June 5, 2013


Closing the MG, part II: the final Advanced Stretching (“P&F”) class

Preceding the final Advanced stretch class was the advanced Monkey Gym circuit: run by Olivia, it was a brutal example how one’s body weight alone is sufficient resistance for true strength and agility work.

We started with a mixture of Cossack and speed skater squats: I will be videoing these over the next couple of weeks and I’ll be posting them, both on YouTube and on the Forums. On a general note, I observe that people who exercise in this culture generally have relatively much stronger upper bodies than lower bodies—perhaps it’s all the sitting we do.

We then moved to the Monkey Gym for the pulling component which was a mixture of embedded static holds combined with concentric chin-ups and eccentric chin-ups (pronated grip) to finish. The group did four sets, alternating partner assistance (and much vocal encouragement!).

Then to the floor, with a combination of Monkey Gym planks, Gymnastic planks, push-ups and held crocodile pose bottom position (Makarasana, but the dynamic version) for time. Last was a wall handstand; some did the standard HS and a few did one-arm versions; also held for time. I did 25 seconds on the right arm followed by 25 seconds on the left—I was saving myself for this coming weekend’s four-day Monkey Gym workshop.

And then most of us know moved next door to the P&F room, for the last Advanced stretching class. In brief, the hour and a half class involved deep partner hit flexor stretches, Greg’s new quad stretch, passive back bends, front splits, box bridges and wall reverse walk downs, showed to us by Simon.

This last exercise is interesting and it can be done in a couple of different ways. One is to stand back to the wall, throw yourself into a handstand, then let your feet rest on the wall and, while pressing out, slowly walk the feet down the wall into whatever bridge position you can achieve. The reverse version has one standing with back to the wall; you lean back onto your hands, then walk the hands down the wall; Olivia and Simon can both get into a full floor bridge this way. I prefer the former version, because it keeps the extension out of the lower back, for me.

And as we were all deeply engrossed in the intense physicality of the session it seemed like just any other advanced class: many different strong physical experiences and a sense of deep relaxation at the end of it. I bowed to the class and said, “It’s been a great ride, see you at the party next week.” The era has ended.

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