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 Post subject: On breathing...
PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:07 pm 
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Currently my routine is:

1. JM/Yoga/Qigong flows
2. Meditation

I've pondered lately whether I should add:
- some easy cardio (walking/jogging) into the program. The flows aren't really reliable as my only cardio, since they are often done slowly to maximize flexibility/stability/strength gains, and only rarely fast enough to get some actual cardio benefits. I would prefer walking after meditation for half an hour, but don't know if that is enough to gain/maintan anything that resembles a good/healthy amount of cardiovascular fitness. Any walkers please chime in with your experience!
Another possibility is to add some mild daily running. Only problem is, I would really like to do it together with the rest of my routine, but don't know where to add it.
My knees would probably dislike going for a run after being immobilized in the lotus position. Doing it after the flows would mean beginning my meditation sweating all over, but would be a nice cooldown and have restoration benefits after the flows...Doing it first thing might be the best, but I don't know if a 20-30 min mild run would minimize my ability to do, and gain from, the lower body flow. The general rule of thumb is to start with strength and then move to endurance in the same workout, but the lower body flow is not really a "strength builder", since it is only lunges and the like, and so probably wouldn't loose much from being done after a mild run.
This is the first time where I really have to put goal 3. of my first post to practice
"Reaching these goals in the simplest way possible, investing the least amount of time even if it means the training program isn't "optimal" in all ways."
The problem is which of these possible and less-than-optimal solution I should pick? Please chime in if you have any suggestions, even if nothing else than to snap me out of my OCD-like line of thought.

- actual breathing exercises back into my program. Previously I've done a lot of pranayama, especially the Nadi Shodan pranayama has been a focal point due to it being held as the most important pranayama my various traditions. I miss the good feelings and sense of well-being it leaves me with, and it stretched my ribcage like no other thing ever has. Apart from that, breathing exercises has some unique benefits.
To help facilitate the decision and prompted by the current discussion in the training forum on breathing exercises, I want to do a post on some of the benefits of breath-HOLDING exercises.


Breath holding exercises can have the following benefits:
• an increase in the production of EPO in the kidneys over time due to low oxygen saturation in the blood. The increase in EPO levels causes red blood cells to be produced, with a corresponding increase in hemoglobin and hematocrit (assuming essential nutrients including iron are present). The increase in hemoglobin and hematocrit increase the total oxygen storage capacity of the blood.
- There is evidence from the freediving world (freediver Sebastien Murat) that you can increase your hematocrit to over 60% by doing breathholding alone (no cardio).
- Danish research on the yogi breathing exercise Nadi Shodan (with 1:4:2 ratio at high levels (20:80:40) for 15 min.) has shown that the oxygen saturation in the blood lowers to 88%, similar to the levels of elite athlethes during a maximum performance.

• Altering your breathing pattern alone, without any additional exercise, may affect secretions of growth hormone. Either hyperventilation or breath holding by themselves cause a 1.5- to 5.5-fold increase of growth hormone secretions (Djarova et al. 1986).

• A drastic increase in natural antioxidant production.

• Breatholding, especially on empty lungs, will give an immediate increase of red blood cells in the body due to the spleen contracting and releasing its storage of red blood cells. This has implications for recovery/healing etc.

• A higher co2 tolerance
- The Buteyko method from Russia (which supposedly is a part of the medical education over there) basically states, that the higher your chronic co2 conentration is, the better your health. This is due to co2 expanding your blood vessels and allowing o2 to be released from the hemoglobin to the body's organs and tissue. Chronic hyperventilation will expell co2 and predispose to pretty much all lifestyle diseases, organ damage and depression/stress/anxiety. A co2 concentration below 3% in the small alveoli results in death. Usually it is 5% for regular healthy people. For optimal health it should be between 5,5-6,5%. If you can hold your breath on almost empty lungs comfortably for 40-60 sec. you have a co2 concentration in the optimal range.
Dr. Buteyko couldn’t find a single person with co2 levels in the optimal range with any lifestyle disease(!). I think I remember reading something on this board about Mel Siff debunking something related to this. If anybody can remember, please share.

- Dr. Win Wenger (through Dr. Yoshiro NakaMats) states that the long-term effect of CO2 enrichment of the blood (brought on by breathgolding) is a permanent increase in the diameter of the Carotid arteries (which feed blood to the brain). This, he claims, has the effect of permanently improving the brain's circulation and subsequently I.Q...This is a bit out there, but I thought I should it add it. It is a novel idea, if nothing else.

- Co2 levels has an effect on the tissue quality in the body: Lower levels of co2 = vasoconstriction = less oxynation of tissue. This may cause tissues to feel stif and increase levels of resting tension. Tissue manipulation in the form of mobilitiy/flexibility work won’t work optimally, and results may have difficulty ”sticking” and quickly revert back to where they were. (PATRICK WARD, MS CSCS LMT)

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Last edited by Xian on Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:47 pm 
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Location: In the winter of my discontent..
Right now my morning routine is for pure stress relief, mobility and now back rehab.

I would think doing your qigong flows, then a 20-30 min. run/walk say 1:00 walk and 00:30 running followed by your meditation would be a fantastic routine.

You are very smart.

Cheers, Soup!

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:15 pm 
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I recently had a blood test done and while everything overall came back very positive the one bad mark was low red blood cells. I was wondering why I stay cold a lot. I believe I will be adding those breathing exercises to my regimen.

Great posts!

Mickey

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 7:51 pm 
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re the choice of cardio it really depends what you want. For general health walking is enough on top of what you're doing I'd reckon.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:41 pm 
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I remember a funny post by the "shovelglove" guy, Reinhart, about Aragorn's initial handle in "LOTR": "They called him "Strider". Not "Sworder" or "Runner" or "Arrow Guy", but "Strider". That should give you an idea of the impact and nobility of walking as a practice."

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:51 pm 
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Yes, Reinhardt's writing on the Urban Ranger idea is really very good, and a good resource to reassure yourself of the benefits of walking too.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2012 9:46 am 
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Thank you for all three for your input -it is much appreciated. =D>

That Reinhardt fellow is pretty entertaining. I found the complete quote you mention ABW:
Quote:
"Remember Strider, in Lord of the Rings? They didn't call him Sneaker or Sprinter or Sworder, though he possessed these skills in abundance. His distinctive quality, the important, even lethal skill, for which he was named, was that of walking rapidly and mindfully over great distances."
I will try to add about 30 min. of walking after meditation. Apart from the cardio benefits, it would be a good way to get the blood flowing again after meditation and could double as "mindfulness in motion". It is a very beneficial to work on bringing the awareness and presence obtained through sitting meditation with you when being active, and this would be an excellent opportunity to practice this specifically. I could also experiment with substituting at least some of the walking for running at some point in the future, should I (and my knees) feel like it.

So, the updated program:

1) Flows:
- Tea cups
- Lower body flow
- Spine and upper body flow
2) Meditation: 30 min
3) Walking: 20-30 min.


In other news...
- I meditate in the full lotus position. It is the only one of the meditation positions you can possibly sit comfortably in for longer periods of time, if you don't use any cushion to raise your buttocks. And going after equipment-less simplicity, I sit lotus. However, for some strange reason my knees always begin to bother me whenever I sit 30 min regularly. The lateral ligament of the knee will get tender and sore, and if i persist with the daily sitting, it will become painful and force me to stop getting into lotus. This has happened to me quite a few times before: I've build up to 30 min. slowly over time several (weeks, months), but it happens nonetheless every time I reach the 30 min. mark.
Right know I'm coming back from one such painful period where I have been sitting burmese style while my knees healed up, and has since been fiddling with various lotus approaches to spare my knees. Working on variations of the butterfly stretch prior to the meditation seems like it might be the cure. Time will tell.

- I've just begun (started yesterday) to play around with adding bridging to my Spine/upper body flow. Particularly moving directly from the pushup position to the bridge and back again:



The one arm ackward twisting motion requires some shoulder stabilization and is a poor, equipment-less man's attempt to get some rotator cuff work in the program, as well as adding an advanced and vigorous whole body exercise to the mix. The bridge is a universally hailed exercise in traditional health systems (old-time strongmen, pilates, yoga, gymnastics, some qigong, PAVEL!) and I really feel any complete program should incorporate it in some variation. However, rotating into the bridge from pushup position puts the shoulder joint in extreme internal rotation (if you don't rotate your planted hand enough - which I don't...) while in flexion. This gives some nasty impingement in my left shoulder and today my supraspinatus feels like it has been thoroughly crunched.
It is a fun and challenging movement and I will continue to play around with it. If it continues to bother me, I will have to omit it due to a poor risk-benefit ratio.

- Reinhardt had quote I liked: "Your problem is you are squandering willpower on a hopeless task: exercise divorced from purpose. The solution: purposeful exertion"
It seems to hold some profound meaning and got me thinking: Is there a clear purpose with all the components in my program? Seems like a something everybody should consider regularly.

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 Post subject: Progress update
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:35 pm 
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Like Odin I feel the meditation thread contains knowledge worth saving for later:
Quote:
Meditation is just concentrated thinking.
It has two components: the concentration, and the insight that concentrated thought produces.
You may concentrate on whatever object you wish, but your breath is always available and learning just to be mindful of your breathing has benefits of its own. All contemplative traditions worth their salt use it in one way or another.

Count the out breath - this is a foundation method in Chan/Zen meditation.
Work up to count of 10 and start back at 1.
When you get distracted (you will) start back at one. Don't worry about thoughts. If you notice frustration or impatience rising, acknowledge it. Be aware of it but do not dialogue with it. Like all things, thoughts and emotions will ebb and flow, rise and fall, acknowledge this without attaching to it. Do not be frustrated because you think they are an "intrusion" - they are not. Acknowledge them as you continue your breathing. whatever happens is ok. There is no pressure. With practice, you will be able to lengthen your time in meditation and deepen your level of mindfulness, but striving for such things will make it harder to attain. You cannot set goals when starting it.

Just breath, count and come back every time you get distracted. The key is the return (counting, breath) your thoughts are just minor details.
Once your concentration is good and you can count to 10 without getting distracted, you may loose the counting and just focus on the breath itself.
If you continue this process long enough you will sooner or later experience a thoughtless state of pure existence - a mindful state of presence without purpose or goals. These moments will arise more often and last longer with practice, and in time you will get used to at state of consciousness without self-consciousness.

Meditating will change your attitude to the significance of many things in life, helping to see the bigger picture, so to speak. People like to dress it up in cultural and religious trappings. It can be spiritual, but it need not be. But if you meditate enough you will realize that there is indeed a very real "spiritual" component to life. Your definition of spiritual may differ, but seeking/receiving profound experiences through meditation is the cornerstone of many spiritual/religious paths.

Meditation works in the long term. Practice it for 100 days straight then decide if you like it. Or not.
Apart from that I also have some posts on some of my own thoughts and experiences I want collect and save here:
Quote:
I started zazen because pranayama etc didn't help my anxiety, much to my surprise. It did have a calming effect on both body and mind, but it didn't seem to go beyond that - i.e. make profound changes in my thought patterns and sense of self, which is what I needed. Anxiety is a self-defeating conditioned responses and I needed to 'face my demons' so to speak and get intimate with my thoughts and mind.
So zazen worked like a kind of exposure therapy' for me - settling down and allowing all conscious and unconscious thought patterns, emotions and experiences to come and go changed my relationship to those thoughts (they are impermanent, cannot harm me etc.) and this in time allowed me to let completely go of them.

This type of meditation is not an escape from your own thoughts or anything else, quite the contrary. You will be confronted with all kinds of thoughts in your meditation, it is part of the process. You cannot let-go of the unpleasant feelings and thoughts, until they have been fully acknowledged, allowed to run their course, to burn out... It is mental purification and cleaning. It is hard work, especially in the beginning, but the results are worth it. You can't outrun or subdue your demons. Face them in meditation, and through the confrontation you will be free of them.

It is also a non-specific and "natural" process I think. Whatever is on my mind and I need to confront the most, is also that which comes up in my meditation. In time all mental garbage and clutter is rooted out, just by staying still. Quite a beautiful process I think. I value the simplicity of the practice both on a practical and philosophical level. I once read a quote along the lines of: "The way (Tao) is simple, natural and ever-changing - Forced breathing and manipulation of Qi and visualisation stuff, mantra, chakra work etc seems very contrived, theoretical and anti-tao". I have come to agree.
Part of the allure this type of meditation has for me is also that it has been/is a foundation practice in virtually all of the contemplative traditions in the history of man kind (Taoist, Yoga, Buddhist etc.), and probably for a good reason too

I find that I get quite relaxed after a session, so I don't need/do any additional relaxation and breathing practices to that end anymore.

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Last edited by Xian on Thu Apr 05, 2012 5:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Program update
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2012 2:45 pm 
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- Re. the bridge. I figured out how to transition from a pushup position to the bridge without wrenching my shoulder. I will however be omitting the movement anyway. It is challenging and fun, but it is yet another thing that takes up time and energy. Reviewing my initial goals...
Quote:
1. being able to do any activities of daily living (ADL's), job demands (JD's) or sports and recreational activities (SRA's) i might choose to do try. Now and when I'm old.
2. Promote superior resistance to wear and tear and common injuries.
3. Reaching these goals in the simplest way possible, investing the least amount of time even if it means the training program isn't "optimal" in all ways.
Don't do as much as possible; do what I need/can't do without.
...none of them really calls for me being able to do one armed bridges... I can easily do without it and I'm sure it's not a prerequisite for graceful aging and pain-free living.
This has promted me to try and go over my "flows" and attempt to simplify them even further. Remove all fluff as well as any exercise I don't need to maintain general/overall mobility and relative strength . This has left me with less flow and more regular exercises done in order:

- Tea cups (emphasising spinal rotation and lateral flexion in addition to the shoulder/elbow/hand movements)
- Cossack Roll to 1-legged deadlift (1 legged deadlift --> lunge backward --> roll back leg over until in a cossack squat position --> shift cossack over to the other leg --> roll over to a lunge position --> do 1-legged deadlift. Reverse)
- Hindu pushups.
- Leg lifts to plow.

Simple and to the point. The only thing I feel like I really might be missing is some sort of bridge movement for my backside and posterior chain. I might try adding it in later.
After finishing each exercise (minus the tea cup one) I do a static stretch mimicking the movement - I.e. kneeling lunge stretch after the cossack roll drill, down dog stretch after hindu pushups, and rolling around in the plow position after the leg lifts. Doing flows didn't allow me to focus on static positions in the same way as it would -naturally- disrupt the flow, and it is something I've been missing.

- Re. the walking. I like it. Focusing on being mindful and exploring my neighborhood makes it more of a joy rather than a chore, and doing it after meditation makes it even easier. And I find that I begin running in intervals without having to force it just so I can get around more quickly. It is a non-sucking kind of cardio. It is purposeful exercise.
While one-armed bridging isn't required to live a healthy and active lifestyle, I suspect that maintaining some rudimentary running ability is. It is also one of the most natural and "functional" movements I can think of, although it probably isn't ELITE! Having just read "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall also helps getting hooked on the whole running thing.

- Right knee is healing fine but is still bothering me to much to resume sitting full lotus

- Still haven't figured out how (and if) I want to incorporate breathing exercises into my daily routine.

Updated routine:
1) Mobility, endurance and relative strength (2.0):
- Tea cups (emphasising spinal rotation and lateral flexion in addition to the shoulder/elbow/hand movements)
- Cossack Roll to 1-legged deadlift
- Hindu pushups.
- Leg lifts to plow
2) Meditation (sitting burmese on a cushion): 30 min
3) Walking/running: 20-30 min.

The meditation and walking/running are ridiculously simple (sit!, move!) yet powerful practices with enormous benefits for body/mind health and a seemingly unlimited potential for improvement that all happen quite naturally over time without having to do any complex programming, tinkering or what have you. - Just do the practice and all else will follow.
My goal is to find/create a physical (mobility/endurance/strength) practice that equals these in regards to benefits and simplicity, impossible as it may be.

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Last edited by Xian on Fri Apr 06, 2012 11:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:08 am 
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I tried your cossack flow yesterday as part of a warm up - it's very good, will use that again, thanks for posting it. Looks like you're developing a really good template for long-term all-round health. I used a walking 'meditation', (normal pace, just being mindful and matching breath with footsteps) for about 6 months last year when my house was a building site, & it's surprising how 'deeply' you can begin to appreciate something so basic. I came to think that it is the simple-man's taiji/yoga practice: combines a bit of physical exertion with some mental focus, without requirement of a teacher or adoption of any other cultural trappings.

I dunno i he still blogs, but paleo-fruitloop Art Devaney wrote a post about his running sessions which seemed very much like yours. Good stuff!

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 3:00 pm 
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Thanks Odin! I'm glad you can use it.
Simple does not mean without potential for depth - quite the opposite with the walk/running and sitting at least. I'll have to read through that log of yours with the walking.
I thought Devaney was/is against the whole long-slow-distance idea of running? His blog seems to be for members only now, so I haven't been able to find the article you mention. Oh well!

Looking through ABW's log and blog I have found a couple of nuggets that express a lot of my own thoughts. Here in a an edited combi-quote:
"It is supposed to be daily training, mildly challenging - a way to refresh and rejuvenate. A combination of tonic physical exercise (various calisthetic moves) and cultivation of energy and relaxation (deep breathing and coordinated range of motion). Sweat, exhaustion and fatigue are for the most part just a byproduct, not the point. What we are after is to improve metabolism, recharge energy levels, and sharpen skills. Make time your ally. Rely on compound interest on basic movements over the course of years, even decades, to get where you want to be. This insures long term progress and prevents burnout and exhaustion."

Updated routine:
1) Mobility, endurance and relative strength (3.0):
- Tea cups (emphasising spinal rotation and lateral flexion in addition to the shoulder/elbow/hand movements)
- Cossack Roll to 1-legged deadlift
- Hindu pushups (playing around with different breathing patterns)
- Plow rolling around to loosen whole body
2) Running: 30 min
(Static stretch?)
3) Meditation: 30 min

- I've dropped the leg lifts. The mobility from the plow was the main reason I kept the exercise. While leg lifts are a good exercise in themselves, they only add more abdominal training to the routine, which I don't need. The hindu pushups have that covered somewhat.

-I'm also going to experiment with running after the mobility program. - Low-level cardiovascular exercise speeds up recovery after anaerobic exercise (to the extent you can call my minimalist JM routine 'strenuous' training...), and more importantly it may help warm up my knees/legs for meditation and help my legs tolerate the lotus position. When/if I resume sitting in lotus it would also be a bad idea to run right afterwards. On the other hand I've enjoyed the extra mindfulness I get in my runs after meditation.
Anyway, static stretching seems to be an excellent way to transition from the run to meditation and get the body down in gear. It would also be much better to do here rather than immediately after the JM routine, since the tissues have had a chance to warm up.
And to quote ABW again: "sustained stretches do more than anything else to release tension (physical and emotional) and make me feel better and more relaxed and energetic."

- I'm surprised at how quickly and how noticeably the effect of the added running has been. My energy levels are soaring and I seem a lot less fatigued in my daily tasks.

- Finally, a nice testimonial to simple running:
Quote:
The only secret of those of us who were training at Caulfield and Ferny Creek was the consistency of our training. None of us ever missed a day, as a result, we were all improving. Although each of our sessions would physically stretch us, we never finished a day so exhausted that we were not able to train to the same standard the following day. Run easy, not too fast, not too slow; and from 20 - 60 minutes per day. That was how I broke 18 world records". – (Ron Clarke, author of Run Easy)

Clarke's training methods have been described by (Fred) Wilt (1972), who reports that Clarke trained almost daily year round with little variation from one season to another. Any variation was unintentional. Each days workout was remarkably similar and he did not attempt to peak. Rather he remained racing fit year round gradually increasing the quality of training over his athletic lifetime. He seldom trained on the track, did not keep a training diary, and never used a stopwatch during training. Most of his training was done on grass and roads and much of it was done over extremely hilly courses.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:54 am 
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Most of us have probably heard of Nikolai Amosov and his rejuvenation routine through Pavel in Super Joints. I'm inspired by his overall philosophy and approach to health maintenance, so here is a little post on what I have gathered on him. Enjoy!

Amosov’s Story:
Quote:
In my early childhood I grew up alone and had no "program" of physical training. The manual labour made me stronger, but not adroit: I was not taught to swim, dance or ride bicycle. I used to run away from physical training classes both in my school and in my college.
In the war, I first went through radiculitis seizure, which was recurred again and again, evidently, due to long operation procedures.

In 1954 I was tortured by spinal pains and even some dorsal alterations were discovered.
Then I invented my system of physical exercises comprising of 10 exercises, 100 movements each. I started jogging in 1971, when a dog was purchased. In 1985 I had a heart blockage with a pulse rate of 40 beats per min. I stopped jogging and restricted myself to physical exercises. In 1986 after the implantation of a pacemaker I began to feel myself better and resumed jogging. In autumn 1993, my pacemaker failed to operate and it was replaced for a new one. In December, my eighty years anniversary was celebrated. I was awarded again with an order.
Soon after my jubilee, I realized, that it became harder for me to walk, though I continued my usual physical exercises: 1000 movements and 2 km jogging

I started feeling like I was aging in 1992 when I stopped practical surgery. I thought over the aging mechanism and made up my mind then to resist aging thought intensive physical exercises. I decided to make an experiment: I three times increased my physical exercises.
The Substantiation: genetic aging used to lower motivation for effort and capacity for work, muscles got detrained, it reduced mobility, thereby aggravating aging. To tear up a vicious circle, one had to make oneself to move a lot.
I started with 2500 physical exercises and later increased to 3000 movements, half of which were made with the dumb-bells up to 5 kg. I used to jog up to 5 km. And the aging receded. After half a year of such regimen, I looked ten years younger.

For two and a half year I felt very well. At that very time I wrote the book "Overcoming Aging ", as well as some brochures. I was fully aware of my decreased aorta activity, but hoped it would improve, but it never did. I developed stenocardia but I went on carefully with my experiment this time giving up the jogging. I had regular check-ups: my heart was getting enlarged. It was clear to me, that I had failed to deceive nature and that it was time to get ready to die. I accepted it in cold blood. I felt like having fulfilled all my life tasks. I even wrote my memoirs "Voices of Times".

In Mai 1998, my daughter, a professor of cardiology and my pupils offered me to undergo surgery in Germany - such old men as me are not used to be operated in my own clinic.
Professor Korfer implanted an artificial mitral valve and put two shunts in the coronary arteries. The operation was a success, though it was followed by long but not very hard complications.

I resumed my physical exercises immediately after the operation: first, I increased the number of exercises up to 1000, then I resumed my one hour indoor and outdoor walking. But I gave up jogging and dumb-bells.
Rehabilitation went on slowly. There were a lot of minor complications: headaches and instability of movements but I was patient.
I made up my mind to resume experiment. To my usual physical exercises I added dumb-bells-exercises and increased the walking time.

Only in summer 1999 it turned loose: the aging seemed to step back. I felt at once ease by walking. In the course of winter 1999-2000 I increasedthe number of exercises up to 3000 (1200 of them were dumb-bell-exercises)and walked for 1 hour daily. As for jogging, I did it carefully and no more than 1-2 km per day, mostly downhill. Soon I doubled jogging time andrate. My physical exercises, jogging and walking take 3 hours.
Amosov's recommendations:
Quote:
Let's talk about some essential problems: about health, illnesses, experiment, the way to live.

First about "intensive physical regimen". There is no need to talk a lot about the "mode of restrictions and loading". My recommendations for everybody is the same:

- 30-45 minutes of physical exercises/1000-1500 movements [repititions]. 500 of those exercises [repititions] with 5 kg- dumb-bells
- one hour of intensive walking, but 2-3 km. jogging is still better.
- Very important to have command of one's mind: the number of illnesses provoked by stress is far larger than those provoked by other factors. (This piece of good advice is as much important as it is useless-it is being hardly followed ). In this respect, it is very good to learn auto-training or meditation.

I am sure, that if a heart is strong, intensive regimen would provide an active life up to 90 years.
Other people on Amosov's program:
Quote:
His original 1,000 Movements were 100 repetitions each of these ten exercises:
- Squats
- Trunk Twists
- Side Bends
- Roman Chair Sit-ups
- Pushups
- Leg Raises bringing knees to head
- Forward Bends
- Shoulder Reaches (raise arms to shoulder height and throw them behind your back to touch each palm to the opposite shoulder blade)
- Arm Circles
- Knee Lifts to chest

Amosov later replaced the shoulder reaches and knee lifts in his original complex with four activities—One-Legged Jumps; Bringing the Elbows Back (pretend you are doing a dumbell BP negative); the "Birch Tree (Shoulderstand);" and Sucking in the Stomach (what it sounds like; another variation is exhaling all the air and expanding the rib cage [vacuum])—and he altered the number of repetitions slightly to keep the total at 1,000.
– Pavel Tsatsouline
Quote:
In the beginning professor Amosov performed 10 repetitions of each exercise, but his back pain persisted.
So he kept increasing gradually the number of repetitions of each exercise, and when each was done for 100 reps, the back pain was gone. Professor Amosov stated that for young people, up to the age of 30, whose joints function well, it should be enough do only 20 repetitions of each exercise. When joint aches appear around age 40, the number of repetitions should be increased to 50 or even 100. When a joint hurts, it should be exercised more: 200 to 300 repetitions. To physicians' objections that this is too much, the professor responds that these high repetitions are needed to compensate for the unnaturally immobile lifestyle of most workers.

Since 1954 the complex changed very little--some exercises were replaced by more effective ones, but the total number of exercises, the recommended number of repetitions, and the time to perform the complex stayed the same. Professor Amosov warns that for joints health, the added resistance cannot make up for the lower number of repetitions. So repetitions with weights have to be done in addition to the 1,000 repetitions without, not instead of them.
– Tom Kurz

Similar-to-Amosov-program (re-post but relevant here)
Quote:
Russian geophysicist V. M. Khudyakov, has a herniated disc in his lumbar spine. He describes his experience in a letter to Fizkultura i Sport (number 10, 2002), a popular health and fitness magazine in Russia.

In 1994, Khudyakov spent a whole month in hospital because of the herniated lumbar disc. His pain subsided somewhat after the hospital stay. Self-administration of electroacupuncture also helped him, but he was still far from good health. (I do not go into details of this electroacupuncture treatment as such description would take me off the subject of this article, and besides, I do not give medical advice.) To fully recover, Khudyakov needed to strengthen the muscles supporting his spine. Eventually, he started to exercise when he was able. After a while his daily program looked like this:

5:00 a.m. sauna and bath in ice water followed by 40 to 45 minutes of exercise.

100 back extensions on the floor
100 forward bends, knees straight, putting hands on the floor
100 hip twists to the left and 100 to the right while sitting on a rotating wheel and keeping trunk immobile
100 trunk twists to the left and 100 to the right while keeping hips immobile
100 clockwise circles with the head and 100 counterclockwise circles
20 push-ups after each exercise

This program very quickly made him feel good, practically healthy, but his pain would return occasionally after prolonged work in bent posture while gold digging. (He had to go deep into the taiga to dig gold because he could not find a job in his town, his wife was laid off, and they had two little children.) Final recovery came later, he thinks because of increasing the number of repetitions in each exercise from 100 to 200 and the total number of push-ups on fingers to 180–200. Now he feels better than before his spine was injured.

Khudyakov does all these exercises in the morning, and in the evening he does 500 to 600 squats or alternates back extensions on the floor with leg lifts 300 times.
- Tom Kurz

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 1:56 pm 
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Those Amosov quotes are gold. I wasn't aware of his work and am going to learn more about him. Thanks!


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 8:08 am 
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Glad you like it. There aren't much info in english unfortunately. Pavel was going to write a book, "Russian Health Practices" or something like that, which would expand on Amosov's ideas, but it got canned. Do you have Pavel's Super Joints? If not, you should get it. It has a little more info on Amosov and is a fine book otherwise. If you don't have it you can PM me for law-abiding details.

Rambling Thoughts on the routine (heavily "inspired"/plagiarized from ABW's blog)
Health, vitality and sound joints are more important than washboard abs, bulging pecs, or a medal.
To that end I try to balance ”hard/hard” external resistance training in the form of chalistenics with ”hard/soft” qigong/yoga movements and ”soft/soft” meditation practices.
Either soft ore hard without the other is unbalanced and will result in burnout, boredom or injury.
To spare time and increase sophistication I use chalistenic exercises infused with soft flavours: Using full ROM, integrating breath and mindfulness into the exercise.
The chalistenics I choose are often already found and used in the world of yoga and qigong in one variation or another. I just pick them out based upon where maximum benefits are to be had from a western physical theraphy point of view.
The goal is to combine the best of the east with the best of the west as efficiently as possible.

”If it's important, do it every day”. However, the body is an organism, not a machine. Treat it like a machine instead of an organism and it will eventually break down on you.
To force inhuman, rigid schedules on it is to grind it down into injury and exhaustion. Why should you do more if you body says ‘stop’ or hold back if your bodies says ‘more’?
Listen to your body and let the workout be a recharge, not a drain.


Current Routine
1) Mobility, endurance and relative strength (3.0):
- Tea cups (emphasising spinal rotation and lateral flexion in addition to the shoulder/elbow/hand movements)
- Cossack Roll to 1-legged deadlift
- Hindu pushups (Inhale to downdog, exhale while moving toward the floor, inhale to updog, exhale moving back, inhale to down dog.)
- Plow rolling around to loosen whole body
2) Running/walking: 30 min
3)Static stretching:
- Kneeling hip flexor stretch
- ??
4) Meditation (kneeling/seiza position): 30 min

Notes:
- Breathing: I've found that the above pattern for the hindu pushups is nice. It flushes out co2 and has a quite similar effect to the hyperventilating pranayamas of yoga.
At the same time the inhalation to down- and upward facing dog gives the ribcage and chest a nice stretch. I find it interesting that the traditional rib-cage-expander, "the Pullover", is quite similar in position to the down dog.
- At some point I want to experiment with breathing, "rooting" etc. while doing the Cossack roll to 1-legged deadlift to make it a more "internal" resistance exercise.
- Stretching: My hip flexors are always tight, so a stretch for them is non-negotiable. I would like to add at least a hamstring stretch (another hypertonic muscle) as well, but haven't been able to choose one yet. I've been playing with the idea of adding front splits to minimize time spent stretching, but will probably decide against it.
I may also want to add some 'real' yoga poses to relax and stretch the whole body, but haven't spend much time on it yet.
- Meditation: Tried sitting in lotus yesterday, but it didn't feel right and I released it after a few minutes, and my knee cried in agony. I've may have to leave the lotus position for good. Many a meditator's knee has been ruined by this position, and I don't want to push my luck. Instead I will begin to sit in the kneeling/seiza position. It is the only meditation posture, besides lotus, I can sit comfortably in without the use of a cushion to raise the seat. From an anatomical view it is much safer for the delicate knee and ankle joint than lotus, and doesn't promote/enforce muscular imbalances the same way. It is not as stable as the lotus however, and it will take some time getting used to, but it is the last possibility for a non-prop meditation posture. After that I'll have to sit burmese style on a cushion. And if I begin to allow that, how long until I'll be swinging the faggotbells, lifting barbells and using God knows what kind of equipment? I need this to work.

Any comments or feedback is as always much appreciated. :happiness: Especially in regards to what yoga poses or static stretches you consider to be the/your most important and beneficial.

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Last edited by Xian on Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:34 pm 
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Sorry to hear that the book about russian health practices got canned.I remember looking forward to reading more about Amasov when I read "Super joints"
Interesting log by the way..

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:19 pm 
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Thanks Bobby. The last Pavel has said on the book/subject is: "that project is on ice, at least for a couple of years" (05-12-2011)

Current Routine
1) Mobility, endurance and relative strength (3.0):
- Tea cups (emphasising spinal rotation and lateral flexion in addition to the shoulder/elbow/hand movements)
- Cossack Roll to 1-legged deadlift
- Hindu pushups (Inhale to downdog, exhale while moving toward the floor, inhale to updog, exhale moving back, inhale to down dog.)
- Plow rolling around to loosen whole body
2) Running/walking (barefoot): 30 min
3) Meditation (Cushion - half lotus): 30 min

Notes:
- Running: Ran barefoot today over grass, stones, asphalt etc. lots of variety for 30 min. I usually try to run fore/mid-foot in my usual running shoes and the transition to completely barefoot was surprisingly easy (i.e. painfree). I don't know if I'll run barefoot again tomorrow, but i definitely want to incorporate more barefoot running into my program.
- Meditation: Kneeling sucks for meditation...I'm back on the cushion sitting half-lotus this time. The right knee is capable of this now, so the plan is to sit half-lotus alternating foot on top, and when/if the knee is okay try for full lotus again...
- Static streching: I actually want to jump straight into meditation after the run, and since the only needed stretch I could come up with was the kneeling hip flexor stretch, I will atempt skipping static stretching altogether and see if it is a terrible loss.
- I want to start playing around with "rotations in neck bridge". It would adress some lacking parts: Neck, back, posterior chain + it looks fun and challenging to overall mobility at the same time. Don't know if I have the indoor space for this though... Last exercise in this video (1.59):


Ongoing concerns/pursuits:
- At some point I want to experiment with breathing, "rooting" etc. while doing the Cossack roll to 1-legged deadlift to make it a more internal/soft exercise.
- Some sort of bridge exercise necessary?
- Static stretching (especially of hip flexors) and yoga poses necessary? Any comment in regards to what yoga poses or static stretches you consider to be the/your most important and beneficial is much appreciated.
- Full lotus without cushion for meditation worth it?

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:26 pm 
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The bodypart that bothers me the most is the hip area.So the streches that I feel are most important for me
are those that keeps this area as mobile and painfree as possible.Can`t really say what streches right now as I am
experimenting myself.This might be an age related thing as this area wasn`t a problem until after 40.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:52 pm 
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My go to series that hits most of my problem spots is:
Deck SQ to Plow
Plow to full bridge
Bridge to Standing

I have issues in opening the shoulders, thoracic flexibility, and hip/SI joint. This hits it all for me.

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 Post subject: Makko-ho
PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:51 pm 
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Very nice series Dunn. I also do pretty much all those exercises, but not in that fashion. Do you do them paired two-and-two or as once "flow" (Deck SQ -> Plow -> bridge ->Standing)?
The hips are also my most troublesome area mobility wise Bobby. You may be interested in the Makko-ho exercises, which is a traditional japanese stretching routine aimed at the hips and legs. I'm about to experiment with them myself.
Thanks for reading and commenting both of you.

Current Daily Routine:
1) Mobility, relative strength and endurance (4.0 - Royal Court on steroids):
- Tea cups (emphasising spinal rotation and lateral flexion in addition to the shoulder/elbow/hand movements)
- Cossack Roll to 1-legged deadlift
- Hindu pushups (Inhale to downdog, exhale while moving toward the floor, inhale to updog, exhale moving back, inhale to down dog.)
- Bridging (switching between bridging up on either L/R shoulder, nose-to-mat neck bridge, gymnastic bridge - focus on mobility, not static holds)
- Plow rolling around (to loosen whole body, especially neck and upper back are)
2) Running/walking (barefoot at least a once a week): 30 min
3) Static stretches/recovery asanas:
- Makko-ho position 4 (aka. supta virasana)
- Maako-ho position 1 (aka. butterfly stretch or baddha konasana)
3) Meditation (Cushion - half lotus): 30 min

Notes:
- Makko-ho will be explained in my next post. I do position 4 because it is both relaxing and good for my tight hip flexors. I do position 1 because it is also a relaxing asana as well as the best preperation stretch for meditation postures I know of. The other two positions I don't have much use for as of right now.
- Rotating neck bridge takes up to much space to be an anytime-anywhere exercise. And just as with the rotating gymnastic bridge, it doesn't make all that much sense for me to invest a lot into this movement my overall goals considered. Simpler bridging is being experimented with though.

Ongoing concerns/pursuits: (Any comment or advice is always much appreciated.)
- At some point I want to experiment with breathing, "rooting" etc. while doing the Cossack roll to 1-legged deadlift to make it a more internal/soft exercise.
- Is bridging exercises necessary?
- Static stretching and yoga poses necessary? Hip flexors ok without?
- Full lotus without cushion for meditation worth it?

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Last edited by Xian on Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:59 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:55 pm 
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Makko-ho background:
Quote:
Makko Ho literally means "the way of facing (things/life/oneself) directly".
in Japan during the mid 1900’s , at the age of 42, Wataru Nagai suffered a stroke that paralyzed the entire left side of his body. Told by doctors that he would probably never work again and would need constant care for the rest of his life, Nagai almost inadvertently discovered Makko Ho while seeking salvation in the teachings of Buddhism.
The bowing movements of seated and standing Buddhist prayer postures became the basis of the Makko Ho system of rejuvenation. Over time these prayer poses developed into four main exercises which are the core of Makkō-Hō . Within three years, Nagai had regained the entire use of his body.
The exercises themselves are probably familiar to students of Yoga or Japanese martial arts:
Mr. Nagai points out that if you can’t demonstrate full hip flexibility then you are, in a sense, out of shape.
The main benefits of this system are: increased flexibility, symmetrical skeletal alignment, nerve stimulation, improved circulation, overall good health, and even increased libido.
The basic rule is “Keep doing it right, and keep doing it daily”.
Makko-Ho exercises:

1: Image
2: Image
3: Image
4: Image

Apparently the Ninjitsu crowd (or founder Hatsumi at least) is also fond of them, although they call it DRAGON BODY EXERCISES. I guess it is more ninja that way:


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 5:48 pm 
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Thanks Xian.Will try the Makko-ho.Sounds like they will be a good addition.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:33 am 
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Freediver Erik Fattah has some interesting observations re. yoga and qigong. Archiving some of it here (slightly edited) for further reference. Full original quote(s) can be found in Bedlam's log.
Quote:
a comparison of the most powerful exercise of each discipline [Qigong and Yoga), i.e. zhan zhuang vs. pranayama From MY OWN experience and does not necessarily apply to others:

benefits of pranayama (if practiced at > 10:40:20 for > 30min per day):
- Increased vital capacity with and without packing (This, for some extremely strange reason, stretches my chest/lungs way more than pack stretches or more traditional exercises.)
- Decreased residual volume (i.e. deeper equalizing)
- Increased CO2 tolerance
- increases hemoglobin (if done hard enough).
- Moderately improved breath-hold ability
- Improved immune system (this is the main benefit)
- Decreased mental noise (i.e. meditation effect)
- Pranayama (for me) produces a drastic increase in exercise capacity (both aerobic and anaerobic)
- Possible negative effect: blood pressure decreases significantly after extended practice, which further increases static apnea but might cause premature blackouts in the ocean
- Benefits begin only days after you start
- Maximum benefit requires praticing with back straight, sitting in half-lotus or lotus position

benefits of chi-gong (zhan-zhuang) (if practiced for > 45 min per day, with 15min warm up and 15 min cool down)
- No effect on lung capacity, residual volume or CO2 tolerance
- Massive decrease in neuromuscular tension (i.e. muscles at rest are more relaxed and consume less O2)
- Increased dive times, increased breath-holds, especially if breath-holding or diving is done within 24 hours of zhan-zhuang
- Struggle phase of breath-hold feels much more enjoyable
- Improved immune system
- Massively decreased mental noise (if practiced excessively it leads to the 'hermit syndrome' where all you want to do is be a hermit!)
- Must be done outside for real benefit
- Can't sleep well if done in evening
- Benefits can take up to 2 months to start showing up

I woul say standing meditation is psychologically easier to perform, because to get the same results with pranayama requires very excruciating cycle times and tremendous concentration.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 7:51 am 
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Current Daily Routine:
1) Mobility, relative strength and endurance (5.0 - Royal Court on steroids):
- Tea cups (emphasising spinal rotation and lateral flexion in addition to the shoulder/elbow/hand movements)
- Cossack Roll to kneeling hip flexor stretch to 1LSL deadlift
- Hindu pushups (Inhale to downdog, exhale while moving toward the floor, inhale to updog, exhale moving back, inhale to down dog.)
- Bridging (switching between bridging up on either L/R shoulder, nose-to-mat neck bridge, gymnastic bridge - focus on mobility, not static holds)
- Plow rolling around (to loosen whole body, especially neck and upper back are)
2) Running/walking (barefoot at least a once a week):30 min
3) Meditation:
- Pre-meditation stretches (Burmese position forward bend -> half lotus forward bend --> Full lotus forward bend)
- Meditation (Cushion - half lotus): 30 min

Notes:
- Still having trouble with the static stretches. The Makko-ho stretches don't feel optimal, so I'll play around with something a little different: I'm going to focus the pre meditation stretches on preparing for lotus and add the "kneeling hip flexor stretch" position into my cossack roll drill, and see how that affects my hip flexor tightness. I.e. when rolling the hips from the cossack stretch over to a lunge position, I put my back knee down to the ground to feel a good hip flexor stretch before I do the one-legged straight-legged (1LSL) deadlift. Reversing the movement I don't kneel down - it would disrupt the smooth feeling of the exercise to much IMO.

Ongoing concerns/pursuits: (Any comment or advice is always much appreciated.)
- At some point I want to experiment with adding some conscious breathing, "rooting" etc. while doing the Cossack roll to 1-legged deadlift to make it a more internal/soft exercise.
- Zhan Zhuang and pranayama. Add at some point?
- Static stretching and yoga poses necessary? Hip flexors ok without?
- Full lotus without cushion for meditation worth it?

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 Post subject: On yoga...
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:28 am 
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Going over Odin's old logs I had a couple of nod-nod moments in regards to Yoga:
Quote:
A mix of mobility (Maxwell's DD, intu-flow and various Qi-gong) and ground mobility (Dragon twists, archers, Dands, swinging planks and various spinal rocks) trying and keep the whole breath/movement synch seems to give me most of the things that longer yoga practices used to (mindful, restorative quality); it also flows together nicely and gives the more fluid, mobility aspects of ashtanga without the need for a 90 minute commitment each day. It also ticks quite a few boxes in terms of physical health. And I enjoy it most of all.
and
Quote:
I seem to be able to get most of the calming benefits of yoga with a 20 min sitting meditation
My own experience is that you can get more profound mental benefits from simple meditation (less time consuming too), and you can have greater physical benefits from a well though-out mix of mobility/strength/etc. training (also in less time). Yoga is great to get some allround mental/physical training, but the benefits are so-so compared to a routine where you do focused physical training for physical benefits, and specific mental training for mental benefits.

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 Post subject: Time for an updtae
PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:54 am 
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Time for a little update on my overall goals and approach.

The overall goal of my training:
Overall mental and physical wellbeing.

To have this I need to:

1. Be bodily unburdened enough to do whatever I want (or need) whenever I want (or need) to. Now and when I'm old.
- Being able to do any activities of daily living (ADL's), job demands (JD's) or sports and recreational activities (SRA's) i might choose to do try.
- Retaining an ability to participate in a wide variety of sports is a part of this.
2. Promote superior resistance to wear and tear and common injuries.
- Prevent common musculo-skeletal dysfunctions.
- Janda’s upper crossed/lower crossed/layer syndrome
3. Reach these goals in the simplest way possible, investing the least amount of time even if it means the training program isn't "optimal" in all ways. To train in a manner which enhances my life and doesn’t impact it negatively.
- Maximum efficiency with minmum effort. 80% benefits from 20% effort rule.
- Don't do as much as possible; do what I need/can't do without.
- More is not better. Do the smallest dose that will produce a desired outcome. Anything beyond that is wasteful.
- Choose only exercises with several benefits (most bang for the buck exercise) I.e. whole-body exercises using full ROM that stretch and strengthen at the same time.
- Rely on exercises that can be done anywhere, anytime and don't rely on access to equipment of any kind.

Program guidelines:
- The program should be very general in its focus to promote a high level of potential ability in as broad a spectrum as possible, and not single out any single physical fitness attribute (strength, cardiovascular, flexibility etc), but develop proficiency in each one so far as it still makes sense with regards to my goals and doesn't negatively affect the development of other attributes.
- Training should be simple, enjoyable and fun.
- The body is an organism, not a machine. Treat it like a machine forcing rigid schedules on it is going to grind it down into injury, exhaustion and eventually breakdown. Listen to your body and let the workout be a recharge, not a drain. Maintain the idea of practice versus working out. Sweat, exhaustion and fatigue are for the most part just a byproducts, not the point.
- Look at the long term picture. Prioritize long-term health over short-term ‘peaks’: peaking is only for competition. Make time your ally. Rely on compound interest on basic movements over the course of years, even decades, to get where you want to be.

The Routine:
A daily combination of tonic calisthenics, running and seated meditation.

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