Yoga Yoga Videos and Dvds Can Help You Learn Yoga or Pilates ... and Ultimately Help Your Meditation
"I want to learn yoga, I want to learn yoga. How do I get started, and what are the best yoga DVDs or yoga videos to buy? And what about Pilates, too? "
First, let's talk about yoga and Pilates. Yoga, of course, originates from India although you'll find similar stretching exercises from the Tao school of ancient China. Today, a lot of Chinese qi-gong practice is basically yoga breathing practices disguised by having some movement components added in. Don't tell the Chinese, but it's the truth. Much of qi-gong is basically the pranayama practices of Indian yoga with movements added, and knowledge of the chi channels (acupuncture meridians).
As for Pilates, this is a form of yoga body conditioning that one practices usually with the help of machines, and was developed by Joseph Pilates around the 1920's. In WWI, Joseph Pilates was interned in a camp for enemy aliens and during that time, learned how to use bed springs to help rehabilitate bedridden patients. So Pilates uses equipment to help you stretch, but most of its 500 exercises can be done simply on a mat without equipment at all. I actually like the outcome of Pilates better than yoga. Pilates exercise relies on producing smooth, continuous motion and works multiple muscle groups simultaneously so you usually feel invigorated after a session instead of feeling exhausted.
The Scott Sonnon method of exercises is another alternative to yoga flexibility practice, and is based on Russian stretching and flexibility exercises.
So we have Sonnon exercises, Pilates and yoga exercises, all of which you can learn from a teacher or on video or DVD. There's also Gyrotonics and Power Rings exercises which you can use for stretching, too.
Now the first tapes I used to learn yoga were the Patricia Walden tapes, which are excellent--Yoga for Beginners. There's 1-3 tapes in the set, depending on whether you buy just one yoga video or an entire set. Every day I would practice those video exercises religiously (man did I get sore) until I finally found a class on my own. Did the tapes help in addition to attending a yoga class? Immensely. They provided many details that I didn't even hear from my classroom yoga teacher. They got me started whereas without them I might never had gotten started. I've bought this set as gifts for several people, and highly recommend them.
Many people favor the yoga tapes by Rodney Yee, such as AM/PM Yoga for Beginners, which also comes in the dvd format. You can see Rodney in many of the videos with Patricia Walden. Yet another popular video is Yoga for the Rest of Us, by Peggy Cappy, too.
What about Pilates videos? Here comes the good stuff. The two most popular are Pilates for Dummies and Pilates Beginning Mat Workout. As to Pilates DVDs, the best selling are Classical Pilates Techniques and Pilates Complete for Weight Loss.
Pilates is pretty cool if you haven't tried it. Grab a video if you can just to see how it's done...
As stated, I actually feel -- because of the stretching -- that I get more out of Pilates than yoga, but it all depends on the routine and your yoga instructor or Pilates teacher. The most amazing anecdote I can relate about Pilates was that a bodyworker and I went for a special session with a Pilates trainer, who had the most beautiful legs I had ever seen. The chi flow was balanced, you could see ALL the individual muscles in her legs and yet they weren't built up like those of a bodybuilder. If everyone had muscles in their body like that then we'd all be healthy and athletic without being athletes. In an upcoming book I'll tell you how to do this for your fingers, toes, wrists and ankles, but this was amazing development that even martial artists and bodybuilders never get. Plus, and most important of all, the muscles were full of smooth, clean chi.
When I complimented her on legs she told me, "Thanks ... I've been a dancer and yoga instructor but that's not why they're so perfectly developed. I did an awful lot of work with Pilates specifically with routines for each individual leg muscle. That's what did it and you can see the results. Yoga could never have produced the individual development I wanted."
You convinced me.
Now let's not discount yoga. Yoga is fantastic. In fact, yoga is something that will most probably do wonders for back pain if you have it, and I would say that 30-50% of people I meet in yoga classes are there because it was recommended to them for back pain. Study after study shows it helps with just that, though you'll find that most of these people -- when chiropractic adjustments don't help -- have something wrong with their knee cap disc. If the disc between the leg bones is pressed back into its proper position, many times I've seen back pain and near paralysis disappear within 1-2 minutes... permanently! On the website there's an article about how to find a doctor in Hong Kong who does this. He started training when he was 12 years old and his master had hands so strong, alive and yet flexible that he could pull a brick out of the wall with his fingers.
But for you, since a Chinese doctor who can do the procedure isn't available, yoga is the recommendation, or Pilates training.
Learning yoga or Pilates with videos and dvds is a great way to start stretching your whole body, getting in shape and help with dealing with learning how to sit cross-legged in meditation. No, yoga is not meditation itself but the flexibility exercises will help in all sorts of beneficial ways. Meditation-wise, by stretching the body and even-ing its chi flow, you help cultivate a stable personality and emotions that makes it easier to succeed on the path.
Here's the real key, though, and the reason that learning martial arts can also help you cultivate. People often wonder why, and here's the real reason from Master Nan: Practicing martial arts or stretching exercises makes it much easier for you to succeed than an ordinary person simply because you'll already open some of your chi channels through the practice, and if they're open and you're healthy, it's then easier to conquer sexual desire. As a result, then it's easier to practice meditation "without leakage" and open all the unopened chi channels whereupon you'll be able to experience a taste of emptiness and can experientially realize the real meaning of Buddha's enlightenment teachings.
So let's state that again. If you practice yoga, Pilates, stretching, martial arts, etc. etc. and manage to smoothen the chi flow throughout your body...and open up some chi channels (because of practicing in the CORRECT way for each of these fields), you can get over sexual desire easier and thereby make it easier to succeed in cultivation.
So why not get started today? The time you start is the very moment you decide to check things out, however brief that instant. Especially check out Pilates if you've always heard of it but have never seen it. Just like "Gyrotonics" or "Power Rings" (I'm mentioning these two because you've probably never heard of them) it's a way to stretch open fascia tissue restrictions that are closed, which makes it easier to open up your chi channels in the long run. That's what you want to hasten your progress with meditation.
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