2/29/08

Cough, Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

okay, so i have a slight cough and going to allow myself some rest today. (cough) so, no practice notes today. i might have been in denial about it yesterday. here are some pictures of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro that my friends P and D took a few weeks ago. they very generously sent me a disk with over 400 pictures of the event. you can't describe this in words. it's a spectacle and you just have to go with the zamba flow as you see jaw dropping after jaw dropping displays. it would choke the blog if i posted too many pictures. so here are a few. thanks, P & D.

2/28/08

mats, funkiness, others

what is better than one manduka mat on the floor? two manduka mats on the floor. maybe i'm getting to be a softie, but i need more cushy-ness on the floor when i practice. so i put one of the studio's mats under mine. having skipped practice yesterday, today i practiced primary up to upavistha konasana. people around me at work have colds; i don't have one, just an occasional cough. so i don't have the excuse of missing practice yesterday because of sickness. actually, the blubber meter was high when i weighed in the morning and that got me down. so an emotional funky state took over and i stayed at home yesterday. i had trouble finding the breath today, and i forgot two of the standing asanas. i forgot purvottanasana, so i went back to it after having moved past it. Seven Petal Lotus noticed, smiled and asked me if i had forgotten a position. Teacher is patient and understanding. i attempted to put my hands through the lotus bound feet in greta garbo pindasana, but when the blubber meter is high, the legs get chubbier first, so i substituted. i already went to the bathroom 8 times this morning, so i must be returning to ketosis, ridding of water. sorry for the yucky details. tomorrow is another day.

i did notice that KoolKeds practiced with us today. he said he got busy around the holidays and got out of the habit of coming to practice. hopefully we'll see him again. Honest Abe's focus was amazing today. there was a great tranquility to his practice. okay, so i'm blabbing about other's practices. the bus back from the shala was so packed that my yoga bags were weapons - on one person's feet and on a discreet part of the anatomy of another. I was excusing myself often.

2/26/08

Backbending

I stumbled upon this after viewing that puppetiji video. I learned from the presenter the motion she did of pushing the arms into the sockets before lifting in Urdvha Danurasana. I tried it this morning and it led to increased comfort and lift in my UD.

monsters, second, honest abe

a friend sent me the youtube clip i posted below, which i thought was funny and has some truth to it. however, i did not expect that if enlightenment is like turning the light on, realizing there are monsters and inviting them to a party, that i would face a real life monster on the way to yoga. i heard some screams outside the window as i prepared to leave the apartment. as i descended the elevator i wondered what surprise expected me outside. when i closed the entry door, i noticed a deranged man dangling on a pole. i started to cross the street. the deranged man in a few seconds had run and now was facing me pretending to be a scarecrow that was about to stab me. this is a crazed individual who may think that scaring a stranger at 5:00am in the morning on a desolate street is an amusing social interchange. i certainly did not want to invite this monster to a party. after my initial scared shock, i started to run. when i was sufficiently away, i heard him say "i'm sorry." but that may have been in response to embarrassment on his part that now other people were noticing that something was amiss. needless to say, my practice was jumpy.

teacher's assist in Pasasana served a little like a curative touch. in Bekasana, she suggested that i widen the knees further. i need to remember this next time, because it did make the pose more comfortable. she observed my effort in the second kapotasana, where i made good progress of bending the cervical spine more and getting closer to the feet. i was able to keep the bind in supta vajrasana. i stopped at eka pada sirsasana.

i practiced next to banda girl, legacy rose and moustache blanc. honest abe returned from india, where he practiced with Rolf and Marci Neujokat in Goa, Saraswati and Sharath in Mysore, and then in Keravalam with a teacher from Copenhagen. sorry, i didn't write the name of the teacher. he says his travels reinforced his commitment to this practice. i guess he wouldn't mind me sharing that. the frog photo was taken by mgcgpuk, who also has beautiful pictures of cats in her flickr account. (thank you, M.)

Achieving enlightment

2/25/08

Fancy vegetarian dinner related to work

I volunteered some time on a facility committee for an organization that is planning a building. Dinner took place at Greens Restaurant, an elegant vegetarian restaurant where I enjoyed a couple of glasses of a Californian Chardonnay. The appetizer was a Mediterranean Sampler which included lentils, roasted pepper hummous, spicy tomato jam and olives. My main course was a brochette of grilled vegetables - peppers, mushrooms, yams, cherry tomatoes and marinated tofu, served on pearl couscous with pistachios. The group shared a chocolate truffle tart and a lemon pudding cake with raspberry sherbet. I'm not sure of the calorie count of my meal, but it must have exceeded 800 calories. I hope I can make it to yoga practice in the morning. My mind was making constructs of emailing my teacher to excuse myself for not going to practice. Yikes. We did learn an incredible amount about how to plan for the facility, though, in our round of meetings all afternoon and evening.

2/24/08

wind, mind, practice

it was a windy and rainy morning. the wind battered windows and the trees outside the shala in Berkeley. but it wasn't cold. i practiced half primary to navasana, half second to dwi pada. during the primary portion i kept wondering where my breath was, whether i was loosing its fullness. also during this portion of my practice, i observed that my mind was making many constructs of what the life of a friend is going to be soon when he moves to the middle east to work. he has a wonderful opportunity there that requires he move immediately. i often thought about these things when i was working on a large project there, envisioning what my life would be if i lived there. but it's not me who is moving. the mind sends you on wild trips.
by second series, i had found the breath. i've noticed that to get into pasasana easier, with my body type of big thighs, i can get it better if i don't squat all the way to the floor, but bend the legs and keep the feet on the floor. if i squat, i tilt forwards or backwards. at the point of binding, the soles of the feet get off the floor in my case. not the proper form, but that is what happens. i noticed the strain on my shoulders, particularly the right shoulder, when setting up for bekasana. the shoulders need mobility and strength to push down on the feet in this pose. Springy Sitarist assisted me in keeping a good upward lift in kapotasana. one of his adjustments that helps people get supta vajrasana is to gently move the shoulders back when one is bound, hands grabbing the feet. the shoulder movement allows for the hands to slide across each other in the back, allowing more space to lift the chest so that one can go up and down later. teacher later adjusted in eka pada sirsasana on the left (my tight) side and later helped me get into dwi pada. i felt like a statue in dwi pada, with angeli mudra, cast into a mold for the duration of five long breaths. in assisted dropbacks, teacher emphasized the inward rotation that needs to be occurring in the thighs. i internalized the importance of this. big inward rotation of the thighs help bring the body back up from urdvha danurasana. that inward rotation of the legs in dropbacks was probably the most important lesson today.
i practiced next to The Agent. i had closed my practice by the time he got to tittibasana c. but when i have been fortunate to practice next to him and see him get into this asana, it helps understand how to do it correctly. somehow he does not lose his balance as he pushes his head back and brings the fingers in front of the legs, interlacing the fingers. he illustrates the term "insect posture" very well. as i was preparing to go into savasana, Pink Tulip was doing dropbacks by herself with the comfort that i reach for the bottle of kefir at the bottom of my refrigerator in the mornings. i don't know what i'm saying, except that she does it effortlessly. the image is of an Australian eastern dwarf frog. the photo is taken by Gerard31. he has other beautiful nature photos in his flickr account.

2/23/08

types of yoga, exercises, home practice

i bought this month's yoga journal because in the pull out section for yoga directory, there is a centerfold page entitled "we are family" where the various types of yoga that you find in the united states are named and described. i think it is useful. there is also an article with james higgins, who teaches in san francisco, on practicing at home. on certain saturdays i have taken his led level 2 classes at yogastudio san francisco and his instructions are very knowledgeable and precise. today at home i practiced some of the pelvic exercises from the book by eric franklin, one while seated on a chair, another on the floor resting both sides of the pelvis on rolled towels, contracting and expanding the muscles under the sitting bones. i felt as if the si joint was massaged afterwards. i then practiced a bit of yoga - the standing poses, some yin yoga seated poses, pincha mayurasana and a lot of backbends.

Unusual happenstance with Armani

something unusual happened yesterday. let me set the background for you. recently, Armani, who practices with laksmi in Seattle started blogging. we had left comments on each other's blogs and i wanted to email him offblog to discuss something about my family background as to why i practice calorie restriction. in his reply, on the last paragraph, he mentioned that a few years ago there was a yoga student with a background similar to mine who practiced with him in a shala he visited in Paris, a person then somewhat new to yoga, and was wondering if that was me. oh my god. in a few further exchanges we realized that on June 16 of 2003, we were both standing outside samastitihi yoga studio in Paris, near the Bastille, waiting for the teacher to open. it appears that the time to open was later than what was on the schedule.

i remembered a lot about our conversation, about why he was in Paris at that time, on the way to a wedding, on how he had visited the studio on a previous visit to Paris, but was confused as to whether it was the same place (it was) because they had opened a door to the outside and previously he had to go through a courtyard. he had also related than on his previous visit, he thought he was going to go to practice but was ushered into a workshop by a New Zealand yoga teacher who has the ability to place her hands calmly on the floor and then non-chalantly and effortlessly float into a handstand. when the teacher arrived to the studio in paris, we started practice. armani didn't return that week because of his travel plans and i continued coming to practice there every day for a week. i was new to ashtanga yoga then, because i had started a daily practice in earnest the previous year.

i am sure that these types of stories happen in the ashtanga community, most probably to people who go to mysore, or recognize having practiced with each other before. recently, when Kino MacGreggor and Tim Feldman where in town giving a workshop, i realized that i had practiced across the room in a workshop with Lino in Miami with the owner of the shala at which the workshop was held. she moved here recently from Miami.

the only similar story to this one that happened to me previously was when a few years back i had to go spend a week working on a project with an architectural firm in Monterrey, Mexico, a firm allied to my employer in Texas. Monterrey is where a great aunt of mine moved to with her husband many years ago and established a large family. during my stay in the city i went to visit my great aunt, who was 100 years old at the time and in good health. (she may still be alive). during the visit i found out that the architect who owned the firm in which i was working that week was related to my family - by means of his family having been neighbors of my family and such close friends that the parents in each family were godparents to the kids of the other family. i had come as a stranger to a new city and suddenly found i was related to my hosts.

i'm not as engaging as yogamum in starting a meme, but it would be interesting if people shared in their own blogs, or in the comment section here if they wish, an unusual story about meeting someone in the yoga world or in the work world. do i need to ask more directly? Can you share a story about an unusual happenstance of meeting someone who maybe you had met previously? (and by the way, unplugging the keyboard in my computer and plugging it back in has removed the problem with capitalization, so i will return to capitalization soon. and it seems our blogger service provider has spell-checking capabilities again. yaay.)

2/22/08

famous intuitive spiritual healer

a man was carrying a sign as i was boarding the bus that said "famous intuitive spiritual healer. that spells f.i.s.h. - anyone is entitled to fish for something around here. i wish him happy fishing today. i'll be writing in lowercase, yogi-style until i get a new keyboard. (whenever i have received emails from master yogis, they have been without capitalization.) my keyboard does not allow me to capitalize letters that use the shift key on the left side.


anyhow, seven petal lotus broke down samastitihi today. it reminded me that her teacher, RF (yes, i capitalized that) called this pose "bankers' pose". think of old-tyme bankers with their chests puffed up, standing guard in their lobbies. she had me take a strap, place behind my back, pull it forward, then over the shoulders and back, pulling down with the hands, she explained, as if you were demonstrating putting on an airline emergency flotation jacket. this makes the scapula move downward, the chest move upwards. feet together. the thighs rotate inwards, the moolabhanda is engaged, the pelvis rotates inwards, uddhyana bhanda engages inwards at the stomach. the tailbone presses down. avoid moving the pelvis forward to accomplish all this. that's how samastitihi should feel. so then i took the strap out and at her request engaged the groups of muscles and skeleton as before. wow, the whole exercise felt like a backbend standing right there. awsome.


my practice went slow and deliberate. i had an inner dialog regarding vinyasa transitions going like this - "look you have to do this correctly or you are going to be in pain." so i put what i learned recently about jumpthroughs so that the feet don't touch the ground, avoiding hitting the 5th metatarsals. hopefully i will internalize this and develop strength for what armani calls a "dangly lolasana" and i won't have any more problems with lolita, i mean, lolasana. but all this slows down my practice.


i met fluidmotion today. i thought he was a "wisitor" but when teacher mentioned his name, i realized he practices with us. i could not tell before because i don't wear glasses, but i recognize names when teacher calls them out. he had no trouble moving without stopping in his practice and did the most impressive septu bandasana i have ever seen. it was an all star david swenson-honoring rendition. i commented on it when i saw him after practice. he said it's just another backbend, and that he has more trouble with forward bends. well he was able to come to standing from urdvha danurasana and do dropbacks, so yes, his backbending is very strong. here is an image of a smiling frog from this source. he looks like a buddha. does a frog have buddha nature?

2/21/08

Pelvic book, weight chart, Second

I took the book Pelvic Power, and the two balls I had ordered for the exercises that help the SI-joint to the shala this morning, to ask Seven Petal Lotus if the balls are too big for the exercises in the book. They're 9" in diameter. She suggested that I could fill them up partially, leaving them soft. She does the exercises with a rolled towel. She demonstrated a seated exercise one would do by sitting on a ball on one side, then rotating the pelvis. She recommends doing the exercises about 10 minutes twice a day. It helped her backbends. I showed the book to The Writer and to Snow White.
My weight has increased to 135 pounds, when weighing myself at home. I prefer to be at 130 pounds. At the doctor's office, I would typically weigh about 3 to 4 pounds heavier, and that is the figure that is usually recorded in my medical charts. When I'm lighter, doing asana practice is a breeze. When I'm heavier, practice slows down and is painful. The chart is of my weight since the beginning of the year. It's somewhat trending upwards. I intend to change that. I may refer to it as blubber forecast, because it sounds funny, although I didn't originate that term, LI Ashtangini did. I empathize with her yoga life story.

I practiced Second Series to Ardha Matsyendrasana. Teacher gave a nice push in Prasarita Padottanasana C. In Pasasana with her help I got a super duper hand binding. She also assisted in Kapotasana, which these days I repeat, to get more chest opening. Bringing myself up to vertical from Kapo is improving. In Supta Vajrasana, I kept my binding of hands to feet, but lost it before coming up. In Bharadvajasana, the hand that is not holding the foot, Teacher observed, needs to have the palm flat on the floor.

2/20/08

Blubber, practice, sloth

My blubber forecast is 75% high - dangerous zone. Too many days away from asana practice. Today I practiced half of Primary, and that mainly because I went so sloooow. How's that for a cheerie upper? Friends of Squirrels and Frogs sent some pictures (thanks!). I'm posting one of a three toed sloth, who is shown is protecting its child. I'm feeling somewhat slothful with respect to my practice, so maybe it's appropriate. Is there an asana named after the sloth? Like, maybe, Savasana?

2/19/08

Carl, self analysis, yogurt

Lurker's Amnesty is over at Carl's this week. This self analysis that he is going through made me analyze the recent keyword activity with Stat Counter in my blog. Karen, (0v0), Cranky and others sometimes analyze these and report their curiosity about what people are searching for.

I noticed an inquiry about "does yogurt cause nasal congestion?" made someone land on my blog. Well, yes, it's a dairy product. I'm lactose intolerant and yogurt does not affect me as badly as milk does, but it does cause congestion to me personally. Kefir, which has dairy and cultures in it, does not seem to cause me congestion, so it seems like the best alternative for me.

Someone was searching "jois stick" and landed on my "concepts of guru - notes from a David Swenson workshop" entry. That search entry obviously was a typo, but it rendered a funny result, from the perspective of us yogis. Is SKPJ like a joy stick that guides us?

I'm trying out Karen's title style, by the way, since Vanessa tried it out this week as well. I wonder if the result of the title is a sentence, as in Trees, Meats, Animals? Trees do meet animals, and Pollan would say there is an interdependence between the two species...

2/18/08

Yoga of life

I borrowed these pictures from my aunt (my mom's sister) during the Christmas holiday and asked her if I could put them on my blog. The first one is of her taken in Madrid on September 24, 1967, when my grandfather, who is in the picture, visited her. She and my uncle lived most of their lives in Europe. Her sense of style dazzled.
This is a picture of my maternal grandparents Arturo and Zoraida taken on October 11, 1916, when they were dating. I was named after him. My mom uncannily resembles the image my grandmother portrayed in this picture. Some other time I'll need to find pictures of my paternal grandparents.
OK, so back to practicing yoga tomorrow. I practiced yoga of the heart and spirit yesterday and today, but no asana practice.

Waterfalls at Big Basin Redwoods State Park

While some of my colleagues went skiing during President's Day weekend, I accompanied my architect friend V. to go hiking at Big Basin Redwood State Park, which has several beautiful waterfalls. Here are some pictures he took and shared. You can also visit his Flikcr page for more beautiful photos, such as this one of a sunset. This waterfall is called Golden Cascade: This is Silver Falls:
This one, Berry Creek Falls, is the largest in the park. It drops 65 ft.
This closeup looks like an O'Keefe painting:
This is Berry Creek Falls seen from a trail at a distance:

2/16/08

The new San Francisco Intercontinental Hotel

This week I went on an architectural tour of the new San Francisco Intercontinental Hotel, which will be opening soon. It was designed by Patri Merker Architects; architects of record Hornberger + Worstell Architects. Here are some snapshops. The first one is of the east side of the tower.View looking east from the 32nd floorDetail of floor and bar front at lobby barDetail of stone floor outside restaurant
Carpet outside grand ballroomSide of grand stair seen from the lobby Grand stair to ballroom and meeting room levels Ceiling of meeting room next to jagged curtain wall Meeting room with good daylight
Typical guestroom corridor carpet and lighting
A bathroom in a suite
View from 33rd floor looking north

2/15/08

Jump throughs in seated vinyasas

My post is dedicated to eeyore. I mentioned to Teacher that I was hitting my 5th metatarsal bones in the feet when landing in the vinyasas jumpthroughs. She's a big fan of preparing for that by doing the vinyasa jumpback correctly. The emphasis there is that in the Navasana feet preparation, you lift the legs up close to the stomach, dangle in Lolasana, then shoot the feet back. We practiced that. When returning to seated, the time when I've been sloppy and hitting the sides of the feet, we broke it down. This is important for me to do correctly, because my feet hurt in my shoes when I walk, if I continue to hit the side of the feet. So I made sure the hands were strong on the floor, as if readying to go into a handstand, or into Bakasana B. The bhandas were engaged strongly. Then I bent the legs. She asked me to look at how, when I bent the legs, the thighs where getting closer to the stomach. I should keep that in mind, so that when I jump, I should bring the bent feet close to the stomach. The tailbone is lifting up. Then I jump through. Well, I improved a bit today so that at least I didn't hit the sides of the feet. I would like to do it like Kino MagGreggor does this. She lifts the legs, bent, as if into Bakasana B. She holds it there for a bit, then brings them through the arms, and then extends the feet. At no moment are her feet touching the ground until she has to land. She said it took her a lot of work on building strength to get that. Your arms have to be strong too, to support the bent foot assembly in the air before you extend the legs through.

Another observation Teacher made was that when getting out of the bound feet after Kukutasana, instead of pressing the elbows against the stomach to lift the lotus bound feet up and back and then open them up, the hands should be on either side of the torso. That would help build the strength needed in the bhandas for kicking back. Ay, I used to enjoy this because it was like a preparation for Mayurasana, I even called it Padma Mayurasana, but will do as she suggests. Teacher is wise and kind and I don't question her instructions.

Banda girl, HH, Snow White, Dale Carnegie, Smiling Jim, Legacy Rose, The Cyclist, Surfer Guy, Roy Rogers, Tommy Telomere, QE2, Napa Lilac and others joined us for practice today. I may need a chart some day of who is who, because I may forget what names I'm giving to whom. I mentioned to Surfer Guy in the morning that I wrote about him in my blog yesterday. "Good things, I hope." Yes, I hope I say good things when I speak of others. My writing about him was related to the intuition that after years of practice I guess I'm developing, of how our body types relate to whether we'll have difficulties or ease in doing certain asanas. Some people are more flexible than others, too.

2/14/08

Thursday

Today I practiced Second Series up to Nakrasana. Seven Petal Lotus assisted in Pasasana. In Kapotasana, on the second practice of it I came up slowly but well. I suspect my hands are reaching to about 6 inches from the feet. Teacher assisted in Dwi Pada, which felt good. I did Pincha Mayurasana near the wall, then felt guilty and told her I was sorry to wimp out from doing if in the center of the room. She says that I really can do it in the middle of the room. Yeah, I just give into the fear of falling. Then I did Karandavasana from a three point head stand. Well, I got there after the fourth try today. There she observed that I needed to get the feet straight up before starting to bind them in lotus. Also, I needed to keep the hands about shoulder's width apart. I need to get Pincha Mayurasana really well before attempting to do the Karandavasana feet on the Pincha base.

Surfer Guy did Dwi Pada beautifully by himself. Observing him gave me the insight of how our body types affect our specific practices. If you compare his body to mine, we're about the same height. He is more muscular than I am, with further upper body muscles than mine, and skinnier legs than mine. If we were letters, you could say he's more T-shaped and I'm more J shaped. Sometimes he has trouble keeping the bind of the feet in Supta Vajrasana when going up and down. On most days I'm able to hold that bind, if the blubber meter hasn't gone up. But he can float into handstand, do Dwi Pada, Pincha Mayurasana or Karandavasana with no apparent difficulty, where I experience difficulties.

2/13/08

Tony on how to start calorie restriction

Tony Zamora wrote an entry in his blog about how to start calorie restriction. It is so well and simply written that I'm linking to it here. You know, if all a person manages to do by practicing even a moderate version of calorie restriction is avoid obesity, that is already a great improvement to health.

A lot of readers of this and other yoga blogs are health conscious and disciplined. It takes discipline to practice yoga. The more you do it, the more it spills into other aspects of your life, which include nutrition. That ultimately leads to improved health.

My interest in calorie restriction initially was that it helped me be able to lose a few extra pounds so that I could do yoga better. I was overweight all of my life and prior to doing yoga in earnest I had lost 30 of my adult onset pounds. But I've said that already in this blog. Anyway, as Tony says, tuning your nutrition takes a long time and is a way of life.

Wednesday

Seven Petal Lotus was assisted by Napa Lilac. (This blog is blooming today.) I practiced Second Series to Nakrasana. I think I may need to do half of the standing sequence if I'm going to have the time to do the poses and also do dropbacks. Part of my reason for slowness is that I do Kapotasana twice, so as to open up, Bakasana three times, to practice landing, and a lot of extra warmups before the leg behind the head poses. I suppose it would be an interesting practice to do all of the poses without any extra flourishes or sidetracks. There would probably be excellent flow.

Napa Lilac adjusted in Bekasana by putting a knee at the bottom of the spine and pulling the shoulders back. It felt nice. She observed my Ustrasana and suggested that I keep the legs as vertical as possible, as if the pelvis was against a wall, and to also keep the chest up there as well. I did that and it felt very good, sort of like doing Kapotasana movements in the air.

Seven Petal Lotus adjusted in Kapotasana. I noticed that since returning from Mysore, she now leaves after the hand adjustment, so as to observe how I come up on my own. My coming back up was strong. I made sure before going into the pose that my knees were a shoulder's width apart, and the legs parallel on the mat. I kept to the nagasagri dristhe. I arched back slowly and when I came back up, I did so slowly and in reverse order, the chest and head being the last to come up. That should be common practice, but I think that in most cases, one is in a hurry and wants to lift the head and the chest, but when you do that, the tendency is to collapse in the returning to vertical.

An insight I'm gaining, and this is just my intuition, is that the advice of focusing on the out breath I received on Sunday from Springy Sitarist in a Marichyasana D adjustment seems to apply to a lot of asanas. If I focus on breathing out, doing so almost loudly and -ahem- forcefully, what happens is that psychologically, I don't freak out with fear that I'm not going to have enough air to breathe in. I don't know if that makes sense, but it seems that if you exhale out through your nose loudly, breathing in through the nose is easy. The reverse, to me personally, does not seem easy.

Teacher said that the current practice in Supta Vajrasana is to rest 5 breaths, go up and down 4 times, then rest 5 breaths. I had been going up and down 3 times, then resting. She assisted in Eka Pada on my left side and again on Dwi Pada, asking me at one moment to lower my head then bring it back up. I'm almost, really, almost getting that second leg up there by myself.

In Yoginidrasana, I asked her to review what she said yesterday. Once the legs are behind the head, they need to be pointed, and then, if one is doing this by oneself, with the head one presses the feet to the floor, focuses the dristhe upwards, and presses the arms down (gently) on the thighs. I continued up to Nakrasana, in which she said that the feet need to be together. I felt that I was going slow and steady throughout. The pace was not slow, but it was not fast either. By the way, spellcheck no longer appears to work, so I have no idea if I have mini errors in my writing. I don't know if other bloggers are experiencing the same problem with spellcheck. The image of the lilacs is from this site on English country gardens.

2/12/08

Fasting cleanse question

Since the readers of this blog are health oriented, and some people practice fasting cleanses on occasion, a friend of mine who is an ER nurse in Miami asked me if I would pose this question regarding a cleanse he's been doing. I also posted the question in the calorie restriction list, so I may have some contribution of opinions from that forum. So here it goes:

"For the last 4 months, several of us in our ER have been doing an all natural Liver & Gallbladder Cleanse promoted by Andreas Moritz. The actual cleanse is done once a month for about 6 to 8 months and involves the preparation of drinking 32 oz of apple juice daily prior to the night of the actual cleanse. All of us have felt better digestion and in my case an improvement in the GERD that has plagued me for about 3 years.

What I want to ask, is if people have heard about this and if in fact they find it helpful? I'm a little sceptic and wondering if I'm fooling myself, despite the passage of an incredible amount of stones during the cleanse itself?"

This would be a perfect time to de-lurk and contribute an opinion. Of course, this week the official Lurker Amnesty Week which laskmi started and I hosted for a week has moved from Karen's blog to Yogamum's blog. But you can always de-lurk and share your knowledge. Cheers!

Tuesday

I practiced Second to Yoginidrasana today. The intensity was good. However, I ate ad-libitum over the weekend, so my weight makes me feel as if I had, in the words of LI Ashtangini, extra blubber around me. Hopefully my body will go into ketosis, with my usual diet and with increased energy expenditure. I'm bicycling to work again, now that my apartment is fully in order and the bicycle fits in it. Seven Petal Lotus is back from India. This frog got a good squish in Bekasana (frog pose - he he.) Kapotasana was testy. I forgot to do three up and downs in Supta Vajrasana, shortening it by one. Oops. There's always tomorrow. I hope the ashtangis and ashtanginis getting together in San Diego are having fun.

Yoga peeps are interesting. Among who else would you hear a discusion about the meniscus anterior? I hope mine are as healthy as the hibiscus tropicalis in my mom's garden. But seriously, I need to land more gently in my jumpthroughs, so I don't land so hard on my 5th metatarsals. I seem to hit them hard when landing. The image is from this source.

2/11/08

Mondays

Something I'm pondering today.

  • Why don't I practice on Mondays? Is it useful to ponder that, or should I ask myself, what could I do to coax myself into practicing on Mondays? I have excuses and explanations.
  • My usual excuse is that I'm typically sore on Monday mornings because my practice on Sunday might have been intense. My practice yesterday was not intense and I'm not sore this morning. But I didn't practice and I'm here writing this entry.
  • An explanation is that I don't seem to have rest on Sundays. I go from early morning practice, which involves a lot of public transportation traveling, to preparing my foods for the week, to joining a pan Buddhist group for meditation and lecture or joining the Patanjali Sutra reading group. Some Sundays I might spend a couple of hours in the office if I need to prepare for something. So I'm likely to sleep in on Mondays.
  • I've thought of going in on Mondays and doing a shorter practice. I did that last week and ended not returning until Thursday, because of a moon day and work demands. R. asked me, if I didn't practice on Monday, did I practice on Saturday? Uhm, no, because ashtangis don't practice on Saturdays and I'm way busy on Saturdays doing chores. But maybe I should practice Saturdays, even if it's going to a led class of something.
  • I'm typically doing advanced series poses during the week. Could it be that I'm afraid of doing four continuous days of them, so I rebel? I don't know, but there may be some deep rooted truth to that.
  • Any suggestions on how you all coax yourself on days when you feel you need to practice but you just don't feel like doing so?
The images are from a wonderful site in the UK where you can purchase photographic art of animals. I also love the giraffe one.

2/10/08

Random Sunday musings

Seven Petal Lotus mentioned in an email a few weeks ago how the book, Pelvic Power, by Eric Franklin helped her a lot with SI joint issues and backbending. I received my copy from pilates.com and went ahead and ordered a small diameter exercise ball from Amazon. Actually, I need to order another one, now that I've looked more closely at the exercises. You need two for some of them. Related to that topic, AshtangaNews.com has a wonderful article on the subject of moola bhanda and pelvic health, shared by one of the practitioners in the Mountainview shala. The image above is adapted from a picture of one of their practitioners as well.

I was stiff and a little creaky after a daylong of meditation yesterday. I could have reverted to going back to sleep and not go to practice. But I'm loyal to my teacher and would not have a valid excuse if I didn't show up. I found that if I took little steps, I would advance to getting out of the apartment just fine. I put the yoga gear together and felt better. I prepared the clothes and felt I was progressing. I took a shower and felt ready... I had to play games with my mind so as to not give into negative thoughts.

After I boarded the bus to Berkeley this morning, a 450 lb young man boarded the bus. His style of clothing was one where the belt hangs a foot below the waistline. I wondered what buttons must exist in the shirt to hold the pants up. He had no chin, making his face look like a pyramid. Later, a 350 lb woman boarded the bus, nicely attired in blue pants and orange sweater, for a short distance that she could have walked.

I thought I would share a small anecdotal tip on Ardha Baddha Padmottanasana. When Noah and Kimberly asked practitioners to touch the nose to the knees, or any part of the head to the legs, I thought this would be a long term project. I have learned this week that I can create enough space to get the nose close to the knee. To do this, I have to be slowly pulling back and upwards on the leg that is binding with the foot, in increments while I am slowly bending towards the floor. The point is not to let the binding just get stuck in the first place where it catches the foot, but to be loose and slide over the back, so that you can create enough forward bend to get the head to touch the knee.

Since I had only practiced three days this week, I was really stiff. Also, my diet was not my usual because of the daylong retreat, so my weight was shifting. So I practiced Primary Series only. Springy Sitarist observed very closely during the Janus Sirsasanas and the Marichyasanas. For most of them, I was able to render the full expression of the asana, with head to chin. I still can't do Janus Sirsasana C to its full expression, but I have most of the things in place. I needed help in Marichyasana D. Teacher pulled the wrapping arm way out, so I was able to get a great grip behind the legs, low on the foot. He said I should lengthen and pay attention to the out breath. He assisted also in dropbacks, which were pretty smooth, considering how stiff I was.

I have already made enough observations of unusual fellow transit riders in this post, but on the train back from Berkely there were two people who merit mention. One guy had a mohaw-styled hair, big earlobe-piercing earrings and tatoos on the back of the neck. His friend had short cropped hair, a beard, and earlobes that had been deformed to hold wood ornaments the size of teacup saucers. I thought that he had hurt his chances for employment with that appearance, and wondered what type of plastic surgery would be necessary to revert the deformity should he want to do so in the future. In the 1960s National Geographic used to photograph people in Africa that had the custom of deforming different parts of the facial anatomy. Through westernization, some of those practices have been falling out of favor. So it's unusual to see them being practiced here in the West. At least the guy with the strange earlobes seemed to be a good listener. His friend talked incessantly, and he listened intently. Maybe he could become a psychologist or social worker.

2/9/08

Are pranayama and zazen the same thing?

Are pranayama and zazen the same thing? - asked Karen in a blog entry two days ago. I attended a daylong at Zen Center, although I confess I skipped out just before the afternoon tea around 4:00pm. That was going to be followed by two more walking meditations, zazen, service and dinner. After having already spent 11 hours today in this mode, I needed to get back home. Well, I needed a Jamba Juice. Let me see if I can address her question.

Today is Bodhidharma's birthday. He is said to have brought Buddhism to China from India. He is the one of whom the story is told that one morning, when his meditation was particularly sleepy he cut off his eyelids and threw them on the ground, where upon two tea plants sprouted. (A lot of Zen stories are like that.) In his Wake-up Sermon he said, "Not thinking about anything is Zen. Once you know this, walking, standing or lying down, everything you do is Zen. In The Still Point - A Beginner's Guide to Zen Meditation, John Daido Loori says, "Zazen is sitting Zen - one aspect of Zen. There is also walking Zen, working Zen, laughing Zen, crying Zen."

Accordingly, you could deduce that pranayama is a form of seated Zen, a breathing zazen, a form of zazen. Daido Loori continues, "To study the self is zazen, to forget the self is zazen." To do pranayama, I would add, is zazen. Thanks, Karen, for sharing your introspection. It made me think about these things and investigate them. The image of the zafu and zafuton comes from this online store.

2/8/08

Island Dream Sequence

Two days ago I was having a vivid dream and felt that the alarm clock was rude to wake me from it, since it was alive and significant, or so it seemed at the moment. I was hoping that the next night my dreams would pick up the story and continue it. Often I dream with scenes from my childhood - my family's home (near 1 in the graphic), my parents, or our family ranch (to the right of 2 in the graphic). It is now an estuary owned by the government of the Puerto Rico. It has a historic lighthouse on the property and it is the eastern-most part of the island. The property encloses a bioluminescent bay.

The dream this week related to the Island of Palominos, near 3 in the graphic. Currently, El Conquisador Resort leases it as its beach, and ferries people there from Las Croabas. The image of Palominos, below, is from this website. It appears to be a photo with some graphics added. This is the first I've read that one segment of beach on the north side is clothing optional. It wasn't in my childhood. You can't swim in that part of the island, because it faces the open seas of the Atlantic Ocean.

But I digress. I dreamt that I paddled in a boat towards the shore of Las Cabezas de San Juan, our old family ranch. There I trekked (as I used to when I was a child) to a hotel that had been built in the preserve. I met up with a driver and with a young husband and wife couple. We left the husband in his hotel room and the driver, the woman and I piled into a Fiat convertible and drove on a bridge that had been built that connected the town of Fajardo with the Island of Palominos. The woman was perplexed to find herself in our company and could not understand why her husband was not accompanying us on this journey. We reached Palominos and stopped the car near a beach, except that the car got near the edge of a cliff and started falling towards the water. I helped to push back the car away from the ridge. As I looked back at the island, I realized that there had been too much overbuilding of houses and condominiums. The structures, all painted white, seemed on top of each other, each vying for a view of the ocean.
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I don't know the significance of the dream. People in Puerto Rico complain that there is too much overbuilding going on, that instead of planting trees they are planting concrete. There is no commercially viable reason for which a bridge would be built to connect the town of Fajardo with the nearby keys, at least not in the forseable future. It is possible that an ecological resort could be built in an estuary. I was researching last week and came across a resort being planned in an estuary in the nearby island of St. Thomas. Maybe my dream is a resolution of all of these things running through my mind.

The website of beaches in Puerto Rico is a sight for sore eyes, by the way. It was refreshing to see it earlier today.

Good flow and flipping your dog

The flow of my Primary practice was good today. The attention to the breath was decent, except at the middle of the practice, when I became distracted looking at who was joining us for practice. Ross joined us. It was Leigha's last day with us. Catherine returns on Sunday. Leigha played salsa music. It was very low in volume, so all you could basically hear was the rythmn.

L.N. put some pressure on the foot around which I wrapped in Marichyasana D, and helped me move this leg more vertical. I tried her suggestion of wrapping lower on the knee. If someone pulls my arm, I can do that. But from my seating position, with my big thigh muscles, by myself it's difficult to get it further down and still manage to wrap and grab the arms behind the torso. L.N. suggested that I attempt going further down because as I currently manage to bind tends to put stress on my shoulders. She is probably correct in that, but by myself, it's the best bind I can get.

In Bhuja Pidasana, Teacher asked me to pull the legs in so that they could scoop under the crouched torso. (In the scribble notes I took earlier I called this asana Scuppa Duppa. At that moment I could not remember the name, but I could remember the instruction - scoop under.)

Speaking of flow, this morning as I was reading blogs whose links I've saved to my browser, I came across Rusty Well's site. He teachers Bhakti flow classes at Yoga Tree in the Castro. The class is popular. Rusty came to talk on the yoga yamas and niyamas to the Pan Buddhist group I get together with ocassionally on Sundays. It's a group where people with Mahayana, Zen, Vipasanna and yogic traditions get together for meditation and a talk. This video is of an asana that he calls, "flipping your dog". It reminds me of dance moves.

2/7/08

Practice Thursday

As I was getting ready to start in Samastitihi, with only The Cyclist and I in the room, a sweet newbie entered the room and asked me where the teacher was. I explained that we start on our own at 6:00 and the teacher comes in at 6:45. She said she knew the Surya Namaskaras and had done led classes before but this was her first experience at doing it by herself. She had a sort of nervous excitement that I shared when I was starting. I explained that I've been doing this six years and during the first years, I only saw a teacher once a week and practiced by myself, that she was lucky to have teachers available. I told her she should set up near The Cyclist, since he has a great routine, and more or less follow. Over time, her practice would improve and she would have the chance to attend workshops were she could refine her practice. She had a practice sheet with her. When teacher arrived, after chanting I let her know about her, except it wasn't necessary; she was already walking towards her.

It's funny, but today I actually exchanged names with three fellow practitioners and shaked hands. It's nice, because it's acknowledging them. I mentioned to my Dharma friend that my yoga practice suffered this week. She pointed out that I was doing other things; yes, my meditation setup is ready and I've been meditating daily. So the meditation side of things has progressed, but not the asana part of the practice. I'd like my practice to be like Tommy Telomere's. He's my age, about the same body type and has a really flowing, meditative and strong practice.

Teacher adjusted with the inward rotation of the thigh in Triang Mukha Eka Pada Paschimotanasana that helped me go splat forward, head to chin without effort. Later on, she noticed (for a third time in two weeks) my stopping between asanas to check my fingernails. Before, she waved her fingernails at me so I would stop. Today she did that and added, "Manicure, manicure, are you getting a manicure?". I replied, "I know." I know it's a bad habit. That's a variation of waiting about 2 breaths in between asanas, combing my hear, wiping the sweat off my brow with a towel. Bad man. This is the reason I like doing advanced series. The demand is so serious, the heart beats faster, that I have to really concentrate on the breath. When the attention is on the breath, these mini breaks don't happen. They also don't happen when I have been practicing several days in a row. But this week my practice was weak.

2/6/08

I choose love video

In this world hate never yet dispelled hate. Only love dispels hate. This is the law, ancient and inexhaustible - Buddha


2/5/08

Lost scenes from the Sound of Music, a dream sequence

Owl lady this is for you. I'm organizing my books, realizing what a complex person I am - interests ranging from architecture, to art, to business, to yoga, to nutrition, to travel, to Buddhism, to philosophy, to 16th century mysticism. Well actually, that's the list. Maybe I'm not so complex after all. So I came across a book in which I wrote my dreams in 2002. Back then I lived in the same town as a well known psychiatrist who is into Jungian dream analysis. We became friends. He would have me read psychobiographies of famous people and then we would discuss them weekly. He had me write my dreams. I came across one that is amusing, particularly in view that my niece included a song from the Sound of Music in her wedding ceremony.

In the dream, I stopped at a restaurant and visited with my cousin. She described watching a video made by Julie Andrews at the time of the filming of the Sound of Music. I watched it also. It contained scenes that were cut out from the final movie. One scene was a bedroom scene in which the kids were waiting for a visit from their dad, the Captain, who had the habit of pinching his kid's toes with a needle nightly. Another scene showed Julie (Maria) practicing for her wedding ceremony. Her maid of honor was a 300lb black woman. A woman in the chorus was singing in falsetto trying to imitate a child singing. The maid of honor told her she would sound more natural not singing in falsetto but just in her normal voice. Then Julie launched into her scene, waltzing in a wedding dress and singing. The scene brought tears to my eyes. I saw the star presence; how from one moment when banter was going on, there was dullness, but when she took over the scene, it was glorious, with beautiful acting and singing.

The point of writing my dreams was to analyze what they meant. I do not remember discussing what the dream I just mentioned meant. There were other dreams so vivid that I still remember them and I still remember their significance. They happened at junctures in my life. And they usually included the participation of the younger of my two sisters, who understands me really well. She's sort of a person to whom you cannot feed any BS. She's really down to earth. The significance of her frequent appearance in those dreams, said my friend, was probably that her understanding demeanor had a calming effect on me. The image is of the Strawberry poison dart frog, which carry their tadpoles to bromeliads to protect them. It's from this source.

(0v0) I would be interested in your widget that controls you from rambling into too much esoteric stuff. I didn't write about yoga today, because, frankly, due to a deadline and three other commitments, I needed to get to the office early. I meditated in my newly installed zafu, zafuton and tatami mat in the morning, got ready, and then faced my alarming voting experience, which I'm happy is past me now.

Voting problems

When I showed up to the polling place to vote this morning in the Civic Center area of San Francisco, there was a group of disgruntled fellow voters. The person in charge of the polling place had not connected the machine that registers electronically the entries that people make into voting cards. The only thing the polling place was accepting was absentee votes and provisional votes, all placed on a box on the floor. One person told me that he was 45 years old, had never voted in his life, had registered to vote and now felt that he was not being allowed to do so. A few of us left and went to a different polling place. There I surrendered my absentee ballot and voted provisionally. Later on I met with a group of people holding up signs for Obama, and asked her about whether provisional votes count. She says that they do. They first count the electronic ones, wait, then count the provisional ones. That made me feel better.

I don't know how I fell for a news article a year and a half ago that touted the benefits and convenience of voting absentee. After accepting that, I went to surrender my ballot each time I voted anyway. I may have read that absentee votes are counted in the case of a recount, but I'm not sure. They sure don't leave you with the feeling that you voted and had your individual voice heard. Since last November I have been trying to change my voter registration so that I don't receive absentee voting ballots. I am going to make sure that this changes by November.

I feel for the people who were upset at not being able to vote. I called the police regarding the incident at the polling place. After a wait, I was told that this should be reported to the local voter registration area. I called a television news room to report the situation. Then I called the local office of the department of elections to report the problem. I hope my blog is not punished for speaking up.

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Since I first wrote this blog entry, I went back to the polling place at lunch and by now everything seemed to be in working order. Thank God that other people can now vote. Why couldn't there have been better planning in place so that it would not have to take calling so many authorities to get things resolved?

2/4/08

Lurker Amnesty Week at CYT, Day 7

This is the 7th and last day of Lurker's Amnesty at this blog. Thanks to all who commented during the week. It's appropriate I should conclude the exercise with an image of El Coqui, the frog of Puerto Rico. The image is from this source. I will bring back this mascot with the image of the Puerto Rican flag and fortress of El Morro in Old San Juan on the day I come up to standing in Urdvha Danurasana by myself. Lurker's Amenesty Week next moves to Karen's blog, donutszenmom. Go ahead an give Karen some love.

Today's practice was short, so that I could get back to the office early to complete a project. I did standing sequence, seated sequence to Janus Sirsasana A, then bridge with a bolster (Teacher's recommendation) and closing sequence. Ironman joined us for practice. And HH seems to come regularly, so he's no longer a "wisitor".

I commented to my Dharma friend that during the service on Saturday at Zen Center they prayed for a few people. They change the chants when they do that, chanting the Loving Kindness Meditation. There are different translations of that chant, but the one in the chant book at Zen Center has two lines that bothers me. One line says, "Let one not take upon oneself the burden of riches." I know what that means. If you overwork to pay for too many possessions, it's stressful and a burden. The other line says, "Let no one desire great possessions even for one's family." I crossed that one out and placed the line "Wealth is not loved for it's own sake, but because the Self lives in it" - something I read in a book by a famous yogini.

Mentioning my problem with the second line led to an explanation by my Dharma friend, that family in this case is meant to be an extension of oneself. One should desire great things for the entire world, not just for oneself and one's family, the extension of oneself. But what about the possessions part, I asked her. If my family wants to have great possessions, why am I not going to let them have them? She replied that what is meant is not a Christian view of punishment for desiring great things. That would trip you. It's okay to desire great things. If good fortune brings you money, you can do a lot of good with it. You can invite friends out to dinner; you can buy products that help the environment. What is imporant is the intention with which you desire these things. You can have the wrong intention in doing a yoga asana and hurt yourself. Having the right intention is key.

2/3/08

Lurker Amnesty Week at CYT, Day 6

I don't have any notes on my yoga practice to post because I overslept this morning. I used a nasal spray to abate a congestion and it had the effect of making me oversleep. I may go later today to a led class somewhere. So the only observations I would bring forth was that as I was walking to my office at the busiest time for shoppers, under heavy rain yesterday afternoon, the wind blew up one of the canvas canopies over the new Barney's store display, dumping about five buckets of water instantly on the sidewalk. The couple walking in front of me missed it by one minute, which was good, because they had no umbrella. It made a lot of us, including the couple, laugh hartily. Then a big inflated blob of pink plastic shoved all of us off the sidewalk. We looked back and realized that it was a small lady carrying a pink umbrella. Because of her size, it was like an armor pushing anyone around her aside. That brought another hearty laugh.


The image above is of Ganesh, from this site, and the image below is of an oceanside cabin in Mendocino, California that you can rent called Frogs Leap. Looks like a set for a romantic movie, a place for good friends to gather and spend a holiday, or a place to stay at while writing a book. And by the way, spellchecker has not been working for a few days, so hopefully my grammar is good. Happy Superbowl, should I say? It's in Phoenix, right? The hotel our firm is completing there is in the area being roped off for big block parties. So it may appear in the background. During one of the Superbowls in Miami, my aunt and cousins decided to have dinner with me in Miami Beach on Lincoln Road. I lived there at the time. After dinner, one of my cousins wanted to drive through Ocean Drive to see the neon lit art decco hotels. That was a bad decision. The superbowl had just ended and everyone headed to Miami Beach to party. We were gridlocked in a car for about an hour and a half while crazily clad and drunk partiers streamed in and dripped through the streets in gaudy finery. (0v0) is this what you mean by the blog writing itself? I seem to have nothing to say, so I'm sharing stories. Tomorrow we'll return you to the usually scheduled program.


2/2/08

The Vitamins needed are (E)xercise and (D)iet

A study in Harvard's Men's Health Watch (December 2007, PMID: 18225334) suggest that for avoidance of cancer and heart disease, exercise and diet are more important than supplements. As always I am thinking of how this relates to the asana part of yoga practice, the one involving physical activity. The study goes on to compare how exercise and diet compare to supplements on other health issues.
  1. Muscles and bones. Vitamin D has a role in protecting neuromuscular function, but the remainder of vitamins don't help with muscles. To protect from osteopenia, or low calcium in bones, medical groups recommend consuming 800 IU of Vitaming D and 1,000 mg of calcium before age 50, 1,200 mg of calcium after age 50. The average person may require supplements to reach these goals. Men should limit their intake of calcium to 1,200 mg or they can be at risk of prostate cancer. Exercise has an important role in musculoskeletal health. Weightbearing exercises are particularly important for bone health.
  2. Psychological disorders. There is no credible evidence that supplements can protect against dementia or cognitive impairement. St. John's Wort may promote a mild improvement against depression. Exercise promotes connectinons between cells. It also helps fight depression, promote sleep and diminish stress.
  3. Obesity and diabetes. Chromium may improve sugar metabolism, but exercise burns calories and lowers blood sugar levels. "Good nutrition is more than a supplement, it's the natural partner of exercise. Together, they are the hand-and-glove of prevention and good health."
  4. Arthritis. Glucosamine may partially reduce the pain of arthritis for some, but exercise helps cartilage cells get nutrients from joint fluid. Baring an accident, exercise does not cause joint pain.
  5. Infections. Neither exercise nor supplements live up to hype. Vitamin C, Echinacea and Zinc are touted to prevent upper respiratory infections. But none of the claims stand to careful scientific scrutiny. Vitamin E actually increases susceptibility to colds.
  6. Vision. There is no benefit to exercise here, but an age related vision study has shown that a daily supplement containing 500 mg of Vitamin C, 400 IU of Vitamin E, 5 mg of Beta Carotene, 80 mg of Zinc and 2 mg of Copper can reduce progression to a severe age-related mascular disease by 25%.
  7. Anemia. There is no role for exercise here but supplements don't help either. Vegetarians and people who have had gastric bypass surgery need to supplement with Vitamin B12. Iron can help prevent Iron defficiency in menstruating women. (In my anectodal experience, supplementing Iron helps me avoid anemia.)
  8. Energy and sexuality. This is another area where supplementation does not help, the study states. (A reader of this blog who practices Chinese medicine comments that Chinese herbs and Selenium and Magnesium are believed to increase libido, help sperm count and motility.) Exercise boosts energy. Moderate exercise can help restore sexual performance in obese middle age men with erectyle disfuncion.
  9. Aging and longevity. Supplements don't have merit here. Exercise can slow the rate of change in the body and regular exercise prolongs life.

Studies conducted at Harvard calculate that you will gain about two hours of health expectancy for each hour of regular exercise, regardless if you start exercising in middle age. (Again from my andectodal experience, my dad credits his longevity to my exorting him to exercise when he was middle aged. He has survived cardiovascular disease also with the help of exercise and diet.) Even 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily will have benefits.

Conclusion. Exercise is better for health than supplements. The supplements that make sense are Vitamin D, fish oil (DHEA) to protect against heart disease and B12. I realize that some vegetarians will object to consuming fish oils and their spiritual practices may forbid them from doing so. People in the nutrition list, including vegetarians, are of the opinion that it is sensible to consume a minimum of products that come from animals, if it is necessary for health. It is not possible to get DHEA from vegetarian sources. The best suplement is not a pill, but good nutrition. The "vitamins" are (E)xercise and (D)iet.

Lurker Amnesty Week at CYT, Day 5

Today is Saturday, so not ashtanga practice. I'm sitting in meditation like the frog in the picture. The photo is by Michael Oberman, who has a beautiful collection of photos from nature in Flickr. I went to meditation and service at SF Zen Center. I noticed that two practioners in front of me were wearing red robes. They contrasted with the black robes most monks wear at City Center. Later in the morning, when I was returning from doing groceries I met with the pair, a husband and wife from England. They said they belonged to a Zen group in the UK which traces its lineage to Japan, as does the San Francisco Zen Center's Zoto Zen lineage. In the UK they decided to wear red robes so as to distinguish themselves from Christian clergy and because red is an auspicious color. In Japan monks of their particular lineage wear black.

Since I had seen many robes that morning, it did not seem too strange when a robed man boarded the bus I took to do groceries. Upon closer look, though, the man was wearing a long skirt over a t-shirt, with a hooded cape over that and a purple purse. His head was shaven, but he had a ponytailed clump of hair on the side of the head over the ear. The ear had tatoos around it. He had a goatee and a cane. San Franciscan bus riders are typically well manered in buses, but a few of us felt midly repulsed by the strangeness of this person. He caused a mild rauckus when someone offered him a seat and as he was approaching it an Asian lady quickly jumped in front of him and took the seat. His loud complaint caused her to jump out, claiming she had not seen him.

At Whole Foods I sat to eat my Saturday morning snack next to someone who was drinking raw milk. It was packaged in a container resembling a mid-sized package of Clorox. I thought it was illegal to sell unpasteurized milk so I asked him about it. The man said there was an ongoing debate about raw milk but that they sell it there. I spent the time while waiting for the laundry summarizing an article on exercise, diet and supplementation, which will appear when I have time to type it in.

2/1/08

Lurker Amnesty Week at CYT, Day 4

It's been interesting to hear from lurkers. My own brother and SIL said hi, and a reader in Washington sent a beautiful photo. Today's photo is of three pet frogs of a lady named Beth. Here is her website. It's interesting that Beth is fascinated by cementeries. They can be peaceful places. Today Leigha was playing harp music while we practiced yoga at YSSF. I reflected on how at times I thought I was in heaven and at other times I thought I was in a resort on the Mexican Riviera. Is heaven like the Mexican Riviera? Below is the Mexican flag.

I think the music had a great effect. I never before saw so many people coming up to standing from Urdvha Danurasana, then dropping back unassisted and coming back up. It was like daffodils falling from the weight of rain, then springing back up as water evaporated. I mean, Periwinkle Petals has gotten this so well down that Leigha had her doing Viparita Chakrasana, sometimes called by Boodiba Do Si Do. I don't know why they call that Do Si Do in NYC. Is it a musical note reference, jumping on the piano from Do to Si and back to Do? Leigha had another yogini doing Viparita Chakrasana where we got to understand how she breaks it down for a student to understand it. It starts with a handstand. Then with control you arch the body forward to the floor and land in Urdvha Danurasana, then you continue and come up to standing. Teacher Lizzie is very strong at this and does it fast and smoothly.

The only comment I received today during practice was that when wrapping around my knee for Marichyasana D, I need to get the arm much lower below the knee. If I don't, it tends to whack my shoulder.

Cody asked which translations of The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali we're reading in our group. I looked them up in Amazon to compile this list, but I think it's pretty accurate with respect to which ones we are reading. I recognize the names because I saw the covers last Sunday.
  • Translation by Alistair Shearer, 1982
  • Commentary on the Raja Yoga Sutras by Sri Swami Satchidananda, 1990
  • Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: With Great Respect and Love by Mukunda Stiles, 2001 (ordered but not received)
  • Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by B.K.S. Iyengar, 2003
  • Translation by Reverend Jaganath Carrera , 2006
  • Translation by Swami Vivekananda, 2007

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