The benefits of regular mediation have been talked about for centuries. A regular practice can help reduce stress/anxiety, improve mental clarity/focus, and maintain cognitive function into later years. It's no secret that some form of meditation would be a great addition to most people's daily routine! Lucky for you, there's no shortage of methods to choose from. You only need to do some research or take a class, practice it often, and see if it's right for you. Simple, easy, and in most cases won't break the bank!
Meditation can come in many forms and styles. Popular ones include guided meditation, mindful meditation (popularized by Shaolin Monks), and transcendental mediation (popularized by Hindu Yogi's). Most of these methods involve sitting, kneeling, or laying down in a calm space of your choosing. Their focus can range from channeling your attention on one word/phrase, simply observing your thoughts as they pass though your mind, or even clearing the mind. Not every method of mediation is right for everyone, the one that works for you will be unique to your personality type.
That being said, these calm methods of meditation don't always jive with every ones personality.
Yes, it takes practice to learn how to sit still and adapt to your meditation practice. It would be worth giving a calm practice a try for a while before you decide if working or not. But what if you've been trying for a while and it's just- not- working? Don't worry, there's another way to get that meditation done without sitting still.
The mind and the body are "one", in my opinion for them to function at a high level they must be trained together. This is why I often opt for moving forms of meditation in my daily life instead of tradition calm methods. We've all felt the calm/high state felt after a quality workout, it's almost zen like, and people have known about this forever! This isn't a new phenomenon, we can see many examples of this "moving meditation" throughout history.
Shaolin Warrior Monks have practiced this for centuries through Qi Gong. Their practice of Qi Gong allowed them to connect their breath, mind, and movement together in one action; improving the well being physical body as well as their mind. Samurai would train with laser focus on improving sword techniques, hand to hand combat, and even art. Their single minded purpose/focus through their physical practice allowed them to reach a high level of zen; even without sitting for hours each week meditating. It's quite obvious that Yoga is a powerful form of moving meditation! Do I even need to go into more detail on that ... I didn't think so!
Even though they're all fun, you don't need to specifically practice Qi Gong, Kendo, or Yoga to work on moving mediation. It can be as simple as taking a long walk and simply observing your surroundings, calming the mind, and allowing you to recharge. You can also get a quality moving meditation practice through your own training program! Today I'm going to outline my favourite method of moving meditation, achieved through minimalist training.
Moving Meditation Workout
The method I'm about to describe is simple, after all, I'm all about bodyweight and minimalist approach to training! You won't need much equipment, just a pull up bar or a suspension trainer/gymnastics rings and your own bodyweight. The goal during this workout is to not count your reps. You can throw the rep counting out the window! I want you to only focus on your form and your breathing. You need to be mindful about the exercise you're performing, focusing only on that movement at that time. It's a high intensity method that will produce a deep level of muscular fatigue, push your heart rate up, and get you breathing hard. Trust me, it's a great workout that will build that "zen" state we talked about earlier. Here's how to put it together ...
- Choose a variation for each exercise that you can complete at least 10 reps.
- Perform the exercises back to back, in the order listed, with 15 seconds of rest between exercises
- Perform each exercise at a pace of 4 seconds up and 4 seconds down, with a 1 second pause at the top and bottom of the movement.
- Perform as many reps as you can possibly complete with perfect form, at the tempo described!
- Once the form as broken down, or you can no longer move at the temp described, move onto the next exercise.
- Once you completed all the exercises, rest for 1-2 mins and repeat the whole "circuit" again 1-2 more times depending on your fitness level.
1.) Bodyweight Row or Chin Up/Pull Up variation
2.) Push Up variation
3.) Squat variation
Give this a try and I'm sure you'll find it produces a great calming effect, not only for the body but also the mind.
This might just be my new favourite breakfast ... or one of my favourites of all time. I'm not even over hyping this, it just might be your new favourite too.
Said in my best Ron Burgundy "question" voice: This paleo cereal is so easy ... a caveman could do it? Yes, the pun was intended - bite me.
This breakfast can be thrown together in seconds, no real need for measuring cups. I know I didn't use them! I guess it goes without saying, this recipe is going to be a little loose with the measurements. I was just too excited to get it out to you, I couldn't bother with the measurements.
Anyways ... make it, love it, tell your family and friends!
Here's What You'll Need:
- Dry dates
- Pecans (crushed or whole)
- Cacao nibs
- Almond milk or coconut milk
Here's How To Put It Together:
- Grab a hand full of pecans and place them in a bowl
- Cut up 6 pitted dates (or more) and throw them on top of your pecans
- Sprinkle a liberal amount of cacao nibs on top of your pecans and dates
- Top with almond or coconut milk, stir everything
My latest article for BreakingMuscle.com is up and it's all about how to end your elbow pain during chin ups. I've outlined 5 simple tips that you can do, starting today, that will help ease or eliminate elbow pain while performing chin ups or pull ups. A lot of people struggle with pain during chin ups, luckily these small fixes usually help most trainees. To read the article you can follow this link!
Tight hip flexors are a common problem for a lot of new and even seasoned trainees. If you have a job that requires you to sit for most of the day, chances are your hip flexors are tight. This happens because sitting puts the hip flexors in relaxed and shortened position, they don't get stretched out and eventually they become tighter.
Another culprit, when it comes to tight hip flexors, are inactive glutes. When you're glutes aren't doing the brunt of the work during activity the majority of the stress is placed on the hip flexors and lower back. They over work and become tighter over time.
Tight hip flexors aren't just a problem for inactive people, they can also occur in very active people! Lots of running, biking, and traditional abdominal exercises can lead to tight hip flexors. A combination of no stretching/mobility work, lack of a proper warm up, or an imbalanced program can all attribute to tighter hip flexors.
Tight hip flexors can cause both anterior (front of the body) hip pain and lower back pain as well. They can also inhibit sport performance and every day activities. If you're hips are tight, you need to start working towards opening those suckers up!
So just how to you go about opening up those hips?
Well the first step I would suggest is a simple combination of glute activation and hip flexor stretching. This is called "reciprocal inhibition". Such a fancy word, but all it means is that we're going to activate one muscle group to help alleviate the opposing muscle group.
Think of it like this, your muscles work like a pully system. When one muscle group contracts (shortens) the opposing muscle group lengthens. Your hip flexors are primarily used to bring the knee towards the chest. Your glutes are used primarily for hip extension, thrusting your hips away from the body. Those are opposing movements. When we work the glutes, we help relax the hip flexors.
With that in mind
Let's take a look at the 2 exercises you'll need!
First we get the glutes turned on with some bodyweight glute bridges. They're a simple exercise that requires no equipment at all.
Glute Bridge Tips:
- Lay flat on your back, bend the knees and place your heels directly under the knees, hip width apart
- Squeeze your glutes, drive through the heels, and press the hips up towards the sky
- Don't allow your knees to open up outward, keep them hip width apart
- If you feel this in your lower back, only go as high as you can without the lower back being involved
- Don't arch the back
- Keep the pressure in the heels and slowly lower down to the starting position
- If you want to give the glute bridges a little extra kick, you can wrap a resistance band around the knees and fight it's pressure.
Then we get the hips stretched out with a basic lunge stretch. This isn't the only stretch for the hip flexors, but it's a basic one that can be done anywhere.
Lunge Stretch Tips:
- Don't arch your back and don't round your back, keep the spine neutral
- Squeeze your glutes (reciprocal inhibition) this will help get into the hip flexor
- If you only feel this in the quads, try using some fascial release with a foam roller or lacrosse ball before hand
- To increase the stretch raise the arm, on the side of the outstretched leg, over head as if your were reaching for the sky.
How to put it together
- Perform this sequence daily, multiple times a day, or before your workouts.
- Exercises are performed back to back with no rest
- Perform 1-3 rounds as needed
- 10 glute bridges (lift into position, squeeze and hold the top position for 10 seconds, and return to the starting position. That's one rep)
- 10 Lunge Stretches per leg (move into the lunge stretch, hold for 5-10 seconds, relax and repeat. That's one rep)
This is just one of many ways to help open up the hip flexors and prevent them from being tight. Give it a try and you should find it helpful in relieving those tight hips!
My latest article for BreakingMuscle.com is up and it's all about core strength! You'll learn what your core muscles are, how they're misunderstood, and 5 of my favourite core strengthening exercises for beginners! Don't let that fool you though, even if you're a seasoned trainee these exercises might just be a challenge to you as well. The full article is here on BreakingMuscle.com (click here to read)
Gymnastics and "movement" based programs are really popular right now! Even I've been known to do handstands, back bridges, and LSits from time to time. I've been doing full splits for years, something I worked towards as a teen when I was still competing in Karate tournaments. I enjoy watching others perform the breath taking stunts and tricks that these programs helped them develop. I know the months or years it takes in order to be able to perform front levers, press to handstands, and various flips. I respect the dedication it takes to develop a body that can withstand the demands that these movements place on your joints.
But, in NO WAY do I believe these movements are essential, basic, or necessary for the average person.
I know I'm going to catch some heat for this post, but hang in there with me and I'll do my best to explain!
Gymnasts are basically super humans! They're strong, agile, flexible, and they have outstanding physiques. They can do just about anything you can do, but you can't do what they can do. It would seem to make sense to base your training around what ever they did to become so fantastic. Well ... not so fast.
Unlike most sports, professional gymnasts begin their training at a very, very young age. Many top competitors started their training around ages of 3-5 years. Children are much more flexible and pliable than adults. They're also much more resistant to injury and recover faster than adults. They grow up through years of rigorous training, meticulous planning, and high level coaching in order to achieve their superhuman skills and physiques. They also weren't just doing this in the name of fitness, they were also doing it in the name of athletics! Gymnastics is a sport, and a demanding one at that. These athletes careers are short lived and littered with injuries. Most retired gymnasts are loaded with nagging issues left over from their professional career, even with all of that superior training and years of preparation.
For the regular person, you really need to look at the risk to reward ratio. You're better off doing basic movement patterns such as squats, lunges, pulling, pushing etc. than working on handstands and other tricks. You're far more likely to get injured practicing one arm hand stands than you would with push ups. Basic movements are easier to learn, safer to perform, and have a much greater carry over into your every day life.
How often do you have to squat? EVERY-SINGLE-DAY!
How often do you have to single leg squat, with your leg behind the supporting leg, and touch your toe to your forehead? FUCKING NEVER!
The more complex and skill based a movement is, the less carry over it has into your every day life. There comes a time where the strength, mobility, and skill require to perform the exercise/trick exceeds the capacity required for anything you'll face in real life. At that point you're basically only training a movement for the sake of being able to perform this trick.
It takes a lot of time and training volume to be able to be able to form a front lever pull. Most people would be better off learning how to perform bodyweight rows, and adding additional weight as needed. Not only would it take less time to achieve substantial pulling strength, but the risk of injury is lower with the bodyweight row. Not to mention, some tricks are just never going to be a reality for some people. Differences in our body shapes, sizes, and limb length play a huge roll in what you'll be able to achieve. A 6'7" basketball player may be a beast on the court, but good luck ever getting him to be able to bang out human flags!
There's nothing wrong with wanting to be able to perform a cool party trick, just don't fool yourself into thinking that it's essential, functional, or even a smart idea. Remember, "risk to reward"! No one ever said that sports, tricks, and stunts were safe or smart. We love them because they're spectacular and out of the ordinary.
In reality, unless you have a job that requires these skills (dancer, gymnast, wushu performer etc.), or if you just want to be able to have a cool "pet move" to show off in videos, you're time would be better spent on more traditional movements. I bet you need little more flexibility or mobility. Yes, you probably need a little more strength. Sure, your balance could use some work. But just how much do you really need? What are you training for and will learning tricks really help? Are you prepared to face the repercussions that can come along with training for stunts rather than focusing on basic human function? Is your ego getting the better of your training decisions? Only you can decide the answers to the questions asked.