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Roger Federer, Kinetic Beauty, and the Religious Experience

Written by Philip Walter on Jul 11 at 5:40 pm.

Roger Federer

photo courtesy of Squeaky Knees

On the heels of the great Roger Federer’s recent and utter silencing of any critics, with major championships number 14 and 15 at Roland Garros and the All England Club, I revisited a 2006 New York Times article by David Foster Wallace, “Roger Federer as Religious Experience.” If you’re a tennis fan in general, a Federer fan specifically, the entire article is worth reading. Its 5 pages are full of astute observations, but there is something said in the first several paragraphs I found incredibly interesting on this particular reading. I thought I might comment on it in this blog entry.

Wallace asserts, “high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty. The relation is roughly that of courage to war.” It’s not that courage is the object or purpose of war. Obviously, conquering the enemy is the goal, but the courageous tend to rise to the top. You might say, courage in war is often rewarded with victory. Likewise, in the uppermost tiers of competitive sport, it seems, beauty is often rewarded with victory.

This might seem a strange statement since most sports fans flock around their big-screen televisions with thoughts of beauty far from the fronts of their minds. However, what we’re talking about here is, as Wallace pointed out in his essay, “beauty of a particular type; it might be called kinetic beauty.” He goes on to say,

“Its power and appeal are universal. It has nothing to do with sex or cultural norms. What it seems to have to do with, really, is human beings’ reconciliation with the fact of having a body.”

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Which is best – Yoga or Strength Training? What about Yoga and Strength Training?

Written by Philip Walter on Feb 18 at 4:32 pm.

which should come first - yoga or strength training?

Matthew_Dutile

So which is it – yoga or resistance training? The two practices seem to indicate different paths to completely different destinations in terms of physique and functional ability. The yogi is the skinny guy or gal who can twist him or herself into a pretzel while calmly and annoyingly chanting AUM! The weight lifter is the meathead who spends too much time in the gym developing big muscles that may look good but are largely inflexible and non-functional.

Thankfully these two opinions are gross and inaccurate generalizations.

I personally think the research shows a combination of yoga posture practice and strength training is the best thing you can do for your body, aside from proper nutrition of course. This is not really a new concept. Health clubs all around the world have regular yoga classes in addition to their free weights and nautilus machines. We learned a few years ago in the book Real Men Do Yoga, that even football players can get a lot out of supplementing their heavy lifting with some rigorous posture practice.

But how well have yoga and strength training really been integrated in popular training regimes? Not too well in my opinion. The two practices remain separate things to do on separate days for separate purposes. Read on to find why recent discoveries indicate this should change.

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My Other Pet Blog – ADistillationOfSelf.com

Written by Philip Walter on Dec 22 at 10:40 pm.

Project Distillation

A Distillation of … what?

Photo credit: Pål Berge

So, the holidays are coming up, and as most of you probably know, I’ve been hard at work finalizing the recipes, workout plans, stress management techniques, and thought experiments that will make up my book, The Brickhouse Bodymind Blueprint.  That has unfortunately meant fewer posts here at the blog.  Things will return to normal as soon as the book is ready, which with any luck will be the end of January.

Anyway, until then I have started up a new little project.  In addition to being a fun challenge in the web design department, it should give me an outlet for less structured features than those found here, and keep me from becoming a total recluse while I finalize the book.

It will also serve as my workout log.  Those of you who are interested in seeing what my regular physical training regimine actually looks like can do that at this website.  Currently I am trying to shed a final few percentge-points of bodyfat before we take pictures of the exercises that will be featured in my book.  You can read a detailed description of the workout cycle here.

The new website is called A Distillation of Self.  I wrote an introductory post that explains the whole vision in a nutshell.  Also, you can find the best yet description of my personal transformative practice there.  Please don’t hesitate to let me know what ya’ll think of the new site by commenting here or there, or sending me an e-mail at philip(at)brickhousebodymind.com.

Peace and thanks for reading!

BrickhouseBodymind Blueprint 002 – Biotensegrity and Musculoskeletal Traction in Hatha Yoga Posture Practice

Written by Philip Walter on Aug 3 at 1:27 pm.

Brickhouse Bodymind Blueprint 001 - Approaching Alignment from the Inside Out

Designed by philip.

Well, it has been a while since the first blueprint came out, but as promised this is a series of documents, so here’s the second one. It’s called “Biotensegrity and Musculoskeletal Traction in Hatha Yoga Posture Practice.” It represents an amalgam of ideas I’ve been mulling over for a while now, but only really came to fruition after reading Scott Sonnon’s blog post, Biotensegrity = Circular Strength Training. As is my modus operandi, I began digging through the search engines to find out as much as I could about the subject, and what I found validated much of what I already felt to be true of the value of hatha yoga posture practice.

Biotensegrity is a subject that has recently come of age, which observes the principles of tensegrity structures at work in living, biological systems. This dynamic dictates that certain conditions be present for living systems such as the human body to function efficiently. In this blueprint, I discuss the principles of tensegrity structures, how those principles apply to the human body, and then how the practice of hatha yoga asanas can help bring equilibrium to such a system.

This blueprint will, like the first one, be freely available to anyone who drops by. I encourage folks who enjoy these essays to subscribe to my e-mail feed, or via rss. This insures two things – 1) that you’ll be among the first to know when the next blueprint comes out, and 2) once these documents become available to subscribers only, you’ll already be on board.

Get it here – BrickhouseBodymind Blueprint 002 – Biotensegrity and Musculoskeletal Traction in Hatha Yoga Posture Practice.

BrickhouseBodymind TV Episode 5 – The Software of Hatha Yoga

Written by Philip Walter on Jul 11 at 6:12 pm.

prasara flow, vinyasa, and asana - yoga practice at the lake

Photo courtesy of
Becca Davis

This is the first lecture-based installment of BrickhouseBodymind TV. The idea came out of a brief discussion on the RMAX Forums about the differences between vinyasa and prasara flow. Do they differ? If so, how do they differ, and how can they be integrated into a single practice?

The first pitfall is to think of prasara yoga as a type or brand of yoga. It is not. It is simply one of the software programs that comes with the Hatha Yoga 2008 package. I am grateful to Scott Sonnon for re-introducing this piece of the puzzle. The other two pieces of software are vinyasa and asana. To find out how they work together to integrate the hardware of the human body – breath, structure and movement – check out the video below.

One final note – I’m trying out a new video player to see if I can deliver a better quality video than YouTube. If this copy doesn’t work for you, you can view the crappy YouTube version here.

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