“The music is in effect telling us about a future existence in which love and cooperation have replaced strife and oppression. Once we have achieved a glimpse of that future state, our present mode of life becomes increasingly intolerable: who could be satisified with prison after having breathed the sweet air of true freedom?”
Frank Kofsky

Coltrane: The Story of a Sound

Franky Strikes a First Pose

n

So after almost a month (I can’t believe it’s already been a month!) of tinkering around with anatomy, logic, trigonometry and javascript programming – the illustrated Yoga figure that just stood there can now be moved fairly well into postures using just the mouse (much more fun then lists of numbers).

Joints are used as interactive control points that can be set to allow/prevent rotation and/or movement and then the anatomically correct illustrated figire responds accordingly. There’s no floor consciousness or gravity and there’s still quite a bit of testing and refinement to do – but it’s coming around very nicely 🙂 Soon, I hope, online for you to move with your mouse 🙂 and then …

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

What I Like About Intense Yoga Practices

n

Once in a while life gifts me with a special on-the-mat Yoga practice session. In my memory they are the most intense rewarding practices I have experienced – they are an event apart from all others. Yesterday I gained some insight into what they are and why I have a fond relationship with them.

What Are Intense Yoga Practices?

This is a great opportunity to communicate and clarify what, for me, makes an intense practice:

  • A consistent and peaceful presence throughout the practice.
  • Full breathing – ujjayi seems to take on a different sound – as it if resonates in a large and hollow chamber. Breath is never short though constantly challenged.
  • A direct experience of correct and sustainable effort in which full and deep movement is achieved without any need for pushing (in body or mind) and with relatively short rests between postures.
  • Excellent range of movement and responsiveness in the body. A wonderful dance of flexibility supported by strength.
  • Tendency towards static stay in posture.
  • A clear sense of build-up throughout the practice.
  • A crown posture which lends itself to infinite refinment and exploration.
  • Intense heat most of which is contained within.
  • A pulsing throughout the body – very prominent in savasana.
  • An asana practice that practically demands Pranayama.
  • A Pranayama practice in which time stands still, in which the breath swings smoothly and feels like it can go on forever.
  • A Pranayama which ends in such stillness and presence so that meditation is already there without there being any sense of transition.
  • A quiet and still mind with an occassional tempting sensation of swinging or dizziness.
  • A clear ringing in the ears of the flute within.
  • Tears and a smile.

What I Like About Intense Yoga Practices

What’s not to like? 🙂 Well there are plenty of superficial things to like – things that have undesired effects on the ego: (1) immediate inflation in the short term which then transforms into (2) irrelevant expectations in the long term. But there is something that does go deeper – and again it is found off-the-mat.

Intense practices are not some sudden and unexplained explosion of untapped physical abilities. I have recently written about some preparations I make in my life off-the-mat to support my practices on-the-mat. The short term effects of these preparations are better practices.  Intense practices occur when I sustain a combination of good living off-the-mat and good practice on-the-mat over a period of time:

  • Intense practices indicate to me that I’ve been doing something right – that I’ve achieved a good existence over the past days or weeks.
  • Intense practices confirm my life habits and beliefs more then they do my physical qualities.
  • Intense practices remind me to appreciate the choices I have made.
  • Intense practices empower and direct me in facing doubts that may come at me in the future.
  • Intense practices demonstrate to me that Yoga is indeed an encompassing and whole experience.
  • Intense practices teach me to appreciate the common day-to-day practices where I perform uninteresting tasks of  maintenance that keep me running smoothly.
  • Intense practices are then an occasional visit to a race track where I can open-up my engine to full throttle and appreciate and enjoy the great ride that I am 🙂
Posted in Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to add your comment

What’s Happening on my Left?

n

I’ve been observing a bunch of things on the left side of my body – so I thought to pool them together, hoping that in time it will reveal something to me:

  • During the last two morning practices, when I first bent forward I felt a pressure-pain in the vicinity of my left temple.
  • Though it’s not with me at the time of this writing, the last (recurring) discomforts I had in my lower back presented on the left side. When this was happening I noticed that, for exampe, in standing forward bends, when my hands touched the floor, the left hand would be pulled closer to the body (unless I compensated for it) as if there was a tension pulling it in
  • In warrior posture variations, when my left leg is forward (stretched on the back side) – I have less range of movement then on the opposite side.
  • In trikonasana (triangle pose) bending down to the right (which stretches the left hip) is limited (in comparison to the left side stretch) – there is a natural tendency to introduce a slight forward bend to accommodate the limitation. I therefore go down lower and focus more on opening the chest – usually by working the left shoulder blade.
  • In assymetric seated forward bends I have less opening-range in the left then I do in the right hip.
  • My left shoulder and it’s surroundings have known tensions and pains in recent months (projected as far as my heart in Pranayama practices when breath is focused into the chest).
  • In Pranayama my left nostril is more blocked then my right nostril.
  • In seated practices (pranayama / meditation) there is a subtle pull of the body to the left.

Left is feminine, moon, ying …

I miss creating, most of creative energies are currently being expressed at the computer …

As leftover money diminishes, faith is recurringly challenged …

Fear lives alongside prosperity and appreciation …

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

How to End a Pranayama Practice

n

Pranayama can lead to a delicate place, one that is easy to disturb and lose. The inherent structure of a Pranayama practice leads to an ending that may disturb the very delicate quality it created. My practices bring me with two such obstalces: (1) lowering my arm from the nostril control position; (2) stopping the metronome that is ticking in the background.

Continuous Breathing

One way to maintain a smooth transition is to keep breathing. Whatever breathing technique you use in your practice, you can continue with a few basic ujjayi breaths which don’t require nostril control. So as you lower your arm back down you are maintaining a continuous breathing experience – sustaining the qualities of the practice. Similarly you can continue the same ujjayi breathing pattern as you move to stop the metronome and then continue for a few more breaths counting inside without the guidance of the metronome.

I recommend an ujjayi breath that is:

  1. Shorter  – between one half and two thirds of the inhale length of your practice.
  2. Symmetrical – equal inhale and exhale.
  3. No holds – do not pause the breath between inhaling and exhaling, stay with a continuous and fluid movement.

Butoh

In the bigger picture of Yoga – Pranayama is a transition from asana to meditation. When I continue into meditation I use an additional gesture – delicately bringing together each thumb and forefinger until they gently touch. The gesture, as it was taught to me, has a containing and sustaining quality to it. Sometimes I would use the last exhale to slowly bring the fingers together. Recently I’ve made a connection to another practice I once experienced – Butoh.

Butoh is a form of Japanese body/movement theatre. One of the qualities in it is slow and attentive movement. The beginning of this video demonstrates this quality – notice how slowly the lighting comes into the space and for movement to take place (there is much more then to Butoh then slow movement as you can see in the second part of this clip and even more so in the third part).

So I’ve been playing around with an application of this idea from Butoh into the gesture of touching thumb to index finger. The transition is now longer, it continues from a refined breathing into a very refined, barely perceptive movement – that together lead into a special experience of stillness.

You can move the fingers on both hands at the same time or you can do it one hand at a time. You can start by moving slowly and then gradually develop that into slower and slower movement – it cane take 20 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 10 minutes … there is no limit to what you can do with it.

It’s been an amazing support in further refining the transition from Pranayama into meditation.

Play around see what happens and please come back and share your experience 🙂

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

The Writing IS on the Wall

n

Quotes taken from Wall Street Journal Interview with Google CEO Eric Shmidt:

For one thing, just a couple days earlier, Google had publicly estimated that 200,000 Android smartphones were being activated daily by cell carriers on behalf of customers …

… Google gives away Android to handset makers for free. But not to worry, says Mr. Schmidt: “You get a billion people doing something, there’s lots of ways to make money. Absolutely, trust me. We’ll get lots of money for it.” …

… “I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions,” he elaborates. “They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” …

… Let’s say you’re walking down the street. Because of the info Google has collected about you, “we know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are.” Google also knows, to within a foot, where you are. Mr. Schmidt leaves it to a listener to imagine the possibilities …

I am greatful for Google Search, it makes it possible for me to reach the online world and for the online world to reach me. BUT I never logon to Google for ANYTHING – NOTHING WHAT SO EVER. I occassionally delete what cookies they do leave behind (quite a few). I trust Google completely to do what is best for their business – which will always require them to bend & stretch the limits of privacy to server their business needs.

How much you depend on and like  Google defines how much abuse you will be willing to tolerate from them. Google will cash in on everything you “like” about it. If you trust Google with anything other then search then you are an IRRESPONSIBLE  FOOL – YES YOU! A fool because you should know better, irresponsible because your poor choice effects not just you, but the people in your life as well.

I don’t and won’t live in a future where a corporate information service is breathing down my neck. There is a better, doable alternative.

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Observing Pranayama: August 2010

n

Following is a 10 day journal of observations in and around my Pranayama practice.

My current morning Pranayama practice is:

10 –  0  – 15 – 0 Gradually build up Ujjayi breath
10 –  0  – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 –  5  – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 –  5  – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 10 – 15 – 5 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
10 – 0   – 15 – 0 x6 Anuloma Ujjayi
6 –   0 –   6 –   0 x6 Ujjayi

My current evening practice:

6 – 0 – 12 – 0 x40 Anuloma Ujjayi
6 – 0 – 6 – 0 x4 Ujjayi

Recurring ideas/terms in observation:

  • Late/Early Morning: early morning practice begins before 07:00am, late morning usually around 08:30. Body is very different in the late morning – warmer, more dynamic, lends itself to movement – but there are more disturbances in outside world.
  • Panick Exhale: a combination of mind and body experience when extending overall breath length – manifests in exhale. Mind expresses a sense of urgency early in the exhale – as if it isn’t expecting to hold out. Breath demands refined attention – usually ends up with a push and struggle in the end (manifesting as overly-tight abdominal control).
  • This period of observation is fairly aligned with the phase of Andreea’s cycle in which ovulation takes place. We are open to pregnancy – which makes this a more physically taxing period of the month for me. Pregnancy has brought with it much tapas – and this is an emotional period for Andreea and therefor also emotionally taxing on me. I need to remember that this is a period of sustaining.
  • The eletric metronome I am using has a flashing light in addition to the sounds. After practicing numerous times in relative darkenss and noticing the light more often then I care to admit – I realized that my eyes are having difficulty staying closed peacefully.
  • I have known a more subtle experience of Pranayama – I feel that life frictions are effecting the quality of my breath. Dealing with frictions in Pranayama does seem to offer support in life – is it possible to take it further?

Observations:

Date Time Observations
Aug 21 Morning
  • Off-the-mat: weird/confusing day yesterday – decided not to practice.
  • Physicality: Late morning practice, left shoulder feels inflamed – agitated by inhale movement. Body seems to be pulling to the left.
  • Flow: Both nostrils slightly congested – overall flow OK
  • Left-Right: Left side panick on exhale from the point at which holds are added. Overall better on right side – smooth consistent exhale.
  • Presence: Good -steady counting with only a few mental distractions
Evening
  • Repetition was experienced as boring.
  • Though a relatively short breath ratio demanded more subtle control in nostrils.
  • Flow OK – there is definitely space for refinment.
Aug 22 Morning
  • Off-the-mat: hot practice last night followed by spontaneous late-night wealth-celebration dinner – including french fries.
  • Physicality: Got up (a little later then usual) feeling heavy – did late-morning 20 minute practice standing & seated forward bends. Sitting was fine after practice
  • Flow: Both nostrils slightly congested – overall flow OK. Grew tired towards end of practice – less endurance.
  • Left-Right: Left side much more blocked then right side. Right side fairly smooth flow
  • Presence: So so – background drilling and construction noises didn’t help.
Evening
  • Better adjusted but still adjusting to the 1-2 ratio which I haven’t been experiencing as frequently as this practice demands.
  • Left side requires no physical nostril contol, right side requires nostril control to peacefully maintain the ration
  • Left side is more congested then the right side.
  • After practice left side felt heavier and tighter – right side felt more open and spacious
  • Better overall presence then yesterday
Aug 23 Morning
  • Slightly compromised food day yesterday – getting over and through the unusual dinner from the previous day.
  • Physicality: later then usual late morning practice – heaviness in body, short standing forward bend practice then Pranayama.
  • Flow: echoes from last night neutral (40 breath) practice carrying over into quality of exhale, more attention to using finger for nostril control – led to a slightly refined exhale experience – softer & smoother.
  • Left-Right: the same
  • Presence – surprisingly OK – was expecting easy diversion – maybe heaviness had stabilizing effect?
Evening
  • Crappy energy day – a head-ache-like presence, still managed to be productive, just didn’t particulary enjoy it.
  • No asana practice – just Pranayama
  • Surprising quality of presence.
  • Adjusting to 1×2 ratio – barely needed physical pressure on either nostril to sustain it.
  • Left still more congested then right
  • Thankful for practice.
Aug 24 Morning
  • Resumed complete morning practice
  • Left-Right: same deal, left inhibited, better flow on right
  • Presence – OK
  • Added a bit of chanting at the end
Evening
  • Full practice – including mahamudra.
  • Used a short mantra chant today (haven’t done that in a while) – both after morning and evening pranayama practices.
  • nothing to add on breathing practice – same as before
Aug 25 Morning
  • Heaviness in practice – though it didn’t inhibit me from completing the entire practice sequence
  • Left still less flowing then right.
  • Surprisingly – it was difficult to sustain the crown of the practice on the left side – usually it’s easier because the blocked nostril acts as a natural valve – though today something wasn’t in place. Inhales in the crown practice (and partly in tht stage before it) were a bit forced. There was objection in my mind to doing the crown formulat – but I did manage it and though it began with friction – it ended on a softer note.
Evening
  • Long and mindful day – much mathematics and programming – left me with a mind in overdrive.
  • No Asana practice – just Pranayama
  • Poor presence
  • Sides have been reversed – left side was more open and better flowing then the right side which was slightly more congested
Aug 26 Morning
  • Nice, full practice.
  • Usual pranayama – nothing to note
Evening
  • Day included two demanding conversations – drained my energy. Second conversation stretched longer then planned – consciously overriding my practice.
  • Objection to practice in mind and body
  • No practice.
  • No pranamaya
Aug 27 Morning
  • Had a very difficult time falling asleep – much disturbance in the body, itches that can’t be itched all over my body. Took time and patience to find sleep.
  • No motivation/will to practice. Not forcing it.
  • By not forcing it, appeared a space for Pranayama.
  • Began with chanting which opened the door softly into practice.
  • Surprising quality of presence.
  • Surprising quality oe balance between the two sides (though both still a bit blocked)
Evening
  • Another day of math and code – softer, better pace and more rewarding then previous day.
  • No asana practice today. We went for a short walk.
  • Pranayama practice – ok presence.
  • Again left side has better flow then right side.
Aug 28 Morning
  • Heaviness in body, late practice – standing sequence only + chanting
  • Pranayama practice – with OK presence.
  • Overal balance between the two sides.
  • On inhales – physical pressure pain around left shoulder – reaching shoulderblade on back side and heart space in front.
Evening
  • Money is on my mind
  • Short standing sequence, savasana + reiki + Pranayama practice
  • Flow blocked more then usual – very prominent on left side.
  • Basic presence
Aug 29 Morning
  • Woke up and practiced later then usual
  • Nice practice – appreciation
  • Pranayama was a bit difficult – especially sustaining the crown formula – especially on the left side
  • The two sides were different – but not in a consistent/describable way.
Evening
  • Money fears and now the presence of death near by
  • Good practice
  • Good pranayama – refined experience of exhale control
  • Fairly similar experience between two sides.
Aug 30 Morning
  • Again woke up late
  • Shakuhachi + very short standing sequence + chanting + Pranayama
  • Though nostrils felt blocked more then usual in regular breathing, Pranayama was surprisingly OK
  • Funny – I can’t seem to recall anything about left-right experience
Evening
  • Nice practice + pranayama + short meditation
  • Both nostrils slightly blocked – but with less noticeable difference between the two sides
  • Nice presence
  • First time in a while that I’ve felt pranayama usher me into a meditative space
Posted in Pranayama Journal, Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

After the thing went off

n

“Time comes, and this tremendous flash out there is so bright that I duck … I look back up and I see this white light changing into yellow and then into orange. Clouds form and disappear again – from the compression and expansion of the shock wave.

Finally, a big ball of orange, the center that was so bright, becomes a ball of orange that starts to rise and billow a little bit and get a little black around the edges, and then you see it’s a big ball of smoke with flashes on the inside of the fire going out, the heat.

Finally, after about a minute and a half, there’s suddenly a tremendous noise – BANG, and then a rumble, like thunder – and that’s what convinced me … the solidity of the sound at that distance meant that it had really worked.

The man standing next to me said, “What’s that?”

I said, “That was the Bomb”.

After the thing went off, there was tremendous excitement at Los Alamos. Everybody had parties, we all ran around. I sat on the end of a jeep and beat drums and so on. But one man, I remember, Bob Wilson, was just sitting there moping.

I said, “What are you moping about?”

He said, “It’s a terrible thing that we made.”

I said, “But you started it, you got us into it.”

You see, what happened to me – what happened to the rest of us – is we started for a good reason, then you’re working very hard to accomplish something and it’s a pleasure, it’s excitement. And you stop thinking, you know; you just stop. Bob Wilson was the only one who was still thinking about it, at that moment.”

Richard Feynman from Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-08-29

n
  • Living in a house where one person meditates creates tranquility for everyone else #
  • Guided by my Yoga teachers I am beginning a long term exploration of Pranayama, u r welcome to tag along: http://bit.ly/cnUBV6 #
  • @gregorylent thank you and pleased to meet you 🙂 I agree, Pranayama is one of the most potent and least known of the Yoga arsenal in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent I've been practicing Pranayama for years, now have been gifted with a precious opportunity to further refine and develop it #
  • @gregorylent I'm hoping that by documenting it I'll be able to better observe and share some of the knowledge & insights that surface #
  • I say again, in case you missed it: "From bitter searching of the heart, we rise to play a greater part" http://bit.ly/cFx0XD #
  • RT listen with your mind, heart, gut … @gregorylent "chakras" are a great concept 4filtering diffrnt levels of experience #
  • RT hmmm … Ubuntu has taught me the opposite @gregorylent apple has taught me to avoid upgrades of software, apps, and products #
  • a good day is a day that leads me to good Yoga practices: http://bit.ly/cgfXGu #
  • sitting w/Andreea – nice yogurt+fruit+muesli – beautiful sky … and a small venemous snake appears right outside the window – unsettling! #
  • just had amazing experience/insight of resistance – working on algorithms 4 describing movement of body – does anyone care to know more? #
  • my mind is twisted from math & geometry, moving illustrated joints around each other has boggled my mind, off to find mental release 🙂 #
  • @gregorylent then it is also natural that china will suck out of capitalist countries – also just for the bucks 🙂 in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent I believe that higher values have already been mostly lost, which is why the world seems to be shaking of finance: healing!! in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent all that has gone needed to go to make room for something new – eventually something better – such is change in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent have u tasted Robert Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality? Great/useful tools 2 answer "what is better/best" 🙂 http://bit.ly/cx43tR in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent In my yoga studies, when I encountered ishvara-pranidhana (God) – I replaced it with Dynamic Quality – and it fit magically! in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent The gr8 things about Pirsig's work in Lila, is setting aside "highest" and addressing earthly values with excellent resolution! in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent re words and meanings: Enemy http://bit.ly/bhgfOR in reply to gregorylent #
  • You'll have to talk my word 4it4now – but the yoga illustration stick figure is showing 1st signs of movement via drag&drop! #
  • @gregorylent have care! (1)israel exists in state of war; (2) all non-critical movement is banned; (3) has nothing to do with "human rights" in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent most importantly: israel has no idea what is stands for, 2busy with wars 2address that question. Enemy: http://bit.ly/bhgfOR in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent Israel's momentum of "we deserve country because of holocaust" is wearing out, leaving it lost and increasingly violent in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent in some way Israel is probably grateful for the antisemitism still out there, which continues to be internal excuse 4 existence in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent popular line of thought in Israel: "If Israel didn't exist, Jews all over the world would be in grave danger" … dead end! in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent oh and … most journalism in Israel is poor and sensationalist – feeds on violence and induces fear & violence … sad sad sad in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent I'm involved in a project to create an alternative "who to follow" anchored in eastern philosophy … hope 2start testing soon! #
  • @gregorylent thank you for taking the time to look around 🙂 in reply to gregorylent #
  • @ronenk איפה אני יכול למצוא טורנטים/הורדות של מוזיקה ישראלית? #
  • Yoga practice feels like an opportunity for the forces that I am to play together with a curiosity – lets see what we can do together #
  • @gregorylent when the mind settles (and stays put) it is indeed almost as if Yoga does me 🙂 in reply to gregorylent #
  • @gregorylent 🙂 such practices are a rare gift, and in general as the years go by I feel a need to re-examine what is "practice" in reply to gregorylent #
  • "… Einstein came in and said pleasantly, 'Hello, I'm coming to your seminar. But first, where is the tea?'" Richard Feynman #
  • @Shuliji "malfunction" is actually a function too – usually protective 🙂 in reply to Shuliji #
  • off to a morning practice – calling on chanting http://bit.ly/bSopIK to collect my diffused self #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-08-22

n
  • "The truth itself doesn’t have any name on it. To me. Each man has to find this for himself" John Coltrane http://bit.ly/cvLG6x #
  • The degeneracy of Yoga is now further degenerating into Yoga Therapy: http://bit.ly/cvLG6x #
  • just been brough to my attention that I put out an incorrect link – so here it is again – degeneracy of Yoga: http://bit.ly/aANML4 #
  • degenerated Yoga is now further degenerating into an risky illusion called Yoga Therapy: http://bit.ly/aANML4 #
  • The soul's yearning to experience is a precursor to the mind's illusion #
  • If you live in the UK/Bristol area, you may want to know about a rare opportunity to study Vedic & Mantra chanting: http://bit.ly/cKAMY4 #
  • strane night, powerful shifting energies, unsettling, woke up with burdened breathing #
  • Great talk by @spolsky on software&design: making decisions that users don't want or need 2 make: http://bit.ly/cglJrP cc: @raymondpirouz #
  • consumer dharma: by refraining from buying junk u r creating an opportunity for the people who make junk to do something better #
  • you never know what is going to find you in the unknown, but if you don't go there it never will #
  • Dear actual people who may actually b reading my twitter updates … &r into Yoga: please meet my Yoga teacher now on twitter: @YogaStudies #
  • RT A delightful and sweet gift to end a saturday @DominicMiller1 Proud Dad moment… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8UnPsLvtiA #

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Welcome to Pranayama Journal

n

Numerous circumstances have lowered the amount of writing I do here, specifically about Yoga. A lot of my Yoga energy is being diverted to other Yoga activities: I’ve been making an effort to regulate my practices, I’ve been working on an asana illustration and sequence building project and I’ve been supporting my teacher in creating and refining his website.

A new Yoga thread has now graced my life. I am beginning a process, guided by my teachers, of exploration and refinement of Pranayama. It is intended both to address my current being and to be a systemic process of inquiry into potential qualities of Pranayama practices.

I subscribe to my teacher’s view that of all the tools of Yoga, Pranayama is one of the most effective and useful tools for practitioners of this day and age. Yet is it one of the least known and most neglected teachings of Yoga. Pranayama is a subtle and refined practice, it takes consistent long term effort to experience and appreciate – one can almost see it as a teaching of subtlty. Practicing Yoga asana without a consequent Pranayama practice is like cooking a great meal and then not eating it.

Though I have written about the basics of breathing and Pranayama practices I have not yet gotten around to writing about the process of developing a Pranayama practice. Not for lack of wanting, but rather because I couldn’t find a point of origin nor envision a good path that I felt would be useful in this technological medium. I am therefor happy to share and document my personal experiences as this new personal journey of exploration presents new momentum. The Journal can be accessed using the new “Pranayama Journal” content category.

Point of Origin

Over recent months I have managed to create a fairly regular day-to-day existence. On top of it I have managed to stabilize a highly regular morning practice which includes 40-60 minutes of asana practice followed by a Pranayama practice and a short meditation. I am also looking to create a window for a regular evening practice of similar length (though different qualities) followed by an additional variant of Pranayama.

During my first years of quality practice I had easy access to Nadi Sodhana. Yet after a few years my nostrils developed a regular kind of congestion which prevented me from experiencing a quality NS practice. For many years this led to frustration (on numerous levels) – until at some point I came to peace with it. Some years ago I consulted with a medical specialist who said that my nasal tissues (which act as a natural air filter) are slightly inflamed. Her suggestion was an invasive procedure in which these tissues would be trimmed to re-enable a regular flow of air. She could not offer any insight as to what may have cause this. I didn’t go through with the procedure.

The primary Pranayama technique I currently use is therefor Anuloma Ujjayi. I practice with a 10 second inhale with a crown practice formula of [ 1.1.2.0 ] – which translates into [ 10.10.20.0 ]. Generally my practice is 30 breaths long – 5 sequences of 6 breaths each. My observation has been that when qualities of focus, quiet and physical vitality are present – I can comfortably contain this practice, otherwise it may lead to exertion and tension. I usually don’t approach this formula in my morning Pranayama – I do so in the evenings if I feel that I have successfully created the conditions for it.

My overall objective in practice is to maintain a soft, open and faith-filled heart, sustain a sense of health and vitality in the body and a quiet and fear-free mind.

First Steps

The first steps are about observation:

  • Create a month long journal of observation of my Pranayama practices and their relationship to other movements in my life.
  • Replace my evening Pranayama practice for 10 days with a simple, continuous, steady and accessible practice of 6.0.12.0 for 40 breaths and to observe the qualities of breath in this setting.
  • Start oiling my nostrils with almond oil in the mornings.
Posted in Pranayama, Pranayama Journal, Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Design is about Making Good Choices

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When I was closer to the world of creating software I used to be an avid reader of Joel Spolsky. I have since placed more distance between myself and software – though it’s still a part of my life. One of the unique things about Joel is that he comes from a dominant engineering background but also sensitized (in practice and theory) with user experience and design. I have recently, on a whime, begun following Joel on Twitter – and this great lecture appeared today.

Though it is offered in the context of software (which is only mentioned for 2 minutes towards the end of the lcture) – it is a great talk about a wider concept of design. It is an accessible and enteraining talk – and if you are a computer user may be able to relate to the suffering inflicted on you by poor software design (which is abundant).

Oh … and if you noticed Joel mentioning Kathy Sierra and wondered who she is – here is a great talk she gave at a WordCamp SF 2008 and these are the remnants of ber blog.

Enjoy 🙂

Posted in AltEco, Business, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Myself – July 2010: Regular

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July was thankfully uneventful.

The summer heat was not as intense as it could have been – living at this higher altitude in the north means pleasant air throughout most of the day and low humidity. Evenings are a pleasure. Still spending most of the time at home, except for shopping or going out to eat once a week in a neighbouring village.

My practices are finding a new regularity and stability. I was able to gain momentum into experiencing a wholeness and focus in practice. I am practicing almost every morning. Pranayama is also becoming a more regular practice. There have even been days where I’ve been on the mat more than once. I have also tasted again the sweet intensity of an evening practice.

There was one defining event in July. I had the honor and pleasure of helping my teacher migrate from three outdated web-sites to one integrated modern, easy to manage website. The work itself was extremely rewarding (still ongoing) – there was plenty of motivation, excellent and open communication and rewarding results. But even more so was having the opportunity to be in touch with my teacher – it confirmed and reinforced my presence and my direction, it affected the quality of presence in my practices, it gave me an opportunity to gain a deeper perspective into the work and the questions that my teacher faces – a very grounding experience.

Though I can’t place a finger on it, I feel that Andreea and I have created new subtle links between us – that our relationship has been somehow refined. We have separately and together found a way to transform our fears, tensions and uncertainties into appreciation, embracing and growth. There has been a subtle but clear shift in my perception of our relationship and relationships in general. I see better.

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

Yoga Therapy: Degeneracy and Yoga

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Introduction

Yoga-therapy is an up and coming fashion in the world of Yoga and even health-care. I have recently learned that both of my teachers (Ziva Kinrot in Israel, Paul Harvey in UK) are involved in questions around Yoga-therapy and a couple of days ago I listened to an interview with Gary Kraftsow, who represents the same school of teaching in the USA.

They are all interested in preserving quality Yoga teachings and making them accessible, effective and safe to use in general and specifically in therapeutic situations. They do so out of a commitment and responsibility to both Yoga and the societies in which they live.

I believe that an understanding and appreciation of the workings of the mechanism of degeneracy is key to understanding the illusion and misdirection that the so called discipline of Yoga therapy is taking.

Degeneracy

Degeneracy is simply demonstrated in a popular game. The first person in a group of people whispers a message into the ear of another person, and that person whispers it into the ear of another …  and the message moves from one person to another in whispers. By the time the message reaches the last person it has morphed into something else. The original message degenerated into another message. It isn’t good or bad – it’s a natural process of deterioration. If you learn to see it – it is everywhere.

The idea of degeneracy is accessible if you have any spiritual or even religious inclinations. If you have any notion of a “higher power” then you can easily see and experience that everything you are and know is less then that “higher power” – yours is a degenerate existence. You may dedicate your life to experiencing or connecting with it, but at best you may learn to be at peace with your degenerative state.

Degeneracy is also fairly easy to understand intellectually. Smart people know stuff that others don’t. Smart people live according to what they know. Some smart people make an effort to share their knowledge with others. Most smart people who share their knowledge experience, at one time or another, frustration when other people ignore it. Consider someone who works at the American Cancer Society and educates the public about health. This person constantly looks around him and sees smokers and fast-food eaters and has to wonder how come these people, knowing what he knows and has shared with them, continue their unhealthy habits. To him – these habits are degenerative habits (which lead to undeniable biological degeneracy in the form of cancer).

But intellect is also a form of degeneracy. Intellectuals may have a hard time seeing this. There are two reasons for this. One is lack of a better perspective – for lack of a better word I will call it a spiritual perspective – an appreciation and embracing of the unknown (that which exists beyond the intellect). The other is a social ego-pattern that takes offense from being described as a degenerate. This combination of lack of perspective and an ego creates a blind spot. That blind spot is a degeneracy.

Social Degeneracy

A long long time ago the birth of social patterns was a great advancement. It provided a better quality of life – the tasks and chores of day-to-day life became a group effort. Some people were responsible for hunting & gathering food, others for protection, others for caring to the young, etc. I would wager that such social patterns also gave birth almost immediately to potential for self expression and self improvement – I am guessing that an individual who was better at hunting preferred to hunt and got even better at it, while a person who was better at caring for the young gravitated towards that and developed some new and specialized skills of his/her own.

Social patterns have come a long way – and over the years they gave birth to better patterns – intellectual patterns. The sharing of effort amongst individuals created more opportunity for thought and consideration. Some of that thought and consideration eventually turned on the same social patterns from which they were born. People had ideas about better social patterns. This struggle is still dominant in our lives. It is in the nature of social patterns to grant us freedom to challenge them. From an intellectual perspective, social patterns are almost always degenerative. From a social perspective intellectual patterns are threatening. It is an unrelenting battle of patterns to the death.

There is an ever-evolving residue of intellectual patterns in social patterns (smoking once used to symbolize high social status and is now evolving into a symbol of ignorance). Social patterns that deny intellect die out. Social patterns that absorb just the right amount of intellectual patterns survive. There is a good chance that the teachings of the American Cancer Society fall mostly on deaf ears – but that’s all it can do and what it needs to do. A small residue of it’s efforts eventually sinks in to degenerate social patterns.

Yoga Degeneracy

Yoga has spiritual foundations which precede understanding. Yoga has philosophical foundations which are aligned with it’s spiritual foundations. Yoga also has intellectual & scientific foundations which are aligned with it’s philosophical and spiritual foundations. Yoga is a superbly comprehensive and tight system (especially when coupled with Ayurveda). But ultimately, Yoga exists within intellectual and social patterns of our times – including their natural tendency towards degeneracy.

Yoga teachings are transmitted from teacher to student. Like whispers from person to person they are prone to degeneracy. It takes a rare combination of qualities to minimize this degeneracy when it comes to the intricate and subtle teachings of Yoga. When Yoga was transmitted in small intimate circles the degenerative effects may have been residual. But once Yoga was exposed to larger audiences the degenerative effect changed in both quality (according to the social patterns it met) and quantity (proportionately increased).

I wouldn’t be surprised to find that the degeneracy of Yoga occurred closer to its sources and that it had already been tainted when it arrived on the doorsteps of an industrialized and commercialized western world. I am confident that some of the Yoga streams that flowed from the east to the west carried good teachers, good teachings and good intentions. I am also confident that some of the streams were of lesser quality and exploitative intentions – that viewed the west as what the west itself would call an “emerging market”.

The overall flow from east to west has gifted the world with a rare few teachers who have (and continue) to build a bridge between traditional quality teachings and a modern revolutionary western mind-set (though I have a hunch that most of these teachers actually had to go to the east to carry knowledge over on their own shoulders rather then having that knowledge delivered to them by easterners who came to the west). But, inevitably that overall flow included some compromises that have grown into a mature, established and degenerated Yoga industry (the Yoga part has degenerated, the industry has been well kept).

That industry is backed by organizations who try to control the quality of Yoga teachings by regulating and qualifying levels of education. The common level of tuition, established by these “protectors of yoga”, is very low. The USA Yoga Alliance organization requires 200 hours of training to qualify as a Yoga Teacher. The British Wheel of Yoga requires 500 hours of training. The International Yoga Federation also sets the bar at 500 hour training. Neither mention a period of self practice as a requirement. You can have absolutely no experience in Yoga, train for 200 hours (probably over a period of one year, or at most two) and presto – you have the workings of a lucrative machine that manufactures (compromised) Yoga Teachers for a (compromised) lucrative industry.

If you consider the scope of knowledge embodied in the teachings of Yoga – then these numbers are ridiculous. But it isn’t about Yoga, it is about a degenerate (remember – it’s a fact not a judgement) form of social Yoga. It caters to what students want and to so called “Yoga teachers” who can make a living delivering what students want. It isn’t surprising that the core content of these teachings is dominated by the obvious aspects of Yoga – physical postures. Sure people talk about “oneness” and lots of pretty concepts – it’s part of the fashion – but the practice boils down to physicality – a spiritually-flavored gym class.

The irony of it all is that because the larger view of Yoga has been mostly eradicated – the physical aspect has also become shallow and compromised (and in some cases even unhealthy). The whole point of Yoga is not to move the body but to ask who is this me that moves the body? what is this body that moves? what is movement? The practices of Yoga are then seen as an elaborate system through which a teacher guides a student. Strength and flexibility are side-effects.

There is an additional, more subtle expression of deviation from Yoga – it’s harder to spot because it is intellectual. Recent years have seen a growth of research and teachers who specialize in incorporating western anatomical knowledge with Yoga. It’s fascinating to see that the ancient teachings of Yoga are aligned with modern medical knowledge. It’s also useful and important that Yoga Teachers can access this knowledge so that they can work alongside western medically-trained practitioners. But I fear it is becoming an obsessive indulgence – it is easier, more tempting and intellectually (and socially!) rewarding to get into the smart-sounding details of western medicine. But the magic of Yoga isn’t in muscles. tissues and ligaments. Yoga has it’s own advanced, elaborate and integrated view of body & mind. Western medical knowledge is useful but it cannot replace, and is secondary to a deeper knowledge of Yoga.

At Home

It is easy to be critical of things that are far from home and heart. My criticism happens to fall both near and far. My own teaching lineage traces back to Krishnamacharya and his son TKV Desikachar. Krishnamacharya is credited as a resurrector of Yoga in the 20th century, a teacher of the world’s leading teachers, and the adaption of Yoga to modern times. Desikachar diligently continued his fathers legacy and trained many teachers who have brought quality Yoga teachings to the west. My teacher, Paul Harvey, studied extensively (over 20 years) with TKV Desikachar.

I have never met or studied with TKV Desikachar but Paul’s respect for him has, over the years, established his presence in my consciousness. From what I have been able to gather, it seems that TKV Desikachar himself has allowed his teachings to fall into a degenerate social pattern. It is still common social practice in India that a son inherits his fathers legacy – not unlike the western “Father and Sons” business. Though Desikachar has gifted the world with numerous outstanding teachers – it seems that his son, Kausthub Desikachar has inherited a leading role in carrying forward Krishnamacharya’s teachings. I’ve never met Kausthub (and don’t expect to) but his presence has sent out waves of compromised quality and alienation.

I recently encountered this article by Kausthub explaining the concept of viniyoga. I was dismayed to find that the spirit of Krishnamacharya degenerated from a sharing of knowledge to a prohibition on sharing of knowledge. The article (as I suspect all articles on the website) begins with a legal disclaimer:

With a sense of much irony I invite you to read this article by Kausthub – because in it he describes his fathers brave and clear decision to stop using the word viniyoga as a brand of Yoga – an act that demonstrates his belief that there is only one Yoga and that the world of Yoga is better served by finding a shared common ground rather then developing isolated brands.

When I first learned about the commercialized direction Kausthub had chosen I experienced doubt and disappointment. It seemed to taint and question the quality of the teachings that were handed down to me. I have since come to understand and believe that Yoga has no self inherent existence or value and that I am, as were all of my teachers, free and responsible to let it manifest through me in my own way. Observing the degeneracy of Yoga at home has been a sobering lesson.

Social Regulation is not a Substitute for Personal Regulation

This may seem slightly deviating from the main theme – but I do feel it is important to recognize the limitations of social regulation. Social regulation can, at best, set minimum standards. Law, for example, sets the lowest possible standard of social behavior – anything less is punishable. There is also a limit to how much social regulation can actually be enforced – punishment is only possible if a behavior that is illegal is noticed, brought to justice and found guilty. Ultimately it is up to the individuals in a society to make their own choices and shoulder the responsibilities for the consequences of their actions. Some people strive for high moral standards, some challenge the lower limits of the law (only some of those get caught and punished) and some are content floating somewhere in the middle. With all that society has on it’s plate, I doubt Yoga can/will receive serious regulation. I don’t think it should.

I also feel that some qualities missing from modern day society are “shamanic” qualities – qualities that care for and provide direction for the individual spirit within a social setting. Yoga, like many other “alternative sciences” has a spiritual quality to it – Yoga teachers also fill a shamanic role (if you’ve experienced inspiration in the presence of a teacher then you know what I’m talking about, if not, then you probably haven’t experienced a teacher). If you recall that social patterns don’t particularly like change and tend to fight it off, then you may notice that social regulation not only encourages a minimal mediocrity, but it may also try to restrain that which it does not understand. As a result it may try to outlaw some of the highest quality teachers – those that simply do not pass through the filter of official social standards.

One of the most challenging tasks facing an aspiring Yoga practitioner is finding a teacher. It is a process of discovery – often by trial and error. The best teacher for an individual is the best teacher an individual can find. It is rare to start off with a good teacher – how can you tell who is a good teacher? It takes motivation and perseverance to keep looking for a teacher. It takes openness, honesty and confidence to assess a quality of teacher and teachings. It takes discipline and commitment to practice, refine and pursue good and better (in all aspects of life, Yoga included). You have to experience and identify the charlatans on your way to good teachers. Minimal social standards cannot keep the charlatans away and cannot lead you to quality teachers – that is your own personal responsibility.

Yoga Therapy is Misapprehension

I come from a tradition in which Yoga is taught thoroughly, in which physical postures are a small part of a rich canvas, in which science meets art. I come from a tradition in which the application of Yoga is tailored to an individual practitioner (even in group class settings) – there are no set formulas (such as this posture is good for this symptom). I come from a tradition in which caring observation is used by both teacher and student as a preparation for proper action.  I come from a tradition that teaches consistent practice and gradual development. I come from a tradition in which teachings and teachers are required to evolve and continually find relevancy and context.

Yoga, as I was taught, is a rich and adaptable system for well-being. Therapy is one specific application of this system to situations in which disease is prevailing. Therapy isn’t a speciality – it is just an application of Yoga. A properly trained Yoga teacher is fully equipped to handle therapeutic situations. If there were such a thing as a “Yoga Therapist for <choose your illness>” it would be a subset of the skills of being a Yoga Teacher. Healing is just one mode of practice in Yoga.

Of course a 200 hour Yoga teachers training course isn’t enough to encompass Yoga. From that perspective a Yoga Therapist would seem like an advanced title. It is also good for business and social standing – a 200 hours “Yoga Teacher” can now add an additional title of “Yoga Therapist”. But two wrongs don’t make a right. You can’t build a sturdy building on rotten foundations.

Ironically enough – the greatest obstacle to an effective therapeutic application of Yoga isn’t a teacher or teachings (therapeutic situations tend to limit the tools you can use and usually call upon the simpler and more basic tools in the Yoga repertoire). The greatest obstacle to any application of Yoga is the practitioner. Western health-care has created an entrenched mind-set in which a patient expects a doctor to provide an immediate solution to a symptom. Therapeutic application of Yoga places a huge demand of time and faith on people who usually have neither. Therapeutic application of Yoga requires consistent long term practice (my teacher offers a rule of thumb – one month of continuous practice for every year of illness) often with no immediate results – which means you have to have faith in it. This is very different from a mentality of “take a pill to make the illness go away”.

“Yoga Therapy” like the “Yoga Teacher” from which it was born is a superficial fashion statement. It fails to acknowledge the realities of the western-individual and western life-habits, the circumstances of western illness and the true potential of Yoga. It is a degenerated whisper about to degenerate even further.

Take Away the Illusion

Whenever I feel critical of the world I try to remember that the world is doing just fine. It is me that isn’t seeing clearly. I would apply that to the state of Yoga. Everything is as it should be and there is always room for improvement.

The work of  “200 hour teachers” has brought Yoga to the attention of many people – more then ever before. These teachers have been excellent at “giving people what they want”. Now it’s time for a little “Giving them what you want”. The illusion of Yoga has served it’s purpose. It’s now time to replace misapprehension of Yoga with a better perception of Yoga.

If I were a regulating body seeking to advance the state of Yoga I would kill the Yoga Therapy debate and revisit the foundations of Yoga qualifications:

  • I would reset the scales of Yoga Teacher from 200/500 hours to 1000 hours of training and 10 years of personal, guided (by a qualified teacher) practice. This would (provisionally?) revoke “Teacher” status from many (most?) of the teachers operating under the guise of Yoga and would also leave their students wondering. They may become “Teachers in Training”. There is no middle ground – no Yoga Instructors, no Senior Yoga Teachers – just Yoga Teachers – or the term my teachers uses: Yoga Practitioners.
  • I would also reset the scales of Yoga Teachers who are qualified to train other Yoga Teachers. For the sake of simplicity and clarity I would add another 1000 hours of training and 10 additional years of personal practice and teaching experience (for a total of 2000 hours and 20 years of experience). This may also revoke “Teacher Training” status from many (most?) of the teacher training programs. That’s fine. Some new “Teachers in Training” may need to seek new teaching homes to continue their education.
  • I would also suggest that official organizations remove any brand related markings from their official documents. There is only one Yoga and accreditation should acknowledge that and nothing else. But I don’t think the organizations will be bold enough to follow through with and defend this position against the attacks it is sure to draw.

It’s not going to be “good for business” but it will be “good for Yoga” and most importantly “good for Yoga students”. There needs to be something towards which progress is possible for there to be progress. Maybe taking away the satisfaction of “achievement” will lead to further study, new questions and deeper teachings?

Yoga Therapy is a misperception built upon an already misconceived notion of Yoga. Poorer expressions of Yoga have their role and place in society. There probably isn’t much that can be done to stop it – and in the spirit of embracing the world, it isn’t necessary. Effort should be placed on facilitating more meetings between quality Yoga teachers and teachings and students. The current state of Yoga may explain why it once faded out of awareness. That can and should be prevented.

Personal Note

Some months ago I was conversing with a friend who was attempting to offer me guidance as we were discussing my sense of purpose. She suggested that what I do is more then Yoga and that I should consider presenting myself differently. It may be that she was seeing something that I am still not seeing – and I could definitely feel a momentary boost in both my confidence and ego when she suggested this. But my feeling was and remains that I am a indeed a Yoga teacher.

Given the degenerated perception of Yoga in the public eye – I may be taking a hit by labeling myself as a Yoga teacher. But I can’t find any comfort (besides an inflated ego) in compromising my understanding and respect for the teachings of Yoga as I have received them. My work as a Yoga teacher is in many ways about restoring clear perception – I couldn’t do that by first twisting my own perception for the sake of a better social standing.

Inspiration

Posted in inside, Quality, Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life, Yoga Therapy | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-08-15

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  • @ronenk הרגשתי אותך מרגיש אותי הבוקר #
  • @ronenk 🙂 תקשורת בקצב אורגני כזה in reply to ronenk #
  • great news – Javascript Yoga asana illustration engine working: http://bit.ly/dk2HZ4 now to make it interactive #
  • if you want to market via social media think about participating in it rather then utilizing it: http://bit.ly/aRWQ4F #
  • Great how Thuderbird http://bit.ly/4AiCwI reminds me 2 add an attachment if I indicate in my writing that there is one and forget to add it #
  • “A lot of people r doing postures, but r they happy? They can do a beautiful posture,but their life is a big headache.” http://bit.ly/4ywDgz #
  • reminder why you shouldn't be on Facebook (and other online services): http://bit.ly/9t8zWW #

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Best Good

n

“I am [Christian] by birth, or my mother was and father was, and so forth. My early teachings were in the Christian faith. And now, as I look out upon the world, and it’s always been a thing with me to feel that all men know the truth, see? So therefore I have always felt that even though a man was not a Christian, he could know the truth in some way. Or if he was a Christian, he could know the truth, or he could not … The truth itself doesn’t have any name on it. To me. Each man has to find this for himself, I think.

I believe that men are here to grow themselves into the best good that they can be. This is what I want to do, this is my belief: that I’m supposed to grow to the best good hat I Can get to. As I’m going there, becoming this, and if I ever become this, it will just come out of the horn. So whatever I will be, it will be. I’m not interested in trying to say what it will be, I don’t know. But I believe that good will only bring good.”

John Coltrane

Posted in Enjoy, Expanding, inside, Quality | You are welcome to read 2 comments and to add yours

Indulging in Discipline

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This morning:

I didn’t get on the mat to practice.

A part of me wanted to have breakfast.
Another part of me didn’t have an appetite (it’s a voice that appears during the hot summer months).

The part that didn’t have an appetite did want a cup of coffee.
The part that wanted breakfast thought that wasn’t a great idea.

Indulgence?
Discipline?

So I stood and deliberated and ended up having two slices of bread with ghee and then a nice cup of coffee 🙂

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

A Good and Illustrated Samasthiti

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A couple of miscalculations that were surprisingly quickly and easily corrected transformed yesterdays lousy samasthiti into todays perfectly illustrated samasthiti.

Then by just changing 3 numbers – a leg is raised:

And of course – the control points are only optional:

Next up – making this all interactive: making the control points clickable and dragable on the screen and then translating their movement into changes in the posture – which is much easier and more fun to do then calculating and changing numbers.

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

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-08-08

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  • "If my computer can come from China, clothes-India, apple-NewZealand.. shouldn’t it follow that “neighbor” is an ever expanding definition?" #
  • Neighbors: http://bit.ly/9ylEwb #
  • @Efratk אני יכול להמליץ על יוגה-תרפיה – אני מאמין שיש מרחב אפשרויות רחב יותר מאשר בפילאטיס in reply to Efratk #
  • @Efratk תרפיה יכולה רק להיות במסגרת פרטית – וכן יש לי על מי להמליץ – את מוזמנת ליצור קשר באימייל – ואתן לך פרטים iamronen [at] iamronen.com in reply to Efratk #
  • A wonderful demonstration that we are indeed all somehow connected: http://bit.ly/brdhL5 via @raymondpirouz #
  • speak less #
  • I miss playing the Shakuhachi – looking forward to finding space to be with it soon http://bit.ly/aKARxu #
  • I'm looking for a Javascript programmer who knows his/her way around canvas to pursue some interesting yoga posture illustration ideas #
  • blog for yourself: http://bit.ly/a8K2gl #
  • If, like me, u've been wondering what's the difference between HTML elements "cite" and "blockquote": cite=inline; blockquote=block #
  • "it’s a very freeing feeling to be rid of Facebook …like diving in2 a cool pool on a warm day!" http://tinyurl.com/29vfnfb via @sharonls09 #
  • a great and short talk by a "weekday vegetarian" about moderation: http://bit.ly/cbYxmv #
  • amazing how gunshots and military hellicopters blend into the serenity of the countryside in the north of Israel #
  • Preparing for practice takes Yoga off-the-mat: http://bit.ly/cgfXGu #
  • can't believe I am again elbow-deep in code: Javascript, jQuery, SVG … taking Yoga asana to new places 🙂 Yoga is a powerful motivator #
  • if you are starting a business blog you will never find time to write you have to make time: http://bit.ly/aWCbtT #
  • closely examining yoga postures over the past few days got me to appreciate limitations: http://bit.ly/bPES4B #
  • @tonyasurman #csiTO looks like a great space in reply to tonyasurman #
  • I sense a subtle irony & hypocrisy when I encounter posts about protecting net-neutrality that have Facebook share buttons on them #
  • If you are using anything Google (Gmail, wave, webmaster tools, adwords…) AND supporting net-neutrality, take a good look in the mirror #
  • After days of coding – I have an anatomical description of a standing posture in Javascript – now for the horrible work of debugging 🙁 #
  • first report of my ongoing experiment with javascript illustration of Yoga postures: http://bit.ly/agjNZs #

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A Lousy but Illustrated Samasthiti

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I haven’t been writing much over the last few days and probably will be writing less in the coming days (if not beyond that) because I am caught up in an experiment. I though to write a few words about the experiment.

About two weeks ago I began playing with an idea on how to construct on-screen Yoga asana sequences on screen. It worked – you can see a demo and explanation of it here. It uses a relatively small Javascript to replace written asana names in an HTML document with correlated images.  I started using that to document one of my practice sequences (I really should complete the practice I started on – it’s almost complete) – and as I was doing that I began to push the idea further – because I still wasn’t satisfied with the process and the result.

Now I am playing around with some more complex Javascript. I have created a method of describing a two dimensional posture  using anatomical constructs such as limbs, joints and articulations. I spent the last week staring at stick figures and thinking of a way to transform them into code and then writing up some theoretical code based on my conclusions. Tonight I completed a first round of coding – I have gone from theory to a visual result – a messed up Samasthiti:

It’s a completely messed up visual result but it has a few great things going for it: (1) it exists; (2) there is a head; (3) there are 14 limbs (which is the number I was planning for). I hope over the next few days to debug and review some of the calculations that led to this result and to achieve a much better one (granted this result should be pretty easy to top).

If/when this works it will be possible to easily:

  • Create endless variations of two-dimensional postures by simply dragging joints around on the screen.
  • Build a generic quality online asana library that teachers and students can easily tailor for specific needs.
  • Construct practice sequences that can be illustrated for both on screen and printing resolutions.
  • Enable practitioners to maintain a log of their evolving practices.
  • Enable teachers to create and share online sample practices.
  • and much more …

There are still many steps to take until this becomes something usable, but for now a messed up samasthiti is satisfying progress for me 🙂

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

Limitations

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I’ve been playing around with stick-figures that are used to describe Yoga asana (postures). I am experimenting with an application that will make it possible to easily illustrate quality stick figures – and then use those figures to describe practice sequences (here’s an example).

Inevitably this is leading me into an in depth examination of movement. So naturally I gravitated toward looking at movement – and that provided me with a basic model. But the more I looked the more I realized that I should be looking not just at movement – but at limitations as well.

Limitations define the boundaries of movement.

Limitations make it possible to have and hold posture with little effort.

Limitations create unique individuals.

Limitations give us direction.

Limitations sustain us by creating a point of departure from which movement is possible.

Limitations are both fluid and rigid.

Limitations define us and challenge us.

Posted in Asana, Basic Movement, Expanding, inside, Yoga, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to add your comment