Thursday, January 14, 2016

Fitness Secrets of a Sexy Beast III

Previous articles in this ongoing series referred to the life wisdom of the Olmecs, who were the earliest known civilization in the Americas. The Olmecs buried a mystic configuration of sacred sculptures under layers of white sand and colored clay on the site of their settlement at La Venta. Sixteen jade, serpentine, and granite figures stood in a representation of a shamanic ceremony. The figures pose in a relaxed stance with flexed knees, aligned backs, loose arms and fixed gazes. This body stance is foundational both for meditation and exercises that are solidly grounded on our third element: earth.

While living in India, I learned this posture as the Hatha Yoga Mountain Pose. The goal of this practice is to align body, mind and spirit. Also, the position embodies the grounded stability of a mountain plus the cosmic earth/sky axis of a tree. Both the volcanic mountain and the cruciform tree were sacred to the Olmec. This group of sculptures thus represents a gathering of spiritual seekers in a trance state. Spiritual and physical fitness seekers should exemplify a trance-like intensity and grounding.

The Olmecs, like many cultures, apparently considered grounding or centering yourself to be the beginning of the spiritual/physical journey and an internal prerequisite to doing good in the external world. An enlightened soul can enlighten others, but the blind leading the blind will cause both to stumble. The Olmecs had a symbol to represent this connection with earth: the were-jaguar. This human/animal hybrid possessed the sturdy, supple life-force of the muscular jungle cat.

Likewise, exercises must be performed with both solid grounding and relaxed flexibility. Perfect form and maximum intensity are far more important than using much weight or many repetitions. There should be a focused obsession with form and intensity, only increasing weight and repetitions when these more crucial factors can still be maintained. Changing form can involve unintended muscles producing inferior results or even injury. Proper form isolates the correct muscle. Proper force, resistance, and repetition maximize the correct muscle.

A few exercises with dumbbells, bottles of water, or even rocks performed every other day can give a good upper body workout. (A basic routine of push ups, bent over rows, shoulder presses, standing curls, ab crunches and leg raises is shown in the images.) Then running, power walking, or rope jumping on alternate days works the lower body and heart.

Never underestimate the power of a simple workout done with stellar form, maximum intensity, and long-term consistency. Losers tend to workout grudgingly, because they hunger for those ever-elusive results. Winners hunger to live an excellent life in harmony with nature, and the results take care of themselves.

1 comment:

  1. Well said, though I'm a wee bit distracted by the eye candy of the feminine variety.