New Blog and Website from Yogable to Yoga Life and George

Hello everyone! I really didn’t write a single post on this blog in 2013. Hm. Well I did make a new website! YogaLifeandGeorge.com  Thank you for finding me/following me here and as it suits you please have a look over at my new hub for finding out about my Yoga classes, handmade musical instruments, and Blog.

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The Therapy of Yoga along my Way

My dear, youngest sister, perhaps one of the coolest and  most goofball people in the world has asked me to write a short article to present to her college class  about therapy through Yoga. Here it is. (I’m going to ask her to send me a pic of herself in a yoga pose…and if you’re reading this to the class Madeline, I cordially invite you to lead them in chanting Om three times with your hands together at your heart. :))


Let me first tell you that the applications of Yoga for therapy are limitless really. Look at any kind of yoga practice; poses, breathing, or meditation. What is really happening there? You are practicing being consciously aware of yourself and choosing how to be in that environment. The general therapeutic affect of any of these practices is that you become skilled at perceiving yourself presently, perhaps curious to discover if there is still yet some broader capacity for that perception, and empowered by realizing that you can  choose how to be in yourself with any situation, at any moment, and in a way that is genuinely healing to your whole body-mind system more and more often. This healing increases your senses and energy which creates a feedback loop increasing your ability to perceive yourself and the inter connectivity of life. You can choose to be calm. You can choose to energize yourself. You can choose to love yourself and others unconditionally. You may not feel that immediately but you can choose to move in the right direction. The more aware you become of the relationship between these aspects; your breath, mind, and body(in movements or repose) the more you realize how infinite you are.

Yoga is a healing modality that creates balance and transformation. Sometimes people may become obsessive about how to heal from a certain ailment or malady. They focus so hard upon what ails them and their energy becomes consumed in a downward spiral. By Yoga practice you expand your awareness to explore your boundaries. What is the mobility of my body? What is the capacity of this breath in this position? In? Out? How long before the tendencies of my mind interrupt my silence? This expansion of awareness is akin to taking stock on all your resources or being the manager of all your systems and behaviors. Healing which really lasts comes from the intelligence provided by observing yourself and choosing those things which you intuitively feel are bringing you towards well-being. As all things are connected, a positive change in one aspect of your life or relationships can lead to healing in another.

Yoga teaches you the value of retreat, of rest, of times of reflection or integrating your recent experiences. This is the principle in the practice of the corpse pose everyone loves at the end of physical yoga practices. When you get into Yoga you’ll find your skill at relaxing increases. Relaxation is a skill, but it’s a skill of not doing anything. How do you keep entertained like that? Observe yourself. Can you feel your heart beat? Can you feel it in your veins? Can you feel it in your little toes? How about your nervous system? Maybe normally you don’t think of “feeling” your nervous system but how do you feel energetically; serene, agitated, sensitive, dull, blissful? As you observe these things and your own breathing can you feel subtle shifts in your mind? What was that, a thought, or something more subtle? Going into these deep states of relaxation is tapping into the natural healing and restorative intelligences of your mind-body systems. They are pro at this. They just need your attention and they get even better at what they were made for…to help you feel love, to give and receive love.

For me yoga has helped me overcome emotional pains, give up destructive behaviors, increased my self worth, healed minor injuries, given my life purpose, and made me very enthusiastic about exploring the possibilities with a positive attitude for myself and the world. I can do it so well I can even gently subdue my  rational mind and believe “unbelievable” things. Not because I really want to think that they are real, but because I want to see what happens to me when I do. And maybe… because somethings don’t become true, until you believe in them.

George Anthony IV

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World Siddha Yoga Shaktipat Intensive Experience

This is what I wore…when I was walking home I ran into a friend that asked if this was me “dressed up”. I said, “I guess so…”

Have you even done something purely from the feeling that it’s just the right thing to do? Most of the time I seem to be living that way, trusting my intuition, even if my rational mind might have some questions about the particular undertaking. Through connections, and perhaps that kind of inner-listening guiding me, I came to be invited to what is considered a very auspicious event created by the World Siddha Yoga Organization, which practices yoga through meditation, chanting, and devotion to Bhagavan Nityananda and his lingeage through Bhagavan Muktananda, to “Guru Mayi”, the current living master.

The event, the Shaktipat Intensive, of the organization is a day long practice of meditation and chanting lead by a local host and video recordings. The shaktipat is said to be delivered by the intentions, or sankalpa, of Guru Mayi. Shaktipat is literally “descending power” or grace from the guru that awakens ones’ spiritual yearning for unity consciousness, or the divine energy called Kundalini. A general belief about shaktipat, or finding gurus in general, is that it comes to those that are ready to receive it and in a way that is assimilable within the context of the practitioner’s understanding their own notion of surrender. This is a good question to ask ones’ self in my opinion. “What is surrender to me?” The resulting feelings points very deep towards the nature of yourself and shows the shape shifting tendency of the ego.

Of the three Gurus within the Siddha Yoga tradition I feel the most acknowledgement towards Nityananda, said to be born enlightened, even before I knew that many of the practices in Siddha Yoga focus on his form, life story, and teachings. His form is curious…Particularly, I repeatedly noticed how long and rectangular his fingernails were in the pictures…and I don’t mean the haven’t been cut for months kind of long…I mean starting from his last knuckle kind of long. In a “rare” video he walks in an odd shifting manner with one elbow drawn far back. His story is interesting, with many accounts of miracles and good works. The theme of this Intensive is from his words…

“The heart is the hub of all sacred places. Go there and roam.”

Much more could be said about all of that but I’ve kept it brief. I’d really like to say just enough to give some background for my experience.

The meditation practices were led from the recording with either chanting or some spiritual talks’ and Nityananda’s face being displayed. We had four sessions throughout the day with breaks in between for eating and silent reflection. It was all done in the very accommodating and stately environment of the host’s residence and the food was impeccable.

In the first session my focus shifted frequently. I moved through cycles of doubt about how I should practice, release, and then acceptance of my present experience, and then arriving in some deeper place of stillness for a short time before repeating the process. Something peculiar that I’ve never really experienced happened after a few rounds of this. My right shoulder began to throw my elbow about sometimes in small sways and then bigger swings. It seemed to happen completely involuntarily every time I shifted from thought to relative stillness in my mind.

Once during practice I opened my eyes to look at Nityananda on the screen. I felt like some optical zoom affect happened with my vision and my head started to pull forwards and then down as my eyes stayed up.

During the second round after chanting “Om Nama Shivaya” I experienced more… trembles in the area of my pelvic floor and once or twice “electrical” feelings in my body. The swaying arm returned more energetic sometimes causing my torso to move. I prayed to my guru, the Universe, through the forms of these three portrayed manifestations of that…I prayed for health and the love between my girlfriend and I to grow with purity and be a source of joyousness that energizes us to love and serve others. I prayed for all beings to be loved. Many images came.

During the third round I couldn’t stay in lotus anymore. There was a pain developing in my left lower back. I put my left leg in seated warrior and felt much better and felt some of the deepest moments in this round.The most clarity I’ve maybe ever felt in meditation. I felt that temporarily “gone” sensation that’s only ever happened to me once before but this one seemed longer or farther away. Twice it felt like something poked me softly in the back…  What was that? There were other subtle experiences which I don’t have language for… This round was also hard to process in some aspects.

The last round was chanting again for about 40 minutes with a shorter meditation. This made me feel very good. When I made my journal notes on it I just remarked how happy I was about my life and all the decisions I’ve been making and the direction I’m going. I wanted to be more encouraging to people to take care of themselves and look within their  hearts for love.

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Successful Habits – The Opportunity to Break Laziness

The awareness of “being” is very important to me in my teaching. It’s practice to be able to abide peacefully in yourself and know a more fundamental sort of identity. It’s what you do differently after experiencing it to live more genuinely and go even closer to the soul.

I may have mentioned in a previous post how “stilling” ourselves makes movement more significant. In other words, by practicing “being” you become more aware of “doing”, and it’s consequences. This is important because “doing”(which includes thinking) is what creates the patterns playing out in us that must be transformed and then diminished to align ourselves with peace, happiness and the wisdom. However, when it comes to changing ourselves, the light of consciousness will not do it for us. It will only reveal where the work lies. In it’s infinite love and wisdom, the universe allows all possibilities, even ones that leave it’s microcosmic human flower blossom of representations to experience disconnection and discord. Stilling yourself in being, (which incidentally can also involve movement in it’s surface levels… think ecstatic, enraptured dance) is inherently connecting so for those that feel out of touch with life and their purpose it gives them that realization that there is that immense mysterious fabric of unity right underneath their feet, and in their hands, and up in the sky, and inside that flower over there…

After picking up lunch today and on my way home, I stopped into the store to buy some fruits. I had an afternoon lethargy. I barely felt like going into the store but I knew it would be good to have some mangoes tonight. As I walked out and looked across the street to where the market was that sells bags of coconuts, 10 to a bag, the thought/feeling arose, “you’ve been too lazy to buy the coconuts lately” because I’ve been wanting to make a new batch of yogurt. Quick responses to rationalize came next; “it’s so much easier to just hop on the motorbike” and “that bag is heavy and then I have to hang on the back of the pick up truck to go home”, and even “you’re already thinking of being lazy, and you want to make coconut yogurt today!?”. Then the saving thought/feeling shone out from the background, “didn’t you already do some things you thought you were too lazy for today?”. Without further internal debate I was walking across the street instead of hopping on the motorsai taxi. Of course the coconuts were heavy but after a few steps carrying them I felt a surge of energy and worked to stabilize my spine, trying to walk without the bag pulling my posture into a compromising collapse. The lazy lethargy disappeared.

Everything we do is habit forming. This is why some time in stillness can help us to see our actions for what they really are, a break from the pattern so we can come back with fresh eyes. Accomplishing things that we thought we couldn’t or wouldn’t do is also habit forming. I thought I was too lazy to make coconut yogurt today, or even buy the coconuts, but perhaps because of small events foregoing immediate gratification (I brought home lunch today because I wanted to have a smoothie 30 minutes before lunch and not with my meal) I set up a new habit for the day to push on and do what I knew would make me satisfied when I lay down to sleep tonight, comfortably letting the day go. After the yogurt mayhem I continued with a number of other projects including writing this post.

Recap:

Willingly do something that will test your resolve or patience.  It doesn’t matter how “big” this thing is. Note the feelings of moving beyond the obstacles, accomplishing the task, and the sense of satisfaction that comes. Save that feeling. With another practice you can get on a roll with it and everything becomes do-able. Use that feeling anytime you feel the challenge of deciding between right action and laziness.

Namaste

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Yoga Lessons in Benjasiri Park

Hello! For the next four weeks I’m teaching Yoga lessons once again in Benjasiri Park at Phrom Phong BTS next to the Emporium. The classes are open to anyone and will take place at 9:00-10:30am, coming Fridays the 17th, 24th, 31st, and 8th. The cost is 300฿.

The Practice

 

Develop your techniques in yogic breathing which are the foundation of good practice and health. These techniques are essential and make spiritual awareness flourish and more challenging asana possible. Did you know you can breath your way into every pose, even handstand! Learn to take deep dynamic breaths, your body will teach you how to be in the Asana. I will also teach you the key movements that are the most natural way to enter each Asana and help to understand where to be engaged and relaxed so the focus is more on exploring your inner space rather than trying to just stay in a pose. This has been the motivation of my approach  and the results are a very integrating and enjoyable practice!

If you would like to attend please send me a message on fb, call, or email. Come to the left side of the park from Sukhumvit road and you will see me under the trees. Please bring your own mat and small towel for shavasana.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace ॐ Shanti

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Really Straight Forward Diet Advice Part 1: Meat or no meat?

When making choices about your diet you need to know what it is you want. Lose weight? Build muscle? Respect the Earth and the animals? Nurture your spiritual sense of being? By any of these choices also be clear that you want to be vibrant and healthy! In this series of articles I’m going to avoid talking about those often gimmicky diet theories that try to pigeon hole everyone and just appeal to common sense and how we feel about eating, physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Question 1…Meat or no meat?

Metabolism

Let’s start with what is probably the largest issue for some people. Should humans eat meat? Well, in our theorized “known” time on planet earth, a large proportion of our ancestors depended on meat in their diet for survival. While we do have digestive tracts that resemble those of other herbivores the digestive systems of many people have seemed to evolved to be equally efficient at metabolizing nutrition and energy from meat. In one of my favorite books, The Tao of Health, Sex, and Longevity, Daniel P. Ried says about 50% of humans have a balanced digestive system that can adapt equally well to “vegetarian” or “carnivorous” diets. The other 50% is split between those who are better at one or the other.  You can check where you fall by eating a whole chicken or very large quantity of protein with a light salad and if you are energetic and mentally alert feeling afterwards, than most likely you metabolize meat/proteins well.  Carnivorous types burn sugar and carbohydrates rapidly, to the the point of agitation, overstimulation and sugar crashes, so should eat very little of these foods. Vegetarian types burn slowly and will be challenged to digest meat efficiently. The speed at which we move food through the body is also very important. Meat, compared to other foods, even for “carnivorous” types, does take longer to digest and thus has greater potential for decomposing before the body can absorb it’s nutrients. This makes it especially important to eat food in proper combinations that don’t hinder digestion. Protein foods combine best with vegetables and combine poorly with starchy carbohydrates. For some info on that you can check my previous post My Yoga Diet for Internal Hygiene and High Prana

The Earth and the Farm

Let’s just look at the obvious points. Virtually all foods, seem to be more nutritious and healthier for us when they are allowed to grow in a natural way. If it’s non-GMO and organic plants on the farm those veggies aren’t going to notice a big difference. In fact, if they could, they might consider how sweet of a spot they landed out in nature and with such a good and mysterious caretaker.(Actually, if you’ve ever read the Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan you would learn of his speculation that the plants evolved with the intention for us to eat them and thus protect and propagate them.)  Now when we look at the case for animals on the farm I think the worst thing right off the bat is the over crowded conditions in which many of them are raised. This makes them prone to illness, unless they are given antibiotics. Also many of them are fed a mono diet of the wrong food! Animals that live in the wild forage and eat all kinds of things and there meat is much more nutritious. Finally, there is the very large amount of resources used for a relatively small return of real food, especially with raising the larger animals like cow. Compared to producing vegetables and fruits the livestock industry is amazingly destructive and wasteful to Earth’s environments and ecosystems. Basically I would recommend that if your going to eat meat, find a wild source or quality farm you can trust doesn’t use unnatural practices.

Lightness of Being

Ayurveda divides all experiential forms into three qualities, trigunas. They are, in my own English interpretation, stagnation, stimulation, and equanimity. Basically everything exist in one of these three qualities or combination of, and the foods we eat can have one of these affects upon us. Meat is always considered in ayurveda to be tamasic, what causes stagnation. Dead, cooked. I wonder what they think about sashimi? In subtle energy terms you are adding the vibrational residue of whatever your food “experienced”. In terms of animals, man, a lot of them don’t have a good time, at all. The negative feelings experienced by the animals may be taken on into your subtle body. Many people claim meditation to be easier or more clear minded when they are not eating meat. Sattvic, the equinimity foods,  are fresh fruits and vegetables, organic milk, ghee to name the basics. If you want to eat meat combine it with sattvic foods, for more sattvic than tamasic networth. For example, eat a large salad or steamed veggies with a small portion of meat.

So, what if you are a born proteinivore but your ethics have you vegetarian? What if you’re a man and worried about soy and estrogen?

It’s not too much harder to still get lots of high protein meals as a vegetarian. Perhaps if you are travelling and don’t do your own cooking it could be a challenge here and there. Especially if you’re not a tofu eater. Here are some key foods.

Leafy Greens

Kale    Spinach    Brocolli    Watercress    Collard Greens   etc.

Legumes

Learn to make your own Dhal, a delicious indian food made from lentils, hummus from chick peas, vegetarian chili with kidney beans, or cook any kind of beans and blend with zucchini and spices to make dips for veggies.

Nuts

Almonds    Walnuts    Cashews    Pistachios    Pecans    Macadamias

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How to Sit for Meditation: Classical Meditation Poses

Meditation Asana

Meditation Asana share two main features; an upright spine and stability. The spine, up right in extension, provides the mental poise needed for sustained concentration. Stability calms all systems and gives us more internal awareness.

In classic meditation poses the legs cross and the thighs form a wide base of support. The hands rest on the knees further helping to stabilize the spine. The individual parts support the total body alignment with minimum effort, yoga. At first the flexibility of your body is the main determining factor for which of the meditation asana you should use, then time. Remember that you should be comfortable in the pose so as to focus easily on your inner environment. Do not sit in a position that irritates or nags you to release the pose. When all of these poses are accessible to you can explore their different qualities.

The Poses here are listed in order of most effort to remain upright and least stable to least effort and most stable, generally…

 Throne Pose

This pose is appropriate for those who cannot sit comfortable on the floor from lack of mobility or injury. It’s also a good way to sit anytime you’re in a chair.  Sit in a chair with both feet flat on the ground hip distance apart, hands on the thighs or in a simple mudra, and spine upright. It has a very attentive feeling but requires the most total body engagement to maintain. Keep focusing to the center of the head and harboring in the axis of your balance for a “light head” feeling. You know I don’t mean that kind!

 Sukhasana – Happy Pose

Sukhasana is a simple cross legged position. Compared to the other cross leg positions it is not very stable and easy to slouch in but generally better than the Throne pose as it opens the hips. It is better suited for short meditation periods like at the beginning and end of Hatha Yoga classes, for those that cannot yet perform the three classical meditation poses, and for casual sitting. For balance, in this, and each cross legged position, you should change the cross of the legs everyday, practice, or time performing the pose. Bring each foot under the knee of the opposite leg and then slightly rocking your hips from side to side roll the flesh of your buttocks out and widen the sit bones. You can do this pose sitting on the edge of a folded blanket or block to elevate the hips and make an easier time of it. This works because the knees drop lower relative to the pelvis and create less pull that would cause the lumbar vertebrae to round and the whole spine to “sink”. Use something that lifts you just enough to make it feel easy to stay with the chest broad and spine upright. This makes a thick blanket best because you can fold it to your needs.

 

Vajrasana – Thunder Bolt Pose

Same as Sukhasana, this asana can be useful for short periods. Long holds can be straining to the knees and ankles for some people and in extreme conditions can result in temporary paralysis of the muscles that flex the foot. If this pose is used with a thick cushion between the calves and thighs, or a small angled bench, it can be one of the most comfortable seated poses as the knees are only partially flexed, pressures in the body are evenly spread out, and it’s easy to maintain an upright spine. The downside is that it’s still not as passively stable as the three classical seated poses, described next.

 Swastikasana – Auspicious Pose

This is the first traditional meditation asana and similar to the next one, Siddhasana, but is less demanding to accomplish. Pull one heel towards the genitals with the sole against the opposite thigh. Pull in the second foot similarly and tucking the toes between the calf and thigh muscles. Each heel will be on the opposite side of the body. You can stay with this pose for a long time. It is rather stable and much more accessible than the next two.

 Siddhasana – Accomplished Pose

This pose is claimed as the best for pranayama, meditation, and realization. It is also said to bring powers or siddhis to the yogi who practices it daily for 12 years. Siddhis are not to be used from a will directed by ego but if they are experienced as divine phenomenon they are fine. Draw one heel inwards and right to the perineum.  Draw the second inwards and over the genitals, stacking the ankles on top of one another and placing the toes between calf and thigh. The backs of both heels should be on the midsagittal plane. There are claims that performed properly this pose helps control sexual energy, and those that also say it can cause male impotence.  This can be caused primarily by the lower heel traumatizing the arteries responsible for dilating during erection. This makes the earnest practice of siddhasana better for celibates. If you still want to explore the pose without this danger and are able to achieve it, try it with modest elevation of about one inch for the hips and you will find everything much nicer yet still subtly subduing.

 Padmasana – Lotus Pose

This is the most stable of the meditation asana. Place the feet on the upper thigh of the opposite leg with the knees close to or touching the floor. The legs are essentially locked into place and this is what makes it possible to use this arrangement in many other poses as well as providing the unparalleled steadiness of this pose. Be especially mindful of the knees when learning padmasana. Do not force you’re feet into the position.  With this and the other classical meditation poses keep your arms lightly extended to your knees with the palms up to steady the spine even further. Use the Jnana mudra with the tip of the thumb and index finger touching and the other three fingers extended straight, touching side by side.

Mula Bandha in Meditation

Mula bandha is used to govern the energy in the body during meditation. It is essentially the fail safe for concentration techniques and can be used as the technique itself. In each of these poses for meditation it will have a slightly different dynamic. The more spread apart the space of the perineum the more consciously you will have to focus to maintain it. It is almost naturally occurring in the propped version of Vajrasana and Siddhasana, with the pressure of the heel stimulating the PC muscles.

It is advised for most practitioners to come to meditation after a full practice of asana and pranayama that gives the energy, alertness, and physical comfort needed to stay focused. Those who can be fresh and focused enough to meditate without preparatory practices may do so but will most likely still benefit from preparing with at least kriya and pranayama. I also recommend unplanned meditations whenever conditions are right.

Namaste

George Anthony

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