Side Butt

bodybuilder

Wait! Before you run away. Listen to what I have to say.

Writers are inspired by what they are feeling in the “now”. And right now, I’m feeling very sore in my gluteus medius region a.k.a. the “side butt”.

One way we can divide human movement is in unilateral and multilateral movement. These aren’t exclusive of one another, but they are generalities useful for discussion.

Unilateral Movements (mostly)

  • road or track running
  • bicycling
  • most resistance lifting (Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit, …)
  • other cardio (elliptical exerciser, rowing, …)

Multilateral movements

  • most sports (basketball, soccer, baseball, racquet sports, …)
  • trail running
  • yoga

I point these out because, for one, we may be deficient in our side butt muscles. Any time we have a deficiency, we compensate in other areas and this can lead to long-term problems and injuries. Secondly, if we do movements or sports that use side glutes, then it makes sense to strengthen them more.

There are numerous exercises that are commonly used to target the side glutes. Side leg raises either free or with cables/bands and side-wards running or bounding. These are great dynamic movements, but isometric and isotonic contraction that focuses on weight bearing may be more effective (which we do in yoga).

Yesterday, I spent a considerable amount of time in Warrior 3, dancer, side angle, and triangle poses. These are all incredible side butt poses, but the most incredible may be half moon (ardha chandrasana). Warrior 1 & 2 and many other poses target side glutes as well. I may be biased, but there is no better builder of side glute muscles than yoga.

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Pictured 1) gluteus maximus (posterior view), 2) gluteus medius, 3) gluteus minimus.

Muscles 2 & 3 help abduct the femur (leg opening) from your central axis. This helps stabilize the hip joint and adds considerable stability in movement. If you do squats and your knees turn inward, these are the muscles that help keep you knees in line with your feet. Its a major weakness in many novice and women lifters. Outer hip strength helps prevent injuries like hip dislocations and even knee and ankle trauma. It can also add fullness to your appearance in jeans or even a bikini (oh my!)

I never recommend that you do one pose for a bodypart or for a specific sport. There are no quick fixes. So I always say:

All yoga is good yoga

Our bodies are interconnected. And when you do yoga, it encompasses every little muscle of your body plus breath, balance, and mind. When you do Warrior poses, think about strength as you press into your feet. This engages those side glute muscles. And spend plenty of time in half moon pose as well.

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(yours truly doing a half-moon in the urban jungle)

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Type that Body!

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We are all genetically prone to inherit traits from our parents. Our body shape is one of these characteristics. What type of shape are you?

  • Pear, hourglass, bowling pin, triangle, …
  • Endomorph, ectomorph, mesomorph
  • Tall, short, thin, round

And can we break from these shapes? Its not easy to do. In sports, work, and life, I always say “rely on your strengths.” If we focus only on what we perceive or people tell us are our weaknesses, we’ll only live a bleak life of inadequacy.

As a Native American, I was born to have a big barrel chest. Unfortunately, this goes along with visceral belly fat and thin limbs (aka skinny legs). If I were a bodybuilder, this meansĀ  I don’t have to do a lot to stimulate my pecs and upper back. But the core of my work should focus on heavy squats, lots of abdominal work, and I can’t neglect things like biceps curls & triceps extensions.

In my 20’s, I always had six-pack abs. But its a battle of the bulge now. All I can do is stay persistent. I can’t get disheartened by lack of progress. Embrace who you are. If you have something special that your parents gave you, then why not flaunt it. But don’t worry about things that you can’t easily change.

Makes Friends With Fat

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What are fats?
Fats fall into a group of macromolecules in the lipid family. They include fats, oils, and various other long chain carbon molecules.

Are people afraid of fat in their diet?
Why yes! This is because they don’t understand fat metabolism. They see people who are obese and celebrities talk about dangers of fat. The truth is that fat isn’t converted into fat when digested. Most of the fat we can’t use passes through our system. Fat bellies associated with obesity is caused from eating sugar. Excess sugars are stored as fat in our bodies. Eat a pound of sugar a day and you’ll definitely get fat. Eat a pound of fat and you’ll sit on the potty more.

What do fats do for us?
Look up charts for membranes. Membranes are phospholipid layers that make up our skin, nails, hair, and every cell and organ of our bodies. You need fat to make skin healthy, and I’m not just talking about rubbing it on your bodies. Fat also makes needed sterols, like testosterone, progesterone, growth hormones, and other important functional molecules. These sterols play a huge role in immunity.

What kind of fats do we need?
We would like to focus on Omega-3 fats that come from fish, tree nuts, and other useful sources. However, there are essential Omega-6 fats that are important too. What we’d like to reduce are the Omega-6’s from corn oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, and canola oil. Nearly every processed food has these sources in it when you read the labels. And guess what, margarine is the worst form of fat that was ever man-created. Pigs won’t even eat it. What we do want to increase in our diets are coconut oil, nut seed oils, and fish oil. Overall, I wouldn’t fear oils. And if you still think fat is evil, pick the lesser of two evils. Pick sugars to get rid of from your life. They are the main culprit that leads to type-2 diabetes, glycemic maladies, obesity, fatty liver disease, and a whole host of other problems. And yes, starches (pastries, potatoes, pasta,…) break down into sugars.

What is ketosis?
When your body doesn’t have enough glucose in the blood, it shifts to burning fats instead. Unless you are a competitive bodybuilder or endurance athlete with less than 8% bodyfat, believe me, you always have enough fat to live off of for many days. Every time you eat sugar, your insulin spikes and makes you feel like you need more. This leads to the feeling of hunger. Conversely, when you eat fat, it stimulates glucagon providing glucose to the bloodstream by burning fat in adipose tissue. It also triggers satiety hormones that give the feeling of satiation, or fullness. For most healthy people, or even obese people, ketosis can be used in positive ways to burn fat for energy.

How do I make fat a daily reality for me?
When you wake up, your insulin is at its lowest. The last thing you want to do is eat sugars or starches that kick it into gear again. That includes cereal, milk, bagels, donuts, pastries, Pop Tarts, and all that other fun stuff to eat. What I do is grab a cup of coffee or two for a little boost of energy. Since fats and oils are nutrient dense, you don’t need a lot. So I put a teaspoon of coconut oil in my coffee. This provides long-term energy, satisfies hunger hormones, and allows you to be productive (make my lips moist too, hehe!). Any time you need a little energy, eat a little fat. If you can afford walnuts, pecans, or other tree nuts, it provides very healthy fats. Eat some cashews or peanuts in a bind (these aren’t Paleo and have some issues). Non-sugared, natural peanut butter or nut butter works too. Since I’m cheap and I acknowledge a risk/benefit reward, I often eat peanuts. Beware of flaxseed oil since it doesn’t have a long shelf life and goes rancid quickly. If it isn’t fresh off the plant, it may already be useless to you. Eat plenty of fat with meals. I use bacon fat to season most of my cooking. It makes everything taste wonderful. And eat a good helping of fish every week provided you are mindful of biological magnification from heavy metals and such. A late night treat like peanut butter on apples is amazing! Apples rank high on the satiation index so it curbs hunger. The fat in the peanut butter will keep you happy all night long!

Caution: The conspiracy theorist in me says to be wary of government agencies like the FDA and USDA. Our government subsidizes grain production and imposes tariffs for imports. For good reason, it wants our grain production to have favor. So it also influences food & drug recommendations, like “have a bran muffin a day”. Many of our dieticians follow FDA guidelines for everything. Remember, there is an ulterior motive in this goal. It is all inter-connected.

Can I use fats & oils for non-dietary purposes?
Absolutely. My massage therapists use a coconut oil blend with essential oils that is amazing! I can’t say enough for essential oils. That is a whole other topic you need to study. Oils of cinnamon, eucalyptus, lavender, peppermint, … have so many health benefits. We have a diffuser running in our house whenever we are home. It is great for alternative, holistic medicine that gets you away from drug use. Its a natural drug!! You know oil and water don’t mix. But guess what? Oils and oils do pretty well together. Rubbing oils onto lipid membranes of skin, hair, nails, etc… can give marvelous results.

Want to have glowing skin, a strong immune system, and to become less fat! Eat FAT!

Being Observed

The yoga studio where I teach is finishing up with a round of 200 hour teacher training. I end up with a trainee or two in the classes I teach.

Last night, I had someone observe my Rocket Yoga class. I have been teaching Rocket for a while and received advanced training in it this past March. So it was fun to hear someone comment on what I’m doing.

First of all, observers love my music. Rocket Yoga was developed when Larry Schultz traveled with the Grateful Dead. With those roots, I embrace elements of Rock & Roll in my classes. You’ll hear the gamut from The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Marvin Gaye, Flock of Seagulls, Tracy Chapman, to Stevie Wonder and Santana. It peaks to a fervor during sun salutations and standing poses and starts to soften through seated and finishing poses. I am careful to craft the entire 75 minutes of class so that it ends with more Tamasic sounds. This ambience along with my vocalizations and dimming of lights makes for a complete practice. The lady last night especially loved Pink Floyd saying that it fit perfectly with the Rocket.

Second, and most significant for me, was the care that I gave students. From my own practice, I know when you feel tired and defeated. That’s not the time when you ask someone to do a very demanding pose. Instead, I opt for more of child’s pose than in most classes. As an Olympic weightlifter myself, we will often sit for 3-5 minutes between each attempt at the bar. So I know when we need some time before doing forearm stands or intense arm balances. I am also careful to know when someone needs assistance or correction. Sometimes, people simply step with the wrong foot or twist the wrong way. These are easy corrections that keep them within my instructions. But also being aware of injuries or limitations in students. I try to never say that a yogi is “tight”. Instead, I say that they are stronger in some places of their bodies.

Lastly, I was commended for my encouragement. Larry Schultz always said “you are stronger than you think”. I use that phrase often. Its easy to feel weak and defeated. But they really aren’t. Sometimes yogis are simply tired, but the strength is still there. Someone was working on Pincha Mayurasana “forearm stand” and I said this phrase. It was sorely needed at that time. I also say “just try”. Don’t think about it, just try. Don’t over-analyze or put yourself in a box. If you try, you never know what will happen. I was very stoked that she noticed this in me.

I’ve been teaching for several years now, but I still know I have a lot to learn. This student said she usually focuses on learning sequences from teachers. But with me, it was the nuances of encouragement and care that came through. I think of the melting pot of experiences I’ve learned and adopted from other teachers. I am unique. We all are. But we take what we can as students of the practice and make it our own.

Cha-cha-cha-Changes!

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Changes come slowly.

In the past week, I have had 3 people who told me that I looked more trim. They couldn’t put their finger on what it was, but there was something different. And it was good.

To be honest, I ate really badly a couple weeks ago so I haven’t stepped on the scale in a while. I’ve been working out harder than normal, mostly adding CrossFit back into my life to a greater extent. When I was measuring, both my body weight and my body fat were stable. But I felt very different. I felt really good. And I’ve been sore a lot, so I know I’ve been doing the work.

Sometimes there are intangibles about how we look. Sure, maybe we have restructured our physiques. But people can also see confidence, a glow to your skin, joy in your face, and walking with pride. Since my rhomboids and lats are always sore from pull-ups and Olympic weightlifting, I open my chest more and my arms spread wide. I can’t help it. But I’m sure that plays a role too.

Don’t worry if body weight or fat doesn’t change analytically. Its more about how you feel. And if you feel good, you are definitely going to look good. Do the work and be patient. The work never lies.

Yoga in Small Groups

partneryoga seated

Summer is near and all I want to do is be outside. I think the yogis who usually attend my classes feel the same way.

Last night was a blessing in disguise. I had 3 people in Ashtanga for Beginners. They were two of my regulars and one fellow CrossFit’r. I usually thrive on larger classes, but then my one-on-one interaction decreases because I’m focusing on so many. With 3 people, they get all my attention.

I divide up the Ashtanga Primary Series into four “related” sections that we do over four weeks where poses build upon one another. I would say our peak pose was Bhujapidasana “shoulder-pressing pose”. We worked it from blocks learning to find our balance in the pose first. We moved on to Titthibasana “firefly pose”. I had them up on chairs for this one so they could feel it without falling backward. And then Kurmasana “tortoise pose” for the last one on top of bolsters. It was so much fun to share with this small group. We laughed and talked and asked questions.

With a little extra time left, we worked on Mayurasana “peacock pose” with a strap wrapped above our elbows. Everyone got different variations of the pose. Then we did Chakrasana “wheel pose” (where you roll from sitting backward to chaturanga). Nobody really got that one, but I think they have more confidence to practice. Following Chakrasana was Nakrasana “crocodile-hopping pose”.

Lastly, we did the closing sequences, which includes Padmasana “lotus pose”. A limiting element for me is tightness in my hip flexors. So projecting onto my students, I had them lay down with legs up the wall. Then, we slowly worked into half-lotus on each side. Its nice because you can find more depth when you are not resisting in the hip flexors. Then, I had them try Padmasana, and two of them did it without any problem. It was amazing!

To be honest, the greatest feeling for me as a yoga teacher is to get people to their “firsts” in anything. It could be headstand, lotus, or any other pose. And it is especially wonderful if it is because of something creative, innovative, or motivational on my part that got them to the next stage. It is the best feeling in the world! And sometimes, this happens when I get to spend a lot of time in smaller, more intimate settings. I really love it!

A Country Boy can survive

  
I was a country boy raised in Kansas when I went into the Army straight out of high school. We didn’t have to lock doors, we respected Sundays, and we said yes sir and yes ma’am.We got out the guns and went shooting on Thanksgivings.

 I was shy, introverted, and humble. I was subject to pranks the Drill Sergeants played because I appeared gullible and naive. One DI told me to run over to another DI and ask for a T-R double E. It was stressful because we were on the hand grenade range and everyone was scared to death. Thinking it was an acronym and always doing what I was told, I did it without thinking. Yeah, a TREE! I had so many “friends” in the barracks borrow stuff and never give it back. My platoon sergeant borrowed $900 from me and I got $200 back. I’ve been ripped off because of my own stupidity many times. 

Over time, you become skeptical, even cynical. I know nothing tangible in life is free. It has to come from somewhere. Be responsible to yourself. To your family. If you believe in charity, do it out of the goodness of your own heart. But don’t force others to give unwillingly. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk. If you don’t like something, don’t buy it. And don’t make me buy something I don’t want. Let me live my life and leave me be. 

I’m not as gullible as I once was. I admire idealists. I hope for a better life too. But I balance it with a good dose of pragmatism. You start to think these ways once you have a mortgage, career, and family to care for. Live your life and don’t let others crush your dreams.