in October an eight day holiday occurs for the entire country. during that time my current plans are to accompany some friends to visit historical sites in the west around Tayuen. our trip will include a visit to the famous clay soldiers in Xi'an, the mausoleum of an emperor. that city has a well preserved historic center with giant walls surrounding it.
other than that, meditation class was interesting, with me the only pupil able to attend today. Teacher talked to me half in Mandarin, half in English. his 9 year old brought a computer translating machine so he could find the translation of words whenever he became stuck. despite the comprehension difficulty, i think i got the message. it would not be prudent to pass it on here, but it involved concepts such as heart, mind, thought and practice.
in Viranchyasana A, it's enough challenge to get the leg behind the leg, to also have the block in front of it of the leg in half lotus. i wrote in my notes, "do you put the leg in half lotus first?" but now looking at Arjuna's description, i realize the answer is yes. i need to remember to keep his site on while i practice because it has the breath counts and the sequence described very clearly.
music is important for health and helps the work flow. today i listened to Vangelis' soundtrack from the movie "1942 Conquest of Paradise" and JS Bach's "The Well Tempered Clavier" with Glenn Gould. image from page of the m_gardener.
yoga billborads around town. Pure Yoga, as in Singapore is in an upper floor of a high rise office building.
it takes a long time to organize and edit the photos from the trip. now my weekly obligations beckon. here is a reflective picture of the sky at sunset from within the terminal building at the Hong Kong airport, where i waited for my plane. in the picture you can see the reflection of the space also.
because of my experimentations at home, i've lost the bind in Mari-D and Supta Kurmasana was difficult to get into myself. the bathroom scale in the spa was nice to me and told me i was skinny. this scale knows how to flatter a guy. the one back in Shanghai tells me i'm fat. i don't know if i will go to the Mysore practice on Sunday. i may opt to go see a giant Buddha statue in an island here.
the view from my hotel window this morningthe dizzying climb up back to my hotel. i had heard it say that this city is full of pencil thin buildings, with sometimes one or two apartments per floor. anyhow, i better shut up now and take in the sites, and while i'm able to, freshen up the look of this site.
it's been a while i've seen so many influentials in the fields of design, engineering, building management, developers - all in one place, maybe not since attending a national architect's convention. green concepts are important. among the presenters where people from many countries. some fascinating projects were presented, such as the tallest building in Asia, to be built in Shanghai, and a building in Shenzen that is like a skyscraper on its side that incorporates very innovative new technologies. there was also a presentation on the World Expo, which will be in Shanghai next year. the theme is "Better City, Better Life." the expo will embrace green concepts and offer many interesting installations. Y'all should plan to visit next year, you hear?
my right knee hurt a bit during the day. it was probably because i haven't been as constant practicing lately. so i sat, Donuts-style, in half lotus on the chair for an hour while working, alternating legs. my legs feel better and got some hip opening.
i feel a bit stoic lately. i usually associate stoic values with Yankee New England values. you know, like being practical? well, speaking of stoicism, something interesting happened today that reminded me of a story. a colleague gave me the link to a site listing manufacturers of light fixtures. when i looked at the creator of the site, i recognized who he was - someone who once did something nice for me. at a previous job, i heard that one of the founders of the firm was interested in philosophy and wrote a book on the principles of stoicism based on Cicero. i wrote to an administrator of the firm asking where i could find a copy of the book because i wanted to read it. my first degree was in philosophy. lo and behold, the man who created the site was also the curator of the published copies of the book and sent me one as a gift. i was privileged to receive a copy of a beautiful little philosophy book, a result of a private printing. I treasure that little book. It’s on stoicism.
here is a blurb from studyworld.com on the philosophy of stoicism: "The philosophy of stoicism originated in Greece, and was based on the order of the universe. Nature to the stoics (universe) was a precisely ordered cosmos. Stoics taught that there was an order behind all the evident confusion of the universe. Mans purpose was to acquire order within the universe; harmonizing yourself with the universal order. Within this notion of harmonizing lies wisdom, sin resides with resisting the natural order (or nature). The stoics also tell of a rational plan in nature; our role was to live in accord with this plan. The natural order was filled with divinity, and all things possess a divine nature."
he discussed the different kinds of teas that exist in China. he is an expert on the subject because he used to sell tea during the days of his medical studies. we sampled a red tea and a green tea. in both cases, we smelled the aroma of the tea leaves after having passed boiling water through it. he discussed how it was harvested and prepared. one tea was harvested five years prior to today. the tea was served in minute cups and we drank cup after cup. he touched upon how the bitter aspects of some of the teas, once absorbed through the glands in the mouth, have medicinal benefits. the doctor and his family had to postpone their trip last weekend to Putoa Shan Island because of the storm that was going through nearby Taiwan. my intentions will be with the people affected by it. i asked if i could join him and his family when they go to the island in September or October. it is reputed to have lots of beautiful historic sites. my colleague arrived and we sat medical, as he calls it. i felt light-hearted afterwards. my heart felt as if it was smiling. have you experienced this feeling? it is hard to describe with words. imagine your heart taking the shape of a smile. that's how it felt.
later i went to my Mandarin lessons. my eating schedule has been upset all weekend, so i had a giga-headache. but i learned tons and tons of new words and expressions. later i went for a late lunch at a Shanghainese restaurant that is called godly-something where they prepare a lot of dishes with fake meats. i think i had pork meatballs with bamboo shoots and a mostly sour mushroom soup. my headache went away. then i went for my second haircut in two weeks. i normally get a haircut every six weeks, but last time i got tired of explaining that i wanted my hair cut only a little and ended up with a no-haircut haircut. so i learned today how to say how much i wanted cut. i practiced the body language too. i now have a haircut. bla bla. when i come back from HK i will hopefully have lots of pictures to share and less bla bla. i'm not tempted to eat in the below featured place. however, Starrybucks has my number.
i am always looking for ways to avoid eating peanut butter, which is a high fat source in my diet. this PubMed study would be a good reason to stop consuming it. from my one rat experience, it would seem that over consuming fat is going to impair my ability to do yoga and could have more deleterious cognitive long term effects. actually if i stop consuming it my asana practice might improve. i'm writing this after having eaten some peanut butter with my breakfast. but i had not read the article prior to eating. i don't buy peanut butter, but the caretaker of the aparment i live in does. Dr. Al Pater posted this in the CR list. "Scotty, this is the captain speaking. come to the rescue of my mitochondrial!"
Deterioration of physical performance and cognitive function in rats with short-term high-fat feeding.
Murray AJ, Knight NS, Cochlin LE, McAleese S, Deacon RM, Rawlins JN, Clarke K.FASEB J. 2009 Aug 10. PMID: 19667117
Efficiency, defined as the amount of work produced for a given amount of oxygen consumed, is a key determinant of endurance capacity, and can be altered by metabolic substrate supply, in that fatty acid oxidation is less efficient than glucose oxidation. It is unclear, however, whether consumption of a high-fat diet would be detrimental or beneficial for endurance capacity, due to purported glycogen-sparing properties. In addition, a high-fat diet over several months leads to cognitive impairment.
Here, we tested the hypothesis that short-term ingestion of a high-fat diet (55% kcal from fat) would impair exercise capacity and cognitive function in rats, compared with a control chow diet (7.5% kcal from fat) via mitochondrial uncoupling and energy deprivation.
We found that rats ran 35% less far on a treadmill and showed cognitive impairment in a maze test with 9 d of high-fat feeding, with respiratory uncoupling in skeletal muscle mitochondria, associated with increased uncoupling protein (UCP3) levels.
Our results suggest that high-fat feeding, even over short periods of time, alters skeletal muscle UCP3 expression, affecting energy production and physical performance. Optimization of nutrition to maximize the efficiency of mitochondrial ATP production could improve energetics in athletes and patients with metabolic abnormalities.
Our study demonstrates clear detrimental effects of a high-fat diet on both endurance exercise performance and cognitive function in rats over just 9 d of feeding. High-fat diet consumption increased mitochondrial uncoupling in skeletal muscle via UCP3 up-regulation. Thus, a decrease in metabolic efficiency may underlie the impaired endurance capacity. In addition, decreased efficiency of oxidative phosphorylation in the muscles of high-fat-fed rats may have induced cardiac hypertrophy following exercise, perhaps in an attempt to compensate, with an increase in cardiac output. Taken together, these findings argue strongly against the use of high-fat diets as an ergonomic aid during endurance training.
so i sat with my colleague's friends. one asked me what i typically do on weekends for fun. i went over my list - yoga, bicycling, meditation. "oh, you lead an artist's life." i don't know if you would call my life an artist's life. i would call it simple. yoga purifies one's life. it's okay to get together with friends. it's just that one cannot not stay out way late all the time if one is going to do yoga in the morning. it's also that getting sloshed is not going to help you. smoking doesn't help either and here people smoke everywhere. i took sips of what was offered me - a few sips of whiskey, a few sips of champagne - a toast to a couple celebrating their engagement. i rarely drink, and it's usually wine a couple of times a year. the group tonight grew to about 12 people.
i do handwriting analysis for fun. i learned to do it when i was 12 years old because teacher of mine loaned me a book on it and i became interested. i can tell personality traits of people by how they write. from looking at their handwriting i realized that my two female coworkers each have distinctive personalities diametrically opposed. one is sweet, intuitive, smart. the other is rational, quick thinking and sweet as well. as friends they complement each other.
my writing in here has been unusual this past week, to say the least. the stat counter has revealed a pattern of readership that mimics waves going up and down. this is not unlike the tones of the language i'm learning - which consist of four. to achieve correct pronunciation, the tones go up and down, like the stats. it's just that i didn't write consistently about yoga because my practice was not consistent this week. my self practice also is unusual. i did learn this week that i need to shower before practice, or i will wimp out of practicing. it's enjoyable to practice while clean.
what i thought was my popularity in Switzerland was probably someone who visited my blog to visit other sites. when i commented on it, the trail fell off. the reader found a way to reach the sites directly. Stats are funny and interesting. well, that's it, a rambling post, like the ramblings in a crowded bar. maybe i'll shut up for the weekend now.
i commented to the colleague with whom sometimes i do the Chinese calisthenics that the tape had not played in a while. so he decided to set up a bar and have several of us do the limbo during a break. despite doing urdvha danurasanas almost daily, it's not easy to do an urdvha danursana and walk forward without the hands touching the floor. also, the feet have to be splayed out for limbo, which is not normal. so i fell on my back, on my shoulders, more specifically. i heard some cracking noises. shudder. i am fine. well actually i think i'll take an advil. hehe. i later did an urdvha danurasana to let them know that i actually do similar movements daily. if they give me a copy of the mini video they made, i will post some pictures.
my trip to Hong Kong was moved to next week. i learned the ropes of several ways to get very good hotel rates. the net result is that sometimes you need to call the hotel you're considering first, because over the phone they can inform you of special packages that do not appear on their websites or on travel websites. if you want more details, you know what to do :) i did not know HK is such a shopping mecca. that is not the focus of my trip. i want to see the architecture and the sights, but people are telling me of stores dedicated to selling particular things - birds, cameras, watches, clothing, etc. there is one street where all of the stores are dedicated to women's clothings. there are streets dedicated to shoe stores, things like that.
i practiced poses from Intermediate this morning. thanks to Karen for discussing the tips on Bakasana she learned at DS's workshop, i was able to land twice on the knees without slipping. the trick was to hold the head level and not look up. i tend to crane my neck and look up, then slip off.
a colleague has an Apple laptop with the feature that takes your pictures and turns them into funnyhouse distortions and artistic abstract illustrations. here are some of us hamming it up this week. thursday we might go to a karaoke bar after work. now, i suppose for me to sing it would have to be something from my era, like "i will survive".
yesterday i accompanied my colleague who bicycles daily to work to lunch in the community. i ate noodles and vegetables. we boarded the same bus that picks up everyone at the metro in the mornings and takes people there at the conclusion of the day. i feel happy when i look at the bus full of colleagues, in particular because they always look happy when stepping off the bus and coming to work. we enjoy our architecture work. i share in their enthusiasm for life and work, even if i don't understand everything they are saying. i just share in their lightness.
i met the yogini who is my financial adviser for lunch. it was nice to talk about yoga practice personally with someone. the yoga community here is small. everyone knows everyone. next weekend i have the opportunity to go to Hong Kong. that must be a dream come true. for an architect it's a special city to visit. it's typhoon season, so it's either going to be wet or very hot, according to Ross, with whom i practiced ashtanga for years in SF and who now lives there. i'm not sure if we will be able to meet because of his work schedule. talking about the weather, a typhoon just passed in the China Sea, so the weather here has included strong winds and intermittent showers.
here is my set up for Urdva Kukkutasana A. i'm getting a little better at it. Urdva Kukkutasana B became C done twice, because i could not get the lotus feet through the arms. let's call the other picture research of Urdva Kukkutasana C. it is very far from where it needs to be. check back with me in 5 years. in Galavasana i could not get the foot hooked on the bend arm fast enough, so i modified a lot. afterwards i did baby dropbacks at the wall and on the mat.
the other day i needed to use the restroom in an office building downtown. i think the building next door doesn't have a direct line of view into the windows. or maybe the designer arrived at that conclusion.
this week, i have gone two times in a row after work in search of an elusive contemporary canopy of a building that doesn't show up. it's hiding from me. we want to photograph is as reference. i usually don't go photographing architecture at night, but these pictures of contemporary architecture at dusk look interesting because of the combination of electric illumination and ambient light. these buildings are in the area of Xintiandi, an area that preserved the facades of historic buildings and converted the assembly of buildings into stores and restaurants. it's popular with tourists and locals. after going there, i found one of the supermarkets popular with expats, where i found unsalted vegetarian bouillon. that was an incredible find. the 8 items i bought there cost me the same as two weeks of groceries, but i only need to visit this store occasionally.
my inclination with respect to my recent shala experience is that i may not visit it more than once monthly, to do primary. i may go to a led hatha class with a teacher at the gym in my community. i might ask that teacher, who is Indian, if he knows of people getting together to practice in the vicinity. i also wrote a letter to a teacher of led ashtanga classes, whose main teacher is Sheshadri, with the same question, but i haven't heard back.
there are three architecture book sellers that pass by our office monthly. they offer books at great prices. one of the sellers is our favorite. his name rhymes with King Kong. when he arrives is as if the ice cream truck man showed up. everyone noisily gathers around him and hover, poring over books. if he knows you really like a book but don't have the money on you that day, he tells you to take it and pay him next time. we love King Kong and we owe him money. (actually, King Kong and architecture go hand in hand, as in the image from realboooks.uk)
after work i had the intent of photographing a canopy of a building as reference. but i did not ask the exact address of the building. i went with a general description of the shopping center adjacent to which it was. that was not enough information to find the building in as big a city as this is. next time, if i haven't been to a specific location, i need to ask to be given the address with a googly map.
i'm out of pictures to show. luckily i may be going to Hong Kong next week, so there will be lots of photo ops.
Five A.M. in the Pinewoods
their hoofprints in the deep
needles and knew
they ended the long night
under the pines, walking
like two mute
and beautiful women toward
the deeper woods, so I
got up in the dark and
went there. They came
slowly down the hill
and looked at me sitting under
the blue trees, shyly
closer and stared
from under their thick lashes and even
nibbled some damp
tassels of weeds. This
is not a poem about a dream,
though it could be.
This is a poem about the world
that is ours, or could be.
one of them — I swear it! —
would have come to my arms.
But the other
stamped sharp hoof in the
pine needles like
the tap of sanity,
and they went off together through
the trees. When I woke
I was alone,
I was thinking:
so this is how you swim inward,
so this is how you flow outward,
so this is how you pray.
~ Mary Oliver, House of Light
the deer picture is from this site:
please visit the site; it contains a charming picture story.