A chaturanga dandasana, the Sanskrit term for “four-limbed staff pose,” is typically done 15 to 20 times in a classic 60-minute Vinyasa class. It’s a pose that energizes and strengthens the entire body, especially the arms, legs and core. This half push-up is one of the most frequently practiced poses in class, and yet it is commonly done incorrectly. As a yoga instructor, I’ve witnessed this all too often, and as a practitioner, I too fall prey to misalignment on occasion. But with proper guidance and practice, your body should be able to feel the difference between improper alignment and proper alignment.
Incorrect Chaturanga Dandasana
In this misaligned pose, the arms are wide apart and the elbows are facing outwards. The shoulders are tense. You can see that the core isn’t engaged because the lower back is sinking down, which will eventually cause pain in your lower back. The glutes are not engaged, and the tailbone is sticking up. The heels are shifting the body and flow of energy backward and down instead of forward.
Incorrect Chaturanga Dandasana
Here, the core is sinking way too low and isn’t supporting the lower back, which affects the alignment of the entire body. You can see the legs are drooping down towards the ground. The torso, quads and hamstrings are not fully engaged. Also, the shoulders should be back away from the ears, and the upper body should be in line with the hips.
A Proper Chaturanga Dandasana:
Start at plank position. Lower the body halfway only with the tailbone tucked under. There should be a long line of energy flowing straight forward from the heels of the feet all the way up to the crown of the head. The elbows are at a 90-degree angle and hugging in towards the ribcage. The fingers are wide open, knuckles pushing down towards the ground. Your gaze should be relaxed, keeping the cervical spine long. You will know if you are doing it incorrectly if your body doesn’t feel engaged. While in the pose, squeeze the inner thighs, the glutes and the core to get the full expression of the chaturanga dandasana.
STORY BY SUNINA YOUNG
Sunina Young (sunina.com) is a yoga + SLT pilates instructor in New York City
Photos by Andy Hur, andyhur.com
This story was originally published in our Spring 2015 issue. Get your copy here.
Two years ago, I made the choice to switch to a healthier lifestyle. This mainly consisted of being aware of what food I ate and figuring out a consistent workout schedule.
Truthfully, it was very difficult in the beginning because I did not know where to start. I had very little knowledge about gyms, workout equipment and types of exercises I should be doing. Stepping into the gym was so intimidating, I would often stay on a treadmill or elliptical so I would feel “safe.” As much as I wanted to strength train, I was self-conscious of how weak I looked or how stupid I may seem with improper form (proper form is VERY important, by the way, but more on that later). Even if I did workout with other people, I was very stubborn and reluctant to follow certain exercises.
But I kept on trying. You have to keep in mind that everyone starts from somewhere. The important thing is that you are up and making an effort! If you ever lose motivation, feel lazy or get intimidated, here are some tips to help keep you going:
Let’s be honest, many of us are constantly checking our social media accounts. So why not start there? Personally, I go on Pinterest or Instagram to find motivational quotes so I can easily refer back to them when I need an extra push.
It is also important that you keep positive energy around you, whether it’s a fellow workout partner that is willing to push you or having friends that share your excitement on your fastest timed mile. A support system will help you along your fitness journey.
Others can’t support you if you don’t support yourself. Don’t ever put yourself down! Even if you feel like you didn’t work out as hard as you should have, don’t worry! It’s much better than skipping a workout altogether. According to Neesha Choksy at bodybuilding.com, having positive thoughts after a workout will help you stay motivated and you won’t be dreading the next time you exercise.
2. Dress Up!
No, not like that! Put down those heels, girl. When you workout, wear something that you feel comfortable and confident in! When I started exercising, all I had were pajamas and sweats. Looking like I rolled out of bed did not help me feel energetic at all. So I went out and bought fitted leggings (you know you want to check out that booty after squatting) and colorful tanks tops. I also tend to buy tops with motivational quotes, no matter how cheesy it may seem.
3. Tune Out The World
Are you one of those people where music affects your mood? Grab your iPod and create a fast-paced energetic playlist. Trust me, the right beat and the right song will keep you going. This will also help you focus on yourself and not the guy flexing in the mirror across the gym.
Do you need some song suggestions to get your started? The one song that will always push me to my limit is Lil Jon and Steve Aoki’s “Turbulence.” I know, it’s very EDM, intense and something I don’t normally listen to, but it helps me run just a little faster on the treadmill. Are you feeling a little competitive or need to let out some steam because of an ex-boyfriend? Try an empowering song like “Better Than Her” by Matisse and Akon. You’ll feel so accomplished after your workout. Who needs a man in your life anyway?
Feature image courtesy of Fabletics.com
Although yoga is a mental, spiritual and physical Hindu discipline that originated from India, many Americans of every religion have embraced yoga in almost every gym across America. Despite the rising love for yoga, ask most Americans about the religious history behind this discipline and you’ll probably hear crickets.
College Humor, fresh off their “Diet Racism” video which hilariously took on racial microaggressions, now takes on yoga’s popularity among Americans by creating a fictional scenario where Mahatma Gandhi steps out of a time machine and takes a yoga class with mostly all-white students. The results are hilarious and troubling.
Right off the bat, the white instructor is condescending and claims a false sense of authority. Gandhi’s fellow classmates aim to use yoga to “prepare for beach season” and throw the word “spiritual” around until it’s rendered meaningless. Eventually, Gandhi loses it. While we do not want to fully spoil the video for you, let’s say f-bombs are flung.
Yes, there is a difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. However, as yoga has entered the mainstream, there is no doubt that it is being changed and watered down from it’s original roots. A key moment of the video is when Gandhi says “Bitch, you do know this is my actual religion, right?” when a classmate describes a yogalates class as “so spiritual.” Right now, there are an increasing amount of vocal critics against the cultural appropriation of yoga and even a “Take Back Yoga” movement started by the Hindu American foundation.
While the time-traveling, sassy and foul-mouthed Gandhi of this video is of course fictional, the real Mahatma Gandhi did practice yoga. In his own words, “the yogi is not one who sits down to practice breathing exercises. He is one who looks upon all with an equal eye, sees other creatures in himself.”
Blogilates is an interactive fitness website that features monthly workouts, healthy recipes and a shop for motivational (and fabulous) active wear and accessories. If you’re looking to get healthy and fit for the new year without the hassle of a gym, look no further. Blogilates is a positive community where users share their fitness journeys while uplifting one another.
Blogilates was established by Cassey Ho, a certified fitness instructor and the creator of POP Pilates. What is POP Pilates, you ask? On her website, Ho describes her workouts as a “more upbeat style of Pilates.”
Despite her success, Ho never anticipated a career in fitness. She originally had dreams of becoming a fashion designer, but instead, graduated from Whittier College with a biology degree to fulfill her parents’ wishes of her pursuing a career in medicine (sound familiar to anyone?). After college, Ho decided to follow her dreams and created a YouTube channel that featured at-home workouts, including POP Pilates.
Ho also put her fashion design skills to work by designing stylish yoga bags and active wear, which she also models. Her clothes display fun, empowering messages such as “Train like a beast, look like a beauty” and “Train insane or remain the same.”
Eventually, creating videos and interacting with fans on social media turned into a career. Through Blogilates, she inspired thousands of fans to live a healthier and happier lifestyle. Ho was named Best Healthy Living Blogger of 2012 and ranked #2 in Fitness Magazine’s Most Influential Online Personality. Most importantly, Ho loves what she does and she adores her fans.
“My job is my passion, and my passion is my job,” says Ho on her website. “I feel so lucky to be able to encourage you to eat healthier, train harder, and live happier doing what I enjoy.”
Check out Cassey Ho’s recent video, a fun cardio dance that will make you break a sweat. You won’t even know you’re working out. Go on and move that booty!
Feature image courtesy of blogilates.com
The latest endeavor by the Olympic Gold Medal figure skater and Dancing With the Stars winner is Tsa.ya, a women’s active wear line that draws on Yamaguchi’s training as an athlete, life as a mom and passion for childhood literacy.
One of Kristi Yamaguchi’s favorite aspects of figure skating has always been the costumes. She still loves the iconic black and gold sequined outfit that she was wearing when she won the gold medal at the 1992 Olympics when she was only 20 years old.
“I wasn’t planning to wear it because all year, I had worn a pink dress with short sleeves,” she remembers. “I got superstitious and wanted to wear the pink one again. But I’m glad my mom encouraged me to wear the gold one because it was so much more elegant. The look is so ’90s, and we had costume restrictions back then, so it’s more conservative than what you see now. But I still like it!”
Fashion was an early passion for Yamaguchi. She was not only involved in designing her skating costumes, but post-Olympics, she was the official spokesperson for the apparel fiber company Celanese Acetate’s fashion campaign, where she was able to work with designers including Tadashi, Carolina Herrera and Carmen Marc Valvo. Years later, she slipped back into a number of beautiful, extravagant costumes for her 2008 winning run on the TV reality competition Dancing With the Stars, her favorite being the gold evening gown she wore while dancing the foxtrot with partner Mark Ballas.
When Yamaguchi decided to launch her own product line Tsu.ya in 2012, active wear was a natural choice. She wanted to create fashionable clothing that could transition easily from exercise to everyday life, which was especially important to her as an on-the-go mom.
“I knew there was a way to create fun, trendy active wear that was comfortable,” says Yamaguchi. “To be different, I like to add pieces with ruffles and things to make it more feminine than what typical active wear looks like. I’m designing for a certain demographic that might like our mesh panel on the waistband for extra support, relaxed shapes in certain tops, ruching in areas to flatter the feminine figure.”
Yamaguchi is intimately involved in the design and development of a brand that bears not just her middle name but also the moniker of her grandmother. “It’s a nod to my family and our Japanese heritage,” she explains. “The literal translation is ‘shiny,’ so Tsu.ya encourages women to shine and find the spark of brilliance in all that they do.”
The personal connections don’t stop there. The “Keara” keyhole tee is named after her daughter, and a portion of all Tsu.ya proceeds go to Yamaguchi’s charity, the Always Dream Foundation, which focuses on childhood literacy.
Yamaguchi says she’s excited for the fall 2014 line, which features color-ways in teal, raspberry, heathered grey and, of course, black and white.
“There’s a beautiful, strappy active tank, mesh details, flattering silhouettes, a comfy wrap and a fun moto jacket,” she says. Indeed, the moto jacket, called “Mica,” is all style and all comfort, made of soft French terry and detailed with trendy gunmetal zippers. Other standout pieces include the perfectly slouchy “Lori” capri pant and the “Julia” jacket, a stylish mesh zip-up with extra long sleeves and thumb holes. Check out the entire line at tsuyabrand.com.
This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here.
If you’ve ever been told you “run like a girl” or “hit like a girl” or have done any other physical activity “like a girl,” then you should be quite proud of yourself. After all, when 10-year-old Kaylyn Mintz took part in a push up contest against an older, male JROTC cadet, she proved that doing push ups “like a girl” means completely owning your opponent.
Videos of Kaylyn Mintz have been spreading like wildfire across the internet. It’s all thanks to an Active Heroes fundraiser in North Carolina earlier this month. There, Mintz did not hesitate to go head-to-head against a male JROTC cadet in a push up contest.
Right from the beginning, it is obvious that Mintz is a force to be reckoned with. The two easily match each others’ quick pace. Eventually, the JROTC cadet begins slowing down while Mintz continues with her incredible speed and strength. Sure enough, she pulls out victorious.
As it turns out, Mintz is a competitive gymnast who trains 17-20 hours a week. She is currently aiming to try out for a position on the U.S. Junior Olympic team. Her family has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover expenses for her trip.
So the next time you’re thinking of challenging a young girl to a push up contest, you may want to make sure you’re prepared. You don’t want to face the same exhausting defeat as this guy:
Whenever I spend time with family members in their 50s and 60s, they like to remind me that my 20s are my prime years and physically, things will only go downhill from this point on. They usually follow this up with horror stories about joint and muscle pain, but I won’t go into that.
Now as it turns out, if I were talking to some of the senior citizens in Beijing, China, the conversation would be very different. In fact, I may find a few who would challenge me to a push up contest. And trust me– they would win.
Head over to Beijing’s Temple of Heaven Park and you will see it covered in senior citizens. No, they’re not there peacefully feeding pieces of bread to ducks (which would have been my initial guess). They’ve taken over the jungle gym to work out.
And these aren’t just tiny, delicate work outs either. Men are doing sit ups while hanging from metal bars, women are jump-roping and just about everyone seems to be able to do pull ups better than I ever could.
You may be surprised to discover that many of these athletic senior citizens didn’t actually exercise before retiring. With a job to maintain and kids to raise, many admit to not even caring too much about their physical fitness in their younger years. Now retired, the senior citizens finally have time to focus on exercise.
As expected, China’s life expectancy seems to have benefitted from this senior citizen hobby. Huffington Post notes:
Despite rampant cigarette smoking, suffocating pollution and some ghastly food-safety scandals, China compares favorably with other upper middle income countries on life expectancy. At 75.2 years, China’s life expectancy currently lags only 3.5 years behind that of the U.S., despite China having around one-eighth of America’s per-capita GDP.
Check out this video below and see their athletic skills for yourself. Keep in mind that nearly everyone in this video is over 60-years-old and retired. In fact, the man in the beginning is 86 and ran a marathon just four years ago.
Most readers have made it loud and clear that they are tired of hearing about Maria Kang, the 32-year-old mother of three who caused a social media uproar when she posted a photo of her toned body on to Facebook captioned “What’s your excuse?”
Half the readers are tired about Kang’s inability to “get over herself.” The other half seem tired hearing about how upset everyone is over her “inspirational success.” Whether you support her or not, Kang has made it clear that she is not ready to leave the spotlight and yearns to tell both her controversial success story and her story of struggle.
Recently Kang opened up to MailOnline about the other side of her story: her struggle with bulimia. Kang has been called a bully for being insensitive about the struggles that other women have to endure, but Kang argues that her weight-loss journey was a battle as well.
Kang claims that she was always considered “chunky” and often compared herself to her leaner sisters and supermodels in magazines. In her early 20’s, the self-conscious Kang suffered from Bulimia. Her weight fluctuated dramatically and at one point, her 5ft 4in frame weighed 152lbs. Kang admits to binging and purging on sweets two to three times almost every day of the week.
“I used disordered eating to fill an empty void,” Kang explains. “It was worse when I was feeling anxious. People often call bulimia the “good girl drug” because we don’t do drugs or drink alcohol we just abuse food.”
“I felt like I had no control over my mind and I had such self-defeating thoughts. I felt a variety of emotions, sadness, guilt, emptiness.”
Kang’s life finally took a turn for the better when she made the conscious decision to “start loving herself.” Additionally, the entrance of her husband, David Casler, into her life truly pushed her to take care of her health. When she became pregnant with her first son, she found her new motivation.
“I had to let go of being perfect,” she said. ‘When I became pregnant with my first child I was like “Wow this is what my body is really made for.”
After promising to eat in a more healthy manner, Kang was able to slim down to 125lbs after birth. She was able to get back into shape after two more children. She attributes this to having a toned foundation and advises other women to be fit before pregnancy so that losing weight becomes more manageable.
To maintain her current body, she does 30 to 60 minutes of strength training and cardio a day. Additionally, she likes to eat protein and carbohydrates at each meal.
I’m sure you all remember the fitness mom, Maria Kang, who faced a lot of heat for putting up a photo of her impressively fit body alongside her three children. Of course this wasn’t the problem. The controversy was about the caption that came along with the picture: “What’s your excuse?”
The 32-year-old, half Malaysian Chinese and Filipina mother of three was bombarded with negative reactions saying that she was bullying others. These people felt that the comment made it seem like others were making excuses for weight gain. They argued that there are various reasons for weight gain and by not being sensitive to those issues, Kang was being obnoxious and pretentious.
Her photo caught so much attention that she soon found as many, if not more, supporters. A countless number of people flocked to her aid and commented that her hard work was inspiring.
Now, Kang is back in the hotseat, but for an entirely different reason. Kang stumbled upon an online article which featured plus sized women posing in lingerie. Kang then felt the need to publicize her thoughts on facebook and wrote the following:
The popular and unrelenting support received to those who are borderline obese (not just 30-40lbs overweight) frustrates me as a fitness advocate who intimately understands how poor health negatively effects a family, a community and a nation. While I think it’s important to love and accept your body, I was a little peeved because I think that we’re normalizing obesity in our society.
Facebook removed the post and shut down Kang’s account claiming the post was a “hate speech.”
After News10 reached out to Facebook, they claimed that the suspension was a mistake and reactivated Kang’s account. However, they did not restore Kang’s post. As a result, Kang has voiced that her freedom of speech was taken away.
Yet again, Kang finds herself with a number of haters and supporters. Those who agree with her claim that people should be allowed to post their opinion on facebook and by taking down her post, they have taken away her freedom of speech. Others who supported Kang in the past do not agree with her actions this time around.
“I feel like that’s bullying other people,”says Jayana Hinkle. “She can celebrate her success story, but when other people are trying to accept themselves, she just totally shoots that down. I don’t think that’s fair.”
Facebook pointed out that Kang is welcome to repost her comment, but Kang argues that Facebook should repost the comment, not her. Kang remains strong on her opinion.
“It’s never my intention to say someone should look a certain way.” Kang said. “But I am not going to stand here and say being obesity is okay and we should accept that as the norm.”
A few days ago, we showed you Maria Kang. The 32-year-old, half Malaysian Chinese and Filipina mother of three was bombarded with reactions for a picture of herself in a sports bra and short shorts, surrounded by her three young sons. A caption reading “Whats your excuse?” sparked a fire of online debates questioning whether or not the image was insulting. The online debate exploded even more once Kang decided to repost her image with a “non-apology” as seen below:
I’m sorry you took an image and resonated with it in such a negative way. I won’t go into details that I struggled with my genetics, had an eating disorder, work full time owning two businesses, have no nanny, am not naturally skinny and do not work as a personal trainer. What I WILL say is this. What you interpret is not MY fault. It’s yours. The first step in owning your life, your body and your destiny is to OWN the thoughts that come out of your own head. I didn’t create them. You created them. So if you want to continue ‘hating’ this image, get used to hating many other things for the rest of your life.”
Just about everyone felt the need to put in their two cents on the matter. In fact, even our own readers had conflicting opinions about the issue.
One reader commented, “I do think that caption is kind of aggressively presumptuous. “Excuse” has a negative connotation. I mean, I don’t feel like anyone deserves an apology for her ad, but I see where people would feel unprecedentedly challenged in the way she presents her achievement.”
Another reader saw no problem in the photo at all. He wrote, “Why are people offended by “What’s Your Excuse?” All of the negative comments revolve around how people don’t always have the same goals, or don’t WANT to look like this, etc. Well then great, why be upset if this doesn’t apply to you? Move on. People are stupid.”
Regardless of the positive or negative comments, Kang was clearly not phased. Kang made an appearance on Today and voiced her opinion that she still has nothing to be sorry about.
Kang says that she knew it would be a powerful image despite its criticism. Kang claims that the amount of people who disagree with the image is a small 20% while the rest are inspired. When asked if she would change the caption if she could go back in time, Kang replied that even another caption would spark that same debate. “It’s really, again, that dialogue that’s happening in that persons head.” she explains. While she says she’s aware of why some people were insulted by the picture, she confidently says, “I think the majority of people saw it as inspiring.”
Watch the interview below:
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