Yoga practice wordle

Practice yoga like architecture

This is so much fun. Thank you Chitta Vritti (and Owl and Anna) for pointing out the site for creating these word plays from a post. The results from a recent post of mine are emphasizing to "practice yoga like architecture" or like Maty.

Expansive little movie of the Grand Canyon

I'm practicing short versions for the past few days because of project work. I might go to a led class on Friday morning. There may be some lunar observing shala refugees there. It's okay. My practice has suffered this week and can gain some strengthening from a led class.

Here is a short video of the view from the rim of the Grand Canyon. Hmmm. If I can do this it means I could take a video of my Urdvha Danurasanas to get comments from cybershalamates. Hmmm.


Second meditation book

I practiced a portion of Second Series today. We have a deadline at work and have been working late every day. Monkey mind is distracting me during yoga. Saturday I plan to attend a daylong meditation. Sunday there is a company picnic in a beautiful park in Berkeley. I might bicycle there, despite needing to climb steep hills to reach it. I received MS's new book Vinyasa Krama. It is gigantic and has great pictures. Om shanti.

(PS I learned from Donuts to name a post with words that signify the main topics discussed in the entry. The result today would imply I am reading my second meditation book, but that is not the case. Books are numberless. I vow to read them. Dharma gates are boundless. I vow to enter them. Delusions are inexhaustible. I vow to end them. Go with the flow bro.)


CRed squirrel in the Grand Canyon

Note to self: continue practicing calorie restriction this week despite a schedule that makes it difficult to go do groceries. Cron-0-meter will keep me in track until I can do groceries on Friday. Good way to remember: think of the healthy, energetic and calorie restricted squirrel my friend V. photographed at the Grand Canyon.

Backbending workshop with Chuck and Maty

I spotted two assistants at the backbending workshop. One assistant is very intuitive and careful. The other assistant, who may be less experienced, may have the right intentions, but several months ago gave me an Urdvha Danurasana adjustment which involved unnatural and somewhat forced lifting of my upper ribs diaphragm, that it resulted in severe pain for a few days in which any movement that involved raising the arms hurt a lot. Ibuprofen only dampened the pain. Since there had been some discussion in the blogosphere about giving feedback to assistants, I asked myself if I should discuss my experience. I didn't find a private moment and did not want to embarrass the assistant in front of the other teachers, so I didn't say anything. Maybe there will be an opportunity at another time.

We started with doing Samastitihi while lying on the floor on our mats, pressing the feet against the wall, pelvis against the floor. The purpose was to understand that there are two domes in the chest. One dome occurs when your pelvis goes downward, the other when the outer shoulders go down, which happens when the outer elbows are close to the body. As we were in this position, C&M asked us raise the arms and arched them back. They asked us to find a neutral pelvis, firm the upper arms and and not life the lower middle part of the body. When you lift your arms to go back, the motion means tipping the thoracic down. This action is not about the flexibility of the arms.

(I am transcribing these notes while waiting for jury duty selection. I fulfilled my jury duty service without having to claim having the condition of Kapotasana as a reason to be excused from serving in a jury.)

We held our inner elbows together, arms on the side. The inside of the thighs, or groin doesn't lift to the ceiling but presses inwards. The upper thighs go to the ground.

Next we did a kneeling toe yoga. hips were over the knees, heels and balls of the feet on the wall, toes curled under on the floor. We lengthened the lumbar to neutral. We checked the pelvis - the frontal lumbar and pelvis need to be in place. We lifted into the downward dog with the feet against the wall.

M. says that everything that you need for dropbacks lives in Virabadrasana A. The arms and legs are energized and strengthened by this pose. After placing the back foot, pointing 45 degrees forward, rotate the hips forward, rotating the buttocks. The top of the thighs of the back leg pushes back. When bending the leg, you don't want wobbling in the ankle. To avoid the wobbling, your shin bone has to go back, which firms the leg down. The back leg is doing downward dog (?!) You're doing Samastithi with the legs. Your kneecaps lift, upper thighs press downward, arms lifting. The back ribs are lifting. Front ribs are lifting. Elongate the buttocks down, which means tuck the bottom in. Keep lifting the back ribs, with arms raised. Press the arms towards the ears.
M. says that actions are more important than movements. Actions require extension and understanding. For example, firming the upper arms in downward dog is an action. Actions are like bhandas. They protect us. Movement can get you into trouble if you're not thinking about your actions. In yoga you have to tap into strength from all of the body. You need to protect your body. Don't focus on just the movement.

We did a cobra pose practice, again remembering that we have two domes in the shoulders. Then we did an upward dog practice with two blocks on the floor under the arms. The chest goes forward and up, the inner thighs move up. We repeated upward dog without blocks under the arms, but one block placed between the feet. All ten toes, particularly the small toes need to be on the floor. Buttocks to the floor, thighs to the ceiling, shoulder goes down. Coil the chest open. Coiling means a wheel action. It's the forward movement of the chest. It's not leaning, it's not hinging. It's coiling. Understand the action; don't force the movement. This action applied to all backbending asanas and dropbacks - coiling, coiling, coiling, not hinging. Don't bend back. Coil.

What happens when you tighten your buttocks? You send a braking motion to the heels. Your body does not use just the external buttock muscles to make the buttocks straight. you may need to rotate the legs inwards to get the buttocks to spread. Firm the sides in.

When setting up for Ustrasana, Laghu Vajrasana and Kapotasana, spread all toes on the mat. if you curl your toes, the energy goes to the sacrum wrongly. If you don't curl them, the energy flows correctly. Think of the foundation of the legs as being in Samastitihi. In these last backbends mentioned, back ribs down equals front ribs up. Elbows in, widen the buttocks. Coil, coil, coil, don't lean. Create the domes in the chest, lift the frontal chest, drop the outer shoulder blade muscles down.

In bridge (and I imagine likewise in Urdvha Danurasana keep the three points of the feet down - the the knees. The legs are parallel. Don't say "rotate the thighs" but think of them rotating downwards.

Calling these asanas discussed here backbends is technically not correct becasue they are really chest opening poses. The first chest opening pose of Primary Series is Purvottanasana ( in which we coil the chest upward, put the hands in reverse namaste and bend forward.)

I would say that this workshop had a lot of very useful information. The challenge is that perhaps the information is handled a bit Yyengar style in terms of breaking things down kinesthetically and mechanically. That is something Yyengar is great at. You have to put it together in your practice. Patabhi Jois' approach might be a bit different in that his adjustments are physical, not involving a lot of verbal instruction. Jois' approach might be to help the student learn by adjusting physically so there is an imprint occurring mentally. In ashtanga one is concentrating with intention on the flow of the practice and it's difficult then to keep track of all of the component parts of what is happening mechanically. It is interesting to study the mechanical motions as in this workshop and these are senior and certified ashtanga teachers, so I'm not judging, just sharing my observations.


Princess Laksmi's SF adventures

Laksmi picked me up at 6:50am and we went to practice in Berkeley with Springy Sitarist. While we practiced, we introduced PDiver, PCarl and PAigo to VSevenPetalLotus, VOwl, and VDonutszenmom. VSpringy Sitarist stayed at home to hold the fort, since Laksmi was going to meet him in person. The virtual cybershalamates broke the ice with each other in the trunk of the car. PCarl was overcome with shyness at first and didn't want to be photographed.
My practice ran short, Half Primary, followed by Second to Kapotasana because I needed to catch a train to Palo Alto later. Springy Sitarist adjusted Laksmi in Dhanurasana, Supta Vajrasana and a few others. Laksmi felt comfortable enough to do her Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana and then did the most bendy Kapotasana I've seen in person. I got adjusted in Pasasana, where the work for me began at getting the feet flat on the floor. I also received a nice lift of the torso in Bekasana.
Afterwards, we went for coffee and pastry at the cafe around the corner, stopping at a mural in front of the Montessori School for a photo op with the virtual cybershalamates. Here, our teachers PDiver, with his dog PAigo and VSevenPetalLotus lead VOwl, VDonutszenmom and PCarl in a class.
My virtual cybershalamates and teachers are fuzzy or yin, while Laskmi's are yang. We had a conversation about this. Laksmi benefits from their presence in her practice space because she feels they are telling her to be strong, to not quit, to keep going on. With me, maybe they fill a need for warmth and support, like the love I receive from my parents and friends. I commented about this to our Sutra teacher, who thought that each of us found that the practice of having these figures nearby helped create a balance. There is nothing strange about it. Laksmi gets her needs met from the figures and I receive mine. On further reflection, I recall, while working on projects throughout the US in the early 90s, that I met many business executives who while travelling constantly on the road, found comfort in placing a toy or figure near their laptop computers in their hotel rooms. They named their figures and took them everywhere and considered them their travel companions. It's why Bindi took Geraldine the frog with her on her trip to Thailand.
I will need to put together my notes from the Chuck and Maty backbending workshop later on in the week. C & M wanted to develop a vocabulary of words that help understand what needs to happen in backbending. So we participated in unusual exercises done against the wall that made us push, pull and lift different parts of our bodies in order to pay attention to what was happening kinesthetically and mechanically in our bodies.
Here is the beautiful and creative Laksmi in context. An a picture of us. Laksmi took one of us that I think is really cheery and maybe she'll post it in her blog.

My dinner with Andre

I didn't have dinner with Andre, but I've been wanting to label a post with that and this is a classy story. I practiced yoga Mysore style with Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty. Maty asked me if this was my first time practicing with them (yes) and where did I come from (I study with C, who was in the room to my left, and V.)

In architecture there are architect's architects - people like Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhas, Thom Mayne, IM Pei and others, who inspire our practice. Yes, architecture, like yoga is a practice. In ashtanga there are teacher's teachers and you could say that C & M are among them.

I had corresponded over the years with Lisa Walford, yoga teacher and co-author of The Longevity Diet. She had mentioned C & M often because she developed the yoga teacher training at Yoga Works in Santa Monica in collaboration with them. By the way two of the architects I mentioned in the previous paragraph have their offices in Santa Monica. Unusual coincidence, no?

In any case, I was reflecting that a lot of people practicing in the room where teachers. Despite the length of one's practice, there is a lot of humility to be felt when in the simplest of things you can improve your actions. I received adjustment in how I place the hands on the mat in downward dog. Rotate the arms inwards; point the index finger; gain more distance between feet and hands. In reverse triangle M. requested I use a block to do some research. The back foot was rotated pointing 45 degrees forward, the hips squared, the arm that lifts lifting, the chest rotating opening a lot to the ceiling. That felt good.

I continued with Primary, followed by Second to Kapotasana. Surfer Guy, who gave me a ride in the morning, since the trains don't run that early to the East Bay, was practicing nearby. His practice is really strong. C. spent a good ten minutes with him discussing the minutiae of what happens anatomically in the body to do Padangustasana correctly - shoulders down, pelvis rooted, samastitihi on your mind. Surfer Guy did a variation of Pasasana that M. must have given him. He sat on the tall end of a block to get enough lift so that the feet remained flat on the floor as he bound the hands. I need to try that. In Tittibasana B, his walk was so strong he could have continued walking out of the room bound as he was, and his Titti C was just as strong.

There was a lot of emphasis during the practice about finding the root of each asana, and on focusing on the ujayi breath, breath that is reaching, conquering, upward lifting. Going to the workshop meant the sacrifice of not being able to do laundry at my building. Instead I had to pull my heavy bag 4 blocks to the beautiful laundrette, where you have to nurse your clothes through the washing and drying cycles, or you walk back home with a lighter load, aided by cunning thieves. At the front of the store they have unusual ice creams. Despite being lactose intolerant, I sampled taro root and avocado ice creams. I paid for it later in stomach grumbling and flatulence, or maybe that was abated by what my father says, that ice cream has enough other things in it such that even a person with lactose intolerance can consume it without discomfort. Hmm, we can rationalize ourselves out of something when it tastes good.

In the afternoon I returned for a backbending workshop. I took notes and can post them later. Now I have to run over the entire bay area for a busy day - yoga, cycling, and sutra reading. Princess Laksmi Nivamalanda plans to join me for yoga with Springy Sitarist. Maybe we'll have a photo shoot with PDiver and PCarl.


tid bits

Thanks to lgr for pointing to this article on ashtanga yoga that appeared on the WSJ online. Apparently hedge fund managers are taking to ashtanga. I would not mind some financial advice in return for the common interest in yoga.

Since we work adjacent to Union Square, colleagues where abuzz yesterday at noon at having spotted NYC's Nk Cowboy belting out some tunes on his guitar in his trademark attire, or lack of it. You can catch a flickr of it if you google. I'll spare you the link since I need to run a respectable site but that was newsworthy.


Second to Kapo, C and M, Highness

This morning I practiced the full standing sequence followed by Second Series to Kapotasana. I lucked out that I can attend Mysore practice and a backbends workshop with Chuck Miller and Maty Ezraty tomorrow in the East Bay at VaraHealingArts.

Royalty is visiting Cali from up north, from a city near Canadia. I'll have to brush up on my protocol savvy. I'll ask Her Highness to grant a 24 hour lurker amnesty to readers of this blog. He he. Maybe I'll get to meet PDiver and PCarl.

Here is this morning's Krounchasana. It's not pretty because I really would like to get the chest up higher. The legs usually think they have to step on something when I'm in this pose, so it's hard to get the lift that is proper for this asana. Today I draped myself over the ladder to see if it would help open up the back. It just looked like one of those chairs one practices a passive stretch over. I took a picture, but it looks funny, so I won't share it.


Resuming yoga practice...

My yoga practice is coming back slowly. The strain in the calves from hiking has gone by now. This slow-resuming of the practice reminds me of when I deal with a cold. I stop practice for a few days and resume slowly, as strength builds up again day by day. I have kept up daily sitting in zazen meditation, though. My weight is on the higher side, which doesn't help yoga, but as I start preparing my meals again that should normalize. Bla bla bla.

I mentioned last week the energy bars I was planning to take on my trip. In my opinion, the one labeled "Organic Food Bar", which I obtained in cranberry flavor, was the most delicious, followed by the Larabar. The Larabar consists of nuts held together with a date paste. During my work week, that feels too sweet to consume. The "Raw Organic Food Bar" was bland and did not hold up well in the backpack. The "Think Thin" bar may be nutritious from the standpoint of providing protein, but it tastes and feels like engineered fake food.

I am fascinated by Patrick's and Karen's accounts of their recent training with MS. Reading Patrick's descriptions of his Kapotasana practice makes me feel that I too can get to those toes when dropping back, something I haven't done by myself yet. Karen's dropbacks on the wall, MS style, are beautiful. She is getting a lot of arch there. I'm still not caught up with reading the blogs.

I've spent three hours catching up on email. I imagine if I went on vacation a week I would end up wanting to delete most emails, since I would not have the time for all of them. A large part of my work is hotel design related, so I'm amused by this toungue-in-cheek story in the BBC of a Sand Hotel. Cheers.


CYT, new, improved, now with no popups!

Hey, maybe that business education taught me something about marketing. Claim improvements on your product, and you've got mojo.

OK doky, I removed all widgets but two from this blog. (One is an invisible, statutory counter, ha-ha.) I read a blurb in the help page of my service provider that one widget which shall remain nameless, but whose name was inpired by the movie Braveheart, is known for loading malware, adware and popups when it is in your blog. Nyaah! Phweet! Go away, nasty popups. I ain't selln'g no poptarts.

I just checked my blog since the writing of the first paragraph. Good news for peace-loving yogis:
CYT, new, improved, now with no popups.
Let's hope it stays that way.
(This blog entry is dedicated to Monica, ABY, CP, Armani, Donkey, and all of the other patient fellow practitioners who have put up with les popups for a while now.)
Okay, and since I wrote that, I found that Jaynewithawhy trusts NeoCounter enough to put it on her blog. Since I like widgets and this one promises to have NO ads, No spam, and No spyware, I'm giving it a try. Will y'all let me know if you experience probs? And I promise to return to the usually schedule program of yoga. Yes. Tomorrow? Maybe.


Las Vegas, DZM, more Grand Canyon views

During my trip, because of the intense schedule, I was only able to practice yoga as a remedy for the pain in my legs from walking and hiking. We spent a day in Las Vegas, walking the entire strip. Where else could you find a portion of the Louvre, Garnier's Opera, a scaled down Eiffel tower, L'Arc de Triomphe all in one spot? My friend became a bit of big gambler, losing one hundred pennies in a slot machine. I played 100 pennies as well, getting down to thirty and bouncing back to one hundred ten, stopping back at a hundred, at which point I decided to cash in on my luck.

Frankly the architectural experience that I enjoyed in Las Vegas was the retail portion of the Venetian. It has a beautiful ceiling. The facades are all consistent and controlled, making the experience of walking in this retail establishment very pleasant. In most of the hotels I visited, the experience of the spaces was too jarring, opulent, and like imitation of history on steroids.

At FAO Schwartz I found this fuzzy cat to represent Donutszenmom along with Owl, Springy Sitarist and Seven Petal Lotus on the perch over my practice space. It will take me a few days to catch up on DZM's descriptions of her MS training.

Near the Hoover Dam on the way to the Canyon.
At Skeleton Point on the Kaibob Trail. My mug expression is the same on all photos in hike trails, for some reason, maybe from the exertion.
The first glimpse of the Colorado River beyond Skeleton Point.

One of the cabins at Phantom Ranch, designed by architect Mary Colter.

The Colorado River at the base of the Canyon, with one of the footbridges beyond. This natural wonder attracts people from all over the world. We met Europeans from Norway, Holland, the UK, Russia, Italy, France, the Ukraine, and Germany. And those were the ones we personally chatted with. There were many Asians visiting as well. It was like being in the United Nations.

I was not able to observe my CRON practices too closely during the trip, because of having to be ready for hiking from very early to very late each day and needing proper nutrition for the strain of the hikes. This week I will have to ease into my routines - nutrition, yoga and of course work.


A few pictures from the weekend trip

Thanks all for your birthday wishes. I will respond during the week, since I just got back. It will take me a until next week to to post pictures from the Grand Canyon, but here are three. One is a composition at the beginning of the descent to the Colorado River on the Kaibob trail. We stayed at Phantom Ranch one night. The next one is taken on Bright Angel trail, returning to the Rim. The last one is of a lady pretending to fly. Her hubs was taking her picture. I knew it is a yoga pose. Paul Grilley calls is Infant Pose in his Yin Yoga book, although I'm sure there is a Sanskrit name for it (or we could make one up.) Passersby asked her why she took the photo and she joked that it made sense because she was a risk manager


life, indeed machine

I'll be away from the computer for a few days, hence no blogging for a while.

Today as my blog was opening on a different computer I noticed, as I read the text at the bottom of the screen, that the last thing to load up is a program called add/clicksor.com. This is software that seems to have attached itself to my blog, not software that I placed there. Blogging is a free service and we are encouraged to blog, thanks to the generosity of our service provider. Unfortunately, things like this happen. I have read the help pages to address the problem and have followed different steps, which I've already mentioned in past blog entries. I have yet to try another step that looks for malware that embeds itself in our computers. I'm not sure how that would help the blog, which is not hosted in my computer. I'm not a programmer, but an architect. Since the word architect is used these days not just to identify people in the building design field, but by software programmers, I clarify that I'm an architect in the building design field. Without knowing too much about programming, I have looked at the HTML code of my blog and have not seen this adware mentioned there. It could be invisible code. It's possible it's in one of the widgets on the side bar. I don't think it's in the sites I reference in my entries, because I checked back to January, when the problem started. Anyhow, I've noticed that the way this malware activates is if one moves the cursor rapidly. So even when I read my own blog, I move the cursor gingerly, hoping not to awaken the marketing machine that wants me to buy something.

Since writing this I searched for help on dealing with popups. I removed all widgets but one from this blog. This may take care of the problem. We will see...

less is more

Today is my birthday, or would it be more interesting to say it's the fifty second anniversary of my involvement with life? On the menu for lunch: palak paneer, roti and salad - Indian fare after all. No 2,400 calorie piece of carrot cake for me. Maybe a cupcake. Less calories, more life. The lunch image is from this site. Below is a cupcake in Virabhadrasana pose, from the Flickr account of this creative lady. Yin yoga for me today.


Energy bars

There was some discussion about food bars on the CRON community list recently. I think about these whenever I go hiking. In general, most people in the nutrition list feel that these so called energy bars are too high in calories to be nutritious. Actually, the aversion from some CRONies for these bars is so great they are referred to as 100% c**p. However, some come to their defense.There were some that Andrea, the Food Part lady in Albuquerque recommends:

All varieties of Organic Food Bars
Whey protein smooshed with fruits and nuts - nothing else:Elev8Me! by ProSnack
Whey protein, peanut butter and a few other things:
"Greens & Whey" or "Raw Foods & Whey" by BioChem

Except for the organic food bars, I didn't find any of the others locally. I found some raw bars, pictured here. ThinkThin are high protein bars. I also find that Luna bars, not pictured here, are good for hiking. They are lower in calories than regular bars. What you need, though is a good source of sodium because you sweat a lot when hiking in the summer and you need to not loose too many fluids. As a general rule, I would not make a habit of eating these on a daily basis, but occasionally if you need a healthy snack, or when expending a lot of energy such as when biking or hiking.

Researched inversions desert frog

My photos have some edginess to them, as in this Uthitta Parsvottanasana, but I guess that is OK. Making preparations for my weekend trip made me start late today. I wanted to "research" some of the headstand based poses of Third Series. I only managed to do Urdvha Kukkutasana A, B and C. So I imagine that when I do Karandavasana from a three point headstand I'm really doing Urdvha Kukkutasana A. B and C really require a balancing act and strong bandhas. One can't emphasize enough the importance of developing a sense of balance in ashtanga. Many of the difficult poses appear not be arrived at through brute force, but through a knowledge of balance - how not to fall while you are lifting bound parts of your anatomy while inverted on your head.
I would have liked to have researched some more poses, but it will have to be done on another day. Shh! Don't tell my left brain that tomorrow is a moonday. It might instruct my right brain to chill and not do any yoga. I ordered Matthew Sweeney's latest book, by the way, which Susananda is raving about. (And I can't wait to read about Patrick's and Karen's experiences in their workshop this week.) Hmm, the book starts with a moon practice sequence. Hmm, would it be appropriate, say, for a moonday? Hmm.

The frog picture below is of a Grand Canyon tree frog, which really doesn't hang on trees, but likes to perch in the sun. I had to use a different computer to upload this to this site. My site advisor has an aversion to the color pink or anything resembling flesh, so it overwrites an uploaded picture with it's stamp of disapproval. Who writes this software, and for whom is being written? In this case, the frog matches the colors of its surroundings in the desert. What puzzles me is that we have the same software in our office machines, but it doesn't highjack our internet viewing experience as it does in my home installation.
This is what the Grand Canyon tree frog sounds like. The image of the frog is from the same site, hitthetrail.com, which has great information for planning a trip to this national park.
By the way, since Apple launched its new improved iPhone, there have constantly been block long lines outside the Apple store in Union Square. People, including me, have been taking pictures of these lines with the same gusto as if they were taking pictures of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I bet you that most camera owners in SF have a picture of these lines.


Reseaching yoga art poses

Let's call this yoga art, since it's difficult to photograph my research into 3rd Series in my small space. I'm lucky to catch what I can of my asana renditions, as in this Firstasana (I'll avoid the conflict of whocallsthiswhat.) Oi, the face in Kaiyapasasana. All of those years of praying to the saints must have influenced my look. Maybe I'm thinking of St. Ignatius.
I can manage to get into several LBH poses on the left side, as in this, lets call it, Chakorasana preparation. The leg didn't go up further as it should. I was trying to remember Karen's advice to Susananda the other day, about engaging the outer thigh of the leg that is lifting. How am I doing? Still climbing the stairs and ironing my practice. Pun intended. On my attempt to do Chakorasana on the left side I only managed to do Eka Pada Sirsasana. Ha! At least. In general, my neck and head need to relax in these LBH poses, not look like I'm afraid something is going to hit me from the ceiling. "Relax the face", Teacher would call out if in the room.
In this preparation for dropbacks, I'm supposed to get to the thighs. I can do it. It's probably fear that held me back from going deeper today. Well, the photographs are a learning tool to check and see where I am in the practice. I do feel the practice goes better when I'm experiencing vairagya, or detachment, from even how well I'm doing.



A fellow blogger in Asia posted this in her blog. These brothers do many poses from advanced series. Our guru might say that it's not yoga, but it's entertaining, and you recognize the poses. When I saw this I remembered the video of the contortionist potato salad girls, which Liz posted in her blog this week.


Ashtangi tourist today

My nephew's visit pushed my weekend schedule a bit. I started later on the task I was doing for a friend, finishing late on Saturday evening, resulting in going to be later and waking up later this morning. Unable to go to Berkeley, I went to Mission Yoga for ashtanga with Devorah, which occurs late mornings on Sundays. I had not practiced with her in three years, so she was surprised to see me. She brings her dog to practice. The dog, who has been in Mysore rooms since she was 5 months old, knows most of the asanas. While people are doing Suryanamaskaras, she will go inspect Upward Dog and Downward Dog at different mats. Then she'll go to sleep for a while. At one point she went to say hello to Bhutan Tourist when he was in Navasana. When P. stopped his practice so he could help my neighbor in Supta Vajrasana, the dog royally stretched herself in P's mat, causing everyone to laugh. Then she went over and gave some kisses to my other neighbor, whose mat was washed in lavender water - a detail I appreciated.

Bla bla. What about practice? In coming up from my Prassaritas, D. said I did not need to bend the legs. I could come back up lifting the chest and keeping the kneecaps lifting. I received a wonderful squishy assist in Supta Kurmasana. When I got to dropback practice, she reminded me that I needed to pretend there was a beach ball way high up behind my back, to keep lifting the spine up and back as I arched back. She mimicked what happens if I don't do that, where my back just collapses like a tree falling. She is a good teacher. I didn't see Horseback Rider, who practices there now, but saw a few familiar faces. Maybe he was practicing with L.N. in Mountainview, during her visit there. These where my first teachers in San Francisco.

The new Clock Bar at the Westin St Francis Hotel

I went on a tour of the new Clock Bar at the historic Westin St. Francis Hotel on Union Square in San Francisco, which opens to the public on July 15. There are many rich materials used throughout. Panels with Brazilian Rosewood are spread throughout the walls and fireplace.
A rosewood ceiling has concealed lightboxes. The perimeter soffit conceals the airconditioning. The plasterwork and grilles are new, but because of their detailing look as if it they were originally in the space.Two light columns with revolving digital clocks throw a warm glow in the middle of the space. They evoque the glass covered columns in Phlueger's Patent Leather Bar, which was replaced by the Compass Rose and later by the Mina Restaurant. The furnishings also evoque those of the original bar. The photos are by Ansel Adams, from this source, and you can view more of these photos in the registration lobby of the hotel.
A view of the space from the back of the bar. The lighting is very sophisticated. One neat concept is that the tapestries where photographed and their image used as a lens through which to project light to the corners of the space.
The amazing tapestries hanging from the windows have gold threads and where custom made in a shop in Paris on an ancient loom. In this image you can see through them to the historic lobby.
Design architect, Rockwell Group of New York; architect of record, Hornberger + Worstell of San Francisco. A friend took most of these pictures. I photographed the one of the view of the historic lobby through the tapestry.


nephew soup renunciation

Pema Chodron says that renunciation is seeing clearly how we hold back, how we shut down... it's about saying yes to whatever calls you on your telephone. My nephew who lives a nation wide distance from me called to say that he was in the area this week. After five talks to each other's voicemails we were able to talk in person and get together for brunch, with his girlfriend and two friends of his who moved here recently. I felt grumpy at interrupting my Saturday schedule all of a sudden, and having to board a train to meet them across the bay, but reading Pema's book make me realize all of this soup is part of the complicated, sparkly mess that is our life. My nephew, his girlfriend and their friends are all sweet, young, energetic people. It was nice to be with them, if only for the length of a restaurant visit. I had not seen him in ten years and I happen to be his godfather - the only baby for whom I was ever asked to assume that responsibility. It's nice to see him grown up and happy. I look at our smiles in the accompanying picture, and you can see we are sincerely happy.


Link to Site on the Health Benefits of Yoga

At the right side bar, under health blogs, I placed a link to a blog site set up by a nursing education school. In one of the sections of their website they list the Health Benefits of Yoga. I remember now that fellow UK CRONies Matt and Tim had tuned me to this page. But someone kindly emailed me a link this week and it just dawned on me what a wonderful site it is. One section of their site has a link to our cybershalamate Ursula's blog. I do hope that this site inspires further study by the medical community into the health benefits of yoga.


grandchildren tittibasana and headstands

One more picture story for the grandchildren, well, not mine, unless you consider the dust bunnies on the floor, which will probably survive me, as my grandchildren. You know- dust to dust, we all become dust eventually. The soul? The soul goes to that place I dreamed about - a place you walked to past the last train station, down a hill, next to the ocean, where trees sway in the gentle breeze, rock formations protecting the flower-speckled hillside, walking happily down paths, freshened by the sea breezes. What? Never mind. That was my dream last night. But I do need to get more extension in the legs in Tittibasana A. What a project that is. But I did manage to learn to walk in Tittibasana B, while holding the hands bound behind the shoulders. You have to start swaying your hips in the direction opposite that you want to step forward. So if you are going to step to the right, you gently shift your weight to the left, then reverse for the next step. See? I'm helping a grandchild learn to walk bound in Tittibasana B.

I'm getting Pincha Mayurasana. That might be another photographic exercise. I warm up for the venture by doing what Surfer Guy does, and which Seven Petal Lotus told us to do - kneel on the floor in front of a chair, place the elbows on the edge of the chair in prayer position (it's good to say a little prayer then too) then press down on the arms. It's a good strengthener for the triceps. I did Karandavasana from a 3 point headstand, getting the feet in lotus and lowering the assembly, then lifting it back up. I attempted to do it regular, unmodified, as well. Mayurasana is better but could use improvement. Threatening to photograph it made me get the balance act to happen pretty well. (Ha! future incentive. Maybe this is the reason I started photographing my practice this week.)

And now, I give you, the 7, scratch that, the 6 headstands. Yes, that is a ladder in the corner in the back, and an ironing board. You could say I'm climbing the asana stairs and ironing out the kinks in my practice. Here's number 1:
Number 2:
Number three is a tough one in my limited space. You can see some fingers are curled on my left hand. Also, I'm not sure if I'm cheating a bit. I don't have the arms perfectly aligned with the shoulders, but slightly in front. My first ashtanga teacher remembers that I used to freak out from just doing a simple headstand, so he was happy to see me develop the ability to do these headstands- any of them.
Number 4:
Number 5:
Something happened on the way to number 6. In this one lately I tend to become confused with where the head needs to be because the hands go in the Pincha Mayurasana form, and the head, which is suspended in Pincha, feels like it is in the way in this headstand. Today I lost the balance, kicking forward, then back, hitting the candle holder, sending hot wax flying to the wall and over the mat. Oi. Since the picture was ready to happen, it captured me here. That is me with natural, home grown anger, not faked, holding the candle projectile. (I'm changing it to line art to soften the emotional impact of the photo.) Now I have to figure out how to get hot wax from a wall. Luckily it was only the candle stand I kicked and not the bucket. No, I didn't kick the bucket, despite the nickname for these asanas of the seven deadlies.
Number 6, finally. No banana boat, please.
And, wow, number 7. So seven after all. It's a little tense. It always feels like fakey, like a variate version of 4.
And then I wondered why my energy was jumping all over the place during breakfast...


heels down prasaritas timber

It's taken me six years to get my heels to the floor in Downward Dog. I took a picture of my feet, but I'll spare you. I see why it is recommended that men consider pedicures. Ha! The metronome helped keep the pace. I practiced Second Series partially. I wanted to get to the Seven Headstands so I could photograph them, but ran short of time.

Sorry for the edginess of my pictures. I've learned to set the self photography timer to 30 seconds. There is something called a manual. 30 seconds is enough time to set up for a pose. That doesn't mean I'll get the pose perfectly, though. Although you would be surprised how hurriedly you get into the finest expression of a pose if you're in a hurry to have it photographed :)

At the heading is this morning's Prasaritta Paddotanasana A. I can get my head to the floor, which usually certified teachers request, but for my body that means widening the stance a lot, resulting in pain to the inner thigh muscles. Bendy people seem to get the head to the floor without going to extremes in the stance, so I'm trying to work with my body - with the bhandas, making space, asking the kneecaps to lift, the hamstrings to relax, the feet to stay grounded, and the back not to tip over.

From Springy Sitarist I've learned to relax the upper shoulders when reaching over in Prasaritta Paddotanasana C, but this is how far I got today. I shake the body a bit to relax it to see how far I can bring the hands down to the floor. Ay Bendito! I want to get the head to the floor and it looks like it's about 5 1/2" away from it.So today I was able to set up to capture Urdvha Danurasana. I feel as if looks like a tree fallen in the forest. Timberrr! Well maybe it's not that bad. Feel free to comment. The feet are splayed, yes. The arms could get closer together. Maybe I should analyze what the hands are doing by photographing from a different angle. After the picture, I was able to lift a bit higher and did not feel any tension in the feet, which are supposed to bring me up, when they learn to do it. Today I went to a fascinating presentation on how to design facades of buildings to reduce energy costs. A colleague who is 21 years younger than I asked me if I had a voice recorder. Funny, I had blabbed about my sister's reel to reel recorder of when we were kids. I had a voice recorder. But it is 10 year old technology - a mini reel to reel recorder. My colleague borrowed it for the presentation and later asked me how he would download it to use the recording. He grew up in the digital age, so he was expecting I would have a credit card sized digital voice recorder that later you can download to an MP3. I haven't had a need for one, so I didn't have one. I find the interchange amusing and also felt compelled to throw the recorder, after blessing it, in the trash. Particularly when he played back something for me, which came out in slow motion as in a spooky movie. A pause button provided that entertainment.
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