“And thus you will dance to your death here, on this hilltop, at the end of the day. An din your last dance you will tell of your struggle, of the battles you have won and of those you have lost; you will tell of your joys and bewilderments upon encountering personal power. Your dance will tell about the secrets and about the marvels you have stored. And your death will sit here and watch you.”
Carlos Castaneda

Journey to Ixtlan

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-12-13

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  • corners are great too: http://bit.ly/6ppQBC #
  • @ronenk הגעת כבר למקום חם? הייתה שיחה? יש תה על הקמין… דבש? in reply to ronenk #
  • יום חמישי הוא יום תל-אביבי… הרבה זמן לא הייתי… כולל 3 פגישות ותערוכה #
  • soft movement in #yoga #asana: http://bit.ly/5GeZlj #
  • a really funny line in an Adam Sandler movie is awkward and amusing… and, well, funny! #
  • RT מזל טוב על הרך הנולד @NaamaSegal @ronenk http://bit.ly/twitter1nk #
  • John Tchicai "Satisfaction" album just came to an end… as all good things #
  • cold night, warm fire, garden herbs tea, kruder & dorfmeister, writing about Yoga, yep, this is it! #
  • first #pranayama exposed mind http://bit.ly/6AvKFo , now it exposes what is beyond mind: http://bit.ly/7P3fxy #yoga #
  • @ronenk תזכורת – מחר אני בתל-אביב :) in reply to ronenk #
  • הקמין דולק, הולך לבשל מרק כרוב ולעשות ניסוי חביתה עם חוביזה – מתסבר שאחד העשבים הפוריים בשטח הבית הוא חוביזה! מוזר לי לבשל עשב פרא #
  • החביתה, אם לא תהיה רעילה, למחר, ארוחת בוקר ברכבת במסע ליום תל-אביב #
  • כדי להנות מהגזעים העבים והבריאים צריך קודם לחמם את הקמין בטירוף – אש חזקה, קמין רותח, גחלים בוערות ואז הגזעים בוערים יפה #
  • ניסוי החוביזה יצא משליטה: בצל, קרישה, חוביזה, תרד וגזר מגורד כבר בפנים… יש עוד קצת מקום לביצים… נראה לי אני מסודר לכל היום מחר #
  • חוביזה יצאה 8 לא פחות ולא יותר, תבשיל כרוב נראה טוב, אורז על האש, עוד מעט אוכל… ברח הזמן במטבח #
  • @YoavSegal @ronenk @naamasegal תודה תודה תודה לכם על הבועה המלטפת והמחבקת בתוך ההמולה הרועמת… תבורכו, מצפה להיות אתכם בבועה שלי #
  • city images: http://bit.ly/5RsMW5 #
  • Thunderbird3 is released http://bit.ly/2zxpYm, enjoying subtle changes & improved Ubuntu performance #
  • Upgrading Thunderbird on Ubuntu: http://bit.ly/tYDtD (including auto-future-updates for mozilla apps!) #
  • @andreea_hl and I are looking for a woman developer to join us on our FEM project: http://builditwith.me/idea/Gbnc #
  • איזה שפע של גשם יורד פה בצפון… מבורך! #
  • #yoga #asana coordinating breath-movement and physical-movement: http://bit.ly/8RKHm8 #
  • @ronenk #SocBook שומע קחחח קחחח עבור קחחח קחחח in reply to ronenk #
  • @ronenk בשנייה ראשונה זה נראה לי משבוע שעבר, בשנייה השנייה אני קולט שעבר זמן… כל כך הרבה, כל כך מהר in reply to ronenk #
  • הקמין דועך, גזע העץ כמעט שרוף, הסדין החשמלי דולק, עוד קצת כתיבה את הפוסט יוגה של מחר – ככה עם החום האחרון, ואז מיטה, תה, ספר #
  • ככה זה, לקח לי יומיים לאסוף את האנרגיה בחזרה http://bit.ly/77rFEn אחרי שפיזרתי אותה ברחבי העיר http://bit.ly/5RsMW5 #
  • not-practicing #Yoga this morning: http://bit.ly/4CWAGA #
  • @crowfer thank you for sharing that with me :) in reply to crowfer #
  • @ronenk תשמח ותשמע :) in reply to ronenk #
  • Raaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaandyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy http://bit.ly/4Kvlff #
  • יצאה השמש – הלכתי להעביר את את הכביסה לשמש ולהכין טחינה #

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Yoga & Breath – Directional Breathing & Movement

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In this articles we will be taking a step that may appear small at first, but without it, it would be difficult to move forward and take the next step. My wish is to bring closer together the ideas of directional breathing & movement.

The explanation about directional breathing focused on the torso – the chest and abdominal area where breathing takes place. Now let’s take a step back and see it in play when looking at the entire body. The following animation is an overlay of the torso movement on a stick-figure of the entire body (the arms have been removed for the sake of clarity, they will soon be reintroduced). The blue dot indicates the focus of movement along the back during the breathing cycle.

directionalmovement_breath

You can again see the core idea of directional breathing: (1) inhale begins in the chest and moves down to the diaphragm and then to the abdominal area; (2) exhale begins in the abdominal area and then moves up through the diaphragm and ends in the chest. You may want to revisit the details of this wave movement by re-reading directional-breathing.

Inhale is a top-down movement. Exhale is a bottom-up movement.

Now we will remove the torso, leave the blue dot to remind us where breath-movement is taking place in the spine and introduce a simple movement of the arms. The point of this exercise is simply to stay focused on the directional movement of the breath while performing a simple coordinated physical movement.

directionalmovement_arms

You may experience some friction in the mind – there may seem to be a contradiction. When the arms move up the breath moves down, when the arms move down the breath moves up. If you experience this confusion, stop moving the arms. Be still and focus again just on the directional breathing, then when you are ready try again to move the arms.

There is one last exercise you can do when you feel you have made this connection. Try reversing the relationship between breath and movement – raise your arms as you exhale and then lower them as you inhale. How does that feel?

Posted in Basic Movement, Breath, Yoga | You are welcome to add your comment

City Images

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Image1: It’s 05:30, I’m lying in bed, the screen of my cellular phone goes dark from. Dull gray, blue-ish light is seeping into the room through the half revealed window.

Image2: It’s just past 07:00 and I am pouring a cup of food into her plate, hidden under the outside stairs. She isn’t there.

Image3: I have just switched trains, standing in a queue of 2 waiting to use the bathroom on the train. We will soon find out that we are waiting in vain, all the bathrooms are locked on the train.

Image4: I am crossing the bridge near the train station. The highway below is wet and there are a few puddles on the bridge. Blue is replacing the clouds in the sky. I am carrying a useless umbrella in my hand. I am grateful I left my raincoat in the car.

Image5: I step in a rush into a small white car blocking traffic. Inside is a new person in my life, he is leisurely tailored, tightly wound, kind and curious. Traffic.

Image6: Dodging cars with seemingly violent intentions.

Image7: Road is either in poor shape or under construction. Shabby buildings. A wild mixture of parked of moving cars, hard to tell them apart. A huge truck is making a huge mess.

Image8: Boring buildings covered with promising logos. A horizontal Christmas cane rises to give way for privileged cars.

Image9: Glass doors, another promising logo.

Image10: Confusing winding corridors.

Image11: She is happy to see me, not into hugging, at least not with me. She is less happy to see me.

Image12: A huge black screen. A long green cable from the wall to a small laptop computer cuts the room in half. Another cable makes an effort to reach from a huge black screen to the other side of the small laptop computer. She is facing me. Curious man is on my left. Silence distant man is on her right, a bit distant.

Image13: I am talking. Funny.

Image14: I am in a train station. It feels like the train is facing away from the direction I know it is going. I am tired but composed.

Image15: She is on sitting in front of me. Between us is desk, an old desk. It never had any character, now it has the character of an old desk that never had any character. I am almost seated, some of the things I am carrying have touched a chair to my left, I am already getting up. Relief and ridicule.

Image16: He is standing next to his motorcycle, on the side of a busy road next to a busy junction, parked in the shade of a tree. He knows this spot well. His newspaper is spread on the small cargo box, he is reading and eating his lunch. This is his quiet space.

Image17: She looks tight, cool, solid, collected.

Image18: We are hugging. She feels rugged and fragile.

Image19: We are hugging.

Image20: He is vital, typing with two fingers.

Image21: So many cars, endless rivers, barely moving but very pushing, shining.

Image22: I am standing in the middle of the flood, on the phone. Please help.

Image23: Mercedes hood ornament. Clean. He has a beard, dressed in black and white. He doesn’t care if we crash into that car.

Image24: I know this junction. Almost home.

Image25: He is a soft and welcoming figure standing on the opposite sidewalk. I see him but he doesn’t see me.

Image26: He embraces me tightly. Muscles in my neck let go and my head falls to the left. I am home.

Image27: She is a gentle and quiet spirit. She is curious but also slightly suspicious?

Image28: He is a friendly and jumpy spirit. They are together.

Image29: He is holding his baby daughter.

Image30: We embrace. She pulls away.

Image31: She is anxious, wearing leprechaun green. She is happy and surprised to see me. I am surprised she is surprised.

Image32: Three sinuous shapes, moving together, each from a different universe. They are one and will never meet.

Image33: Flow within flow within flow. Gold and earth colors.

Image34: Sweet child of mine, you’ve been here all this time?

Image35: Nipples and markers.

Image36: Just plain dumb.

Image37: Soft, delicate, friendly, happy, precise face leaning in to me.

Image38: Too much bread.

Image39: Those two girls are listening to me.

Image40: She is barely visible in the shadows of the stair case. She can’t see me, she is waving goodbye, she knows I see her. She’s always known. She has faith.

Image41: She still isn’t here.

Posted in Images, Photography | You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours

Pranayama Exposes Beyond Mind

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Pranayama requires quite a bit of counting. Counting, repeatedly, for a substantial period of time collects and focuses mind and gives Pranayama a meditative quality. This is especially apparent when each part of the breath becomes longer. But, like most practices, I eventually got used to it. I developed an automated and regulated internal rhythm and my mind would wander off during long counts.

I recently made a change to my Pranayama practice – introducing longer exhales. During recent sittings I’ve experienced how much pure and simple concentration affects practice. If my mind wanders during the shorter breathing cycles, my breath doesn’t falter (I can get away with it). But, if I lose focus and wander off during longer breathing cycles, I come up short and the length and quality of the breath may be compromised. In fact, if I am focused and steady, I can easily accommodate the practice – the challenge is more in my mind then in body.

My focus is improving, my mind is becoming steadier throughout a practice session and now I have noticed something else happening. A new kind of distraction appears, a wonderful distraction. I am experiencing bursts of creativity – ideas and answers to questions appear out of nowhere, rapidly & clearly. New ideas and answers to existing questions flood through my mind, so much so that I am tempted to break my practice and write them down. I don’t. I try to let them pass through me and rejoin the ticking metronome. It’s harder to do with creative thoughts then with plain distractions.

I have experienced this before, but the extended breathing cycles have increased the frequency of these occurrences, so I was able to identify a pattern. I am involved in numerous projects but I have a very spacious day. I am not constantly preoccupied with challenges and questions, I let things simmer slowly and I have faith that insights, solutions and ideas will appear on their own (and they do!). This is to say that I do not begin a practice with disturbances on my mind – I am not actively searching and hunting for solutions. So when insights appear to me in this way I consider them miracles of creation – they come from beyond the mind.

I don’t remember all of the ideas that appear before me. When they appear I don’t grasp at them – I try to gently let them pass and then refocus on counting and breathing. Some of the ideas are available to me later when I conclude the practice. Others disappear, I trust that the ones I truly need will reappear, and the rest will dissolve or remain hidden me for good reasons.

Posted in Breath, Pranayama, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Soft Movement

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A reflex is something that happens quickly before you are conscious of it. Anatomically it is a process that occurs in the nervous system without reaching the brain: (1) A designated sensory neuron sends a signal to a neuron junction in the spine; (2) another motor neuron linked to the same neuron junction, carries the signal to a muscle; (3) the muscle flexes, resulting in quick movement. This is how, for example, we pull a hand from the fire, quickly, without thinking about it. The brain is not a part of the process, until it gets other sensory information that tell is something has already happened.

One type of reflex is known as kneejerk – this is what doctors test when they hit you below the knee with a small hammer, causing your leg to flex. You can experience this reflex in action by jumping down from a chair. The reflex is activated when you land on the floor, and it prevents you from buckling at the knees – it automatically kicks in to stabilize you.

Such reflexes are engaged a lot in athletic activities. In jogging the kneejerk reflex happens thousands of times in a short period of time. This kind of repetitive activity shortens the muscles and as a result reduces flexibility. The muscles adapt and change – as if they are expecting this kind of sudden impact.

In physical Yoga practices you can consciously choose to reduce or increase the effects of such reflexes. If your practice is dominated by fast & dynamic movements then you are frequently triggering such reflexes and increasing their effect. If your practice is dominated by soft movement and static postures then you are avoiding reflex triggers. Soft and slow movement is better suited for Yoga practices aimed at length and flexibility (it also works wonders for strength – but that is a different story).

Some people have a tendency to approach their physical limitations by pushing harder, as if trying to gain momentum that will hurl them over & beyond their limitations. This is physically ineffective because reflexes kick in and counter their efforts. But there is another subtle aspect to this kind of practice – what takes place in the mind? In the mind this is an attack – an act of violence. Ironically, the reflexes make it a useless act of violence! Even more ironically, when the violence is ineffective it makes way for stubbornness – in an endless self-defeating cycle.

Some of the most substantial changes in my physical abilities came about when I applied & refined softness in my practice. Softness has been a key and recurring theme for all of my one-on-one students. It is an idea I often touch on when teaching group classes as well, though it is more difficult to get across in group-settings. Softness is a great way to introduce Ahimsa (non-violence) into your practice, it is a quality that will serve you off-the-mat as well as on-the-mat and it can take you to surprising places.

Posted in Anatomy, Asana, Basic Movement, Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours