“When your actions describe a system of evil consequences, you should be judged by those consequences and not by your explanations.”
Frank Herbert

Children of Dune

Bend Your Knees

n

When practicing Yoga asana you have a choice of giving priority to the periphery of the body (arms & legs) or the core of the body – specifically the back (or to be even more specific – the spine). The spine is a central channel for the nervous system – it connects the brain to the rest of the body and it’s various organs and systems. According to Yoga philosphy – the spine correlates to the central Sushumna Nadi which is at the heart of energetic system that is you and therefor the focus of many Yoga practices. Also, the lower back is an area highly prone to injury (most of the back-problems you hear about are in the lower back) because it is vulnerable and often neglected and weak.

Try bending forward. If, like many people, your flexibility is limited, then you may find it difficult to reach the floor. If your legs are straight – then the stretch in your legs is at the expense of stretching your back – your are giving priority to a peripheral stretch. If  you want to change that and provide your back & spine with more range of movement and stretch – then bend your knees.

bendknees_standing

You can also experience this explicitly in seated forward bends. Many people have a hard time just sitting straight, not to mention actually bending forward. Again, bend your knees and discover a whole new range of movement.

bendknees_sittingWhen I began practicing Yoga I could not sit on the floor with my legs straight and back erect. I practiced for  years with my legs (and arms!!) straight which led to frustration and no change or improvement in my practice. Then when I began studying with my teacher, I was given this simple and remarkable piece of advice, in the spirit of viniyoga, which changed my practice (and me) forever.

As a Yoga teacher, I have experienced that the greatest obstacle students face in embracing and applying this idea is a stubborn ego. People have been told for too long (since elementary school gym class) by too many people (play-Yoga teachers included) that this is they way to do it. People are pursuing an external image of how they want to stretch rather then practicing with respect to their present condition. Bend your knees.

Posted in Anatomy, Basic Movement, Yoga | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Pranayama Exposes Mind

n

Over the past week a change has occurred in Pranayama practice.

My current Pranayama practice was something like:
10 – 0 – 15 – 0  x8
10 – 0 – 15 – 5  x8
10 – 5 – 15 – 5  x8
10 – 0 – 15 – 0  x8

When my nasal passages are open and free I practice Nadi Sodhana, at other times I use Anuloma Ujjayi. Usually in the morning my nasal passages are still partly blocked, so I use Anuloma Ujjayi, while in the evening I usually practice Nadi Sodhana. Though it does vary.

A few weeks ago I felt there was a space for me to take the practice one step forward and I tried adding 10 – 5 – 20 – 0  to the sequence. I was able to contain it rather well. Shortly after (a few days) I felt like my entire practice receded – I was unable to reach the 20 second exhale peacefully (I could do it more or less with force) and my nasal passages became more blocked and I lost access to Nadi Sodhana. So I took a step back and resumed the core practice with Anuloma Ujjayi.

Then a few days ago I again felt in my body an invitation to bring back 10 – 5 – 20 – 0 but my mind resisted – I thought I could not do it. When this happened again I began to wonder if my mind was trying to push me away from something which I could do. So I gave it a try. The practice confirmed my suspicions. For some reason I got it in my mind that I cannot perform a quality 20 second. Even as I reached the extended breathing ratio with a sense of calm and space in the body I had thoughts like “no, this won’t work”. I set those thoughts aside and had a steady and calm sequence of breaths. Even then, when I had actually done the practice, there were doubts in my mind. Amazing! Thoughts (of self doubt!) were preventing me from using the breathing capacity I had in me.

Over the next few practices I focused on this internal dialogue. I answered the “no I can’t” doubts with “of course I can” convictions. A part of my practice was to practice a new perception – one which would replace the inhibiting patterns.

This morning’s practice surprised me even further. As I was doing my practice I felt my body inviting me to take even another step forward (it usually takes months or weeks at best for Pranayama to evolve – this time it happened in days) and I added a 10 – 5 – 20 – 5 ratio (I also made a few other small changes in the overall practice to make room for this new formula). Again I was able to go through a steady and calm sequence – though at the end I felt I had exhausted my stamina.

My practice is now:
10 – 0 – 15 – 0  x4
10 – 0 – 15 – 5  x4
10 – 5 – 15 – 5  x8
10 – 5 – 20 – 0  x8
10 – 5 – 20 – 5  x8
10 – 0 – 15 – 0  x8

Note: A few days after writing this came this

Posted in Breath, Pranayama, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to add your comment

Yoga Sutra – Chapter 3 Sutra 6

n

This post started with an intent to share a chant, one of the first I learned. When I began to prepare it, I found a new link, one I was given many years ago, but only now did it shimmer for me and I took the time to assimilate it. This chant (see below) is taken from a commentary (by Vyasa) on the Yoga Sutra III.6:

“Samyama [constraint/control] must be developed gradually”

Translation by TKV Desikachar

This sutra contains the word “viniyogah” which over the years was used to relate the teaching approach of TKV Desikachar and his father Krishnamacharya. Some years ago it began to transform into another “yoga brand”, and so Desikachar asked that it not be used in that context anymore. Following our two quotes which shed some light on the idea of “viniyoga” as implied in this sutra:

“The spirit of viniyoga is starting from where one finds oneself. As everybody is different and changes from time to time, there can be no starting point, and ready-made answers are useless. The present situation must be examined and the habitually established status must be reexamined.”

TKV Desikachar (from the Essence of Yoga by Bernard Bouanchaud)

“We should begin with the less complicated objects and with those that can be inquired into in several different ways. Then there is a greater chance of sccessful development. It is implied that a teacher who knows us well is a great help in choosing our objects”.

TKV Desikachar (from The Heart of Yoga)

If I were (at this time) to give this chant a title it would probably be something like “Walk the Walk: Practice, Practice, Practice”:

click to play

yogena yogo jnatavyo
Only through Yoga, Yoga is known

yogo yogat pravartate
Only through Yoga, Yoga progresses

yo prama tastu yogena
One who is patient with Yoga

sa yoge ramate ciram
Enjoys the fruits for a long time

Posted in Chanting, Yoga, Yoga Sutra, Yoga Texts, Yoga Therapy | You are welcome to add your comment

Inhale Open Exhale Close

n

When my teacher first introduced me to asana practice with coordinated breath and movement, I experienced intense resistance in mind and friction in body . It felt more difficult then free movement (which it is), it felt like it was limiting my physical abilities (which initially it was, but that changed over time) and it was sometimes confusing –  when to inhale and when to exhale? The confusion led to an agitated practice (my mind was racing to figure out what to do).

There is a simple rule of thumb which helps 99.9% of the time:

Movements of expansion and opening take place on the inhale
Movements of contraction and closing take place on the exhale

Apanasana is an easy asana to witness & experience this idea. On the inhale the knees move away from the chest in an opening movement. On the exhale the knees are brought in closer to the chest in a closing contraction.

apanasana

Cakravakasana is a slightly more subtle example.  Watch the front side of the torso – the abdominal and chest areas. On the inhale, when the back is hollowed, the front side of the body is open and expanding. On the exhale, when the back is arched, the front side of the body is closed and compressed.

cakravakasana

You may want to try these and other asana with coordinated breathing to experience this idea of opening on the inhale and closing on the exhale. Do each posture a few times with a focus on the ideas of open and close and see how that is reflected in your movement.

Finally, to appreciate the natural alignment of this coordination between breath and movement, you can try to reverse the breathing, switch the inhale and the exhale and see what happens!

So the next time you are practicing asana and are not sure if you should be inhaling or exhaling, observe the movement. If it is an opening & expanding movement you should be inhaling. If it is a closing & contracting movement you should be exhaling.

Posted in Asana, Breath, Yoga | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-11-29

n
  • tears: http://bit.ly/6mfjip #
  • breakfast: http://twurl.nl/ptssh7 #
  • I can't make your doubts about me go away, I can go away for you #
  • image for today at RedBubble: http://twurl.nl/2z772y #
  • next up in #yoga #asana – working the legs: http://bit.ly/5P3Fpz #
  • agitated energy today, moving through time with care #
  • careful has threatening undertones, full of care has loving ones #
  • @reBang I would love to hear from you – iamronen[at]iamronen.com in reply to reBang #
  • @buffdesign hello Loyd, (how) can I contact you to discuss ID project? (referred 2 u by @raymondpirouz) #
  • come see an inspiring exhibition in Tel-Aviv and, if u r in the area, to say hello: http://bit.ly/58DxfG #
  • sometimes the fireplace burns steady for a long time, other times it's really high maintenance #
  • I am looking for Randy from Ojai California… please read and pass on: http://bit.ly/4Kvlff #
  • פעם אחת בעברית וזהו – לא אציק לכם שוב: תערוכה של אמנית מעוררת השראה http://bit.ly/58DxfG #
  • @crowfer thank you :) and a good day to you in reply to crowfer #
  • RT lousy opening text followed by a plethora of great resources via @ronenk intro to Web Usability http://bit.ly/5SB6en #
  • after many months I visited the studio – and came out with thoughts on searching: http://bit.ly/6cYb75 #
  • distractions can be very supportive when practicing meditation – they are so easy to focus on… #
  • irony: the only obstacles left to leaving Windows completely are Apple:iTunes & Adobe:Photoshop+Lightroom #
  • another #yoga #asana – this time cat-posture: http://bit.ly/7QBJBK #
  • איכות חיים זה קנקן תה שיושב על הקמין – כל הזמן חם והטעם הולך ומשתפר מכוס לכוס #
  • great example of Yoga (integration!) in business leadership: It’s not really a “versus,” it’s an “and.” by @photomatt http://bit.ly/7iWx0m #

Powered by Twitter Tools

Posted in About, Twitter Updates | You are welcome to add your comment

Warning: Illegal string offset 'widgetarea' in /home/iamronen/public_html/wp-content/themes/iamronen04/functions.php on line 359

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/iamronen/public_html/wp-content/themes/iamronen04/footer.php on line 3