Category Archives: Yoga

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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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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Filed under Karma, Meditation, Spiritual Awareness, Yoga

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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Filed under Alignment, Asana, Breathing, Practice, Teaching, Yoga

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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Filed under Alignment, anatomy, Asana, Meditation, Practice Advise, Yoga

Meditation and the Inward Movement: Nerve Relief and Re-wiring

What is the process of moving towards meditation?

I  say towards, because meditation is an out of body experience which you can not perform. Meditation infers that there is no performer! I suppose it’s easier to say and we all love that, but to say “I meditate”, unless your speaking from the cosmic endless ocean of pure concsciousness-bliss, is just incorrect. You can however prepare yourself for this divinely graced presence by meditation practice. Imagine it’s like going through all the rooms in the gigantic house-of-your-being, slowly you dim the lights and turn off things as you make your way inwards. Walking more quietly and slowly after each light is turned off, you might stub your toe on some left out thought you thought you had put away. Pick it up mindfully. Feel it in your hands and contemplate it’s meaning or use in your life. If it has merit or a place in your heart, place it on a shelf for later. If it’s just chatter or undesired, drop it without remorse into the bin. Going further into your house, you find rooms you may not have known even existed. However, they feel more familiar than any of the previous rooms once you’re in there. You decide to sit down in one. As you sit and become still, you realize you can feel the entire house you’ve already gone through. There it is, perhaps gently vibrating in your awareness. Now, all there is to do is look at the awareness…. of your awareness…. of awarenessthat………….hey! ……this is just an article, snap out of it!

Meditation begins with a quiet place where we can slowly withdraw from activity and stimulation. We should definitely be grateful if we have a handy place like that in our lives. For most people it’s hard to find the ideal spot. Don’t sweat it. Just locate or simulate the most cave like setting you can manage! The whole idea of the cave is that it’s just a hole in a rock with nothing going on in there. You need to cut out the stimulation so you can look and listen internally. It makes pratyahara, sense withdraw, a lot more simple. If you can’t really find such a place conveniently, consider somewhere with consistency in the incoming stimulation.Maybe the non-disruptive sounds of nature.

Another example, I live in Bangkok in a condo. I practice meditation on the roof, 24 stories up. From up there, the bustle of the city sounds mostly distant and homogenous. None of the sounds stand out too drastically. Ideally if there aren’t any buck-wild children around the pool I’ll also practice there. Actually, if I’ve just done a lot of invigorating asana I’ll practice meditation afterwards there because I feel so centered, even if there are all kinds of kids splashing and cahooting. They usually become unusually quiet if they notice me put my head on my feet in Kapotasana anyway.Plus, I think some of them really get it…

Another option you could consider that I just read about is quite extreme. Put on some headphones with static white noise, tape half a ping pong ball over each eye, then put a red light on in front of you. These filters over your senses will eventually become completely  meaningless to your brain and you will be totally internalized. The only problem is you might start to hallucinate wildly after about 30 minutes. Here’s a reasonable compromise…

…obviously for much shorter intervals.

So it’s true, you don’t have to actually sit somewhere quiet for that withdraw. But having a foundational asana and pranayama practice helps to hone your focus a little more close to home. People who are good at relaxing, somewhere quiet, ideally in nature, are doing this all the time too. If it’s somewhere especially peaceful (again, nature) you can even be engaged in simple activity and get a sense of it. It’s a skill of sorts to be able to filter out overload. This is needed from time to time to refresh ourselves and it’s the first step towards meditation. That withdraw however,  can be much more recuperating and the experience much more interesting if we leave out the activity.

So, you’re in your spot, your withdrawn, my next post will be about meditation poses, what next? Watch your breath. If you’re practicing meditation there’s no need to change your breath. Just be still, calm, and watch your breath. Watch the spaces between your breath. Watch the feeling in the spaces between your breaths. All the while, feel everything relaxing and slowing down. Your heart rate slows down. Your mind slows down. Time slows down. Like in the metaphor of the house-of-being if you come across a thought don’t rush yourself to cast it out. Let it be there as a phenomenon. Picture it as an event or energetic happening. If it strikes a chord with you emotionally take consideration to know your genuine feelings and have resolution with the subject before letting it go. Some thoughts come simply as flashes of trivial memories, mostly inconsequential, some come with deep personal meanings and present a great opportunity for establishing a new relationship with that particular subject.

This process of moving inward, let’s you encounter more consciously your usually subconscious behavioral patterns. But it’s still only just on the verge of conscious…initially….I can’t even say what kind of stuff might be waiting for you in there; such fleetingly indescribable whisps of experience, energetic epiphany, maybe even completely disappearing for an instant. Sounds epic right? Well if you don’t experience any of that it’s fine. Don’t give up because like the ashtangi’s love to say “practice and all is coming.”

The practical level of meditation practice is always still there. It’s a great tool. Instead of bang-crashing all around your nervous system with the thought train express, processing the endless bits of information of a day, and reacting to the explosions, bosses getting the cramps, or a damned paper cut…Just sit down sometimes… survey the network of your nearly impossibly miraculous vessel of life in a chilled out way. The more you come here, to your  place inside yourself, perhaps an even sacred place, the more your innate intelligence, beyond the level of your thinking mind, will trim all the hodgepodge non-sense on which you don’t need to be wasting your vital nerve force. And, when you come back from meditation practice you’ll have a new and easier way to be true to you, more streamlined, high-def, and totally astrally experienced.

Tips for Meditation Practice

1. Be comfortable. It’s not going to work if you’re struggling to just be in your body. Upright is preferable to laying down for staying alert. Use big cushions or even one of those cool super space age rubber balls. Actually, you’ll probably have too much fun rolling around and bouncing on it. If you can’t sit upright comfortably for more than a minute lay down for now and practice asana!

2. Relax your eyes and tongue especially. Thoughts are often stimulated by movements of these areas that carry and convey so much information.

3. Watch your breath.

4. Trust yourself! You don’t have to “know” what to do. Sometimes there is a lot of stuff to process before you can come to the clearing of peacefulness.


Namaste.

George Anthony

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Filed under Breathing, Health, Meditation, Practice, Practice Advise, Resting, Yoga

Teaching Tips for Yoga Teachers 1

These tips could be applied to many aspects of life I think.

1. Teach with candor. Be frank and honest about yourself and share your experiences, even if that experience is nervousness. Most people can already tell how you are feeling by observing you. If the nervous teacher comes right out and says “Well, ok, I’m feeling nervous but…” they’ll make a connection with people who can identify with that feeling (which is most people)  and they’ll dispay confidence for being able to admit it.

2. When you’re sure all of your students are adept(and keep checking anyway!) with a certain flow of practice, a warm up if you will, teach with unrelenting focus and energy. Don’t let them, or you, slip off into some tangent. This is to get everyone established in the streaming focus that is the paradigm of many yoga practices. Speak rhythmically, directly, and concisely with a encouraging power in your voice. Keep coming back to the same points. In my case it’s usually, bandha, ujjayi breathing, and describing the sensations of deep, empowering breath.

3. Lighten up!  Let the play begin. Teach more casually and be open to make humorous comments or observations. Begin to teach more rather than conduct like in #2. This means be aware of the skills of the people in the room and work on what you can help them achieve or create. Break things down, give more time for detailed demonstrations, even using the students as models for one another while you do an adjustment to show how to align one’s body in a particular Asana.

4. Keep a good pace until the end and then let everything drop into relaxation. Slow down your voice  and lower it’s pitch. Give enough time for relaxation. Savasana should be proportionate to the amount of work and time you spent working. In a light or short class 5-7 minutes is adequate. After a long or challenging class, up to 10 minutes. Savasana should not be too long, otherwise the nerves will become dulled. It should not be too short or the body will not be refreshed or adapt to the structural changes from the practice.

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Filed under Asana, Exercise, Teaching, Teaching Advice, Yoga