Warrior 2

Let’s continue to break down the warriors, last post was about warrior 1 and today we are in the second. 

You can come to warrior 2 from warrior one, from mountain pose, or from a wide legged stand.

Feet/legs
Bring one leg straight back, foot perpendicular to the back short edge of the mat.
The other leg is bent, toes toward the front short edge of mat.

Make sure you see your toes in the bent leg, this promise you have knee over ankle alignment.
Between your feet imagine a line, your front foot heel is in the middle of your back foot arch.
Gap between your legs should be wide and comfortable. Wider than warrior 1.

Shift weight between your legs and find the balance point.

Pelvis
Your pelvis is open and directed to the wide edge of the mat. Open the hip bones and center the pelvis in the middle. Feel it wanting to pull down to earth.

From here shift your awareness up the spine, from root to crown, aligning it with the imaginary rod (or stem).

Torso/back
your back is up and straight, notice you are not tilted slightly to the side. We have a tendency to bend a little bit toward the back leg. Notice this tilt and straight yourself up.

From a straight strong stem position, open your arms to the sides, strongly, and shift your gaze over your bent leg.

Arms
Focus on strong hold of your arms, open chest and activated shoulder girdle.
Your neck is also working, be gentle with it.

In this position you think again about the two pulling energy fields, the one that is puling you down to earth, and the upper back and crown that is pulling up to sky.

We usually encounter in life a lot of situations that confront us with our inner compass.
Stay in this posture and feel courageous and strong as a warrior :)

Warriors !

The three Warrior poses are foundational in Yoga flow. They usually come in the beginning of the class; as part of sun salutations, as a warm up, or throughout the Vinyasa flow.
They are foundational because they work on strengthening, flexing AND balance, so it is a full body experience.

The warrior represent a “war” inside us. We usually fight against our ego and ignorance (as it’s called in yoga world). Warrior poses are challenging and they bring us focus, strength, clarity, confidence and courage.
They attribute to our posture and walking.
I integrate the warriors in the early warm up because they work on all body parts.

Let’s break them down with alignment cues that are important and beneficial.

Warrior 1

Stand in mountain pose at the short edge of the mat. Bring one leg back straight, toes slightly toward the wide edge of the mat, heel completely on the ground. 
Bend the knee of the front leg, knee above ankle. Make sure you see your toes (the knee doesn’t hide them).

Your pelvis is directed to the front, this is important. Notice that your back leg doesn’t pull open your hip bone and both of your hip bones are directed to the front.
Focus on your legs, ground both feet to the ground firmly, feel your legs working and getting strong.

Shift weight between your legs and find the balance point. Then move your awareness to your torso.

Starting with your lower back, note that you have your natural curve there but not exaggerated to front or down. It should rest in its natural position.
Lengthen your lower back and pull energy up from the root to the crown of your spine.

Imagine a rod or a stem of a flower, it could also be a string, whatever you feel more connected to.
This rod is metaphorically growing from the ground and aligning your torso to be straight.
Our spine has natural curves but when we think about keeping the back straight we want to keep the curves and align from within, our internal, with this imaginary rod that can help.

Spine Yoga Amsterdam

With the breath, after aligning your torso to be up and straight, continue the movement with arms raised up, shoulders in natural position not too much up and not too much away from ears. We want to keep natural inclinations.

The energy in this pose, while you stay in it with gaze (Drishti) directed forward, is pulling you in two directions: the pelvis down to earth, the crown of the head and the arms up to the sky.
Think about these two pulling powers and be balanced in between them.
This is the beauty of this posture (all three of them).

We will learn about the next 2 warriors in the following posts.

Try this at home :)

 

 

Walking meditation

When I worked in an office in Almere, I used to take a walking meditation each day outside (when weather allowed). Walking meditation is a great tool to break routine, to come up from sitting posture that is harmful for our body, it is a break for the mind in the middle of a stressful day, it is awakening and bringing you back to this moment.
It is also a great tool for organizing, your thoughts and your plans, away from the daily chores; from another perspective, relaxed and pondering.

I recommend you to try, you can do it only in the weekend, or at evening after work, when-ever you have time. The weather now is great for walking outside but you can do walking meditation everywhere, also indoors.

We tend to be focused on plenty things, multitasking at work, at home, in our modern society it is almost mandatory skill. I confess that my brain pattern is already disturbed by the copious of stimulations around me. I can’t even watch a movie without checking my phone from time to time (social media).

In walking meditation you narrow your focus a bit. You can narrow it to your body, focus and concentrate only on how you walk, on every muscle, on the movement, on your feet touching the ground.
You can decide you want to focus on your surroundings, absorbing everything you see, hear, smell, as it is the first time; Without judgment, without attachment, without labelling. You can focus on your thoughts, clear the head or watch the thoughts as they come and go. Watching the thoughts means also not to judge, not to label them as anything else except ‘Thought’.  Like watching a movie, observe your thoughts.

This time and break for the brain is very refreshing, It helps both body and mind.
Walking with intention - moves your body, flushing your organs with fresh oxygenated blood, moving your muscles, contributing to your posture and skeletal system.
It helps to create a kind of “Island of sanity” in a busy day.
It connects you with now, it connects you with nature (or people, or yourself), it is refreshing for the brain to stop from overthinking and stress. And it is always a good reminder to pause and just BE.  

I have to admit that since I integrated meditations in my daily routine – I feel less fatigue. I am awake and fresh most of the day and I need less sleeping hours. I have more energy during the day and that is something that keep surprising me. It is like a gift that never stop giving :)
 

Routine breakers

I never knew that about myself, I always thought the opposite. I thought I love routine!
I thought routine is in my blood and what I strive for all the time.
In an era of uncertainty at work, you always keep being scared that something will change and you will be out of job. The basic survival instincts I had made me think Routine is good and I should always have it in order to feel secure.
But after 12 years of having the same routine, working, living in Tel Aviv, going out with my friends, being with my family and travel from time to time, I left everything! And bought one way ticket to Australia.
That was the moment I realized, I actually don’t like routine.
I was 32 years old, and I was willing to “risk” everything and to leave.

From: http://www.shityouregosays.com/

From: http://www.shityouregosays.com/

I guess we all have different attitude toward routine and life. What I consider risk, is maybe something you will laugh about, or maybe you will associate. The point is I didn’t know that about myself and I considered myself to be a routine minded, stability oriented person.
I always felt I needed structure and order to feel secure in a world of disorder.

I started noticing other moments in my life where I didn’t enjoy routine, I used to stay at a job between 2-3 years, no longer. I used to change apartments a lot. I suddenly traveled for a month to Nepal if I felt I really need a change. I made changes in my life but didn’t pay attention to a pattern.

It doesn’t matter, I am not talking about patterns now, I am talking about routine, and how a person who used to live in a comfort zone can break it from time to time. If he wishes to :)

A lot of people are afraid of being bored. And a lot are afraid that routine will wear them away.  
For some the act of going to work every day, walking the same path, at the same hours, and living a different life in the weekend, is considered a routine. For some eating the same food every day can drive them mad because it is routine. For some, celebrating annually in the same restaurant is a routine. Each of us consider it in different ways, It get to disturb us and ‘hit the spot’ in different levels on the scale.
But for all of us there are points where we would like to “break” this routine. Here are some golden advises:

*     Input a minor change in your routine. Even small changes can affect your feeling and manage to break the routine. It could be going from a different direction to work, taking public transport if you usually drive a car, or another train if you usually use the same. Change where you eat while at work, and what you eat. Change your exercise, Make small changes in your schedule, perhaps doing chores in a different order than usual. It always help, even in small doses.

*     Child’s view is always useful. You know how children see the world with excitement, exploration and wonder? Try to look at things from a different perspective. Try to see the beauty in that grey flaky railway in central station while you’re waiting for commute.
Take pictures from specific angles or zoom that can capture the beauty in what you see. The camera will take what your mind perceive as beauty. You will start noticing more and more. Look at things as if it is the first time you see them, because they are. Every moment is different, and perspective can be changed.

*     Which brings us to: Every moment is new! Think about it. Every moment that pass is different than the next, the atoms in our body are moving and changing EVERY moment.
WE are different every moment. When you think about life in this resolution, when you don’t think about the future or the past, you are focused in the moment and you are in the present.
Only when our mind goes wonder about memories from the past, or fears of the future….. That is when we see things as a global picture - there lies routine. It is a thought process. Once we change this thought process and focus on the NOW, we don’t fear the past or future! We are just focused on living this moment to the fullest; and there is no routine in the now.

*     Learn. Always learn new things. Our brain has this capability even as we grow old.
Learn new things every day or every week, it doesn’t have to be a master degree in atomic science, it can be whatever interest you :) keep learning new things all the time – your life won’t be boring, your mind and brain abilities will improve, you will be thankful for that. Curiosity maybe killed the cat but it does only good to people; it is fresh, it is growth.

**The pictures above were taken on my lunch-strolls during routine office hours :)


These are very general small tips to make changes in routine in the daily life. There are bigger things you can do, such as leaving your monogamist relationship behind to a future of unknown, go travel around the world with only a bag, learn a new habit like flying airglider, but each and his own pace and needs. As long as your needs are well treated and you don’t hurt others on the way – it is all legit ;). Do what-ever makes you feel good; You will be better for yourself and your surroundings that way.
 

Balance

I have patience to sit and listen to people’s stories, I read long articles on line, But when it comes to wait few seconds for an application to open I have none.
I can be in a meditative calm state of mind and light incense sticks but a minute earlier I was throwing things or screaming to my fist because of something stupid.
I am living in a capitalist western society in a city (incl. shopping) but my heart is somewhere close to nature, without the stress of society’s rules. Spiritual driven, appreciate content over matter.

I am a pacifist and a Buddhist I believe in love and peace, but some moments I feel so angry I have no compassion, just resentment.  
I am fully aware of society’s brain wash about appearance and beauty standards, yet I adhere to these rules usually. I use make up and shave my legs (even though I know it was invented by Gillette commercial team).
I am mostly introvert but also very social and love spending time with people.

So yeah, a lot of contradictions, I feel like I have those contradictions in my personality and in life in general for a reason. It could be a simple thing like my stomach hurt after drinking milk but I can eat cheese and whipped cream. I can’t explain all the contradictions in my life but I live with them. I think what they teach me is to be balanced.

I am sure you also experience these in your life from time to time. In every Ideology we have, we can find the opposite hiding beneath our believes too. They can live together, as long as you are balanced; In your mind, in your opinions, in your health, in your moods. Balance is a key part of our life, we eager to have life/work balance, we aspire to spend a balanced amount of time with our loved ones, with ourselves and for efficient causes. Balanced is to be open minded and learn to see both sides of every situation (or more if there are). Balanced is to eat healthy and well but know that it is fine to indulge from time to time. Balanced is not taking so hard everything :)

This is me being a "bad yogi", drinking Alcohol :P (Raki in Cyprus)

This is me being a "bad yogi", drinking Alcohol :P (Raki in Cyprus)


You know the body shift energy and can attribute to this feeling of balance, and it is great! We can integrate balance into our practice.
When you concentrate in Warrior 3 for example, you are in the pose, In the moment, Balance postures teach us to live the present moment. If we distract ourselves even for one second! We stumble.


In every balance posture you do, think about the Starting point of distribution, stand in Mountain pose and feel your center, horizontal and perpendicular.
Then shift your body into the pose with awareness to how the balance center point changes!
We actually have the element of balance in a lot of yoga postures: lunges, triangle, standing twists, arm balances, even in side stretches (sitting and standing).
Every time you are in a pose –think about spreading your weight over between all sides of the body, all limbs involved. In Hatha Yoga it is mostly about pulling energy to 2 different directions in a lot of the postures. Hatha is also translated as ha meaning “sun” and tha meaning “moon.” This refers to the balance of masculine aspects—active, hot, sun—and feminine aspects—receptive, cool, moon—within all of us. We also learn to balance our effort and surrender in each pose.

Balancing yoga postures are: Eagle pose, tree pose, extended hand to big toe pose, Half moon pose, lord of the dance, Side plank, handstand, shoulder-stand, warrior 3
So step onto the mat, and bring balance to your life.

Revolved Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1)

Revolved Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1)

** Pictures above are from the book "Yoga anatomy" by leslie kaminoff.
** Here is a nice track to listen to while you're working on your balance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRrIAqCdjCI