Lonely Cypress, Carmel, CA

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ISO 100

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Pranayama Nine – Anger Management

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Today was a big of a struggle.  I woke up early, started work early.  I was too sore to go to Crossfit, had meetings, including a two hour online product demo.  Just a lot of high mental concentration, low activity and shallow breathing from around 7am to 4pm.  I was tense, my arms hurt from typing all day.  I decided to try something.  Just take a few minutes and breathe on the couch.  I opened the french doors, grabbed a blanket and eight minutes later, I was so relaxed, happy, and mentally stable.

I remember many stressful moments hearing “just breathe”.  Now I get it.  Try it.

 

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Pranayama Eight – 1000 meter row x2

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Following a rigorous weightlifting sessions at Paradiso Crossfit, I practiced Pranayama breathing during two separate 1000 meter rows. I worked at about 85% which comes to about four minutes per 1000m row. No panting, instead long slow breaths. Normally, rowing feels like torture.  I really need to get some metrics around this.  I have a feeling that I can make some huge gains across the board with rowing but in particular, longer distances.

Pranayama Seven – Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop Eh eh eh eh

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Prescribed 20 minutes. Just kept on going.

Turned my 20 minute session into 35 minutes.

Similar to any conditioning workout, the first few minutes are much more torturous than the rest of it. Endorphins kick in, you stop thinking about it. You get tingly. I get really nice. Not that I’m not always nice. Just perhaps, awkwardly over the top nice. You should try it, you’ll see what I mean.

By the way. You should all watch The Unbelievers.  Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss travel the globe and speak on behalf of science and reason.  They completely deny the validity of religion.  They manage to make this approach to such a taboo subject seem friendly and respectful—without being concerned with political correctness. We know more now than we did hundreds of years ago.  We were wrong about religion.  It’s ok.  Let’s move on.

 

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Pranayama Six – Four days of fantastic sleep

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Another 30 minutes of practice. The tingling my hands is getting addicting. I’ve now slept four nights in a row without a phone/tv/sound in my room. I suppose had I tried to change my sleeping habits prior to Pranayama I would have established a better control for its effect on my sleep, but I like taking both on at once. Even breathing has a placebo effect, i’ll take it.

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Pranayama Five – First Weekend Day

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Very simple, 30 minutes of breathing practice

I was a bit concerned trying to pull this off on a weekend. I have put off Pranayama a couple times until later at night and needed to make sure I breathed before enjoying any fun weekend activities. Success! I’m pretty sure this opened up my vocal chords for a duet karaoke performance of Pulp’s, Common People with Ana Ortega later that evening.

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Pranayama Four – Sitting, Watching Movies

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Breathe deeply for 15 minutes.

Results:
Day three I simply fell asleep after about 10 minutes. Day four I actually watched The Dark Knight while sitting up, breathing. This is becoming an addiction. I was prescribed 15 minutes of deep breathing. Just more practice. I didn’t want to stop after a half hour. I was getting a little buzzed. Or a lot buzzed. It is so relaxing.

The first few days I had to very consciously breath in and exhale. Deep breaths always meant LONG deep breaths. I’m starting to get used to breathing in, through the stomach, then the chest, and out, from the stomach, then the chest, as quickly as normal breathing. It makes it less uncomfortable to do so.

I advised a good friend of mine that next time he ends his work day, rather than have a couple of beers, to instead try this out. Just as something new. Something that can replace those carbs and calories and be even more enjoyable. You can do it Matt.

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Pranayama Three – No more iPhone before bed

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Wednesday

Deep breathing for 30 minutes before sleep. No iPod/iPhone in the room. No documentaries, audio books, etc before bed. Just breathe—while Indu scratches head slowly.

Results:
Nearly every day for the past year I have gone to sleep listening to my iPod/Audiobooks/podcasts/Netflix documentaries. Something about Neil Degrasse Tyson’s voice soothes me to sleep in minutes. Turns out that falling asleep with headphones in your ears or head buried into a pillow with an iPhone playing on the other side of it is not good for you. Importantly, this is a crutch for sleeping. It was a struggle to stop taking Ambien after five years and i’m encouraged to find that after one night away from the sleep-aid-gadgets I can likely kick this habit as well.

A note on quitting Ambien.

It is all mental. As in 100%. Supposedly this is one of the most addictive drugs out there. The few times I didn’t take it in those five years I could not sleep. Not because I couldn’t sleep, but because “I didn’t take my Ambien, so i’m not going to be able to sleep”. Fortunately for me, getting an Ambien prescription is extremely annoying and difficult. So when I finally realized it had to stop, if for no other reason than avoiding that monthly doctor appointment to get a prescription, I experienced extreme anxiety.

Day one. I didn’t take Ambien. So I am not going to be able to sleep.
Day two. I’m super deliriously tired. I didn’t take Ambien. So I am not going to be able to stay asleep. Asleep within maybe an hour. Woke up once. I’m not going to be able to sleep. Fell asleep again.
Day three. I fell asleep. I stayed asleep. I woke up a couple times early in the morning. Fell back to sleep.

Back to breathing and sleep

I’ve noticed in the first three days of this experiment that deep breathing reduces anxiety. In fact, the effects are similar to Ambien. The fear of not being able to sleep is why I believe I have had difficulty sleeping. That isn’t my opinion as a result of this experiment, this has always been my opinion.

The cliche is to say that it is so easy to pop a pill for everything. While true, I am coming to find out that it is just easy to not pop a pill and just breathe.

Not have that shot of tequila because it is last call. Grab a water.

Next step, not eating available cookies in $2.99 plastic container from Ralph’s when starving.

Pranayama Two – Pre-Crossfit

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Tuesday -
Evening, before Crossfit – 20 minutes
Sit on the floor in a posture that is comfortable. Your spine should be straight.
For 3 minutes, just breathe normally, Pay attention to your breath.
For 17 minutes, practice Deep Breathing. Expand your belly, midriff, then chest. Deflate the same way.

Log: How did breathing before Crossfit affect your workout?
I pulled off a 205lbs clean. Not a max, but good. When I reverted back to my pre-workout breathing routine, took a few deep slow breaths, I lifted better. When I breathed throughout lift complexes, I lifted better. I had a lot more stamina tonight than I usually have at night. By the end I didn’t feel “weak”, as I often do when attempting to do Venice Barbell Club at night.

Log: How comfortable are you breathing?
More than yesterday. I still have to do it consciously.

Goal: feel as calm on exhale and you do on inhale.
I’ll admit. I forgot to think about this. Generally I felt calm.

Pranayama One – Getting started

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Inspired breathing by:

Marni and Camilla of The Healist to further improve my health by focusing on breathing.

Paradiso Crossfit‘s “Everything is Everything” Challenge. I wanted to attempt something truly challenging this year. Last year I focused on doing men’s RX weight, 5 days a week for 6 weeks. While I pulled it off, half the time my form was terrible and I simply wasn’t in the shape required to really call that a success. Breathing appears to be a prerequisite for everything I want to physically, so, here we go.

My girlfriend, the always incredible and supportive Indu Reddy. She had pushed for this first. I wouldn’t be doing this without her help and her plan listed below.

Monday-
15 minutes of Breathing – Lying Down (Savasana) 6pm
Lie flat on floor with blanket. Make sure spine is supported.
5 minutes: breathe normally, just pay attention to your breath, let your thoughts wander.
10 minutes: We’ll start deep breathing.

Fill your belly with air, then your midriff, then your chest.
Exhale from your belly, then midriff, then your chest.
Inflate your lungs fully. They expand from the top of your ribs to the bottoms of your ribs.

Response—
Super uncomfortable, a hard to concentrate. Reminded me of first time doing acupuncture. My arms were tingling—but were in less post workout and post work pain. As I write this i’m trying to maintain the little buzz I got from oxygen. Having little success. Have about 33 years of poor breathing to combat.