At 17 years old, I found myself dancing face-to-face with a movement therapist in a small room at the Colorado Children’s Hospital. I had never felt so alive. For months, I partook in multiple styles of therapy in the eating disorders unit, but here marks the first time that my inhibitions crumbled, tapping into the expressive power of my body without over-thinking and without fear of judgment. The freedom of connecting my perceived self with my physical being absolutely changed my life. Now, at 21, I find this same mind-body connection through Clubbell Yoga, a practice developed by my internship mentor, Summer Huntington.
My decision to major in kinesiology was based on my keen interest and fascination with these beautiful machines that we call our bodies. Before I progressed into anatomical education, some may have labeled me an endorphin junkie, a cardio bunny or just a good old-fashioned gym rat. My workouts were mind-numbingly measured by the time that they took and the calories they burned, treating my body as a separate entity from my brain. While my love for fitness still runs deep and strong, I have begun to account for my health on a more holistic level—focused on functional strength, mind-body connection, expressional freedom of motion, balance and stability.
I was first introduced to Summer Huntington as my kinesiology professor at Western Washington University. One day in class, our scheduled guest speaker was unable to make it, so Summer gave an impromptu presentation about her education, business (Fit Body Wellness) and path to creating Clubbell Yoga. The passion with which she spoke and the knowledge she demonstrated throughout teaching the class genuinely resonated with me. When it came time for me to find an internship as a graduation requirement, Summer was the first person that came to mind. In November I sent her an email, set up a meeting that week and began this awesome internship that I am blessed to have gotten!
Clubbell yoga was not on my radar before hearing Summer speak. Yoga has been a part of my life on-and-off for 7 years now, but I used it more for rest-day stretching and relaxation. Since I began my internship, I have been attending Clubbell Yoga classes with regularity and practice on my own almost every day. Consistently dedicating time and actively working towards specific goals has changed the way I think about yoga and adding the Clubbell has increased my strength and balance beyond expectations. In November, I paged through the Clubbell Yoga handbook, amazed at Summer’s strength and doubting that I would be able to do half of the pictured poses. I discovered throughout the next few months that I am, indeed, capable. All it takes is some good, honest effort.
just one example of a goal that I’ve worked towards and accomplished, thanks to the strength and balance (both physical and mental) that Clubbell Yoga provides. Practicing Clubbell yoga puts me right back into that place of mind-body connection that I first experienced with the dance therapist. It is an indescribable, primitive peace that leaves me feeling powerfully grounded.
This week I will be attending the Clubbell Yoga seminar in Bellingham in hopes to obtain a certification. So far I’ve attended two CBY workshops, where I learned all about the anatomical functionality of the hips (Vancouver workshop) and circular strength training (Seattle workshop). These two workshops, along with posting yoga poses bi-weekly on Fit Body Wellness’s Facebook page have helped me learn about poses themselves and what is happening mechanically in the body to accomplish them. Both training with Summer and practicing on my own have facilitated my growth, mentally and physically, to walk into this week’s seminar with power and grace. I can’t wait to continue learning, growing and progressing. Check out some of the upcoming seminars on the Scheduled Events Page, for VIP registration deadlines.
Until next time,
Dana Llewellyn, Intern at Fit Body Wellness
Clubbell Yoga's mission statement is bridging the gap between strength training and yoga, but this summer it will be crossing over into training healthy shoulders for Poi spinners. I recently met Nick Woolsey (world renowned Poi Expert and owner of playpoi.com), at a Clubbell Yoga workshop in Vancouver, BC and his personality and smile were infectious. Little did I know when he came up to me after the workshop and showed me some poi moves, that he has taught Poi Retreats and Workshops for the last decade, all over the world. The more time I spend with Nick, the more I realize big of an impact that 'flowstate' has on human development, meditation through movement, energy work, enjoyment and just finding purpose in your life.
What is Poi?
As a performance art, poi involves swinging tethered weights through a variety of rhythmical and geometric patterns. Poi artists may also sing or dance while swinging their poi. Poi can be made from various materials with different handles, weights, and effects (such as fire or LED Glow lights).
Why Nick want's Clubbell Yoga at his upcoming Poi Retreat:
Nick has invited me to guest teach this June at the Leviathan Studio Poi Retreat, on Lasqueti Island, BC, Canada (an island with population of 450 people, completely off the grid). Poi swinging involves a lot of shoulder mobility... for those of you familiar with CST terms think figures 8s, infinities, and clover leafs in all 6 degrees of freedom plus more. The Clubbell Yoga exercises are the ideal cross training for Poi performers, providing both stability, mobility and proprioceptive training. Nick recognized this right away when he started practicing Clubbell Yoga.
It makes me really happy to see so many types of athletes, movement specialists and even performers seeing the benefits of training FlowState through the Clubbell Yoga practice. FlowState occurs when you are completely engrossed in the activity at hand, you lose sense of time, you have a heightened awareness of your inner self, and you lose any sense of ego driven self-conciousness. That is exactly what happened for me the moment Nick started teaching me some basic Poi patterns. I knew this was something that I wanted to learn right away, and look forward to studying more with him in Lasqueti Island.
It seems pretty apparent to me that Nick, as a world renowned Poi expert, embodies wellness and gravitates towards practices that cultivate FlowState. We did a little acro yoga with some Vancouver after our shoot, and it is clear to me that we both love movement, inspiring others and empowering people to find FlowState.
If you have a need for Clubbell Yoga at your retreat or event, don't hesitate to get in contact with me directly for help navigating the waters of biomechanics and flow.
Co-creator of Clubbell Yoga
One of the most common reasons that many men shy away from vinyasa yoga is because they think they aren't flexible enough for downward facing dog. This article will hopefully shine some light on the purpose of the pose, how to get the most out of it, and how to work around your 'seemingly inflexible' hamstrings. A properly aligned downward facing dog first tackles shoulder mobility and lat engagement, THEN hamstring flexibility. Here are some common issues that men (and people with lots of lean muscle mass) tend to have during this very common yoga posture.
Issue # 1 - Not knowing where my hands and feet should be on the mat:
Typically, men will want to 'achieve' reaching the heels down toward the floor first in downdog. So what ends up happening is they will shorten the distance between hands and feet to make heels touch. Don't worry about heels touching right away, focus first on the proper alignment. Check your distance between hands and feet by coming into a hollow body plank, with shoulders stacked over wrists and heels over balls of feet. Then without changing the distance between hands and feet, press the hips up to an inverted V position. Make certain that the shoulders drift atleast a foot behind the hands (as pictured).
a prayer position during the forward fold portion of the exercise (which originates from the pelvis tipping forward with a long spine). Then the Clubbell is pressed up to two handed torch overhead, as the trunk lifts up. Essentially, you are loading your hamstrings, and the lever arm is your torso.
This CBY exercise repeatedly lengthens the hamstrings for several reps, which is great for increasing range of motion. By holding the Clubbell in line with spine, and going to end range of motion with quadricep and hip muscle activation, you are training your nervous system to collaborate with the prime movers and the stabilizers to achieve the movement. Furthermore, the pelvis tilts forward in conjunction with inner core activation (i.e. flat back) creates lasting motor pattern of going into a stretch with BOTH control and strength.
When training downdog, try and incorporate this same sense of tilting the pelvis forward, keeping a slight bend the the knees and engaging the quads to stretch the hamstrings, try holding for 5 breaths in and out by the nose.
Every BODY may look a little different in Downdog, and that's OK!
Modifying your downdog, and training for dynamic flexibility will surely help you improve your flexibility practice. From mobility comes power, so take your mobility training seriously. Check out more flexibility specific exercises and flows in Clubbell Yoga Primal 12. Check out our upcoming scheduled events for Seminars and Intro Classes.
Engaged in the movement toward more functional fitness. Mama, entrepreneur, leader, mentor, and co-creator of Clubbell Yoga.
Co-Creator of Clubbell Yoga, Movement & Performance Specialist, Head Coach at RMAX International