Posture of the week: Chaturanga Dandasana

Catur = Four Anga = Limb Danda = Staff Asana = Bodily Posture

Coming to a fairly challenging posture this week which two variations:

Utthita  (Extended) Chaturanga Dandasana otherwise known as Plank Pose and Chatturanga Dandasana simplified as Low Push-up Pose.

We will begin with a short analysis of Plank Pose as a well performed plank pose is an essential step towards a healthy low push-up pose.

From standing Samastihi (Mountain Pose) gently fold forward and slightly bend the knees to be able to bring your hands down to the ground, shoulder width apart, just like in Uttanasana.

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Step your feet back one at the time until you end up into a high plank position. Throughout this entire action keep your abdominal wall strong and long, sucking the very base of your abdomen in and lifting the entire abdominal wall to your rib-cage. This way, no matter how you land, your spine will remain stable, safe.

Utthita Chaturanga Dandasana

Let’s examine essential elements of body awareness and alignment here:

-Arms are shoulder-width apart

-Palms are flat on the floor, fingers are mildly fanned until you feel the roots of your fingers pressing down as well as the heal on the palm (no lifting fingers or caving palm). Fingers face forward.

- Your shoulders replicate the position they assume in mountain pose: rolling down the back, away from the ears, creating a free neck and preventing rounding in the upper thoracic spine (top of your back)

-Neck is long almost reaching trough the crown of your head, following the natural  line of the spine, gaze is about a foot in front of you

- Abdomen is contracted and lifted (lengthened)

-Tailbone is gently tucked under to prevent the buttocks from lifting up and in this way creating this lovely straight line with the body

- Legs are extended and strong

- Your feet are hip-width apart, weight resting on the ten toes, rolling toward the ball of the foot

Note:

- For those with wrist issues, it is alright to make a fist with your hands and lean your weight onto the fist as opposed to your palm

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- If you find it very hard to support and breath in full Plank Pose , bring your knees to the ground but maintain the upper body elements of the pose. You are building the necessary strength and coordination to some day support this pose for a fairly long time, baby steps.

And now, moving into the more challenging form from this posture group: the low push-up.

We start from plank pose as previously set up and slowly on an exhale start bending the elbows while trying to maintain the elbows shoulder-width, don’t let them flare out to the side, keep them in line with your body. In this way you maintain a proper engagement of the arms to perform this simple action and there is no undue pressure on the shoulder or wrist, your joints are stable.

Don’t sink down too much, keep your triceps in line with your back,not higher.

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Keep your gaze a foot in front as stabilized in plank pose, keep the belly engaged and only bend your knees down to the floor if necessary, one day, as the body strengthens divorce this habit.

Yet again, play with your practice mindfully. If you keep awareness of proper alignment and contraction, maintain a steady breathing rhythm it’s ok to try stuff even if you don’t succeed all the way just today. Never try, you’ll never know what you are capable of.

The great challenge of these postures is to actually try to achieve a sense of calm when in them. Finding comfort in discomfort is great work in a hard, strength reliant posture and more often then not we have a whole lot more strength than we give ourselves credit for.

Make all the movements slow, trying to keep awareness of the constantly modifying sensations in your body riding the steady flow of your breath.

It’s not a contest, it’s never about achieving perfect posture as there is no such thing. We are fortifying the body while becoming more and more acquainted with it’s natural way of functioning. It’s an amazing journey once you renounce the expectation of a destination.

“Asanas should look as unique and varied as the bodies performing them” - Yoganonymous

 

Posture of the week: Uttanasana

I know these beginner postures might not look like much. Perhaps the least aesthetic and complicated part of a structure is the foundation yet it is also the most important, isn’t it?! A solid foundation makes the most exclusive construction possible and so it is with yoga.

Uttanasana aka Intense Forward Stretch Pose is a natural follower of last weeks studied Upward Tree Posture. From Urdhva Vrkshasana take a deep inhale, suck the belly in and up as previously instructed and on an exhale fold your upper body forward until your hands reach the floor.

This might seam impossible for beginners yet I assure you, that’s where we all start. If your hamstrings or lower back muscles don’t allow your palms to reach the floor yet, just touch your fingers to the floor, or if this causes extreme tension on the back of your legs or lower back,  just rest your hands on your shinbone or quadriceps (try to avoid leaning your weight on your knees or any pivotal-hinge joint for that matter at all times). In case you experience any pain along the back of your body just bend your knees slightly, enough to relieve the pressure.

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You are now almost there, let’s just inspect the body a bit. Your feet are together still pressing down into the ground, however, as you fold forward your weight might move slightly forward or back and the balls of your feet or heels will predominantly press down, so make a conscious effort to bring the weight to center, just as described in Samastitihi or Urdhva Vrksasana. As in our previous postures, squeeze tight and lift your quadriceps (front of thigh) muscle.

Draw your sitting bones gently towards each other, you should experience an intensified activation of your entire leg musculature as you do this plus you will be safe, as complementary muscles engage together in the front and back of your legs you don’t expose yourself to the risk of overextending your hamstrings.

As we get to the torso, take a deep inhale breath and suck the belly in and up towards the ribs as described in last weeks posture and lengthen the spine all the way from base to the crown of your head. Lift your chin slightly and gaze a foot or two in front of you for now, almost like directing the motion with your eyes, telling the body where we are moving the energy towards.

Whether your hands rest on your thighs, shins or the floor roll your shoulders back and down, away from your neck, drawing the scapula together. This should feel as an opening/widening in the chest.

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Uttanasana has two variations. The second form is a bit deeper, as we release the body forward all the way over the legs. For advanced practitioners or people with high flexibility on the back side of the body this can mean touching your belly to thighs, chest pressed to the knees and the chin might rest between the shins. The elements of setup are the same. If moving from easy to advanced forward fold, when closing the gap between torso and legs, do it on an exhale, taking advantage of the extra space in the body as the air moves out.

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If this second variation is an option for you, once in Uttanasana, draw your elbows parallel to each other without loosing your proper shoulder alignment. Also, don’t forget your belly! It’s loooong and stroooong.

Move step by step in these foundation asanas.  The more awareness you gain in these easy postures, the easier your progress will be in what is to follow. It might be obvious by now that there are some basic principles of engagement of muscles and positioning of major joints. We are literally teaching the body how to assume it’s optimal, natural form. The more we repeat a certain motion, posture, the more it becomes engraved into our memory, muscle memory, cell memory… Some day, with sustained practice, these elements will become natural to us, habitual.

And then there is the Mind. Practicing yoga postures with such presence, awareness of each little joint, muscle, sensation; sharpens the mind and aligns it with your blooming physical frame. In simple terms: be present in your practice, alert and you will learn how to ride this awesome vehicle and amazing computer you have on board!

And last but not at all least, play with it. As long as we play smart we are safe, free and growing! Find that balance between taking some thing seriously and equally with ease…in the end, no one is holding a whip above us but our selves…

Posture of the week: Urdhva Vrikshasana

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This week, trying to create a  bit of a flow of our weekly yoga postures, we will look at a pose called Urdhva Vrikshasana, in other words: Upward Tree Posture, beautiful metaphor…

Last week’s posture, Mountain Pose serves as your base, starting point and essentially a cumulative pose for all possible yoga postures.

From a perspective of vinyasa yoga aka coordinated breath and movement, in order to enter our Urdhva Vrikshasana, you will raise your arms over head on an inhale. Try raising only your arms, not the shoulders for as much as that is possible. If your shoulders lift and hug your neck by the end of your movement, readjust them by drawing them down and back, just like in Samastitihi, only this time keeping the arms raised. Try also to touch the palms together and make that happen at the end of your inhalation, if your shoulder range allows it without pain, otherwise ok to keep the arms shoulder width.

As you are raising your arms over head,coordinated with the breath and arm movement, raise your gaze until it meats your thumbs (if palms together) or ceiling also at the end of the inhalation, without dropping the head back too far, keeping length in the neck, almost like reaching with the crown of your head if that makes sense. If there are neck issues, keep your gaze stable, forward or a few feet in front of you and chin parallel to floor.

Do it a few times imagining that your inhalation is actually moving your limbs: movement starts when the inhale begins and ends when the inhale is over. Long, steady breath, no air gulping. Breathing trough the nose.

As we’ve learned last week to engage the tummy in a certain way, start with the very base of your abdomen, where your peepee, lol, is located and suck it in. Proceed now to lift this suction and the rest of the abdomen towards your ribs, creating a long, semi-hollow belly. You don’t want to loose your breath so don’t over-suck the belly :). You will also try to coordinate the process of this engagement with your breath, almost like the air filling your lungs, the upper torso, is actually lifting your belly. Try it a few times, it’s way easier then it seams. In a vinyasa flow practice you would maintain this engagement from start to finish as you move posture to posture, reengaging any time you feel you’ve lost abdominal control.

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Moving down from the abdomen, try to tuck your tailbone slightly under, not a forceful tuck, just enough to sense a “straight spine, no unnecessary arching, as in Samastitihi.

From here on down the legs the foundation stays the same as Samastitihi, squeezed and lifted quadriceps, soles of the feet pressing down into the ground with the three points of contact on bottom of the foot emphasized (see previous post for details).

And as a final fun task: these postures carry the name they carry for a good reason, some of the posture names contain precise instructions of performing them others just a hint of inspiration, just like Upward tree posture. Give it a moment to recall what this poetic name inspires within you.

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The Great experiment, the trials and tribulations and the Grand revolution

A while ago time came to change something in my diet and likely my life in it’s great general. The diet however was the palpable, easy to manipulate aspect of it so I got on this rawish diet plan that I faithfully followed and was fanatically set on doing so till it’s completion 30 days later.

Yet, as most things in life are, unpredictable, faith intervened and I have slowly delved into another one of the most challenging health complications of my life, lol, an endless and aggressive viral infection that costed me my energy, my vitality, my breath and from time to time my hope. Dramatic, I know, yet when health is lost, all seams to follow.

As a consequence my appetite and lust for prepping was pretty much lost as well. Eating leaves all day didn’t appeal under any circumstance or presentation. Detoxing while sick is most likely the stupidest idea one can come up with.

As I started getting better however I realized that my bizarre illness served an awesome cause. All of the sudden everything fell into clear perspective: what matters and what not…for me obviously.

First of all I feel from the depth of me that non-harming of self and others is essential, yet dismissing animal foods healing properties is as ignorant as it is to mass murder animals for taste bud delight. I started getting better using one of the most time tested remedies out there: good old homish chicken broth with hoooot peppers. It didn’t only flow down into my tummy like the purest silkiest of honeys but it brought about immediate relieve and some of my strength. Yet this does not mean I have to go on a carnage now neither that one would have to encourage factory farming as the source of your meat makes all the difference in the world.

If you were to live a free and healthy life would it be such a horror to some day suffer a sudden and unexpected death?!

But this is not the point of this article and I am no way going to side with chronic meat eaters either, it just did it for me and I am grateful to all the chicken in the world for that.

The second revelation of my disease was that I have once again, like so many other times adopted someone else’s idea of nutrition and just because it sounded so “christian” and hip I totally disregarded that it is just that: not my original. I rediscovered that awesome thing we have that is called an INTUITION and it’s voice shouted loud this time a couple of important things:

- I don’t want to make food into such important thing in my life, I eat to live and be healthy not live to eat.

- I don’t aspire to live forever in this body as I am not afraid of passing. All I want is to be respectful of my physical form and maintain it’s optimal functions for as long as my ride is to last.

- Intuition is the best tool to use when prepping your meals, just learn to distinguish it from craving and you got yourself the best chef in the whole wide world.

So, long story short (isn’t it funny that each time someone says this it’s usually a very loooong story before and after:), I’m back on my “program” to a better diet and as much as possible optimal health only this time it’s my very own.

I did benefit some from the great “experiment”:

I now have a meal program, 3 meals a day at relatively fixed times.

I have reduced my meal sizes to that near perfect quantity that leaves you satisfied yet not quite ready to burst and go to sleep.

I eat clean food, made of simple and healthy ingredients.

I rediscovered the healing properties of certain foods.

I regained awareness of my intuition. It’s always been there yet at some point I have lost consciousness of how essential the “gut feeling” is as opposed to the mental chitt chatt.

And here I am encouraging you once more to research and research your information about anything particularly what you slide down trough the doorway of your mouth yet when your research is done: meditate on it, don’t over think it, rather close your eyes and breath for a while and see how you feel about the issue. Feelings are there to assist your journey, learn to navigate them and the mind will soon follow. ground rule is: in nutrition and anything else for that matter, if something is way too complicated or hard to obtain and do it’s most likely a no-no.

And almost forgot: respect! Respect what you eat, the moment you eat and what happens after ;). Be calm, quiet, humble and reverent about every little aspect of your foodism.

So here’s how a day in Clara’s food-life looks like!

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Posture of the week: Tadasana, Samastitihi

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We could pick the thread into a million tinier threads when it comes to this simple yet essential pose. Some say they are two different poses, some say it’s one and the same. I am on the one and the same side here as when one really focuses into this pose there is no more time for intellectual games :)

Simple standing posture or poetically Mountain Pose is the foundation of all yoga asanas. For me, it’s the spot where you can tap into your shortcomings and where you can measure your progress.

Stand with feet together, ankles, toes or for some, both are touching. The idea is to find the proper structure from these three in which your constitution feels comfortably balanced. Press the ball of your foot and heal evenly down. For setup I found it helps lifting and stretching your toes long for a moment just to get the feel for the supportive spots on the sole of your feet. The most stable foundation structure is the triangle (try tipping over a 3 legged chair as opposed to other types of seats) and in order for your tiny feet to support a relatively giant body, Nature resorted to this geometrical form when designing your foot. When you toes are lifted off the ground, when properly aligned, you should feel the bony protuberance under your big and pinky toe firmly planted into the ground as well as your heel.

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Now you can lay your stretched toes down and relax them.

Your calf muscles should by now be rock solid, natural, yet the front of your thigh need your conscious effort to engage. In yoga we are on quest towards balance, harmony: the natural state of our bodies and minds. The skeletal and muscle systems were built on this principle of harmonizing opposite forces, balancing.  In between our strong muscles there are usually mobile, vulnerable joints often affected by improper or lacking engagement of synchronized muscles. To harmonize the strong pull of the solid lower leg muscle, we must engage the front of the thigh, the quadriceps muscle in about the same proportion. Squeeze and lift your thighs and you should immediately experience a sense of solid, grounded foundation. The triangle of your foot should also by this simple harmonized action become much better emphasized, planted.

Your mountain now has a deep, solid foundation :)

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We move further on the same harmonic principle: we activated the back of the fore-leg, the front of the upper leg and now we move again, back, to the buttox area and mildly tuck the tailbone under. This action is meant to stabilize the pelvis and prevent over-arching the back, action that would almost naturally occur as we move up, again to the front of the body, the abdomen.

Starting at the very base of your abdomen, suck the lowest belly in and just like the thighs lift the entire belly up towards your rib cage. In Ashtanga yoga we call this engaging the abdominal locks aka bandhas, but I will one day dedicate a separate post to debunking this Sanskrit term. Once the abdomen’s base is sucked in and the abdominal wall is lifted the spine should feel straight, natural and solid.

Our mountain now has a strong ridge.

From the front yet again, harmoniously moving back by pulling the shoulders back. This action will stabilize the shoulder joint, lift and widen the chest and in harmony with the previous two segments of the body, your entire torso is now in a natural, stable, solid position. Lift lightly trough the crown of the head, a confident posture.

Lift your chin to parallel to the ground and once set up, try to consciously relax the face and neck. Clenching this area of the body is a natural response to stress and would automatically trigger a natural nervous stress-response crumpling this majestic mountain from it’s peak.

And there you go, your body is now as it was always meant to be: aligned, strong, gracious! Take deep, steady and even breaths trough your nose and dwell in this state for a while. Walk the attention up and down the body to reassure that all the elements described are present and allow your self to experience the entire structure holistically for a while. The practice of yoga has begun!

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Yoga dilemma

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I spent years dwelling on weather to start a blog or not. The main reason for this is the fact that there is sooooo much information out there we are just about to drown in it. The secondary main reason is that there is soooo much misinformation out there that we might actually succeed in drowning.

For a long time I was unwilling to risk being a part of the confusion. In a radicalist way one would expect people are capable to filter that information yet we all know that it is not so simple. I have found my self often carried away by a wave or another of borrowed beliefs until I realized I have no experience or deep rooted wisdom to support that.

There are also those who believe that no harm can come out of that and I must contradict here, as not all misinformation is unintentional or benevolent and I myself have found me drifting miles away from the simplest path, floating on a wave of misinformed naivety fed by well researched and targeted psychological games generally oriented towards some sadly, material interest.

I have opened this blog at the repetitive insistence of my best friend, one that i highly regard and whom has often changed my course for the better trough his simple insights. He once said that I should think of those who carry similar histories and travel similar paths as mine and how they might find life-changing inspiration in my words of experience, just as I found comfort, encouragement and precious epiphanies in some other human words picked out of that ginormous pile, that made total and authentic sense to me and have in some way assisted my growth into the one i am today.

Long intro for a hot topic: what kind of yoga should one practice?

This question nearly broke my brain for a long time. Starting out my practice with a set of video downloads it was all so simple. I knew nothing about what yoga is but some very different from the norm type of exercise. I did  what the lady and guy on the video said and felt awesome right away.

I can remember walking taller, almost floating above the ground and then progressively, in time, curiosity sneaked in. I started reading about it, researching it to discover this intricate system with branches so many that even to this day my mind simply refuses to keep up with all the flourishes of the so called “modern yoga”.

I won’t go into details and lists of the styles of yoga you can pick and choose from, there are plenty of resources online for you to brake your own brain into. Yet must tell my story as it might help you perhaps not go trough the anxieties and frustrations I did.

I was always the take stuff seriously or don’t take them at all kinda soul. After my first few asana practices I knew somehow in my depth that yoga is something I will be involved with for life, it took years to crystallize this into actual reality but I simply felt it was the key to everything important for me.

So then came all the yogis from all the different styles with all their convictions that they have it best figured out or at least theirs is just as good as any other. Then came all the criticism to different styles of yoga or overall to the domain of yoga.

As a result I simply enforced a habit within me I had already more then enough of: constant self-doubt, agony of though.

In a moment of clarity however I received this question: how did I begin this mess? And I remembered all the lightness and simplicity and it all came together: I started out with a quiet, opened mind, I started in simplicity and all the pain begun when I lost this feeling flying on the wings of other people’s expositions and opinions.

I decided to surrender and let life sort this one out and sooner then later it did. I stumbled into a studio based on a tradition that bore quotes such as “99% practice 1% theory”; “do your practice and all is coming” and faster then I could blink, I felt at home. There was no more bullshit, no more pretend enlightenment, no more bla bla.

I have discovered Ashtanga yoga and I am not here to say that this is your style of yoga but I am here to say that it is mine and I found it when I stopped frenetically looking for it, yet kept on craving it from the deepest spot of my being.

We all have different piles of memory in each and every cell of ours. Some of us as a result have become overly demanding on our selves, some the complete opposite, need strong arms to push us forward. Some are overly logical or overly dreamy. Based on these needs we best surround our selves with things and people that can help us correct those trails we find deviant or  deficient within us.

My intuition says that that is what makes a certain style of yoga fit or unfit for us. I needed structure, discipline, experience and found it plentiful in the style of yoga I so committedly practice. I needed depth and simple reasoning and the origin, science and philosophy of Ashtanga yoga was just that. I’m a practical, pragmatic chick and need experiential, reasonable disciplines to follow.

The only way to discover this though is if one takes a light hearten journey of experience. Try out stuff on your own skin and make your own opinion about it based not only on how much you enjoyed that particular moment but also on what impact it has on you on the longer run. I have walked out of yoga classes before feeling floaty, almost high and realized that all it was really was an hour of hypnosis that once over, served no other purpose then marking one more thing I will not be doing again.

And this again is me. I walk a mountain upward. I expect no end to my journey yet I refuse to walk backwards so everything I do is a step up on the steep trail, a moment of growth, evolution or at least intended to.

When one is about to choose a path, a discipline it is always important to set your intention: what are you striving for? Why will you be practicing yoga. Is it simple physical improvement? Is it  a journey of self-discovery? Is it devotion and embracing faith? Is it something greater then what you cold invoke in thoughts? Each of these questions will face you with a huge pile of styles and teachers.

And that is when you best be aware of your extraordinary power of discernment:  experience stuff, not on Google, not at a guru’s mouth but in real life…that’s why you have a body, a functional physical form and an extremely powerful mind. Stop the “he says she says” religious approach. Trust your teacher but trust him trough the filter of your own potent power of thinking.

Our intellect was never meant to be a wasteful design meant to confuse and assimilate information on the raw as if it was true. It was built to think, to serve you. Close your eyes, observe your  breath for a few minutes and then in the quiet of your mind experience the results of your attempts.

There is no good or bad yoga, there is no good or bad religion or science. There is just the one that serves your growth or hinders it and you are the only one with the power to decide. Take responsibility and roll out your mat more often then you open your search engine or philosophy commentaries.

If you read texts, read originals and try to build your own interpretation as it is at the moment. No one can raise your intelligence but your self.

I know we live in a strange world a world where responsibility is sold out for false security, where we expect fast, ready made solutions but that is not the way of Nature…and you are Nature! Nature is patient, thorough and self-reliant. She is a playful, self-confident artist.

Your yoga is within you and you will know without a word when that plug inside is being linked to the style of yoga you are best fit for. So keep trying and be alert, conscious and responsible. And last but not least: keep it simple!

My word of advice: you were born naked and that’s how you’ll go. That’s how most any yoga style today with any amount of authenticity is: simple, naked, raw and free. Whenever something seams complicated, shady, mystical and expensive (more then an average monthly membership)…you are most likely knocking on the wrong door.

And keep a light heart. We all stumble, we all make fools out of our selves or over-exalt over nothing from time to time. Learn to laugh over your trips and trops and walk with a straight back and open head and heart.

If you choose yoga as a lifestyle don’t forget, asana is but the tip of the iceberg. There is an entire moral and habitual structure to adhere to and that is nothing you will learn by wearing the latest yoga trend in the hippest studio. That is for you to discover trough diligent introspection and alert research.

Walk firm and travel light!

The Great Cleanse

So why not start a new diet today?

I am on the side of change is now not next week also, yet starting a clean, structured dietary discipline requires just a bit of prepping.

Often time the shock of change can cause quite an internal battle that doesn’t always leave us on the winning side.

I have gone trough this experience in my yoga practice also. I started and it felt awesome so after a bit of lingering upon it I decided I’m gonna get a whole lot of this awesome and along the way I have completely lost perspective of the point of my practice but leaving that aside, I gave my body the shock treatment and found my self in less then a month weak muscled, soar-jointed and mildly toxic.

I have tried to accelerate transformation and that is sooooo far from the way of Nature, Nature of which we are a substantial part of.

So, I decided I will not commit the same mistake in this case precisely since I am well aware of the initial dark periods of a cleansing, nurturing diet: the great detox.

Your body not being fed all the “usual” toxins finally gets the brake and nutrients it need to do the great cleaning  and tidying up. We can always assist this process just a bit by giving our body what it’s made of in the greatest proportion: water. It is mainly trough this inter-medium that our organism will start removing the sludge so flushing and replacing water is the best idea we could come up with when deciding to go clean.

A pure water detox might not be for everyone but there are always the great alternatives: fresh-squeezed veggie and fruit juices…no prepacked, pasteurized imitators! They are packed with by now processed fruit-sugars and depleted of essential nutrients.

What I decided to do is to minimize intake of food to as little as possible. Recovering from a flu I find it hard to completely cut out food stuff but try to limit my self to probiotic packed fresh yogurt…no Greek creamy stuff, no pasteurized/homogenized milk gunk…your body has no idea what that stuff is really but minuscule milk solids to clog your arteries and mess up your colon and again, sugars over sugars. All that puts more strain on your hard-working system.

So that’s where I stand: water, lots of water, gallons if you can take it. Fresh fruit/veggie juices, wholesome yogurt and if I become truly desperate sprouts, nutrient and life filled sprouts of your choice.  All room temperature as to not kill the fire, we need the fire now more then ever.

This is my idea of a cleanse. Might not work for everyone. We all need to be our own researchers and patients. Get your information raw, learn about the body, it’s construction and mechanism of action. Try out stuff, as long as you are not gulping down poison and don’t suffer of some serious health issue you can afford to try.

And last but not at all least: listen to your intuition using the same power of discernment that makes us humans human.

This being said, we’ll return to the yum-yums on Monday!

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Love runs through the tummy

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So I’m just getting over a bit of a funk. Yes, even yogis have their days, weeks and months when things just don’t feel in their right place. The one great difference is the level of awareness over this fact.

I find that I am no longer capable of ignoring the desperate cries of my body or the nutty games of my mind yet old habits die even harder then we imagine.

I’ve gone through a couple of weeks of literal nutritional sloth. All the passion I placed into discovering a healthy diet and applying all of its principles that I’ve kept up for so long just went crumbling down as I became quite busy and frankly a bit weight down by the seasonal change….which reminds me: when seasons change, well that’s the worst time to become lazy as your body needs you the most at such time.

More and more tasty quick fries and order in/ pick up junk landed on my table. Bread products and pastries have seen their share of attention. Not real pig style but still quite a slip on my side.

Even though my body held on like a brave little soldier it became impossible to ignore what was going on “upstairs”.

My mind became restless and more and more restless by the day and I guess it’s fair to say I stirred up my hormones quite heavily with my ignorance. I noticed my patience shortening and my energy running rampant, confused. And finally slowly and sneakily the fog set in.

None of this happened without my awareness and approval so it was that responsibility I decided to dump so easily that I had to pick up and give some muscle to.

I realized why this has happened and why, despite the tons of information that I was gulping down about proper nutrient intake and proper ingredients I could still come to such state of dietary decay.

The answer lies in the very practice I am so committed to: Ashtanga Yoga.

My practice involves a lot of structure and discipline and that was the one element my diet never really embraced. I ate good but chaotically.

So just to begin I made a little experiment. No big efforts just to ease into a new plan. I tried to have a time structured meal plan not yet going ocd on the ingredients but focusing on proper meal times and portions.

It all became so easy. What I believed must be a very complicated way of life turns out to actually assist in having more time and definitely a more balanced flow of energy throughout the day.

Now it’s time to introduce the next element: the very best and well balanced ingredients. So I did a bit of research and tried to find something that would make my tummy growl. I am not a nutritionist so I am a very pragmatic and researching food geek looking for the best of the best to assist my journey.

I decided to go with www.youngandrawproducts.com 30 day diet plan. I am not taking a web challenge yet I am challenging my self on this one.

I commit to update on my evolution trough the world of live and happy food and give a real idea of how a human lives through this procession and what the results of it will turn out to be.

I will update daily on the recipes and my take on them as I believe for instance I will never be able to stomach cilantro…4 bunches of it no way! I am one of the rare few who’s genes dictate that cilantro tastes like soap so I will have to make some common sense adaptations but the big picture is: let’s roll young and raw, baby!!!

Start day: October 7th End date November 6th. Fingers tightly crossed. My immune system is sooo happy right now…:)

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Ashtanga Yoga as it is

Where is the delusion when Truth is known,
Where is disease when Mind is clear,
Where is death when the Breath is controlled,
Therefor surrender to Yoga.”
Sri Tirumalai Krishnamacharya

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I’ve been practicing Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga for a while now, sometimes in fanatic spurs, sometimes in well balanced routines and last but not least sometimes on the edge of giving up.

So what is Ashtanga Yoga?

As the prolific Ashtanga Yoga guru, Sri Krishna Patthabi Jois once said, “yoga is 99% practice, 1% theory”; a highly experiential practice is not easy to describe in limiting words.

It’s a form of classical yoga practice with a possibly infinite and mysterious history. We can look back as far as the sage Patanjali, the author of the Yoga Sutras to get a more or less comprehensive picture of what this discipline represents or rather presents us with.
In my present perception, it’s roots go as back and as deep as our very Spirits go.
The physical side of Ashtanga Yoga is simple: a couple of well structured series of postures coupled with conscious breathing, with well targeted intent and firm disciplinary requirements all meant to undo the deviations of our body and mind and prepare us for the real deal, the serious work of digging deep within our selves.
I fell in love with the practice from the first time i stepped onto the top of my mat in a led class. For perhaps the first time in my yogic journey, thanks also to an wonderful teacher, the importance of the breath was emphasized and re-emphasized. Perhaps for this very reason, it grew and grew and grew on me until it has become truly my life.
As a seeker since diaper age it wasn’t long until my curiosity drove me to check into what else is there under the covers of this physical practice. And as my intuition had previously flickered it, a whole lot is there. The physical practice is but the tiny plant sprouting at the surface of a soil that hides an immense and sturdy root bulb filled with the most genuine wisdom grounded in the soils of the very Unified and Unifying Truth it’s self. As the root feeds the plant with nutrients drawn from it’s soil, so the sproutling feeds the root with nutrients drawn from the sun and air. So the elements of Ashtanga Yoga cooperate in a constant cycling.
I believe the immersion into the deeper aspects of Yoga, in this case trough the means of the well systematized Ashtanga Yoga was inevitable. As Guruji Sri K Pattabhi Jois once said: “Do your practice and all is comming”, just as a snowflake tumbled down the hill grows and grows into the greatest of avalanches so it is with this precious discipline. Layer by layer deeper and deeper aspects become available to the practitioner once practice is established and resistance is renounced. And even though it might appear to be an isolating discipline in it’s self as it has a name of it’s own, practices of it’s own and could easily be confused with a hermetically isolated, unilateral domain of spirituality, when practiced with dedication, diligence and presence it actually reveals it’s very universality or rather sheds light on the practitioner’s very universality.
Once the root becomes visible to one, the illusion of the separateness of the branches becomes all the more obvious.
Stepping out of the physical practice, the asanas, that unfortunately seams to overwhelm the entire big bulk of what Ashtanga Yoga is today; the other remaining 99% composes the very essence of this discipline of life. As so accessibly presented in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, there are a series of moral conduit practices, and personal observances to adhere to in order to perfect one’s available tools for the supreme journey it’s self: call it enlightenment, samadhi, nirvana, liberation etc.
Not to say that observing part of the suggested disciplines would not almost naturally lead the practitioner to the rest of the remaining practices and their results, almost as if the transcripts of Ashtanga Yoga are part of our very DNA.
The yogi is to develop truthfulness in thought, speech and action; non-violence to self and others, non-covetousness and abstain from feeling of jealousy; moderation in all and renunciation over claims to possessions inner and outer. Cleanliness in all aspects of being, contentment and austerity, dedicated practice; persevering study and surrender to the process it’s self. The yogi would practice postures (asana) and breathing (pranayama) to rid the body and mind of all impurities and reestablish harmony. The yogi will withdraw from the illusion of the senses, practice concentration of mind and meditation to enforce all these. Last but not least, the yogi will establish in the state of samadhi, dissolution into the very Source of being.
This makes up for quite a package of tasks. I recommend trying for one single day to be completely truthful to your self and others just to get a taste of the immense challenge of such an endeavor and get a taste of the depth of our deviances. Experience the deceitfulness of our entangled mind towards self and others no matter what cause is there in the mind to justify it.
Yoga is a 24/7 mission, it knows no excuse and dogmas, it has no mercy or cruelty, it just is: a state that it warrants it’s true pursuers as well.
Ashtanga Yoga is a system only because in our present state we need systems to draw us out of our perished systematic way of being. It appears to have a contour and limits only because most of us still have a limited, encapsulated perception. It emphasized fixed disciplines yet dissolves our fixed patterns of thinking. Ashtanga yoga literally uses our very limitations to burn away our limitations and open us up to our true, simple nature, the real Self, Spirit, Awareness, God reestablishing us onto the marvelously enfolding divine evolution of form as absolute freedom of manifestation rather then prison or perception.
We all hold the key to unfolding this amazing journey: we all breath, we all use this umbilical chord that connects our unseen, not yet experienced to the seen and experienced. Once the conscious decision to use this key is taken, Yoga unfolds.

“Anybody can breath, therefor anybody can practice yoga”
T.K.V. Desikachar

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