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Friday, November 16, 2012

The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga, Volume I

A terrific tool that teaches anatomy and body awareness
With all the anatomy I’ve studied and the continuing education I participate in, you would think I’d have had about enough of anatomy and kinesiology or that I would already “know it all.” Wrong on both counts!  I am a firm believer in continuing education no matter what your field (I wrote a blog post about this) and there really is so much to learn in my field that I will never stop studying.  I spend at least one hour every day learning about new exercises, methodology, nutrition and psychology (as it pertains to behavior, motivation and compliance.)  Even though I think of myself as an “expert,” the more I know, as they say, the more I know I don’t know.

To be honest, when I stumbled upon this gorgeous book (and it is gorgeous),  thoughts of, “oh no, not another anatomy book!” did go through my mind. But, the illustrations in The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga, Volume I  were so mind-blowing that once I started flipping through its pages, I realized I could learn a lot from it; so I bought it anyway. Unfortunately though, I did put it on the shelf for the next 5 years (I know; it’s embarrassing.)

I finally got around to reading it this month. Wow! What a unique book. The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga, Volume I  by Ray Long, MD is a collection of beautiful and amazing illustrations (and instruction) that nearly leap off the page and firmly shake your hand.  There is also a good discussion of biomechanics and kinesiology in this book that makes it a good refresher or, if you’re new to exercise science, a terrific explanation of what muscles are being used in what way during certain Yoga poses. This is much more than a reference book.

Now, I know you’re probably shocked that I’m promoting Yoga since I am all about weight training and it is shocking; but the truth is, I love Yoga.  I think it’s a fantastic form of exercise and seeing that it’s been around for 5,000 years or something like that, it must have some merit to have stuck around that long. Kidding aside, I could go on about all the benefits of Yoga but that is another post for another day. My only comment on the subject of Yoga vs. weight training is that it is not a competition.  I believe that weight training should be the foundation of a fitness program. Period.  But that doesn’t mean that other forms of exercise are second rate or should be avoided (except for jogging.) I strongly believe in cross-training and I advocate body weight training as an integral part of my training philosophy and where do you think that came from?  I am 100% behind any safe and effective form of exercise and believe me when I tell you, they all “borrow” from each other (ever hear of Yoga-lates or Pilates Plus?) The only issue I have is that many people are dogmatic about their exercise preferences to the exclusion of doing or supporting any other form of exercise. This is a mistake and I find it to be the case particularly with Yoga enthusiasts, and that’s detrimental to developing strong, flexible, healthy bodies (attached to calm, centered, loving and positive minds.)

I seem to have gone off on a tangent here…

But let me just say, The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga, Volume I is a wonderful learning tool for ANY form of exercise because muscles, bones, fascia and connective tissue do not change because you're doing a different form of exercise.  The study of how the body moves through space and time is basic to all forms of exercise-even if the way we work them is slightly different.  It's also true that when you integrate multiple training methods, you create a much more functional body and one that is less prone to overuse injuries.  Flexibility then, is not just limited to the body.

I just bought The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga, Volume II...can't wait. _________________________________________________________________________________

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Fitness expert and integrative performance coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at © 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

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