How yoga boot camp can change your practice and your life.
1. Better Booty
I have been practicing since 1988 and teaching since 1996. That makes me a bit of a mid-life practitioner. In the past, I found that I could manipulate my sequence to move into musculature that was strong and avoid areas of my body that brought about discomfort because of weakness.
This left me with the dreaded “yoga butt,” flat as a pancake without much strength. Remember all those times your yoga teacher said “relax the gluteus”? That translates to no muscle development.
Boot camp builds the musculature of the body in an even and balanced way. You will find more strength, not only in the gluteus (important for backbends and standing poses), but also the abs (core support in all poses, especially inversions and arm balances), the back (essential for backbends), the shoulders (strong chaturangas) and the legs.
2. Better Asanas (postures)
At 48 years old, after 25 years of daily yoga practice, I began to work with a personal trainer. After going through several strength and body measurement tests, I recognized I was 10 pounds over weight. I also had weak areas of my body that would help my practice if they were strengthened.
I took on the challenge, adding three days a week of 30-minute circuit training to my personal yoga practice. I lost 10 pounds, while strengthening my practice.
I cannot tell you what a miracle this has been, not only in achieving deeper expressions of the poses, but also in bringing sukha and sthira (steadiness and ease) to my yoga. When your oblique is strong, twisting becomes deep and sweet.
3. Build Community
When you are up with your fellow yogis at 6 a.m., pumping out burpees and crunches, you see each other in a new way. You depend on each other in a way that transcends yoga class; it is like a life and death scenario. It made me think, “If you can do it, I can do it, and if I fail, at least you will be there to scrape me off the floor.”
The strength required for boot camp comes quickly. The yogi body knows how to respond to endeavors that are good for it. The bodies in the boot camp I attended ate it up. It was like water in the desert.
p.s. Don’t get religious on me and say core work is bad for your back; done safely, this effort builds the musculature of the abdomen, and that protects your back from the potential ills of an improperly executed yoga practice.
4. Embrace Diversity
The diversity in a boot camp is amazing. There were all kinds of folks attending—not just seasoned yogis, but people who wanted to attend class, but felt they had to get in shape first. There were yogis that had been injured or bored by their practice.
By the way, this is the place to see the super Gumbys sweat; this is the place the stiffies will shine. Then, back in the yoga room, the opposite of that. How wonderful the spin of the globe brings all things ‘round.
5. Break Old Habits
After a few days of circuit training, you may be sitting in twist and notice you have to be mindful, because you are so strong you could twist beyond the point of safety. Or you may find the courage for handstand where there was no courage before.
Boot camp didn’t make me reckless, but it woke me up. My new body, and what it could do, surprised me. I liked how boot camp added not only strength, but also ease to my yoga practice. I noticed how no pose was the same as before and how new sequences were possible.
After attending boot camp, yoga was born anew for me, even after 25 years of practice. I noticed a willingness to venture out of the box I had so cleverly crafted. Boot camp took me out of the place where “no way” labels lie. It took me into the place of “yes,” and left me with a better booty to boot.
To find a boot camp in your area, Google “yoga boot camp” and sign up early. The classes tend to fill well before the start date.
Kim Manfredi began studying yoga and meditation in 1988 to facilitate healing from a severe fall that resulted in four broken vertebrae. Although she found limited mobility in her spine and permanent damage to her right leg, the benefits of yoga were apparent to her, even with her first class.
She and her husband Chris Blades own Charm City Yoga Center in Baltimore, Md. The studio boasts six locations, 12,000 student visits per month, and has won best yoga 12 years running. Kim runs the 200- and 500-hour teacher training, offers her own public classes, as well as specialty and nutrition workshops. She is dedicated to remaining a student as she dedicates her life to helping others. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.
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