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  #21  
Old 03-17-2013
caronis caronis is offline
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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.
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  #22  
Old 03-18-2013
Grant Grant is offline
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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.
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  #23  
Old 03-18-2013
haschu33 haschu33 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grant View Post
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.
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Originally Posted by caronis View Post


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 View Post

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.
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  #24  
Old 03-18-2013
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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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.
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  #25  
Old 03-18-2013
haschu33 haschu33 is offline
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Originally Posted by CoachSuzanne View Post
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 :-(
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  #26  
Old 03-19-2013
caronis caronis is offline
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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.

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Originally Posted by haschu33 View Post
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!
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  #27  
Old 03-19-2013
terry terry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caronis View Post
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.
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  #28  
Old 03-20-2013
CoachLuisaFonseca CoachLuisaFonseca is offline
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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.
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  #29  
Old 03-20-2013
CoachLuisaFonseca CoachLuisaFonseca is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caronis View Post

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.
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  #30  
Old 03-20-2013
haschu33 haschu33 is offline
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Thanks, caronis, there are some good points in your reply, especially regarding my posts.

Here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by caronis View Post
...
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 View Post
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 View Post
...
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...

Last edited by haschu33 : 03-20-2013 at 04:37 PM.
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