If practice or "path" is stagnating...

, modified 10 Years ago at 10/16/11 9:02 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 10/16/11 9:02 AM

If practice or "path" is stagnating...

Posts: 385 Join Date: 8/11/10 Recent Posts
The origin of buddhist meditation is fused to yoga. E.g., the six yogas of Naropa.

When I began sitting meditation at 15, I was also being introduced to hatha yoga, and I had a significant mental-body event doing some yoga stretches and breathing before bed.

Later, my hatha teacher in college (early 90s) taught that basic breathing in active stretching (which stretches are comfortably performed for two minutes or so) releases muscles more quickly and enduringly. We repeated stretches no less than twice. I recall leaving that hour-long class very consistently in a vast-mind state. A yoga teacher this weekend reminded me of these principles: stretch actively, aligned well, with long slow deep breathing (ujjayi or just long slow deep breathing if ujjayi is unknown).

The college teacher was also clear that no special yogic postures were needed, just to stretch with proper body alignment, stretch actively in the posture for at least two minutes and to breathe slowly, deeply and evenly throughout the stretch. There is a rich body of research documenting how muscle releasing and deep breathing change the bodily processes in ways that feel "good" to the body-mind.
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 10 Years ago at 12/2/11 4:18 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/2/11 4:18 PM

RE: If practice or "path" is stagnating...

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Katy I've always done vinyasa flow style yoga which when done very slowly can be done very, very mindfully with the feeling of anicca kept constant throughout the body. A couple of times recently I've heard good things about Hatha though in terms of what we're practicing here. Im inspired to hold some of these asanas for longer, and see what happens.

I got into all of this because of physical pain, so Im keen to find out if Hatha might be a better way to release tension (particularly in the neck and shoulders / trapezius) than the active flow style I do now.

Do you have any experience of the difference?
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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 12/2/11 8:27 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/2/11 8:27 PM

RE: If practice or "path" is stagnating...

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hi Bagpuss the Gnome,

I got into all of this because of physical pain, so Im keen to find out if Hatha might be a better way to release tension (particularly in the neck and shoulders / trapezius) than the active flow style I do now.

Do you have any experience of the difference?


Yes: I have to do hatha before vinyasa or else I am likely to pull something. Even a tiny little bit of posterior deltoid is giving me a few weeks of difficulty as a result of doing vinyasa without properly working through the body with hatha first.

Flow is continuous, and muscle fibers stay "on-duty" to inform the brain of stretching (muscle receptor endings). During vinyasa, the muscle fibers have "responsibility" for "containing" the stretch. The spindles constantly tell the brain how far out they are stretched in an effort to prevent the body from overdoing it and tearing something.

In a hatha pose, muscle fibers can relax (and this gives the direct feeling of relaxing into the stretch), because, after about two minutes, muscle fibers significantly reduce contractions and defer neuronal communications (which inform the brain of stretching) to an organ in the muscle's tendon (called the Golgi tendon organ). This is why hatha is different from vinyasa. Muscle is actually getting a stretch, which fiber extension endures after the stretch is over (meaning: a long, slow, deep, stretch causes new muscle memory).

Why is that enduring stretch important and noticeable (versus the contractual stretch of vinyasa)? Because when the muscle fibers are stretched out, they don't put unnecessary tensions on the tendons (and tendons are not as flexible as muscles), and the tendons then do not put unnecessary tension on the ligaments (and ligaments are not flexible at all, though they can slide over joints), and, finally, there is no unnecessary tension from combined muscle-tendon-ligament pulling joints together into compression. Lacking constant compression, the soft cartilage can do its job (without having bones pulled too tightly into themselves, shearing joint cartilages more quickly); limbs then move more easily without unnecessarily impeding each other via tensely compressed joints. There are many articles and publications on this.


(I back off the stretch a little if I am not sure if I am overdoing it (i.e., if it is hard to do long, slow, deep breathing then I back off the stretch until I can do long, slow, deep breathing).

I have not considered anicca during stretches (but, sure, I totally agree with that), rather I've spent time with anatta in stretches these past months. If ego-drives cause a person to try to stretch too far and too fast, there can be painless "pops" that quickly become very painful (and enduringly problematic)...in just a few minutes. This can happen to the best-of-the-best, long-term, skilled practitioners. (In lieu of anatta, for disciples of yogic theology, this is can be a practice of Atta, humility, saatva, bhakti (no personal ego) - whatever one prefers).

If you can do both hatha and vinyasa with just breathing evenly through nostrils (i.e., ujjayi, pranayamic), then there are other benefits.

What do you think?
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Bagpuss The Gnome, modified 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 4:24 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/3/11 4:23 AM

RE: If practice or "path" is stagnating...

Posts: 704 Join Date: 11/2/11 Recent Posts
Thanks for the detailed reply Katy. I think this sounds like I've been missing a trick! My asana knowledge/repertoire is fairly strong so I can immediately start experimenting with this. I've ordered a book though, to help me find some specific asanas for my various pains.

Having said all of this, I feel pretty good now im over the worst of the DN these days and have taken up lifting weights and rowing again --not too much, and balanced out with yoga most evenings.

My main issue apart from various pain (mostly caused by trigger points in the scalenes and trapezius) is lack of energy. Even on a 97% vegan / living foods diet i still lack energy and body warnth.

I'd be very interested to hear how you think yoga has affected your energy levels and over all health Katy?
Bart Castelijns, modified 10 Years ago at 12/25/11 4:58 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/25/11 4:57 PM

RE: If practice or "path" is stagnating...

Posts: 57 Join Date: 8/12/10 Recent Posts
Hi katy,

Katy Steger
In a hatha pose, muscle fibers can relax (and this gives the direct feeling of relaxing into the stretch), because, after about two minutes, muscle fibers significantly reduce contractions and defer neuronal communications (which inform the brain of stretching) to an organ in the muscle's tendon (called the Golgi tendon organ). This is why hatha is different from vinyasa. Muscle is actually getting a stretch, which fiber extension endures after the stretch is over (meaning: a long, slow, deep, stretch causes new muscle memory).


what are good resources about the above?

I'm experimenting with longer stretches, up to 2-3 minutes and at the same time letting go of tension in the stretched muscle. This letting go actually makes the stretch more painful. Is this your experience as well?
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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 12/26/11 11:26 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 12/26/11 11:26 AM

RE: If practice or "path" is stagnating...

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
Hello Bart,
what are good resources about the above?
Lately, I've been using Ray Long's books.

Here is Ray Long explaining muscle-tendon actions in a simple posture.

I'm experimenting with longer stretches, up to 2-3 minutes and at the same time letting go of tension in the stretched muscle. This letting go actually makes the stretch more painful. Is this your experience as well?

I don't experience "more painful". Patanjali describes asana postures as follows (sutta book two, trans BonGiovanni): 2.46 The posture should be steady and comfortable.
Change A, modified 10 Years ago at 1/12/12 10:20 AM
Created 10 Years ago at 1/12/12 10:20 AM

RE: If practice or "path" is stagnating...

Posts: 791 Join Date: 5/24/10 Recent Posts
katy s:
The origin of buddhist meditation is fused to yoga. E.g., the six yogas of Naropa.


The Six Yogas of Naropa are related to the completion stage practices of Vajrayana tradition.

From my experience, they are not of much use if practiced without a sitting meditation. Physical body is too stiff and the postures can be very demanding. Also they can release a lot of emotional energy which one may not be able to handle without extensive meditative practices associated with Vajrayana. As such, I don't think there is as much fusion of yoga with meditation in Theravada and Mahayana as it is in Vajrayana. And that too only in later stages after one has an experience of renunciation, emptiness and compassion.
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katy steger,thru11615 with thanks, modified 10 Years ago at 5/10/12 2:57 PM
Created 10 Years ago at 5/10/12 10:50 AM

RE: If practice or "path" is stagnating...

Posts: 1740 Join Date: 10/1/11 Recent Posts
A friend just sent this video of a depressed, impaired person doing what looks like hatha yoga to heal in about 6-10 months.
It is wonderful to see his transformation. Perhaps seeing it will help someone else, if only not to give up nor to buy into a perception without personal study.

[edit: and here's the alternate video I post for Tommy Memoticon]

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