Sunday, September 25, 2011


I've been around Crossfit for maybe 4 years now, so I take some resources for granted that I probably shouldn't.

Probably one of the biggest at the moment is Kelly Starrett's Mobility WOD, or Mobility Workout of the Day.

My buddy XX and I took a mobility seminar with Starrett in 2009? Maybe it was 2010. The guy is as charismatic, knowledgeable and inspiring in person as in the videos on his site.

Starrett is a PT who owns Crossfit San Francisco. He's been posting a mobility-flexibility tutorial video a day for almost a year.

The guy is only concerned with results, as in pain/no pain, more mobile/less mobile.

He provides a sharp contrast to a meme that has imbued many depths of Ashtanga Vinyasa: that of the improper amplification of Pattabhi Jois' famous "Practice, practice, long time coming." 

In many instances this becomes shorthand for repeated application (sometimes years) of a posture with little to no change in range-of-motion/mobility/flexibilty, and often accompanied by increased and growing pain.

A sip of the venom often builds tolerance. Want more fluidity and stability in urdhva dhanurasana? Do more urdvha dhanurasana.

But a definition of madness is to repeat the same behavior and expect different results.

So I found Starrett to bring a ruthless, brutal and refreshing test/re-test binary approach. Better/not better? Yes/no?

Pain/no-pain is one I use during Mysore class, usually the key and ultimate limiter for both asana and adjustment.

The other dimension Starrett adds is aligned with sauca, or cleanliness. As the sub-head of Starrett's blog says, "Every human being should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves."

His approach encourages us to examine on a daily basis our (if any) persistent pains, tweaks, pulls from a more rounded and deeper perspective, and then use a multi-tiered approach to address any issues.

Perhaps you have a "mechanical fault" or "movement error," and are gliding in/out of an asana in a less than ideal way (e.g. shoulder position for chaturanga).

Perhaps you just have some soft tissue (fascia) "tacked down" due to repeated shortened ROM.

Perhaps you have pain or limited ROM from a traumatic instance (car crash, bar fight).

Starrett is a fresh perspective for someone like me, who's practiced Ashtanga Vinyasa for well-nigh 15 years. 

The practice of the series of Ashtanga Vinyasa can become all-consuming and all-encompassing, 6 days a week, 2 hours a day. 

The series are brilliant, but by nature limited and exclusive --- by necessity they must leave out certain postures and approaches. 

The risk is to see those series as unlimited and all-inclusive, and from this follows a bit of Yoga myopia. The risk with the practice of Yogasana period is to see Yogasana as the horizon line that addresses all your health and perhaps fitness needs.

These needs often run parallel to sadhana, often overlap --- but equally as importantly, can often diverge.

As the practice of road-biking, and then Crossfit, and now other avenues continues to inform me, these lines are not the same.

I'll post the video from today. Browse the site, look up your problem areas. Don't have any? Congratulations.

You can test the carryover of your Ashtanga Vinyasa practice by doing today's 10-minute squat test; or you can continue to wonder why your heels are not (and will never) touch the ground in pasasana. 

"Pistol" drills are revelatory regarding leg-to-leg strength imbalances, as well as ankle flexibility.

Can't recommend MobilityWOD enough, check it out. If you've got the dough, I also recommend seeing Starrett in person --- if only because the Yogi/O-lifter/Crossfitter crossover is hilarious.