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Archive for July, 2012

It is interesting watching the movement of the athletes. When I was watching swimming and men’s gymastics I noticed that most of their movement is in the sagittal plane.

It is interesting they have such extreme flexibity in the front and back lines, but I bet this pose would be difficult, especially moving it into eka pada sirsana:

That is one of my favorite poses. It is a great warm up move for Vismamitrasana:

It is funny how a lot of people watch the Olympics for the entertainment and I watch it looking for imbalances in the bodies of the athletes. And to listen to morbid discussions on injuries. I do think that kyaking event looks fun in the twirling water, but probably harder than I think it would be.

There was an interesting injury in the women’s weight lifting the other day where a girl popped an elbow joint and then dropped the weight. She almost held on to it. Those people who lift those heavy weights build bone mass as well as muscle mass so they can survive those injuries over and over. She didn’t appear to be in any pain at all.

Just for the record, I don’t ENJOY watching people get injured by any means. It is one reason I have a hard time watching football because the injuries are most often pretty brutal, but it is August and the season is commencing soon. I have already seen sports stories on the various camps starting.

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Oftentimes, every time, I teach I feel like I am sculpting a vision with words and aligning a vision in my mind into the clay of the asana student’s body. What should a pose look like?

Basic good yoga teaching is a little bit of good alignment, how a pose feels, with a little mix of can I breathe in it comfortably without straing and pain.

One pose THAT irks me when it is sloppy is reverse warrior. Which begs the question, is it even a pose? Where the hell did this pose come from? Yet, it is a pose you will practice a lot in most vinyasa/power flow classes. It is the ultimate anticipation pose. I E when students are in Vira 2 they can’t wait to start throwing an arm back into this pose. It is part of the vira dance. Back off though people. Because I don’t see the pose looking like this all that much:

What a beauty. She kept her hips even, stayed in the lunge of the front leg, isn’t compressing back into her spine, and is controlling the upper arm so as not to strain the neck. Big plus, she looks comfortable.

Setting up this pose takes a lot of cueing and then finding it takes some good adjusting. I love it when this pose FEELS good. Most important, it should feel GOOD.

Gregor Maehle, who is a real Mr. Stinky Pants Alignment teacher I assume from his books, says you should breathe AND feel good in a pose at the same time. This pose may not feel good if performed in the manner of this pic for everyone. Now to just people to stop throwing back the arm and lifting, compressing, I could go on.

I mean, look at this dude:

Wow. Very advanced Marychy pose. I am still struggling with b and d and never can breathe in my form of either, but this guy looks comfortable AND has great hair to boot.

It takes patience on the part of the teacher and the student to make a pretty pose. My best practice has been when the teacher makes the easier poses feel profound. Any pose that makes you FEEL like the ones above are good yoga poses.

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Gregor Maehle posted this on FB on Friday. Grimmmly posted it but it bears repeating. I am about one fourth of the way through his Pranayama book and aleady was wishing he would write on meditation. REAL yoga meditation, not all the other fluff already out there. I had no clue he was writing this book.

I am enjoying the pranayama book because I took the six part live Pranayama class on Soundstrue with Richard Freeman. The Pranayama book by Maehle references classic yoga texts that annotate what Freeman teaches. Both of these men learned from Iyengar and Jois. Both have adhered in their teachings to the classic systems of yoga as taught by their teachers. Jois was not a prolific writer, Iyengar is/was and I also have his book on Pranayama. Learning the practices of yoga at any level from books is generally not the way to go, but having good books to compliment your learning is.

There are prior posts where I have commented on Gregor’s books on Primary and Intermediate Series, and in Pranayama he doesn’t mince words. If you do not have a pranayama and meditation practice, you are not practicing yoga. You are either practicing yoga or just exercising and trying to be a contortioinist. The Advanced teachers I have worked with all agree and all of them teach that way. Of course, a lot of them have been practising for decades and I do not find most students within their first five years of practice are ready for these practices. Some are and some are not. I think most students who do not go beyond asana on the eight limbs probably quit yoga and go to on to something else eventually. So they probably don’t last more than five years practicing yoga from what I can see. But then I see people just hooked into asana for years and years and that is a whole other issue I may address after reading more from Gregor but…..

This particular section changing your practice as you age and cut down to 90 minutes. I wish. I strive for 90 minutes a day. My best days are when I have a good two and half hours but that does not occur more than twice a week.

Anyway I can’t wait for another book to come out by Gregor?

“I completed the 2nd draft of my new meditation book, called Yoga Meditation.
I will now start to here post content.

I got requests from a few students to write about how body and practice changes as one gets older as people seem to struggle to keep up practice. Important here is to realize that asana practice was designed to support practice of meditation and pranayama. As you get older you need to shift emphasis from asana practice to the higher limbs. Try to limit your asana practice to 90 minutes and spend the rest on higher yogic practices.

Physical problems often result from students not graduating on to the higher limbs. It’s the higher limbs that will give you the realization that you are not the body but the consciousness, the self. Once that has been attained the ambition to flog the body in asana practice, will disappear and with it many of the physical problems.
(passage from Yoga Meditation): If asana is understood on a deep level then we will, once in the posture, produce the counteraction that propelled us into the posture. When done on all levels of live this method leads to mastery, that it going with the flow, being in the zone or being in the Tao. Rather than manifesting an enormous force that breaks through the barriers of the world and must in the end produce our own un-doing we move through life without force but using existing forces. This way no counterforce is ever necessary to manifest against us.
This principle is beautifully expressed in Chuang Tzu’s “The Dexterous Butcher”. The story is a bit unsavoury for vegetarians but the message is deep nevertheless. Here, Lord Wen-hui watches and questions his cook who for 19 years uses the same blade to carve up thousands of oxen without sharpening it. The cook explains that rather than hacking through the oxen, he first pays respect in his heart, meets the oxen with his whole consciousness and he cares for the Way. He then moves with great subtlety, finds the right spot, almost effortlessly leans against the oxen and suddenly it is as if the whole oxen falls apart by itself. (end of quote)

Your body is that oxen. Rather than hacking through it with much energy and effort, first pay respect for it in your heart. It is not an animal that you need to conquer and beat into submission. Meet your body with your whole consciousness and treat it as an expression of the Divine creative force (prana). Do not think that you only want to get that backbend, that leg-behind-head or which ever posture it is. Understand that your body is the crystallized history of your past thoughts, emotions and actions. Its not just meat, but more than you think it is.

Move with great subtlety and find the right spots where you are holding on. Because it is you that is holding on, not somebody else. And now comes the secret: After with having identified with great subtlety the right spot, lean against it almost effortless and without ambition, just by shifting your body weight within your body. The result will be that your body will open almost effortless.

Important though is that you do not practice for the results, for the outcome. Do not practice goal-oriented as that will lead to more and more injury. As Lord Krishna says in the Gita, surrender the outcomes of your actions.
I found that it takes many years and decades to open to inner intelligence and intelligence of the body. Good news is that intelligence grows as one gets older. Years ago scientists thought that we get dumber as we get older but this has now been proven wrong. There is something called the neuroplasticity of the brain. It means that as long as you keep learning, your brain will become more and more powerful.

As I am getting older, I found that I am using less and less energy and time to achieve in my practice more and more. Recently I read a sign in a café’ saying, ‘Drink coffee. Do more stupid things, faster and with more energy.’ A was amazed that the sign expressed reciprocally what happened in my practice (without coffee). Using much less energy, I do less things in a smarter way but the outcome is much more profound. But like Lord Wen-hui’s butcher I first had to learn to listen to my body.

The good news is that yoga gets better as it goes on. I found the first 10 years tough. The second decade sort of happened by auto-pilot, meaning it required no additional effort. But only in the third decade the harvest began. Keep hanging in there. It will get better and better.

I had a fantastic time teaching in Manila. Heartfelt thanks to the people of the Philippines, who welcomed me so openly. I found them to be some of the friendliest people that I ever visited. I very much look forward to returning to Manila in the future.

I will stay in Perth for the next almost three months until we got to Bali to teach our 200-hour teacher training. Here we will present the essence of our 35 years of research and practice. If you are interested please request our prospectus at http://www.8limbs.com/teacher-training

If you are currently reading or have read my Pranayama book and found it helpful please do not hesitate to give it a review at your favourite online retailer. I put an enormous amount of work into my books and your reviews help to circulate the books and keep me going.

Hari OM
Gregor”
Thanks Gregor. I am interested in some training with him but he is always on the other side of the world.

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Peak oil and the exhaustion of material resources, climate change, the failure of the banking system, and political turmoil.
That goes for the first part of the title.

For the second part, what does a month of no practice look like. Not like this:

As far as the former, I am the only person in the midwest disturbed over the heat wave and drought. We have had the pestilence in our back yard in the form of Japanese beetles in the back yard for two years. From what I understand, they are not going anywhere. My plans of being partially self sustaining won’t work if the current climate trends, global warming, since my yield is much smaller this year. Tomatos are okay and carrots and beets might survive, but my bean, cucumber, and even squash is pathetic. I still have canned goods from last year.

Of course, certain people think this is just normal trending of weather patterns so I will rest easy with those that are controlling the economy now, the 1% friends of Mitt, because of course they are right and those self righteous researchers are just interested in government handouts to sustain their livelihoods and will say ANYTHING in the name of research.

Yes I feel better already.

Yesterday I did a pathetic half primary and just about to embard on Intermediate series. The backbends will feel really good. I am also reading the new Pranayama book by Gregor Maehle. So far, even after a few chapters, there is a lot there. I have read the Iyengar pranayama and that is who Gregor refers to primarily in this book.

Gregor does not mince words. The practice is about controlling the fluctuations of the mind. Asana is the goal to prepare for meditation and pranayama is the unifying force. Yoga can not be true yoga and just be about yoga poses and physical practice.

Iyengar says that pranayama must be practiced over a long period of time for the benefits to be experienced. It has to be practiced daily and the benefits of the still mind take a long time to accomplish. Westerners are not always patient for long term benefits, thus the physical practice predominates here. And very successfully. I do have a handful of students interested in this process but it is definitely a maturity thing. Not many people with just a year or two of yoga under their belts will be too thrilled about pranayama practice but as we mature in the West as far as yoga practice, hopefully our better teachers will guide us all on the full path of yoga.

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I promise to go back to yoga after this. In a lot of ways this is yoga to me.

I don’t remember the day I found eagle bald nest cams but it got to be an obsession and now I am in love with eagles and their babies. I learned a lot about how they reproduce, parent, learn to fly, hunt, interact, play, steal food, and survive. Survival has been key this year as I observed the loss of three eagles, little baby Kirby who fell off the Minnesota Bound nest, Goldwing who died in the nest of unknown causes, and the tragic death of D12 who was electrocuted this year after fledging so successfully.

The nests and siblings survived however but the one big drama story was in the Minnesota nest when Harmon got his little wing stuck in the mud. I have prior posts about the rescue and return to the nest and eventual reuniting of Harmon and his parents. I have to say this little guy has my heart and SOUL. He survived so much and then on his first fledge went straight to the ground for five days until his wise and smart parents lured him back to the nest. Everyone was so worried but in this nest, they all know what they are doing. Here is a Harmon tribute.

And just the other day, again, Harmon the Horrible gets in a difficult place, but mom knows a big fat fish will get him back to the nest when he is worn out.

Harmom has been just terrible this year. He screes for food all the time and practially knocks the parents out of the nest when they deliver. He also jumps up and makes terrible noise. He is absolutely beautiful and I love watching him sit over his beautiful domain high up on the cottonwood. He is no doubt a survivor and will make a great eagle, even though he is totally spoiled. The first picture is of Harmon and Kirby scraping as sibs and the second HARMON THE HORRIBLE.

The Decorah nest is amazing. What a beautiful nest with the farm animals in the background and the nearby fish hatchery where mom and dad hunt freely. D12, D13, and D14 were so smart and it was amazing to watch them grow every day. I really loved the warm spring afternoons watching them hanging in the nest with mom. The camera there pans out to the beautiful famous Y branch where majestic mom and dad like to roost. I remember the fledge of D12. I cried a whole day when they said D12 died. What a great bird. D12 was a great example to the younger sibs. She was talented and also really good at stealing food and getting there first for the delivery. The sibs were all real clowns and I remember watching them first start to jump and wingersize and flap in each other’s faces. What an active bunch. Everyone loves the little D14 who was also a camera jumper Now D14 has a transmittor and we will know where he goes when he leaves the nest. Beam me up Scottie D14 says. I remember one hilarious rainy downpour where the sibs were flapping their wings and poor, patient mom. They acted like a bunch of kids jumping in rain puddles. There is always fun at the Decorah nest.

D12 I won’t forget you.

Linus at Delta 2 in British Columbia also lost a sib in the nest. Poor Goldwing maybe died of poisoned food. The parents also perservered and really doted on Sir Linux. He is a great strong eagle who also survived. He also went to the ground almost right after he fledged. He was rescued and returned and the doting parents took care of him. I believe in intervention when humans can help. Harmon and Linux would not have the opportunity to be free birds without it. I know people don’t agree and it might be a little humiliating for them. (LOL)

But we made this world a mess and made it difficult for them to survive near extinction. People have dedicated theirs lives for the survival of the species. How can you help? Just ask Sir Linux:

The AEF eaglets at Dollywood are so much fun to watch. With four cameras you can watch them from every angle. They were removed from the nest at about six weeks and taken to a facility where the possibility of human interaction is minimal. If they get too much attachment to human voices they will not be able to go into their natural environment. They should be released soon and I will look forward to hearing about their success. If I ever get in the area of Dollywood I would definitely take a visit to learn more about this amazing project.

The White Rock eaglets of White Rock, Echo and Foxtrot, enjoy a beautiful view of the bay in British Columbia. These two nutjobs are such close siblings.

Some times it is as though Foxy can not take her eyes off Echo. When Echo fledged, Foxy was right behind him.

Foxy was also a hot mess not long ago with a twig in her hair but Echo took it off for her. I feel these two will be inseparable when they leave the nest. Also a few days ago the dad returned with an anonymous juvie who hung out. No one knows who it was or how the parents allowed it since they are so fiercely protective of their nests, but it may be that dad took on feeding a juvie whose parents left the nest for some reason. Thanks WR dad. What a guy. Who would not want to be here.

TO THE PARENTS:

The beautiful Dollywood parents Indy and Frank.

They are rescue birds who mated at Dollywood. The American Eagle Foundation is committed to the protection of the American Bald Eagle. Both Indy and Frank were injured as wild birds and brought here after being shot in the wings and are non releasable birds. These were separate events. Although they were not able to return to their natural habitat, they mated here and this year had three terrible little babies. The babies are removed from the nest at some point and are brought into a simulated habitat where they learn to fly and eventually hunt, relying mostly on instinct. Good job this year and Indy and Frank!

The White Rock parents are beautiful. What a great environment. I wish I lived in that area in British Columbia. They are great at fishing and taking care of their two babies this year, Echo and Foxtrot:

The Minnesota parents had a tough year with the loss of precious Kirby and then the struggle with HARMON THE HORRIBLE. They have been relentless at nurturing and taking care of and turning him into a bold and beautiful juvie. I love the dad especially. The moment he found Harmon was so touching. He is a great example for this little guy.

Finally the Decorah parents, my first nest! These parents really had their beaks and talons full with this crew of clowns. They were there every second watching and protecting. I remember the middle of the night attack on the raccon that tried to sneak up on the babies. Dad was on him in a second. There is not messing with these two. How tragic that they lost D12. I have no doubt they will come back into that beautiful nest and have three more next year. I hope to visit them at fledging time 2013.

Also to all the people who chat and give good information thank you. Also the moderators. Being antisocial I do not chat but find the information is so useful as well as the love and support that people have provided to the times these great birds had difficulties and suffered with their loss. We all suffer when another being does. These sights are great for people who are going through difficult times. It is very calming and soothing to remove yourself and observe a whole new world if you are suffering yourself. It takes you out of your own ego and helps you see the bigger picture that we all suffer, survive and thrive at different times.

I will look forward to the new babies of 2013.

And I will leave you with Harmon’s special song:

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I would do backbends now for one or the other. Decisions. This is what I am reduced to after week two of Intensive with the fabulous trainees. They are SOOOO GOOD. This morning we did an intensive backbend class in Advanced class.

Madonna or Lady Ga Ga? Lady Ga Ga is a Bikram yoga and Madonna is an Ashtangi. I LIKE Lady Ga Ga better but the Ashtangi ROCKS. But really. Is it a competition or something? Oh yeah, for BIKRAM it is.

See third series photo below. Really. What happened to this dude’s right hip and leg. Oh, that is right! It is EXTERNALLY ROTATED behind his NECK. BEAUTIFUL photo.

The intensive is taking me out of my practice for a month. HUGE SACRIFICE. But I think a lot of healing and mending takes place from the muscles etc overused and worked so there is still an openness. Tomorrow I can practice. I told someone about the respite from practice and they said don’t you get up at four. Oh okay. That would mean about 20 hour days. NOT going to happen. I will do what I can.

Here are the gorgeous siblings of D12. D13 and D14. Are they not gorgeous. I found a pair about to branch and fledge in British Columbia and a couple of sea eagle about to mate in Australia. The sea eagles are all white with grey wings. STUNNING. And waiting for Linux to be taken care of parents in nest.

Tomorrow I am doing a full primary. Cannot wait.

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So I was in tears and still am upset today. One of the Decorah eaglets I have been watching was eloctrocuted on a pole on Sunday. D12 was the oldest this year and the first to fly. She was magnificent and great at stealing food from the younger sibs. It is SO tragic. The Decorah parents are so outstanding and worked so hard to teach these beautiful animals what they need to know. A lot of it is instinct, but the parents teach a lot. Such a beauty and she had just begun to fly and hunt. Eagles are strong yet vulnerable creatures. We all need to do our best to keep the creatures of the earth safe. If I hear one more person say ‘it is just a bird’ I am going off. Why are you more important than another living creature? Ahimsa, non harming. It is a yoga practice. Yoga is not just chatarangas.

The elusive hip rotator. I am finding that the Ashtanga practice is definitley opening my hip rotators, but now I also TRY to practice just sitting on the floor for an hour a day. Sometimes it is on a chair, but my hips are getting much more comfortable in external rotation. Last night we had a discussion in teacher training about STRUCTURAL issues. I have a couple of pics of pelvic skeletal structures I will share in a few days. You can’t out asana structure. This particular pelvis had acetubulums really facing forward.

So Kino claims she was also tight in the rotators.

Love this. This is all bandhas. I was reading a blog on an ashtangi who learned to use bandhas in headstand. This pic has been all over.

I wish I could get wound up this tight.

Help!

Have a great fourth of July. Remember the symbol of our country. Eagles!

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