Tag Archives: Yoga

Outside Of My Comfort Zone

success is born out of discomfort, uncertainty, and risk

When I look back at the times when I have succeeded in life, and believe it or not there have been a few, one thing strikes me as germane ~ I wasn’t sitting in a comfy chair pondering the sharp changes in the price of booze since 1970.  Whenever I achieved something important and worthwhile I was uncomfortable, I wasn’t living in the humdrum of my everyday existence, I was operating well outside of my comfort zone.

When we take risks we feel nervous and uncertain, afraid and uncomfortable.  If it’s taking risks with our career, leaving a shitty and dysfunctional relationship, going all-in on a game of cards, or trying to run our first half-marathon, our biggest wins are always born out of discomfort, uncertainty, and risks.

Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, and difficulty.  ~  Theodore Roosevelt

Usually the more uncomfortable I felt, the greater the risks I took, the harder something was to do, when it was almost impossible, then the bigger the success I achieved, the more self-confident I became, and the greater sense of achievement I felt at the end.

And that’s why true success is so rare, why so few people accomplish anything important, and why so few people ever do anything different ~ most people don’t like effort, pain, and difficulty.  Most people don’t even like hard work.

Anytime you try to do something important you will be swimming against the tide.  The people around you; family, friends, co-workers, your partner, will all tell you that what you want to do is stupid, impossible, and wrong.  The more challenging, unique, and off the wall your project is, the stronger the criticism and negative judgementalism will be.  All the people who think they know you will not like you doing something different.  You are not only challenging yourself, you are also challenging their cosy little worlds too.

Ignore the critics, the Job’s comforters, the gainsayers, and the judgemental; you get on and do what you want to do to achieve your dreams, have your hearts desires, or just escape the shit life you are living right now.

There will be setbacks, things will go wrong, you will think you have bitten off more than you can chew, you will wonder WTF made to think you could dream the impossible dream, and then make it happen.  Ignore all that and just keep on keeping on.  It might be hell, but keep on going.

Learn how to be determined, learn how to adapt your plans and schemes to meet changing circumstances, learn how to ignore the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, learn how to be fucking relentless.

Some say that it’s better to stay safe than to take any risks at all.  And that it’s all just too difficult, and I want to watch my soaps instead.  All I know is that faint heart never won fair lady ~ and you can trust me on that one.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

there was a time when Churchill stood alone against the might of Nazi Germany

The Physical Benefits of Yoga

Be where you are, not where you think you should be.

My post earlier today was about rain ~ sort of.  Doing yoga in the warm summer rain is uplifting.  Yoga in the foothills of the Himalayas must be even more so.

Yoga is a 5,000 years old form of exercise that is focused on strength, flexibility, breathing, and mindfulness to boost physical and mental health and wellness.  Yoga is safe, effective, and beneficial ~ especially when it comes to increasing your strength, flexibility, balance, and inner peace.  Yoga tends to improve posture, and far too many people slouch these days, up to and including me, at times.  There is strong evidence that regular yoga has a positive impact on people who suffer with high blood pressure, cardio-vascular diseases, arthritis, migraines, IBS, fibromyalgia, sundry aches and pains, lack of mobility, depression, and anxieties.  I just find that spending time every day doing a little man-type yoga makes me feel better.

Scientific studies on the physical benefits of yoga show that it helps to alleviate the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis, but, the symptoms of arthritis can make some yoga positions difficult and painful in themselves.  However, whatever yoga one can do helps improve the arthritis sufferer’s range of movement, and strengthens the muscles around painful joints.  Those with the autoimmune disease of rheumatoid arthritis also benefit from yoga ~ there will be improvements in overall physical health, walking, energy levels, mood, and reduced pain.

The purpose of yoga is to build strength, awareness, and harmony in both the mind and body.  ~  Natalie Nevins, M.D.

The physical benefits of yoga include:

  • increased flexibility
  • increased muscle strength and tone
  • much improved posture
  • prevents cartilage and joint breakdown
  • improved bone density
  • helps the lymphatic system and boosts immunity
  • helps to fight cancer
  • better breathing, energy, and vitality
  • better balanced metabolism
  • better weight control
  • improved cardio-vascular health
  • reduces high blood pressure
  • improved athletic and sexual performance
  • protection from injury

There is also strong evidence that shows regular yoga practice leads to an increase in serotonin, and a natural decrease in monoamine oxidase.  What this means is that we feel happier, more positive, more energised, and are less likely to suffer from depression.  For me, happier is good.

Some say that yoga is just for girls and metrosexual guys.  And, that we should all get a grip and concentrate on everyday life.  All I know is that everyday life isn’t everything.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

how long to capture that shot?

it doesn’t really matter,

in meditative Yoga time is immaterial.

Cardio Vascular Screening

I went for some cardio-vascular tests today.

Physical activity ~ even if you don’t lose an ounce, you’ll live longer, feel healthier, and be less likely to get cancer, heart disease, stroke, or arthritis.  It’s the closes thing we have to a wonder drug.  ~  Tom Frieden.

This morning I was checked for a potential aortic aneurysm, and I have to admit to being very nervous beforehand.  What if they actually found something?  It was an ultrasound scan, and they covered from my neck to just above my groin.  The cold gell was a bit yucky in places.  But, the good news is that I’m utterly, totally, completely clean and fine.  No nasty crap in my arteries.

If they had found something it would have meant treatment, up to an operation and strong drugs.  It may have also precluded me from overseas travel, and stopped me from driving.

So, the good news just came rolling in, and life is grand again.

The testing doctor even said that I seemed very fit…..  Which re-motivates me to take more physical exercise.  I may even go back to the tai chi and yoga classes.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Relaxation and Right Thinking

Anger blows out the candle of the mind.

People are telling me that I need to relax more, stop being angry, stop being paranoid…

Anger, confusion, and paranoia are all symptoms of a chronic lack of thiamine and potassium in the blood stream ~ and I was suffering from that.  (But so are nausea, heart palpitations, strokes, and death through heart failure)

I realise that I have been holding on to anger from the past.  I need to let go of this anger and stop letting it rule me.  The time to deal with anger and paranoia are when I first feel it ~ I need to relax, let go, and not let anger and paranoia fester in my mind.

Yet I know how to relax, and it’s really very simple.

  • Take a walk by the sea.

  • Practice clean deep breathing, meditation, mindfulness, and yoga.
  • Stay away from any booze.
  • Take a long bath with some relaxing music playing.
  • Get plenty of good quality sleep.
  • Talk with my family and friends.
  • Keep my apartment clean and tidy.
  • Read something inspirational and mindful.
  • Do something creative ~ like writing this blog, making something, cooking…
  • Check my thinking and let go of negative thoughts.
  • Go back to seeing a professional counsellor.
  • Build and photograph a rock stack by the sea.

There is something very therapeutic about building a rock stack.

~

Food on Friday will return next week.

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

pictures taken with a Lumix.

 

Why walk 5 miles a day, every day?

When it comes to walking, it’s all good.

In case you hadn’t heard, there is a health and fitness trend that says walking 10,000 paces a day is good for your body, mind, and soul.  For me, ten-thousand paces equates to about 5 miles on level ground, and will usually take me the best part of two hours to accomplish.  Which begs the question; is it really worth my while to devote two hours a day, every day, just walking to somewhere, or even to nowhere and back again?

Well, actually, yes it is, and these are the reasons why.

Let’s start with something scientific and anatomical ~ blood flow in the legs.  The circulation in our feet and legs only works because we use our calf muscles, and because of non-return valves in the veins.  If we sit still, we have bugger-all blood flow in our feet and legs ~ which is why there’s a risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis during long flights.  If you sit at a desk for 8 hours a day, you are in danger of developing poor circulation, which is nasty.

So if you want to have healthy circulation, one of the things you can do is just get out of your chair, and walk.

My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty.  She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is.  ~  Ellen DeGeneres

Walking more, whether it’s to go somewhere, or for leisure, or part of your health and fitness programme is an easy way to be more active without all that unpleasant sweating, huffing, and puffing that comes with some other forms of exercise.   A brisk walk is classed as moderate-intensity activity, and does count towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.  Walking is a form of exercise that’s easy to fit into your daily routine, for example instead of taking the elevator up a couple of floors, take the stairs.

If you’re not used to taking much exercise, then don’t start off by trying to walk 5 miles.  The Mayo Clinic recommends that you add 1,000 steps a week to your baseline average.  This means you are going to need a pedometer, and the first thing you should do is measure how many steps you take in an average day.  Very Well says that if you are an average American you will most likely be walking 5,000 steps in an entire day, (HA! I don’t believe a word of that, I’m certain the average Californian walks about 2,500 steps a day.)

The respected Mayo Clinic is very keen on walking as a form of exercise and even has a 12-week walking schedule based on work done by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The benefits of walking include improving your blood pressure, energy, happiness, mental health, skin tone, sleep, stamina, strength, stress levels ~ as well as reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, joint problems, obesity, a stroke, and nasty diseases in general.  On top of that you are going to look and feel a hell of a lot better.  The key to walking for health and fitness is to build walking into your daily schedule.

These days I am keen on meditation and mindfulness, but I find it difficult to meditate in the traditional fashion.  So, I meditate during yoga, and I also practice a form of walking meditation.  I have never been taught, nor led through yoga meditation or walking meditation, these are mindfulness practices which just came naturally to me.

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.  ~  Friedrich Nietzsche

All of us should also do some strength exercises, at least twice a week, particularly as we get older.  Personally I like to do some yoga, but I also add an isometric workout into my daily walk.   This two-for the price of one routine means that I make the most use of the couple of hours I spend in the fresh air and sunshine, (we sometimes get sunshine in England).

You don’t have to believe me that walking 10,000 steps a day is a good idea.  Just google 10,000 steps and you will come across loads of articles by people such as the well-respected Dr Mercola who say that walking 10,000 steps a day is a basic requirement for good health and fitness.

In life a couple of things now scare me; having a stroke and developing dementia.  If I can improve my chances of avoiding these life-destroying conditions, then a couple of hours walking every day seems a small price to pay.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Yoga for Men

Yoga is a type of meditation ~ and done properly it’s difficult.

Calling this post Yoga for Men isn’t as sexist or as misogynistic as you may think.  When I was a much younger chap, far more cynical, and much less worldly-wise, I used to think yoga was a bit ‘strange’.  In my mind yoga was something that girls did, and perhaps men who were a bit metrosexual.  Now that I’ve grown up a bit I realise that yoga can be a strenuous and difficult workout ~ the kind of workout that hurts while you’re doing it and makes you ache afterwards.

It turns out that there are lots of reasons why more men should regularly practice yoga.  Some say that yoga strengthens your immune system and relieves stress.  And, that regular yoga improves muscle tone, flexibility, agility, posture, stamina, and core strength.  All I know is that regular yoga exercises and nurtures my body, mind, and spirit.  Some also say that yoga will give you a better sex life.

Just in case you don’t know, yoga involves holding postures, and holding some of these postures for any length of time can be damn difficult.  Even the few, (simple), postures I use require a great deal of strength, balance, and concentration.  Because holding these postures take a lot of strength and stamina, your muscles become more toned and develop greater power and endurance.

Yoga also helps with proper breathing, better posture, better balance, better concentration, better digestion, and increased mindfulness and serenity.   Regular and difficult yoga improves the way you look, stand, walk, and talk.  I have been told, by a very close friend, that regular yoga also greatly improves one’s sex life, and increases the pleasure you can give to your partner.  Also, some yoga poses work as great sex positions and increase the intensity of the female orgasm.  Allegedly, it’s possible for women to have an orgasm just from doing yoga.  Who knew?

So, these are the yoga positions I use regularly, and if I have the names wrong… well I’m not a yoga instructor.

The Tree.  This classical, impressive, and elegant position promotes strength and balance in your feet, ankles, legs, and core.  Like all yoga positions I’ve tried it also aids concentration, calms your breathing, and improves your grasp of mindfulness.  Don’t worry too much if at first you keep losing your balance, what’s probably happening is that you’ve lost your mental focus.  The tree pose puts all your weight on one leg at a time, but the balance, poise, and elegance has to come from the whole body.

~

Downward Facing Dog.  Allegedly, this is one of those yoga poses that’s also a great sexual position ~ I can see that.  This position throws a lot of weight on the upper body, wrists, arms, shoulders, and chest.  It stretches the whole of the back of your legs and  body ~ your spine, arms, shoulders, ankles, calves, and hamstrings.  For me, unless I’m doing it wrong, it also strengthens my knees.

~

The Bridge.  This position is especially designed to strengthen your pelvic floor, (and backside), which is good for all kinds of reasons, up to and including sex.  The bridge position builds strength in your core and lower body ~ personally I can really feel this in my lower abdomen.  This is another of those yoga positions which is also a fabulous sexual position ~ or so I’m told.  When I do this, I keep my back straight and my belly flat ~ I have no idea if that’s a good idea or not.

~

The Plank.  I find this pose tremendously difficult, not because I don’t know how to do it, but because it calls for a tremendous amount of strength.  Done properly the entirety of one’s body weight is brought into play to build core body strength, exercise the arms and shoulders, and increase one’s fortitude.  There are three basic variations of the plank, and the easiest is to rest on your knees rather than stretch out your whole body and rest on your toes.  The second easiest is to support your upper body on your forearms, while the hardest of all is to be in a push-up position with all one’s weight on your toes and hands.  Right now, I can hold this position for one minute only ~ which is a bit pathetic really.

~

The Warrior.  This should be so easy, trust me, it isn’t.  The warrior pose stretches and strengthens the legs and core muscles of the body.  For me it also works the arms and shoulders.  More than that, this is the one position that should be so easy that I want to do it properly and elegantly.  Where that gets difficult is the whole being straight, having one’s belly and backside tight, steadiness and ease thing.  The lady in the picture looks a bit wimpy because her right arm is dropping.

Right now I only use these five positions, and the list above is in the order I do this stuff.  I hold each position for as long as I can, and that varies from 5 minutes per position, to less than a minute, depending on the pose and how I’m feeling that day.  And, again depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll probably run through all five positions a couple or maybe even three times.

However, there are stacks more great yoga positions, and if you really want to learn about yoga, then I should strongly suggest that you take a proper class, there will be one near you.  There are even a bunch of good online yoga classes.  (I took one actual class at my local gym, once, and never went back ~ but that’s just me).  Who knows, you may find yourself alongside some fit, supple, young women.  Who will probably make you feel totally inadequate.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Walking Meditation

Through meditation the higher self is experienced.

True health and fitness can only be experienced and enjoyed when the body, mind, and spirit are all in balance.  You cannot be healthy in one part of your being, if you are not healthy in all.

You should pray for a healthy mind in a healthy body.  ~  Juvenal

To be truly fit and healthy one must exercise, take care of, and nurture all aspects of our being.  Although physical health is deeply connected to mental and emotional health, I believe there is little point in just ‘hitting the gym’ because all that is likely to do is strengthen our body at the expense of our mind and spirit.  I firmly believe that to balance our body, mind, and soul we need to incorporate an integrated health regime into the totality of our lives.

When people tell me they can’t afford to join a gym, I tell them to go outside; planet Earth is a gym and we’re already members.  Walk, run, climb, sweat, and enjoy all of the natural wonder that is available to you.  ~  Steve Maraboli.

One of the activities I use to balance the physical, mental, and spiritual parts of my being is to get out into the sunshine and fresh air for a couple of hours brisk walk every day.  Walking is excellent exercise, but more than that I can also practice walking meditation.

When I was much younger I thought that meditation was weird, nonsensical, even ‘girly’.  But back then I also thought that prayer, self-discovery, spirituality, and yoga were also distinctly odd.  These days I embrace all of these good practices ~ although I still don’t consciously pray to a ‘God’.  With maturity I have begun to understand that these are methods by which I can know myself and become an emotionally healthy man.  To be truly healthy we all need to get outdoors for at least an hour every day.  We all need to exercise our own mind and spirit if we are going to escape from the fortress prison we have built for ourselves.

If there was a mature and peaceful woodland nearby I would take my daily walks there, enjoying forest bathing, what the Japanese call shinrin-yoku.  This is a meditative and spiritual activity that is known to improve one’s mindfulness.  Trees are well-known to possess healing powers.

However, in the here and now of my life it is more appropriate that I take my daily walk by the sea, under the open and  ever-changing sky.  Both the sea and the clouds are peaceful, they help me to experience serenity and mindfulness.  The clouds fire my imagination.  The sea is a primeval and primordial force of nature, a part of the Mother Goddess to which all things return at the end of days.

Walking meditation is an easy thing to do ~ providing one is not distracted by everyday activities.  I don’t use my cell-phone on my meditative walks, I don’t use my camera when I’m in a meditative state, I walk alone, and I don’t talk with anyone ~ as a matter of fact I don’t even notice other people.  Walking meditation is a peaceful part of my life where I can be in touch with the more enlightened part of myself.  Time and space cease to exist in the normal way, the world becomes fully open for me to explore in my mind, I become open to appreciate all things with acceptance and understanding.

The secret to walking meditation is to get outside, on your own, and walk in nature for a while ~ an hour or more is good.  Empty your mind of all immediate concerns.  But most of all, walk.

Even if you have to walk fast for 30 minutes, five days a week, by all means do so.  Never make excuses to why you don’t have time to work out.  Your body deserves to enjoy the taste of a good health.  Never settle for less.  ~  Edmond Mbiaka.

Obviously, just taking a walk each day isn’t enough exercise to keep me fit and healthy.  Walking does little for strength and mobility.  For that I practice yoga.  I used to believe that yoga was the sole preserve of incredibly fit and supple young women, but then I learned that yoga is also for men like me.  Done properly, yoga will improve your health and fitness in body, mind, and spirit.  Done properly, yoga for men hurts a little bit.  If it feels right, you can incorporate yoga into your daily walk.

We can experience so much, appreciate so much, and understand so much, if we are brave enough to open our minds to the wonders of the Cosmos.

I enjoin you; get outside into the fresh air, and walk.

~

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

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