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-   -   Yoga Methods...Tsk Tsk Mister Terry Laughlin! (http://www.totalimmersion.net/forum/showthread.php?t=4092)

caronis 01-13-2013 11:41 PM

Yoga Methods...Tsk Tsk Mister Terry Laughlin!
 
Okay . . . the thread title is meant to be facetious, but though I am half joking with it, I am also addressing what I believe to be a legitimate query.

I was reading Terry's New Year's Resolution as it pertained to doing Yoga on a regular basis. I am also doing something similar. I am marking my calendar in an attempt to do Yoga on a regular basis.
What has been a bother to me is that I believe that I am pursuing Yoga in the same way that I pursued swimming for many years. In a robotic, mindless fashion with very vague goals. I believe that perhaps Terry might be doing the same thing with Yoga as well. I say this because I bet Terry never once had to mark his Calendar with an S to remind himself to do swimming on a regular basis, but yet needs to do so with Yoga.

What I wish for is a more thoughtful, TI approach to Yoga and there isn't. There are various opinions on the value and purpose of Yoga, as well as the best methods. Some people believe in doing Yoga 2 hours a day, some believe in 10 minutes a day. Some people believe in holding a pose for 20 seconds, some believe in 2 minutes or longer. Also . . . some people believe that flexibility is the main goal, some people believe that spiritual elevation is the main goal. The question should also be asked if there is such a thing as too much flexibility!

I am going to add various ideas to this thread over time as I focus on Yoga, but I would like to encourage others, as well as Terry, to contribute their thoughts.

This reminds me of the fact that Bill Boomer, who never had even seen a Swim Meet when he began Coaching, was the one to come up with so many revolutionary ideas as it pertained to swimming. Yoga is steeped in tradition, but maybe that's part of the problem. Perhaps an outsider is needed to examine it and look at it from a different position....Pun intended!

I want to finish for now by saying that even though this is a Swimming Forum, there is a strong associating between Swimming & Yoga. Both have a Fountain of Youth aspect to them and I believe that many of the swimmers on this Forum pursue it as a secondary activity.

I want to encourage Terry to think about his Yoga practice in a deeper way. If you're at the level now where you can touch your toes, what value will it be if at the end of the year you still can only reach to your toes? .....Perhaps the same as the Robotic Lap Swimmer who swims 20 minutes a day, feels good about it, but is no faster or efficient at year's end...In my opinion, the robotic lap swimmer does gain benefit, but they are limiting what they can get from swimming unless they had a more thoughtful approach...

Perhaps the same thing can be said with Yoga....Terry, I bet if you could see consistent Kaizan-type of improvement in your Yoga practice, then you wouldn't need to remind yourself to do it....You'd be motivated and excited enough by the consistent improvement where it would become natural to do everyday. I'm sure this thread is causing you to pause and wonder. If one of the great values of the TI approach is to be able to apply it to other aspects of life, then Yoga is the most obvious pursuit in which it is needed!

CoachLuisaFonseca 01-16-2013 11:23 PM

The aim of Yoga is spiritual liberation, and things like physical health, emotional stability, etc, are by-products. So, in a way, anyone can use yoga in any way they want.

I don't know much about Terry's yoga practice, but I was a bit surprised once when I read a blog post about it, saying that he used to practice Iyengar yoga (a methodology that puts great emphasis on alignment, awaress, sequence, timing, etc) but he decided to start practicing a more fast paced method of yoga (can't remember if he mentioned a specific methodology) because he saw it as more advanced and more similar do swimming. What surprised me wasn't him chosing to practice another yoga methodology but the explanation for it. did. To me it seemed like Terry was approaching yoga in the complete opposite way he approached swimming - considering alignment, detail, etc, more basic then "movement" or "action", without taking into account the concept which I believe separates TI from other methods of swimming: awareness (either in "stillness" or in "action").

But then I remembered that Terry lives for swimming :) He seems to consider swimming his main source of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy, so a less polished approach to yoga seems pretty normal.

Actually, it would be pretty normal for any person anyway. I's say the first couple of years of personal yoga practice are like "donkey's work" - you just work hard (this is considering you have some sort of orientation, like a good teacher) And then awareness, orientation, intelligence, start to come. Or they may not come. It may come earlier or later. Yoga is a subjective science.

Believing that, I'd say the most important thing to start a personal practice is having a good teacher, and have perserverance and discipline in personal practice. And from there, it will happen what has to happen :)

terry 03-11-2013 06:20 PM

Caronis and Luisa
Thanks for your thought-provoking comments and questions. WRT Iyengar as compared to vinyasa-style yoga. I don't believe my early experience in yoga was with pure Iyengar classes -- i.e. led by an Iyengar-certified instructor. Rather they were Iyengar inspired or influenced -- at least as far as my imperfect understanding of Iyengar goes. By that I mean we held many poses for 5 to 10 breaths.

I didn't understand the distinction at the time, but as I gained experience and was exposed to other styles of yoga I came to appreciate my good fortune in starting there. The main benefit as I saw it was that this style allowed my to patiently familiarize myself with each pose, understand its challenges and learn that refinement opportunities are almost limitless.

I started TI in 1989 and began practicing yoga around 1992 or 1993. Before long my experiences with yoga began to have a transforming influence on how I taught and practiced swimming:

1) As I understood that the three main elements in yoga practice were (i) the poses, (ii) breathing and (iii) mindfulness, I saw that the same three elements could become central to swimming practice. And when those are the central elements, swimming is transformed from exercise to a movement art.

2) I also understood that it was possible to 'break apart' the freestyle stroke (or any other stroke for that matter) into a series of consequential moments -- the Skating position for instance. And that we could examine, understand and refine each of those moments by creating a drill dedicated to doing so. In other words an Iyengar approach to swimming skill development. Swimming whole stroke would then become a vinyasa approach to swimming skill practice.

How am I practicing now? I do 90% or more like Iyengar, holding poses for 10 to 20 or more breaths. About 10% I move on the breath, mostly variations on Sun Salutation.

I still record on my calendar how many minutes of practice I do. This doesn't render those minutes any less mindful or meaningful. I do it because it lets me see in a glimpse by looking at a calendar page how many consecutive days I've practiced and to calculate at the end of the month how many days and average minutes per day I've done. I do the same with swimming.

In Feb, for instance, I swam on 17 days for an avg of 50 min. I practiced yoga for 27 days (missed only one!) for an average of 31 minutes. If you follow my swimming practice, you know I like to measure and document things. It's an extrinsic reward that has helped stoke my intrinsic motivation.

It's also because I'm a goal-oriented person and know that goals work best when they are SMART
Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Relevant
Time-Bound
My goal for Feb was to practice yoga at least 5 days of 7 and to average 30 minutes. Goal Met.
My goal for Mar is to practice at least 5 days of 7 (I practiced 9 days of the first 10, missing only Mar 3, the day my father died) and to raise my average to 35 minutes.

The important thing is that, after 70-odd days, yoga has become a habit. Which was the main goal.

CoachLuisaFonseca 03-12-2013 01:29 AM

Hi Terry

Iyengar also teaches sun salutations ;)

No, Iyengar is not staying in the poses for 5 or 10 breaths... but I guess this is not the place for it :)

But I do feel that when beginning a yoga practice, you should have that approach - SMART.

It takes a few years of personal practice - how many its impossible to say, its subjective - to move past the "gross" dimension of yoga. Now, moving past it is a "jump" that should happen at some point, but at the beginning I believe the most effective approach is one like yours. It creates discipline, educates the body and the mind.

Hey Caronis, I also wish for a more thoughtful approach to yoga by everyone, but you can't jump steps :) If Terry is now only starting a regular personal practice, then he is where he is. He can't know more than what his experience allows him to know. If in, let's say, 3 or 4 years of regular personal practice, NO transformation has taken place, then maybe he should change the approach.

Now what really is sad is that the word "yoga" as became so "relative" that people think they know what it is, even without any experience on it. Anyone can call himself a yoga teacher, and students don't seem to be to interested in really inform themselves, or study, to see if the "idea" of yoga they're being "sold" is legit.

CoachMatHudson 03-12-2013 06:34 PM

I cannot but help take the TI mindset into anything I want to learn now.

I wanted to get just a first taste of some yoga in order to create a portable form of mindful training while landlocked (if I am ill or in a hotel room, for instance). Upon talking with TI Coach Tomas from Czech Rep who practices ashtanga I picked up a video so I could observe the ideas and experiment in on my own time. I have had the video for a year now and since I only occasionally make time to do it I have not watched past the first 5 minutes because I don't want to get overwhelmed with more until I have the first concept down well! Crazy, huh? I could explore Sun Salutation for a few years I think!

And I have also acquired an appreciation for aikido and have attended a couple classes. My practicing friend teaches me little things when we are together and then I chew on them for a while. In the first class I visited the sensei (he seems to be a stellar guy and is reported to be excellent 2nd degree BB sensei) led us through a range of stretches and simple moves that I was overwhelmed like any student in our workshops! I could have taken the entire class just to practice the kneeling walk or the tumble without stumbling each time! And that is what I wanted to do- I wanted to stop him after 5 minutes and take 15 to work on just that one concept. But that is not how the class worked.

I find myself wanting to approach both of these with slow, methodical examination. I found that I was a bit overwhelmed with the way the aikido class was taught, but my friend explained the reasoning of this and I see the possible sense of it. I wanted to break it down the TI way. It makes me want to experiment further to grasp the advantages of that approach - perhaps it makes sense to practice a 'martial' art in this way.

But the main thing that I recognized in myself was that I am reluctant to do either of these until I know I can and will devote some decent level of regular attention to train for these basic skills. They deserve it, just like our swimming does. If I climbed, or did aikido or yoga like I work on my TI skills I'd have something to show for it there too. Swimming takes the best (just about all) of my available training time. So these land-based interests are waiting for any excuse that keeps me out of the water long enough so I can devote myself to one of them with appropriate amount of frequency and consistency.

PS- there is no doubt that learning from a skilled instructor is the way to go in these practices. I would need a yoga instructor to explain the WHYs for me on a lot of things. From that aikido class I know now what our wet students must feel like. I am even more compassionate now for their newby situation.

caronis 03-12-2013 06:44 PM

Thanks for the response, Terry....I was hoping you would chime in on this thread. It took awhile for your response and I thought you had said sometime in January that you had a goal of 10 minutes of yoga a day. I'd like to think that this thread caused you to think more deeply about your yoga practice and that it caused you to up the amount of time to 30 minutes a day because of it.

I was getting into Yoga more deeply, but I fizzled out in the last few weeks. I had a couple of minor health conditions (swimmer's ear, poison oak) that kept me out of the pool for a while, and I ended up getting demoralized and eventually stopped even doing just the Yoga.

I'm now getting back into the pool and feeling reinvigorated. Swimming does more for my spiritual well-being than Yoga does. That may be an ironic statement considering that Yoga places great emphasis on the spiritual aspect, but I'm sure many of you probably feel the same way.

I am going to get back into Yoga, but I have to de-emphasize it's priority and importance and I'll try to explain why....With swimming, I can jump back into the pool after a layoff, feel good, and not feel that I've lost too much ground (so to speak)....With Yoga, after a layoff, I feel like I'm starting all over from scratch and that I'm stiff as a board....I find that very frustrating on a spiritual level! I find myself, nowadays, to not be a fan of any activity that requires a high level of maintenance.

I will do Yoga again, but I think what I want to do is treat it almost the way that I have treated weightlifting. Instead of everyday for 5 minutes, perhaps 3-4 times a week for 30 minutes. This way I give myself a break from doing it everyday, but I still put in enough time to make an impact....To tell you the truth, I am not sure what actual difference it would make for me if I did it everyday, or every other day. This is a big part of the frustration I have expressed in my previous post. There is no consensus whatsoever. Generally, Yogis have a philosophy of the more the better and this is unacceptable to me. I would be willing to put in 2 hours a day if the benefits and results were much greater, but there is no evidence of this. In fact, there is no evidence of the great benefits derived from great flexibility. If I pushed myself to do the splits, what is the relevance of this?? There is just a brain-dead assumption that the more flexibility, the better.

There is this Russian Guy by the name of Pavel Tsatsouline who has written books on stretching and flexibility. Now granted, this is not exactly the same as Yoga, but I appreciate that his emphasis is on the physical aspect rather than the puzzling spiritual aspects of yoga. He has some interesting opinions that I'd like to share. He says that research suggests that the amount of flexibility necessary is only slightly beyond what your sport requires. In fact, too much flexibility can be a negative factor. He mentions a famous martial artist that went beyond the 180 degrees of a regular split and found that when he kicked, his legs did not retract back quickly the way they had done before.
Pavel also says that over-stretching is dangerous because you can damage your ligaments and tendons.
He also says that it's a myth that when you increase your flexibility that you lengthen the muscle. He claims that what keeps us inflexible is within the brain, not within the muscle. I wish I could find the scientific term he uses, but that essentially your brain has to feel confident that it can get into a flexible position without injury.
Oh...and also, he doesn't believe that static stretching is the best way to get flexible. He believes in the contract-relax method. Essentially tensing the muscles, then relaxing, as being way more effective in developing flexibility.

I'm not saying I necessarily agree with his viewpoints, but what he does is espouse a different opinion and make you think more deeply about flexibility (or yoga).

I suppose that where I"m at lately, is that I want to get back to the Less is More philosophy with yoga, rather than the More is Better philosophy. I just don't like Yoga enough to want to do it 5-10 hours a week, and I am not seeing the value of it clearly enough in a couple of ways. Firstly, if I do Yoga 10 hours a week, will I become more flexible than if I did it 20 minutes a day, and secondly, what value does this increased flexibility really have??

It is very frustrating because Yoga suffers from its mystique. It's been around for thousands of years, yet it is so poorly researched and truly understood. I appreciate what Terry said about the acronym S.M.A.R.T....I am also one who wants to see actual, measurable, relevant progress, but it is a bit of a conundrum. You can have a goal of doing the splits, but it may be very tricky defining the relevance of this....and it may also be that your own body wasn't designed to be as flexible as someone else's based on bone structure, ligaments, etc.

The last thing I want to say regarding Yoga as a vehicle for greater flexibility is this. I am motivated to develop my flexibility, but feel very strongly that once I've gotten to a flexible point that seems right for me, I want it to be easily maintained. I don't want to feel that I have to do Yoga everyday for 30 minutes for the rest of my life. I would rather feel that I can choose from a very few poses and do Yoga like 5 minutes, 3x a week, and maintain nearly all that I have gained.

terry 03-12-2013 09:35 PM

My true goals for yoga were (i) to learn to enjoy practicing solo, overcoming my feeling that I needed a teacher and class to have the discipline to practice, and (ii) to feel better as a result of practice.
Having achieved the first and feeling on the way to the second, I don't presently have any 'performance' goals in yoga. E.G. To put my nose to my knee in the 1-legged forward bend (don't know the sanskrit name for this). I did make this a goal for my 50th birthday and achieved it. But now I'm happy to accept whatever comes.

And what seems to be coming is small but satisfying progress. The most noteworthy is that my one-legged balance has become far steadier, as a result of doing 5 poses nearly every day that involve this. I often do them facing the rising sun in the morning, or the setting sun in the evening.

This is a highly valuable health-oriented goal since gerontologists say that working to maintain balance after age 60 is critical to healthy aging. Many people lose their sense of balance and falls - leading to broken hips - are one of the leading threats to well-being in the aged. Not that I'm anywhere near that, but I do intend to continue with this practice for the rest of my life.

caronis 03-13-2013 12:47 AM

Terry,
I tend to think that your approach is probably for the better. What I think happens in Yoga when there are 'performance' goals is that the emphasis tends to be more on touching your nose to the knee, rather than feeling that deep stretch in the muscle. Feeling the stretch is really where the benefits are. I think when people are trying to hit benchmarks, they tend to lose good form in order to achieve a concrete result...It is hard because many of us like the sense of achievement that comes from reaching a concrete goal.
I think I have to accept a certain level of vagueness within Yoga.

I'm also with you on incorporating balance poses. It's hard to know how much is enough, but I'm guessing that 5 minutes of balancing with full concentration is better than 30 minutes of balancing with a wandering mind.

I think with balancing, other than the prevention of falls, there must be other benefits that are difficult to know and hard to measure. Perhaps the brain functions differently when a person's balance is well-developed, but it's hard to know. It reminds me of a saying I once heard a person say; that in essence they don't know how electricity works, but they know how to use it.
I think well-developed balance does something very positive to muscular and athletic development. It's like the difference between a bodybuilder and a gymnast. The bodybuilder may have larger and stronger muscles, but the gymnast has not only strength, but incredible control and athleticism. It's as though muscles develop in a very efficient, symmetrical manner.

One thing that I have found very inspiring in swimming is the feedback the water gives. I may be a little out on left field on this, but I think that when we become more efficient and hydrodynamical as swimmers, we are positioning our bodies in the most healthy postures and movement. Something that is much harder to get as feedback while doing Yoga.
I have this other theory regarding swimming that may also be out there, but I tend to believe that when we learn to be hydrodynamical in the water, the muscles develop in a very aesthetic manner. Swimmers tend to have shapely physiques. More so than runners and cyclists in my opinion.

terry 03-13-2013 03:29 PM

My main reason for doing balance poses nearly every day is the great calm I feel when breathing deeply and holding stable on one leg in a variety of positions which make that challenging. The balance portion of my practice usually lasts 10 minutes or so. I try to hold for 12 to 15 breaths on each leg in each pose.

I also like it because of where I put my gaze. Yoga teachers advise us to focus on something that isn't moving. I gaze out my front window at either Bonticou Crag or Skytops -- two well known features on the Shawangunk Ridge.
Geologists say neither has moved in 270 million years.

haschu33 03-15-2013 04:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachLuisaFonseca (Post 33944)
The aim of Yoga is spiritual liberation, and things like physical health, emotional stability, etc, are by-products. So, in a way, anyone can use yoga in any way they want. ...

Great way to put it! Although I would rephrase it a bit so it looses the connotation that the physical health and the emotional stability etc are merely random by-products. They are not the main point but serve as a good basis for the spiritual development. It can be difficult to work on spiritual growth when the body is not healthy, and it is almost impossible when suffering from emotional instability.

Quote:

Originally Posted by caronis (Post 34864)
...

It is very frustrating because Yoga suffers from its mystique. It's been around for thousands of years, yet it is so poorly researched and truly understood.

Also a great way to put it, although I would rephrase this also. I don't think that Yoga is suffering from the lack of understanding but we do.

That is I believe our dilemma as 'Westerners': we know everything on an outer, physical level but our knowledge, experience and insight in spirituality is very limited, if not to say equals Zero. Kind of baby like. This is even more surprising when you consider that spirituality has to do with our mind, and our mind is always with us. But still we don't have a clue about it. At the most we think that our mind is our thoughts and emotions, although it doesn't take too much analysis to find out that this cannot be the case.

I don't know much about Yoga, just started it a while ago, and also agree with Luisa that the 'success' with it highly depends on the quality of the teacher - at least I understood her in this way. I find it quite amusing that there are people who offer 'improved' versions of Yoga. I don't think that any of us has the insight, knowledge and wisdom to improve Yoga, but some of us surely have the ability to improve physical exercises to better fit them for a specific purpose. But at that point it is not Yoga anymore.

I don't see any spirituality in swimming. Swimming means moving your body in the water in such a way that you don't drown but move forward. That's it.
Yes, you can approach it in a very mindful way, and any activity where we are not distracted and are aware what we are doing is a spiritual practice, indeed. This approach we could apply to virtually anything, driving our car, cleaning the house, etc.
Nevertheless, swimming here has a big advantage: since it puts us in a potentially dangerous situation in the water, we need a certain amount of awareness to start with. When we want to improve, we need all our attention and focus to keep all those various body parts moving in the way we want. So in a way swimming is ideal to practice awareness and mindfulness, and if that is the only 'spiritual practice' we engage in it still is far better then doing none. And then we might find ourselves in a 'flow state'.
I googled 'flow state' a while ago and found explanations from this Hungarian psychologist who's name you can only pronounce when you forget how it is written. It find it interesting that the description of a flow state deals to a large extend with it's outer circumstances and how it comes about, but there is no description of the real interesting part: what exactly happens in the mind in a flow state?
From a spiritual point of view flow states are by-products, like Luisa said about the physical health in Yoga. In both cases focusing on the by-product means missing the point.


Anyway, just my personal opinion, so everybody is free to have another one, of course ;-)



hang on in there and keep swimming mindfully ...

haschu33 03-15-2013 04:47 AM

Since we talk about it, this got my attention:

Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 34837)
It's also because I'm a goal-oriented person and know that goals work best when they are SMART
Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Relevant
Time-Bound
...

Also agreement here. I am very goal oriented, and my goal is that what Luisa said about the goal of Yoga: complete (spiritual) liberation (although Yoga is not my main spiritual practice).
This goal is:
Specific - it is liberation, so free from restraints, and complete, so free from all of them
Measurable - all limitations and conceptualizations will eventually display itself and can be overcome subsequently
Attainable - there are human beings who have attained
Relevant - there is nothing more relevant than the ultimate goal
Time-bound - on a conventional level, yes, it will happen according to time

So, long live the goals that keep us out of boredom - and ignorance


Hang on in there...

CoachSuzanne 03-15-2013 08:06 AM

I enjoy yoga because it stretches my hip flexors and lumbar spine in a way nothing else can. That's the only reason I need. I feel good during and after...and worse when I miss it.

terry 03-15-2013 03:28 PM

I don't see 'spirituality' in swimming but neither do I see it in yoga. In fact I avoid taking classes with teachers who emphasize that aspect overly. I do yoga -- and combine it with swimming -- for one primary reason. It makes me feel better in body and mind. And I anticipate the combination will do more than anything else I know of to increase my chances of being strong, supple, mobile and agile at 85+.

Others do yoga more for the spiritual aspects -- and I recognize it arose as a spiritual practice. To each his, or her, own.

terry 03-15-2013 03:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne (Post 34905)
I enjoy yoga because it stretches my hip flexors and lumbar spine in a way nothing else can.

Ditto, but for me also its core strengthening and stabilizing effect that seems completely integrated with what it does to improve and maintain overall freedom of movement. So important as we age.

haschu33 03-15-2013 06:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 34909)
I don't see 'spirituality' in swimming but neither do I see it in yoga. In fact I avoid taking classes with teachers who emphasize that aspect overly. I do yoga -- and combine it with swimming -- for one primary reason. It makes me feel better in body and mind.

So what is spirituality then?
I find it puzzling that people discover the benefiting effects of being mindful, being aware, maintaining a focus and seeing the state of mind changing from that, but don't get interested into taking this further, starting a journey of discovery in the own mind.
I find discovering and working with the own mind the most exiting and fascinating endeavor ever.
And you can do it anywhere at any time :-)

But as you are saying:
Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 34909)
Others do yoga more for the spiritual aspects -- and I recognize it arose as a spiritual practice. To each his, or her, own.

Thus it is.

Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne (Post 34905)
I enjoy yoga because it stretches my hip flexors and lumbar spine in a way nothing else can. That's the only reason I need. I feel good during and after...and worse when I miss it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 34910)
Ditto, but for me also its core strengthening and stabilizing effect that seems completely integrated with what it does to improve and maintain overall freedom of movement. So important as we age.

It's the other way round with me. My hip flexibility is still quite good, I did several years of karate and Taekwondo when I was young and still beat most others in my yoga class with this.
But my shoulder flexibility is really poor.

And, sorry for being slightly obtrusive here, isn't mental freedom and mobility more important than physical freedom, aka mobility? A happy mind is a happy mind no matter in what body it abides, isn't it?
There is a story of a Tibetan Buddhist master who spent several years in Chinese prison, which is not a particular nice place to stay. He said about that time: " I had more freedom in my mind than most people who are living in freedom".
And, referring to the signature of swimust the great, if one can do it I can do it.


Hang on in there...

Grant 03-15-2013 07:35 PM

There is a story of a Tibetan Buddhist master who spent several years in Chinese prison, which is not a particular nice place to stay. He said about that time: " I had more freedom in my mind than most people who are living in freedom".
And, referring to the signature of swimust the great, if one can do it I can do it.
Quoted from Haschu

There is another story that Buddhist monks were put in solitary confinement for some reason. This was considered a punishment.
Also I would put out there that everything in our lives has a spiritual aspect imbedded in it.
As well there are many people who are not physically in good health who practice so called "spiritual" methodologies with satisfying results and a achieve an experience of oneness.

This has been one of my favorite threads. It is in the midst of my favorite swim site. Does life get any better than this? I said this to a friend some time ago and his answer was "not right now it dosnt". :0)

CoachLuisaFonseca 03-15-2013 10:28 PM

Spiritual liberation and physical and mental health are not mutually exclusive goals.

Yoga is a system for the development of the manking on the physical, mental, and spiritual levels. You aim what what you aim. You may "only" aim for physical and mental health. If you aim for higher spiritual levels, it doesn't mean you don't aim for the other two, because the other two are necessary for spiritual development (yes, like haschu said - they're by-products, but not "just" by products).

I don't practice "more" for the spiritual aspects of yoga. If I wake up with back pain, I'll practice to deal with that problem. An approach like "oh no, but I only practice for the spiritual aspects, so I won't really deal with it, I may destroy my back, but I'll evolve spiritually" doesn't make much sense to me.
If you aim for mental and physical health, that's what you aim for, maybe it's not the goal of yoga, but they are side benefits of yoga that you should enjoy.

A yoga teacher may aim for spiritual liberation, but if a student has a back pain, or anxiety, those are things that need to be dealt with - they may be looking for spiritual liberation or not, but either way, they should practice to relieve or cure those issues. As a teacher, I should help them do that. Maybe I also want to put them in a spiritual path, but I still have to teach them how to practice for them to cure their back pain or deal with their anxiety. Otherwise, how can I talk about spirituality?

Stories like that of the Buddhist master or the fasting Buddha, starving himslef to death tying to reach nirvana - I may believe them, but I don't think that route is for me - or for 99.999999999 per cent of all humans. Starving myself? I'd be miserable. Staying in a cell for years? I'd be miserable. Pretty sure.
And of course there are people who don't have great health and achieve spiritual progress through other spiritual methodologies. But I don't have any experience or knowledge on other "methodologies". I chose yoga.

I may be aiming for spiritual liberation or simply for enjoyment of life - basically, I aim for improvement as a human being – but I practice yoga because, as a system that integrates body, mind and soul, I believe it is the route for me to achieve whatever improvement I may be searching for.

Now, one thing is for someone to use yoga “only” aiming to feel better in body and mind. But that doesn’t mean that just because something makes you feel better in body and mind, it is yoga. Going for a jog with headphones on your ears can make you feel better in body and mind. But it’s not yoga. Using yoga accordingly to what you aim is one thing, a completely different thing is this popular tendency nowadays to “change” or “adapt” yoga to fit whoever’s desires or needs (or business aspirations ;-) ) Like the "improved" yogas out there haschu mentioned.

haschu33 03-16-2013 04:52 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachLuisaFonseca (Post 34914)
...

Stories like that of the Buddhist master or the fasting Buddha, starving himslef to death tying to reach nirvana - I may believe them, but I don't think that route is for me - or for 99.999999999 per cent of all humans. Starving myself? I'd be miserable. Staying in a cell for years? I'd be miserable. Pretty sure.

I'd be miserable, too :-(( But I would still aim for this:
Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachLuisaFonseca (Post 34914)
...
basically, I aim for improvement as a human being ...

But I think there is a misconception or misunderstanding here. The historical Buddha himself practiced austerity or asceticism for several years. Then he stopped and declared that this is not the right way. He declared that neither indulging nor refraining is the way, but to stay in the middle. It is said that he attained enlightenment by meditating under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, India.
If you are interested in a good headache I recommend a study of the Tibetan Buddhist Madhyamika School, the school of The Middle Way.
To my knowledge there is no Buddhist tradition that practices aceticism, on the contrary, a good health and long life is very much recommended and being striven for.
There are some religious/spiritual traditions that practice austerity though.

The point why I mentioned that Buddhist master in prison is not to point to asceticism but to point to the fact that the mind is the ruling factor and when we achieve stability in our minds then we are far less effected by outer circumstances. That was my point, and that is why I believe the most important is to care about our minds and our mind states, particularly when we want to improve as human beings - or to strive for complete liberation.
And that is something that 99.999999999 per cent of all humans can do.
Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachLuisaFonseca (Post 34914)
...
... Using yoga accordingly to what you aim is one thing, a completely different thing is this popular tendency nowadays to “change” or “adapt” yoga to fit whoever’s desires or needs (or business aspirations ;-) ) Like the "improved" yogas out there haschu mentioned.

Again a good way to put it. In my opinion there is a demarcation line about being on a spiritual path or not. As long as I try to adapt 'spirituality' to my life, I am not. When I start to change my life to fit it to spirituality I am.



I have a feeling that I am kind of alone with these points. So if I am just getting on everybody's nerves I can refrain from it and just talk about swimming - just tell me.
In fact it is all Terry's fault ;-) he constantly points to meta-physics and mental and spiritual aspects. But once you open a can of worms it's open, I'm afraid.

When you find yourself in a situation where someone makes you angry and you cannot control your emotion anymore, don't you get a desire to free yourself from this? When your mind produces a disturbing thought and it makes you miserable and unhappy, don't you get the desire to gain control over your mind? When there is someone close to you who is in great emotional difficulties and you want to help but cannot because it affects you too much, don't you have a strong urge to be free from your own stories and more skillful to help others?
Don't you have this burning desire for freedom and peace in you?

CoachLuisaFonseca 03-16-2013 11:49 AM

Hey! :)

Na, at least on my nerves you're not getting.. it's just that I'm usually very assertive when I communicate, no matter who I'm talking to :)






Quote:

Originally Posted by haschu33 (Post 34918)
I'd be miserable, too :-(( But I would still aim for this:


But I think there is a misconception or misunderstanding here. The historical Buddha himself practiced austerity or asceticism for several years. Then he stopped and declared that this is not the right way. He declared that neither indulging nor refraining is the way, but to stay in the middle. It is said that he attained enlightenment by meditating under the Bodhi Tree in Bodh Gaya, India.
If you are interested in a good headache I recommend a study of the Tibetan Buddhist Madhyamika School, the school of The Middle Way.
To my knowledge there is no Buddhist tradition that practices aceticism, on the contrary, a good health and long life is very much recommended and being striven for.
There are some religious/spiritual traditions that practice austerity though.

The point why I mentioned that Buddhist master in prison is not to point to asceticism but to point to the fact that the mind is the ruling factor and when we achieve stability in our minds then we are far less effected by outer circumstances. That was my point, and that is why I believe the most important is to care about our minds and our mind states, particularly when we want to improve as human beings - or to strive for complete liberation.
And that is something that 99.999999999 per cent of all humans can do.


Again a good way to put it. In my opinion there is a demarcation line about being on a spiritual path or not. As long as I try to adapt 'spirituality' to my life, I am not. When I start to change my life to fit it to spirituality I am.



I have a feeling that I am kind of alone with these points. So if I am just getting on everybody's nerves I can refrain from it and just talk about swimming - just tell me.
In fact it is all Terry's fault ;-) he constantly points to meta-physics and mental and spiritual aspects. But once you open a can of worms it's open, I'm afraid.

When you find yourself in a situation where someone makes you angry and you cannot control your emotion anymore, don't you get a desire to free yourself from this? When your mind produces a disturbing thought and it makes you miserable and unhappy, don't you get the desire to gain control over your mind? When there is someone close to you who is in great emotional difficulties and you want to help but cannot because it affects you too much, don't you have a strong urge to be free from your own stories and more skillful to help others?
Don't you have this burning desire for freedom and peace in you?


terry 03-16-2013 03:08 PM

Like Grant, I love this discussion. I also love the fact that it will surprise no one, nor seem in any way out of place, to include 'spirited' discussions of spiritual health on a site that is nominally about swimming.
A book that has had great influence on me is The Life We Are Given, co-authored by our old friend George Leonard (who wrote Mastery) and Michael Murphy, the founder of the Esalen Institute. It's a guide to practice, which it defines (I'm paraphrasing here) as "a set of thoughtful purposeful actions pursued to create enduring positive change in body, mind and spirit."

It's quite non-controversial to speak to mixed audiences - say a triathlon club or conference -- about pursuing physical and mental health (as opposed to only bottom-line goals like faster splits) but when introducing the goal of spiritual strength or health, I may not use the term 'spirit' -- or if I do I give specific examples, such as feeling a clarity of purpose or having confidence in your choices. In doing this, I'm seeking to avoid a reflexive rejection (by some) of the openness of thought I'm trying to promote, and move such an audience toward consideration that having a healthy spirit is something they can relate to and, having opened that door, they may explore further.

What I said earlier about avoiding yoga classes that more overtly inject spirituality refers to switching from a center where they start and end classes with prolonged chanting in Sanskrit, to one where the teacher walks in and says "Okay, let's begin in mountain pose." This is mainly because I prefer to find my own spiritual path, not have one imposed on me.

caronis 03-17-2013 11:41 PM

I will add another post at some point that will be more concrete in what I want to say about my Yoga practice, but for now I want to add more spice to the spiritual dish we've been having.

I believe Yoga is riddled with contradiction and with that "spirit" my comments will be both complimentary and critical.

For one thing, Yoga seems to encourage stretching and exerting yourself beyond limits to get a point where you can be relaxed and release yourself into the Pose. Somehow, I think I understand this, yet it is contradictory. It emphasizes getting to a point of great flexibility before you can truly benefit from Yoga.

Also, there have been many examples of Yogis coming to the US and behaving in a way that is contradictory to the ideal. Yoga seems to have a goal of being without ego, yet many of these Yogis get seduced by power, sex, and money. I can't fault them too much because temptation is a tough drug to kick. I find it so ironic,though, that people in all different types of religions are so much into sex.

I am going to read this book about Bikram who is the one who does the Hot style of Hatha Yoga. He is so egotistical that it's cartoonish. He also, like many other men who teach Yoga, take liberties with their female followers.

Also....years ago I saw this documentary that was about Iyengar. It was so interesting that in New York City students were literally lining up to kiss this man's feet. This one woman was saying how she didn't feel comfortable doing that. I really applauded her because she was sticking true to her values without succumbing to the pressure.

Anyway, another point of contradiction is that Yoga, as it was originally practiced, was to improve the physical and mental health not as a goal unto itself, but because it was felt that a healthy mind and body are more conducive to spiritual growth.....Yet ironically, the ultimate goal seems to be in liberating the spirit from the body, regardless of it's health.

I find the murky mystique in which Yoga operates to be annoying, but I do have several complimentary things to say about it.

For one thing, it does seem to do something very positive to the body, whether research has shown this or not. Perhaps it lubricates the joints, particularly in the spine. There is no blood supply to the discs and lifting in the spine, twisting, etc. seems like it's a way to get "juices" to that area. People who are accomplished in Yoga really have good bodies. Now, is it the Yoga that creates the good body? Or is it that the good body tends to do good in Yoga. I think it's the Yoga.

Also....as far as the Hinduism roots of Yoga. I respect it because it incorporates a physicality and there is also a very aesthetic aura to it with the incense, art, music, etc. Religions tend not to respect the body. It's as though spirituality is supposed to be completely distinct and separate from the physical. Yoga, ultimately wants a release from the body, but at least it values being in fit shape. I'm an athlete. I get immense pleasure from physical pursuits and don't think there is anything wrong with that. It's like the way some people get a spiritual lift from playing music; all the power to them.

I want to say, though, that I do believe that it is important to have enough of a "spiritual" sense or whatever, to not be too trapped within the body. I will give a very concrete example of this....There are numerous examples of people who have been crippled that end up committing suicide. Offhand, I can think of some guy who did BMX Extreme Sports that ended up injuring himself to the point of being confined to a wheelchair. He ended up ultimately killing himself. This is what happens when people can only value life through physical means. They have a limited capacity to fully enjoy a "WHOLEsome" life. If Yoga can allow people to reach a high spiritual plane, or better yet, just to be happy, then that's a great goal to have.

Grant 03-18-2013 12:32 AM

Well laid out post Caronis.
You mention several contradictions. Which to me seem to be contradictory as well. Then I remember coming across a reference that said "the measure of an enlightened being is the capacity to hold innumerable paradoxes". Paraphrasing here.
The fact that we want to measure enlightenment is in itself a paradox.
Ah well the trip continues.

haschu33 03-18-2013 06:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Grant (Post 34947)
Well laid out post Caronis.
You mention several contradictions. Which to me seem to be contradictory as well. Then I remember coming across a reference that said "the measure of an enlightened being is the capacity to hold innumerable paradoxes". Paraphrasing here.
The fact that we want to measure enlightenment is in itself a paradox.
Ah well the trip continues.

Grant, I can agree to all of that, great!

caronis, yes, that is a good way to put those 'contradictory' items. I don't know much about Yoga, I guess people like Luisa are more qualified to talk about that. But I can say something from my understanding of spirituality about those contradictions.
Quote:

Originally Posted by caronis (Post 34946)


Also, there have been many examples of Yogis coming to the US and behaving in a way that is contradictory to the ideal. Yoga seems to have a goal of being without ego, yet many of these Yogis get seduced by power, sex, and money. I can't fault them too much because temptation is a tough drug to kick. I find it so ironic,though, that people in all different types of religions are so much into sex.

I am going to read this book about Bikram who is the one who does the Hot style of Hatha Yoga. He is so egotistical that it's cartoonish. He also, like many other men who teach Yoga, take liberties with their female followers.

Sex is always a juicy subject, isn't it?
Sexual desire is a main driving force in our life, that's why you find it anywhere. We all only exist because of sex. Since our Christian tradition has provided us with a strong morality about sex we always put a magnifying glass on sexual aspects, and we expect 'holy' people to be beyond such 'low' desires. In fact following a spiritual path means gradually loosing all imposed inhibitions, so also the inhibitions about sex are less.
I think part of the often found sex versus religious-people partnership is because of lack of inhibitions, partly because of simply giving in to temptations, partly because our understanding of holy people is kind of simplistic and morality-driven, and partly because of the fact that we always put a magnifying glass on sexual issues. In the end it is a very personal business who engages with whom. But, it is also good to be aware, particularly when the talk is not walked.
By the way, through spiritual practice one can experience the same state of bliss and egolessness that we find in the sexual orgasm. And it comes without all those nasty, disgusting fluids that come as a by-product otherwise ;-))
No washing of sheets, so to speak.

You could ask, why is it part of the vows that nuns and monks take to not engage in sex? I think that it is not because there is something wrong with sex – why should there be something wrong? I think it is to avoid the strong attachment that comes with sex. And attachments are a big obstacle on any spiritual path.

Isn't it amazing that the display of a naked female breast in a TV show can create an uproar while the constant display of violence, murder, killing, slaughtering of human beings etc. is accepted as a 'normal' feature of our modern daily life?
Quote:

Originally Posted by caronis (Post 34946)

Anyway, another point of contradiction is that Yoga, as it was originally practiced, was to improve the physical and mental health not as a goal unto itself, but because it was felt that a healthy mind and body are more conducive to spiritual growth.....Yet ironically, the ultimate goal seems to be in liberating the spirit from the body, regardless of it's health.

Yes, this seems to be quite funny, but is actually quite simple, I guess. In the ultimate goal there is the freedom of the mind, and that is only complete when being free of the body. But to get there we need a human life and the support of a human body.

I think these are all good points. And, as Grant says, the confusion is not in the enlightenment, it is in our conceptualization of it. In the end the truth goes against all conventions, and all political correctness, I'm afraid.

CoachSuzanne 03-18-2013 08:53 AM

Contradictions and spirituality aside, last night I did 25 minutes of "power yoga" a DVD with Tony Horton. I had been dragging all day long, no energy. After power yoga I had enough motivation and energy to clean the whole house nearly from top to bottom in about 2 hours. It was almost a miracle.

haschu33 03-18-2013 09:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne (Post 34949)
Contradictions and spirituality aside, last night I did 25 minutes of "power yoga" a DVD with Tony Horton. I had been dragging all day long, no energy. After power yoga I had enough motivation and energy to clean the whole house nearly from top to bottom in about 2 hours. It was almost a miracle.

Got to get that DVD :-(

caronis 03-19-2013 08:04 PM

Thank you Suzanne, for keeping it real.

When you get me and Haschu in a chat room, sometimes we hover to the ceiling....sometimes to the roof.

Quote:

Originally Posted by haschu33 (Post 34918)
I have a feeling that I am kind of alone with these points. So if I am just getting on everybody's nerves I can refrain from it and just talk about swimming - just tell me.
In fact it is all Terry's fault ;-) he constantly points to meta-physics and mental and spiritual aspects. But once you open a can of worms it's open, I'm afraid.

Haschu, I was thinking about this statement.....because there actually was a comment or two you made months ago that perhaps did get on my nerves. This is what I have to say about that.....It's probably a positive and necessary thing.
I think in order to achieve growth, one needs to be a bit uncomfortable. A person needs to re-examine their assumptions, or perhaps examine them for the first time. This makes many people uncomfortable.

I don't have to agree with you at all to grow from a discussion. When a viewpoint is expressed that is in conflict with another person's viewpoint or assumptions, there could and should be one of two results.....either a person adapts and changes with the new information, or they figure out a greater reason for continuing with their current stance.

A case in point is this.....when I started on the TI path and spoke to a couple of traditional swim instructors regarding it, I was really surprised that there was any controversy about it. I could tell that they weren't at all enthusiastic about TI and I genuinely wanted to know why. I wasn't trying to debate, I really wanted to know why they seemed to frown upon it. Perhaps TI has flaws that I wasn't seeing.....however, they weren't interested in giving me an answer. This was really strange to me, but I finally figured out why this was the case....
It's because their long-held assumptions were being questioned and this caused a great deal of discomfort....Similar, but on a smaller level, as when a person's religious beliefs are being challenged....I mean, when it comes to religion, some people would rather die for their beliefs rather than to alter them.

I've seen some other posted Threads where Terry seems to sometimes chafe over the criticism by his competition. I guess I can understand it because he used the term "Straw Man" as to how they structure their arguments against TI.
Here's the situation as I see it, though....Of course, they will make the strongest case they can against the TI method.....That's because some of their assumptions are being challenged for the first time ever. When you tell someone who's heavily involved in the Swim World that kickboards, paddles, etc. are a waste of time and may even be counter-productive, it puts them in that very uncomfortable box I've been talking about. They either need to adapt their viewpoint, or defend their current practice. It's tough to defend the use of a kickboard because there is no empirical evidence of the benefit, only the intuitive belief that of course it works because why has it been around so long. Nobody will comfortably accept that belief because it means they've been wasting their time for many, many years.That's a very bitter pill to swallow.

Anyway, so that's what I have to say about your nervy comments....besides, it makes it easier for me to comment having someone in the room who goes way higher into the metaphysical realm than me.

I'm going to add just a very limited more commentary soon regarding the "spiritual" nature of Yoga, but then I'm going to get back to focusing on the physical aspect.

My main reason for starting this thread in the first place was this.....I'm sick and tired of going through life with a kickboard in hand assuming benefits that may not actually be there.....I believe that Yoga has enough benefits for me to be doing it....but the various approaches (and even goals) are in some murky waters.....That's why so many forms of Yoga have developed...From Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, etc.....and to then to start calling some of these forms, not "True" Yoga.....hmmmmmm......that's why I feel certain assumptions should be examined......Otherwise, the Kickboard Industry continues to thrive!

terry 03-19-2013 11:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by caronis (Post 34963)
That's why so many forms of Yoga have developed...From Hot Yoga, Power Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, etc.....

I think this is, in part, why I've come to enjoy 'personal' yoga so much after resisting its siren call for almost 20 yrs. I could see myself doing 90%+ personal yoga and 10% or less on group classes for the rest of my life.

I've been exposed to quite a few methods and found something wanting in each, while also finding something I liked quite a bit in most. ('Warm' [hot is out of the question for me] and anusara are the exceptions; neither was to my taste.)

The group classes I've enjoyed most were those that were eclectic -- personal to the teacher. With so many exposures I have an expansive menu of things to choose from. My favorite sessions have been those where I just go where the spirit moves me. I've had some great swim practices that way too, though nearly everyone does best with a plan.

CoachLuisaFonseca 03-20-2013 01:51 AM

Only going to classes is not practicing yoga - in classes you practice and you learn so that you can have a personal practice. With "personal practice" I mean practicing in our own time, without a direct live guidance of a teacher.

If you never start a personal practice, you won't be able to tell the difference between yoga and your teacher's personality!

So, if you regularly go to the same teacher, you are an attentive student, but you feel you don't have tools to have a personal practice, I'd say the teacher is not competent.

If you jump around classes, searching for the one teacher that fits you, (specially when you still don't have a clue about what "personal practice" is) then you are on a purely superfluous search - I don't say it to critizice anyone, I think it's something that happens very often with well intentioned people.

Another thing is the dichotomy of "follower of a method" and "personal method", which is not really that black and white. I for example follow Iyengar's teaching because my experience led me to have faith in them - it's a personal choice. It's a free choice, I don't anull my will to follow someone else's teachings. On the other hand, I know some "free thinking" teachers that are that because they can't choose. It's not about being "free" or "personal". I don't think it is necessarily negative - we all go through stages of confusion about things in our life. It is what is is. But it is negative when you try to mask it as openmindness and consider closeminded those who do choose.

CoachLuisaFonseca 03-20-2013 02:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by caronis (Post 34946)

For one thing, Yoga seems to encourage stretching and exerting yourself beyond limits to get a point where you can be relaxed and release yourself into the Pose. Somehow, I think I understand this, yet it is contradictory. It emphasizes getting to a point of great flexibility before you can truly benefit from Yoga.

If we're talking about poses (asanas), the way to reach the effortless effort is not flexibility. You work on flexibility, of course, but poses have to practiced with awareness. The quality of that awareness becomes more complex as you evolve in your practice.

(I know it is an incomplete comparison, but think of a swimmer who has beautiful technique and swims with no effort, but when you ask him how he swims, he can't tell you - he swims with absolutely no awareness, his mind is dull while he swims. In the same way someone can do a pose "easily" because that someone is very flexible, but he/she does it with no awareness, the mind is dull, sleepy - there is no "yoga" in that pose)

Practicing with awareness has to bring improvement to the practioner. Improvement, at whatever level. And that is what we all aim for. Spiritual liberation is the ultimate goal - ultimate. We all start at the level we are at, and we want to improve - and that's what yoga should give us.

haschu33 03-20-2013 04:18 PM

Thanks, caronis, there are some good points in your reply, especially regarding my posts.

Here:
Quote:

Originally Posted by caronis (Post 34963)
...
When you get me and Haschu in a chat room, sometimes we hover to the ceiling....sometimes to the roof.

it is a bit different for me, for my point of view my statements were very practical and down to earth. This might have something to do with this:
Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachLuisaFonseca (Post 34975)
Only going to classes is not practicing yoga - in classes you practice and you learn so that you can have a personal practice. With "personal practice" I mean practicing in our own time, without a direct live guidance of a teacher.
...

That's the point, in fact in my opinion the point of any spirituality is: put it in practice, which means personal practice. In the end spirituality is about our mind, so if our mind doesn't change through spiritual practice then there is no point. But if you apply yourself to spiritual practice then it becomes very much down to earth, and practical. I don't know anything more practical than spirituality. It looses its mystical touch and instead becomes profound.
Which doesn't mean there isn't a certain temptation to use spirituality as an escape route from our daily filthy and sticky neurosis and petty problems life and flee into a 'higher' truth. I know some people who are doing that. It's not going to work.

So otherwise your remarks, caronis. are very helpful to me. I came to the conclusion that I better refrain from certain comments. There is no real point in just stirring up peoples minds. When Terry declares the use of kickboards as nonsense, then anybody can question that and will get good reasons and an alternative way to go. Unlike that I cannot offer any alternative route, I am simply not in the position to advise anybody in terms of spirituality.
Also I have absolutely no desire to gain any reputation like that.

And when talking about Yoga, Luisa is the better source, no question. She seems to understand what she is talking about and I like the way she phrases it. Quite impressive, in fact.

Here:
Quote:

Originally Posted by CoachLuisaFonseca (Post 34975)
...
If you never start a personal practice, you won't be able to tell the difference between yoga and your teacher's personality!
...

I wouldn't put it that absolute, but there is a point in it. It's funny, but I can quite clearly see my yoga teachers limitations, some of them also influence her teaching of Yoga, but in general that awareness that Luisa talks about finds it way independently of her personality.

There is a story about one of the first Tibetan masters in the West, who was quite a character. I read the story of one of his students who met him late one evening and that master smelled of alcohol and was obviously drunk. The master told him to sit down and meditate, which he did. Later the student said that when he sat down he had the most amazing and profound experience he ever had. Before the master let the student go he said to him: Don't mistake the teacher for the teaching.
And my first teacher in the old days (that is when I was young ;-) in India used to say: don't bite my finger, look where I am pointing.

Anyway, I think Yoga is a great task, because it starts on a physical basis and we in the West have an easier approach to that. I don't know whether Luisa is a Yoga teacher, if yes and I was living in Spain I would choose her as my teacher. As I do with Terry and Doc Sue for swimming.

So thanks to caronis, and
hang on in there...

terry 03-20-2013 08:23 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by haschu33 (Post 34989)
I don't know whether Luisa is a Yoga teacher, if yes and I was living in Spain I would choose her as my teacher. As I do with Terry and Doc Sue for swimming.

Luisa teaches both Yoga and TI. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to learn from her whenever and wherever our paths cross.

Janos 03-20-2013 11:01 PM

New York Times recently ran an article about yoga, titled 'how yoga can wreck your body'. It is intriguing how it divides opinion. Some doctors actively recommend it, while others say it creates flaccid ligaments which damage the integrity of joints. An opinion I agree with. Far better to have active flexibility for the sport you intend to do.

Janos

caronis 03-21-2013 03:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by haschu33 (Post 34989)
Thanks, caronis, there are some good points in your reply, especially regarding my posts.

I came to the conclusion that I better refrain from certain comments. There is no real point in just stirring up peoples minds. When Terry declares the use of kickboards as nonsense, then anybody can question that and will get good reasons and an alternative way to go. Unlike that I cannot offer any alternative route, I am simply not in the position to advise anybody in terms of spirituality.
Also I have absolutely no desire to gain any reputation like that.

I'll give you a specific example of something you said in the past that had me a bit "unnerved" (so to speak) because it had me questioning a core reality.

You were questioning the value and purpose of constantly striving for better and better times.

However, I realize that these higher (30,000 ft. level) perspectives can be valuable even if a person is hard pressed for quality answers.

I'll give you a couple of examples....The first is a story about goals told by Stephen Covey in his landmark book entitled "First Things First".

He told a tale of a client who I'm not sure is even real, but that's irrelevant anyway....The man was a successful businessman who had as his yearly goal to make one million dollars. He never scrutinized and deeply questioned the "Why" of his goal. He set it and went to it.....In that year he got so focused and absorbed in his goal that he allowed nothing to detract from it. However, as he pursued this ambition, he neglected time spent on his family. He never had in mind that deeper "Why" of making one million dollars in that year....The "Why" was to benefit his family....Well, in that year's time, his kids had issues in school, personal life, and ended up getting heavily involved in drugs....Had he realized and kept in mind this higher minded perspective of why it was so important to reach this arbitrary figure, he would have cut back his time on the million dollar mark as a goal, and spent more time dealing with family issues. That's because the True Goal, was to make Life Better for his Family....He needed to step back and gain perspective, but instead relentlessly focused on this arbitrary goal.....sometimes goals can be deceptive in that though they can be powerful driving forces, without seeing them in the proper context, we can end up off the mark....This man made his million dollar goal for the year, but the price he paid, ended up costing him quite a bit.

And to bring this back to the swimming world....Here is another example that IS a Real Life Example.....Diana Nyad in her quest to swim from Cuba to Florida. I don't know much about her, but I imagine people in this forum must know her on some level....She's attempted this swim twice (or is it more?) and went very far, but had to abort the attempt. She had to deal with asthma, jellyfish, etc.....I imagine it would be valuable for her to have in mind the strong "Why" of doing this and if it's worth continuing and trying again....Or even again, and again.....I don't know what floats her boat (so to speak). I'm not one who can judge the value of it, but that powerful "Why" might get her to do it again and possibly succeed at it......or end the quest and rest on her laurels......I imagine one day, maybe well, well into the future someone will actually do this. and I can imagine them tipping their hat to her and acknowledging her efforts.....Maybe even a 10 year old girl who witnessed her effort.....Or maybe long into the future, in which case, the respect to Diana should be greater because it may take over 100 years before someone actually does this.....Maybe if she was to try this one last time, maybe she should swim from Florida to Cuba :-) .....Maybe getting the part she has never completed in her swim done first, the rest of the way might be much easier psychologically. It's an interesting thought because it is kind of counter-intuitive because politically we think of Cubans fleeing to Florida, not the other way around....

Anyway, these higher-minded perspectives can be valuable, even if it's an exercise that doesn't give us the sharpest answers....Sort of like how businesses create Mission Statements that are a bit unclear.

One last example is that also maybe we don't need to have such an well-thought out answer.....maybe we can just do as a T-Shirt I saw that said....."Shut up And Dance!"...............One of the most famous quotes is by Sir Edmund Hillary. He as asked, "Why are you attempting to climb Mt Everest".....His answer....."Because it is There!"......sometimes maybe even that type of simplicity is all that we need.

haschu33 03-21-2013 04:26 AM

Good examples, caronis, it unfortunately leaves me undecided whether it is good to do these kind of remarks or not ;-)

Here's another one:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Janos (Post 35003)
New York Times recently ran an article about yoga, titled 'how yoga can wreck your body'. It is intriguing how it divides opinion. Some doctors actively recommend it, while others say it creates flaccid ligaments which damage the integrity of joints. An opinion I agree with. Far better to have active flexibility for the sport you intend to do.

Janos

Was there any specific analysis with it? Like, what is the injury rate of traditional Yoga versus garbled Yoga, which gets called 'improved' Yoga but shouldn't be called Yoga at all?
And secondly how important is the influence of the qualities of the teacher? Since we tend to be very competitive we like to look at our neighbor in the Yoga class and try to be beat them in flexibility. That is - as Luisa described so eloquently - not the point of Yoga. A good teacher should point out that Yoga has to be done according to the limits of one's own body.

May be in all the wisdom the original developers of the Yoga method were simply unable to foresee a time where people are extremely intelligent but too stupid to apply their intelligence in a beneficial way.

So, if you put your focus on Yoga itself, you could state that Yoga produces too many injuries. If you put your focus on the application you could say that this only shows that we are too stupid to apply Yoga correctly. Which means in a way that is beneficial.

terry 03-21-2013 07:03 PM

The yoga injuries were of two types
1) Serious joint injuries from excessive effort in flexibility-oriented poses. Usually men trying to compete with women in the class, or trying to match the (usually female) instructor.
2) Strokes and other brain trauma from crushing a critical artery in the neck while doing shoulder stand and plow.
I've not done either since reading that.

This article Diana Nyad Takes on Demons of the Sea examines the 'why' of her repeated attempts to swim Cuba to Key West.

caronis 03-21-2013 09:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by haschu33 (Post 35007)
Good examples, caronis, it unfortunately leaves me undecided whether it is good to do these kind of remarks or not ;-)

Well, regardless, it did cause me lately to rethink my goals for swimming, not just for yoga.....I think that's a good thing because, after being out of the pool for a few weeks, I need to alter things to get re-inspired.

caronis 03-21-2013 10:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Janos (Post 35003)
New York Times recently ran an article about yoga, titled 'how yoga can wreck your body'. It is intriguing how it divides opinion. Some doctors actively recommend it, while others say it creates flaccid ligaments which damage the integrity of joints. An opinion I agree with. Far better to have active flexibility for the sport you intend to do.

Janos

I read this article a month ago and this is why I feel particularly passionate as of the moment regarding fundamental issues in yoga......this was an article that had the yoga community in an uproar and it does seem that it's the type of information the yoga community would never choose to reveal even if proven true.....
I'm reading a couple of books about Bikram right now....He's probably the Yogi who is most at the center of this piece. He was the one who created the hot style of yoga...His practitioners are the ones who tend to win the yoga competitions......and there is a push by Bikram and some others in the Yoga Community to get Yoga into the Olympic Games!!!!!
This not only seems sort of antithetical to the spirit of yoga, it seems dangerous....not everyone was designed to contort their back backwards into a pretzel shape.

If I come across interesting discoveries in these two books, I'll post them....The two books are good contrasts....One is by Bikram and it outlines his program, personality, and philosophy....The other is by Benjamin Lorr and talks about the egos, politics, controversy's, etc.

caronis 03-21-2013 10:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by terry (Post 35013)
This article Diana Nyad Takes on Demons of the Sea examines the 'why' of her repeated attempts to swim Cuba to Key West.

This was a good article and confirmed some suspicions I had about her. I think she's battling demons of one type or another, but who's really to judge?.......I think the success of Steve Jobs had to do with the battling of his demons. He would have disagreed and cringed at the notion, but it's been felt that his issues regarding being adopted gave him the drive to prove he was special and that his parents were wrong for giving him up......

I don't even know which is the better approach.....to try to dig in deep and determine your true motivation,.......or just to dig in deep and get moving!

Janos 03-21-2013 11:57 PM

Yoga has so many advocates and people vehemently extol its benefits, but there is weighty medical evidence that says muscles provide force for movement but must also provide joint stability too. It is a certain fact that overstretched muscles and ligaments are not strong enough to maintain joint integrity, which leaves you prone to injury and pain. I often see footballers and runners grabbing a foot and tugging it behind them, to stretch their quads. In doing so they hyper extend their knee ligaments in a movement that bears no relation to the actions they are about to undergo, and which leaves the joint unstable. Is there any relation to this and the legions of runners and footballers who complain of knee pain in later life?
There are so many 'sacred cows' in the sporting world that do not stand up to scrutiny. Freestyle technique, heel pads on running shoes, static stretching etc. The sports shoe business would have you believe that extra padding on your running shoes is going to make you a better runner, and they sell in their millions. Yoga is a big business too, I wonder whether there may be vested interests by its advocates? is that too provocative Hachu? :-)

Regards to all

Janos

CoachLuisaFonseca 03-22-2013 12:36 AM

About the the types of injuries:

There has to be a balance between flexibility and resistance. Practicing aiming only for flexibility is bad for the joints, and also, very often people with too much flexibility and no resistance, have a less intelligent practice and it's more difficult for them do develop awareness.

For decades, Iyengar has been teaching Shoulderstand with the shoulders lifted on a support, and adjusting even more for people with any neck problems. Many non Iyengar teachers adopted the idea, but many haven't. Also, many many many students try Shouldersand (or headstand) long before they are prepared to do it. That is because many teachers teach arbitrarily, without any systematized teaching progression. Add to that the nature of humans of always trying to do more than they're prepared to do. I very often have studendts asking me "when will I start doing more advanced poses?"

Progressing in yoga is not just about doing more advanced poses, but about expanding the awareness in them, and cultivating a certain attitude of the mind. Otherwise, only gymnasts or extremely flexible people, or people who could practice 10 hours a day hidden in a mountain without any distraction would be able to progress!

Making your body fit a pose is something that requires physical action, intelligence of action, and an attitude of total involvement of the mind and senses in the process. The physical actions and the "design" of the pose are something to aim for, not only for physical health and balance -but because the way you position your body has a direct impact on the mind. Each pose has a different impact on the mind. So to assume the physical pose is needed. But assuming just the pose is not enough. What makes a practice spiritual is the total involvement of the mind and the intelligence in it.

In the Iyengar method, this attitude of total implication of the mind is developed through the simultaneous and constant observation of all the movements and technical details that compose the pose or the breathing exercise, while at the same time keeping the brain and its organs of expression (fundamentally eyes and ears) completely passive, and the control of the breathing. The intensity of this involvement of the mind is what makes the practice "spiritual" and a path to inner transformation.

Other methods have different approaches, but all the "serious" ones have in common this attitude of total implication of the mind. Of course yoga is not only poses and breathing exercises - Yoga is composed of eight limbs, yama (ethical standards), nyama (self discipline habits) asana (poses), pranayama (breathing exercises), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) dharana (concentration) dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (union with the divine, state of bliss). Iyengar systematized it so that in the practice of asana and pranayama the eight limbs are inherent in it. But that is why is is a method of yoga, not a "type" of yoga. Yoga is yoga.

So practicing asanas (with the right attitude) is a form of spiritual practice, and one that has a great advantage - you have your body as a support for it. Fixing your mind in an exterior object, or siiting down "meditating", trying to observe and control your toughts, etc, are practices that, in my opinion, are much more unlikely for you to succeed, and where you're much prone to be a victim of suggestion.

And about this devotion to the teacher... the teacher is just the medium. I trust my teacher about guiding me in my yoga practice, but I don't expect him to tell me how to live my life.

Janus, as an example I have to adjust my muscular actions everyday so that I can align my legs and arms and correct my hyperextended knees and elbows. I work my muscles to align my bones. That is what creates resistance in the right places and helps me avoid future injuries due to those hyperextensions. And I'm not really that flexible, not even close.

Of course yoga is a business - and most of the benefits associated with it are kind of distorted for commercial purposes...


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