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BrickhouseBodymindTV Episode 6 – Minimal, Traditional, Handmade Footwear from the Raramuri Indians

Written by Philip Walter on May 27 at 11:35 am.

Barefoot Ted Running Sandals

Photo courtesy of
Barefoot Ted

So, for the past couple weeks, in addition to preparing for and rejoicing in the arrival of my first son, Ian Andrew Walter (YAY!), I have been researching various various forms of natural, barefoot running. There are many purists out there who would like us all to run, walk, and locomote everywhere barefoot. It appears this is not only honoring the elegant, evolutionary design of the human being, but it’s also great for your arches, knees, and calves, and it reduces your risk of ankle injury. Whatever your stand in this debate, I remain unwilling to run through my neighborhood feet completely unshod, given the various shards of sharp things that lie in wait.

This mixture of a fervent respect for nature’s design and a practical approach to training in the modern world lead me to Barefoot Ted and his huarache sandal kits. These sandals’ design were brought to Barefoot Ted’s attention by a few Tarahumara (Raramuri in their native tongue) Indians running Ultra-Marathons in the U.S. The Raramuri are natives of a rural area in northwestern Mexico called Copper Canyon. They are runners by lifestyle, trekking long distances from enclave to enclave in the rugged mountains of the region, all the while wearing this particular brand of sandal.

So I ordered a kit to make my own from Barefoot Ted and recorded the experiment to share with you guys. Please let me know what ya’ll think!

In terms of looks, these things are so cool I can’t stand it … always interesting to see people’s reactions. In the last couple weeks I’ve run 20 km (about 12.5 miles), mostly on pavement. The first 5k yielded significant DOMS in my calves that lasted most of 5 days or so, but the subsequent 5k outings have been much easier with recovery more in the range of 24-36 hours. I am considering grabbing another kit without the leather footpad to use in wet conditions, because the leather tends to get slick on me.

The sandals really are quite comfortable, but the secret to the comfort is in the proper tie. I did create two “hot-spot” rope burns on my left foot during the first two outings, but tweaking the tie job a bit alleviated that problem … plus, just getting my feet used to the new kicks helped as well. It’s kind of like pulling out my Tevas for the first float trip of the summer: they always leave a little mark or two on my ankles, but after a day or so it’s no big deal.

Overall, I am loving the experience and glad for the opportunity to make my own pair of minimal, traditional sandals. Something about the idea that this design has been working for millennia makes me a happy guy.

Reasons for pursuing minimal footwear:

Fun things to do in your minimal footwear:

BrickhouseBodymind TV Episode 5 – The Software of Hatha Yoga

Written by Philip Walter on Jul 11 at 6:12 pm.

prasara flow, vinyasa, and asana - yoga practice at the lake

Photo courtesy of
Becca Davis

This is the first lecture-based installment of BrickhouseBodymind TV. The idea came out of a brief discussion on the RMAX Forums about the differences between vinyasa and prasara flow. Do they differ? If so, how do they differ, and how can they be integrated into a single practice?

The first pitfall is to think of prasara yoga as a type or brand of yoga. It is not. It is simply one of the software programs that comes with the Hatha Yoga 2008 package. I am grateful to Scott Sonnon for re-introducing this piece of the puzzle. The other two pieces of software are vinyasa and asana. To find out how they work together to integrate the hardware of the human body – breath, structure and movement – check out the video below.

One final note – I’m trying out a new video player to see if I can deliver a better quality video than YouTube. If this copy doesn’t work for you, you can view the crappy YouTube version here.

BrickhouseBodymind TV Episode 4 – Spinal Rock ‘n’ Roll (developing the best flat-tummy exercise of all)

Written by Philip Walter on May 29 at 5:29 am.

Best Flat-Tummy Exercises Ever - Spinal Rock Tips.

Image coutesy of Becca Davis

Just in time for summer, one of the best flat-tummy core exercises I know – the spinal rock. In this episode I explain some tips for getting better results from the killer ab exercise, the spinal rock.

Special thanks go to Becca Davis for the production photos, Robert for his camera work, Signal Path for the intro music, and as always my wife for allowing me to spend time on this exhilarating diversion. Please let me know how you like the video content by commenting below, and don’t forget to subscribe via e-mail or rss so you don’t miss the next great recipe, article or video on integrating mind and body fitness.

BrickhouseBodymind TV Episode 3 – In Praise of Asymmetry (the Sweeney Todd movements)

Written by Philip Walter on May 20 at 5:49 pm.

On Set at the Shooting of BrickhouseBodymind TV Episode 3

Photo courtesy of
rebecca davis

This episode is a video response to James’s recent comment about asymmetry as it relates to joint mobility programs. I want to thank James for his comment, and I also want to make clear that this drill as well as the one in Episode 1 come from Andrey Lappa’s Dance of Shiva system, not my own head. I only present these exercises to give you an idea of the types of movements I work with everyday to improve my long-term health. If you’re interested in detailed instructions of this extremely complex system, I strongly suggest picking up his DVD.

In this episode I demonstrate the power and challenge of asymmetry in the vertical arm movements of Lappa’s system. These movements work the arms through their entire range of motion – internal/external rotation of the humerus, pronation/supination of the forearm, flexion/extension of the elbow, and flexion/extension of the shoulder. As you work with these movements, be careful not to let your shoulders become tense and creep toward your ears. These movements should be fluid and free. Try also to activate the bandhas as you get more comfortable with the practice. Enjoy!

If you haven’t already, be sure and subscribe via e-mail or rss, so you don’t miss the next episode. Thanks a ton to Robert for the use of his garden and his nice camera work, and thank you for watching!

BrickhouseBodymind TV Episode 2 – Mobilizing Your Morning Commute

Written by Philip Walter on Apr 21 at 5:09 pm.

Okay, below is the second episode of BrickhouseBodymind TV. The movements demonstrated are designed to help you turn your morning (or afternoon) commute into a more positive experience. You may be intuitively doing some of this stuff already, and that’s great. This process is supposed to be an improvisational, intuitive practice that evolves as you identify areas of tension in your own body. The steering wheel can be a great tool, providing leverage for increased muscular traction during mobility exercises, but please remember to keep your eyes on the road. And special thanks goes to my cameraman, Robert for the use of his convertible!

As always, please comment below if you have any thoughts or suggestions. Hope you all enjoy!

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