Fireman Ed’s LEGENDARY Bootcamp Challenge!

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Fireman Ed’s LEGENDARY Bootcamp Challenge!

The Ultimate Fitness & Mind-Body Experience

Saturday May 10, 2014 from 1pm to 2:30pm
Reserve your space here! 

You’ll have fun, sweat, and leave refreshed, happy and strong!

Get worked out by our very own NYC Fireman and Special Forces friend Ed, as he returns to give us another shot at his legendary boot camp. We’ll focus on high intensity interval training through basic strength and conditioning moves that use your own body weight, with a good mix of music and fun

Ed will take you through 60 minutes of training plus a 30 minute wind-down, that combine a series of the most effective exercises designed to get your burn going, increase your heart rate, and strengthen your muscles.

Bootcamp cost is $30, is open to all levels of fitness and requires no previous training.  Be prepared to sweat and have a super-great time!!

 

 

 

About Ed Dowling
A lifelong athlete, Ed Dowling has competed in over 20 triathlons and 3 marathons.  Ed’s style of training reflects his experiences as a triathlete and a member of the FDNY, where cardiorespiratory endurance and relative strength are critical.

Ed works with clients leveraging the core principals of his own training style.  He combines the best of both traditional and contemporary exercises, for anyone wanting to increase their level of fitness, whether an athlete, weekend warrior, or just looking to change their aesthetics.  Ed’s credentials include:  ACSM Certified CPT, CHEK Institute Scientific Core Conditioning Cert., Crossfit Level 1.

 

A New Way of Training: Go Easy to Go Hard

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A New Way of Training: Go Easy to Go Hard

 

Go easy on yourself. It might be the best way to run faster, find more power on the bike, climb with ease, and pull off unimaginable feats of strength and endurance. It might be the best way for you to do everything there is.

 

This doesn’t mean go lazy, go floppy, or don’t go at all. It means go! Go without the idea that hard things can only achieved by force and struggle. Drop that idea off at corner!

 

Go with the idea that you have a choice in how you accomplish everything you accomplish. You can work to gain things in your life by force. You can also work to gain things in your life by ease. Chances are, you’re going to like ease better. With ease, chances are you’re going to like you better.

How??? Avoid smashing headlong against problems and challenges in your life.

 

When you smash against things, things break. You might knock down a few walls this way, but you’ll knock yourself down, too. Relax your mind to relax your body, and move easy through “impossible.” Get comfortable all around challenges. Get comfortable all around you.

 

When you know your way around you, you’re going to knock your own socks off. You’re going to have loads of fun seeing things that are supposed to be “hard” just happen for you. No force, no struggle, just doing it. Just doing you.

Try applying this to your yoga. Try applying it to your runs and races, your cycling and rowing, your skiing, your climbing. See what happens, and let me know how it goes.

:) Mike

 

Want to put this into practice? I’m leading a Hard Things Made Easy training workshop at Strala in NYC, jump in!

 

 

Stop Immobilizing Your Body & Life

Hands Rocks
Stop Immobilizing Your Body & Life

 

I often overhear yoga conversations. Sometimes I jump in.

A couple times recently I’ve heard people talking about what muscles they should engage to do this or that pose. “If I flex this or tighten that, I might be able to pull it off! Maybe I should take that tensing and straining workshop!!”

Well, that’s one way. But it’s not a great way. I’ve never seen it lead to great capability, in much of anything.
Do you think a basketball player running down court decides which muscles to flex and tone? Does a mountaineer choose when it’s a good time to squeeze his butt? Does a dancer think about sucking in her belly? Not likely. Not the great ones.

 

Great athletes aren’t straining their bodies with their minds. They’re just moving. They do what they do with power, grace, fluidity. They do it without thinking. They don’t need to make the decisions for their bodies. Athletes move for what they want, and trust their bodies to find the way.

 

This isn’t some concept reserved for a chosen elite. Why would you train to be good in your body, when you can train to be great? Why would you train to be good in your life, when you can train to be great?
This also isn’t just about how to have a great run or an inspiring climb, although it will get you there.

 

It’s about how to be great in your life. You can stress and strain and obsess about controlling every movement in your life. Or you can trust that there’s a better way, that you already have it, and start using it.

 

As a start, make friends with your body. All this doesn’t mean “be lazy” and “it’s all good.” Far from it. This is about where you direct your efforts. It takes work to get to know your body. It takes work to learn how to use it based on feeling rather than force.

It also takes belief.

 

You need to believe all this doesn’t have to be a struggle.

 

You need to believe your body is an amazing piece of engineering.

 

You need to believe you don’t have to go to war with your body – to rigidly control its every move – to get things done.

 

You need to believe that feeling and sensitivity – to you, and to life – are stronger than pushing and forcing – against you, and against life.

 

Drop the struggle. You’re amazing. Trust your body.

Stop putting your energy into stressing and immobilizing yourself. Start moving easily in your life. You’ll get more done this way. You’ll also be happier.

:) Mike

 

PS – Want some practice time? Tara and I created an online yoga course to help. It’s everything you need , right where you are :)

 

Advanced Training for Your Body & Mind

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Advanced Training for Your Body & Mind

 

Q: How long can you hold plank pose?
A: 3 hours, at least. On each hand.

We sometimes get “expert trainer” questions like this. I usually make it a little light, by saying something like “3 hours on each hand” with a straight face. Followed by “Why, how long did you hold it in your training?”

Then we get talking. I follow up with how we move, and how we practice to do hard things easily, by keeping relaxed movability in your body, and a lot of ease in your mind. You can hold a plank as long as you want, because you’re not clenching all your muscles to “stay in it.” You stay easy, so it’s just not that hard.

 

When your training aims for getting to know your body and learning to work with what you’ve got – rather than for how long you can hold a plank, how much weight you can lift, or how fast you can run up hills – you’ll become much better at planks, moving of weight, and hill runs. Not by pushing and struggling up against these barriers – but by making friends with your body.

 

I used to work with a guy who ran a hedge fund. I taught him one-on-one at his office. He was a pain because he would always clench all his muscles when it got to plank pose time. This was supposed to be hard, so he made it as hard as he could! He would sweat like crazy. He thought that was a good workout.

Finally, I figured out how to change his experience. I made it into a “Plank Pose-Off!” I got down and said “How about we stay at least 2 minutes, then see who gives up first. I set my iPhone as the timer, so he could watch the seconds go by as he clenched and wasted energy. I just stayed there like it was no big deal. At about 2 1/2 minutes he collapsed, and I wasn’t sweating yet. He got it. He realized his way wasn’t as effective. He needed to learn a new way.

 

It’s cool when you talk to type A, big life-accomplishment people. They’re extremely interested in this concept of achieving more with less effort. They need that, and they know exactly how they’d use it. Usually when people are high achievers, they push through a lot emotionally, mentally, and physically. Some of them manage to crash through some barriers. Even a lot of barriers! But as they get older, they’re also very aware of what all that pushing and crashing does to their bodies and minds.

 

At a conference I spoke at last year, a woman from NASA asked me how to get the overachiever guys in her office into yoga. She was especially into this concept of moving with ease. I was excited to answer, because one of my favorite space videos is of the first lunar mission, at the moment when the astronauts first looked back and saw Earth. This is one of the most famous photos taken, looking at where they came from, instead of where they were headed, and all the space in between.

You can describe the idea of ease and moving with ease as gaining this perspective for the first time. The great achievement wasn’t just going to the moon, although that’s where they were headed. It was getting themselves into space where they have this perspective, this ability to see the Earth and how beautiful it is.

This space is needed to see and reflect on what you’re doing. This space is needed to create. Without the space to reflect, there is no room to improvise, no room to make better decisions. The NASA crowd understands this pretty well. People understand this just as well from their own work life. It’s a way of living effectively and efficiently. It’s a way of enjoying everything you’re living. It’s also happens to be the best way to train, for anything at all.

xo – Tara

 

PS – Want to get into your own Advanced Training? Mike and I created a course on MindBodyGreen to help :)

 

What Do You Need?

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What Do You Need?

 

You don’t need to be bigger or smaller, stronger or more flexible, longer arms or shorter legs, to do yoga. Or to do anything you want to do.

 

I’ve seen people of all shapes and sizes able to do very little. I’ve seen people of all shapes and sizes able to do a whole lot.

 

You just need to get to know your body, your mind. Know what you’re working with. If you’re good with what you’ve got, that’s all you need.

 

:) Mike

 

 

Can Yoga Help My Running?

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Can Yoga Help My Running?

 

Hey runners, some thoughts on how you can use yoga to your advantage.

 

1) Take your movability test. Find a kind of yoga that moves, rather than just holds poses. You can do Strala online if that’s tough to find. Take a class, and see how you feel.

Can you move every inch of your body pretty easily? If yes, good, you’re ready for the open road. Better yet, head for the hills. But if you find it’s tough to get all your inches working happily together, then move along to part 2.

 

2) If moving in more than just a straight line is tough for you, consider using yoga as training for easy movability.

Think of it this way. In yoga, you’re rolling around through a full range of motion in your hips and belly, alongside balancing and moving from foot to foot. If that’s pretty hard for you in yoga, it’s not going to be suddenly easy when you go for a run. You won’t notice it as readily, and you might still have a good run. You just won’t have a great run.

 

When parts of your body are tight, immovable, or don’t work easily with other parts – you’re working against your body when you move. Every step and breath is requiring more energy to move things that aren’t happy about moving.

 

Yoga gives you an opportunity to make it all easier. I’ve done my share of high altitude mountaineering, ski touring, triathlons, and hill station runs with virtually no cross-training outside of yoga. No extra cardio training. I just show up, get on the mountain, and go. It’s worked well.

This isn’t because I have special yoga powers from Tara. It’s because my body works pretty easily, without much effort. Yoga has been my practice time for moving every inch of me in every direction. No pushing or struggling, even when things get tricky. Just calm, easy movement.

 

Yoga gives a chance for stress and tension to leave my body. It creates easy movability. This creates speed, strength, and endurance, without having to exercise myself or think much about it. It also feels pretty good.

 

Give it a try!

 

3 things about Yoga vs. Exercise that might surprise you

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3 things about Yoga vs. Exercise that might surprise you

 

 

Question

I love Strala’s emphasis on doing everything with ease. It feels so good! But, I’m an athlete, always have been. Will yoga be enough for me to stay in shape? Or do I need to balance with some more intense exercise?

 

Answer

Good question.  One way to answer it is, experiment!  Just stick with your yoga for a month.  Then see how you feel when you go for a run or get on a (real) bike.  Then try the other way. Hit the gym, machines, put in some time on the motionless bike.  See how that goes for you.

You might find the results surprising.  Here are some guidelines for athletes, and everyone, to keep in mind

 

1) You’ll be a better athlete by sensitizing than by struggling

 

2) You’ll be in better health practicing ease than practicing aggression

 

3) You’ll be more fit and more happy practicing Strala than pounding away in a mantra-yelling motionless bike-a-thon

 

Accumulation of stress cuts your speed, strength, and endurance. It also leads to all kinds of illness.

Whatever you do, practice ease, and do what you like!

 

 

 

 

Light Among Shadows

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Light Among Shadows

We had our Thanksgiving, and we gave our thanks. After the festivities were over, Black Friday rolled around, and I found myself back on my mat in the brightly illuminated Strala studio. There are mornings where I can spend most of my savasana moments gazing aimlessly at the sun-washed ceiling. I wasn’t admiring the beauty of the ceiling in particular (if you look at it, it’s just a simple white ceiling with pipes hanging across). It’s because I love how sun illuminates the white ceiling, casting shadows here and there. Its rays diffuse softly as they travel toward the back of the room, creating different shades of white.

As my eyes traced the light and dark parts of the ceiling yesterday morning, I noticed how the illuminated parts and the shadows define the objects on the ceiling into recognizable shapes. Without light, and without shadows, I would not be able to tell what these objects were – the pipes, the power outlet, etc. The light and dark contrasts on the ceiling reminded me of the light and dark sides that also exist in us. Every one of us has a positive and a negative side. We can be grateful, and maybe feel a certain level of pride in our strengths, but what do we do with our weaknesses? Even when we are infused with a spirit of gratitude, certainly these are not something to be grateful for? Like the darkened parts of the ceiling, we tend to think it’s best to keep our weaknesses hidden, unexposed to others.

Just as the dark side belongs to the same object as the illuminated side, our weaknesses belong to us as much as our strengths. We may be able to change or get rid of them someday, but right now, they are a part of who we are. I am certainly not proud of my weaknesses, but at times I am glad that I have them. In a sense, they keep me in check, and they often remind me that I am just as human as the person next to me. They prevent me from taking myself too seriously, and give me a chance to laugh at myself when I fail for the gazillionth time (not always easy). They also help me to be more understanding and compassionate when I come across other people’s weaknesses and mistakes. Instead of thinking “I can’t believe they did that,” or “Why can’t they just do this?” my weaknesses help me to say “I understand, it’s okay.” Seen from this perspective, my weaknesses are in fact, blessings in disguise.

So if you ever find yourself failing or making mistakes, I hope you can somehow find them as blessings in disguise (though perhaps not immediately), forgive yourself, and move on.

 

 

I Can’t Touch My Toes

monika
(and Why You Should Yoga Anyway)
I Can’t Touch My Toes

When I recommend yoga to someone who’s new to it, the most common response I receive is “I can’t touch my toes.” Pictures and books about yoga featuring fascinating body twists lead most people to assume that flexibility is a prerequisite to, or a goal in yoga. At Strala, I was happy to discover that this assumption was not true. You don’t have to be flexible to yoga – if you can’t touch your toes, you can always bend your knees. Yoga is not about bending and contorting yourself into difficult poses – it is simply a process for you to explore and get to know yourself. The quality of your practice doesn’t depend on whether your can touch your toes, but how much you are able to tune into yourself.

Still, you might ask, what’s with all the complicated twisting poses? You may think that they’re impossible to do, or find them appealing because they look cool. First of all, they are not impossible to do. If you practice believing in yourself and moving with your breath, most likely you will be able to achieve them at some point. Having said that, remember that the flexible yogis you see in the pictures did not achieve those poses overnight. Be patient, give yourself enough time, and see how the impossible slowly becomes doable (I know this is easier said than done – I have to tell myself the same thing every day).

During my training at Strala, I also learned that flexibility doesn’t come from stretching your body up to a point where you feel you can’t go further. Instead of pulling and stretching your muscles, try to relax and let your breath move you. If you move from a point where your body feels relaxed and safe, you would be more likely to go further than if you were tense and rigid. This is not a quick process, but you will see that your breath can take you much further than you could ever hope to achieve by forcing your way through.

I understand that at times you may feel that you can’t wait to achieve that complicated pose because… well, it just looks so cool! When you attempt a pose for the sake of looking cool, however, you are stepping outside of yourself. You are thinking more about others’ perspectives than about tuning into yourself (which our main reason for doing yoga, right?) As tempting as it is, try not making the cool factor your reason for yoga. Being present in your body is much more rewarding than any compliment anyone can give you for being able to do a complicated pose.

Finally, if you, or anyone you know, are still hesitating to try yoga because you can’t touch your toes, remember that you can always bend your knees.

xo
Monika

Building Strength: A Simple Routine for Beginners

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Building Strength: A Simple Routine for Beginners

Deep breaths and enjoy!  Make sure to take it easy.  If you experience pain, back away.  Move with the breath and create the movements and shapes from the inside out.  Making a perfect shape won’t improve your life much, but learning how to breathe deeply and freely will!