1/31/09

ohai!

funny pictures of cats with captions
sending you a warm hello from San Francisco, which is sunny today!

1/30/09

Phillipine Mardi Gras Ati-Atihan

my friend Jessica Reischel shared the pictures she took of an interesting Mardi Gras celebration in the Phillipines that she attended, in the island of Boracay. she loves children and can capture beautiful expressions in pictures. in order to understand the way this celebration is conducted in the Philippines, you have to read what she has to say:

Ati-Atihan ("making like Ati's") celebrates the tribal history of the originating aboriginal families from Borneo who escaped religious persecution. It's also a celebration to honor their Santo Niño (the baby Jesus). Locals paint their faces and body black with charcoal and proudly dance through the streets carrying their statue of Santo Niño. It's a union of two spiritual worlds and a GIANT town party. At 4am Saturday morning hundreds flocked the streets with candles in a religious procession chanting the Hail Mary.
Here are her pictures:

1/29/09

deadline maintain way

i got to the shala, although because of a deadline, i was a bit late and just managed to get as many of Primary poses as I could - up to Janus Sirsasana A. my dristhe was good. i practiced next to MrSP, next to whom i have never practiced previously. without looking, i noticed that his flow in Second Series was very good, which made me wonder if that is the pace when the class is led in Mysore. he didn't do Dwi Pada, though. no judgement. a strap above his elbows helped him maintain the Pincha base in Karandavasana. sometimes i'm negotiating the wobbliness of the base, so that it makes difficult to get the lotus feet going and then bringing them down, if you're worried about maintaining the balance. having a strong base seems essential and a strap seems to help. i've also seen placing the hands around a wood block when setting up. changing the subject, one thing i've always wanted to note is that when Surfer Guy does Tittibasana C, he is so strong in it that it looks like he could just continue walking out of the studio bound as he is. the way i like to think about it is that he could walk all the way to San Jose from San Francisco bound like that. Do you know the way to San Jose? I've been away so long. I may go wrong and lose my way. Not.

1/28/09

wo yao kafei

Wo yao kafei

我要咖啡

i want cofee. that was easy to learn. these impressions of Shanghai were taken by Friend of Frogs and Squirrels. Thanks!

short home practice

i did a short practice at home of standing sequence up to the Prasarittas, dropbacks at the wall, bridge, Paschimosttanasana and the last three of the closing sequence. it's because i have a deadline today. tomorrow i can probably go to the shala.

this MIT Technology Review study says that eating fewer calories boosts memory and leads to better brains

1/27/09

light in windows

i was writing a comment chez Boodi when i noticed how the light of the morning was captured in the windows of the building  across from mine, so i had to capture it. i'll have to practice this afternoon or tomorrow because a deadline makes it difficult to get to the shala this moment.

1/26/09

moon day meditation

some people are celebrating the new moon day today. it's not because of that my practice today will only be meditation and not asanas. i'm helping out on a project until midweek, so i have to practice at home or do short practices so i can complete the assignment. happy moon day. moon photo by Koonhiah.

1/24/09

shanghai splendor kapotasana

in a few weeks, this blog may be reaching you from Shanghai,  where i plan to be living and working. i've been offered a great opportunity that i'm very grateful for.  i googled the words "Shanghai Splendor" to see what images pop up. the first ranked image is this one, on a book about the making of modern China from 1843 to 1949. well, that seems appropriate, since this city is an important financial center of the country. the next image ranking is the image of a car, followed by this image of the famous waterfront, from a tour organizer...as i was studying a map, i noticed there is a thoracic spine hospital. i could not help but think there is a tie-in to Kapotasana there. maybe if you're kapotasanaed you don't need to visit the thoracic spine place; you're already healed. ha! 

thanks to all of you for your support in the last few months during my job search. it appears that i will be located in a new suburb, south east of the center of town. the subway line that reaches it won't be completed until about September of this year. the shalas appear to be in the center of town. so i will probably be initially practicing in the apartment during the week prior to going to the office, and maybe going to the shala on Sundays. thinking of meditation centers, i noticed there is an ancient temple from the 3rd century in the center of the city where yearly they have a great celebration in May for the birthday of Shakyamuni Buddha. 

happy saturday

happy saturday. this image of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia was in an email i received today. the juxtaposition of the colorful church against the amazing sky is beautiful. the wikepedia article on the church is interesting. it consists mainly of a series of chapels. while appearing enormous, it is really humanly scaled compared to most European cathedrals with their massive naves.
OK, so i'm rehashing this morning's 6:00am architectural news. from the sublime of a cathedral to the commonality of food and drink. life is like that. that's a new lounge at Newark Airport. what a neat way to bring in color by using bottles of the main product you're selling: Heineken beer. it's designed by an innovative Amsterdam firm called Uxus. you might enjoy visiting their website and clicking on some of their other projects. i liked several, but found charming their concept for the children's play areas within McDonald's restaurants. you'll find it in the hotel/restaurant section of their site.

1/23/09

Shanghai Street Yoga


Rob Lucas, an ashtanga teacher in Shanghai. Heathcliff Moors 
pointed out to these videos in YouTube to me this morning.

quiet special symbology

it was a quiet, short practice today, of half of Primary, with a lot of Urdvha Danurasana practice and handstand practice at the end. it felt like old times, practicing between Legacy Rose and Amapola and across from Snow White. attendance was slight because there is a weekend-long workshop with Richard Freeman starting this evening. he's Seven Petal Lotus' main teacher in the West. i didn't sign up since i needed to conserve money but i'm sure it's going to be very special. 

Teacher suggested doing cobra once in a while in place of upward dog, to train the spine to sink into the back muscles, pushing the shoulders back, lifting the chest while extending the arms, bending the upper thoracic. when in downward dog and about to jump through, she suggested to think that there is a large pot with hot coals on the floor and I have to lift the folded legs way up, jumping over these then landing through the arms. that's a good symbology. it's also fun to do. my assisted dropback practice was strong, with the legs really engaging to bringing me back up.

1/22/09

nice post!

i may have re-written this post three times. blogging builds community. i feel it would be simpler for me to just say "nice post!" in a comment in another blog. sometimes you express an opinion or pitch in with a comment, and some people get offended.  well, sorry, it was just an opinion expressed. 
---------------------------------
With tremendous deception, we create samsara -- pain and misery for the whole world, including ourselves --but we still come off as if we were innocent. We call ourselves ladies and gentlemen, and we say, "I never commit any sins or create any problems. I''m just a regular old person, blah blah blah.” That snowballing of deception and the type of existence our deception creates are shocking. 
 
You might ask, "If everybody is involved with that particular scheme or project, then who sees the problem at all? Couldn't everybody just join in so that we don't have to see each other that way? Then we could just appreciate ourselves and our snowballing neuroses, and there would be no reference point whatsoever outside of that." Fortunately -- or maybe unfortunately -- we have one person who saw that there was a problem. That person was known as Buddha. He saw that there was a problem, he worked on it, and he got beyond it. He saw that the problem could be reduced -- and not just reduced, but completely annihilated, because he discovered how to prevent the problem right at the source. Right at the beginning, cessation is possible. Cessation is possible not only for the Buddha, but for us as well. We are trying to follow his path, his approach. 
Chogyam Trungpa, from "Introduction" to THE TRUTH OF SUFFERING AND THE PATH OF LIBERATION.

mayurasana core steady

it would be nice to capture daily the feeling that the seven headstands give me - a sense of peace. i missed class yesterday, probably from not sleeping too well the night before. the street was noisy from celebrations on the inauguration and I was worried about something. today i practiced the continuation of poses i had not completed from second on Tuesday - from Mayurasana onwards. i did Mayurasana twice, to make sure i was doing the vinyasa movement in it correctly. i also moved the chest higher up, which is necessary to get the pose correctly. 

paying attention to what the thighs are doing in Nakrasana has improved this pose. in a discussion with Seven Petal Lotus afterwards, she said the inner core of the stomach muscles as well as the thighs need to be engaged. i used to focus only on the shoulders in this pose and it just seemed like a moving push up. but with the thighs engaged it is easier to manage and less stress on the upper body. the legs need to be together.

during Urdvha Danurasana, Surfer Guy called out, "elbows in, elbows in." i'm becoming more disciplined about that lately.  Tommy Telomere was practicing 3rd nearby, Snow White 2nd. despite the fact that i'm reporting that, i did not lose my dristhe today. i didn't stare at them. and my breath was really focused and steady.

1/20/09

cause for joy

research angel Obama

i would call my practice today research, since i didn't complete anything. after full standing i did kasyapasasana, followed by yoginidrasana up to karandavasana. i practiced handstands at the wall to see if i can get the hips over my head with either the legs bent or straight, but going up together at the same time. it's not easy to do. my expressions were strange again in Urdvha Danurasana. Teacher suggested that i think that there is an angel in the spine and as you lift in UD, the angel lifts up and does the asana with joy.  i worked on the assisted dropbacks with the version of the hands crouching down the legs to the calves, then opening and reaching the arms back out to the mat. i watched part of the live inauguration coverage with Teacher and the receptionist at the shala. OMG, i wished i had a camera with me when i went to practice. as i crossed the street, i realize that someone had renamed Bush Street to Obama today. how cool is that?

wakeup alarm

my alarm clock this week is the debris removal crew across the street. we must be zoned commercial, despite that every other building has people living in them, because it a construction debris removal crew is allowed to remove the materials being demolished from the inside of the building across the street between 4:30am and 6:30am daily. on MLK day, while I was sleeping, my brain was processing, "how nice, they are unloading barriers for a parade" whenever i heard the loud crashes. but when i left for yoga i realized there were no parade preparations, only a debris truck being loaded. whatever the rules are, i imagine they would not do this in a neighborhood with dogs and children. cries and barking would serve as complaints.

1/19/09

warm shoulder Babylon

i practiced Second, from Bakasana to Dwi Pada. i did the Kasyapasana variation at the wall to warm up the leg behind the head pose, with the extended foot pressing out so as to get a good LBH position. i attempted Dwi Pada with the feet reversed, at which time Seven Petal Lotus helped me. her observation was that it was OK to reverse the leg, for practice, and that the problem on my left leg, which is my tight side, is that the shoulder doesn't get sufficiently in front of the thigh. that is a good observation and i'm going to pay attention to that from now on. i'll try to get the shoulder further in front of the thigh.

L'Haricote qui Saute (renamed from Jumping Beane) is a strong slender guy. i think he's learning to come up to standing from Urdvha Danurasana. today he was being assisted in doing so, but i found it amusing because it's as if his legs wanted to walk rather than stay planted. later, he was doing a handstand and flipped as if he was doing a tic toc. but it didn't appear to be his intent, since he crash landed on his back, making me say "uoouh-oh" across the room. but he was OK. if it had been me attempting tic toc, i would have probably crashed the same way. your spine has to be bendy and not be like a bench falling.

trying Boodi's latest strapped pose - handstand,  3" from the wall, bringing the legs first crouched, was difficult. i asked Teacher about this. so the work is to bring the legs together up as one. one variation is with the legs bent and the other with the legs straight. the purpose is to make you learn to shift the weight of the hips forward. when you bring one leg at a time up you introduce the added difficulty of torque; being upside down, it makes it difficult to maneuver not only being upside down, but also having torque. so i'll be giving a try to the legs together lift into handstand this week.
now for today's silliness, or the way the brain works to make you remember things. the character for learn in Chinese looks to me like someone who put a lot on top of his head before stepping out into the world. sort of like the hat worn by the woman in BeachBlanketBabylon. she must be of the learned sort.

1/18/09

finding cheap lentils

i needed lentils for the veggie pottage i make weekly. so i went to the chichi grocery store at the mall, where i get my kefir weekly. hmm. $4.26 for a small packet of organic lentils looked expensive. so i took the subway to a different part of town, where for a whopping $2.24 i obtained a packet of lentils and a packet of barley. all it required was a little travel. and i even got to check the items out myself! that's a new thing, a self service counter at the groceries. the overpriced lentils at the other store reminded me that in Miami Beach, at a chichi grocery store you go to get the best cheeses and breads, but anything else you touch is mega priced. i looked for lentils there, but could only find garbanzos, which were from Sardinia and packaged in a beautiful glass jar, for $6.50. no thanks. I walked to the nearest Publix grocery store and bought a package of lentils for $1.20.

i love internet communications. i've been talking to my mom in Puerto Rico, my uncle in Florida, my friend in China, my friend in London and another friend in Florida. sometimes i've talked to several of them on the same day! now, could it it be possible to be doing cyberyoga simultaneously through the internet? i didn't come up with the idea. it was probably Laksmi that suggested it.

float sequence good

i practiced Second Series to Ardvha Matsyedrasana today. to my right was Greenmat Jack. holy strength! it's nice to practice next to someone that does the vinyasa that looks like you're going to change a tire. crank. crank. crank. body upside down. legs float into infinity. to my left was Orange Lily. holy flexibility! she was doing Samakonasana and Hanumansana like her legs were made of jello. her dropbacks were beaaautiful too, but that's another story. so i was doing Bekasana when Bandha Girl across from me was doing her Prasarittas. oh, no, I realized i skipped those and still did the full standing sequence. what was i thinking? did i farm them out to Greenmat Jack? bad yogi. so i took a bathroom break and upon returning went back to the Prasarittas, then Purvottanasana and then back to starting Second again. i have  a strange energy today, but it's all good. :)

1/17/09

stone OM pendant

a friend of mine took this picture of a stone in the sand when she and he family stayed at a cabin in Stinson Beach just north of the city.i have been helping her establish an online website to sell a silver OM pendant that a silversmith makes for her locally.
the site should be online next week.

1/16/09

warrior pose expensive?

is warrior pose expensive? i don't know, but the character for expensive in mandarin looks like a human doing warrior pose. it also stands for clam shells, which makes sense. at some point shells were currency. another thought. the origin of the word "name" in mandarin is a combination of the characters for "mouth" and "sunset".  you can tell i studied philosophy, because i like to analyze the etimology of things. i guess to ancient Chinese, a sunset mouth must have seemed like the element of a thing, so they started giving sunset mouths to everything to distinguish them. the sunset mouth my parents gave me at birth is Arturo, what is yours?

i must be doing a contest with myself on how late i can get to the shala and still get a good practice. i started with full standing sequence. at Prassarita Paddotanasana A, teacher said that once you are forward, you can move the hands backwards so that the top of the fingers align with the arch of the feet. then when coming up, you can crawl the hands about 6 inches forward, look up, inhale and come up. 

Alin you can cover your eyes now. the standing sequence was followed by the remaining second series poses i didn't do yesterday, from Pincha Mayurasana to closing sequence. I leaned my arms in prayer position against a chair, kneeling in front of it, to awaken the deltoids before Pincha. Then did the floatiest Pincha I have ever done. Teacher commented that I did it well. i said that it was probably because i paid attention to what the hips were doing. all my attention was in the hips.

Seven Petal Lotus mentioned that Bharadvajasana is a good prep for Eka Pada Sirsasana, because, done correctly, one is lifting the torso while turning  back, enlongating the space in the lower back and abdominal area. this helps when you get into Eka Pada and Dwi Pada, to remember to lift the torso, not to crunch under the leg that is behind the head.

at SUPV time, i had a question for her on the entry. i brought up Susanada's comment that gommukasaning the feet helps to keep the bind so that you don't roll over the wrists. Teacher analyzed that this must mean to keep the knees together, not to have the thigh of the foot in lotus too far out, but have the knee of this foot closer to the knee of the extended leg. She also said that there needs to be shoulder openness, which you can work on in positions such as Utthita Parsvottanasana, where you have to open the chest, rotate the shoulders and spread the ribcage muscles.

Teacher asked me to soften my face while setting up for Salamba Sarvangasana, that my expression looked almost diabolical. i reflected internally that maybe i was releasing some bad karma. yesterday there was an ant dancing around the mat. i kept pushing it with my breath and gave it mental instructions to go away or it could get crushed. at some point it was crushed by my thigh. so maybe my bad expression today was the release of that karma.

i said hello to JB after practice. he's French and now turns out that there are three French guys regularly practicing in the shala. i won't tell you who's who, but they are the cast members Jumping Beane, Heathcliff Moors and El Crucero. Joy Suzanne would be amused. OK, enough fun. i need to get something done around here.

1/15/09

heat opening modification

it was Second again today, from Bakasana to Tittibasana D. i was a bit late, which seems to be a pattern this week. legs-behind-the-head poses were a struggle since it had been a few weeks i did some in the room. i bet those are like butter to do in a Bikram's room from the heat surrounding you. pure butter.

i've been reserving about 20 minutes daily to Urdvha Danurasanas prep poses, baby dropbacks all tied up, block in between legs, then assisted dropbacks. Teacher suggested i do the assisted dropback by pretending as if i was in a standing Ustrasana, crawl the hands down the feet until reaching the calves, then at that point opening them back to hold the fall to the floor.  this is a good way to practice dropbacks on one's own, she says. 

thursdays seems to be the day most people do some of 3rd series poses. i've been seeing a lot of yoginis do a modification of Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana where they put a strap on the calves then pull up (instead of bringing a bent let up.)

1/14/09

Landscapes and people of Laos

Jessica Reischel took these beautiful pictures during her trip to Laos and gave me permission to post them here. Thanks Jessica!
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