Australia, Community

Something to Smile About

If you want to find other blogs of interest and read fun, uplifting and positive things that are happening in the world, head on other to Trent‘s collection of Weekly Smiles.

Because…….

We all need good news stories at the moment. Right?

This week I joined in on a free Qi Gong Exercise class on the beach at sunrise. This group practises every day at the same time, and the best part is that it is totally free. No strings attached, no hidden agenda, just a wish to have a community activity that would include and welcome all.

It started with a few ladies who were going through Breast Cancer rehabilitation and has grown to include a dedicated group of instructors and attendees. The oldest is 88 years old and is an instructor on the weekend. She pulls in the bigger crowds. She is inspirational and takes me to task, in a gentle way, if I am not doing the exercise correctly.

And although it is gentle – meditative almost, I feel it in my gluteal muscles the next day! So it has to be doing something.

And I am still smiling.

The other surprise I had was to receive a generous gift of aromatherapy lotions and creams from Utama Spice in Bali. This is the first free gift I have ever received as a blogger so it certainly made me smile. It was the perfect timing as I was just writing about lavender at the Home by the Sea, recently.

sandy beach
Community, Mental Health, Motivational

Exercise – I hate it, so I found a solution.

When you live in a hot climate, exercising is hard. The will to jog or pump iron in the blistering heat of a steamy summer’s day, is almost impossible to find.

Stradbroke Island
Adder Rock

Entering my fifth decade, I discovered that if I didn’t exercise regularly and followed my ever increasing sedentary lifestyle, my body and its joints quickly became stiff. The flexibility and mobility of my youth was lost. As we age, many of us find this loss might even become permanent, if we don’t find a way to move.

black and white sepia beach

Balance

Balance is also the first of our senses to deteriorate with the passing years, so it is vitally important to find a way to preserve that sense of balance, for as long as you can. How many older folks pass away or deteriorate after a fall and the consequential broken hip?

Gentle Exercise with Benefits

If you find the prospect of jogging or hard aerobic exercise unbearable, as I do, Yoga is the perfect way to begin an exercise routine and achieve some gentle movement, in your body. If you are able to devote a few minutes each morning or even three times a week, you will find that before too long, your body will begin yearning to stretch.

jump happy

Hatha Yoga

The best thing about Yoga is that it is designed for people of all ages and levels of fitness. The beautiful thing about Hatha or most styles of yoga, as opposed to the punishing regime of Bikram or hot yoga, is that it is not competitive. You work at your own pace, listening to your body, gradually encouraging it to stretch and strengthen when it’s ready.

Hatha Yoga practices are designed to align and calm your body, mind, and spirit.

https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/types-of-yoga/hatha

But don’t think you won’t get any sort of workout in Yoga if you like something more challenging. You can choose to push your limits, if you are able, but you will do it gently and safely and calmly. No stress, no over reaching your body. Just gentle stretching.

Digestive Benefits

Practising Yoga not only keeps you fit and toned, but provides innumerable benefits to the internal systems of the body as well. The many forward bending asanas, or positions, stimulate digestion and elimination.

Calming the Nervous System

Twisting poses and backbends stimulate spinal nerves, benefiting the entire nervous system but please start out small, very small, if you haven’t exercised for some time.

Yogic stretches and accompanying breathing techniqes are one of the best way to calm an over-stimulated nervous system, and with regular practice, you’re find that you are able to relax and face life’s difficulties more easily. Inversions – even as simple as forward bending and touching you toes, pump up your blood circulation and can even counteract depressive feelings.

The ancient Yogis believed that holding a ‘downward facing dog’ posture for up to 30 minutes could cure depression! Perhaps that is a stretch, (no pun intended), but I think holding a pose like this, would certainly distract anyone from feeling bad about themselves, albeit temporarily!

What is the Secret?

The breathing exercises incorporated in yoga, bring increased oxygen to the blood, which then washes through the body’s cells, rejuvenating them from the inside out. It is the squeezing and releasing of muscles within the many physical poses that then creates many of the bodily benefits.

Immunity

Yoga asanas may also affect the glands and regulate the production of hormones, something modern medicine finds difficult to control without nasty side effects. In fact, hatha yoga does wonders for all systems of the body and for your general immunity.


Even a small effort at this form of exercise is repaid almost instantly with increased feelings of well being.

daisy

With regular yoga practice, you will quickly notice how your body feels lighter, livelier and more limber.

Depending on the Yoga exercises you choose to do, you can focus on improving your balance, strength and/or flexibility and general mobility.

handstand on sandy beach

More subtle forms of yoga aid and prepare for a meditation that may relieve stress and benefit the body, mind and you, the soul.

Here is how to reduce stress via some simple meditation you can do at home.

For more specific poses for knee and back pain click here at this blog

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Namaste

vigeland
Community

Booted Out of Bikram

A while back I attended two classes in Bikram Yoga. This is yoga performed in a hot room.

You see, I love a good sauna, and I like yoga…. perfect combination? Right?

WRONG!

Classically trained on and off for the past 30 or so years in Iyengar/ Hatha yoga as a recreational pursuit for fun, flexibility and fitness, I decided to give Bikram a go. Despite several warnings from my work colleagues, about the challenging nature of the class, I was ready, or so I thought.

What I wasn’t ready for, however, was the No pain, No gain, six-pack built teacher, complete with “Madonna-style” mic, on raised pedestal, who quickly began barking orders and clicking fingers at the class, like we were some kind of performing seals! 

I was instantly on my guard. This, for me, contradicted all that is appealing about Yoga. Yoga is usually all about relaxing, finding peace and zen, tranquility, and being at one with mind and body. I suddenly felt apprehensive. Let me tell you, the rest of the class didn’t go well.

meditation
Meditation and mantras

Am I a little strange, I thought, at one point? Looking around, I noticed the 17 other people seemed okay with being spoken at like caged circus animals, and relished enduring poses where the objective, according to the instructor, was “pain.” Clearly, this is hard core yoga and the participants enjoyed communing with other overly sweaty bodies in a smelly room, heated to 105 degrees celsius.

When booking in for the class, I was advised to drink at least 3 litres of water, beforehand and here is a tip: do not even think to touch your water bottle, during class, unless instructed to do so by the six pack girl.

emotion

One student was reprimanded for attempting to drink. I say attempting, because he didn’t get to the point of taking a sip. Poor guy had rivers of sweat pouring off his head and body, no exaggeration. This has to mean he was dehydrated and I hate to think of the headache he must have had afterwards.

Then – it is apparently a BIG problem if a student tries to vary a pose, due, let’s say, to a muscle cramp, in a way that is deemed contrary to the Bikram technique. I was told I had to complete the pose, as instructed, and when I explained that I was unable to do so, I was told that unless I did it as instructed I should leave the class.

vigeland

For the record, I stayed and told the instructor I would sit out, if there was pose I couldn’t do the ‘correct’ way the teacher instructed. Unfortunately, the teacher did not provide any alternative poses for those who are hmm, a little more advanced in years, something I was quite used to. It is certainly not an older person’s yoga.

No wonder they ask you to sign a disclaimer that includes the phrase,” that you have in the last 6 months seen a medical practitioner that states that you are safe and fit to do Bikram Yoga and that you are aware …..that there may be….injury, even  paralysis and death.

Are you surprised that I deleted this condition before signing?

When I attended the second class – Yes I did go back, but I was careful to select a class with a different teacher than the one who had asked me to leave midway through. This lady was, I have to say, a little more in tune with Yogic philosophy of, “Listen to your body” etc. I could make it through her class without being reprimanded for being disobedient.

However, this was a morning class, very early, and there was no way I had time to prepare by drinking the 3 litres of water. Thus, when the class was over, I suffered the classic symptoms of heat stroke, and only recovered 6 hours later. I’d suggest it might be dangerous to drive a car in this condition? Do you think so?

So that was was it for me. I forfeited the rest of my class fees and went back to gentle poses with a Hatha Yoga teacher. In my opinion, and it is only my opinion, I think Bikram as it is practised by the first teacher, is an abomination of the concepts of Yoga as I know it.

Feeling ticked off that it is even called Yoga, I began to research this style, and it seems that there are some issues that question the very integrity of Bikram, and these are evident in a basic internet search. Wiki tells us competition is a fundamental tenet of Bikram, something that is anathema to Yoga.

{http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bikram_Yoga] Another controversial component of Bikram yoga pertains to the prevalence of Yoga Asana Championships, regionally and nationally. While practitioners of other forms of yoga maintain that competition contradicts the idea of peace and unity, Bikram contends, “Competition is the foundation for all democratic societies. For without ‘Competition’, there is no democracy.”[

Legal issues

In the United States, {Bikram} Choudhury has claimed and been aggressive in enforcing broad copyrights in most aspects of the practice, teaching, and business of the system. While these claims are not definitively resolved (i.e., by any judicial ruling on the merits), Choudhury has extracted legal settlements from a number of yoga teachers and studios. However, in a recently issued, official statement, US Copyright Office concluded, that the copyright for Bikram’s sequence of 26 postures had been issued in error. Note: {These postures have been done for thousands of years and are not his to copyright at all}

In Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class (First Edition), Choudhury claims he conducted “medical” studies at the Tokyo University Medical School validating the medical benefits of his 26 postures. During one of the lawsuits, defendants demanded copies of the “medical” studies and Choudhury claimed he could not find them. In Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class (Second Edition), Choudhury removed all references to “medical” studies.[

Competition is necessary in democracy?  Copyright and legal issues? Fraudulent science?

Our six pack advised us that the techniques are “scientifically proven.”

No thanks, I thought. Gentle Yoga and Meditation is the only Yoga I will be doing. Bugger the Bikram.

This is me inwardly cringing

Have you tried Bikram Yoga? What was your experience like?

Something to ponder about in a more relaxing moment.

Community

Be a Warrior Every Morning – Fight the Aging Process

I find as I we get older, our bodies begin to show signs of wear and tear. We can easily pull a muscle bending down to pick up something, especially first thing in the morning.

One way to combat the aging process is to maintain a regular stretching regime.  Our bodies LOVE to stretch and it is the best and most natural activity to do when we first get up in the mornings.

Stretching warms up and activates our muscles getting us ready for the day.  A muscle that is regularly stretched will be less likely to strain or “pull.”

A sun salutation practice is a group of Yoga exercises that incorporates a stretch of every  muscle in the body.

https://i2.wp.com/www.yogaoutlet.com/userfiles/image/Yoga_WarriorII_02_300x350.jpg

One of the exercises I do in my “sun salutation,’ or morning ritual, is the Warrior Pose. It not only strengthens the arms and hips, but also stretches the groin and legs and can help reduce backache.

  1. From a standing position, inhale and exhale as you step your feet 3 feet apart or further if comfortable. You know your body best and what is comfortable for you. Do not overstretch!!!
  2. Inhale and float your arms out to the side at shoulder height. Turn your right foot out to point ahead and your back foot in at a 45 degree angle. Turn your head to look out over your fingertips and front foot.

3.Exhale and bend your right knee until your thigh runs horizontal to the floor (or as near to horizontal as it can get and don’t be too ambitious at first). Turn your head to look out over your fingertips and front foot. Extend out through your arms and slide your shoulders down to create space between your head and neck area.

Alignment is important. (See photo) Shoulders over hips, front knee over second toe and ankle, arms at shoulder height, heels in line.

N.B. If you find it hard to balance, practise against a wall, This will also assist you in maintaining the correct alignment.

4.  Lift your torso up to open your chest and improve respiratory capacity. Inhale and exhale slowly for 5 breaths.

  1. Exhale completely before inhaling and straightening the bent leg. Keeping your knees soft, turn both feet back to centre.
  • Repeat on the other side.

  • A great way to start the day. I have been starting my day this way for 30 years now!

    Something to Ponder About.

     

     

    Community

    Smart phones – as dangerous as Poker/slot machines?

    Slow Tech by Joe Kraus The effects of Smart phone technology on our future lives.

    “The ability of our brains to pay attention to anything will be lost”

    The more we multi-task, the worse we get at it!

    Average of text messages sent by teenage girls a month: 4000

    Changes to our brain. The long term attention, contemplative, thinking part of our brain atrophies or dies, whilst the fast thinking distractible part of our brain is stimulated to grow :
    Result: Decline in creativity and insight
    Intolerance of, or feeling anxious when bored
    Decline in manners or consideration or attention to others

    Solution:
    Take a break as smart phones are here to stay and are helpful when the matter is urgent.
    by:
    1. Taking a walk without your phone, practise meditation, just “be”
    2. Have some phone/technology down time ( one day/evening a week) Joe Kraus claims your level of focus will be much better afterwards.

    Related Article:

    http://ladida555.wordpress.com/2014/01/04/i-have-an-issue-with-smartphones/comment-page-1/#comment-415

    Something to ponder about.