the floor again, or attempting to lift that barbell.
What meditation can help with is making you more aware of what you’re thinking, it helps you quieten your mind, enabling you to just get on and get work done. Your mind will give up over and over but your body can always carry on. The two elements of yoga (the postures and meditation) combined with CrossFit seem to be getting results in both gym and in the yoga studio. Squats are becoming deeper, recovery is speeding up, and we’re gaining strength both physically and mentally.
And this is what yoga is all about.