yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gross and Subtle

The past few weeks have involved a period of intense lessons for me, ones I have invited into my life, I realize! That's certainly a way to bring change about and move to another (hopefully higher) level, instead of waiting for life to just happen. My concern lately has been twin: Taking care of my outer, "gross," body, and my inner, "subtle," body.

When I want to seek balance in my health, I look around and when a practitioner or treatment resonates with me, I go forward with it. My "directional" points me and I try to be open so I can see it and follow it. I am in excellent health, but I want to maintain and make adjustments in relation to the seasons, and to the phases of my life. In April, I joined a gym and have enjoyed splashing about in the pool during the Aqua-Fit classes which are wonderfully fun cardio workouts. The yoga classes at the gym are very physically challenging, lacking a bit in the mind and spirit components (yoga is supposed to be an equal number of all three), but I am happily keeping up. And my personal trainer kicks my ass which is the most amazing thing in my life right now. I never thought I would have the "muscle memory" to start again the sort of vigorous program I am undertaking. I hope any of you who feel it is behind you will try again.

What is kind of cool is that my personal trainer, a young guy in his mid-twenties, loves to hear about the many forms of yoga and exercise that I have practiced. I taught him "The Five Tibetans" (simple but powerful repetitive exercises, each done only 21 times), meditation encouragement, and balancing postures. We talk about healthy diets and stress management. And one practice that my old yoga teacher taught my class, to keep the spine supple. I will close this blog with ways to do this. "It will keep you young!" she would tell us.

The other amazing thing in my life lately is my nightly ritual of watching lectures by Joseph Campbell on DVD. Joseph Campbell is the renowned scholar of mythology who masterfully links all cultures and traditions historically, observing that we are all "one." I knew deep down, but Campbell reminded me, that we humans living in our modern society are not in accord with nature. Humans since the beginning of time lived in tune with nature. They had to, to survive. We think we are so clever that we can live above or without nature, but look at what is happening. In speaking about the history and philosophy of yoga, Campbell illuminates on the concept of how we have a gross body, that is, our outer body, our external and superficial selves represented in the tangible body that is our machine, and our subtle, inner body, the soul and authentic self that resides deep in our center core. We can't escape our gross body. It is susceptible to illness and reacts when we treat it well or badly, and ages and dies eventually. But when we take care of our gross body, accepting its phases and imperfections, it allows our subtle inner body to blossom and present itself to the world. That is a joy for others to behold and how lovely if everyone could cradle their physical bodies with love and care and thus frolic in this life with others whose inner souls are allowed to shine!

There is so much more, but I will save it for another blog.

For the care of the spine which supports our gross physical bodies, as well as opening nervous system pathways, keeping the spine supple and youthful, move it through all 6 ranges of movement:

1. While standing, drop your chin to your chest, and slowly, one vertabrae at a time, roll your body down so your hands are near your feet. Keep your knees soft. Breathe in and out luxuriously, and slowly roll your body up, with your head coming up last.
2. Next, bring your hands overhead and breathe in. On the exhale, slowly stretch up and back protecting your neck and lower back by emphasizing showing your heart to the sky. Come back to standing upright.
3. Clasp your hands overhead, breathe, and exhale first stretching to the right and holding briefly.
4. Do the same to the left.
5. Stand with your hands on your hips. Reach your right hand into your left hand on the left hip, stretching your face and eyes to the right, so you get a nice twist in the spine.
6. Do the same to the left.

So, the spine's range of movement is forward, backward, side, side, twist, twist. Six ways. Do this everyday. It will keep you young!

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