Mans inhumanity to man

I just arrived from a wonderful, upbeat workshop with Kino and plan to return for practice in the morning. In the past when I blogged, I occasionally digressed into social commentary about the problems with drug dealing and the homeless in the city. I do not do so any more. I think it's for the authorities to deal with the problems. I have a feeling also, that the service provider that allows us to journal aspects of our lives here, in this format, for free, has some interest in content and might feel that certain subjects, such as crime, are better handled by the traditional media. So I choose to write about the upbeat aspects that make my life zing - architecture, yoga, nutrition and calorie restriction. However, I would be inhuman if I don't express my dismay and alarm at having arrived home ten minutes ago to a major crime scene. And if I had not stopped at a grocery store and eaten a meal from their food bar, I would have been here at the time of the incident. I could have been an innocent bystander. A neighbor in my building had to hold in his hands a young man who was shot. It's the second time in the immediate vicinity that people shoot other people - probably fatally - it's too soon to see the report in the online version of the newspaper. And it's not like this means that I have to move immediately. I moved here 5 months ago and there had been a shooting in front of the apartment in which I lived previously as well. As soon as I can in the near future, I will move to a safer neighborhood, even if the cost of housing is ridiculously expensive. That's as much as I'll say about this. Tomorrow I'll return to the usually scheduled program - yoga, architecture and nutrition, probably posting some of my notes from the workshop.



This build up towards an intensive this weekend has made me a bit ragged. This morning, coming out kukuttasana, I did what I usually do, which is to rest on my elbows, and lift my lotus-bound legs up and out. But that motion seem to put pressure on the lower back today causing me to feel lower back discomfort all day. Maybe that is what Bindi refers to reaching that point when practice can be harming. Logistically it's that the way I'm supposed to get out of the pose is to lift my bound legs up, swing them back and forth in tolasana and then between my arms and let the feet shoot out. However, despite being thin these days, my legs have a lot of muscle and when they are in lotus, they are quite bound together. My mind doesn't perceive that the legs will open if I were to just swing them out. Also, more logically, the feet just don't swing in between my arms. They get stuck in between the arms. So maybe they got stuck there today and I pushed wrongly with the back. Ouch. And just before I'm supposed to do yoga all weekend. Hopefully my reports tomorrow and Sunday will be that my practice was gingerly but went well.

I enjoy reading my fellow ashtangi practitioners and fellow CRONies blogs. If I place a lot of graphics, art or photos in my blog it's because that is my world - a visual one. I spend my entire day creating drawings, looking at drawings, looking at pictures, designing spaces, etc. So for something that I create to look complete to me, there needs to be a picture - even though I studied philosophy and could make do with just writing. The picture is of the caves of Camuy, Puerto Rico, taken by my sister-in-law. I hope to be enlightened by the intensive, as rays of light enlighten the caves. (Ha! can't touch this. I used the "e" word. Fellow Buddhists would be bonking me on the head now for claiming to be enlightened. How could I ever claim such a thing, they would say. Have I ever learned anything in my hours of sitting in meditation, that there is nothing to be reached?)


Social moments, practice today, and protein powders

There was a new lady in charge of opening the shala this morning. Since she was late, this offered an opportunity to do warm ups in front of the door and chat with Honest Abe, Snow White and Kool Keds until Surfer Guy, who has a key, let us in. It's so nice to have the opportunity to visit with them if only for a short while. It turns out several of us will be going to Kino's workshop.

Teacher had an assistant today, a practitioner herself who has traveled to Mysore. She assisted me in supta vajrasana. Teacher asked me if I would mind doing supta vajrasana again so that she could give a tip to the assistant on a way to assist a person like me who can grab bind in this pose but is tight. It involves pressing the feet together and letting some space for the person's legs to go up and down with the movement, but without needing to grab the arms. The picture is of Arjuna doing Supta Vajrasana, found in his website, (de.ashtangayoga.info/asana-vinyasa/intermediate-series) I'm afraid to link electronically to the images, so I'm referencing the source.
Later on, Teacher assisted me in Dwi Pada. I felt sorry that coming out of the pose, I kind of fell backwards on her. Teachers are very patient people. Hehehe. I am including here an illustration of Parsvottanasana because it looks nice. It is after one of the practitioners in Mountainview. It reminds me of a story of Lino Miele's. When he was teaching his mother to do yoga, when she came to this pose, she initially could not place the hands in reverse namaste. Years of holding an iron or cooking had stiffened her arms. At first it was excruciating to her to get her arms anywhere near like that. But over time and with practice she was able to do it and it brought her a great sense of joy and freedom.

CRON wise there were some questions in the yahoo support group from one person as to whether protein powders are recommendable or whether they are a bad techno-food. I and at least a few other vegans use rice powder, soy protein and Twin Labs brewer's yeast in our daily nutrition as a source of protein. For me it helps me to round out my daily caloric level to 1800 calories. I've been advised that it's important to have a healthy protein intake so as to maintain the muscles. The only thing that I notice, from my own personal observation, is that consumption of these powders has the effect of increasing my blood pressure or my resting heart rate. This week at least the resting heart rate increased. On other months, the diastolic blood pressure rose. When I would stop consuming these protein powders, the numbers for BP and resting heart rate would go down. The numbers for BP are still within normal ranges, so I am not alarmed. I am not sure at what level my RHR should be.


More photos - the new San Francisco Federal Building

My colleague at work, who is very interested in sunshading devices, took these exterior shots of the north facade of the new San Francisco Federal Building. I posted some pictures of the inside earlier here. There are some other points made during my tour that are worthy of note. Facing the building is the Court of Appeals Building, built in 1905 in the Beaux Arts tradition. It went through a seismic retrofit in 1989 after the Loma Prieta earthquake. This elegant building uses materials such as marble, bronze work, redwood, and mosaics, and is decorated with frescoes. The new Federal Building is about straight lines and the use of contemporary materials such as concrete, steel, glass, wood ceilings. It houses a lot of contemporary art. Seventy five percent of it is made of recyclable materials, making it one of the greenest buildings of the federal government. Both buildings are examples of great architecture for the era in which they were built.



My practice of 2nd today was very nice. Teacher helped me get into DwiPada. I have felt great relief from shoulder and neck pain. I felt quite bouncy after practice.

There was an article posted by Dr. Al Pater on the CR Community list on a study published in the BBC about the importance of getting enough sleep. It was titled, "Bad Sleeping Doubles Heart Risk." So suddenly I feel really sleepy as I have just arrived home. Am I being a bit perhaps too suggestible? I would like to draw an image of the yoga position, Bhekasana, or Frog Pose. It will have to wait until tomorrow. Good night!

Coming back to this post this morning, I drew Bhekasana based on a picture of one of the practitioners in Mountainview. The photo was so beautifully composed, and the asana so well done that it was like a composition by my artist friend in Austin. I practiced with Greg N., an authorized teacher, a few years ago in Orlando and noticed that he did this pose perfectly, getting the toes down and the arms bent correctly. You need a lot of flexibility in the arms to be able to rotate them to that position. You also need the chest to open up and the shoulders to move backwards so the arms can push the feet down.


Yoga, Thoughts and Healthy Snacks

I did not feel sore this morning, so I went to practice at the shala and worked on 2nd series. It is possible that I was not sore because I practiced on Saturday and this caused my Sunday practice to not make me feel sore. When working on 2nd, I've been stopping at Eka Pada as usual, waiting for an opening in my body that will allow me to do Dwi Pada by myself. Teacher has allowed me, before Urdhva Danurasana, to do Pincha Mayurasana, Vatayanasana and Gomukasana, in order to strengthen and alleviate my neck and shoulders, which have been bothering me. As I mentioned before, I used to do all of 2nd, then it was taken away from me, but in the year and a half that has passed of poses being added slowly, I had only progressed to Dwi Pada. It may be just my opinion, but I think that my sore neck is from too much primary poses practice [dodging darts]. It's what my body's intelligence tells me and I should listen to it. I tend to crane my neck in a lot of primary poses and feel pain.

I would have gone to practice this morning regardless of how I felt because I was inspired by a Dharma talk on Sunday. The teacher, David Ezra, made his talk be about the feelings he went through in preparing to talk. Someone commented that it was like the movie about the making of a movie. When he realized he had forgotten to prepare for his talk, he felt aversion. He thought of not giving a talk. Then he started asking himself if it was skillful behavior to call to cancel it. It didn't seem to be. Then his neck hurt. So he thought he should go back to bed. But he thought that there might be times when getting rest is what he needs, but this time it seemed like an excuse. So he practiced Qi Gong in his patio and felt better. Then his significant other's car needed a part, and David was jumping to get to a phonebook to find a mechanic. His SO asked him, "you don't want to prepare for your talk, do you?" He realized that and went back to preparing. I asked myself this morning if I was feeling sore and wanted to sleep in, or wanted to go to practice. I practiced.

CRON-wise, I made a nut and fruit bar, in the hopes I can wean myself from baked stuff. I bought a raw pumpkin seed bar at Whole Foods a few weeks ago, then bought the ingredients to make a variation of my own in the dehydrator. It contained 2 cups flaxseeds, one cup pumpkin seeds soaked overnight, dates and dried Bing cherries soaked in water 2 hours, the juice of a lime, a tablespoon of agave syrup and about a cup of water, enough to make a cohesive mixture. When ready to dehydrate, I mixed all of the ingredients, waiting about ten minutes while the flaxseeds start absorbed the water. It was dehydrated in jelly roll pans for 6 hours at 105 degrees, taken out of the jelly rolls, and left to dehydrate another 6 hours. A 20oz serving has about 80 calories. Dates are not low on the glycemix index, but it's better for the body than eating cookies containing sugar, fat and flour.

I like posting something graphic daily, so in my post are two more paintings by Michelle Manning, prints of which were being given out in front of her studio this past Sunday. The alpine scene reminds me of Paradise Valley in King's Canyon Park.


Ashtangis practicing

Those dedicated ashtangis at YogaisYouthfullness in Mountain View have posted 350 pictures in their website. I think think they do this annually to create a calendar that shows the the sweaty and nitty gritty of our practice in real life. These are not the pretty, sweat-free pictures of the magazines. The photos are a great inspiration. Antonia Kao, herself an ashtangi, is the photographer.

Baddha Konasana

Only the birds accompanied me on the bus trip to Berkeley this morning. Chirp. Chrip. Last week my practice was most unusual - one day on, one day off. So yesterday I went to a led hatha class, because my legs were beginning to make creaky noises. I understand what DZM and (OvO) mean by feeling creaky if they don't practice continually. So I thought going to that class would warm me up for today. This morning, instead of my usual 2nd series practice at the shala, which consists of Primary to Navasana, 2nd to Eka Pada, I did Primary Series.
I got a great adjustment in Baddha Konasana. Teacher said to let the legs open to the floor and breathe deeply into the chest. After years of practice, my hips are pretty open in this asana. But focusing on the breath while letting the feet open to the floor made me steer my thoughts away from any discomfort. It's a form of surrender. In the blogs from Mysore, particularly Elise's, you hear a lot about this subject of surrender. I just went over to check her blog. There are always beautiful insights in her writing, such in her entry titled, "Good practice or bad? It's just practice." The images here are after John Scott, with whom some of my teachers have studied. And the bound feet image is after a student's in Mountainview.

The Berkeley Studio is in a artist's design center. There is an architecture firm, a landscape architecture firm, an advertising firm, several artist studios and the yoga studio in the same building. When I finished showering, I noticed a sign that said "Free". There were several prints of pastel paintings by artist Michelle Manning. A note in her studio door said that she is semi-retired and is spending more time in Maui after the passing away of her husband. The painting is of the Grand Canyon, a place I would like experience from the vantage point of her artwork.


Wine tasting

We were treated to something unusual at the end of work today. A tile representative placed a beautiful array of tiles that her company represents in the conference room. Accompanying her were a wine tasting instructor, who brought a waiter from a local restaurant, a lot of cheese and other appetizers and four types of wine. We were given lessons on how to hold the wine glass, how to smell it, how to twirl it, and how to aspire a swig of it to make all of the taste buds taste the wine. We learned about the grapes used in the wines.

The first wine was a 2006 Chardonnay. It had hints of butter, vanilla, butterscotch, and lemon chiffon. He had us pair sips of the wine with each of these ingredients, so we could notice them in the wine. It was a filtered wine about 1 year old.

The second wine was a red wine, a 2002 Chianti. It had hints of raspberry and vanilla. The third wine was a 2001 Nebbiolo Sangiovesse. It was unfiltered and had a full body taste. He told us it actually was a very high end and expensive local wine made in honor of Italy.The fourth wine was a sweet and sparkling dessert wine, a 2006 Muscato d'Asti. They paired that with chocolate cake and cookies.

For the first time I understood what wine writers meant by their statements, such as "hints of raspberry," etc. The various ingredients of the wine bring up tastes that remind us of fruits and other foods. The oak barrels impart the taste of vanilla, for example. The tannins in fruit rinds impart flavors such as raspberry.

There was advice on food pairings. But I could not take advice on food preparation seriously, primarily since I'm vegetarian. Every recipe proferred seem to involve meat. The presenter was about 6'-5", weighing 350 lbs. He claimed his grandmother is 95 years old, is 6'-1" and weighs 320lbs. He wore a size 76 suit and had a 20" neck. I'm not estimating this, he volunteered this information. Many of his friends, he said, weigh in over 400 lbs. He talked about an upcoming food festival contest where he is planning to present a bacon bacon bacon burger. Bacon is prepared, the bits placed in the ground meat. The bacon grease is mixed with butter and spread on buns, which are then grilled. More bacon is placed on top of pineapple. Or how about this recipe - ribs cooked in beer, later on after being cooked, are left overnight so that the meat glues back to the bone, then the next day they are battered and fried and served. Hello? I do calorie restriction here. When chided about dangers to his health, he said he didn't have to worry about that because his cholesterol was normal. Ahem, a close relative claimed the same thing until pre-diabetes closed in on her. And several other people I know of about the same height and weight have full blown diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, glaucoma, etc. One may have good genes, but without moderation, one cannot enjoy good health.

I live in wine country, but I rarely overindulge in wine. In fact tonight was one of maybe 8 times during the year that I might drink wine. That doesn't make me stronger in CRON than my fellow CRONies, because I have a weakness for sweets, but I'm not tempted by alcohol because consuming it makes me lose my self control. Anyway, it was a very enjoyable and fun presentation. I learned a lot about wine. The tiles presented were spectacular as well - some with very innovative shapes and finishes. And I appreciated the hospitality.

This morning I missed yoga practice. I took an antihistamine because I have a slight congestion. It knocked me out and I overslept. I feel I need to catch up with my yoga practice, particularly because of Kino's workshop next week. It's too bad I missed yoga practice because my main teacher was attending a workshop and substituting her was Leigha Nicole, who was visiting from Colorado. I'm sorry I missed practicing with Leigha, but life intervened. Sorry for the cliche.


The new San Francisco Federal Building

I went on a tour of the new San Francisco Federal Building by Architect Thom Mayne of Morphosis and Smith Group, executive architects, sponsored by the local chapter of the AIA. The sky lobby has been named as one of the best urban spaces in the city, so I was excited and lucky to be able to experience it. This building incorporates a lot of ecologically aware materials and systems. All of the materials used in its construction are renewable and long lasting. Elevators stop at every other floor, so that people walk up or down stairs, for exercise. One single elevator stops at every floor for handicapped people and for deliveries. There is no mechanical air and no chiller installed in the building. The width of the floorplates, 60 feet, help to allow outside air to pass through it and cool the building. Shades are used to deflect light as required. The floor slabs in the office levels are curvilinear. The shape allows for less concrete to be used in the structure and allows cool air to enter. At night the floor slabs are cooled by the winds. During the day they act as trombe walls, distributing the coolness. The ceilings are exposed to the concrete slab. The floors of the offices are raised and contain the electrical and power connections needed throughout the offices. Shading of fritted glass is used in the northwestern and part of the southeastern facades. The south facade has an external perforated metal screen that can be opened for light control. It is the material that starts at the roof as a design element and cascades down the south facade. These are the pictures I took.

Practice at home

I had a peaceful self practice of 2nd Series at home. It took two hours and I had to stop at the 7 Head Stands. These headstands have the effect of clouding the part of my brain that remembers people's names. But that effect passes after a while. After practice, my level of concentration at work was very good. I also was in a very cheerful mood, greeting people with a smile. It's late; my illustrations are sketchy.


Short practice today

Practice today was short - Primary Series up to Supta Kurmasana. I have a slight sore throat. Hopefully it will pass since I'd like to have energy for Kino's workshop this weekend.

I went to a professional association presentation. That meant sandwiches for lunch. So I ate the inside of a tomato, arugula, basil and mozzarella sandwich. I ate one quarter of the focaccia bread. They offered a juice drink and an apple. Overall it was a healthy lunch. I knew what was going to be served, so I carried a fork in my pocket. Last time I attended one of these group meetings I had to use hold the bread and bring the contents of the sandwich to my mouth. At least today I felt more graceful. I think fellow CRONies should carry a fork when going to vendor or association luncheons, since most likely they will be offered sandwiches, and they'll want to avoid the huge amount of bread that these are presented in.


Groups versus Links

I attended a graphics computer software course for two days. The seminar plus preparing for a client deadline kept me so busy that as a result my nutrition practice was less than stellar (there were chocolate covered raisins involved) and my yoga practice took a short hiatus as well. I concentrated well on the class, taught by a talented Indian teacher, a lady of great peaceful demeanor. At one point, she was describing how objects that form part of a three dimensional composition (in our case, related to buildings) can be either groups or links.

Some of the technical characteristics are that groups reside in the drawing in which you are working, and once you create them, they move together. You can used them as repetitive elements. Links reside outside the drawing in which you are working. They are good to have because they don't make the size of the file in which you are working bigger. There are advantages to groups, but they can make file sizes too big because they carry a lot of information. Keeping links in your drawing keeps the file size smaller, more maneable.

I thought, hey, wait a minute, maybe I can derive something philosophical about this as relates to life. Membership in the Calorie Restriction Society and practicing ashtanga in the shalas I go to are Group behaviors. The group behavior occurs when I practice in the shala and when I share information with or read posts to the CRS lists.

The community support that happens in the blogosphere, between fellow CRONies and fellow yoga practitioners is Linked behavior. (That's Parighasana, the chain-prop modification in the illustration.) I can ocassionally practice yoga and meditation at home and keep my good nutrition practices. Then I can share insights on a blog and read those of others, sharing comments. As in the illustration, you have to be involved to be part of the link.
Well, maybe this was just a mental construct during a short moment when my mind wondered from the class, but it made sense at the time. And today I read Mary Robinson's post on the benefits of reading blogs, (I'm editing what I wrote last night), I kind of think that it reinforces my construct here.


Sunday- intense forward bend, pigeon posture and upward bow

If in yoga we ascend to a higher realm, then we descend to our daily er, grind, then today was a good ascent. I did not let thoughts distract me too much. The yoga drawings are based on Kevin Roths's photos in Flickr.

Several times I have looked at the advertisements for Ringling Brother's circus, with images of their funnyman, Bello Noch. It makes me think that if I had hair like that I could get my head down to the floor in the Prasarita-Padottanasanas sooner. In reality, though, my body is allowing me to reach closer to the floor than ever before.
I did Kapotasana twice, although Teacher didn't ask me to do so. But it seemed like I did not exit correctly the first time and needed to do it correctly again. I am finding less resistance from my body in getting my hands much closer to the feet. (When I finally get my hands to my feet without resistance, the image will be different.) I also repeated Eka Pada Sirsasana A & B, three times today. Again, Teacher didn't ask me to do so, but in my first one, on the left side my leg did not stay up without my right hand holding the foot. The second time, the leg stayed up a bit longer without the hand holding it, then popping out with a spring. On the third time I was able to hold the position gracefully and correctly.
On assisted Urdhva Danurasana, I really got to understand the transferring of the weight to the legs that has to happen to be able to come up. Teacher was correcting my feet, saying "Toes in, heels out". My hands were close to the feet. The thighs felt like a spring, ready to bring me up. I was being assisted, so I sprung up. But if Teacher had not been there and all of those things were in place, I feel I could have sprung up by myself. Glory bee!

Regarding CRON, the only thought that came to mind during practice, when I really did not want to be thinking, is that I tend to occasionally have a "sin" day, a day where I behave really badly with respect to eating a lot of sugared baked goods. Usually it amounts to five items (a brownie, and gasp! four cookies - the type sized for selling at a restaurant like Segafredos.) There may be an emotional trigger, such as a visit to a doctor. My version of white coat fear perhaps? On other days, I behave, but may have a "sin" moment, where I might indulge in, gasp! 2 cookies and a scone. Dios mio. hehehe. But then I'm in my good behavior the rest of the day and the rest of the week. I thought I would share that, since fellow CRONies are fezzing up to their ocassional snafus. Today, I ate somewhat ad-lib because I went out with my coworker to eat an an Indian restaurant, since we were working to meet a deadline. I'm not counting calories today.


Felt bendy and bouncy after practice today

I had a nice and strong practice and felt bouncy all day long after practice. Teacher discussed with me my neck and shoulder pain. It seems that when the feet are pressing against the neck in Supta Kurmasana and DwiPada, the action of opening up and pushing back with the shoulders to resist the downward pressure of the legs balances my neck muscles, so I feel good. She pointed out that the same upward motion should occur in forward bends, where the ribcage and chest should be arching upwards. One should not be rounding the back in the forward bends. I had been told that before, but did not understand why it was necessary. It really makes sense to me now.

We added a few positions before Urdhva Danurasana to open the chest, and an additional inversion. The final headstand required me to lift my head off the floor. This gave a additional upper body strength.

I have to work this weekend in preparation for a client presentation and study for a training class I'm attending Monday and Tuesday. So my drawing today is quite sketchy. But there is always time to plug a good product like Prana shorts : ) and that company does not pay me to endorse their products.


Practiced Second Series today

Today I practiced the entire Second Series. Dwi Pada and Yogidrasana helped me combat neck pain. Those of us who spend 12 to 14 hours per day at the computer can benefit from these asanas. I got myself into Dwi Pada, although not perfectly and I let out a few muffled screams. I don't scream if Teacher is getting me into the pose, but today I was getting into it by myself. I was amazed at the absence of shoulder and neck discomforts afterwards. After practice I felt a lot of upper body strength.

I did this practice at home. At the shala, I would probably be expected to do half of primary up to Navasana, then second up to Dwi Pada. All of this primary practice, in my opinion, is exacerbating my shoulder and neck pain, not relieving me of it. That is my opinion and it does not represent the opinion of my teachers, past or present, or of my guru.
Here are two images of Japanese architect Kengo Kuma's project titled, Great Bamboo Wall.


Mega-leather - vegetarian jerkey

This recipe was developed by fellow CRONie, Dean
Pommerlau, and he gave me permission to pass it
on. He has an interesting website which you
can check here. This is a very healthy snack.
I make a batch every three weeks and keep
it in a drawer at the office, with the snacks
wrapped in little packets of two pieces. I have
introduced some comments in parentheses
to help in grocery shopping.

Mega-Leather – vegetarian jerkey
Recipe by Dean Pommerlau, modified by Arturo

Kefir, soy milk 1000g (about 35oz)
Vinegar, cider 125g
Oil, olive, salad or cooking 45g
Whey Protein Powder 30g
Brewer's yeast, GNC brand 30g
Nuts, almonds, dried, unblanched 40g
Sucralose 0.2g (1/4tsp)
(or 2 little packets of SweetNLow)
Spinach, raw 225g (about 8 oz)
Kale, raw 225g (1 bunch)
Mushrooms, raw 225g (about 8oz)
Strawberries, frozen, unsweetened 300g (1 large frozen packet, about 1 1/4 c)
Sweetpotato, raw 175g (about 6oz)
Psyllium husks, raw 50g
Almond extract (or cherry, or lemon 13g (1 Tbsp)

General Notes:
* Preparation time: about 1-5 to 2 hours including cleanup (w/o
dehydration time - approximately 12 hours). This prep time can
be split over two days - see Directions section for how t
split up the prep.
* Ingredient amounts:
- Sucralose: 1/4 tsp (or 2 little packets of SweetNLow)
- Spinach: ~3/4 lb before removing stems
- Kale: ~1 lb before removing stalks
- Mushrooms: 1 8oz package
- Strawberries: ~340g before thawing. Can be substituted
* Makes 7 servings of 250kcal each. On paper, it actually makes
slightly over 7 servings, but due to losses from ingredients
sticking to the various surfaces involved in preparation, the end
result has almost exactly 7 servings of 250kcal each.
* I typically make a double batch (14 trays instead of 7) to achieve
economies of scale in preparation, and so I only have to make it
every couple weeks.

* Food dehydrator with seven trays and thin film "fruit leather"
inserts for each tray. The dehydrator I use is a Nesco/American
Harvest Snackmaster Elite model FD-40, available at Wal-mart.
You'll need 14 trays + fruit leather inserts for a double batch.
* Food processor - preferably large capacity (e.g. 8 or 9 cups) with
an S-shaped blade. A blender can be used instead, but I've found
a food processor works MUCH better for pureeing.
* Scale with gram readout - sorry, except for the small ingredients,
all the ingredients are measured in grams. There are 28.4g/oz
if you want to convert to English units.
* Large mixing bowl
* Small mixing bowl
* Large wooden spoon
* Measuring spoons
* Cup (measuring cup or otherwise)
* Spatula - angled cake decorating spatula works best
* Cutting board and knife

* Chop sweet potatoes into 1" chunks, put in covered bowl w/
a little water and microwave for a 2-3 minutes to soften
* Thaw strawberries for 2-3 minutes small bowl in microwave to soften
* Wash and cut stocks/stems from Spinach and Kale - weigh to make
sure you have the right amount after removing the stalks/stems.
* Chop nuts in food processor using S-bland until bits are very
small - almost a powder.
* Add the first 8 ingredients (kefir through sucralose) to food
processor and blend until well mixed
* Pour liquid into large mixing bowl temporarily
* You may need to do the following pureeing in several batches,
depending on the capacity of your food processor.
* Place spinach and Kale in your food processor with S-blade
* Add some liquid from large mixing bowl to food processor
* Run food processor until pureed, adding more liquid if necessary
* Puree the mushrooms, strawberries and sweet potatoes with some
blender liquid in the food processor using the same procedure
* Combine all pureed ingredients with any remaining blender liquid
in large mixing bowl
* Mix with large wooden spoon or spatula to make sure mixture
is uniform and all chunks have been broken up
* Optional - refrigerate for up to a day until ready to dehydrate
* Add psyllium - don't do this too early, as it will tend to
thicken the mixture
* Add flavoring - See below for flavoring options
* Stir complete mixture until psyllium and flavoring are fully
* Distribute mixture evenly to the thin film inserts of 7
food dehydrator trays.
* Each tray should receive about 345g of the wet mixture.
* Spread the mixture evenly on each the film as thinly as possible
without creating holes, in order to speed dehydration and
improve uniformity of leather. An angled cake decorating spatula
works well for spreading.
* Dehydrate for about 6 hours at 115deg F. in food dehydrator.
Use less time if using higher heat (not recommended if you
can help it). (I usually do this step at night and when I wake
up in the morning do the following steps.)
* Slice the leather into approximately 4" square pieces
while still on the thin film. My dehydrator actually makes
large doughnut-shaped rings of mega-leather, which I cut into 8
pie-slice pieces.
* Slide the spatula under the pieces, and peal them off the thin
film. Flip them and place them back on the dehydrator tray without
the film. This will speed dehydrating, and make the leather more
* Dehydrate for an additional 6 hours at 115deg F, or until
leather is still flexible, but no longer feels moist to the touch.
It is better to dehydrate too long than too short. I've found
the leather gets more pliable once removed from the dehydrator,
so don't worry if it feels crispy.
* Remove leather from the dehydrator. Cut into bite size chucks
and store in Ziploc bags or Tupperware in the refrigerator. Can
be stored at room temperature for several weeks.

History of yoga

I saw this in Nadine's blog, who saw it in Linda's blog, etc., etc. Enjoy.


Bhujapidasana - arm pressure pose

Today Teacher adjusted in Marichyasana D, Supta Kurmasana and assisted in dropbacks. One thing she has told me was to lift the rib cage way up with each inhalation while I began the dropbacks. She recommends this rib cage movement also in the Prasarita Paddotanasanas in the standing sequence. It is a really comfortable movement to do, and you can use your fingers to assist the lifting. I could not help but notice ElCrucero across from me doing Bhudjapidasana very gracefully. Regardless of whether your dhristi is fixed and your practiced concentrated, you still notice when someone is doing something perfectly. My body tends to swing back and forth in the first part of this asana, and the motion makes me uneasy to get my head down. But my fellow ashtangi was able to quietly and strongly do both parts of the asana.

Eat Less, Live Longer

If you eat less, you might live longer. Four years ago I subscribed to the calorie restriction society's emails, in order to learn if I could lose ten pounds so I could bind in Marichyasana D in my yoga practice. I found out that calorie restriction was not about weight loss, but that weight loss happened as a result of practicing caloric restriction. I became more conscious of what I ate. I started cutting out bad foods from my diet, lost the ten pounds I wanted to lose and in general have enjoyed very good health. I hope to continue the practice so I can enjoy good health and can do yoga into old age.

Here is a link to a program on KQED in San Francisco on calorie restriction:


Moon Day

I'm observing the moon day break from yoga practice today, planning to practice at the shala tomorrow. I sat in zazen for meditation this morning. My thighs are a bit sore. Ibuprofen helps.

I thought I had not reached my caloric goal yesterday, according to C-O-M, so I kept eating in the evening until I thought I had reached 1800 calories. However, I was heavier by a pound this morning. My intuition told me I did not need to eat, which is what I should have trusted. I probably made mistakes in entering data on what I ate, or perhaps overdid the caloric consumption on Saturday and gained then. The body needs to adjust down during the week.


Grandparent's Day

The jazz radio station I was listening to while preparing my meals for the week mentioned that today is Grandparent's Day. I read in the Internet that it is declared to be the Sunday after Labor Day in the US. By coincidence, my mom sent me a picture of my paternal grandfather in his 30s which had recently been restored professionally. I never met that grandfather. He died of heart disease when my mom was pregnant with me. Today's blood thinners would have prevented a stroke and prolonged his life, but that was 1956. Also this week, I was picking a photo of my graduating class in architecture, an informal picture of thirty six of us sitting on the steps of a historical building on the campus, to show the classmate I was meeting for lunch. Attached to it was my maternal grandfather's picture when he was 41. Luckily, he lived with very good health until he was 86. He was a mentor to me and to all of his grandchildren. In his late 70s he lived with my parents and my mom cooked very healthy meals for him, never serving anything fried. In his 80s he re-married after my grandmother died. But his wife was fond of serving fried foods, particulary chicken and fries prepared by an American fast food chain. My mom joked that, "she killed him with __fried chicken". It may not be that far from the truth. In the Spanish culture of my parents generation, it is customary to refer to a man with "Don" in front of the name. I honor both my grandmothers too, who had a great role in the development of my character and in my education. I don't have a picture of them near me at the moment, so I would have to be post those at a different time.

Ride to Berkeley, Kapotasana & Urdvha Danurasana

For varying reasons I had not been to the shala in Berkeley in a few weeks. The birds accompanied me on the bus. There was lots of chirping. This time I could not sleep, so I listened to the staccato sounds of their conversation. I noticed that one of them would empty her lungs to express a paragraph, then as she would paused to breathe, the other one would empty her lungs to express a paragraph in response. The action would repeat incessantly, this volley continuing nonstop during the half hour trip. I started imagining what could be the topic of the conversation. The findings of their neighbor at the local thrift shop? The best tomatillos to use in hot sauce? How one of them is teaching her daughter to prepare her clothes for school the night before? (Wait, that was another bus trip.) What their husbands said at the last family gathering? I have a new foreign language on my list of things to learn.
Practice was very nice. At teacher's request I did kapotasana three times. I wonder how DZM and (OvO) have the energy to do a handstand after kapo. And digressing further, should I be CYT, since Cody is VOC and people are adopting these acronyms? But back to kapotasana, since I'm still working on getting the hands to the feet, Teacher was saying to use the fingers, pointed, and the wrists to slowly walk the hands towards the feet, once I reach the floor. Then I needed to extend the arms. I kept hearing, "arms straight, straighten the arms," but I don't think my arms had much extension at that point.
In any case I really gave a great deal of effort to Urdhva Danurasana. Teacher gave a few important reminders. In assisted dropback, push the hips towards the front, towards the teacher. The hands have to be extended when landing. I was practicing against the window. Teacher instructed that when coming up, the hip bones have to be pointing upwards towards the window. That implies that the chest, the neck and the hands have to come up slowly and last.


C-O-M crunch

I typically don't share my C-O-M crunches because they read like "coffee, pudding, breakfast, typical lunch and dinner." Those cryptic words refer to menus for vegetarian pate lunches that I have already entered into the software. This week, because of the holiday, I did not prepare my foods ahead of time, so I varied the diet a bit. Here is a crunch for today. It is accurate, and actually I ended eating a bit less than the usual 1700 to 1800 daily calories. I'm not concerned because tomorrow is Saturday, and grocery shopping day and I might exceed 1800 calories. I typically do not eat rice, unless my stomach is out of whack, which it was earlier in the week when I was eating foods artificially sweetened with sugar alcohols. I would like to find a different non-dairy source for acidophilus than soy yogurt, since I prefer to limit the amount of soy consumed.

Bendy & Springy Practice, Marichyasana D

Practice at the shala was bendy and springy this morning.
When I bind in Marichyasana D it's probably not a pretty asana rendition. My back is a bit rounded when it should be lifted more. My bent leg does not reach the floor. My shoulder bone appears to Teacher to be popping out. But I find that making the effort to bind is important. The stretching and turning of the torso that has to occur for the bind increases my extension. On days when I have not bound, when I get to Urdhva Padmasana, I can hardly hold the pose, much less wrap my hands around my legs in Pindasana. So in my opinion, it is good to force myself to bind in Mari D, which my body at least allows me to do.
A yogi of the Berkeley shala gave a beautiful demonstration at a get-together. While sharing refreshments afterwards, I asked him pointers for coming to standing in Urdhva Danurasana and commented on his unusual entry into Marichyasana D, which involved a lot of dangling of the feet in the air. This is someone who has completed Second Series and is working on the Third. He said he has difficulty with Mari D and his rendition is not a pretty to look at, with his bent leg dangling in the air. I have the same problem. We have to do best we can and move on, in my opinion.


More home practice musings

I pooped out in my home practice today, just doing the standing sequence up to the Prasaritas, and a few of the Second Series up to Salabasana B, followed by the closing sequence and a long Savasana. Tomorrow I plan to go to the Shala. I can see why home practice can be at times humbling.
Did monkey mind get the best of me? Did I not nourish my body sufficiently earlier to have the energy I needed to practice? Yes and yes. I let my mind wonder and I did not eat soy yogurt when I woke up.On the nutrition personal news front, I was grateful for Mary Robinson's recent post in her blog on food addictions. I realized that recently I had become addicted to chewing gum and candy sours which profess to be sugarless but are sweetened with sugar alcohols such as xylitol and maltitol. I was having all kinds of stomach rumblings and frequent running to the loo. Finally, when I realized I was eating these things constantly between meals, I remembered that three years ago I discovered that sugar alcohols have the effect on my intestines as if Tchaikovsky's 1812 overture was playing inside my body (here illustrated by the 40th Regiment Royal Artillery), particularly towards the grand finale.

Today I did not eat any of that junk, and my stomach was peaceful, as in the Summer of Love. Thank you Mary for enabling me to remember my food allergies.


Nutrition, practice at home

Since I posted my notes from the nutrition seminar by Kino, I received an email from her where she reflected on how interesting it is to see where she was then and where she is now. She does not follow a raw food diet now but a sattvic vegetarian diet. If there is a question and answer period during her workshop and it is appropriate to ask, I might ask her to describe her diet today a bit more. I'm curious if she's introduced dairy and ghee into her diet.

Today I woke up a bit late to get to the shala on time, so I practiced at home. It was enjoyable to practice here. It made me bless my space. Also I allowed myself to do Second Series up to Gomukasana. I tried DZM's trick for Supta Vajrasana of putting a rolled up Manduka mat behind me and I was able to go up and down and stay with the arms wrapped and bound to the toes. That was amazing.

I moved to my current apartment three months ago. I was experiencing a pain in my neck, as if the neck was pushed forward. This morning, when making the effort to get the leg behind the head in Eka Pada and Dwi Pada, the isometric resistance with which I had to push the neck back helped to make the pain go away. I don't understand the mechanics of the body. But in these asanas the legs bear down on the neck, in the direction of pain. But because I had to push back, the action seemed to balance me out.

I was able to balance in Mayurasana probably for the first time. I got Tittibhasana B okay, but I had trouble stepping forward in Titthibasana C. Maybe I need to shift the weight to the right and left to allow myself to walk while bound, as in this illustration after David Swenson. David Swenson is another teacher coming to San Francisco next month. I took several partner yoga workshops with his brother Doug, who did some amazing demonstrations. This will be the first time I will attend a workshop with David.
When I was on holiday in France a few years ago, an ashtanga teacher told me that in his home practice, in order to shorten the time it took him to do Second Series, he would sometimes do the standing poses, the first half of Second up to Dwi Pada, then the closing sequence. Then the next day he would do the standing poses, the second half of Second from Dwi Pada, then the closing sequence. I mentioned this to my teacher in Orlando, who was alarmed because it did not follow the method correctly. I'm thinking about this because today it took me two hours to accomplish my practice of Second Series and don't know how I might hurry it up more. I hear the led Second series classes in Mysore are so fast that they can be scary (laugh).

I had lunch today with a colleague with whom I studied architecture 25 years ago. She looked very pretty and happy, as she was then. It was good to see what we are doing in our careers, and find that besides our common education, we have a lot in common. She lives close to Zen Center, where I practice meditation on weekends and she practices there occasionally. She also likes yoga and is very moderate in her eating habits, as I am. She is passionate about art as well as architecture. So am I.


Nutrition for yogis - notes from a Kino MacGreggor seminar

On November 9, 2002, I attended a seminar on nutrition for yogis by Kino MacGreggor in Orlando. I recently came across my notes and decided to post a summary. Since that time I have learned a lot about nutrition through my membership in the Calorie Restriction Society and I'm amazed at how much Kino's advice back then is in line with what I've learned in the group. If the notes are not clear or the information sounds incorrect, it would not reflect on Kino’s knowledge, but in the fact that I waited 4 1/2 years to transcribe these notes and I may have made mistakes in my understanding of what she said. Also, I received an email from Kino that at the time of the seminar, she used to follow a raw food diet. She now follows a sattvic vegetarian diet. If you're a fellow CRONie and just want to get to the bottom line, the next to last paragraph is a perfect dictum for a CRONie.

By the way, Kino and Tim Feldmann will be in San Francisco at YogaShalaSF September 29- 30 conducting an ashtanga workshop.

Eliminate dairy, processed foods, meats. Do proper food combining. Recommended reading: books by Gabriel Coussens, Concious Eating, David Wolf, Natural Hygiene, Paul Pritchard, Healing with Whole Foods.

Yoga has eating habits, too. Food is energy from the sun, transformed into chlorophyll. Analyze the difference between organic and mass produced foods. The nutritional quality is better in organic greens.

We seek comfort and love. We vibrate at 7.8 MHz per second when doing yoga. Lack of love is bad. If we're imbalanced, we compensate. Food can bring comfort, but there is a difference between living to eat and eating to live.

Avoid white bread, starches and pasta, except whole wheat pasta. It’s all mucous forming and it causes plaque in the colon and in the teeth as well. Don’t eat anything refined.

Do conscious eating. What is the state of our mind when we are eating? Who is doing the eating? Watch the breadth, as in meditation. This will speed down the speed of eating. Chew a lot. Kino likes to read while eating – feeding her brain while feeding her body. Keep a food log of what you are eating throughout the day. Try it for at least a week.

To diminish chocolate cravings, drink herbal tea with stevia for sweetener. Don’t use artificial sweeteners. Avoid flax oil unless it’s contained in a dark bottle. Oxidized flax oil is rancid. It’s better to chew on flaxseed. Omega makes good flax oil. Refrigerated oils are better than those on the shelves. Don’t take essential oils in capsules. You need 3, 6 and 9 omega fats. Good sources for oils are sesame and pumpkin seeds, walnuts, almonds, and hemp seeds. You can grind the seeds and nuts in a coffee grinder.

Kino’s typical day might consist of: after yoga and meditation, breakfast of tea, fruit, whole grain such as oatmeal, or whole grain toast, fresh apple juice protein shake with spirulina. Her lunch is the biggest meal of the day, which might consist of salad with organic greens, avocado, sprouts and nuts. For dinner she might have dry fruits and nuts, eating light for early yoga practice the next morning. She used to snack a lot. But to get over it, she did a meal plan. Her main snack might be fruit.

Spirulina helps with sugar cravings. Once in a while, she might prepare a raw juice consisting of leafy greens such as kale, dandelion, spinach, celery, romaine, cucumber, adding ginger, lemon for acidity, and apple to sweeten.

Bitter greens are good for detoxifying the liver. Avoid protein bars. You can get the proteins from plant sources. Never eat partially hydrogenated foods (that contain margarine).

At the time of the seminar, Kino prepared most of her meals the raw way. Today she follows a sattvic vegetarian diet. Being vegetarian for a yogi is tied to the principle of ahimsa – non harming. If you are going to eat meat, then have respect and honor for the animal that was killed for your meal. After meat, eat a salad.

From hardest to easiest, the hardest foods to digest are meats, followed by dairy. Most of us lack the enzymes for digesting dairy. Next follow whole grain, starches, such as muffins, granola and oatmeal. Next follow nuts, legumes, followed by salads and fruits.

If yoga practice is making you feel spacey, you need some grounding. Cooked tofu can help achieve grounding. The starchiness reduces energy and slows you down.

Kino recommends eating sprouts. Sprouting germinates the proteins in legumes and makes them more digestible. It makes seeds alkaline to the body. You can sprout green peas, chickpeas, lentils and others. You can use the sprouts in salads instead of nuts. You can also create hummus with sprouted legumes. Gabriel Coussens has several easy, quick recipes in his book.

Kino then distinguished the doshas. Vatas can eat anything and still be thin. They tend to be restless. Pittas are in between. They can eat some fat and might have trouble with spicy foods. Kaphas are softer, evolved and calm. They are bothered by starchy foods.

Drinking water is important. It is cleansing. It’s better to drink water 20 minutes before a meal, not with a meal, unless you are eating dry food. Wait ½ hour after eating before drinking water again.

Do not over eat. Do not over eat. Whatever you think you need, take a third of it off the plate. Be a habitual under eater to live healthier and longer.

During a question and answer period, I asked what did Lino Miele mean in his book, Ashtanga Yoga, when he said “1/2 of the stomach is for food, 1/4 for water and 1/4 for air”. She said he was explaining how a Brahmin’s diet might be adapted to the West.


What type of yoga practitioner am I?

I'm a Yoga Aspirant!

A Yoga Aspirant

If your yoga school had a grading scale you'd make straight As. You've found a yoga style that resonates with you, so you listen to the information that your teachers share and apply it to your practice. You've read many books. You put your mat down in the same place in every class, and you count among your friends other yoga aspirants, too.

Take the Yoga Journal Yoga Aspirant Quiz!

If could change the image I would, but inspired by Laksmi, at least I changed a few words. I'm not a snob of any kind. It's not Buddhist to be so.

Two close friends practicing in Mysore now

OMG, Reinaldo, from whom I learned to practice ashtanga Mysore-style in Orlando around 2002, after I had learned the asanas in Lewis Rothlein's classes at Full Circle Yoga, just arrived in Mysore! And Krista, with whom I practiced in those early days with Reinaldo, has been practicing there for a month and plans to stay another month. After Reinaldo left Orlando, Krista, Michael T., Laura D, Linda W, myself and several others continued to practice together. Greg Nardi joined us several times when Lewis Rothlein generously let us practice Mysore style by ourselves at Full Circle Yoga. Well, blessings to them. I'm with them in spirit and will think about them as I practice.

Speaking of practice, I made my best intentions of going to Berkeley to practice this morning. When I arrived by bus to the Transbay terminal, signs directed us to the BART system, because the Oakland bridge was closed for repairs. I had forgotten about the bridge closing over the holiday. I took a bus to the BART station, but it was not open. So went I went for some coffee and returned home, where I am once again rearranging my furniture, planning to put up the paintings on the wall, and putting for sale things that physically don't fit in the apartment. My neighbor helped me bring down the mattress and box spring from the loft, so I can set up the bed near the window. Sleeping on the loft was not comfortable. He says he also got rid of a lot of things when he moved here, and it took him 6 months to get rid of them. I understand. I'm going through the same. You can look at this as simplifying one's life through design. I want to make sure that by the end of this weekend my apartment is complete, and I have a clean, attractive space within the apartment where I can practice yoga and meditation.

My CRON practice has not been stellar. My weight is stable, as are my vital statistics. But I waiver once in a while when I give in to baked baddies. That's what I've decided to call cookies. I usually find my way back to good behavior by resuming eating my homemade nutritious, simple meals.

I'm saying goodbye to this chair and ottoman. It's funny, the practice of blessing things and letting them go. My dear aunt is moving in with my parents, and she is going through the same, except at a great scale, since she's dismantling an entire apartment. She's at that point that she needs constant care and despite therapy, she is not walking, so she's remaining in her bed all of the time.


On spirituality, soy yogurt and TV pilot plots

How complex a simple Saturday morning can be. I didn't go to the Zen center for meditation and service this morning, sleeping late instead. It does not matter, because I read this blog entry by Steve Dwelley, and it lifted me up spiritually. It was as if I received a teaching at Zen center. Yoga is ascending, Steve says, then we descend to our daily work. That's a true view. Guruji is human, but he's more developed than us because of his dedication. He puts up with a lot of his student's troubles. How true. I see how having a spiritual practice helps my teachers here. They put up with a lot of our emotional baggage.

Changing the subject, for three weeks, I ate nonfat, dairy based yogurt. I did this because it was recommended in a nutritional book for yeast-like infections. It turns out the dermatologist said I had more of a dermatitis that got infected. For that condition the same book recommends against all dairy consumption. I could only laugh at so much contradiction. But I know now why basically I prefer being vegan. Not only can't my body digest dairy too well, even with dairy-ease pills, but at night I suffer from nasal congestion when I eat dairy. I was glad to find nonfat, unsweetened soy yogurt at Whole Foods this morning. I was expecting to find soy yogurt laddened with sugar, but was happy to find this one without it. I will consume it moderately, since overconsumption of soy causes problems for males.

At Whole Foods is where the TV pilot plots started this morning. Next to me at the coffee shop, a large group of young couples started congregating, putting tables and chairs together. I began to get upset at the intrusion into my peaceful reading of the paper while consuming some cookies. I always enter the cookies into the nutritional software every Saturday because I give into eating them anyway. Then I realized that I ocassionally get together with other groups of people and go to restaurants. The couples looked so much like those on TV - I don't even know the names of the programs. 90211? The numbers may have changed. It's funny, if you go read Craigslist looking for rooms to share in apartments, you can tell the age of the people already living there when they say, "we're very 90211 here." I can see I would not fit in. I'm of 1956 vintage.

Then when I got into the bus to return home, I sat behind a well dressed couple, all in black, perfumed and bejeweled. The man was wearing more jewlery than his wife. At first they seemed to be bickering. I thought, "Great! I never watch TV and now I'm being treated to a soap opera." But then their conversation turned friendly. He shared a candy with her. They continued swapping stories. The mechanics of the interactions between couples are fascinating. Talking is so important to them. Communication is what has kept my parents so happily together 60 years.

I noticed the red toenail polish on the woman's toes. It reminded me that earlier in the week I saw a masculine guy in his 30s, dressed in Abercrombie and Fitch type of wear, his bare sandaled feet showing manicured toes with red shoe polish. This was Union Square, not the Castro. Am I missing something? Did it become acceptable for masculine men to wear red toenail polish? I've heard of black toenail polish, but that is a Goth practice. But red? And as to A&F, I walked by one store Thursday evening, and the store played club house music. It seemed very entertaining to go in there and pretend you were clubbing, letting yourself be enticed into buy things that would make you feel you fit in, in a club. Hmm, yes, with a Buddhist non-attachment stance, I appreciated their great marketing techniques and then moved on.
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