Hi there! It's beetee. Summer has started this week with Summer Solstice on Tuesday 21 June. In Tokyo although it's raining season, we had a few days of high bright sun where I lied on my yoga mat on the balcony reading Klara and The Sun, a novel by the Nobel Prize-winning British writer Kazuo Ishiguro. It seems that in Ishiguro's world, not just humans but also AI robots have the tendency to develop myths and beliefs to worship The Sun, its fascinating energy and power. It's a beautiful story. If you have read it, care to share your thoughts?
This week's quick dive: Extended Side Angle Pose, Algebraic Mediation and Never Too Old Too Learn.
Yoga Pose of The Week: Extended Side Angle Pose
A powerful pose that is a continuation of the series of hip-opening poses we have been talking about in the last couple of Yoga Quick Dives (chair pose and triangle pose). Extended Side Angle Pose - Utthita Parsvakonasana in Sanskrit, but really, don't worry about it - strengthens and stretches the legs, hips, and hamstrings. It also opens the chest and shoulders, which can be beneficial if you have any stiffness in your shoulders or back. It is also a great side body stretch.
Before going into Extended Side Angle pose, remember to get a good warm up of the hips with dynamic movements and easier poses such as Warrior 2, Low Lunge and Goddess Squats. These preparations will open your hips and prevent the front knee from getting twisted (turning inwards) in Extended Side Angle Pose. We'll talk about Yoga for the Hips next week and I'll go into more details about this.✌️
There are many variations for the arms in this pose. In the photo above I have my arms forming a vertical line to the floor, the bottom arm's elbow pressing gently against the respective knee. If this is not accessible to you, you can always rest that arm on the knee, albeit still trying not to dump too much weight onto the knee. On the other hand, if this is too easy for you, you can lift both arms parallel alongside your ears to activate your core, or you can even bind the fingers behind your back, which will require a bit more shoulder warmup. This is almost another pose though, so maybe we'll go more into details in another edition of the Yoga Quick Dive.
Back to Basics: Algebraic Meditation
We are learning to count again, as a way of meditation! It does sound boring, I admit, but it is actually much harder than you think. Yet it's an approach to meditation you can't mess up.
What's meditation again? When meditating we generally want to clear our head, let go of our addition to thoughts and give our mind a little break time. That break time might turn out to be quite useful afterwards in helping you staying more focused.
And what's algebraic (or counting) meditation? Here's the idea. Find a comfortable position in which you won't easily fall asleep, sitting or lying down, and start at 1. Breathe in, count 1. Breathe out, count 2, and so on. When you get to around 20 (or any number that seems to make sense to you), count the next number only on the inhalation, so your pace is much slower now. But here's the rule. If any at point in time you find yourself caught up or carried away by any thought, any thought at all, and I assure you, you definitely will, then restart at 1. I'd be curious how far you get. In my 5 years of daily meditation, I never got further than.... wait, I won't tell you that number just yet! Don't let yourself be frustrated every time you have to restart: it's ok, it's part of the process and the journey. And try not to have any goal number in mind.
You try! Does it help to clear your head? Please let me know.
Anything above the Earth and below the Sun is Life. Hopefully something useful to you, or at least something that will bring a smile to your face. 😊
Never Too Old to Learn
About learning to count again.... When do we stop learning? According to Kuttiyamma, an Indian lady in the village of Thiruvanchoor in Kerala, NOT at 104 years-old! Here's a short and encouraging story to inspire your weekend.
Kuttiyamma was born in a usual third-world village story, child of landless agricultural labourers, started working at 11, married at 16 and never got to read or write. Yet these conditions are not enough to kill her curiosity about what's going on out there in the world. She first relied on the family's younger generations to read her the newspaper every morning, until her kind neighbour, a 34-years old literacy trainer, suggested she start learning. It wasn't just "like that they start the next day"; it needed much encouragement for Kutti to accept the idea of sitting in a classroom next to kids. But once they started, it was without fail every evening, evenings that involved neat organisation of textbooks, notebooks, pens, and always some homemade delicacies for the teacher. After months of evening classes, she decided to sit next to the much younger generations at the Kerala state primary literacy exam, the oldest woman to do so. She achieved 89% in literacy and 100% in mathematics (of course, she's Asian!).
If you are to choose one subject of literacy for your leaning over the next year or two, what would you spend time on? For me, I'm already having my daily learning dose of Japanese and Norwegian, my fifth and sixth language, and I will keep doing that. But I feel illiterate in coding language, and very inspired by interior design, so maybe? Share with me your inspirations, and have an inspiring weekend!
Thanks for reading! But don't leave just yet!
Ask me TWO questions or leave me TWO comments below. I'd love to hear from you.
Until then, take a deep breath and keep your worries away!
Yoga Quick Dive is a series of bimonthly newsletters that should take no more than 5 minutes of your reading time. Let's deep dive quickly into 3 topics: Body, Mind and Life.