Tag Archives: Yoga

Tips to sit like winners at the Tea House

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Written for yoga practitioners, the article below actually gives a good tip for all for sitting down with your legs crossed without slumping your back and collapsing your chest (and a little bio-mechanics as a bonus). Indeed, although slumping might feel more comfortable (and easier at first), at the end of the day it is more tiring for your muscles, as well as your mind, for it associates more with a “defeated state”.  Not like us at all 🙂

>> Sitting up straight and expanding the chest forward in Sukhasana , by Daily Bandha

Another tip for adopting a fluid posture while sitting down legs crossed is to place a cushion under your bottom and only sit at its edge, so your bottom will be higher than your knees and it will be easier to keep the natural curves in your back (also known as “zafu sitting”). You can read more about this in our hands massage manual here : https://hackingwithcare.in/wiki/doku.php/maozada#good_posture

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34 Pictures To See Which Muscle You’re Stretching

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Whether you’re a chronic sitter, a daily exerciser, or a weekend warrior, you probably know stretching is a critical habit. By sending blood flow to your muscles and helping your joints move through their full range of motion, stretching improves your posture and athletic performance while lowering your risk of pain and injury.

But when you do yoga or a flexibility routine, do you know which muscles you’re actually stretching? Or whether you’re performing each stretch correctly?

With this knowledge in your back pocket, you can choose the best stretches for your goals. And if you ever feel pain — and I don’t mean the good, stretchy kind of pain but the “Whoa, something doesn’t feel right” kind of pain — you can pinpoint the muscle giving you trouble and alter your technique to avoid getting injured.

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http://beyoungbegreen.com/36-pictures-see-muscle-youre-stretching/

Yoga for every body by instructor who cares

Yoga instructor Amber Karnes reflects on her experience as large body and shares advices on how to create a welcoming learning environment, know what to modify and be a good teacher for every unique someone in the class.

“And it’s not just large bodies that need modifications to stay safely aligned. People with injuries, athletes of all stripes with tight muscles in various places, aging bodies, bodies recovering from surgery, bodies with prosthetics, and on and on—all can benefit when teachers offer multiple entry points to a pose.

But knowing how to modify poses is not enough. Modifications introduced in a positive way can be empowering, clarifying, and nurturing to students. On the other hand, when we teach modifications without a critical examination of our language and presentation, we can leave students feeling singled out, less-than, and ashamed. I’d like to offer six tips for teaching modifications in your classes and creating a body-positive environment of inclusivity:

>> Teachers, are you accidentally shaming your students ?

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Classic, concise, clear, accessible yoga book ASANA PRANAYAMA MUDRA BANDHA by Swami Satyananda Saraswati is available HERE although not in its latest version.

Imo, this manual is particularly interesting when new to yoga and/or or looking for some easy body routines that you can start practicing alone. The Beginners group is good indeed, with different series of basic exercises to help prevent or help alleviate disorders caused by overexertion and stillness-stasis combined (as in a lot of computer / office work). Check out the Exercises for the eyes !

(Remember to first read the advice and precautions in the introduction)

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Yoga postures to relieve sciatica pain in piriformis syndrome

Read how spasms in the piriformis muscle can cause sciatica pain (+ understand there are other types of sciatica) + check out / try out the selection of well described yoga postures that can help relieve that pain and prevent it from happening again.

>>> Healing with Yoga: Piriformis Syndrome (Daily Bandha)

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“Piriformis syndrome is characterized by buttock and/or hip pain that may radiate into the leg as a form of sciatica. This syndrome is thought to result from spasm of the piriformis which causes irritation of the sciatic nerve as it passes across (or through) the muscle. Spasm in the piriformis can be precipitated by an athletic injury or other trauma. The mainstay of treatment involves stretching the piriformis and its neighboring external hip rotators, with surgery to release the muscle reserved for recalcitrant cases.”

See also on Daily Bandha : The Piriformis Muscle and Yoga 

>>> Yoga poses can relieve pain sciatica pain (Fox5 San Diego)

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“Pigeon pushup”

“This is a piriformis-stretching pose for the front leg and a hip-flexor stretch for the back leg.

From a kneeling lunge position, take both hands to the floor on the inside of your leg. Open your hip by letting your knee fall out to the side as you roll to the outside of your foot. Walk your hands forward and outward to push your weight out of your upper body and into your hips and pelvis. Take five long, deep breaths.”

CAREFUL with the exercises !

You might want to “Check with your physician or physical therapist before trying these exercises” and do “Move carefully into each posture, listening to your body. Stop immediately if pain increases or you feel any cautionary sensation.”

 

OBSERVE a MASSAGE : A ThaĂŻ Yoga Massage demo

During 30C3 I will be giving massages on a futon on the floor, working over comfortable clothing (one-size-fits-all-yoga-pants will be provided). Indeed, we are now in winter, and in a semi-nomadic situation I want to optimize the warmth and coziness of individual sessions. Consequently the massages will use a combination of techniques drawn more from Asia than California, with powerful palm pressures, cat paws and elephant walks, yoga-like stretches… I also like to integrate to them tools coming from occidental body-mind therapy, like guided deep breathing exercises, subtle stomach massage, and other minimal moves for maximum mind soothing benefits.

To give you an idea of the family of massage I am referring to, I looked for a demo video. I came across this thai yoga massage demo by teacher Ralf Marzen, whom I have never met and whose school I didn’t go to. But he seems to be really good at what he does, and these 9 minutes of demo are inspiring and instructive. I chose it because I loved the sequence at first sight and could almost feel it while watching it: I immediately wanted to try it (to receive and to give it).

So those of you who didn’t know anything about Thai massage can have a better idea of the style (there are of course many more techniques and moves and styles and practitioners, and the beauty of it is also a diversity outside of strict protocols). Furthermore, watching a good demo (or watching someone IRL) gives an opportunity to really observe what goes on in giving a massage. We can maybe understand, “copy-feel”, integrate moves, and by the wonderful ways of memory and imitation, we grow a new practice. These aspects have been discussed in my workshops OBSERVE-HACK-MASSAGE.

Now, here are some of my thoughts as I observe this demo.

Although this sequence looks smooth and easy, it is actually (indeed) advanced. Quite advanced, more than I am at present -yet nothing I couldn’t grow capable of, precisely because it looks so tasty and I like to look up to things that look so tasty and learn from them.

It looks easy and smooth because it is executed with great art, grace, and presence. In general a massage feels quite like it looks. So you can pretty much trust what you see, and/or feel, watching it.

It looks and probably is then, smooth ad easy, because the giver is himself comfortable in his own skin and bones, has gotgreat coordination, feet sensitive as hands, to name a few. He seems to have very well integrated what he is giving, his knowledge seems “incarnated”. Also, he looks in an attentive yet relaxed state, and in a kind of a “blurry focus”, quite characteristic. Indeed thai massage is traditionally done /approached by giver and receiver like a meditation.

Notice the similarities with Yoga, it is – yet another – form of Yoga.

Notice the similarities also with Dance: how the giver communicates his “groove” to the receiver, and how rhythm is kept throughout. Notice if you can, how this groove and rhythm originate from the center of his body (belly) and propagate to his limbs, hands, feet (it’s not just the hands doing something independently). Notice also how the bodies respond to each other, echo, however passive the receiver may seem (I would argue that receiving a massage is not such a passive thing, by the way).

Notice how the structure of the body (of receiver, but also giver) is very well handled, notice how movement is initiated where movement should be initiated: at the articulations. Notice how amplitude comes with opening (of the joints, of breathing..).

Notice the fluidity in the whole sequence, the oceanic vibe, brought by rocking and oscillating moves. Also, the stretches are many, long and soft. The masseur is taking his time, not rushing things, sometimes even pausing. He is listening, feeling.That leaves space for (deep) breathing. It also indicates that the pressures are applied progressively on the receiver’s muscles, thus respecting her body and needs. The whole thing is not so tonic, meaning the intention, and effects, are probably more about relaxation than waking-up or preparing for action. It is about gentle unblocking, melting tensions and opening of flows in the bodies. I guess it could be one metaphorical illustration of how “data must flow” can resonate in massage.

These are really cool massages to learn. So cool that to practice them well, you have to be really flexible and CHILLIN’. You cannot escape (at least not for long) working on your own body and mind (which is true with any massage but is especially true here with Thai, for occidental people). Once you integrate its aspects, some of which I have described, you become comfortable and capable of giving this kind of massage to almost anybody, even somebody with a body much larger than yours.

MARVELOUS FITNESS (I shall triumph over human lethargy)

Here for your enjoyment some yoga / stretch / fitness exercises from Stan Lee’s STRENGTH & FITNESS book.

A few stretches in the morning and/or evening can go a long way. You don’t necessarily have to jump like Silver surfer, in fact, maybe you shouldn’t jump first thing, but do adopt a little morning routine to wake your body gently and activate your vitals so you can kick ass all day. Make it indispensable and obvious like a shower (let’s hope you do shower from time to time). In the evening, stretching will help you lose the tight uniform of a hero, so you can regenerate at ease, make room for new moves and ideas, sleep well, and be fit to kick ass again tomorrow.

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The exercise below, the Jameson Roar, is a take on Simhasana, the Lion pose, in Yoga (as shown here also by BKS Iyengar). It is for me a MUST in morning stretch, very accessible and rewarding. It opens your face, brightens your vision, takes away tension in the jaws and at the back of the neck. Interesting for people with bruxomania (compulsive grinding of teeth in sleep) AND very interesting to practice before giving a speech ;)

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When bending forward and letting your head hang like Spiderman below, you might want to flex your knees, to go easy on them and your legs if you are not very flexible (you should not feel pain). Certainly flex your knees on the way up, even if you’re flexible, and rise up slowly, vertebra after vertebra, from the sacred to the cervical region where your head rests. Once you are standing, see that your shoulders are in a good alignment, not falling in front, not too much in your back, and keep them low (you ARE strong, no need to brag about it more).

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REPOS / REST

La sagesse du dimanche soir:

” Le vrai repos est celui où l’homme s’arrête quand le moment est venu de s’arrêter et se meut quand le moment est venu de se mouvoir”

Richard Wilhelm, à propos du “repos”, dans son commentaire de l’hexagramme 52 KEN (l’immobilisation, la montagne) du Yi King, Livre des transformations.

J’ai remarqué qu’il est fréquent de négliger l’un ou l’autre de ces deux termes/principes, qui pris ensemble opèrent pourtant une bonne régénération des forces vitales, le cycle étant complet. Il semble même que certaines personnes tendent à négliger préférentiellement l’un ou l’autre, l’arrêt ou l’activité, selon leur “tempérament” ou “habitudes”. Il y a alors les personnes qui vont avoir tendance à se dévitaliser d’avantage en s’arrêtant trop, et celles qui vont avoir tendance à persister dans l’activité par dessus les ravins de fatigue qui se creusent, et toutes arrivent à l’épuisement finalement par des voies différentes. Wilhelm émet l’hypothèse que l’interprétation de cet hexagramme renvoie aussi à la pratique du yoga. Je perçois en effet comment le yoga peut contenir en lui même cette grande petite leçon là.

Some sunday night wisdom: 

“True rest is when one stops when time has come to stop and moves when time has come to move” 

Richard Wilhelm about “rest”, in his commentary of hexagram 52 KEN (keeping still, the mountain) in the I ching Book of changes. 

I have noticed that it is quite common to neglect either one of these two terms/principles, which when united bring good, full regeneration of life forces, for the cycle is complete. It even seems to me that some persons tend to neglect preferentially either one or the other, of stillness or activity, according to their “temperament” and/or “habits”. Then, there are the ones who tend to devitalize themselves further by keeping still too much, and the ones who insist on pedaling over ravines of weariness, and all reach exhaustion eventually following different paths. Wilhelm also makes the hypothesis that the interpretation of this hexagram refers in some ways to the practice of yoga. I think I see how yoga can indeed include this big small teaching.