Thursday, July 31, 2008

Prasara Yoga Primer - a brief review

In a previous life (and I am not talking about reincarnation) I was a Yoga teacher. I used to practice mainly Iyengar Yoga, Bihar Yoga and Ashtanga. The classes I taught consisted of a combination of these styles and depended very much on the ability and fitness levels of my students. Most people know yoga for the stretches (and also sometimes the breathing methods) but yoga is actually a complete science of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. The evolution of yoga in the West seems to have emphasized either asana (postures), dharana (meditation), or vinyasa (breath-linked postures as is often seen in Ashtanga or Power Yoga). I recently discovered another "branch" of Yoga referred to as Prasara. Prasara is essentially about the in-between aspects, the "flow" between postures. Scott Sonnon is credited for bringing this flowing style of Yoga practice into mass consciousness and it is something I feel is worth exploring. I haven't yet purchased any of his materials on Prasara but I did recently obtain and e-book on Prasara yoga by CST (Circular Strength Training) coaches Ryan Hurst and Jarlo Ilano. The ebook (in PDF format) is written in simple and readily accessible language and contains photos that make the postures quite easy to understand. What makes this particular form of Yoga unique is that it doesn't emphasize holding of postures for extended periods of time but rather the creation of "flows" that allow the body to transition from one posture to the next in a flowing manner. This approach makes a lot of sense to me on a visceral level - the body is never really static. Everything we do is a process of being in motion - even sitting quietly in meditation actually consists of the natural movement of the breath. The Prasara Yoga Primer does a good job of explaining the philosophy of Prasara Yoga, the postures and also the movements that allow the body to flow from one pose to the next. I must admit that it takes a bit of analysis to interpret the in-between moves that lead to the next posture but with a bit of discipline it is not too difficult to figure out. One of the things I really like about Prasara is that it is so much in harmony with some of the findings of modern physics; especially the idea that the universe is a fluid process rather than a static event. Prasara seems to tap into our natural rhythms and then allow us to expand on our natural range of motion to take us into as yet unexplored realms of physical freedom. I have certainly obtained a lot of benefits from following this way of moving my body and am fully intending to explore Prasara Yoga in more depth in the coming weeks.

2008/07/31 - Short and hot

It was surprisingly hot for winter today which resulted in a quick and hot session. Instead of finishing off with my usual yoga I ended the session by basically just standing around huffing and puffing to get my breath back. Here we go:

Intuflow beginner level

16kg / 3 minute sets / 1 minute rest:

OAJ: 24/24
Snatch: 24/24
OALC: 14/14

That's all. I need to go sit outside to cool down!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

More on Intuflow

I provided an initial review of Scott Sonnon's Intuflow DVD set on the 18th of July. Now that I have worked with the beginner level sequence on an almost daily basis I can share some more thoughts regarding the impact this is having on me. Before I share these thoughts just a quick rundown of the beginner level material. The program works from head to toe and includes both smallish joint movements and integrated whole limb / whole body movements. Once all the basic ranges of motion have been worked from head to feet the program provides a basic balance drill, floor work and some movements to allow for integrating structure, movement and breath.

Since starting Intuflow I have noticed the following:

1. A distinct increase in body awareness. I often catch myself using less than efficient movement and then make the necessary adjustments to increase my sense of comfort.
2. A large improvement in my ability to integrate breath and movement in a natural way. This reminds me a lot of the methods used in Russian martial arts. The feeling produced by the drills is one of allowing the breath to flow completely naturally and in total harmony with the way the body is moving. At times it almost feels as if the breath itself is moving the body.
3. Slow yet distinct improvement of my major problem spot - the left hip / left lower back area. I've been "lucky enough" to injure this area a few times during martial art training and also more recently after a rather bizarre fall down a flight of stairs. During my work with Intuflow I have discovered that a problem with my pelvic range of motion and hip flexors lie at the root of the tightness I still carry with me after the injury. The pelvic and lower back drills are really helping to release some of this stored tension.
4. Following the program feels really good and I never feel like not doing it. The feeling produced by some of the movements are very similar to what you would feel when doing Tai Chi or some form of Qi Gong.

I have been watching some of the intermediate level material and from what I've seen it builds very nicely indeed on the beginner level. The movements become somewhat more complex and seem to place the emphasis on more integrated movement rather than smaller joint movements. All in all this is a package that is well worth the price. Check it out at

2008/07/30 - Addicted to training

I missed my session yesterday due to a business trip. The one missed day confirmed for me that I'm pretty addicted to training. I even struggle to take weekends off from training. Oh well, I guess it is a healthier addiction than some. Here is my session for today:

Intuflow beginner level

16kg / 3 minute sets / 1 minute rest

Press: 18/18
Push Press: 24/24
Half Snatch: 15/15

Swing (32kg): 15/15

Prasara to cool down.

Monday, July 28, 2008

2008/07/28 - Up a notch

Today I decided to drop 30 seconds off my rest periods. My sessions are now based on 3x3 minute sets with 1 minute rest between sets. This is how it went:

Intuflow beginner level

3 minutes of each with the 16kg:

OAJ: 21/21
Snatch: 21/21
OALC: 12/12

Swing (32kg): 15/15

Prasara yoga as a cool down.

I was surprised to find that I didn't feel the shorter rest periods as much as I thought I would. I did however work at a slower rpm than I normally do. Maybe I'll drop another 30 seconds in about a week or so and see what happens. I also found today that I'm finally starting to get the technique for the GS style swings. I've been struggling for a while to figure out the groove so I'm glad that they are starting to feel right. Tomorrow I'm flying out really early for a day long business trip and I'm likely to be back at about 8pm so there might be no time to train. We'll see.

Friday, July 25, 2008

2008/07/25 - One arm jerk weight ladder

I felt like a bit of a heavier end to the week. This is what I did:

Intuflow begginer sequence

OAJ (16): 3 minutes: 22/22
OAJ (24): 3 minutes: 15/15
OAJ (32): 2 minutes: 4/4

Took 90 second rests between the sets.

Swing (24): 25/25

Short Prasara session.

The first thing this session showed me is that those people out there who jerk 2x32kg bells for 10 minute sets deserve some serious RESPECT. Another interesting observation is that the 24 kg bell is starting to feel relatively light in the jerk sets and significantly light during the swings. Obviously working with a light weight for time maintains or perhaps even builds strength. More on this as I progress with the AKC fitness protocol. Wishing a great weekend to all!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

2008/07/24 - Snatching away

The snatch being my weakest link I decided to just work on snatch sets. Here is how it went:

Intuflow beginner level

16kg / 3 minute sets / 90 seconds rest:

Snatch: 21/21
Half Snatch: 15/15
Snatch: 21/21

Swings(32kg): 10/10

Prasara yoga to cool down.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

2008/07/23 - Quick and simple

I was a bit lazy today and just did the minimum. Here goes:

Intuflow beginner level as warm-up.

3 minute sets / 90 seconds rest / 16 kg of:

One arm jerk: 24/24
Snatch: 24/24
Clean: 21/21

That's all for my lazy butt today.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

2008/07/22 - Moving along nicely

I'm starting to feel pretty comfortable with my current level of training which is based on three minute sets, 90 seconds rest and work with the 16kg bell. I might be ready within a week or so to cut the rest down to only 60 seconds.

Here is the session for today:

Intuflow beginner level

3 minutes, 90 seconds rests with the 16kg:

Push Press: 24/24
Half Snatch: 15/15
Press: 18/18
Swing (32kg): 12/12

Prasara yoga as a cool down.

Monday, July 21, 2008

2008/07/21 - Cincinasty

I'm still taking things quite easy. I'm moving along at a nice pace but I'm not really in a rush to get anywhere specific. I'll probably cruise for about a month or so before I pick up the pace. Today I did this:

Intuflow beginner level

3 minutes with the 16kg of the following with 90 second rests between sets:

OAJ: 24/24
Snatch: 24/24
LCCJ: 13/13

Swings (32kg): 12/12

Prasara to finish off.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Another blog

I started a new blog tonight to share my experiences with Reconnective Healing. If you are at all interested please visit:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Another step

Since this blog is about reclaiming myself I might as well share another step I took tonight towards becoming myself again. The majority of what I post here has to do with my physical training programme (kettlebells, mobility, etc.) Ultimately though the process of getting my life back fully includes more than just fitness, strength and mobility; it also includes relationships (which thankfully are great), emotional fulfillment and spiritual development. Tonight I had the privilege of attending the introductory evening of Dr. Eric Pearl's Reconnective Healing seminar (I am attending level 1 and 2 over the next two days).

Reconnective Healing is a process of "energy" healing that Pearl spontaneously discovered a few years ago. I have been involved in the field of energy healing for about 11 years. It started when I first studied Reiki (a Japanese healing modality). The basic premise of energy healing is that the body has an innate desire to be well. The energy healing practitioner simply needs to remind the body of this innate wisdom. This basic premise operates in a variety of modalities ranging through chiropractic medicine, naturopathy, homoeopathy, acupuncture, Reiki, qigong and many other systems.

From what I have seen tonight Dr. Pearl has taken this premise to a whole new level. He cuts away all of the fluff and redundant ritual often associated with alternative healing modalities and gets right to the core of the issue. My way of describing this would be to say that he somehow allows the intelligence that created the body to restore the body. He did a healing demo tonight on a guy that dislocated his shoulder seven years ago. The "patient" has been suffering from pain and a lack of mobility in the shoulder since then. Within a span of a few minutes the shoulder was restored to a fully mobile state and a complete absence of pain.

Eric is a very down to earth and often irreverent guy that questions all the bullshit often associated with alternative healing. He is a very entertaining lecturer that fully engages his audience and one often forgets that this is a healing seminar. In fact most of the time it feels like a well executed stand up comedy act.

If you need to expand your awareness around what is possible for you in this life it is well worth your while to check out the work Eric is doing. Please visit for further info.

A preliminary review of Intuflow

Like I mentioned a few weeks ago I have been using Z Health to work on my mobility and specifically also for trying to overcome some movement problems resulting from earlier injuries. I got decent restuls from Z Health but no relief for my really big problem areas (pelvis, hips, and mid spine). I eventually decided to take the plunge and invest in Scott Sonnon's Intuflow DVD set. From what I've read online Z-Health developed from some of Scott's earlier work and I know that Dr. Eric Cobb studied with Sonnon prior to developing Z-Health.

I have only watched the first of 2 Intuflow DVD's and so far I'm very impressed. The production quality is excellent and the menu options provide easy access to the different body parts you may want to work on. The first thing I noticed while watching and working through the follow along beginner section is that a lot of the movements are very similar to Z-Health R phase. The big difference however is that the Intuflow sequence starts with the head whereas Z starts with the feet. Another major difference is that Intuflow movements are somewhat looser and more flowing than the Z R phase movements. It is much easier to spot the martial art influence in the Intuflow material than in Z - especially for those familiar with the Russian martial arts or Chinese internal styles like Tai Chi or Bagua.

The Intuflow beginner programme provides clear instruction in a follow along fashion of a movement sequence that begins with small joint mobility movements that are later strung together in a flowing fashion. It feels really good to move in this way and I have found myself spontaneously doing some of the movements during the day while stuck in traffic or standing around waiting for a meeting to start. Once the head to toe movements have been completed the programme also provides instruction in some very useful floor work and balance postures as well as ways in which one can move to link movement and breath (kind of like in qigong without the fluff).

At the end of the day the proof is in the pudding. Well, for me this pudding tastes pretty good. I woke up this morning for the first time in years without any aches and pains in my back and I actually looked forward to the day rather than dragging my tight body out of the warm bed.

It is still early days and obviously more work with this programme is called for but from what I know now I can highly recommend Intuflow as a thorough programme not only for reclaiming lost movement potential but also as a tool for increasing general well-being. For more info please check out

2008/07/18 - A workout on Madiba day

Today is the great Nelson Mandela's (Madiba as he's affectionately known) birthday so before I get to business I just want to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADIBA!

I started out with Intuflow beginner level as my warm up.

This was followed by 3 minutes of the following with 90 seconds of rest between sets:

Press (16kg): 15/15
Push Press (16kg): 18/18
Bottom up clean (16kg): 18/18

Swing (32kg): 10/10

Prasara yoga to finish off.

Enjoy the weekend everyone!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

2008/07/17 - Small steps

I'm feeling a lot better today but I decided to take it slow anyway. I kind of started the AKC protocol somewhere in the middle and I don't think I've been giving it the necessary respect. I'm finally learning to slow down and trust the process rather than rush ahead and push harder and harder each session. So for now I decided to stick to three minute sets with one hand switch until I can make the rep and rest times needed to move up. I might do advanced (6 set versions) some days depending on how I feel but I'm definitely getting ready for the long haul.

On a side note my much anticipated Intuflow DVD set arrived today and I went through some of the movements as my warm up. I love it! A full review will follow once I've worked with the material a bit more. Suffice for now to say that what I've seen so far mixes small joint movements with some flowing movements that reminds me a lot of stuff from the internal martial arts or Russian Systema. Good stuff awaits it seems!

Here is todays' session:

Intuflow for warming up

3 minutes per set of the following with a 90 second break between sets:

OAJ: 21/21
Half snatch: 15/15
Long cycle: 14/14

Swings (32): 10/10

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

2008/07/16 - Easing back into things

Like I said last week I have been chasing reps lately. I planned on taking things more calmly this week and nature conspired to make my plan a reality. I was down and out for the last three days with a nasty fever (flu or something). I'm still feeling a bit under the weather but did manage to go to work today. Not wanting work to be the only victor of this battle against whatever bug I've got I decided to put in a short training session. I took it very easy. Here goes:

Intuflow warm-up.

The following with the 16kg with 2 minutes rest between sets:

One Arm Jerk: 2 minutes: 12/12
Snatch: 2 minutes: 15/15
Push Press: 2 minutes: 12/12

Swings (24kg): 20/20

That's it.

Friday, July 11, 2008

2008/07/11 - That's it for this week

I could feel today that I trained yesterday - something which rarely happens for me since I've been following a 5 times per week training schedule. I think the presses and push presses took a bit of a toll which I mainly felt in my shoulders. This being the last training day of the week I didn't want to take things too easy but I also didn't want to push too hard. This is what I did:

Intuflow warm up

Cleans (16): 4 minutes: 32/32
Snatches (16): 4 minutes: 32/32
OA Jerks (16): 4:30 minutes: 32/32
Swings (24): 20/20

Prasara yoga to cool off

As you can see the last set went on for 4 and a half minutes. I put the bell down briefly on the third minute and had to add thirty seconds to catch up the missed reps that I had planned.

When I thought about the session afterwards I realized that I'm breaking a cardinal rule of the GS style of kettlebell training - I am still somehow thinking from a rep rather than time mentality. I think the appropriate thing to have done would have been to stick to 4 minutes rather than pushing on to get the reps. I also realized that I was losing form at times in aid of working at a faster pace. This is something I will need to work on. I was doing well when I was working on pure long sets but since starting with the AKC fitness protocol I started chasing the numbers. This is what I will focus on next week; to keep the time constant, work with good form and let the reps build as they choose to. This way of training is really an exercise in patience but I know that it is well worth it. On the positive side the 24kg swings felt really light today. I think the work with the 32kg this week is paying dividends. Till next week - Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

2008/07/10 - Presses and Push Presses

Today I went with a press and push press cocktail from the AKC protocol. I decided to give my legs a rest from the regular jerks I've been doing. Here's how it went:

Intuflow warm up

Once through the following cycle with 2 minute breaks between sets:

Press (16): 4 minutes: 24/24
Push Press (16): 4 minutes: 32/32
LC Push Press (16): 4 minutes: 18/18

Swings (32): 12/12

Prasara flow to cool down.

I'm really enjoying this protocol. The pace is fast enough to provide intensity but not so fast as to cause a breakdown in proper form. I think my Long Cycle needs the most work at this point because I just cannot make 10 reps a minute yet in any long cycle work. We'll see where I am this time next month. Cheers until tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

2008/07/09 - Starting on a heavier note

Although I am currently focused on fully mastering the 16kg kettlebell I have decided to maintain some practice with the 24 at least once a week. Catherine Imes initially suggested that I incorporate one arm jerks with the 24 into my program because of the beneficial effect these will have on my snatches and I'm definitely going to follow her advice. So this is what I decided to do today:

Intuflow warm up.

Once through the following sequence with 2 minute rests between sets:

OAJ (24): 4 minutes: 18/18
Snatch (16): 4 minutes: 32/32
One arm LC (16): 4 minutes: 18/18

Prasara flows for 10 minutes to cool down.

The one arm LC was a killer today. I planned on working at 10 rpm but it was just too much - maybe the 24 at the beginning sapped my energy a bit much. Next time through this particular sequence I'll be sure to do the jerks with the 16.

Cheers for now.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

2008/07/08 - AKC variety

This was my second day on the AKC protocol. After a staple diet of Jerks and Snatches the variety offered by this approach is quite enjoyable. My main emphasis is still on the so-called classic lifts (Jerk / Snatch / LC) but it is great to throw in some other assistance lifts. Here is today's session:

Intuflow warm-up.

OAJ (16): 4 minutes: 32/32
Half Snatch (16): 4 minutes: 20/20
Bottoms up clean (16): 4 minutes: 24/20

Went once through the sequence with 2 minute breaks between sets.

12/12 32kg swings as a finisher followed by a short set of Prasara.

The session felt good and I feel quite energized afterwards. The hardest part by far was the bottoms up cleans and I nearly lost the bell a few times.

Monday, July 7, 2008

2008/07/07 - A new start

Today was the official start of my training program based on the AKC fitness protocol. Feeling slightly fluish I decided to take it easy. Here is what happened:

Intuflow warm up

OAJ (16): 4 minutes: 24/24
Snatch (16): 4 minutes: 32/32
Press (16): 4 minutes: 15/15

I went through the sequence once with 2 minute rests between sets.

Finished off with 10/10 32kg swings and a few minutes of Prasara yoga.

Friday, July 4, 2008

2008/07/04 - Slight change in my training plan

Before I start todays blog I just want to say Happy 4th of July to all my friends in the US!

My introduction to the GS style of kettlebell training came via the website of Mike Stefano as well as some pointers from Steve Cotter. Since starting the timed set methodology I have been mainly working towards long sets of One Arm Jerks and Snatches with the 16kg bell. I am now up to 10 minutes on the Jerks and 8 on the Snatches. I have also been reading as much as I can find on the AKC's new fitness protocol and have tried a few sessions using their format. During the past week I had a couple of great AKC type sessions while on vacation at the coast. As a result I've decided to change my program for the next month or so and stick more closely to the AKC fitness protocol. I am quite curious to see what happens when I test pure long sets from time to time. This is what I did today:

Intuflow as warm up

OAJ (16): 4 minutes @ 9rpm: 18/18
Snatch (16): 4 minutes @ 15rpm: 30/30
OA Long Cycle (16): 4 minutes @ 7rpm: 14/14

Swing (32): 10/10

I went through the sequence only once and took 2 minutes rests between sets.

Bit of Prasara to cool off.

For more info on the AKC fitness protocol check out the blogs of Howie Brewer ( and Mike Stefano (