The physics of Yoga

I have just co-written an article over at the Elephant Journal together with Brian Culkin.

Brian is an amazing guy, a good friend, and now also my yoga teacher.

Check out the article. I would ask you a favor; Please leave your comments over at the Elephant Journal rather than here at my blog. Thanks.

28 thoughts on “The physics of Yoga

  1. Yoga is a great practice to build with your spouse. My wife and I met in a yoga class and we still practice together at least once a week.

    Brian is obviously a competent teacher.

    1. Bunkai, are you familiar with Qi Gong also? If so how would you compare it to Yoga? (See my comment futher down too.)

      1. Marildi, I’ve never taken Qi Gong, so I have no direct experience with it formally. But Qi Gong practices are typically kata based and I am a Kata Practitioner that regularly practices at the speeds of Qi Gong.

        Kata are a series of fixed exercises that do not vary.

        Some yoga systems are actually kata based (like the blistering 105 degree Bikram Yoga Classes and the balmy 85 degree Ashtanga systems). In these classes, you do the same thing every time.

        Others not so much, and you follow routines a teacher puts together for each class.

        Qi Gong is a LOT less physical than yoga. Yoga will kick your physical butt and your mental butt at the same time. Qi Gong and Tai Chi are more like meditation in motion.

        Physical Demands of Mind/Body Practices Typically Line Up Like This (From Softest to Hardest):

        Qi Gong … Restorative Yoga … Tai Chi … Regular Yoga … Kung fu … Vinyasa (flowing) Yoga … Old School Karate … Hot Vinyasa Yoga.

        The big difference I see is that in Yoga one aims everything toward one final pose: savasana. In this pose, you let everything go and it is pure awesomeness. It’s the immediate reward one receives from the practice, and it stays with you a good while.

        ACTUALLY USEFUL ADVICE: The quality of the teacher is everything. If you go to one class and it sucks, try others with different teachers. The experience will be night and day. I recently went to a Kung Fu class to learn some of their kata and found the teacher to be a complete egotistical jackass. I was very polite and never returned.

        1. Thank you. Just what I wanted to know – even more than I hoped for!

          “Qi Gong and Tai Chi are more like meditation in motion.” Yes! I so much think of Qi Gong as “meditative exercise.” Very peaceful and very enjoyable.

          But you’ve increased my interest in Yoga. One question – you said in the savasana “you let everything go and it is pure awesomeness.” I might be able to imagine, but would you explain what you mean exactly by “you let everything go”?

          1. It’s called “corpse pose.” At the very end you lay flat on your back (blanket and supports if you want them) palms open, chest open and TOTALLY relaxed. You then just melt into the pose. Some fall asleep, others see dreams, others great peace or love: a whole cornucopia of experiences can happen. Pure yummy.

          2. That sounds like something done in qi gong, either sitting or lying, but with attention on the breath and the sensations and energy flows in the body. The aim, like savasana, is for total relaxation – just “being there” with those awarenesses – TR 0 on the body, I would call it. I asked a Qi Gong teacher (a Qi Gong Master) if the eventual aim was to have attention on nothing but just to “be there.” He just looked at me for a moment, as if I had asked a very good question, and then simply said, “Yes.” I just was wondering if it was like OT TR 0 and it seems it’s the same.

            You said that in Yoga one aims everything toward savasana as a final pose. That’s interesting because with OT TR 0, it can be done (and is) from the beginning on, with no philosophical or technical reason not to.

          3. P.S. Silly me, I just realized that by “one aims everything toward one final pose: savasana,” you probably mean the final pose at the end of a single yoga session. Duh!

  2. Now, “you” or the spirit is the ego. But what is the source of “you”?:)

    1. Been there before on this blog. I believe the source of “you” is pure potential. Then from that pure potential comes forth the opposite; Actuality, inheriting the potential to further create. It start by creating self in a game, then rules of game, then the game itself (all of this may very well be the same). Etc.

    2. In my opinion, “you” is just a consideration. The idea of “source” is also a consideration. “Pure potential” is just an explanation (another consideration).

      All one has is a set of considerations supporting each other.


  3. I have been doing Moving Qi Gong (or Chi Gong) and from the Yoga article it seems the two are very similar in what they bring about. In Yoga poses you are directing a flow of energy at the body, and that causes “negative feelings and body pains to dissipate.” In the Qi Gong moving exercises (no poses) the directed flow of energy is described as “concentration” (attention would be the Scn term) on the movements you are performing, and this causes “physical, mental and emotional releases.” So the two seem to achieve the same thing, same result, and I wonder if you or Brian would be able say any difference there may be, or reason for preferring yoga.

    1. Regarding Qi Gong and Yoga, there are two kinds of things happening:

      1. The mind/body experiences YOU RECEIVE FROM the practices.
      2. The mind/body experiences YOU CHOOSE TO CREATE in the practices.

      BTW: It is worth stating that there are Yoga and Qi Gong cults out there.

      When I meet a practitioner of Falun Gong I talk about another group that uses cult dynamics in their mind/body practices and then kindly suggest he or she take a hard, long look in the GooglePlex.

      Falun Gong (Qi Gong Cult)

      Yeah, Falun Gong is persecuted by the Chinese, but yeah, there’s a reason. And yeah, I personally think freedom of speech is the best answer.

      Dahn Yoga (Yoga Cult)

      And yeah, Brian raises concerns for me. He is an amazing individual and yogi that practices Scientology.

      So … Brian, if you are reading this …

      Be careful.

      Sometimes cult leaders NEVER intend to get the job. Sometimes, it just happens when you have enough people staring at you with adoration. You seem like a good hearted person.

      But so was Anikin Skywalker and he became the worst Star Wars Movie EVER!

      YODA: “Science. Sweet s-w-e-e-t science! Keeps us safe it does. Hmm?”

  4. Knowing about the general disclaimer on your blog not to talk about KHTK principles here, the following question has arisen in my mind about your Yoga article.

    “Are you trying to sell Scientology through Yoga?”

    This is an honest question and not intended as a low blow. I just see it as an inconsistency.


    1. Didn’t cross my thought.

      And there is no general disclaimer of not selling KHTK, mathematics, biology, hinduism, scientology, atheism, aerodynamics or anything else on this blog. When I feel there is to much selling, I say it. That’s all.

      I’m not interested in selling scientology, KHTK or any other such subject myself. I am interested in selling my own ideas, and they are in constant flux as I am a work in progress.

      1. Thank you. I am still puzzled about why you slammed my comparison of ARC approach to KHTK approach as selling other technologies.

        KHTK is free, and I am not selling it. These are just ideas to be compared, and sometimes it is only through such comparison that a point can be made. This is all part of discussion. I look at this all as a discussion of knowledge and not as one technology versus another technology. You seem to be introducing a games condition here.

        In my view your comment on ARC/KHTK comparison as “selling other technologies” was inappropriate.


    1. Here is another example…

      WIFE: “Does this dress make me look fat?”

      HUSBAND (WITH STRONG TRS): Yes, dear, as you know, I’ve committed to honest, yet loving communication. Dear, you … um … DO … still look morbidly obese because you are. My boss called you a pig yesterday. That is his honest opinion. But I still love your eyes and beautiful smile. Your taste in life and conversation fill me daily with inspiration… and … and … HONEY WHY ARE YOU FILLING YOUR SUITCASE?!”

      INCREASE in communication. DECREASE in reality, and AFFINITY is non existent.

      1. And if someone reading this is obese, I apologize. I hope you love yourself more and more each day because you are really worth it.

        Tonglen is amazing.

      2. Bunkai and Vinaire, here are more precise definitions of affinity and reality than the ones we usually have in mind, and these support why the ARC triangle is a constant:

        Affinity is “emotional response; the feeling of affection or the lack of it, of emotion or misemotion connected with life.”

        “Reality is a quality which depends upon duplication and in the action of duplication expertly or poorly done we find agreement and disagreement.”

        1. K. I cannot see definitions precise enough to prove the ARC relationship you speak of.

          Would love to see testable definitions if you have them.

          I don’t think they can be quantified accurately.

          I think ARC is one of your best ideas actually.

          1. We’re still having the discussion about ARC on the previous thread, “Questioning Scientology Basics: ARC.” Personally, I’ve come to the conclusion that A, R and C don’t need to be quantified. They are basically defined against each other (in the same way as matter, energy, space and time); and they’re simply a way of analyzing Understanding, breaking it down into it’s components parts, and thus explain how Understanding is brought about. You’re so right, it IS one of the best ideas.

            Now, some of the examples people think of seem to refute the idea that A-R-C are a “triangle” where when one corner is increased (or decreased) the other two also increase (or decrease). Just today I found a reference that explains some seemingly contrary instances, and posted it. It’s near the bottom of the page. Check it out!

  5. Good article Geir and Brian,

    I would add that purely on a physical level, the body loves oxygen, stretching, strengthening and flexibility. Just as it loves fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and plenty of water.

    No matter how big your thetan is, if you feed your body nothing but hamburgers all day for a month, you will end up in the hospital.

  6. I have not experienced results that fast (both physically and mentally) compared to other exercise disciplines. Maybe because you are more spiritually connected in yoga? Every breath fill my body with life. I’ll have this article in mind next time I’m doing yoga.

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