Do I Need to Warm Up Stretch?

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Nickolas asks:

Are there any trapeze poses that are targeted to reduce stiffness in the front upper body?

So, yes, there are. If you check out our YouTube channel, it’s YouTube.com/LRockwood, you’ll find a video there called Trapeze Hangman. We’ll link to it here in the show notes as well. You do Hangman from the trapeze, and it’s really, really powerful for opening up the front of your body, specifically your chest and your shoulders and your upper and middle back, which can be difficult areas to target without using a wall or some kind of prop. It’s one of my favorite poses to do on the trapeze, actually.

You can do Hangman on the wall also, which I always teach in lots and lots of classes and everyone finds that to be really powerful and noticeable, in terms of the impact right away. But with the trapeze, it’s even stronger, so I really, really recommend you take a look at that one.

You just need to have your trapeze at the right level, which just means say waist height or higher. Some people have theirs really, really low, but as long as it’s waist height or higher, you should be able to do that.

Brandon asks:

When I am doing the noodle stretch, is it okay if my head to be on the ground, or do I need a taller or wider chair? Should my tailbone be in a specific place?

Noodle pose is a passive backbend we teach over a chair, and you stack a bunch of pillows on a chair and you flop over it backwards. Brandon, the answer here is you just do it any way you can. The key thing is to have enough pillows so that your back arches and you don’t catch a corner of the chair with your lower back or with your shoulder blades or anything like that.

In terms of where your body is, you can even play with different positions. Sometimes I’ll put most of my body off the top of the chair, most my body off the bottom of the chair. You can kind of play with it. The key thing, again, just make sure it’s padded so that you’re getting a nice arch, and then from there you don’t have to worry about it. You don’t want to be catching the corner of the chair.

Are a few sets of sun salutes normally sufficient to warm up or should I use a more targeted warm up?

This is a great question as well. For gravity yoga that we teach, you can do it with warm-ups or without warm-ups. Anytime you warm up, you’ll go deeper in stretches. Now, if you don’t have time to warm up, that’s okay, too. It’s all about what you can manage. It’s sort of like if you had to prepare for a test. If you spend more time studying, you’ll do better. But if you take the test, you’ll still learn something, same kind of idea.

If you do a few sets of sun salutes, for sure that’s a great place to start. I like to do about five. There’s other things that I teach sometimes, which are like Tabata squats, so you do eight sets of squats. It can be really effective, provided your knees are okay. Same thing, if your knees are okay you can do jumping jacks, which are really, really great as well.

It takes me 30-40 minutes a day to stretch. Would it be good thing to alternate them with a full class of yoga, or is it better to do smaller amounts to keep the flow going?

Brandon, there’s no correct answer to this. I practice about two hours of yoga a day. There’s been times in my life where I practiced three hours of yoga per day, and I don’t only do gravity yoga. It just depends on what your goals are. A lot of people use gravity yoga to supplement, and that’s kind of what it was designed for, to supplement whatever it was they do normally. So maybe if they’re a runner, maybe if they are a gym rat, maybe they’re an athlete, maybe they’re a yoga student and they’re not getting the flexibility results they want, they do the stretches on the side.

Now we also have a bunch of meditators and a bunch of cubical jockeys and we have people who do a lot of sedentary work, who just do gravity yoga and they find it so effective. So it’s really up to you. If you’re loving yoga and you enjoy going to classes, I’d suggest going to classes as well, because why not?

David asks:

Does using YOGABODY Stretch, along with your Flexibility Kit make you muscular in any form?

This is an interesting question. The Flexibility Programs we teach in general, are muscle lengthening, as opposed to muscle building. So they’re stretches. In some cases, people will experience muscle tone, but it really depends on your body type. For the most part, no. A yoga body tends to be a long, lean body. There’s definitely exceptions to that, but the program we teach currently, our Gravity Yoga System, is very much focused on flexibility, so any strength results that you got would be marginal and perhaps coincidental. Strength exercises are fantastic. They’re very important.

We’ll be releasing more strength programs in the future. I do a lot of strength training with inversions or imbalances, hand balances, things like this, but in our flexibility kit, flexibility is really the yin to the yang of athleticism. And so it is not muscle building in nature.

Nicki asks:

Is there anything to avoid getting dizzy when using the yoga trapeze?

We got this question last week as well. The key thing is just to go really, really slowly. So don’t go back right away. People are always in a rush and they get a little bit jerky on the trapeze, also. Take your time. And also, start off doing some floor work. So you can lower down the seat of the trapeze, so let’s say it’s about at your thighs, halfway between your thighs and your hips, and you can do floor work there, practicing forward bends and really gentle backbends, and you’ll find the dizziness goes away quickly.

Jacob asks:

Do any of the breathing exercises increase your height or help you grow hair?

No. I don’t have any answer for that except no. We’ll just leave it at that.

Do breathing exercises help you gain muscles anywhere on your body?

I guess the answer to that is yes. Your diaphragm is a muscle. You have muscles in your respiratory system, which certainly get strengthened. If you’re doing strong breathing exercises like Kapalabhait breath, people actually do notice abdominal tone from them. That said, again, just like we talked about earlier, anything you really notice would be marginal and mostly coincidental and circumstantial. If you’re looking to build strength, there’s much better ways, much more efficient ways than doing breathing.

Singh asks:

Can you name some foods that I should take daily to alleviate my body aches and body stiffness?

Yes. First of all, just assuming you have general aches and pains and we’re not talking about rheumatoid arthritis or anything like this, there’s a couple of different things you should look at. First of all, you just want to look at your water and you want to be sure you’re drinking a lot, a lot of water, in many cases a crazy amount of water when you’re first getting started. Water is the biggest solvent, it’s the best detoxifying agent you could ever find and you want to drink a lot, a lot of water.

How much is a lot of water? Well, it depends on your climate and it depends on your level of activity. At the very least, three liters, and four to five liters for some people is going to be just fine as well. So that’s the first thing.

Secondly, you want to eat water-dense foods, so lots of fruits and vegetables, primarily focusing on vegetables, primarily fresh or lightly steamed or lightly cooked. Fresh, frozen, canned, in that priority, if that’s how you can get them.

Then in terms of stiffness and body aches, the thing I’m going to recommend for you are cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are very, very high in magnesium. The green cruciferous vegetables, things like bok choy and collard greens and chard and kale. Magnesium is very good for relaxing your muscles. It’s a fantastic yoga mineral. It’s best if you can get it naturally, and that’s a great way to do it.

The other thing about cruciferous vegetables is they’re very high in natural forms of sulfur. Sulfur is really fantastic for the strength, health and elasticity of the body’s connective tissues. And so those are really some of the best foods you can really find anywhere, are cruciferous vegetables. So we’re talking about broccoli, we’re talking about cauliflower, we’re talking about bitter greens, like we mentioned before.

And most of these you need to either cure or lightly cook, in order to make them palatable. If you’ve got a really tough stomach, I mean, I like to eat raw kale, but most people don’t. A light steaming is the best way to go. You can also juice the stems of kale and chard, which are really, really great, and that should be helpful for you. Let us know how it goes. Simply Raw DVD