4/29/08

Shortee

My practice was super short today; I was helping a friend, giving him opinions on a vacation house he wants to build in The Phillipines, so that consumed my time at home. I should be back on the mat tomorrow. My thighs are very sore from the new way to do dropbacks I learned on Sunday. CRON-wise, I think I got off track as well during the weekend and need to re-direct my nutrition efforts.

4/27/08

Mysore in Mountainview today

There are no early morning trains to Mountainview on weekends, so I lucked out that R., who first taught me mysore style practice around 2002 BB (before blogging) has been working on a project near the studio and I went Saturday and crashed at his place. Being good yogis, we did what everyone would do on a Saturday, practice dropbacks on the wall - Matthew Sweeney-style - bouncing the palms on the wall. Exhaling going back, inhaling coming back up. When the hands reach to the back wall at the level of your hips, that is the moment when you're ready to drop to the floor. I also took the 4" exercise balls and did some exercises from Eric Franklin's book. Doesn't everyone do this on Saturdays?

OK, so we showed up at YIY to practice in Lino's room. I started practicing. Boy, the temperature felt quite hot. I asked myself if Floatation device had flown in from Seattle and was practicing next to me. Eeyore was across from me, practicing energetically, somehow not seeming ragged at all after the full vinyasa deal yesterday.

OK, so R. had gone to Lino's adjustment workshop yesterday. (I had been to two with him in the past - you gain a lot of insight into the practice - he's a great teacher.) R. told me that Lino didn't like this half and half routine - half first, half second, because that's not how he learned it. However, he received a letter from one of his students, R. said, that said, "Lino, I have a job, a wife and three kids, I don't have three hours to do first then second, so I have to cut the practice time." OK dokey, so what should I practice today in front of him, I asked R. Half and half is my usual practice on Sunday, and the creamer on my coffee. I decided I should do what I normally do on Sundays - the halfsies. So, I'm not too surprised at the resulting comments. Mind you, if I went to Kovalam to practice with him for an extended time, or to Mysore to practice with the Family, I would do only Primary, until advanced to Intermediate.

I learned to do Parivrtta Parsva Konasana the traditional way. Then SPL, noticing I wasn't crossing the arm over the knee sufficiently, had me do something that Karen said Celeste also instructs in Kuala Lumpur. You kneel on the floor so you can get the arm way over the knee. I guess I've researched that enough. Maestro's first comment about my rendition of the asana was that I wasn't getting the feet sufficiently wide apart. Then he said I should not kneel on the floor, but push, push, push on the bent knee. If I didn't push, the knee would be straight, which is bad form. After pushing, then I could twist and get the arm over the knee. OK dokey. During Prasaritta Paddotanasana C, I know he would want me to get the head to the floor, which means, with my anatomy, getting the feet wider apart, which means occasional pain on the inside of the thigh muscles. Wuff, I managed to get through that one by me-self.

OK, so after Navasana I started with Pasasana. Uhm-hum, yea. By myself, unawares that I was being observed, though. He he. I also did the ones that followed, all the way to Kapotasana, at which point Maestro asked me if I had done Laghu Vajrasana. Uhm, yes, but I did it again. Oh, but the head needed to touch the floor. See, 25 clumps of hair grazing the mat is not the head to the floor. I did it again, and kind of lost the coming back up part. Kapotasana was a struggle. Guess what that meant? That though I set up for Supta Vajrasana, I needed a heart to heart. My Pasasana is not happening, neither is Laghu Vajrasana nor Kapotasana. I'm jumping poses. Have I done dropbacks by myself? Uhm, no. He was alarmed at that. I smiled and said, with an expression of embarrassment, that it's been four years and I still have not done dropbacks by myself. I think he remembers. He says I can do it and that I should do it, otherwise I will keep doing Kapotasana with fear. I have the strength. (That is a great insight, IMO, about why dropbacks are important.) So I stopped and moved to Urdvha Danurasanas.

He watched me prepare for dropbacks with feet aligned. He thought it was better if for now I forget about the foot alignment, and just work on the dropping back portion. So he said to open the fee as wide as the mat, feet pointing out, and bend the legs way way down. (It really looks like preparing to dance the Limbo.) Hang the arms and touch the calves. (This helps get you rlow and over the fear of falling back. Whatever helps to get you to drop back.) Then straighten the hands to brace the fall to the floor. He had me do that three times, assisting me to get back up. Then he had me do three short ones, exhaling down, inhaling coming up, and then a long one, five breaths down on the floor, coming back up. He said that I can practice with a bench on the back, or on the wall, but if I don't learn to bend appropriately, I'm going to hit my head on the floor. (I'm feel a nervous laugh surging as I write - it's all true.) (In the afternoon I discussed this with Snow White and she said she learned difficult things such as Viparita Chakrasasana by having blocks covered with a lot of blankets, or by practicing against a small stage, which practice rooms sometimes have. She suggested that maybe I could practice dropping back to the bed, then to a chair, to a stool, to a low bench, etc. Probably it's better not to fall back to the wall, because you might not get enough lift and arch going and you could be forever practicing that. But falling onto an objece such as a foot rest might make sense - well assuming it's held in place.)

After practice I gave Maestro and his assistant hugs. I greeted B. and R., met M. who was talking to Eeyore. Eeyore, R. and I went for coffee nearby and shared some good stories. We talked about our wonderful cybershalamates. Yes, you, you - our wonderful friends. LOL. My insights into all this? Yes, I should work to get my Pasasana, and Laghu and Kapo in good form, but in my home practice IT thinks I should not stop there, but, ahem, research the other poses as well. However, this dropback thing has to happen. The fear of it has to go away. Now I'm off to a Patanjali Sutra reading. I don't know where I'm getting the energy. I know where I'm getting the energy.

4/26/08

zombie's beverage

I put the clothes in the washer at 6:00am this morning and headed for the corner 24 hour donut shop for coffee and croissant. Not being fully awake, and thinking the attendant would remember what I usually ordered, I fumbled, "Could I have a s o y e e m i l k . . . l a ?" "Do you want a soy milk?", asked the attendant. Thinking I would be getting my usual soy milk latte, I nodded. After paying and tipping, I greedily grabbed the croissant and started munching. I received the steamed drink and added two artificial sweetener packets. The drink looked quite white but my brain didn't register. When I got back to the laundry and started drinking I realized I had just been served steamed soy milk. LOL. I wasn't going to go back in a huff. The attendants there are more social workers than service industry employees. Just before I left they received some abuse from a woman who ordered a tuxedo. She wanted to pay with an ATM card in a cash only establishment. She ridiculed the attendant for not knowing what a tuxedo is. Well, I'll be, I don't know what a tuxedo is either, other than formal clothes you wear. I haven't heard it used in reference to food. Food establishments have menus to describe what they offer, and tuxedo is not on this establishment's menu. However, I noticed in the menu that you can get a special of grilled cheese sandwich, chips and broccoli soup - how American is that? Kind of high in fat, but other than pizza and cheeseburger, you can't get something more typical than that in these parts.

Festival in Manila

My friend Jessica took some pictures of a Festival in Manila. It might be a religious festival in honor of the Virgin Mary, Nuestra Senora de La Candaria. She gave me permission to blab about it. See the froggy costumes?
Funny sign. It means a person who rents a room, usually in a house near a school. Good message. Precious little girl. She might be the princess of the parade.
Possibly the only way to imagine snow in the Philippines?
Proud papa (and uncle and mama...)

4/25/08

Second, views, nutrition

For today's practice IT (Internal Teacher) suggested Second, so I practiced it up to Eka Pada Sirsasana. What insights did I observe? That sometimes my body movements flowed and my energy and mind just felt like they were going along on a fun ride. Monkey mind did not bother me. Most of yesterday - day and evening, my mind was in a productive, reflective state, strong without wavering. But any insights on the practice itself? Well, the warm up exercises help wake up the bandhas and warm up the back, major muscle groups and pelvic area. I imagine that just starting the practice without warm ups may be more traditional, but I get benefit from these passive warm ups. But how about insights on the asanas? No. The observations there are really subtle, such as noticing the body responding, noticing that the body remembers an asana it has done so many years, noticing that the body knows what the hip socket is supposed to do for a leg behind the head pose. Bla bla bla.

I guess I haven't mentioned anything regarding Nutrition and CR lately. Well, I could recirculate two things that Dr. Al Pater shared recently. One an article on CR and longevity in the popular press. It is titled "Longevity quest moves slowly from lab to life". It seems to be well researched and you can view it here. And since I'm nuts about nuts, an interview with a nutritionist who is super chirpy in describing the nutritional benefits of nuts.

4/24/08

The San Francisco experience and IT

Hi everyone. When you come to this blog, maybe think of it as visiting San Francisco. You might be entertained, you might see beautiful scenic things, but like the problem with the homeless that will acost you at almost every corner, you might be pestered by a pop-under mallware that seems attached to the blog. I don't know, maybe the bots like the blog. So visiting here might feel like going to visit an old friend that when you press her garment when giving her a hug, there may some moths that fly off her purse. I don't see these nasties anymore, after running spybot software, but people are experiencing them at their end. I don't think it's those cute widgets on the right side, they have been there for a long while. So before talking about this on my blog becomes too routine, such as when you visit people's blogs and people are constantly saying, "sorry I haven't written in a while; I've been busy," I may just not talk about it any more and do what I can to remove old links from the blog, when I can. Just throw some patient loving kindness my way when visiting.

Practice, of Primary, was good. Maybe Maestro Lino was on my mind. My Inner Teacher (IT for short) told me to practice Primary. It was very nice. OK, gotta go to work. Cheers.

Happy Birthday, Alfia

Happy Birthday Alfia. Sorry if this jolly message greets you with a pop-under. LOL. The bots have left my computer, but apparently they're greeting others. Nice picture of Alfia in her blog.

4/23/08

Hai PPL, Im not LOL

In case pesky pop-unders are showing up on your computer when viewing my blog, just casually like the proliferation of abbreviated English in the net, I ran a spybot repair software that our service provided recommended and it removed about 165 bots that had attached itself to my computer. I could not view anything unusual in the code of the blog, so the mallware or spyware must have been somewhere else. I thought the problem was resolved, but apparently there might be a link in the blog that has links to mallware offering things such as online slots machines. Oh well, repairing this feels a bit like the effort of climbing a mountain, or a building. Speaking of which, did you check out the lithe French climber that yesterday climbed a high rise in Hong Kong? Maybe the repetition of the curtain wall elements gives him a hand or foothold. I don't think you could do this on Gehry's Bilbao Museum too easily.
I have something, as Eeyore would say, to thank the power of Ganesh for. I'm planning to practice mysore style on Sunday with Lino during his gig in Mountainview. Reinaldo, one of my first teachers in Florida, who is working on a project in the area plans to attend and is offering me a ride. Eeyore is lucky to be practicing there the whole week.

The image of Ganesh from this site, where it is explained that the different names for Ganesh are lord of meditation, destroyer of all obstacles and impairments, lover of beauty, lord of all. Many of my teachers have placed a statue of him in the practice rooms. There is a tradition of carrying a statue of him when embarking on a journey. How did he get his elephant head? It appears to have been due to lack of communication between a wife, about to take a bath, and her husband...

4/22/08

Second to Dwi, and musings on yesterday

Strong and meditative practice at home today of Second Series to Dwi Pada. My challenging poses, Kapo and Dwi still challenge me. I used the tatami mat for Supta Vajarasana for pressure on the thighs and, eventually, a rolled mat behind my back. It was difficult to manage. I think it's easier to just use the rolled mat behind the back.

I did passive stretches for warm up prior to starting, including some of the pelvic exercise with small 3" balls. In my home practice I'm going to try this routine of the first half of Second one day, the second half of Second the following day, starting from Eka Pada, that way I can get to the 7 head stands. One thing psycho-emotionally that I like about this is that I start with Eka Pada, past the fear of Kapo.

Last week, the day I practiced the 7 head stands I felt sleepy during the day. Not the kind of sleepiness that makes you feel like you're going to pass out, but just a general calm sleepy feeling. I had to drink a lot of coffee that day. Today, if a thought occurred, I used the Vipassana method of meditation of recognizing a thought, such as by thinking, "oh, a planning thought." The problem yesterday was that I engaged the thoughts, and at one point went to cut my nails. It was all downhill from there. I will say, though, that because I really gave an effort to UD yesterday, I really felt it in my hips and pelvic area, as if this area needed opening to allow UD to happen better.

4/21/08

How not to be angry with ourselves

The recognition of sacredness comes from developing a basic sense of gentleness towards ourselves, so that the irritation of being stuck with oneself is taken away. When that kind of friendliness to oneself has occurred, then one also develops friendliness towards the rest of the world, at the same time. At that point, sadness, loneliness, and wretchedness begin to dissipate. We begin to develop a sense of humor. We don't get so pissed off if we have a bad cup of coffee in the morning. A natural sense of dignity begins to occur.

The Everyday Wisdom of Chogyam Trungpa: 365 Teachings on Living Life with Courage and Compassion.
--------------------------------
This is for Aubrey, although I don't know if he reads my blog. My wise friend Albert shared this today, and since I brought the subject of compassion for ourselves last week, it's kind of nice to see a master addressing it.

virtual teachers and owl

Maybe Laksmi Vimalanda or Bindi are inspiring this silliness. Or maybe it's serious. I went to Goodwill to see if I'd find a gently used GI Joe and Barbie to act as my virtual teachers. No luck. Taking the subway to the humongous mall downtown, I was surprised that I could not find a toy store there. Since FAO Schwartz closed its store, I'm not sure if there are any toy stores left downtown, except for Disney's Store. However at Borders I found some squishy figures that could serve the purpose. So here are virtual Seven Petal Lotus, who is actually holding 10 petals, Springy Sitarist, who is missing a sitar, and because she was next to them at Borders, Owl Lady. (Do you see Owl's cap and diploma?) They're all perched on the bookshelf watching my practice, near a box with a Taj Majal engraving, a gift someone brought me from India. Owl will inspire me to practice Third Series.

At least today their presence warmed my heart; however, the practice was short. At one time I said to myself that if the practice was going to be short, I would at least put extra intention on attempting to coming up to standing in Urdvha Danurasana. I actually got a a very good lift.
Maybe during a week that Lax is planning to practice at her shala she can send virtual Diver to fly first class to SF, via Fedex jets, or course, for a week of instruction over here. And maybe virtual Carl LeFlanq and virtual Boodi want to practice in San Francisco during that time. My place is small, but there might be enough place for all of us.

4/20/08

Practiced at the shala

I went to YSSF for practice this morning, doing half of Primary and half of Second to Dwi Pada. I practiced with familiar shalamates - The Cyclist, Smiling Jim, Snow White, Periwinkle Petals, The Tank, QE2, Marin Man and others. Snow White practiced about 4 days with Peter Sanson in Berkeley during his 2 week intensive there. I had seriously given thought to going at least on Friday to Berkeley, then chickened out because I did not want to show up for work at 9:45am when I'm typically there at 9:00am.

Today's practice was meditative. Seven Petal Lotus moved gracefully about the room, dispensing adjustments. When assisting me in Uttita Hasta Padangustasna B, she mentioned that on the foot of the extended leg, the thigh muscles should be rotating outwards and downward. I imagine that helps open up the muscles around the torquetenor major. I pay attention to advice like that. A few months ago, on the final part of this asana, when the foot is extended by itself, she mentioned that one should think of the muscles of the entire leg rotating in a spiral. That is good advice, even from a structural perspective - the rotation helps strengthen the muscles to enable the lift.

Kapotasana was good. I've been taking my time hovering before touching the floor, so as to open up the thoracic. Teacher helped there. I was surprised to keep my hold throughout Supta Vajrasana, because I'm weighing 135 and I had not been assisted in this asana in a few weeks.

On the way to the shala I was reflecting on how I'm saving $100 monthly by not continuing my membership there. I spend another $100 on yoga by going to Berkeley on Sundays, between class fee and public transportation. I asked myself why I would not stop going to that class instead, that way I could at least go any day to the shala in SF. Well, that is like being given Sophie's choice. I love both of my teachers. I just think I'll go to YSSF when I can as a drop-in student, and to Berkeley on Sundays. Life is too complicated to be worrying.

4/19/08

Garland of experiences

This morning while doing laundry, which is when I do my best reading or writing, I continued reading Thich Nant Hanh's Opening the Heart of the Cosmos - Insights on the Lotus Sutra. He says the Lotus Sutra is the basis of Buddhism because it adeptly unifies all the traditions of Buddhism - Mahayanan, Teravadan, Tibetan, Zen, Jainism, etc. Continuing as if in an interconnected garland of thoughts, Rev. Robert Thomas decided for his Dharma talk at Zen Center to talk on the on the Heart Sutra, which a wise man once told him was the fundamental sutra of Buddhism. I'm not a scholar at this, but I believe Robert was talking about the same sutra, because that is how the sutra may be called in Zen. The message of the sutra is that by sitting in meditation you reach enlightenment. All of the past and future events are contained in the present. You can change how you view the past by changing your present. The future is contained in the seeds of our present. Our actions are wisdom seeking wisdom. Someone asked him whether wisdom could be sought in drugs and alcohol. After some thought, Steve responded that you might consider using drugs or alcohol with the aim to pursue wisdom, but it would be wise to arrive at deciding not to pursue that method in order to attain enlightenment. From further ideas Robert presented I got the message to take care of the present, because it contains the seed of the outcomes in the future. These are calming thoughts in these times when we're fretting about the economy, our nation, our careers, etc. The lotus flower image is from Michael Schubart's weblog.

4/18/08

fat cat


"This cat that does not want to know how many calories are in Starbucks." I found it in Mary's blog.

blah blah blah

Early wake up
While eating breakfast, uplifted by the cheerful pictures in Bindifry's blog
Burn incense
Shower
Unroll mat
Body mind not cooperative
Mind doing too much planning
Standing sequence
Seated meditation
Savasana
Woke up remembering the phone ring of an electrical contractor: "blah blah blah"
Yeah, blah blah blah
Ohmm

4/17/08

second to seven, and caracol festival picture

As expected, due to having walked in excess of 6 miles the day before, yesterday I woke up a bit late and did a short practice of standing and closing sequence poses. Today I ventured into crim territory. I woke up an hour earlier so that I could be finished with practice in time to meet colleagues to visit a finished wood supplier. So I practiced Second, starting at Eka Pada Sirsasana, up to the Seven Head Stands. I managed to get myself into Dwi Pada by leaning a bit on the door of the apartment for support, while getting the feet behind the head. The door took the place of the Teacher helping me in the pose. I remembered my instructions, though, of arching the chest upwards once the feet where bound behind the head. Balancing with angeli mudra going on was difficult. In the other poses I observed that it is possible when doing self practice to get sloppy because a teacher is not watching and commenting. I see the value of teachers.
The picture is of two girls during the Caracol Festival in the Phillipines, taken by my friend Rachel, who teaches English there. It's a lovely picture and she gave me permission to blog about it.

4/15/08

Compassion for oneself

Sometimes one has to have compassion for oneself. Take for instance what happened to me in relation to my office bag today. Before lunch, I used the bag to lug drawings to a meeting at a job site. After the meeting, I went home for lunch with the bag. After lunch, as I was about a block away from the office, I realized I had forgotten my bag at home. It had the drawings I needed to work on in the afternoon. Because of the time of day, when buses run aplenty, I was able to return home to pick up the bag and be back at the office in 15 minutes. Around 5:20 I left the office with a coworker to attend a presentation on green architecture given by several executives from other architecture firms. Among the presenters was a former boss, who presented various projects, two of which I had worked on. I didn't want to be encumbered by the bag. I mean in the back of my mind was the silly thought that my former colleague would see me and think, "Oh, there is Arturo. Is he wearing the same shoes and carrying the same bag?" In all honesty I was carrying the same bag and wearing the same shoes 2 1/2 years ago. They are of good quality. Fair enough. After the presentation and a warm hello from my former colleague, I walked the streets and returned home, at which point I realized that the key to my apartment was in the bag. Are you still reading? The bag was in the office. So I walked back to the office, where luckily the security person and a coworker where still working and I was able to retrieve the bag and take a trolley back home. If I practice just yin yoga tomorrow it will be because I have probably walked 6 miles already today all because of my relationship to a bag. I think Hedgren, the manufacturer, has changed the style of my bag, but the image is of a similar one.

Second to Kapo

Today's practice was Second to Kapotasana. Somehow I lost my concentration right after coming back up from Kapo. I figured out where to put the bike so that I could reach the tatami mat and use it as a counterbalance for Supta Vajrasana. I'll have to attempt using that countebalance tomorrow. I'm aiming to working all of Second into my routine. My weight is at 135lb and I would prefer it at 130lb.

4/14/08

Good practice, small room

I did Primary Practice at home today. It felt nice. The apartment is small, so landing from Upvha Vista Konasana was a challenge, and finding room for Supta Padangustasana was difficult as well. So was jumping into Buja Pidasana. But my breath and focus were good. In fact it was a meditative practice.

I think I should mention, so it doesn't die with me, something I recall from my days growing up in Puerto Rico. Before the advent of convenience stores, there was a small ice house in my town that had the name, "Prime Meat Discount Cash & Carry Superrete". It has always brought me a chuckle when I thought of this store name. PR is a place known for mixing Spanish and English in business names, such as "Agapito's Bar". It appears that I remembered that name during Savasana because of a comment by Lax on packages in Armani's blog.

4/13/08

Peace marchers at the Olympic Torch relay

I love this photo of a monk carrying the photo the Dalai Lama. The monk resembles the DL himself. It was taken by photographer Ed Ritger, a member of the Insight Meditation Sangha. It is part of his photographs on the peace demonstrations during the Olympic torch rally in San Francisco.

In her lecture at Zen Center yesterday, Blanche Hartman read a passage on happiness by the Dalai Lama. She also mentioned participating last week in a silent peace march across Golden Gate bridge in support of Burma. Here she is walking behind Jack Kornfield, who led the march. Below is a photo of a young Chinese woman. All of these photos where taken by Ed Ritger, whose permission I obtained to blog about them.

4/12/08

Annoying music while grocering

Warning - rant - (acidity level: mild) Is there a director of music for Whole Foods who chooses the music to be played while one does groceries, depending on the time of the day? Do they change the music depending the part of the country they are in? I went shopping around noon, much later than my usual time. I noticed as I was beginning to shop that the music was flapper style from the 1920s. That was a happy period in music, prior to the Great Depression. It probably was a good period in design as well - the time of art deco, for example. "OK", I thought to myself, "they're trying to cheer us up." But the music did not have a calming effect.

I had just come from a peaceful meditation and lecture at Zen Center. Rev. Blanche Hartman had spoken beautifully about how to greet death, since a beloved monk had died recently. She quoted a writing by the Dalai Lama, who in a nutshell was saying that everyone in the world, regardless of race or creed is seeking happiness. That happiness comes from happiness, not from hatred or war. She read a beautiful poem by Mary Oliver, "When death comes", and concluded by mentioning that she walked on a silent peace march across the Golden Gate Bridge in support of Burma, to which the Chinese supply arms. She and other monks did so because they wanted to find a way to create loving kindness without causing more unhappiness.

As I was placing my groceries on the checkout counter, the music had turned to the Andrews Sisters singing "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of company B", a popular war time song. By then I wanted to slap someone; to run and ask the manager of the store why their company is playing propagandist music. I said nothing. I looked around. This was not 1950. When I descended to the cafe to eat my lunch, the music playing was 1960's Beatles music, another cheerful music of another war era. "There is a pattern to this choice of music", I thought. At least for me, it did not have the intended effect of calming me and cheering me. It just seemed that whoever programmed it wanted us to be transported to some other era of prosperity in the past.

The bus rides back to my apartment had some interesting notes. A kind man sat next to me, but his clothes smelled so strongly of cigarette smoke that I had to get up so I could breathe. A little African American girl seated next to her mom looked at people with eyes of innocence and wonder. Before I stepped off the bus, I told the lady that she had a very beautiful daughter.

ashtanga soiree

AYB has been hosting Peter Sanson this week and next. I haven't been able to join them because I live far from the studio. I might try to join them to practice one day this week. Last night they hosted a gathering during which Amna, Peter Sanson's partner gave a short concert. She has a beautiful voice and kind persona. She sang some Hindi devotional songs, some western jazz and love ballads. She travels with a device that functions like an electronic gong instrument. Springy Sitarist, who is a musician besides yoga teacher, accompanied her on several tunes with a base. I felt transported by her singing and its theme. There was one song that she explained to her meant going with the flow of life. She left her native Australia, moved to New Zealand to follow Peter there and to India, practicing yoga and her music. For an encore, she treated us to a song, accompanied by a guitar, that she had the honor of singing at Guruji's birthday celebration last year. During the visit afterwards, I went to introduce myself to Peter and Amna. Amna talked to Delapampa and I about her travels. I had the opportunity to thank her for the beautiful song about going with the flow - how that meant a lot to me.

It's nice that in these gatherings you can share with the people you practice with, something that does not happen in the room. I had a change to visit with Motorcycle Diarist, who told me that our mutual friend Horseback Rider has completed Third Series at another shala. I'm so glad for him; it was one of his goals to do so.

Rayito-de-Sol was asking GS how her practice went that week, so I got some insights about Peter's focus as a teacher. Peter seems to be a genuinely kind person. I was reading last week in a chapter of Pema Chodron's "The Places That Scare You" that sometimes you meet these highly developed people. You can't think that it was just a stroke of light that made them become that advanced. There was a lot of practice involved to get to be that way. I'm paraphrasing her comments, but you get the idea. The dedicated teachers and practitioners at the get together last night exhibit kindness because they work at it through practice.

Pssst! Today is Buddha's birthday. A couple of weeks ago my Dharma friend told me Zen Center would be celebrating Shakyamuni Buddha's birthday on the 12th. "Who?", I asked. "Buddha!", she replied emphatically. So there may be some little Buddha and big Buddha celebrations about town.

4/11/08

Second today, with incense

I practiced Second Series to Yoginidrasana at home this morning. I had not practiced Second in a week and a half, so it felt good to the spine. I lost my strength in coming back up from Kapotasana, though. And Supta Vajrasana is of course a challenge by oneself. I used Karen's rolled up manduka-behind-the-back method and at least I was able to do most of it okay. Eka Pada was testy on the left side and Dwi Pada, well suffice to say I did a lot of planning as to how I might do it. Should I put on a t-shirt and use the back wall as temporary support while getting the assembly behind my head? Those were my thoughts. I did not attempt to do that and moved on to Yoginidrasana. I like burning some incense in my practice area at home and I'm wondering if other home practitioners do that. The beautiful image is from this site which I will need to visit because it seems to have outstanding photography.

4/10/08

Ironing blues?

Since I don't watch TV, watching this commercial for an innovative product for something so mundane such as ironing makes me laugh heartily. Either that, or maybe I have a strange sense of humor. Forgive my digression for the moment from yoga. Of the 1.50 minute length, you only have to watch about 30 seconds to get a good laugh and then mosey on...

OK, complimenting the torch, at least

Well, at least the torch is beautiful, designed by Lenovo. The image is "borrowed" from this very interesting blog called Electro Plankton. Hmm, this blogger said "____ designs are nothing to write home about"... I sense we're from similar vintage. I learned those terms in Indiana while in college in the mid 1970s, unless, like everything else, terms popular in the 1970s are coming back in vogue. In any case, I had to click on something in the blog called the history of social blogging. Check it out. It's funny. Of course, because people can communicate through this means about their lives and the lives of their pets, we can offer support through this medium, such as sending good vibes to Alfia and her cat, which is having some health troubles. Or how people have sent me good vibes in my troubles with a neighbor that likes to occasionally play music loud.

navasana, music quiet, stomach tightening

Practiced primary to navasana today at home. I spent a generous time on urdhva danurasana and dropback attempts. My neighbor did not play his music loud last night. I think he does so when another neighbor is being noisy, and then we all suffer the consequences of more noise to mask out noise. I was prepared, if I was awoken, to use the osterizer to blend at high setting the juices of my morning pudding. I placed the osterizer on the dresser by the party wall where the I hear the music : ) I might still need it another day. That might not be as effective as investing in some noise canceling foam to hang on the walls, though.

Regarding practice, I'm wondering if anyone else experiences the muscles of the stomach tightening as you fold forward and then as you release the pose in triangmukka ekapada paschimotanasana? Mine does that. Cheers.

Olympic torch relay let down

Apparently it was to be the only stop of the Olympic torch in north America. San Francisco is known for handling civil rights but in hosting the relay it played a game of cat and mouse that effectively canceled the event. Isn't this like paranoid run-for-cover behavior?

Here is an editorial and an article supporting the change in route. The media, yea, sanitizes the news for your protection. The city published the route, people showed up, then they changed the route and stopped short of the conclusion of the run and hurried the torch back to a plane.

Those people at the head of the peace march are among my spiritual leaders (Some pictures show the leaders of Spirit Rock and of Zen Center's Green Gulch Farm protesting for Burma. Look on the right hand side under pictures.) It looks like a peaceful march to me.

A coworker's cousin was to be one of the torch carriers. But the change in route rendered the event very sneaky and apparently her help was not needed. Another coworker, who is from Beijing, took the afternoon off to witness the event around the waterfront. He must have been among those disappointed to see nothing.

4/9/08

short practice

I did a short practice of the essential standing asanas and last 4 closing asanas. I'm trying to resume my usual waking hour, but find it challenging that one neighbor likes to play his music that has bass that shakes my walls a bit, from 11:00pm to 1:30pm nightly. It's hard to sleep with ear protectors over ear plugs. So I didn't wake up early enough to have sufficient time for a normal practice. I'll give it another try tomorrow. It's no use talking to the neighbor. He's the one that thinks that I'm noisy because I wake up early and that it's his right to play music. I suppose he's right. I'm thinking of buying foam material and draping it from the picture rail molding on the wall, all along the party wall. That might tone town the noise transmission. One advantage of practicing at home is that it makes me keep the "temple" clean. I don't need to list the disadvantages...

4/8/08

bad hummus

I had a case of bad hummus. That should be on the list of diseases, I was told. I ate some week old hummus on Sunday and suffered the consequences on Monday. It resulted in frequent visits to that space. I'm okay this morning, after switching to a BRAT diet. Except that the apple sauce I bought at the pharmacy had to go in the trash (it has HFCS - who needs to sweeten apple sauce?) and the chicken and rice soup, which said low fat, exceeded the daily caloric requirement for sodium. Despite being vegetarian, chicken bouillon was what felt right eating. Needless to say, I didn't practice this morning.

4/7/08

Practice at home

A short practice at home today. Part of the practice was to clean the practice space in the apartment, which will prepare it for subsequent days of practice. I've used the word practice five times already. Practice, practice, practice.

4/6/08

Geological history

I might be channeling Bindifry or Armani here, posting a link to something interesting in the blogosphere: an architect's look at geologist Ron Blakey's maps of the evolution of the earth's surface.

Thoughts on practice

I'm thinking of practicing at home and going to a shala as a drop in student on weekends. It's ironic to think this way because I live in a city with great teachers and choices of places to practice. This was on my mind yesterday during moments of reflection. I like practicing in the sangha of a shala, but it's a budget issue, as well as a schedule issue. The practice in the shala during the week makes me observe a somewhat casual schedule at work, making me arrive a bit past the time half of the people arrive. I stay later to compensate, but still. If I practiced at home, I could get my practice in and still arrive early. Or I could continue going to the shala, but close the practice half an hour earlier. My teacher would see maybe 45 minutes of my practice. It might have implication as to what poses I get to do and determine my progress. To advance I would have to practice sometimes at home, where I could have more time and could give myself a pose, and sometimes at the shala, where I would practice whatever time, and my current practice level allows me to do there.


Budget wise, after a year of living in less expensive digs, I've saved money, but I'm still working on diminish consumer debt. Loyalty to my teacher and realization that even if they seem to be helping me perfect physical asanas, on another level, my teachers are realized beings that are helping me on non-physical levels as well. If I don't support them by continuing to go to their rooms, then they can't help me and in a way I'm kind of hurting them. On the other hand, they would understand that I have to work these things out. Those are the things I'm pondering. The image of a kasbah in Morocco is from this site.

4/4/08

Caught up

Yippee! I'm caught up with my calculations for taxes. Now I can go spend a day in meditation with the monks at the Hartford Street Zen Center tomorrow. Peace! And led ashtanga on Sunday in Berkeley. The image is from the UK fossil's site.

Yoga, nutrition - the stairs of human architecture

No time to post or practice; tax time; it's a good thing the ashtanga class is led this Sunday. I just received my copy of this great book on CR from Amazon, The CR Way by Paul McGlothin and Meredith Averill. They reportedly have good views on the amount of protein consumption appropriate in a CR diet. (Please don't ask my what their views are, I haven't read the book yet. Some CR folks eat a zoned diet that is high in protein, say about 25% of daily caloric intake, whereas others are concerned with restricting methione, so they opt for a diet that has maybe 15% protein in the daily caloric intake. Paul and Meredith might be more in the second group.)

And for the eyes, a picture of the central staircase of the School of the Visual Arts in Mexico City, by master architect Ricardo Legorreta. I'm sure there is some meaning in there somewhere. Architecture, stairs, nutrition, yoga. Yoga and nutrition are the stairs of body's architecture.

4/3/08

Yoohoo

The other day I posted a picture I received in a postcard promoting an architectural tour of Egypt. The photo is of a camel in front of the pyramids. I was a bit dissapointed this morning when a similar photo was run in my favorite internet search engine to accompany an article on vacations sites that are tourist traps. There are icons around the world that make those places famous, and most people want to visit them and snap pictures of them. I can think of the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, Macchu Picchu, P'ao d'Azucar, Imperial Palace and others. The same service puts at the top of the news what is going on today in American Idol. It's a good thing those blurbs change with the quickness of baby diapers.

I was in pain yesterday in my upper chest, neck and shoulders, related to practice on Tuesday. Whenever I lifted my arms I experienced sharp pain. It's possible that an UD adjustment I received, not from my Teacher, but from an assistant, was possibly a bit too energetic and my body was not ready for it. So I did not practice and took several Ibuprophens. Today the pain is mostly gone, but I'm using the time to advance my tax preparation.

The image is of red eye tree frogs and is from this source, from which I learned that these frogs sleep during the day under leaves. They have colored eyes and legs. If a predator thinks of eating one and the frog wakes up, the red eyes and legs will surprise the predator, allowing time for the frog to escape.

4/1/08

Second, Alfia, my pratfalls

I practiced Second to Nakrasana for the first time in what feels like a month. Alfia joined us today, so it was nice to practice with her one more time before she returned home. Seven Petal Lotus assisted her with Supta Kurmasana, Urdvha Danurasana and other asanas. Since Teacher had an assistant, a yogini who took RF's trainings, she suggested they both try helping me in my second Kapotasana. Wowe-sowee.

I'm sure Alfia's dristhe was really concentrated and maybe she didn't notice that I did about 6 attempts at Dwi Pada, almost getting it a couple of times, and with Teacher's help getting it perfectly. I was planning to get a blanket and put it on the floor in front of me for Pincha Mayurasana, but I thought it would draw too much attention. I might try that tomorrow. I need to get out of the habit of doing Pincha near the back wall. At that point, Alfia stopped by and said goodbye. I was kind of flustered, hope she didn't mind my blankety blank expression.

Well, because of my lack of practice of Second in a few weeks, I couldn't get my Karandavasana legs today. It's also because the blubber meter is high today (Thanks LIA for that term; it's appropriate.) I did a lot of socializing last weekend - besides Alfia and her husband's visit, my Dharma friend threw a wine and cheese party to celebrate her accepting to work as manager of a restaurant in Marin. Well, anyway, I've got my diet under control again. So Alfia missed my sliding off in Mayurasana, hitting my chin, and other pratfalls. As strength returns to my body after the recent cold, so will the refinements of the practice.

Teacher's assistant helped me a lot with getting the shoulders in the right alignment in UD. She asked me to exhale through the mouth sounding a bit like a horse whining. It had the effect of relaxing my back muscles and getting me deeper in the lift. When self practicing, though, I don't plan on making it a habit to exhale though the mouth, because I understand that doing so makes you lose pranic energy. Maybe I could give it a try exhaling loudly through the nose while lifted up in the upward bow and see if that has any effect in helping the asana. Windmill Captain and Kool Keds, whom we were missing last week, practiced with us today. Banda Girl was doing Viparita Chakrasana (Tic Tocs).
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