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Bill Danosky
09-05-2013, 11:17 PM
My wife is an accomplished and professional yoga teacher, but I rarely take any classes myself. My first Aikido teacher, Kit Hathaway Sensei, is also a yoga instructor and swears by it. I have been generally resistant, but I'm becoming more of a fan as I age. It is very restorative, and you do feel pretty great walking out of a class. Their class structure is very polished, too. Most senseis could learn a few things about crafting sessions the way they do.

Just wondering if anyone else is experiencing any success with it, and particularly if it's advancing your Aikido practice.

Carsten Möllering
09-06-2013, 02:41 AM
I myself don't practice yoga, because I'm fine with nei gong.

But all around me a whole lot of fellow aikidōka do yoga with the intention to to improve their aikidō.
One of the teachers in our club starts his aikidō lessons with some yoga.

Alex Megann
09-06-2013, 04:08 AM
There was a similar thread about four years ago, which I posted to (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?p=228912#post228912).

Basically I believe that there are some traditions of yoga which are very helpful to aikido, but others which are not so directly useful, even though (with an experienced and skilful teacher) they have plenty to offer in other ways. My own opinion is that poor yoga practice can hinder development of aiki skills.

Since then I have started practising Dan Harden's postural drills, which complement and reinforce what I am doing in my yoga practice.

Alex

Dan Richards
09-06-2013, 08:29 AM
The first 10 minutes or so of most aikido classes contain forms of nei king and chi kung. And if they're done correctly, and in the right spirit, that would be yoga.

Many of us also do these movements at home on our own time for much longer periods of time.

People often mistake the movements at the beginning of a class as some kind of "warm up." It's not.

Aikido is based on Taoist principles. Tao Yin is also known as Taoist yoga.

If we reexamine the movements, as well as our attitude towards them, we'll discover the yoga that's contained within Aikido.

You've been doing yoga all along.

Budd
09-06-2013, 09:56 AM
Most nights I do a 15 minute yoga set that is basically a mix of cool down stretching and connective tissue training with breath. Definitely also helps release localized tension spots and opens up the hip flexors (bad areas for me) and reinforces the grounding portion that is also found in aiki taiso but you might not get as explicitly with a lot of movement.

Dan Richards
09-06-2013, 10:07 AM
Here's a video of Stanley Pranin doing some "yoga warmups for aikido." Many of you will recognize some of the movements, or at least variations, from what you've learned in the dojo. I remember learning and doing what could be called the "downward dog" during classes at NY Aikikai. I have seen, and trained, nearly every movement and posture that Stanley is doing at some point in the various aikido dojos where I've trained.

http://blog.aikidojournal.com/2011/07/17/yoga-warmups-for-aikido-by-stanley-pranin/

Bill Danosky
09-06-2013, 11:28 AM
Aikido is based on Taoist principles.

Say what?

Alex Megann
09-06-2013, 11:47 AM
Say what?

... in the same way that yoga is based on Taoist principles, of course :)

Alex

Chris Li
09-06-2013, 01:29 PM
Say what?

Say "Floating Bridge of Heaven (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/aikido-floating-bridge-heaven/)". :D

Best,

Chris

Bill Danosky
09-06-2013, 08:10 PM
...yoga is based on Taoist principles

Say what?

Alex Megann
09-07-2013, 03:21 AM
Say what?

OK, I was being facetious.

Actually Dan is at least partly right. It could be claimed (as Chris argues in his article) that the essence of aiki is the principle of yin/yang, or the creative union of opposites. This is a fundamental idea in taoism, even though the "Floating Bridge of Heaven" is framed in terms of Japanese mythology.

Alex

Bill Danosky
09-07-2013, 02:42 PM
I'll buy that. Not trying to split hairs, but we can't let people believe the Chinese started Aikido and yoga. It's true if we stretch the truth enough, but to that degree we can say Africans did it. Unless it was aliens.;)

Chris Li
09-07-2013, 04:48 PM
I'll buy that. Not trying to split hairs, but we can't let people believe the Chinese started Aikido and yoga. It's true if we stretch the truth enough, but to that degree we can say Africans did it. Unless it was aliens.;)

I'm not sure why it would be so horrible to allege a Chinese connection - but one guy (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0982376200/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0982376200&linkCode=as2&tag=aikidsange00-20) wrote an entire book about it.

Actually, I think that the case for a Chinese influence, even a strong Chinese influence, is pretty overwhelming - but even more interesting, I've been seeing quite a bit of evidence pointing to a direct link between China and Sokaku Takeda (and thereby Morihei Ueshiba) recently, but more on that to come, I think...

Best,

Chris

Bill Danosky
09-07-2013, 07:48 PM
It's cool with me. I'm not the fact police. Just asking if anyone thinks yoga has improved their waza.

Chris Covington
09-07-2013, 07:54 PM
Chris,

I'll be interested in the Takeda-China connection you've uncover. I know of at least one that no one seems to mention; that is Jikishinkage-ryu. One of the headmasters in the 17th century lived in Beijing for a decade or more where he taught Shinkage-ryu and studied boxing and spear. Jikishinkage-ryu is fairly unique among the Shinkage-ryu branches in organization and the training methods. Takeda was said to be known as the Aizu no Kotengu *after* his time at the Sakakibara dojo. Maybe it is has something to do with the training?

Sorry for the thread hijack. I do enjoy a few yoga poses such as the various Marici asana. They are all twists that feel good on my back. They are poses dedicated to the warrior goddess Marici, in Japanese Marishiten. one of the more popular warrior goddess who grants devotees invisibility and armor in battle. See Dr. David Hall's PhD dissertation, "Marishiten:Buddhism and the Warrior Goddess" for more information.

Chris Li
09-07-2013, 08:51 PM
It's cool with me. I'm not the fact police. Just asking if anyone thinks yoga has improved their waza.

Hiroshi Tada certainly thought so (http://www.aikidosangenkai.org/blog/aikido-shihan-hiroshi-tada-budo-body-part-2/)...

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
09-07-2013, 08:52 PM
Chris,

I'll be interested in the Takeda-China connection you've uncover. I know of at least one that no one seems to mention; that is Jikishinkage-ryu. One of the headmasters in the 17th century lived in Beijing for a decade or more where he taught Shinkage-ryu and studied boxing and spear. Jikishinkage-ryu is fairly unique among the Shinkage-ryu branches in organization and the training methods. Takeda was said to be known as the Aizu no Kotengu *after* his time at the Sakakibara dojo. Maybe it is has something to do with the training?

Sorry for the thread hijack. I do enjoy a few yoga poses such as the various Marici asana. They are all twists that feel good on my back. They are poses dedicated to the warrior goddess Marici, in Japanese Marishiten. one of the more popular warrior goddess who grants devotees invisibility and armor in battle. See Dr. David Hall's PhD dissertation, "Marishiten:Buddhism and the Warrior Goddess" for more information.

I wasn't thinking of that - but Jikishinkage has ties of its own, of course.

Best,

Chris

Chris Li
09-07-2013, 11:20 PM
Well I do NOT think so. I think Aikido is based on the Omoto Kyo sect of Shinto's interpretation of indigenous Japanese philosophy, and I think you think so, too.

I am now giving up on this thread about yoga, which is based on principals from INDIA.

I was responding to your question about Yoga with the Hiroshi Tada link, not about Daoist principles (that should be clear from the quoted portion, which was about yoga).

With regards to Daoist principles - what makes you think that Omoto-kyo doesn't embrace them?

More to the point when you go back to the sources that both Onisaburo Deguchi and Morihei Ueshiba used the links are extremely clear.

I've laid out some of them in my blog (there's a lot more) - it's fine if you don't agree with that, but please don't try and tell me what I think.

Best,

Chris

Bill Danosky
09-07-2013, 11:27 PM
Yes, I think Hiroshi Tada embraced the philosophic aspects of Ashtanga yoga, which is definitely reflected in the altruistic view of Aikido. I was thinking more of the physical benefits of asana practice, which is the sequence of poses, etc. Do you happen to know where he picked it up?

Bill Danosky
09-07-2013, 11:29 PM
My bad. Just a misunderstanding.

Dan Richards
09-08-2013, 02:30 PM
It's cool with me. I'm not the fact police. Just asking if anyone thinks yoga has improved their waza.

Bill, the idea here is that there is already a highly-refined type of yoga taught and practiced within aikido. In fact, it's central to the energy development, and its origins are Taoist from China.

I'm not going to vouch for the overall quality of this video, but it's fairly representative of what people will see (and do) in the beginning of an aikido class. Note in the video - as they move through the movements - the text reference to the various poses and the "element," organs, and meridians.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5VgheIshG4

Also, for more fun; what people know as yoga asanas didn't originate in India, nor are they "thousands of year old." Much of what is taught as the physical part of yoga is much more modern, and has it's roots in European physical culture. Here's some info... http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/2610

All of this has little to do with creating an argument, and more to do with sharing information, and seeing the similarities rather than the differences. Even the underlying models of subtle energy used as the basis for Traditional Chinese Medicine (Taoist) and the Ayruvedic traditions from India are staggeringly similar. Prana = Chi, Dantiens = Chakras, Nadis = Meridans, and they both incorporate the 5-Elements model.

Yoga is an extremely generic term. Even more generic and encompassing than the term "martial arts." So, in some sense, to have a little bit more of a constructive conversation, we could stand to get a little more specific in terms of what types of yoga we're talking about. And also being open to seeing types of yoga that overlap cultures and practices.

It's sort of of like if we got into a conversation about cooking Italian pasta. We'd certainly have to acknowledge that the origin of pasta was not Italy, but actually China. And from there, see the similarities, rather than the differences, that make up "pasta" and the approaches to making it and cooking with it.

Pasta is a good analogy for yoga and martial arts, because while they all have similar roots and essences, changing the form - the shape - can change not only the taste, but also the effectiveness — as well as ineffectiveness — in specific applications.

And I guess what I'd like to reiterate is that there are asanas/postures contained within aikido that are specifically meant to change the body of the practitioner on physical and psycho-energetic levels. And in doing so, we essentially learn to make the pasta "dough," from which many outer forms can be created.

Pasta, in its raw form, is formless. And it can be quickly be brought into countless forms, depending on the circumstances, conditions and applications needed. Martial arts are the same way. AIkido is the same way. Don't get too trapped in the outer forms - the "ten thousand things."

Learn to make the "dough," first, and then any form your aikido takes, at any given time, will work.

Dan Richards
09-08-2013, 04:09 PM
If we get an understanding that much of what is passed off as "yoga" is more of a modern 20th-century patchwork based on its rising popularity in the West, and not some ancient system from India, we might then give an open ear to How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

oisin bourke
09-08-2013, 04:58 PM
If we get an understanding that much of what is passed off as "yoga" is more of a modern 20th-century patchwork based on its rising popularity in the West, and not some ancient system from India, we might then give an open ear to How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/magazine/how-yoga-can-wreck-your-body.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

I particularly liked this quote:

Instead of doing yoga, “they need to be doing a specific range of motions for articulation, for organ condition,” he said, to strengthen weak parts of the body. “Yoga is for people in good physical condition. Or it can be used therapeutically. It’s controversial to say, but it really shouldn’t be used for a general class.”

I think this applies to budo, including aikido (as taught by Ueshiba and most of his senior students), as well. The general health and flexibility of most westerners is atrocious IME. They simply are not able to train properly due to health issues. classical Asian systems were designed for highly mobile, flexible people who had some degree of mind/body control prior to staring practice and ate well.
Before taking up practice, modern people need to do something similar, which in many cases involves a major lifestyle shift. I know this isn't a popular statement, but it's true. An Aikido teacher once said to me "don't do aikido to get fit, get fit to do aikido!". Now, I'm off for a walk!

Budd
09-09-2013, 10:10 AM
This thread has taken an interesting turn. I am fully supportive of the point that people should take charge of their fitness needs rather than assuming any martial art (or yoga, for that matter) will automatically provide everything they need. But I'm a believer of personal responsibility in terms of nutrition, rest, physical activity as part of overall health. Everyone's going to have different levels of goals, etc. but at least some basic education in how things work is pretty paramount to engaging in any kind of intense physical activity - ESPECIALLY - if you're dipping a toe into an aikido/yoga class as a means to begin a path towards better fitness and health.

I decided a number of years ago that my time in a martial arts class was going to be spent trying to train the teachings of that martial art - and that I'd take responsibility for my physical fitness outside of any given class. Which does not mean that a good training session doesn't challenge me mentally or physically, but it gave me greater awareness of my need to pursue internal strength training and conditioning outside of any single martial art. A year and a half ago, I got the running bug. A year ago I did my first half marathon. I then got interested in some of the principles of crossfit and other applications of fitness that were a bit different from the aeorobics and weight training activities that were more the "sell" when I was growing up. I did the Tough Mudder when it came to Buffalo in July. I'm doing the Zombie Mud Run on Saturday. These latter events are especially fun, challenging and different - but I'm still doing cardio and core fitness training of some kind most days a week.

I also still do a 15 minute stretch yoga set most nights. It opens up my back and hip flexors nicely. l think that any given activity will have a set of objectives it's designed to achieve as well as a built-in set of assumptions around participant capability. That seems to be the pressing issue - much like a college-level course that has some sort of prerequisite. Just make sure you're educated on what you're looking to get out of the course as well as understand any prerequisites. It doesn't hurt to "interview" the instructor as well as observe the class as you'll need to assess the credibility of the group to properly "educate" you.

Robert Cowham
09-09-2013, 01:51 PM
Suganuma sensei does yoga as part of his own training, and I think occasionally puts some into his seminars.

Bill Danosky
09-09-2013, 06:09 PM
One of the central points my wife teaches her yoga students is the importance of mentally staying in the moment, particularly when it's uncomfortable. "Take the opportunity to observe your body's reaction to the pose. Let your awareness stay in your body. Don't run from it, experience the feeling." She says those kinds of things when having people hold a pose for extended periods of time and it seems to make an actual difference.

It's interesting to note that you can train to increase the awareness of your own body. In Aikido we train to increase our sensitivity to uke's body, and we could probably extend that to include many of O Sensei's views about our connection with our environment and the universe.

We practice a one-handed throw similar to Ikkyo, that's primarily an exercise that teaches how to push a rope. We twist the wrist to immobilize the arm, then drive up the arm so the sholder rolls over and down. We'd say "extend Ki up uke's arm" if we weren't a Yoshinkan dojo. You can really feel the tension in uke's arm and it tells you if you're going to get the throw.

Whether we call it Ki, Chi, Prana or awareness, when you put it in uke's sholder, you can almost always get the throw. Thoughts on that?

Budd
09-10-2013, 01:31 PM
Well, I think it depends on what's physically happening when you put intent into and/or through somebody. How relaxed is your body, how connected are your insides with soft strength so that when one part of you moves, all parts move together as a cohesive whole. Yoga, its lineage and inherent risks aside (which I think exist in most forms of physical conditioning), definitely provides a framework to train these things (relaxation and connectivity) if you know what to train. There's more in scope of the overall ki/jin framework that I haven't seen yoga explicitly address, but then again I'm hardly the most educated person about yoga. Aikido provides the same framework, but again if you don't know explicitly what you should be training, it's easy to miss it as well. Intent isn't a bad place to start, tho.

Bill Danosky
09-10-2013, 10:56 PM
In defense of yoga, the consensus among professional (credentialed, full time...) instructors is that crappy teachers are dangerous.

It's amazing how many serious mistakes you see in mainstream venues. People doing tree (standing on one leg, with their hands above their head) with their foot flat against the side of their knee. You only see this is bad if someone points it out, but you will eventually get an injury if you do that long enough. Just an instance that everyone has probably seen.

Bill Danosky
09-10-2013, 11:00 PM
In terms of Aikido, we may never know whether the "Aiki magic" happens when we literally put our life energy in line with uke's. Or if those are just training tools to help us perform physiological feats with a high degree of proficiency. But either way, if it makes us do the magic...

Alex Megann
09-11-2013, 08:22 AM
In defense of yoga, the consensus among professional (credentialed, full time...) instructors is that crappy teachers are dangerous.

It's amazing how many serious mistakes you see in mainstream venues. People doing tree (standing on one leg, with their hands above their head) with their foot flat against the side of their knee. You only see this is bad if someone points it out, but you will eventually get an injury if you do that long enough. Just an instance that everyone has probably seen.

This is unfortunately yet another case of Sturgeon's Law (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sturgeon's_Law) ("90% of everything is crap").

Exactly the same holds in aikido. I can't say for sure that my own classes aren't part of the 90%, but there is certainly a lot of aikido out there that is dangerous in any of several ways. Either you are going to hurt yourself in the long run, or your practice is giving you bad habits that will let someone else hurt you at some point. Not to mention the chance of you damaging your practice partner.

My approach to yoga these days might be described as having a dialogue with myself, where sometimes I manage to sort out some issues. A lot of the time it turns out that I feel good afterwards too.

Alex

Conrad Gus
09-11-2013, 12:02 PM
I've been doing yoga off and on for years, but regularly since the beginning of June. Luckily, I have a very good instructor.

What I notice the most is that my spinal mobility has increased. There are aikido techniques that are vastly easier to execute and more effective if you can actually twist your spine more than the 5% that most of us stiff martial arts guys are able to manage by default.

Conrad Gus
09-11-2013, 12:08 PM
Well, I think it depends on what's physically happening when you put intent into and/or through somebody. How relaxed is your body, how connected are your insides with soft strength so that when one part of you moves, all parts move together as a cohesive whole. Yoga, its lineage and inherent risks aside (which I think exist in most forms of physical conditioning), definitely provides a framework to train these things (relaxation and connectivity) if you know what to train. There's more in scope of the overall ki/jin framework that I haven't seen yoga explicitly address, but then again I'm hardly the most educated person about yoga. Aikido provides the same framework, but again if you don't know explicitly what you should be training, it's easy to miss it as well. Intent isn't a bad place to start, tho.

I agree with this. My yoga teacher is constantly encourage us to use intent to engage the bandhas (http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-2583/Bandhas-for-Beginners-Intro-to-Yogas-Interior-Locks.html). I haven't worked out the relationships explicitly, but empirically I am quite sure that there is a connection between that area of focus in yoga and what I am trying to accomplish in my internal martial arts training.