So True

I thought this was pretty cool.

Warren Buffet 3 Things in a person

Mr. Buffet does have a point.

Ashtanga Yoga

As promised I wanted to spend a little time writing about Ashtanga Yoga.  Ashtanga Yoga most often refers to the system taught by Indian yoga master K. Pattabhi Jois, and is sometimes called Ashtanga vinyasa yoga.  

8LimbsTree-300x283

Ashtanga yoga literally means “eight-limbed yoga,” as outlined by the sage Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. According to Patanjali, the path of internal purification for revealing the Universal Self consists of the following eight spiritual practices:

Yama [moral codes]
Niyama [self-purification and study]
Asana [posture]
Pranayama [breath control]
Pratyahara [conscious withdrawal of energy from the senses]
Dharana [concentration]
Dhyana [meditation]
Samadhi [enlightenment]

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is different from many yoga classes in the west in that the order of asanas is completely predefined. A practice will comprise four main parts:

  • an “opening sequence” Sun salutations
  • one of the six main “series”
  • a back-bending sequence
  • a set of inverted asanas, referred to as the “finishing sequence”

This type of yoga is not trivial and can have 75 or more asanas taking 1  to 2 hours to complete.  The main series actually has 6 different levels if you will from:

  • Primary series is called Yoga Chikitsa
  • Intermediate or second series is called Nadi Shodana
  • four advanced series are called Sthira Bhaga

Those performing Ashtanga yoga are encouraged to practice 6 days a week, preferably in the morning, and to take rest on Saturdays as well as the days of the full and new moon (commonly referred to as moon days by ashtanga practitioners).  This form of yoga is very athletic and challenging so be prepared to work hard to complete your sessions.  You will not only build flexibility but also strength, which are a couple of reasons why Ashtanga yoga is so popular.

This is by no means a comprehensive explanation of Ashtanga yoga, and I would encourage you to do some additional research.  What I determined is that this is not appropriate for those of you who have very limited time to devote to a yoga practice, but at the same time it can be done by a novice and is something that you can grow into because it does have different levels.  Probably the best way to get started is to seek out a yoga studio that teaches Ashtanga and talk to a teacher, and you can also check out books or DVD’s at Amazon who seem to have a pretty extensive offering to choose from.

A quick update, I just purchased this book from Amazon because it addressed the Primary series and because it was rated so high.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Power-Ashtanga-Yoga-Peace–Includes/dp/1611800056/

Namaste

Yoga Sunset

Meditation the business persons secret weapon

I was just reading an article from Entrepreneur magazine written by Russell Simmons called “3 Simple Ways Meditation Will Make You a Better Entrepreneur“, and it was so good I just had to share some of the concepts and of course make the article available to you.  Yes and I will also try to keep this post short for a change.

So what are these 3 ways that meditation makes you a better entrepreneur?

  1. Keeps you focused.  Meditation clears all the chatter in your mind so you can really focus on what needs to be done making great leaps in productivity.
  2. It gets you past “success” and “failure.  Russell is referring to allowing your mind to get too over excited by success and too down in the dumps by failures.  Meditation provides some balance taking out some of the highs and lows.
  3. It lets you be more creative.  The stillness and focus of meditation allows those creative thoughts to finally surface, maybe it is the improved ability to focus that drives improved creativity.

colorful meditation

http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/232270?newsletter=true

Exercising Choice

choices the three C

No this is not about choosing the right exercise, although that could be a choice for you.  Really this post is more about breaking free of a habit based existence and exercising this little thing called choice in your life.  As human beings we tend to create habits for ourselves some good and some not so good, but nonetheless we live out these habits.  For many people breaking a bad habit is something that takes a crisis not because that is the best approach, but it is in our nature to stick with that habit even though it may have very negative consequences.  Consider the heroin addict, smoker, or alcoholic it often takes a dire consequence, a pretty severe wake up call for them to even think about moving away from the habit by choice.  We have all been there, following some bad habit that may be detrimental to our health, relationships, or careers.  I contend that we naturally stick with the habit and we are not exercising a choice but simply sticking with what is familiar.

Think about your day or your typical week, how much of it is made up of rituals you have developed.  What do you do in the morning, my guess is you follow a pretty regimented routine, preparing yourself for a work day, and then arriving at the office within a 15 minute window of time.  Of course these are not necessarily bad things, but they exemplify how we like to follow a pattern of behavior, a ritual if you like.

Life is about choices

Are there habits you should cling too?  Maybe, but don’t be to hasty, even what you perceive as good habits or patterns of behavior may be limiting you.  Let’s take the person who gets up every morning and goes running, sounds like a good habit doesn’t it.  Would another form of exercise be maybe even more beneficial from time to time?  Oh no I run every day, not by choice so much as I am now a runner and have created a daily habit and short of a pretty bad injury that is where I am headed in the morning.

See we create paradigms that we actually live out.  I am a project manager, I am a runner, I am a brick layer, I am a doctor, I am in law enforcement, I am a tax attorney, I am stock broker, I am something.  I have created a category, a role for myself, and thus limited my choices.  Regardless of all the silly ways that society reinforces the limitations that go along with your role and tries to box you in to a set of required skills, it does no define your potential.  A runner can lift weights or do yoga, a brick layer can be a florist, a tax attorney can be an artist, a college drop out at Harvard can create Microsoft.

The point of all of this is you have choices as to how you spend your time, hopefully you see yourself as more than a role you fulfill.  Choice is something we really don’t exercise much, but it is more available than you think.  Start with those negative habits that enslave you such as smoking, drinking, drugs, a poor diet, bad relationships, or a dead end job.  Start making a conscience choice to follow another path, an alternative action.  Otherwise let your habits consume you and dictate your future, you have a choice.

Namaste

History of Yoga

history of yoga

I’ve been doing some reading to find out just how yoga came into being, and the answer is not clear.  A number of sources claim that yoga predates the written word and is over 5,000 years old.  The evidence of this comes from archaeological dig sites where yoga poses have been found.  There is some conjecture that yoga evolved from Hinduism but Hinduism’s religions structures  were developed much later and incorporated yoga but did not create it.  Initially yoga was passed down from teacher to student through oral instruction and by demonstration.

One of the earliest texts on yoga came from a scholar named Patanjali, who created a book named Yoga Sutras anywhere from the 1st or 2nd century B.C. to as late as the 5th century A.D.  Patanjali wrote about a system called “Ashtanga Yoga,” or the eight limbs of yoga.  There are many (hundreds) schools, styles, and types of yoga but some of the more common include:

  • Hatha Yoga: The physical movements and postures, plus breathing techniques. This is what most people associate with Yoga practice.
  • Ashtanga Yoga: The system is based on six series of asanas which increase in difficulty, allowing students to work at their own pace. In class, you’ll be led nonstop through one or more of the series. There’s no time for adjustments—you’ll be encouraged to breathe as you move from pose to pose.
  • Bikram Yoga: This method of staying healthy from the inside out was designed by Bikram Choudhury, who sequenced a series of 26 traditional hatha postures to address the proper functioning of every bodily system.  Usually this form of yoga is done at temperatures approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the idea is that you will sweat out the toxins in your body.
  • Raja Yoga: Called the “royal road,” because it incorporates exercise and breathing practice with meditation and study, producing a well-rounded individual.  Raja yoga was first described as an eightfold or eight-limbed (aṣṭanga, ashtanga) path in the Yoga Sutras of Patañjali.
  • Jnana Yoga: The path of wisdom; considered the most difficult path.
  • Bhakti Yoga: The practice of extreme devotion in one-pointed concentration upon one’s concept of God.
  • Karma Yoga: Of the four paths to realization, karma yoga is the process of achieving perfection in action. Karma yoga is derived from the spiritual life. Karma yoga is said to be the most authentic way to progress in the spiritual life. Found in the Bhagavad Gita karma yoga is a part of nature. Karma yoga is taught by teachers of zen who promote tranquility.
  • Other styles include: Iyengar, Power Yoga, White Lotus, Kali Ray TriYoga, Jivamukti, Viniyoga, and on and on and on.

downward facing dog

Even by these definitions one can see that it is difficult to separate the exercise component of yoga from the meditative aspect.  The word Yoga means “to join or yoke together,” bringing the body and mind together into one harmonious experience.  The system of Yoga is built on three main structures: exercise, breathing, and meditation; all three components must be in harmony to properly practice yoga.  My next post will begin to focus in on Ashtanga one of the forms of yoga mentioned above in more detail.  Remember you can make up your own sequence of asana’s for your practice, but understanding a few of the more popular disciplines will help you gravitate to what suits your personality and desires.

Namaste

Namaste

Benefits of Yoga

benefits-of-yoga

I was just reading an article on the health benefits of Yoga, and wanted to add my two cents to the topic.  We all do yoga for different reasons and often a set of common reasons.  The health benefits of yoga mentioned in the article below include:

  • The personal time you spend on yoga reduces stress and boosts your immunity
  • Yoga poses done correctly combine exercise and breathing allowing you to control your mind and breathing
  • Yoga poses and sequences like sun salutations have a slimming effect on the body helping to keep you lean
  • Yoga poses strengthen and lengthen your muscles improving your sitting and standing posture
  • Yoga combined with meditation makes you happier, more joyful, and loving

Yoga Sunset

Let me throw in a few of my own benefits of doing yoga:

  • Many of us work in an office, spending much of our day sitting in a chair which tends if anything to constrict or tighten muscles in your back and hamstrings for instance.  Yoga can combat this situation by elongating those muscles reversing much of the damage done by sitting all day.  Many yoga poses also help you elongate the spinal column, and other joints like your knees and shoulders.
  • Yoga has many things in common with meditation in that to perform an asana correctly you must stop thinking about other things and focus on the pose and your breathing.  For this reason you begin to let go of other thoughts and relax your mind and your body.  For most of us this doesn’t happen for but a few moments during the day, and yoga can help you just be in the moment.
  • There is a great efficiency to doing yoga in that it takes maybe 20 – 30 minutes to perform a fairly extensive routine where you start to realize the benefits mentioned above.  So yoga is a very efficient form of exercise for both the mind and body.  This is meaningful for those of you have so much to to do, and for all of you who have other fitness interest like running, biking, and strength training for instance.
  • Yoga complements other fitness activities by stretching the muscles helping runners and strength training devotes alike, keeping their muscles loose and helping with recovery.  You won’t find too many runners or serious weight lifters who don’t stretch.  Yoga provides a more comprehensive opportunity to really stretch all the body parts in a very structured way helping the runner or strength trainer to stay healthy and manage pain.

What benefits have you received from you your yoga practice?

Health benefits of yoga:  http://www.healthcaremagic.com/insights/why-yoga-is-important-to-your-health/40

Time for a little Yoga

This is my first post on the topic of yoga, so for all of you experienced practitioners this might be a bit too elementary for you, but then again who knows.  I have in one form or another been doing yoga poses (asanas) for some time now, well actually for years.  I’ve often mixed in asanas with Pilates exercises, and other forms of stretching during my morning session.   While this is a great way to add some stretching oriented exercises to your morning workout it does not constitute what anyone would consider practicing yoga.  So over the past few weeks I have been devoting some of my morning workouts purely to the practice of yoga.  Being a bit of self study kind of person, I went  back to my library and pulled out a book I had purchased some time ago from Yoga Journal.  This book provided detailed instructions on how to perform the asana along with pictures of each position in the correct sequence.

So the question is why would anyone want to do yoga?  I mean come on you can find better and faster ways to exercise than yoga can’t you.  Sure there are at least a dozen ways to torture yourself physically that are more efficient that yoga, although anyone who has ever taken a yoga class knows it is not as easy as one might think.  The physical torture part is just not the point.  If you are looking for something that kicks your butt stay with squats or running, but if you are looking for a form of exercise that is really more than exercise maybe yoga deserves a look.

yoga-mats-adventure-blog-11

My next post will dig into the origins of yoga and the benefits of regular practice.

Namaste