Hi there! It's beetee. Greetings from the 24-hour sunlight land of Norway! Despite the persistent sun as well as the heat wave that is sweeping through Europe, the air here is fresh and the water is freezing! How is the summer going for you? Or shall I say, how's the winter going, for my Aussie mates? Either way, remember to drink a lot of water, stay cool & hydrated, and read on.
This week's quick dive: Pyramid Pose, Journaling (Your) Meditation and Fun Facts About The Land of the Midnight Sun.
Yoga Pose of the Week: Pyramid Pose
One of the best hamstring stretch poses. And even though it's a stretch pose, it could be so intense you would sweat while holding it for a few breaths.
But first, why should you stretch your hamstrings? The hamstrings are a group of 4 muscles situated at the back of your thighs. Your hamstring muscles serve a variety of functions, including bending the knee joint right below them, and extending and rotating the hip joint right above them. Therefore, sometimes when you find yourself with a knee/hip problem, it could very well come from the weakness and/or tightness in your hamstrings. Furthermore, when your pelvic range of motion is compromised due to tight hamstrings, your bottom lumbar spine tries to compensate, resulting in increased stress on your lower back. For people with sciatica (sciatic nerve inflammation), hamstring stretch is everything. Stretching the hamstrings are even more important when your job involves sitting for extended periods of time, or if you regularly participate in sports that involve running or sprinting.
While stretching the hamstrings on both of your legs at once, the pyramid pose invites you to mindfully cultivate stability, strength, and integrity in the pose.
With one leg forward one leg back, you'll need to engage your core to stay balance in the center.
As you stretch the back of your legs, the more you engage the front of the legs the safer it is for your muscles and joints. Engaging the front of the legs means lifting your knee caps and contracting your quadriceps (front thigh muscles).
Make sure you don't round the back too much as you fold forward. Think lifting, extending, lengthening of the upper body.
Last but not least, enjoy that deeper sense of awareness of the whole body as you hold the pose.
Journaling (Your) Meditation
Do you journal? How often do you? A lot of people meditate on a daily basis, in one way or another. Yet not many take the time to write down what's happening during their meditation. Time is the issue, indeed. But it's a good trade-off. Here are a few reasons why we should journal our meditation:
Hindsight. As much as you and I would want it, meditation isn't Asterix' magic potion with immediate effect. Instead, it's a long and slow process with deep changes over time. With a journal, you will see those changes in black and white.
Awareness. Your journal will point out the points you need to fine-tune in your practice. You'll notice your mental habitual patterns that you might want to keep or let go. Oh and have I said it before? Those habits will soon become your actions and character.
Clarity. Just the fact of writing down what was in your head during your meditation will clear your mind and make you feel better.
How to journal? I personally use Onenote and I love it. Such a great organiser of notes and thoughts. Jot down in bullet points what you can remember from feelings and perceptions to insights or realizations. You don't need to make complete sentences, just keywords would do. If you have 30 seconds left to spare, read what you just wrote.
Now if you really don't have time but still want to get some of that mindfulness activity happening, journaling is per se a form of meditation. Skip the find-a-comfortable-seated-position-and-closed-your-eyes part, get straight to the notebook and start to drop words. I usually start with 3 things I'm grateful for this week, or 3 things that made me laugh, or even 3 things that annoyed me that should not have, or 3 new dreams I have. If you can, end with 3 mindful deep breaths. And off you go!
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. 😊
Fun Facts about The Land of the Midnight Sun
You probably all know: I'm currently a resident of the Land of The Rising Sun, a.k.a. Japan. But right now, I find myself breathing the refreshing air of the Land of the Midnight Sun: Norway. While we're here, let's highlight a few fun facts about this beautiful country of the breathtaking fjords. Hopefully some of them are interesting to you.
The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo. Widely known fact. But did you also know that the Novel Peace Prize was the reason why diplomatic relationships between Norway and China froze in 2010 for 6 years, after Oslo awarded the prize to dissident Liu Xiaobo? Liu was serving an 11-year jail sentence in China on subversion charges after co-authoring Charter 08, a bold petition calling for reform in one-party Communist-ruled China.
The world's longest road tunnel is in Norway. 24.5km long Lærdal Tunnel (followed by the Yamate tunnel in Tokyo (18.2km)). What more, its design is admired all around the world, as it incorporates features to help manage the mental strain on drivers. Every 6km there is a cave to separate sections of road. The lighting varies throughout the tunnel and caves to break routine and provide a varied view.
Norway introduced salmon sushi to Japan. If you have been to Japan, you probably know it's hard to find salmon sushi, maybe just because it's not a typical Japanese thing: they did not use salmon in the dish until it was suggested by a Norwegian delegation in 1980's. In fact, 80% of pacific salmon imported to Japan is from Norway.
Norway isn't powered by oil. Lots of Norway's wealth came from the oil that they discovered in the early 1970s. And yet, oil doesn't power the nation's homes. Around 98% of Norway's domestic power usage is drawn from hydroelectric power plants.
Norway supplies London with a Christmas tree every year, to say thank you for their help during World War II. Last year however, my friends in London were not so thrilled about the annual tree they received.
It’s one of the world’s happiest countries. Safe, peaceful, free education for everyone, equal access to healthcare, the fair distribution of goods, and a healthy work-life balance. Oh and, maybe also, an omega-rich diet of salmon, I think.
Some Norwegians live in Hell, though. About one thousand of them. The small village of Hell is within walking distance of Trondheim's international airport and even has its own train station. Let's take a picture in front of that station's signboard.
The sun doesn’t set in summer. Hence the nickname the Land of the Midnight Sun, though that only happens in June. Between May and August does, it feels like the dimmer button on the sun-switch is malfunctioned.
Proudly brought to you by the Norway Tourism Board. Just kidding. Come and visit soon though.
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.