Push, Pull, Yoga, Meditate, and repeat…

I think I said previously that my week of pushing, pulling, and doing yoga was boring. 

I guess on its face, that seems true. Compared to some of the other workouts I’ve done in the past, and the variety I like to expose myself to, yeah, doing a basic push/pull and yoga routine is pretty pedestrian.

You know what though – I’m kind of digging it.

In case you are new to the terminology, and don’t know what I mean, a basic push/pull routine is pairing together a pushing movement (like a push up, dip, handstand push up, etc) with a pulling movement (pull up, row, etc). Those are two of the major movements we (as humans) do on a normal basis, so there certainly is no harm in training them. And, if you really study bodyweight calisthenics, you can find MANY different variations to pepper in and keep it fresh. To allow for proper recovery, I’m programming at least one day off between each push/pull session.

For example – I’ve been averaging about 3 push/pull sessions each week, and to keep the push side of things fresh, I’ve been alternating various types of push ups in one session (following the protocol of P90X3’s “The Challenge”), and in the next, I’ll do handstand push ups, and in yet another, I’ll do dips. In terms of pulling, I’ve been focusing on various hand positions with the pull ups, just to train from different angles.

In practice, here is how my last push/pull workout went…

I cued up P90X3’s “The Challenge” just to have some background noise, but, and most importantly, to give me defined time intervals for the movements and rest. In “The Challenge” you end up doing 8 total sets of pulling and 8 total sets of pushing. So, if I set my rep number properly, I’m getting a lot of volume. Since I hadn’t done lever push ups for awhile, and I wanted to get some extended work in with close-grip pull ups, I decided to make those my two exercises for all 8 sets. I set my reps at 8 for the level push up, and 7 for the close grip pull up. I was able to complete all of the prescribed reps, so at the end of the session, I ended up with:

  • 8 sets of 8 lever push ups = 64 on each arm
  • 8 sets of 7 close grip pull ups = 56 total
  • Burnout – 10 sets of 1 around the world chin up and 3 push ups
  • BONUS – 3 sets of 10 hanging knee raises (I felt like peppering in some core)

I’m pretty happy with that session.

On non push/pull days, I’ve been tinkering around in the Beachbody Online Yoga Studio. After having a bunch of fun with the 3 Week Yoga Retreat, I wanted to keep the yogi momentum going. I’d say I’m averaging about 2-3 yoga sessions a week. My practice is getting much stronger, and my body feels great. If you aren’t doing yoga, you really should.

Even as yoga becomes more mainstream, I think there is still a misconception that it’s about mind more than body. I was talking to a buddy of mine about incorporating yoga into his workout program, and he thought it was a suggestion for mindfulness. I told him that certainly is a benefit; however, if that wasn’t enough of a selling point, the major benefit/advantage is what it does to your body. You improve your mobility/flexibility, and it will support and enhance your primary training modes. I look forward to talking with him more about it.

I challenge any athletic person who has never done yoga to complete a 30 minute flow. Tell me at the end that you didn’t get a good workout. I dare you! Even if you don’t buy into the mind/body connection, just do it for the shear impact of the workout. It will get you. I promise.

Also in the Beachbody Yoga Studio are some sessions on meditation. This is a topic that has intrigued me since I read Dan Harris’ book called “10% Happier.”  It was a very interesting story about how he found his way to meditation, and the benefits he’s realized as a result of the practice. There is a SIGNIFICANT amount of science now that shows your brain will physically change (for the better) as you engage in the practice of meditation. Do a google search and check out some of the findings – it’s fascinating.

In the book, Dan cataloged that it took him awhile before he could feel some tangible benefit, so the take away for me is that this is a practice, and you just need to put in the time. So, I’ve been doing a 10 minute session after each workout (push/pull or yoga), and have only missed 1 or 2 days a week for the past couple of weeks. It took me a few sessions to find a comfortable posture (I tried the different sitting positions), and finally settled on laying down in corpse pose. I’m not going to say that I’ve had a breakthrough, but I’m going to say that I enjoy that 10 minutes of focus and relaxing, and I look forward to each time I do it. This is something where it can’t help but benefit me. Really – is there any way that laying down and relaxing my brain for 10 minutes each morning can hurt me? I don’t think so. Therefore, I’ll keep doing it!

 

Do you have any workout or health programs that you enjoy doing on a repeated basis? If so, please let us know in the comments below. And, if you enjoyed the article, please like and share. Thank you!

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PROGRAM REVIEW – 3 Week Yoga Retreat by Beachbody

CHECK OUT ALL OF THE 3 WEEK YOGA RETREAT WORKOUT REVIEWS HERE!

I finished my 3 Week Yoga Retreat experience with Day 20 – Relax (Progression), and then another reboot of the AM/PM/ABS workouts.

This version of Relax was just a collaboration of stuff we’ve already done. Very slow and deliberate pacing. Lots of static holds. True to its name – just R-E-L-A-X. You don’t feel overexertion – just a nice comfortable exploration of the range and mobility you’ve developed in the past couple of weeks in this practice. I probably enjoyed the forward folds and lizard poses most. I did notice that my range has improved greatly in both of these poses.

Here is my overall review grade and assessment of 3 Week Yoga Retreat:

3 week yoga overall review

You can find all of my posts/thoughts about this program (as I did it) right here:

3 Week Yoga Retreat workout session reviews

I didn’t apply a grade for cardio because that element isn’t really a focus of this program. I don’t believe the aim of this yoga experience was to be a hard core cardio challenge, so that shouldn’t factor into the grading.

I think the instruction was amazing. Vitus, Faith, Elise, and Ted are very good at their craft. This was a very thoughtful program construction, and they took all levels of fitness/knowledge into consideration. At first, due to limited range of motion, I found myself using the modifier suggestions, and they were very accessible in the program (you were told who to follow if you wanted modified instruction). In addition, and I program said it about 67,000 times in my reviews, the instructor cueing was some of the best I’ve experienced in a video workout program.

In terms of production values, the set was very simplistic. It reminded me a lot of a Fitness Blender workout you’d find on Youtube. Very minimalist. I’ll guess that was by design. It didn’t add or subtract from the experience at all. It gave you what you needed. The camera work was good, and you never found yourself struggling to follow along with the visual instruction. In terms of music, there was a very faint soundtrack throughout the program and it didn’t distract at all. It was very complimentary to the program.

On the Beachbody On-Demand page, the description reads, “…created with beginners in mind. 3 Week Yoga Retreat will teach you simple, pure yoga for life-changing results. You’ll build the skills you need to take any yoga class after these three weeks…”

That description completely encapsulates my experience. I found the first weeks very instruction-based, and I loved it. Even though I had a working knowledge from years of dabbling, it was nice to put the training wheels back on, and learn the subtle nuances of the basics. I feel better in my practice now as a result.

All you need for this program is a yoga mat and maybe some yoga blocks. If you are an intermediate or advanced yogi, you might find this program to be too remedial and not challenging enough. If you are just starting out, or are looking to refresh/reframe your knowledge base, you’ll find this to be worth the $60 asking price on the Beachbody website. I’d very highly recommend this program if you want to learn more about the basics of yoga.

 

Are you an aspiring yogi? Do you enjoy mixing yoga workouts into your fitness plan? If so, please let us know about it in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thank you!

REVIEW – 3 Week Yoga Retreat – Day 19 – Flow on the Go (Progression)

I found it. THIS IS MY FAVORITE WORKOUT IN THE PROGRAM. You wouldn’t think I’d say that about a 20 minute session, but it was the best balance between challenge and efficiency to date. I felt great afterwards and I was sweating. Yes – sweating!

Day 19 – Flow on the Go (Progression) – approx 20 minutes.

We started right away with sun salutation A. Cycled through that only once, then moved on to sun salutation B (chair pose), and this is pretty much the flow we stuck with the rest of the way. Everything came back to chair pose.

What was cool during this entire session is that I didn’t look at the TV once. I just listened to his instruction and flowed through the moves. He didn’t waste any time – he was moving quickly. I found that to be part of the challenge and liked it a lot. You figure – we’ve been doing this stuff for the past 18 days, you should know these basic moves by now. Why not just do them??? Clearly he agreed.

After a run through of sun salutation B, we moved on to dancing warrior (again – always beginning with chair pose). In case you forgot, dancing warrior is:

  • warrior 1
  • warrior 2
  • reverse warrior
  • side angle pose
  • warrior 2

We spent about one breath in each space and moved onto the next pose. And we did a vinyasa after resetting to downward dog before moving onto the other leg. We ended up doing dancing warrior twice. The biggest cue (for my warrior poses) that I’ve taken out of this program is to make sure you are pushing through your back foot and keep the OUTSIDE of the foot down. Don’t get lazy and let your foot roll to the inside. You get the full benefit and range by being mindful about the outside of your foot.

After resetting in mountain pose, we moved into what Ted calls our “special” sequence (which is basically crescent to warrior 3). Here is how that flow broke down:

  • crescent pose
    • also open arms wide in this pose
  • warrior 3
  • half moon
  • triangle pose

I like that he cobbled all of those poses into a flow. It was very welcome and very challenging. We did both sides. Yoga note – you always do both sides. I said it before and I’ll say it again – going from crescent pose into warrior 3 is a very tough move that calls on balance and strength. You can’t just fire forward – you’ll fall over. You need to be very mindful and deliberate as you hinge at your waist and shift forward to the bent leg.

We did this flow twice.

The session closed out with pigeon pose and seated twists. Those felt GREAT.

Can’t wait to do this one again.

Such a nice session – well programmed and well paced. Next up is RELAX followed by the AM/PM/ABS sessions and then my 3 Week Yoga Retreat practice is complete.

 

Are you an aspiring yogi? Do you enjoy mixing yoga workouts into your fitness plan? If so, please let us know about it in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thank you!

REVIEW – 3 Week Yoga Retreat – Days 15-18

Meet Ted – he is the final tour guide on our 3 Week Yoga Retreat journey.

3 week yoga ted

I like to wear collared shirts during my workouts – dress for success!

Ted is now my favorite yoga trainer. If he puts out a program, I’ll grab it. His instruction is great, and he has a great vibe in front of the camera. He played second fiddle a lot to Tony Horton in the P90X yoga sessions. Ted shows he can handle the limelight of Beachbody stardom. Give that man a workout program!

 

Day 15 – Core (Progression) – approx 31 minutes.

Right off the bat, I had a big “oh damn” moment. We started our shoulder stretch with 29:35 to go in the session. We finally put our arms down at 27:20. That was 2 minutes and 15 seconds of interlocked overhead shoulder stretch with some side bends peppered in. Needless to say, my shoulders were now awake. Then at 26:30 to go, we do a behind the back shoulder stretch in forward fold.

Wait for it…

Oh my sweet lord…

…and release at 25:26. That was another minute plus of shoulder stretch hell. Okay – I’m being melodramatic. But, the chair pose that followed didn’t really go well for my outstretched arms. Clearly we are in week 3 of the Yoga retreat! No messing around here.

We did some chair flow and sun salutation A flow – nothing new here. We’ve met. About 10 minutes in, we did a flow that included some crescent pose work, hip/hamstring flow, and into some downward dog splits with knee pulls. I’ve done these before.

  • Knee to opposite elbow, back to split
  • Knee to forehead, back to split
  • Knee to same elbow, back to split

Rinse/repeat on the other side. It’s still fun and challenging.

About mid-way through, we started rocking some cat-cow action and low plank work. Then came dolphin. I think I’ve done dolphin in passing before, but never actually spent time in it to feel what is going on. Wow, did I feel that in my upper back. I certainly will ride the dolphin again. We spent about 2+ minutes in locust pose and then transitioned to some side plank work. Forearm side plank is a lot tougher than side plank with the arm fully extended (at least in my opinion). Bigger balance challenge for some reason. After another visit to the dolphin, we moved into happy baby and half happy baby. I really tried to go deep here. We finished up with some reclining twists and ended the session with good ol’ savasana.

I certainly see myself doing this session again after I’m done with the program.

 

Day 16 – Stretch (Progression) – approx 30 minutes.

We started by sitting on our heels for about 4 minutes while doing a lot of extended neck stretches and shoulder rolls. I don’t want to under emphasize how much I enjoyed that 4 minutes. You really feel a stretch along the front of your shin while sitting in this pose. And, the extra emphasis on the neck stretching felt good even into the day after the session.

The couple minutes of wide leg work and lunge work felt great on the posterior chain and in the groin. Certainly putting the cues to use that I learned in the first two weeks to really accentuate the effects of wide leg forward folds. The side lunge with twist was a nice sensation in my posterior chain. After some 1/2 sun salutation flows, we did some side stretches from child’s pose. This is another position that feels absolutely amazing if you are mindful and really focus on length and extension.

3 week yoga side stretch.JPG

Really try to extend that right arm away from your right glute

We did the hip/hamstring flow again, but spent some more time in it. My right hamstring/hip are much tighter than my other side, but it’s getting better. Moving into lizard pose was intense but very welcome. I found the cues helpful to get the most out of the position. Prior to this instruction, my lizard was sloppy at best. His verbal cues helped keep me in check.

Ted then spent the next many minutes walking us through a sun salutation flow with some crescent pose work. After that, Ted introduced us to camel pose. I first learned camel pose during Tony Horton’s yoga sessions in P90X3. Camel is intense, but feels great, and I love that Ted included it in this session. Probably the best chest and shoulder opener ever!

3 week yoga camel.JPG

This is the most intense version with feet flat and grabbing the heels

We finished up with some happy cow work which was certainly a challenge on my tight hips. I’m looking forward to spending some more time with that pose. The session ended with some seated breathing in cross-legged pose.

Namaste.

 

Day 17 – Balance (Progression) – approx 30 minutes each.

I enjoy the balance sessions and doing work on one leg. For the most part, I feel like I’m pretty good at these poses because of the strength training that I do with single-limb emphasis. So, BRING IT ON.

Right out of the gate, we did seated side stretch. The payoff on that move happened 24 hours later when I felt some sensations in my lats (like I did a back workout the day prior). I remember thinking, “…what the hell did I do yesterday….oh yeah, STRETCHED…” I’m surprised I felt it the next day.

From cat-cow, we moved into tabletop and did some hip-circles. This is a two-fer. You get to work your hips across three planes, and you get to focus on 3 point balance. Extended side leg stretch is another nice way to get length in your lats.

Then we moved into a sun salutation that included warrior 1 work. That is when we rocked some pyramid pose. To make it even more interesting, Ted had us bound our arms behind us. My shoulders were under assault, as were my hamstring, hip, calf, and glute on the lead leg. Pyramid is a challenge, and that challenge is intensified with your arms bound behind you. Nice job Ted!

Since pyramid was so easy, Ted decided to double down and take us to triangle town. Except, he intensifies it by cueing revolved triangle. Unless you are an experienced yogi, you will need your blocks if you even want to think about reaching to the outside of your foot. Triangle is another amazing pose that I need to do more frequently. It makes a couple appearances in the P90X yoga workouts.

It can’t be considered a balance session without some tree work, so, Ted moved us into mountain pose and then tree. I’m a fan of tree because I’m pretty good at it. I not only raise my arms, but also raise my gaze (that rhymes!). Extended leg with toe-bind is another story. I suck at that. I can’t extend my leg without my planted leg/hip collapsing down. Just another one of those things I need to keep working on.

Note – Vitus – you aren’t a good actor and I totally know you faked that fall!

3 week yoga tree fall

Derp!

Once we finished with standing poses, we moved to the mat and did some pigeon work. Even though I’m not great at it, I really enjoy pigeon pose. I can always feel it in the right places, and I know I’m getting better at it. This is a staple move in most of the P90X yoga sessions and also Tony’s P90X2 recovery & mobility workout (the one with the foam rolling). The session wrapped with savasana. Gotta say – felt very supple after this session. So far, this is my favorite week of practice yet.

 

Day 18 – Flow (Progression) – approx 31 minutes each.

Now it’s gonna get real! The plan is for Ted to run us through a couple of flows that incorporate EVERYTHING we’ve learned so far.

First we get the juices flowing with some neck stretching and shoulder stretching. Then, it’s time to start the party.

With sun salutation A, he runs us through the sequence w/o a flow first. Then, we go right into the flow. He’ll repeat that pattern for all of the flows – do it piece by piece the first time w/o flow, and then run through as a flow with both sides.

Overall a nice easy start with sun salutation A. Very basic – simple – nothing new here.

Next is sun salutation B with chair pose. In this flow, we throw in a warrior 1. Once we do that on both sides, we graduate to  “dancing warrior.”

Dancing warrior is a sequence that goes…

  • Warrior 1
  • Warrior 2
  • Reverse warrior
  • Extended side angle pose
  • Warrior 2

It was pretty cool to throw all of that together into a single flow. By far the most challenging “flow” sequence we’ve done to date. We did both sides of the body, and then returned to mountain pose. Since we did such a great job, he gave us a “bonus” flow. This consisted of a really long hold in warrior 2 with cueing to go deeper and deeper. From there, we straighten our lead leg, and went into half moon. This is an intense and tricky balance pose.

3 week yoga half moon

Elise is awesome at yoga and life!

From half moon, we very carefully stepped back into triangle. We did that on both sides, and then Ted put us on the ground to finish the session.

He threw in some reclining half cow work for the hips, followed by a reclining twist. Both of these were very welcome for my posterior! All of that hard work led up to a nice and well-deserved savasana. The session closed with a few cycles of seated breathing.

Overall a very nice flow that seemed to put a solid exclamation point on the work we’ve done to date. Next session is a “flow-on-the-go,” and then the relax session followed by the AM/PM/Abs sequences. Suffice it to say, that will probably be the most challenging session in this 3 Week Yoga Retreat. I’m sad to think we’ve reached the apex, but I’m also very happy with the amount of time and work put in to date.

 

Are you an aspiring yogi? Do you enjoy mixing yoga workouts into your fitness plan? If so, please let us know about it in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thank you!

REVIEW – 3 Week Yoga Retreat – Days 12-14 (Flow on the Go, Relax, AM/PM/ABS) – (Expansion)

 

Day 12 – Flow on the Go (Expansion) – approx 19 minutes.

Same idea as the week one “flow on the go.” They wanted to give you an abbreviated workout that hit on the skills you focused on during the current workout block. The training wheels are certainly a little more off this time around. We started out with a sun salutation A, then added a sun salutation A with a chair pose. I definitely feel like my chair pose has gotten better. I used to keep my shoulders up by my ears, but now I really focus on creating length and space. This is 100% because of the verbal cues. None of the instructors are letting me forget any of the subtle nuances of the moves. Unless Ted collasally screws the pooch in the next session, I’ll be giving this program a 5 out of 5 on instructor cueing.

Next, we moved onto a crescent flow. I liked the time we spent with the lunge + twist combo. On a side note – I have no idea why Ted is wearing a polo shirt. I’ve never worked out in a polo shirt – the collar would drive me insane. Maybe he has a tee-time after filming??? We again flowed from crescent into warrior 3. If I haven’t said this before, I’ll say it now – that is a pretty “baller” flow. Before this workout series, I’d always start with my feet under my shoulders and shoulder width apart, and then raise a foot off the ground and hinge back my hips to get into warrior 3. Doing it from a lunge position takes some serious strength and balance. I’m glad that I know this flow exists now. After that, we played around in warrior 2 for a little bit. We finished out the session with some wide-legged forward fold action (love it), and kneeling rockstar. This is another move that is new to me in this workout series, and I love it. I feel a lot happening in my posterior chain when I do this move.

Overall – nice quick flow. Would certainly do it again.

 

Day 13 – Relax (Expansion) – approx 29 minutes.

Just like in week 1, we have another “relax” session starring Faith. Since we have some more yoga “arrows” in our quiver, the menu of relax exercises expanded. I liked the little mountain arm flow at the beginning. It woke up the shoulders. Then we moved into sun salutation A taking a very s-l-o-w and deliberate pace. I mean, it took us 4 minutes and 15 seconds to go from mountain, to forward fold to downward dog to plank to chaturanga to cobra to child’s pose to downward dog to forward fold to mountain. Very paced and relaxed. No rush. To quote Faith, “…you don’t have to be anywhere…”

Next we spent some time doing goddess flow. I’ve been enjoying goddess as a nice groin and hip opener. I’ve really tried to be cognizant of tucking my tailbone under when I’m low in the position, and it certainly makes it a little more challenging. And, the sensation is different (in a good way), so I think I’m finally doing it the way it was intended. I’m finding that focusing on not collapsing forward at the waist is adding some new nuance to some of these moves (like crescent pose for example).

We moved into some low lunge work after resetting with mountain and forward fold. We did some twist work in this position, then downward dog, plank, chaturanga, and cobra (or upward dog). I’m a big updog fan.

We then spent about three and a half minutes in bound angle pose working a couple different angles and stretches. I relish this time to help with my TIGHT hips. Things wrapped up with some reclined twists (love those too), and finally our friend, savasana. I enjoyed this relax session even more than week 1, and certainly see myself doing it again.

Day 14 – AM/PM/ABS (Expansion) – approx 10 minutes each.

These three workouts are the same exact workouts from the first session. Not saying that is a bad thing – just saying you’ve done this before.

 

Are you an aspiring yogi? Do you enjoy mixing yoga workouts into your fitness plan? If so, please let us know about it in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thank you!

REVIEW – 3 Week Yoga Retreat – Day 10 & 11 – Balance & Flow (Expansion)

Day 10 – Balance (Expansion) – approx 31 minutes.

Elise is still at the helm and will be for the rest of expansion week from what I can tell. We start off in yoga squat, and then move onto some chair poses and light flow work. Once we get down to plank, then some time is spent in balancing table. You’ve probably heard this called bird dog. Nothing new here. I know I keep saying it, but it’s worth repeating – I like how deliberate all of the movement cues are. Then, after about 10 minutes into it, we get to play with WARRIOR 3. She flows into this from crescent pose.

Side note – I love warrior 3. I always have, and always will. Not only do I love it in yoga, I love it in general as part of my training. Aside from the balance challenge of just holding warrior 3, you can do all sorts of things from warrior 3.

Wanna try a single leg squat pulse in warrior 3?

Sure!

Wanna try doing dumbell rows or curls from warrior 3?

Go for it!

Wanna do single leg deadlifts and hold a warrior 3 pose after each rep?

Money!

Warrior 3 was not always a picnic for me. I’d say years of single leg training and yoga workouts has made me proficient at it, and allowed me to love it. At first, it was frustrating to either not hold it, or only hold it for a moment or so. Like anything worth doing, it takes patience and tenacity. Just keep doing it! You’ll get there.

The single leg standing poses and twists were welcome after the warrior 3 work. Then, there was some more flow into crescent and then warrior 3 again.

Next, we moved on to tree pose. I too am a fan of tree. I enjoy the balance challenge and putting my arms over my head.

To close out the session, we did some sun salutation A flows, and once in downward dog, we did downward dog splits and hip circles flowing into knee pulls. I’m not going to lie – this was a challenge and I ended up in child’s pose once or twice.

We finished up with what Elise called “sexy cow.” From cat-cow pose, imagine just shaking/rotating your money maker behind you for all to see.

For this session, I was VERY happy to see Warrior 3 and Tree come into play. I clearly need to work on my downward dog splits to hip circles to knee pulls.

 

Day 11 – Flow (Expansion) – approx 33 minutes.

THE DAY IS MINE! Elise is going to rock our world with a full 30 minute session that FLOWS. No stopping. No breaks. No rest for the weary. Okay – that is a lie. There is no shame in going to child’s pose if you need to take a beat. This is yoga. No egos.

The first 10 minutes was pretty much a flow of everything we’ve done to date (including warrior 3).

The next 10 minutes moved us into goddess pose, and what she called a dancing warrior sequence. First was warrior 2 into triangle. Then, from warrior 2, we went from basic warrior 2 into side angle (or extended side angle) pose, and then flowed into reverse warrior.

After that, we moved into a wide legged fold, then moved into another flow that featured some plank and forearm plank work.

To close out the session, we did some reverse table top, figure 4 work, and then our friend SAVASANA!

This was the workout I was waiting for. Certainly not the most challenging yoga I’ve ever done. But, once I’m done with this program, this is a session I know I’ll revisit when I want a very relaxing and engaging 30 minutes of yoga flow.

Just past the halfway point of this program, I’m pretty happy, and looking forward to finishing out the expansion week and seeing what challenges lie ahead.

 

 

 

Are you an aspiring yogi? Do you enjoy mixing yoga workouts into your fitness plan? If so, please let us know about it in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thank you!