Finding the middle way


This last decade has, for me, been one of finding the middle way between traditional physical training and yoga. In the Dao (my favorite metaphysical philosophy) of physical development, yoga is yin and traditional exercise is yang. I see now that both are needed for optimum health; discerning when resistance training can help the yogi, and when yoga can help the more traditional athlete.

Have you noticed the difference between yoga and traditional physical training? Our autonomous nervous system is a homeostatic system, alternating between the sympathetic and the parasympathetic to find a balance; that is, a balance between the fight or flight and the rest and digest systems. Most people lead stressful lives, rushing from task to task, working too many hours, never fully relaxing. Strenuous tradition resistance and cardio training only adds to stress, causing the body to produce too much cortisol and epinephrine. This ages the body, never allowing complete recovery. Yoga and meditation, because it integrates the breath, the body and the mind, promoting flow state, stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. The stress hormones are suppressed, and acetylcholine predominates. Healing and recovery ensures, especially if meditation is part of daily training. The more we can maintain a parasympathetic state, the healthier we will be. One exception to this is high intensity interval training (HIIT), though, that causes production of human growth hormone, healing the body. Just two, short, 20-minute a week bouts are recommended.  

When I began my company a decade ago, my training style was more yang than yin. I was first a personal trainer. I worked with private clients and small groups running, lifting, jumping, crunching, etc. At the urging of an older friend in Wadesboro, North Carolina, I took a weekend yoga certification workshop and started teaching yoga to a group of women. Yoga began to influence my personal training. More yin less yang. 

Jump forward to 2013 and a trip to Rishikesh, India, where I took my Yoga Alliance-approved 200-hour yoga teacher training. Since then, I’ve focused on training people with yoga, fusing principles of exercise physiology with the philosophy, postures, breath control, and meditation of traditional yoga. Even more yin less yang.

Recently, the population I’m working with wants more yang and less yin; more traditional exercise to become more fit. They want to join the fitness revolution! However, I see the shortcomings of concentrating on strength building, while ignoring the mental and physical benefits that yoga provides. My job is to give them what they want, wrapped in what they need. They usually need both.

Now, I’m finding the middle way. My personal training work is now personal yoga training, allowing you to improve your strength, increase your flexibility and fluidity of movement, and integrate your mind and body more quickly. Less stress, more recovery. More yin less yang. Navigate to Privates to learn more about my personal yoga training programs.

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