Swayin’ in the Breeze

Hey guys! This week I’m coming at you with another more complex posture but not because you need strength to hold it. The asana practice I am going to be teaching you is called “tree pose,” and unlike those taught before, this movement is all about balance. My best advice if you’re typically off balance: pick a spot of the floor and focus on it and your breathing. If you have balance, then this shouldn’t be too difficult.

The steps…

  1. To begin, walk to the front of your mat and ground yourself through your feet into the base of yourtree-pose2 mat.
  2. Next, center your weight as evenly as possible and take a moment to focus on breathing properly.
  3. Following that, shift the weight of your body onto your right foot and slowly begin to bring the left foot off of the ground and have it rest in a comfortable position on the right leg. Important note: resting your foot on your knee will cause serious problems; however, anywhere above or below it are acceptable.
  4. Once in a comfortable position, take a moment to find a natural spot to fix your gaze. Your hands may rest on your hip bone, float above your head (like branches), or in any other position comfortable for you.
  5. When ready to release this pose, slowly repeat these steps when shifting to the opposite leg.

To modify this pose if you lack the balance to stay up, try standing with a wall at your back for extra support in keeping you upright, or rather than lifting your foot as high, try lowering it to rest just above your ankle.

Hopefully, you had enough balance, or the modifications worked well enough, to become a sturdy tree, or at least one swaying in the breeze!

Destruction of Democracy

I’m not sure about everyone else reading this but, I cannot wait for November 8th when I get the opportunity to go to the polls and finally have my voice heard, express a freedom coveted in the United States and vote for the 45th president. I get to have a part in shaping history! Now, this is my opinion. There are many people who make the choice to abstain from voting. Whether because of lacking voter efficacy or personal qualms, it is also my opinion that, while not advisable, the decision to not exercise this right is up to them. Unfortunately, for those within the Circle’s society, democracy is being replaced with transparency resulting from Circle technology.

In theory, all the advancements create a utopia, yet in practice combination of such oversight digresses into a dystopia. Take for example the transparency seen in the government within The Circle. It seems practical, nothing can be hidden as a result; however, in terms of safety this fact put people in danger. Some things within the government need to be kept private for national security, as well as the ability to properly think through decisions. Having millions of viewers giving their opinions and ideas on how to run the government defeats the democracy set by the founding fathers. Another point that will destroy this is the use of Circle accounts to vote, pay taxes and overall run the government. Stenton stated that it would “[…] eliminate much of Washington” (395). This would eliminate a major check and balance, throwing the government into peril. Furthermore, it would put a private enterprise in charge allowing for them to manipulate reality such as how they did when framing Congresswoman Williamson who sought to separate the Circle, as it is a monopoly. In her case, she was put under investigation for ethical violations found on her computer (208). It is no coincidence that all she was being accused of was found on technology, an enterprise in which the Circle controlled. Ironically enough even the Circle lacks complete transparency and openness in their meetings. As a last piece of evidence for the destruction of democracy in The Circle, I cite the action that come after “closing” the circle. With the Circle closed, decision making will be completely removed from society. People will be indirectly controlled, watched constantly, and be scrutinized for anything deemed improper whether it has legal basis or not.

In conclusion, through the efforts of the Circle to gain complete democracy through transparency, democracy is destroyed. The crux of democracy is the freedom to choose right from wrong, the right to privacy, and the establishment that make it work.  So, on November 8th when you decide to vote or not, appreciate the fact that you had the ability to make that decision along with all the others you make on a daily basis.

Breathing, It’s harder than you think

I’m assuming many of you read the title and thought something along the line of “I know how to breathe. I’ve been doing it my whole life.” Well you’ve probably been doing it wrong (at least I was). It may seem hard to do something you don’t even need to think about, but if you place one of your hands on your belly-button and take a deep breath it becomes clear. Now, notice: did you breathe from your nose; did your stomach expand; did the breath fill your body? If you answered no to any of these questions, in terms of practicing yoga, you breathe wrong (sorry to break it to you).

In yoga, breathing guides movements so it is important that it is done properly. Breathing through your nose prepares the air prior to reaching your lungs. I understand this may be impossible to do if you suffer from allergies. If that’s the case, you may have no choice in the matter. For those who can, a fun fact about breathing in from your nose is that each nostrilbreathing-exercise does not take in an equal amount of air and typically they switch in dominance about every hour and a half.  To test this, simply cover one nostril and breath from the other alternating between the two. Moving on, allowing your stomach to expand stabilizes you and releases tension on your upper body. Lastly, allowing yourself breathe to fill your body may be a harder concept to grasp. When you breathe, you should feel three “diaphragms” open. The most obvious is your actual diaphragm, but before this you have the “vocal diaphragm,” and after there is the “pelvic diaphragm.” When you breathe, focus your concentration to these areas to see if you can feel the movement in each region.

Overall, this may seem new  -and slightly absurd – but it really makes a difference in helping relax your body as fully as possible.

Upper-level: Up-Dog

Hey guys! Hopefully you’ve been practicing some of the postures that we’ve talked about previously because this week’s pose is a little more difficult than the rest. I call it up-dog (I think it’s really called upward-facing dog), and it’s almost the opposite of downward-facing dog. This posture works to open the chest and truly puts your core strength to the test.

The steps…

  1. To start this, lie prone with your naval in the middle of your mat (once you get the movement down, you could also start in other postures like downward dog)
  2. Next, place your feet soles facing toward the ceiling.
  3. Then, place your palms about shoulder-width apart and elbows bent perpendicular to the floor.
  4. Now, simultaneously press into the mat with your feet and lift your body up. Also, it is important to draw your shoulder blades together and down (don’t over-do this motion).
  5. Your chest should naturally open up, allow this to happen, and if it is not too much of a strain on your neck you may want to shift your gaze toward the ceiling.
  6. At this point, the only parts of your body that touch the mat should be your hands and feet. Your knees and lower legs should be slightly off the floor.

After reading this, you could probably assume that this puts a significant amount of pressure on the wrists. It goes without saying but I’ll say it just to make sure you know, if you feel discomfort stop the pose. Give it an honest effort but remember, this is the most complex posture we’ve discussed thus far so, if you are having trouble with it, don’t be afraid to look up a “How To” video. b917b65828ed4b74

Paradigm Paper Idea

I currently have two possible topics for my paradigm shift paper. The first (and one I’m leaning towards) is the shift of society toward binge watching television shows. For this, I will conduct research focusing on how new forms of internet streaming have changed how people have watched television. In society today, rather than having a shared experience from watching the programs together to being able to watch them individually. I will attempt to analyze how this has had an impact on society. The second would be to look at the change from utilizing libraries for information to the internet that is currently used. If I choose this, I will look at how this change has had an effect on education and people’s mind set as a whole. Let me know what you guys think!

Secrets, Secrets are no fun…

I can’t speak for everyone reading this, but I keep having to remind myself “close your mouth, Zac” because of how shocking the events continue to be. From the crazy “Dream Friday” presentations, to the voluntary-go-or-you’re-in-trouble events, I was in awe at the company’s herd-like mentality. However, selling the idea of transparency was the icing on the cake. I can’t help but imagine clear frames of people walking around with nothing to give to society, because everything they are is already known. Bailey’s guidance of Mae to present  SECRETS ARE LIES, SHARING IS CARING, PRIVACY IS THEFT yields to be terrifying because of the “real world” potential for this to happen.

On paper, the majority of these mantras make sense (the third is a little out there in my opinion but, still, I can relate). I can remember being taught not to keep secrets and the chanting of the childish rhyme “secrets, secrets are no fun, secrets are for everyone,” while people were whispering. Sharing, on the other hand, was never taught to me personally (I’m a twin so it comes with the territory), but society has drilled this idea into children every chance they got from television shows to books. Lastly, while more difficult to relate to the third mantra, as a child and even today I am told constant by my overprotective-but-good-intentioned mother “I gave birth to you so I have the right to know what goes on with you.” So, not to jump to any conclusions, but I’m sure you all can relate to the mantra in one way or another.

I would argue that Eggers created these three statements as a response to the real-world traction that they continue to hold. Pertaining to SECRETS ARE LIES, think about the ordeal with Edward Snowden. The American public was outraged at the fact that they were being listened to, but perhaps they were even more taken aback by the fact that the government had kept this hidden for so long. This mantra, while not to a ‘Circle” extent is present in society today. Moving on to SHARING IS CARING, again we can showcase roots in modern society. Take, for example, the mentality of entitlement that is said to pervade in the younger generations. This mentality didn’t appear out of thin air. It came from an overuse of sharing. The line between what is considered sharing and taking has been blurred as a result. Lastly, PRIVACY IS THEFT. In The Circle, Mae steals the kayak, not knowing a SeeChange was present in the area (275). In this case, the though of privacy did lead her to steal. It’s the same way in reality. Surveillance cameras and alarm systems are used in homes in order to deter people from breaking in or stealing because they are in a sense not alone.

Surprisingly enough, the mantra of this dystopian society are already present. This fact makes Eggers novel that much more terrifying because all it makes our present only a step away from The Circle’s “community.” Overall, while Americans teach less intensified versions, the mantras SECRETS ARE LIES, SHARING IS CARING, PRIVACY IS THEFT are present in reality whether people want to accept it or not.

Yoga’s Recipe Part 2: The Potatoes

It’s time to add to our pot! Continuing on the eight limbs of yoga, the main discussion of this blog will be the niyamas (the potatoes of our recipe, if you will). If you remember from the last time we discussed the limbs of yoga, the yamas focused on “the moral values of your life in the treatment of others and yourself.” Similarly to the yamas, the niyamas also have five subcategories; that said, they focus on how to live “soulfully.” They include: shaucha, santosha, tapas, swadhyaya, and ishvarapranidhana.

Starting off, shaucha, or purity, deals with being clean in mind and body. To achieve this, you should be focused on refraining from eating junk along with participating in or watching acts that are negative to yourselves. Moving on, shaucha, more easily translated as contentment, deals with accepting your current situation. This does not mean become complacent; when following this, you should still have aspirations, yet they should just be able to accept that work is still needed to attain these dreams. Moreover, swadhyaya, translated to “self-study,” pertains to anything that makes you analyze yoursef. This could be anything from rethinking your major to looking at your strengths and weaknesses. This is important to do to ensure that one is living a life that is fulfilling themselves. Lastly, we have ishvarapranidhana: the idea of putting meaning behind your life. Actions speak louder than words, but actions with no purpose get you nowhere.

So, we almost have everything that we need to finish our recipe. Now that you know about the niyamas and yamas, we know how to live morally and soulfully. In the final part of this piece, I’ll discuss the final six limbs of yoga and finally complete the meal.

Relaxation 101

In this post, I want to teach two basic relaxation postures in yoga. I think most have heard of the one, child’s pose, but the second (probably more obscured) may be new to most, crocodile pose. These two posture can be worked into a work out or daily life for periods to steady breathing a feel a sense of relaxation.

The steps to child’s pose…

  1. Start on hands and knees with your naval in the center of the mat.
  2. Next, while keeping your hands extend and shoulder with apart, touch your big toes together and spread your knees apart. While doing this, bring your knees down and rest your butt on your heels.
  3. Then, make sure your arms are extended wide and knees are spread far enough apart to allow for your stomach to expand when breathing. Rest your head on the mat and relax.

Modification: rather than having arms outstretched, you may choose to rest your arms to the side of your body with palms facing upward.

If a deeper stretch is sough, you may wish to spread your knees wider or have a friend place slight pressure on the sacrum.

The steps to crocodile…

  1. Start by lying down on your stomach with feet relaxed behind you.
  2. Then, cross your arms underneath your head
  3. Finally, rest the forehead on your wrists.

Modifications: In this pose, you may also, rather than resting on your wrists, raise your shoulders and rest your chin in the palms of your hands.

While in either of these poses, to get the maximum amount of relaxation focus on breathing fully with equal inhales and exhales. Hopefully these posture will give an outlet for relaxation in your busy and stressful day! makarasana4Crocodile Pose

Edit, edit, and edit some more

To revise my speech and paper, I plan to refocus back toward second hand smoke. Specifically, I feel as if I got slightly carried away and the speech lost focus as a result and after reading it aloud and to a few friends I realized it was confusing as a result. In my paper, I also plan to become more specific in my analysis and state even the most obvious aspects of the piece rather than some of the more general and overarching points I had. Lastly, I need to work on my wordier of sentences to make them more concise. Overall however, I was pleased with my work.

Skip to toolbar