6/30/10

dear woke cheers

i was going to start the post, "dear all" but i woke up. i'm drenched in sweat. it was the sweatiest practice of the year. it's so hot, even early in the morning. it's good for tapas. and i need to start tapping. cheers.

6/29/10

phoning kung fu


it's a day off in the middle of the week. however, all sorts of activities have carved up the day. yoga started a bit late, as i made calls back home, and then it abruptly ended at Navasana, from which i went into Savasana, because i needed to continue phoning back to the family. it concerns me not to do closing sequence, so i may do a few closing poses now, an hour after practice, in my apartment. in the afternoon i'm meeting with my financial planner, then visiting the dentist, then going to see a screening of Kung Fu Kid, for which our company gave us free tickets. the film, with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, is a remake of the 1984 film The Karate Kid. i saw a trailer and i'm not sure i agreed with the premise that a foreign kid would be bullied while living in China, for which he needed to learn self defense. however, learning kung fu is akin to learning yoga - a beautiful yogic discipline. several of my foreigner friends living here, both male and female, are interested in it and practice it. The photo is from this source.
by the way, i have learned it's important to give feedback to adjusters. Green Giant had adjusted me earlier in the week in Triangmukka Eka Pada Paschimottanasana by only putting pressure on the bent leg. for my body type, that does not work. because of tightness in the thighs, i tend to list the body to one side, away from the bent leg. so i called him over to show him how it would work for my body type. he asked Cobra Tamer to help translate into Mandarin for him. i said that he needed, with his foot, first set me right up vertical, away from the listing side, then press the back forward, then, if he wanted to, he could put pressure on the bent knee. he understood.

cobra tamers thing


some of you may be racking your brain trying to figure out why i named a fellow practitioner Cobra Tamer. well, it's more complicated; there are actually about 3 Cobra Tamers in the shala, and many who belong to the same family. HAHA. it's just that over here, i don't know for what reason or from which tradition, many people begin a warmup with what i think is related to a pose call "lion" where you expell all of the air out in a big blowout hiss. it makes me think someone is trying to tame a Cobra by hissing back at it. i don't know but, the action must dispell garlic stuck in the lungs and remove stale air out. and logically, if you're going to be doing a lot of intense breathing during practice, if you expell the air out forcefully, you are going to inhale deeply back. there must be some sense to it somewhere. it's just funny to me, as are some other practices, such as an extra Chakrasana after Urdvha Danurasana, before doing Paschimottanasana in the closing. but that must come from ShalaCentral in Mysore or maybe it's an Asian thing. Photo credit here.

6/28/10

time making day

i did half of Primary today because i was short on time and needed to be at the office. regardless, i got there at the usual time because of the steamy rain making everyone go slow on the road. Mellow Man joined us for practice. been missing The Aviator, who must be flying around somewhere. i wanted to stop at the Marichyasana C but went on to get the usual strong adjust in D. i would have kept on going, but duty called. tomorrow i have a free day, so i may do my usual long practice.

6/27/10

intense Sunday

the day was too intense yesterday - 2 1/2 hours of yoga, 8 hours of work and 2 hours of a Mandarin lesson - on a Sunday. hence i slept a little longer, happy that the air conditioner, which had been out of sorts for two days, was working again. sometimes it feels my life belongs to the public.

6/26/10

breath wielding bottle

my practice of Primary to Ustrasana in Intermediate today took 2 1/2 hours. i can only do that on Sundays. regardless of the day, i am at the office working on a deadline, after practice. near me SilentSilk Maiden practiced, a water bottle nearby. she did not find her breath until the Prasarittas. i felt for her because that was me before paying more attention to the breath. she had a water bottle and took a sip as she began the seated sequence. i wanted to grab it and take it from her. for some reason it made me thirsty but i know the rules - no water drinking during our practice. she took another sip before Savasana. Dios mio. i'm reporting this toungue in cheek but i really wanted to parrot my past teachers, "no drinking during practice, etc. etc. etc." to add insult to my fragile mind, another yogini parked behind me, wielding another drinking bottle, this one a metal one you could bonk someone with in self defense. maybe she would bonk me if i said, "no drinking". haha.

i had some reveries during the practice, all of which i've forgotten. aren't you lucky that i'm sparing you? however, that reminds me that recently i would be dreaming a story line, such as that my aunt was showing me something, or my mom was, and then the alarm would wake me. then i wished the next day the story would continue, since it appeared like the message was interesting or important. speaking of interesting, my new flatmate is French, so i'm once again practicing the language.

twisting poses


the Marichyasana twists must help for this. from awkwardfamilyphotos. (saw the link in Bindi's blog and had seen some picturers posted by Liz as well.)

6/25/10

yoga teacher founded orphanage

yogis can be amazing. yesterday i learned about the work of Australian yoga teacher Didi Kalika, who while living and teaching yoga in Ulaambaatar, Mongolia, started an orphanage for kids called the Lotus Center for children. you can read about it here. apparently she has lost some financial support from the local government because she does things a little different. the local custom is to put all kids to live together in a giant hall. she puts the kids in her school in small groups of 8 to create families. she feels that what she's doing is a better way. (photo from the website)

6/24/10

knight sometimes roll

Green Giant explained in Mandarin that Bamboo Knight was in Singapore and would return on July 4. i really only understood that he was away, so i was making a list of reasons - he went to Mysore, he went to a training, he went on holiday. but Mr. Swan arrived and i confirmed the message. it's just that although i continue to study Mandarin, i sometimes forget the names of the countries in Chinese, so i did not recognize Singapore.

so today was mysore practice. at first there were just three cats, so i got extra help in some poses. i really appreciate the help in Uttihita Hasta Padangustasana. i look to see if the leg stays way up there after Green Giant has stopped helping to lift it. the assist i most appreciated today was the wedgie of his foot under my shoulders so i could keep the body up in Urdvha Padmasana at closing, and in Pindasana. i typically roll out of those.

spammer brain predator

a spammer thinks it's funny or appropriate to put a link to a viagra sales site as a comment to a post with a sensitive poem about death. i have news. it's not funny. regardless of which deadened part of the anatomy that medication might awaken, it's not going to resurrect the dead. maybe it's the spammer's brain that is deadened and i'm not sure his fave med is going to help there. he's a bad man and should stop being a predator.

speaking of predators, my German flatmate arrived at 5:00am this morning saddened because his wallet and mobile where stolen. he was at a club in the area of Xintiandi and took a break in the nearby park, past 4:00am. that would be unsafe in any city. someone expertly used a knife and zipped out both the right front pocket and the left rear pocket. this is a first for him. these things rarely happen here because of the mentality of respect. he considers his hometown of Hamburg, where he is returning tomorrow, to be more dangerous.

6/23/10

mens holiday list

men's holiday arrived early today. not really, but i've been wanting to write something amusing with that statement. my mind has been searching for reasons why i should not practice today or at least not once this week. i'm not as eloquent as Claudia in making a list with references. but my mind was going didactically down the list.

is it moon day? no, that's Saturday, so i can't take a break. how about that i worked 14 hours several days in a row? not an excuse, since yoga makes you better regardless of whatever is going in life. how about that afterwork i had to go across town to the giant Carrefours to go hunting for two things: a cushion to prop my buns on so my wrists can be at a higher elevation at my workstation, and an apparatus to plug in the wall that dispenses smells that makes flies disappear. that's a good tempting excuse to not go to practice, because doing an errand like that in the middle of the week is very disruptive to the schedule. in case you need information on the blow by blow of that event - i went to the store but only found the big apparatus that have light that attracts the bugs and then electrocutes them. the thought of sleeping while hearing the denouement of mosquitoes did not sound appealing. and the cushions i found in the store didn't work for my need. i eventually made it back home by taxi and found the plug-in insect repellent at the always trusty corner store.

but i digress. i still got up, ate breakfast, showered and dressed and headed out to the shala. i observed that for the 7th day, i have not filled the front tire with air in the bike. hello Skippetty; you drove around Amsterdam in your bike while in low gear without knowing. i've been driving around with a flat tire because i 1) don't know where the bike service stations are; 2) would have to brush up on how to ask for help in putting air (not really an excuse, because we foreigners are good mimes). my fancy bike has a seat post that has a tire inflator but i have not remembered to try it on the cheap bike.

soooo, what won out to give me a men's holiday from practice? the threat of rain. i started out towards the shala. the handheld does not give a lot of information on weather. today there was a drawing of clouds. however, i could feel as biking that the air was impregnated with water drops. pfft. i turned back to get my rain gear and to get an hour of sleep and check the weather properly on yahoo. i just checked. it's not supposed to rain, just to be cloudy. but i feel much more rested after an hour nap and 20 minute meditation. tomorrow is another day and i can go to the led ashtanga class. and who knows, i may try inflating the tire with the extra 15 minutes my holiday brought me.

6/22/10

practice always rolled

let's see, my practice world in 120 seconds. primary today, next to cobra chaser, who always requests a squish in Baddha Konasana. ouchy. her Bekasana is the froggiest. i love it. i lifted way up in UHP, with the help of Green Giant. the Barefoot Yoga practice rug smells fuchi. the hot weather season is here and it looks like i will have to take it home twice a week and wash it, since leaving it rolled up in storage results in making smelly cheese.

6/21/10

breathing thru struggle

today we had a breathing olympiad at the shala. jolly Green Giant practiced next to me. i remember more about his practice than about mine. the only time that i on purpose looked in his direction was to figure out what he was doing with his gaze in the jumpthrough, since he does it the way that Teacher wants me to do it. it's the lift the legs crossed way up, dangle and then put through the legs thru the arms. his gaze was towards the back. i was looking towards the front in mine and ending seating before getting the legs thru.

he made some effort to get the bind in Marichyasana D, but once there there was no struggle. i noticed he got into kurmasana from Dwi Pada, with a Eka Pada warmup before. he came up to standing from Urdvha Danurasana, although i missed the lift off. when he was doing the drop backs i noticed his feet were really pointed totally outward, splayed. it reminds me that many teachers don't care about that detail when you're beginning to do the dropbacks. anything to get you doing it. once you do it regularly then you want to keep the feet parallel. so it makes me think that i may want to try splaying my feet way out since i have gasp! never done dropbacks by myself unassisted. sometimes i just want to hurl myself back. kidding. i would let gravity do it's thing if i actually saw the mat behind me. but the feet would have had to have bent sufficiently, eh? there must be a point of no return.

Teacher's strap practice of yesterday helped me, once i took the strap out, to get a super duper lift in the upward bow. and i bound by myself in Marichyasana D on the left side. my eyes looked around the room for Teacher and my mind was saying, like a kid, "i'm binding by myself, did you see that, eh, Teacher, did you see that, i'm binding by myself." then i went back to the right side and tried to remember what it is that lets me get the bind. at the last moment as the wrapping, grabbing hand is pushing down and around the knee, i have to use the other hand to tip the assembly of my body forward, then quickly get the other hand to the grabbing one. if there is a grab, i can keep it. otherwise,the wrapping hand just pops out.

veggie perspective funny

i found a vegetarian restaurant, part of a chain, called New Age Veggie, just across from the office. i thought i'd try it for lunch. i experienced an anxiety attack when reading the complex menu, in trying to decide what to eat. i appreciate to have a delicious vegetarian restaurant close by, but there where so many choices of complicated looking food when i just wanted some vegetables and rice. for that, a regular Chinese restaurant works. i had a spicy tofu and mushroom soup, rice, and cabbage rolls filled with carrots and fake meats. maybe it's the fake meats with complicated sauces that i find is not necessary for me as a long term vegetarian. someone beginning to be a vegetarian would appreciate those choices in order to transition to a different diet. from a calorie restriction perspective, the choices in the menu of pizza or rice in "cheese sauce" seemed too high caloric and not good food choices. i like the Jujube Tree vegetarian restaurant chain, which in my opinion has a simpler menu. in the end, i prefer eating my simple soups and veggie pottage at home.

funny reflection: my measure of when i send a pant for dry cleaning to the laundry is not so much how many times i used it but when i spilled tea on it.

6/20/10

strap below elbows

Teacher gave me a strap and placed it tightly below the elbows for my Urdvha Danurasana practice. he asked me to use it for a while to build strength and keep the arms together. i pushed high up in the upward lift. it was easy to do so that way. after some practice of that i should push out from the wall, against which one can place some blocks at an angle. my practice was a short one of half Primary, Intermediate to Ustrasana.

6/19/10

bamboo graceful pictures

Bamboo Knight practiced with us while Green Giant assisted. this will probably train GG and prepare us for when BK has to go to Mecca. it took two tries to get me into Marichyasana D on my right side. that Mari, she's so loose on the left side. split personality, eh? i practiced next to PotofPoppies, who didn't wear orange today, so i almost didn't recognize her. Leaping Lung was Panting Lung in some asanas today. the Swan family was as usual graceful. when Teacher finished practicing, i received a hand-re-wrapping for the toe grab of Baddha Padmasana that was gave me such a good grip i wanted to savor the moment and not do anything. in fact i didn't do anything for as long as it was reasonable before arising suspicion that i wasn't squishing my body forward.

i've analyzed why i haven't posted the pictures from the last trip. i haven't counted them, but there were about 25 pictures per day in a five day trip. looking back, i used to spend extra time in the morning, go home early from work, spend a long time on weekends and not study Mandarin when i was preparing to do a series of posts with pictures from a trip. that's because the photos need editing, as does the stories that accompany them. i need to clarify that in architecture "go home early from work" means that rather than leaving an hour and a half later than the end of the work day, or 7:30, you leave just an hour later than the end of the day, or 6:30. that is "leaving early".

that was last year. this year i have so many responsibilities that i'm working on weekends (i'm about to start working now, for example). and now i can't skip on my Mandarin lessons. eventually i have to actually sit for an exam, after i have learned more than 400 characters. i can't be a slacker now. maybe that's not the right choice of words since posting pictures was not slacking. i just have different priorities. the pictures will have to wait until they are ready.

Edit: reading Claudia's post reminded me of a few things i meant to write about regarding my practice today. i have noticed that summer is here and Shanghai is very hot in the summer. the practice room hence is really warm and i'm sweating profusely during practice. and, today, as Green Giant was demonstrating Navasana to Mr. Swan, i realized that in my eagerness to to EkaPada Bakasana prep before doing Badha Konasana made me forget to do Navasana. i forgave myself in my internal dialog.

6/17/10

poppies blossom shaking

it was led today. i practiced next to PotofPoppies, who can Hanumanasana to her heart's content, and in front of Garlic Blossom, near whom i crashed lowdly when descending from Upha Vista Konasana. laughs. at that point Teacher said, "you know why? (referring to why i and others crashed) because all of you on the back wall are too far inwards in the room. move the mats against the wall." shuffle. shuffle. at Upplutihi, he seemed intent on doing a Sharath-like extension of the count. even Green Giant was shaking in his lift.

yoga togs?


can you believe this item? yoga togs?

6/16/10

mysterious

auhm, despite being a quick practice, i arrived a bit later than i'm used to at work. so i need to get up earlier to get sooner to the shala. practice was half and half, like the coffee creamer. i achieved lower dropsies in the dropback practice. is this post vague? haha. I'm mysterious. later in the day i spilled black tea on my new pants and put ink on my new shirt. life.

wash whites

my flatmate comes in as i'm finishing dinner. "you were busy today." i say.
"yea." (snicker).
"your girlfriend took my towel. it's alright. you can wash it and return it to me."
"she's not my girlfriend."
"your girlfriend of the day..."
"yes, my girlfriend of the day. let me see, oh yes, here it is, sorry about that."
"no problem... i'll wash it tomorrow with other whites."

after this slice of life story, tomorrow we return you to your usual scheduled program on my yoga practice.

6/15/10

champagne kidney visits

i meditated this morning. the flatmate brought someone home at 5:15am, my breakfast time. his room is near the kitchen. i heard girlish giggles. their breakfast was beer. not wanting to intrude, i slithered to my room to have breakfast. the walls didn't shake. that's good. i felt guilty turning on the washing machine at 9:30am, but Chinese wash laundry on sunny days and today is sunny. they're not sleeping. i can hear the door opening every hour for a visit to the bathroom. i should bring them some champagne, as the French would do to celebrate life.

my brother's new kidney is working well. i'm almost finished organizing the room. during a phone conversation with my mom, she thought i sounded sad. i'm not, really, just "off " while on holiday. OK, maybe i'm a bit lonely today. no demands for my time.

i'm hoping my brother recovers well. it's difficult for us foreigners to fly back home on emergencies. besides the expense and distance, there are steep tax implications. we foreigners can be doubly taxed - in our home country and in our country of residence. to avoid these one has to navigate complicated rules, among which are those which limit the length of time of visits back home.

6/14/10

swan leg boat

i practiced in front of the Swan family, an elegant ashtangi couple. Cobra Chaser was a gaggle of giggles today. speaking of giggle, i enjoyed my own. Teacher helped me get in Uttihita Hasta Padangustasana, and then we both marveled at how high my leg would stay till we noticed that the window ledge was holding my leg up. giggles. i said, "that is convenient". as i got ready for the left side, he said, "yes, now step backwards." i still was amazed that the leg muscles can engage and hold the bones up high like a dancer.

Teacher commented that i tend to close my eyes in the difficult poses, particularly when i'm being assisted into them. it's normal to close one's eyes when there is fear. but that digests and internalizes the fear, he said. it is better to keep the eyes open. if you need to you can gaze downward or upwards. "or focus on the dristhe", i added, pointing to the nose. yes, he agreed.

i think that the extra warm up that he was going to recommend for opening the hips is doing Eka Pada A "prep" before doing Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana. Some people have been doing this, as well as DwiPada moves before going into them or before going into Supta Kurmasana. so i did Eka Pada A. i love how i feel after doing that pose. it somehow releases a lot of tension in my back and neck, even if it does not seem it would.

tomorrow the shala is closed in observance of the Dragon Boat holiday. so i might do a crim, unauthorized, unforgivable self-practice of Intermediate. ha ha. as Patrick, who makes verbs out of poses, would say - i might Kapo, Pincha and Karanvanda. but, who knows? that is tomorrow, and i might slither into a Yin practice.

6/13/10

practiced adjusting brother

i practiced Primary to Ustrasana in Intermediate. Teacher was practicing with us, with his assistant moving about the room. i wasn't looking in his direction but he was in front of me. his practice is smooth and flowing. his jumpthroughs reminded me of what i used to do in California, which was a hurrying to get those feet through the arms and sit down. so i tried to do what i used to do. but later, when he was adjusting, he said that i was gliding in the jump through and he had taught me last year to jump, lift the crossed legs up, dangle, and then pass through. he also asked me to take time in the upward dog, leave the body soft on the mat, specially the legs, peel off the chest slowly upwards while letting the spine be soft and not engage the legs. when i tense the legs in upward dog, it sends stress to the lower spine, in his opinion. later i got a super adjust in Supta Kurmasana. i needed a nap after practice. now i'm ready to organize my room.

my brother had a kidney transplant. his health is delicate. i keep him in my intentions. i hope he improves his eating habits after this experience. my nephew, his son, is a new father of a healthy little girl.

waking flatmate disco

in the last two days, as i have been waking up for yoga or other activities an find myself at breakfast around 5:00am, my flatmate from Germany has been trailing in. he's a handsome, considerate, orderly and mature 19 year old who is here for an internship. on weekends, though, he often is party-hartying until the wee hours, something normal for his age. when he trails in, he orders fried foods from MickeyDees. i tell him it reminds me of my clubbing days in Miami Beach, although those hapenned late in life for me in my late 30s. i used to take "disco" naps before going out so i could be out until 5:00am. he has been watching the soccer match (Germany won) and drinking, or going dancing to clubs. it will just catch up with him. the body can't resist so much partying and bad food. as for myself i hope to do some extra yoga while having a few days off, and organizing my apartment.

interest juice observing

i may had felt a lot of interest in going to practice today, but i didn't because, despite it being Sunday, it is an official day of work and i needed to take care of something in a public office very early. i did that efficiently and then went to the office. it just felt strange to work on as Saturday and Sunday. although i was "on" for work, the moment i was "off" - going home, the energy waned. i embarrassed myself dropping a big bottle of juice as i was about to pay for it in the neighborhood store. i could not explain in Mandarin that i was really tired from having worked six days in a row and unaccustomed to it, hence my "accident". i paid for the two bottles and the owner looked surprised that i did not want to take with me the partially empty bottle that he picked up from the floor and put in a plastic bag. you have to experience this "substitute-two days-of-a-weekend-to-take-off-three-days-in-a-week" thing to believe it. it is mega weird. on a weekend day, parents are hurrying to take kids to school, businesses are readying up for their day, offices are humming. just observing.

6/11/10

spontaneously giggles animas

my practices have been a delight recently. here i am happy that the next moon day falls on a Saturday, so i don't have to skip a practice, given we don't practice on Saturdays. and i'm excitedly waiting for Sunday to roll around. haha. my practices have been very meditative recently. i sometimes am not sure who may be adjusting me because i'm looking at my nose most of the time, or i am with the eyes closed to a slant. by the way, Cobra Tamer is a delightful yogini that sometimes laughs spontaneously when she falls out of a pose. she giggles a lot. she must be fun to teach. what was i talking about? oh yea, practice.

i must say that Thursday morning i was weirded out by the few thoughts that visited me during practice. as for example, i asked myself if a man in the practice room could be the embodiment of Divine Mother? bothered by why i thought this, i rationalized afterwards that males can partly carry the animas of women. well that is what a famous psychiatrist friend once told me. (he was not only famous to his dogs in his house at lunch time. he got to have tea with many a prince and an audience with the pope, but that is another story for another day.) the legs of one of my past male teachers reminded me of those of my grandmother, so i saw her anima in him. OK, i was weirded out by all of those thoughts so they luckily disappeared with more practice.

i did want to add that my meditation teacher has been after me for maybe a year to spend 2 hours meditating in the style he's taught me. now, that is reciting sutras out loud while sitting in lotus on a cushion. i smile when he says that. i think he must understand that i practically do 2 hours of meditative yoga daily. so when would i, after yoga practice and after 12 hours of work in my profession, find time to meditate in that position? do it in place of sleep? i think he means that.

6/10/10

key yogini training

Teacher loaned me a key, since the yogini that was arriving earliest has a changing schedule and is arriving later than I in the morning. that's nice. it could mean i could do more yoga. haha. well, i could envision doing Primary thru the first of Intermediate, but it might be too tiring. this is a working weekend. i'm training myself in different software and stuff.

For Napper



next week is the Dragon Boat Festival. it's customary to have these sticky rice treats during that time. there is a popular dumpling place on the lane where i live, where they offer steamed buns and tea eggs. this week they had the sticky rice and i found out they had a variety without meat in it so i tried them today. it was sticky rice filled with dates and beans. i thought it would be a savory treat but instead it was a sweet one. it made me think if Napper since she mentioned that these are typically prepared at this time of the year. i have also been thinking of Napper because she mentioned enjoying loquats from her brother's garden while visiting in California. i have been eating a lot of lechees, which are in season now. they remind me of loquats. they are so tasty when eaten fresh. as a kid i was exposed to those which reached us in Puerto Rico in cans.

6/9/10

tight right side

half of Primary and the few first ones of Intermediate made myUrdvha Danurasanas go smoother. i was a bit spaced out or zombie like in getting to the shala. Teacher's assistant gave a strong assist in Marichyasana A. i'm tighter on the right side on this one.

6/8/10

felt right thing

today i practice Primary. it felt like the right thing for the body to be doing. i did an Eka Pada Sirsana prep prior to doing Supta Konasana to open the hips. then i went back to Supta Konasana. next week we have a holiday. it's three days off, but to make for it, we work saturday and sunday. it's the way here. Teacher wants to modify my practice so i can open the hips more in preparation for Intermediate. today doing Urdvha Danurasana after the full Primary was difficult as heck. it's easier after my half Primary/ first 4 of Intermediate practice, because there are more chest openings that way.

6/7/10

short blog nice

lately this has been a short blog about my practice because i have limited time to blog - about 3 minutes. i was sluggish in getting to the shala. last night i avoided dinner to see if i lose some weight so i can bind more easily. i was less hungry in the morning. i almost bound by myself, but the Teacher's assistant came to help before i did it. he's sweet. while some of us are paper white in our skin and wear black practice shorts, one of our fellow practitioners has dark skin and was wearing white today. nice contrast, all of us.

6/6/10

report focus quarter

nothing to report on the practice front other than i almost bound in marichyasana D once again by myself. there's no pain in the body. the left knee is bothering me me a bit so i have to pay attention to it. Teacher asked me to focus on really straightening the leg in the Janus Sirsasanas. today i did the half and half practice, or half and quarter. i stop at ustrasana.

practiced poses big

i practiced next to Leaping Lung, who breathes so loudly it makes me seem like a breathing slacker. she breathes for both of us. after a marichyasana D adjust Teacher said i should at least do Primary once a week. then he said, "oh, but you already do that on Fridays." i said i had a question. while visiting Hong Kong, the teacher there agreed with his observation that my tight shoulders where impeding my Urdva Danurasana, so i asked him what i should do to loosen them up. in my opinion, more practice of Primary is not going to help me, since it hurts by back. he said that hyperextending causes lower back problem. i pictured during the conversation that i needed to lift the chest more and engage the bhandas to protect the back. he said that the actions going on in the upward dog and downward dog are very important to loosening the shoulders. that he's not looking at my jumpbacks and jumpthroughs. those are not important compared to the upward and downward dogs.

he said that i probably noticed that he took away my intermediate poses. (Mellow Man was practicing the full Intermediate behind me.) in the month i have been there, he said, i have made a lot of progress in asanas, but he is not going to give me new poses (meaning new poses of Intermediate), unless, and here is the cliffhanger, unless, well, i didn't understand what he said. but i have been practicing eight years so i can fill in the blanks. this is me filling in the blank - (1) unless i do the fundamental asanas correctly, (2) unless my shoulders become more flexible, (3) unless i come up to standing from Urdva Danurasana, or (4) unless i'm following the program correctly because that is the way it's taught in Mysore. actually he did say (4) and added that we will continue and talk again later. well, no problem. i'm keeping a journal here, not making any judgements or complaining. i'm not worried since i have more important things to be worried about and as i read in Christina's blog, RF said that the practice makes you better for whatever you do in your busy professional life. she was asking him how to balance professional life and yoga.

however, i had to put my Big Boy pants (thanks Kai for the term) and speak up when a week ago i was in excruciating lower back pain from too much primary practice. i needed to do some intermediate. so he allowed me to do half primary and intermediate to Ustrasana. if i have to stay there for a long time, no problem. i'll work on coming to standing from Urdvha Danurasana, which after eight years has had a long time coming. it literally shocked Lino Miele last time I was in his room that i had not done it yet. ha ha. i'm labeling this post ashtanga yoga, something i have not done in maybe a year. it deserves it.

6/5/10

meditation haircut report

this morning i went to meditation at the home of the root teacher. my main meditation teacher would not be there today because he had to accompany his son to school. so basically i meditated with the root teacher and his daughter. they were really strict that my hand mudras where perfect. it's a good thing i do yoga for two reasons. first, the mudras require a lot of twisting of fingers. second, we sit in half lotus for 2 hours. both of those things are hard to do if you don't have the flexibility that yoga gives.

afterwards, i thought i would skedaddle but they asked me if i wasn't staying for lunch. this feels always a bit awkward because they invite me to eat lunch with their family. i don't know how i'm reciprocating other than being enthusiastic about learning about Buddhism and the Chinese forms. i'm thinking that i should bring some fruit or some flowers and say it's not for them, it's an offering for the Buddha. how does that sound? flowers or one big beautiful flower for the altar would always be welcome, eh?

afterwards i went to the haircut event. this is something i am weary of and put off as much as possible because i invariably end up with a shorter haircut than i want. how was my experience today? it was smooth. i still have a shorter haircut than i would want, but the experience was good. in China it's customary to get a scalp massage while one gets shampooed and a shoulder massage afterwards, all before the haircut. i showed up at noon. it must not have been a very busy time at this super busy place, because i got more than i expected. the masseur/washer put warm towels around my neck, poured warm water over the front of my head after rinsing. then he gave me a shoulder, back and hands massage. i wasn't in the mood to be angry when giving my instructions for the haircut. i was armed with the pictures of the perfect haircut in SF, and full instructions in Mandarin that i wanted one like it, i did not want it too short, i wanted scissors to be used, did he understand? he understood. what i received looks like the haircut in the picture, so i have to give him credit. but i won't need another haircut for 3 months probably. ha ha ha.

6/3/10

me Jane pain

it was led ashtanga this morning. there was a "me-Jane she-tarzan" warming up before beginning; she included orangutan chest poundings. all we needed was Carol Burnett's tarzan yell to complete the picture. once beginning, i didn't stop to go to the restroom in the middle. no pain today. my new soap with lavender and lemon grass made me smell like spicy sezchuan food.

6/2/10

indian yoga massage

tuesday night i found in the internet that there was an Indian vegetarian restaurant near my hotel, so after a short walk i headed over there. it was called Khana Kazana. i noticed there was a large Indian family celebrating a birthday. there were also some expressive (read loud) Americans in one table. i must be always trying to test the same dish at Indian restaurant - palak paneers and masala paratha. yesterday i tried the masala paratha stuffed bread, filled with cauliflower instead of potatoes. the meal was tasty but could have had more curry seasoning. the bread was slightly oily. my idea was to eat dinner so that i would not need breakfast in the morning before going to yoga.

i missed not practicing yoga on tuesday. the day did not feel complete if i missed it. so yesterday morning i woke up early and went to the mandarin oriental for ashtanga. i notice that the drop in rate was 260hkd or about 33usd. if memory serves me right, I think last October it was about 45usd so i was glad for the lower rate. i blogged about it last year. the teacher was Lilly. she was very sweet. she gave expert advice and adjustments. she is small, but that did not matter. it felt appropriate to do primary. she was helping people with dropbacks and wanted to know who i practiced with and whether my teacher assisted me with dropbacks. i mentioned my teacher's name and said that he doesn't yet adjust me in that, probably because he's waiting for my shoulders to relax more. she observed that my tight shoulders were impeding my urdvha danurasana. yesterday i was the only guy in the room. that makes me think, why don't guys who are trying to date women start doing yoga? they'll find a wealth of healthy pretty ladies. it's a no brainer. just my ruminations. i could be wrong.

my shoulders might be tight for UD, but not so tight. i could for example, reach to my side and behind me to put an umbrella on a side pocket of my backpack, all while walking.

i did some of the things in my schedule, including going to the bank and meeting with my financial planner. afterwards i went to buy a rain coat. i say buy, but it was look at. i learned the price, close to 2,000usd. that will have to wait and it will be an investement, i suppose, to last 20 years. that means $100 per year, if the buttons don't fall out before then. this is silly. it is a nice coat and it should last a long time, although fashions will change. i can't afford it yesterday, but maybe later.

so i headed early to the airport, afraid i would not have the energy to schlep myself and my stuff if i waited longer. i was 4 hours early. i went on the lookout for a foot massage place. it was not in the directory of services. i found a spa, but they only had one masseuse and the next available slot was 45 minutes before my flight. so i decided to go to the prayer room, a good place to go in any airport. on the way there, i found a health store that had a busy service of foot massages, so i sat for one. then i went to the prayer room and meditated for a while. those were my activities before the flight. i arrived home past midnight.

6/1/10

like small city


today i visited Festival Walk in Kowloon. it was a treat to pass through this place, which Miami-based Arquitectonica designed. it has many amenities that make it feel like a small city - shopping, groceries, bakeries, restaurants, banks, offices, a year-round ice-skating rink, access to metro, etc.
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