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Swing into action

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Exercising with a 'gada'

Draupadi is believed to have learnt it, Bheem is supposed to have practised it, and now, more and more healthconscious spiritually inclined youngsters are swearing by the mace, or what is known as the gada in common parlance. According to its practitioners, the movement offers the ideal workout because of the uneven weight distribution of the mace. It is precisely this imbalance that makes workout options with the mace rather limited - meaning that one has to make the right movement to make it a viable exercise option. A mace represents concentrated prana (or the central force). Just as the earth rotates around the sun and gathers life force from it - which it then stores - the mace moves around the body to gather life force for use by its practitioner. Shaped like the earth, the mace's movements are practised in double rotations, replicating the way the earth revolves around the sun and then rotates on its axis to produce phenomenal power. However, it is not to be practised merely as an exercise routine since it requires the invocation of certain mantras to bring out the hidden potential of the practitioner.

If you are a beginner learning basic movements, the recommended weight of the mace is 4 kg: 4 kg (the ball and the handle). As you slowly pick up the finer nuances of handling the mace, the weight is increased to 6:6, then 8:8 and finally, 10:10. Accomplished masters practise with 15:15 kg (total weight 30 kg), after achieving complete control over the physical and etheric manifestations of the mace.

A very important pre-requisite for the practice of the mace movement is a strong back and clean flow of energy. This can be achieved with the practice of sanatan kriya, and other specific yogic techniques. It is here that the mace movement can be useful. To run through the mace movements, the spine should be in excellent condition. This is the primary base for supporting weight and aiding the specific movements and momentum that the body gains during practice. One should also be strong enough to withstand 80 to 100 kg of weight without feeling strained. Specific mantras are chanted before, and during, the practice to harness the energy produced during the circular movements. The mace movement is akin to a graceful dance, with a strong touch of the spiritual. The amalgamation of the physical and spiritual creates the perfect platform for those who are looking for the ideal method to build a stronger back with the help of this age-old art.

The basic movement of the mace - the around-the-head swing with a push-pull mechanic - taxes the entire upper body. The movement also uses momentum and fights it. In the most basic form of strength training, the mace initiates movement, lets gravity exert its pull, and then makes one counterbalance it by exerting one's own force. All strength training is, to some extent, a fight against gravity, but it takes place on the vertical plane. Mace work is much more than that;one is twisting and pulling against the centrifugal force, and contorting the body across multiple planes.

The mace works out the entire upper body, including the core, arms, shoulders, and grip - in a dynamic, fluid fashion. It's almost like a symphony of isolation exercises - the shoulders pushing, the lats and biceps pulling, with the constant stimulation of the core and hands. Practising the mace movement gives women that perfect hourglass figure, increases muscle endurance for men, and serves as an intense metabolic conditioning workout for both.

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