“Seeing is like that. Statements are made with great certainty, and one doesn’t know how it happened.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Dear Child of Mine

n

Thank you for visiting with me today. It seems that recently you have been spending more time with Andreea. I think she will be happy and relieved to hear that we are also communicating. She is sometimes saddeded and frustrated that I am not a part of your conversation. She sometimes mistakes it to mean that I am not with her and you.

There is a popular saying that “when you are ready a teacher will appear”. If that is the case then I have already been blessed in this lifetime as I’ve been gifted with teachers and teachings. Yet there is still an unquenched thirst for something more. Sometimes I wonder if this is the nature of thirst – to keep appearing and to keep demanding quenching.

In one of my recent conversations with Andreea you came up. I realized that I was taught that being a parent is a responsibility – that a parent needs to take care of a child. I now believe that to be half a truth at best. Though as a parent I will be responsible for your physical and mental well being, I now recognize that it is you who carries the heavier burden. You come to us as a teacher. You are strong and brave enough to bind yourself to our indulgences and wise enough to show us the way towards something better. I do not have a doubt that you will escape the inevitable chains we will place upon you, I can only hope that we will be able to keep up and follow you.

I now know that it isn’t up to me to “bring you into the world”. It is your call to make, it is your choice, it is your responsibility to carry us forward. I can understand your hesitation. I am not sure I would choose me 🙂 But I can honestly say we are doing the best we can to act with clear and loving intentions in everything we do, including you. This life has so far been dominated by difficult lessons in patience and faith. These are now a great support for us in our relationship with you.

We can feel you near us. You are with us. We trust you to know when the time is right to join us in body. We are looking forward to finally meeting you.

Love
Ronen

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

Preparing for Practice

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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

Moderate

n

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

n

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.

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Neighbors

n

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…”

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Demo: We Are All Connected

n

Thank you Raymond for bringing this to me.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-08-01

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World of War

n

Raymond Pirouz often brings to my attention content about how gaming and virtual worlds create new opportunities for … well … lot’s of things … including education – and he is not alone. When education came up it stuck with me, I met it with resistance … though I couldn’t quite say why … until a few days ago I was browsing through the Bhagavad Gita for another post – and my thoughts on this assimilated.

View

My Yoga teacher recently introduced me to the term “View”. A Yoga practice should have a view – a purpose, context and direction. For example, I live in what I experience to be an insecure and threatening “reality” – the current view of my practice is to prevent growth of fear, sadness and depression by nurturing a soft heart (attitude), a clear mind (perception),  and a healthy body (in that order). This view guides my training – it indicates what tools and practices I should (and shouldn’t) use.

Without a view a practice can be worthless and even damaging. Yoga isn’t good or bad – it is what you bring to it and make of it. This is why Yoga is best served by a teacher – if all you put into it is yourself, all that will come of it is more of yourself. If you add a teacher and teachings into the mix – you may end up with a better “yourself”. It is possible to practice “Yoga” for 20 years without any noticeable effects and it is possible to practice “Yoga” for 6 months with noticeable adverse effects.

An excellent example of how powerful a view can be is given in this excellent talk by Alvin Toffler on Education. American public education started with a clear view: “a system that will create industrial discipline … which meant that you show up on time and do the same work again and again … “. That View still dominates modern education systems despite all the indications that it is failing & dysfunctional and despite all the knowledge that there are better alternatives. That’s how powerful a View can be.

My Doubts

Gaming does not have an educational View. Gaming does not have a social View. If Gaming has any view – it is to be a satisfying and addictive experience that can be translated into profit.

Any qualities that manifest in Gaming settings are natural human traits – Gamers had them before they became Gamers. It may be useful to explore why these traits do not manifest in day-to-day social settings. It is wrong to attribute them to Gaming.

Gaming is an escape in which natural human qualities can appear. Gaming is thriving because there aren’t enough opportunities for these qualities to manifest off-line. Gaming is neither changing gamers nor the world we live in. Gaming is actually inhibiting any offline individual or social improvement – because it is diverting creative energy away from it into an ineffective online space. People can get drunk in a bar and experience relaxation – but that relaxation isn’t carried outside the bar into the tensions of day-to-day life – it only makes it possible to sustain them longer.

Reincarnation

So what does the Bhagavad Gita have to do with all this? If you are not familiar with the Bhagavad Gita – you may want to read this introduction to it. It documents a conversation between Arjuna – the greatest warrior alive and Krishna – an incarnation of God. Arjuna is about to fight a just war against an enemy made up of friends, family and guru’s – and he gets depressed about it. The 18 chapters of the text cover different topics from Vedic philosophy which Krishna presents to Arjuna to help him restore clarity.

The second chapter contains an explanation what “self” is – it describes a View on life – Krishna explains to Arjuna that:

  • 2.13: There is a “body-bearer” which (as surely as a body does die) transfers from one body to another.
  • 2.19: The “body-bearer” cannot be killed and does not kill.
  • 2.20: The “body-bearer” is never born, never dies and therefore never ceases to be. It is eternal.
  • 2.22: The “body-bearer” is an “owner of the body” and changes bodies as a man changes clothing.
  • 2.26: Death is inevitable and so is rebirth

This is essentially reincarnation – one of the first teachings in the text. Having explained this Krishna says to Arjuna:

  • 2.31: Now that you understand that – do your duty “for there is nothing better for a warrior than a righteous battle”.

As I was reading this I realized that reincarnation is one of the key elements of Gaming. You can die and come back again and again. This grants you a freedom of action that otherwise you wouldn’t dare. Now here’s the thing – nothing of this translates into off-line life (or if it does, it leads to recklessness). Gamers live by reincarnation when playing but live life as if “you only live once”.

You don’t have to believe in reincarnation – that just happens to be a dominant example in Gaming. The problem is that too-often real life does not have a view. What do you believe? What is your life about? Has that led to expression of your natural talents and qualities or has it blocked them? Gaming is not a solution for an absence of teachers and teachings – it is only a coverup. You can get drunk every night and forget about your worries, but they will still be there to greet you in the morning.

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

Yoga Asana Practice Sequences meet WordPress & HTML

n

I’ve been gradually looking for better ways to display and communicate asana and practice sequences:

  1. It started with some basic hand drawings which were clumsy because I had to use a marker instead of a fine pen to get a result that would scan and display properly on screen.
  2. I’ve described some asana in depth with photographs and animation.
  3. At one point I started drawing some stick figures.
  4. I then began aggregating stick figures into practice sequences.
  5. Until a few days ago, as I was working on documenting another sequence and I began to think “there has to be a better way to do this”.

Well I’m happy to say that now there is. I’ve used a semantic (predefined) structure of HTML together with some CSS and Javascript that arange and transform the HTML text into a visual practice sequence. It uses a set of images (which can be enriched and modified regardless of the script) which are inserted instead of the posture names (which are actually the file names). You would need a basic understanding of HTML tags to use it.

It’s not as user-friendly as it could be and I have some ideas on how to enhance it and make it easier to use – but implementing that goes beyond my programming skills. So if you’re a WordPress plugin author with experience in Javascript – please do contact me – I’d love to work with you on this.

Here’s an example of how it works. Following is an image of a practice sequence – it is one large JPG file:

Next is a semantic HTML representation of that practice. If you understand Yoga and basic HTML structuring then you should be able to quickly see the underlying structure – I’ve kept it fairly simple:

  1. samasthiti
    breath-inex
    tadasana
    r3
  2. samasthiti
    breath-inex
    tadasana_v-backbend
    r3
  3. samasthiti
    breath-inex
    tadasana
    breath-exin
    uttanasana
    breath-inex
    ardha-uttanasana
    breath-exin
    ardha-uttanasana
    midrange-micromovement-static
    r3

And here’s how that code is rendered with CSS and a Javascript:

If images are not showing – refreshing the page may correct it!

  1. samasthiti
    breath-inex
    tadasana
    r3
  2. samasthiti
    breath-inex
    tadasana_v-backbend
    r3
  3. samasthiti
    breath-inex
    tadasana
    breath-exin
    uttanasana
    breath-inex
    ardha-uttanasana
    midrange-micromovement-static
    r3

The benefits:

  • Easy: very easy and quick authoring of practice sequences.
  • Green: each posture is a very small file (as opposed to larger images with whole practice sequences) – resulting in a small and lightweight page.
  • Adapatable: alternate image sets could be used for different representations of the same practice: stick figures, photos, body illustrations, male, female, etc.
  • Scalable: the script can be configured for automatic scaling/resizing of images.
  • Printable?: I haven’t tested this yet – but I have created high (print resolution) graphics which are scaled down by the script. Zooming in reveals that the images are indeed on high resolution and so I have a feeling they may print well too.

There are still a few issues to tweak and finalize – but is does work 🙂

Thanks: To create this I had to use Javascript which I haven’t used in quite some time – I hate it as a programming language and I love what it can do. I was motivated to use it again (a disturbing and aggravating learning curve) by the inspiration I experienced in helping my teacher move into WordPress. Thank you Paul, again and again, for your inspiring presence.

Note: I haven’t and probably won’t test or maintain this script for Internet Explorer (any version – old or new). It was developed with and works with Mozilla Firefox. If you are a Yoga practitioner and can relate to Svatantra then I recommend you stop using Internet Explorer and start using an open-source browser like Firefox and other open-source applications.

Posted in Asana, Open Source, outside, Practice Sequences, Tech Stuff, Wordpress, Yoga, Yoga & I | You are welcome to add your comment

More Free Internet

n

Snap an image, send it online, share it with your friends on Twitter with a great free service … including the “Hot Russian Girls who can be your Perfect Wife” adertisement you wanted to send out to all of your friends … all free … step right up folks …

and this is just one example …

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Alvin Toffler on Education

n

Excellent video on the roots of education complements of Ken Robinson:

“We cannot reform our education system, we must replace it”

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-07-25

n
  • if you don't write jQuery/Javascript consistently then every small task is like a fucking riddle – though rewarding when you solve it 🙂 #
  • Yoga may help u improve flexibility or increase strength – but more then anything it can teach u how to better use what u already have #
  • after weeks of reading, writing of "the money" post has commenced! #
  • I am old-fashioned, I still use two characters 🙂 to indicate a smile J #
  • some business cards are destined for greatness … scratching, digging out keyboard-dust … #
  • cryptic messages appearing in my consciousness over the last 24 hours #
  • Counter-postures are unsung heroes of Yoga asana practices: http://bit.ly/bIRWIm #
  • "According2 Yoga psychology, 1st awareness is the realisation after the action that we have not acted skilfully enough" http://bit.ly/8XH74v #
  • "When our perceptual systems jump to unfounded conclusions, we see illusions" Galen Rowell http://bit.ly/asfzbb #
  • Arjuna was a warrior. Do you know your dharma? http://bit.ly/d4Uawp #

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Arjuna and Me

n

I’ve been thinking of Arjuna again these past few days. I’ve been thinking of him from a perspective I’ve been locked into from my first introduction to Arjuna (not very original). I’ve written before about the settings of the the Bhagvad Gita and Arjuna, but this time I would like to call upon a great summary by Leonard Cohen:

“There is a beautiful moment in the Bhagavad Gita Arjuna. The general. The great general. He’s standing in his chariot. And all the chariots are readied for war. And across the valley, he sees his opponents. And there he sees not just uncles and aunts and cousins, he sees gurus, he sees teachers that have taught him; and you know how the Indians revere that relationship. He sees them. And Krishna, one of the expressions of the deity, says to him, “you’ll never untangle the circumstances that brought you to this moment. You’re a warrior. Arise now, mighty warrior.” With the full understanding, that they’ve already been killed, and so have you. “This is just a play. This is my will. You’re caught up in the circumstances that I determine for you. That you did not determine for yourself. So, arise, you’re a noble warrior. Embrace your destiny, your fate, and stand up and do your duty.”

When I was introduced to Arjuna’s story I felt lost – so in a way I was envious of Arjuna. Sure he had a difficult situation to resolve – but the resolution was right under his nose. Arjuna had a duty, a clear dharma – he was a warrior – all he had to do was follow that track wherever it took him.

2.31: Seeing your righteous duty you should not tremble, for there is nothing better for a warrior than a righteous battle.
2.32: Happy are the warriors who find such a battle that has come of it’s own momentum.

(Translation by Swami Rama)

What was my duty? What path was I supposed to follow? What was my purpose? This was some years ago and though I feel I’ve come a long way since then these questions resurface.

  • It comes up mostly when I experience a volatile combination of free time and shortage of money.
  • I am more vulnerable to it when I go from being engaged with others to being alone again.
  • It has strong vibrations of “survival” thinking that was ingrained into me.
  • I am not trying to answer it anymore.
  • It disturbs me.
  • Thinking about it raises self-doubt.
  • Living with it keeps me vigilant.
  • It reminds me to revisit my actions and the vibrations they have left in their wake inside me.
  • It doesn’t immobilize me (well at least not for long :).
  • It does keep me in the dark about what I should do next (but not for long :).
  • It reminds me to appreciate the space in between and to practice surrender.
  • It reminds me to stay in tune and open to what may come next.
  • If I wait patiently it usually fades away on its own.

Today, right now, there’s a part of me that wishes for a clear and specific understanding, one that would enable to create more engagement with the world. One that I could both carry with me close to my heart and communicate to others. It’s there, but it’s elusive.

I couldn’t find (though it’s out there somewhere) a video with the above quote from Leonard Cohen. I did come across this one:

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

Myself – June 2010: Movement

n

June was a better month. I barely left the house and this, I believe, resulted in settled emotions and an overall sense of consistency. I felt like doing and I did … quite a lot actually:

  • I launched oDharma – after much deliberation I found and was able to communicate a focus for my website work: Purpose.
  • A new design was born for this website.
  • A new design was born fot Feminitate.
  • A few more website projects began to move … at one point I counted 7 active projects … quite a lot of movement.

I spent more time practicing on-the-mat. I was able to sustain longer and fuller practices. I felt a welcome return to my body. I formed a new relationship with Savasana which I had been purposefully avoiding for a long time.

A new direction opened up for Andreea & I in our shared-consciousness. It began when Andreea again brought up, during one of our morning coffee talks, her wish to learn and practice birthing (in additional to her being a doula). As I listened to her something moved in me and a new option appeared before us and excited us. The initial excitement has since settled and I am looking forward to seeing where this goes on a more balanced and grounded energy.

There were no defining events (other then website) in this month – exactly as I had hoped it would be.

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How We See

n

Following is a quote by Galen Rowell from his book Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape:

“On my way out of the mountains, I saw the most intense color I had ever seen. A blanket of green shocked my eyes more than the brightest sunset or the bluest sky. Hanging meadows next to the glacier upon which I was walking emanated the verdant color of life with incredible brilliance. My companions went ahead while I got out my  camera and shot half a roll of various exposures and compositions. I felt tremendous exhilaration as I integrated patches of vivid color with patterns in the ice below, certain that one of these images would be among the best of my entire career.

Back in the states I was disappointed that the color in my slides bore no resemblance to what I had seen with my own eyes. The meadows in my picture were quite drab, and the images even had an overall blue-gray pallor caused by the veil of rain.

I was deeply embarrassed to admit that the vivid green had been only in my mind. The physics of light couldn’t explain what I saw. For months I had lived without seeing green. My world had been almost entirely blue and white: snow, ice, and sky at very high elevations. To my green-deprived brain the first sight of meadows muted by rain had brought forth verdant images of emeralds, oceans, fresh vegetables, and home.

At the time I had absolutely no inkling that my perception was faulty. Since then I’ve learned that that type of illusion is normal. We generally see what we are prepared to see. When our perceptual systems jump to unfounded conclusions, we see illusions… “

Galen Rowell

When I remembered this a couple of days ago I began contemplating if there are things my consciousness experiences in excess, or things my consciousness is lacking in experience – and how these may be affecting my view of the world.

Then, earlier this morning my teacher published an article titled Learning from Life – in which he highlights the idea that most learning occurs in hindsight:

“It is inevitable that our personal buttons, or old unhelpful and often repressed memories, will be pushed by ourselves, though we might project it onto others with such neat phrases as “look what you made me do!”  …  So rather than the ideal of foresight with skillful responses being in place and in readiness whatever the situation, we have the more realistic possibility of progressive levels of learning options starting with hindsight as our guide for insight.”

Paul Harvey

This article was with me as I was searching through Mountain Light to quote Galen Rowell. Then I noticed this next paragraph and decided to include it here too:

“A photographer may not have control over his individual perceptions, but he does indeed have control over what he chooses to photograph. Reading illusions is just as much a part of reading natural light as reading really physical phenomena. I will probably never repeat my mistake with the green meadow because I studied my results, went back in the field, and learned to predict when and how such faulty perceptions occur. I now know how to make certain illusions work for me, and how to obtain by natural methods, without manipulation, that illusory shade of green I once only imagined.”

Galen Rowell

Enjoy 🙂

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Pratikriyasana: Counter Postures

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Physical postures used in asana practices usually involve placing the body in unusual (compared to the day-to-day demands) positions. Though much attention is placed on the physical aspects, asana and practice sequences can (be designed) to have physical, mental, emotional and energetic effects.

Counter postures are in some ways “resting postures” – they are practiced after asana sequences and have opposite qualities. They reduce excessive effects so that they don’t carry over from one sequence to another. They give us an opportunity to approach all parts of a practice with a consistent freshness and readiness. They make it possible to gradually build up intensity throughout a practice without wearing ourselves down or tiring along the way.

Opposite Qualities

Here are some example of opposing practice qualities:

  1. Direction – counter postures will usually be in an opposite direction. For example after a sequence of back bends you may use a counter-posture that includes forward bending (and vice versa).
  2. Soft – counter postures are usually performed with less intensity then the postures they are countering.
  3. Specific – counter postures can be directed at specific areas that may or are likely to carry tension or excess effort (while primary postures tend to involve many areas if not the entire body). The lower back is a common example of areas that may require caring attention. Another typical example, more common amongst men then women,  are the shoulders and shoulder-blades.
  4. Dynamic & Static – if the counter posture is compensating for a dynamic sequence then it needs to be static (and vice versa).
  5. Symmetry – counter postures will usually be symmetrical so that effort is distributed equally between the two sides of the body (this is especially true after asymmetrical posture – where restoring symmetry is a key role of counter postures).

Adding Counter Postures to a Practice Sequence

Introducing counter-postures in a practice sequence is part of the art of sequence building and is best done on an individual basis. However here are some useful ideas to keep in mind:

  1. Personalized – though there are postures that are well known and frequently used as counter-postures, it is useful to remember that what constitutes a posture or a counter posture can vary amongst practitioners and practice settings. An intense posture for one practitioner may be a counter-posture for another. A posture may be practiced as a primary posture in a morning-practice (when the body is still stiff) and then as a counter-posture in an evening practice (when the body is more flexible and dynamic).
  2. Counter-POSTURES –  are first and foremost postures. The same posture can be included in a practice sequence more then once once as both a primary-posture and a counter-posture.
  3. Counter First –  a practitioner should be able to perform counter-postures before attempting the postures for which they compensate. This is an invaluable lesson for safe and effective practice (on-the-mat and off-the-mat) If you want to practice a certain posture – first make sure you can do it’s counter-postures.
  4. Single/Plural – a counter-practice may be used after a single asana or after a sequence of asanas. A counter-practice may also include a single counter-posture or a sequence of counter-postures – depending on the length and intensity of the sequence it is compensating for and on the needs of the practitioner.
  5. Duration – a counter-posture (or sequence) needs to be approximately one-third the number of breaths of the practice it is compensating for. For example, if a practice sequence is 18 breaths long, it’s counter-sequence should be 6 breaths long. This is assuming that breathing is incorporated into your asana practice.
  6. Preparation & Transition – counter-postures can also be used for gradually preparing and building up to more demanding asana and for transitions between asana sequences.
  7. Practice Sequence – counter-postures can be used to create mild and accessible practice sequences –here is an example of one such sequence.

Following are a few basic example of counter-postures in context.

Example1: Standing Forward Bends

A standing sequence which combines symmetrical and asymmetrical standing forward bending postures is followed by Cakravakasana:

Some of the “counter” qualities are:

  • It includes back-bends (opposite direction to the forward bends in the practice).
  • A stable kneeling position which anchors the legs and feet in fixed positions.
  • Which makes it possible to focus on movement primarily in and throughout the spine.
  • Soft movement (very little weight bearing on the back, nor on the arms – if done properly).
  • It has both mild dynamic and static qualities.

Example2: Leg Lifts

A lying sequence focused on single and double leg lifts (which, if you look carefully, have forward bending qualities) is followed by Dvipada Pitham:

Some of the “counter” qualities are:

  • It includes back-bends – opposite direction to the dominant forward bends in the practice.
  • It provides knee movement to counter the static knee position in the practice .
  • It provides neck movement to counter the static knee position in the practice.
  • It provides upper-back movement to counter the static upper back position in the practice.
  • It provides weight-bearing movement in the legs to counter the gravity-pulling effects in the practice.

If, for example, each asana in the sequence was performed 4 times: [ 4 x Right + 4 x Left + 4 x Both = 12 breaths ] – then the counter posture should be repeated 4 to 6 times.

Example3: Back Bends

A back-bending practice sequence is followed by Apanasana:

Some of the “counter” qualities are:

  • It anchors the spine (especially the upper back and shoulders) to the floor.
  • It provides gentle forward-bending quality in the lower back to counter to the intense back bending efforts of the practice.
  • It provides gentle hip-movement to counter the static hip position in the practice.
  • It utilizes gravity instead of the resistance to it required by the practice.
  • It gently compresses the abdomen (apana) to counter the expansion in the chest (prana) during the practice.

If, for example, each asana in the sequence was performed 4 times: [ 4x 4 variations = 16 breaths ] – then the counter posture should be repeated 6 to 8 times.

Example4: Extensive Sitting

The physical qualities of extended seated practices such as Pranayama or Meditation are often overlooked – yet they too require counter-postures. In this case two relatively dynamic postures counter the static seated position:

Some of the “counter” qualities are:

  • It provides stretching movement in the extremities – arms and legs.
  • It provides gentle and relaxing movement in the lower back.
  • It provides long range movement in the shoulders.
  • It provides movement in the hips.
  • It provides movement in the neck.
  • It you’ve been practicing pranayama it also provides an opportunity for gentle ujjayi breathing supported by opening movement.

More about this sequence here.

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4 Days and Yoga

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Thursday

I had a short morning practice – standing sequence with mostly forward bends. I Spent the day working on finishing touches on YogaStudies. In the evening I did a second practice. It was one of those rare practices – preparing for and practicing maha-mudhra and then a quality pranayma practice. These are the words I wrote down after the practice

“Liquid electricity, peaceful vitality, physical surrender”

Later I completed the launch sequence for YogaStudies.

Friday

I woke up very early at 3am and sleep was lost on me. Enjoyed a few hours of writing. I then did a complete morning practice – felt rejuvenated. By midday I was starting to feel lost and agitated. My appetite was off and everything seemed to shift in unexpected ways. At around 21:00 we left to see a musical show (we rarely go out – this was an opportunity as a friend of mine is in the show and they came to perform not far from where we live). We got back home just pas 01:00 am – I had been up for 22 hours.

Saturday

Woke up in the early morning hours for an excuciatingly long pee. Went back to bed and managed to find rest until just past 09:00 am. The day went by pleasantly enough – though not very focused – no inclination or energy for practice.

Sunday (today)

Woke up around my usual hour ~ 06:00am. Went to practice, despite feeling heavy, but heaviness took over. I did a short standing sequence then decided to gift my body with a nice Savasana followed by a meditative journey throughout the body. There’s something happening in the left side of my body. I could sense and connect breath to most places of my body. Yet I couldn’t connect with the left side of my lower back – it felt like a black hole from which sensation cannot escape. There is also a tightness in my left shoulder – but not as “dark” as the lower back area.

I Got up feeling slightly refreshed … looking forward to seeing what the day may bring 🙂

Observation

I have a consistent and simple life routine. A Quality practice is one of the most rewarding experiences available to me. When I deviate from my simple routine I get lost – my energy dissipates, I feel heavy and need to wait patiently for it to settle and reassimilate.

Sometimes I think I have a limited experience of life – but most of the time I am greatful for the subtle qualities & richness I have learned to experience and appreciate. There are very few things outside of my intimate bubble that afford me the experience of a Quality practice – so I tend to stay inside my intimate bubble.

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

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-07-18

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Some Things Are Once in a Lifetime

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Some things or all things?

What is health-care?

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Drying Season is Open

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Last year I was an amateur at drying leaves, this is year I am still an amateur – but I’ve picked up some local wisdom – so I’m doing this a bit differently. This year I’ve started a bit earlier – getting ahead of the sun and of little creatures with who we share some of our plants. I’ve also gone from hanging thing outside to laying them out inside in a less extreme environment. I also wash them before setting them to dry.

It started today because I’ve spent more time then I usually do (which is a lot anyway) on the computer working on a wonderful website project (more on that soon I hope). I finished my work for today and then wanted to do my evening Yoga practice – but my mind was really all over the place and my energy nervous. So I sat down to watch an episode of Flash Forward (we are late to the game as we live without any broadcast media) – and that was a huge mistake – my energy completely crashed and all I wanted to do was sleep. So it was either surrender or see what I can do. I wondered around pointlessly for a few minutes looking for a way out of the trap I walked into …  that’s when drying season opened 🙂

I started with what little mint leaves have grown for us. What they lack for in quantity and size they make for in aroma. Amazing! They will be an excellent decorating-flavor in the tea mix.

Next up was the primary drying objective for this evening – the overflowing lemongrass. I didn’t get a shot of it full grown this time (maybe it will grow again this season and I’ll get that image) – but here’s a sink full of it:

And that’s what was set to dry – that flat pile is about 1 meter long and half a meter wide. We still have a few bags leftover from last season – but I think we’ll indulge in some fresh ones first 🙂

It is so amazing to watch these things grow every year – over and over again – a direct and natural experience of abundance.

Now off to practice 🙂

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