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Stretching for mobility, flexibility, wellbeing

stretching mobility flexibility

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#33 dwai

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 11:34 AM

So...I'm very interested in the Daobum take on this. As there are a lot of traditional martial arts practitioners here -- as well as the qigong / internal stuff and a few who lift weights, run, etc -- I'm curious to know how flexible we are and what our current preferred methods of increasing flexibility and mobility are. I know of various methods, and have tried all I've learnt of, but I'd be interested to know if there are others, or better ways of performing them, and what has worked for you.
 

As for me:

 

I've been working on my flexibility for a while now. I was incredibly inflexible to begin with, unable to touch my toes with straight legs by about 30cm; unable to think about getting into the splits; unable to do a back bridge; terrible scapular mobility, etc. Now, I can not only touch my toes but grab my foot; getting closer to the splits; decent back bridge (spinal mobility needs a lot of work); vastly improved scapular mobility; etc.

 

In the last 12-18 months I've tried various stretching methods -- static, dynamic, ballistic, loaded, sinew -- and have decided that, though different people and different muscles require different approaches, ballistic stretching has an undeservedly bad reputation. It has gotten me as far in the last 2-3 months as all the other methods did in almost a year. One has to be careful, to be sure, and I'm sure it's not for everyone, nor for every muscle, but for my hamstring and hip adductor muscles it has helped enormously.

 

I'll share more if anyone's interested but really I'd like to hear your experience, so... please...

 


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#34 dwai

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 11:40 AM

1.  This depends on my diet.  I am at peak flexibility if I avoid all grains.  Less so if I eat some.  And the least flexible when I fall off the gluten-free wagon.   Nothing glues your joints together worse than the glue.

 

2. Yes, absolutely.  E.g. very few yoga stretches are compatible with taiji, and none of the ones that lock the joints or overstretch the ligaments or both.  A prime example is Snake Creeps Down.  It is very easy to do the yoga way, very hard to do the taiji way.  The taiji way relies on elongating the spine, opening the qua, smoothly operating the psoas up and down, and being able to transfer the weight/qi/power from the back to the front 100-0 to 0-100 -- to name a few intricacies.  The yoga way is easy peasy, you just stretch out the ligaments, this requires no leg strength, no joints control, no spine "unfusion," no internal muscles involvement.  So, this has to be done the taiji way for a real deep impact.

 

3. Yes.

 

Tao meow,

 

Yoga asana practice is not about stretching the ligaments. It is also about elongating the spine, opening the joints, kua, etc. It is about integrating breath with the form and movements/transitions. It depends on how authentic the yoga tradition one learns is. If it is McYoga you can find in a zillion lululemon yoga studios...yes you are right. But that is not Yoga...

 

:)


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#35 CloudHands

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 11:47 AM

 

And I don't know that there is a specific person who I want to have as a teacher anyway, or a specific practice I want to learn. I'm just floating around.

 

Next life !

 

Floating songs sound pretty good

 

Spoiler

 

I just noticed that Aesop float's is followed by "Commencement At The Obedience"


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#36 Taomeow

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 01:34 PM

Tao meow,

 

Yoga asana practice is not about stretching the ligaments. It is also about elongating the spine, opening the joints, kua, etc. It is about integrating breath with the form and movements/transitions. It depends on how authentic the yoga tradition one learns is. If it is McYoga you can find in a zillion lululemon yoga studios...yes you are right. But that is not Yoga...

 

:)

 

 

That's possible.  Can you point out a genuine yoga lineage that is not McYoga?

 

The ancient practitioners of yoga used it as a cosmology and a fighting art and did produce some formidable martial traditions.   Religious appropriation may have done away with that long before McYoga though.  This hasn't happened to taiji yet, but the tendency toward McTaiji (from "wushu" to "competition forms" to "taiji is not a martial art, it's for health" to DVD-taught "masters") is relentless.  However, we are still lucky to have the real thing in unbroken lineage transmissions, and with a modicum of research are able to zero in on the genuine article.  I don't know the situation with yoga, but I have never seen yoga that can be used to kick someone's ass except in some rare footage from a Dzogchen monastery in Tibet, but practitioners of that yoga, which did strike me as powerful and genuine, never teach the public.  


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#37 dust

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 02:18 PM

cool thread dustybeijing. i am also very interested in movement, mobility, flexibility and wellbeing.

 

years ago i stumbled upon a movement specialist named Ido Portal. his philosophy and take on movement changed me and my practice which in turn has transformed my body.

 

i would encourage you to look into some of his work if these videos interest you.

 

Haha! We're on the same page. I've been following Ido (just online) for maybe 2 years. Among a few other influences, he's changed my perspective a lot too. I look forward to a time when I can spare the money for a few months of online coaching, or when he happens to have a seminar nearby.

 

I've always been a generalist in most areas of life, but I was stuck in a weightlifting/bodybuilding routine for many years, thinking it was all I needed -- I barely moved at all except for that. When I discovered this guy espousing a generalist movement philosophy, even talking shit to specialists, I was hooked. But I've had a lot of work to do on mobility. Knowing about some of his methods (LPS etc) and applying hasn't been enough. Or, I want to learn more. That's what has me asking the guys here about their various stretching methods...


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#38 Rishi Das

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 02:36 PM

Haha! We're on the same page. I've been following Ido (just online) for maybe 2 years. Among a few other influences, he's changed my perspective a lot too. I look forward to a time when I can spare the money for a few months of online coaching, or when he happens to have a seminar nearby.

 

I've always been a generalist in most areas of life, but I was stuck in a weightlifting/bodybuilding routine for many years, thinking it was all I needed -- I barely moved at all except for that. When I discovered this guy espousing a generalist movement philosophy, even talking shit to specialists, I was hooked. But I've had a lot of work to do on mobility. Knowing about some of his methods (LPS etc) and applying hasn't been enough. Or, I want to learn more. That's what has me asking the guys here about their various stretching methods...

 

good stuff. i have been told by a couple friends that his online training is not worth it for the money invested. that said, i have no personal experience. i have heard that his in-person weekends/movement camps bring on huge paradigm shifts as he is able to work with one directly. i definitely enjoy the generalist philosophy he preaches and can attest to it transforming the way i approach movement.

 

i too was into weightlifting/bodybuilding for many years. both my mobility and flexibility suffered greatly because of it.

 

another great resource if you have not stumbled upon it yet...

 

https://www.gymnasti...s.com/training/


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#39 dust

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 01:08 AM

good stuff. i have been told by a couple friends that his online training is not worth it for the money invested.

 

Interesting to hear.

 

It's an almost mystical group, hard to find much info about details, pricing etc unless one emails them directly as far as I can tell... but from what I've gathered from the net there are those who love it and those who think it's a waste of money. Some I've seen saying that practicing 3 hours/day 6 days/week for 3 months straight, of course someone will see improvements. Then there are those claiming the deeper level of programming that one can't find just anywhere. Certainly I most look forward to a seminar, or even Movement Camp one year, but won't rule out coaching just yet.

 

Thanks for the GB link. Heard about Sommer but haven't looked into them much. Looks like the blog might have some useful ideas. (As far as training, if I were to part with money, it would likely be for Ido and friends..)


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#40 dwai

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 02:35 AM

That's possible. Can you point out a genuine yoga lineage that is not McYoga?


One has to go to traditional Hindu sources to find real yoga.

That said, even what BKS Iyengar or Pattabhi Jois disseminated via their guru T Krishnamacharya was based on the authentic system.

Can't say much for what is taught in the West though.

Tamil siddhar yoga is one system that comes to mind that retains the original and powerful internal alchemical knowledge.



The ancient practitioners of yoga used it as a cosmology and a fighting art and did produce some formidable martial traditions. Religious appropriation may have done away with that long before McYoga though. This hasn't happened to taiji yet, but the tendency toward McTaiji (from "wushu" to "competition forms" to "taiji is not a martial art, it's for health" to DVD-taught "masters") is relentless. However, we are still lucky to have the real thing in unbroken lineage transmissions, and with a modicum of research are able to zero in on the genuine article. I don't know the situation with yoga, but I have never seen yoga that can be used to kick someone's ass except in some rare footage from a Dzogchen monastery in Tibet, but practitioners of that yoga, which did strike me as powerful and genuine, never teach the public.


Yoga has always been about spiritual transformation and internal alchemy. Yes arts like kalaripayyat, Hyuen lanlong (aka thang-ta), silambam do still contain yogic exercises (even breathwork), however I wouldn't consider these the preceptors of yoga as we know it.

Yoga has existed before patanjali (for millennia). Modern yoga is a derivative of ashtanga yoga (which dates back to at least 500 BCE).
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#41 blue eyed snake

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 04:19 AM

Tao meow,

 

Yoga asana practice is not about stretching the ligaments. It is also about elongating the spine, opening the joints, kua, etc. It is about integrating breath with the form and movements/transitions. It depends on how authentic the yoga tradition one learns is. If it is McYoga you can find in a zillion lululemon yoga studios...yes you are right. But that is not Yoga...

 

:)

 

 

hm... some years ago, in the time I was looking for a teacher, had not found him/her and decided to do some yoga in a nearby group. thinking some is better than nothing. When the teacher was ill or something for a while we got a Pakistani teacher, teaching spirit and yoga in very broken english  ;) .

 

Now something started moving  :P , but he told me that even though he liked me this was not my place/destiny. Relatively soon after I met my chigung teacher and were sure of him the moment i looked into his eyes.

 

But i'm pretty sure this Pakistani guy  would have been able to guide one onto the path Dwai is describing here.

 

My teacher btw, when i asked him if i would get back the limberness that I had when young if I would follow his instructions diligently, he said, if you want that you'd better start with a real yoga too.

 

maybe whether this is needed also depends on the form (and age) you're in when starting.

 

i was a stiff lady nearing fifty at the time...very stiff  :blush:

 

Spoiler


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#42 Taomeow

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 11:11 AM

One has to go to traditional Hindu sources to find real yoga.

That said, even what BKS Iyengar or Pattabhi Jois disseminated via their guru T Krishnamacharya was based on the authentic system.

Can't say much for what is taught in the West though.

Tamil siddhar yoga is one system that comes to mind that retains the original and powerful internal alchemical knowledge.




Yoga has always been about spiritual transformation and internal alchemy. Yes arts like kalaripayyat, Hyuen lanlong (aka thang-ta), silambam do still contain yogic exercises (even breathwork), however I wouldn't consider these the preceptors of yoga as we know it.

Yoga has existed before patanjali (for millennia). Modern yoga is a derivative of ashtanga yoga (which dates back to at least 500 BCE).

 

This is interesting and quite believable.  Taoists have their own stories (and sources uprooted archeologically) pointing to the ancient prehistoric origin of taiji and qigong.  But by "lineage" I mean something documented with names and biographies and years of study and places where such study was undertaken...  who was whose teacher and who was his or her teacher's teacher and for how long, and so on.  E.g. I know my taiji lineage for sure 12 generations back, and am the 13th generation in that particular line.  It is very likely to be much older, but I only know it, with all the information I mentioned, from the 17th century, i.e. from Chen Wanting.  It is unbroken and documented for nearly four hundred years.  That's what I was wondering about  in terms of the alternative to McYoga -- is there anything similar to be found in yoga?

 

And if not, how does one find the "authentic Hindu source?"  What kind of proof of its authenticity does a master offer if the student happens to be interested in getting the authentic art rather than this or that "Kumare?"  Remember Kumare? :D   


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#43 dwai

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 12:24 PM

This is interesting and quite believable. Taoists have their own stories (and sources uprooted archeologically) pointing to the ancient prehistoric origin of taiji and qigong. But by "lineage" I mean something documented with names and biographies and years of study and places where such study was undertaken... who was whose teacher and who was his or her teacher's teacher and for how long, and so on. E.g. I know my taiji lineage for sure 12 generations back, and am the 13th generation in that particular line. It is very likely to be much older, but I only know it, with all the information I mentioned, from the 17th century, i.e. from Chen Wanting. It is unbroken and documented for nearly four hundred years. That's what I was wondering about in terms of the alternative to McYoga -- is there anything similar to be found in yoga?

And if not, how does one find the "authentic Hindu source?" What kind of proof of its authenticity does a master offer if the student happens to be interested in getting the authentic art rather than this or that "Kumare?" Remember Kumare? :D


Indian/Hindu traditions are replete with lineage from historic times. Now whether the orally transmitted chronology is accepted by someone or not is another matter. By authentic Hindu sources I mean one has to go find a genuine teacher in India.

Some of this might seem incredible to "modern" scientific people. For instance Paramahamsa Yogananda lineage traces back to a 2000+ year old immortal known as Babaji. For millions of Indians, that is sufficient evidence of the authenticity of their lineage. Even there his students are Giris or Nathas, etc. For instance yogananda's teacher was Sri Yukteshwar Giri. Being a Giri his lineage is one of the dasanami sampradaya established by Adi Shankara.

Having a teacher with title Giri, Puri, Natha, Saraswati automatically makes the student of said lineage.

Of course that implies one has been truly initiated.

I'm sure you can find people in both daoist/IMA as well as tantric or yogic systems claiming lineage when they have none (or claiming it because they attended one class with an established master).

This is also true that In India millions can study under these masters but only a select few are given the formal lineage (there are very strict guidelines to get formal lineage - celibacy, renunciation etc). That doesn't mean someone who has studied under a Giri or a Natha doesn't not have the knowledge of the system or the power of the lineage. They can even claim tutelage under the lineage, but can't claim formal lineage until they become renunciants.
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#44 Taomeow

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 02:00 PM

Thanks for the explanations.

 

The taiji lineage I was talking about is not orally transmitted.  The orally transmitted ones go way farther back.  I was specifically referring to written documented lineages.  China has been a bureacracy for a very long time.  :D

 

Your explanations seem to corroborate exactly what I was originally saying in response to Dusty's query:

not all stretches are created equal and not all stretches serve universal purposes, there's specific techniques toward specific goals, and the ones used for taiji purposes are not the ones used in yoga.  Yoga as it is available to an average Westerner (or Indian for that matter) who wants to keep his or her body in good repair is not the same yoga that requires celibacy and the rest of it of a devout follower of a spiritual guru.  The former does not do the work I described that is done in taiji toward a body that embodies taiji, and the latter is not "a stretching routine," it's a lifestyle alteration.  I think we may find a way to agree that I was not wrong in my assessment, since from your description, any yoga one is likely to encounter in real everyday life is going to be McYoga, and any yoga that is not McYoga cannot be encountered without canceling one's life.

 

Because taiji has no requirements other than practice, imposes no restrictions whatsoever on one's lifestyle or belief system while providing (in the case of the real thing) access to its own developmental history which one is not required to have faith in anything in particular in order to be able to verify (this is neither "scientific" nor "scientifically incredible," this is just good housekeeping), it can be approached by anyone in search of authenticity -- and then the authentic teacher might open the door and it's up to the student to do the leg work.  There's very, very mysterious places to go from there, but not everyone is looking to taiji for that.  I do, but I know there's no shortcuts...  so I stretch the taiji way to reach what I'm after.  :)


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#45 dwai

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 05:41 PM

Thanks for the explanations.

The taiji lineage I was talking about is not orally transmitted. The orally transmitted ones go way farther back. I was specifically referring to written documented lineages. China has been a bureacracy for a very long time. :D

Your explanations seem to corroborate exactly what I was originally saying in response to Dusty's query:
not all stretches are created equal and not all stretches serve universal purposes, there's specific techniques toward specific goals, and the ones used for taiji purposes are not the ones used in yoga. Yoga as it is available to an average Westerner (or Indian for that matter) who wants to keep his or her body in good repair is not the same yoga that requires celibacy and the rest of it of a devout follower of a spiritual guru. The former does not do the work I described that is done in taiji toward a body that embodies taiji, and the latter is not "a stretching routine," it's a lifestyle alteration. I think we may find a way to agree that I was not wrong in my assessment, since from your description, any yoga one is likely to encounter in real everyday life is going to be McYoga, and any yoga that is not McYoga cannot be encountered without canceling one's life.

Because taiji has no requirements other than practice, imposes no restrictions whatsoever on one's lifestyle or belief system while providing (in the case of the real thing) access to its own developmental history which one is not required to have faith in anything in particular in order to be able to verify (this is neither "scientific" nor "scientifically incredible," this is just good housekeeping), it can be approached by anyone in search of authenticity -- and then the authentic teacher might open the door and it's up to the student to do the leg work. There's very, very mysterious places to go from there, but not everyone is looking to taiji for that. I do, but I know there's no shortcuts... so I stretch the taiji way to reach what I'm after. :)


Well it is possible to find genuine yoga too. Just avoid flashy yoga studios ;)
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#46 Taomeow

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 12:54 AM

That's good to know. 

 

I have never been to a yoga studio, flashy or not.  I learned some yoga from books by Swami Satchidananda and a couple others who had a reputation for being genuine, none of them Westerners.  But that was a long time ago.   I went through the experimenting phase before zeroing in on "my thing."  I did a bunch of stuff at the experimental stage, not just asanas but quite a lot of raja yoga, some arcane Hindu meditations, and yes, the closest I came to genuine yoga was by self-study, all yoga teachers I encountered were somehow off...  I read people well, and they were way off.  Although I've heard about good ones too, but never met one who would ignite the desire to follow and learn. 

 

With taiji, it was the opposite.  My every cell said "yessss!!" after the first one minute interaction with my future teacher.  And I have quite a bit of natural ability for yoga and, at the time, was absolutely non-taiji in the habitual use of my body, very flexible but the yoga way, very much in need of internal stability and balance.  That's another thing...  in yoga I know of (and I'm no expert of course), the balance is achieved by anchoring yourself outside yourself, e.g. by fixing your gaze on an external object   I think this is consistent with the whole guru tradition, the source of your spiritual strength is not inside you, it's someone else.  I am very respectful of that tradition but I'm wired differently...  So even when my body said "yoga," my mind said, "no, taiji!"  Well...  the body had to catch up.  In taiji, the mind is the general.  Your own mind. :) 


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#47 dwai

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 03:48 PM

That's good to know.

I have never been to a yoga studio, flashy or not. I learned some yoga from books by Swami Satchidananda and a couple others who had a reputation for being genuine, none of them Westerners. But that was a long time ago. I went through the experimenting phase before zeroing in on "my thing." I did a bunch of stuff at the experimental stage, not just asanas but quite a lot of raja yoga, some arcane Hindu meditations, and yes, the closest I came to genuine yoga was by self-study, all yoga teachers I encountered were somehow off... I read people well, and they were way off. Although I've heard about good ones too, but never met one who would ignite the desire to follow and learn.

With taiji, it was the opposite. My every cell said "yessss!!" after the first one minute interaction with my future teacher. And I have quite a bit of natural ability for yoga and, at the time, was absolutely non-taiji in the habitual use of my body, very flexible but the yoga way, very much in need of internal stability and balance. That's another thing... in yoga I know of (and I'm no expert of course), the balance is achieved by anchoring yourself outside yourself, e.g. by fixing your gaze on an external object I think this is consistent with the whole guru tradition, the source of your spiritual strength is not inside you, it's someone else. I am very respectful of that tradition but I'm wired differently... So even when my body said "yoga," my mind said, "no, taiji!" Well... the body had to catch up. In taiji, the mind is the general. Your own mind. :)


Well I can't really comment on your insights. My own understanding is that Yoga is absolutely 100% internally anchored (with the objective of union - depending on the underlying tradition, of self and God or Realization of the Self). There is no external focus at all as the first two "internal" stages of Yoga involve sense withdrawal (pratyahara) - meaning drawing the senses in, from external objects to the Self and Dharana (concentration on the Self).

The asanas and breathwork are beginning practices aimed to still the mind and prepare for sense withdrawal and meditation. To call asana practice "Yoga" is akin to calling "taijiquan forms" taijiquan.

The real taijiquan starts once the forms are dropped.
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#48 Taomeow

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 06:07 PM

Well I can't really comment on your insights. My own understanding is that Yoga is absolutely 100% internally anchored (with the objective of union - depending on the underlying tradition, of self and God or Realization of the Self). There is no external focus at all as the first two "internal" stages of Yoga involve sense withdrawal (pratyahara) - meaning drawing the senses in, from external objects to the Self and Dharana (concentration on the Self).

The asanas and breathwork are beginning practices aimed to still the mind and prepare for sense withdrawal and meditation. To call asana practice "Yoga" is akin to calling "taijiquan forms" taijiquan.

The real taijiquan starts once the forms are dropped.

 

Yeah...  and the real swimming starts once the ocean is dropped.  :D

 

Dropping the form before it is embodied is where McTaiji stars.  Dropping it after it's embodied is impossible.  You can't help  understanding what I write because you can't drop the neural wiring created in your brain that has shaped it into a brain that can read English.  Nor is there any need.  if you are sick of English, you can always revert to another language or learn a new one.


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