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Yogic Lifestyle

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Does the yogic lifestyle require doing yoga?  No, but it can be enhanced by adding yoga postures. The original idea of the yogic lifestyle was living in alignment with body, mind, and soul.  The postures support these three aspects, but just doing yoga and forgetting about what the postures represent in one’s daily walk of life is a missed opportunity.  A person can live a healthy life without yoga postures too.  Attention to exercise, diet, quiet time, flexibility, awareness, and more can be created through other modalities. It is your choice, but take 5 minutes to plant a Selfseed and watch your personal garden grow.

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Category: Fitness, Flexibility, Nutrition, Selfseeds, Stillness
Tag: body, mind, Selfseeds, soul, yoga, yogic lifestyle

Meditation In Motion

Photo credit: Heather Marsh

Even though I am sitting more in my current meditation practice, I find that walking, spinning on the bike, or jogging on the treadmill are useful states for meditation in motion–moving but in a non stressful way.  Somehow, it almost gives the body and mind enough of a job/purpose that it opens up the ability to go deeper without the usual judgements and mind chatter.  Multi-tasking but at a gentle level rather than the fierce level we often live at.

Going from 100 to 0 is often a BIG jump for people when looking at adding in a “stilling” practice, so why not be kind and supportive of one’s self by funneling one’s self towards deeper, inner stillness. While training young horses, the idea was to introduce stillness by letting the horse move and then ask for standing, let the horse move in a constructive way and then ask for immobility, repeating until the individual could relax in the immobile phase instead of holding it from a place of tension.  What would follow would be asking for movement from stillness instead of allowing a release of tension in movement.  Horses are designed to move, are often on alert as a prey animal, so resting for them is often a point of vulnerability.  In some ways, our hectic lives have created this same mentality; when we are not doing, something is ‘wrong’ and we are deficient in some way.

From years of inner focus while in motion, I see that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  I am learning about going super deep in meditation now, but it is not practical while I am doing in the world; I need to be aware of my body and I need to take care of my body while I inhabit it.  I recently learned that yoga positions were created when the deep meditators from the distant past realized they needed to take care of their bodies, so they could meditate without obstruction from the body.

The key to meditation in motion is to do something that doesn’t require a high level of concentration and focus.  Pick something that is familiar and is fluid.  While walking, I have the grace and fitness to move without a lot of attention to detail, but I still need to be mindful of  irregular ground, traffic, direction etc. that create minor disturbances.  While on the stationary bike,  I have the rhythm and tempo to maintain, but fewer functional distractions.  When I was swimming,  the feel and quietness of the water while moving was lovely.  The repetitiveness of the stroke was meditative in many aspects.  Pick your motion and enjoy: sweeping, dusting, raking, weed pulling…

The point is to tame yourself in steps and not feel failure or have judgement when the mind finds a way to engage.  How many years have most of us lived with mind chatter?  My meditative state in motion happens without effort now, but while sitting there is an attention to funneling.

Walking meditation: How to do it
Mother Nature Network (blog)
If you sit all day at work, have limited time, or are the restless type, you may feel challenged by a sittingmeditation practice. But one of the amazing things about meditation is that it can be practiced in many different ways (though oftentimes 

Walking meditation: How you can do it too
Calm your mind and relax your body while moving through your world.

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A man walks across a city

Photo: Gerard Avila/Flickr

If you sit all day at work, have limited time, or are the restless type, you may feel challenged by a sitting meditation practice. But one of the amazing things about meditation is that it can be practiced in many different ways (though oftentimes, people less familiar with the subject think that sitting with your eyes closed “Ohming” is the only way to do it).
Want proof? Yogi Sayadaw U Silananda writes, “At our meditation retreats, yogis practice mindfulness in four different postures. They practice mindfulness when walking, when standing, when sitting, and when lying down. They must sustain mindfulness at all times in whatever position they are in. The primary posture for mindfulness meditation is sitting with legs crossed, but because the human body cannot tolerate this position for many hours without changing, we alternate periods of sitting meditation with periods of walking meditation.”
I regularly practice walking meditation, especially on busy days or when I sit most of the day (which is hard for me; my body doesn’t like it!). Sometimes I take 15 minutes out to have a short walk outside to practice (much healthier than a smoke break or a trip to coffee shop), and sometimes I incorporate it into my walk from spin class or to work (or both!). Here’s how I do it:
Get comfortable: Try to arrange your bags/scarf/hat in a way that gives you a clear field of view, keeps you comfortable, and is as non-restrictive to normal walking as possible. If you can avoid bringing anything with you, that’s ideal.
Relax your eyes: You’re going to have to watch where you’re going, of course, but when I’m doing a walking meditation, whether I’m in the city or on a woodsy path, a dirt road in Vermont or beachside, I always keep my “looking” in check. In the city that means I don’t read signs that come into view (I can’t be the only one who otherwise reads every piece of written matter that comes in front of me), I don’t look at people’s faces, and I do set my gaze somewhere in the middle distance, so that I can easily observe what’s in front of me, while not “looking” at anything in particular.
Walk and breathe: At a moderate pace (I slow down my normally very-fast pace, but there’s no need to walk super-slowly), start taking deep breaths as you walk. I like to count; five breaths in and six or seven breaths out, calmly and slowly. I do this at least five times to get in the zone, and then keep taking deep relaxed breaths for the rest of my time.
Be patient: Just like with any kind of meditation, it’s always easy to get distracted. But this is actually great practice. When a person walks in front of you, you focus on a sign, or you have to stop at a crosswalk or pick your way across a stream, focus on just what’s happening, move past it, and keep walking and breathing. If you want to focus on something, notice how your legs, knees and feet all work together to keep you locomoting without having to really think about it.
Finish: I like to officially “close” my meditation sessions, whatever kind they are. A walking meditation is my time to be really appreciative for all that allows me to even practice walking meditation in the first place, so I say a mental thanks.
Category: Emotions, Fitness, Integrative Band, Rhythm, Selfseeds, Stillness
Tag: funneling inner stillness, gentle multi-tasking, meditation, meditation in motion, mindfulness, Spritual life in india, yoga

Inspiring World Peace Through Meditation And Yoga

Flower Presence

What would it be like to exist in a world without wars, violence, and hatred?  Even if you are not directly touched by one of these conditions on the planet, you are indirectly affected.  The world is now a giant, global net, so internet, television, magazines and more keep us in the loop.  Periodically, there is news on a spiritual leader, but it is usually sharing something dark rather than a recount of an illuminating speech or living practice.  They are often shrouded in mystery, since most of the world operates from a religious point of view rather than a spiritual one.  A fundamental principle is not to combat violence with violence, but this requires an understanding of the ego and a lot of discipline.  In one way or another, we are all working on this principle with the growth of consciousness.

The following story is remarkable and inspiring what one person is taking on as a step towards world peace.

Can yoga and meditation help bring peace to Afghans?

By Daniel Magnowski

(Reuters) – As the Afghan government’s Western backers pour in cash, and tens of thousands of foreign soldiers patrol the country, a French human rights activist is trying a new way to break the cycle of violence in Afghanistan: yoga and meditation.

“In thirty years of war, we’ve tried everything and nothing has worked,” said Amandine Roche, who believes it is better to try to rid the mind of vengeful thoughts than to disarm a fighter at gunpoint.

Her organization, the Amanuddin Foundation, aims to promote nonviolence by teaching techniques of calm.

Volunteering since February as she searches for funds, she has given classes at which she demonstrates yoga and meditation to men, women, children, police officers, soldiers and former Taliban insurgents.

“It’s a new solution to an old problem. War starts in the minds of men, so peace starts in the minds of men. You cannot bring peace with the means of war, it’s as simple of that.”

The most recent conflict, which started with the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001, has killed thousands of soldiers and civilians, and cost tens of billions of dollars. According to United Nations figures, 2011 is the most violent year since the war began: all signs, Roche argues, that the Western military and diplomatic effort isn’t working.

“My project might look crazy, but what is more crazy?”

Key to her work is the idea that peace cannot be imposed from outside, but must come from within an individual, she said.

“I’ve become firmly convinced that nonviolence is not the best way for Afghanistan, it’s the only way.”

The young Afghans who have tried yoga and meditation have been receptive.

“When I do yoga exercise I forget all of my pains and I feel comfortable,” said Masoda, a 12 year old schoolgirl at one of Roche’s classes for children in the capital Kabul.

INNER SHOWER

It might be quite a leap from working with children to bringing that same peace of mind to the gunmen of Afghanistan, but Roche, who was detained by the Taliban in 2001, says they are human too.

“My vision is to teach meditation to all the insurgents, to organize vocational training for them to become mediation teachers, so … they can go back to society, they have a job, they can reintegrate, and they will become peaceful.”

“Meditation is like an inner shower,” she said. “You feel dirty when you don’t take a shower for one week, you feel the same with your mind when you don’t meditate. It helps you to purify your mind, be rid of all the negativity, frustration.”

On Monday, the German city of Bonn is hosting a major international conference about the future of Afghanistan, at which the West will signal its long-term support for the country.

But evidence of the damage done by the cycle of attack and revenge is everywhere in Afghanistan. This week, in reaction to a NATO raid along the Afghan-Pakistan border that killed 24 of its soldiers, Pakistan pulled out of a major international conference on the future of the country.

“You look at the story of Afghanistan — from the British to the Russians to the Mujahideen, the Taliban, now democracy — it’s always revenge for the past war,” Roche said. “It’s never ended. If once, one day someone says ‘I stop, and you stop, and let’s stop together’ … let’s see.”

Still, Roche, who has worked on peace-building projects in Asia, Africa and South America, knows there are no easy fixes for the troubles of Afghanistan.

“I’m not a prophet, I don’t want to convert people. It’s not even a solution, it’s a tool. I don’t pretend I’m going to save Afghanistan.”

 

 

 

Category: Partnering, Selfseeds, Stillness
Tag: Afghan, ego, meditation, spiritual path, world peace, yoga

12 Styles of Yoga

I had no idea that there were so many styles of yoga.  Constant learning and awareness for what options we have on the path.  Yoga might not be your interest at all, but if it is, you might check out other styles to see if they inspire and aline more comprehensibly with your life process.  Exploring related but slightly different systems can also provide reinforcement for what you are already doing and refine it with a slightly new spin on it all.  Part of exercising the body is challenging it in new ways: range of motion, coordination, timing, order of actions, and more–keeping it awake in the moment of action.

Yoga for everyone
Common Ground.ca
Iyengar: A form of Hatha, Iyengar focuses on symmetry and alignment to obtain mental and physical balance. Kripalu: Meditation in motion, Kripalu utilizes three stages to achieve reliance on the body’s inherent wisdom. Eventually, students are able to 
Yoga for everyone

Twelve kinds of yoga
  • Ananda: A gentle practice that emphasizes the importance of meditation, breathing and affirmations while flowing through yoga postures.
  • Anusara: When translated, Anusara means “following your heart.” This style celebrates the heart, positive and balanced energy and the freedom to change and adapt the practice as needed.
  • Ashtanga: Often referred to as power yoga, Ashtanga provides a heart-pounding, intense and very challenging workout. The physical goals of the practice are to increase stamina, strength and flexibility. Mentally, students appreciate the sense of calm the practice can provide. Those who adhere to this style of yoga experience deep detoxification due to the profuse sweating that takes place during the session.
  • Bikram: Bikram is called hot yoga for a reason; the temperature in the room is approximately 105 hot and steamy degrees. Every session consists of 26 postures and two breathing exercises.
  • Hatha: One of the most popular styles of yoga, Hatha focuses on both physical and emotional well-being. With more than 200 postures to choose from, students utilize these asanas to enhance circulation, flexibility, balance and a supple and vibrant mind.
  • Integral: This style of yoga emphasizes relaxation through controlled breathing and meditation.
  • Iyengar: A form of Hatha, Iyengar focuses on symmetry and alignment to obtain mental and physical balance.
  • Kripalu: Meditation in motion, Kripalu utilizes three stages to achieve reliance on the body’s inherent wisdom. Eventually, students are able to flow through postures spontaneously without conscious thought.
  • Kundalini: A mix of breathing, chanting and poses, this style awakens natural energy and encourages self-healing through the stimulation of the immune and nervous systems.
  • Sivananda: A healthy lifestyle is promoted by embracing 12 sun salutation postures, chanting, meditation, positive thinking and a vegetarian diet.
  • Tantra: Tapping into the body’s natural energy, students are guided through postures, chanting and visualizations to achieve pleasure, joy and a sense of completion in their everyday existence.
  • Viniyoga: Gentle flow yoga emphasizes the connection between breath and a series of poses that are easy on the joints and easy to adhere to in private practice as well as therapeutic settings.

 

Category: Flexibility, Selfseeds
Tag: find your style, flexibility, yoga