Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London Riots and Thoughts on Finding Peace

The words on every one's lips this week are 'The London Riots' and as I always do when things seem to have gone this disastrously wrong I find myself looking for the yoga in it all. Some sort of lesson or purpose beneath it all.
If you haven't read anything on this yet here's a link to the Canadian coverage on whats been happening-               

When I first read stories like this I always find my mind reeling. Trying to understand, trying to see both sides. It's
hard to put myself in the shoes of rioters or police. I don't get the urge to throw bricks at people all that often or hit them with batons, but maybe if I lived with these people I would. 
So I try to break it down into something I understand, not to minimize the importance of the events, just trying to make it into something my brain can get. 

The behavior of the rioters seems almost animalistic to me. The destroying, the taking and the hoarding somehow reminds me of a dog that's often neglected and to frequently yelled at or kicked. And that's not to say that I think these rioters are mongrels, but if you read the news stories it says right there, plain as day that these people feel they are being treated as less then human. And it seems to me they have decided if they will be treated as less then human then they will act that way.  

The police and government in turn are acting the part of neglectful abusive owner even as this situation has swung so far out of their control. Refusing to call them riots, just thug behavior. Pointing out how many police have been hurt but never mentioning the numbers of rioters getting hit or injured. Ignoring the root of the problem but waving the rolled up newspaper at it, threatening to hit it if the barking doesn't stop.
And in that lies the problem, two sides of the war refusing to admit the other side might be right, and neither side able to have any empathy for the other. Both are saying in chorus, "I am suffering and it's all your fault!"  

In the yoga ideal in my mind the police/government issue a statement to the rioters stating "We recognize there have been problems here and that we have not been part of the solution. Poverty, racial targeting and unfair use of power are things we've had a hand in that have helped to instigate these events. We need to start working these things out on equal footing." and at that same moment rioters would release a statement to the police saying, "We recognize there have been problems here and that we have not been part of the solution. Vandalism, violence and a lack of concern for the health and well being of our fellow neighbor are all things we have used to create this situation. It's time we talk about a real solution." in the real world I know these things won't be said, instead both sides will continue to push until one side falls over or both lose the energy to stand and lie down for another 25 years.

My only hope is the belief that many people need to reach the very bottom before they can see how pointless this stuff is, and then some will stand up and say "Well, that didn't work, time to try something different." Maybe then it will be time for change.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Weekly Asana Analysis- Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose amid Baby Blur

Maybe this pose looks too easy but one of the great things about it is you can do it almost anywhere, standing in the elevator, waiting in line, at the bus stop, at the bar... And for people who are a little yoga shy don't worry, no one will even know you're doing it.

Mountain Pose- Tadasana
  1. Start this pose standing up with your feet hip width apart.  Your feet should be parallel to each.
  2. Once you've found the right position for your feet plant your heels and lift the front part of your foot up. When you put the ball of your foot back down try to put it closer to the heel of your foot, making a higher arch in your foot. Spread your toes as far apart from each other as you can.
  3. Moving up the body consider the tilt of your pelvis. The easiest way to do this is by touching your lower back. If there seems to have a big 'C' curve in it your pelvis is tilted forward. If it is very flat your pelvis is tilted back. If your flexibility allows it find a place in the middle where there is a curve in the lower spine but not so much that it is pushing your ribs out.
  4. Engage your abdominals slightly but do not make them so rigid as to stop your breath from entering your  abdomen.
  5. Pretend there is a string attached to the top part of your head in the area where all your hair swirls apart (the crown). Stretch up as though someone is pulling that string towards the ceiling. 
  6. Roll your shoulders together in front of you and then roll them back behind you like you are trying to touch your shoulder blades. Find somewhere in the middle that feels strong but not rigid. Take and deep breath and relax your shoulders away from your ears on the exhale.
  7. Turn your hands so that your palms are facing towards your legs.
  8. Tuck your chin towards your collar bone slightly (pulling it in maybe 1 inch).
  9. On your inhale fill your belly and your chest and on your exhale allow the chest to fall and your belly button to come towards your spine.
  10. Stay like this for ten deep breaths.
Tips- This is a great pose for assessing imbalance. If you perform it in front of the mirror look at your shoulders. Are they the same level and distance from the mirror or is one higher or more rolled forward? Look at your feet. Are your toes trying to turn out or in? Do your knees bend backwards or away from each other? Turn sideways and look again. Do you notice the extra curve in your lower back keeps wanting to return? Do your shoulders try to roll forward? Is your chin pulling forward? All of these are signs of misalignments in the body which can lead to pain in many different parts of the body. While it may not be obvious when you first look in the mirror it will become more obvious as you get used to looking for these things and also as you practice yoga these things will begin to come back into line.

For an added stretch reach your right hand behind your back and grab your left hand or left elbow. Let your right ear drop to the right shoulder. Depending how much stretch you feel you can start pulling your left arm to your right side behind your back. Try to release the weight of your head and relax all the muscles in the left side of your neck. Breathe and repeat on the other side.

For an added challenge while standing in Mountain Pose bend your arms at the elbow until your arms are right angles. Raise your arms until your fingers are in line with your chin. Pull your shoulder blades towards each other, contracting the muscles between your shoulder blades, release. Do this for three sets of 20, moving with the breathe and remembering to breath deeply.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    The Opposite of Yoga

    Recently in the news:
    When the whole meaning of the word yoga is union it's hard to believe that people can try to lay claim and say this is mine and that is yours. The main cause of any war is a belief that you can own something that no one else can. I think if I were Yoga to the People the best thing I could have done would be to just ignore Bikram, but they've already spoken and created ego around the whole situation. I think it's hard when you're passionate about something not to speak up for it, but when your passion is yoga a verbal spat doesn't really help your cause.
    Wow, too bad!