Gravity training

Gravity training - hangman

Hangman, July 2021

Hangman, July 2021

Lucas who created Yogabody calls this position ‘hangman’. This stretch of the shoulders is part of the gravity training. When the upper body and the shoulders are stretched back bending asanas become easier.

How to do hangman?

Lie on your belly. The head must touch the wall first. Then crawl up the wall with your hands. Pose them a bit wider than shoulder width at the wall. Let the head hang forward. It intensifies the stretch. Don’t hold onto anything. This would tighten the muscles. Instead press the hands against a flat wall. The arm pits move forward. Hold this pose for five minutes. If possible.

My pranayama teacher in India used to say: Practice according your capabilities, but not beyond. When the body starts trembling it’s too much.

Learn the language of the body. Every discomfort, every pain is different and tells a different story. One must learn to work with the body not against it.

My experience with hangman:

When I did this pose for the first time I cursed. It hurt to be in that pose. It felt like hell. After decades of yoga this stretch was so uncomfortable that I almost didn’t believe it. I had a good day and held this pose for five minutes. To give up before that time wasn’t an option. I knew that if I accomplished it once, I’d be able to hold the pose for five minutes the next time as well. I focused on the breath. I counted the breath. 15 breaths are one minute. And finally it was over.

By now I practiced this pose rather often. It never hurt that much like the first time. These days it hurts more to get out of the pose than to hold it.

Why I love hangman:

For me it is one of the most effective gravity stretches. My back bending improved almost immediately. I know a lot of shoulder stretches. Often all these puppy poses are recommended. They are by far not so effective like hangman. It’s important to hold hangman for 5 minutes (if possible). It’s important to relax.

Of course one must first find out what is possible. From there the shoulder stretching journey can begin. To begin with 2 minutes is great as well. Enjoy the stretch.

Passive stretching - noodle pose

Back bending, passive stretching, June 2021

Back bending, passive stretching, June 2021

Rather regularly I practice along with the videos created by Lucas / Yogabody. His stretching method is called gravity training. I think it’s rather effective. The shoulder exercises improved my back bending almost immediately.

The gravity training that I had bought has 5 videos, each has up to 3 poses. The first video focuses on the hamstrings. The next video focuses on the hips, the shoulders. follow Then the back is the focus. The last video focuses on wrists and twists.

What makes a difference is the holding time of the asana. The above pose, that Lucas named ‘noddle pose’ is held for 5 minutes. At the end of this time my feet and my hands reach the floor. No strength is needed in that position. The body can relax, which is important for stretching.

Lucas mentions it in the video, but I also feel it that muscles get stretched I had no clue they existed.

I practice the gravity exercises not during my regular morning practice. I don’t want to move furniture when I practice. The gravity training is a very effective preparation for the morning practice when performed in the evening before.

Every single back bending is a tiny step forward. Every single back bending makes this movement a tiny bit more comfortable. Tiny steps count.

To get out of this pose feels unpleasing. I move towards the feet, then I sit on the first step. Slowly I come up with the upper body, like I come up from urdhva dhanurasana.

It’s summer here and it’s rather warm. People start complaining already. I love it. The heat is a huge support.

I’m thankful for every single practice. The challenging practices are as precious as the easy ones. All practices are opportunities to get to know oneself. They are opportunities to learn. Sometimes it’s the best pastime we can do.

Meeting point: Zoom

Nov 2020, hip stretching

Nov 2020, hip stretching

At 3 pm European Time stiff people meet at zoom to get more flexible. People join from 28 different countries. It’s possible to see many of the participants. Lucas is the trainer. Within fifteen minutes we stretch our hips. Every day two positions and alternatives are shown. Today was hard for me, I guess for others, too. Yet todays stretching will make back bending easier.

The course lasts 21 days. I’ll get to know 42 positions that stretch the hips in all possible ways. It’s an inspiration for sure. Above all one feels less alone on that globe during lockdown light. My phone is the window to that world. I think this is so special, I couldn’t have imagined a few years ago that I’d have a phone that allows me to watch other people stretching. I’m happy to be part of such a nice community.

What after these 21 days?

I learn that stretching can be rather relaxing. Indeed the goal is to relax. Exhaling shall be double as long as possible. This calms the nervous system. Then stretching is possible The method makes me even tired. Stretching before going to bed is like a sleeping pill. It’s so much better than watching TV.

Stretch and then sleep. What a lovely evening routine.

How long shall one hold an asana?


How long shall one hold an asana?

The different yoga styles have different answers.

  • When practicing Ashtanga yoga the asanas are held for 5 breaths. In the early years an asana was held for eight breaths. This makes a long practice even longer. So one day one must had made a decision: 5 breaths are enough.

  • The Sivananda yogis hold asanas much longer. The more experienced a yogi is the longer he hols an asana. 5 minutes are standard also for beginners. 10 minutes in headstand is part of the advanced practitioners.

  • The BKS Iyengar students also don’t count breaths. They stay in an asana with all the props for quite some time. It makes no sense to get in and out of a composition of body, blocks, straps, chair, wall and whatever. Once you’re in, you stay. Voluntarily.

  • In Yin Yoga the asanas are held very long. Once I was in a yin yoga class. To hold the asanas for an ‘eternity’ can be rather challenging. The class was about bearing the pain for me. But that’s what stretching is. I prefer the word discomfort, but discomfort is part of stretching.

Those girls and boys who train for gymnastics know that when they want to stretch, they have to hold positions rather long. The nerve system must feel safe. Stretching happens best when mind and body are relaxed. To create a calm and nice atmosphere with even candles can make sense. A relaxed face, perhaps even a little smile on the face might create miracles.

After today’s gravity class created by Luccas (Bodywork) someone asked if the gravity training is like yin yoga? The answer was' ‘no’. It rather belongs to the gym. Yin yoga shall stretch the ligaments. I don’t know if this is true, I cannot imagine this.

All the training is supposed to complement whatever someone is doing as sportive activity: yoga, running, weight lifting and so on.

I experience a certain imbalance in my body. This is not new. All the forward bending asanas are rather easy for me. Stretching the hip flexor hurts and is a challenge. I did too long primary only.

Learning never stops. I also learn through my mistakes. They are part of every learning process no matter what it is.

Keep practicing, keep learning.

Gravity training

I joint a workshop offered by Lucas (Yogabody). He focuses on gravity training. The course I booked concentrates on hip opening.

I’m very much interested in the method. I had already bought another course and I realized how effective the method is. Especially the stretching that aimed at the upper body and shoulders helped me a lot in my regular Ashtanga practice.

I’m curious which positions are introduced during the coming 21 days. I checked them already as we got also access to former videos. To see a position and to do it is a difference. Another huge difference is to hold an asana up to 5 minutes. This is a crucial part of the method. Holding positions for a long time is effective and that’s what the course is about.

The gravity method in sum:

  • Let gravity work for you. It’s rather passive stretching. To relax in a position is important.

  • The breath helps to relax. Exhaling is double as long as inhaling. One shall exhale through the mouth, but exhaling through the nose is also possible.

  • The positions are held up to 5 minutes.

  • A warm up is not necessary.

A very good time for the stretching exercises is the evening before bed time. The exercises are like a sleeping pill. There are positions of another course by Lucas that make me even sleep while I’m still in the position. The bretzl arms relax me so much that I fall asleep despite that awkward position of the arms.

It’s nice to practice in a community. At 3 pm we all meet at zoom. People join from all corners of this world. To be part of such an inspiring group makes the Covid-19 lock down light rather bearable.

A few words to the first asanas (see pictures:

  • The hips shall be parallel. The stretching aims at the front side of the hip of the leg that is stretched backward. Having open hips helps a lot in back bending.

  • The hands can rest on the foot and knee of he bent leg, but then the height is different. I prefer to use blocks therefore.

  • The arms shall be stretched.

I think there is potential when I look at the pictures

The second asana is easy for me. Why ever. It’s a good one for stiff people.

Learning never stops.

Gravity training

In search of effective methods to stretch and to get stronger I found Lucas and his website I bought the gravity training and I like it for several reasons:

  • This is a routine that I do beside my Ashtanga yoga practice in the morning. Most trainings are too much for me, but the gravity training is doable. The mornings are reserved for Ashtanga, gravity training is best in the evening.

  • I practice gravity training in the evening before bedtime. After the below routine I sleep rather well.

  • Holding a pose for five minutes or three minutes makes a difference. It’s a challenge. If Lucas didn’t guide me through these five minutes I wouldn’t have been able to hold many of the positions that long. Firstly because it’s boring, secondly because of the discomfort which gets more intensive with every breath.

  • The idea is to exhale longer than to inhale. This is more relaxing. Only a relaxed body and mind stretches.

  • Above all I realized an improvement of many asanas, especially back bending. Hangman made the difference.

I’ll go more in details in blog posts to come.

Below I added all the positions that are part of the gravity training.

Stretching part 1: hamstrings

Hangman is held for 5 minutes. The other positions are each held for 2 minutes. This makes 18 minutes in total. One shall not underestimate the challenge.

Stretching part 2: hips

The first exercise stretches the hips and is held for 5 minutes. This is the only pose I can only hold for 2 minutes. No injuries is for me more important than anything else. The second picture is easy for me, but a huge challenge for many. In sum we have 15 minutes.

Stretching part 3: shoulders

Hangman is one of the most intensive exercises. I held the 5 minutes, but I was challenged. It bettered my back bending almost immediately. Pretzel pose is held for five minutes on each side and wide dog is held for 5 minutes as well. In total this makes 20 minutes.

Stretching part 4: back

To keep the legs together is the challenge in the first exercise. It’s held for 5 minutes. Picture two: Lucas hangs over a chair, much higher than my wheel. I have to find an appropriate chair. This gravity pose is held for 5 minutes as well. The last exercise is held for 3 minutes on each side. This makes 16 minutes.

Stretching part 5: wrists, twists and ankles

Reverse dog stretches the wrists and is held for 5 minutes. The twist is held for 5 minutes on each side. The legs are double bound. The last position is held for 3 minutes. It’s a painful pose, but doable. The discomfort disappears with each practice. In sum the last exercises need 18 minutes.

In sum it makes almost 90 minutes. This is as long as primary. Within the same time I practice only 15 different positions, but so much longer than only 5 breaths.

My insight is that if I need to stretch a body part it takes time. One must hold the position rather long in order to see results.

Sometimes I only exercise the first three parts. It’s a good preparation for the next practice after a break.

Being led through the exercises makes a difference. My money was spent very well.

Many of these exercises can get integrated into a regular practice.


OK, this pose is called hangman. I find it very useful. It stretches the upper body. It’s very demanding to hold it for 5 minutes. In my case I progressed fast. Very soon I could also realize the result. Back bending got easier and I feel less discomfort when practicing urdhva dhanurasana. I haven’t taken pictures for a while. Yet all back bending asanas seem more doable. Important is to hold this pose. Discomfort is felt especially when moving out of the pose.

How to get into the pose:

It’s important that the crown of the head is touching the wall, when lying on the abdomen. Then the fingers shall crawl up the wall as high as possible. The hands shall be a bit more than shoulder wide apart from each other. The head and neck is relaxed and hangs forward. This is a leverage effect, like the deep breathing. Exhaling is longer than inhaling as this is more relaxing.

It’s not so important to do 15 exercises or more to learn certain asanas, one must find the effective ones. This one does miracles for me right now.

This morning I was able to lift up into urdhva dhanurasana after all these forward bending asanas.

Otherwise I was glad that I practiced this morning before breakfast. As always. Not every session is ‘oh so wonderful’. Yet I know why I’m so obsessed with my yoga practice. Just doing it, is it. How intensive it is , is of second priority. Yesterday in the late afternoon we were in a beer garden. I loved the Bavarian atmosphere. It was chilling. I realized that a lot of people don’t care so much about their health. They smoke, drink and obviously eat too much. These are behaviors which are fun, but in the long run the health gets damaged, the body becomes a burden. Life becomes difficult. The earlier one stops unhealthy behavior, the easier it is. There are other joys in that world as drinking, smoking and eating. A yoga practice forces to reflect on the own life style. Finally every behavior gets judged in relationship to the yoga practice. Does a habit support the morning practice or not, this is the question.

Stay healthy. Practice yoga.

Gravity training

Gravity training. Because learning never stops.

Since years I know that if the goal is to stretch the body or parts of the body to hold a position for 5 breaths is not enough. I aimed for 1 minute, perhaps 2 minutes, when I wanted to improve asanas. Yet that’s nothing. The results are so much better if one holds a position for five minutes, sometimes three minutes might be enough. Yet five breaths is too short to progress. This is what I learned in these five gravity classes, created by Lucas.

I found Lucas on Instagram. He is the owner of the website Yogabody. I bought his gravity training course and I haven’t regret it. This post is unpaid ‘advertising’. I’m enthusiastic, because I see results already. I practice with the 5 videos after having watched them.

Every of the 5 classes lasts about 20 minutes. I wouldn't be so determined if I weren’t led through the exercises. Some poses are held for 5 minutes and this can be like an eternity. We’re nearly there. When I hear this sentence I know I can hold the poses for a few more breaths. To listen to the explanations of Lucas helps to stay in the pose. It distracts from the discomfort. Some poses are hard.

Each of the five videos is focused on a specific area of the body: hamstrings, hips, shoulders, back, wrist and twists. Each video has 2 or 3 exercises, which is enough.

I usually do all the videos every second day. It’s so effective. Afterwards I sleep like a bear. There is no dynamic, but stretching discomfort. To stand this discomfort ‘whisky breathing’ is recommended. That is the exhaling is longer than the inhaling. This allows the nervous system to relax. Not only the nervous system relaxes, the entire body and mind is relaxed after the five videos. The exercises show me my limits.

The shoulder exercises helped me already to improve back bending.

The body needs time to stretch. It’s so easy to betray oneself and to stop too early. This is the limit, I think sometimes when the pose becomes difficult, but if one stays there, suddenly the limit moves.

For me the hip exercises are difficult. I stop after three minutes. Five minutes is the goal. I’m sure that I’ll progress fast. Gravity will help me. One must be determined. Then breakthroughs can happen.

The pose on the picture is held fo 3 minutes. It’s an arm position that I know and that is possible for me. To hold it longer is another challenge. I realize how the body is integrating this position when I hold it longer. It gets easier. The understanding deepens. Discomfort fades away. Slowly.

Key word of this blog post seems to be ‘discomfort’. I rather see the progress. I learn about new methods to stretch the body.