12/31/08

Bistro de Paris

speaking of Paris, our mother invited us for lunch at the Bistro de Paris. the owners moved to a new location recently on De Diego Avenida.
the tile floor is of a pattern designed in Mexico but fabricated in Puerto Rico
the bar has a stamped metal edge. the ceilings have decorative sections covered in stamped metal. the stools are French.
lots of other French details abound, such as the marble topped tables over wrought iron bases, the frosted glass, the chandliers.
and, of course, champagne. oh, i forgot, the food was great!it's located across from the museum of art
which has these beautiful doors leading to a patio in the back
a window at the museum
i had to take advantage of low prices for t-shirts for yoga practice at the Tommy Hilfinger and Ralph Lauren stores in Calle del Cristo in Old San Juan. This is a rare site of no traffic looking south
and no traffic looking north. well, it's New Year's Eve and people are probably home and planning to get together with their families and friends later. there are no cruise ships at the moment in the port.

sunrise painting salutation

hope you all like my sun salutations... sunrise this morning
a framed painting by a Mexican artist my niece bought at a great price, at an arts & crafts show in Mexico City

sun salutation (i don't have photoshop here to rotate the image and correct the horizon line)

12/30/08

Paris in Fajardo

i walked into a perfume store today and had this photo op with Paris Hilton. OK I made that up. I'm pictured next to a full size image of her. What is true is that other celebrities have been spotted in Old San Juan this week - J.Lo and her hubs. My yoga practice this morning was a record short one - my usual mat warmups, including thoracic chest opening bed hangs, the invocation chant and one sun salutation. That last sentence might send some readers brought here by celebrity sighting to seek more information on yoga - so consider it some way of carrying the good name of yoga. Like, what the heck are bed hangs? Become a yoga insider by practicing it and you will learn. Happy New Year. Many happy bed hangs in 2009 to you.

12/29/08

family mall milk

i have been meditating each morning during my visit. however, the time usually dedicated to yoga practice has been interrupted with family get togethers, and times to meet and analyze what the loss of our father recently implies to us a family. sometimes the get togethers go well into late at night, resulting in late start in the morning. so i don't think i will be able to practice much yoga while here this week. i've done some yin yoga. here is a funny picture of the women in the family, all of them grabbing their cell phones at the same time. you wonder what it means when the lady that has been helping with cooking and cleaning recently in the house wears a cell phone in her ear with bluetooth technology. i guess it means that times have really changed. cell phone use is universal.
i went to the mall today, to wait while my sister and mom shopped. there may be a recession going, but you don't feel it in that the mall is packed. however, the mall here is like the center of town. there was a lady in a party dress, wearing high heels and pushing a baby cart with two children in it, with another child in tow. this is the place to meet and greet.

i mistakenly asked for a coffee at the Border's Books cafe, after 20 minutes in line. when i received warm milk with coffee in it, i realized you have to specify black coffee. they changed it for me. then i looked for cream and could not find it. i did not want to explain that i can tolerate a tablespoon of cream, but not a cup of milk with my coffee. frustrated, i left the coffee. not finding another coffee place, i returned to the cafe and waited another 20 minutes to ask whether it was possible to get black coffee with half and half. the attendant said yes, but that the cream was kept behind the counter. when i received the coffee, it was a late in which a cup of cream was used. i enjoyed it, but it had the same effect of drinking milk, making my stomach gurgly. these employees could go to Starbucks and see that people put a little half and half in their coffees. it's not so strange.i had to take a picture of these hord'oeuvres crackers, which are imported from Australia. they look, taste and have the same texture of Catholic Mass hosts. it really amuses me. some enterprising business which maybe supplies hosts decided they could modify and repackage their product as crackers. they have the advantage that they seem to hold well in humid environments without getting too soft.

12/28/08

Fajardo beach scenes

the Seven Seas beach in Fajardo, PR
these were my stomping grounds growing up
a bird on a rock
a beached jelly fish
the tide lowering caused many jelly fish to become beached. i don't think Spongebob would like that. he goes jellyfishing in the water.
reaching a secluded beach that we used to call El Convento but someone renamed recently. the mountain in the distance is the rain forest of El Yunque.
the sun reflecting on the shore

beach scenes

patterns in the sand at the beach today
men using the excuse of fishing to get away from the house.
a secluded beach; it's a look/see beach because the water is too rough here. beautiful nevertheless.

figured out camera

was going to go to the rain forest instead of practicing this morning, but, was phonus interruptus. my uncle and i figured out how to make the video camera work so that now the family can talk through the internet and see each other too. technology is great. this is a capture of me from that computer camera, happy with the results. so now i could be anywhere in the world and call my family through the computer and see them!

12/27/08

life standing wise

it's hard to practice calorie restriction and yoga during visits to the family. people probably think that vegetarians have to fill their plates to the brim because there is no meat there. yoga practice yesterday was standing sequence, a few of sitting sequence, bridge and shoulder stand. the phone rang and i shifted to continuing to set up the voice over the internet phone with camera. after several tries with my uncle in Florida, we succeeded to where my uncle and aunt could see my mom and i through the system. that was really exciting. so today we're going to have a reunion over the computer between all of the cousins visiting in Florida and all of the cousins visiting here in PR.

things in PR in general are regressive, economy wise. when things are slow in the mainland, they are worse here. condominiums in Condado that used to sell for $2 million are offered for $600,000 and there aren't buyers. in a popular neighborhood restaurant in a residential area of town, two weeks ago two armed bandits made off with the wallets and jewelry of the customers. in San Francisco we have the problem of the ever present panhandlers at every corner and outside many businesses in the heart of the city. i guess you can look at holdups here as a sort of pan handling where instead of a cup held out for donations, it's a gun that is proferred. generosity here saves your life. someone threatened a bank branch with a fake bomb and made off with a $100,000 recently. they say these criminal activities always existed before, but i wonder if they are symptomatic of the economy.
the doves in our balcony were beginning to flap their wings yesterday, when i took this picture. their mother would continue coming by several times a day to bring them food or keep them warm. this morning, however, they are gone. the head of one is near the nest. my sister, the public relations executive, always looking for the positive statement, stated that one chick was attacked by a strange animal and that the mother took the other one with her. my other sister, who runs a school, simply explained to my mom that the cat ate the chicks. that's probably what hapenned. we were checking the cat to see if her stomach looked overly plump, or if there was incriminating residue in her wiskers. one doesn't want to think too much about it. this is how cats are and the dove should have chosen a high branch in a tree rather than a chair in the balcony to build her nest. sigh.

12/25/08

meal visit photos

after our Christmas meal, our cousins came to visit
one of them, only 2 years old, grabbed my camera and started snapping pictures
of me
of his mom, my cousin
of my mom
of his great aunt, my cousin
of his (and my) cousin
i took this picture of an orchid in the patio. amazing that a 2 year old took most of the snapshots shown above. i only cropped them a bit.

mass tellulah meditating

the Christmas tree at my aunt's house. it's always a beaut. i contributed this year with a tiny origami ornament that i blabbed about a few days ago, appropriately purchased at a fund raiser for the Hartford Street Zen Center. Zen. yea. i thought about the cross between Christianity and Buddhism as i enjoyed the music at the Christmas mass. this is a humble parish with the luck of having a priest who loves to sing and does it well. the choir also sings well. during the homily, the priest held out a statue of the baby Jesus, which after concluding his talk, he said, as he read the label in the back that it was made in China by French manufacturers -"fabrique en Chine" he exclaimed. "this is international," he said. we were all treated to a dousing of holy water. no one escaped this, which brought a lot of ducking from the celebrants. the priest also spread a lot of incense at different points, as for example before reading the bible. it was high church indeed for this humble parish. if Tellulah Bankhead were seated in the front row, she would have told the priest, "I love your outfit, honey, but your purse is on fire."

at different times he rattled out the names of all of the founding saints of early Christianity, which reminded me of how we rattle the names of the saints in the Buddhist tradition that passed the "lamp", as we say, from generation to generation. And i was thinking how Blanche Hartman, a Zen priest, quietly sat in her meditation at an interfaith peace rally held at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. i decided to do the same. it's difficult to sit zazen in a church vibrant with latin devotional music. the quietness and formality of the Buddhist tradition handed out to us through the Japanese culture, here played out in a rowdy Catholic service. which makes me think of this funny image of Jesus meditating like a Buddha, from this funny blogger who practices yoga. why not? without delving into all of the theology of it, i would leave it at that Jesus and Buddha can be best buds. i'm sure i've violated the religious precepts of various spiritual traditions in this post. it just reminds me of a former priest who is Buddhist. in his home he keeps a statue of Jesus and one of Buddha next to each other. he says he just prefers not to try to understand the conflict of all that. it is what it is.

(disclaimer - the above blog entry wrote itself, (0v0) style, although i was present.)

12/24/08

flying baby doves

getting to the Island was interesting. the lady next to me in the red-eye plane out of San Francisco told me she would be going to sleep during the trip. somewhere around 1:30 am i heard this incessant chatter at my right ear. she had decided to talk incessantly to the person next to her. and talk she did, as if she was broadcasting in the radio, without breaking to breathe. on the next plane, from Miami to Puerto Rico, the two men sitting next to me did not stop talking for the entire 2 1/2 hour flight. i have never witnessed two men talk so incessantly; it was like a volley. one would end a sentence and the other would start his. i don't think they knew each other. the talked about, from what i could remember, about what you can do on a visit to Germany, the distance of traveling by car between two cities in Virginia, how much time it took to shave and get ready before the flight this morning, the cost of the luggage bags, the bag's brand and which store he bought them from at the mall, what the niece of one of them complained about regarding school (with full mimic of complaints), where in the public plaza of his town one of them would be meeting his friends this Friday and what they would talk about, the blow by blow details of the traffic to get to the airport and the report on such traffic that one of them shared on his cell phone with a relative (with full mimic of the conversation), the cost and style of the cellular phone of one of them; the quality of the service. i've lost some of you already. is any of that fascinating? no, i don't think so. the only interruption of the conversation was a moment when one of them requested black coffee with three equal sweetner packages. the stewardess said, "listen, google equal. there are as many calories in three packages as in a teaspoon of sugar." at that time i chimed in to say, "yes, and aspartame is not healthy - google that. splenda (sucralose) is better, but it has calories too."

so hopefully i'll do self practices while here. here are some pictures. one is of the view from the balcony, beautiful even after a shower. the other is of a little nest of baby doves that a dove dedided to build in a chair in the balcony and my mom decided not to disturb. the mother dove comes and feeds the babies now that they are hatched and sometimes keeps them warm by sitting there.

12/23/08

samastitihi prep

preparation for Samastitihi (we knew he was a yogi...). found here. Tadasana is an Advanced B series pose, by the way. only ashtanga luminaries get there.

deeper bend utkasanana

i practiced the second half of Primary, then Second to Kapotasana. i noticed that my prep warmup poses took 30 minutes. i could understand why they would be illegal to practice them at the Source in Mysore. students would take too long in their practices. if you're running a big ship, you've got to process the people. but in that case, practitioners who benefit from doing these passive prep stretches (pigeon, chest openings, bed or couch hangs, etc.) prior to beginning their practice end up doing them in the afternoon. that is okay if you're taking a sabbattical to practice in India, but it's difficult for the rest of us.

i practiced the Kapo variation at the wall with arms extended. i don't know. i didn't feel the effect in my upper thoracic, which is what I was expecting, but a deeper bend in the lower abdominal area and an opening of the hips.
i asked Teacher about what Susananda was discussing, how when you begin you're taught to grace the fingers to the floor as you go into Utkanasana, so as to get you to bend deeply, then after a while you just learn to lift the arms up, breathing in, as you bring the body into the  crouch. she says there are probably two ways to how it's taught. the older teachers teach it with the fingers scraping the floor to get the students to bend deeply. in Mysore these days they teach it lifting the hands up, breathing deeply as you crouch. what a teacher has to observe is how open the hips of a student are. a new student is not likely to get a lot of benefit from just lifting the arms if they have not bent the feet. The picture of Utkasana is of Arjuna from his website.

12/22/08

meet me at...

there is an expression in San Francisco, "meet me at the St. Francis". my friend D. and i used it today to meet for coffee in their lobby. that is the gingerbread confection/decoration in the lobby. it was good to see throngs of people in their hotel.
on the way back to the apartment i walked by this public housing project being completed. it has beautiful materials used in very pleasing contemporary ways.
it's not lazyness, but i usually end up skipping yoga on Mondays. today was no exception. i tried... but you know what that means.

12/21/08

globalization of fat

in case you missed the article - Americans are not the only obesogenic society. people are becoming overweight everywhere.  

yes, i know the holidays are upon us. but we should keep in mind that, "calorie overload sends the brain haywire". Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor says that, "Overeating makes the brain go haywire, prompting a cascade of damage that may cause diabetes, heart disease and other ills, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday, Oct 2, 2008. Eating too much appears to activate a usually dormant immune system pathway in the brain, sending out immune cells to attack and destroy invaders that are not there, Dongsheng Cai of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and colleagues found." Have a healthy holiday!

kapo prep blogs

i thought that the room would be emptier because we're close to the holidays, but instead it was packed. i practiced across from Atlas Reveal and Dale Carnegie and in between El Crucero and Mona. Later Yellow Rose Pin squeezed in between us. the one thing i wanted to try with Teacher's observation was YC's Kapo at the wall, extending the arms and pushing against the wall. we tried it just as El Crucero was doing his Kapo and nearly reaching his toes. so it made us reflect that perhaps the benefit of this research of Kapo against the wall is that it forces you you push the pelvis forward towards  the front of the mat, which whether the wall is there to assist you or not, it's what is supposed to be happening - pelvis moving towards the front of the mat.
before class i asked a yogini to take this picture of me. no, i'm not being held up by the asht. police. it's another research pose to do before Uttihita Hasta Padangustasana. now, we've all seen this in YJ at one time or another. i could not find it in a google image search, so i had the picture taken. the benefit of this is that it makes you really engage the thigh muscles as you concentrate on straightening both the standing leg and the extended leg. then when you extend the leg in the pose, without the wall, you are more aware of how strongly engaged those thigh muscles need to be to have the correct extension of the feet.

yesterday i must have visited about 25 yoga blogs, at least all of those that i have saved to the favorites in my Internet viewer. I must have covered at least four continents. that was fun. hope everyone has happy holidays and a prosperous new year. if anyone knows of ashtanga or other yoga blogs in Spanish, please share.

12/20/08

for Bindi from Bollywood

i seem to be on holiday mode already. For Bindi from Bollywood - Rab Ne Bana di Jodi. checking out what movies may be playing or about to begin playing in San Juan, i came across this entry from Bollywood. you don't have to watch a trailer to figure what it may be about. do i hear transformations? cheers!
(a mi lector de Caguas - saludos - para alla voy prontito a pasar las Navidades.)
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