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Yoga as Both a Spiritual and Physical Exercise

  1. Jan 19, 2005 #1
    Hello all

    This is my first time posting in the Philosophy Forums. Nice to meet you all! I was wondering whether any of you practice yoga (Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar etc..) What are your opinions about its effects on the human mind and body. I myself have benefited a lot from the practice
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2005 #2
    I've done a few months of yoga, a few years ago, and infrequently since then. As I remember, it increased my circulation and body awareness and reduced physical tension, all on a short term basis. Of course, flexibility also increased on a medium term basis. I haven't practiced it enough to find out what the long-term effects are.
  4. Jan 20, 2005 #3


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    I took several yoga classes and I loved it. Not sure if this really belongs in philosophy however. I doubt that many will get too philosophical about this excercise at least here.
  5. Jan 20, 2005 #4
    I used to practice yoga meditation years ago and found it very beneficial both, the physical exercises, and the meditation. I was also living in the mountains and spent a lot of time in natural settings. So I'm not sure how much was due to the yoga and how much was due to being in a secluded setting. :smile:

    I still pretty much live in the sticks. I don't do yoga anymore, because I've become a lazy bum in my old age. :biggrin:

    I'm sure that the exercises would probably do me well. I don't know if the meditation would do much good for me now though. I don't listen to TV or the radio much at all. It's pretty quiet here, I can hear my wall clock ticking away the time and my computer fan is probably the loudest noise in my house. :wink:

    I just noticed that it's 4:30. I wonder what that means?

    When I do listen to music I listen to mood music almost entirely instrumentals or synthesized sounds. I'm not into vocals too much, because I find lyrics distracting. I'd much rather listen to the birds sing. :approve:

    I found that applying myself to some serious math or physics problems can actually be a form of mediation. It's quite different when you are studying for your own curiosity than when you are trying to cram for an exam! :yuck:

    I believe that how much someone might benefit from yoga could depend a lot on their lifestyle. If they are already living a fairly back-to-basics lifestyle yoga probably isn't going to have much affect on them. On the other hand, if they are in the middle of a rat-race yoga could have a profound affect. Or maybe not. That all depends on how wound up a person is with the rat-race I guess.

    I've met a lot of people from the city that appear to me to be on fast-forward. I just can't imagine them meditating in fast-forward and getting much out of it. :biggrin:
  6. Jan 21, 2005 #5


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    If yoga includes samadhi, a member here, Les Sleeth, has much to say about it. You might want to PM him if he doesn't join the discussion.
  7. Jan 21, 2005 #6
    I thought about it but I got a mate that tutors it and his veins stick out

    It doesn't look all that good
  8. Jan 21, 2005 #7
    I wonder what causes the vein thing, which I have seen before on pictures of yoga experts. Veins also tend to stick out on bodybuilders--does it enable increased oxygen flow?
  9. Jan 21, 2005 #8
    i use a very basic set of stretches every day that i incorporate some yoga movement into. I actually learned the movements watching some documentary on the musician 'sting'. It works VERY well in hitting muscles cross training misses. Basically it's for the stretch though.

    I'll tie this into philo 101 ker

    My personal philosophy that has changed over time with my changing lifestyle is very attuned with my physical self. *ex*When i feel stressed... i am very quick to feel physical symptoms. SOme will critic me and say it's in my mind...

    well yeah... it may all be,
  10. Jan 21, 2005 #9


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    Assuming that the veins showing represents 'larger' veings, and not the veins just not having as much room due to extra muscle, less fat, then yes, it would result in a possible increased blood flow (blood pressure would probably drop a bit due to the ease which might come about) and by consequence, a possible increased oxygen flow.

    But I think it's more likely that they just have less room... blood vessels aren't muscles and I don't see why they would become larger? Tell me otherwise someone?
  11. Jan 21, 2005 #10


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    nicely done

    I have been out of the yoga habit for some time now, but when I was much more active with it, I would feel much more relaxed and my mind was "uncluttered" the following day. Not that it is that cluttered now...heh, maybe sometimes.
  12. Jan 21, 2005 #11


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    Hmm, thinking this might head to General Philosophy with this sort of response...
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2005
  13. Jan 21, 2005 #12
    I took yoga for two semesters my first year in college. I believe it was hatha yoga.
  14. Jan 21, 2005 #13
    Veins on a bodybuilder will mostly show when he is training. The term "pumped up" originally refers a state where circulation is increased all around when training, and the bodybuilder feels extraordinarily energetic and strong. Increased blood flow in muscle tissu as well as in the large visible veins causes the veins to protrude beyond regular skin level.

    When bodybuilders compete, they do mild training prior to going on stage to get themselves "pumped" a little. Pre-competition dieting is also designed to make the skin as thin and dry as possible, so veins show well (although the goal is mostly to show muscle definition)
  15. Jan 21, 2005 #14
    So what's with the greasing them up before they go out?
  16. Jan 22, 2005 #15
    It reflects light so details are better shown (at a distance). Pretty much the same idea as shining a car IMO. It also smoothens skin defects and helps darken it, (along with tanning and nutrition). In this way, it acts a bit like make-up.

    What I wasn't aware of is that Yoga practitionners had larger vessels. I suspect some vasodilatation through some relaxing hormones, like with the reproductory system (male...). But that would seem to be quite different than with bodybuilders.
  17. Jan 22, 2005 #16
    When I said "thin and dry" skin, I don't mean like when regular people have "dry skin" and use lotions. I mean that they thin the skin by eating less of certain salts (esp. sodium). This causes skin cells to hold less water and so the skin gets thinner. That's why bbuilders' faces sometimes looks more "mature". It's a temporary peak state for a competition. No one can stay like that very long. Recovery only implies eating normally.
  18. Jan 23, 2005 #17
    Over the last 2 months I've been practicing hatha yoga and meditation daily. I was in no means sedentary before this. I ran the 400m dash in college, played numerous sports in High School and was prone to spend much of my free time power lifting, boxing, and challenging my body in whatever way I could. From this I would have to say that yoga for me has had a profoundly different effect on my body and subsequently my thoughts. In every other physical activity I did I always felt as though it was nessecary to "fight" my own body. When coming down the back stretch of the 400m dash my legs were heavy and numb, and my whole body was so filled with lactic acid I really felt like pucking (sometimes I would!). Unfortunately I always thought about these activities as pain, with yoga it seems different.
    At first yoga seemed really hard I would tense up and "fight" myself and the postures were painful, which fit with every other physical thing I've pursued, but gradually I learned that I'm only battling against myself. Once I embraced this I would push a posture as hard as I could, but would not fight myself for not being able to do more. Now I enjoy yoga, it presents as much of a challenge as I am capable of.
    I've also noted that the physical improvement has led to mental clarity. When I sit my posture is better so that my back aligment is straigther, and my muscles are "calmer", its hard to explain but it feels like it eliminates figidity tendencies. I've also realized that many of my distractions throughout the day were from a tense muscle here, or a stiff joint there, eliminating these does free up the brain a little to concentrate more. So for me the physical benefits of hatha yoga have translated into mental ones.
  19. Feb 2, 2005 #18
    Awesome Roamer, I've been practicing about as long and have much the same experience with yoga. My theory on why it makes people feel better is because we have an instinctual response to withdraw from discomfort, it quickens the breathing, it tenses the muscles, it speeds up the heart rate and such...all the yoga and meditation books could probably be reduced to a few lines like, "breath deep, relax, and accept it", by doing the opposite of the instinct one overcomes it, takes control over it which is a pleasure in itself and naturally one starts to find all kinds of strange ways to stretch and enjoy it and may even extend into other areas of life where one instinctively withdraws from discomforts but basically it's taking the principle of it and doing it over and over that is worth something. My guess is body building is much the same, given enough time, proper method, and desire a person is likely to become addicted to it...I need to eliminate some figity tendencies myself...running is harder I'll bet in that there's a lot of self-sabotage to overcome, just running around people who are walking makes it harder sometimes, ever notice that, if so isn't that odd?
    I mean that's not the only reason yoga feels good but it's an unusual one.
  20. Feb 2, 2005 #19
    guys don't compliment yoga too much.. it makes me sick to my stomach when I hear about this stuff.. I feel so damn sad I know I have already made this statement in previous topics but I can't stop... Dammit, India was so awesome in the ancient days inventing all this stuff and then look at it now, the majority is impoverished, we have corrupt bloodsucking parasitical politicians destroying everything from our culture to the livelihood of the common people.. It has become a cesspool of vice and sin.. God dammit, when will it change? I am always depressed when I hear this stuff about yoga and Buddhism and stuff like that.. It just makes me so goddamn sad.. That's it the whole day today, I am just going to sit and brood over reality...

    dammit, it was colonization that was the cause of all problems, why couldn't we have been left alone to our own business..
  21. Feb 2, 2005 #20
    Sorry Klusener, I didn't mean to offend you or Buddhists, I meant to say most of the books written today are the same old knowledge rephrased and overloaded with information that makes it more confusing because hardly anyone would buy a 5 page book, but much of what I remember in books, I mean the important stuff, is often 5 pages or less so I assume it is the same for others. The worst part I think is that if someone has the basic knowledge of say dieting like they know that calories in must be less than calorie expenditure to lose weight, those are pretty much 95% of what they need to know, everyone already knows about everything they need to know and realistically if someone wants to do something enough, no lack of money or time or anything will stand between them, they might even figure out some of the more esoteric stuff or their own stuff along the way which is even better in my view, but with all the manuals and elaborated books of knowledge doesn't it give the impression that it must be very difficult? Think about it, just about everyone who sells a book is likely to try and convince others why they "need" this book in obvious ways or covert ways, so that in the process of buying this knowledge they've also bought the authors stupid beliefs which may be a covert suggestion that they need this special knowledge in order to succeed...probably mass repeatitive commercialization has suggestively weakened people in many ways unseen, is that kind of what you're talking about klusener?

    Oh, I was thinking maybe it's the pain of body building that made it so pleasurable for Arnold, I mean if the instinct is to withdraw from pain and an acceptance of pain leads to a control over that instinct and control over that instinct leads to greater perception and control over that area of the brain, the overt sign might be a euphoria after a hard run and a general "feeling" of well being from strenous physical activity or even yoga which can be a mild form of selftorture, which could be a reflection of the highier brain taking more control of the pleasure/pain center of the brain.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 2, 2005
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