July 10, 2014

July 10, 2014


It's time to get outside!

It’s time to get outside!

Brute Yogi WOD


2:00 on/2:00 off for 40-50minutes

Choose your poison – go for a run (pavement, trail, treadmill), row, bike (stationary or outside)

Brute Yogi Mindful Pre-Wod Prep

Find Your Flow State: Prepare your mind for succeeding in your workout.  Pick your music.  Hydrate.  Sit, visualize your chosen exercise from start to finish while you’re tying your shoes and survey the scene where your conditioning will do down -hopefully you chose outside and you can breathe it all in.

…speaking of the breath…Preparing the diaphragm, lungs and rib cage muscles for the volume needed to work efficiently and be resilient under the stress of hypoxia (a condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply and happens during strenuous physical activity) is key to being a well-rounded and efficient athlete.

A favorite exercise for the Brute Yogi is called, “square breathing” or “box breathing” or traditionally in yoga, “kumbaka.”  It is called square or box breathing because you can visualize a square with your breath in this way:

Inhale for 4 seconds
Retain the inhale for 4 seconds (hold the breath in)
Exhale for 4 seconds
Suspend the exhale for 4 seconds (hold the breath out)

Do this 4 times and it will balance out your state of mind, increase the strength of your diaphragm, increase lung capacity, and prepare your respirartory system for the Work Capacity ahead of you.

**As you practice more and your lung capacity increases, you can increase the length of the breaths and the holds. One day, you will be able to increase the time  to 15 seconds for each section of the square, such that it takes you 1 minute to create the entire box – that would make you a Super Brute Yogi!

Now, let’s prepare the body for your chosen task: This Dynamic Warm-up has a lot of great ideas.

  1. Leg Swings: 10 reps forward, backward and side to side.
  2. Arm Swings and Back Slaps
  3. High knees and butt kickers: At least 100m each
  4. Carioca Drill: At least 50′ each side
  5. Inch Worm: 5-10 reps

Tips: You may choose to go at a slower pace during the 2:00 off or completely rest for that 2:00.

Brute Yogi Integration Post-Wod:

Sit or lay down and reflect on the work that was done.  Then let it go.

Namaste Strong, y’all.


BruteYogi WOD is Here!

BruteYogi WOD is Here!


It's time to become a Brute Yogi.

It’s time to become a Brute Yogi.

Welcome to the BruteYogi WOD!

What is a Brute Yogi?  In case you missed the answer look here.

Today we bring you the “how to” of the BruteYogi WOD.  If you’ve been following the progress on FaceBook, thank you!  If not, go ahead on over and give us a like.  We’ll also have connections to Twitter and Instagram up and running shortly.  While all of this social media stuff keeps us in contact, this website right here, the one you are currently reading, will be the most up to date and informative of all – so be sure to bookmark it!

Here’s the CliffsNotes version of the who, what, when, where and whys before we get to the real meat and potatoes.  Lisa (the originator of BruteYogi.com) and Anne-Marie (XfitinYogi.com) have been athletes for a little while, basically all our lives.  We’ve discovered over the years that one cannot just BE an athlete, one must be a MINDFUL athlete – no matter your chosen sport.  Some of this discovery has come through injuring ourselves, some of it has come through learning and experiencing different coaches and programming, some of it has come through coaching other athletes, and some of it has come through our yoga practice.  We continue to learn and grow as athletes and coaches every time we step in to the gym, on to the mat and in to the world (maybe it sounds cheesy to you – but it all relates, PROMISE).

Who is this for?  Really, anyone.  Anyone that wants general strength and overall conditioning.  We’ll approach the workouts and programming from our experience in Yoga, CrossFit, Strongman, Olympic Lifting and Weight Lifting and Endurance Sports.  Everything is scaleable, modifiable and accessible.

How does it work?  There will be a Mindful BruteYogi Pre-WOD (including warm-ups), Brute Strength, Work Capacity, Skills and Accessory, and BruteYogi Integration.  

  • Mindful BruteYogi Pre-WOD: To prepare your mind and body for the work ahead.  Centering exercises to include breath and physical movements.
  • Brute Strength: Barbell movements like squats, deadlifts and presses – Olympic lifts too.
  • Work Capacity:  Similar to a CrossFit WOD, there will be a metabolic conditioning aspect that will include movements geared to accompany each other.
  • Skills and Accessory Movements:  Specifically chosen to improve upon the movements programmed for the day and target areas that are generally most out of balance
  • BruteYogi Integration:  Mobility and yoga most directly related to the day’s movements.

We’ll post the programming the night before (we’re on the East Coast).  We’d suggest following it in order even if you’re not completing the workouts on the exact day we post them.

Rest days will absolutely be programmed in!  We HIGHLY suggest taking rest seriously as that is where most of your growth will occur.  Recovery weeks will also be part of our programming approximately every six weeks.  Those weeks will be lighter in volume and overall work to allow for sufficient rest.

Feel free to ask us any question you may have, we’re here to support YOU in your evolution in becoming a BruteYogi!

Oh yeah…and we actually do the workouts ourselves too!

On being “Brute”

On being “Brute”

Hey, folks.  I know, I know – I have totally fallen behind on this whole blog thing!  It is a lot harder than I thought to think some thoughts and then organize them into simple words that others can read and understand.  The other bloggers in my life, like my introspective and eloquent wife, #xfitinyogi and an unlikely buddy to a lesbian yogi like myself, Vonmunchausen, make it all look so easy!

And, actually, the thinking of the thoughts part is really easy – the hard part is that it usually happens when I am shut up in a quiet room working on a very still and probably sleeping client (which relaxes me too and is hence why the thoughts flood in) or while I am driving listening to some of my favorite podcasts and then I have no way to record my thoughts because my phone is plugged into the car.  My most inspired thoughts unfortunately come to me when I have no way to record them and then when I go to sit down t0 record them, they are poof – gone!

So, I pout and I give up and then I get smacked up side the head by these creative forces around me who say, “just fucking write – write something – anything!”   A writing professional and young, spirited visionary in my life, Tara, gave me a swift kick in the ass the other day when I was lamenting about how psychologically stunted I am when it comes to sharing my thoughts with the world through the written word and that I tend to write in short phrases – single worded thoughts – and pictures like a child.  She ever so casually said, “Do it like that then! Why not?  It is you are and how you speak!”  Keep it simple, stupid!  Duh.

I’ve recently pulled my shit *almost* together to begin what my very first marketing mentor, guru of go-getting, Amber,  has been on me for years to do – create and cultivate a brand.  I think I did?!  Brute Yogi!  And, now that it is out there, I am getting a lot of questions like, “oh are you teaching yoga at Brute Strength Gym now?” “Are you the in-gym yoga teacher for them?” “Isn’t being ‘brute’ a bad thing?”  “Why would you want to be called a ‘brute’ and a ‘yogi?”  “So, you aren’t called ‘The Space Above’ anymore?”

Look, here’s the deal: I’ve been an athlete most of my life, a yogi 18 years, and have recently joined an eclectic community of warm and fuzzy (almost always grunting while covered in chalk) brutes at Brute Strength Gym.   In the 8 years I’ve been a member of the brotherhood of  Crossfit, I began to see my unique perspective being a yogi and a massage therapist and yet still feeling right at home with the muscle heads and the six packs.  Within the past several years, I’ve lost all romantic notions about yoga (not unlike this woman’s story and experience with her break-up with yoga )and realized that the best way for me to practice yoga is to share it the way I use it as a life style paradigm that anyone can integrate in their life and their flow – mala beads, flowy white pants, and references to blossoming your buttocks not necessary!

The term “Brute Yogi” just popped in my head one day and it felt right – I owe a lot to trusting my intuition .   I’ve done and am still doing my work on the yogic path, it just doesn’t quite look the way that you expect it to.  (I am saving that for another blog post – my intentions in sharing Brute Yoga.)  For now, I just want to bring the two worlds together – these two worlds that seem too opposed or that there isn’t any way to know both parts of oneself.

Anyone can benefit from this advice, right? “Good distraction frees us from emotional pain. Bad distraction gives you a mouth full of whizz.”

What is a Yogi?
 A yogi is a person who practices yoga and seeks to unite the physical body and the spiritual being. This is an individual who chooses to pursue the union of individual consciousness with the ultimate consciousness of the Divine.  Through mindfulness, self-study,  a practice of controlling the breath, and understanding the physical body, a yogi learns self-control and ultimate takes ownership of their experiences and their state of mind.
Now, who wouldn’t want this and why couldn’t anyone make this their practice?  Why couldn’t a dirty, sweaty ditch digger who uses the F word to express his passion and sees beauty in his quiet moments alone on his porch with a beer learn to practice mindfulness and be given an opportunity to find some relief in his physical body without the threat of doing asana that his large, weary biceps and formidably bulky thighs will NEVER EVER be capable of mimicking – even if he keeps practicing, “all will [not] be coming” (it is a pet peeve of mine to hear a teacher quote one of the fathers of the physical yoga practice, Sri Pattabhi Jois, “practice and all is coming” to students in their slack-jawed, dismissive, condescending yoga voice instead of using thoughtful discrimination to recognize where their students are in there hard-working everyday bodies and then taking the extra step to find ways these “normal” bodies can experience yoga.)  Deep breath…

What is a Brute?

A wholly instinctive being who tends towards being very strong or forceful and is capable of generating a great amount of force when necessary. **On the other hand, there are also these definitions: A savagely violent person or animal.  A person who is offensive and rude.

There is a time and place for tenacity – for being a brute when undaunting force is necessary to move heavy things or to have an indomitable will in furthering a cause or to prevent a boundary from being crossed.  So, why not be a Brute Yogi?  Why not be gritty and graceful – courageous and compassionate – bold and sympathetic – an even-tempered beastly badass?  Why the fuck not?  Namaste, bitches!  Feel love and feel your power!



Attack of the Killer Penguin

Attack of the Killer Penguin

Lisa and Tina are taking their hip mobility work seriously.

Lisa and Tina are taking their hip mobility seriously!


Some friends called me directly on the brute yogi hotline with some very specific questions about my first ever video on releasing the hips to help soothe back pain.  After I finally went live with this website (and almost threw up several times in the process) and (with anxiety that I thought would swallow me up) posted my first blog post, they scoured my site like any beloved friends would, to peek at what little information I’ve put out there so far, and found the video.  They both started doing the simple mobility movements right away with high hopes of relieving their back pain and they were sold!  They even wrote the sequence on their white board in their kitchen!

What really made me struck me was how they improvised props with what they had around the house – they had one yoga block, the tie for a robe, and couch cushions. I was so proud of them!  They wouldn’t let anything stop them from moving in a new way to feel better!

Two pillows and a block instead of a bolster

Only got one block and two pillows


A robe tie as a yoga strap

You can use anything as a yoga strap!












Their excitement was contagious!  It literally makes my day to know that I’ve helped someone, especially when they get so pumped about the idea of being empowered to take care of themselves!  Their one burning question though was about the “killer penguin” (my yoga buddy, Amber , gets the credit for this pet name.)

In the interest of full disclosure, this is not technically a yogasana – it is a mobility exercise and it goes by many names – the frog, the penguin, the baby maker, groin sprawl, or just simply a groin stretch.  My friends decided to call it the sex pose (LOL?!)  Here is a picture of another lovely friend and fellow yoga teacher, Gayle, demonstrating the killer penguin for us.

Gayle in penguin

Gayle in killler penguin – dead or resting?


Get those hips down, Gayle!  No-ass up poses!

Get those hips down, Gayle! No-ass up poses!

Let me take a moment to describe *why* this can be such an effective hip opener for back pain relief. The adductor muscles on the inner thighs play a major role in the position and the stability of your pelvis. If there is extra tension and gripping in the groin muscles, the pelvis can tilt too far forward and put unhealthy strain on the lumbar spine, especially if you are lacking in core stability.

**Be sure you have some padding under your knees before you get going on this groin opener**

~ Start on your hands and knees.

~ Turn the feet out 90 degrees and flex them to protect the inner knee.

~ Gradually spread your knees apart keeping the knees and thighs line with the pelvis.  In this first variation, the feet are apart and the ankles are in line with the knees – so that there is a 90 degree angle behind the knee.

~ While sliding your hips back to line up with the knees, keep the spine long (this isn’t Penthouse, asses down people) by either propping under the torso with blocks, pillows, a bolster, blankets, or just simply hold yourself up on your forearms.

~Now, WAIT…hold…pause…be still…be like a killer ninja penguin…breathe and await the opening…



Moving dynamically here can also be effective.  In Yoga for Athletes, we like to laugh at ourselves as we awkwardly “saw the groin open” or  “hump the penguin.”  Basically, just carefully shift your body back and forth to change the angle and depth of the stretch in your hip socket and in the groin. As you do this, and your adductor muscles loosen up, be sure to spread your knees wider…and wider…and wider…

Yoga Dogs


Now, Tina and Lisa were wondering more specifically if there were other ways to get the same release in the adductors without so much weight on the inner knees.  There sure are!

Frog pose

Frog Pose


Praying to the Frogs

Just simply bring the feet towards each other – then it is technically more of a yogasana (adho mukha baddha konasana) and in the movement and exercise world, this is usually called, “frog.”


Seated Butterfly - Baddha Konasana

Seated Butterfly – Baddha Konasana

Baddha Konasana

* pressing down gently on inner thighs or using weights on the inner things* Siamese cat not required.

These versions of this groin opener aren’t quite as effective at getting to the inner groin and adductors.  There is more torque placed on the femurs in the hip socket when there is a right angle at the pelvis and knee (like in the killer penguin) which creates more lengthening and stretch in the tendon attachments around the inner bowl of the pelvis. And, as a bonus, gives the femur a rotation that it rarely gets deep in the hip socket and at its gluteal attachments.  But these will do if they don’t “kill” your knees as much!



Here are some versions that create that more effective torque that penguin gives (for some reason, I love that word, “torque!)

Reclined Butterfly with 15# Plates

Reclined Butterfly with or without weight on the inner thighs- whoah

Malasana on the wall

Supta Malasana – Squat on the wall – Dead Penguin – Baby maker?

Seated Groin Opener

Seated with legs in penguin position. Seated with legs in same position as “killer penguin.”

Half-kneeling groin stretch

Half-Kneeling Groin Stretch – so good!


One leg up on edge of couch or chair or box in same position/angle

Groin opener on jump box

Flex that foot! Protect the knee and you open and torque that hip/femur!



In conclusion…not sure how to end this whirlwind of hip opening ideas being tossed your way…

There is always a way – to make changes – to ease discomfort – to open the hips.  Excuses cannot be excused.   A few years ago, I had a rare opportunity to work with nationally recognized yoga teacher, author, public speaker, and paraplegic (yes, a paraplegic yoga teacher!) Matthew Sanford who said, “You cannot overcome your life.”  I imagine that what he meant is that there are circumstances of our lives and our physical makeup that we cannot ever change, but we have the creative will, the fortitude, and the CHOICE to work with what we were given.  He cannot “overcome” his disability and he doesn’t make excuses – he finds a way to work with his physical karma, he has the courage to go for what he knows is possible for him and his physical vehicle.

So, go forth and take care of your vehicle –  post any questions below and epiphanies below!

86 Year Old Gymnast Has Amazing Skills!

86 Year Old Gymnast Has Amazing Skills!

Meet Johanna Quaas, who holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the Oldest Gymnast in the world! Johanna is proof that strong is sexy at any age and further proof that if you treat your body like the temple that it is, it will return the favor for years to come. No matter what you do for exercise and physical activity just keep doing it! Johanna Quaas does!