Global Resilience Solutions > Category:yoga

A Sure Sign of Your Decline…

No, it’s not gray hair.  It is just as easy to spot, though.  So read on to learn more…

And YES, we’ve found a video for you that you definitely won’t want to miss. But don’t CHEAT! Read this post from the top and watch the video at the proper time if you want to benefit.

As People Age 

A funny thing happens when people get older. And by “older” I mean as early as their forties! They become more “top heavy” in the sense that their attention becomes more focused on their torso and head, while they increasingly ignore their lower body entirely and reduce it to a transportation system that takes them (by walking) from point A to point B. I remember vividly watching my own father in this regard. I only saw him try to “run” once and that was when I was about 5 years old, so he was still in his forties – it was during a game of hide-and-go-seek in our backyard and it wasn’t much of a run as I recall! But Dad got virtually no exercise and was a typical example of what I’m talking about here. Not that he was much overweight – he wasn’t. However, like so many people today after the age of forty, if he had fallen or suddenly had to “hit the deck” or dive to the ground, there would have been a horrible mess of ripped and torn muscles, tendons and ligaments, and probably some broken bones too!

The Taoist longevity tradition is constantly inviting us to consider the image of the child. Children are so full of Qi or “vital energy” and feel so close to the ground. They love to tumble and roll and engage their WHOLE bodies in continuous physical activity. The ancient Taoist masters developed forms of exercise to imitate these child-like dynamics on the hypothesis that they were congruent with LIFE, while the “top heavy” dynamic that sets in with so many adults is only congruent with DEATH. And, from the fact that they were able to reliably extend the human lifespan well past one hundred years in great physical, mental and emotional health, the Taoist scientists concluded their hypothesis was correct.

Flexibility and Your Lower Body

After decades of investigating the mind-body connection, I take it as axiomatic that mental and emotional flexibility – the kind so critical for maintaining any kind of objectivity, for avoiding judging things by appearances and also for building great relationships – depends to a very large extent on PHYSICAL flexibility. The “top heavy” crowd – those who have lost lower body flexibility, are afraid of toppling over or falling and who would be lost without chairs to sit on – are notoriously inflexible in their thought processes and emotional lives as well. Beyond that, they have far less energy than their more flexible counterparts. In a very real sense, they are in the process of losing their personal resilience  on all levels.

The Miracle of Stretching

As you probably know, Yoga (Indian Hatha Yoga, to be more precise) is one of the most brilliant methods of exercise ever devised.  Though it’s far more than a system of “exercise”  or “stretching” in the crude, Western sense of the words, today we’ll focus solely on that stretching component.  So watch the video below (it’s really amazing!!) and enjoy!  This viral video came out of Russia – the opening title says “Feline Yoga” and the end title says “The Art of Health Yoga Studio.  It’s not just people who love Yoga…”

The young lady in the video is going through part of a pretty standard Yoga workout and she does have great form!  The cat does too, but I suspect he/she was more interested in finding a lap to curl up in, something Yoga was not designed to provide 😉  Now consider what’s happening as she stretches and goes through these postures…

  • She’s stretching nearly all her muscles, both superficial and deep core.  As she does this, she’s increasing blood circulation throughout her body, toning her circulatory system and delivering more and more oxygen to her muscle tissue.  She is also toning her central nervous system by stretching the nerve fibers that run all through her tissues and is reconnecting her mind/consciousness to those tissues.  All of this keeps the muscles flexible and lubricated, so there is very little chance that sudden exertion will cause any damage or loss of mobility.
  • As the muscles stretch, so does the fasciae that surround the muscle groups.  This helps to ensure that fat cells don’t infiltrate and compromise the integrity of the fascia tissues.  Moreover, a significant part of her body’s energy system runs through the fasciae, so keeping them in good repair helps ensure that critical inter-cellular communication throughout the body is optimized.
  • Along with her muscles, she’s taking her tendons and ligaments through their ranges of motion as well.  And strong tendons and ligaments are critical for developing flexibility, avoiding soft tissue injury and for protecting  the joints.
  • Yet her torso is not being ignored either!  As she does these whole-body stretches, she is actually massaging her internal organs, thereby detoxifying them and feeding them with more blood, oxygen and Qi.
  • She is also taking her spine through its complete range of motion, preventing back pain and helping to circulate spinal fluid and Qi up the spinal column.
  • Finally, the weight-bearing quality of many of these postures (you try staying in “downward dog” posture -or should that be “downward cat” in this case? – for ten minutes or so and you’ll see what I mean!) helps to build and maintain her skeletal structure at the optimal balance of rigidity and flexibility.

YOUR Personal Resilience

So if you want to build your own personal resilience, you absolutely must stretch your body on a regular basis, because that’s the only way to FEED it with the abundant supplies of blood, oxygen and Qi that all its cells are screaming for.  This is what will allow you to maintain or regain your physical and emotional flexibility, build up your central nervous system, create healthy organs, keep your body in proper acid-alkaline balance and make you feel GREAT!

And the best part of all??  You don’t even need the cat!!

Happy stretching!

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger


Fasting Part Two: Fasting for Spiritual Purposes

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Ageless Beauty – Timeless Health:
Building a Lifestyle that Automatically Creates the
Health, Immunity and Longevity You Want

Toronto, Canada: June 4-5, 2011
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Over the course of human history, fasting for spiritual purposes has been at least as widespread and quite probably much more so, than fasting for better health.  We also need to remember that non-Western and pre-industrial cultures did not tend to divide life into categories of “physical” and “spiritual” as we do out of (bad) habit. 


Goals of Spiritual Fasting



There are many different ones.  As I write this, tens of millions of Eastern Christians are beginning their Holy Week fast leading up to Pascha (Easter).  For them the goal is to become more open to divine influence and to actually participate in the events they’re celebrating.  Of course, there are many different spiritual reasons for fasting:

  1. To become more open to divine influence
  2. To receive divine guidance on a particular issue
  3. To receive healing, whether physical, emotional or spiritual
  4. To help someone else receive what they need, whether healing, guidance or protection
  5. To prepare for a spiritually difficult task



In reality, of course, the majority of people who would say they practice spiritual fasting seem to do so on a semi-conscious level at best.  They often think they’re fasting, when they’re simply practicing a form of abstinence, or they’re not clear on how fasting works or exactly what they wish to achieve.


Is fasting a form of sacrifice that God demands imperiously?  Is it a form of punishment for human sin?  Well, if you read the ancient Christian spiritual sources carefully, such as the various collections of “sayings of the desert fathers” from the fourth and fifth centuries, it’s quite clear this isn’t the case.


What emerges is a bit more complex.  Because fasting cleanses the body, it also makes the mind more lucid.  If you consider that the desert dwellers who pioneered Christian spiritual fasting were totally dedicated to remaining in an unbroken state of inner “prayer of the heart”, this lucidity of mind was very important.  The bottom line from their experience is that abstinence from heavy foods and periodic fasting will enable you to maintain focused inner attention and will cut down on the inner dialogue, swirling emotions and physical symptoms that ensnare your attention.  That’s obviously a vital consideration for any sustained program of prayer or meditation, and explains why spiritual fasting has been so widely used worldwide for millennia.  


So if we ask how spiritual fasting works, it’s clear the explanation bridges the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual planes of our being, creating a cleansing and unifying effect.  It’s not simply a matter of fulfilling an abstract divine commandment; it has to do with how your mind-body organism is intended to function.  This is something that Orthodox Christian ascetics, Kriya Yoga practitioners and many native American medicine people, to name just a few, will tell you.  


Here’s a really interesting video on spiritual fasting that also ties in the health aspect in an admirable and well thought out way.  Be sure to pause it to give yourself time to read the text, in addition to listening to the excellent commentary:












A Spiritual Warrior’s Explanation



Without contradicting any of the foregoing, the Coptic Orthodox Monk, Matthew the Poor, offered this explanation of fasting. When he uses the word “self”, he is using it in the sense of the “ego” or “false self”:


“[When we fast] we must reach a state of accepting not the partial, but the complete annihilation of the self, and this can only take place by an act of deliberate volition.  In other words, if we begin by any exercise, such as fasting, which brings us to the partial overcoming of the self, we need to supplement the feeling of satisfaction that comes from accepting this state with an acceptance of the total destruction of the self.  This is obtained by the mental acceptance of death itself, with no dismay or restraint.  ‘But we received the sentence of death in ourselves’ (2 Corinthians 1:19).  


“When our father Abraham offered Isaac his son, he did so partially with his hands, but totally in purpose.  When Abraham proved his willingness to offer Isaac, his only son, God did not leave him to carry out the slaughter; when the offering had been only partially made on the physical level, God considered the sacrifice to have been actually carried out.  This, and only this, is why God redeemed Isaac with a ram – a symbol of Christ – who was to redeem the souls of those whose self was destroyed partially by their actions, but wholly in their intentions.”1.


In terms of spiritual fasting, that’s certainly “food for thought”!  Think about it.  Better still, try it.  Just remember, though, as with fasting for health, the same advice and warnings apply here, so go back and read the previous post before you start!


Blessings!


~ Dr. Symeon Rodger 🙂














Resilience Tip: Cultivate Flexibility

Many years ago I was out taking a walk with a friend of mine, a woman, when we suddenly found ourselves face to face with a fence.  Without a second thought, I hopped over the fence and said, “Well, are you coming?”  Her jaw was almost on the ground and she said, with an awe that quite surprised me, “You’re SO at home in your skin!”

For me it was the first time I realized that not everyone is “at home in their own skin.”  And today, some 25 years later, I could hop that fence every bit as easily as I did it that day.  


Flexibility is one of the great keys to becoming a resilient person.  Physical flexibility is the foundation of mental and spiritual flexibility, of your ability to adapt harmoniously to any situation, even the most extreme kind.  Trust me; if you aren’t physically flexible, you’re not mentally flexible either.  


Of course, there are some other really compelling reasons for building your physical flexibility:


– It improves the circulation of your blood, lymph fluid, spinal fluid and qi
– It protects yours soft tissue from injury
– It greatly relieves psychological stress
– It boosts your overall health, immunity and longevity


So how do you go about getting more flexible?  There are lots of ways, of course; everything from calisthenics to certain types of dancing, to Yoga to Qi Gong and many more.

Here’s a great video I came across that can give you some ideas.  It contains some innovative warm-up exercise used in the pioneering Russian martial art known as “Systema” (meaning “the system”, as if you hadn’t guessed ;-), as it’s taught to members of “SpetsNaz”, the Russian special forces.


http://bit.ly/28snit

(Note: as with any program of physical exercise, you should only engage in this with your physician’s approval, particularly if you have any existing health concerns.  Use common sense.)


Learn, apply, feel great!


~ Dr. Symeon Rodger




The "Shame-Blame-Guilt Game"

This may seem like a strange thing for a priest to say, but nothing turns people into emotional wrecks quite aseffectively as religion.



It’s true. Of course, you have to keep in mind I’ve defined “religion” in a particular way (in my book, The 5 Pillars of Life) and that “religion” is not thesame as an “authentic ancient tradition of self-trans-formation”.

This comes from Philip, one of our members, who sent in this excellent question, preceeded by a couple of paragraphs from an article he had just read. Be sure you read it through first, then go to the bottom and turn up your speakers to find out the answer:



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This morning, I was leafing through a yoga magazine in anacupuncture waiting room when I came across an article that interested me. It was about guilt, and in it, the author distinguished 3 kinds of guilt: natural (feeling guilty about something immediate and specific, which can be repaired), toxic (festering of natural guilt, nagging, non-specific) and existential (not about anything we’ve done personally, or about the state we’re in, but rather about the state of something external (the poor, the environment, etc.)).



I’ll reproduce what the author had to say about the second category, “toxic guilt”:

“Toxic guilt is what happens when natural guilt festers. It manifests as a nagging feeling of pervasive but nonspecific badness, as if your whole life has something wrong with it. This type of free-floating guilt is the hardest kind to deal with, because it arises from lingering patterns, of samskaras, lodged in your subconscious.

“How can you expiate your sin or forgive yourself for something when you don’t know what it is you did – or when you believe that what you did is essentially irreparable? To some extent, this particular type of guilt seems to be an unintended by-product of Judeo-Christian culture, a residue of the doctrine of original sin.

“Tantric traditions especially are known for looking at the world through a lens that sees all life as fundamentally divine. Your attitude toward your guilt will undergo a huge change when you begin to follow a spiritual teaching that – instead of assuming human beings are intrinsically flawed – teaches you to look beyond your flaws and helps you to know your deeper perfection.”

(Philip goes on to say) I’m now reading “The Way of a Pilgrim” (an Eastern Orthodox spiritual classic from 19th century Russia, currently published by Shambhala). In it the author frequently refers to himself as “a sinner” and as being “unworthy”. According to the yoga author’s viewpoint, it would be hard to see his spiritual state as a healthy, evolved one, but rather it would seem benighted. At the same time, this character experiences life as wonder and joy, shows resilience to hardship, and never seems to feel sorry for himself, or “spiral into a pattern of self-destructive action”.

So what’s the truth here??

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Now turn up your speakers and I’ll tell you the TRUTH about all this. And it’s not likely what you’re expecting to hear 😉



MP3 File

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Warrior Coaching International – transforming your mind, body and spirit into SOLID STEEL……wrapped in cotton 😉





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