Monday, July 23, 2012

P90 X Yoga Workout

Here is a brief description of the P90 X Yoga Workout

Part One: The Dynamic

The first half of Yoga X consists of moving asanas, which are a series of dynamic, flowing, high energy poses.

Tony will start you off with some light stretching and a series of three sun salutations. Once warmed up, you’ll start incorporating more challenging moves, starting with the Warrior series.

To make them less challenging, let me share with you a few insights I've gained during my own workout on how to make these poses work:

Warrior One: The key to all Warrior poses is to make sure you keep your rear leg engaged and keep your weight centered rather than leaning forward. Straighten your rear leg and tighten that glute. Don’t keep all of your weight on your front leg.

Warrior Two: In addition to keeping your rear leg engaged, be mindful of keeping your hips and shoulders stacked one on top of the other. This centers your weight and allows you to distribute it more evenly between front and back. Again, think center, not front. Think stacked, not leaning. Think powerful, like a warrior, not flopping around like a fish.

Reverse Warrior: This pose will get slightly harder but more rewarding overall if you don’t plant your hand on your rear leg and lean all of your weight on that hand in order to get into the deepest backbend possible. Accept a shallower but much stronger backbend by putting 10-20% of your weight on that hand and using your core and strong legs to hold up the rest.

Triangle Pose: Here, worry less about getting your hand all the way to the floor and more about getting your chest and shoulders straight and square and open. You can push through your lower hand in order to open your chest and shoulders more.

Twisting Triangle Pose: Shuffle your rear foot in a little in order to get into this pose a little better. A block is very helpful here.

Chair Pose: In this pose, think of drawing everything towards a center line that runs from the middle of your forehead down to your big toes. Squeeze your toes, knees, and thighs together towards that line. Squeeze your shoulder blades in to keep your back straight and strong. If you think ‘in’ rather than just ‘down’, and think with your whole body rather than just worrying about your legs, you’ll find much more strength and stability in this pose.

Right Angle Pose: This pose is agony, especially in the clasped hands version. Don’t feel bad about having to straighten your front leg and take a break now and then. Do remember, as with the Warrior poses, don’t let your rear leg flop around back there without doing anything! Keep both legs engaged, not just the front.

Prayer Twist (in a lunge): This is a tough balance pose for me. To get the most out of it, do as you do in Chair Pose and try to think of drawing everything in to your center. It actually becomes easier to find your balance here if you’re flexible enough to reach the floor with one hand. If balance is your weak spot, though, you might be better off keeping your hands in prayer position and fighting for that rather than getting deeper into the stretch.

Warrior Three: If you have low back problems or a weak back, keeping your hands forward in Warrior Three is going to be difficult for you. Don’t feel bad about keeping them back, but do, as always, remember that you still have a rear leg here.

Standing Splits: If you can’t hold onto your ankle with both hands,don’t worry about it. Do what you can.

Half Moon: Rear leg again. You have one, or at least I assume you do, so use it. I know it seems strange that you can stand on one leg and do anything with the other leg that might help you, but it’s true. Tighten both glutes, pull your abs in, and you’ll find this pose becoming miraculously more stable.

Twisting Half Moon:  Keep that rear toe on the floor if you can’t keep it raised. Don’t hurt yourself. Work into it as far as you can, then accept that you’ve gone as far as you can, and stop.

Here ends the dynamic portion of the workout. If you’re planning on doing the second half later in the day, this is your chance to spend some extra quality time in Downward-Facing Dog.

Part Two: Balance and Static

Tree:  To lock it down, pull your raised knee back and buttocks in towards that center line. Hang out. Imagine sprouting leaves.

Royal Dancer: Keep thinking of that concept of ‘center line’ here, and while you do, also think of tension and counter-tension. To achieve stability in Royal Dancer, you need to reach towards the front with one hand and pull on your raised leg with your other hand just as much as you need push back with that leg. Let your torso and upraised arm and leg form into a bow shape, seeking equilibrium between all of its parts. The more you can equalize that tension between the two components of the pose – reaching forward and pushing back - the more stable you’ll become.

Standing Leg Extensions: These appear to be unique to P90X, with the only variation I found having the leg held to the side rather than the front. In any case, this is another example of flexibility actually making a pose easier, in some ways. If you can grab onto a toe while your leg is extended, the forward push of your foot combined with the pullback from your arm and torso will stabilize you. Think, always, of finding equilibrium between pushing and pulling. If you can’t go for toe lock, though, you’ll lose that advantage and rely more heavily on hip flexor and quadriceps strength to keep your leg extended. If you can, try both and see which you find more rewarding. If you can’t or you’re feeling pooped today, just hug your knee into your chest and enjoy the stretch.

Crane: Now this is hard. To get it right, think not only of drawing in to that center line, but also of tucking your body in towards your core, almost folding in towards your absolute center of gravity. Don’t let your butt go high up or your knees flare out. Pull in through your core. Keep your fingers spread wide for stability. If you have wrist problems, curl your fingers slightly so that they’re not flat on the mat. It’s a tough pose,just breathe, inhabit the moment, do what you can, and accept what you can’t.

Seated Spinal Stretch: If you have back problems, go as far into this pose as is comfortable and no farther. Be gentle to your back.

Cat/Cow: Don’t skip this, especially if you have back issues. Do try not to over-exaggerate the arch in your lumbar spine, though. Again, go as far as is comfortable.

Frog: Really wonderful stretch for the hips and inner thighs. I could hang out in this one forever. Pay attention to your knees if you have knee problems, since this position may be awkward for some kneecaps, and make sure to aim for that 90 degree angle between hips, knees, and shins.

Bridge or Wheel: If you have low back problems, do not go into a full Wheel. It’ll put far too much strain on your lumbar spine. If you have wrist problems, you might want to be careful, too. Stay in the bridge pose. You’ll still get some benefit, and you’ll get it without the backache.

Plow to Shoulder Stand: Another difficult pose for those with any kind of vertebral issues, I find that this one simply puts too much strain on my neck, even with cushioning. Strain on the neck is bad, and the benefits of this pose aren’t worth the risk. If you feel pain in your own neck, skip this one.

Table: Listen to Tony’s advice on adjusting wrist position if you have wrist problems. Otherwise have fun.

After this, the poses are all very straightforward stretches as well as a few abdominal exercises.

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