Blog Archive

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Dialogue between philosophers and I, who is doing yoga.

              Last summer, I’ve gotten a license of yoga instructor.

              What is the meaning of “having a license” of yoga?

Certificate of RYT200
              I think license is the farthest from the heart of yoga. The existence itself is full of contradiction.  

              The license gives us a kind of “guarantee”. Guarantee that you can teach yoga.

              However, yoga is not what we can get such a guarantee.

              Guarantee that we can feel at ease with specific thing is farthest from yoga.

              Yoga is an only process that we care about our “own” body and mind.

             For good or for evil, yoga has too many methodologies including variety of poses, breathing techniques, meditations, cleansing processes…

              This is, in a sense, a kind characteristic of yoga. If you go to Zen temple, you will be just told “just sit in silence”. This “unkindness” is very different from yoga.

              This “kindness” of yoga, however, is plenty of traps in another way. We usually misunderstand that yoga gives us a way that we can follow.

              In reality, we have no choice but to make the way by ourselves. Practicing yoga is not following a methodology named yoga. Practicing yoga is not wearing shoes named yoga, but making shoes suitable for each of us.

              If you are bound the rules of yoga, it is farthest from yoga.

              Therefore, we cannot be qualified by license. Even if you find a specific methodology, you cannot feel at ease by it. Strictly speaking, it is impossible to teach yoga.

              Imannuel Kant, a famous philosopher said,

We cannot learn philosophy. We can only learn to philosophize.

              Similarly, we can say like this,

We cannot learn yoga. We can only learn to do yoga.

Formally, I can stand a position to teach yoga thanks to the license, but I cannot teach yoga. I cannot “learn yoga” by others as well.

              If anything, we can learn the “attitude” to do yoga humbly.

              We usually seek some methodologies so that we can feel at ease by following it. However, this attitude is an abandonment of liberty and becoming “slavery” of methodology that someone else made.

              Friedrich Nietzsche may say like this,

Discard methodologies and live by yourself!
Overcome “weakness” to seek something to follow and be strong!

I practice yoga to make me free.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Samurai cannot do warm-up exercises!

Kono Yoshinori, a Japanese martial arts master, usually explains difference between traditional martial arts and modern sports like this;

“Samurai must move immediately whenever they need because they cannot expect when they are attacked. They cannot say ‘wait till I’ve done warm-up exercises.’ to their enemies.”

Therefore, it is important to have “a body that can move whenever you need”. Wild animals can run rapidly when they are attacked or find game without warm-up exercises. Because their movements are natural and in accordance with the structure of their body, they cannot have a pulled muscle even if they move roughly all of a sudden.

If you cannot move without warm-up exercises, it means you move incorrectly to the structure of your body. This is a common principle on martial arts, yoga, and sports as well.

When I noticed this fact at my high school age, I belonged to a soccer club. I did “rough” practices to make my body able to move whenever I want. For example, I went to a ground early morning and repeated dashes on a steep slope or did a shoot training without any stretching or warm-up exercises.

I cannot recommend you to do these training because these are somewhat dangerous to be injured. However, I had a strange confidence not to be injured on those days.

Honda Keisuke, a soccer player in Japanese national team, also says on an interview like this;

Professional players should always be ready to play a game. Even if I have a game tomorrow without notification, I am always ready to play the game.”

Traditional yoga also requires us to have a body that can move whenever. ‘Hatha Yoga Pradipika’, a famous classic of yoga, says

“Yogi should keep one-fourth of their stomach empty. They satisfy half of their stomach with food, satisfy one-fourth with water, and keep one-fourth empty so that air can move.

This sentence may be mainly for health of digestive system, but I think, by my experience, it includes the intension to keep your body able to move. In fact, if you eat too much, you cannot move actively nor practice yoga for a few hours. I sometimes experience this state.

If you eat too much, you cannot control your mind by practicing yoga even if you are aware to the state of your mind. If you eat less, it becomes rare that your mind is disturbed and you can control your mind by practicing yoga even if your mind is disturbed.

In modern age, we seldom have a chance to be attacked by enemies like samurai, but, even, I think we should be ready to move whenever we need.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Traveling Body

              Yogic practitioners practice a variety of poses. It is said that there is no less than 8.4 million asanas in traditional yoga.

              Taking a variety of poses is similar to traveling a variety of spots. If you visit a new spot, you see a new sight that you have never seen. Similarly, if you take a new pose, you see “your new self” that you have never experienced.
              For example, if you have never taken inverted posture, you cannot know how your breath is, how your sight is, and how your tension is when you take an inverted posture. In order to know them, you need to experience by yourself. The path to mastering many posture is similar to the path of travelers who seek to visit many places.

              Then, is it important to master many poses (asanas)? Is it true that those who are flexible and can take many poses can enjoy yoga more than those who are not?

              The answer is yes, but at the same time no.

              It is true that the more flexible you are, the more various experience you can have. Similarly, travelers who use airplane and ship can move around and see a variety of spots while those who take a walk only around their home cannot see many famous spots in the world. Therefore, it is necessary for yogic practitioners to make efforts to increase the number of poses that they can take. Travelers make efforts to increase the number of spots that they can visit as well.

              However, travelers who visit all over the world are not necessarily happier than those who take a walk only around their home. Similarly, those who are flexible and can take many poses don’t necessarily practice yoga more deeply than those who can take limited number of poses.

              It is possible to have a fresh discovery on daily walk in limited spots every single day, and it is possible to practice yoga deeply with limited poses, too. In fact, your pose differs according to your physical condition, timing, whether, season, place, etc. even if you take the same pose every day. It is yoga if you can taste profundity deeply with poses that you can take even if the number of poses is limited.

              On the contrary, if you consist only on external form, it is not yoga even if you are flexible and able to take a variety of poses. This is similar to a traveler who does something else without seeing the view in beautiful spot.

              Therefore, we need two types of efforts about yoga asana practice;

1, to enhance flexibility and try to take a variety of poses
2, to taste profundity deeply with poses that you can take

              Especially, 2 is inevitable. If you try to see view from the pose that you can take, your flexibility will improve spontaneously. I think it is an ideal practice of yoga asana.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Martial Arts Make You Gentle?

One of the most important factors on body movements based on classical martial arts is to use whole body cooperatively.

              There are lots of merits to do so, and today I focus on how the state of body influence the characteristics.

              Think whole body as a company, parts of the body as a number of employees, and brain as the president.

              If you use only a few parts of your body, only a few employees are working. For example, when you pick up a heavy object, you tend to tense up your muscle of your arms. This state is like this; only a certain employee (=arms) is working and the others are not working.

              When you want to come to pick up heavier objects, weight training is thought to be a common approach. However, this solution means like this; to make employees who are already working (=arms) work more, but leave the other employees who isn’t work doing so.

              Is there something strange in it? Classical martial arts choose different way; try to make share works with lazy employees and make everyone cooperate.

              If someone works too much, everyone supports him. If someone doesn’t have job, everyone shares the burden. This kind of company seems to be full of cooperation and have a gentle atmosphere.

              Same state is likely to happen on your body. If you can use whole body cooperatively, each parts of your body is becoming have a “gentle” characteristics. Therefore, you can become a gentle person by “employing” gentle employees. In fact, some of my acquaintances have changed their characteristics by mastering body movements based on classical martial arts.

              On the contrary, if you train only some parts of your body, you will “employ” selfish employees who don’t have a spirit of cooperation. Employees rob jobs each other, and the president put a few employees who assert themselves strongly in this “company”. This kind of company (=body) cannot produce gentle atmosphere.

              Which company (body) do you want to have? I must choose gentle one.

              Martial arts are thought to be violent, but it can help us to make a “gentle body” by using a whole body cooperatively.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

If you have a good mirror, reflected you will be better.

      A person who is in front of you is your mirror; he or she reflects how you are.

              For example, when you think that your counterparts of conversation boast of themselves, your way of receiving them reflects how you are. This situation shows that the counterparts have a desire to show off or to be praised, but at the same time it shows that you also have the same desire as they have.

              If you don’t have such desire at all, you must not think the counterparts as people who crave the limelight. If you think so, this is an evidence that you also have same desire.

              Your counterpart is your mirror. This proposition also means that you can play a role as your counterpart’s mirror. Therefore, it is possible to change how counterpart is by how you are, and it is also possible to be changed how you are by how the counterpart is.

              Hence if you meet a good person, you can make yourself better by using him or her as a mirror. I realized this fact when I met a great person recently.

              I thought this man didn’t have a desire to show off or to be praised at all. It is usual for us to have a desire to appeal ourselves to some extent especially when we meet someone for the first time. However, when I met this man for the first time, my latent desire to be praised didn’t reveal at all.

              We usually use this kind of words; “you should be just the way you are”, but it is not easy to embody this word. It is natural for most of us to have a desire to boast of ourselves and to be praised.

              However, what if there is a person who doesn’t care about evaluations from others at all and concentrate just on what his or her true self seeks…?

              What you can get from attitudes or atmosphere of who is in front of you has much stronger power to change you rather than what you are said. When I met the man and share atmosphere with him, I felt that I received a silent but strong message; “you should be just the way you are.”

              Therefore, if you have a “good mirror” in front of you, reflected you will become better. My next challenge seems to keep this good state without this “good mirror”.

              If I can make it, I can become a “good mirror” for others, and I can make others better.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Yoga for Happiness Right Now

                      Taking variety of poses, I usually notice that my body is stiff. Sometimes I lose my confidence when I face difficult poses. Especially when I cannot but everyone can do it, I tend to feel embarrassed.
              So I have a will “to become flexible”, but there is a misunderstanding here.

              If I become more flexible and become able to take more difficult poses, will I get more confidence?
              No, even if I get confidence by becoming more flexible, this is a mere relative confidence. Even if I get confidence by comparison with “my past self” or other people, this confidence is easily shaken if I face more difficult poses or comparison with more flexible person.

           Relative confidence is not reliable.
              Therefore, it is much more helpful to make efforts not to lose confidence even if I am inferior to others rather than to make efforts to become superior to others.

              The essence of yoga is not becoming flexible but allow myself even if I am weak or stiff. In other words, yoga is an approach to become happy on “my present self”. If I exaggerate, those who practice yoga with having a will to become flexible cannot taste happiness if they die before they become flexible enough. On the contrary, those who practice yoga to make “my present self” happy can taste happiness on the process of daily practice. Even if they come to an end today, they can taste as much happiness as they can during their lives.

              This is different from seeking a fleeting pleasure or making other times sacrifices. Yoga is, so to speak, “a double amplification of happiness”; to taste happiness on “my present self”, and make “my future self” happy by making body and mind healthy and stabled. I don’t think the former should be forgotten.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

To Making Friends with Stuff

              Human beings are animals that use tools, so they usually move with stuff not only in daily lives but also sports and artistic activities.

 In these cases, we need to be familiar with the stuff. I call this work, becoming familiar with the stuff, “making friends with the stuff.” For example, imagine when you use chopsticks. When you hold chopsticks by the dominant hand, you can move them as a part of your body without special care. This is the state “you and the chopsticks are friends”. On the other hand, if you hold them with your opposite hand (or in case you are not good at using them), that oneness will disappear. In other word, you and the chopsticks are in the relation of “the primary and the subordinate”. This is the state “you and the chopsticks are not friends.”

By the way, what I have tried to make friends with is wooden sword. I’ll state what I noticed while I have gotten along with a wooden sword.

Three conditions of “making friends with a wooden sword” are

1, I must be independent

2, I must be conscious to not parts of it but the entire

3, The relation between I and it must be not one-sided but interaction

              First, I must be independent. When you hold a sword, you tend to focus on only holding it and be careless that “you are standing”. So, you should care about yourself standing stably on the ground. It is better to prepare for moving to anywhere anytime with a moderate strain.

              Second, I must be conscious to not parts of it but the entire. If you are not used to hold long object like a sword, it is usual to chafe the floor or the ceiling with the tip of it because you cannot grasp the real length. If you stand and hold it with being conscious from the root to the tip, your body will be stabled only because of it. Condition1 and 2 are compatible.

              Finally, the relation between I and it must be not one-sided but interaction. When you hold and move a sword several minutes, the relation gradually becomes “the primary and the subordinate”. From “you and the sword move (S-Vi)” to “you move the sword (S-Vt-O)”.

              In this kind of case, you should hold the sword again. The movement that will appear is active (you grasp the sword) and simultaneously passive (the sword comes into your hands and changes the shape of your hands). Keeping this sense, you can taste a strange move that “I move the sword but simultaneously I am moved by a sword.”

              Looking back, there are several points that can be helpful in order to make friends with living human as well as a wooden sword. “Being independent”, “being conscious to entire”, and “interaction” are important to make friends in real life.

              Therefore, we should not look down on the ability to make friends with stuff. For example, I don’t think tennis players who throw their racket when they fail can be gentle. On the contrary, a person who treat stuff gently tend to be regarded as gentle. If every stuff has mind, it will take to gentle people rather than irritable people.

              I felt glad to find out that we can learn the skill to become gentle by swinging a wooden sword, a wild movement at first sight.

From Daily to Samurai

What are you researching for?This is one of the most difficult questions for me, but today I try to explain.

As I told you in self-introduction, I began to research for physical movements when I met Kono Harunori, who is a researcher for it. His father, Kono Yoshinori, is a master of Japanese classical martial arts. Kono Harunori researches for the physical movements based on the essence of martial arts by using daily movements such as raising hand or holding bag. In the society I hold in the university we practice simple movements as Kono Harunori does.

I give an example; the practice of “raising hand”. In this exercise, what you do is just raise your hand.

Maybe you are confusing…but, this natural and nonchalant movement is incredibly important.

Next, imagine that your hand is pressed down when you try to raise your hand. As soon as you do, most of you will be conscious to the obstacle, and natural and nonchalant movement you did without trouble also will disappear.

It is very important “not to be opposed” from point of view of traditional martial arts. In order “not to be opposed”, you should “just” raise your hand without caring about the fact that you are being pressed down.

This technique, “without caring”, is pretty difficult. Miyamoto Musashi, one of the most famous medieval samurai said,

“You can walk on a one-meter-wide board on the ground. However, if this board is laid across from the top of the castle to the top of that mountain, you will be afraid to walk on it. The essence of samurai is to regard them as same one-meter-wide boards and walk on them easily.”

In this case it is important “not to care” about the fact that you may die if you fail. You can practice this essence, “not to care” about difficulty and obstacle, in a simple and commonplace movement such as raising a hand.

Some people regard essence of martial arts as for only special person. However, if you sensitive to your daily movements, you can experience the state like samurai was in.

This is how I research for physical movements.

To wait until you feel like doing

I came home at this evening, and I wondered what to do because I didn’t have anything to do particularly. We tend to turn on TV or PC for no reason on this kind of situation. The problem is the fact that there is enormous information on TV or on the Internet. There are lots of devices that attracts us on these tool. While we are devoted in these, we waste time unconsciously.

In order to know what we really want to do, we need “conversation” with our own body. However, we forget our body when we click something attractive (mostly what forces us to think attractive) and are lost in it. While we are devoted in what our brain regard as attractive, we are easy to forget what we really want to do.

Today, before I did something, I tried to “wait until I felt like doing something”. As I did this, my eyes were struck by a bookshelf, and I took a book that I bought before and hadn’t read yet in my hand.

This action, so to speak, was done by my body spontaneously rather than by my will. Compared to the time I bought it, it was much easier to understand the contents of this book. If I describe this incident a little spiritually, my body, the closest natural object, made me read at just the right time.

We usually make a choice based on general ideas that we “should” do. Even when we choose what we eat, we care about proper calorie, nutritious balance, and how we are looked by this choice. In other word, we persist in what we “should” do.

However, as long as we cling to what we should do, we cannot listen to our body. Once we make our thinking mind empty and ask our body “what do you really want to eat?”, the answer from our body may beI don’t want to eat anything now.

             If you can wait until your body really wants and eat what you really want, it may be a great happiness.

              If you have something to begin as a new habit, it is useful to “wait until you really want”. For instance, consider when you want to begin to jog as a habit. When you don’t feel like jogging, your body may not move comfortably even if you force your body to run. If you feel like this, “wait until you feel like jogging”. Just then, there might be a moment when your body start moving unexpectedly. If you can encounter this kind of moment, you will become able to enjoy jogging deeply and become healthy. When don't you feel like running forever? Jogging may not be fit for you.

              It is difficult to keep doing when your body and mind are not in harmony if you don’t have strong willpower. I recommend you that you wait until you feel like doing job even if it is what you “should” do in order to you tackle it with the condition that your body and mind are in harmony.

            Of course, sometimes this easy kind of attitude is not allowed by society around you. Still, you also have what you can make a choice by yourself on a daily basis. I think it is better to follow your body than bind by ordering yourself “you should do it” “you had better do it now”.

Self-introduction (Renewal in November, 2016)

Yuto Matoba

Born in 1996 in Japan.

Personal history
In order to improve as a soccer player, I began to learn body movements based on martial arts from Harunori Kono at age of 14. As I learned it, I became interested in the relation between body movements and way of life.

After entering the university of Tsukuba, I established a student organization “Society of Body Movements” in order to keep researching for it through not only theory but practice. In this society, I instruct and research for movements with wooden swards, and movements that make activities of daily living easy and comfortable once a week.

At the 2nd year of university, I realized that yoga was a good material for research for the relation between body and way of life. After I learned about yoga by myself a few months, I made up my mind to learn yoga in the home of yoga. Then I visited to Rishikesh, India and took 200 hours teacher training there.

After coming back to Japan, I began to teach yoga. I hold Morning Yoga Class in the university every Thursday. Apart from this, I hold lessons of yoga and body movements at a Japanese drum club in Tsukuba city.

RYT200 Yoga Alliance

What I want to do
to be natural state of body and mind.
to offer yoga and body movements that is accordance with client’s state.

What I can teach
Basic asana and pranayama practice of traditional hatha yoga.
Adjustment of body movements that make activities of daily life easy and comfortable
Body movements with wooden swards