Shelter in Czechia, Ray Cappo and Yoga

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ok....we are off....flew out of israel and met up with job, anton, and rich (the roadies and tour manager) in vienna. then a looooong drive to czech republic for an open air festival. again we left sri at the border cuz she didnt have a proper visa and we played as a four piece. dropping off sri at this totally quaint austrian town at a gasthaus...she got another vacation for a day. we arrived 10 minutes before we were about to go on. i couldnt believe we made. it was a weird festival where everyone was into it but i dont think hardly anyone ever heard of us there...we played with phantomous. i went into the crowd. lost my lucky ring. a show (which was returned) and seriously injured my calf(sp?) which left me hopping around for the next few shows. the next few shows though were very incredible.

Ray and his Yoga For Life

Lately i've been really working on my YOGA practice. i practice for about two hours about 6 days a week (no practice on full or new moons). For those of you who don't know anything about it this is a small explanation. Yoga was originally taught by the sage Patanjali. according to the traditions of india it was always existing. Other sages in history have remarked that it was a type of meditation in a previous age (yuga). Originally called Astanga yoga (asta=8 anga=limbs) the postures or Hatha is one of the eight. this is the most common people think of when they hear about yoga. they see some man with a beard in "lotus" position or a woman doing a head stand. Actually all 8 limbs of the yoga system are rarely practiced nowadays.

Pranayama or breathing techniques are also one of the limbs. let me explain both of these and their benefits starting with Pranayama. Our normal breathing is generally very shallow. short. in and out. try for a second to breathe deep. reall deep. it's amazing at how much our lungs can expand. when i was little, before my mom would blow up a balloon for me, she would stretch it out. then blow it up. this would help the balloon to blow up easier and evenly. the same is similar with the lungs but even more so. the lungs not only have to be stretched and exercised according to Patanjali but they must cleansed with new air and old air must be expelled. It's said that there is stagnant air sitting inside the lungs and the deep breathing (inhaling and exhaling) replenishes the lungs. Deep breathing also affects the mind in beneficial ways. Sometimes smokers tend to reach for a cigerettes when they feel stress. what happens is they tend to breathe deeper. the deep breathing actually calms the mind (not the cigerette). why not try deep breathing minus the cigerette and see if that makes the stress go away? in my personal life, my deep breathing exercises give me a strong wind like you get when you jog. when i fight in my jiu jitsu classes it takes along time for me to get tired compared to the other fighters. it has the same positive effect on stamina as does prolonged jogging without the damage to the knees. It's said that yogis who have mastered pranayama could slow the heart beat and actually barely breathe. they could put their body into a type of hibernation almost slowing all their bodily functions. according to the ayurveda (the ancient indian science of health and healing) a person has "X" amount of life breaths. this means that at birth he is destined to some specific number of breaths in his life time. (interesting concept-effectually this means jogging, where people pant and breathe alot, would shorten your life span...? hmm...anyway...)

Yogi's would slow their breathing process and their heart beat and go into trance (samadhi). there are many peculiar stories recorded in the British newspapers (during the British rule of India) of how yogis would bury themselves underground for a week. i heard (don't know if it's true but out of these newspaper reports) when the british first started exploring the himalayas (which are sacred mountains) they'd be climbing up with these oxygen masks to help with the high altitudes and they'd discover yogis way up in the mountains that have been sitting one place for so long vines would be growing on them. Enough of the mystical stories. the simple and practical fact is that the breathing alone is an incredible way to increase health stamina and serenity. There's other breathing practices in India that are suppose to be for mind reading, making business decisions, and digestion. (pretty interesting ). Check out books put out by BIRHAR SCHOOL OF YOGA. Also try some simple exercises yourself inhaling slowly through your nose while your belly expands (not contracts like we usually do) hold the breath for 3 seconds and release it all the way while your stomach gets smaller and pushes all old air out of your system. feel your lungs stretch to places they haven't been in a while. In the same way you 'd touch your toes to keep stretched out this stretching for the lungs is a vital part of our over all health. One thing yoga will show you is that health doesn´t necessarily mean big muscles (usually it doesn't). it's a holistic view of your entire body, balance of the three doshas(energies in the body) and the placidity of the mind. this body mind concept is a much more complete understanding of health. try some simple breathing techniques for now. Don't use all your life airs ok?

Hatha yoga or yoga Asanas are the postures and is one of the 8 limbs of the yoga system. this is what people generally consider to be YOGA. Different masters give different series or progressive stretching techniques that become more and more extreme while they become more and more easier for the practioner. when we live an ordinary life our bodies become ordinary. imagine if you only opened a door 3 inches back and fourth for 15 years. after awhile the hinges on the door become rusty and have to be lubricated. sometimes the entire hinge rusts. our muscles are similar. when people go into comas its necessary for physical therapists to constantly exersise the patients muscles so they don't lose their strenght in their limbs. Just think of the bodies wer're creating when our workforce is sitting behind a computer 9 hours a day. it's practically a coma. without doing any exercise we pour more food in our bodies. generally the food is refined to the point of not even being living food anymore. it fills the body but doesn't nourish it. thus as a modern culture we've become obese, hunched over, with bad eyesight, digestion, bad circulation, and disturbed minds. Hatha Yoga starts reversing that process. Deep breathing mixed with Yogic stretching stimulate the muscles, glands, digestive, and massage internal organs. there's even yogic exersise for your eyes. basically if you're not working a muscle you're letting it get old. Hatha Yoga is making the body come back to life.

Unlike other sports, in Yoga there's no competition. it's not to see who can out do another with various circus poses. we understand that each body is totally unique and not only do we Not compete with others but we don't even compete with ourselves and what we've accomplished yesterday. We accept that at different days we may not be as flexible or ready for a difficult posture as were the day before. Throwing this competive spirit out the window at first was for me difficult. I'm very competitive. After awhile it was liberating. You still want to push yourself but for the right reasons, free from ego. personal benefits. Asanas mixed with the deep breathing cause trancelike inner peace. the slowing down process of the postures force you to be here now rather than planning (which the mind tends to do). this is beneficial for the mind to experience the NOW. I noticed incredible stamina and flexibility in my jiu jitsu practice. my mind becomes more relaxed and my passions stay at bay. when i fight it becomes more of a practice in yoga. just relaxing, breathing deep and waiting for the other to make the wrong move on it capitizing on it. I would definatly reccomend it to all especially under the guidence of a fantastic teacher who can gently help you through the postures. if you're taking this up, note that YOGA has becoem quite a sellable industry. more on that later. remember to breathe deep with the practic. the first and most famous of the postures is greeting to the sun aka SURYA NAMASKARA. this is considered a miracle stretch, for it tones, strenghtens, massages internally, stimulates glands etc. it's done by the indian military as well as school kids. i thought that was interesting. by constant practice i noticed my posture changing, a natural realigning of my spine. i sit up straight more too. i also find myself eventually getting into postures that months early were totally impossible. that's always fun.

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