I came across this review on the Shena where the reviewer called it
'a useless piece of equipment not worth the money'...BLASPHEMY!
Mithra shall smite thee with great vengeance and furious anger!!!
Naturally, and jokes aside, I felt the need and responsibility to respond :)
Click Read more button below...
Thank you for your review of the pushup board, or the Takhte-Shena as it is known in Persian Yoga (Pahlavani), which is where Mr. Maxwell has been inspired from to make his version of the Shena that you have reviewed.
In response to your review I would like to make a couple of comments which I hope will add value in gaining a clearer picture of what this tool is, how it is and can be used, for the benefit of yourself, your readers and the general, limited and sometimes erroneous, public information.
In your review you made several references to shoulder stability, which in fact is a very important, and often neglected, component of overall strength & fitness (to use a general term). Although the Shena is (IMO) a fantastic tool for this end it is not the main objective of its use, at least not in the Persian Yoga (Pahlavani) tradition.
You are right in saying that it is very specific in its use i.e. push-ups, and when used in isolation that's all you will be able get from it i.e. exactly what it was designed to do and give you.
You gave a brief demonstration of 3 exercises that can be done with the Shena and also made reference to the Indian pushup, there are however over 50 exercises and variations that can be done with the Shena alone in the Persian Yoga system. This coupled with the fact that one of the main bio-mechanical functions/features that the human body performs is pushing (the others being pulling and getting up) I would hardly classify the Shena as a limited tool.
You also said that one of the main benefits of the Shena is to provide the element of instability where in fact exactly the opposite is true. One of the Shena's main purpose is to provide a stable platform during Dynamic flexibility and calisthenic pushing exercises as done in Persian Yoga. Although you can do exercises on the Shena which are founded on the principle of instability and balancing.
And the slipping and sliding factor, well unfortunately it seems that Mr. Maxwell's pushup-boards do not have rubberized feet (which they should). One of your readers (Nick) even commented that he had an accident with the these push-up boards which I can see how that could have happened as the pushup-board you are reviewing, looks to me, that their legs are too narrow and too tall which can cause concern for them being unstable i.e. unfit for their purpose. You can find further details of how do DIY Shena after the officially recognized standards set by the International Zurkhaneh Federation, and as they have been designed and used for over a thousand years in Iran, on my website here: http://www.persianyoga.com/blog/diy-shena-pushup-board-number-one-tool-for-calisthenics-persian-yoga.
On that note I wish to add that shoulder stability is a by product of using the Shena, not the focus. In Persian Yoga we work shoulder stability primarily with the Meel (the grandfather of the Clubbell) as it (Meels) enable full circumduction at the Gleno-Humeral (shoulder) joint with resistance. This is something that you correctly pointed out, but it is less correct (IMHO) to compare the function and value derived from the Pushup-board to the Clubbell; both of which, if not in whole are at least in part inspired from the Shena & Meel of Persian Yoga (Pahlavani) where both tools are parts of a greater system of physical conditioning. See persianyoga.com for further details.
Furthermore You call the pushup-board useless, but you are ignoring the fact that it has been trusted and used for millenia by those who lived (or died) as direct result of how strong and fit they were and in modern days by Olympic Gold medalists and World Champion wrestlers...hardly the hallmark of a useless tool.
You recommend the rotating pushup handles or a set of parallel bars over the Shena and admittedly I do not have a great experience with neither of them, other than playing around with them and finding them very limited in use, and I mean that in terms of exercises and variations that can be done with them ca. 10-15 exercises and variations (and that's being generous) on the pbars as compared to 50+ exercises and variations on the Shena.
My point is not to debate which is superior to the other, that comes down to personal preference of what you think works for you, but to highlight that there is much more to the Shena which you, as well as many others in the 'West' simply are unaware of.
Lastly another of your readers (David) asked very good questions which I will take the liberty to respond to.
Q. What potential would the pushup board have to enhance or detract from my pushup experience and why?
A. If learnt properly it will enrich your training with greater variation, improve your strength, flexibility, endurance & agility as well as teach you new skills and ways of moving your body. It is also ultra portable, allowing you to get a full workout wherever you are.
Q. What can I do with a pushup board that I cannot do without it and what can be done sans pushup board that cannot be done with the pushup board?
A. Essentially you can 'live without' a Shena push-up board and be just fine and a majority of the same exercises can be done simply on the ground.
Having said that the Shena provides you with these specific benefits:
Performing push-ups on a Shena has the following advantages:
- It encourages the internal rotation of the arm at the shoulder (GH) joint hence reducing the stress on the shoulder (GH) joint structures like bursae, ligaments and tendons when doing pushups i.e. it enforces correct posture and technique
- It allows for a deeper and fuller Range of Motion...in a standard 'Western' pushups the hand position is often perpendicular to the floor and directly under the shoulders, especially during the eccentric phase of the pushup, whereas in certain Persian pushup series the hands travel all the way below the 12th rib during the eccentric pushup phase.
- It shifts the center of mass higher (more superiorly) hence allowing you to leverage your body weight and so making the push-ups more challenging
- It provides a stable, balanced and symmetrical platform to do push-ups on...in many Persian Yoga pushups we are doing Asanas while simultaneously doing calisthenics (mainly pushups) and so at times one or both hands have to be lifted off the Shena to later be returned to them for more pushups...which makes it relevant to land symmetrically and on the same spot and on a stable platform. In particular as this is done dynamically and sometimes at a great tempo.
- It brings greater mobility, flexibility and ROM to the wrists, arms and shoulders.
- It is better for your wrist health as it helps you to keep your wrist in more of a natural angle rather than perpendicularly to the floor as in a standard 'Western' pushup.
- It allows you to perform push-ups on any surface
A. The body is designed to move, so the best thing for it is to move and use it in as many ways as we can. And it is worth remembering that no tool will change your life, they are tools, life less, we give life to them by using them, so use whatever grinds your gear, mix it up and have fun.