Friday, July 31, 2009

Doing Nothing

Boredom is Good.

These days I'm very busy doing nothing. Are you laughing? No joke. I'm doing absolutely NOTHING and time just flies without me noticing.

So I am busy filtering and sorting my thoughts while I am doing nothing. I am thinking, 'It's 10', 'I'm doing nothing', 'It's hot outside', 'I'm doing nothing', 'TJ must be busy at office', 'It's boring here', 'Oh look at that bird', 'I'm doing nothing', 'Have to finish choreography', 'But I'm doing nothing', 'Let's read something', 'No nothing today', 'What should I do', 'Nothing at all', 'Sleep?', 'Ok. That's doing nothing'. Wooooh. So you say I wasted my time? I say, 'No! It was good.'

Boredom is good. Sometimes it is. And it is totally human to feel dull and restless at times. By allowing ourselves the luxury of doing nothing, we stop reacting to the external world and let our inner selves loose. When doing nothing, we very easily dive into our own thoughts and lose our sense of hearing any external voices, until it becomes a noise when someone's yelling at you.

After emerging from the luxurious boredom, we usually feel that we have accomplished nothing and have frittered away precious time. But the reality is rather contrary. We have gained useful insight and often when doing nothing, we discover something new, perhaps about a relationship, perhaps about a new liking, or perhaps about how the universe works. After all, is material accomplishment really the point of life? Slow down a little.

For once, try parrying the multifarious digital distraction your TV, laptop, cell phone, iPod, Facebook, and the latest Kindle offer. You'll realize how you'd been giving up on something as good as doing nothing.

Check for yourself, because researchers have recognized boredom as 'a legitimate human emotion that can be central to learning and creativity.'

Hence Proved. Boredom is Good.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nostalgia

America reminds me of Home

Yesterday Seattle reached a record temperature of 88F/31C. It broke that record just today and reached 90F/32C. It is unbearably hot; and I am surprised. I had presumed that having spent 24 years of my life in a desert where 122F/50C is just as normal as rising of the sun, I had become inured to extreme hot temperatures. I was reminded of the scorching heat of Rajasthan.

The night was warmer than ever and we couldn't get sleep. The best we could do was to open the window and let the breeze, meager though it was, come in. I was reminded of the night outs on the roof, under the night sky, and air as cool and fresh as it could be.

The otherwise uninterrupted sleep was sometimes encroached upon by the cacophony of high speed cars on the highway. I was reminded of the dogs barking (and crying) right after midnight on the street outside my house. How sweet that was! At least now it seems so. I couldn't resist a chuckle, in slumber though I was.

Before the alarm clock could, the noisy bulldozer and crane and the even noisier workers at the construction site woke me up. We have been taught to say our prayers before starting the day. All I could say was #%$%&&!!. And again, I was reminded of the chirping of wonderful little cute birds that would convey a beautiful new day, bells in the nearby temple ringing a blessing to the ears, and the conventional cock-a-doodle-doo of the rooster in our Kerala house.

And similarly, the Wednesday trips to Ganesh temple have been replaced by unending net surfing. The respecting titles 'aunt' and 'uncle' of respectable ages have been replaced by Mrs. Thomson and Mr. Right of equally respectable ages. That feeling of kinship for fellow Indians has been replaced with side-glances of 'yet another Indian working with Microsoft'.

Those were the days... Sigh!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

HEALTHY LIVING : Know it all about Surya Namaskar

Significance in Hinduism
As the name implies, Surya Namaskara is Salutation to the Sun. The Sun or the Surya is the chief solar deity in Hinduism and is believed to be the king of all planets responsible for controlling all their movements. According to the Vedas, praising the Sun God enhances good health and prosperity. The sun is praised in the simplest way by folding one's hands in namaskara at the time of sunrise chanting the mantra 'Om Suryaye Namah'. While a variety of different procedures of salutation to the Sun God has been explained in the religious books of the Hindu society, physical prostration to Sun, showing complete surrender of oneself to God, is the main aspect of these procedures.


Practicing Surya Namaskar
The best time to practice Surya Namaskar is either at sunrise or sunset facing towards the sun. The image below comes handy to remember the sequence of asanas comprising the Surya Namaskar.



It is very important that breathing be synchronised with each posture of the Surya Namaskar. Starting with exhale in the Prayer Pose, each asana is moved into with alternate inhalation and exhalation. The asanas are ordered so that they alternately stretch the spine backward and forward. A full round of Surya namaskara is considered to be two sets of the twelve poses, the first with moving the right leg first in each pose and the second set with moving the left leg first through the series. This video on YouTube demonstrates precisely the practice of Surya Namaskar, however, without the mantras.

The following mantras are chanted in sequence with the 12 chakras.

Chakra -------------------- Mantra/Salutation

Anahata -------------------- om mitrāya namaḥ

Vishuddhi ------------------ om ravaye namaḥ

Muladhar -------------------om sūryāya namaḥ

Ajna------------------------ om bhānave namaḥ

Vishuddhi ------------------om khagāya namaḥ

Swadhisthana ---------------om puṣṇe namaḥ

Muladhara ------------------om hiraṇya garbhāya namaḥ

Vishuddhi------------------- om marīcaye namaḥ

Ajna------------------------ om ādityāya namaḥ

Muladhar------------------- om savitre namaḥ

Vishuddhi------------------- om arkāya namaḥ

Anahata ---------------------om bhāskarāya namaḥ

Watch this video to learn how to chant the mantras with correct pronunciation.

Benefits of the Surya Namaskar Poses

Pose 1 (and 12) – Improves balance, exercises shoudler, back and neck muscles and stimulates respiratory system.

Pose 2 (and 11) – improves digestion, promotes flexibility in back and hips, tones the spine.

Pose 3 (and 10) – Improves blood circulation, stretches back and leg muscles, stimulates lymphatic system.

Pose 4 (and 9) – Exercises spine, strengthens hand and wrist muscles.

Pose 5 (and 8) – relieves neck and shoulder tension, strengthens the heart

Pose 6 – increases flexibility in neck and shoulders, exercises back muscles

Pose 7 – Improves circulation to abdominal organs, improves digestion, stimulates nerves in spine

Benefits Of Surya Namaskar

  • Surya Namaskar benefits joints, ligaments and the skeletal system by improving posture, flexibility and balance.
  • Stimulates the cardio vascular system.
  • Oxygenates the blood and helps strengthen the heart.
  • Surya Namaskar also beenfits the endocrine system and enables the various endocrinal glands to function properly.
  • It relaxes and rejunevates, and alleviates tension, stress and anxiety.
  • Patients of insomnia will gain from regular practice of Surya Namaskar as it eliminates the need of depressants to fall asleep.

Things To Remember


  • Allow a gap of atleast 2 hours after your meal before practicing Surya Namaskar .
  • Do not practice surya namaskar on the floor, use a mat.
  • As with any Yoga practice session, follow Surya Namaskar by Shavasana for rest.
  • Synchronization of breathing with each asana is essential.
  • Add Surya Namaskar at the beginning of your daily yoga routine.

Monday, July 13, 2009

BOOK LOVERS : Book Hopping


'Only in books has mankind known perfect truth, love and beauty.' - George Bernard Shaw

Reading is always fun. Be it fiction, comic or some good old classic, it is the most inexpensive form of entertainment that provides enduring pleasure. No wonder it maintains an apex status on list of favourite hobbies the world over.

Thanks to computers the number of people reading books has reduced considerably. Ironically, in an era where bookstores and libraries are passe, the internet has opened loads of avenues for the book lovers. Be it buying a book using the internet or reading an entire book online, the potential of what you can do with books online is infinite.

Read Books Online

Unbelievable but true, with GoogleBooks, you can read an entire book online. Austen, Plato, Johnson, Shakespeare...everyone is there - you name it and the website has their works.

  • Log on to http://books.google.com/
  • Find books classified under segments like fiction, non-fiction, Sci-Fi, classics etc.
  • Click on the title of the book you wish to read.
  • Without downloading the book, you can start reading it online.
  • Use the 'search in this book' feature to look up any word or phrase from the book.
  • Get links to the online stores from where you can order the book.

If you wish to download a book, go to http://gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page and download more than 25,000 books legally, for free.

Reflect

For critics who like to share their reviews with other readers and those bookworms who want to know what to expect from their next read, this one is an ideal place to write what you feel and read what you want to know. Log on to http://www.bookswellread.com/home.php and read or share book reviews.

There are plenty of other blogging websites that invite reader reviews as well. Go ahead and post your thoughts.

Share Books

A book lying on a shelf is wasted ammunition. Like money, it must be kept in constant circulation.

  • Register your books at http://www.bookcrossing.com/, write down the unique number and web address on the book and then set it free to travel the world to find new readers.
  • Log on to the website to track the book's journey around the world as it gets passed on.

Find your book mate

Come across singles who share your passion for reading. The website http://www.singlebooklovers.com/ publishes personal profiles of intelligent and cultured single men and women across countries who like books, reading, arts and culture. Get aquainted with bookworms and bibliophiles of all ages; all with a common love of books and reading.

Then there is http://www.anobii.com/, a website that provides tools to let like-minded people connect and strike meaningful conversations.

Get a recommendation

This one is fun. On http://whatshouldireadnext.com/, just enter the book or author you like and the website will analyse their database of real readers' favourite books to suggest what you could read next. Now isn't that freaky and interesting?

Social Networking

Look up a book and find its description, sale information and similar reads in just one click. Besides this, the website http://www.bookjetty.com/ is also a social utility that connects you with your friends' bookshelves and links you up with book stores and your local libraries.

Lazy Readers

If you are a lazy reader who likes to read less but effective stuff, then go to http://lazylibrary.com/ and look for books that are less than 200 pages. You'll be surprised at the kind of stuff you stumble upon here.

And for those of you who haven't picked up a book yet, get inspired!

Happy Reading!!


HEALTHY LIVING : Beware of Green Potato


Potatoes naturally produce small amounts of a toxin called solanine as a defense against insects.
But prolonged exposure to light and heat increases solanine production and can cause potatoes to turn green.
Eating green potatoes can cause fever, headahce, vomiting and diarrhea.
Boiling, but not baking, usually removes most of the solanine from potatoes. But as a rule, it' s best not to eat potatoes if they are green.
To help keep potatoes from turning green, store them in a cool dimly lit place.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

HEALTHY LIVING : 30 minutes of Yoga

Yoga and its benefits are well known to most of us. What many of us do not know (and do not care to understand) is that Yoga is more than just another form of exercise. In order to be able to receive in its fullest and purest form what Yoga has to offer to us, it is inevitable that we grasp the gist of Yoga.
The word Yoga comes from the Sanskrit root 'yuj' which means to join. Therefore, the essence of Yoga is the union of the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. Yoga teaches us to overcome the bondage of body through restraining our senses, mastering our mind, and controlling our thoughts and desires. Technically, Yoga trains us to become high-performance users of our own minds.
For this reason, each of the asanas of Yoga strive to unite our body and soul with the Supreme and for the same reason, each of these asanas should be performed with that goal in mind. Asanas strengthen and purify the body and control and focus the mind. 30 minutes of the Yoga routine described below is devised to reach out to all parts of the body from head to toe. Remember that asanas should be firm yet relaxed. When in a Yoga posture, we must make sure that we can breathe slowly and deeply. We must feel a good stretch but not pain, strain of fatigue.
The routine that I describe below is called 'Home Kriya Routine' because one can easily do it at home as per his/her convenience of time and space. It is however preferable that the kriya be performed in morning between 4:00 am and 6:00 am. Also, allow a minimum gap of 2 hours between the kriya and your meals. Start your yoga routine with Surya Namaskar for best results.

30 Minutes of Yoga Routine (to be performed in order)

STANDING ASANAS
1. Joint Rotation (6 minutes)- Start with rotation of all the joints of the body from head to toe. Rotate your joints at neck, shoulders, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. Rotate 5 times in clockwise direction and 5 times in anti-clockwise.
Joint rotation is good for warming up and improves muscle extendibility, mobility of the joints and flexibility.

Relax and take deep breaths thrice. Inhale (2 seconds), hold (2 seconds), exhale (3 seconds).

2. Tadasana (1 minute)- Watch Shilpa Shetty perform Tadasana at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pqpb6YhMa8U. Stay in this posture for 20 seconds. Repeat twice.

Tadasana
  • Corrects postural weaknesses
  • Tones up the leg muscles
  • Strengthens the knees, ankles and thighs
  • Cure for flat feet (by practising lifting the legs through the arches)
  • Alleviates symptoms of sciatica

Relax and take deep breaths thrice. Inhale (2 seconds), hold (2 seconds), exhale (3 seconds).

3. Gomukhasana (1 minute)- Watch this video to learn to correct procedure of attaining Gomukhasana. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXfnTRcSI7o This asana can also be performed in sitting position. Stay in this posture for 20 seconds. Repeat twice.

Gomukhasana stretches each part of your body making it more flexible. Beginners might face some difficulty initially, but Gomukhasana can be mastered with regular practice.

Relax and take deep breaths thrice. Inhale (2 seconds), hold (2 seconds), exhale (3 seconds).

4. Uttanasana(1 minute) - This video gives a detailed explaination of Uttanasana. Stay in this asana for 20 seconds. Repeat twice.

Uttanasana calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression. It strengthens the thighs and knees and improves digestion. Uttanasana also helps relieve headache and insomnia.

Relax and take deep breaths thrice. Inhale (2 seconds), hold (2 seconds), exhale (3 seconds).

Sit down slowly with your legs stretched forward for Sitting Position Asanas.

SITTING ASANAS
1. Ustrasana(1 minute) - Get inspired from Shilpa Shetty. Though Ustrasana might seem difficult to beginners, regular practice will help make it effortless. It is a very rewarding asana. My personal favourite. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7l3Dd9EIEg. Stay in this asana for 20 seconds. Repeat twice.
Ustrasana stretches the entire front of the body and strengthens back muscles as well. It improves posture and stimulates the organs of the abdomen and neck.

Relax and take deep breaths thrice. Inhale (2 seconds), hold (2 seconds), exhale (3 seconds).

2. Paschimottanasana(1 minute) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiU0yJE6xms. Stay in this pose for 20 seconds. Repeat twice.


Paschimottanasana reduces body fat. It helps relieve constipation and gastritis. Paschimottanasana helps cure piles and diabetes too.

Relax and take deep breaths thrice. Inhale (2 seconds), hold (2 seconds), exhale (3 seconds).

3. Marichyasana(1 minute) - Marichyasana is a very good asana for whole body stretching. One can experience instant relaxation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk45dCPQBoM. Stay in this pose for 20 seconds. Repeat twice.

Marichyasana helps alleviate constipation and obesity. It stretches the spine and shoulders, stimulates liver and kidneys and improves digestion.

Relax and take deep breaths thrice. Inhale (2 seconds), hold (2 seconds), exhale (3 seconds).

Lie down ou your belly for Prone Yoga Asanas.

PRONE YOGA ASANAS
1. Bhujangasana(1 minute) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUIfEpiSCf8&feature=channel. Stay in this pose for 20 seconds. Repeat twice.

Bhujangasana improves flexibility and helps relieve and prevent lower backache. It rejuvenates spinal nerves enriching them with a rich blood supply.

Relax and take deep breaths thrice. Inhale (2 seconds), hold (2 seconds), exhale (3 seconds).

2. Shalabhasana(1 minute) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0ueCMhQmDQ. Stay in this asana for 20 seconds. Repeat twice.

Shalabhasana strengthens the lower back, leg, and buttocks. It aligns the spine and helps balance the nervous system.

Relax and take deep breaths thrice. Inhale (2 seconds), hold (2 seconds), exhale (3 seconds).

3. Makarasana(2 minutes) - Switch to Makarasana and relax your muscles. Concentrate on each part of the body and feel the stretch. Feel the improved blood circulation.

Makarasana is good for relaxation. It promotes sleep, regulates blood pressure and reduces anxiety.

Lie down on your back by turning from your left side. This is important to avoid gush of blood to the heart.

SUPINE YOGA ASANAS

Stretch your hands away from your head and stretch your legs in the opposite direction(therefore making a straight line of your body). Stretch for 10 seconds.
1. Paripurna Navasana(1 minute)- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nR5TTooempQ. Stay in this asana for 20 seconds. Repeat twice.

Paripurna Navasana strengthens the abdominal and lower back muscles as well as the quadriceps. It also develops balance.

Relax and take deep breaths thrice. Inhale (2 seconds), hold (2 seconds), exhale (3 seconds).

2. Sarvangasana(1 minute) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFvegMMrKDs

Sarvangasana helps cure ailments related to bronchitis, asthma, heavy breathing and shortness in breath. It is very helpful in alleviating digestion problems.

Relax and take deep breaths thrice. Inhale (2 seconds), hold (2 seconds), exhale (3 seconds).

3. Shavasana(2 minutes) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq4bJk1VvL0

When practicing the Corpse Pose or Shavasana, relax each part of your body in a systematic manner. Focus on one body part at a time starting from your head and progressing toward toes. Practice of the corpse pose can help lower blood pressure and is in fact therapeutic for arterial hypertension.

After completing these asanas, come back to sitting position while keeping your eyes closed. Remember, you must never sit up straight from the supine position. While in Supine Position, turn to your right side with our right hand under your head and left leg on top of the right leg. Stay in this position for 5 seconds. Rise slowly still keeping your eyes closed. Sit in Sukhasana. Open your eyes slowly. Rub your palms against each other and place them on your face for a few moments. You can then leave your seat as you may please.

You can increase time given to each asana as you become more comfortable with regular practice. Do not stretch outside your limits as this may cause injuries.

Also, it is very important to mix up different work out plans. Cross training is essential to make sure that all the parts of the body are evenly worked out.

Most Important : It is very important to watch your breath while performing these asanas. You must be able to breath deep and slowly. Synchronize your breath with each movement. Practice taking long deep breaths.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Aim In Life

Not Just One, But Many
Can't compromise with any
Things To Do, Places To Go
Money To Earn, Lessons To Learn.
Too Worldly, Am I?
Heart To Follow
Smiles, to subdue sorrow
Friends to keep
Families to please
Not Many, But Just One
Aim To LIVE
One Life To Live...