Does Yoga Make You Pregnant?
February 8, 2022
Welcome to three Seton Hall University students, Ciana, Mia, and Alyssa, to our Adult program. Also, please welcome Joseph to our Tai Chi Chuan program.
To Do or Not to Do’s
Lehrman Sensei – Wednesday, February 9, 7:00 pm. Lehrman Sensei teaches the second Wednesday of each month. This is a mandatory class for all ASNJ instructors and an exciting treat for all our students and guests. We welcome visitors from other dojos who would like to join us.
Super Bowl LVI – Sunday, February 13, 6:00 pm. Super Bowl at the dojo. Bengals vs Rams. A game of professional animals. Think of how great the commercials will be! Bring a dish or a beverage. Feel free to bring a family member and a friend. I promise if the game is boring, we will still be having a great time.
Aikido of Red Bank’s 20th Anniversary Seminar – SaturdayMarch 26, 10:00am – 2:30 pm. Yamada Sensei and Konigsberg Sensei, Testing and Party afterwards. They are located at 350 NJ-35, Red Bank, NJ 07701. I will be attending. Please join me. You can register on their website. By the way, check out their movie-themed flyer. Wicked cool.
Kyu Testing – Saturday, April 23, 2:00 pm. Come support your fellow ASNJ-ites (Jersey-ites – get it?) while they strut their stuff. Class is at 2:00, Kyu Tests at 3:30 followed by a Potluck party. Speak to Danny, Frank, or Derrell if you think you are ready to test.
Hakama Class – Sunday, April 30, 11:00 am. We will be having a class “How to Teach Aikido” taught by our licensed teachers. This is mandatory for all ASNJ instructors; instructors from any dojo are welcome. There is no charge.
Dean Sluyter-hosted Meditation – Sunday, May 1, 8:45 am-10:00 am. Dean Sluyter, cofounder of ASNJ's Sunday morning meditation program, returns to lead meditation and discussion, and to present his new book, The Dharma Bum's Guide to Western Literature. No charge, open to all.
Spring Seminar – Saturday, May 21, Noon to 6:00pm. The flyer is almost ready. Keep this on your calendar. We will have four hours of Aikido, Black Belt testing and, you know, a party.
Yoga at ASNJ and Zoom
Let’s face it, most of us are no longer youthfully limber. We must deal with aches and pains with Ibuprofen after carrying in the groceries. Right now, there’s this concept that yoga studios are filled models and high school cheerleaders who honestly, don’t really need yoga. For those of us who need a few minutes of preparation to get out of bed, try Connie’s yoga class. She considers each person’s abilities and helps you have the yoga class you are able to do, and she will make you feel great doing it. She is encouraging and supportive and shares her own challenges.
How do I know? My wife is a regular. She loves the class and feels great after each one. Often our Sundays are scheduled around the class. My wife knows good yoga, she practiced yoga back in the 80’s with the famed Swami Bua (who lived to be 123) until she found out it was the not aggressively-contorted postures making her nauseous: she was pregnant with our first son, Zachary. So come join her at Connie’s class. (Which by the way, doesn’t make Rachel nauseous!)
If you wanted to try yoga but thought you weren’t able to (you know, not being a cheerleader) or felt scared, give Connie’s class a try. The classes are available on Google Meets, so you don’t even have to leave home. It is free to every ASNJ member, their families, and friends. For more info, schedule, or links, check out page on our website. Classes are Sunday mornings 8am and Tuesday evenings 7pm.
I love to watch the kids test. OMG (I figured I would use a youthful abbreviation to be hip and cool. Did it work? LMK). Besides being really really good, (We had a 6-year-old doing bokken disarmaments), the kids are happy to be testing. No fear, no anxiety like the adults who test, they are just having fun. If you are preparing to test for Kyu or Dan, come watch the little kids’ tests. You can take notes, emulate their frame of mind. Have fun. (Unlike the kids, you might want to refrain from doing a little dance in between techniques or spinning around in circle while waiting for uke). There is a big lesson watching them. You can even copy some of the hair styles, like a ponytail sticking up on the corner of your head is super cute.
Though we have been working on shapes, the lesson is the entire throw is decided at the very first moment when you are attacked. The shape you need to create, the idea you want express to uke is the space you have created. Uke needs to be off balance, all their weight precariously on one foot and falling. If uke is balanced on two legs, you need to rely on the jitsu -- wrist lock -- to make the throw happen which isn’t wrong but rudimentary. You want their balance at the very first moment. Then the rest of the technique is just movement.
At the last class, I was focused on the initial shape creating the entire technique. If you do not have them on one foot, don’t stop and start again, adjust your shape until you see how the connection works, so they are thrown off balance. Focus on the beginning of the technique and make that happen. Forget about the throw. We are working on creating the shape before they attack so by the time you are touched, uke has already lost their balance. The shape is the way to cause this to happen.
I worked on shape in the Junior Deshi class that I teach once a month – this week a group of seven very talented kids. As it was an odd number of kids, I evened it out as the eighth by working with everyone individually for each technique. The good news, every one of them got the idea of each technique. The bad news, every one of them got the idea of each technique: I was their uke at that moment – a rag doll. When someone ‘has’ your balance, your ukemi is not pretty, it is real. It is not about a beautiful fall; it is about survival. I do not know if you ever really had to use your ukemi? Have you ever fallen for real? Like slipping on ice? Unfortunately, I am not the poster child for safety. I have fallen out of a tree, been hit while riding a motorcycle, been thrown out of various golf carts, and successfully used my ukemi to be here to write this letter. That is when you need ukemi as well as when you teach a teen how to take your balance and they learn that quickly and throw you really hard and you hit the mat like a sack of potatoes (not original choice of words) and you do this for an hour and you wake up sore and the Advil just doesn’t cut it…. Did I mention how rewarding that class was? I should stick with falling out of trees. It hurts less.
Who’s to Benefit
In Tai Chi Chuan class, we always have a lecture or discussion. That was the way I was taught 40 years ago and I like the tradition. We hosted Sagano Sensei for a lecture at the Tai Chi Chuan school many, many years ago. That is another story, but we have always discussed the concepts in addition to doing them.
I asked the class, ‘Why are you taking Tai Chi Chuan?’ Everyone contributed: from being more centered, to relaxing, to understand their body alignment, to make their Aikido better. Then I asked, “Can you tell me why you practice without specifying a benefit? Is there a reason you practice that does not give you a direct benefit? Can you, or would you do something if there was no benefit to you, if there was no reward?”
After some discussion, the answer was “to be in the moment, to exist in the now.” We agreed this was not a tangible thing and hardly an easy thought to hold onto but when you explore the idea, you realize all the other benefits existed out of this. The state of being in the here and now is a state without trying to get anything from that moment. It exists in a moment and benefits are what can happen later. If you focus on the benefit, you can’t be in the moment. So, practice for the sake of practicing. You work on this, through Aikido, through Tai Chi Chuan, through meditation and a myriad of other practices to have a moment of just being, without want, without cost/reward benefits, without any attachments.
The art is not about the means justifying the ends, the means are the ends. The practice is the reward in itself. If you achieve that ideal, being in the moment and you think, “Aha! Now I can do this or do that!” you are no longer in the moment. It is gone but that is okay, that is the practice. You practice to practice. And remember, you can’t get pregnant from doing yoga.
“The body should be triangular, the mind circular. The triangle represents the generation of energy and is the most stable physical posture. The circle symbolizes serenity and perfection, the source of unlimited techniques. The square stands for solidity, the basis of applied control.”
- Moihei Ueshiba, the Founder of Aikido