Myths of a Flat Stomach

Myths of a Flat Stomach

When we look at a dissected human, no matter your weight or size, we all have the same muscle structure underneath.  There isn’t a human being without six pack abs residing under those layers of skin, muscle, and fiber.

Yet we allow ourselves to be fooled in purchasing gimmicky items that will flatten our stomachs.  The most common myths are as follows:

Mode of Exercise
Cardio burns fat.  Resistance training builds muscle.  Yoga burns karma…
You can exercise all day everyday for the rest of your life yet until you take notice of your diet your belly fat ain’t going no where.

Carbohydrates Will Beat You
If you need to avoid wheat or gluten it’s understandable.  But any diet requires the use of good carbs.  Experiment with what will work best for your body.  Having carbs about an hour and a half before yoga can be quite energizing.

Don’t Eat
We must ingest the necessary nutrients that we need to function properly and efficiently.  If we don’t eat, we don’t get energy needs met, and we will feel less compelled to work out.

If we eat less sure we’ll start seeing the scales tipping lower, however if our bodies go in to starvation mode, we begin to store fat and burn muscle, reversing the desired effect.

By keeping ourselves from going extreme we adhere to the most coveted yogic principle of balance.

Eat Low to No-Fat Foods
By eating low to no fat foods, typically they are processed more than regular foods because they need to remove the fat.  What most of these companies do is add sugar and salt to help with the flavor. 

By keeping processed foods to a minimum we maximize the nutritional value allowing our bodies to burn fat more efficiently.

Good fats are also essential to any well balanced diet and can benefit you during your yoga class by providing you with the necessary energy to hold that 10-breath forearm plank.

Sure reducing excess calories is effective, just be sure to have a fair amount of good fats on a daily basis.

The More Crunches the Flatter Your Belly
As I mentioned at the beginning, we all have the same muscular structure underneath, so yes you can do ab workouts until you are blue in the face, but you will never achieved your desired result, especially since research suggests it takes about 10,000 crunches to burn a half pound of body fat.  So crunch away.

Core work is essential to any yoga work out and will tone those abs, but that stubborn belly fat needs a proper diet to help burn it properly.

By reducing your caloric intake slightly while maintaining a healthy workout regimen that includes cardio-weight resistance-and core training you’ll be well on your way. 

The good news, a solid Poweryoga class contains all three of those components.

A Secret
Cold thermogenesis: Tim Ferriss and Ben Greenfield discovered ice baths, swimming, and cold showers burn those extra calories quite effectively, after they had discovered Michael Phelps impossible 12,000 calorie per day intake.  His 3-4 hours in the pool was burning off 6,000 + calories for him.  So ice it up!

-Jeff Decker 200RYT

3 Yogic Principles That Saved My Life

3 Yogic Principles that Save My Life

Quantifying yogic doctrine is similar to disseminating the Sahara Desert by each grain of sand.

What each school, teaching, practice, or yoga guru espouses can be as vastly varied as those who practice it.

To begin with, Vipassana mediation is at the root of the Power Yoga structure in Santa Monica.  When I heard of the amazing concept of donation yoga, particularly with me being a struggling actor at the time, I was committed.

This form of offering allowed me to commit to my practice thus I’d say the first principle that saved me was COMMITMENT.

A twenty three year old barely knows the meaning of this word or is afraid of its consequences.  But I was in.  In keeping to my yoga class routine I cultivated providence and realized it was the fruit of commitment.

My life began to change rapidly.  No I didn’t become famous, in fact I quit acting and started my first of three bars & restaurants.  Not bad for just focusing on my breath while stretching.

After I began to see my transformation in the form of committing to a mind/body routine, naturally my body began to take its current yogic shape. 

I’m from the east coast and in the late nineties bulking up was what one did to feel as if you were accomplishing your athletic goals.  Never did I feel a flexible-lithe body would yield much more desired results for me.  Such as keeping healthy, maintaining a youthful appearance, and allowing for psychological air to help my brain process out my adolescent emotions to more mature ones. 

No longer did I feel the need to bulk up to body builder size to feel good, I realized simply listening to my body is what made me feel good.

The second principle in my journey was learning to LISTEN.  Most prophetic scholars offer this as a high virtue.  I simply learned the art of it by proxy.  Sure you can look around the room to see how to do a yoga pose, but the true art comes in listening to an expert teacher guide you through the postures, while you’re listening to your body, and breath.

What I wasn’t particularly appreciating at the time of my growth was the multi-tasking I was cultivating.  It was hard enough for me to listen to someone else without waiting to interject my twenty three year old opinion, let alone listen to my instructor-breath-and body simultaneously.

Out of all this listening came the granddaddy principle of all.  It’s based of the tenet “Know thyself”, I simply learned SELF-ACCEPTANCE. 

This seemingly simple yet powerful principle is what made my yoga practice go from a sometime practitioner to a lifelong student and teacher.

I began not only to accomplish more in terms of the physical practice, such as handstand and pincha mayurasana, I began to become aware that I was achieving them with a conscious mind.

This conscious practice led to even further advances in my yoga work out.

Then it dawned on me.
1.     Commitment
2.     Listening
3.     Self-Acceptance
Were all truly yogic concepts, they’re kind of the filling in a conscious casserole.  They are what make it up.  For when we truly become conscious and aware we will literally see our yoga practice open up like the petals of a lotus flower.

Practice on.

Jeff Decker 200RYT

Yogi Olympics

Yogi Olympics


Most agree that yoga will become an Olympic sport in about 20 years time.

All haters and lovers scoff.  How anti-yoga.  Yoga is about inner peace, inner being, and inner wellness not a competitive edge.

Initially I agreed.  My inner yogi was up.  How dare they judge my downdog, how dare they judge my Warrior 1, or Warrior 2?  They can’t see my inner mindset settling down, the more I thought about it the angrier I got.  Until. 

I realized I was getting so upset over the yogi Olympics that I had already lost my own practice by judging them so harshly.

But as an instructor I continually admonish students telling them not to compare their practice with others.  Not to glance around the room unless you are looking for basic guidance in triangle or other poses. 

In May there was the 11th annual World Yoga Sports Championships.  I perused the website and how things were judged and why.  I agreed.  I judged.

Then it hit me.  What inspired me to do yoga in the first place?  Seeing others doing it well was inspirational.  Being dragged to my first class by a 60-year-old Welsh woman, who was performing postures that I couldn’t have dreamt of in my first class began to inspire and enlighten me. 

The more I thought about it the more I realized a yogi competition brings yoga to the masses way more than friend’s referrals and advertising because it is simply inspiring to see another human being challenging themselves and pushing their bodies to new limits.

We begin to see what is possible and start to think and believe that we can do the same. 

Still the question loomed in my mind.  How can the creators of yoga, who developed this practice to enhance their mediation, ever approve of this type of competition? 

Then I discovered the United States Yoga Federation according to them, competitive asanas have been held in India for hundreds of years. 

Wait!  What?

Yes it has been a competitive practice probably almost as long as it has existed.  Somehow it made me feel better about being okay with taking a practice that is so personal to me into a competitive arena.

Every other physical discipline has their competitions why not yoga?  The same basic principles are utilized in a body building competition as in a yoga class.  Focus, discipline, and strengthening of the body, mind, and spirit. 

And in the heat of competition anything is possible.  We can all lose our balance or focus or have the best day we’ve ever had.  Why wouldn’t this apply to asanas done in a controlled manner to test the yogi’s ability, focus, and form?

Even as a teacher I admit we tend to gravitate towards those about to do a perfect posture than those who are struggling to get their feet set.

My recommendation, don’t compare yourself while in a class, make it personal, then once you’ve reached a certain level of excellence.  Why not do it?  

Why not go for yogi gold in 2036!

Jeff Decker 200 RYT

Humanity Torn From the Landscape, And All I have Is This Yoga Mat

Humanity Torn From the Landscape, And All I have Is This Yoga Mat

Often times we feel that humanity is going to hell in a hand basket.  We struggle and try to think about what we can do.  How we can contribute.  This reality is usually bestowed upon us by the past great sages like Gandhi.

“Be the change that you wish to see.” Is what he professed.  My recommendation is to heed his advice.  When you’re on your yoga mat the best thing you can do is simply maintain the practice as your own without concern for what others are doing.

Oftentimes in a yoga class you will see the students glancing around, either to see other people in their respective poses or so that they can ‘check’ others out.  In a sort of voyeuristic way.

Rarely do you see the latter transpire for long.  Reason being?  Yoga gets you ‘in’ your body and ‘out’ of your mind.  That is the purpose of the practice as it were.  We simply need to tune ‘in’ to our inner world and tune ‘out’ our distractions.  This usually has most beginners amazed at how peaceful a yoga class can seem. 

It’s not that were breathing deeper than we have before in their lives.  (typically we only use 10%)  It’s that we are forced to ‘embody’ what the practice is. 

Sometimes it’s so simple it’s complicated.  If I knew that yoga was going to make me focus on my body and in doing so release me from the barrage of thoughts that constantly and overwhelmingly cascade my mind.  Then I would be certain to pay attention to what is being said to me in a yoga class.  Yet that’s not always the case.

Back to the impactful title.  All of us have that glimpse that glance that we are where we are because life has landed on us.  The world is ending y2k. 9-11, the end of the Mayan calendar- Dec 12, 2012.  These fatalistic viewpoints have gone down as quickly as they came.

They are unable to sustain us after the hysteria has left.  What are we to then do? 

Keep on keeping on.  Back to the mat.  Back to our world.  Back to the need to bring a physical connection of epic proportions.  How?

Yoga, yoga, yoga.

It’s all basic really, you take care of yourself then it’s easy to take care of others.  You believe in yourself you can believe in others.  You practice on yourself, you can practice with others.

That’s all yoga seeks to be. 

It’s a yoga practice not a yoga ‘perfection’ as repeated by many of our great teachers.  And yet it’s in that practice that we are able to reach a closeness to perfection.  A closeness to our wanton reality. 

A closeness to who we are.

I’m happy to say humanity will always return, have faith in others.  By having faith in yourself enough to return to that mat and keep on keeping on.

-Jeff Decker 200RYT