Day 18 – 21 – Oh yes, don’t forget to breathe!


3 hours of yoga yesterday.

Today, I should be a wreck. A tightened bundle of sore muscles with daggers of sharp pain in my joints.

I’m not though. I kept going.

Hydrated like never before.

For the past 21 days I’ve been checking myself. And now that I’ve gained more flexibility, I can concentrate more on adjusting the poses to where I should be. I’m not striving as hard now, but it is another plateau. The pain and tightness shifts from place to place, even inbetween poses. The only thing I can prepare for is the possibility of change, and not hesitate in exploring. I’m just a beginner at this. It might take decades until I can get to textbook positions.

The real experts, what do they concentrate on? Their breath. Just breathing.

Not the fact that they have contorted their bodies into a crazy pretzel shape which compresses their organs, glands, muscles, skin, sweat… They concentrate on breathing. “Yeah, so I have my right foot in my left ear, balancing on my big toe on my left leg, while I’m looking at the ceiling and the right corner of the studio. Hands are on hips and chest. Not a problem. Work on breath.”

We don’t do enough of that. Proper breathing that is. When we are under stress, we only use the top portion of our lungs, not getting down into deeper breaths. Shoulders hunch up, shallow breathing stresses our hearts to pump faster, until we can actually get ourselves into a panic state. It’s a type of negative biofeedback that we do to ourselves. But why? Because we focus on the negative.

So stretch back and away from the computer, take a few deep breaths, lean over the back of the office chair. Smile, and breathe.

Here’s what I’ve observed in myself so far…

For releasing tension and negativity and embrace relaxation, I do more diaphragm breathing. Keep your ribs still (hand on chest), push your belly out with inhaling, then pull it back in. SLOWLY! This will also help massage the abdomen and dump carbon dioxide that may not be moving out of the lungs.

Better oxygenation means you can also think clearer. Clarity.

But your mind tends to wander when you are concentrating on your breath. Groceries, the household chores, bills, that argument you had, past regrets, that song that won’t get out of your head. Stop. Change your focus. Go back to the feeling of the air rushing through your nose, deep down into your belly, then concentrate on flexing those abs to push it out. Slowly.

When you breath in a panicked or stressful state, you become that state.

Give yourself a break, and breathe easier.
Om still here,
Pearce

P.S. For more breathing techniques, go to the Library, your local YOGA studio, and your doctor. Or the Internet, if you have to. Look up Pranayama breathing, stress removal and breathing techniques. Then look up cute pictures of baby animals, you are going to do it anyways.

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Day 8 – Barriers


Things do not hurt the way they used to.

The pain has moved to another place. This pain which I once held is not as strong. I don’t miss it, it wasn’t good for me. I now can see where a shift has occurred, and as much as it did hurt me, it cannot any longer.

When you make room within yourself, you can allow greater things to happen to you. Once you remove the negative that holds you in place, you allow that positive to come in.

I’ve broken through a barrier, found new movement, and I can do things that I could not before.

Pain is temporary and inevitable, suffering is optional.

So, that was a little poetic and twee at the same time. But yes, I have broken through a barrier in my yoga practice. I could go a lot further today than I could yesterday. That magic moment where they tell you, you will become more flexible. BAM! Happened. I need a t-shirt.

I’ve got through the Yin class, which is mainly deep deep deep stretching, and feeling pretty good. The class seemed shorter than it actually was. It felt amazingly good to just get into stretches and hold the position. Guess I was in the zone, and found good concentration. The lower lights helped a little, as staring at a monitor all day long will screw up your eyes. The Foundation class that I finished off going to, was a lot easier. Will definitely get back into the Yin class again, as I ripped through the regular Foundation class. Camel pose, floor bow, done like dinner, got that backward bend in the spine rocking. Felt amazingly good too. Balancing poses, still working on.  Standing bow was a little easier on the right hand side than the left. But the right hip and inner thigh is extremely tight. Even when sitting down on the floor, with both feet soles touching each other, my left leg flops down quite easily. But the right? It’s a bouncy castle. That and the shoulders. I don’t think I’ll ever get into a decent eagle pose, not without surgery on my shoulders and tendons.

Where was I?

Oh yeah.

Pain is temporary and inevitable, suffering is optional.  Mangled up buddhism right there.

I don’t remember all of the painful parts of the practice. (Sort of like, do you remember what you had for lunch a month ago? Seemed important at the time, but now, I don’t even remember the details.) I do know that I can choose to focus on the physical sensation of the muscles relaxing, stretching and strengthening. Or I could choose to focus on the burning, sharp painful, stiffness that pulls, the dull deep throbbing, bright piercing, uncomfortableness. I will acknowledge it, and then let it go.

I can breathe.

Which is something, surprising, that I have to remind myself to do. Even in practice or in the middle of the day. I’m not breathing right. Pranayama exercise to oxygenate, will replace out that afternoon coffee which will dehydrate.

So my advice today is, when you break through a personal barrier, celebrate that past, and look forward to exploring the new.

Just think of the places you’ll go.

Om still here,

Pearce

Day 5 – Mindfulness


Becoming aware of what your body is currently feeling is a little disconcerting, and can lead to other thoughts.

What is that pain? Why is that happening? Why didn’t I start this earlier? Am I going to die much younger? Why is that pain happening? Did I that hurt earlier? Why is this-

Stop.

Don’t let your anxieties grow more anxious thoughts.

Easier said than done, right? So you start small and work your way up. Start by shutting off all electronic devices. Computers, tv’s, smartphones, radios, home phones. Stop updating the internet with pictures of what you are eating. Stop checking or playing through possible permutations of information over the internet. Also known as video games. Stop being nosy of what others are doing.

We are inundated with so much information, we cannot stop for ourselves. 

And simply do nothing. 

You can do nothing for 10 minutes, allow your mind to rest, and become more mindful. Andy Puddicombe in this great TED talk describes this.

This takes practice. And it’s not going to be easy. When you can step back away from anxious thoughts in your brain, you can control them. And once fear is gone, there is space for better things.

And I thought quitting cigarettes was hard.

I’m still here,

Pearce

Day 3 – 2012


Combination of Downward Dog, sinus infection, and partially digested ramen noodle in chicken broth makes for an interesting burp.

Hi. I’m Pearce Kilgour. Geek, Slim Yogi, Dad, Writer, Participant in the last Great Quaffing, owner and proprietor of the General Office of Consciousness. This is my blog, and from the links above, you can find some of my other ramblings, stories, and soon to come, audio recordings thereof.

I’m easing into daily yoga. Just working with some of the poses as they come to me. Warrior, up cobra, downward dog, low plank, half moon, light stretches, an inverted pigeon pose which really seems to relax my hamstrings. Also just stretching out on the floor, and really giving my lower back a chance to relax seems to help. I do yoga today, so I can do yoga tomorrow. I’m looking forward to starting the 30 Classes in 30 Days challenge at Hot Yoga on 20th.

The sinus infection probably comes from the colder weather last week and foolishly I did not cover my forehead or wear my scarf to keep my nose warm. Now, it’s time again for another form of yoga – Neti Pot.  I’ve got my hands on some really good sea salt, no additives, no iodine, no caking agents. Just straight salt. From various sources on the net, it seems that the best combination, depending on the pH of the water, is 1 part Sea Salt to 1 part Baking Soda. I went with half part baking soda, and I can’t tell the difference between the Neti pot ‘buy our brand’ and the combination that I made. (Besides the monetary difference.) For those of you who ever had sinus problems and wanted to get a cranial plumber to just ‘get in there and drill the pressure out’, I do recommend getting over squeamish feelings and try it out. I hated it the first week I did it. But my previous sinus infections have been quite shorter and symptoms have been reduced without the help of over the counter drugs. More info on Nasal Irrigation here! And it is a form of yoga, Jali Neti. That’s right, from a country that has so many people and allergens in the air, it’s no wonder they came up with a method to clean the inside of your nose. What next? A method to clean the inside of your mouth, or teeth? CRAZY!

Also came to the realization that the purer the substance, the harder it is to get hands on it. With every step on the way that adds something to it, also pays that step along the way. The small exploitation of  labour at every transaction, cut the pureness out, and take some on the way. In the end, isn’t the cheapest thing the one with the most filler?

Also back onto the vitamin regimen after the usual New Years feasting has been completed. The usual Christmas Taco, Bacon wrapped Jalapeno’s, Prime Rib (twice), Yorkshire Pudding (once, unfortunately) and Tortierre was distributed across many days. Feeling a little ick across the chest, cholesterol is probably to blame on this again, so time to hit the leafy greens and vitamins. I’ve also been drinking ginger juice, made by a local, and increasing my water intake. As well as consuming green tea whenever I can. And it popped into my head today, Holy Basil. I can’t remember which podcast I was listening to, but I seemed to recall one of the guests was explaining when they take Holy Basil extracts, their synchronicity seems to occur hardcore. The main effect is less stress, so this is something I’m going to try out as well. If I can flow more with my surroundings, the less stress I will have overall. Trust me, I won’t be going completely all leafy greens, if I don’t get my meaty proteins in, I get grumpy.

Took some time to go over some business plans, adding more ideas and sources that I have to research out. Compiling this information will take some time, but once it is together, I will know it inside and out. Just a matter of getting it done.

Also took some time to go over my NaNoWriMo effort, still sitting at 22k, and I know it’s well past the November 30th deadline, but I will finish the stories off. It isn’t good enough for print material, maybe e-book, but it is still a first draft, and I know I can do better. Although, I don’t think the ending has ever been done in major comic book history. Must visit the library. Weekly.

This is not a new years resolution promise, this is me drawing a mark on the trail. Blazing that path. How else can I see where I came from?

That, and I got my 750 words for today done. How you like me now?!

I’m still here,
Pearce