The Case for a Quiet Yoga Practice

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When we meet for dinner parties where we expect people to talk we play some background music to cover the noise of the chatter that is gentle enough so everyone can hear themselves but not the immediate others. When it is a dance party then the DJ decides what to play. In this case, there are not long conversations in the room because people dance or go out to talk to each other. They play loud music at various gym classes like Step, Zumba or whatever, where everyone sort of moves to the beat so the music is an essential part of the class, also the instructor is able to cue over the loud music because s/he is wearing a microphone. 

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Mindfulness-based yoga practice vs Daily Walks on Depression in Women

In yoga research, the most common research designs is to compare pre and post measures of a group of people completing a yoga programme. The second most favourite  design is to compare a yoga group to an inactive group. Both these designs are unreliable. The first one usually fails to produce similar results, thereby causing serious issues for generalisation of those results. And the second one carries the potential to exaggerate the results in favour of yoga and ignore the fact that other types of exercise have similar benefits.

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Feel Better at Work

Winter is dark in Norway, unless it snows and it hasn’t snowed enough to light up the town. At the heart of the winter, it becomes very difficult for me to maintain an optimum level of work motivation and engagement throughout the day. I feel drowsy and less focused. I know many experience it, too. Fortunately, the days are steadily getting longer so we can have almost a decent amount of sun light but sun light cannot do much unless we decide to feel better and do something about it.
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What are your feet doing?

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This is a question I ask often when I see idle feet, just lying around, not doing their part. I like to think that they know that I mean that yoga poses usually require the whole body get involved and even the tiniest body part has a role to play to bring about the “ease and steadiness” to the pose. Therefore, being more present in the pose will facilitate this ease and steadiness. Or. maybe, they just think that I am weird!

In my experience, yoga asana is more mental than physical. Whilst it is certainly possible to bend a knee without thinking too much about it, what makes yoga yoga is the fact that we pay attention, not to perfect the pose, but to observe and notice how it feels to be in the pose. The ultimate objective of asana is said to be to prepare the body to train the attention. Some would say that this should/can only be done in a sit-down meditation but I beg to differ, there is no reason why we shouldn’t train the attention to be more present in yoga asana and actually and sincerely mean to practice.

The following quote by Ray Long is an example of how our little big-toes go a long way to support our largest muscle, gluteus maximus:

… So how does the anatomy work? Muscles in your big 
toes support the ligaments 
and bones that make up 
your arches. Healthy arches 
(as opposed to fallen ones) 
act like shock absorbers, transmitting kinetic forces, or the forces of motion, up through the ankles to the knees and up the kinetic chain of the body, potentially causing issues with alignment, joint health, and muscle strength. For example, weak big-toe flexors, the muscles that bend the toe, may change the strength and effectiveness of your largest glute muscle, gluteus maximus. And the glute max is critical in supporting most poses. For the big-toe muscles to do their job well, protecting your body from impact and instability, they need to be dynamically stable, meaning they should respond to shifts in movement, weight, and balance. … * – Ray Long (M.D) full article

Big toes are important but other toes, too. So, next time instead of looking at the chipped  nail polish on your toes or trying to carry your weight with your hands in phalankasana, put your toes to work and observe how that feels. 🙂

Namaste,

e.

Stress – II: How?

The first post of this series ends with the following sentence:

Once you have decided that the state of emergency and alarm is not something that you want to live with, there are things that you can to manage and take your stress reaction under control. This begins from within, because the only thing that we can ever truly control is how we react to a situation or a person, and how we behave and in turn how we feel about it. All other things in life are beyond our control to varying degrees.

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This is a very useful way of seeing things, and potentially everything in life. It is neither too dismissive of the world around us, nor too engaging that we get lost in it. I think it encourages us to carefully identify that fine border between ourselves (which we can control) and the rest of the world (which we cannot control). If stress is unmanaged for too long, this border gets blurred, and then we lose sight of what we can and cannot control in our lives. The longer we live like this, the more difficult it gets to undo our confusion and straighten things out. 

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Stress – I: What?

It is that time in the semester! As the exams and deadlines for hand-ins approach, many have already started to feel the pressure.

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Stress is pressure. It is neither good nor bad. It is just that: pressure. How we feel under stress/pressure depends on our expectations regarding the consequences of the origin of stress. Stress is anything that influences our homeostasis, that is our balanced and content state. This could be as insignificant as a quick summer drizzle that cools your skin down for a minute or as significant as the death of a loved one, a loud noise in the middle of the night, an exam at the end of the semester, falling in love, a youtube video of very cute kittens, exercising, watching a favourite programme on the telly etc… anything that gets your heart beating up and creates even a quantum of excitement or surprise.

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“Mindfulness: Old Wisdom for Modern Times”

This programme was on BBC World Service radio this morning. It explores the benefits of mindfulness and how it can and is used in modern life to treat issues of anxiety, depression and stress. 

Mindfulness: Old Wisdom for Modern Times 

“Mindfulness therapies – based on ancient practices of meditation – are increasingly being taken up as the means of dealing with the pressures of modern living. Supporters believe they provide an evidence-based therapy for dealing with some of the most intractable conditions of mental illness, but some critics say they are a commodification of ancient practices. Mike Greenwood investigates.” 

namaste, 

e.