“A hunter that is worth his salt does not catch game because he sets his traps, or because he knows the hunting routines of his prey, but because he himself has no routines. This is his advantage. He is not at all like the animals he is after, fixed by heavy routines and predictable quirks; he is free, fluid, unpredictable.”
Carlos Castaneda

Journey to Ixtlan

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-12-13

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

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Yoga & Breath – Directional Breathing & Movement

n

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

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

directionalmovement_breath

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

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

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

directionalmovement_arms

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

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

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

City Images

n

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

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

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

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

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

Image6: Dodging cars with seemingly violent intentions.

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

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

Image9: Glass doors, another promising logo.

Image10: Confusing winding corridors.

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

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

Image13: I am talking. Funny.

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

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

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

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

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

Image19: We are hugging.

Image20: He is vital, typing with two fingers.

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

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

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

Image24: I know this junction. Almost home.

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

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

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

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

Image29: He is holding his baby daughter.

Image30: We embrace. She pulls away.

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

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

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

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

Image35: Nipples and markers.

Image36: Just plain dumb.

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

Image38: Too much bread.

Image39: Those two girls are listening to me.

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

Image41: She still isn’t here.

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

Pranayama Exposes Beyond Mind

n

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

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

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

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

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

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

Soft Movement

n

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Corner

n

I’ve been switching between listening to 2 Charlie Parker CD’s for over a week , listening to them over and over. Today’s coffee was a companion to the thick booklet included in the small box-set. It’s a rather tedious and unoriginal format so I was skipping through it when I came across this:

Broadway north from 38th St.

Image via Wikipedia

… a new jazz club opened on Broadway… it was dedicated to presenting bepop performances and was named for bop’s reigning king: Charlie “Bird” Parker. The club was Birdland… would become a legend throughout the 50’s … ans as it’s large neon sign proclaimed, Birdland would become “The Jazz Corner of the World”.

Not center. Corner!

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

Ubuntu/Kubuntu Grub Load Error

n

If you had an installation of Ubuntu or Kubuntu and now it won’t load and all you are left with is something like “sh: grub>” – DON’T PANIC! It’s happened to me twice before (which caused me to create a fresh installation), but this time I took some more time to search and I found a solution.

Why did this happen? There is a good chance that Ubuntu installed some updates. One of those updates was probably to a program called Grub. This is a small program that is one of the first to run when you start your computer. It’s job is to properly load the underlying Linux operating system (which then loads the graphical usual interface you were expecting). It seems that when Grub is updated – something in it’s configuration gets messed up which is why you are frantically searching for a solution.

First, take a deep breath, you probably haven’t lost any information and you may be minutes away from having your familiar operating system restored. There are two steps to this process: (1) manually starting your operating system from within the Grub program; (2) manually reconfiguring to automatically update it’s configuration to start properly.

There is one nice feature and trick you will need to do this process. When you type in commands in the command-line, and those commands need to refer to a file, the key “tab” does an auto-complete. For example: suppose you have a file that starts with the letters “myfile…” stored in a folder called “/myfolder”. If you type “/myfolder/myfile” and then click tab it will automatically find the file and complete the rest of it’s name. If it finds more then one file – it will show you a list of options which match – and you can then manually enter it.

Step1: Manually Starting the Operating System

In this process you will need to enter numerous commands at the command line. The actual commands are marked in bold, optional commands are marked in italics, the rest of the text is complimentary comments & explanations.

NTFS is a method for organizing files on your hard drive, and we need to load a module that will be able to read it by entering:

insmod ntfs

Next we need to tell the program where the operating system can be found – this is a reference to a partition on a hard drive. If, like me, you are working with a WUBI installation (I am running Kubuntu 9.10 on a computer with one hard drive and one partition) then Ubuntu is on the first hard driver’s second partition. Numbering starts at 0 – so the first hard drive is “hd0” and the second partition is “1” and the command you need to type is:

set root=(hd0,1)

In any other configuration you need to figure out which hard drive and which partition contains the Ubuntu installation. You can type an ls command which will show you what hard drives and partitions are currently available.

I am not sure what these two command do, but it seems they create some kind of temporary space for the operating system to load:

loopback loop0 /ubuntu/disks/root.disk
set root=(loop0)

In this next step you are going to need to use the auto-complete feature mentioned above. You will need to enter this command in two steps:
type in: linux /boot/vmlinuz
then press tab and you will probably be shown a number of options. I found “vmlinuz-2.6.31-14-generic”, “vmlinuz-2.6.31-15-generic”, “vmlinuz-2.6.31-16-generic”. I tried to the latest version, the one labeled “16”, but that didn’t work. The one labeled “15” did work for me. So you may also have to try and see what works for you. Complete the command(for example):

linux /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.31-15-generic root=/dev/sda1 loop=/ubuntu/disks/root.disk ro

Please note that “sda1” is another way of referring to the first hard drive “a” and second partition “1” (zero is the first partition). You may need to replace this with a reference to your installed partition.

In this next step you will again be using the auto-complete feature to create a command like this:

initrd /boot/initrd.img-2.6.31-15-generic

I believe that the the numbers, which indicate a version of the linux kernel, should match those entered in the previous command.

Finally, give the command to boot the operating system (this will probably cause the screen to scroll with lots of information – which is a good sign that indicates that the system is indeed loading):
boot

Step2: Updating the Grub Configuration

If you are experiencing relief – that’s great and it means you only have one more thing to do. This is to make sure that the next time you reboot your computer it will be able to load automatically. You will need to open a terminal window and type in the following command:

sudo update-grub

If you experience other problems you may want to continue browsing and reading this thread – which will probably continue to evolve and update as more people encounter this problem in different settings and variations. Good luck 🙂

# Add the ntfs module
insmod ntfs
# Set root (normally would be sda1, or hd0,1 Change as necessary
set root=(hd0,1)
loopback loop0 /ubuntu/disks/root.disk

# Yes, set root for a second time. I don’t know why…
set root=(loop0)
# Set the kernel. You can (and should) use Tab (twice) to complete entries such as the kernel when possible – type vml and then TAB twice and it will autocomplete to the point where there are two possibilities. Tab complete ensures the path/file names as typed exist. Additionally, if you suspect the new kernel is the problem, you might want to select an earlier one. vmlinuz…. should be a complete kernel entry such as “vmlinuz-2.6.31-15-generic-pae” *
linux /boot/vmlinuz…. root=/dev/sda1 loop=/ubuntu/disks/root.disk ro
# Set the initrd image – complete or tab to get the full name Example: “/boot/initrd.img-2.6.31-15-generic-pae”
initrd /boot/initrd/initrd.img…
# Boot.
boot
Posted in outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-12-06

n
  • correct effort: http://bit.ly/8dpgzD #
  • practicing #yoga #asana with coordinated breathing can be confusing at 1st, when to inhale&exhale: http://bit.ly/7bf6dv #
  • well-meaning but deluded programmer: "Scripting enables a much wider group…to customize their use of Twitter" http://bit.ly/8f8wjn #
  • I just generated a #TweetCloud out of a year of my tweets. Top three words: time, people, thank – http://w33.us/3y17 #
  • Berry, our parakeet is sitting on my shoulder picking at my hair… is this the good life or what? #
  • just added a WordPress plugin http://bit.ly/6h4gJm that lists and gives credit to WordPress plugin authors – like this: http://bit.ly/7nfncd #
  • powerful unrelenting winds and a clear blue sky #
  • yoga should be personal, adapted, gradual and practiced: http://bit.ly/5fLMcX (with another chant recording) #
  • Berry (parakeet) has a "come here I want to tell u something" gesture to get me closer so he can climb my shoulder, sometimes it works! #
  • [warning: technical #Yoga talk inside] #Pranayama exposes self inhibiting thoughts: http://bit.ly/6AvKFo #
  • @raymondpirouz could "research buzz about loneliness" be foreplay to "revolutionary treatments" for making big $$$? in reply to raymondpirouz #
  • when you are flowing in your dharma life is simultaneously familiar and surprising #
  • @zzgavin I feel u! I'm cleaning kitchen with Charlie Parker – find a loving space (they r all around) to place your attention for a sec 🙂 in reply to zzgavin #
  • RT @erangalperin: continuity – nice spatial puzzle game http://www.continuitygame.com/ #
  • @ronenk צבעוני ורטוב? רי: קוניאק in reply to ronenk #
  • #yoga #asana – bend your knees to stretch your back: http://bit.ly/6jBjMT #
  • amazed at how quickly&easily people take up Google's "give us FREE access to everything you do" offers, can't you see how messed up this is? #
  • RT indeed 🙂 more on that in the coming days 🙂 @acip: working on cool incoming project with @iamronen hint: twitter related 😉 #
  • @seishindojo and then the person ur talking to can't tolerate trugh? what do you do? in reply to seishindojo #

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Bend Your Knees

n

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

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

bendknees_standing

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

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

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

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

Pranayama Exposes Mind

n

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note: A few days after writing this came this

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

Yoga Sutra – Chapter 3 Sutra 6

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

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

Translation by TKV Desikachar

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

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

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

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

TKV Desikachar (from The Heart of Yoga)

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

click to play

yogena yogo jnatavyo
Only through Yoga, Yoga is known

yogo yogat pravartate
Only through Yoga, Yoga progresses

yo prama tastu yogena
One who is patient with Yoga

sa yoge ramate ciram
Enjoys the fruits for a long time

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

Inhale Open Exhale Close

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

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

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

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

apanasana

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

cakravakasana

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

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

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

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

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-11-29

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

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

Correct Effort in Yoga Asana

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When practicing Asana how do you know how far you can go? How can you approaching your limits without pushing or crossing them? How can you practice without injuring yourself (I’ve heard way to many stories of unjustified Yoga injuries)? Have a quick look at some of the posture descriptions and see what is one of the underlying threads – it’s there in plain sight!

Your breath is your most intimate Yoga teacher – it is a pure reflection of you and only you can hear what it has to say. Your breath reflects your efforts, your pains, your feelings, your focus, etc. It quickly reflects changes even in the unconscious mind. Ujjayi breathing gives your breath a voice – the hissing sound it creates is a direct channel of information at your service.

Listening to your breath

Incorporate Ujjayi breathing into your physical practice. First practice it in a neutral body position. Get familiar with the hissing sound of the breath in this neutral position. When you use it in asana it may change. When effort increases the breath usually become shorter and the hissing sound will become louder and more coarse.

When your Ujjayi breath becomes erratic and inconsistent you can no longer contain the practice you are doing. You are over-doing. But, and this is a very interesting experience, when you think you can’t go any further but your Ujjayi breathing is steady and calm you can continue and will be able to contain additional effort. Experiencing this for the first time can be an eye-opener. Often times, the mind experiences inhibition before the body and the breath do – the mind puts on the breaks expecting a collision that hasn’t and may never occur.

Processing the information

Assuming your breath-teacher is whispering in your ear (or throat in this case) – you need to have time to assimilate the information. You need to be still. One way to create this space is by enhancing your relationship with Ujjayi breathing by placing the movement inside the breath. This will create a space of stillness between every inhale and exhale. Each such junction is a space of transformation – in which one part of the breath is completed and another begins – the direction of breathing is reversed. If tensions have accumulated in your practice, they will be revealed in these junctions. If you’ve pushed too far on the inhale you may find it difficult to begin a soft exhale. If you’ve pushed too far on the exhale you may find that your inhale is sudden and that you are gulping up air to compensate for over-exertion.

Acting on the information

Now that you have this wealth of information what can you do with it? Change your practice. Make this round your last, do a softer variation of the posture, change your focus for the posture, stay longer, stretch further, stop and let the breath settle – there are many things you can do. You can make such changes tomorrow or next week (the next time you practice) but you can also make them right now.

To do this you will need more refinement and more space to change your intentions. One way to do this is to place the movement inside the breath and the breath inside your intentions. This creates a space and time in which both the body and the breath are still. Only attention continues to move and it can make choices that alter the practice.

When to begin?

An asana practice is usually made up of sequences of postures. A question you should ask yourself before any sequence and any asana is “am I ready?”. You should approach every single posture with readiness in the body, in the mind and in the heart. Luckily the breath provides a concise and integrated view of the entire system. My teacher has summed this up in a wonderfully simple observation: you are ready when the breath is no longer demanding, instead it is at your service.

Off-the-mat

We don’t often bend and twist into ridiculous-looking postures when we are away from the mat – at the office, walking down the street, socializing. We do make many transitions during the day and we do immerse ourselves in activities that require effort and focus. It is not the postures of Yoga that we take with us off-the-mat. It is the qualities of attention and practice that continue to move inside us and manifest off-the-mat.

Take time to arrive. Take time to see if you know what you intend to do, if the conditions are right and if you are prepared. Take time to observe yourself in action. Take time to make adjustments when adjustments need to be made. When meeting other people take time to observe them arriving and to making a connection. Create spaces.

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

Yoga Asana: Cakravakasana

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Cakravakasana (read as Chakravakasana) is the cat-posture. This simple-looking posture took me years to appreciate and perform adequately. though the range of motion is small, it is a very dynamic posture because it has a potential to move the entire spine. As you inhale hollow the back, arching it downward, as you exhale round the back – arching it upward. In the end it’s that simple, but there’s more then meets the naked eye.

cakravakasana

Let’s look at one possible starting position – with a rounded back. Make sure that your hips are located behind the knees – far enough so that your hands are placed very lightly on the floor, with almost no weight on them. You can test this by trying to lift your arms – you should be able to lift them without falling forward. Your arms should be very soft – starting from the shoulders, elbows and through to the hands on the floor. The back should be stretched evenly – as if you were trying to equally separate all the vertebrae from one another.

cakravakasana_placement2

From this position (downward facing cat) begin inhaling as you begin to move your back, working from the upper back gradually towards the hips – moving each area of the back separately (instead of moving the entire back all at once). First there should be movement in the shoulders and upper back expanding and opening the chest, then the mid-back, the lower back and finally the hips roll out. The neck can be slightly stretched and raised at the end of the movement. Which brings us to upward facing cat.

cakravakasana_placement1Upward facing cat has an opposite form in the back, but similar qualities in the periphery. The arms should still be soft from shoulders to the hands. The hips should still be behind the knees, though slightly forward with more weight placed on the hands (weight should be distributed equally between the arms and the legs).

From this position begin exhaling and this time the movement is in the opposite direction, from the hips to the upper back. First the hips should roll back, then the lower back begins to round, then the mid-back and finally the upper back and all the way to the neck – as the head gets tucked back in as you arrive at downward facing cat again.

Have another look at the animation at the beginning of this post and try to identify some of the subtle aspects. Cakravakasana is an opportunity to experiment and experience movement throughout the entire back. It is preferable to get a little movement in many placed instead of a lot of movement in only a few places. It is a posture of subtle discovery.

Posted in Asana, Yoga | You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours

Searching

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I was a guest in Shahar’s studio this week. I attended a performance practice session – students prepared for short performances. I believe that for most of them it was a first time – and they all chose to do solo performances. After the performances, as we were sitting in a circle talking about the experiences, this image came to me. I sensed that during most of the performances there were two recurring themes: (1) there was content – a flow of creative information; (2) there was a lot of searching.

stopsearching_thin

It was interesting that both of these qualities were present regardless of the quality or quantity of creative content. Searching was happening both when there was a little/specific content and much/diverse content.

stopsearching_thick

There is something about searching that seems to distract from the present. It seems to be an action of looking away – diverting attention from what is present to what may soon come, or what we wish was there. In the performances it manifested as fleeting moments in which there was a connection – as if the searching movement was dancing around and only occasionally meeting what was present.

This sent me back to an idea of “Grazing” that came up during the first Orchard Labs project. The idea of Grazing offers a different perspective on searching – it makes searching an event & material in it’s own right. Grazing is finding searching! Grazing collects and focuses movement and brings it into the present – it establishes a connection to the creative flow of materials that is always there.

stopsearching_graze

Maybe this is one aspect of practice? Slipping in and out of this connection which changes and evolves over time? Recalling my diverse experiences in working with Shahar (as a participant and an observer) – I have a feeling that there is another magical aspect of this dynamic process. It seems that when a connection is formed, the field of creative materials actually expands. When this happens the quality of searching transforms into a quality of choosing. Where there was once a trickle that was hard to find there is now an overwhelming flood.

stopsearching_expand

I have felt this with the camera in hand:

  • I have experienced resistance to raising the camera when witnessing a performer searching.
  • I have experienced curiosity emerging inside me when witnessing a performer’s searching turn into grazing and specific materials begin to appear. For me these are special moments – they are almost prophetic – there is a buzz in the air that tells me that magic is about to happen.
  • I have experienced peace when witnessing a performer completely immersed in a creative flow. These moments are so special to witness – that I have much less interest in seeing the resulting images then experiencing them.
  • I have experienced bliss – when partaking in this process and feeling that it is not me that is taking the images – that I am an instrument in the hands of a higher force. That I am no longer searching for or connected to this creative flow, but rather that I exist in it and it is guiding me, moving my body, changing focus and releasing the shutter.
Posted in Photography | You are welcome to add your comment

Randy

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My name is Ronen Hirsch – I don’t often feel a need to cite it – but it is a key element of this recollection.

About 10 years ago I went to visit Los Angeles, I lived there for 5 years as a child and hadn’t been to visit for almost 15 years. I went for two weeks and stayed with my aunt and uncle (and also attended Lauren’s marriage ceremony). I was in the midst of a transition (seems to be the story of my life) and taking a step back before making a change.

During the visit my aunt took me on a day trip which included a stop at Ojai – a charming little town north of LA. She (my aunt) wanted to take me to some kind of “spiritual” experience – a healing treatment or something like that. At the time I was not as open and in tune as I am today – and though I wasn’t against it, I also wasn’t looking forward to it.

When we arrived at Ojai we wondered around what looked like the town center. We drifted into one of those “spiritual product shops” – with oils, candles, soaps – a place with a definite and intense presence – and smells. I walked around minding my own business and I noticed that my aunt struck up a conversation with the woman at the counter.

It wasn’t long until my Aunt came up to me and asked if I would like to get some kind of massage/healing treatment here. My head started hurting… and I turned down the offer. We then headed out and drove up to a nearby mountain to a place of meditation. My headache got worst and lasted two hours.

The name of the woman at the counter was Randy Hirsch. I am looking for her – I’d like to speak to her. If you are reading this and know someone from Ojai, please send them a link to this post. If you are from Ojai and know Randy Hirsch – please ask her to contact me.

Posted in Expanding, inside | You are welcome to read 3 comments and to add yours

Daphna Dor Upcoming Exhibition

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18Steps_Invitation

Meeting and working with Daphna Dor is another one of the graceful gifts that arrived in my life through Shahar. A couple of her works adorn the walls of my office, as a constant reminder to me of wonder. I have seen her dip a small wooden branch in ink,touch it to a paper (that she herself created), and then gently watch and guide the ink as it finds its way through the fibers and settle into a divine presence.

A few weeks ago Daphna and I spent a day together to document some of her new work as part of the preparations for her upcoming exhibition. While most people will see a sample of her work hanging on gallery walls, I got to meet her recent work strewn across the floor of my house while we prepared to photograph it.

2009_10_22_DaphnaDor-0001

A small room which usually has a yoga mat on the floor became an improvised studio. We had great natural light that day.

2009_10_22_DaphnaDor-0064

Working with Daphna is a provoking process. Her works, small and large, are filled with subtle details and random occurrences. I could spend entire days with some of her images with a macro-lens, traveling through endless winding paths. She also allows the images I create to penetrate her awareness and inform her own perception of her work, which is a rewarding gesture for me as a photographer.

2009_10_22_DaphnaDor-0042

Her exhibition opens on Thursday Dec 10th at 19:30 – at the Artists House in Tel-Aviv and will be on display until Jan 4th. I intend to be there, so please drop to see Daphna’s work and say hello.

Posted in Photography | You are welcome to add your comment

Yoga Asana: Urdhva Prasr(i)ta

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The focus of this posture is stretching of the legs upward. The starting point is lying on the back, arms alongside the body and the knees folded over the chest. As you inhale brings the arms up and over the head while stretching the legs up. As you exhale bring the arms back alongside the body and the knees back to a folded position over the chest.

urdhvaprasrta

As always, respect your limits. You may find that you cannot brings you legs in a straight position all the way up to a 90 degree angle to the body. This is fine. You should try to reach and go no further then a 90 degree angle between your upper-leg/thighs and torso – doing this will insure you that no unnecessary effort is placed on your abdominal muscles. To do this you may need to keep the knees slightly bent.

urdhvaprasrta_max

As with previous postures we’ve visited – please continue to pay attention to correct placement of the arms and the neck.

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

Breakfast

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I went outside to drink a cup of coffee in the company of Tree (our cat) and take in some fresh air. I removed the rain cover from the chairs and table, pulled out a chair and found this guy on it having his breakfast. He seemed cool with me moving the chair into the sunlight and sticking a macro lens in his face… and well… I’ll let the images tell the rest of the story.

[slidepress gallery=’breakfast’]

Posted in Images, Photography | You are welcome to add your comment