IGX "...overflowing with foulmouthed ignorance."

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 8:26 am 
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good to see you posting again... The don't over-theorize and under-practice line is quote-worthy. I need to remind myself that quite often. It's down to the unlimited info we have at our disposal imo - easy to get sucked into over analysis.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 8:31 am 
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Thanks Odin. I only really post when I make some changes to my program, or want to notice benefits/drawbacks of what I'm doing. Not really a real log with sets, reps and all that.
Just keep moving forward - "do your practice and all is coming". We all need that reminder I think (though some like me more than others).


Still playing around with the mobility program, although far from daily. Mostly using it on off days (when workouts actually takes place...) or just when my body feels brittle and cranky.

JM/flexibility
- 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)
- Squat mobility flow thing (squats, shinboxes, cossacks...still playing around with the order of things)

- 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)
- reclining spinal twist (static)


Workout:
Just enjoying the summer with the family, so not much going on at the moment.
I've been playing with the idea of joining the danish military once I've finished my B.Sc. in Physical Therapy in 1½ yeas time. It's something that's always lurked in the back of my head, but never got around to. A history of anxiety might make it impossible, but at the very least it will give me a goal to work towards.

Apart from a running test, they they have in their infinite wisdom begun using a McGill inspired screening instead of pushups/situps. The tests can be seen here: http://forsvaretsuddannelser.dk/Traenin ... e_test.pdf
basic requirements I should fulfill are:

1) McGill static back test: 120 sec.
2) McGill static ab test: 90 sec.
3) Bodyweight rows: 4 reps
4) Sidebridge: 75 sec.
5) Static one-legged supine bridge: 45 sec.
6) Lunges with 20 kg: 30 reps (15 each leg)

Followed by

- A cooper test: Run at least 2400 m. in 12 min.

Tried the whole thing, and I can't convincingly do the side bridge and supine bridge without volatile shaking and/or cramping.
But worst of all is the running. It takes me 13.21 min to run 2400...

I will work on both the exercises and running 3x a week, although the specifics aren't clear yet. Just doing something 3x a week is a start I guess.

Internal:
- took a 4 day lotus break just in case. Still sitting full lotus otherwise. Plan to increase sitting time to 40 min. come September.
Quote:
Zen training conditioned the Samurai's mind to move in perfect freedom, to be one with the sword, the opponent, and the movements of combat. The samurai could eliminate all thoughts of life, death, victory and defeat, focus completely on the present and give full attention to the changing tide of combat. It enabled him to kill and be killed without complaint and fear. The Samurai could strike with out regret and die with out fear. He gained freedom and spontaneity of the mind with the study of Zen. This freedom of the mind gave him his expertise with the sword.

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 Post subject: Something to ponder...
PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:47 am 
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Quote:
The various cultivation traditions of the 'East' can be viewed as a relationship of two liu 流 'streams', yang and yin, that run within them. These streams represent a polarity of world-views from which the differing traditions have emerged. The inclinations of the former are for invigoration; they are Gyo [Cultivation] of the sun. The latter have inclinations towards detachment and placation; these are Gyo of the moon.

These streams rarely occur in a 'pure' form, and are most often mixed within a single tradition in varying proportions. This cross- fertilisation has left us with a wonderful spectrum of traditions and lineages that have evolved due to local culture.

The systems of Gyo can be divided into two categories.
1) The practices of yang-fa aimed to acquire powers beyond the ordinary, seeking transformation of the self from a state of powerlessness to divine strength. The existence of adverse conditions is a given here, and what we see is the powerful conviction to overcome all adversities.

Yang-fa Sun, fire, martial, magic, power:
- Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism
- Mikkyo (Shingon, Tendai) Buddhism
- Kundalini Yoga
- Shugendo
- Neo-Daoism

2) The Gyo of Yin-fa on the other hand, was of clearly different nature. Their practice was not for the sake of supplementing that which the practitioner lacked, nor was it for driving growth towards a more powerful state of being.
They were rather for the return to one's original nature by the shedding off of all that is extraneous. Theirs was the Gyo of subtraction rather than addition, of returning the colourful to the transparent.

Yin-fa, Moon, water, surrender:
- Ch'an and Zen Buddhism
- Shinto
- Daoism
- Kashmirian Shaivism

It is not written in stone, and the opinions of where the lines blur will vary not only for individuals themselves but also for each traditions own perspective.
The danger of a 'yin' path is always stagnation, the danger of a 'yang' path is "burning up". Most systems seek to create balance between the two.
EDIT:
(some more thoughts relating to this)

A big reason emptiness practice is so effective is that it teaches you to just be with the garbage that normally distracts you. Through this process the garbage loses its power and begins to dissolve.

Physical practices, breathing exercises etc. can stir up impurities and garbage so to speak so that they can dissolve in the emptiness practice that follows.

A good analogy would be to imagine emtiness meditation as a device that vaporizes any dust that comes within a few feet of it.
emptiness meditation is just patiently waiting for the dust to slowly seep into the atmosphere on it's own and drift over toward it.
Physical practices, breathing exercises etc. is like going around your house and getting all your carpets and picking them up and shaking them out close to the vaporizer.

The most efficient purification sequence leading to health/wellbeing and deeper, more pervasive emptiness than just emptiness alone would therefore be to precede it with something that releases physical/mental tension – asana, pranayama, static stretching, zhan zhuang etc

At some point you will most likely end up with the same level of purification just doing emptiness meditation, but it will take longer. But maybe that is the smarter way - to let things release in their own time, interfering as little as possible with the process?

What it boils down to for me personally is that I won't pursue any other practice for mental/emotional health. But when I do other practices I should end them with the sitting meditation to vacuum the garbage that might have released, and thereby derive maximum benefit from it.


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Last edited by Xian on Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 6:24 pm 
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another really good post there. I have had similar, (less well informed or articulated) thoughts myself about the nature of internal practices of late. I was coming to an arbitary distinction between 'forced' practices and 'natural' practices. It's funny though, while I am more attracted to the philosophy of the natural methods I find a strong desire to try more contrived stuff like pranayama sequences or other esoteric stuff. It's a bit like training; I know that simple works, and works well, but can't help but find complex methods a bit appealing... Equally - like training - I suspect this attraction to exotic stuff may pass with maturity!

A point I have observed though, is that natural, simple stuff seems to buy me enough time and space for a fairly deep peace of mind and some useful insights to crop up. More energetic practices give me a physical buzz, but don't seem to have the other effect I mention - it's like they take up too much effort to keep on top of.

The points you make here are really useful insights imo, and worded well, (if that doesn't sound too patronising).

PS some podcasts I like about this sort of stuff: The Advaita Show, The Urban Guru Cafe, and Being Ordinary. You may get something from these also. There's also a Taoist one by Derek lin but i can't remember the name.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:21 am 
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Your input is always much appreciated Odin.

Much of the wording is stolen from Taobums so I can't take all the credit. I have have problems articulating these things myself, so when other people do a better job of it why bother...
Exotic and complex have their appeal (both in training, more esoteric pursuits and life itself), but simpler stuff works well, often takes less time and the profund realizations are more easily found in the simple things I think. We often know this, but our ability to accept it and act upon is probably a question of both experience and maturity as you mention.

Thanks for the Podcast names. Hope to see you log-updating at least once in awhile. When the baby keeps you up all night would be an excellent opportunity :supz:

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 Post subject: On internal strength
PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 10:52 am 
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Continuing thoughts on ying/yang, soft/hard. This time collected and slightly edited quotes from from the top guys in the Internal Strength 'movement' active on aikiweb.com. Still contemplating adding Yiquan as the active physical practice to complement my passive sitting practice. Going to attend a lesson as soon as I have time.
Quote:
I think one of the key problems is that Aikido believes it is a soft art, mostly due to it's evasive circular movement.
Most guys I have now met and trained with equate softness with evasion, and release. They had no concept of soft-(truly soft) being In-vasive and controlling.

The root of the problem for so many the soft arts; Daito ryu Aikido, taiji etc., is their misunderstanding of the word "power." It's why they run away from it.
Here we are in 2011, and still so many Aikido-ka do not know what soft power truly is.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- Student: "Sensei why can't we do what you do?"
- Ueshiba: "Because you do not understand In yo ho” [joining of opposites/yin & yang].
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Their understanding is focusing on the yin side of yang and not expressing the balance he always discussed. Their idea of soft is...vacant, evading, or leading.
The understanding they have of power is totally western and that is why you see many of them noodle, evade, and essentially run away from contact.
There are quite a few videos here of people almost afraid to use their arms because all they do is resist and use muscle when they do.
They fail in producing anything other than fairy tale cooperative nonsense.

In an era and culture, which often times produced seasoned men that tested Ueshiba...they continued to emphasize the very thing these modern adepts are shunning: Ueshiba's power
Put up or shut up and being put to the test was forced upon him.
Regretably that is considered rude in todays tender society. The real comedy is that everyone is convincing themselves that they "get him," that they are doing Ueshiba's aikido....yet have no clue how to do that very basic first step, much less all the other things he did and talked about

If these people claim to have aiki, then they should feel unusual and be able to do unusual things to a broad range of NON-COOPERATVE people looking to see them undone. Not students standing their glassy eyed, and all but hypnotized, who attack and their bodies instantly go into ukemi mode! The folks who still think Ueshiba was discussing harmonizing as uke partly throwing themselves and Nage partly throwing Uke, don't have Ueshiba's power or skill and will never understand his use of control, and how to train it.

This is a well known problem in Asian students and Westerners alike, it's yang or all yin In dealing with the energy of an attacker;
It was the blending of the two that made manifest Ueshiba's ability.
Real power, that will last, is soft and exists in duality in a way alien to them.
Alignment and full body use is TKD and boxing and any other art you can throw a stick at-some better than others.
They continue to think it is flexing and using muscle. It is all but meaningless to what any of the higher level arts are about.

In fact it is the lack of understanding of sustaining and manifesting duality, that is at the heart of their constant failure.
their attempts to resolve duality are all external. Thus their achievement of a balanced state is outside of them and not inside. Evading, by externally moving away from someone.
They have to balance the opposites within themselves. Then and only then, can it be adequately expressed outside of them.

Being soft, while having the ability to generate power and control, requires specific training. You don't just "get soft" by relaxing or from externally evading power and moving out of the way.
It just doesn't work that way. Moreover, you won't find soft power that way, no matter how long you train.
The higher levels of what your body can do are simply not natural at all. In fact they are un-natural in nature and take years to perfect.

Essentially they have no idea what the hell Ueshiba was even talking about.

Place Ueshiba in proper context for what he was; a scholar, a student of Daito-Ryu, internal power training and aiki. His often incomprehensible and misunderstood words are now finally consistent with his movement and teaching: Ueshiba Morihei continuously spoke of well known and recognized Chinese principles of internal power. He studied them and wrote about them, sometimes almost copying them word for word:

- Intent Intent is everything. It is no small point that they named entire arts mind intent, intent method, intent boxing. However, it would appear at this point that the actual study and use of intent to maintain opposing forces in producing power and aiki, remains out of reach for the vast majority of folks in the arts.
- Heaven/ earth/ man A body pressurized up and down.
Earth represents use of earth in re-bound, projection and ground strength
Heaven is meant to represent the gravitational effects of heavy weighting, compressing and down-power
All of these created, driven and controlled by? Man
- Kokyo (breath) power training
- Six direction awareness expressed in a circle of opposing forces (intensive balancing of the self-contradictory directions of the body—front/back, left/right and up/down.)
- Strength through opposing power
- In yo ho (the union of opposites in yourself)
- The mystery of aiki revealed in Dual spirals as an expression. Energy rising from the right / descending on the left creating a friction in the body

Any attempts to make his power unique and original will ultimately fail. The things he quoted are too well known and easily recognized by educated budo-ka. Ueshiba knew and discussed concepts that span generations and cultures.

Tsukahara Bokuden, founder of Shinto ryu and Hitotsu -tachi in 1451 uses the very same models Ueshiba was discussing:
“Once I understood the concepts of Heaven/earth/man and six direction method, my ken was unbeatable. No one could stop me.”
Both men were known to have extradorninary -weirdly potent- power according to the norms of their day - over four hundred years apart…

I still haven't gotten over how much he laid at their feet and to think they said things like:
"We couldn't wait for him to shut up, so we could go back and train...." - Kazuo Chiba
And then decades of mistranslated and untranslated instructions all pointing the way.

In the fullness of time Kisshomaru [Ueshiba's son and leader of the Aikido institution after his father's death] got what he wanted; an externally athletic, blandly consistent, cookie cutter model, Aikido™ for the majority that had nothing to do with Morihei Ueshiba's power and understanding of what aiki [opposing forces held in balance] is.
There are all sorts of stories, but it was clear that for whatever reason, Kisshomaru was unable to retain the former students like Shioda and Shirata (direct students of Ueshiba, these men were pretty substantial in their day). Shirata had to be pleaded with by O sensei to help, but then Shirata's film, showing basic movements (for power building) as he had learned them were banned by Kisshomaru.
I'd take Shirata over anything the Ueshiba family produced after Osensei. I know of no credible source that ever stated that Kisshomaru's aikido was anything like his fathers-not that it isn't obious. What we see from the family is more or less a bland template- lacking the real power that had made his fathers movements incredibly powerful and viable.

Today no one who adheres to the post war model has ever been able to actually stand against those who are well versed in Ueshiba's way and it is not all their fault.
I do not believe -any- of the post war Japanese know this stuff, nor how to teach it. For the most part Morihei Ueshiba's explanation for power and aiki is dead to them.
It was in large part, teachers not teaching. There was real information withheld and/ or with a poor teaching model and/ or a language barrier, that greatly hampered any real progress in aiki.

---
It is my belief that at a point Ueshiba realized he no longer needed to fight. With these skills he could control those coming at him and could repel them.
He felt the strength in having opponents rebound off him or spin away and feel untouched.
What he was trying to demonstrate was to be so good you could control without fighting.
O'Sensei was able to foster peace because he was capable of destroying violence. He had the "actual" power to resolve conflict to a peaceful conclusion.
His art was to realize true power, that no longer needed to draw in and cut or pin but rather to let them go
He could face, and stop, incoming forces at will without causing harm.
THAT is why there is no fight. It's not because you have risen above and no longer want to fight.
while Ueshiba was talking about spirituality he was traveling about defeating people and talking about exerting his will and control (Ueshiba said that one of the results of aiki was exerting your will on your opponent making them do what you want).

Shihan quoted in AIkido Journal:
"It is clear the way Aikido is practiced today that the only peaceful resolution to conflict these people will see ...is when they are lying unconscious at the feet of their opponent."

Takeda, Sagawa, Kodo, and Ueshiba [all Daito-Ryu people] were all power houses
Their power enabled them to realize they could be, for all practical purposes, unstoppable by the training methods and attack styles of their day. It made a light bulb go off only in Ueshiba that this could somehow be so joyous an experience (well it is allot of fun) that it would help unit people of the world.
I would contend that once he realized how powerful and free one could be at every moment he recognized how that could be a powerful transformative experience for many people.
Beginning to believe it can allow the vagueries of this world to be of little effect to one centered in it. These very skills were the engine that drove his "vision."
They are and were...his...Aikido.
If you examine Aiki (do) it is Internal skills and spiral movement, and everything else people talk about is just window dressing.
Aiki(do) simply happens when a person possess aiki. Ueshiba's Aikido was simply internal skills.
Every, single external waza in Aikido is built on it. Yet take away the IP/aiki and you get a not too impressive jujutsu art.
Freedom from conflict, comes through Internal Power (IP)/Aiki. Everything else is just martial arts.
While I remain mindful that aikido is more than internal strength and aiki, I am also aware that without internal strength and aiki and what that entails, people are simply not doing Aikido, the way of aiki.

It is worth noting that it appears the one student who pursued the path of IP/aiki, Tohei, was recognized and given a "finished" diploma 10th dan.
Ueshiba's shouting of "this is not my aikido!" when he saw what was going on after he retired is still echoing down the halls of time and speaking to the vast majority of us today
Quote:
The value of the Ki and Kokyu aspects of Aikido are amazingly missed by most people who say they practice Aikido.
Both Shioda and Tohei are clear in the point that these skills are the results of physical laws and not anything to do with religion.
It ["Ki"-skills] is, as Shioda noted in his book, an easy skill to lose from the martial arts because it it hard to transmit.

My question is sort of "what did Shioda [and other Ueshiba students] know and when did he know it?" because that will cast some light on the question of "what did Ueshiba Morihei know and when did he know it?":

---------
1) Shioda [Founder of Yoshinkan Aikido] recommended standing. He incorporated standing practice into the kihon dosa, especially for the senshusei and riot police.
Shioda's use of kokyu [Internal Power] in some of his demonstrations indicates the kind of power you get from standing, not the power from repetitive exercise. It is unlikely that Shioda developed his kokyu/ki through sword practice/suburi. Pre WWII uchi-deshi did little sword training.

2) back in the 70's, Koichi Tohei-sensei [Founder of Ki-Aikido] taught a number of "standing" exercises and they ranged in duration from minutes to hours. They were intended to be done with "correct mind/body unification", but most if was "suffer until you get it right".

3) I recall stories of Shinichi Suzuki Sensei stand in postures for hours either trying to match Tohei Sensei's training regimen or because Tohei Sensei told him to.
There are some really funny stories about those, like the time he reported doing an exercise *wrong* one hour every day for a year because he'd been shown it late at night after too much drinking (one of the best times for extracting secret gems) and the information was "not correctly communicated".
--------- [these stories contributed by other members of the aikiweb forum]

Ueshiba appears, to my eye, to have used standing postures to get the particular type of strength that he used, but I can't discount that he arrived there through a few other alternatives. O-Sensei's forward-side-push jo trick, which I think I saw in one of the earlier books and the method by which it's done is fairly obvious and intimates standing, but doesn't necessarily prove it. His reverse-side jo-trick indicates that he did standing exercises; comments in Shioda's book "Aikido Shugyo" tend to corroborate that idea.
The "jo tricks" (there are 2 different ones from either side that O-Sensei did) are essentially showing that you can withstand a push:

Image


Standing allows you to practice the "six directions".
One extremely interesting comment *attributed* to Ueshiba (by I think Shioda) was about postures and six directions.
That's interesting indeed, because it indicates that Ueshiba at a minimum knew the terms of correct standing techniques.

Standing-post exercises are thought of by a lot of westerners and even a lot of Asians as some sort of Chinese ritual which is superfluous to actual practice.
It's actually necessary training if you're ever going to get anywhere with ki/kokyu things. The problem is that you have to know how to do it... just copying somebody's posture won't do you much good, although it *will* build your ki somewhat, despite yourself.
You can get massively powerful if you know how (and you have the time to devote) to do proper standing training. It's the time that can be a killer and also the motivation... I go through cycles because of the amounts of time it can take.
"standing postures" means that specific postures are held as a way to build up the body strength, but certain powers are engaged so that the postures work. You can't just hold the external posture and get the results.
Just standing and "centering" is not what postures are about, although there will naturally accrue *some* benefit and "ki" from just standing.

However, there is martial standing practice and there is standing for "health". In the health-type standing you simply relax. The idea is that standing develops your ki, which is true because it does, and if your ki is strong then the acupuncture circuits through your body get better ki flow and therefore you can improve your health (and if you have cancer worries, that's why you do standing exercises).
Martial standing is a little more sophisticated and even though it may look exactly the same as a health standing-exercise, it is a lot more involved. In health standings, the mind is deliberately shut down; in martial standings, deliberate kokyu extensions [Internal connections or 'paths'] are held, so the mind can be said to be "focused" as opposed to "empty".

I can safely just add the comment that if someone uses 6-directions training [mental focus/intent training], probably about 20 minutes a day with ONE of those postures it would be additive to their powers noticeably in 3-4 months.
They're not hard to do and you can gradually work your way to pretty good power and health with them.
Although just developing ki and not knowing how to use it in your movements is an oft-encountered problem. I occasionally meet people that I know do standing practice the moment I touch them, and they are "heavy", but they have no idea how to move so it doesn't do a lot of good except for the 'health' aspects and some of the strength.
My thought is that doing standing exercises is probably as beneficial as doing ki exercises, and it's simpler to do, even for the elderly and infirm.

At this point in time I'd say that Ueshiba, Shioda, as well as the already-confirmed Tohei did standing postures. The general thrust of my comments is that standing-post training is and has been a probability, not a possibility. I think a certain amount of "standing practice" is now established as integral to a lot of higher-level Aikido.


"As you get older, your muscles weaken,
And you can no longer lift and pull.
In the end there's a limit to physical strength, no matter how you build it up.
That's why Ueshiba Sensei says that
Unlimited strength comes from breath power (kokyu ryoku).
In effect, it is based on natural principles.
If the other person comes powerfully against you,
And you respond by simply taking his power into yourself,
There is no need for any effort."
- Shioda: "Total Aikido", page 13:

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Last edited by Xian on Fri Sep 07, 2012 2:54 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 27, 2012 2:43 am 
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Good posts about Ueshiba's "real" power in Aikido. I've seen Sigman's stuff out there and I'm not sure what to make of him, but that sounds like good stuff.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2012 4:22 pm 
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Thanks ABW, glad you liked it I’ve re-edited the post a couple of times adding different stuff I felt could be relevant.
Sigman seems in my mind to be legit – the other exponents of this kind of training (Dan Harden etc.) vouch for his approach and knowledge, and he has held a couple of seminars from which people report that he is the real deal with great and unusual strength etc.
It is my impression that he is more of a scholar type (vast knowledge of styles, history, Chinese energy paradigm), where Dan Harden is much more martially inclined and works on using this in fighting and how it makes/made the budo arts great.
---

Yiquan:
- I’ve had my first lesson in Yiquan! It seems to be a good place, and the teacher competent, so I think I will stay with. It is also the only place where I can hope of achieving ‘internal strength’. Internal martial arts aren’t popular, and training places scarce and often without (as far as I can tell) much success in using or imparting internal strength in any meaningful manner.
- The lesson started with a short basic warm up/JM (knee circles etc.), then 8 reps of the first four baduanjin movements, and then we went on to standing:
o Wu-chi posture
o a posture with slightly bend legs and hands resting as if on a table in front of you a little above navel height
o the classic “embrace” posture
Then we shaked out the tension and paired up and practiced the first 4 movements of Ba-duan-Jin for a long time in detail, me getting an assisting instructor for help.
Class ended with another short round of the above standing sequence.
- Baduanjin is to be practiced 8 times each movement, how to practice standing at home wasn’t really discussed, but it was mentioned that it is possible to build up to an hour straight in a single posture. As a rule of thumb in standing: When the arms go up, the knees bend more and vice-versa. We never bend the knees more than 90 degrees when standing, it is the maximum. Arms can go higher.

The Baduanjin movements are much, much more detailed than they are described in the “Way of Energy” book, or any other places I have read about them. I won’t describe each movement in detail, but feel free to ask if there is some move or something you want to know about specifically.

The school seems to be focused completely on the health aspects initially, only moving onto the more martial aspects after a couple of years. But getting corrected by the head instructor (correcting all of us during paired practice of baduanjin), he asked me to grab his wrists and hold him. Without moving he made me jump a little. I didn’t give holding him a serious effort or all I had, but it was interesting nonetheless. He knows from our emails back and forth that I’m mostly interested in the martial aspects, so maybe it was a way for him to show me that he also has something to teach in that department if I stick to it. Guess I have to suck it up.

- Daily practice: I will practice the first 4 movements of baduanjin + the standing sequence for as long as I feel like.

Meditation:
- September has come, but I will not attempt to sit 40 min. I’ve not been able to sit 35 min. completely comfortably yet, so rather than push my luck, I will stay at 35 min. for a time yet. Not to long ago, sitting regularly in full lotus for 30 min. was a grand goal, so best not to get gready…my knee has recovered a great deal and is not really and issue anymore, so hopefully I don’t hace to deal with it again anytime soon.

"Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” - Epicurus

- The meditation group I’ve been sitting with earlier has come together again, and I will attemt to sit regularly with it (we meet once a week). It is Rinzai Zen flavoured with newly added Tibetan Dzogchen flavour (our master, a Rinzai Dharma heir, has been studying with a Nyingma Rinpoche, becoming his student, and adding what he deems useful – which the Dzogchen meditation Dzogchen has proved to be)

---
Besides daily Yiquan and meditation I will do nothing else - cardio, JM or otherwise to see what these 2 practices can lead to by themselves.


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 Post subject: Regrouping....and yoga!
PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:03 pm 
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I've been having some depression issues lately, and have put the Yiquan on ice. Ultimate power can wait, well-being is more important....a rant!:

Psychological issues can give rise to a variety of physical symptoms and tensions (diaphragm tension is something I deal with). While meditation deals with the underlying problem to all these physical symptoms, it doesn't deal with those symptoms directly and isn't effective at resolving them. They may be beneficially dealt with through other physical methods, - although it is symptomatic treatment it still makes you feel better and can be a help.
Since mental and physical are so connected, they affect each other and so dealing with the physical “symptoms” may bring some mental/meditative improvement and benefits.
However meditation is the core practice handling the underlying conditions (and in a broader view the path to Samadhi and Enlightenment), and auxiliary practices are only meaningful where a meditation practice is already established.
auxiliary practices are just that - helpful preparation readying the body (and mind) for meditation and removing the physical (posture, tension, breathing)/mental (concentration, calmness) obstructions that are in the way of the 'real work'. Maintaining health is a part of this.

This 'middle path' and healthy balance is easily fucked up and two great contemplative traditions -Yoga and Buddhism- both have a habit of doing just that in different ways. Some Buddhist traditions suffers from one-sided focus on the “real work” of realizing truth. Modern Yoga has completely forgotten the real work. Both could benefit from a more balanced approach IMO. I will post something about it soon.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:32 pm 
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Hatha yoga in its modern form is a very new development. [The following is mostly bits stolen elsewhere]

Mark Singleton’s book: Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice basically concludes that the 5,000-year-old practice we all believed to be the origin of asana got its start less than 200 years ago, and that the foundation of asana was created by gymnasts and bodybuilders and as physical training for some militia. The first workout-like practice of asanas, or poses, stem from the Sritattvanidhi, a book written in the early 1800's by Mummadi Krishnaraja, a patron of Indian culture and arts. Shockingly to some, it wasn't a sacred move handed down from, ancient yoga sages to enlighten the masses. It was a pushup gymnasts used to get stronger.
Unlike earlier texts such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Sritattvanidhi doesn't focus on the meditative or philosophical aspects of yoga; it doesn't chart the nadis and chakras; it doesn't teach pranayama (breathing exercises) or bandhas (energy locks). It's the first known yogic text devoted entirely to asana practice—a prototypical "yoga workout."

In the early 1900s, a yoga teacher named Krishnamacharya and later, his world-famous students, B.K.S. Iyengar and Pattabhi Jois, began to formulate their own takes on the Sritattvanidhi poses, and then some. Krishnamacharya pulled some moves straight from British gymnastics, which one of his main students Pattabhi Jois took forward, like the Pendant Pose jumpback of Ashtanga. BKS Iyengar, another famous student of Krishnamacharya's, created his own, very different take on those poses, and he also added his own variations.
Iyengar and the others drew inspiration from the Astanga, or 8-limbed path set forth in the Yoga Sutras, but also from (often contradictory to the Sutras) sources like the Baghavad Gita and Upanisads.

So, a few Indian men basically made up the yoga poses, men who practiced for hours a day and had Cirque Du Soleil-like bodies.
Most of the poses we do in our yoga classes, whether our teacher is an Indian master or an American one, come from a much shorter lineage than we imagine. We tend to trust in yoga based on a false premise that it has been used by very wise men for centuries, when it probably hasn't. Basically, we’re all just making this shit up.

Look into the contexts of practice: the first thing one will find is that the postural aspect of most yoga traditions is far, far less pronounced than it is today, even in medieval hatha yoga. Asanas, like anything, the right amounts in the right context is fine. The wrong amounts, wrong context, not so fine.Aside from a handful of sitting postures, “yoga” as described in ancient texts focuses almost exclusively on meditation and breathing techniques.

Yoga postures were originally intended as a way to prepare the body for prolonged sitting meditation.
While these sitting postures were also practiced for bodily strengthening and purification, and good for physical health, their main purpose was to prepare the body for the real work of yoga; meditation and the realization of divine consciousness. The modern emphases on precision of alignment, physical fitness, and therapeutic effects are purely twentieth-century innovations.
In old school yoga asana work is preparatory and secondary, preparing the body enough to enter into meditation. Nowadays asana is overemphasized and pretty much advocated as worthy in itself. Which it was never meant to be. It was a helpful stepping stone and nothing more.

- The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (second century BC) does not mention specific postures, but Vyasa, in the earliest available commentary (c. 500–700 CE) on the Yoga Sutra, lists eleven postures that may aid sitting steadily and comfortably, among them the following are known:
BHADRAsana (Butterfly position)
PADMAsana (lotus posture)
DANDAsana (staff posture)
PARYANKA (corpse pose)
VIRAsana (Hero pose, maybe not contemporary sitting-on-heels, but another cross-legged posture as in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika)

- In the eighth/ninth century, Tirumular, a Tamil siddha, in his Tirumantiram lists eight postures out of what he says are 180 postures.
1) Padmasana
2) Svatikasam (Auspicious Posutre)
3) Gomukasanam (Cow-face posture)
4) Virasana (Hero pose, maybe not contemporary sitting-on-heels)
5) Bhadirasana (Butterfly pose)
6) Mudrasana (Yoga Mudra – forward bend in lotus)
7) Mayurasana (Peacock pose)
8) Sukasanam (Easy posture)


- The fourteenth-century Hatha Yoga Pradipika lists few asanas as well:

Swastika
Gomukha-asana
Virasana (cross-legged variation, not sitting on your heels)
Siddhasana
Padmasana (Bound Lotus)
Bhadrasana (butterfly position)

Kokutasana (raising body in lotus posture)
Dhanurasana (archers pose)
Matsyendrasana (spinal twist)
Mayurasana (Peacock posture)
Simhasana (Lion Yawn posture)
Viparitakarani mudra (by the description given it is probably headstand, which we count as an asana today)

- The seventeenth-century Gheranda Samhita, another such manual, lists several more yet only 32 in the grand scheme of things.
Sidda, Padma, Mukta, Svastika, Simha, gomukha, Vira, Dhanu, Mrta, Gupta, Matsya, Matsyendra, Goraksa, Pascimittana, Utkata, Samkata, Kukkuta, Kurma, Uttanakurmaka, Uttanamanduke, Vrksa, Manduka, Garuda, Vrsa, Salabha, Makara, Ustra, Bhujanga and yoga.

The more modern and recent we get in the texts, the more postures get emphasized and the further we get from the original yoga idea. The following quotations are how I think secondary physical practices/asana should be viewed in all spiritual traditions emphasizing meditation:
1) Swami Rama: "Do what feels natural to you in preparation for meditation. I do suggest, however, that you emphasize
postures that work with your spine and opening your hips, as these are crucial as preparation for
sitting in meditation."


2) Paramhansa Yogananda did not teach public Hatha Yoga classes. He urged his disciples to spend as much time as possible meditating. For those who found asana practice to be beneficial to meditating longer and/or deeper, he approved of its practice. The phrase “if they felt it beneficial[to meditating longer and/or deeper] is key.

It your practice isn't in some way relevant to the real work/meditation/merging with divine consciousness then it isn't real yoga. Not saying that there is something wrong with that. It can still be beneficial to health etc. but it isn't yoga in any real meaning of the word.

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Last edited by Xian on Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:39 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:48 pm 
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Off to work,so have to read that tomorrow.Seems interesting though.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 10:13 am 
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Another interesting addition:

Vairotsana, a Tibetan Tantric Buddhist Yogi around 7-800 CE, taught the following set of Trul khor (“asanas”) exercises as outlined by Chögyal Namkhai Norbu a present day Tibetan Tantric Buddhist in his book Yantra Yoga: The Tibetan Yoga of Movement. Trul khor traditionally consists of 108 movements, including bodily movements (or dynamic asana), incantations (or mantra), pranayama and visualizations. The exercises are used in the Tibetan Bon tradition and the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism:

Loosening the Joints
- Different basic JM exercises, the butterfly position is a dominating position throughout.
Purifying the prana
Breath coordinated movements using the following asanas: Cow-face posture (dominantly!), Paschimotanasana, v-sit, butterfly position, standing forward bend
Controlling the channels (breath-coordinated movements following 5 (6)specific posture series)
1. Camel, Paschimotanasana (one-legged variations), Shoulderstand, plow, Supta Virsasana
2. Cobra, seated spinal twisting, butterfly, down dog, up dog, tortoise pose
3. Bow, triangle, crow
4. Locust, handstand/forearm stand, pidgeon, front splits
5. Gymnastic Bridge, seated twist (yoga style), headstand, peacock
6. Lotus extravaganza: Standing on knees, fish pose, lifting variations, bound lotus, forward bend.

That's a great focus on asana - and there are butt loads of pranayama exercises to practice in conjunction with this practice (in which there are a lot of "filler" movements I haven't listed). So it takes a lot of time, yet the ability to do handstand, front splits and standing on your knees in lotus doesn't in my mind seem to be a very helpful part of a spiritual practice. But it is a tantric practice, meaning they acknowledge and work with Chakras, energy (different kinds), elements etc. and a lot of other esoteric body anatomy.
From this perspective, the mind is merely vāyu (wind, air, "Prana") in the body. Thus working with vāyu and the body is considered superior to meditation.
The exercises are used to open major chakras and to bring the lung ("wind", energy) from the side channels into the central channel.
This coincides with mind releasing dualistic misperceptions and abiding in non-dual awareness...

I personally think this view is the wrong way to go about it - it is much more complex and theoretical than need be and counter-intuitive as hell. But it ís only fair to show, that an elaborate asana practice for spiritual purpose isn't just a modern invention. Still doesn't mean that Indian Yoga follows the same idea or that it is a good idea at all...it is a dominating Sun/fire/magic/manipulation path that needs to be tempered with soft/meditation/letting go aspects IMO.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:35 pm 
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Great posts. I read up on the tibetan yoga earlier this year. To me tantric stuff seems complicated as hell. It may provide some heightened states of bliss etc but I don't have ready access to a reliable teacher so I leave it right alone. I also agree that it seems needlessly complex, and is a possible diversion from less exciting but more beneficial practices, like the simple cultivation of mindfulness or practices aimed at boosting feelings of compassion etc.

Some of the advaita teachers of the modern era are a great counter balance to this stuff, with their uncompromising and minimalist approach to spiritual practice. Ramesh Balsekar wrote something along the lines that all the various yoga's only bring about superficial/cosmetic change, and should not be mistaken for ultimate understanding. I think he only recommended focusing on the 'I am' feeling as often as possible, and also reviewing the days events before bed and seeing if you had any control over them. No bells and whistles, but surprisingly powerful and clearly helpful to many.

In more colloquial language, I think there are practices which bring insight, and practices which bring pleasant phsyical & psychological states. A balance of both is a nice approach, and too much of the latter is something to be wary of.

Good luck with the depression issues btw, (hope that doesn't sound flippant)... You seem well placed to get a grip of them if you can continue to apply all the knowledge you clearly have.

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 Post subject: On Zen
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:17 am 
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I agree that is seems complicated - and if you acknowledge the very real existence of chakras etc. then it should follow that you shouldn't tamper with it alone but only under the guidance of a qualified teacher. So either way it is probably best left alone for lay people IMO.
A balance between insight practices and practices which bring physical & psychological states is an important point and most miss the mark somehow I think. Ignoring the insight part doesn't lead anywhere profound, but being stuck up about not wanting to do anything for the physical/psychological so that it can remain a "pure" practice can also be pitfall. Sometimes working on these superficial layers can aid the practice towards the profound which this next post is about.
And thanks for the good luck. I'm confident that it will all work out in the end, but sometimes there are a couple of rough patches to be overcome along the way.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2012 9:29 am 
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----------
Again mostly quoted from elsewhere and not by own words! Also, the following can't (sadly?) be taken for general view in Zen. Most of this is bit-nipped from different sources, all of it from people affiliated with the Rinzai school of zen, and most of thát from specific persons/sects that acknowledge the importance of supplementary practices in one way or another....So it is what I personally think the optimal expression of Zen is, and a way to illustrate the pitfalls of one-sided practice:
---------

The main criticisms against Zen would be a lack of cultivating energy , vitality or life. There is a risk of falling into a "dead" void - within the Zen traditions they call it Zen sickness.
Overdoing meditation practice, being too caught up in the mental aspects, can result in zen sickness", a psycho-physical illness.

Rinzai Zen founder Hakuin's story:
Much of Hakuin's practice focused, as his teachings did, on zazen and koan practice. Hakuin's early extreme exertions affected his health, and at one point in his young life he fell ill for almost two years. In his search to cure his zen sickness he hears of a hermit living in the remote mountains and goes in search of him. The hermit was believed to be over 200 years old and something of an ancient Immortal in the Taoist scene. When Hakuin eventually found him living in a cave, the hermit named Master Hakuyu told him:
Quote:
“Your condition is pitiable. By comtemplating on truth too strenuously, you have lost the rhythm of spiritual advance, and that has finally brought on a grievous malady. And it is something very hard to cure, this Zen illness of yours. Through the sages of medicine frown over your case and put forth all their skill with needle and cautery and drugs, yet would they be helpless. You have been broken by your contemplation on truth (Ri-kan), and unless you devote yourself to inner contemplation (Nai-kan) you can never recover.”
He then talks about the ki energy and explains the balancing of the energies, with the special emphasis on the heat of fire energy being brought down and the coolness of water enegy lifted.
Quote:
“If you now control the fire of the heart and will and put it in the Tanden and right down to the soles of the feet, your breast will of itself become cool, without a thought of calculation, without a ripple of passion. This is true contemplation, pure contemplation. Do not call it dropping your Zen contemplation, for the Buddha himself says, "Hold your heart down in the soles of the feet and you heal a hundred and one ills."
Hakuin's zen sickness was about his being out of balance with his body,
So the body meditation that he learned was the necessary anti-dote for his one-sidedness of practice, and not in any way a condemnation of his meditation/koan practice per se.

Image

From this point on, Hakuin put a great deal of importance on physical strength and health in his Zen practice and studying Hakuin-style Zen required a great deal of stamina. Well into his seventies, he claimed to have more physical strength than he had at age thirty, being able to sit in zazen meditation or chant sutras for an entire day without fatigue.
Hakuns zen lineage (Rinzai) has since strongly stressed the concept, cultivation and manipulation of ki (to various degrees of course with different teachers) in order to bring the energetic system in general into balance:

1 – core practice) Tanden kokyuho ("tanden breathing method"); Basic breathing method to be used in Zazen. Through this method, the energetic system is brought into balance and clear recognition of one's original nature is more easily attained. The type of breathing we do in zazen is focused on (“focuses the Ki in…”) the tanden (dantien).
In some schools the solar plexus, diaphragm and pelvic floor are trained in such a way that the lower abdomen (entire lower torso, actually) retains a fullness or pressure i.e. does not contract or sink, during both inhalation and exhalation. It is a trained way of breathing for which deep abdominal or "belly breathing" is a prerequisite.

The understanding we have of why we breathe this way is that it gathers ki in the tanden area, which is a place from which it may radiate or circulate and in so doing allows more subtle mind states/deeper samadhi to manifest.

2 – supplementary practices) Naikan no Ho (内観の法) and Nanso no Ho (軟酥の法) are two energy practices passed down within the Rinzai school of Zen from the famous 18th century master Hakuin. Naikan no Ho uses abdominal breathing, introspective concentration and gentle movement to further cultivate energy in a powerful manner. Nanso no Ho is a visualization practice that "washes" the body with energy from crown to feet, removing tension, obstructions and disease. In his Yasen Kanna and other writings Hakuin recorded how he learned these methods from the hermit Hakuyu and used them to recover from illness and exhaustion caused by his overly severe practice of meditation. They are still effective today for healing and releasing stress, and can even be practiced lying down or sitting in a chair.

Aside from health/vigor, the utility of all this is that it causes gross levels of thought to collapse and allows a refinement of samadhi that is otherwise difficult to effect, removing obstructions to the recognition called kensho.
Spontaneous awakenings/Kensho or those arrived at with little or no practice do happen. Such awakenings reveal deep affinity and perhaps great ability. Examples such as Huineng's awakening upon hearing a phrase from the Diamond Sutra are like this.
But for the majority of us who are a bit duller and more shallow in our roots, practice and study to remove obstructions are first called for.

Samadhi in general refers to a unified state of meditative attainment. Initially, samadhi is a state of relaxed yet intense concentration in which the mind functions freely with lessened dualistic fixation. Though this state (however deep) is not itself the recognition of kensho or the point of Zen, it is indispensable for dissolving obstructions.
When referring to later stages of practice, we may say that samadhi encompasses all the qualities of samatha and vipashyana: the unity of calm stability and intense clarity.
Samadhi power is crucial for all on the path of training that follows kensho as well. This is because simply having the recognition of one's true nature is not by itself sufficient to cut the root of suffering and delusion: realization must penetrate the body, as the student clarifies that recognition and comes to manifest it seamlessly in each moment. Such continuity is established through the power of samadhi. Genuine enlightenment manifests not only in the mind but simultaneously within the body.

For these reasons, Rinzai Zen has a great number of methods which cultivate the breath and the body-mind's subtle energetic system. They ensure vitality and health in the midst of rigorous practice, to unfold deeper states of meditative attainment, and to remove obstructions to the embodiment of insight.

----
Hakuin’s story is similar to the legend of Bodhidharma:
What Bodhidharma found at the Shaolin temple was disheartening. It seemed to him that they were unable to fully grasp the enormous mental and abstract discipline necessary to achieve Nirvana, or the ultimate release destination derived from meditation. The monks had practiced long-term meditation retreats, which made them spiritually stronger, but physically weak and unable to finish their meditative journeys
The monks were weak and sickly, they were falling asleep during meditation, and they lacked the vitality needed for deep meditation. This was not Bodhidharma’s vision of spiritual cultivation.Bodhidharma considered spiritual, intellectual and physical excellence as an indivisible whole necessary for enlightenment.

If you are sick or in pain, then how can you hope to achieve enlightenment? If you lack mental clarity, how will you endure the intensity of meditation? To work successfully towards enlightenment, one needs to also cultivate health, vitality, and mental clarity.
A healthy body made Spiritual Cultivation less difficult, and the same exercises that would strengthen the physical body could be used to prepare the mind for liberation. A healthy, vitally alive body and balanced mind provide fertile soil for Spiritual Growth.
This was Bodhidharma’s philosophy.

Therefore he informed the monks that he would teach a two-part program of meditation accompanied by physical training. His primary concern was to make the monks physically strong enough to withstand both their isolated lifestyle and the demanding training that meditation required.
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:41 am 
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Been a while. Things have been pretty bad. The 'depression' issue went to shit a little over a month ago and I've had to take a break from my study (and life in general) and don't know if or when I'll return to it or have to begin something else entirely. It is also more anxiety than depression related according to smart folks, my social anxiety which I had gotten under control have simply changed into some sort of panic disorder. Felt like shit whatever it was/is, but I'm feeling better now (and also enlisting the aid of both psychology and psychiatry) and am even more motivated to kick the meditation up a notch and break free from ego and suffering.
---------

Conclusion form previous posts: Meditation (and samadhi) benefits immensely from a stable posture - if extra exercises facilitate "good" sitting posture, they must be a good idea. Attending to some measure of basic overall health is also necessary.

The moment we sit down for meditation we should forget the body. “Forgetting the body” in this context means that it is healthy, flexible, free from toxins and strong enough to sit for lengthy periods of time without calling attention to itself—an attention which could distract the meditation.
Therefore physical pain, poor posture and circulation, tension, restricted breathing and any clouded mental state must be avoided. Body, breath and mind must be relaxed/clear, so that you may work with greater duration, focus and concentration in your meditation
The traditional way of doing
1) physical practice (asana)
2) breathing practice (pranayama)
3) meditation
is a systematic way of ensuring an optimal meditation both in the short and long term.
If we do each practice step-by-step in a well-integrated way, then each part can be kept to a reasonable time with increased effectiveness of the overall routine. Each element is reinforced by the others.
Overall they help ensure vitality and health in the midst of rigorous practice and help to unfold deeper states of meditative attainment.

Asana
- Swami Rama said it best: "Do what feels natural to you in preparation for meditation. I do suggest, however, that you emphasize
postures that work with your spine and opening your hips, as these are crucial as preparation for
sitting in meditation."

- Doing the appropriate exercises to get the limberness in the legs/hips to practice/maintain one of the classic meditation postures (full lotus being optimal)
- Yoga exercises aren't an official part of zen. Several places do however employ some kind of yoga/or stretching exercises, especially during sesshin (intensive retreat)
- "About five or ten minutes of gentle asanas before pranayama and meditation is an excellent way to start your session. For our purposes here we are looking for some very simple bending and stretching before our pranayama and meditation. Around 10-15 min. With asanas, we begin the relaxation process. We are going to less activity in the nervous system." - Yogani, http://www.aypsite.org

Pranayama
- "With a tense diafragm the mind is more easily disturbed and zen practice cannot flow with its natural ease". An argument for chanting by my zen teacher.
- "My teacher advised at least 10-15 minutes a day of dedicated breath training in addition to zazen (which itself integrates the tanden kokyuho mentioned above). There are some breathing exercises we do in vajrasana (we use the Jp. term seiza). Others are done standing, lying down or in zazen (padmasana) posture." Meido, http://www.zenforuminternational.com
- "spinal breathing pranayama (5-10 minutes)" - Yogani, http://www.aypsite.org
- "in Linji-Chan [Chinese Zen] we sometimes practice "Breath of Heaven", Inhale counting 4, hold breath counting 16, exhale counting 8. Noise is optional. It's more like a warming up practice before Zou Chan (zazen)."

- "I'd call this [pranayama] an energizing practice; you get a good buzzed up feeling afterwards similar to the runner's high. There is much less of a relaxation component though, and not really any of the psychological insight stuff that may go with a mindfulness of breathing type practice. Horses for courses I guess.
To be a pretentious twat for a moment and talk underpinning philosophy, I am more of the 'nothing to get, no-one to get it' school of thought, so these practices may just be a temporary diversion for me.
They seem a bit bound up in chasing some kind of altered state of bliss, which I can't help speculating would feel just like your previous state after a while.
Besides which, I think if you do a few practical things to ensure a decent quality of life and then just pay attention to the fucking thing then that is more than enough.
Ultimately, I think a focus on energetic practices, (as in physically demanding) seems to take away from psychological insights/mind-stuff, (terminology is clunky here, but hopefully it makes sense). I am also bothered by an absence of hands-on instruction with the breath holding practices. It all seems very complicated, and intuitively seems unneccessary." - Odin


---
these are some points I've been having in regards to my practice lately. Overall the non-meditative part of my routine can and should be kept to 30 min. at the most. If not I'm being stupid about it. It should enhance meditation and maintain some basic/good health in as short a time as possible. The rest of the time should be used on life.
- Initially I started just doing the 3 Sonnon spinal joint mobility drills (I.e. hip circles, thoracic circles, cervical circles). They seemed better at at promoting good posture and awareness useful for meditation than regular asanas. And sure enough they make sitting much much easier, with a lot less tension and much better posture/awareness. And they tick off quite a few health re. Janda (I've written about that earlier), which is always a plus.
- Then I added the butterfly stretch. It is a traditional lotus prep stretch across different traditions and is also a sound preparation from an anatomical point of view. My knee pain has lessened since adding it.
- My knees and legs did however complain a little jumping straight into the butterfly first thing in the morning, so I figured I'd add another traditional lotus prep (from the Bihar school of yoga), crow walking. It did the knees good, but I found that doing side-to-side cossacks did them just as good. And it hits many more health boxes, so i opted for that instead.
- I then played around with adding lotus mudra (forward bend in lotus) just prior to the meditation. It seems to allign the lower body so sitting is easier, stretching deeper into the glutes than the butterfly stretch. It is also a mild inversion, activating parasympathetic activity which makes meditation much calmer/easier from the get-go. Also a keeper.
- This worked perfectly for a good while, but I began getting some lowerback stiffness (due to not doing anything besides this most likely). Added hindu pushups/pumps and felt much better. Also opens the chest, rib-cage and diaphragm nicely if done with conscious breathing.

So the program I do as of right now before my meditation is:
- Hip circles
- Thoracic circles
- Cervical circles

- Cossacks
- Hindu pushups/pumps
- Spinal Rocks

- Butterfly stretch
- Yogamudra

I don't really see the use of pranayama at this point. The main benefit in regards to meditation is IMO to open up restricted breathing, but the up/down dogs do an ok job of that. Othewise I agree with what Odin has said. Spinal Rocks I've also added since they also work with the breath and good for overall mobility/health.
I've also come to realize, that while I originally did flows of several exercises, doing simpler movements (cossacks, HPU, spinal rocks) have the benefit of being incredibly meditative
and really hammers the basics – breathing, fluidity of movement etc.

I now sit 40 min. instead of 35. There seems to have been a sudden jump in my ability to sit in lotus. The legs don't fall asleep quite as much as before (they used to feel literally DEAD when passing 30 min), and the transition to them falling asleep is no longer an uncomfortable nuisance. Only upping with 5 min. at a timel - getting greedy has proven futile in the past.

Image

- "At the end of a sesshin, one of our teachers was having an informal question/answer period. My friend said to him: "I can understand that Zen training works for you, but it's just too hard for me."
Our teacher thought for a moment and said, "Well, are you happy?" My friend answered, "No."
"How badly do you want to be?", answered our teacher."


- "my teacher, the abbot of a monastery in Japan and a guy who probably practiced for 50 or more years, once told me that for the first 18 years, it was sheer hell. And after that? "After that, laughing all the time," he said."

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Last edited by Xian on Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:03 pm 
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sorry to hear about the issues you outlined in the post above. Psychology with psychiatry are proven fixes for many though, so you're already on track; a huge 'advantage' over many in similar situations. I had anxiety issues in my twenties and it took years to fix properly - in fact it still ranks as one of my main fears, (ie it recurring). Dunno if I have any useful words of wisdom though - I prolonged my convalescence by chasing stupid fixes for it as opposed to the approach you seem to be taking... It's a gradual process but you seem well placed to fix the issue from the posts. Very best of luck with it.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:50 pm 
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Thanks Odin. Yeah anxiety (mental illness in general) is a terrible thing. I believe that the meditative approach over time will resolve many of the core issues that lead to anxiety, depression etc. Gradually as you say, but together with the psychology/psychiatry it will hopefully (and probably) lead to relief if not a cure outright. Also the best way to prevent these sort of things I believe.
You on a very healthy path yourself, so I don't think you have anything to fear about it reoccurring. Words of wisdom are difficult in a sucky situation. But remembering that nothing is permanent and everything eventually changes has been helpful to remember during the worst parts of it. An insightful point the meditation also helps bring about.
Hope your own training is going well.

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 Post subject: IGX words of wisdom
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:35 pm 
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I've been using some of my current time off to dive into the training logs here at Irongarm. Lots of wisdom contained here. I've collected some quotes I think hits the nail home in regards to (what I want out of) a training routine.

Training and Life
Quote:
Alfred: I often get caught up so much in "training" that I let it push out actually going out and doing shit. The whole mentality of "I can't run that race or go for a hike or play tennis or basketbal this weekend because it'll fuck up recovery from my squat day" or some other bullshit. When the truth is that I shoud be training so I can be strong enough to do all that stuff whenever the opportunity comes up.
I let training take over my life if I'm not careful. To the point that training and eating won't let me enjoy anything. Traveling gets to be a bitch if I get too serious about a routine. I need to just let my training be what it is - a way to make myself stronger, better conditioned, and more mobil so I can go and do all the fun stuff I'd like to do.
It's hard for me to let go of the mentality of "more" in my training. More time, more intensity, more miles, just more. I feel like to just stay where I am fitness wise, I need to constantly push myself further and further. I let who I am be determined by how much I'm doing compared to others. If John Doe I know is riding 200 miles a week, I need to ride 250 so I can be superior to him in every way. Same with running. Or rowing. Or anything else. The constant need to compare and the fucked up body image I have drives me to thrash myself well beyond the point of any possible recovery.
I have to change that mentality or I'll never be happy. I need to learn to enjoy just going out for a run, or a session with the KBs, or a nice bike ride, or whatever activity I'm doing that day. Not everything has to be pushed to the point that I train like I'm peaking for the Olympics. It gets to the point that my training makes me miss a lot of fun stuff I could do but don't because it might "interfere with my training". I need to be healthy and enjoy exercising. But I also need to have a life.

Dr. Agkistrodon:
So much time and energy and thought put into figuring out new diet programs, lifting protocols ... Time and energy that could have been better spent put forth in the relationship. I could have just been doing sets of 5 in the gym, adding a little weight each time, then going home and eating a steak, and taking care of shit there. But nope, in my head, I was always at the gym, always thinking about what to do, or eat, next. OR, how to do shit differently, and every time I did that I'd change into a completely different person.

I thought a lot about these things and I came to realize that just like it's a good thing if you have a job which you enjoy purely for the sake of the work its self and getting it done, and this job pays your bills and feeds your family and gives you peace of mind that you're providing for yourself and your own, and doesn't eat into your precious time with your loved ones (but rather helps enhance it), than so too should the positive things you do in your free time- your exercise program included. It should add-to your life, it should help you enjoy the rest of your life with those you love, not detract from it

Climber511:
I think the secret has been that I do not think of myself primarily as a weight trainer - I think of myself as a guy who lifts weights (and all the other training methods I employ) to help me do all the other things I do outside the gym better and longer (think climbing right now but other stuff along the way etc). So many people train harder so they can train harder so they can train even harder. This kind of cycle can be and often is self defeating in terms of health. Training the same few lifts for decades at max levels with little to no down time or cycling of other things is going to mess you up sooner or later. I completely understand competitive aspirations but gym lifts are gym lifts - stick your ego in your pocket once in a while. If all one does is lift weights your whole training career - your 60s are going to be an adventure - likely a painful one.
Training Principles
Looking through the logs here at Irongarm, a certain pattern emerges: routines that will give the biggest bang for buck, things which cover a lot of bases in a short amount of time - mobility, conditioning and a bit of strength (in that order)... trying to minimalize training as much as possible are pretty much universally hailed as something that we should do only (or do more of) if we just wanted what is best for us.
Quote:
Mickey: The main thing as far as training is to walk around strong but feeling "fresh and bouncy" if you know what I mean. I want to be mobile and flexible with no aches and pains but strong as well. It's tricky once you start getting older to maintain that combination. At this point I would be willing to sacrifice some strength in order to keep that young feeling.

finding the right mix of strength, strength endurance, flexibility, mobility and agility is the key to longevity and high quality of life. Especially the flexibility with strength… It does no good to have a great deal of strengh/SE, or conditioning if you are unable to move with fluidity and ease.

I am very worried about losing the strength I have built up over the winter but I really do feel best when doing a lot of cals and yoga. And to be honest I don't ever really use the strength that I work so hard to achieve. My ego won't let me stop trying to get as strong as possible.

CQ10: There will come a time in your life when strength will mean much less, and flexibility, relaxation, and joint mobility will mean much more. Too much heavy lifting tends to make me hold residual tension in my body. Feeling strong, but stiff, is not good. Feeling fluid in movement feels very good. Being reasonably flexible while also being strong in those ranges feels very good.

Maxwell: The foremost objective of physical training should be what I call dynamic health. Dynamic health is a state of physical and mental well-being free from disease and pain. For example, a healthy individual is relatively unaware of his body when going about day-to-day business, so if you're walking around thinking, "Oh, my knee," or "my back," this is not dynamic health.

Odin: I keep questioning whether it's enough or if I'm losing some kind of perceived 'hardcore-ness' by prioritising yoga, but this year I've lost weight, remained injury free and climbed/ran well so I think it's enough. To borrow a yogic phrase, I think it's just the occasional murmur from my ego which makes me question the practice - part of it still thinks the ability to exercise until i vomit means something.

I want some kind of restorative, tonic type routine to lessen the chance of injury and keep me moving how I should be as I get older.
the times where I wrote gushy over the top shit was normally after a bodyweight circuit or something similar. This makes sense; bodyweight stuff gives me the mindful, restorative quality of ashtanga but 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. The more fluid, mobility aspects of ashtanga are taken care of via the bw workouts anyway.
… blood pressure, resting HR, how I feel and how I climb, hike and run have been leading me to think I was doing well on my regime of mostly bw stuff.
I know some are cynical about the benefits of bwe, but after returning to them over the summer I do think there are some unique benefits to them - particularly for an anti-aging type exercise. Apart from anything else, it's fixed weight so you have less scope for ego driven injuries

I always feel best doing this stuff, but then get diverted by some passing pseudo-athletic goal or other. I need to remember though that I have almost never injured myself doing bw stuff, and I also tend to lose bodyfat and start moving a shit-load better whenever I pursue this route for a decent period.

Ginger man: workouts seem to be one or the other. I wish I could integrate things a little more, with one workout that combines east and west

ABW: some chi kung, some yoga, some pushups/pullups/bridging/squatting variations, and a bit of joint mobility for the problem spots...it sounds like a ticket to Health And Wellness Heaven
Programs:
Common templates that are in line with the above and well-liked here are:
YRG/Yoga doc etc.
Flowfit
Maxwell 300
Amosov
Pilates for men

Apart from these, there are also a lot of routines out there I wan't to keep here for inspiration to where I want to take my own routine:
Quote:

BucketHead
Liking this morning routine: Get up, ~7 mins of Eight Pieces, 10-15 mins Standing, 5 mins of JM, and 30 mins (eventually) of Naturelle-ish at the park next to my house

Dano
I've gone back to "The List":
Push up variation
Pull up variation
Hinge variation (sticking with single leg RDL and Ukrainian DL until kned is better)
Farmer walk with shrug/calf raises at start finish
Plank/wheel/etc
Goblet squat or Bulgarian squat right now w/ short squat depth
Bear crawl between stations

This is both a stand alone workout and a warm up. Don't fuck around between sets, keep moving. I give full credit to Dan John for the template with his Lifetime Warrior workout. Its really quick if you keep the pace up and actually helps with both conditioning and hypertrophy if used daily and not to excess. Or do it intensly for strength-endurance.

Damien
Some nice mobility/flexibility training. Furman's tip to add resistance to this training makes so much sense and feels great.
Used a 13kg DB (two on the sots press) for the exercises where necessary. Lunges and such were done with bodyweight only.
5 reps per exercise, two times through the circuit, no rest. Focus on tight form and stretching the appropriate tissue.

Bridge Press
Sots Press
Swing
Bent Press
Cossack Squat
Halos
Dragon Twists
Skin-the-cats
Bulgarian Split Squats
Pumps


Gorbachev
I lost 15lbs and got fit as fuck with this:
You have to build up to these numbers so you ladies will start with a lot less.
My aim is to refine a routine (or routines) that covers all essentials, keeps me in shape that I look good, feel good , that doesn't produce too much soreness, doesn't injure me, doesn't take too much time and that I'll stick to. The consistency part is already there.

Warm up by swinging arms, rolling shoulders, bear crawling, swinging legs.

Dead hang pull ups 8
Push ups 20
Goblet squats 15
Swings 15
Clean and press 10
Sit ups 20
3rds or 5rds with maximum virtuosity.

Do that every second day. Some days go hard, some go slower.. Works stremf, lungs, heart and builds warrior stamina. Throw in some walking and mobility and you are better than 99% of people your age. My work time is always less than 25 minutes. Training is not complicated. It is hard.

Maxwell
- deck squats 5 mins. all out holding a wt.
Hindu pushups all out for 5 mins.
leg raises to plow position 3 mins.
Wresters bridge for time (3 mins.)

- Here is a piece that Steve Maxwell posted a while back. This about full
ROM and Power Yoga.
Here is a program that won't leave you exhausted,and will improve your dynamic strength and flexibility.
1. Single leg deadlifts(really work the hamstring stretch)
2. Over head squats(work on getting your butt to the floor)
3. Windmills with straight legs
4. Over head cossack stretches(this is a new one I have been working on)
Perform the cossack as outlined in Pavel's book,but with one or two
kettlebells held arms length overhead.
5. Turkish getups - 1
6. Finish with snatches while standing on two boxes,cinder blocks etc.
Squat low and really drive the hips on the way up.Try to work up to 25
to 30 reps each arm.Just add a few more reps every other workout.

This workout will leave you loose and stretched out while strengthening
your joints in the extreme ranges where most martial artists really need
it.

- Maxwell Weighted Joint Mobility Routine
1 - around the waist both directions
2 - halos both directions
3 - figure 8's between legs both directions
4 - hold the plate high overhead and do hip circles
5 - plate behind neck, do good mornings into lean backs
6 - boot strappers, two legged and one legged. Plate not involved.
7 - toe touch squats. Touch the plate on the ground with straight legs into an A2G squat using the plate to balance. Shift around a bit in the bottom position. This one is awesome for me.
8 - side to side touches. Spread the legs wider than shoulder width. Touch the plate to the outside of the foot, stand up, then the other foot.

- These are considered superior standards by most fitness norms based on college age men in the military or martial sport.
Pushups-100
Hindu pushups-100
pistols-25 each leg
pullups-18
chinups-20
hindu squats-100 in 3 minutes
deck squats-50 in 5 minutes
squat thrusts (burpees)-100
v-situps-50
one arm pushups-15
standard situps (feet anchored)-80 in 2 minutes
hip pullovers on a high bar-10
25' rope climb (no feet)-10 sec.
handstand pushups-15
dips-40

That should give a few numbers to shoot for. Don't try to work everything at once. For a few weeks or even months, pick one push, a pull, an abdominal and leg/hip exercise to focus on in your workouts. Do not neglect the lower back.

Odin
- this was a 20 min routine, starting at almost nothing pace and working up to the point of slight breathlessness. First ten mins are a mix of Maxwell's DD, intu-flow and various Qi-gong warm up drills my mum showed me. I then move onto stuff like Dragon twists, archers, Dands, swinging planks and various spinal rocks. Feel pretty fucking good afterwards. It seems to give me most of the things that longer yoga practices used to; it also flows together nicely, and I try and keep the whole breath/movement synch thing going which is nice.

- Thought I'd record this for future ref - it was a good un.
5-10 reps of each:
-hip circles/pelvic tilts
-forward/back bends
-side bends
-qi gong waist twister (2 variants)
-spinal wave
-shoulder circles
-arm rotations (2 variants)
-tea cup drill
-neck rolls
-flat footed squats
-dragon twists
-lunges
-archers
-bear squats
-ab walkouts
-russian pumps
-dands
-half moon push ups
-mountain climbers
-spinal rocks (2 variants)
-ginastica shin box thing
-rotating bridges (2 variants)
10 mins total, quickish pace.

- full JM routine outlined above... shooting for 20 reps per movement.
then 15 mins floor mobility - basically worked some old BJJ warm up movements.
I really like this kind of work, fluid, graceful and with some slight conditioning effect.

- yoga - vyayam type exercises:
-nauli to start
-crocodile pose, seated diaphragmatic breathing then tadasana to calm the breath a bit
-sun salutations a&b x 3 each
-slow, flat footed squat with forward bend on return, (synching breath) x 20
-slow Dands x 10
-a kneeling exercise I got from a yoga teacher, hard to explain but basically sit on your knees on the outbreath and kneel up on the inhale
-spinal stretch -similar to above but arching your back in a kneeling position
-cat stretch - synching inhale and exhale to movement
-roll into bridge sequence - a few reps and then a static hold
-plough sequence - varying between dynamic and static
-table top - same
-forward bend - static stretch for 10 breaths
-headstand - same
-corpse

- asana, with a vyayam twist:
-sun salutations a&b x 3 each
-Flat footed squats (slow, sycnhed with breath) x 20
-Dands x 10
-Back bridges
-shoulder stand/plough
-headstand

- vinyasa A:
slow mo squat
quad hop
up-dog/down-dog
groiner/prayer stretch
spinal rock into V-sit
deck squat

- Vinyasa B:
slow mo squat
up-dog/down-dog
step through lunge
back knee down and hands brought up over head in reverse arc
down into plank, then up-dog/down-dog and repeat other side

Soupbone
- Tea cup qigong 1/2/3/4 -7+7
Flatfoot squat to bootstrapper x10
Cossack squat 10+10
Taiji waist twister x100
Jason C Brown inspired pushup+lunge + t spine mobility x10
Hindu pushup+down dog x 10
The above was done in about 15:00


- Hindu circuit:
Hindu pushups on the board x10
Body rows x10
Hindu squats x10
Cossack squats x10
Neck bridge x10
Done for 6 rounds

-45:00 of a mobility conditioning circuit and deep breathing exercises
1 sun salute
10 pullups
10 hindu pushups
10 twisting lunges
10 cossack squats
"tiger" crawling
5 deep breaths
Plough

TomFurman
- ROM-Mobility Stuff.
Lighter weights 3 to 10 reps on these. Planks were a minute a piece.
1. Arm Bar
2. Pullover
3. Hack Shrug
4. Halo
5. Windmill
6. Goblet
7. Good Morning
8. Chinese Sq.
9. Foundation Floor, Psoas Twist
10. Sphinx
11. Hi, Mid, Lo Planks
12. Short Bridge [with a bb plate on my waist]
13. Wrestlers Bridge [tight]
14. Frog
15. Jumpstretch Straddle + Hamstring
16. Twist/ Silat Siloh
17. Down Dog with stomach vacuum.
18. Spinal Traction [hanging]
19. Hanging Scapular move. [Larry Scott via Lou Degni]
20. Blackburn forearm stretch

-Resistive Mobility.
1. Armbar
2. Pullover
3. HackShrug
4. Halo
5. Windmill
6. Goblet Sq
7. Good Morning
8. Chinese Sq
9. Supine Psoas
10. Sphinx
11. Puzikas Planks- 3 minutes total, working towards 15 minutes.
12. Short Bridge with 25lb plate x 60 seconds
13. Wrestlers Bridge - 60 seconds working towards 3 minutes
14. Frog
15. Jumpstretch Straddle
16. Yoga Twist
17. Down Dog w/Vacuum
Everything was done for 3 to 10 reps.

- Durability and ROM-
1. Halo with BB plate
2. Stiff legged deadlift to Goblet Squat
3. GUSU
4. Puzikas Helicopter
5. Suitcase Deadlift standing on a small platform
6. Sphinx
7. Gironda Frog Crunch with 10lb plate
8. Puzikas Flyes
9. Plank on fists - 2 minutes
10. Blackburn style straddle drill. [kind of unique]

- Durability+Mobility
Armbar
Pullover
Hack Shrug
Windmill
Goblet Sq
Chinese Sq
G Morning
'Resilient' style Hack
Lying Psoas
Sphinx
Puzikas Plank Series
Short Bridge
Paul Anderson Neck drill
Frog
Lou Degni Scapula Roll
Thomas Kurz adductor flye
Yoga Twist
Russian Pump

- Weighted Mobility.
I think drills like this are very specific to the stress [activity] you are preparing for.
KB Arm Bar is profound. Explore it.
Hip Flexor work
Hammies
Quads and Feet
Groin
Abductors
KB Pullover
Then some position specific Silat drills.

- Do Tom's magic seven, some of which were covered in the CK FMS dvd's. Do them lightly and perfectly. It will cure you. Rotational strength, glutes firing, hip flexor issues, etc. etc.
These drills are good to show if something is off.
Here they are.
1.One legged deadlift contralateral
2.Armbar to TGU to Windmill. ( look for Gray's Titleist clip on the TGU part )
3.Press from kneeling and half kneeling. (half kneeling is one foot up, VERY narrow base,, almost in line). Hip must not fold. Glute is locked, no wobbling.
4.KB toe touch to squat
5.Ov SQ with Pvc then dislocates with same.
6.Renegade Row or one armed, one legged planks
7.Hip Flexor plus ( with kbell in hack position )

These are not about strength,, but perfect form.

- I came up with a little warm down combo for the low back.
1A- 30 Seconds of the Founder Pose. Vary foot width each round.
1B- Hanging Knee ups from chinning bar. Ab-Original Slings optional.
Start with two rounds and build up to whatever volume you want.
2 - McKenzie Position/Sphinx. Hold for up to 3 minutes.
3 - Cat/Camel for a few reps.
Done.

Tinker
- dislocation, wall walking, spinal rock, cossack roll-10 min.
arm screw, neck roll-5 min.

Those are from a bunch of places.
dislocations:refering to any variety of shoulder dislocations, although I usually specify if I use a bunjee as they have a different effect.
wall walking:any variety of walking the hands backward down the wall to a bridge.
spinal rock:from Be Breathed by Sonnon(and just about any of the other stuff I have seen by him), also in Pilates as rolling back. I think yogis and the ginastica natural guys do it too.
cossack roll:this is the sequence in Super Joints called the Cossack, page 40.
arm screw:these arm from Warrior Wellness, but Pavel does an uglier version in SJ called the Egyptian.
neck roll:Grappler's Toolbox

ABW
- Working, and worth keeping:
• The Little 9 Heaven Chi Kung from I learned from Steve Cotter's Youtube clip.
• Pushups on a regular basis, a total of 60-90 reps every other day or so
• Most of Steve Maxwell's Bodyweight exercises from "The Boys Are Back In Town", especially his version of "the Yoga Chair"
• An integrated bunch of joint mobility and chi kung exercises from Xing Yi Nei Gung, John DuCan's "QiGong Recharge" and Scott Sonnon's Intu-flow
• the standing posture sequences from Bikram Yoga


- Shoulder dislocates (or rollovers) with a 30# lb band, 2x15
Wood Choppers: 2x22
Tai Chi Waist twists: 2x22
Tibetan Rite II Dynamic camel stretch 2x21
CC Level I Bridges: 2x22.
CC Level II Leg Raises: 2x22
CC Level III pushups: 2x22 - alternated normal, staggered hands and one hand away from center of body.
Windshield Wipers, Nutcrackers and Tactical Frog mobility series to enhance\improve the squat (as demoed by Maxwell and the "Flexible Steel" RKC guy) as a prep for
CC Level III BW squats: 2x22.
Tibetan Rite "Pumps", 2x12
CC Level I L-Sit x2
CC II Seated Twistx2

Zak-zombie
wall walking x 5
hindu squats x 100 ( broke up into sets of 25-yes I'm a pussy)
hindu pushup x 50 (again broke into sets of 10)
leg raise to plow x 25
bridge push ups x 10

Abg
- restoraton circuit - much love -Maxwell, Sonnon, Rickson
5x
25 spinal rocks
25 rickson yoga
25 amisov squats

I like pasara - I think that's SS best stuff. Basically combines the BJJ warmups we learned from the Gracie's 20 years ago with yoga and some cool transitions. That said, I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible and time is always a factor for me. I think the spinal rock/Rickson/Amisov combo gives me what I need and can easily be scaled from just a warmup to it's own workout

- Weighted warrior wellness with 3 and 5lb DBs
25-50 be breathed
ginastica for about 10 minutes
pushup board work alternated with body rows off ropes
back bend "rehab" - swiss ball, then work the reverse pushups
vibration stuff
about 40m

Drdonkeylove
- JM & Balance
Ba Duan Jin x 2
5 Tibetan Rites (Last movement is always HPU vs. the easier movement shown in most 5TR instructionals)
Stretch Hams, Hips, Seated Twist
DDP Breathing
Total Time: Approx 50 Min
Note: I'm never sure if a "workout" like this is next to useless or, conversely, the most important stuff I do. I don't feel like I'm accomplishing much and take the benefit of the Ba Duan Jin and 5 Tibetan Rites on faith. They certainly don't hurt and the Ba Duan Jin is making me more aware of specific muscles in pushing, specifically the lats. I feel pretty good after this which, perhaps, answers my own question as to their benefit.

- Minimum
Qigong Waist Twister
Ba Duan Jin
Rolling Stretch
Asian Squat

Depending on the amount of time available and how things feel, I often add some or all of the following: JM (especially neck) / Up Dog / Bridging / Down Dog / Serving Teacups / A Few Hindu Squats / Stomach Vacuums / DDP Diamond Cutter / Breathing Exercise
I can't make any great claims about it but it does loosen me up nicely.

GoDogGo!
Current routine and the whys/wherefores on my JM/flex days:
50 Amosov sq with 2 strong JS bands (my knees like these)
Activate! inner hams in a sq, then a full flatfooted sq, work on opening hips
Sit in full sq and fingerwalk sticks
Stand, fingerwalk sticks the other way
36# KB cossacks first flatfooted, then rolling up the heel, then sq up and down 3-4x on ea leg
(some days I'll do shoulder twists with sticks here, not today)
Dislocates with bungee
Reverse dislocates w/ stick
Brief static str for rear of shoulder and wrist rotation (this is the only static str I do, to aid with sticky pts in using the stick)
Furman's "stick trick" currently with a 14" stick. Keeps my shoulders very quiet and fluid.
Pavel's "pumps" 5-10x, twist, knee up and kick, scorpion (for spine and hips)
The Bujinkan's version of the 4 corner drill for hips and balance

I can bang through the above in 20 min if I hurry. I try to keep the pressure on for some cardio benefit.


Fatcat
did this sequence of 300 movements (30 each) nonstop, in 14:57, trying to put myself back together. I have some rings on order and will add in ring pushups, dips, pull-ups and/or bodyweight rows when I can.
1. Pushup
2. Sumo Squat
3. Tablemakers
4. Cossack Squat
5. Situp
6. Hindu Pushup
7. Wrestler’s Bridge
8. Bootstrappers
9. Taiji Waist Twister
10. Four Corners Drill



Mickey O’Neil
- Bodyweight Conditioning CIrcuit x 5 (Steve Maxwell)
I always like doing this one
Hindu Squats-25
Hindu Pushups-15
Pullups-8
Prone Bridge-1 min.
Wrestler's Bridge-1 min.
Heavy Rope (2.5#)-100 skip


BatBoy
Basicly I'm going to cut everything down to the bare bones. I want to maximise my available training time.
All redundant exersises & methods are going to be cut. This means I'm going to take YRG and chop it up and rearrange it with my hsing-i and Bagua stuff. 45 minutes of YFRG is too long. A mixture of CMA stretching and JM drills mixed with Yoga is what I'm looking for.

Morning Joint Mobility & Get the Cobwebs Out Routine
Nothing fancy and takes about 15-20 minutes.

Head turns:
L to R
Side to side
Up down
Circles L& R
Side to side (think I dream of Genie)

Wrist circles
Wrists up down
Chinese Humming bird drill

Arm Circles
Chest expansion drill
Serving tea cups drill

A drill I call turning the handle (I can't remember the Chinese name)
1 minute Bridging

Hip circles
Flat footed squat (stretching out the hips)
Downward Dog
Cobra Stretch

Chinese drill that has you rub your kidneys as you simultaneously go up and down on your toes.
Stand on one leg and flex turn and circle my ankles

Other:

- Tony GentilcoreTry to implement this 1-2 times per week:

1. Turkish Get-Up x1/side
2. Yoga Push-Up x10
3. Reverse Crunch x10
4. 4. Stationary Spiderman x5/side
5. Goblet Squat  x10
6. 3D Band Pull-Aparts or Face Pulls  x10
7. Alternate Lateral Lunge Walk  x5/leg
8. 8. Loaded Carry  x 20yd/arm
9. 9. Goblet Squat  x10
10. Kettlebell Swing  x10

Perform these in circuit fashion with as little rest as possible between each exercise. Rest for 90-120 seconds at the end. Repeat for a total of five rounds.

Mike Boyle
- Start every workout with these eight exercises. Do one set of each exercise, with minimal rest between sets.

Quadruped T-Spine Rotation
Get on your hands and knees, knees hip-width apart. Pick up your right hand and place it behind your head. Without moving your hips, rotate your torso and head to the left so that your right elbow is pointing toward the ground. Then rotate your torso to the right so that your elbow points to the ceiling. That's one rep. Do 10 reps. Repeat on the left side.

Ankle Mobility Drill
Stand about three to four inches from a wall, facing the wall. Place your hands on the wall and take a big step back with your right foot. Drive your left knee toward the wall without lifting your left heel; return to the starting position in one fluid motion (don't hold the stretch). That's one rep. Do five reps driving your knee straight toward the wall, five reps driving your knee past your big toe, and five reps with the knee past your outside (pinky) toe.

Wall Slide or Floor Slide
Stand with your back against a wall (you can do this on the floor, too). Pin your arms to the wall in a goal post position, palms up. Keeping your elbows, forearms, and wrists in contact with the wall, slide your hands up into a Y position as you breathe out. Then pull your arms down into a W position. That's one rep. Do 10 reps

Mini-Band Walk
Standing, place a mini band (a small, circular resistance band) around the bottom of your legs. Step your right foot out to the right so that your feet are wider than shoulder-distance apart. Step your left foot in so that your feet are shoulder-distance apart. Repeat, stepping softly, 10 times to your right side, then 10 times to your left side.

Single-Leg Straight-Leg Deadlift
Hold a medicine ball or two dumbbells in front of your thighs with both hands. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. Balance on your left leg as you reach your right leg out behind you, heel toward the ceiling, and raise your arms out in front of you. Return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times then switch legs.

Split Squat
Stand with your left foot in front of your right, your feet about 2 to 3 feet apart. Bend both knees to lower your body straight down toward the floor as far as you can. Press back up to the starting position. Do 10 reps then repeat with your right foot forward.

Pushup
Get on the floor with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width and your body in a straight line from head to heels. Slowly bend at your elbows to lower your chest down. Press back up. Keep your abs tight, like you're about to be punched in the stomach. Do 10 reps

Single-Arm Dumbbell Row
Grab a 20- to 30-pound dumbbell in your right hand. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent and your torso nearly parallel to the floor. Place your left hand on an exercise bench. Hold the dumbbell with your palm facing in. Pull your elbow back to the ceiling until the dumbbell reaches your torso. Slowly lower the dumbbells back to the starting position. That's one rep. Do 10 reps on each side


- Here are some standards you are supposed to reach according to the swedish olympic commitee.
Squat:2xbw
clean:1.5xbw
deadlift:2.5xbw
chins:1x35
dips:1x50
stright leg raises:1x20
brutal bench back:1x80 (presumably some kind of back raise)
brutal bench abs (picture below):1x35.From position shown sit up

- I do judo and I have the Russian Judo team physical test from the 80's on a chart.
Max was worth 5 points (descending down to 4 points/3/etc.)

30 meter dash: 4.1 seconds - 5 points
2 leg long jump: 260 centimeters (8.53 feet) - 5 points
Power Clean: 30% above bodyweight - 5 points
1,000 meter run: 180 seconds - 5 points
Barbell Squat with Bodyweight: 25 reps in 40 seconds - 5 points
Pullups: 25 reps - 5 reps
Push ups: 90 reps - 5 points
V Sit-ups: 90 reps - 5 points

This is to max the test. The standards go down about 10% t get 4 points and about 25% to get 3 and so on


I Dig big Chicks:
I'm starting a push for my athletes about GPP and what I think they should be able to do. Perhaps not in a pre-meet season, but for most of the year.

Push -Ups: men 50/ Women 35 unbroken set
Pull-Ups/ Chin-ups: men 10, women 5- if the guy is over 210 pound, then same as the women; if the woman is over 180, then 1-2.
Running: men 1/2 mile in 3:30; women 1/2 mile in 4:00; in lieu of running, then
Rowing: 2k in 8:00-8:30
Handstand- If you could do a handstand, that rocks.

I just think, in my heart, that these are basic things that would help you as an athlete in weightlifting; they'd help prevent injury, help you move better, etc... What I've seen is that people are better able to hit the weights in my program, and are losing weight, and are generally looking better and enjoying the programming better.

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Last edited by Xian on Wed Mar 18, 2015 10:06 pm, edited 14 times in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 4:06 pm 
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that is one hell of a post!

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 3:30 pm 
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Thanks Odin.

From Snowmonki of thetaobums on the simple-complex conundrum and meditation:
----
You want to balance and practice xiantian (pre-heaven) and houtian (postheaven) methods.

- The xiantian gong tends to be the deeper more internal stillness practices that take you into yourself and back towards emptiness. Xiantian gong tends to emphasise building and developing dantian and zhongmai.
- The houtian gong tends to be about balancing and developing what and who you are here and now, physically, energetically etc.

Wang Jiwu (1891-1991) was a Xingyi quan master, a Chinese doctor and disciple of Daoist recluse Huo Cheng Guang. He also spent many years studying with one of Huo's senior students.
Below are extracts/quotes describing aspects of 先天功 xiantiangong from the writings of Wang Jiwu, Wang Lianyi and a student of Wang Lianyi.
Quote:
"Method";

The essence of the method of 先天功 xiantiangong is the development of the 下丹田 xiadantian (lower dantian) and the gathering of the 先天元陽氣 xiantian yuan yangqi (pre-heaven original yang qi). According to Wang Lianyi once the original 'yangqi' has filled the dantian "the yuan yang qi will fill the body and circulate freely of its own accord".

As Master Wang writes "Without desire one is strong, without desire one is quiet, without desire one may return to that which is natural, without desire one returns to the original state. With a 心 xin (heart) like still water, from the extreme stillness will spring action, from the emptiness comes that which is alive, yin and yang in harmony and the qi flows unimpeded. With a xin like still water the qi is sufficent and the 神 shen (spirit) full."

Wang Lianyi explains that you "should not try and force the qi to flow through strong intention." Instead practice should be done with "a relaxed mind and the intention focused on the dantian. After the qi has gathered in the dantian, it will find its own way in the 小周天 xiao zhou tian (small heavenly cycle)"

A description of 先天功 xiantiangong by student of Wang Lianyi:
"to practice neigong, to cultivate the dantian’s 内氣 neiqi (inner qi). The training method is not actually that complicated, it’s called Bodhidharma's Pre-Heaven Qigong 达摩先天功, and includes both sitting and lying postures, and even ‘sleeping qigong’, which involves falling asleep naturally whilst practicing the aforementioned postures. The key is to keep practicing every day for 100 days and to keep sex to a minimum.... The idea is that after you have ‘filled up’ the dantian, you can project it to the rest of the body. After the body is full of 真氣 zhen qi (true qi), the body naturally becomes as light and agile as a swallow.

If you practice late at night or early in the morning, you will feel that it’s not you practicing xingyi, but rather the movements of your body are driven by the 内氣 neiqi (inner qi), spontaneous and automatic, and not reliant on your own will. I believe that if we persist in our training, we too can reach the stage of "no-mind is the true mind" (wu yi zhi zhong shi zhen yi) talked about by older generations."

Wang Lianyi explains, "The method utilises natural, abdominal respiration to strengthen the xiantian yuan yang qi (pre-heaven original yang qi). The result is a method which opens the channels of xue (blood) and qi, increases neili (internal power), rids one of disease and improves the health.

The breath should be natural and smooth with the tongue pressing against the roof of the mouth, the lips gently closed, the eyes looking 'inwards' and the ears listening to the self, the xin and qi are coordinated and the intent is on the dantian.

From the extreme of stillness, movement is born. When the xin is quiet and the body relaxed, one will come to a state of 'emptiness' in which the self is forgotten. In this state, the yuan yang qi will fill the body and circulate freely of its own accord. In this state of quiet relaxation, one should practice the xingyi exercises for health."

There are two main schools of thought concerning cultivation, these appear in Yogic, Buddhist, Daoist veins and elsewhere. They are usually viewed as the active school and the passive school, or the way of accumulation and the way of letting go. Yuwei and wuwei if you will.

In the active school of accumulation, it is a process that YOU DO step by step.

The xiantiangong is a methodology by which through cultivation the PROCESS DOES YOU, it happens naturally and spontaneously. There are no step 1, then step 2.

In my understanding the distinction bewteen the one approach and the other is not about whether intent is used. It is more about the use of intent in 'yunqi' moving qi.
The main distinction I make is between wuwei and yuwei, basically whether the process simply happens by itself. Where the gathering, storing, and circulation of qi happens and unfolds naturally as a result of correct cultivation. Or, whether you practice stages and direct each stage with intention to gather, store, and circulate qi.

This comes through when people write stages in the practice, you do A followed by B, followed by C etc. When reading the words of Master Wang Jiwu or his son Wang Lianyi I see the view that everything happens naturally on its own as long as you cultivate using the 'correct method'.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:14 pm 
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Benefits of doing high rep calisthenics at a lively, rhytmic pace (Tom Kurz):

1.) You can do more that way because you can better use the elasticity of your joints and muscles (Bober 1995). Moving without stopping so you can take advantage of the rebound can double your mechanical efficiency thanks to storage and return of energy by the elastic structures of your body so you can do more repetitions. The more you can do the better because it takes many repetitions to strengthen ligaments. Ligaments are strengthened with “chronic activity . . . of an endurance nature” (Tipton et al. 1975) and so are the slow-twitch muscle fibers that do most of the muscular stabilization of the joints.

2.) improves vascularization of muscles and tendons (so they tire and rupture less and recover faster)

3.) Increases the structural strength of muscles and connective tissue so they are less likely to be excessively damaged by strenuous exercises; DOMS, a muscle strain, even a complete muscle rupture. Structural strength is determined by the strength and cross-sectional area of the slow-twitch muscle fibers (they have greater structural strength than fast-twitch fibers) and by the strength of the connective tissue within the muscle. Endurance training benefits the slow twitch fibers - but also the the connective tissue strength within the muscle, probably through the anabolic action of hormones that are delivered to the muscle with the increased blood flow.

4.) Both the high number of repetitions and the lively pace of movements benefit joints. The surface layers of joint cartilage receive nutrition from synovial fluid (joint fluid), and intermittent compressing and decompressing of joint surfaces is necessary for providing nutrients and removing waste products from the cartilage cells (Feiring and Derscheid 1989; Hertling and Kessler 1996). Furthermore, the synovial fluid becomes less viscous and thus more slippery with increased speed of movements in the joint (Hertling and Kessler 1996).

5.) You will develop neuromuscular coordination and endurance (both muscular and cardiovascular) useful for sports and martial arts. The pace of an exercise determines the result. Slow pace “increases” the resistance by eliminating the momentum of the body or of the weight and thus develops hypertrophy. Fast pace “reduces” the resistance because you are taking advantage of momentum. A fast pace also improves mobilization and synchronization of motor units (Pawluk 1985) and so develops the type of functional strength needed in martial arts and combat sports.

6.) Moving in rhythm with deep breathing has the additional benefit of increasing levels of growth hormone.

-----
Program:
Physical
- Hip circles
- Thoracic circles
- Cervical circles

- Cossacks
- Hindu pushups

- Butterfly stretch
- Yogamudra

Mental
- Meditation 40 min. (full lotus, alternating legs each day.)

Notes:
- When I feel like an off day I do the cossacks and hindu pushups as static stretches instead of a dynamic exercises. The goal is to get to 100 reps on both exercises in one set.
- Spinal rocks are out. They are fancy and a nice exercise, but I don't really get anything substantial out of it, and "filler" movements are not something I want. Efficiency! May add the plough at some point by itself though as it is a nice stretch and quite relaxing.


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 Post subject: Jdin was right all along
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 9:00 am 
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Long time no see. Hope everyone has enjoyed the holidays.
Quote:
My typical workout consists of:
1. 3 minutes of clean & press/side press which also functions as cardio warm up for swings.
2. 12 minutes of swings. Swings are usually 2hand and usually swung to above head (about 3/4 snatch ht). I swing from 25 to 40 seconds on the minute. I do from 150 to 200 per day.
3. jog/run 1 mile.
4. 5 chinups

16 minutes a day, 6 times a week with 20kg to 28kg kettlebell helped me to rehab my heart as well as my back. 2h swings with biomechanical breathing have really helped my back when most other things including yoga aggravated it. I am now stronger and more fit than most of the people I know half my age. The 16 minutes of cleans, presses and swings I do keep me strong and fit enough for an old guy which is my only goal. I follow this with a 30 to 60 minute wallk/run. I do some chinups when I venture into the basement and see the chinup bar. I think my current minimalist workout would have been perfect preparation if I had thrown in some occasional squats as leg strength is probably the weak link.

Swings: My goal with the swings is heart health as measured by blood pressure which is the only thing I can easily measure. I get the best blood pressure results and also the most carry over to running by using 35 to 40 second work intervals on the minute. If I exercise hard, my bp stays below 115/65 and I have read that bp is far more meaningful than things like cholesterol so I plan on continuing to swing.
The 20kg kb is too light. I have a hard time recovering since I turned 58 if I do this with the 28kg everyday so I use the 24kg most often. 24kg is the perfect weight for me for daily swings I usually swing the bell above my head and at least 45 degrees above chest height. 28kg is the limit of what I can do daily and up until I turned 58, this is the weight I used daily. This has the same heart rate effect on me as adding 4kg but only swinging to chest height. Around 200 reps of high swings in less than 12 minutes with the 24kg daily seems to have a large effect on bp. I do not get similar effects with other size kettlebell when adjusting reps for equivalent work. I am not sure why… I have found that with current workout of swings+cleans+presses I need to go about 17 minutes to keep positive blood pressure effects (lately around 110/60).
I almost always do 2 hand swings. With 1 hand swings, hand strength becomes the limiting factor and my hands are strong enough. If I feel like 1 hand swings, I do snatches which I like. I used to do nothing but snatches but then I got tired of the hand issues and I probably only do them once a month or so with 24kg. For general conditioning, I think 2 hand swings are the best kb exercise. The 6 days per week swings have got me in the best condition I have been in since I was in college close to 40 years ago. I went over to dd and saw a kb article by 62 year old guy calling swing the fountain of youth after 12 minute workouts with 20kg kb and I think that he may be right. Within the last couple of weeks, the 28kg has become very light for me and I have started to feel like I did when I was young where you thought you could do anything and most of the time you were right

Clean + Press: The cleans+press is used more for a cardio warmup to swings than for increasing pressing strength. The cleans and presses are mostly done as a warmup for the swings as the way I do them (4x4,4) in 4 minutes is not much good for building strength. I am mostly using the c+p as warm up for swings as heart health is my main purpose for doing any of this. I go heavier 1 day a week as well as an occasional set of double cleans to maintain a little strength... . For general strength I do occasional 2 hand cleans up to 120lbs. If I want to go heavier, I use a barbell. I usually do the 2 hand cleans unplanned, when I feel strong, so they seldom end up in my log. If/when my shoulders get sore I switch to clean + side press. The side press makes my shoulder feel really good. I keep my knee's straight and just side bend so it does not look like a lot of youtube side presses where torso is almost parallel to the ground.

I believe that any fitness program should do 3 things.
1. Promote health
2. Enable you to lift things
3. Enable you to move from point a to b ( I do not think you are fit if you can't keep up with an old man or women jogging 10 minute miles).

I keep feeling like I want to do something different but I can not come up with anything better than clean+press, swings,chins and walking/jogging for old man fitness.
lifting barbells will make you stronger and sprinting up hills will make you fitter but swings, c+p, with a few snatches and pullups thrown in will make you fit and strong enough with a lot less hassle, pain and trouble. I wish I learned this at the age of 30 instead of 53.
Local resident Jdin shows the way and is yet another inspiration and piece of the puzzle when it comes to getting closer to a perfect(tm) minimalistic health routine. - Swings are I'm sad to say an awesome and probably necessary addition to my bodyweight-only program. It takes care of the ever-in-bodyweight-only-programs-lacking posterior chain and pulling movements. It also seems to have an extraordinary effect on lower back pain and blood pressure. And while requirering equipment it isn't as difficult to come by. - When traveling it is most likely always possible to find rocks, chairs, books, babies etc. to swing around in some shape or form. It is also simpler than LCCJ or whatever, doesn't require kettlebells to be done and keeps me from getting too involved in the hardstyle/wrongstyle side of things. Winner exercise!

So currently I'm doing:
2x/week (circuit)
- One armed DB swings (25 kg)
- Cossack squat to Lunge
- Hindu Pushups

I only do 5 reps for 6 rounds without rest. I'm that weak...but the goal is to add rounds when I feel like it until I'm up to 10. Then try to do 10 reps per round and move up to 10 rounds total again for a total of 100 reps per exercise. Don't know if it's the wrong way to go about it. I haven't got a clue as to how you should program things for actual progress.

Off days I do static variations of the same movements to work on form, flexibility and a more yoga-esque effect:
- One legged straight legged deadlift (Warrior 3 pose)
- Static kneeling hip flexor stretch and cossack stretch
- Static down dog to less-than-static up dog

...or that is the plan. I've actually manage to overtrain the triceps on this larger than life workload. Kicking their ass slightly 2x a week and then continuing to do down dogs daily to more or less fatigue doesn't agree with them, and they feel tired/overworked. So currently I'm just doing different and non-taxing stretches for the same areas the the "real" exercises hit. Once the vaginas on my arms have been choked by bulging muscles I can hopefully revert back to the down dog as a daily stretch.

Notes:
- When doing the cossack squat i rotate intoto a forward lunge then back to the cossack squat. The forward lung requires stabilization in a different plane, stretches the hip flexors and hits the glutes in a nice way. Seemed like a good transition to include and the movement isn't over-complicated as some of my earlier incarnations of squatting drills might have been.
- I don't do and haven't done the mobility drills for the spine for some time now. Mostly just to see if they truly where necessary. So far I'm doing ok without them.
- I still meditate 40 min daily but don't do the Butterfly stretch anymore. It inflames my left hip - and it always has to some extend. So I have omitted it and the cossack stretch seems to be enough of a prep that my knees don't complain about the full lotus. I hope that it will continue that way.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:49 pm 
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jdin's approach was really good. Definitely on the simple end of the continuum, and as such it is functional rather than a fun or creative activity (imo). That said, it is also sufficiently low volume that you can add truly fun stuff on without being slave to the gym, which is a good thing. As he alluded to though, I think the inclusion of goblet squats would have made it even better.

Keep us posted how your current routine goes!

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2013 8:53 pm 
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I always like reading jdin's log. He's a good guy. I hope he's doing well.

Welcome back, Xian!

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