Hi December! It's beetee here. Blink your eyes and it is already December! Unbelievable. If December occupies you body, mind & soul, and you have no time to read my weeklies prepared with love, then listen on Spotify or Apple Podcasts instead!
This week's quick dive: Plank Pose, the Yoga Sutras and 24 Powerful Ways to Finish the Year Off Right.
Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
One of my favourite core poses in yoga! So simple, yet so powerful. In Sanskrit, phalaka does mean "plank" or "board", but phala alone means "bear fruit" or "ripen". When you think of plank pose as an opportunity to ripen or bear fruit, you become aware of the transformative effect of this seemingly simple yet challenging pose.
Did you know that the world's longest plank record was made this year by Daniel Scali, an Australian who held it for 9 hours 30 minutes and 1 second? As a child, Daniel fell off the trampoline and severely damaged his left arm. Since then, he has been living with a condition called CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome) which makes him feel pain in the arm with anything like soft touch, movements, wind or water. Yet that didn't prevent him from breaking the previous Guinness plank record of 8 hours 15 minutes and 15 seconds!
Most important thing to pay attention to in plank? Prepare your mind. At some point beyond 30-second hold, this pose becomes more a mental challenge than a physical one. (I just made up that 30 second number by the way). Daniel actually got a mind coach to prepare him for breaking the record. Your body can actually achieve and sustain much more than you think it could. So give it a chance to prove itself.
Here's a challenge for you. Moving between high plank (on your hands, wrists below the shoulders) and low plank (on your forearms, elbow below the shoulders) without swinging your hips too much, effectively engaging the core. Keep going until you fail. Try and let me know your personal record today (nobody else's business but your own and mine ;)). Show me yours and I'll show you mine.
The Yoga Sutras
This is one of my first attempts to introduce you to yoga philosophy. Back in the ancient days, yoga started with an "audio book" of 195 aphorisms, the Yoga Sutras, complied by Patanjali, an Indian sage who lived somewhere between the second and fourth century BC. I said "audio book" because it was not actually written, but chanted and taught orally by a teacher to a student, in a private and intimate setting. As you might guess, or be surprised about, the Yoga Sutras have very little to do with the postural yoga practice (3 sutras out of 195). The Yoga Sutras examine the human spirit’s relationship to the material world and how the spirit might be freed from suffering through discipline and introspection.
Is this too spiritual for you? No worries, Krisnamacharya had the answer. The father of modern yoga was the man who married yoga asana (physical) practice to its ancient philosophical/spiritual traditions, in the early 20th century. From there both kinds of practice continued to evolve to suit the modern yogis' daily life and needs. Otherwise, it would have become obsolete, wouldn't it? For example, the second and the most popular sutra dictates:
yoga citta vritti nirodha
Yoga is the stilling of the mind's fluctuations.
Do we have to learn yoga philosophy or the Yoga Sutras? No. Nobody can oblige you to do anything you don't want to do. But to ignore the whole non-physical aspect of yoga all together is a miss. Before you judge, discover what it is and what part of it can serve you in your daily and long-term aspirations. Long history of statistics has proven that it is helpful to a whole lot of people...
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. 😊
24 Powerful Ways to Finish the Year Off Right
December is such a complex time of the year when things start to rush and get festive at the same time. For the past 7 or 8 years I've always started my December with this article on the 24 Powerful Ways to Finish the Year Off Right. Some are applicable and more relevant in certain years, and some are not. Take what serves us, right? Here are my top regulars and favourites:
Donate twenty-five personal belongings. Cancel the subscriptions and memberships that you never use. Sever the ties you know you ought to. I'm a fan of minimalism.
Make a list of the fifteen best things you did this year. And then give yourself a good pat on the back. The last (two) year(s) has (have) been tough, but you made it and you deserve it!
Extend a genuine and heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to the people who got you through the year. Gratitude is the highest attitude.
Apologize for all of the mistakes you made this year. Forgive others for the mistakes they made. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
Ask yourself the hard questions you’ve been putting off. Start with the inquisitions. The answers might not arise immediately, but that's ok. You'll have time to figure it out.
How about you? How do you wrap the year up? With a glass of wine? That works too! Let me know!
It is with great regret that I report to you that my Friend Hamster The Crypto Genius has passed on peacefully during his sleep last Monday. Unless an autopsy is performed, the cause of death is so far unknown. Heart attack from all the volatility? Possible. I kept telling him to practice yoga after trading hours. He and his mad skills and performance will be dearly missed. R.I.P.
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 weekly 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.