We should strive to be students and teachers in our lives, always opening ourselves to new information, and passing down what we know.
With that said, we have to be very cautious of what we are learning. Just when we think we know something, that’s usually when we close our mind in that area. And as history goes, reality will try to teach us a new lesson in that area.
HeartMark Yogalates is about opening your mind to the information that you might have closed the door on.
Specifically, I am concerned about the wrong fitness lessons that are taught by very well meaning teachers. HeartMark Yogalates is about to innovate the way you look at all fitness classes. Prepare yourself for a revolution in fitness rules. It will surprise you.
Teachers have been teaching fitness classes through out many generations. Teachers have created lessons, named positions, and have assigned a strict set of rules for each fitness discipline. As students, we have been eager to learn, and proud to show our degrees. We have been proud to pass on the traditions. We have also been proud of adding our own twists and charms, but these changes have never been “out of the box” enough.
Why? Because no fitness discipline has been perfect. Even healthy routines have some poses that cause pain. They are never right for everybody. A great instructor will find other poses. A typical instructor will adjust you so that you do it more accurately. A great student will usually try something despite the pain, and despite the instructor’s warnings, if any.
HeartMark Fitness is 100% unequivocally against pain! Pain is wrong. You should never “suffer to gain.”
I will start by analyzing ballet, because it has a reputation for being “challenging.” Ballet is like yoga (stretching), only with gravity, less awareness of breathing, and more pilates (more core strength.) Ballet is wonderful for the mind, involving both hemispheres in balance and constant mental challenges that will keep one mentally alert. It’s great for the sole. The music makes your heart soar. I believe in the benefits of ballet, but not its errors.
Most ballet teachers encourage the students to stretch in ways that are not natural for their body. And as all students aim to please, have less body awareness, and do not understand the consequences, most destroy their body. After years of stretching, the cartilage between the bones wears away. This always comes to haunt all dancers throughout life with arthritis in the ankles, knee surgeries, and hip replacements in old age.
But is all this a necessary evil in order to enjoy ballet? NO!!!
You can enjoy ballet without having that perfect turn out! Whoever said that ballet is only for certain body types or certain levels of flexibility closed the door on a chance to enjoy ballet’s benefits without harming the body.
HeartMark Yogalates was first HeartMark Ballet. Originally, I was a very conscientious ballet student. I was proud of my ballet hand positions–I was better at them than at making a turn out. My left hemisphere–the logical side–was set in its ways. One day, my right hemisphere couldn’t help but express itself–and the HeartMark just insisted to come out in dance!
I was teaching adult ballet at an upscale gym in Virginia. Dare I break the ballet rules to make a heart? I dared! And the result was incredible! All the students enjoyed making turns with their hands shaped like a heart. I made up names “Beachball heart” and “HeartMark Halo.” We did chene turns using beachball heart. We made “Heart Portabras” and felt even prettier during and after the lesson. It was uplifting. We left feeling rejuvenated.
Creating the HeartMark now represents opening our hearts and mind to surprises. It represents opening our eyes to patterns that we may be repeating even though they are not helpful to us. It represents listening and connecting to our inner hearts, soles, muscles, and bones. We have to listen to what feels right and avoid all pain. We can enjoy the pleasures in all fitness disciplines as long as we don’t force ourselves into angles and positions that are not right for us.
When I make the HeartMark, I take the time to breathe in positive energy. If I had any negative energy, I make sure to exhale it out first. (It is important to remind the students of that in case they come in with distracting thoughts.) But mostly, I am so focused on feeling positive, that any air from within is usually like a warm soft wind carrying sparkles of love for caressing all dear people in my heart. It is with this attitude that I encourage everyone to exercise carefully, with joy, and to avoid any painful position.
I used the ballet tradition as an example of a fitness routine that many pass on without noticing its errors. However, even the multiple yoga courses are not perfect. No position will ever be perfect for all people at all times.
So please, HeartMark, open your minds and hearts, and follow the HeartMark Fitness Philosophy of enjoying your fitness without any pain! You do not need to have pain in order to gain!
The routines in this book are special because they manage to avoid pain through several ways.
First, I encourage teachers to begin the lesson on the floor. I love working on body parts gradually. When students come in, they typically do not have all their strength, flexibility, and balance. Starting on the floor allows students to focus on each area at a time.
Next, I designed HeartMark Yogalates to focus on the muscles according to their logical connections to one another. Each muscle that attaches to another needs to remain at a certain proportion of strength with the other. You maintain the proper proportion of strength by working your way gradually up the body. It is also important to begin with small movements before expecting larger movements. And you have to alternate stretches with strengthening exercises at each level. This is quite an innovative scientific method. You will know that it’s a great method because it feels so great. You can truly come tired and weak and leave energetic and strong, without straining or feeling pain.
To achieve the strategy described above, HearMark Fitness begins with some breathing exercises and focus on posture. People can do that at any level of fitness. Next, we rotate the ankles. The small stretching movements are then followed by larger flexing and pointing movements. As the feet flex and point, the calves get a mini warm up. By the time the work out moves up to the legs, the calves are prepared for bigger challenges. And while working on the calves, the thighs and hips receive their preparation, through small movements. The workout then proceeds to larger movements of the hips. The workout then proceeds to the buttock’s muscles, then the lower stomach, ..and so on, all the way up to the upper back and then neck. If students like to stay beyond an hour and a half, I love to even work on face muscles. Although I include a face massage while we rest in an earlier pose.
When we first warm up the hips, the movement is very small. By the time we do leg lifts, the hips have been stretched at the right balance to have the energy, strength, and flexibility to achieve these leg lifts. And the leg muscles are more than ready for it, too. The body craves to do the leg lifts. And the abs (the stomach muscles) are engaged and focused on those leg lifts.
By the end of class, more muscle groups work together and in harmony than in the beginning of class. This concept is critical. Most classes expect you to use many muscles at once using the right posture and even maintain balance almost immediately. But our bodies are not ready to control so many muscle groups. Most classes expect you to pose, hold the pose, or move–involving balance and muscles and flexibility all at once. If one part of the body is weaker than another, then one ends up working too hard to compensate, resulting in damage, inequality, or pain. It makes it tougher to have the right balance and the right proportion of strength that are necessary to prevent falls and injury.
HeartMark Yogalates takes this gradual approach to ascend up the body and make bigger and bigger stretches and strengthening exercises very seriously. But this approach does not make the routine boring or redundant. In fact, there is a lot of room for variety. In this book, I present just a few typical lesson progressions. In future books and videos, I may present many alternative variations to each movement. For every position and challenge, there is a great variety of alternative challenges in a similar pose. It is very important to find the right challenges for the students.
A great teacher will bring creativity and experience into the routine. An ideal teacher will recognize the student’s strength and spend the right amount of repetitions in the right pace and the right level of challenge. Because of the progressive nature of these positions, a single lesson can benefit several levels of strength at the same time. Everybody can use a great stretch, and everybody needs to strengthen their core. Those with a stronger core can increase the challenge while others do it at their level.
If you are an instructor reading this book, please remember to correct your students for good posture. If you are a parent, please remember to have fun. After all, it is more important to build a love of fitness with the child than to correct their every movement. Remember to add compliments and notice what they do well. Let them invent their own poses.
*HeartMark Health has the same concept of ZERO PAIN to GAIN. HeartMark Health is about teaching yourself to love what is already good for you, through personal classical conditioning. This way, you can eat healthy and enjoy it. In addition, the concept of not eating when you’re hungry or when you are craving something is strongly banned.
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