Category Archives: mindfulness

Its Sad, But True

So, I’m ashamed to say as a fan of the music of Alice in Chains, I didn’t know a lot of the history of the band. The reason for my renewed interest was a group that has popped up in my Spotify feed now and then. It is the band Mad Season. I was thinking, “that singer sounds just like Layne Staley of Alice in Chains”. Well yeah, one in the same.

So as I read about Layne, its sad but its true. He fell along a predictable path of some of the grunge rockers of the Pacific Northwest. One of my favorite rock icons was Jimi Hendrix who probably paved the way for the success and untimely death of rockers from the Seattle area. I once visited his grave and memorial site a few years back. Layne died on the anniversary of the suicide of Chris Cornell. I think Chad Bennington left us a year after Chris too.

Layne was raised as a Christian Scientist. And before you pigeon hole me as a radical, Bible thumping kind of person (which I am), hear me out. I understand the heartache many people feel when they feel disenfranchised from organized religion. If you never understand the true principles of those beliefs, then it always seems fringe. But of the mainstream religions with deep rich histories, Christian Science is a more modern idea without a lot of roots. But it doesn’t really matter. I know people who were raised in Christianity and have now pushed it away. They are the most vocal anti-Christians in the world. I feel for them sometimes because there are some people in this world who are not to be followed or believed. But that’s the point. Don’t make your beliefs about people. People often fail us. You have to seek answers for yourself.

There are some traditional denominations that discouraged people in the past of reading scriptures. In olden times, scriptures were not readily available. Only the priests read them and shared them orally with others. With the advent of the modern printing press, the scriptures became known to more people. People like Martin Luther started reading for himself and started to question what the Church was doing at the time. So then you are guided by the opinions of Man (and Woman) and not by your own self study, systems of beliefs often fail us. People are not perfect. And when you put all your eggs in the People Basket, you can always be let down.

I feel the same as a yoga teacher. I really honored my yoga teachers when I first started; I still do. I saw them as untouchable, other worldly, and wise beyond reproach. I never considered them as gurus, but as someone who deserves respect. We have a teacher’s room at our studio. Its a place where teachers can place their mats, receive materials from the studio owner, and some will even prepare for classes in there. It kind of sets us apart from our students. But the minute we start to place people on a pedestal, its when bad things start to happen. People start to believe in the hype and start to wear their crowns and tiaras with lots of pride. They want their feet kissed and much more. Its sad but true; people let us down. Never lift anyone so high that they can’t see below the clouds.

Back to music. I really love music. When I listen to music, I’m in total bliss. I’m such an audiophile that I can get lost in the syncopation. I have a childlike curiosity about music. It is always innocent in the beginning. But sometimes, I get curious about a lyric that I just heard. Sometimes its blatant enough that I have to remove it from all my playlists. If it is just vulgar or unjustifiably abrasive, then I remove it from my playlists. And if it turns out that a song goes against my beliefs, then that gets removed as well. I usually try not to think about it. But sometimes its right in your face and you can’t do anything but turn from it.

Personally, I find my foundation in my beliefs. Its what keeps me living and in complete hope for the future. It keeps me from getting too down when I see a world in peril. Its because of my faith that I can live. But when I read about Layne Staley, I realized he would have been just two years younger than me today if he would have lived. He was very outspoken against religion. Many of the rockers of old were the same. Yet their depression and addiction showed they had no hope for the future. They could have had anything they wanted. They could have managed their finances to be comfortable for the rest of their lives. The American Dream could have come true for them. But their disbelief in something higher than themselves puts all their problems on their own shoulders. They can have all the money and friends and accolades the world can give them, but its not enough.

I feel bad for people who end up making the decision to end their lives. Some of it is made slightly easier by being blinded in addiction. Layne of Alice in Chains at over 6 feet tall was estimated to be 85 pounds when he died two weeks prior to being found. He was alone at 34 years old. Very alone. He said in one of his lyrics “Deny your maker”. And that’s what he did. Addiction is such a terrible thing. But its preventable. If you were raised in a loving home by a mother and father who loves you. If you have hope for the future and hold firmly to that belief. If you have friends who don’t try to take you off your path, but instead support you and hold your hand as you walk, then you can’t fail.

Its a choice to take a drug. People say that our vices, no matter how mundane and seemingly harmless, lets us to open up to more illicit vices. When you’re high on weed or alcohol, who knows what next step you will take. When all your friends push you to take the next step and you’re having a good time, then why not? Its always a choice.

My grandpa was a smoker. He was the only smoker in my life. So sometimes we would “play” smoking. We would buy those candy cigarettes and act like we were smoking. There was this funny tree in Oklahoma that would give off flowers that looked like a cigarella. So we would even try to light them and act like we were smoking. I believe the more you are around something that’s not good for you, the more you justify what it is. When everyone does something for the first time, its to fit in. Its peer pressure. Its an intense curiosity about something. And for most of us, its weakness. We are weakened by peer pressure, by escapism, by pain and depression, and by more moderate highs. When I had my first beer, I could barely keep it in my mouth. But I didn’t want to look like a nerd in front of the two people with me. I was like, how do people do this? I couldn’t even drink a whole bottle. Now its an acquired taste that I enjoy now and then. But that’s my vice that I control. Its because I’m a responsible husband, mentor, teacher, and member of my community. I would never want to let anyone down by abusing something that can make you do something stupid. But you see it all the time.

Its Sad, But True. Some people don’t have guard rails in life. Anything goes. They don’t have something that is bigger than themselves. Life occurs randomly for them—there is no creator. Just “bang” and we’re here. We are all “accidents” in the womb that can be discarded at will. Instead of treating like the miracle that it is, we are all products of random chance. That’s what’s sad about some people’s lives. There is no hope. There is no future. Life is optional. Its sad, but true.

I hope you find hope in this New Year. For some people I know, its yoga. It can change your life. It connects mind and body in a different way that’s tangible and you can see progress. But mostly, you feel progress. You can feel yourself grow. And you start to ask questions about your being. Not just your well being in your body, but in what you believe in your mind. It is not religious, but it IS spiritual. It will connect you with whatever you believe is true. It is a gateway drug that has helped so many people. Maybe its not yoga. Maybe its running or hiking or reading books. But find hope for the future. Find something that is bigger than yourself. Don’t be afraid to lean on people, but lean more on your own understanding of a bigger life. The bigness is the hope. If you’ve ever been on the ocean or on top of a mountain, you can feel this. You feel how small you are and how life is fleeting. That’s when you start to know that you need help. Its so huge and wonderful. Believe in something. Now that part is not sad at all. And it is all very True.

Top 5 Elements of a Yoga Class

There is a trend I’m seeing in yoga that I don’t like. It largely comes from a Westernizing of yoga and making it a “Creative Exercise”. Yoga is drifting away from its meaning by moving away from its roots. So here are my top 5 aspects of Yoga that are being overlooked.

1. Long, “quiet”, restful Savasana

Let’s start with the purpose of yoga. Patanjali’s 2nd Sutra states “Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah“. This translates as “the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” Imagine getting a restless child to take a nap. Or maybe getting a puppy to settle down. What I would do is take them for a walk, play with them outside, and really get them to release their pent up energy. Then, make a conducive place that is warm and quiet for them to rest. Its the perfect recipe. When yoga began 5,000+ years ago, it was a seated meditation. What they found is exerting energy, moving the body, stretching the muscles, and using the breath was the way to find peace, or Samadhi (the 8th and highest limb of Ashtanga Yoga). In my yoga teacher training, a general guideline was 1 minute of savasana for every 15 minutes of class. What I’ve seen in fitness studios where the “Mind-Body” connection isn’t highlighted, they often skip savasana. When I would teach savasana, several people would get up and leave. They weren’t embracing the REAL purpose of yoga. Instead, it was just exercise. Yoga isn’t exercise. It is a spiritual practice (sadhana). In fact, it is more about the mind than the body. But people in the West want to make it all body. They are perverting the practice of yoga. No, yoga isn’t what you make of it or your own personal thang. It has meaning. Savasana is the central focus of a class; the longer the better. It should be quiet and calming, not loud and energetic.

Savasana is “corpse pose”. I heard an exhaustive commentary on this by one of the original Ashtangi’s who studied in Mysore under Pattabhi Jois. She alluded to corpse pose as really being death.

All that baggage of the past is gone.

Then you arise renewed and with a clean slate. It is almost Biblical in a sense. It is a reawakening. Its a spiritual renewal.

2. Two-thirds standing poses/ One-third seated/supine

This is the biggest problem I see today in general vinyasa and hot yoga classes. The classes end up being all standing with maybe one or two poses on the ground before savasana. That is NOT a complete yoga class. They are missing so much of those wonderful poses. Granted, my primary instructor in teacher training was an Ashtangi. So we were rooted in the Ashtanga practice. So the 2/3 to 1/3 rule basically follows Ashtanga. You can’t overlook the importance of seated, supine, and prone poses in a yoga class. Its where we find the benefit of stretching without being under the bodyweight load of standing. Standing is good for warming and general opening, but the seated portion is where you find the greatest depth. The standing poses are the warmup for the deepest part of the practice on the ground.

3. Inversions and maybe Arm Balances

I say arm balances as only an option. It is not necessary for a general yoga class and is often more advanced than what beginners can accomplish. But I teach the basics of arm balances even in beginner classes. What people want is a challenge. There are ways to introduce arm balances without making people feel defeated. It is not always something accessible in very hot classes since it gets slippery. But done early in a class before the sweat pours, or with people who have leggings on that are not as slippery, or even using a towel on slippery spots is helpful for success. While I love arm balances, they are certainly optional but highly recommended by me!!

What can’t be avoided are INVERSIONS. I’ve gone to so many vinyasa classes where inversions just didn’t happen. Teachers are often worried about a crowded room or not being able to safely spot and care for every student. But even in beginner classes, I teach inversions. I teach a supported headstand where the feet don’t ever come off the floor. But they are getting their body mostly over their heart and the heart above their head. So they are getting the reverse circulation that is so useful in yoga. However, you don’t even need to do that. You can do a bridge pose or restorative bridge on blocks. It still classifies as an inversion. This can transition into a half shoulder stand with legs either bend or straight above the hips. The best and easiest inversion of all is legs up the wall. It is the supreme pose for feeling an inversion since you can stay in it a long time. Don’t skip out on inversions in any class.

4. Variety

Some of the ancient writings say there are 80,000 poses and others 80 million. Yet with all the poses available, teachers feel the need to repeat poses. I think in the day of “creative sequencing”, we lose sight on what is important. I really wish we wouldn’t teach creative sequencing at all. What kids like to do is have a signature. They want long sequences where the student gets lost in what’s next but the teacher gets to pride themselves on something complicated. That is largely ego driven. So they sequence poses, do the sequence on the other side, and then they do the whole sequence again in a different way. When they begin to repeat a long sequence, my balloon totally deflates. In fact, I may not have enjoyed the original sequence; now we have to do it again. Talk about me getting out of Yogic Character. I feel like walking out. I know, advanced teachers try to convince young pupils to create “themes”. And this leads to repeated poses and drawn out sequences. You can do a theme without repeating poses. There are plenty to choose from. If you do a certain pose or group of poses that are similar, there are so many others you leave out. Instead of removing the vritti, or chaos, from our bodies, you create more. A body becomes one sided with forward folds and standing poses when there is so much more you can do. I feel some of this is a lack of confidence in a teacher’s abilities. If they only have to do 10 poses instead of 20, that gives them a lot less to think about. And if they develop a sequence they can repeat over and over, then they don’t have to think as much. This doesn’t serve the student one bit. In fact, it creates both vritti and imbalance.

5. Backbends

I will be the first to admit that the Ashtanga primary series has a majority of forward folding poses. It is why I recommend that Ashtangis practice the Second series too since it has more backbends to balance out the body. We do this in Rocket as well. Yoga standing poses in general are very forward folding dominant. There are rarely backbends at all. Yet you have classes that are all standing and don’t add backbends at the end. We are hurting students instead of helping them by doing that. I’m not sure the reasons why teachers avoid backbends. Maybe they don’t feel good in their own bodies because they teach what they practice. Or maybe they don’t want to demonstrate them in class. But there are options that are less taxing than say a full kapotasana or upward bow (urdhva dhanurasana). Maybe camel pose is accessible or half camel? A wild thing is such a fun option. All locust variations are good. Even focusing on cobra pose, which I see as a very advanced backbend if you teach it corrrectly.

But the primary reason we need backbends is LIFE. In LIFE, we sit in chairs, we drive cars, we work at computers, and we sleep in a fetal position. It is hugely crucial in LIFE to do backbends to counter LIFE. Its what releases emotions and hardness in our bellies and hip flexors. Backbends are critical for LIFE.

Final Statement:

I once left one of these modern classes with a colleague of mine. I didn’t bring up the issue, but she did. She said “does your body feel angry too?” After a hard day’s work, you need that physical and mental release. If you go to a gentle or restorative practice, it means you already have had the stress of a hard day. You are ready to balance the Yang with some Yin. But if you’ve sat in an office all day, or were driving in a car for a long time, you need the Yang. My fellow teacher mentioned that the practice wasn’t something that helped her release her tension. And in doing so, it created greater tension in her mind. Anger describes it well. I felt this too. Sometimes I leave a yoga class and end up having to do my own practice to counter what was missed. I miss the backbends, inversions, and arm balances. I miss the seated poses. It wasn’t a full yoga class. It was totally inadequate.

If you pay money to take a yoga class, you want it to be complete. You want to go to a yoga class where it focuses on YOUR needs, not the teacher’s. You want to feel special, like its the only class the teacher teaches all week, and it was made especially for you. You want it to cover all your needs and leave you feeling rejuvenated.

#yoga #yogateacher #yogateachertraining #yogatraining

Knocked Silly or Body Reset

 

2014 08 21 14 56 53
2014 08 21 14 56 53

My back has been finicky for going on 3 weeks. I have chronic back pain, but it is usually held off with yoga. Most times, I can go into a yoga class not feeling very well and leave feeling amazing. I was actually feeling better on Tuesday and thought a hot yoga class would take me to the 100% mark. But it didn’t take despite enjoying the class and the teacher. The next morning, I woke up with even worse pain. I took AcroYoga last Sunday thinking the same thing. When you lay on your back and you fly someone on your legs, its really therapeutic to my back. But I really felt terrible afterward this time.

So I taught a Rocket yoga class on Weds and wasn’t feeling good. I went into teaching Power Yoga last night and left feeling amazing! I mean, like almost 100% healthy. I had tons of fun. And while my back is still sore this morning, I’m amazed at how much better I felt.

I’ve read stories of Ashtangis who were practicing at the Shala in Mysore, India. They did their 6 day a week practice starting very early in the morning. Some days, they were sick, sore, or injured and asked Pattabhi Jois “Guriji” if they could take the day off. They would ask to do the Primary Series instead of a higher series. Or they’d ask to sit out on part of the practice. Guruji would smile and say “You Do”. Yoga Chikitsa, the primary series, is called the healing series. It really has that effect on people.

Sometimes, I would go into lifting heavy squats or deadlifts against my better judgement. But quite often, my sore back or sore whatever would feel fine. Firing all those muscle fibers to a hard effort is kind of like greasing an old, rusty gear box. You often have to force it into working properly. I know that sounds Neanderthal, but it really works. Like last night: I was doing locust pose and bow pose with the class knowing my back hasn’t been in good shape. But it actually felt better totally engaging into those muscles. I forced my muscles into submission and, in the end, it was therapeutically healing.

There are times for rest. There are times for healing. But sometimes, there are times to push through and move your body. I think most times deserve the latter. Even when you’re sick, increasing your circulation and moving your lymphatic fluid around can only be a good thing. Listen to your body; but also don’t listen to your body. Sometimes if it tells you to stop, thoughtfully and carefully do what you’re gonna do anyway. You may be surprised by the results.

What’s the Soup of the Day?

Doesn’t status quo make you want to jump off a cliff some days?

No, its not that bad, but the rebel in me makes me want to whap people on the head.

I have so many friends who ask the waiter at the restaurant “What’s the Soup of the Day?” But, then they never (ever) get the soup. Its just something they think they should do. Maybe Mary Manners in some magazine they pick up at the doctor’s office tells them to say that. Why ask about soup if you are never going to get it?

And when people feel obligated to say “God Bless You” every time someone sneezes. A friend of mine once told me her cardiologist said that our heart stops for a split second when we sneeze and we are nearly (literally) dead for that short period of time. First of all, I’d find a new cardiologist. The idea is that if you are dead, you have to say “God Bless You” so that evil spirits don’t occupy that dead space. I don’t know what you believe. I do believe strongly that there is a God. But I don’t believe in this mumbo-jumbo one bit. It is complete nonsense. And some of my friends who don’t believe in God…well, they say this too. Does someone say “God Bless You” when you sneeze when you are completely alone? No they don’t. And you are still sane and not demon possessed. Its crazy.

Now this isn’t a status quo thing, but its a what the heck thing! I also have friends who go to a hamburger restaurant and get chicken. They go to a chicken restaurant and get roast beef. Huh?!! If a restaurant specializes in something, doesn’t it seem smart to go with what they do best?

I wish people would learn to think for themselves. Common sense always rules over tradition and superstition. When people mindlessly do things for no good reason, ask them to consider why they expend useless energy for nothing.

Spread Happiness

Have you ever smiled at someone who is not smiling and suddenly their face brightens to return your smile? It really happens. I saw a nice older lady at the grocery store yesterday and when I smiled at her, she just beamed from ear to ear back at me. Happiness is truly contagious.

We talked about the dynamics of a yoga class in teacher training. I had a day in Rocket Yoga not too long ago. I was very tired and sore from my workouts, but I tried to put on my best “teacher face”. But it wasn’t enough to overcome my lack of energy. I don’t know if it was me, the weather, the moon, or whatever, but everyone seemed to feel like I did. I offered a few challenging poses but nobody went for it. They all took a gentler version. We were all in an energy slump.

Then just a few days ago, I taught a Rocket class that was completely the other way. Even before class, I couldn’t get people to quiet down when I read the announcements. Everybody was talking together and giddy with excitement. And to top it off, one of our Ashtanga teachers who just glows with goodness came to class. I think everyone was feeling good, but especially my yoga teacher friend. Her energy and the effort she put into each pose brought everyone else’s levels up too. It got super hot in there with all the energy. It was one of the best classes ever. Again, happiness is contagious.

Unfortunately, you can’t fake happiness. There are people who are truly having hard times. There are people who’s demeanors are naturally depressed and tamasic. Biting words, sarcasm, dark thoughts, and frowing faces are the norm for them. Teacher training talked about these kinds of people. It only takes one person who can spread negativity to an entire class. While yoga teachers aren’t usually therapists, it is helpful to talk with them to make sure they are OK first. But you also have to set an expectation of living in the now. Forget your troubles of the past or agonizing about the future and live for now. Make it a happy now. You can always choose to be happy.

Recent generations have been burdened with feelings of unworthiness, self-loathing, and negativity in their view of the world. They are not comfortable with the color of their skin or the gender to which they were born. They’ve complicated all of life with lots of clutter and chaos. Most of it is completely unnecessary. Most of it is selfishness. When you think of someone truly in need, where water and warm clothes are lacking, they are only focused on what is real. The unecessary frivolities we worry about are obstacles to happiness. When we live in comfort and excess, we have the opportunity for burdensome worries.

My recommendation to them is this, come backpacking with me for a weekend. We’ll hike back a few miles into what is real. All you can have is what you can carry in your pack. You can’t burden it down with unncecessary things or it will drag you down, both physically and metaphorically. If you’ve ever carried a 100 pound pack, you know what I mean. You only take the essentials. You make your own fire to stay warm and cook food. You use a filter to clean your own water. You consider weather and wildlife when setting up your sleeping area. You don’t get cellphones, headphones, or anything that distracts you. All you get to think about are the leaves at your feet and the stars in the sky. You listen to the coyotes in the distance and squirrels rustling in the brush. All that clutter in your mind goes away when you are down to only a few ounces of water. When you are needy, you prioritize what is important to you. Believe me, all this social nonsense goes away. It really isn’t very important in the grand scheme of life.

Simplify life. Seek nature and the little things. Find love. Believe in something greater than you. You don’t always have to be in control. Find a beautiful animal that will always love you back. Go to the park and watch the kids run barefoot. You can choose to be happy. You don’t have to wallow in negativity and despair. And if you don’t know how, I’m always here to help you. Someone can help. Its not hard to do.

When Yoga Class is Hoppin!

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Hot Yoga class last night was totally full. Yogis just kept streaming in and we kept squeezing for more space. I was so excited to teach.

This happened before with another class I taught. My last class was full and SO exciting, and then I left. It made me so sad. Its easy as a teacher to regret leaving and moving to other things. I’m feeling the same about a Saturday yoga class. I keep being tempted to say “nevermind” and keeping my same ole schedule.

But for me, hot yoga doesn’t make a lot of sense when its 100F degrees outside. Yeah, I could do it, but I don’t understand it. When it gets cool again in the Fall, I’ll try to pick it back up again. But I’ll leave the hot yoga for other teachers for now.

The energy I felt in class last night was amazing. Usually, in hot yoga, I don’t do a lot of adjustments just because I know some people are very aware of how sweaty they are and don’t like to be touched. But I went ahead and did it and received good feedback. Sometimes as a teacher, I’m hyper-aware of the class energy. When I was an Army Drill Instructor, I felt like I could see everything. If someone had a thread out of place, I could see it from across the bay. Last night was similar. I was able to spot if toes were slightly turned the wrong way. I had x-ray vision into spines that weren’t twisting properly. I saw the slightest lack of engagement in a thigh. I really love when I have that feeling as a teacher.

I think sometimes yogis want to just hide in a class. They don’t want to be seen and will drift to a far off corner. Maybe they are tired or simply unmotivated. Maybe they can do full expressions of poses, but are simply not feeling it. But what I want to do is bring up their energy and to make most of the time we have together. I want them to be changed people when they leave class. I want moods to go from dreary and lethargic to bright and energized. The truth is, the people closest to me are less obvious than those who are in the corner. I flock to the edges because I know those are who need the most help.

Yoga goes beyond poses. It goes beyond what we’re wearing and how we look. It delves into the mind. It eliminates comparison and judgment. We live on our yoga mats in the now. What happened before in the day doesn’t matter. And we aren’t commiserating about the future even one little bit. It is about being present in mind and body. Our Kundalini rises and we look down at our physical self as if we aren’t even there. That’s the essence of yoga.

Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind

Don’t Fight Angry

unequal_fight_2

I probably should use angrily since its an adverb, but this is a better title. And, better yet, avoid a fight at all costs. We’ll all be better off with less fighting. But if you’re a fighter, then here ya go!

A top-fuel funny car or dragster can clock a quarter-mile time in 3.278 seconds. I mean, you have to admit that is super fast. The only problem is that a good percentage of the time, these cars blow-up, spin their tires, or crash due to some little wobble that makes it uncontrollable. But when they are on, they are something else.

Now take a Rally Car. It may run several hundred miles in a race on 4-cylinders without much horsepower compared to a top-fuel dragster. But it can go the distance making calculated strikes with gas mileage, speed at taking turns, navigation, and whatever it can to efficiently make it to the end with a win.

When I wrestled in high school, I was the dragster. I may have gotten “real” wrestling fitness toward the very end of the season. Otherwise, I was always gassed if I went the distance. Well, the distance is only 6 minutes, but you really have to be there to understand. Prepping for a match, I would mentally psych myself out. I would imagine my opponent hurting my little adopted brother. I would get foaming at the mouth mad and my adrenaline would crank through the roof. I would say that in about 40% of my matches, I pinned my opponent in the first minute, all with a lot of anger. But if we got past the first round, I was in trouble. I might hang on for dear life holding on to the points I scored in the first minute. Otherwise, I could barely fight at the end.  Sometimes, I had to be helped off the mat since I was so tired.

If you’ve ever gone to a powerlifting meet, the consequences of this psyching is clearly evident. Some of these guys will stomp around and yell, sniffing smelling salts while their coach pounds on their shoulders. They build their adrenaline and lift enormous loads. But you have to time that adrenaline dump if that’s your style. If they lose too much energy in the minutes before a lift, or even hours before, then they gas out and often don’t complete the lift. Elite powerlifter Travis Mash talks about this a lot. He was more even-keeled with his emotions. And he ended up being one of the greatest powerlifters ever. He timed his energy not wasting it on emotion, but on the lift itself.

Here is my advice:

  1. First, develop a good chin. Learn how to take a punch. Learn to resist the emotional first response. If you hear something that is politically or personally offensive, let that first shot glance off your bow away from you. The worst thing you can do is go off on somebody and make poor decisions in the heat of the moment.
  2. Second, make your jabs efficient and effective. Put power behind them, but not with a ton of emotion. Make them calculated hammers to the face & body. Use words that are crisp and calculated. Don’t be the quarterback who runs for first downs head first in the first quarter only to be taken out early. Don’t let emotions draw you into a brawl. Keep your elbows in and your guard up. Breathe and don’t let yourself get winded. Stay in a zone where you can recover and fight the long fight.
  3. Third, take the mindset of Iowa wrestling. Instead of conditioning for 7 minutes on the mat, condition for 30 minutes. Put that beast into 2nd gear and stay there. Keep grinding non-stop and don’t let up. Don’t blow it all on emotion and all out efforts. If you lift 30 reps of clean & jerks with 135 pounds for time, focus on how you’ll do the last 5 reps, not the first 5. Don’t let someone capitalize on your weakness when you’ve lost your endurance. Don’t end a fight not even being able to lift your arms. Finish strong.