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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Musings: The law of Least effort – Part 1/2

 

Disclaimer 1: I am naturally lazy. I am proud to be so.

Disclaimer 2: If you don’t agree with D1, then you need to talk to people who know me well. They can help you with adjectives like Congenially, Incorrigibly, hopelessly etc.. to describe my laziness.

Disclaimer 3: You have 2 options after reading this blog.

  • Option 1: Agree with the opinions expressed in this blog partially or fully … NOW or
  • Option 2: Agree with the opinions at a later point in life as you evolve. :)

Disclaimer 4: Deciding to stick to my natural self and dumping my artificial humility, I claim to write this blog from a position of authority that i have conferred upon myself…. :)

Disclaimer 5: Understanding the contents of this blog, you may exhibit symptoms of  radical change in thinking, behavioral patterns that are different from normal, recognition and kindness to your body especially knees, altered perception to life and at times you may sound little eccentric among the general public. The author can be held responsible for these +ve changes.

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This article is triggered by few good friends of mine who happen to be marathon runners and they are very passionate about it. Though there are some weak moments that you get psyched or over whelmed by such friends, disclaimer 1 has always been cheering me up during such weak moments and my single pack abdomen would vouch for the continued reluctance that i have been developing for running.

As a wise man said, “A lazy body with a rational mind is a very dangerous mix.” I believe that most of us are part of the “dangerous” club only varying in the depth of laziness and width of the rationality.

While I have been pretty obedient to the calls of my body to bask in laziness and agree to instant gratification without postponing (aka laziness), my rational mind has been working for the last few years to justify this natural tendency and has come up with this concept of Law of least effort and with a conclusion that human beings are not born to run and the more we run the more we are running away from our nature.

I can hear the sound of disapproval in all frequencies. But you have to hold on and read this fully and then decide on the option you would take on Disclaimer 3. :). I am going to take some popular arguments on benefits of running and argue against it and finally would place my side of the argument as Prativada (counter argument).

Argument 1: Scientifically its proved that running is good

As a wise man said “Life is a progressive discovery of our ignorance”. When we are ignorant we shall have myths like “Running is good for health”. Modern day science has been pretty consistent in jumping from one myth to another before it finally lands on the truth. This is because it follows a principle of moving from “Particularity” to “Generality” which is the reverse of what the sages and wise men do. I have not found a more supportive alibi to my argument than modern day science.

If sages and mystics were dismissive of everything that its “Mithya / Myth” and emphasized on the ever changing, impermanent nature of life, modern day science has proved to be a living example of that concept. While we have managed many significant discoveries / inventions most of them in accidental manner the newer concepts we discover / invent challenges our older thinking / assumptions / laws / concepts. It is agreed that as we evolve it is natural to discover higher levels of truth and hence we need to accept that what is put forth by science today as “good for health” can be altered tomorrow. There are many living examples about usage of antibiotics, pain killers, concept about space-time, concepts in the field of genetics, nuclear science, the impact of cellular frequencies on our health and the list can go on.

For every argument that science has that “running is good” there is equally vehement argument about hazards of running. If you have not heard about Runner's knee, patellofemoral pain syndrome, Shin splint, Plantar fasciitis, anterior cruciate ligament tear, Iliotibial band syndrome, risks of myocardial infraction or hormonal imbalance in women and its associated issues when the testosterone levels increase are pretty well documented. Before you jump on me, i also agree that most of the issues are due to abuse or over use and the high testosterone levels in women have other reasons other than running and gymming.

If you are still adamant, check this out.

http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,652007320001_2028032,00.html

While i agree that there are certainly “some” benefits in running, i want to highlight that we are not naturally designed for it and there are better ways to be fit, which is explained below.

Argument 2: I am very unique, i listened to my body and i feel good after running.

Everyone and every organism in our nature is unique. Uniqueness is so common, that every one can claim it. Nature does not produce carbon copies. I respect the fact that you are listening to your body and you feel good after running. My argument is just that your listening need to be deeper and you need to be exposed to be higher aspects in fitness and the truth about the nature of your body. I am trying hard to give a glimpse of them to you in this blog. Be patient and read on. :).

Argument 3: We have been running for ages and we are designed to run.

I beg to disagree. We just have to look around and see as to how nature has endowed qualities and physical form. We seemed to have missed this correlation between physical form and qualities, not just to human beings but to all the species in this world. As one wise man had put it, “Plants defy gravity and carry water from roots to the flowers without any effort, fishes swim without any effort, birds fly without any effort, grass grows, flower blossoms without any effort, a flower attracts bees with its color and fragrance without any effort. Nature has endowed each and every being with uniqueness”. What if “We just ask a pig to blossom like a flower or a flower to prick like a thorn”. We agree that is not natural.

When we run our center of gravity tends to fall in front of us (outside our physical circumference) and to enable running nature has endowed species with 4 legs so that the gravity always is within the physical circumference. The most important part of our evolution is our ability to grow from a 4 legged species to a 2 legged species which enabled vertical growth and hence the brain. Running is naturally endowed to a 4 legged being and its not an natural endowment to a 2 legged being, unless the biped wants to retrofit itself with the qualities of a quadruped :).

Running is one more animal quality (among other qualities) which we are not willing to leave behind post our transformation to human being. You may want to agree that this is the residue / hangover from our past life.

Ok. What do you call an elephant or tiger walking in 2 legs?

Circus…. You can extend the same analogy to all activities where we unnaturally struggle to balance ourselves with the gravity.

My take is “Running is all about gravity management. Its the management of our mass against the ever present downward force and making the mass move laterally… in a bouncy manner.” All for the sake of fitness!

Metaphorically here “A bicycle is trying to be a car for the sake of fitness and behaves like a Poclain excavator machine”.

Think about this argument and be kind to your knees. As Baz Luhrmann puts it, “You may miss them when they are gone….” :). If you still disagree with me, why don’t you listen to one of my favorite numbers and then continue…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmAReOklwNY 

Argument 4: Run-asana is better than all other asanas. (Running is better than Yoga)

I have been student of Yoga for more 10 years now but i have not heard any one teaching me “Run-asana” yet. :).

If the primordial texts of Yoga and Ayurveda did not prescribe, even remotely, running as a way to develop fitness, vitality and “Run-asana” did not figure as one among the 84000 asanas, then why are we obsessed with running.

Sages who designed Yoga techniques not only knew about “gravity” (they did not need an apple to  bump off their head to understand gravity), but also knew how to utilize it our benefits. Otherwise how will you define the benefits of postures like “Sirasasana” which reverses the movement of blood from the lower limbs to heads using just gravity.

How does Yoga prescribe for vitality and increased physical strength? It suggests that for physical vitality do “Surya Namaskar” at twice the speed and for spiritual development, do it slowly.

I shall continue my counter argument in Part 2….

 

Happy reading!

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