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Isometric holds (yang)

 
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somanaut



Joined: 06 Sep 2017
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat Sep 16, 2017 5:52 pm    Post subject: Isometric holds (yang) Reply with quote

Isometric holds and yang asana

Hello, so these are questions about yang yoga and muscle contraction, but it originates in part by my experiments with yin yoga. Hence I would try and post it here.

Questions:
1) Is there a book/guide to isometric holds in yoga asanas, similar to Bernie Clark’s book “The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga?
2) Would you recommend any online resources similar to this website for exploring such a version of yang yoga? So far I have only found http://manflowyoga.com. And while I think he has some interesting ideas and methods, I would like other perspectives on this idea of isometric holds in yoga asanas.
3) Which asanas would you recommend, for generic fitness (i.e. no as rehab, but as prehab), with isometric holds 1-5 min?

Background info:
I am a 40 year old male with autistic traits (diagnosed by a psychologist this year).
I started zazen when I was 20 along with Kendo. Stopped Kendo and zazen when I was 30 and took up ashtanga yoga (1st and 2nd series) and completed a 200 hour teacher training. Stopped ashtanga yoga at 38 and took up zazen and kettlebell training (Strong First program Simple & Sinister). This summer (2017) I started doing some yin yoga (videos on youtube and blogs/articles), and the methodology appeals to me, and I can see very clear results when sitting in padmasana/full lotus (easier to get in to the asana, more easy and stability in the asana, and less discomfort after a 30-60 min. sit).
The positive effects of yin yoga, has sparked a renewed interest in perhaps taking up a yang yoga practise. But the systems that I know, generic vinyasa and Ashtanga, still don’t feel right. I like to move slow and controlled (favorite kettlebell exercise is the Turkish Getup), when there is only light to medium contraction of the muscle, I can’t "feel" my body or the asana, or the sensations are very vague. So longer duration of movement and posture seems to be what works best for me. This with my experience of yin yoga, got me thinking if it is possible to make a yang yoga practise to compliment my yin yoga practise, all to support and develop my daily life and my 30-60 min. zazen. I started to experiment with 2 min. isometric holds in plank, side plank, chair and warrior 3. And so far the effects seem promising both in daily life and in zazen (e.g. less back discomfort). The aim of yang practise, for me, would be to stimulate the nervous system and muscle growth (which is possible in isometric holds, but is of course not as optimal as weight lifting, for various reasons).
So now I am looking for information and inspiration for developing a yang yoga practise with isometric holds (and later perhaps yielding movements, but I suspect those need some form of equipment). I can only practise at home and alone, due to being overstimulated (and then I can't focus) in gyms and even yoga studies (teachers talk to much and often play music).

Best Regards
J
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1027
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi J

Good questions. Your practice has evolved just as everyone's does. Mine too...I went through the stages of purely sitting meditation (zazen) for a couple of decades, got into asana practice, fell in love with Ashtanga and Power yoga, but they didn't love me after I hit 50. Around that time I discovered Yin and fell in love with that. Now in my early 60's I break my physical fitness routine into 3 orthogonal directions: resistance training (Kettle bells, pushups, handstand) for strength; running sprints for endurance; and yin yoga for mobility. I am not sure why you are specifically focussing on isometric exercises, but most of yang yoga falls into that category: the poses are held for 30~60 seconds and that is isometric. Movement in yoga is most eccentric. There is very little concentric work in yoga, which is why weight training can be so balancing.

If you are looking for new ways to move, check out the work of Diane Bruni, an ex-serious yogi and now a more playful movement researcher.

Cheers
Bernie
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somanaut



Joined: 06 Sep 2017
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Tue Sep 19, 2017 3:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply
While it’s true, that most yang yoga employs isometric holds, it’s however my experience that they do not generate enough muscular tension to develop any kind of applicable/significant strength (depending on what one starts out with of course, and how one defines strength). As always context is key, and I can only speak from my own experience. To me the various hatha yoga styles, of which Ashtanga is the one that I have most experience with, didn’t seem to make my everyday life any better or my zazen any easier. When I took up kettlebell, I did notice a difference in both aspects of my life (back was stronger). And when I started dabbling in yin yoga, I felt an improvement again (easier to get into lotus, less discomfort while sitting, chest and hips more open). Of course this doesn’t prove anything at all, too many variables, and very anecdotal.
My interest in isometric holds stems from (as I tried to explain poorly in my first post) that it enables me to feel my body more, and this is pleasing both mentally and physically. And also has strength benefits. Learning to generate tension is quite hard, which is why so many gym rats aren’t as strong as their impressive muscles would believe (nothing wrong with big muscles, wish I had some). One of the most direct ways to learn how to generate tension, is by isometric holds. I would posit, that the methodology used in many hatha yoga styles, does not teach people to generate tension, to a high enough treshold, that it has applications beyond the vinyasa and asana practiced. I.e. we get good at what and how we practise and not much else. The same can be said about most activities, physical as well as mental. For sake of argument, let’s say, that there is some truth to what I am saying. If that is the case, then I was looking for something similar to yin yoga but with the coin flipped and focused on the nervous systems ability to generate tension (to a lesser extent that which contracts the muscle tissues). Perhaps someone smarter than me, had been looking into that. Seems that I will just stick with my kettlebells and classical calisthenics to get the yang side for now.
J
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1027
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You may discover some stuff worth sharing with others. You also may find some yogis with similar experience in a more yang forum. I can recommend you check out the Facebook group called Yoga and Movement Research Community. If you ask a question there about strength building and yoga, you will certainly get a lot of responses. But, your current mix of yin and kettlebells doesn't sound too bad to me!

Cheers
Bernie
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somanaut



Joined: 06 Sep 2017
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Sep 20, 2017 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the link, will check them out.
J
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dave



Joined: 28 Dec 2013
Posts: 27

PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2017 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Look up PAILS and RAILS and others

http://theprehabguys.com/introduction-to-functional-range-conditioning-frc/

You see the things they do look like yoga poses except they are done in a specific way. If it is done well it is so effective it seems like it is too good to be true.
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