Some takeaway thoughts after traveling across the country to bring this fusion to the Big Apple.
1. I am blown away at the diversity in body types and athletic backgrounds that Clubbell Yoga attracts. As you can see in this photo, these are not your usual bendy yogis practicing. They are strong, athletic, powerful. I am honored to hold space for athletes to grow in their yoga practice.
2. Following the two day intensive in NYC, I was touched to receive this feedback from Ellen Kazzam, a fitness marketing consultant:
"Although I was only able to work with you for one day, I am so glad to have experienced your work first hand. In the past 12 years I have attended and worked on many certifications and workshops and you are truly one of the most knowledgeable, prepared, professional and engaging instructors. The Clubbell Yoga program is exceptional. Thank you. I look forward to working with Brie Helmuth and continuing to learn. Looking forward to the next time we can work together."
3. We can do more in numbers than we can do alone. I know it is an extremely tough job to carry the torch of CST, but if we band together as a tribe, a legion, the sheer number of people flocking to this system starts speak for itself.
4. Scott Sonnon is not just a figure in fitness, he is not just someone you should watch on youtube to get a good WOD (workout of the day)... he is the leader of a revolution in how we view fitness in the west. I will continue to honor my teachers of the past and present through spreading this work. Thank you Coach for all you have brought to the table, and for what you continue to give.
Proprioception: The ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium.
Commonly referred to as the the 'sixth sense,' proprioception impacts all movement. If you are interested in truly learning how to move well, move pain free and move functionally... start with finding ways to improve your proprioceptive sense.
Here is a quick list to help you heighten your awareness of joints moving through space:
1. Do joint mobility open chain from mountain pose before a workout or yoga practice.
2. Do joint mobility integrated into asana (pictured) to recruit maximum motor units prior to practice.
3. Do closed chain joint mobility, as presented in programs like 6D Flow (by Scott Sonnon) to "dampen the noise of the nervous system" and restore flow.
4. Hold a Clubbell in yoga asana.
5. Better yet, practice flowing Clubbell Yoga to increase post activation potential, feel stronger and more able the next time you practice the same flow without a Clubbell.
6. Practice arm balances, headstands and inversions often.
"If Clubbell Yoga was easy, then everyone would do it. "
The truth is that it is hard. It takes concentration, presence, commitment, openness and willingness to grow.
One thing that I learned while conducting this first UK seminar is that there is a war going on right now. There are countless theories, brands, styles, teachers out there putting their "stamp of approval" on their method. Once there is a stamp, there is no room for innovation. Clubbell Yoga is not meant to replace other methods of training, or other yoga practices. It is meant to supplement your current training.
I recently learned that one of my international Clubbell Yoga instructors has absolutely no support from her nation's Yoga Association. In fact, they call it "made in China" or "imposter yoga". Though they have no understanding of the system, CST or who this training is meant for.
When I started this work, my goal was to bridge the gap between strength training and yoga. However, the more I realize how stubborn both industries are to change, the more I realize I would rather build my own island (instead of a bridge) where the focus is on quality movement- free of labels.
The confusion arises when people ask: "is it yoga? With weights?" Or "is it fitness? With Yoga?" There is no definitive answer, because it is something new. It is mind body exercise, it is quality movement, it is grounded in alignment and CST principles.
And if it were easy, then everyone would be doing it. We are not a certification mill. We are a tribe, a legion, forging a new path.
It looks like yoga.
It feels like yoga.
We just had a 2 day Intensive Clubbell Yoga teacher training... tears were shed, hearts were moved.
But still, some will argue that this is not real yoga. Why?
Reverse warrior is a beautiful pose that brings strength, balance and focus to anyone's practice. Add a Clubbell and you instantly have to align properly.
If yoga is 99% practice and 1% theory, as Pattabhi Jois one of the founders of yoga in the West stated... Clubbell Yoga is the epitome of practice. Each and every pose and conditioning exercise that we do in Clubbell Yoga helps improve our practice.
More importantly, Clubbell Yoga makes all 'denominations' of yoga accessible to anybody (regardless of experience or flexibility). It trains the movements in yoga first, then once the student is able to PRACTICE, they feel confident entering the poses. This practice is drawing more men into class, more people with existing injuries, more people over 40, and its wonderful to see the changes over time with consistent practice.
Clubbell Yoga is a biomechanically sound UNION of body, mind, and spirit through the vehicle of breath. I stand by that statement. We just use asana with Clubbells, too.
Nama fricken ste,
Get ready for some controversy! Wouldn't it be so much easier for so many people in the strength and fitness industry and the yoga community, if I would just leave well enough alone and stop poking at sensitive spots? Well, I don't prod hot buttons because of a masochistic desire to unsettle them. I do so because a life uninvestigated is not worth living.
WHY are they hot buttons? WHY does it anger certain individuals to explore such topics? Let me share with you a little madness which resulted from a couple decades of interdisciplinary study and travel around the world the roots of certain disciplines to determine the truth for myself.
Centuries ago, ancient club swinging techniques integrated seamlessly with postures of power (Let's use the loaded term "yoga" for now). These developed originally for two purposes, which I'll explain, but this isn't my theory. It's simple anthropological record. I don't claim to have created this idea.
The HISTORICAL reason for developing strength and power in disciplines across the Earth was not so that we could acquire or protect scarce resources, or so that we could attract and retain desirable mates, nor is it because of wanting increased social station and higher strata mobility. The two reasons we developed strength and power were:
1. To increase the body's strength so that it could remain still long enough to meditate in prayer. Compared to the spirit, the body is weak, frail and mortal. So, to turn one's gaze upon thoughts of God, the body needed to be built up in strength; not merely health - the ability to sustain daily function, but STRENGTH - the ability to actively engage in effort beyond the norm. If you've ever attempted to meditate in prayer for extended periods of time, regardless of your religion or spirituality, you know that the body can be weak, and that our bodily weakness can distract us from our higher calling and inner guidance.
2. If you're going to meditate, you're going to be persecuted by those who don't agree with the way in which you pray, the descriptions you portray God, or the congregation with whom you surround yourself. Either you needed to be able to be strong and powerful enough to protect your right to meditate in prayer in the manner you felt right for you, or you needed someone to watch over you, to stand on the walls and at the gates, while you did. You either needed to be strong and powerful yourself, or needed someone to be so while you were vulnerable during your meditative prayer.
Now, why in the world would I bother to study the anthropology intersection of spiritual meditation / religious prayer and physical culture? Firstly, because I'm curious; no excuses here - if it's uninvestigated, my mind draws to it compulsively. Secondly, because I practice both, and I'm not interested in a compartmentalized or internally inconsistent lifestyle. What we do in one aspect of our life affects every, so I seek integration. Lastly, in order to understand the efficacy of the methods we use, we must investigate (or have someone investigate) the origin, purpose for creation and how effective they are at achieving that objective.
For the reasons I state above, let me state this: CLUBBELL YOGA IS NOT A STYLE OF YOGA!
It is meant to be an educational intersection of improving the strength and power of a weak, frail and mortal body to keep its focus upon a higher purpose. If you haven't yet identified your higher purpose, if you haven't reconnected with the divine spark within you, or if you have no intention of making your fitness be anything more than a gerbil wheel of repetitive physical activity, you're improved function, enhanced energy and greater focus, awareness and concentration will compel you to your higher purpose anyway.
Frankly, I don't care if you're Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Mormon, Shintoist, Taoist or Jedi, all traditions have two imperatives: love and service. If you want to love and serve others, improving your strength and power will improve your ability to do so, for longer.
If you understand the biomechanical intersection of clubbell swinging and postures of power (asana), then you'll appreciate the reality that restoring these two elements to act in conjunction with each other as they did several hundred years ago, holds not only scientific validity, but also what anthropologists call an "evolutionarily survival strategy."
Summer Huntington who created Clubbell Yoga, asked me to speak to the benefits of the system, and why they're so critical to athletes and every day people. Well, the benefits of both in combination are greater than the sum of the individual benefits of both modalities: another controversial statement. But the fusion of these two modalities holds a synergistic effect.
But, in order to discuss the physiological benefits of extended center of mass and leverage disadvantage decreasing total true weight, traction and torque causing enhanced tissue and bone stimulation growth improving strength, durability and offsetting osteoporosis, three-dimensional resistance restoring true natural function of the joint ranges... we must first appreciate:
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO LIVE LONGER AND STRONGER???
I don't want you to convert to any cult, religion or spiritual tradition. I don't have any interest in how you express your purpose for existing, or how you celebrate the divine gift of life you've been given. But frankly, the longer and stronger you are able to pursue your higher purpose, the better every single person on the planet will become.
I didn't get involved with this for money. I did it to get out of my own terrifying childhood circumstances; otherwise, I wouldn't have become a fighter for 20 years: there are much better paying and less costly vocations. I got involved with all of this because I believe that if you start unlocking more of your potential energy within you for extended (or rather unshortened) life, and improved quality of life, if you don't already have your higher purpose for being here identified, you WILL find it; you WILL pursue it and you WILL make it a reality for as long as you live.
At RMAX, we've always aimed at providing you - NO MATTER HOW CONTROVERSIAL to the current understanding of exercise science - the best methods for a long, strong life. When I first presented the Clubbell at the National Conference for the NSCA - arguably the most prestigious strength conditioning association in the world - I was laughed at by my "peers." In 2013, it is the most widely practiced form of strength training in history, and by next year is projected to overtake kettlebells in USA as the most embraced form of home exercise equipment, with gyms in 32 countries around the world.
Clubbell Yoga is no different. It is the way in which we express positions of power, postures of strength and alignment of poise and grace. If you've answered WHY you want to live longer and stronger, then you also know how intimately useful such a historically and scientifically proven method of training will serve you serve others.
Now I am not one to start a controversy, but I have to call out the elephant in the room. Yogis don't want Clubbell Yoga to disrupt the status quo of how yoga is being delivered in the West. There, I said it.
They are scared to try something new, that they don't recognize as yoga. I am speaking from my experience of sharing Clubbell Yoga with friends in the 'yoga community' and having them snub it, ignore it, kindly state that they are yogi purists... It is remarkable how resistant people are to this format of a yoga class [ironic].
I suppose that people may be intimidated by the idea of holding a Clubbell in a yoga pose, especially if their yoga is not "strong" yet. However, the whole point of Clubbell Yoga is to help you become stronger. Talk to any of my students, and they will tell you that Fit Body Wellness: Yoga & Clubbell Training
Yoga has accelerated their understanding of yoga in a few short months (what usually takes years to accomplish).
Usually, "yogis" are following a specific guru or celebrity yoga teacher that tells them that a specific style or lineage is all that they need, 7 days a week, and nothing else. This happens quite often with yoga brands/methods. Research shows us that if we overtrain in one discipline, we become overspecialized and increase risk for injury. Even deep backbends overtime can reek havoc on the discs in the spine, we need strength to balance our flexibility.
So let's look at what's missing from these popular yoga classes in the West from a performance perspective. Traditional yoga classes don't offer the anaerobic element of training, or functional movement training like Clubbell Yoga practice does. Hmmm, do I really only want to be flexible, be able to headstand and forearm stand to take a pretty instagram picture in a bathing suit? Only a small percentage of practitioners will ever be able to do those fancy poses, but yet they are glorified on apps like instagram, creating instant fame for bendy gymnast yogis. I like arm balances, but I would like to be strong enough and have enough endurance to do ANYTHING from pull ups to snowboarding, to aerial yoga without getting hurt. Focusing on one pose (the arm balance) neglects other aspects of performance like agility, coordination, aerobic capacity, muscular endurance, etc.
What else is missing? Well, most yoga teachers got their training from a 200 hour teacher training program, some are good and some are not so good. By the way, none of the schools are actually governed or checked for quality control by the National Yoga Alliance - a company that collects annual membership fees so that you can be listed on their website as a 200 hour registered yoga teacher, so long as you submit your paperwork and pay annually. What this means is that your practice is left to the discretion of a teacher who may or may not understand anatomy (only 20 hours are spent on that in the training or less, usually less), they may not understand how to teach in a progressive manner (ever been to a yoga class where half the room is doing the pose incorrectly because they aren't strong enough for 'chataranga' so their back sags and arms bow out every time the teacher calls out vinyasa?) or they cocktail their sequences, putting them in randomized order that makes very little sense to the body. I have. And no one says anything!@*!! WTF?!!
That is why I started Clubbell Yoga, to clean up the mess that is being made and help people become strong enough to practice safely. Whereas I thought at first the yoga community would be very excited about this, they are most definitely not. Instead, the people that fill my classes are the 35-55 year olds, who do NOT dare step into a "yoga studio" because they have sustained an injury or just never got proper instruction and/or PRACTICE with performing the poses properly. Most yoga classes at big studios are mixed level classes, but are taught like an advanced class with little to no instruction on the poses and how to perform them with correct form. e.g. in most yoga classes I have been to, warrior 1 and 2 often have the same leg stance, but one has arms up overhead, and one has arms out. If you took the time to teach this properly, one would be a closed hip pose and one an open hip pose... but I digress.
Clubbell Yoga bridges the gap btwn strength and yoga, bringing mind body exercise into the yoga studio. Smuggling in sound techniques that are progressive (3 levels of difficulty for every exercise!), and geared toward improving your yoga practice. Let the "yogis" continue to snub it... I am done with this elitist mentality in yoga classrooms. Clubbell Yoga is for everyone, regardless of spiritual beliefs, fitness level, body shape, flexibility level, guru, previous injury, etc.
The only other yoga community that I have found with genuine interest in Clubbell Yoga are the Acroyogis and the Aerial Yoga studios. They understand the uphill battle of brining new and good stuff to the yoga world. Thanks to our hosts in New York (OM Factory Flight School) and AUS (AntiGravity Flight School) for your willingness to strengthen your yoga. AND Wanderlust Whistler, I happen to have connected with a coordinator who knew a friend with some strength yoga fusion studios, so he got on board right away.
There is progress in your Clubbell Yoga practice if you are patient.
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