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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:15 am 
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glad my old logs are of some use to people other than me! I should go over them myself really. I think one of the main problems we have these days is simply too many options at our disposal. It's a blessing and a curse imo, deciding what is actually useful and not just aesthetically pleasing is also quite hard. Logs like this and Bedlams are really pretty useful in that regard.

Oh yeah, another note, not sure if it has been mentioned but the book chi-running is an entertaining read and may complement some of your running goals nicely. Can't remember author's name.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:40 pm 
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Yup. Learning from the experience of other people makes it much easier to pick a strategy among the many options - the logs of other like-minded members (you, Mickey, Bedlam etc.) are very beneficial in that regard. Immortality is certainly within our grasp if we work together.

Thanks for the tip. I know of it but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. Running in bare feet seem to be the easiest way to learn to run that way anyway.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 3:51 pm 
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Location: In the winter of my discontent..
I really enjoy reading this log. It has stuff in it that I try to implement daily.

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 Post subject: Janda
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:11 pm 
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Thanks Soupbone. I'm glad you benefit from my ramblings :-)

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 Post subject: On Janda...
PostPosted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 4:18 pm 
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Seeing as one of my goals are...
Quote:
Promote superior resistance to wear and tear and common injuries.
- Janda’s upper crossed/lower crossed/layer syndrome
...I want to write a little intro to him and his work. Hopefully to the benefit of those of you who read my log.

Vladimir Janda, a Czechoslovakian neurologist and exercise physiologist categorized muscles as being either tonic/postural or phasic.
A short overview of the most important muscles in each category:

- Tonic/postural muscles (prone to tightness or shortness).
Sub occipitals. (small muscles in your upper neck, below the skull)
SCM
Trap 1
Levator scap
Pec major/minor
Biceps
Hip flexors (psoas, iliacus, rectus femoris, satorius, tensor etc.)
Lower back extensors
adductors
Piriformis
Hamstrings
Calf Muscles

- Phasic muscles(prone to weakness or inhibition)
Neck flexors (Longus coli and capitis)
Serratus anterior
Mid-back (Rhomboids, lower traps)
Deltoid
Triceps
Glutes (max, med, min)
Abdominal muscles
Quad (minus rectus femoris, which is a tonic hip flexor)

These dysfunctional patterns of tightness/weakness manifest what Janda called...
- upper crossed syndrome (cervical hyperlordosis, thoracic hyperkyphosis) and
- lower crossed syndrome (anterior tilt of the pelvis/hyperlordosis of the lower back)
...(and what the rest of us might just call poor fucking posture) due to the 'crossing' junctures resulting from the tonic and phasic muscles at these locations:

Upper and Lower crossed together:
Image

Addressing the tonic/phasic pattern is really good stuff for unwinding foundation issues of many of the problems we have in our musculo-skeletal system.
As you can see from the list, it fits very well with all the pre/rehab advice you get in a clinic or around the web for what ails you in different parts of your body: Do glute activation, stretch hip flexors, stretch the pecs, do pushups for the serratus, work on extension of the thoracic spine, stretch the piriformis, do more one-legged work to get hip-stability (glut. med.) etc. etc.
By adressing the muscles in these categories (activate the phasic muscles, stretch/mobilize the tonic ones) you will prevent, cure or at least influence virtually ALL musculo-skeletal problems and pains in a postive way, since you are dealing with optimization of fundamental muscular patterns in the body.

A 'perfect' routine should address this and at least the muscles involved in upper and lower crossed syndrome. It is something I aspire to do in my own minimalist program. How it does that is probably something I'll elaborate on in another post later.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:09 pm 
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There is a simple way to begin remedying upper and lower cross syndrome, and that is through:

1. Hip tilts --> circles --> figure 8 movements
2. Thoracic tilts --> circles --> figure 8 movements
3. Egyptian neck tilts --> circles --> figure 8 movements

Sonnon, while not the originator, is probably the greatest known advocator of these three movements. By practicing these you mobilize a lot of the tonic muscles, and activate a lot of the phasic ones. You are also working with postural awareness which is of great importance in itself (learning were your neutral spine position is, when are you slumping etc.), and most regular people will have trouble doing these movements, since we are not used to controlling and being aware of our spine in this way.

I'm going to implement them myself and see what effect it will have. The egyptian side-to-side movent is a bitch though. I can't seem to get the movement going.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Current Daily Routine:
1) Mobility, relative strength and endurance (6.0) :
- Hip (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- Thoracic (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- cervical (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- Tea cups (emphasising spinal rotation and lateral flexion in addition to the shoulder/elbow/hand movements)
- 1-Legged-Straight-Legged deadlift (emphasizing neutral lumbar spine and flexion from from the hip joint)
- Kneeling hip flexor stretch mobilization (emphasizing neutral lumbar spine and extension from the hip joint)

- 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 (left leg in front, then right leg) -> half lotus forward bend + half lotus forward bend variation (right leg then left leg)
- Meditation (full lotus on floor, left leg on top): 30 min

Notes:
- Cossack roll flow: Both the kneeling hip flexor stretch and single legged straight legged deadlift doesn't seem to fit so well being done together with the more strenous cossack squat. It is also much more effective to have them as separate mobility drills instead of having them in one large flow, making it possible to really focus on loosening up the hamstrings and hip flexors respectively - probably the most hypertonic muscles in the entire body or mine at least... It is also easier to focus on moving from the hip instead of the lumbar spine when they are done in this fashion, which is a healthy movement pattern to ingrain. Currently I'm not doing the cossack at all, but will probably add it or some other replacement in later. I feel that there should be some sort of squatting movement in the program. Running will have to do it for the legs for now.
- Meditation: The pre-meditation stretches I'm doing work surprisingly well. Although my right knee have been hurting and aching, I've been able to slip into the lotus painlessly after spending some time on the stretches. And getting out of the lotus after 30 min. have been painless as well. So for the past 2 days I've been sitting full lotus (left leg uppermost each time), yet my knee have been feeling better day by day. Yay! So I will continue this and hope that the healing will continue. When fully healed, the next goal is then to be able to sit with the right leg uppermost as well.
- Running: Running isn't a very time effective activity. I spend almost half my training time on it, and the only benefit I get from it is cardiovascular. It would be much better to get the cardio while doing something usefull with other benefits, like JM and bodyweight exercises. But my current routine isn't strenous or long enough to give me that. Maybe it will be in the future with a little tinkering? Or maybe I should just try to keep it simple and just get my cardio from actual cardiovascular exercise and not fret about it...

Ongoing concerns/pursuits: (Any comment or advice is always much appreciated.)
- Squatting motion in the program?
- Zhan Zhuang and pranayama. Add at some point?
- Bridging necessary?

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2012 4:33 pm 
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Current Daily Routine: (Any comment or advice is always much appreciated.)
1) Mobility, relative strength and endurance (7.0) :
- Hip (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- Thoracic (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- cervical (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- Tea cups (emphasising spinal rotation and lateral flexion in addition to the shoulder/elbow/hand movements)

- 1-Legged-Straight-Legged deadlift (emphasizing neutral lumbar spine and flexion from from the hip joint)
- Cossack squats (regular side-to-side)/”Snake Creeps Down"
- Hindu pushups (Inhale to downdog, exhale while moving toward the floor, inhale to updog, exhale moving back, inhale to down dog.)
- Bridging (bridge/look over one shoulder --> look over other shoulder --> nose-to-mat --> gymnastic bridge. Repeat)
- Plow rolling around (to loosen whole body, especially neck and upper back area)

2) Meditation:
- Pre-meditation stretches (Burmese position forward bend (left leg in front, then right leg) -> half lotus forward bend + half lotus forward bend variation (right leg then left leg)
- Meditation (full lotus on floor, left leg on top): 30 min

Notes:
- The cossack is back, but in the regular side-to-side fashion.
- The bridging exercises have been systematized somewhat in a little fancy circuit. I don't hold any position statically, but focus on mobility and dynamic movement. Feels very nice.
- Running: Running is now done 30 min. 3x a week. It is to ineffective benefits-to-time-invested wise to be considered part of my daily minimalistic template. At some point I hope that my routine will provide enough cardiovascular benefits on its own so I can scrap the running entirely.
- Kneeling hip flexor mob. is out. The hip tilt/circles really opens up the hip flexor area nicely, so I will omit the extra kneeling mob. for now.

Ongoing concerns/pursuits:
- At some point I want to experiment with adding some conscious breathing, "rooting" etc. while doing the Cossack
- Zhan Zhuang and pranayama. Add at some point?
- Is bridging necessary?

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:53 pm 
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Current Daily Routine: (Any comment or advice is always much appreciated.)
1) Recover, Recharge and Rejuvenate (1.0):
- Hip/lumbar (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- Thoracic (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- Cervical (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- Cervical (lateral flex and rot. in a figure 8)
- Tea cups (emphasising spinal rotation and lateral flexion in addition to the shoulder/elbow/hand movements)

- Cossack squat/”Snake Creeps Down"
- Kneeling hip flexor mob.
- 1-legged straight-legged deadlifts
- Hindu pushups or pumps (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, especially neck and upper back area)
- Gymnastic Bridge

2) Meditation:
- Pre-meditation stretches (Burmese position forward bend (left leg in front, then right leg) -> half lotus forward bend + half lotus forward bend variation (right leg then left leg)
- Meditation (full lotus on floor, left leg on top): 30 min

Notes:
- The added cervical mobility drill is something I thought lacking and is a less sloppy version of what Sonnon does here at the 10 sec. mark: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0aIuCIpEbk
Makes my neck pop and release in a healthy way.
- Kneeling hip flexor mob. is back since I do need some uni-lateral attention to the hip flexors.
- no bridging circuit. Instead opting for regular static gymnastic bridge. I tried to adopt the traditional yoga sequence of headstand --> (shoulderstand) --> plow --> backbend (in this case gym bridge) in at the end of the program, but found that headstand didn't bring me much in way of relaxation so I scrapped it seeing as it doesn't have any mobility benefits. And so I am left with the plow rolling around and gym bridge.

- I'm quite happy with the program as it is right now. It has a good blend of JM, yoga and qigong influence spiced and mixed with physical therapy knowledge. As of right now (can't promise any longer than that) I'm pretty much perfectly happy with the program; it gives me all that I want in the shortest time possible. In honor of this little landmark the title of the program has been changed.

Ongoing concerns/pursuits:
- At some point I want to experiment with adding some conscious breathing, "rooting" etc. while doing the Cossack
- Zhan Zhuang, pranayama and dousing. Add at some point?
- Scrap running and get cardio from routine?

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 24, 2012 7:20 pm 
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Glad you're happy with your program... Funny you mentioned the dousing - I've started dabbling with this after reading Bedlam post about it. It's tough, but is an instant energy hit. Only thing is, there is no way I will do this on my work days; i have to get up at 5:00 am and it's hard enough without having cold water dousing to endure! Shame, because I intuitvely feel it has merits. So I'd say give it a blast and see how it feels.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:23 am 
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I like that Sonnon video and the info you provided on the upper and lower cross syndromes. Thanks for posting that. I purchased
"Assessment and Treatment of Muscle Imbalance" which is based on Janda's work a while ago but when I opened it, I fell asleep. I probably need to gather myself and read that thing as those syndromes seem to be pretty rampant.


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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 8:50 am 
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Been busy with life outside the internet =D>

Odin: I've doused before and while it does charge body and mind with energy, the dread of pouring cold water over myself has always lead to me ending the practice, since it ended up being an energy drainer. I would rather have a nice ocean nearby and practice some freediving. That way I could have some of the dousing benefits while having fun. Dousing on its own is not for me I think.
Bedlam: Glad you liked the video and the bit on Janda. If you are not familiar with Sonnon's work I can highly recommend his Intu-flow mobility program.
I actually have that book, but haven't gotten around to reading it either...But as you said those syndromes are present in most people with serious muscle dysfunction and imbalance issues in one way or another. Just understanding the characteristics of tonic/phasic muscles and making an effort to stretch/inhibit the tonic ones and strengthen/activate the phasic ones is pretty much all you need to know. No need to force feed yourself the entire book.

Current Daily Routine: (Any comment or advice is always much appreciated.)
1) Recover, Recharge, Rejuvenate and (p)Rehab (2.0) (JM, Yoga, Qigong, Physical Theraphy):
- Hip/lumbar (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- Thoracic (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- Cervical (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- Cervical (lateral flex and rot. in a figure 8)
- Tea cups (emphasising spinal rotation and lateral flexion in addition to the shoulder/elbow/hand movements)

- Squat to 1-legged straight-legged deadlifts
- Hindu pushup or Pump or static down dog
- Headstand (Sirsasana)
- Plow rolling around

2) Meditation:
- Meditation (Burmese on cushion): 30 min

Notes:
- The cossack squat is out and has been replaced with regular bodyweight squats, which have then been mixed with the 1-legged deadlifts. I.e. ATG squat --> deadlift right leg --> ATG squat --> deadlift left leg --> squat....
This is less strenuous than the cossack and has a nice soft feeling to it. Cossacks may be too strenuous for me to do daily (at least the way I was implementing them), and I better err on the side of to little intensity. I'm also dealing with some restrictions in hip flexion and and dorsal ankle flexion, both in my left leg, which makes the cossack very difficult to relax into on that side. So for now it is out, but will probably add it back later.
- Bridging is out to see if I can make do without it. Same for the kneeling hip flexor stretch.
- Headstand is in to ail some left shoulder impingement I've been having. There is some evidence that it may help, and is the best bodyweight alternative to more traditional exercises I can come up with.
(http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/health/02brody.html)
(http://www.thepragmaticyogi.com/2011/07 ... -head.html)
And it is the most important yoga asana with plenty of mind/body benefits, so maybe it does have role in my program beyond shoulder rehab?
- Meditation: While the knee pain lessened initially following the new pre-meditation stretches I've been doing, it won't go away completely. So for the last 3 days I've been sitting burmese style and not doing any of the pre meditation stretches. I will continue with this until the knee is completely painless.

Ongoing concerns/pursuits:
- Cossack squat and lunges in the program?
- Zhan Zhuang/Yiquan/"internal strength training" and/or pranayama/freediving training. Add at some point?
- Scrap running and get cardio from routine?
- Make an overview of common dysfunctions around the major joints in the body and make sure that the program remedies all (or most of them.) to some extend.
- Clarify and explain yet another way of categorizing muscles (Mobilizers and stabilisers) and how the program remedies this.
- Hoard MWOD for ideas and implement them into the program as deemed useful.

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PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 8:42 am 
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You're in the Netherlands aren't you? Surely you can free-dive in one of the canals over there??

Anyway, re your ongoing concerns, my opinion only but I think with the summer approaching you may start to get even more out of the running. I had a walk through the woods when we had a rare bit of sun the other evening and could really see why some people get addicted to it, the cardio benefits are only one aspect of it I guess.

Cossack squats: I personally love them, and think my hips are healthier for doing them regularly. I do squat a lot though, so perhaps need this kind of thing as a compensation. Would you consider rotating the movement on a daily basis?

As a side note I'm going to trial the pranayama routine (shining skull, bhastrika, nadi shodana) you posted a while back wihle I'm away, and see how it strikes me. Will post my thoughts when I get back.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 7:59 am 
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I'm in Scandinavia/Denmark. But yeah, if I really wanted to I could take a dip in the freezing water au naturál or buy a wetsuit. The motivation isn't there for either at the moment though.

There are many benefits to running/walking for sure, but it takes so goddamn much time as do my meditation. And the meditation covers a lot of (mental) health ground and makes me feel good, so doing some walking just to feel good is just not worth it right now.

I love cossacks as well and would rather make it a daily thing - variation in my program is something I consider taint, a sore thumb in a glaring imperfection. Stupid, and rotating the movements would probably be a good call. Oh well.
I have been fatigued in the legs for about 2 weeks, which is why i am currently skipping the cossacks. I think I might be to zealous in my daily training, wanting to do more volume that I can handle. That plus the sudden daily running I embarked on may have been too much.

Good luck with the pranayama program - it is tried and true. I'm sure you will get something nice out of it.

EDIT: http://www.yoga.com/ydc/enlighten/enlig ... on=9&cat=0 is a nice overview of essential asanas in different yoga systems. Thought others might find it interesting.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2012 1:10 pm 
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I've been interested in taking up Yiquan for a while which stems from a more or less lifelong interest in the internal martial arts, and their legendary "power". This little quest lead me to a man named Dan Harden, who I have previously mentioned here at Irongarm:
Quote:
He claims that there is a completely different (soft) way to generate power that is common to all internal arts (japanes, chinese etc.) and that it is/was rarely taught in the open, so today we have people from internal traditions (the usual aikido and tai chi suspects) thinking they know it all with their flowery movements, when they in fact lack the basis for their entire martial art.

He received a lot skepticism initially, but everybody who has met up with this Dan Harden (or gone to his seminars, which are picking up pace and are being held both in the US and Europe) have vouched for him and agree that he has incredibly power unlike anything they have ever felt...amazing stuff. And more importantly, he can explain exactly what he does and how he does it and teach it openly. And you can apply the power principles to the technique of any art - supposedly he trains some MMA guys...

He is/was very active over at the http://www.aikiweb.com forums if anybody want to investigate it.
He also has a lot of good things to say about a Japanes guy called Akuzawa Minoru, who apparently has the same idea - and again everybody who meets up with him say that their claims of power abilities is no exaggeration: http://www.aunkai.net/eng/aunkai/index.html
I've followed this Dan Harden on the net for a couple of years, and have made a little collection of quotes from him:
Quote:
Background/Intro

The arts were always about improving you, changing your body to make it strong.
The "power" they were referring to was internal power or internal strength. - A profoundly connected body, a strengthened zero balance or central equilibrium, very relaxed, and fluid, not fixed or static.

This power in the body is not dependant on an art, not expressed in a technique. It comes from a trained body/body training (Tanren), not from practicing some martial art. It comes from retained balance of In/yo ho (joining of opposites, Japanese Yin/yang), a trained relaxed power in your own body.

The idea of internal strength is all over the place in Japan and in China (by act... not name) in many arts. It would do a disservice to anyone to just look for it in Daito ryu or in some arts techniques.
The truth of the matter is that a strengthened and retained central equilibrium, through tanren is the key to gaining power and sensitivity in all the Asian arts.
Tai chi does not look like Xing-I but the results from training the body are the same.
They are all about rising energy, sinking energy, weight transfer and dantien/center manipulated fascia work, joined with breath power.

The training of it takes years. What you see the hands doing to make a technique means nothing, that's an art form. Another form of the same rising energy.
It is my view that Tanren is so profound that it is the key to all the arts, it is the engine that drives them. The heiho while important, is of lesser importance overall. Were folks in a pinch Tanren will give you better chances than spending equal time learning techniques and strategy

Hard is easier
Soft takes longer
Most like hard training
Hard can feel soft...go train with some good jujutsu guys
Soft can feel hard...go get hit by some soft internal guys

Since "the hard can feel soft" and "the soft can be hard," you might want to also consider that
"Hard can just be...hard"
"Soft can just be useless."

My opinion is soft is the best way to train long term as it contains the best of both qualities and it doesn't fade. Hard cannot do what soft does.
It is my belief that internal training is the best thing in the world for whole body strength, power and health into our golden years

I'd seriously consider that if you do not have significant power and sensitivity and can handle most anything with ease after 5 years of daily training in solo work + Twice week with a group, that you quit, and go find a teacher who can teach.

How to gauge proficiency? Here are a couple of test:
This should be a cake walk.
1. Have someone push your chest with one hand in an attempt to push you over. Really push.
2. Then two hands as hard as he can. We're talking total 100% full force of whole body pushing you.
3. Then have him pile drive into you.
4. Then even casually.. increasing to severely- pull you and push you around while you stand there without moving your feet. Let them have your wrist and let them pull you for all their worth.
5. Place your hand on his chest. Without moving your shoulders or body in any discernable way, send them 3-6' with your hand


Results and benefits
Were I have to choose between all the martial arts in the world combined, or IP/aiki...I'd take this. It's the single greatest advantage in the world. And its a key to good health in your old age. As a conditioning system for knockout power and being hard to throw and for overall power it is superior and doesn't fade like normal strength. More importantly it is the cornerstone of what made the asian arts great.

It is extremely difficult to be thrown-damn near impossible for many in budo, while at the same time creating a significant drawing ability as well, will make you all but unlockable, will allow you to absorb strikes and kicks much better than an untrained body, will create and enhanced sense of speed, and a balanced one at that from that of normal movement, and will give you far greater hitting power with no wind up, useful in close-in work.

People feel like they grabbed a rubber statue planted into the ground, then you suddenly-move- and they are led up off their feet or launched in some manner of one arts waza or another. Other times you can absorb and zero out forces in you and folks feel like their grab disappeared, and then you move. Of course all of this happens while you are actively in-motion as well. A side benefit is that your hands and feet including fingers feel like drills and hit you like a hammer.
You can crack ribs- with your hand never leaving the ribs.

you can train to be almost unthrowable, unlockable, hit like a hammer, absorb blows to the body without damage, and move with constant power.

someone who is adept at this, is a son-of-a-bitch to try and throw or lock up. It’s damn near impossible, and getting hit by them feels like getting hit from a truck. With this training your retention of balance is greatly enhanced and extends ranges of stablility and it completely changes the natural human tendency to carry weight on one side, the typical walking sway.

You should be able to have really strong men push on you and you simply stand there. Or gab your body and try to throw you and have their force captured and zeroed out by your body and you throw them in an instant or cast them off.

Once you have trained your body it exists in you and can be used in anything from Judo to jujutsu to MMA. You could invite just about anyone to try and throw you, and they would have one hell of time doing so, if at all. Your trained balance would be so profound that others coming into contact with it are manipulated by your choice of where and how you choose to move and they have little option to resist. It will express itself in a throw, choke, or lock, and just as viable in not being able to to be thrown or locked, or in a kick or short distance kidney or headshot. The “delivery system” means little to nothing, it’s merely an outer form, not the essence of real power and sensitivity.

it doesn't diminish with age like normal power does. it IS a better more efficient way to do martial arts

How is it done?
This type of skill is best trained initially in solo practice. Over and over we read of men practicing Solo in the mountains and coming back with "enlightenment." I prefer to teach static, then dynamic.
Kata can sometimes build connection from the outside in, but be a "catch as catch can" and slow learning device. Learning the outer...to capture the inner...is the slow boat to China.
It is mind / body that we are discussing so of course, in the end, the mind has to do...a thing. The intent driven and trained body is learning to physically move tissue, so there is a huge physical componant, but I would argue just where we are going to get the most bang for our buck, and it isn't in doing a series of exercises!
It's in intent driven training, then adding-in / augmenting with certain physical movement exercises that are intent driven and the movements and goals and how your body ends up.

1. no external movement, learning pathways and framework using intent
You can listen to your body all the day long when you start training this way; most everything you are getting as proprioceptive feedback that is familiar to you is wrong. It's why standing-though an excellent exercise- can be so slow a process of discovery. We alter that with forcing postures and force-feeding lines by hands on manipulation in a very intimate way.
When I put them in the proper stance-many of them for the first time in their lives- what did they all say? "This feels wrong, weak, and unnatural." So much for proprioception in the beginning.

First and foremost it involves the spine. Learning to open and strengthen the way it supports load, transfers weight and issues power from the ground, or manipulates incoming force.
In essence you learn to support the spine and turn the body around it, remove slack, have center activated and move.

Learning where lines of force come from, connect, and how they balance out in the body to support the body.
The body works best when it is supported by opposing tensions. These work in front and back, and side and side and up and down. People do not move this way naturally. This union of opposites has a reason for being. It both supports and manipulates at the same time.

In doing so your body learns to absorb force and send it or allow it to sink to the ground, hence any incoming horizontal force goes straight to the ground. The result is that once the body is trained to connect on the inside and to remove slack it understands what it needs to do to manipulate force. What receives also feeds. The cleaner the current, the more your body can create rising or sinking energy in any part that is touched. Head, shoulders, arms, hands what have you. Hand shapes and waza are nothing more than a technique and they…cease to have significance.

It is conditioning; mentally and physically, but it is very soft, meant to not be physically exhausting, by rather mentally exhausting. Stop when tired. We need your mind at its peak and your body aware and listening. It's a soft, gradual process. "Burning it in" with hard exercises will just screw it up, so will doing it fast. All that comes later.

2. Moving, doing connection exercises
I think the most strident failure is folks not understanding In yo ho (yin yang method) and intent, so they end up mimicing movement they see, without ever attaining the power and softness therein.

once you have trained the body to maintain this integrity in motion certain effect begins to emerge when you encounter incoming forces. Depending on the stress level the joining of forces and your own conditioning it becomes very magnetic and compelling; leading into holes, capturing energy, and manipulating those forces coming in. The inverse of that is power-out, in rising energy, sinking energy, strikes and close-in hits with body parts, shoulders, chest wall, elbows and knees.

3. Moving, with load resisitence from a helper

4. Freestyle

Other quotes:

- “Zhan Zhuang can be very important or not at all, depending on what your mind is doing”
- I was teaching in a Birenkai Aikido dojo last night and subject of "exercises" came up and why I don't do a lot of them. Has anyone considered the nature of these various "exercises" and what they are and are not doing to and for your body? Have you considered not doing exercises, or at least augmenting them with standing still and manifesting intent?
How about standing still with someone pressing on your arm and other body parts and changing the pressure both you and they feel by changing what you are doing in your body...without you moving at all?
Has anyone considered how this intent driven movement would generate power of a type or open up an idea for something completely different, that they are not all the same even with the same type of core intent driven movement?
...So I still say, go slow and go soft, even later on, after many years of training. I know experts who are very fast and loose who still move slow and stand every day of their lives. - Dan Harden

- I have played with other Yi quan guys who were very soft. To me softness, is the key to the best training out there.
- While I don't know Yi quan -I have trained with any number of people who keep telling me that same thing [that it is similar to what he does/teaches]

- Dan and others who openly teach methods to achieve internal power point out, this stuff may be sublime, but it isn't new or revolutionary. It's been around a long time and is the objective of many arts, in particular the CIMA. A little while back I came across the Yiquan training group in Honolulu. Yiquan is notable in that it focuses on exercises for using the mind/intent (as the name of the art implies) to develop the body vs. forms/waza/kata that primarily comprise other CIMA from which Yiquan was derived and the Japanese arts discussed above. In fact, many Yiquan exercises resemble those taught by Dan (he cited influences from / similarities to Yiquan and other CIMA during his workshop). – Dan seminar attendee
Anyway, I found a place to practice Yiquan, and the instructor is supposedly the greatest here in Denmark when it comes to these internal power things, and not just standing for the sake of health. Should be interesting. I have my first class planned on Tuesday. My daily routine will mainly be sitting meditation until then. After that Yiquan and sitting meditation. I really want to see how far it is possible to take this thing. Let the journey begin!

First of all, you need to understand that what we're calling the "ki" and "kokyu" skills are actually a type of training regimen that came from *very* far back. Somewhere B.C.E.
It's a very famous regimen and it gives unusual power and health, stamina, strengthened organs, body-structure support, etc., that it was a coveted thing to learn.
As Shioda, O-Sensei, and many other Asians noted in writings, it is an "investment for your old age". It leads to the old stories of people who live long, immortality, super-powers, leaping high, great power releases, etc.
- Mike Sigman (another one of the main guys in the "internal strength" movement)

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PostPosted: Tue May 15, 2012 1:51 pm 
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News:
- The Yiquan training isn't happening anyway. New students aren't accepted until August. I'll practice patience in the mean time - the teacher seems to be worth it. He is apparently able to do everything in this video (or so I've heard), but wont show it until you have proven yourself...which I think is some bullshit secrecy. Furthermore, the first 3 years of training is focused on the health aspects, and only then do you begin combat training. So I'm in this for the long haul. Looking forward to it and hoping I won't be disappointed:



- I'll propably be attending a Zen weekend retreat with my teacher, Denko John Mortesen sometime in the summer

Current Daily Routine: (Any comment or advice is always much appreciated.)
JM:
- Hip/lumbar (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- Thoracic (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- Cervical (tilts --> circles --> figure 8s)
- Cervical (lateral flex and rot. in a figure 8)
- Tea cups (emphasising spinal rotation and lateral flexion in addition to the shoulder/elbow/hand movements)
- 1-legged straight-legged deadlifts to squats.

Yoga:
- Sirsasana (Headstand)
- Halasana (Plow)
- Urdhva Dhanurasana (Gymnastic Bridge)
- Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated spinal twist)
- Baddha Konasana (Butterfly stretch)

3) Meditation:
- Meditation (Half lotus on cushion): 30 min

Notes:
- JM/dynamic exercises and Yoga/static exercises have been seperated for the sake of an easier overview.
- Hindu pushups are currently out.
- I'll begin doing a formal routine of what I consider the most important asanas. It has taken me a long time to be able to do these, and have been thinking: I really would like to maintin the flexibility they have given me.
- Meditation: Knee is getting better. Sitting half lotus and will commence with full lotus later.

- Yoga, JM, (Yiquan), Meditation...it all takes so much time, and seems to be too much to fit in a single day. Most days I'll probably end up just doing my meditation. It is the single most important thing I have ever done for myself. I sometimes consider doing nothing but that. It is simple and beneficial on so many levels. The rest just seems to be distractions I feel I ought to be doing to feel good. But I really don't need them.

Ongoing concerns/pursuits:
- Start Yiquan
- pranayama/freediving training. Add at some point?
- Scrap running and get cardio from routine?
- Make an overview of common dysfunctions around the major joints in the body and make sure that the program remedies all (or most of them.) to some extend.
- Clarify and explain yet another way of categorizing muscles (Mobilizers and stabilisers) and how the program remedies this.
- Hoard MWOD for ideas and implement them into the program as deemed useful.

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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 11:01 am 
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Just meditation these past few days...
I have posted on simplicity before, and constantly try to implement it in my own practice - and here is some more fuel for that fire stolen from some of the smart people on thetaobums.com forums:
Quote:
Daoist practice historically usually revolved around silence and emptiness to attain the Dao (Laozi), internal alchemy (Quanzhen), external alchemy (Fangshi in ancient China),
or various visualization practices to move or transmit qi from the environment.

In the Zhuangzi, we see instructions for moving qi up and down the governor vessel to maintain health. However, it is specifically stated that this is to keep the body healthy.
Zhuangzi would never talk about qi as the way to attain the Dao, and needless to say, Laozi eschewed that physical approach even more.

If you compare the highest methods in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Yoga, you would see that they correspond very closely with the best classical Daoist texts, not with any so-called "secret" energy movement practices that people play around with today.

If someone practices in silence without creating thoughts, this will all happen in the natural order.
That is why the high level texts don't explain these things in terms of the body and qi movement.
If they did, people would snatch hold of these ideas about trying to recreate all these various phenomena, and that is something entirely different.

The lower level texts explain all these things, but were naturally misinterpreted, so people thought that Daoist practice was a matter of mixing and circulating this and that.
Just a technical matter of being clever and gathering all the right ingredients for the cake. This was totally different from the orthodox Daoism of the classical period.
Now people can't even read Laozi without looking for secret Qigong methods.

People who are searching for mystical experiences have physical manifestations as part of that search. The mistake is it to take the physical manifestations for the thing they were searching for.
The methods of engaging with and encouraging qi movement is a reverse engineered process from the observation of the development that has occured in those that have attained.

Engaging with and working the whole system naturally and developmentally is both safer and smarter in my very honest opinion.
The 'movement' of qi, or the 'opening' of qimai is a side effect (and not aim) of a proper cultivation practice.
if you want to open them and do so without imbalancing your system simply engage with the practice and keep going.

I personally view active visualization practiceses as a prescription for medical reasons to bring back into balance something. To address percieved weaknesses. If the weakness is not present it is a waste of time, the wuwei approach is far more beneficial.
Simple, natural, [daily], whole system practice > Contrived and detailed practice.
That is why I practice sitting meditation the way I do. It gives me all the mental and spiritual benefits I could hope for - and trying to get them from other less simple/less systemic/more complicated practices (asana, pranayama, relaxation etc.) isn't fruitful for me and doesn't solve the root issue.
It is also easy to learn (but takes a life time to master). You can always improve - and old age will not stop your progress.

This has got me wondering - is there a physical equivalent? A simple, systemic practice that could somehow get to the root of (many of) our physical ailments (whatever that root might be - energy (chi?)? Hormonal? Nervous system related? Postural related?) and give the benefits we strive so hard to achieve by other means? Strength, mobility, pain-free movement, cardiovascular fitness.
It is obvious to me that a standing practice is somehow connected to great feats of power in a not so obvious way. Could it also influence mobility and cardiovascular health in a not-so-obvious way?
Just like "just sitting" supposedly brings (esoteric) energetic benefits without being an energy manipulative practice, so it is said of "just standing" and its ability to open up blockages in the meridians.
Age is also no obstacle for constant improvement, which for me at least hints to that it is a significant and natural practice. Could Zhan Zhuang/Yiquan practice be the great curator of what ails you physically?

It would be quite a harmonious match. Sit for mental health. Stand for physical. No more, no less.
I don't know. Just trying to get some thoughts down on paper.
Running/walking is also something I'd consider a possible candidate, or relevant to mention at least. It is simple, systemic, very natural and obviously has many physical benefits. Again, age will not rob you of your gains, and you can improve well up in your years.

Could (running ->) standing -> sitting be the last program you would ever need, from now on until the day you die? :prayer:

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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2012 8:17 pm 
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very good post... I like the taobums - it's a mixture of good stuff and scary esoteria. I've also had similar thoughts re simplicity in practices while away. Although I have tried that pranayama practice you posted a couple of times now I am wondering if it is not just too complicated and contrived to fit in with my general outlook on life, (ie take the simplest approach possible to achieving what you want). The counter argument is that some complexity can be fun, whether in training or internal practices or whatever. Perhaps 'for everything a season'. One of my worst habits is trying to quickly find a program, (be it physical or mental/spiritual) that can last me forever. I think I have been more fruitful when I just commit to trying things for a decent period of time and then reviewing them, in a slightly clinical way.

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PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 10:41 am 
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Quote:
Perhaps 'for everything a season'. One of my worst habits is trying to quickly find a program, (be it physical or mental/spiritual) that can last me forever. I think I have been more fruitful when I just commit to trying things for a decent period of time and then reviewing them, in a slightly clinical way.
I think that may be my problem, at least with the physical practice. Trying to do everything at once while keeping things simple doesn't really work, or haven't for me yet at least. The prudent approach for me is probably to do things as simple as possible, but no simpler, and accept that keep trying to do everything at the same time in a permanent program isn't possible, feasible or natural for that matter. Still, I'm am hopeful that there is some sort of catch-all physical practice for me just waiting to be (re)discovered. So simple, that is being overlooked, yet it contains all I need. Again like meditation for my mental/spiritual hunger. A Yiquan practice is still my greatest hope as of right now in this endeavor.

Spend some time today reading Lao Tzu quotes, and have managed them in a tidy order. It deals with what I consider the timeless core of all mystical traditions, and is another argument for meditation being the catch-all mental/spiritual practice I'm looking for.
Quote:
"My teachings are older than the world.

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.
The inner is foundation of the outer. If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.

If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.
Hope and fear are both phantoms that arise from thinking of the self. When we don't see the self as self, what do we have to fear?
free from desire, you realize the mystery.
caught in the desire, you see only the manifestations.
If you don't realize the source, you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from you you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.

If you search everywhere, yet cannot find what you are seeking, it is because what you seek is already in your possession.
To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go.
Stop leaving and you will arrive.
Stop searching and you will see.
Stop running away and you will be found.
Stop thinking, and end your problems. Let your heart be at peace.
the unwanting soul sees what's hidden.
Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.
To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear. Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?
Be still
Become totally empty.
Quiet the restlessness of the mind
As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it.
Just remain in the center; watching. And then forget that you are there.
Only then will you witness everything unfolding from emptiness."
Image

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Last edited by Xian on Sat May 26, 2012 12:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat May 26, 2012 11:48 am 
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Very good stuff. I am a huge fan of simplicity...and Lao Tzu.

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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2012 5:22 am 
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nice post.... to link the quotes to your training dilemma, one of the chapters of the TTC says something like, 'accepting all things change and flow, the wise cling to nothing', (I'll dig out the translation later if I have time). Lao Tzu would have been a decent coach imo.

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PostPosted: Tue May 29, 2012 9:56 pm 
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Quote:
Quote:
Perhaps 'for everything a season'. One of my worst habits is trying to quickly find a program, (be it physical or mental/spiritual) that can last me forever. I think I have been more fruitful when I just commit to trying things for a decent period of time and then reviewing them, in a slightly clinical way.
I think that may be my problem, at least with the physical practice. Trying to do everything at once while keeping things simple doesn't really work, or haven't for me yet at least. The prudent approach for me is probably to do things as simple as possible, but no simpler, and accept that keep trying to do everything at the same time in a permanent program isn't possible, feasible or natural for that matter. Still, I'm am hopeful that there is some sort of catch-all physical practice for me just waiting to be (re)discovered. So simple, that is being overlooked, yet it contains all I need. Again like meditation for my mental/spiritual hunger. A Yiquan practice is still my greatest hope as of right now in this endeavor.

Spend some time today reading Lao Tzu quotes, and have managed them in a tidy order. It deals with what I consider the timeless core of all mystical traditions, and is another argument for meditation being the catch-all mental/spiritual practice I'm looking for.
Quote:
"My teachings are older than the world.

He who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered himself is mightier still.
The inner is foundation of the outer. If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.

If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.
Hope and fear are both phantoms that arise from thinking of the self. When we don't see the self as self, what do we have to fear?
free from desire, you realize the mystery.
caught in the desire, you see only the manifestations.
If you don't realize the source, you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from you you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.

If you search everywhere, yet cannot find what you are seeking, it is because what you seek is already in your possession.
To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go.
Stop leaving and you will arrive.
Stop searching and you will see.
Stop running away and you will be found.
Stop thinking, and end your problems. Let your heart be at peace.
the unwanting soul sees what's hidden.
Stillness reveals the secrets of eternity.
To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.

Muddy water, let stand, becomes clear. Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?
Be still
Become totally empty.
Quiet the restlessness of the mind
As soon as you have made a thought, laugh at it.
Just remain in the center; watching. And then forget that you are there.
Only then will you witness everything unfolding from emptiness."
Image
I got a lot of good out of Stuart Alve Olson's "Qigong Teachings Of A Taoist Immortal" while trying to deal with the complexity/sophistication vs simplicity/going deeper issues you mention. The book essentially encapsulates and summarizes a life-changing workshop he taught which I had the good fortune to attend 10 years ago.

The interesting thing is that trying to follow this simple way brought all the anxieties and preoccupations into sharp focus and made life 10 times harder for a while. Then I managed to relax and just started doing this shit "for fun" and my life became much more manageable. Now a pushup is just a pushup, but simple pushups seem to do me 10x more good than when I was a young adult.

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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2012 3:40 pm 
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I have read Harden's posts on other boards and would like for him to provide more details of his training and less trolling for his seminars. "You will be unlockable, unthrowable, you will strike people with no windup and break ribs." This is all sales hype for his seminars. I haven't read all his posts on all boards but in all the posts I have read (a lot) he has failed to provide one example of an exercise he does. Lame. That being said I would check out a seminar if he comes through my area. He probably does have some good info.
Quote:
the wuwei approach is far more beneficial.

IMO homeostasis can't be achieved by trying to fix or change what we THINK is out of whack. It comes from providing proper parameters and letting the body/mind do what it needs to do. It is like eating/digesting food. We can set the metabolic ball in motion by buying/growing/preparing/masticating/swallowing the food but that's about all we can do. After that the body does everything naturally and without our thought or approval. This is what yoga/meditation/ etc is about imo. We give the proper parameters and let the body/mind do whatever it needs to do. Then the body/mind digests all the things we go through everyday and eventually lets us shit out the waste instead of letting it sit and poison life.

Less thinking is more better.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 1:03 pm 
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Thanks for reading/commenting.
Quote:
'accepting all things change and flow, the wise cling to nothing'

...Then I managed to relax and just started doing this shit "for fun" and my life became much more manageable
I agree with both you, and have hinted at earlier that I know that the way I'm going about my program is probably futile in the end, but I still try.
I'm wondering if meditation will speed up this realization that my I'm working for my routine instead of making it work for me.
Kind of "Eat to live vs live to eat". Do what I need on given day instead of trying to fit everything in under my idea of a perfect program.

Will try to get hold of that book ABW.
Quote:
homeostasis can't be achieved by trying to fix or change what we THINK is out of whack
Continuing my stream of thoughts, meditation might be a way to realize and be humble about what you need (actually need) to fix vs. what you want (ego) to achieve/fix with a program.

I agree being still and allowing the mind to "digest" will cure what ails ya' mentally and provide mental "homeostasis" (and thereby affect various physiological health parameters)
On the physical/bio-mechanical/musculo-skeletal side of things I'm having a difficult time applying a similar approach - What practice will allow the body to 'do whatever it needs to do'? No single practice I've (yet) come across will fix whatever is physically out of order or whatever needs fixing. Yoga, qigong etc. always seem to fall short on some parameters.
Maybe the fixing mentality might actually be the best choice with physical issues? That was the original starting point for me/this log: Make a list of whatever needs fixing, then remedy it all.
Not very wu-wei'ish and it doesn't really work optimally for me as this log is testimonial to.
A simple catch-all practice that will heal whatever physical ailments you have naturally would be amazing.
Any thoughts on this?

Re. Dan Harden, I'm sure he knows something. All who meet him says so (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11178 - good thread), and the other "rational approach to Internal Power" guys like Mike Sigman and Ark Akuzawa vouch for him. I too would like to have him shed some more light on the actual training exercises, but he has mentioned using the shiko exercise daily himself. Apart from that, it is mostly all mental training, so giving a lot of exercises wouldn't in itself be of much help. Some seminar attendees have mentioned that a lot of the exercises are similar to what can be found in yiquan (if properly taught), and Dan himself has said that he teaches standing still learning the lines of power first, then moving exercises - as I've written a little about a while back.
And a lot of people simply won't believe the hype, so it often ends in flame wars - so it is easier to say "I can't describe it to your satisfaction. It has to be felt in person - once you feel it you will no longer doubt me"

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:53 am 
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I've been meditating daily for the last couple of weeks, but not much else. I've increased the time to 35 min. per sitting, and have been sitting comfortably in full lotus (left leg on top), and for the past seven days I've been incorporating right leg on top lotus as well, albeit with some returning knee stiffness. Will see how it progresses.
I've come to realize that I simply haven't got the time or energy to fully pursue two 'esoteric' paths (meditation and yiquan) while also wanting to completely address strength, cardio etc.
As consequence I'm dropping the yiquan idea for now in order to focus on meditation. The goal is to get to one hour sitting straight, and asses where I want to go from there - balls out after enlightenment the Zen way or some combination with yiquan and/or more other physical practice.

In the meanwhile until i reach one hour sitting time I want to do some basic tried and true stuff for strength, cardio and mobility in order to keep some allround physical fitness. I'm weak, skinny and my cardio sucks due to not doing anything really for the longest time, but I'll try to remedy it with the following template:

- Training 6 days a week

Day 1:
Strength (30 min)
Handstand balancing/walking around
Pullups/front lever practice
Pistols

Day 2:
Cardio Circuit x 3 (40 min)
DB Swings
Run (10 min)(nosebreathing)

Day 3:
Mobility/flexibility/recharge (30 min)
Sirsasana
“Bellydance”
Thoracic circles
Neck egyptian drill
Neck rotation/lateral flex drill
Tea cups
Wall-slides
Squat mobility
One-legged straight-legged deadlift (static
Kneeling hip flexor stretch
Bridge hold (wrestler -> gymnastic)
Plow rolling around


It is simple, can be done pretty much anywhere and doesn't take all that much time out of my daily schedule. Will see how it works out.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 6:36 pm 
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Quote:
It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.
The program has been working nicely, although I haven't been all that consistent. I would change some things though if doing it again another time:
- mobility/flex work twice a week is to little.
- I would rather do running only as cardio.

So...

Day 1:
- Mobility
- Strength (30 min)
Free Handstand practice OR planche practice
Pullups OR front lever practice
Pistols

Day 2:
- Mobility
- Cardio (run 30 min with nosebreathing)

Day 3:
- Rest

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
For now I'll be returning to some daily mobility/flex/yoga in conjunction to the meditation. I really should do something like this daily no matter what else I'm doing workout wise. It is worth the investment. Everything strange and rare isn't valuable. Don’t over-theorize and under-practice.

- Hip/lumbar (circles --> figure 8s)
- Thoracic (circles --> figure 8s)
- Cervical (Tilts --> circles)
- Cervical (lateral flex and rot. in a figure 8)
- Tea cups (emphasizing spinal rotation and lateral flexion in addition to the shoulder/elbow/hand movements)

- Kneeling hip flexor stretch
- One legged straight-legged deadlift (both dynamic and static)

- plough rolling around finishing with static halasana
- bridging (dynamic nose to mat bridging --> static gymnastic bridge)
- bretzel/lying spinal twist

If I find a 'limiting factor' mobility/wellness wise that this doesn't address then I will add in something for it. If it is not a limiting factor then I probably don't need it. Lack of toe mobility most likely isn't a limiting factor, so I probably won't address that for instance.
Removing factors which interfere with your system is much more important than adding ingredients that help your system. Focus on removing body-brakes and the body will work out the rest.


Meditation wise I'm still sitting full lotus alternating legs daily, without any pre-stretching. I don't know if it is due to my ligament finally having adapted, due to some minor postural changes stressing the ligament less somehow (hand position changing the angle of pressure?) or due to some manuel treatment/massage of the ligament I've been giving it. Or maybe the pain will just manifest later this time around....time will tell.
Quote:
The world of the ego is like a house of mirrors through which the ego wanders, lost and confused, as it chases the images in one mirror after another. Human life is characterized by endless trials and errors to escape the maze. At times, for many people, and possibly for most, the world of mirrors becomes a house of horrors that gets worse and worse. The only way out of the circuitous wanderings is through the pursuit of spiritual truth.

_________________
There is a vast difference between treating effects and adjusting the causes.


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