4/30/10

traveling offblog blanket

i'm traveling for a week to Henan and Zhejiang Provinces and will be offblog. it's the May holiday in China. happy holidays :) i put my stuff in a backpack. in the end the travel mat didnt' fit. i may have to do yoga on a hotel blanket or on a bed. i saw the Bird's Nest in Beijing and the Water Cube today. Gotta run.

4/28/10

iphone elevators ferry

i went and got a new iPhone, 16GB of the 3G generation. the communication is so clear. the best test was hearing my meditation teacher clearly. his English sometimes leans to chinglish, which is not a problem for me since it helps me understand the grammar of how sentences are composed in Chinese. but before, i think we both practically had to scream into the phone to hear each other. understanding was so difficult that sometimes we resorted to only texting. but today we had a very clear conversation where we both understood each other perfectly. i need to figure out if my phone plan has to have internet capability in order to use applications such as Mandarin Pod. that is one of the reasons, besides increase clarity in communications, for which i bought it.

getting to the seller was tricky because it was on the 20th floor of a building that was designed originally as a residential tower, but is now filled with offices. i made it OK to it despite lacking instructions on how to get there. these buildings where not intended to have the traffic of people up and down elevators that they have. so i noticed that if you want to descend 20 floors, people catch the next elevator going up seven more floors. that guarantees them a space in the elevator to descend later. actually that hapened to me also when i went to the eye doctor in a big hospital. after waiting 20 minutes for the elevator going down, which never appeared, several people and I rode it up so we could descend. this contrasts highly with the super sophisticated office building i visited where you punched in the floor you were going to and you would be instructed which elevator would take you there. six elevators took people randomly to their selected destinations, and only there.

my teeth are almost perfectly straight now after six months of braces. today they added more teeth to the ganging up. it's hard to chew, though, and difficult to floss.

i learned today also where to take the bus to the ferry of the fast boat to PutuoShan. actually, i have been learning a lot about how to use buses around the city. in addition there are new metro lines, so getting around is really easy.

4/26/10

currents balance news

as (0v0) would say, sometimes there are currents of conversations on blog and sometimes currents off blog. thanks to all who wrote off blog with notes of encouragement and advice. the cybershala and family rock.
Susan wrote something with respect to my new digs/shala/work that I think is useful to people who balance life, yoga practice and a demanding professional career. when the important things in your life can be close together, it makes life nicer. i'm quoting it here with her permission.
Hurray! Congratulations Arturo, great news. That's the set up I have in London, home/shala/office all in walking distance, and it has improved my life immeasurably. I'm sure it will yours too!

4/25/10

practiced primary position

yesterday practice defaulted to meditating. today i did half of primary practice. i studied a lot of Mandarin over the weekend.
i just heard the news. i start in my new position on may 10th. how fun. i can be in a new apartment near the yoga studio, which is near the new office. it's not all peaches and cream, but it is mostly peaches and cream. OM.

4/24/10

yoga manifesto article

yoga manifesto article in the NY times. too bad YogaDawg is not around to give his commentary. the studio mentioned in the article is not the first one to offer classes at pay what you can fees. a studio in SF in the Mission started doing that a year and a half ago. however, i wish i had known about the $8 hot yoga classes in SF mentioned in the article during my recent visit.

4/23/10

planning considering pondering

I've never done so much planning in anticipation of things not yet confirmed. I'm supposed to get confirmation any moment of a new position. In the meantime, I have been looking at apartments because the landlady has a contract with an agency and needs the room I'm in. Early today I went to see a studio apartment. It was small but adequate. For the same expense, I can get a room in the next property I saw. This one is in a brandly renovated flat with great light. The building is 20 years old and is nestled in a great residential area. The room is gigantic, with original wood floors. there is enough space for bed and study and yoga practice area. The downside is there is only one bathroom for three rooms. And who knows if one room is occupied by two people at least on ocassion. If I decide early, they will let me pick the furniture at Ikea. I could plan for things that help me hide so many things I have. I measured the time it takes to walk to the shala - 30 minutes. At the shala I could store the mat, shower and go to work. The office, if I get confirmation on joining the firm, is 20 minutes walk from the shala. The owner would require a six month lease and if for some reason my work moves me to another city in the country, he would consider my situation if I give him sufficient advance notice. This guy seems fair. He's a good friend of the angel of my landlady. I don't know if here, when you have to break a lease, you only lose your security deposit but are not required to pay the full lease period. In the States if you move because your work relocates you, you give a month's notice and not lose your deposit.

I later went to see a flat where someone is willing to let me take a bedroom. It has a little loft space that could be used for yoga practice and possible storage for all my stuff. However, the person leasing the apartment may be moving in three months if her new job is in another location in the city. So this could be just another temporary place for me to "crash". It happens that her apartment is in a luxury condominium and it is actually right behind the office that is considering me. I don't know if it makes sense to pay a mover to move me if I would have to move again within 3 months.

While pondering things like this at a coffee shop, I had to use the restroom. Someone tried to open the door. When it did not open, the person tried again. I mumbled something. Then I heard constant tapping with high heeled shoes as if Dorothy was clicking her shoes, or as if she wanted her flamenco tapping tell me to hurry. But you can't hurry the bowels.

Tough stuff, isn't it? I woke up with a back ache. I'm sure stress plays a part. But I think the backache is from sitting in the wrong position on the bed while ticking away in the computer. At least that is what the massage therapist who I went to in the afternoon thought. So I'm sitting in a meditation pose on the safuton now while writing this. At least my spine is straight and not hunched over. Besides everything that went on today, I have a date on Monday. That would be my first date (laugh) here.

Sorry for the mind dump, but life feels a bit topsy turvy at the moment. In the morning I'm going to a meditation where I'm supposed to sit uninterruptedly for 2 hours. ijole. They think I can do it because of yoga. Yes, but in Zen, we sit 45 minutes, walk 20 then sit another 45 minutes. Two hours nonstop while chanting is what I'm expected to do tomorrow.

4/22/10

yin good gingerly

this Elvis did yin today. i may have sent elvis forward in my intermediate practice yesterday and it caused a lot of good. however, getting the bind in pasasana yesterday was difficult. i may have strained. this morning i rose with the right side of the back in pain from the midrift to the lower back. so i practiced gingerly and defaulted to a yin practice.

what do you think about this article on new sites that go beyond social networking sites? are people revealing more than a tweety bit? the phonebooth site idea, where people post a self picture daily, is something some of us do already sometimes with respect to yoga practice.

visiting Guoliang

the May holiday starts next weekend. i have the wonderful opportunity to accompany a group of people from Beijing, some of them architects, to a remote ancient village in Henan Province. it is called Guoliang and it sits atop a shear rock cliff. it is run by about 80 families, most of them with the last name Shen. you can read about its history here. since it is practically innaccessible, the villagers built a tunnel on the side of the rock cliff. after they completed the road they came up with the slogan that the road tolerates no errors. you can read about the tunnel here. the pictures are from those two sites and i hope to post many when i return from the trip.



4/21/10

take Elvis forward

i took back the fort. to heck with the flatmate's hissy fits. i took back the yoga practice space, an intervening space between bedrooms. it is possible to control the temperature in it really well. yesterday when i practiced in the bedroom, the feet would not get warm. in the intervening space, the feet get warm, so practice is better.

i'm temporarily renaming my pelvis Elvis. so Kai said that Kino said, "and then you take your pelvis forward" on almost every asana. so, i'm taking Elvis forward. i also remembered Boodi saying that Guruji said to concentrate in back bending asanas to bend at the waist because it's where the psoas is. so i concentrated on all those things and took Elvis forward. my laghu vajrasana was strong. my kapo was better, but i have lost control of it as i descend.

4/20/10

practice minute flat

i did a short practice in the minute space next to the bed this morning, moving the dresser out of the way so the feet could extend. i don't want to practice in the room next to the flatmates, who are in various stages of hissy fits. later, i went to the shala to ask Teacher if he could help me find a flat to share in the vicinity of the shala. if i'm going to move again i might as well move even closer to the shala, which is close to the office... i showed up at the conclusion of Mysore practice. he was startled a bit but offered suggestions and thought of people he could ask regarding a flat.

my midmorning snack, after an Americano from Costa Coffee (why do they call it that?) was a macha green tea bread stuffed with sweet red bean paste and cream cheese. it was delicious. i don't have the picture to prove it. they don't have these in Kansas anymore. here is a wordle based on this post, using wordle.com:

edit: i went to see another apartment of the landlady. she explained that she asked me to move because she has a contract with the agency that brings interns here and they need a room. my agreement was month to month so she is giving me enough time to find another place. she didn't ask me to leave because one of my roommates hates me. (and clarification, he does not hate me, he just hates my guts.) she does not care whether people like each other in a share situation.

the new place she showed me is not adequate for two roomates. however, she has a friend that is renovating a flat in an old house where for about the same i pay now i could have double the space. she's an angel. so is another friend who found a friend willing to let her extra room to me.

4/19/10

primary series flat

on Sunday i practiced half of primary series. yesterday i meditated. today i practiced the other half of primary series. the weather is getting warmer. i am working on calculating my deductions for taxes and studying Mandarin. my landlord would like to rent the rooms in the apartment to interns of a particular program that come here for short periods of time, so i will be finding a new flat. i feel like Skippetty.

4/18/10

Jade Temple visit

this morning was unusual. my meditation teacher asked me to join him on a visit to Jade Temple. I had attempted to visit this temple on the Chinese New Year, but the lines to go in where three blocks long. on the way we bought ground up sandalwood, which one places in an electric incense burner. Teacher brought a burner for me this morning. at the temple i saw many beautiful statues and made my offerings. here are some of the pictures, taken with my small camera.

the contrast of a beautiful new building with interesting curtain wall next to the beautiful old classical temple is striking.



an ancient wood carving



Guanyin









my teacher's teacher's teacher, an old monk, died last night. so my teacher asked me if i wanted to join him in a visit to pay our respects at his hospital room. he had wanted me to meet the monk while he was alive, but i met him today, as he was resting peacefully in his bed, covered with a beautiful yellow satin blanket. his room was on the 11th floor on the wing of a hospital that is going through renovation. whenever the elevator opened, you could see construction workers milling about unfinished rooms. in the monk's room, people where allowed in groups of two. we offered some incense, and bowed, always holding our angeli mudra. as he laid there, the monk was smiling in his sleep. this afternoon, his body will be cremated. in my prayers i asked him a little favor :)

sitting body dinner

on Saturday i joined my meditation group. that day the teacher spoke on theoretical matters and we did not sit. we decided we would sit the following week at his home. the request is that we do so, crosslegged, for two hours. that's difficult, since in Zen one sits for 45 minutes, walks for 20, then sits again 45 minutes. the teacher is asking non-stop sitting for 2 hours. he said (grinning) that because i do yoga my body should be fine with it. later we went to lunch and i returned to the apartment. on the way i purchased a rice cooker and steamer.

on Sunday i got together with my Mandarin teacher, followed by meeting with a colleague for a chat over a healthy drink and dinner. she needed advice on her career. at the apartment my flatmates are angry because i asked them to smoke in the terrace, not inside the apartment. the landlady asked them this as well.

4/16/10

The Academy of Sciences in San Francisco

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i went to see the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco last week. I went to the inauguration a year ago but the crowds to get in where too long to make it possible to visit it then. on the way, i saw birds frolicking at the fountain at Civic Center.

the Amazon Forest exhibit. despite large crowds on the day of my visit around noon on a weekday, the experience was very pleasant, with a nice flow of movement through the exhibits.

view of the giant fish tank below, the largest fish, and the people walking under the tank.

after you climb to the top of the forest exhibit, you take the elevator to the basement, where you experience the various fish tank exhibits up close.

a sea horse

view of the DeYoung museum across the park, from the roof garden of the Academy. those are the PVC panels over the canopy of the entrance to the building.

the interesting live plants green roof, which is supported by an equally interesting structure below.

good week weather

practice was good today. i heated the room a half hour earlier. after warming up with the long pants i got into my really short practice pants. less fabric hanging around helped. it allowed me to grab the muscles in the asanas really requiring a lot of squeezing, without snagging by longer pants. i wasn't able to bind earlier in the week.

the maid in the apartment comes in once a week. she is charming. she had patience in listening to my Chinese, since i process and deliver slower than native speakers. she engaged me in a few conversations.

there's a grocery store on the first floor of the building. neat, huh? i have learned now to put the clothes to dry in the exterior of the building. people typically wash on days when the weather is good.

4/15/10

presently flash poses

presently i've been practicing by candlelight. there's not enough light in the room to take a picture of my practice. i would need to get a night light or something in the room for more light. flash photography would be out because it would wake up the flatmate by transmitting light under the door. the body has not been very flexible which makes me wonder how i used to do these intermediate poses much better before. maybe with the coming of warmer weather the poses will improve.

4/14/10

lagged heavier nidrasana

i am still a bit jet lagged. the last two days i have been going to sleep at 3:00pm, then waking up when a flatmate arrives at midnight from his job. later i feel like a hamster scurrying about his cage, since i make a noise while unpacking things. luckily, i don't make noise while doing yoga practice. i may only be two pounds heavier than three weeks ago. however, it was very difficult to get into legs behind the head poses this morning. i need to get into the habit of doing these again. i was about to do yoginidrasana when the thought occurred that of all the poses i could be rendering at the moment in which one of the flatmates could open his door and go through the intervening room, which is my practice room, that is the one position i would not like to be in. imagine that someone is not really exposed to seeing yoga and the first position they see me doing is this one. well in any case, it was not a full rendition today, since my legs where not too willing to be way behind my head today.

today i delivered the huge amount purchases to my colleagues at their place of work. i didn't want to hang out then but will meet them for dinner. i think they appreciated that i brought the stuff.

4/12/10

square practice series

today i tested using the little square room in between the bedrooms to practice. i did not make any noise that would wake up the flatmates. i verified so by asking them. i tried to be floaty in suryanamaskaras so that i would not land the feet with thuds. i plan to eventually practice in the mornings in the shala, but for the meantime, i will be practicing at home. i am planning to do the half sequences in between opening and closing asanas - a running sequence of one half of a series one day, the other half of the series the next day. my weight increased a little in SF, so i need to bring it back to normal. and i need to resume my Mandarin studies.

4/11/10

Palo Alto Foothills Park

last Saturday i went hiking in the Palo Alto Foothills Park with my friend V. only people who live in the city can drive into the park, although the public can access it by foot or bycicle. V. likes macro photography of nature, so i took some photos in his style. this first one is of a mushroom, which looks like a perfect geodesic dome structure.

V. took the photo of the bird and the lizard. in the distance you can see the Stanford University tower, Palo Alto and the bay.

my friend can do a movie star pose. i moved a little bit so as to not look like a sac of potatoes with arms dangling. haha. that's my new D&G hoodie - $17 at Ross Dress for Less. i bought it to have something scrungy in which to rummage through the storage unit. then i ended up feeling so confortable in it that i wore it every day (between washes, of course) for the last two weeks. i sampled D&G's cologne called The One. it is really clean and nice. but i have several colognes to go through before buying another.

somebody's manse being built. in that house people will repair rather than move from one room to another.

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