“Truth is an empty cup.”
Frank Herbert

Chapter House Dune

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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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

Tears

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In my memory there is an inspiring description of crying. I do not recall where this came from, if I read it somewhere or if someone told it to me. When there is an intensity inside that we cannot contain – it overflows and manifests as tears. It is an experience of something that cannot be contained.

I have been granted knowledge of an intimate relationship with a soul that is in the process of leaving a body and returning to a new one. Over recent weeks every time I play Shakuhachi, a recurring melody appears and connects me to this soul. When this happens tears flow, every time. I play to communicate with this soul. I play so that this soul becomes familiar with the sounds. I play so that this soul can find a way through the transition it is facing. I play so that this soul can find a familiar comfort when we meet again.

It is a divine experience. There is no sadness, and no happiness. There is peace and a sense of wholeness and purpose.

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

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-11-22

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-11-22

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Sound & Silence

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As a Yoga practitioner I have experienced being both student & teacher. As a student I have learned that it takes years of persistent practice to assimilate, realize & appreciate teachings. I have heard my teachers repeat ideas over and over, many times over the years, and I am still in awe every time my experience catches up with their teachings. Ideas can float in my mind indefinitely with very little substance – and then, after years of practice, there is some crystallization and the ideas gain body.

As a teacher I am blessed to be in situations where I resonate in the presence of a student and then make a choice and offer a teaching. It is humbling to realize that what I offer as a teaching in the present will take years of patience and movement to manifest. I am reminded again and again that teaching is sowing seeds. It is then in the hands of the student to nurture those seeds and create the conditions for them to grow and bloom.

As a Shakuhachi player I am again a student. Yet, due to the nature of the Shakuhachi and it’s place in my life, it is not just an instrument I am learning to play, but also a spiritual practice. So, musically I am a complete beginner – I meet myself every time I try to get & hold a note in Kan (the second register on the Shakuhachi). But “myself” that I meet already has some experience as a spiritual practitioner. I am less prone to confusion, frustration and over-exertion.

I know that my Shakuhachi teacher has sown seeds within me. I still have expectations to enjoy the fruits of my practice every time I play, but when those expectations are not met – I do not experience disappointment. I step back from the practice, create a new empty space and then step back in to practice some more… again and again… day after day. A part of me is looking forward to experiencing fruition of my Shakuhachi training – both for the sounds and the silence.

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

Yoga Asana: Dvipada Pitham

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The name Dvipadapitham literally means “two foot support”. It is a fairly involved asana because almost all parts of the body are involved in some kind of movement. The starting point for the posture is lying on the back with the arms alongside the body, the legs bent at the knees and the feet on the floor. As you inhale you simultaneously raise the arms and the hips (by pushing down on the feet), as you exhale you bring everything back – the arms return to the floor alongside the body and the hips are placed back down on the floor.

dvipadapitham

This posture introduces an interesting challenge when it comes to coordination of breath and movement – since there are two movements happening at the same time. One movement is the arms – they have a fairly long journey to make. Another movement is the hips which have a relatively short journey. It takes caring attention to coordinate these two movements. The arms and hips need to begin moving together and reach the end of their path together – this means that the arms are moving much faster then the hips. The two coordinated movements need to be aligned with the breath … and over time refinedover … and over … and over

You may find that there may be a natural tendency to compress the neck due to incorrect effort and the dynamics of the movement – this can be prevented by (1) placing the neck in a correct (chin tucked in) position when you start practicing; (2) remaining attentive to it throughout the practice; (3) checking yourself every time you come back down to the floor (making sure the chin is still tucked in and not rolled back).

neckonfloor_range

This is also a great posture for practicing correct placement of the arms every time they reach the floor above the head. You may even experience more reach in the arms – due to the opening and raising of the chest.

armsonfloor

The feet should be placed apart from each other – at a distance that is approximately the width of your hips (if you have narrow hips they should be closer together, if you have wide hips they should be further apart). Your feet are your base in this posture – so they should be firmly rooted both in the starting position and as you practice.

dvipadapitham_feetTry to avoid placing your feet too far apart, too close together , or, when in the correct position from letting your knees fall open to the sides.

dvipadapitham_escapes1Also try to avoid having your feet too far or too close to your body – a middle-ground is usually a good place to start. You may try a few variations until you discover a placement that gives you good support and good mobility.

dvipadapitham_escapes2

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

Yoga Asana: Apanasana

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Apanasana is a very accessible posture. If you have very little time to practice – this is a great posture to do. Lying down on your back, bend your knees and bring them over your chest, placing a hand just above each knee. As you inhale let the knees move away from the chest (up to a 90 degree angle between your torso and thighs), as you exhale let them come back towards the chest. Lengthen the neck and use Ujjayi breathing to create space and attention. That’s all there is to getting started with this posture. Some possible focuses for this practice are soft, long, refine & center.

apanasana

Since the head and torso are supported by the ground and fairly static, most of the work is in the legs and arms. Make sure your hands are placed very lightly at the end of the thigh, just above the knee. There should be no tension in the joints of the fingers – there is no need for gripping.

apanasana_correct

Gripping tends to occur when the hands are placed too far down the leg, as if holding the knee. This invites tension in the fingers and that tension tends to quickly radiate up the arms and shoulders. Gripping also creates a tempting opportunity to pull the knees closer to the chest – which is an excessive tendency.

apanasana_escape1

Try to keep the legs parallel and if possible close together. Try to avoid overlapping the legs by placing one over the other or by letting them open to the sides.

apanasana_escape2Apanasana is a gentle practice. It carefully works the lower back. If you stay within your boundaries then you should experience very little effort in the abdominal area – which also relaxes and softens. It is an opportunity to practice a long and peaceful exhale.

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

Chanting – Panca Maya

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Chanting is one of the more intriguing tools in Yoga. In my first years of practice I was uncomfortable with chanting – it took me time to overcome my fears of letting my voice be heard (I don’t even sing in the shower). Since then, I have had an opportunity to learn only the basics of voice and chanting and know only a few chants. I would be happy to learn much more.

It is said that a practice of Asana & Pranayama is an effective preparation for meditation. My experience of chanting is that it can pierce directly into the heart of meditation and beyond. Over the past few days I have re-opened my chanting resources and re-introduced some chanting to my practice. Tonight I also made a short recording and was surprised to (1) thinking of uploading it and (2) actually doing it.

Placing the sound of my voice online feels like a whole new dimension of exposure. Especially now, when I am alone and on some days almost completely silent:

click to play

I don’t have the tools to present a proper transliteration of Sanskrit – so this is as close as I can go for now.

Panca Maya

ma aham – ahama annam
me I am – I am the body

ma aham – ahama pranam
me I am – I am energy

ma aham – ahama manah
me I am – I am the mind

ma aham – aham vijnanam
me I am – I am the personality

ma aham – ahama anandam
me I am – I am the emotions

ma aham – aham sarvam
me I am – I am all

ma aham – aham aham
me I am – i am I am

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

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-11-15

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  • once they've been committed to memory you can't tell apart perception & imagination: http://twurl.nl/53jq5u #
  • getting to know your pulse in life and in yoga: http://bit.ly/vt5f0 #
  • @DinoSoldo watched it a 2nd time (http://iLike.com/t/L2YI), very different, very demanding … looking forward to hearing more in reply to DinoSoldo #
  • Life extension with Yoga http://bit.ly/3dpcMA #
  • we lived in an age where everything was explained, but little was understood #
  • ripping of my Dave Mathews Band cd's! http://twurl.nl/ibxfvl #
  • OK – I had to have more DMB and now u-do-2 http://twurl.nl/jy8lao – make 16 minutes of your life vanish… poooof… #
  • Happy 5th birthday, Firefox! http://bit.ly/Fx5yr1 #Firefox5 #
  • RT @SaraJChipps: rt @bradygaster: RT @NathanRichie: "Holding a grudge is like taking arsenic and waiting for the other person to die." #fb #
  • RT @t: "Cynicism as an attempt to appear cool is just sad. Create, build, invent! Critcizing is too easy. … Take a risk!" – @stubbornella #
  • how can I get off a twitter list I don't want to be on? #
  • sometimes removing hairs from the shower drain seems to go on forever… that I expect a surprise 2 appear at the end #
  • @Yariv6s אנא הסר אותי מהרשימה … תודה מראש #
  • RT @ronenk: סיעור מוחות עם מטומטמים זה בעיה. #
  • quick look… this is what the sky looks like right now!! http://twurl.nl/mio6gr #
  • אולי יש למישהו דיסק קשיח כזה שמלפני כמה שנים למחשב נייד? ברכות 🙂 #
  • חומוס מבושל, טעים ככל שיהיה, פשוט לא הולך עם אטריות עם כרוב! #
  • @ronenk מקאווה לטוב? in reply to ronenk #
  • @ronenk אין לי אפילו מושג איך להגות מקאווה – בטח ובטח אין לי מושג מה זה 🙂 in reply to ronenk #
  • ultimate weather – cool enough to enjoy wearing long clothes while sitting outside 🙂 amazing! #
  • its been many months since I wrote a glimpses – i was happy to find it's still moving inside: http://bit.ly/334gDG #
  • RT great stuff!! thank u @ronenk: http://bit.ly/12Hi1i #
  • off to condense http://twurl.nl/riwhli my prana http://twurl.nl/nq00ey #
  • cooking dinner with Nick Cave – Do You Love Me? ♫ http://blip.fm/~g8qgh #
  • @ronenk אהבתי איך שיצא לך "קבל עוד" באנגלית 🙂 תודה על ההפניות… אני בדרך… מתאים לי מוזיקה חדשה in reply to ronenk #
  • casualties, refuge, unknown, faith, surrender, surprise, wonder, presence #
  • "When Gandhi 1st heard thesound of the shakuhachi, he supposedly wept&said he had finally heard thevoice of thedead." http://twurl.nl/ri3leh #
  • I'm in the shower and iTunes does a radical switch from shakuhachi to robbie williams' new album! woah! #
  • RT @yogawithluc: Complete guide of barefoot running http://bit.ly/1ft9uu #
  • working on a series of posts on counter postures, processing images #
  • you're alive – is it really you?: http://twurl.nl/k73faq #
  • @CambridgeYoga thank u liz 🙂 looking forward to publishing them … getting it right in writing is always more work then it seems at first in reply to CambridgeYoga #
  • some great chanting guides from Srivasta Ramaswami who studied extensively with Krishnamacharya: http://twurl.nl/c4vdhj #
  • @ronenk חיים טובים ידידי 🙂 in reply to ronenk #
  • @ronenk אתה קולט כמה אנשים נחשפו בפעם הראשונה לצ'נטינג בזכות הגלגול שלך לאור הילד? in reply to ronenk #
  • @ronenk הבאת לי צחוק… חיפשתי וזה מה שמצאתי – דווקא נראה לי מתאים http://twurl.nl/abfmrz 🙂 in reply to ronenk #
  • מישהו זוכר איך מנביטים גלעין של אבוקדו? איזה צד למטה? בתוך מים? כמה זמן זה לוקח? #
  • if you copy from Photoshop and paste into a document editor and it crashes … you know it's Microsoft software! #
  • a preparation for upcoming posts on #yoga counter postures – correct placement of the neck: http://twurl.nl/f4vzar #
  • @yogawithluc not easily (unless there is a pathology). excess chin-lock requires much focus&effort… eventually evolves into a bandha in reply to yogawithluc #
  • RT @SirKenRobinson: Love this-thanks LM. Imagination meets the pleasure principle. http://bit.ly/3uQwz #
  • another great one http://twurl.nl/patavb from http://twurl.nl/m7mcv7 #
  • Moon: http://twurl.nl/lhdbmh #
  • another step in preparing for basic #yoga postures – this time placement of the arms http://twurl.nl/5pvpvh #
  • @CambridgeYoga @yogawithluc Ive created a Paul Harvey students list http://twurl.nl/nnrk38 pls let me know if u know of others on twitter 🙂 #
  • image of today at redbubble: http://twurl.nl/2xps07 #
  • when someone comes to you outlining a problem and offering a solution – you are being used – walk away! #
  • does anyone have any idea why transform in the photoshop menu would be disabled when there is an active layer with content selected? #

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Arm Placement in Yoga Asana

n

I touched on placement of the arms when I introduced the idea of coordinated breath and movement. I would like to revisit this with some images to reinforce some of the fine points as a preparation and reference for upcoming posts on postures. The base posture for this explanation will continue to be lying on the back with the feet on the floor and arms alongside the body. The movement is simply raising the arms above the head all the way to the floor and then returning them back alongside the body.

supine_feetstand

supine_feetstand_armsraised

There is a tendency to stretch the arms straight above the head when actually there is a better and more effective position. This position is unique for every person, so you will need to find it for yourself. Here are some focuses to help point you in the right direction. You are looking for a position in which the arms are placed completely on the floor – something like this:

armsonfloor

The first thing to focus on is your elbows – you want to get the elbows on the floor. It you insist on stretching your arms too far you may find that your elbows are raised from the floor. Avoid this by releasing the shoulders and bending your arms enough to enable your elbows to settle on the floor.

armsonfloor_escapeelbows

Next check your fingers – all 10 of them (count – you’d be surprised how much the mind is willing to cut corners). They should be stretched flat on the floor – all 10 fingernails should be touching the floor.

armsonfloor_escapefingers

Finally bring attention to the backs of the hands. They too should be placed flat on the floor.

armsonfloor_escapewrist

Take some time to find the correct place for  your arms. You may find that your position is far from straight arms – this is fine. Practice from your position and your posture will improve. Over reaching will create strain, stiffness and deplete your energy – leaving your body and consciousness with very little space for observing, learning and improving.

Here is a simple practice sequence for assimilating this:

  1. Lay on your back, feet on the floor and place the arms above your head – remain in this position exploring until you find your position.
  2. Add Ujjayi breathing – and remain static – feel the affect of the breath on your selected position for 8 breaths.
  3. Return the arms alongside the body – begin a dynamic practice –  using Ujjayi breathing – inhaling as  your move the arms to your selected position, exhaling as you bring the arms back alongside the body – repeat this 8 times.
  4. Sit on your knees with a straight back – repeat the movement another 8 times with Ujjayi breathing. Be attentive to the position of the arms – there is no floor to provide a reference.
  5. Stand up, feet together, arms alongside the body – and again repeat the movement 8 times with Ujjayi breathing.

Correct arms position is a healthy habit to form early in your practice – it will resonate with many (if not most) of the postures you will practice in Yoga. Unlearning an incorrect position will take much longer and will limit the effectiveness of many postures.

Posted in Basic Movement, Yoga | You are welcome to read 4 comments and to add yours

Moon

n

Wonderful, unique, surprising, insightful movie. Almost important to watch. Enjoy 🙂

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

Neck Placement in Yoga Asana

n

The neck is the most mobile part of the spinal column – it can twist and bend extensively. Therefore it is also sensitive and fragile and deserves caring attention. This article will focus on movement with the head centered – which is where it is most of the time (in life and in practice). It is comfortable to explore this range of movement by lying down on your back – where the floor provides a clear reference. Even though it maybe a small range of movement – you will find that there are numerous positions for the head even while it is resting on the floor:

neckonfloor_range

The white line on the image illustrates changes in the length of the neck. When the head is rolled back the length of the neck gets shorter – the vertebrae in the neck are pushed together. When the head is pulled forward – the chin pulled in towards the chest – the neck lengthens and the vertebrae are stretched apart.

The latter position, with the chin pulled in towards the chest – is the position you want to maintain most of the time when practicing asana. It is a natural continuation of the stretching we usually work at in the back, it relieves pressure from the shoulders and upper back (which in turn provides more range of movement) and it improves the flow of blood to and from the head.

There is a natural tendency to compress the neck, especially when performing strenuous postures. There are mostly downsides to this:

  1. It doesn’t help – the neck is optimized for mobility not for load bearing (when compared to the rest of the spine which has a more rigid structure).
  2. It interferes – a compressed neck locks the shoulders, upper & mid-back areas – which may actually be useful to the posture you are practicing. By compressing the neck you are limiting their mobility.
  3. It wastes energy – the effort & energy you are expending in the neck comes at the expense of other muscles better suited for the job.

The general idea is to lengthen the neck. Try it first on the floor – so you don’t need to deal with the front and back movement. Then you may try it in standing and seated positions – without the floor as a guide & reference.

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