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  • Incorporating Primal into Yoga? Or just general personalisation.

    I've been teaching yoga for just over one year. It's a slow, strong form of yoga: very focused on isometric stretching, meditation, and holding strong poses for a very long time. I love it, but I'm bored of teaching it! I want to incorporate some of the things I've learned from Primal into my class, but I'm not sure how.

    My own practice has developed quite a lot. I've incorporated in more movement and repetitions, and try to make it a little more explosive.

    Just wondering if other yogi and yoginis have been influenced by Primal, and if so how? If you're a teacher, how do you mix primal and yoga to share with your students? If you are a student, do you go to any teachers who bring something special and unique to their way of teaching?
    "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

    In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

    - Ray Peat

  • #2
    I teach Moksha, and I don't deviate from the series much when I'm teaching specifically a Moksha class; students tend to hate it when you go too off-book, and I'm the same way when I'm a student, I hate when you seek out a specific style and then the teacher instructs a totally different class. But I too wanted to bridge Primal and yoga within my teaching, so I ended up creating an entirely separate class I call "athlete mobility" (creative naming is not my strong suit) that incorporates a lot of Primal movements and prepares the joints and muscles for Primal-style workouts. It's mostly Crossfitters and runners that come to the class. I do long holds on the big muscles--lots of Powerful, Awkward, Prayer Twist, Runner's Lunge, etc--and do lots of hip, chest, and shoulder openers, and in between the longer holds I throw in flows designed to mimic Primal movements. So, like, one flow I do is Grok Squat (I like that name better than any of the various yoga names for that pose!) to Crow, jump back to Chaturanga, Up Dog, Down Dog, jump up to Grok Squat. I'll also toss in some light plyometrics designed to increase range of motion and prime the brain for explosive movement.

    I don't make it a very strenuous or difficult class--something that always irks me, as someone with a VERY strenuous physical practice outside of yoga, is that it's hard to find yoga classes that focus more on mobility and proprioception than on "come get a kickass workout!". I already get my ass kicked daily, I don't want yoga to be another workout on top of that, thanks. And athletes are usually hesitant to try yoga for exactly that reason, they (rightly) feel like their muscles won't recover if they throw in more workouts. Personally I don't consider yoga to be exercise (I'm not saying it's not, I'm just saying I don't see it that way). I consider it to be a mobility practice for the body and mind.

    Honestly, I think the biggest Primal/yoga crossover I practice is that I'm completely open with my students about eating meat and my personal thoughts on ahimsa as it relates to nutrition. Those who teach yoga know what a huge deal that is, all by itself.

    Comment


    • #3
      "...it's hard to find yoga classes that focus more on mobility and proprioception than on "come get a kickass workout!".

      This, exactly. I recently decided to take up yoga again, joined a studio by my house, and the teachers are all over the place. I've done a beginners class where we moved very slow and did nothing remotely stressful, and another beginners class where I was sweating and out of breath ten minutes in. The most enjoyable class I've had there was one where we did more what heatseeker is describing, really getting into and holding those big stretches for a length of time. I feel that is what I really need, to counteract all the contraction of muscles that occur in my other workouts. But my friend, who is trying to use yoga more as a weight loss technique, didn't enjoy that one at all.

      As far as primal yoga, I will say that the one thing that stuck with me from the classes I took years ago was my teacher being adamant that even if we don't continue to practice, we still find time to squat low as often as possible. Not sure why that stuck, but I was a dutiful student and squatted whenever I could outside of practice. Really came in handy when I joined crossfit. Couldn't lift worth a damn but I could squat low with the best of them!

      Comment


      • #4
        I used to be into stretching when I was in high school. About 18 years ago I started getting back into it, bought some yoga books and made what I considered to be excellent progress. So I joined an Iyengar yoga class at a gym near where I worked.

        The teacher was very strict on protecting my knees by keeping them bolt-straight, even though this was an unnatural position for someone whose knee joints straighten to >180. When I changed studios and joined one closer to home, that teacher was as insistent.

        But what happened was that by keeping my knees apparently perfectly straight rather than allowing them to enter a stable position, I was putting all the stress on my hips, which I already knew were my weak joints. I finally had an in-class collapse and ended up quitting yoga entirely. After that I had a tendency to reinjure my hips, and was unable to do any real stretching again until a few months ago.

        So now I do my stretching without yoga.

        Comment


        • #5
          Mark has done some posts on yoga. And I believe his wife is very into it.
          Ancestral Health Info - My blog about Primal and the general ancestral health movement. Site just remodeled using HTML5/CSS3 instead of Wordpress.

          My MDA Friday success story - Stubborn Senior's Testimonial

          Comment


          • #6
            eKatherine, it's too bad your experience with yoga was poor (I wouldn't have put you in an Iyengar class right off the bat), but if you think yoga is "stretching" then man, you really had some bad instructors. Stretching is one tiny ice crystal in the giant iceberg that is a yoga practice. It's like saying you wanted to get better at tying your shoes, so you joined a soccer team.

            Comment


            • #7
              I was into stretching. I thought yoga would help that, and I wanted to get better at yoga, too.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by heatseeker View Post
                I teach Moksha, and I don't deviate from the series much when I'm teaching specifically a Moksha class; students tend to hate it when you go too off-book, and I'm the same way when I'm a student, I hate when you seek out a specific style and then the teacher instructs a totally different class. But I too wanted to bridge Primal and yoga within my teaching, so I ended up creating an entirely separate class I call "athlete mobility" (creative naming is not my strong suit) that incorporates a lot of Primal movements and prepares the joints and muscles for Primal-style workouts. It's mostly Crossfitters and runners that come to the class. I do long holds on the big muscles--lots of Powerful, Awkward, Prayer Twist, Runner's Lunge, etc--and do lots of hip, chest, and shoulder openers, and in between the longer holds I throw in flows designed to mimic Primal movements. So, like, one flow I do is Grok Squat (I like that name better than any of the various yoga names for that pose!) to Crow, jump back to Chaturanga, Up Dog, Down Dog, jump up to Grok Squat. I'll also toss in some light plyometrics designed to increase range of motion and prime the brain for explosive movement.

                I don't make it a very strenuous or difficult class--something that always irks me, as someone with a VERY strenuous physical practice outside of yoga, is that it's hard to find yoga classes that focus more on mobility and proprioception than on "come get a kickass workout!". I already get my ass kicked daily, I don't want yoga to be another workout on top of that, thanks. And athletes are usually hesitant to try yoga for exactly that reason, they (rightly) feel like their muscles won't recover if they throw in more workouts. Personally I don't consider yoga to be exercise (I'm not saying it's not, I'm just saying I don't see it that way). I consider it to be a mobility practice for the body and mind.

                Honestly, I think the biggest Primal/yoga crossover I practice is that I'm completely open with my students about eating meat and my personal thoughts on ahimsa as it relates to nutrition. Those who teach yoga know what a huge deal that is, all by itself.
                Hey Heatseeker, Thanks for the long reply

                I teach Tantra Yoga (nothing to do with sex ) which is a pretty rare form of Yoga, so people who come to my class don't know what to expect. As I said, it's a slow, strong style, but I think it would benefit from a little more dynamism. Some people go to Yoga for as a fitness thing, others go as a relaxation thing. I mostly get the relaxation students, but I do like the idea of giving them a little bit of a workout first, as it makes it easier to relax after. Like you say, it's mobility of the body and mind.

                The class you've created sounds great! Honestly though, I'm in over my head with all the names and workout terminology... What do you define as a "Primal-style workout" and "Primal movements"?

                Great tip on the plyometrics - I already incorporate isometric stretching into my class (to improve flexibility, but also as a means of developing the body-mind connection) so this would compliment it well!

                What I know of Moksha yoga is similar to Tantra. It's all about living your true essence, being yourself? The Tantric path is "Celebrate your life, everything is cool". So eating meat isn't a prob according to Tantric philosophy - students find that really interesting. Actually, Tantra and Primal have a lot in common, which is probably why I'm still posting on this website one year after joining! I'm not usually one to stick with online forums. Anyway, I digress
                "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

                In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

                - Ray Peat

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Badkty22 View Post
                  As far as primal yoga, I will say that the one thing that stuck with me from the classes I took years ago was my teacher being adamant that even if we don't continue to practice, we still find time to squat low as often as possible. Not sure why that stuck, but I was a dutiful student and squatted whenever I could outside of practice. Really came in handy when I joined crossfit. Couldn't lift worth a damn but I could squat low with the best of them!
                  I think the best tip I give my students is that if you want to develop a regular practice, start by doing three minutes a day! Three mins is pretty achievable, and if you can do that with no guilt you'll be amazed at how quickly you build up to longer sessions. People find the whole prospect of "getting on the mat" very daunting at first, so three mins breaks them out of that conditioned mode of thinking.
                  "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

                  In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

                  - Ray Peat

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by eKatherine View Post
                    I was into stretching. I thought yoga would help that, and I wanted to get better at yoga, too.
                    Just a hunch, but maybe you injured yourself cos' you were pushing too hard?
                    "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

                    In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

                    - Ray Peat

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by YogaBare View Post
                      Just a hunch, but maybe you injured yourself cos' you were pushing too hard?
                      I was following the teacher's instructions, not pushing myself harder than she said. I could take the pose and hold it comfortably, but then she would tell me I had to do it in a manner that was much harder to do. For a person whose knee-lock position is greater than 180 to hold their leg at 180 is a highly unstable position. Instead of being stable, it is stressful to the hips.

                      It's not like it was an advanced class I was in. We weren't doing anything that ought to have been challenging.

                      When you have students whose legs are slightly more than 180 at full knee extension, do you make them try to hold them firm at 180? Blaming me for 15 years of tendinitis I got from following the teacher's instructions when she told me not to listen to my body is a cheap shot.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I'm sorry Katherine - I didn't mean it like that.

                        Most people get injured in Yoga because they push themselves beyond what they are capable of. It's because of our competitive culture: people want to be good at it. Your teacher should have told you that Yoga is something you're not supposed to be "good at".

                        When she told you to move your legs to a 180 did you tell her it was uncomfortable? If you did and she insisted you hold them like that, it's malpractice. If you didn't tell her and kept pushing through, that's also not your fault - you were trying to do it right. The teacher should always make clear to the class that Yoga isn't about pain.

                        But if you were in pain doing the poses then, by my definition, you were pushing yourself too hard. Again, not saying that's your fault. We come from a culture of "No pain, no gain"! Most people bring that mindset into Yoga when they start, and it's the teacher's job to get them to drop it.
                        "I think the basic anti-aging diet is also the best diet for prevention and treatment of diabetes, scleroderma, and the various "connective tissue diseases." This would emphasize high protein, low unsaturated fats, low iron, and high antioxidant consumption, with a moderate or low starch consumption.

                        In practice, this means that a major part of the diet should be milk, cheese, eggs, shellfish, fruits and coconut oil, with vitamin E and salt as the safest supplements."

                        - Ray Peat

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by heatseeker View Post
                          I teach Moksha, and I don't deviate from the series much when I'm teaching specifically a Moksha class; students tend to hate it when you go too off-book, and I'm the same way when I'm a student, I hate when you seek out a specific style and then the teacher instructs a totally different class. But I too wanted to bridge Primal and yoga within my teaching, so I ended up creating an entirely separate class I call "athlete mobility" (creative naming is not my strong suit) that incorporates a lot of Primal movements and prepares the joints and muscles for Primal-style workouts. It's mostly Crossfitters and runners that come to the class. I do long holds on the big muscles--lots of Powerful, Awkward, Prayer Twist, Runner's Lunge, etc--and do lots of hip, chest, and shoulder openers, and in between the longer holds I throw in flows designed to mimic Primal movements. So, like, one flow I do is Grok Squat (I like that name better than any of the various yoga names for that pose!) to Crow, jump back to Chaturanga, Up Dog, Down Dog, jump up to Grok Squat. I'll also toss in some light plyometrics designed to increase range of motion and prime the brain for explosive movement.

                          I don't make it a very strenuous or difficult class--something that always irks me, as someone with a VERY strenuous physical practice outside of yoga, is that it's hard to find yoga classes that focus more on mobility and proprioception than on "come get a kickass workout!". I already get my ass kicked daily, I don't want yoga to be another workout on top of that, thanks. And athletes are usually hesitant to try yoga for exactly that reason, they (rightly) feel like their muscles won't recover if they throw in more workouts. Personally I don't consider yoga to be exercise (I'm not saying it's not, I'm just saying I don't see it that way). I consider it to be a mobility practice for the body and mind.

                          Honestly, I think the biggest Primal/yoga crossover I practice is that I'm completely open with my students about eating meat and my personal thoughts on ahimsa as it relates to nutrition. Those who teach yoga know what a huge deal that is, all by itself.
                          wow!..I wanna take that class......kind of a long commute from san diego tho...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            What do you define as a "Primal-style workout" and "Primal movements"?
                            I think the definitions would vary a lot from person to person, but I define a Primal-style workout as anything incorporating short bursts of high intensity along with lifting heavy things. Primal movements, to me, would be anything you'd have to do to hack out an existence living in, say, the forest, or a jungle or someplace wild: sprinting, climbing, jumping (and landing well), hanging and pulling oneself up by the arms, lifting and carrying heavy things, sitting and laying on the ground, etc. I just picture crashing on a desert island and imagine my movements from there.

                            What I know of Moksha yoga is similar to Tantra. It's all about living your true essence, being yourself?
                            Moksha, the word, means "freedom" (I'm sure you knew that, just saying for the rest of the audience), but Moksha Yoga is a specific series of postures performed in a heated room. The postures and their sequence focus mostly on joint-opening and alignment, especially of the spine and hips. I like it because it's beginner-friendly and has something for everyone; there are some long holds, some vinyasas, breath exercises, guided Savasana (for people looking for meditation), and it's all encouraged at your own pace and level of ability, so there's no killing yourself trying to keep up with, say, the Baptiste crazies (I say that with a wink, as I love Baptiste and other power yoga, but it's certainly not for the faint of heart).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              So, I'm rather late to the party. . .

                              Anyway, this primal stuff isn't new to yoga. When I was going through my teacher training, I was cross trained. My main teacher was a PhD kinesiologist with Kripalu training. She had me work closely with an Iyengar teacher to learn form, while she taught me function. Stability, mobility, therapeutic movement, understanding isometric, eccentric, and concentric contractions, and appropriate application of plyometrics through yoga movements were all parts of this equation. Learning how to breathe properly is vastly important -- physiologically and otherwise.

                              Sequencing theory was designed to hit certain road markers before moving onto other movements, and using certain movements to help achieve those road markers anyway. I currently use mountain pose, and then certain awarenesses (proprioception) in the thoracic spine as well as shoulder and hip flexibility as an indication of readiness for the next level of sequencing (the intermediate class).

                              At the physical level, my classes emphasize proprioception, stability, and mobility. At the mental level, we work from focus to concentration to meditation to awareness. There are also energetic levels at work, which I don't speak to at all, usually -- unless in teacher training -- and of course pranayama is a huge part of the equation, though I take the iyengar approach of allowing people to feel out their bodies and get a sense of the deeper muscles (again, proprioception), before getting to deeper, more subtle muscle groups as we would in breathing.

                              IN addition, the joints are taken through a full range of motion in classes -- and we discuss how this range of motion works (for example, how the deep external rotation of side angle pose is, in part, drawn by the gluteus medius -- and how to feel that). We also do a "test/retest" in terms of mobility so that students can lean about *how* this stuff is working. We start class (in the warm up) with a test, and before doing the floor work, we do a "retest" of that movement to see how it's working after having done the full range of motions through the standing sequences. From there, we go to the floor and emphasize mobility in the spine (gently and systematically), and then do some passive work on that range of motion stuff, finishing with a good relaxation.

                              I also offer a gentle class which focuses entirely on tension release. We basically align properly using props, then relax into that alignment allowing the fascia and tension in the muscles to release, so that we can develop muscle flexibility and release of physical tension (such as knots in the muscles -- or trigger points). This is more meditative -- lots of deep breathing and long holds -- and we typically do 6 postures in between a simple warm up and savasana.

                              In terms of my own process, I've actually removed a lot of postures that are 'common lexicon' right now -- such as chaturanga. Turns out that this can seriously muck up your houslders -- and it did mine. I started to notice that my postural issues -- which are old patterns from childhood coupled with injuries and what not over the years (such as playing softball and throwing with that arm, as an example), lead to certain vulnerabilities. Those vulnerabilities came under 'fire' with chaturanga -- even though I can do it and it feels good -- after thr third, the rotator cuff goes bung and it's pretty awful.

                              Additionally, most teachers don't even know how to teach this posture (or how to set it up properly structurally) nor do they know to look to the details as to whether it will work for *this* student. What I observed is that most of my students ahve the forward head thrust and rounded shoulders common to office workers, and until their shoulders are stable, it's really not appropriate to put them into chaturanga, no matter how cool it looks or how much they want it. I do not want to risk the shoulder injuries that I saw coming out of studios in the US, nor even those that I'm seeing here.

                              my alternative sun salutation, therefore, is as follows:

                              Mountain -- sweep up
                              forward fold
                              flat back forward fold
                              plank
                              side plank right (inhale)
                              plank (exhale)
                              side plank left (inhale)
                              plank (exhale)
                              upward dog
                              downward dog.
                              (etc and sun B modified the same)

                              Notice how in this one, the shoulders are working their primary range of motion without having the potential weight-bearing/collapse of chaturanga? You get all of the work of strengthening the shoulder girdle, without any of the risks. It's working well for my students. In addition to working some chest stretching work, their shoulders are nearly getting to normal, and head over shoulders on top of that.

                              it's a work in progress, though.

                              Anyway, I suppose to answer the question in terms of employment -- you need to think about what it is that you seek to accomplish for your students overall -- and for that matter what they are looking to accomplish.

                              You take what you know and you build on it, and you might actually create an experimental class if you have the client base with which to do it. I used to have one class a week that I labeled as "experimental" and students paid a low price to attend ($10), and then I would just take them through a routine or several new routines or different ideas and just see how their bodies responded (most things ran in 6-8 week cycles) -- how long to pick up the new postures/sequence, how it helped or hindered their bodies/minds, what other elements needed to be in place before that was possible that I'd not realized in my own self-study, etc.

                              From there, I learned a great deal about what seems to work for a lot of people and what doesn't. And I stlll experiment today. My intermediate class is a cautious experimentation group. That is, I take them through much of the similar stuff that they are used to, then start to ratchet it up a bit in intensity/depth, and then build up to slightly more difficult postures. It's also where I introduce more challenging concepts (deeper muscle groups, more subtle feelings throughout the body (how energy moves and shifts), or mindfulness meditation instruction.

                              So, it's part functional, and then every few months there's a completely whacky sequence to see what they are ready to move into.
                              Last edited by zoebird; 03-25-2013, 02:57 AM.

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