Flex Your Strength in Down Dog


https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/downward-facing-dog-pose-2

Flex Your Strength in Down Dog

Find balance between strength and flexibility in Adho Mukha Svanasana.
Rina Jakubowicz downward facing dog

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Adho Mukha Svanasana | adho = downward; mukha = face; svana = dog; asana = pose

Occasionally a body builder will wander into one of my yoga classes in Venice Beach from the famous Gold’s Gym down the block (where Arnold Schwarzenegger trained in the 1970s). These students have powerful bodies, but I’ve noticed that they often struggle with poses like Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose) because their muscle mass isn’t balanced with flexibility. Of course, I also have students in class with the opposite problem. I’ve seen acrobatic contortionists from Cirque du Soleil whose joints are so elastic that they often overstretch and have troubling holding the form of the pose.

For both kinds of students and everyone in between, Downward Dog is the perfect pose to observe and correct your body’s imbalances. For some people, this pose is about stretching and opening; for others, it’s learning to stabilize your joints with muscular effort. For everyone, Downward Dog uses the strength of your arms and legs to fully and evenly stretch your spine. It stretches your hips, hamstrings, and calves as it strengthens your quadriceps and ankles. It opens your chest and shoulders and tones your arms and abdominals. It even tones your hands and feet, preparing you for standing poses and arm balances.

The two main movements of Downward Dog are common ones: lifting your arms overhead and stretching your legs out at a right angle to your torso. But when you combine these movements and try to hold them upside down against gravity, they get harder. The pose becomes a laboratory where you observe your body’s patterns. Where are you weak? strong? tight? flexible? Practiced consciously, Downward Dog can train you to balance strength and flexibility in your whole body. To start, focus on your upper body. If your shoulders are tight, your work is to open your chest, stretch through your armpits, and straighten your arms. If you are already flexible here, resist the temptation to press your chest down toward the floor to experience more stretch. This tends to compress your spine and the backs of your shoulders. Instead, engage your arms and upper abdominals, aligning your upper back to lengthen your spine and create an even, diagonal line from your wrists up to your sitting bones.

Next, check in with your lower body. If your hamstrings are tight, they may pull your hips down and force your back to round. In this case, practice with your knees actively bent at first. If you already have open hamstrings, it may be easy for you to lift your hips toward the ceiling. Don’t exaggerate this movement and overarch your lower back. Instead, firm your legs and your lower abdominals to lengthen your spine.

As you practice Downward Dog over the years, perhaps you can develop strong muscles where you never had them before or begin to stretch with the limberness of an acrobat. Whatever your body’s qualities, if you are working with energy and awareness, your inner Self will be aligned, and it will shine through with power and grace.

SEE ALSO3 Ways to Make Downward-Facing Dog Feel Better for You

2-Minute Practice

Even if you don’t have time for a full home practice, do Downward Dog every day for 1 to 2 minutes. Use the pose as a daily check-in: Notice where you are limber, tight, or fatigued, and observe what feels different day by day. Take the opportunity to settle your mind and connect to your breath.

Step One: Child’s Pose

Explore the range of movement in your shoulders by stretching your arms in Child’s Pose.

Set It Up

Begin in Child’s Pose with your big toes touching and your knees wide apart; rest your forehead on your mat.

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1. Stretch your arms in front of you with your hands shoulder-width apart.

2. Press your hands strongly down into the mat and lift your forearms up.

3. Gently roll the outside of your upper arms down and feel a widening across your upper back, establishing external rotation in your shoulder joints.

4. Press your inner hand and thumbs down, to create internal rotation in your forearms.

Refine

With your fingers spreading, check to make sure the creases of your wrists are parallel to the front edge of your mat. First, press your hands strongly down and lift your forearms up until you can sense your shoulders connecting to your shoulder blades on your back. Next, from your shoulders, rotate the outer arm muscles down, spreading your shoulder blades apart. You may notice that your inner hand becomes less grounded as you do that. In that case, press down more firmly with your thumbs and inner hands.

Finally, firm your forearms toward each other to straighten your elbows, and press your upper arms out to create a dynamic strength in your arms.

Finish

Now press your hands into the mat as if you were trying to push it away from you. You’ll feel a bit more space in your shoulders, and your spine and hips will elongate away from your arms. Take a full breath into this length and then rest.

Step Two: Downward-Facing Dog, variation

Work your legs to stretch and align your spine in a variation of Downward Dog Practice holding your body weight with your arms, shoulders, and core muscles.

Set It Up

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1. Start in Child’s Pose with your arms stretched out in front of you.

2. Curl your toes under and lift your hips up and back, keeping your knees well-bent and heels elevated.

3. Push up and back with your thigh muscles and especially press back from the tops of your thighs.

4. Keep rooting your hands and working your arms, just as you practiced in Step one.

Refine

Make sure your feet are about hip-width apart and spread your weight evenly among all 10 toes to keep your ankles well-aligned. Strongly press up and back with the tops of your thighs until you feel your hips being drawn back with them. If your hamstrings are very flexible and you press your sitting bones too high toward the ceiling, you may begin to overarch your lower back. In that case, you’ll need to gently curl your tailbone downward and lift your lower belly to bring the spine back to neutral. If, on the other hand, your hamstrings are tight and you’re rounding your lower back, bend your knees some more and try to angle your sitting bones higher.

Finish

Now try “walking your dog." Keeping your arms firm and both hips high, straighten one leg at a time, and try to press your heels down to the earth. Imagine that you could breathe down the backs of your legs to help lengthen your hamstrings and your calf muscles. Bend both legs again and come down to rest in Child’s Pose.

Final Pose: Downward-Facing Dog

Set It Up

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1. From Child’s Pose, curl your toes under and press up and back into Downward-Facing Dog.

2. Place your hands shoulder-width apart with the wrist creases parallel to the front edge of your mat. Firm and straighten your arms.

3. Keep your feet hip-width apart and the outside edges of your feet parallel to one another.

4. Firm your legs: Lift your kneecaps; press the tops of your thighs up and back; press your heels down.

Refine

Check in with each part of your body. Root your hands evenly. Lift the forearms up and away from the mat and press the shoulder blades gently into your back. Lift your bottom front ribs up toward the tops of your thighs and firm the front of your torso. Press the tops of your thighs up and back and root your heels down. If possible, straighten your legs, firming all the muscles as if they were hugging your leg bones.

Finish

Feel the full length of your spine and take a few deep breaths. Shift your awareness from each of the specific muscle groups to all of them and then to every cell in your body. Steady your attention on your whole being: strong, still, and luminous.

Adjust Yourself

Try these tips to get the most out of Downward Dog:

Shoulders

If you have tight shoulders, place your hands slightly wider than your shoulders and angle your hands slightly outward.

Elbows

Protect your elbows from hyperextension by pressing your inner upper arms away from each other until your biceps engage.

Neck

For healthy neck placement, bring your ears in line with your upper arms to align your neck and head along the same line as your spine.

Hamstrings

If the backs of your legs are very tight, bend your knees or try stepping your feet as wide as the mat.

SEE ALSOFind Full-Body Joy in Downward-Facing Dog Pose

Elements of Practice

Are you a sensation junkie? You may have learned to love the feeling of stretching, and now you’re in the habit of pushing in your poses until you achieve that delicious sensation of stretch. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting more and more: a deeper forward bend, more open shoulders, or a really big backbend. In reality, it’s more challenging to discern when enough is enough and to find a state of contentment. This is not complacency; rather, it is shifting your intention away from extreme flexibility to well-aligned stability. And it is a great opportunity to take a look at your habit of wanting more and to consider the benefits of an attitude of contentment, both on and off your mat.

Annie Carpenter teaches yoga classes and leads teacher trainings at the Exhale Center for Sacred Movement in Venice, California.

 

Ask the Expert: How Do I Know I’m Ready to Try Headstand?


https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/ask-expert-try-headstand-inversions-first-time

Ask the Expert: How Do I Know I’m Ready to Try Headstand?

Before you try any inversion for the first time, prepare your body and practice proper alignment to prevent injury and to reap the benefits.
Rina Jakubowicz Sirsasana

Q: I’m afraid that Headstand will hurt my neck. When will I be ready to try for the first time?

Before practicing Headstand, you should be able to hold Downward DogWide­-Legged Forward BendForearm Plank, and Dolphin for several minutes each. These poses indicate that you possess the proper strength and alignment, such as sustaining external shoulder rotation and having hamstring flexibility.

Headstand can improve upper ­body strength, flexibility, digestion, and perhaps hormonal balance. But this pose also comes with risks, including damage to the cervical spine, if not performed properly. Contraindications include cervical disc and eye issues, and possibly high or extremely low blood pressure.

Alignment is key to practicing safely, so attempt your first Headstand with a trusted yoga teacher. To protect yourself, elongate muscles from your shoulder blades to your fingers to avoid placing weight in your neck; keep proper alignment by not popping out your ribs; and maintain a drishti, or focused gaze, on the wall behind you to balance. After Headstand, take Child’s Pose and then Downward Dog to release back and neck tension.

–Annie Carpenter, Founder of SmartFLOW Yoga, San Francisco

See also Two Fit Moms’ Inversion Preps for Beginners

 

This Is How the Planes of Movement Can Help You Identify Imbalances in Your Body


https://www.yogajournal.com/teach/planes-of-movement-how-to-identify-imbalances-in-your-body

This Is How the Planes of Movement Can Help You Identify Imbalances in Your Body

Understanding the three anatomical planes of movement (sagittal, coronal, and transverse) can help you recognize patterns and imbalances in your body, allowing you to move with more intention—in your yoga practice and beyond.
mountainpose

Rick Cummings

As yogis, most of us want to understand how we move—and as we become more aware, we head down a path toward even more curiosity and self-awareness. I see this evolution in my students all the time. The first spark—maybe someone realizes she’s tighter in her left hip than in her right—is often revelatory. Soon after, this student may notice that because of the tightness, she favors her right side. Then she may discover it’s causing her back pain. With each discovery this student makes about her movement, she becomes more conscious, inquisitive, and, ultimately, more knowledgeable about herself.

Understanding how you move your body is key to getting stronger, staying injury free, and feeling more balanced, grounded, and (I would argue) happy. And a great tool to help you do all of this is to look at movement through the lens of the three anatomical planes.

Once you know how to work with these planes, you’ll begin to recognize the ones in which you feel most (and least) comfortable moving your body. Then you may discover you’re missing whole segments of movement in certain planes—knowledge that can then inspire you to start moving in the directions where you need to wake up. In doing this, you’ll ultimately learn how to wake up in your life too, helping you navigate this world more fully. Here’s what you need to know to understand the sagittal, coronal, and transverse planes, and why it’s so important that you do.

The Sagittal Plane

Directions of movement in the sagittal plane.

Rick Cummings

This plane dissects the right and left sides of the body, as if the edge of a pane of glass were dropped down the center of your crown through your midline. Sagittal plane movements take place where this imaginary pane of glass sits—or parallel to it—meaning any time you’re in flexion (for example, forward folds) or extension (such as backbends), you’re moving in the sagittal plane.

It is probably the most familiar, and most used, plane for all of us: When we drive, hunch our heads over our smartphones, sit on the couch holding the remote control, ride a bike, and walk down the street, we’re moving in the sagittal plane. In yoga, any time you take your arms forward and reach them overhead—whether you’re doing Urdhva Hastasana (Upward Salute) or Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand)—you’re moving in the sagittal plane.

Where’s the distortion?

If you’re a teacher and notice something’s off when a student practices a pose but you’re not sure in which plane the problem is occurring, communicating how to correct what’s off may be challenging. Recognizing a distortion in a specific plane is the secret to quickly and clearly helping your students get into their fullest expression of a posture. To practice seeing bodies this way, let’s look at Vrksasana (Tree Pose) with a distortion in each of the three planes. Here are two distortions in the sagittal plane:

treepose-distorted

Rick Cummings

<<SEE HOW her pelvis is tipped anteriorly and her spine is overarched?

THE FIX She’ll want to bring her pelvis and spine to neutral, lengthen her tailbone, and draw her sternum toward her navel.

treepose-distorted-3

Rick Cummings

<<SEE HOW her pelvis is tucked and her spine is flexed (rounded)?

THE FIX She’ll want to press the top of her standing thigh back and press her shoulder blades into her chest.

See also The Truth of Tree Pose

The Coronal Plane

Directions of movement in the sagittal plane. (1)

Rick Cummings

This plane dissects the front of the body from the back. This time, imagine a pane of glass dropping through your midline and dissecting your front body (anterior) and back body (posterior). Coronal plane movements occur where this imaginary pane of glass sits, meaning any time you abduct (move away from the midline) and adduct (move toward the midline). You’re moving in the coronal plane when you step one leg to the side, turn a cartwheel, or bust out your best “Stayin’ Alive” dance moves, John Travolta style. In yoga, think of moving into Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose) or Parighasana (Gate Pose).

Where’s the distortion?

Here’s Vrksasana (Tree Pose) with distortions in the coronal plane:

treepose-distorted-4

Rick Cummings

<<SEE HOW she is sitting in her standing-leg hip?

THE FIX
She needs to hug her standing-leg thigh in toward her midline.

treepose-distorted-6

Rick Cummings

<<SEE HOW one hip is higher than the other?

THE FIX
She needs to press her lifted thigh down (adduction) to level her pelvis side to side.

See also 8 Steps to Master and Refine Tree Pose

The Transverse Plane

Directions of movement in the sagittal plane. (2)

Rick Cummings

This plane divides the body into upper and lower portions—as if the same imaginary pane of glass cuts through your belly button. All movements in this plane involve rotation, either inward (internal rotation) or outward (external rotation). You’re moving in the transverse plane when you turn your head to look out your rearview mirror before merging into another traffic lane, or when you do “The Twist,” à la Chubby Checker. In yoga, spinal twists such as Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose) and Parsva Sirsasana (Side Headstand)—and even rotating one leg out at its hip socket to prepare for Virabhadrasana II (Warrior Pose II)—are movements that happen in the transverse plane.

Where’s the distortion?

Here’s Vrksasana (Tree Pose) with distortions in the transverse plane:

treepose-distorted-8

Rick Cummings

<<SEE HOW the lifted knee and pelvis are rolling forward?

THE FIX
She needs to work her lifted leg more here, rotating the thigh out at the hip socket so she can press it farther open.

treepose-distorted-7

Rick Cummings

<<SEE HOW one knee is too far back, pulling the pelvis and her spine with it?

THE FIX
If she can press the top of her standing thigh backward, she’ll be able to bring her right knee (and that side of the pelvis) forward.

See also Make It About the Midline: Tree Pose

Why Should We Understand the Planes?

In a word: proprioception. This refers to the body’s ability to sense joint position and movement, enabling you to know where your body is in space without having to look—and to know how much force is needed to create movement. It helps us feel grounded and balanced, and it allows us to move in and out of yoga poses safely. Proprioception can be enhanced over time with mindful, repetitive movements, such as asana.

One of the obstacles to healthy proprioception is chronic, unconscious, habitual patterns in the body. Whether these patterns arise from injury or overuse doesn’t matter; they affect your posture and keep you moving in habitual ways. To wit: Take a moment to think about your highly mobile shoulder joint, which is built to move in many different directions. If you start to favor moving it just one way—say, reaching your arms forward and up in the sagittal plane and avoiding reaching them out to the sides in the coronal plane—that pattern can create an imbalance in the joint, leading to chronic pain and even injury.

One way to wake up from these unconscious patterns is to try less familiar movements and shapes in the planes you tend to avoid, which will help bring flexibility to stuck areas and strength to weak ones. Exploring simple movements in all three planes, especially your nondominant one(s), with an open, playful attitude—frustration and shame are not helpful here!—can help you develop new neuromuscular pathways and more balanced movement patterns. Over time, there’s a good chance you’ll find this leads to more efficient posture, improved balance, and healthier joints.

If you’re a yoga teacher, including poses and cues that take your students through all three planes (whether you name them or not) can help them develop healthy and balanced bodies. What’s more, using the framework of the planes to see distortions and imbalances in a yoga practitioner’s body can help you use more effective cues.

As you try to understand and analyze how you move separately in each of the planes, keep in mind that the goal isn’t to dissect the body. After all, the body exists in all three planes at the same time. The point of this work is to try to bring the body into balance in all three planes, at all times, to create a feeling of wholeness. This, I believe, is one of the keys to feeling more embodied, both on and off the mat.

See also Basic Anatomy for Yoga Teachers: Flexion vs. Extension

Put the planes into practice

Want to get comfortable with these anatomical planes and expand your movement range (or teaching skills)? Start here:

STEP 1 Make lists of your 10 favorite, and 10 least favorite, poses. Consider which poses you tend to practice at home and which ones you avoid.

STEP 2 Determine the primary plane for each of the poses on your lists.

STEP 3 Name the planes in which you seem to be most and least comfortable.

STEP 4 Create a list of poses from your least favorite plane, and plan to practice these poses several times a week. Are these poses challenging for you? Are they easy? How do you feel when you practice more from the plane in which you’re least comfortable? Get curious.

STEP 5 After a couple weeks of practicing your least favorite poses, go deeper with your line of questioning: What has practicing movements you’d been avoiding revealed? (Yes, I am talking poses—and anything else you tend to avoid in life.)

If you’re a teacher, take these same steps when it comes to assessing your go-to sequences: Look at the poses you teach often, as well as the themes that you choose for your classes. Which plane is over-represented? Which one(s), if any, are under-represented? Do you tend to teach the plane that is your personal favorite and avoid the one that’s your least favorite?

Finally, whether you’re teaching or simply moving through your own home practices, commit to creating sequences that include poses that highlight your least utilized plane. How do you feel when you practice (or teach) them? How does your body feel after a few weeks of moving in your less utilized plane? Do you feel more embodied? Are your movements more balanced in all three planes? See if these simple inquiries help you feel more awake and whole.

About Our Expert
Teacher Annie Carpenter is a yoga teacher and teacher trainer in San Francisco. She’s also the creator of the SmartFLOW method, which she teaches in classes, workshops, and her 200- and 500-hour teacher trainings across the globe. Learn more at anniecarpenter.com.

 

Hand-Positioning Tips to Prevent Injury in Weight-Bearing Poses


https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/hands-down

Hand-Positioning Tips to Prevent Injury in Weight-Bearing Poses

Learn how to guide your students to bear weight on their hands with mindfulness and hand positioning tips so they avoid injury and gain upper-body strength.
T.K.V. Desikachar, yogis in downward facing dog at a yoga studio

Learn how to guide your students to bear weight on their hands with mindfulness and hand positioning tips so they avoid injury and gain upper-body strength.

Newcomers to yoga are often surprised by how much attention teachers pay to their feet during class. After all, our feet are our connection to the Earth, and the foundation from which our standing poses grow. But what about hands? They, too, form a foundation for poses like Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog), Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand), and the other arm balances. Just like the feet, the way your students use their hands will affect their balance and set the stage for the pose to grow from its roots in the Earth.

With a little knowledge about the structure of the hands and wrists, teachers could also inform students about how to correctly use their hands. Not only will the pose’s foundation be more stable, but the whole pose will be better aligned. And probably most important, they’ll reduce their chances of acquiring the nagging hand and wrist problems that are increasingly prevalent with more weight bearing on the hands and arms.

Hands vs. Feet

Hands and feet share similar bones and muscles, and the hands, like the feet, even have arches. There are differences, of course, that reflect the specialized functions of each. The structures of the foot, for example, are considerably stronger and thicker in order to bear weight, and the hand has nothing like the big, strong calcaneus (heel bone) that’s designed to absorb the impact of the heel striking the ground when walking. In addition, the phalanges (finger and toe bones) are short in the toes but long in the fingers, allowing humans to perform finely-coordinated activities like playing the piano and drawing.

See alsoHand Mudras: The Importance + Power of Your Fingers

Most of us can’t readily write or paint a picture with our feet, but we know that with special training, humans can learn. Similarly, bearing weight on the hands doesn’t come naturally, and can cause painful problems in the hands and wrists, especially when students suddenly start spending a lot of time on their hands. That explains why complaints about wrist pain are common after a student who’s relatively new to yoga starts practicing many cycles of Sun Salutations every day. As in any new activity, advise your students to start bearing weight on the hands and arms gradually, beginning with a few minutes every other day. That 48-hour interval allows the body to repair and build stronger structures, including muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Teach Awareness in Weight-Baring Poses

The way you use and position your hands while bearing weight on them makes a difference, too. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose) is a good pose in which to work on hand awareness with your students. Begin by asking them to simply notice which part, or parts, of the hand and fingers are bearing most of the weight. Unless they’ve already worked attentively with their hand action, chances are good that they’re bearing more weight on the heels of your hands than the metacarpal heads (base of the fingers where they join the palms). This tendency to lean into the heels of the hands will add more compression, and eventually discomfort, in the wrists.

Then, invite them to come to hands and knees, with the heels of their hands under their shoulders. Prompt them to look down at their hands and spread their fingers so that they have the same amount of space between each finger. Their fingers should be out straight and long from the palm of their hands and be actively pressing down the base of each finger where it joins the palm. (One of the gifts of Downward-Facing Dog is stretching the fingers out of their habitually flexed, or curled, position.) From the base of the little finger to the base of the thumb these knuckle joints form a half-circle of contact points, and inside that arc is the natural arch of the hand, which should be light and lifted off the floor.

See also3 Ways to Make Downward-Facing Dog Feel Better

Instruct your students to keep those contact points pressed down firmly as they lift their knees up and come into Downward-Facing Dog. From the grounded finger bases, remind them to keep stretching each finger out of the palm, and at the same time they should feel that they’re lifting their forearms up out of their wrists. If the bases of the fingers share part of the weight, less weight (and compression) will rest on the heels of the hands and wrists. From the lift of the arch of the hand, it’s possible to lift and lengthen all the way up to the hips, uncompressing your wrists, elbows, shoulders, and spine along the way.

Build upon the Foundation

When your students have learned how to distribute weight more evenly through the hands, they will be able to begin apply that knowledge to more challenging poses like Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog), Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand), and other arm balances. These poses are more challenging than Adho Mukha Svanasana because there is more weight on the hands, and the wrists are at 90 degrees instead of the more open angle of Downward-Facing Dog.

Keeping grounded around the periphery of the palm, and lifting from the arch, can bring a new lightness and better balance to these challenging poses.

See alsoLearn How to Protect the Wrists in Your Practice

Teachers, explore the newly improved TeachersPlus. Protect yourself with liability insurance and build your business with a dozen valuable benefits, including a free teacher profile on our national directory. Plus, find answers to all your questions about teaching.

About Our Expert

Julie Gudmestad is a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher and licensed physical therapist who runs a combined yoga studio and physical therapy practice in Portland, Oregon. She enjoys integrating her Western medical knowledge with the healing powers of yoga to help make the wisdom of yoga accessible to all.

 

Not ALL Hips Need Opening: 3 Moves for Hip Stability


 

Not ALL Hips Need Opening: 3 Moves for Hip Stability

When yogis talk hips, it’s generally about opening them. But your hips CAN be too open… Learn why balancing strength and flexibility in the hips is so important.
alice louise blunden splits

When yogis talk hips, it’s generally about opening them. But your hips CAN be too open. If you fall into the hypermobile camp, learn how to balance strength and flexibility to protect your hips.

Dedicating time during our physical yoga practice to opening the hips can be nourishing, therapeutic—and downright addictive for many of us. (How about that feel-good release in Pigeon Pose?) Let’s consider, though, whether we always need to push for more flexibility in this region of the body or if it may be more helpful for some people to build strength.

Do Your Hips Really Need Opening?

Hip strength is necessary in day-to-day life. Whether we are walking in the park, running for the bus, or cycling to work, the hip joint takes the brunt of the body’s weight and enables all of these fundamental actions. In short: Stable hips are a good thing—they carry our bodies throughout the day.

Of course if you are an athlete, runner, or someone simply born with especially tight hips, hip-opening poses are helpful in maintaining a healthy range of motion and balance between strength and flexibility. If you’re on the other end of the spectrum, though, and are naturally quite open in the hips or after years of practicing hip-opening poses now have very open hips, consider whether it’s still helpful to continue increasing the range of motion in this region of your body.

Being ‘blessed’ myself with naturally open hips, when I first started yoga, I never shied away from postures that required increased range of motion in this region of the body. (I’m the person who could actually fall asleep with my legs wrapped behind my head in Yoginandrasana.) But was it therapeutic? I certainly looked like an advanced yogi in these postures, but unfortunately my lack of knowledge and understanding of the hip joint meant that I could have been doing more damage to my body than good.

hip joint anatomy

Understanding the Hip Joint

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint composed of two bones. The femur sits in the acetabulum, which is part of the pelvis. Covering the bones of the hip is the articular cartilage. The articular cartilage is important for providing a cushion and a smooth surface when the bones move on one another. Surrounding the acetabulum is additional cartilage called the labrum, which forms a lip around the cup-shaped bone to provide additional stability in the joint.

While it is helpful to understand the anatomy of the hip, what may be more even important (if a bit frightening) is knowing that one of the deepest layers of the joint, the cartilage, does not have any nerve endings. This means you may not be aware of any damage to the cartilage until it is too late. Although cartilage doesn’t have nerve endings, the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments do, which is why yoga can be helpful for tuning into the body to find a balance between strength and flexibility for health of the muscles and the integrity of the joints. By listening to our bodies with this sense of mindfulness we can begin to notice our strengths and weaknesses, which enables us to develop a nourishing practice that our bodies truly need.

See also5 Common Myths About Athletes’ Tight Hips

3 Moves for Hip Stability

If you already enjoy the benefits of more open hips, modifying your daily yoga practice by including certain exercises to strengthen hips can be helpful for maintaining the integrity of the joint. Here are three yoga-inspired exercises that you can add into your daily practice to increase hip stability.

Psst: Yoga Medicine founder Tiffany Cruikshank will teach at Yoga Journal LIVE San Francisco, Jan. 13-16. Get your ticket today.

About Our Writer
Alice Louise Blunden is a Yoga Medicine senior teacher and assistant to Tiffany Cruikshank. She is currently completing her 500 hours and working toward her 1000-hour advanced Yoga Medicine teacher training. As well as teaching yoga in studios across London, she is the founder of The Yoga Project UK, a company that connects yoga teachers with schools across the UK. Learn more at alicelouiseyoga.com.

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Yogi Sophie Jaffe Shares Her Inner Beauty Secrets


https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/yogi-sophie-jaffe-shares-her-inner-beauty-secrets

Yogi Sophie Jaffe Shares Her Inner Beauty Secrets

Sophie Jaffe, yoga teacher, certified raw food chef, superfood entrepreneur, and mom of two boys (with a baby girl due this summer), defines inner beauty as honoring your inner wild woman—all your amazing gifts—and being true to them.
sophiejaffe

“To me, not being perfect is what’s so beautiful,” she says. Below, Sophie shares her secrets for feeling beautiful every day, with the help of yoga, inspiring mantras, and products that make her feel good from the inside out.

My Daily Beauty Rituals

Morning: I oil pull every morning. It offers me a time to relax and ease into my day, and keeps my mouth clean and fresh. I also feel a little extra confident with a bright, healthy smile. Next, I start my cleansing routine with Weleda Gentle Cleansing Milk. It’s pure and nourishing, and never strips my skin or irritates it. I follow with their nourishing Hydrating Day Cream with jojoba oil and witch hazel, which is a beautiful and balancing combination.

Midday: All day long, I use Weleda Wild Rose 24H Deodorant Spray to help me go from meetings to hot yoga to after-school activities without missing a beat. After an intense yoga session (usually while the kids are at school), I love lathering up with Weleda’s Lavender Creamy Body Wash–it instantly hydrates and relaxes my body. I also apply Weleda’s Muscle Massage Oil all over to help my muscles wind down.

Evening: Weleda’s 2in1 Gentle Shampoo + Body Wash helps us save time at bath time, and it’s delicate enough even for a baby’s sensitive skin. I also can’t wait to try their soothing Calendula Diaper Care Cream on my baby girl! Before I get into bed, I use Weleda’s Relaxing Body & Beauty Oil with lavender oil, which helps me calm down and gets me ready for the deepest night’s sleep.

What Makes Me Feel Beautiful (Inside & Out)

My boys and my husband make me feel beautiful in our day-to-day family dynamic: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yoga allows me to bring it ALL to the mat and greet every part of my true self. To feel all my woman power and light it. I also meditate and set positive affirmations for my day, such as “I am a goddess.” Since I’ve been pregnant, my daily mantra has been, “I am growing life. I am full of love.” Whenever something comes along that throws off my energy or makes me feel negative, anxious, or upset, I return to these affirmations and reflect on them for a bit before moving forward. I’ve also set an intention to look at life through a positive lens. If you go through life with optimism and sincere gratitude, you’ll see that beauty reflected on the outside.

How I Stay Body Positive

Maintaining healthy body positivity is so difficult in this digital age, and the pressures of social media can make us feel “less than.” It look a long time, but I’m finally in a space where I love the body I’m in. It all came down to finding balance. I can also see beyond the physical and know that I’m not just this body—that it’s actually a spiritual experience to be a parent, a woman, a human being. When I feel frustrated that baby girl is making me sick or tired and so unlike myself that I want to cry and scream, I think, “Wow, I’m growing a baby and a healthy baby at that. Some day she is going to take on this world and I’ll be the one to lead her there, and that’s pretty amazing.”

 

Is Your Phone Getting in the Way of Your Practice? Here’s Why You Need to Turn It Off


https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/is-your-phone-getting-in-the-way-of-your-practice

Is Your Phone Getting in the Way of Your Practice? Here’s Why You Need to Turn It Off

Master teacher Aadil Palkhivala says technology overuse has physical, social, and emotional consequences, and it’s taking away from the self-exploration we do on the mat. Here’s what you can do about it.
Aadil Palkhivala

Tony Felgueiras

Want to align your asana and transform your life through yoga philosophy? You won’t want to miss Aadil Palkhivala’s upcoming six-week online course. It’s all part of YJ’s year-long Master Class mentorship program, which gives you access to 9 online courses and live webinars led by world-renowned teachers. Sign up today!

Be honest: Do you ever check social media when you’re with the people you love the most? Or even stop during practice to Instagram a yoga selfie? B.K.S. Iyengar-trained yoga teacher and Purna Yoga co-founder Aadil Palkhivala, who leads YJ’s upcoming Master Class online course, says this modern malady has physical, social, and emotional consequences, and it’s taking away from the self-exploration we do on the mat.

The Problems with Technology Overuse

“Technology was designed to serve us, but we have taken it to the extent where now we are serving it," he bemoans. “The upper back and neck have taken a huge beating in the past 10 years as people have started to use cell phones more and more. I don’t use my cell phone, but when I do I hold it up at a high height so I’m not looking down. Even metaphorically, looking down is very different than looking up. Looking up is aspiration, looking down is dejection. If you look down long enough you will become depressed; therefore, these devices are actually creating a malady."

The social and emotional consequences of technology overuse are just as bad if not worse than the physical consequences, he adds. “To think that someone would use a cell phone under the dinner table shows how out of touch we are with our nervous system. When you use a device like a cell phone, your mind has to become sympathetic, which means it goes into active [mode]. You can only digest food in a parasympathetic response; therefore, if you are using your cell phone, you are not digesting your food [properly]. It is patently absurd and evidence of our complete lack of awareness of our own bodies when we do something as stupid as use a cell phone while eating, and yet I see it all the time. I was at yoga conference last week and I saw entire families sitting around the table all on their cell phones. That is pathetic. We are no longer making eye contact with the people we love or claim to love. On social media, people say they have “friends" they have never met or touched, whose voices they have never heard. Friends whose energy they have not shared in the same room. That’s not a friend. Very often I’ll see teenagers who would rather be on their cell phone on Facebook with alleged friends than look at their family and talk to them. No wonder so many psychological problems are popping up in our society. We are insecure; we want more friends, more likes. It relates to svadhyaya (self-reflection or self-study), which is one of the niyamas: because we don’t know ourselves, we want others to know us.

What You Can Do on the Mat: Turn Off Your Phone!

Palkhivala says students need to stop texting and pay attention to the moment…and the first thing you can do to make this happen is to turn off your phone. “I just came back from teaching 250 people at a yoga conference in Hong Kong," he shares. “The first day I was stunned, because everybody had a cell phone and brought it to class. They took videos of everything I said, and they were texting while doing practice. Some were on Facebook during class. I could not believe it so much that I didn’t say anything in the first class. The second class I said, ‘No cell phones—turn them off.’ You should have seen the response—it was almost as if the phone had become an extension of their hand, like they were trying to dislodge a digit. Finally they got it. I want students to pay attention to what is going on! This is your body—your life is happening now, not in the future."

What You Can Do off the Mat: Give Yourself a Moment Without Your Phone

Off the mat, take a moment to connect with friends and family and enjoy nature without your phone, Palkhivala suggests. “Put the phone down and look up. Look into the eyes of the people you claim to love. Look into the eyes of the friend you have. Hold their hand. Feel in your heart compassion and caring for other human beings. A cell phone is in your mind; physical touch and eye contact are in your heart, and yoga is about waking up the heart, not enhancing your already over-busy and overstrained brain. I’m sitting here surrounded by trees and nature…it makes my mind peaceful. Take a walk without your cell phone, and turn it off when you’re doing your practice. Don’t let your cell phone interfere with your self-exploration."

Inspired to learn more? Join Aadil Palkhivala’s six-week Master Class to align your asana and transform your life through yoga philosophy. Sign up now!

 

Kundalini 101: What Is the Aquarian Age, Anyway?


https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/kundalini-yoga-what-is-aquarian-age

Kundalini 101: What Is the Aquarian Age, Anyway?

It’s more than a chart-topping song. Find out what the current astrological era means for you.
prayerhands-anjali

Are you ready to discover your life’s purpose and activate your fullest potential? Kundalini Yoga is an ancient practice that helps you channel powerful energy and transform your life. And now there is an accessible, easy way to learn how to incorporate these practices into your practice and life. Yoga Journal’s 6-week online course, Kundalini 101: Create the Life You Want, offers you mantras, mudras, meditations, and kriyas that you’ll want to practice every day. Sign up now!

Topping the Billboard charts in 1969, Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In, the iconic opening tune from the 1967 musical Hair, heralded the arrival of the Age of Aquarius and introduced audiences to the concept of a new astrological era. This new age delivered strong energy shifts, but what, exactly, does it mean? You might be surprised to discover that Kundalini Yoga offers valuable insights.

Around the same time, in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, Yogi Bhajan—who brought Kundalini Yoga to the West—began speaking about the Age of Aquarius and said that the the transition to the new era would begin in November 1991 and end on November 11, 2011. Then humankind would remain in the Aquarian Age for roughly 2,000 years. He predicted this transition would create a world beyond our imagination, expectations, and understanding. It would mean leaving behind the rigidity of the Piscean Age so we could begin living with greater awareness and sensitivity.

The Misguided Facade of the Past: The Piscean Age

In the previous era, mental intellect and information equalled power. The Piscean Age was ruled by competition, masks, and ambition. For so long, humanity was mesmerized by status instead of character. People endeavored to create an impression. They worked under the zero-sum paradigm that one person’s gain meant another person’s loss. Also, in this age, people were told what to believe and whom to follow.

Today, You Are the Guru: The Aquarian Age

The Aquarian Age ushered in dramatically different principles. Where we reside now, we are learning to trust and love ourselves. Loving ourselves creates unconditional love for others. After all, it was Yogi Bhajan who said, “The other person is you.”

Many people are tapping into an inner voice telling them to shine their own truths into the world. We are called to be a guiding force for change. We are called to value wisdom over intellect, love over fear, and connectivity over separation. In order to create change, we need to come together as one.

Whereas in the Piscean Age people observed and followed others, now in the Aquarian Age we observe our own consciousness and follow it religiously. We are here to live life and use our words and actions as our personal consciousness dictates.

Where Yoga Comes In

Kundalini Yoga helps us connect to our inner light, which becomes the guiding beacon for our lives. In the Aquarian Age, identity connects the mind, body, and soul. In order to be an integrated being, we must aim to live a life that merges outer words and actions with innermost values. Kundalini Yoga dissolves the energy blocks, like fear and trepidation. Free of these, we can step into alignment with our own consciousness. This is where true oneness exists.

The old paradigm of lying and hiding is not working anymore. The old way was to do it for you. The new way is to do it for all. It is time to accept our truth and step into our fullest potential.

There has never been a time like this. Are you ready?

Want to learn how to tap into your innate kundalini energy to transform your practice and life? Join Karena in Kundalini 101 today!

Kundalini 101 with Karena Virginia: About Our Expert

Karena Virginia has 20 years of experience as a powerful healer and highly acclaimed yoga instructor. Based in the New York City area, she conducts workshops in the United States and Europe and is a pioneer in bringing positive change to the world through fierce love. She’s co-author of the 2017 book Essential Kundalini Yoga and released the DVD The Power of Kundalini in 2015. Her app, Relax and Attract with Karena, has helped thousands of people around the world to find inner peace and healing. Karena’s work has been featured in the Huffington Post, Bravo TV, and the Oprah Winfrey Network.

 

Can’t Sleep? Try This Smiling Practice for Insomnia


https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/cant-sleep-try-smiling

Can’t Sleep? Try This Smiling Practice for Insomnia

For nights when stress + anxiety get the better of you, try this simple smiling practice to peacefully drift off to sleep.
sleeping girl

Do you struggle with sleep from time to time, whether it’s falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting enough sleep? You’re not alone in your tossing and turning. More than a third of American adults are not getting enough sleep (at least seven hours per night) on a regular basis, according to a 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study.

For quality, consistent sleep every night, it’s critical to develop a healthy bedtime routine, as well as lifestyle factors such as proper nutrition and physical activity, all of which affect your sleep patterns. That said, there are some nights where anxietyjust gets the better of you despite all of your best efforts.

So, the next time you find yourself in “mind overdrive" (incessant worrying, ruminating, and thinking about things like work and to-do lists) when you should be snoozing, try the following technique. I like to call this practice The Smiling, Sleepy Buddha. It’s one of my favorite methods to peacefully fall asleep or fall back to sleep when anxious thoughts wake me up in the middle of the night. It incorporates mindfulness, a breath technique, body temperature regulation, and a tiny smile.

See also Can’t Sleep? Try These 6 Restorative Poses Right in Bed

The Smiling, Sleepy Buddha: A Mind-Body Practice to Help You Fall Asleep

Step 1: Ease into Savasana.

Roll over onto your back (so you can effectively take long, deep, full breaths) into Savasana (Corpse Pose).

Step 2: Smile and relax.

Add an-ever-so slight and comfortable smile to your face. Use just enough pressure to gently engage the muscles around the lips without straining or overly forcing. (If someone were to look at you, they might not even notice you’re smiling.)

The mind can influence the body (hence the mind-body connection), but the reverse communication linkage—body to mind—is also true. The body can inform the brain and, in this case, it’s a small brain hack meant to signal to the brain and nervous system that everything is OK, that you’re safe and you’re content. Your nervous system darn well knows you wouldn’t be smiling if you were in actual danger. The smile helps both the brain and the body to relax (and you’ll resemble a peaceful, happy, meditating Buddha!).

Step 3: Practice diaphragmatic breathing.

Picture a Buddha figure with a nice round belly. This breathing technique calls for “soft belly,” or diaphragmatic breathing, where the belly rounds, fills, and puffs up on the inhale (imagine that Buddha belly!), and contracts and empties on the exhale (remember “e” for exhale and empties).

Many of us simply aren’t breathing correctly. Adrenaline in the system often leads stressed, overworked adults to take shallow, chest breaths (rather than full belly breaths), which isn’t as effective at oxygenating the blood. Additionally, something I’ve learned in my various health, mindfulness, and yoga trainings is that shallow, sharp breaths from the upper chest area (and not from the belly/diaphragm) may lead to neck stiffness and pain over time.

When the body’s stress response has been triggered, engaging the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS)—the “rest and digest” system that allows the body to reset and recuperate—signals to the brain that you’re OK and safe. One way to actively engage the PNS is through effective use of the breath.

Lying on your back, inhale (filling the belly) to a count of 3, and then exhale (emptying the belly) to a count of 3. You can experiment with 4-count and 5-count breaths as well (and don’t forget to add that tiny smile!).

Continue breathing in this manner. Use the breath as the mind’s anchor. When you notice your mind wandering, recognize that it has drifted, detach from the distraction or thought (imagine it floating or passing by like a cloud in the sky), and return to the breath count. Every time your mind drifts, return to the breath again and again.

See also Six Different Views on Breathing in Yoga

Step 4: Regulate your body temperature.

Anxiety and stress may have an effect on your body temperature, according to the CDC. Normal body temperature is approximately 98.6°F, but bouts of stress and anxiety, or a panic attack may cause the temperature to fluctuate somewhat in either direction (an increase or decrease in body temp, depending on the person).

To help regulate body temperature, place a slightly damp washcloth—using cool or slightly warm water depending on how you want to adjust your body temp—over your forehead. Keep a bowl or tray on your nightstand, and when you feel yourself drifting off to sleep, simply place the washcloth in the bowl.

Continue practicing this technique until you peacefully drift off to sleep.

About Our Writer

Founder of High Vibe Office, Shelby Wayte is a Holistic Health & Stress Reduction Expert for busy women who are ready to break the destructive cycle of stress + burnout—to live a more energetic, vibrant (high vibe!), happy, and healthy life.

 

9 Spinal Stretches to Ease Back Pain


https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/easy-does-it

9 Spinal Stretches to Ease Back Pain

Twists can be heaven for a bad back—if you don’t push too hard. Learn how to do these 9 stretches for the spine to ease pain in your back.
Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose, parivrtta janu sirsana

Twists can be heaven for a bad back—if you don’t push too hard. Learn how to do these 9 spinal stretches to ease pain in your back.

For Elise Miller, a longtime Iyengar Yoga teacher who was diagnosed with scoliosis—abnormal lateral curvature of the spine—as a teen, twisting poses are pure bliss. “I love moving from gentle twists into deeper variations," she says. “I think twists can be the most cleansing of all the poses." She’s referring to master teacher B.K.S. Iyengar’s “squeeze and soak" theory: The action of twisting the spine squeezes the muscles, spinal disks, and abdominal organs. When you release, blood floods back into those areas, bringing nutrients and improving circulation.

Still, Miller can understand why many people don’t enjoy twisting. The problem, she feels, lies in an overzealous approach. “You see people doing twists, and they just go for it. Then they feel stuck, like they have nowhere else to go—and they don’t, because they haven’t allowed an opening to happen." Her remedy for this common problem is twofold: First, she says, you must elongate your spine and create space in it before twisting; otherwise you exert pressure on the disks and leave yourself open to injury. Second, she uses props in her twist sequences to gently prepare the body for deeper poses. Being mindful of your alignment and using props will prevent you from powering through the poses, so you can enjoy a spiraling action up the spine and reap the benefits that twists offer.

See alsoGet a Great Turnout in Twists

9 Spinal Stretches + Twisting Poses

The first three poses in this sequence are often taught to people with hip or back stiffness, sacroiliac imbalances, degenerative disks, arthritis, or sciatica. With the exception of Paschimottanasana, do each pose in this sequence for five breaths on each side.
1. Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaja’s Twist), with chair

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Sit sideways on a chair with your right hip facing the chair back and a block between your thighs. The chair will stabilize the lower back, pelvis, and legs, allowing you to safely rotate your upper spine. Place the hands on the chair back as you inhale and lift the spine. Exhale and twist, pulling with the left hand and pushing with the right. Allow the head and neck to follow the twist of the spine.

2. Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle), with chair

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Place a chair in front of you and put your right foot between its front legs. Step your left foot back about 4 feet and turn it in 80 degrees. Place your hands on your hips and square them. Inhale, lift your torso, exhale, and fold forward, placing your left hand on the chair seat, in line with your right big toe. Place your right hand on your sacrum and twist to the right, bringing the right shoulder toward the ceiling and the left ribs forward. To go deeper, place the left elbow on the chair and raise the right arm.

3. Marichyasana III (Marichi’s Twist III), with chair

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Place a block on a chair, then put your right foot on the block with the toes facing forward. Place your left hand on your right knee and your right palm on your sacrum. Inhale and lift the spine, then exhale and twist to the right, allowing your neck and head to follow. Keep the hips even and twist from the upper spine. Press the right hand into the back waist to turn the torso more deeply.

4. Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose)

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Take a wide stance. Turn your right foot out and your left foot in 80 degrees. Square your hips toward your front foot, then bend your right knee directly over your ankle. On an exhalation, bring the left side of the body toward the right leg. Rest the left armpit to the outside of the right knee and press the palms together. Lengthen the spine and twist the ribs and torso to the right. To go deeper, bring the left palm to the floor or to a block and reach your right arm over your right ear. Gaze at your right fingertips as you lengthen your entire right side.

5. Parivrtta Dandasana (Revolved Staff Pose)

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Sit up tall with your legs strongly extended on the floor in Dandasana (Staff Pose). Draw the flesh of your buttocks back in order to sit directly on your sitting bones. Roll your thighs inward and maintain a natural curve in your lower back. Bring your left hand to your outer right knee and place your right fingertips on the floor behind you. Inhale and lift the spine, then exhale and twist to the right. Keep the heels even and stabilize the inner left thigh.

6. Bharadvajasana (Bharadvaja’s Twist)

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Sit in Dandasana. Bend your knees and bring your feet next to your left buttock. Place your left ankle on the arch of your right foot. If the left hip is higher, place a blanket under the right hip. Exhale and turn your torso to the right. Place the left hand on your right knee. Press your right fingertips into the floor (or on a block) behind the right buttock and breathe as you turn the spine. Draw the tip of the right shoulder blade in and turn the right shoulder back. Keep your torso upright without lifting the left thigh.

7. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes Pose)

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Sit in Dandasana. Bend the right leg and step the right foot to the outside of the left knee. Bend the left leg and place the foot to the right of the right sitting bone. The foot should be resting on its side, with its inner and outer edges parallel. Press the right fingertips into the floor and draw your torso up. Move the back ribs in. Exhale and turn to the right. Bend the left arm, and press it against the outside of your right knee to help you twist.

8. Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose)

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Sit in Dandasana. Bend the right knee and press the right heel against the perineum. Twist to the right as you lengthen your torso over your left leg. Reach out and hold the inner side of the left foot with the left hand, thumb pointing toward the floor and left pinky pointing up. Stretch the right arm overhead and hold the outer side of the left foot. Bend and widen the elbows away from each other to spiral the waist, chest, and shoulders. Extend the spine and rest the left ribs on the left thigh.

9. Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)

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From Dandasana, reach your arms overhead, exhale, and fold forward, grabbing the feet, shins, or thighs. Inhale and lengthen the torso up. Exhale, bend the elbows out, and take the torso toward the legs as you extend the front, sides, and back of the body toward the feet. Breathe deeply and steadily. Stay for 5 to 10 breaths.

See alsoGive Your Back a Treat with This Series of Twists

After You Finish

Invert

Do Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) and Halasana (Plow Pose) or Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose)—important if you have previously practiced Sirsasana.

Rest

Lie in Savasana (Corpse Pose) for 5 minutes or longer.

Meditate

Sit in a cross-legged position and rest your mind on your breath for 5 to 20 minutes. For closure, bring your palms together in Anjali Mudra (Salutation Seal), honoring the inner light within you and extending that light to all beings.

 

《 Lindsey Webster – Love Inside (07:20) 》


《 Lindsey Webster – Love Inside (07:20) 》

【鐵份補給】北關東的小私鐵——上毛電氣鐵道


一條看似不起眼的地方小鐵道,不但努力開拓財源,也以自身的歷史與文化為榮,保留了珍貴的鐵道車輛。
誰說古蹟不能賺錢呢?!台灣人是應該要改變喜新厭舊的心態了!
#上毛電鐵 #デハ101號車 #デハ104號車 #鐵道
http://www.thinkingtaiwan.com/content/7005

【鐵份補給】北關東的小私鐵——上毛電氣鐵道

友善列印版本

日本的鐵道很有趣,除了JR之外,還有規模相當龐大的私鐵,也有許多由原本的國鐵路線,改成地方自治體與地方企業共同出資的第三部門鐵道,除此之外,還有歷史悠久,從以前就是當地居民重要交通工具的地方小鐵道。

這些地方小鐵道,大多是在交通不便的年代,即存在至今,有許多擁有相當悠久的歷史,然而在交通便利的現在,多少面臨了經營困難的窘境,不過鐵道趣味發達的今日,他們卻成了當地的文化資產,甚至是招攬觀光客的手段。

位於北關東的群馬縣,連接群馬縣前橋市與桐生市的上毛電氣鐵道,就是一條有趣的地方小鐵道。全長25.4公里的上毛電鐵,共有23個車站,之所以會興建這條鐵道,是因為明治時代,日本政府決定以紡織輕工業,作為國策產業,對外賺取外匯。

1928年開業即保留至今的西桐生站,不但被列為關東車站百選,還在2005年指定為國家登錄有形文化財。(攝影:陳威臣)

由於日本自古以來,生產的絲綢品質極佳,深獲歐洲貴族的喜愛,因此明治維新之後,這個貧窮的新興小帝國,經過評估後決定發展紡織,而群馬縣所在的北關東地區,成了官方製糸場重點發展地區,許多生產蠶絲與絹布的產地,就在高崎、富岡、前橋、伊勢崎與桐生一帶,人口大量集中到這些地方,也刺激當地的經濟產業發展。

為了輸送大量製造的紡織產品,鐵道省便決定興建兩毛線,以連結群馬縣廳所在地的前橋,和位於縣東的桐生,但卻因同為紡織生產重地的伊勢崎,讓兩毛線硬是往南彎,而讓其成為一個V字型。這樣的路線走法,當然可以滿足這幾個紡織重鎮的貨物需求,加上地勢屬於關東平原的北側,路線平坦也較能大量運輸,不過,卻苦了北側赤城山麓的農家們。

這些農家大多是養殖絹絲所需的蠶,並將蠶繭提供給製糸場抽絲之用,但鐵道並沒有經過這邊,所以只能靠人力或馬車,長途跋涉,辛苦的將蠶繭運到前橋、高崎或是桐生,相當不便,因此也出現了期望興建新路線的聲音。

1910年之後,因周邊的交通需求大增,當地除了養蠶農家之外,也因種植小麥,而成為日本小麥最重要的產地之一,這些農產品都亟須鐵道運輸,因此出現多個鐵道興建的計畫,並且在1923年2月整合金主們的意見,正式成立「上毛電氣鐵道」,並開始興建鐵道。

有趣的是,雖然上毛電鐵是為了疏運赤城山南麓的城鎮通勤需求,以及沿線的農產品與養蠶農家的蠶絲,但因貨物需求多集中在前橋及桐生兩市,所以上毛電鐵並沒有跟兩地的國鐵線連接,反而是將起迄站興建在兩個城市的市中心區,這與絕大部分的私鐵都會跟國鐵共構不同,也成了私鐵的一個異數。

雖說上毛電鐵並沒有跟國鐵連接,不過赤城站卻與東武鐵道桐生線共構,1928年11月全線通車後,1932年東武鐵道桐生線也通車,上毛電鐵還與東武鐵道直通運轉,直到1963年才因故廢止直通運轉。此外,上毛電鐵還曾計劃從大胡站興建另一條路線,至埼玉縣的本庄市,但由於經費需求過高,加上1930年所發生的經濟大恐慌,造成日本經濟崩潰,最後未能實現。

上毛電鐵自開通之後,一直到1960年代,都是當地相當重要的交通工具,但1960年代以後,因日本經濟高速起飛,結果除了通勤的學生之外,沿線的農家運輸以及通勤客,都改利用汽車,客源逐漸減少。1968年兩毛線電氣化,列車運轉時間縮短,班次也增加,加上可以直通高崎線讓往來前橋與桐生的旅客,搶走了不少旅客。

自此上毛電鐵就幾乎年年虧損,但鄉下地方就是有人情味,沿線的地方政府紛紛伸出援手,加上東武鐵道與上信電鐵的資金挹注,上毛電鐵不但存活下來,面臨高齡化與少子化的嚴峻狀況,仍然努力的經營這條地方小私鐵。

這條地方小鐵道,表面上看來與一般的鐵道無異,但對於鐵道迷而言,卻是一條珍貴的鐵道寶庫,目前現役使用的700型電車,曾是京王電鐵3000系,退役之後在1998年時,以一組7000萬日圓,轉賣給上毛電鐵,繼續他們的第二春,也讓喜愛昭和時代的鐵道迷,特愛光顧上毛電鐵。

但你以為上毛電鐵只有這個嗎?他們珍貴之處,就在於如此小規模的鐵道,居然保存了許多歷史悠久的老車輛,其中最為人稱道的,就是目前依然現役,自上毛電鐵開通時,即存在的デハ101號電車。

這輛電車至今已有90年的歷史,歲數與上毛電鐵一樣,當年是開通前向川崎車輛購買六輛車,行駛至1970年代,才陸續退役廢車,但デハ101號車與デハ104號車兩輛,卻保存下來,其中デハ101號車仍為現役車輛,平日作為保養路線的牽引車之用,特殊的節日則會成為特別列車,塗裝為茶色,一出現在正線上,往往吸引大批鐵道迷前來拍攝,相當具有人氣。

已有90年歷史的デハ101號電車,至今依然老當益壯,成為鐵道迷熱衷追尋的目標。(攝影:陳威臣)

至於デハ104號車仍維持舊時的黃色塗裝,但本身因馬達已無法使用,所以本身不具動力,不過偶而會由デハ101號電車牽引行駛。デハ101號電車雖然出現的機會並不多,不過上毛電鐵提供給一般民眾包租之用,只要付10萬日幣,即可開行專列,所以常有鐵道迷集資,搭乘這90歲的老爺爺電車。

除此之外,位於大胡的車輛基地,更有許多夢幻的鐵道文物,例如1928年跟著上毛電鐵一起開業的維修工廠,內部的馬達區鋼架,使用的材料居然是俄國所興建的東清鐵道(中長鐵路),曾經使用過的鋼軌,至今已有122年以上的歷史,鋼軌上還刻有ΚЖД(東清鐵道)1896 VI. Н. А. Д. ЕЖД等字樣,十分珍貴。

至於木造的車庫內,除了保存デハ104號電車之外,還有來自東急的デキ3020型電力機關車與東武退役的テ200型貨車,都是相當珍貴的鐵道車輛。整個機關區只要預約付費,即可參觀,上毛電鐵還在車庫旁興建一個展示室,裏頭展示過去上毛電鐵曾使用過的設備,例如有線電話、電器路牌、行先板、歷年使用過的特別列車Headmark、各式票券、甚至於保線工具等,也全都蒐藏。

上毛電氣鐵道位於大胡站的車輛基地,木造車庫的維修區鋼架,是使用當年東清鐵道的軌道,上面還有俄文標記。(攝影:陳威臣)

來自東急的デキ3020型電力機關車,成為上毛電鐵的珍貴保存車輛。(攝影:陳威臣)

展示室內還架有一組電車線,讓參觀者能夠了解電車架線的結構,另外還有現代的行車號誌,而且還是會發亮作動,相當有趣。由於大胡的車輛基地相當珍貴,而且是現存少有的木造結構,因此連同另一側的變電所、以及大胡站等,全都指定為國家登錄有形文化財保護。

在車庫邊的小小展示室,但內容卻相當豐富,不但有各種票證的蒐藏,還有仍在運作的號誌,上方還展示了電車架線。(攝影:陳威臣)

上毛電鐵沿線的田園風光,赤城山麓的美景,都讓人置身世外桃源,而沿線因為是小麥的產地,因此不但烏龍麵相當有名,戰後還發展出美味的義大利麵,此外前橋、桐生等地也有醬汁豬排飯,可以說食文化相當豐富,也增添不少鐵道小旅行的樂趣。

北關東地區因農畜牧業相當發達,因此發展出獨特的飲食文化,例如醬汁豬排就相當有名。(攝影:陳威臣)

一條看似不起眼的地方小鐵道,不但努力開拓財源,也以自身的歷史與文化為榮,保留了珍貴的鐵道車輛,他們還開發了許多有趣的鐵道商品,在90週年的今天,更彌足珍貴,誰說古蹟不能賺錢呢?!台灣人是應該要改變喜新厭舊的心態了!

 

《 Lindsey Webster – Those Three Words (06:25) 》


《 Lindsey Webster – Those Three Words (06:25) 》

【小農食宴室】養育土地上的生命 米飯飄香自濕地


http://e-info.org.tw/node/207971

【小農食宴室】養育土地上的生命 米飯飄香自濕地

2017年10月24日
作者:陳冠宇(台灣濕地網特約作者)

在每天的生活中,「米」是台灣人最不可或缺的主食,早餐吃的飯團、中午吃的排骨便當、晚上吃的咖哩飯;但有沒有想過,米是從什麼樣的地方生長起來的呢?一般提到稻米時,除了插秧時小小綠綠的苗株、成熟後迎風搖盪的金黃稻穗,以及收割後一堆堆的黃黃的稻梗外,腦海中還會浮現出哪些東西呢?

除了不同時節妝點田園的風光外,在稻米的一生中,身邊其實有著許多的朋友喔!而且,台灣稻米品種也相當豐富和多樣,想到好吃的米,除了想到東部的池上米之外,有沒有想過其他味道更豐富的米種呢?帶有芋頭氣息的台灣香米等,也相當值得大家認識!

田董米即將收割的水稻田。圖片來源:林哲安
田董米即將收割的水稻田。圖片來源:林哲安

消失的稻田  消失的棲地

雖然我們都知道水稻是台灣相當重要的糧食作物,但也發生過稻米產量過剩的問題,導致政府在民國73年起有階段性的推動「稻田轉作計畫」至民國86年間,這段時間使得稻米的耕作面積由原本的64.5萬公頃降至36萬公頃左右而後,由於整體產業結構的關係,國家發展轉向工業、科技業與服務業,農業式微,亦使稻作面積持續下降。根據2016年的統計顯示,稻作的耕地面積已下降至約27萬公頃。這些改變不只影響了稻米的產量,也使那些倚靠田園棲地維生的許多物種逐漸失去安身之所。

由於稻米的一生相當規律,所以在它生長週期的不同階段能夠允許非常多樣的生物駐足、生長。以新南的田董米和貢寮的和禾米來說,他們的稻米都是屬於一年只採收一次的產區,稻米相關的農事活動主要集中在每年的2月至9月,而沒有密集農事活動的10月到隔年1月時,田間的濕地就是屬於其他生物生活的重要棲地。這段期間動植物和他們留下的各種痕跡也將使田間養分得以被有效的補充和維持,有利於來年稻米的栽種。

新南大面積的水稻田。圖片來源:林哲安
新南大面積的水稻田。圖片來源:林哲安

田董米——在宜蘭為候鳥留一片落腳地

首先介紹的田董米位於宜蘭新南。這個地區靠近蘭陽溪出海口,透過蘭陽溪堆積了從上游隨河流下來的豐富的有機資源。加上宜蘭地區的水稻田區多數呈現湛水的狀態,所以能夠加速這些有機質分解,使水中的昆蟲和底棲小動物得以大量生長,因而有助於吸引水鳥們到此休息和覓食,從而使得新南成為這些嬌客的重要中繼站。

然而在幾年前,宜蘭出現不少田間的開發案和棄耕的耕地,使得過境候鳥的數量一度銳減,也讓田董米的創辦人林哲安感到憂心,於2014年起投入新南、積極說服當地農人,並創建「田董米」,希望藉由維持水稻田耕地、推廣不使用化學農藥的方式,保有新南這塊田區作為候鳥們重要的中繼站。幾年下來的經營成果逐漸受周遭農人肯定,使得愈來愈多人加入這項計畫,田區也因此得以安排不同的水位、營造不同的棲地,讓更多樣的候鳥得以停留此地。像是喜歡深水區的尖尾鴨、喜歡極淺泥地的東方環頸鴴等,都能在此找到居所。

在農事告一段落的時候,田董米的團隊會一起到田區蒐集並記錄過境嬌客的蹤跡,藉此讓消費者和平時參與農事的伙伴們都能接觸和認識到辛勞過後的成果。

2017TaiwanWetland-Rice

和禾米——復耕水梯田帶回消失的野生動物

和禾米則位於的新北貢寮地區的丘陵裡,屬於傳統耕作的水梯田區。2011年起林務局和人禾基金會同和禾生產班開始推動濕地復耕計畫,貢寮的水梯田便是其中的一員。在以不減損原有環境背景及水源涵養等目標進行生產,逐漸令曾經消失的水棲環境得以復原,使黃腹細蟌、蜻蜓、食蟹獴等一度消失蹤跡的生物重新回到該地棲息。

和禾米的田區與新南地區的田董米一樣,生產環境長年保持湛水管理,所以也可以在田區累積豐富的養分以作為許多不同的動植物的棲地。加上透過當地傳承百年的耕作方式及水資源管理,能夠在不使用農藥與大型機械的情況下,一邊進行農事維持生計,一邊也與當地的生態保持良好關係,彼此共存共榮。

貢寮和禾米的水梯田。圖片來源:林哲安
貢寮和禾米的水梯田。圖片來源:林哲安

在農事比較清閒的時間,人禾基金會的田間管理員們會偕同環境相關的研究人員進行對田區的動植物調查,以瞭解田區生態復育與維持的狀況,並作為後續農事的評估。另外,也會和農人一起安排與計畫不同的田間活動,邀請消費者一同來到和禾米生長的環境,除了看見與瞭解稻米生長的過程外,也藉此建立和創造生產者與消費者之外的新關係,讓消費者能夠對當地歷史文化與生態環境產生興趣。透過這些與在地緊密的聯繫,消費者吃下的每一口米飯就不會只是單純為了裹腹,而能看見其中富有多樣性的棲地和每一個負責任的生產者的身影。

不僅留水田顧棲地,也選好米顧口味

台灣有非常豐富的自然資源,同時也有相當深厚的耕種歷史。台灣有許多不同且富有特色的稻米品種,前面介紹的兩個濕地友善稻米,各自都有不同米種。以新南田董米來說,米種主要是台中秈十號。這一款米在1979年上市,在台灣已經有相當長的種植時間,也深受宜蘭地區的長輩們喜歡。一般來說,我們常吃到的米飯大多都是屬於梗米(蓬萊米),而秈米則習稱在來米,細細長長的、吃起來比較硬,普遍會磨成粉,拿來做蘿蔔糕、碗粿等糕粿。但台中秈十號則是秈米中的異類,它的口感稍微軟一些,可以直接當米飯吃,而比起一般常吃的比較鬆軟的蓬萊米,台中秈十號也更適合用於製作粒粒分明的炒飯!

最近兩年田董米也開始嘗試種植口感更好、香氣誘人的香米品種「高雄147號」。這款米是由高雄農改場於2013年育成並上市,其父母代分別是東部廣泛栽種有香甜口感的高雄139號(即常用於壽司的越光米),以及擁有芋頭香的台農84號香米。融合兩款特色的高雄147號又被稱為香鑽米,煮好開鍋時有濃濃的芋頭味,吃下去則是飽滿的米香和甜味。

田董米的高雄147號香米。圖片來源:陳冠宇
田董米的高雄147號香米。圖片來源:陳冠宇

而在狸禾米的生產班裡頭,則有豐富的在地品種。除了坪林的在地梗稻外,還有蕭二哥的在地五號仔梗稻、蕭兄弟與盧伯的台梗八號。比較特別的兩款在地梗稻,和禾生產班有半數是耕作這一類的稻米,可能是30多年前由前往雙溪挖煤礦的工人帶回貢寮才傳入的。因為好種且少病害,產量也豐富,所以廣為在這個地區被栽種。

長時間以來,其實在地的種苗應該也已經有所改變,但當地在育種、稻種確保方面僅透過鄉里的網絡運作,跟一般平地是由種苗場負責的有很大的差異,也得以透過這些痕跡看到在地的農業知識和社群網絡的交織。而若能進一步去理解這些傳統稻種如何被保存,這些歷史也能作為重要的種源和物種多樣性的資產,也因此,這些在地知識與人際網絡互動也成為推動水梯田保育和地方生態旅遊的一大要點。

新南農民插秧時。圖片來源:林哲安
新南農民插秧時。圖片來源:林哲安

看完這些介紹,你會不會對稻米生長的濕地有更多的好奇呢?吃下一碗好吃的飯時,除了想到農夫辛勤的汗水與陽光的滋養外,會不會好奇有哪些動植物曾經跟著稻米一同成長、甚至幫助稻米變得好吃呢?快點一起加入濕地復育產品的行列,走出都市的水泥森林,走進田間和農人們一起看見更多豐富的動植物以及那些農耕地的歷史文化吧!

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資料來源

※ 本文轉載自《台灣濕地網

在地好食:白花紫蘇飯糰做法

 

《 Lindsey Webster – On Our Way (05:15) 》


《 Lindsey Webster – On Our Way (05:15) 》

兼顧農民生計、農地環境人文價值 百年國民信託組織有一套


http://e-info.org.tw/node/206499

兼顧農民生計、農地環境人文價值 百年國民信託組織有一套

2017年08月01日
作者:許惠婷(台灣環境資訊協會 專案執行、國際國民信託組織 執行委員)

英國國民信託持有英國大面積的土地,是英國最大的私人地主,而這些土地的面積高達約80%是農牧用地或農場莊園,國民信託通常將其出租給佃戶耕種或畜牧,少部分由國民信託本身耕種。作為一個保育團體,國民信託並不會單純為了耕種而持有農地,他們的低地農場大多是為了保護地景、重要歷史莊園的完整性,或提供收入來源而入手;而高地和海岸的農場則較常是為了這些農場本身的地景或保育上的價值而入手。

二次世界大戰之後,對英國而言最重要的莫過於食物生產以滿足內需達到自足,政府政策也積極鼓勵農業產量極大化。過去很長一段時間,由國民信託持有農地對國家的整體利益以及國民信託本身的宗旨是相符的;但是現在,在歐洲生產過剩的情況下,農業大量依賴政府補貼,也有不少對環境衝擊的顧慮,看待農業的觀點已經有所變化。人們不再只注重土地生產食物的功能,也重視食物的安全、品質、生產過程符合動物福利;同時看重大多數農地所在的鄉村的景色、歷史與文化意義、提供開放空間和野生動物棲息的功能——這些正是國民信託的重要宗旨。所以現在,國民信託的農業工作,結合了其生產食物的功能以及各種鄉村環境保育的目的。

國民信託的佃戶Neil Heseltine和他的牛。圖片提供:National Trust
國民信託的佃戶Neil Heseltine和他的牛。圖片提供:National Trust。

國民信託在1998年的《全國策略規劃》(National Strategic Plan)首度列入一系列的環境原則;2000年時則制定了《千禧年農業政策》(Agiculture – 2000 and beyond, A Policy for The National Trust),在其中勾勒出了他們的「農業願景」,包括:供應足夠的食物、維護環境、增進生物多樣性、有價值的地景、歷史意義、對文化和社會的益處等;同時期也制定了《土壤政策》(Soil Policy)及《土壤保護策略》(Soil Protection Strategy)。

農業所面臨地環境問題

但英國政府在二戰後過度鼓勵農業生產的後果,卻是對環境造成不少負擔,例如補貼政策造成羊隻數量從1940年代到1999年間增加一倍,導致高地地區過度放牧,卻同時在部分低地地區面臨放牧不足、灌木叢生的問題。

為了保育環境的宗旨,國民信託的農業盡可能實踐對環境友善的作法,包括:

  • 訂出基本的環境標準,並鼓勵現有的承租農地的租戶採納;
  • 出租目前閒置的農地時,僅考慮對環境負責任的農法;
  • 探索新形式的農地出租或「國民信託與佃戶」關係,以推動較友善環境農業管理方式;
  • 維護生物多樣性;
  • 支持在地農產與鼓勵有機農業。

推行農業同時保育生物多樣性

維護生物多樣性的首要工作,是確保野生物的棲地不會因為農業行為受到損害,例如訂出敏感棲地並在其和農地之間設置緩衝區、改善過度放牧等有害環境的農業行為。進一步地,國民信託也鼓勵其他友善環境的作法,包括:

  1. 施行「保育邊行」(conservation headlands),在農地的周邊留下一道區域,減少用藥,增加雜草及昆蟲的種類與數量,這有利於鳥類的生存。鳥類的族群數量是評估英國鄉村環境健康狀況的一項指標,國民信託也用此來判斷不同農法對守護生物多樣性的成效。
  2. 保護個別的特殊地形,例如池塘與湖泊;樹林不受到放牧干擾。
  3. 調查並以地圖紀錄農場中的野生物及其棲地;積極保護繁殖期中的鳥類。

鼓勵佃戶轉作有機農業

目前,國民信託大多數的農地都是使用慣行農法,但這當然不代表應該無節制的使用藥劑,因此國民信託樂見任何能夠更精準或有效率使用化學藥劑與肥料的系統。但有機農業整體而言終究還是比較友善環境及永續的農法,近年也有越來越多佃戶嘗試想要轉作有機,國民信託也鼓勵這項發展。

協助推行有機的作法包括:提供資金進行轉作有機的可行性評估及規劃、有機認證及有機農業所需支出,在重新出租農地時評估有機種植的可行性,並鼓勵具有適當知識與技術且認同國民信託理念的有機生產者承租;國民信託也遊說英國政府提供更多資金支持轉型有機農業。不過,因為密集的有機栽植還是有可能造成考古遺址破壞等問題,國民信託透過租約要求佃戶保護特殊的地形或遺址。

推行農業的同時兼顧土壤保護

土壤是地球上最難以再生的資源之一;土壤流失與劣化也是一項嚴重的環境問題,國民信託從1996年開始重新檢視國民信託在土壤保護上所扮演的角色,1999年制定土壤保護策略後,國民信託的宗旨「永久保護珍貴的自然與文化襲產」中正式納入了土壤資源。

土壤面臨的威脅有許多,而農業也是可能對土壤造成破壞的行為之一。集約式耕種使用大量器械、化學藥劑的過度噴灑、過度翻土等做法都會造成土壤有機質流失、使土質劣化、並減損土壤中的微生物多樣性;畜牧業的過度放牧則造成土壤侵蝕與退化;人為的土地排水則會劇烈改變土壤的化學與生物結構,且嚴重干擾濕地生態系;不當的施肥及土地管理方法可能導致土壤的優養化、酸化及污染。

過去,國民信託對土壤的保護並不足夠,對物業進行的調查僅記錄土壤型態,缺乏對土壤資源的評估、和佃戶的合約中也沒有涵蓋保護土壤狀況、理監事會的職權更不包括土壤保護、且保護土壤的責任在不同國民信託的政策(農業、林業、環境保護等)中並不一致。

在注意到土壤的重要性後,國民信託的土壤政策包括:

  1. 確保物業裡的土壤可以維持各種多樣的功能。例如生產食物、纖維或其他物質、保護環境,並且確保不會減損未來生產的潛力。
  2. 將「保護土壤」整合入國民信託的物業入手、管理政策中。不僅提供物業管理者及農地佃戶土壤保護的指南、教育訓練、技術支援以及獎勵,並和佃戶明定彼此對土壤保護的責任,納入佃戶租約及農場管理計劃中,也實地對各物業的土壤進行調查、監測與記錄,評估每個務業的管理如何調整以保護土壤,並找出特別珍貴或需要保護的土壤,也在田間作物間種植綠色覆蓋作物避免土壤流失。
  3. 在國民信託的環境教育以及環境保護倡議中納入土壤保護。

除了實際將土壤保護納入管理層面,甚至提升到理監事的職權範圍之外,國民信託也開始遊說政府在農業、土壤等政策與法規中納入土壤保護的做法。

田間土壤。圖片來源:Andy Rogers(CC BY-SA 2.0)。
適當的管理有助於保護田間土壤。圖片來源:Andy Rogers(CC BY-SA 2.0)。

農業蘊含歷史環境和文化多樣性價值

英國許多珍貴的地景本身即是英國文化與傳統的「活記錄」,是農業和地形不斷互動產生的結果,呈現數千年來人類與環境互動關係的變化,國民信託也重視這些文化與歷史上的價值。但要維持這些具有特色的地景,需要持續地耕作與放牧。國民信託藉由歷史地景調查評估了解地景變化的過程、並詳細記錄遺址的資訊,也致力於確保農業活動對遺址與歷史地景的破壞能降到最低、保存國民信託持有的農場的歷史脈絡以及增進大眾對這些歷史意義的認識。

提供公眾接觸農地的機會

國民信託對大眾開放許多他們持有的物業,讓大眾都有機會親近這些珍貴的文化遺產與自然環境;但是,農地不能完全比照辦理,否則恐會造成許多管理上的問題,例如犬隻入侵,影響農業生產。因此,國民信託必須審慎地規劃步道的路徑,同時確保大眾通行權以及農地維護。

由於國民信託的會員大多是都市地區的居民,而所持有的土地則大多數位於鄉村地區,國民信託很希望能藉此增進都市居民和鄉村農民間的連結,讓消費者了解食物生產過程、讓農業了解都市消費者的需求與想法;所以他們會和佃戶一起討論及探索不同形式的大眾參與方式,例如農場旅遊、導覽解說行程、特定的開放參觀日、教學活動等。

提高農產品的經濟價值與農民收入

英國的農業長期以來高度依賴政府的各種補貼,在英國政府使農產品價格跟隨全球市場價格的政策以及氣候變遷的帶來威脅下,這個產業的體格其實很不健全。國民信託評估後,認為英國的農業整體而言將會朝向更加密集、大型農場的方向發展,而不適合小農或小規模佃戶地存在,但這和國民信託的宗旨卻是有所違背的。

因此,國民信託的佃戶常常需要有其他的收入來源,不能只依賴農業收入;相應地,國民信託也會在必要時考慮以兼職的方式和佃戶合作,讓佃戶也能在其他時間進行其他工作。但同時,國民信託也需要評估某些土地是否要持續作為農用,因為做其他使用可能帶來更多收入。而當持續耕種維持農地農用是達成國民信託宗旨的必要條件時,國民信託則會盡力確保農民可以得到合理且可持續的收入,例如藉由增加農產品生產過程的透明度、協助農民以在地特色行銷農產品、打造與支持在地農產品銷售通路並對上百萬名會員提倡支持在地當季農產品、打造國民信託的農產品品牌等方式,來滿足當前消費者對在地、友善環境生產且安全的食物的需求,並提高商品價值。

此外,國民信託也積極確保在地的農產品處理設備能夠維持運作,這些磨坊、屠宰場是確保農產品能夠在當地生產銷售,而不需要長途運輸導致碳足跡增加或違反動物福利的關鍵。

英國國民信託全面採用符合動物福利的放養雞蛋。圖為國民信託的佃農Spencer家族,每年供應國民信託餐館150萬顆雞蛋。圖片提供:National Trust。
英國國民信託全面採用符合動物福利的放養雞蛋。圖為國民信託的佃農Spencer家族,每年供應國民信託餐館150萬顆雞蛋。圖片提供:National Trust。

未來的路:找出對農民、經濟與環境都好的模式

近年,國民信託更加重視英國的自然環境且採取積極與創新的行動。過去50年間,英國有超過60%的野生物物種數量呈現減少趨勢;國民信託2015年開始對所有農地進行「土地狀況評估」,以更全面了解其農地的現況,作為後續計劃的基礎。2016時,提出未來十年將加強和其他公益團體、政府、企業、社區、佃戶合作,以改善土地與環境,吸引更多野生物回到田野、樹林、和河流中;更具體承諾,2025年之前要復育出25,000公頃的新的棲地,相當於英國國民信託持有的土地面積的十分之一;同時,也預計屆時要有半數的農地是「友善自然的」,提供更多池塘、綠籬、草畦等讓野生物可以棲息生長的空間。

國民信託也希望能發展出對農民、經濟和環境都好的新的土地管理模式;他們和智庫「Green Alliance」在2016年共同提出並倡議「自然基礎設施方案」(Natural Infrastructure Scheme, NIS),使農夫出售「避免水患」、「乾淨水源」等生態系服務給水公司或公家機關,同時幫助受到英國脫歐衝擊的農夫以及需要承擔水患以及品質不佳的水源帶來的高成本的部門,進而對社會大眾以及整體環境都帶來益處。他們估計,這個市場規模達數百萬英鎊,國民信託和Green Alliance未來將一起努力測試及推動這項新的概念。

2016年英國透過公投決定脫歐,英國農民與農業將失去數十年來都依賴著的歐盟農業補貼。國民信託因此提出了對於英國農業發展以及未來替代歐盟共同農業政策的英國農業政策的訴求,致力於推動一套有利於公眾利益、自然環境以及土地生產力的農業體系:

  1. 國家資金應用於確保公眾利益,除非施行的農法有助於環境保護或野生物保育,否則農場不應該取得政府依照土地面積發給的基本收入補貼;應該讓對環境最有益的農戶獲得最多資金,而非如現行制度讓擁有所大面積農地的農戶取得最多補助。
  2. 新的體系應支持自然保育,確保全國各地的民眾都能親近及接觸自然環境。
  3. 從長遠與更大的尺度思考,因為大自然不會受到人為劃設的農場的界線拘束,政府應和地主、農夫們一起合作,從地景的尺度而非單一農場的尺度思考農業發展與補貼制度。
  4. 公眾資金應投資有益於自然保育的科學研究、技術研發以及市場機制,鼓勵研發能夠儲碳、預防水災、增進生物多樣性的作法,而不是能提升單位產量但有害環境的技術或產品。

農業是十分傳統的生業行為,但在環境急劇變遷的當代,也面臨了非常多新的挑戰;歷史悠久的英國國民信託要兼顧維護傳統、經濟收入、環境保護等挑戰,積極透過合作與創新,希望能走出永續的從農之路。

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作者

許惠婷

相信動物解放、環境平權,還有人的能動性。盡力實踐著零廢棄物蔬食生活,同時用筆和口希望更多人一起邁向更好的世界。

 

《 Lindsey Webster – Back To Your Heart (05:17) 》


《 Lindsey Webster – Back To Your Heart (05:17) 》

夢幻湖「聲景」盡收耳際 《在湖畔傾聽》新作發表


http://e-info.org.tw/node/210794

夢幻湖「聲景」盡收耳際 《在湖畔傾聽》新作發表

2018年04月01日
本報2018年4月1日台北訊,郭叡報導

「在這裡,生命不一定是看見的,而是用聽見的。」自然作家暨野地錄音師,同時也是台灣聲景協會理事長范欽慧,以穩定的語調告訴在夢幻湖畔參與傾聽的人們。

陽明山夢幻湖。攝影:郭叡。

31日下午2點,陽明山國家公園管理處與台灣聲景協會在陽明山遊客中心舉辦《在湖畔傾聽》有聲書作品發表會。陽管處長詹德樞表示,在環境教育中,實際體驗是一種認識環境保護與生物多樣性的方式,而聆聽自然的聲音,便是一種很棒的方式。

「生命不是用理解的,而是實踐的。」在作品發表會中,范欽慧分享著20年來至今的心路歷程,並告訴與會者,生命不單只在學識上的意識與理解,更該是一種行動與參與。透過整個2017年的行腳,在清晨、午夜,在不同的季節當中紀錄下陽明山夢幻湖當中的聲音,與在自然當中的觀察與洞見,完成了本次有聲書作品《在湖畔傾聽》。

《在湖畔傾聽有聲書》封面。攝影:郭叡。
《在湖畔傾聽有聲書》封面。攝影:郭叡。

傾聽是神秘、古老的邀請

處於視覺與聽覺爆炸世代的人們,不論在平日或假日,總是被各式各樣的畫面與聲音填滿,以致感官慢慢麻痺而最終無感。而當人們願意來到夢幻湖畔,無需盛裝、無需任何條件即可進入這美好的「音樂包廂」,當參與者準備好傾聽的心態,在此處成為一位傾聽者,便可以尋求轉化成更好的自己,在其中被療癒與修復。

「可能你看不見生命的樣子,但你可以聽見生命的聲音。」范欽慧分享著過去在夢幻湖畔錄音的見聞。他在湖畔邊聽見民眾說著「這邊怎麼沒有水,怎麼這麼醜,是誰說要來的?」,而當民眾發現有個人拿著錄音器材在此處進行著他們沒有頭緒的事情時,傾聽的邀請便如此自然的在對話中展開,「你在這裡做什麼?」、「我在錄音呀。」、「錄什麼聲音呢?」,在這樣的對話之後,人們便開始重新啟動自身的感官,真實聽見與感受在分散四處的生命。

參與作品發表會的與會者於夢幻湖畔合影。攝影:郭叡
參與作品發表會的與會者於夢幻湖畔合影。攝影:郭叡

聲景即為生命的聚合 是過去也是未來

在有聲書CD當中,一共有8個曲目,參與錄製的成員不乏台北長年公民台北樹蛙、陽明山暮蟬、鳴聲如狗的貢德式赤蛙,以及多種長駐於夢幻湖區域的生物們,而人類與飛機也參與在其中。聲景能明確顯示出一個區域複數生命體的存在,比起明確可見的地景,更能直接展現當中的生命力。范欽慧希望這樣的聲景記錄,不單只是對於濕地的保育,而更能作為一個邀請傳遞給更多的人,能在其中得到療癒也成為參與者、行動者。

自然作家暨野地錄音師范欽慧與新作《在湖畔傾聽》。攝影:郭叡。
自然作家暨野地錄音師范欽慧與新作《在湖畔傾聽》。攝影:郭叡。

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喜歡不會太甜的甜點,但更喜歡的還是透過各種有趣好玩的方式解決各樣的問題。

 

《 Lindsey Webster – You Change (05:29) 》


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預測地震可能嗎?地球情緒測量師許雅儒


http://e-info.org.tw/node/212204?utm_source=%E7%92%B0%E5%A2%83%E8%B3%87%E8%A8%8A%E9%9B%BB%E5%AD%90%E5%A0%B1&utm_campaign=49f1974330-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_06_01_09_54_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f99f939cdc-49f1974330-84956681

預測地震可能嗎?地球情緒測量師許雅儒

2018年06月17日
轉載自:研之有物,採訪編輯:莊崇暉 ,美術編輯:張語辰

地殼因斷層活動,無時無刻皆在變化,與地震、海嘯、山崩等現象更是環環相扣。「地殼變形」遂成為地震學家無法忽視的觀察標的,就像地球展露情緒的跡象。中研院地球科學所的許雅儒研究員,其研究主要利用全球衛星定位觀測系統 (GPS)、地震及井下應變儀觀測資料,綜合分析陸地及隱沒帶斷層在地震周期中不同時段之地表變形。

地球情緒測量師
因為高中升學壓力大,許雅儒回憶當時想著可以外出玩耍,於是大學選填中央大學地球科學系,碩士階段繼續鑽研相關知識。攝影:張語辰

原先碩士畢業後並無進修打算,然而,來到中研院地球科學所當研究助理那年,恰巧碰上 921 地震,親眼目睹斷垣殘壁和慘重傷亡,許雅儒步上探索地球科學奧秘之路,一路成為研究員,成為能看懂地球情緒起落的人。

從地殼變形 觀察地球情緒

發生地震時,避難是當務之急。對許雅儒而言,第一件想到的事則是:全台超過 400 個 GPS 固定觀測站往哪個方向位移。因為台灣位處隱沒帶,地震頻繁,地球的「情緒」時常在地表數十秒震動、板塊幾公分的移動間,展露無遺。

地球情緒測量師
位於台灣汐止的 GPS 固定觀測站。半圓形遮罩為避免蟲鳥、外力等因素造成天線損毀。圖片來源:許雅儒提供

GPS 衛星定位係經由衞星量測地表測站的座標,測站座標隨時間的變化可計算速度,推測地底斷層的活動情形。台灣目前設置超過 400 座 GPS 固定觀測站,測站的選址需具備良好透空度(仰角 10°以上無遮蔽物)、地質穩定、遠離電磁波干擾源等。GPS 固定觀測站大抵沿著主要斷層帶擺放,與斷層垂直及平行方向皆有設置測站。

日常 GPS 導航的量測精度頂多是「公尺」,而藉 GPS 觀測地殼變形卻精準至「毫米」。

板塊移動緩慢,一年僅移動幾毫米至幾十毫米,必須透過長時間的連續觀測以換取精度。藉由觀測測站的位置隨時間之變化,取得測站的位移速度,反推地下斷層的滑動情形(如下圖)。

地球情緒測量師
分析全台各地 GPS 測站的座標變化,得出 2003-2010 年間台灣地區的地殼變動。圖片來源:台灣地震科學中心

以地殼變形最顯著的「地震」而言,許雅儒說,平常測站呈現的是長期穩定線性運動,一旦發生地震時,時間序列會呈現不連續狀(如下圖)。藉由計算地震震央附近測站位移量,便可得知地殼何處變形,並推測斷層如何活動、滑移。

地球情緒測量師
GPS 測站的座標時間序列。縱軸的 U 為垂直分量、 N 為南北分量、 E 為東西分量。線條錯開處為地震造成的不連續。資料來源:許雅儒提供

斷層滑移 ≠ 地震

了解斷層活動不能只看當下,因為斷層滑移歷史很長,可能長達數萬年。斷層活動是能量累積的結果。

許雅儒說,斷層滑移主要有三個歷程,如下圖:

地球情緒測量師
同震滑移、震後滑移、間震期滑移,可描述斷層累積及釋放能量的歷程。資料來源:Scholz, 1998

伴隨地震的斷層滑移稱為「同震滑移」,因為板塊運動的關係,岩層的推擠或拉張都會造成地震。

上部地殼一般為脆性變形,下部地殼因為溫壓的關係產生塑性變形。板塊運動會造成地殼不斷變形,下部地殼變形行為像年糕,會一直變形,但一般不會發生大地震。下部地殼會推擠上部地殼,不像下部地殼,上部地殼可以積聚能量,當上部地殼承受不住便引發地震。若下層每年推進 5 公分,假設 100 年後地震能量才一次釋放,便會產生位移 5 公尺的地震。

當上部地殼沒有大地震發生、主要能量由深處斷層緩慢滑移釋放時,則為「間震期滑移」。

若在同震滑移後,地殼能量未釋放完全,而於地震時產生破裂的周遭發生斷層潛移、慢慢釋放能量,稱為「震後滑移」。許雅儒說,通常潛移是一種緩慢釋放能量的方式,時間可能長達一、二年以上。不過震後滑移還是有可能引發較大餘震。

為了更了解地震滑移的特性,許雅儒近期也著手研究「山崩」。她說,研究斷層難度高,因為斷層較深,訊號傳到地表已經很微弱了。而山崩的滑動特性和斷層活動有部分類似,山坡滑動面淺、在地表可以接收足夠的訊號,能藉此了解滑動行為隨時空如何演變,間接了解地震孕震的過程。相關研究成果也支持許雅儒獲得 2017 年台灣傑出女科學家「新秀獎」。

藏於海的地球脾氣

除了陸地觀測,隱沒帶海底斷層活動也是不容忽視的一環。

海底監測同樣透過 GPS 定位系統,不過因為衛星訊號無法穿透海水,所以必須藉由聲波定位。陸地的 GPS 站先跟船的位置做一般 GPS 相對定位,船的位置再跟海床聲波回應器做聲波定位,由此得知海床聲波回應器相對陸地 GPS 站的位置及位移速度。

地球情緒測量師
海床聲波回應器,將之放入海中。圖片來源:許雅儒提供

許雅儒說,隱沒帶地震規模驚人,如 2004 年蘇門答臘地震和 2011 年日本 311 大地震。許雅儒在蘇門答臘隱沒帶的研究成果(註一),也是首次有近海溝的 GPS 觀測資料,驗證隱沒帶淺層之摩擦性質為速度強化,亦即隨著斷層滑動速度增加、摩擦強度也增加,並有顯著震後滑移。

此外,台灣鄰近海域還有許多大型隱沒帶海溝值得觀測,包括琉球海溝(長約 2200 公里)、馬尼拉海溝(長約 1100 公里)。她說,雖然自 16 世紀至今未見馬尼拉海溝有大規模地震的紀錄,但仍需持續監測,因為無法排除未來發生的可能。如同蘇門答臘過往也沒有相關紀錄,地震發生後破裂卻超過 1000 公里。

地球情緒測量師
台灣位處歐亞大陸板塊與菲律賓海板塊交界處,有可能發生隱沒帶大地震。周遭海域有二大主要海溝:琉球海溝、馬尼拉海溝。圖片來源:許雅儒提供;圖說重製:張語辰

相較於陸地監測可以隨時驅車前往測站,許雅儒說海床監測工作礙於台灣研究船少,有時只能搭漁船。不僅要搶船期,還得避開海象洶湧的冬天與颱風季。一年出海二次,一次一星期,研究人員 24 小時輪班,而且海床監測的定位誤差比陸地監測大,所以監測海床更需要長時間的觀察累積精度,平均需要五、六年才有研究成果。

地球情緒測量師
海洋研究船、漁船的海床監測工作景象。圖片來源:許雅儒提供

GPS 測站守護者的野外挑戰

測站肩負感測地球一舉一動的任務,而守護海陸觀測站的工作得仰賴研究者的野外工作。許雅儒表示,海床聲波回應器可能會被海底泥流掩埋而失聯,難以回收,除非派機器手臂下潛維護。陸地上的觀測站則容易遭雷擊損毀,若一年有三座測站損毀即屬非常嚴重。

許雅儒的野外研究,始於中央大學應用地質研究所碩士時期的南橫測站工作。她說,觀測站大多位於人煙稀少的地區,分為固定站和野外站。固定站每天都會回傳資料,野外站平均一年去一到二次。觀測工作不外乎設置腳架、量測、紀錄等。野外研究更是一場場冒險,許多時候得學會砍草、劈樹、挖地等技能,才能找到測站點。

地球情緒測量師
許雅儒與團隊前往宜蘭太平山野外觀測站,進行研究工作。圖片來源:許雅儒提供

許雅儒表示,有次劈草開路,不小心與草堆中的墳墓照片四目相交,瞬間背脊發涼。抑或因為野外測站所在之處山路險峻,車子踩滿油門卻往下滑。更甚,設置好的測站因學校整地而被掩埋,必須親自拿鏟翻掘。野外活動也免不了與蟲蟻過上幾招,許雅儒曾於菲律賓野外研究,但因站點偏遠,僅有零星住家燈火,因此必須架燈擺站,殊不知燈一架,蟲黑壓壓地鋪天蓋地趨光而來,一張口吸進不少隻,還外帶了幾隻回旅店。

趣事不少,許雅儒強調,觀測地殼變形是為了預防災害,對預警有實質貢獻。例如監測一路延伸至菲律賓的馬尼拉海溝是否可能因地震引發海嘯,對整個南海,包括印尼、馬來西亞、越南等東南亞國家至關重要。若發生海嘯,反撲至台灣西部海岸時,因海底深度較淺,海嘯放大後也可能對台灣造成嚴重災情。

預測地震,可能嗎?

地震與海嘯的破壞力固然讓人恐懼,但不若諸多影視文本恐怖。

電影都太誇張了,每次看都覺得導演很有想像力。

許雅儒笑說,民眾對地震了解不夠深入,地震電影時常「誇大」地震形象。即使地表破裂,人絕對不可能直墜地心,根本是無稽之談。她轉而正色且科學地解釋:地殼的確會破裂,但隨著深度增加,岩壓就越大;所以不管張裂或聚合,深度增加時,岩壓變大,裂面也會閉合。

人們無法透徹了解地震,帶來諸多災難想像。至於地震觀測研究是否能達成「預測」、減少傷害?許雅儒坦言,難度很高。

因為地震孕震週期長,目前對地震觀測頂多百年以內,但是地震周期可能長達千年,從小窗口看出去,難以窺其全貌。

許雅儒說,預測方法不同,感測程度也不同。目前可從地球化學、地震活動度、電離層、地球磁場等方法著手,不過要排除其它非地震因素可能造成的擾動才可能達成目的。最常謠傳的生物表現也得經過嚴謹的測試,才能知道引發鳥鳴、馬陸大規模逃出地面的唯一原因是不是地震。

「就像這棟樓不久前才測得傾斜 2 公分啊」許雅儒手指天花板表示,中研院地球所頂樓就有一個 GPS 測站,後方新建大樓挖地基,在尚未建造連續壁時,頂樓的測站資料顯示地球所向南傾斜 2 公分。她說,若不曉得測站附近施工興建大樓,可能會誤判為其它因素。

預測難度高,主要由於斷層訊號傳到地表都很微弱,必須排除很多不相關的因素,因此要判斷地震前兆還有一段艱辛的路要走。

然而,具備防災觀念比追求預測更重要。許雅儒說,預測或改善現有的預警系統是必須努力的方向,但不如從小教育地震防災的正確觀念,災害來臨時,傷害才能減至最低。以最簡單的地震包而言,臺灣仍然並非家家戶戶都有,甚至還是少數家庭才具備。

許雅儒的研究不只紙上談兵,更深具社會責任。善用 GPS 和其他方法覺察地球的情緒起伏,雖仍不足以全面「預測」,卻已能掌握地殼如何變形及斷層活動的情形。她也將量測方法應用至了解滑坡、降雨及地下水位之關聯(註二),藉以瞭解大規模崩塌潛勢區域之滑坡活動,供防災與避難疏散之用等等。

訪談末,想到正身處傾斜的中研院地球所之中,我的眼神似乎透露出「傾斜 2 公分頗嚴重」的訊息,許雅儒連忙笑說:「還好啦,已經建造連續壁,不會再傾斜了」。對這件事的輕描淡寫不是忽視,而是許雅儒長期觀測地殼變形培養而來的淡定。因為她慣於感測隨時隨地都在變動的地球情緒,靠的是準確定位、細心觀察,再下結論的紮實研究功夫。

※ 本文轉載自《研之有物》《地球情緒測量師 許雅儒》

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