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Crazy Little Thing Called Yoga


This has actually been a subject I've been meaning to write about for a while.  And I actually post-poned this blog post in order to not simply be dismissed amongst the many New Year goal posts that spring up on January 1st.

I'm not going to sit and pretend like there aren't preconceived notions when it comes to Yoga.  There are.  I know that firsthand and am aware that due to this, it's a little harder to reach the ears that have been exposed to them.  Before I started doing it myself, I always dismissed Yoga as just stretching and nonsense.  Actually, I had a pretty distinct thought as to what Yoga was and it greatly resembled this:

Okay, that wasn't EXACTLY the scene I wanted to show, but the original non-youtube pooped version was what I was going for.  Either way, some form of that is usually what people think of: some nutjob talking about being Zen and the energy flow of our bodies, and all that nonsense.  That's stupid. Sure, it may help some people to relax and meditate, but it's still stupid.  And that's precisely why yoga often gets dismissed.  These people usually taint the image and give it a bad rep.

I follow DDP Yoga (YRG Fitness) nowadays but I started off just watching some random series of videos On Demand from Comcast.  They weren't hokey, they were more exercise based but still focused on relaxation.  This was more my tune.  And I was finally able to get into Yoga due to how it was presented to me.  After switching over to DDP Yoga, I've got even more into it because it molds well with what I expect from yoga and that's the exercise.

I won't bore you with all the details about why exercise makes you happier.  It does.  Endorphins and all that shit.  But so many people don't want to exercise.  That's just too much work.  Going for a run?  I'd rather sit here and play Mortal Kombat till my fingers bruise and swell.  But what about exercise without doing much intense work?  I'm not going to say that Yoga isn't work, it is.  In fact, it can be extremely demanding on your body.  But YOU decide how hard you want to go.  Don't want to balance on one leg since you struggle doing so on two?  Fine, then do it on two.  Just work your way up.  That's the great part, it's very flexible.  Chances are, if you can't do one thing, you can do a less strenuous version of it.  And since yoga is mostly stretching, there aren't many excuses you can think of to fight it.

Here's an example of how far someone can go when it comes to doing yoga:

Wow.  Think your excuses seem pretty shitty now?  Yeah, me too.

Now, I'm no Yogi-Master.  In fact, I always used to forget to do it or my laziness would just prevent me.  Not anymore.  I've taken it upon myself to do it at least once a day.  ONCE a day.  And depending on what I have that day, I may only do the 20 minute video.  But even in that 20 minutes I notice a difference.  My body is tighter, feels like it actually got worked out and I'm happier than I would be otherwise.  And that's the main thing: the mental benefits.

I'm a person who deals with a lot of stress.  A lot.  Even the simplest of things, I get stressed about and affects me far more than it would the average person.  But through this form of exercise, I'm no longer as much of a mess.  Even taking the breathing methods and applying it to stressful situations has helped me in ways that would have been impossible before.

Then there's the case of the Winter Blues.  It happens to so many of us.  There has nary been a winter season that it hasn't crept up on me.  It just happens.  Snow is covering the ground, most remain indoors, and there's not a whole lot to do.  Depression just clings onto that.  And with the terrible weather it's easy to dismiss the gym due to simply not wanting to go out in the cold to get there.  I get it, I've been there.  Here's the simple solution: you can do yoga ANYWHERE.  Your living room, your bedroom, your basement.  Wherever you have a 3x6 area to do activities, bunk that bed and do it.

Now, you may be saying "But I just don't have the space for that."  You do, trust me.  This is the set-up that I use:

Not exactly the most appealing area but it gets the job done.  And that's all that matters.  Who cares if it looks like a yoga studio?  As long as you can do the poses comfortably, then no other excuse matters.  And even that mat is longer than the average (I have the longer one--I'm tall...shut up) one so you'd need even LESS space than that.

I've had my foot in yoga for about a year and there's been no looking back.  Not once have I thought of it as a waste of time.  EVERY time I do it, I feel awesome afterwards.  Now the main thing for myself moving forward is to keep up the routine.  It's something I would love, and plan, to carry through my life into the future.  And even if this post doesn't make you want to go out and do yoga, that's alright, that wasn't the purpose.  The main purpose here was to educate and break some of the odd characteristics associated with yoga.  I figured I'd show you the positive benefits from someone who I would consider pretty regular (did I just refer to myself as regular? Doesn't that make me...irregular...wait?)   EITHER WAY, if I've done that, my job is done.

Salmon Rolls.

Lord of the Rings Day: The After

The After

As I type this I don't want to even be looking at this computer screen.  My eyes hurt from staring at the TV all day long.  The concept doesn't seem that difficult at first but then just thinking out about it--really thinking about it.  It becomes daunting.  Not moving for 12 hours, just plopping your ass down on a couch and just watching an LCD screen.  Sure, I got up and did various things throughout, and it wasn't like I was forcibly placed there but it was rough.  I stretched when needed and even did pushups when becoming restless.  And that's how I made it through.  I didn't just sit there.  Otherwise, I'm pretty sure my back would have screamed out in agony and my legs would have fallen into a deep, dark slumber.  That's physically--mentally...

My mind, after dealing with so many different plots and stories evolving throughout the entire day on Middle Earth, began just to simply melt.  By the end of the epic showdown, I was simply sitting there, drool forming below my chin, staring at the screen in child-like astonishment.  This was not just a movie series, this was the ultimate experience in entering another world.

I had plans to watch Cloud Atlas tomorrow.  That's not happening.  I seriously don't think I could even sit through something that doesn't star Jason Segel or Hank Hill.  My attention span just won't allow it.  It needs a break.  I broke it.  This happens every time I do these marathons (the fourth since the release of the extended's) so I've grown to expect it.  But seriously, time to go watch some King of the Hill and forget about high fantasy for a bit.

Lord of the Rings Day: The King

The King

I know I'm just beating a dead horse but I'm going to just keep saying it until you get the point: Wow, this looks good.  If you love movies and care for quality then you have no excuse but to own this stunning achievement in cinema on Blu-Ray.  It is near reference quality.

The sheer scale of this film is impressive.  There are often-times hundreds, if not thousands of people (orcs) on screen at the same time.  Just makes you really glad they didn't do this series any earlier than they had.  Otherwise the story wouldn't have been done justice.  The term epic was made just for this series.  I feel a little guilty anytime I use it when referring to another film because chances are they would never reach the levels of epicness that The Lord of the Rings reaches.

Return, in particular, has more than it's fair share of moments.  Whether it's the Witch King fight, Gondor's last ride, or the entire end segment, it's hard not to catch yourself with an open mouth and dropped jaw.  "No man can kill me." "I am no man."  It's epic.  Get used to it.  Your mind gets blown by the various parts like this, just reeking of awesomeness.

Damn, this has just been one gigantic Peter Jackson handjob hasn't it?  Well, the man did it right.  Unlike The Hobbit, which I felt needed A LOT of editing, LOTR hardly ever wavers.  Sure, out of personal preference there were scenes I could have done without but never once did I question the validity of the scene within the context of the story.  The same cannot be said for a certain other film released in 2012.

There I went again, trying to come up with a negative for the thing I'm actually reviewing and going back to something else.  Okay, some parts get cheesy.  The nine different endings can be infuriating (god dammit, will you just end it once Frodo gets on the boat!) but it's easily forgiveable given all the insanity that was just delivered the previous 12 hours.  Peter Jackson, you are a god.  And while you haven't quite gotten back to this peak, here's hoping the rest of The Hobbit trilogy works it's way up to LOTR levels.

Lord of the Rings Day: The Towers

The Towers

This movie sure hasn't lost the grand scale it had going for it in the theaters.  The Battle of Helms Deep is just as exciting as ever.  Maybe even a little moreso depending on your viewing environment.  I myself was quite immersed.  These FX are absolutely breathtaking and make me disappointed in a few other movies I know from around the same time (Spiderman 1 and 2 namely).  That's how good it looks here.

One realization I had when watching this was, it's been so long since I've seen the theatrical versions that I now see the extended's as the only version I even recognize.  No longer am I viewing extra scenes as extra, they are simply a part of the film.  Indistinguishable from the story I know and love.  And that's how I believe it is for many who see no part in revisiting the theatrical versions when such superior versions exist of the story elsewhere.

And I was right, got pretty bored at the Merry and Pippen nonsense.  It's nothing against the filmmakers, they are just two rather bland characters to begin with so there isn't much for the audience to grab on to.  Sure, they aren't nearly as useless as they were in Fellowship, but they aren't exactly shall not passing anyone.  The Legolas and Gimli stuff still works why and makes you remember why you loved those characters so much in the first place.

I'm amazed at how much it feels like the budget has increased when it comes to the second film.  After the first one, you could tell they had limits.  But here, not a limit exists.  Whatever Peter Jackson wants, PJ absolutely gets.  And that's why so much of the film works splendidly.  His vision is not brought down by a meager budget.  If only he would have brought the same heart and humor to The Hobbit that he did here.  Nothing feels quite as real in The Hobbit as it does here.  I won't judge till I see the film in context of it's own trilogy (a feat not nearly as necessary as it is here for Lord of the Rings).

And now onto my favorite of the trilogy.  Onto one of the most epic, breathtaking films ever made.

Onto Mount Doom...

Lord of the Rings Day: The Fellowship

The Fellowship

Wow this film looks amazing.  Seriously, what's the deal?  I remember getting really annoyed the last time I watched it because it was so obviously green-screened.  That's gone.  It looks absolutely fantastic.  This looks like it was made yesterday.  It's that good.  And since this was put together before the success of the franchise took hold, there's this freshness and passion to Fellowship that somewhat escape the latter two.  That's not a slight against them however.  It just becomes more broad and epic and thus looking less independent.  The structure of Fellowship just greatly allows for this.

One thing that has to be appreciated about these films is the acting.  There's not a weak link in the entire ensemble (that's right, even Orlando Bloom is damn good).  When it comes to a cast this size, it's all the more impressive to think about the prestige behind the lot of them.  The pure fact that there isn't a bad one in the cast is impressive and makes the film even more special.

I can't imagine the undertaking this series must have been.  It's exhausting just reading this series, let alone paying attention to the various details that Tolkien has interwoven with the narrative.  So I applaud Peter Jackson for his faithful and entertaining tale.  The first is a great buildup for the epicness that follows.

Bring on the Two Towers...

Lord of the Rings Day: The Before

The Before

Dammit if it hasn't been years since I've done this.  I really would like to be able to do this once a year but that's just unrealistic.  This is an entire day of entirely Lord of the Rings.  You can pretty much accomplish nothing for the rest of the day if you want to do this right.  I had been wanting to do it for a while, even brought my DVDs up to school with me last Fall.  It just never happened.  Then, shortly after the release of The Hobbit, I received the Almighty Trilogy on Blu-Ray.  Needless to say, my decision was made.  Then after yet another viewing of The Hobbit (shut up, it's epic) it was set in stone.  I was going to marathon the world of Tolkien yet again.

Don't worry, my expectations aren't extremely high.  Yes, I love the films but know they have flaws.  I'm expecting to be restless somewhere around the Merry/Pippin stuff in Two Towers (that always happens) but I know I'll enjoy it nonetheless.  One thing I'm really interested in seeing is the enhanced effects.  Not sure if it's only on Gollum but my interest is peaked.  I know during my last viewing of the DVDs I was a little disappointed with the green-screen work.  Hopefully this will be rectified.  Which is odd since usually when it comes to the pure concept of this, like Lucas' abortions known as the Star Wars re-releases (they suck when compared to the actual originals) but I totally support Jackson's decision on this.  Makes sense given the higher definition.  It's not like he added a ponytail on Gollum or something.  He does it right.

Doing this right of course means no pauses.  We don't do that nonsense.  This is a MARATHON.  There is no stopping in marathons (the what?).  That is only for the weak.  Outside of the possible minute when switching over discs (each film is still on 2 discs still.  Damn you Peter Jackson!) there will be no stopping for anything.  Going to the bathroom?  You better leave the door cracked so you can hear the sounds of walking in the distance.  You can't escape it.  It's all encompassing.  And more or less you really just have to soak it in; this doesn't happen all the time.  So here we go into 12.1 hours of pure entertainment.

Time to enter Middle Earth...

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