“There are many ways of understanding simple things, but generally the opposite is true for difficult ideas.”
Miyamoto Musashi translated by Stephen F. Kaufman

The Martial Artist’s Book of Five Rings

Preparing for Practice


Example1: Then

My first meeting with Yoga was what I now think of as “play Yoga” – it was of mediocre quality – but it was good enough to hold me and eventually lead me to something better. Shortly after I met my teacher and was introduced to quality practices, I took on, in addition to weekly classes, private lessons which led to daily practices. The practices were very rewarding and I practiced a lot – at one point I was practicing two long practices – one in the morning and one in the evening.

At the time I was working a full time job and spending ~2.5 hours driving every day (I lived in Raanana and worked in Jerusalem). To maintain my practices I had to create and stick to an organized routine that made it possible for me to arrive on-the-mat ready for practice.

Evening practices required attention and planning. I wanted to be on the mat at a given time with an empty stomach. The first piece of the puzzle was time – arriving and leaving work at a fixed time (more or less). The second piece of the puzzle was food. At the time my eating habits were also changing – which ultimately meant bringing home-cooked food with me to work (I eventually purchased a small microwave oven for the office). My constitution requires that I eat frequently (every few hours) and not too much. I also had to stop taking food an hour or two before leaving the office – so I would arrive on the mat with an empty stomach. My meal-times were not perfectly fixed but they were anchors in my day. Work and meetings populated the time windows that remained between arriving, meals and leaving.

Morning practices were fairly easy to accommodate because they came before everything else. I would get up at ~04:00am, practice and be out the door by 06:00am. Yet getting up in the morning fresh for practices was dependent on the previous day. The qualities of the previous day, the quantity and quality of sleep all affected the next morning practice and the day that followed it in an never ending loop. My intention was to create a constantly improving loop of life and practice.

Writing these words I realize more then ever that I wasn’t really engaged with my job. Being on-the-mat was much more enticing and rewarding then being off-the-mat.

Example2: Now

I am now in a transition period. I am slowly building my way toward a regular practice. The challenge is very different, because I exist in a very different reality – there are no clear borders between work and life – my life includes activities which may be considered to be work. I am free and I am responsible for the shape and content of my days.

I am currently shifting from one morning practice to two practices: one in the morning and one in the evening (the practices have different and complementary qualities). My current challenge and focus is on the morning practice – I still haven’t found a smooth way into it (I had a formula a while back, but it isn’t working for me now). I get up fairly fresh and sharp but both my body and mind are still “stiff” – and so I prefer to make a transition, to let the energy start flowing before practicing.

I used (and still prefer) to avoid the computer in the morning hours. Reading a book with a cup of tea used to do the trick. But recently sitting to read leaves me with a heaviness that inhibits practice. So I am now giving the computer another chance. It works best if I have some fresh writing to do – but that isn’t always the case. So sometimes I do some catching up on reading some articles that have accumulated in my browser.

I can name two risks to being at the computer. If I get caught in front of it for too long the practice window closes – life noises (though I live in a small village – it too comes to life), heat (summer in Israel is hot) and hunger are some example of obstacles that arise. Another risk is distraction – the computer offers easy access to many potential distractions – sometimes all it takes is one annoying email that clings and dominates my mind, making practice difficult or ineffective.

Writing these words I realize that a solution may be right under my nose. I haven’t played my Shakuhachi for some time (it is a meditative instrument – and I haven’t felt ready for it) and I miss it. Maybe this space in the morning can be a good place for Shakuhachi?

A Life Practice

For me, the seemingly simple act of preparing for practice has been a foundation in building a bridge between practice on-the-mat and life off-the-mat. People often come to Yoga expecting it to balance out and improve their life. There is that, but my experience has been that the greater effect is the other way around – balancing and improving life is a key to a better Yoga practice. It is a subtle and effective way of letting Yoga reach beyond the mat and insinuate itself into a wider life-consciousness.

Posted in inside, Shakuhachi, Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours



It’s 10:10am and I am posting about a 04:04 length video 🙂 TED isn’t what it used to be so I was pleased to come across this short and concise talk about becoming a weekly vegetarian. The underlying formula of moderation is a great formula to apply to any change you wish to make – a few, milder and gradual steps will usually get you further then one giant leap. Enjoy 🙂

Posted in AltEco, Enjoy, inside, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Letting it Happen


I’ve had this video open in a browser window for a few weeks – this morning I finally watched it. In it is a description of a wonderful experiment where a computer was made available in a remote area to children who were computer-illiterate – and who, on their own, managed to learn how to use it.

The presenter, Sugata Mitra, sums up his presentation with four points:

  1. Remoteness effects the quality of education (less quality in remote areas).
  2. Educationl Technology should be introduced into remote areas first.
  3. Values are acquired (doctrine and dogma are imposed).
  4. Learning is a self-organizing system.

My Take on Education

A couple of months ago I happened to be in one of the cities in our vicinity and I happened to walk by a school where I over-heard a teacher lecturing to a class of children. This is in a fairly well-to-do country in a modern and developed city. She had a nasal voice and spiritless/dead presence – a shudder passed through me when I heard her (and it’s been many years since I’ve been in school). I promised myself then that my children would not spend time in such a school or in the presence of such people.

The best educational alternative I know of and working to create is:

  1. Living in a remote area (away from urban centers) where a “self-sustaining” life means that what you do is closely related to how you live. You create the physical circumstances in which you live.
  2. Allowing the natural challenges that arise in a self-sustaining environment to naturally motivate learning.
  3. Making tools and knowledge available to facilitate home-schooling.
  4. Hopefully living in a community in which there are diverse needs and diverse learning options (beyond a single house-hold) so that individual children can pursue and specialize in what interests them most.

Sugata Mitra’s presentation is a wonderful reminder of the inherent qualities we all carry around with us. These qualities are often trampled by education systems that were designed to create unimaginative workers. Sugata Mitra’s experiment in introducing technology comes with an interesting side-effect – it takes the “trampling system and it’s agents” out of the equation – which explains the resurfacing of natural human qualities. There still needs to be a View for learning – and that is not something that technology can supply. I believe that remote areas can be a natural resource for inspired learning – they are imbued with a natural life View.

Posted in AltEco, Enjoy, Expanding, inside, outside | You are welcome to add your comment



This morning seems to be connected

Too often I feel that media (what little of it does reach me) is sensationally-abusive of human suffering (which is one reason why I don’t let too much reach me). This morning, my RSS reader had a short post with a link to Don’t Forget Haiti where I found a personal and inspiring perspective:

“…if we live in a world in which my computer can come from China and my clothes can come from India and my apple can come from New Zealand…if my everyday life is impacted by all corners of the globe, then shouldn’t it follow that “neighbor” is an ever expanding definition? If we are global consumers, then can’t we also be global producers, investors, givers…”

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Demo: We Are All Connected


Thank you Raymond for bringing this to me.

Posted in Enjoy, inside | You are welcome to add your comment