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Messages - CliffWilkie

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Ask a Yogi! / How to do pranayama
« on: September 29, 2009, 04:43:56 PM »
At your workshop I believe you stated that, along with the Ashtanga series, you had also been doing pranayama breating techniques for many years.  Do you ever teach others how to do this?

Ask a Yogi! / Pulsating with mulabanda
« on: September 29, 2009, 04:41:44 PM »
Is it "correct" to pulsate with the breath somewhat while doing asanas?

After your class in Salt Lake City I pretty much started all over again with Ashtanga and began placing the entire focus on mulabanda and breathing and how much prana that would bring through my body.  Consequently I no longer stretch into asanas I breath into them and let the stretching pretty much take care of itself.  So now when I do asanas it's a bit more "kinematic" than static.  I wanted to know if this was correct.

In other words I don't stretch to the limit and hold it there for five breathes.  I go into an asana to a comfort point then let my body go further in rhythm with my breathing.  So when I'm doing Sirsasana A (headstand) I go up and down somewhat.  I relax mulabanda a little bit, and pull in a deep breath.  Then I gradually tighten mulabanda as I exhale.  As the mulabanda tightens and I exhale more, I push up a bit with my arms and move my balance point from my head to my arms.  I almost lift my head off the ground with my arms as mulabanda tightens.  After exhaling I release mulabanda a bit and go back down on my head.  So I'm going up and down a little rather than remaining still.  I do the same with all the asanas.  With Prasarita Padottanasana D I take my head all the way down as I tighten mulabanda then relax a bit on the inhale.  My head comes up a bit then goes back down further on the next exhale.  So I don't remain static but with each exhalation and tightening of mulabanda my body takes itself further into the stretch pretty much all by itself.  This seems very natural to me and I usually find myself further into various asanas than before.  I don't know of anyone else that does this movement thing.  Is this correct or should one remain at full extension and more stationary with each breath?

Ask a Yogi! / Why is seated meditation so separate from yoga?
« on: September 29, 2009, 04:22:38 PM »
As you said in one of your workshops, "When people see someone in India in seated meditation they say they are 'seated in yoga".  I am puzzled by the apparent separation between what people in the west call yoga and seated meditation.  I do both and have done both for quite some time.  I am surprised that very few people I encounter in yoga classes also do seated meditation.  Most seem to view it as a completely different sort of thing and I find that puzzling.  They seem inseparable to me.  Does it seem to you that there is a separation between the two in the west and, if so, what explains that separation?

Ask a Yogi! / Combining seated meditation with Ashtanga series
« on: September 29, 2009, 04:16:44 PM »

How would you recommend combining seated meditation with any of the Ashtanga series?

I have been practicing seated meditation for many years mostly with Zen Buddhist practioners and Ashtanga for about three years.  I was at your workshop in Salt Lake City about a year ago and found it very liberating.  You made a few comments about things other than Ashtanga such as continually saying a mantram and seated yoga and perhaps you could tell me a bit more.

I do a seated mediation usually every day for about 50 minutes as well as an Ashtanga series.  I do them at completely different times of the day.  Is there any advantage to running them together someway and, if so, how would you recommend sequencing them together?

Ask a Yogi! / Mula Bhanda
« on: November 03, 2008, 09:32:45 PM »
I have some questions about Mula Bhanda and breathing that hopefully you can answer. 

At your recent workshop in Salt Lake City I asked you how tightly to hold Mula bhanda.  My experience had led me to believe that holding it lightly would produce the desired result.  You said that one should hold Mula Bhanda tightly as comfortable and that as time goes by one develops a great deal of core strength that enables one to hold Mula Bhanda quite tightly and, in fact, one should endevour to squeeze tightly enough to "crack walnuts".  Quite a metaphor indeed!

1.  Well, as per instructions, I have made a fundamental change and started squeezing the Mula Bhanda muscles quite tightly.  (It's kinda hard to talk about all this).  In particular, as I exhale I squeeze tighter to expel the last vestiges of air in my lungs.  This feels right but does make me want to relax the muscles a bit as I begin the next inhale.  The muscles are tight from squeezing on the exhale so I have to somewhat relax them to begin the inhale.  Is this normal or am I doing something wrong?  Please advise.

2.  I also notice that if I squeeze mula bhanda tightly and also hold uddiyana bhanda I cannot expel as much air from my lungs as if I relax the udiyana bhanda.  I think this is the way I'm supposed to be doing it but wanted to check.  If I suck in my stomach when I exhale I can expel much more air than if I exhale while keeping the udiyana bhanda tight.  Just wanted to know if I was doing this correctly before I went much further with it.

I really enjoyed your workshop in Salt Lake City.  Changed my whole point of view towards yoga.  Thanks!

Ask a Yogi! / back alignment warmup
« on: November 03, 2008, 09:14:07 PM »

I am missing one of the six warmup twists you teach for aligning the spine before beginning practice.  You showed these to us at your recent workshop in Salt Lake City.  I can remember five.  Please explain which one I am missing.  The ones I know are as follows:

1.  Lying on the back with arms outstretched place one foot on top of the toes of the other and swing both feet down the the floor on each side three times.  Repeat with the other foot on top.

2.  Place the instep of one foot behind the knee of the other leg and swing the knee down to the floor three times.  Repeat with other foot.

3.  With one leg outstretched on the floor, flex the other leg above the head.  Swing the leg to the floor on each side three times.  Repeat.

4.  Flex both legs together overhead and swing them together down on each side three times.

5.  Clasp the arms around the knees, curl up in a ball and rock back and forth for a while.


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