Training Update: Breathing & Stretching

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Once you have mastered the practice of discipline and consistency in anything you do, it’s only natural you improve and slowly master those activities also. Which means after 8 years of training, I’ve been through many phases trying many methodologies, sticking with some, dipping in and out of others, but regularly practising those skills and adding more to my armoury.

If I was to begin training again from scratch, with what I know now, it feels like I would do everything the other way around. Which means the new things I’m learning now are probably what I should have been doing from the beginning.

My 2023 Training

The first half of this year I chose a coach who could teach me movement and mobility moves, while also helping me improve my deadlift and squat with load.

After the three month summer break, I returned knowing I needed to go further into that direction. Because the reduction in pain and freedom in movement I’ve experienced since focusing on mobility this year feels like major steps.

I therefore decided in September to find a coach who could help me with even more flexibility. I knew something was wrong with my stretching, but I did not know what it was or how to fix it.

Then by some incredible stroke of good fortune, the very first stretch coach I approached seems to be the perfect one for me.

My Stretching History

I have been to many stretching and yoga classes on and off over these years, but never stuck to them because ultimately I never felt real value from them. I always felt like the class teacher did not understand how a stiff body like mine, who’s worked in an office for 35 years, could not move into these positions. So because I never felt real value, I could not keep my consistency and stopped going.

Slow Down To Find Peace In The Mind

After just one lesson with Ebegale Wong, I knew I had found the coach I needed at this moment in my life journey. 

I need to slow down. I need the chaos inside my head to stop occasionally. Busy people don’t realise how busy they are. I never used to sit back and look at the 100 mile per hour life I live every day.

Actually I didn’t even realise this until after my first lesson. The peace I felt was actually confusing at first. Ebegale just had me lay down, and showed me how to breathe properly.

Once I had calmed my head down from the busy Hong Kong streets with my first ever breathwork, and got into the right energy space, it felt incredibly peaceful. It put me in the right state of mind to focus on learning proper stretches as well as yoga asanas, and be open to learning the more spiritual side of yoga.

What Was Wrong With My Stretching Before?

Put simply, when doing a hamstring stretch, or quad stretch, or anything to be honest, it felt like my tendons were pulling and certainly not my muscle belly. It felt more like over stress than nice stretching.

Actually my intuition was correct. And now I have learned how to stretch correctly, I can also understand what I was doing wrong before, and why that stalled the progress I could make in other training activities.

My Current Training Programme

My current schedule allows for a 50/50 split between strength and flexibility. That’s two sessions of each per week.

But the great thing about learning how to stretch properly, is I am now incentivised and confident to practise more anytime I can. 

Everyday Practice 

A common thread in my message about exercise is; it is not what you do for an hour in the gym that moves the needle the most. It’s what you do in every aspect of your life.

As an example, while watching tv or eating food, I will sit on yoga blocks and focus on holding my back straight. Depending where you are in your progression, this will be challenging at first. But you must realise and believe that the human body is built to sit up straight in a relaxed manner. So it’s just a matter of disciplined, consistent work and practice.

As another example, I am here writing this now sitting on yoga blocks using a low coffee table which keeps me in a natural squat position with hamstrings engaged, rather than sitting on a chair with hamstrings going to sleep.

Results after 8 weeks

The difference I feel after just two months is quite incredible. I’ve learned so much from Ebegale and have so much more to learn. But the benefit I am feeling in my everyday life is quite phenomenal. And the benefit I have noticed in my strength training is a very interesting unintended consequence bonus.

Strength Training Benefits

Since I have focused on mobility this year, my strength training improvement has been in my lack of injuries. I have made a nice slow progression in my strength which is great to see, but the major benefit has been the fact I have not needed to regress due to injury.

But since I have been learning about breathing and stretching, my strength has received a turbo boost. My bench press range of motion has improved, and I’ve increased strength by 20%. Actually I feel I could go even stronger, but I’m purposefully controlling this to ensure I have the heavier weights fully integrated and under control.

I restarted deadlift again, and was absolutely blown away by how quickly I progressed without any injury or excessive DOMS. In my 2nd session I was already lifting my bodyweight for 5 reps which was totally unexpected.

My shoulder press has me grounded correctly and the weight distributed evenly through my body. This ensures the strain I used to feel on my left side is countered with the necessary even balance and grounding of my feet correctly.

I have learned this through my yoga training with Ebegale, which has allowed me to clearly see where my imbalances are, and apply that knowledge to my strength training.

Conclusion

As expected, the more I move my training towards stretching and yoga, the better and stronger I feel. As a competitive male, my ego is always pushing me towards heavier and faster things in the gym. But my intuition as a human tells me I need to slow down. The ego vs the soul is an interesting battle. The ego is stronger and pushes harder, but the more I listen to my soul, the better I feel as a human.

Resources

Follow Ebegale Wong and contact her here to visit some classes, or arrange private lessons. You will not regret it.

Listen to a podcast on yoga and chakra energy here with Sarah Bright: Your Chakra Coach.

Read the Myth Of Normal by Gabor Mate to learn more about spiritual energy and how to live a life more attuned to your natural self.

And of course, please feel free to reach out to me and ask any questions you may have on this topic, or anything else with regards to health, wellness and life.

Live strong. Live long. Never give up.

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