Elemental ChromiumMetal as a music genre is identifiable by its attributes of strength and power. These sounds are performed by humans expressing power and strength as technique in their playing styles. There is nothing overly delicate or fragile, nor soft or forgiving in metal music. This characterization of being carries over to Metal Yoga, where the skeletal framework is aligned to positions, over a short interval of time, inducing structural integrity inherent in the biomechanics of the human body. The repeated alignment creates a memory and awareness that translates into the unlocking of potential power and ultimately empowerment through knowledge that contributes to wisdom.

Beginning a session, which I will call an interval, one may feel inflexible and hardened by the situations of modern life that irritate and wear one down. This beginning state of hardness can be called the Chromium state, a state of physical and mental hardness, a general rigidity. One can move through soft metal states like a Lead state, ending an interval in a state of Mercury, a liquid metal, or ultimately in the Gallium state. Elemental gallium does not occur in free form in nature, but as a brittle, solid, silvery metal it will melt in your hand above about 85 °F. Gallium in this sense is a good metaphor for the scarcely real experience among yoga exercisers and poor meditators with actual spirituality, awareness, and enlightenment. The molecular structures of the hardest metals form lattices that combine to exert stability and strength over the span of their surfaces and interiors, while others can be malleable; the combining of different metals with special attributes to achieve specific results has resulted in the most spectacular and most beautiful metal objects the world has seen.

Chrome Engine

To pick up where we left off in the last entry, we work on advancing out of Chromium. Because the majority of individuals move repetitively and cause muscle injuries that require healing through stretching techniques, it is most important to begin by carefully and slowly stretching from the center outward. At the center for these purposes is the spinal structure, and this muscular center spans the entire length of your trunk to the base of your skull; the spine is your power center. When radiating out from a point with an ever increasing radius, the most minuscule radial motion results in greater distances in circumference. These beginning motions should be small and gentle at first at the spine, but can result in appearances to be greater motions at the extremities which when outstretched will trace greater circumference distances. Because it is also paramount to choose at discretion beginning movements that take the spine into movements within all planes, a variety of movements are available at this stage of stretching and lengthening from the core that will lead to greater strength potential to be unleashed in movements of later states during the interval.

Since the first ten minutes of sitting and breathing covered in the last post is also a time to activate and focus on root chakra energy, the beginning spinal movements serve to move that energy up the spine to energize the rest of the body during the interval. Good spinal choices are Cobra, Lord of the Fishes, Bridge and its variations, Cat/Cow, Sphinx, Alligator, Canoe, even Child’s Pose and Sleeping Baby for initial relaxation, as well as poses that can begin by stretching the hamstrings so tightness of the spine is not exacerbated by the back of the legs. Staff Pose is a good opener to these, sitting as tall as possible and seemingly doing nothing while the tiny muscles around each vertebra are brought to action.

Next I will talk about standing strength poses that use an awakened spine throughout the extremities and our Metal state moves from Chromium to softer metals like Iron, Copper, and Bronze.

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Bulletproof Yoga

April 21, 2014

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Have you experienced nirvana? If not, I’m sorry to hear that, but the following short entry may help. If you have not, you may find it consoling to hear that it is only entirely your own fault.
Welcome to Bulletproof Yoga. I’m not referring to making you bulletproof in any way. I am describing a method of delivering yoga to others in a way so that nobody leaves feeling that they missed the point. It begins by my unmistakable delivery of yoga to you, through my words, and continues on indefinitely as you deliver these concepts upon yourself through movement, concentration, effortlessness, stillness, and the absence of thought.
Let me begin by stating (once again) that there is nothing in my solitary practice that ever left me looking for more. This means I have no desire to attend a yoga class anywhere, and although I am constantly being asked to teach yoga, I have no desire to teach in a class or group setting. This may change in the future, but only if a situation would arise where ego cannot be found in my intentions.

I’ve just completed a 65 minute sound file that can be used during your full yoga practice if desired, based on the previous 30 minute Theta wave binaural entrainment file that I created for relaxation at any time. You can stream the file here, or download the file for your personal use. The binaural and audible tones move through the frequencies attributed to the chakra points from root to crown over the length of the program material.

Let’s jump right in with the most difficult, the absence of thought. If with your first figurative step and your first actual inhalation you can stop all thought that comes from you, halt the mind, all else will be easy. Even in difficult physical movements under the banner of yoga, the mind will be your biggest obstacle. This leaving behind of all mind activity is the impossible for some, a great challenge for most, but everyone can do it nonetheless. Your mind is your greatest enemy, it is what will be the root of your undoing, and it is also where your idea of who you are is seated. Who you are is nothing. What you think is so high and mighty and amazing about anything you pin on your chest is just another dark spot on your being; any self-describing character trait that shines like the bright lights of vanity in the mirror of morals and virtues is actually the most disgusting thing about you that you could do well to lose quickly. When you are nothing, you are pure beauty. Only then do you become loving, and with that you can radiate unconditionally for all and everything like you did before your mind learned how to be deceptive, conniving, selfish, guarded and emotionless, conceited, and unable to see without the filters of “my world only” through dead eyes.
With these concepts you can breathe slowly in and out, aiming for 4-7 seconds for each. Eyes closed, or open if you are able to ignore visual distraction, with silent privacy or on a busy street, it won’t matter when your mind is appropriately calibrated to stop all inner thought. Here you will stay for a matter of minutes, up to about ten, breathing and not thinking, hopefully learning to be newly amazed and appalled at who you find you were up until just now, losing all identification with the ridiculousness of descriptions like “retailer”, “manager”, “CEO”, “athlete”, “businessman”, “entrepreneur”, “salesman”, “vegan”, “writer”, “creative”, “doctor”, “teacher”, “pilot”, “mother”, “husband”, or any other foolish word that is attached to who or what you may think you are. From here on out, you are nothing.
If you are familiar with yoga sitting poses and use a mat, do this while attempting to be as comfortable and relaxed as possible in what is called Lotus. The reason this is important is because your goal is to become the “lotus floating in the pond”. If you’ve never heard this before, it is a very powerful concept that cannot be overlooked. By beginning here, you still the mind like a lotus flower gently floating atop the stillest pond you can imagine, with a still air, but not a freeze frame like pausing a movie; you are in the living universe that is extremely calm and still, so much so that it may give the illusion that nothing is moving but you are moving with the movement of living and with your slow breathing only. By sitting with your legs apart like longish and slightly full petals in Lotus Position, you resemble that lotus flower, and seated on a flat surface you are floating on that unmoving water that delicately holds you up with its surface tension. Your spine moves gently into a straighter and more erect and comfortable posture with each breath, until eventually little by little you do finally become that lotus, perfectly still, effortless, in one short moment of extreme joy in being that an eternity has just come across you, not from within but by tapping into the “thoughts” of the cosmos beyond the confines of time and space once you got your horrible, petty, worthless mind-thoughts to stop, vacate, and make room for nirvana, where you can know without question that “the jewel is in the lotus”.
Quick enlightenment checklist:
1. Do you feel an overwhelming love and compassion not only for all living beings that you have encountered in your life with a personality you can perceive, but also for all those you have not met as well as every atom and particle that vibrates to the living frequencies of reality in you, around you, and furthest away from you? If the answer is no, I’m sorry to say you are not ready and have missed something very big in your ten minutes of alone time. Work on that.
2. Do you smile so openly and wide with joy deep from within your being that not only is your face clearly smiling, but so is every cell in your body as it functions in its daily living tasks? If the answer is no, then I’m sorry to say you are not ready and seem to have missed something very critical about what it means to be a human on this planet striving to understand the meaning of life. Once again, work on that.
3. Are you still having thoughts that come from your mind, things relating to you, your memories, your experiences from the past, material ambitions, socio-political goals, etc.? Sorry, try again!
4. Have you quieted your mind to the point that you’ve noticed something different and are amazed at what is happening because your mind is being flooded with experiences that are clearly not your own (that your mind can tell) and the grand truths of unknown intelligence have graced you for either a millisecond or a lifetime or more, and you’ve been disassociated from your physical body in any way? If the answer is no, try harder to work on yourself. Only you are standing in your own way, and anyone can do it without any outside assistance. The key is in your pocket, you just have to get it yourself.
5. Are you able to differentiate from your mind that distracts you by having useless conscious thoughts about yourself, your body that is a biomechanical vessel housing your blood, organs, and flesh, and your emotions that have nothing to do with your mind and body unless you mistakenly entangle all three into a knotted mess that sets you up for unlimited suffering and personal turmoil? If the answer is no, try harder next time, but always be effortless!
6. If you state the six words, “The joyful participation in life’s sorrows”, and feel you can answer all of the above 5 questions correctly, then I no longer need to speak or write on the subject.

Next I will continue by going into asanas that will deliver you to your final pose, savasana. But for now you can go and get into Lotus and reread this post while actually doing it. For help with Lotus, feel free to search it on YouTube, there are plenty of extremely fit women eager to explain it in thorough detail, along with just about any other yoga mat acrobatics. Please remember that I am nothing.

The Living Corpse

January 20, 2012

“You’re just dead people that didn’t die yet.” -Louis C.K.

When was the last time you asked the question, “Are we not all titans and giants, imprisoned in hell”? If it’s been a while, or maybe never, after reading this entry you may want to ask it every day upon waking. Before I get into discussing more physically demanding musculoskeletal postures that are sure to invigorate your neurofascia, I’d like to take a moment to work backwards from what is the most important part of why you got into this whole yoga business, Corpse Pose. In terms of classification and level, it is all about perspective. As a matter of fact, your perspective will either take you on an amazing journey in Corpse Pose, or it will not move you at all, maybe even have you taking a short nap. In other words, it is you, your perspective, your personal involvement, the things that are internal and in the realm of nonshareability among others that will make or break this experience, leaving you fully responsible for what you get out of it. If it doesn’t work for you, it’s not the yoga that didn’t work, but it was you who didn’t show up to the party; depending on your perspective, therefore, lying there like a corpse after your self-imposed intense physical and mental stresses can be very easy if you understand that you are now uniting your mind, heart, and body in a scared trinity that project spirituality as they are overlaid, or it can be very advanced and difficult as you struggle with wondering, questioning, being lost, missing a connection to yourself, and only being able to view it externally as you lie there on your back and breathe. Perspective is what we have as our secret weapon to change absolutely nothing in the physical world around us, the external, yet by changing the internal, suddenly everything changes and the entire existence of all things from our earliest memories to the most now moment is different, in an instant.

Photo courtesy of BonesBob

What is working on your body in lying there as if you are dead, as you can imagine, is gravity. Ah, the ever mysterious gravity, that scientists still cannot grasp fully as a concept in context of our world from the very large down to the infinitesimally small. But you can lay there and ponder it with your mental focus, because, alas, you are not dead, yet. To reiterate the driving force that is your vehicle through your liberating perspective, whatever “gymnastic” demands your immediately prior asanas make on your body in terms of strength, flexibility, and balance, your new challenge here is to release all of the tension from every part of your body AND your mind; if you get this one wrong, you may fool others from a distance, but you’ll know if you are trying to fool yourself or you have been successful in letting go and thereby coming into the full embrace of not just this or that, but all that is. Atheists beware, this may be the most dangerous pose for you, unless of course you are interested in transformation and change. From my personal experience and perspective, the religion in which I was brought up had its own form of Corpse Pose, except you were expected to do it on your knees with your back unsupported, and with your hands folded in prayer in front of your heart. I don’t know about you, but I found that a lot more difficult.

So, what challenges do you face, with your little mind that is definitely going to be flitting about like a little moth in an almost empty closet, looking for that one forgotten wool scarf on a shelf in a corner way in the back, in the dark? You may have a problem with fully relaxing because you think too much about your body. The first thing you will struggle with is that what looks like you lying there symmetrically with your legs and arms straight, palms up, feet falling outward, may not feel symmetrical as your curvy parts of the backside of your body make contact with the floor. Just surrender to the fact that what you may be feeling proprioceptively (the information being relayed to your central nervous system about your environment) may not initially line up with the fact that your body is indeed positioned just right. This way you are now ready to achieve a deep state of emotional and physical relaxation. If you have body issues, meaning you have difficulty or inability to accept your body as it is, this will be the primary reason stopping your progress. You need to accept your body as it is, and not how you wish it to be.

Savasana

You will be breathing, concentrating on your breath, meditating on your back as you release and forget about your body once each and every part of it has been accounted for and systematically relaxed. You’ll know you are there when you get to that last area of your body and relax it; your mind will search for any remaining areas of the body connected to it that still require relaxation, and in finding none, you will feel both weightless and free, while still being in full participation with gravity as you feel your heavy body sinking into the floor as if it is ever more becoming softer, more accepting of your weight, wanting to get closer to you, one with your body. This deep state of conscious relaxation is different from sleep, so don’t sleep! If you can imagine how you breathe when you sleep, in other words breathing without controlling your breathing, that is your goal. Be fully aware of your breathing while not controlling it. The reason for this is your breath has a natural rhythm, and you have to let it run wild in that rhythm. When you are too aware and control your breathing, you cage it, altering its natural rhythm. Set the breath free and let it run wild, and you yourself will step out of your cage and run wild.

How long should this go on for? I like to generalize it to ten minutes, but I obviously don’t set a timer or look at a clock. You know what ten minutes feels like, so prepare for that. Just like all other asanas, when you know you’ve had enough, you just know. Good indicators that you are ready are experiences of having been fully released from conscious, mundane, egocentric reality for a time frame that naturally makes you want to jump back into life as if you have just been reborn into your body to start new. Your mind will start to nudge you to want to come back into being and have new levels of optimism and enthusiasm for the possibilities offered to you in this life. When the physical relaxation feels complete and complimentary to your physical demands that have come before this time, and the mental and emotional release have peaked and come back to a resting state, all three of these aspects will come to a synergy like three key aspects of yourself resting at the bottom of a deep bowl. Your eyes will naturally want to open; the smile on your face is optional.

Stabilization

November 20, 2011

Core stabilization training is the first phase of training anyone should undergo to lay a foundation for further physical training. The reason is that sedentary people in today’s modern societies do not engage their core muscles frequently enough to have endurance and strength for stabilization. This translates to people performing mundane tasks that recruit muscles used for movement, and with a weak underlying core compensations develop which lead to injury. These compensations are a lack of synergy, an absent functional balance that the human body operates in to execute efficient movement. It really is no wonder that yoga is so popular today when people are constantly in physical pain and hurting themselves without knowing why, and it is becoming known that just doing yoga fixes these problems even if it is not clear to everyone why their bodies are becoming healed.

If you hired a physical trainer and you were in need of core stabilization training, one of the exercises you would do is called a Two-Leg Floor Bridge. To prepare, you would lie supine (on your back) on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, with toes shoulder-width apart and pointing straight ahead. Your arms would be placed to the side pointing toward your feet, with your palms down. As with all stabilization exercises, the region just below the navel stays drawn in throughout the duration of the exercise, ensuring the intrinsic core stabilizers are staying activated. The movement starts then with drawing the navel in, and activating the gluteals, or buttock muscles. Lift the pelvis off the floor until the knees, hips, and shoulders are in line. Be sure not to raise the hips too far up off the floor and hyperextend the lower back, as this places excessive stress to the lumbar spine. Slowly lower the pelvis to the floor, and repeat. The timing for this movement is 6-20 seconds under sustained contraction, since these are slow-twitch, type I muscle fibers we are activating in this type of training. Sound like a lot of information? It isn’t actually, because there are a lot of gaps left in full comprehension of this movement that yoga fills in nicely, and I will explain how.

The associated yoga pose is called Two-Legged Table, or Dwi Pada Pitham, and it is classified as a basic supine vinyasa, meaning it is a dynamic movement that is coordinated with the inhalation and exhalation. Notice that in the previous description, there was no talk of breathing, and as it turns out this would be a very substantial omission to gaining the benefits of doing this movement in the most fulfilling way.

Lifting your hips is typically done with an inhalation and lowering with an exhalation. This simple practice can be used to release tension from the spine and breathing structures, while also supporting balance actions for  similar poses that go beyond this movement. Breathing, concentrating on the breath, and being aware of the breath is our connection to all that is beyond and within us, and here in this movement contextualized in yoga we can take a simple gym warm-up exercise and actually live in present harmony with the Cosmic Intelligence. For example, bhaya kumbhaka can be referenced in this movement, also called the negative breath or relaxing breath, and it refers to the time after exhalation and before inhalation, the time when the lungs have little or no air. After the inhalation and lifting of the spine, an exhalation and retention of the fully exhaled lungs on the lowing creates a natural lifting of the pelvic floor and abdominal contents toward the zone of lowered pressure in the thoracic cavity. The three bhandas, or interior body locks, can be very easily activated using this method of lowering on the external breath retention, and the subsequent inhalation can create a dramatic downward release of the pelvic floor and a noticeable sense of relaxation in this often tense region.

By combining knowledge and experience in this and other movements or poses from both perspectives of training in the gym for specific physical goals and training in the yoga class or your home for personal enrichment, fulfillment, and connection with the deepest sense of existence, you are gaining the most benefit from what can otherwise be flat and without purpose. Instead of doing gym warm-ups that can seem insignificant, you are paying close attention to who you are and what you are capable of. Instead of blindly following yoga poses with a notion of faith, while hoping for an understanding of spirituality, you are fully informed to what the point of it all is. That is Metal Yoga.

Supermoon

March 19, 2011

What does the moon have to do with Yoga? The best way to answer this question is to take the focus off of Yoga and ask it again. What does the moon have to do with anything? Today at 7:43pm we will experience a full moon that will also be 31,000 miles closer to the earth than it usually is at its apogee, or farthest point away from the earth in its elliptical orbit around our planet. Visually, the moon will appear to be 14% larger as well.

With a mass like the moon orbiting our planet, there is a gravitational effect that can be measured by the rising of tides as much as six inches during this perigee, known as perigean tides. Based on local geography, this tide increase can be as little as an inch. We live in a world governed by gravity and its effects on matter. Gravity is best described as a curvature in the fabric of space, causing us to experience it as force, the force of gravity.

The human body happens to be composed of 70% water. Naturally, whatever effects the moon will have on the water on our planet, will encompass those of us living on the planet and affect 70% of our bodies. Practitioners of Yoga are living in greater harmony with the rhythms of nature, more attuned to natural cycles, and more sensitive to the effects of the phases of the moon. The sun also exerts a gravitational pull on the earth, holding our planet in its orbit around the sun.

Yoga is the combination of breath and movement. Breath is prana. The full moon energy corresponds to the end of inhalation, when the force of prana is greatest. Because this force is expansive and upward moving, the corresponding experience is energetic, emotional, and headstrong. Conversely, the new moon energy is the energy of the end of exhalation. This is a contracting, downward moving energy, an experience of being calm and grounded, as well as disinclined towards physical exertion.

The Ashtanga Yoga tradition observes both the full and new moon days as holidays. Even if you are not a Yoga practitioner, the effects of the moon’s position in relation to us on the planet earth are no surprise or secret, and just like breathing, your awareness of the phases of the moon strengthens the link, the harmonia, that you have with your surroundings.

When talking strictly asana, you are moving your body from starting positions, or neutral positions into very specific destination poses and holding them. You don’t have to hold them still unless you are advanced, but that is what asanas are, with the combination of integrating the breath the whole time, and also specifically to inhalation and exhalation throughout the movements. The breath is the source of your energy, so it is vital that you understand it and do not obstruct or limit your breathing. Even if breathing is compromised due to lung disease, simply keeping a smooth even breath is the goal. The beauty of Yoga asanas is that it is compounded threefold compared to what it looks like on the surface, a dynamic stretching exercise. With breathing and postures we also practice concentration of the mind. So, one hour of practice will give one hour of exercise, one hour of deep relaxation, and one hour of meditation, through developing the concentration powers within the pose.

The asanas will not only strengthen certain major muscle groups, but will awaken and enliven your core muscle groups. For example, if I were to attempt to dead-lift 315 pounds repeatedly, or even just once, the next time I went to the health club, I would most certainly hurt myself if my core muscles were not strong enough to stabilize my skeletal system under that force; it wouldn’t matter if my major muscle groups were indeed strong enough to lift the weight, and even if they did, I could walk away with an injury. Yoga allows me to lift 315 pounds repeatedly in a dead-lift with no injury. It is the whole-body armor, Metal Yoga, that one needs to perform great feats. It is no wonder that when personal fitness trainers suggest dynamic stretching postures to stabilize your core, they look almost like Yoga Asanas, with names like bridge and cobra.

My asanas are filled with the breath of lightning, filling my entire body from marrow to skin with electric white radiance, enveloping everyone around me with the oneness of compassion. I am not a solid form, but mostly empty space, and every movement of this body brushes through the finest of all matter that permeates all that is. As my arms grow heavy or my legs lose strength, I smile with the sight of the grace and beauty of nature resting on them for me to uphold. As I concentrate and still the mind, the sun is still, pouring its love and warmth over the spinning and rotating earth that we walk on, and at the same time, the earth is still and the sun passes countless times from east to west over the sky, quickly, with rushes of clouds sweeping across, between us, and I watch the fire of life, burning, and consuming, dying to be reborn, the eye opening and closing, the breath in, the breath out, the great wall Maya before me that I walk through as I get a glimpse of transcendence.