Add variety to your workout – try these variations to your chin up or pull up routine. Use a convenient Doorway Gym Bar which easily installs in a doorway frame of your home and still allows the door to close.
Granted, not all of these ab exercises can be done at home with your doorway chin up bar, but it will get the creativity flowing for your home practice! These exercises are for those who are looking to advance their chin up routine. Build up your strength with your home doorway chin up bar before taking your workout outside to the park like this gentleman.
To practice meditation you don’t need any props, but if you find yourself meditating frequently you may find that meditation cushions or benches will make you more comfortable. You could sit cross-legged on a zabuton cushion to cushion your sit bones and ankles, or you might prefer sitting higher on a meditation bench or a zafu so that your knees rest at or below hip level. Our meditation bench and zafus also make it easier for you to sit erect. No matter what, though, beginning simple breathing meditations will help bring some peace and calm into our otherwise busy lifestyles.
Generally, the purpose of breathing meditation is to calm the mind and develop inner peace. We can use breathing meditations alone or as a preliminary practice to reduce our distractions before engaging in a Lamrim meditation
A Simple Breathing Meditation
The first stage of meditation is to stop distractions and make our mind clearer and more lucid. This can be accomplished by practising a simple breathing meditation. We choose a quiet place to meditate and sit in a comfortable position. We can sit in the traditional cross-legged posture or in any other position that is comfortable. If we wish, we can sit in a chair. The most important thing is to keep our back straight to prevent our mind from becoming sluggish or sleepy.
We sit with our eyes partially closed and turn our attention to our breathing. We breathe naturally, preferably through the nostrils, without attempting to control our breath, and we try to become aware of the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the nostrils. This sensation is our object of meditation. We should try to concentrate on it to the exclusion of everything else.
At first, our mind will be very busy, and we might even feel that the meditation is making our mind busier; but in reality we are just becoming more aware of how busy our mind actually is. There will be a great temptation to follow the different thoughts as they arise, but we should resist this and remain focused single-pointedly on the sensation of the breath. If we discover that our mind has wandered and is following our thoughts, we should immediately return it to the breath. We should repeat this as many times as necessary until the mind settles on the breath.
Benefits of Meditation
If we practice patiently in this way, gradually our distracting thoughts will subside and we will experience a sense of inner peace and relaxation. Our mind will feel lucid and spacious and we will feel refreshed. When the sea is rough, sediment is churned up and the water becomes murky, but when the wind dies down the mud gradually settles and the water becomes clear. In a similar way, when the otherwise incessant flow of our distracting thoughts is calmed through concentrating on the breath, our mind becomes unusually lucid and clear. We should stay with this state of mental calm for a while.
Even though breathing meditation is only a preliminary stage of meditation, it can be quite powerful. We can see from this practice that it is possible to experience inner peace and contentment just by controlling the mind, without having to depend at all upon external conditions.
When the turbulence of distracting thoughts subsides and our mind becomes still, a deep happiness and contentment naturally arises from within. This feeling of contentment and well-being helps us to cope with the busyness and difficulties of daily life. So much of the stress and tension we normally experience comes from our mind, and many of the problems we experience, including ill health, are caused or aggravated by this stress. Just by doing breathing meditation for ten or fifteen minutes each day, we will be able to reduce this stress. We will experience a calm, spacious feeling in the mind, and many of our usual problems will fall away. Difficult situations will become easier to deal with, we will naturally feel warm and well disposed towards other people, and our relationships with others will gradually improve.
All living beings deserve to be cherished because of the tremendous kindness they have shown us.
The five stages of the meditation:
- Subsequent Practice
We sit in the meditation posture as explained above and prepare our mind for meditation with breathing meditation. If we like we can also engage in the preparatory prayers.
All living beings deserve to be cherished because of the tremendous kindness they have shown us. All our temporary and ultimate happiness arises through their kindness. Even our body is the result of the kindness of others. We did not bring it with us from our previous life – it developed from the union of our father’s sperm and mother’s ovum. Once we had been conceived our mother kindly allowed us to stay in her womb, nourishing our body with her blood and warmth, putting up with great discomfort, and finally going through the painful ordeal of childbirth for our sake. We came into this world naked and empty-handed and were immediately given a home, food, clothes, and everything else we needed. While we were a helpless baby our mother protected us from danger, fed us, cleaned us, and loved us. Without her kindness we would not be alive today.
The mere fact that we are alive today is a testimony to the great kindness of others.
Through receiving a constant supply of food, drink, and care, our body gradually grew from that of a tiny helpless baby to the body we have now. All this nourishment was directly or indirectly provided by countless living beings. Every cell of our body is therefore the result of others’ kindness. Even those who have never known their mother have received nourishment and loving care from other people. The mere fact that we are alive today is a testimony to the great kindness of others.
It is because we have this present body with human faculties that we are able to enjoy all the pleasures and opportunities of human life. Even simple pleasures such as going for a walk or watching a beautiful sunset can be seen to be a result of the kindness of innumerable living beings. Our skills and abilities all come from the kindness of others; we had to be taught how to eat, how to walk, how to talk, and how to read and write. Even the language we speak is not our own invention but the product of many generations. Without it we could not communicate with others nor share their ideas. We could not read this book, learn Dharma, nor even think clearly. All the facilities we take for granted, such as houses, cars, roads, shops, schools, hospitals, and cinemas, are produced solely through others’ kindness. When we travel by bus or car we take the roads for granted, but many people worked very hard to build them and make them safe for us to use.
Everyone who contributes in any way towards our happiness and well-being is deserving of our gratitude.
The fact that some of the people who help us may have no intention of doing so is irrelevant. We receive benefit from their actions, so from our point of view this is a kindness. Rather than focusing on their motivation, which in any case we do not know, we should focus on the practical benefit we receive. Everyone who contributes in any way towards our happiness and well-being is deserving of our gratitude and respect. If we had to give back everything that others have given us, we would have nothing left at all.
We might argue that we are not given things freely but have to work for them. When we go shopping we have to pay, and when we eat in a restaurant we have to pay. We may have the use of a car, but we had to buy the car, and now we have to pay for petrol, tax, and insurance. No one gives us anything for free. But from where do we get this money? It is true that generally we have to work for our money, but it is others who employ us or buy our goods, and so indirectly it is they who provide us with money. Moreover, the reason we are able to do a particular job is that we have received the necessary training or education from other people. Wherever we look, we find only the kindness of others. We are all interconnected in a web of kindness from which it is impossible to separate ourself. Everything we have and everything we enjoy, including our very life, is due to the kindness of others. In fact, every happiness there is in the world arises as a result of others’ kindness.
Our spiritual development and the pure happiness of full enlightenment also depend upon the kindness of living beings.
Our spiritual development and the pure happiness of full enlightenment also depend upon the kindness of living beings. Buddhist centres, Dharma books, and meditation courses do not arise out of thin air but are the result of the hard work and dedication of many people. Our opportunity to read, contemplate, and meditate on Buddha’s teachings depends entirely upon the kindness of others. Moreover, as explained later, without living beings to give to, to test our patience, or to develop compassion for, we could never develop the virtuous qualities needed to attain enlightenment.
In short, we need others for our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Without others we are nothing. Our sense that we are an island, an independent, self-sufficient individual, bears no relation to reality. It is closer to the truth to picture ourself as a cell in the vast body of life, distinct yet intimately bound up with all living beings. We cannot exist without others, and they in turn are affected by everything we do. The idea that it is possible to secure our own welfare whilst neglecting that of others, or even at the expense of others, is completely unrealistic.
Contemplating the innumerable ways in which others help us, we should make a firm decision: `I must cherish all living beings because they are so kind to me.’ Based on this determination we develop a feeling of cherishing – a sense that all living beings are important and that their happiness matters. We try to mix our mind single-pointedly with this feeling and maintain it for as long as we can without forgetting it.
We dedicate all the virtues we have created in this meditation practice to the welfare of all living beings by reciting the dedication prayers.
5. Subsequent Practice
When we arise from meditation we try to maintain this mind of love, so that whenever we meet or remember someone we naturally think: `This person is important, this person’s happiness matters.’ In this way we can make cherishing living beings our main practice.
Get in touch with your feet. Bring awareness to your feet. Learn simple techniques to improve balance with some simple toe and foot stretches and manipulations.
Having trouble getting started with your chin ups? Check out this short video for two suggestions on how to begin your practice and build up your strength using your at-home doorway chin up bar. The Sunny Health & Fitness doorway bar is called a gym bar because not only can it be installed at the top of your door frame for pull ups and chin ups, but in can also be installed at the bottom of the door frame for sit ups and press ups. Great to add variety to workout and to build all over body strength.
Whether it’s post-natal Pilates or yoga, the emphasis is on toning the abdominal muscles and the core, so if you’re looking for core work don’t let the name fool you. All you need to do to perform the following Pilates exercises is a mat.
A Pilates mat tends to offer a little extra cushioning as compared to a yoga mat since many exercises are done on the floor and the extra thickness or padding will help cushion your spine and joints. Check out our Harmony Fusion Mat which is 5/16″ thick, Natural Fitness Powerhouse Mat 3/8″ thick, our Extra Wide/Extra Long Mat at 1/4″ thick, or if you’d like a padded exercise mat take a look at our Tri-Fold Exercise Mat.
February is usually the month that fitness centers and studios start seeing a drop-off in their attendance. Surprisingly this is just a month or so after we make those firm resolutions to “lose weight” and “get fit”. Don’t let that happen to you! Here are some quick ideas on how we can help you keep your resolution:
- Maintain variety in your workout to keep it interesting and work different muscles. You can use our blog as a resource. We continually look for a variety of exercises that you can use in your exercise routine or yoga practice. And we’ve tried to keep it simple by organizing these exercises under the type of equipment you already own (or are looking to purchase). And we’ve categorized them for you by Yoga, Pilates, Meditation, and Fitness in case you want to get ideas on all products.
- When purchasing fitness equipment or yoga supplies, buy what you think you’ll use. Consider the space you have in your home, how much time you have to work out or practice, what will offer you the variety you are looking for or the simplicity you want, etc. We offer a large variety of yoga props and pilates/fitness equipment, visit our website to learn more about each product.
- Keep up with our growing selection of equipment and supplies so when you’re ready to add to your home equipment you’ll know it’s available in our store — just follow us on Facebook or Twitter for product updates.
- Find a partner. Exercising is always more fun when you have someone to work out with or at least to discuss your workouts with. Friendly competition never hurts! We are offering a Sweetheart of a Sale for the month of February to help you get a friend or loved one fit with you.
This is a continuation of last week’s article on Yoga and Your Wrists. Here are a couple of the wrist stretches recommended by Marian Garfinkel, who has created a whole series of yoga asanas for Carpal Tunnel. In addition to stretching, using props – such as a yoga wedge - to help reduce the angle of extension can help you during your practice.
Five minutes a day can help anyone get the benefits of yoga, says Marian Garfinkel, doctor of education, senior Iyengar yoga instructor, and lead author of a promising study on the effectiveness of yoga for carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel sufferers who attended an eight-week, twice-weekly yoga class had less pain, greater flexibility, and a stronger grip than those who wore a wrist splint, the standard treatment for the condition. Whether your hands hurt because of too much time at the computer keyboard, other repetitive stress injuries, or even a chronic illness such as arthritis, “A few simple stretches can really help,” says Dr. Garfinkel. She recommends the following three exercises to help you get started.
Overhead arm extension (urdhva hastasana)
Do this first thing in the morning, or as a break during the day.
Stand straight, with feet parallel and arms at your sides: a posture that promotes blood flow to the hands. Stretch your arms and fingers straight out in front of you, palms facing the floor. Keeping the arms and elbows straight, slowly raise your arms over the head to the 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock positions, inhaling through the nose. Be sure to keep your throat and shoulders relaxed. Lift the sides of the body, keeping the shoulders away from the head. Maintain for 15 to 30 seconds, breathing in and out through the nose. Exhale and lower your arms to your sides. If you feel the blood flowing through your hands, says Dr. Garfinkel, it’s a sign you’ve done the exercise correctly.
Trunk extension (dandasana)
A good exercise for the office or anywhere you’re seated.
Sit on a chair with your trunk upright. Place your hands at your sides and press the palms into the seat, taking care not to tense your shoulders or neck. Press shoulder blades into your back, moving the shoulders back and down. Hold this position for 30 seconds, breathing in and out through the nose. Relax, then repeat. Spreading the chest and shoulders, Dr. Garfinkel explains, also has benefits for the wrists and hands.
Chair twists (bharadvajasana)
A more advanced position, also effective for back and neck pain.
Sit sideways in a chair, with the right hip and thigh towards the chair’s back. Keep the knees and feet together, with the heels aligned under the knees. Stretch your trunk upward and pull the shoulders back. With knees together and feet on the floor, turn your trunk towards the right and place both hands on the back of the chair. Pull with the left hand, bringing the left side of the body toward the back of the chair; at the same time, push with the palm of the right hand, moving the right side away from the chair back. Turn the body, then the head, and look over your right shoulder. Hold for 15 seconds. Relax. Repeat on the left side.
For additional information: Journal of the American Medical Association, 11/11/98. Dr. Marian Garfinkel teaches the Iyengar method of hatha yoga, which stresses precision and alignment; E-mail email@example.com. Contact the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Association (1-800-889-YOGA; www.comnet.org/iynaus) for a list of certified yoga instructors.
For more on vitamins, herbs, and other therapies for painful wrists, see our library entry on Carpal tunnel syndrome.
Date Posted: 01/22/2001