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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:52 pm 
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I think I may (or may not...) understand what tatpurusa is saying.

I do agree that sometimes flexibility is an issue as well as other problems, but perhaps from the viewpoints of the traditional medical practices (ex. Tibetan medicine) a different perspective could be considered also. From these theories, in terms of the flow of energy (lung-Tib.) throughout the channels in the body, most of us have "blockages" or "knots" which can (and do) restrict the proper flow. Among other benefits such as overall health, a proper flow allows for more flexibility and less pain. :tongue:

In a tantric context, without going into much detail, some of these "exercises" when combined with certain methods can have the effective purpose and results of helping to remove or clearing some of these "inner obstacles". Certainly not what they could appear to be. But the "inner" practices are an important aspect, and should be learned from a qualified teacher. Luckily in the last number of years, through great compassion in our degenerate age, some of these practices have been introduced to the general public whereas in the past they were fairly guarded. These practices can have a great effect and impact on both a healthy body and mind, and could also a serve as a precursor for more advanced practices. I have seen first hand, the results of these practices. And it improves sitting also! :rolling:

M

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The past is but a present memory or condition, the future but a present projection, and the present itself vanishes before it can be grasped.- Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 8:55 pm 
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tatpurusa wrote:
Without this internal practice these exercises are not what they are meant to be.


Okay, I think I understand your point. But even if these asanas are done with the very shallow perspective of athletic stretches, they can make your muscles more flexible. But I forgot about prana's influence on flexibility, so that's an interesting point.

Correct breathing certainly helps though. I took one private lesson with a really great yoga teacher and he taught me ujjayi breathing. This is basically breathing deeply into and out of your chest and heart chakra through your nose only, so that you creat sort of a Darth Vader-like "whoosing" sound in the back of your throat. With each inhalation, you take in more energy. With each exhalation you use this energy to go deeper into the stretch. This breathing has helping my stretching a lot.

Here's a video about ujjayi breathing:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbqI64b2 ... re=related


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PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2010 7:58 pm 
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I found some great videos about stretching and getting into the lotus position by a man who's both a chiropractor and a martial artist. I find his scientific, medical perspective to be a really unique and insightful point of view on stretching and his videos have clarified a lot of things for me and reinspired me.

Check these out:
Preparation for Getting into the Lotus
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL7CN_sf ... r_embedded

Getting into Lotus (in 3 parts)
http://www.youtube.com/user/howtostretc ... 7VYA8IP1QM
http://www.youtube.com/user/howtostretc ... guNYy_qRnY
http://www.youtube.com/user/howtostretc ... cqkVfUJRd4

The Pain of Stretching
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TU-sTkE2 ... re=related

Groin Stretches (with "lymph rub" technique)
http://www.youtube.com/user/howtostretc ... aTaocN77TA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZOGzTfI ... re=related

Loosening the hips
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJAIa3BM ... re=related

More Hip Stretch Info (about the spine, psoas muscles, and subconsciously tensing muscles)
http://www.youtube.com/user/howtostretc ... E9R69lr3_I

Squatting Stretches (which I'd never thought about before)
http://www.youtube.com/user/howtostretc ... We37lYEWZg

Iliotibial Stretches
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLmXKedp ... re=related

Hamstring stretches
http://www.youtube.com/user/howtostretc ... QSNCWB-GPM

Stretch your feet (with an appearance from a special guest...)
http://www.youtube.com/user/howtostretc ... fyA5Wga8bM

*an added bonus for the runners out there*
His method of preventing shin splints
http://www.youtube.com/user/howtostretc ... iltG-pmIsA


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PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2010 5:00 am 
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At present, I would recommend stretching exercices as better for achieving lotus posture than the posture itself.

I've never had much problem getting into the half lotus and after a year or two, full lotus. The problem was, I was did this by pressing my hips forward to connect with the floor and this puts a lot of stress on your knee (if half-lotus, the knee you have folded up on your thigh).

I could sit for 20-30 minutes without too much trouble before the pain barrier kicked in, but 5+ years of doing that eventually completely ruined my right knee. I have barely used it for posture (folding my right foot up in half lotus or sitting in full lotus) for two years and just the other day I sat full lotus for only 20 minutes and felt it the rest of the day in the right knee, this despite my hips being open and relaxed.

What I did instead was retrain to sit with my left foot up in half lotus, only this time making sure I did it with properly rotated hips. This really is the secret for painfree zazen. By now, I can sit without any problems for 60min+ without much noticeable pain and I have a feeling that could easily be stretched to 90 or even 120 with a bit of extra practise.

The problem, posturewise, is that to do it right you have to open up your hips and relax. This makes it virtually impossible to sit as it means that in full lotus your posture is going to start sliding apart and in half lotus your knees will be way up high in the air, if it's not also sliding apart.

So really, you have to stretch until you can approximate a proper posture with relaxed and open hips. Sititng half lotus by pushing your hips forward won't do your body many favours in this regard.

What I did in addition to stretches was to try and sit after having taken a hot shower or after an intense workout, when your muscles are heated and flexible. Then, when I was getting closer to half lotus, I would take a heavy book or something as a weight on the leg to help the knee touch the ground. But only to make sure that the hips were still relaxed and stretching. That went on for a few months and allowed a sitting posture until I no longer needed the weight and could sit anywhere.

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"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra


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PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2010 11:41 am 
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Hi Anders,

Thanks for sharing your experience with lotus. By "pushing your hips forward" do you mean that you only did lotus while sitting on cushions? Most yoga teachers just do it on the flat ground, which takes more flexibility.


Everyone,

Here's another page of preparatory stretches for lotus that I found:
http://www.movingintostillness.com/book ... asana.html


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PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2010 2:02 pm 
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Luke wrote:
Hi Anders,

Thanks for sharing your experience with lotus. By "pushing your hips forward" do you mean that you only did lotus while sitting on cushions? Most yoga teachers just do it on the flat ground, which takes more flexibility.


I did (and do). I don't know of any meditation teachers who don't advise using a cushion for meditation. Even the Buddha advised to collect a bunch of leaves for elevation when sitting under trees.

You'll notice even super-flex girl in the first video (which is awesome btw, thanks for sharing) only connects with one knee on the ground in full lotus without elevation. If you're gonna sit for longer periods, such as for meditation, you knees need to rest on the ground.

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"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra


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