One of the greatest benefits of a yoga practice is balance: the balance between strength and flexibility, between movement and breath, between mental and physical. Balance is something that yoga instructor, PHD and Under Armour Trainer Shauna Harrison has worked hard to achieve in her career and in her life.
To better understand how she manages it all, we recently spent some time with Shauna, taking questions from the social community about yoga, TRX, life and hip hop. Read on to get her advice and see how she makes it all work.
Q: Hi Shauna! It's amazing how much TRX makes even the most challenging yoga poses accessible to many. How do you see TRX revolutionizing the yoga community as far as how it's taught and practiced vs. traditional methods?
SH: I think the TRX is an amazing prop for yoga. Inasmuch as the block, straps and yoga hammocks (for aerial yoga) are props, the TRX Suspension Trainer is really another tool for us to use.
It will never take the place of traditional practice, nor is it meant to. What makes it great is that you can use it to feel what it’s like to be in certain poses while being assisted by the straps. I find it’s that connection of my brain to the body – the “oh THAT’s what it should feel like!”- This all helps train your body to eventually be able to hold itself in a given pose.
Q: Can the TRX be used to increase flexibility?
SH: Absolutely! The beauty of the TRX is that you can work mobility, flexibility and strength together or separately. For instance, backbends. The Suspension Trainer builds strength but also serves as support for flexibility. The straps allow you to relax and give the body the chance to open in a safe manner. The TRX Suspension Trainer can offer extra support where needed for flexibility as well as help you take it to the next level if your body is ready for that.
Q: What are some ways TRX Training can help prevent and rehabilitate injuries?
SH: So many ways!
In terms of rehabilitation, I will speak just from my own recent experience with my hamstring avulsion. I had super limited mobility with the initial injury and for about two weeks post injury. Sitting, standing up, bending over, etc. were all very challenging for me in those early stages.
Once I was past this acute stage and trying to work my way back to normal daily movement, the first thing I used was the TRX. I wanted to start moving hip joints, squatting, hinging and lunging but could not do it without assistance. The TRX was perfect for this because it gave me the assistance I needed to not fall or injure myself more, but actually allowed me to go through the range of motion I was looking for. From there I was able to make my way back to unassisted squats, lunges, hinges and then eventually to some weights. I am still using the TRX to warm up for these types of movements and now to add plyometrics back in. In terms of prevention, the TRX Suspension Trainer is great for accessing all your stabilizing muscles, working your body in functional ways and strengthening your core – all things that will help prevent injury in sports, or life!
Q: If someone wanted to teach TRX for yoga, is there a yoga specific TRX training course they should take or would the standard training suffice?
SH: I would say if you have a yoga certification (minimum RYT 200) and have gone through a TRX Suspension Training course, you are ready. Because yoga is so specific and detailed, I would say that a 200-hour certification is imperative. And in the same vein, the TRX suspension trainer is also super specific, it’s really essential to have both.
Q: How important is nutrition in your day to day as an instructor and an athlete?
SH: Incredibly important! While I don’t get caught up in counting calories and dieting in any way, I do have to make sure I am giving my body the fuel it needs for the demands I place on it.
I am not super restrictive (I eat chocolate every day) but I make healthy choices the majority of the time so that my body can do what I want and need it to do. When I choose less healthy options (I try to avoid labeling food as “bad”) I do so with the understanding that it might affect my subsequent workouts, class or whatever I’m doing that day. Sometimes I realize it might not be worth hitting a wall mid hill and sometimes I just don’t care.
Q: You have one song to play that grounds you before you teach a yoga class, what is that song?
SH: My idea of “grounding” is very different than most. I am a complete hip hop head. I am the girl that played “Hustlin’” by Rick Ross, “Public Service Announcement” by Jay-Z and “Hyphy” by Federation moments before defending my PhD dissertation. Throw on some classic Jay-Z, Tupac, Nas, Common, Kendrick Lamar or Kanye and I can get hyped or grounded for anything!
Q: How do you define functional training?
SH: Functional fitness generally implies being able to perform the movements and movement patterns that are used in day-to-day life (lifting boxes, carrying kids, moving up and down stairs, etc). For me personally, my “day-to-day” life is hectic. I drive a lot and all over the place, I’m teaching classes, doing photo or video shoots, taking meetings, talking and needing to be “on” all the time.
So my body’s demands are really high.
That’s why I train with so many different modalities. I run (when not injured!), do high intensity interval training, body weight training, weight training, plyometrics, Pilates, yoga, suspension training etc so that I’m basically ready for anything at any time.
Be sure to check the rest of our TRX for Yoga series: