7/31/10

radiant


source: NYT

address observing time

the address of the new shala is on the website, at the side bar of the blog. today was our first practice there. it's a commercial building. however, being an architect i know that this is a building that was designed as a residential building and at some point the developer decided to turn it into a commercial one. Shanghai has several buildings like that. you know they are designed as residential because the layout of the "offices" follow residential planning - living room, kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms. i'm just observing, not criticizing. the light is great and there was a nice breeze. the floors invite you to walk barefoot throughout. the owners of the studio seem to be an Indian man and his Chinese wife. saw the pictures of the cute couple on the wall. bla bla. i have to work long hours today. had to cancel my Chinese lesson, which frustrates me to no end. so i practiced half of primary next to Moonpop. Sunflower settled to my left at some point. i'm still somewhat congested. i will need to get a moped to get to the shala and then to work on time.

7/29/10

short toes attention

i did a short practice of half Primary today. i needed to pick up the mat since on sunday we will be at a new location. i will post the new shala's address soon. Teacher is leasing space in an existing shala that has no mysore program. it's on the 26th floor of an office building in the Jing'An Temple area. i may need to find a used moped on Craigslist. I noticed a lot of familiar faces in the room today - Green Giant, Moonpop, Mellowman and others. In the shoes area i noticed someone had the shoes that have individual toes. i guess it would happen that they would appear in this market someday. Teacher said to pay attention to keeping the heels down in poses that have the heels on the floor or i'm not using the back muscles properly.

shala update

i think the shala has a new location as of August 1, from a text message Bamboo Knight sent. i have checked it in the map. it's in a nearby district. however, i may need to get a moped because it would be too much pedaling to get there in the morning and then to the office afterwards. i'll check out the distance this weekend.

breaking news: i just started using my new orange flavored Crest toothpase, having finished the last one, a lemon flavored one. both taste great and must be manufactured only for the Asian market. I think there is a strawberry flavored one, although i may be hallucinating. why don't they sell these stateside? what are they afraid of?

7/28/10

practice attempt report

practice attempt report. i texted the teacher that i might go today. i mentioned to other cybershalamates that i might go today. i woke up (late), ate breakfast, showered, coughed, then rested and puttered on the computer. i packed the yoga clothes for tomorrow.

7/27/10

view outside window


view outside the window yesterday, with the sky clear and the sun reflecting on the World Financial Center and Jing Mao towers in the distance. The Oriental Pearl tower also caught the rays of the sun on its curvature.

men's courtesy namaste

(i have edited this entry to expand on geological information.) i'm on my fourth day of men's holiday courtesy of a cold. i know i should hold Kurmasana and Supta Kurmasana longer during a cold. the forward bend burns that "phlegm in the busom." that's assuming i get to the practice mat. it was good to be linked to this site where i can drool on the poses i can't have. yet. until i rebel. haha. i have news, though. i have done Lion pose, and that is, gasp! a six series pose (not the series they are called these days. i suppose. maybe they are called advanced series A & B now). and years ago i did, gasp! Marichasana E and F. tsk tsk. i'm in a funny mood. namaste.

check out this rock. on one side it shows the layers of sedimentation. then on the top surface it shows wavy curves formed by water movement over what probably was sand at one point. i'm good at changing the subject, eh?

Edit: The ripple surface of these rocks is very interesting. There was a sign in the park describing it: "Rocks were formed 1200Ma ago and are quartzose sandstone, which is purplish red because Fe in rocks is oxidized. The wave marks on the rocks beddding surface are named ripple in geology which form because the sea waves carry the sandstone grains near littoralal shallow water and deposited here. The ripple is a very important sign of depoisitional environment in geology. The motion, direction and depth of sea water can be known by research and observation of ripple and bedding and the depositional environment can be concluded." Below is a close up of the ripple surface of the rock.

7/26/10

cold idylic trip

when i have a cold is when i'm a wuss with practice. any medication i take to be able to breathe better is cause of not waking up in time to practice. let's see if tomorrow i go to practice yoga. this gave me a small amount of time to continue organizing photos for my last trip to Guolian.
to get an idylic photo like this one of an ancient farmhouse
i had to sometimes wait for hordes of Chinese tourists to pass. the other option was to wake up really early.
at the river, there was an attraction where they put you in a plastic ball, zip it up and inflate it with air, letting you roll around while floating in the water. how is that for floatation therapy, eh? i don't know; this one looks a bit claustophobic.

7/25/10

popular press yoga article


there is an article today on yoga in the NY times, mentioning the usual stellar cast of yoga practitioners, the same that when i started my path made me think, "if it's good for them, it must be good for me." stars are after all people just like you and me, maybe just with more responsibility and more exposure. the article includes this picture of Marylin Monroe doing Danurasana. there are some inconsistencies. the article doesn't explain that Jivamukti evolved from Ashtanga. also, Star M may no longer be a client of Famous Yoga Teacher B. she, like many normal folks, has studied with many other teachers.

7/24/10

days off practice

i'm at home resting. i feel a slight sorethroat. it may be from a combination of long hours of work, excessive heat followed by cool airconditioning in the office yesterday morning, and resistance broken down by eating junk food yesterday mid-morning. tomorrow is a moon day , so i will essentially will have three days in a row off yoga practice.

tale of teas

I had a conversation with my meditation teacher, who is a tea expert. He once sold teas for a living, while paying his way through his education as a traditional Chinese doctor. He introduced me to a giant tea market in Shanghai, which is about three floors high and has about 20 booths per floor selling teas and everything required to prepare it and serve it. I regularly buy tea from his favorite supplier, who packs different teas for me in individual servings.

My questions to him where on the prepartion of the teas - how hot is the water, what type of equipment to use, etc. What I typically observe at these tea shops is that water is boiled in a tea pot then quickly passed through the tea, then the tea is served. I don't see people concerned about the heat of the water. But if you are going to be more accurate - red teas, pu-er teas and mountain oolongs can get boiling water of 90c or higher (194f). You typically put the tea in a red clay teapot, pour the water, then pour the tea out into a serving container, typically of glass, then pour this tea into teacups. Typically you throw out the first tea poured into the teacups, as that is to warm them and to introduce the flavor. That is the method when serving teas to guests, but it's not what one typically does for oneself. It seems wasteful to throw out tea.

Green teas are young teas and can get water that is heated less, to about 80c poured through it. It is usually prepared in glass containers, not clay ones. The typical Chinese colleague will put leaves in the bottom of a cup and pour boiling water. I use a jar that has a straining container at the top and pass boiling water through it. One serving of tea gives me about 6 eight ounce servings. The container holds about 24 ounces.

I mentioned to him that in the office we just have a device that dispenses boiling water and I would have no knowledge of the temperature at which it is dispensed. So the logical advice is to use boiling water and not worry about the exact temperature. In the end, it's more important to just drink a lot of tea for health and not worry so much about the preparation. In my personal opinion, after living here in China a year and a half, where I have been exposed to great teas, is that you also need to buy good quality tea. Cheap tea will taste bitter.

There is a website that discusses a lot about the types of teas and their preparation, Nobleharbor.

7/22/10

quiet side inwards

more mysore practice today since we need to be quiet in the apartment. i usually do things the way the last teacher or adjuster suggested i do things. in Triang Muka Ekapada Paschimotanasana, someone in San Francisco had suggested i keep the bent knee close to the extended leg. it makes my body list to one side, but whatever, i followed the instruction. today Bamboo Knight suggested i keep the bent leg away from the extended one so i have a good ground on which to fold forward without listing to the side. also he asked that i lift the flesh off the sitting bone and rotate the thigh of the extended leg downward. the rotating the thighs inwards he also suggested for the prasarittas earlier in the week. today i actually exchanged names with Cobra Chaser.

7/21/10

backlog helped haha

i have a lot of backlog of topics to blog about - sites from Yunnan province; the plans of my friend the Olympian who is going to bike all the way up to Llasa, Tibet, with pictures of the anticipated trip, etc. what i lack is time. today's practice was like yesterday - half primary, part of intermediate. Teacher said i should pedal slowly when using the bike, otherwise it tightens the hips and affects the knees. that came up when i could not bind in Marichyasana D on the right side. he suggested i do Arda Matsyendrasana instead. that was nice, so i could get the benefit of the twist. today i was dizzy a lot during the practice. i could have dropped all the way to the floor in dropback practice for two reasons- i'm getting flexier, and i did not care - i could have just dizzied my way down and pretended it was a faint. or the faint would have helped. haha.

7/20/10

week practicing minutes

now for my 120 second blog. my left leg has been hurting for a week. i notice that if i lift from the thigh to place it in asanas, the pain moves away from the knee and lower part of the leg. so maybe this indicates that the tightness is in the hips. there are some poses i can bind when the right leg is bent, but cannot easily when the left leg is bent. today's practice was half of Primary and Intermediate to Laghuvajrasana. i'm not sure if it was SilentSilk Maiden practicing next to me. it could be. i heard Teacher going over ujahi breath with her. the room was packed. we were interrupted by someone knocking on the door. he was checking the air conditioning. when you're on a good nutrition practices it's hard to give up Perry Noia. i bet it's not sold where you are. oops that took 9 minutes to write. bad man.

7/19/10

half work room

i practiced half of primary and a few of intermediate. i needed to finish early to get something prepared for someone at work prior to a meeting. Teacher was chatty discussing differences between here and Singapore. we reflected on how we both have gained about 5 pounds since moving here, in part because the food is different from what we're used to. i don't know how to count the calories of food in restaurants here too well.

the room was packed. a casualty of the shala shenanigans is that Green Giant has not been in the room assisting. what a shame. Cobra Chaser practiced next to me. she has lots of expression, such as an "Oio a!" when coming to standing from Urdvha Danurasana. she also sometimes gets stuck in the rolls of Garbo Pindasana. hehe. oops. dristhe.

7/18/10

evaluates to tame

we practiced again while Bamboo Knight evaluates his next step. the elegant Mr. Swan and his missus joined us, as did TalkingPink Lilly and Cobra Chaser. my left leg has been incredibly stiff all weekend. not practicing yesterday did not help to tame it. so today i substituted for most binding poses where that leg was bent. binding in Marichyasana D on the right side was possible. i did not practice yesterday because i stayed up too late on Saturday walking around the Expo site.

7/17/10

first visit to Expo

yesterday i accompanied a former colleague to the Expo. By her suggestion, we went in the late afternoon. we did not anticipate that this day there would be 500,000 people. she wanted to eat dinner at a French restaurant rated with 3 Michelin stars, so we did. here are some snapshots of things we saw.

a light fixture and a canopy

Hamburg Pavilion

Alsace, France, Pavilion

i referred to this as the Sketchup building, since it seems entirely designed using Google Sketchup, a popular tools for architects here. that probably sounds funny only to architects. it's a green building. i'm not criticizing it because i do not know what the exhibit is about, however i find it funny.

the German Pavilion. i attended a workshop a few months ago and one of the presenters was the local architect for this project. his view was that these are meant to be temporary structures because they are exhibit spaces with no function, however zoomy they seem to be. that could be a good opinion, however, historically, Pavilions at World's Fairs have great influence on the architecture of succeeding generations.

the French Pavilion

there was a Disney-esque parade

a kid amusingly used his mom's head, then his sister's head as a level surface from which to take pictures of the parade.

the facade of the Sweden Pavilion, i understand, is based on the map of the capital of Sweden

of the European Pavilions we were able to go into Denmark's Pavilion, for which the famous Little Mermaid statue, a landmark in Denmark, was brought.

although it is intended that you can bike to the top of the pavilion and then down, it probably was a logistics nightmare to control their use. all of the bikes where locked when we visited.

a fountain at the top of the building

i have been talking to people who have visited the Expo. a popular Pavilion is the Saudi Arabia one, which has a movie about the history of their country. however, it can take about 6 to 9 hours to wait to get in. you have to plan your day around queuing for it at the Expo if you plan to see it. basically people wait at 6:00am outside the gate, then run when the gates open at 9:00am to queue for that exhibit. that will mean only a two hour queue. if you walk, you will have to wait about six hours. apparently you tell volunteers that you have to go to the bathroom when you have to leave the line for a bathroom break. you basically have to treat it as if you were hiking and would take food, a small foldable stool, a book to read, etc. a former colleague's parents waited 9 hours. another former colleague waited six hours, plus two additional ones while a projector equipment was repaired. the wait at other popular pavilions can be four hours. but the wait in some is only 5 to 10 minutes. it appears that Saturdays is the busiest day, which is the day i chose to go for the first time. if you buy afternoon tickets, they are half price. so we spent time walking around pavilions since the lines where too long to go in. also, the size of the Expo site is a consideration. it is enormous. the entire city of Hong Kong, including Kowloon fits in the site. So does the city of Bern, Switzerland. So you have to use the bus system or walk a lot to get around.

7/16/10

extreme acroyoga


According to the British "Daily Telegraph" two Norwegian artists like to demonstrate exquisite balance skills. here they did a stunt, doing a wheelbarrow in a 1400-meter-high cliff. i guess they do acroyoga and would be good at extreme ironing as well.

mangou mousse cake


some pictures from celebrating my birthday with mango mousse and chocolate cake. i'm the only July birthday in our group :) more pictures on Monday... the flower picture is from the state of Yunnan. i've been given a lot of pictures to post on beautiful rice terraces and villages. but i just need time.

7/15/10

private practice offered

so we practiced together in a private home. Bamboo Knight practiced with us as we listened to Sharath counting on a recording. at least i think it was Sharath. it was at gerbil speed. not really, but as reported by people who practice with his DVDs, five breaths counts of S. can be three breath counts of one of us. For some least favorite, i mean difficult positions, that is a good way to move to the next one. for those you savor, well, you have to keep going. there was no point to attempt binding in Marichyasana D at lightning speed. oh, it was an employee of a competitor studio that made false accusations that is causing the teacher to have to find a new location. the employee seems to operate on the non yogic notion that if there are less studios, there will be more members for his joint. that is not how more people find out about the benefits of yoga. when there are more different types of yoga offered, more people benefit from the health and wellbeing that it brings. San Francisco is an example of that, with myriads of types of yogas and myriads of studios. if you have a teacher, be thankful.

7/14/10

home angeli promoted


i will be practicing at home while the group finds a new location. the shala was growing, but it seems that a competitor questioned whether region was being promoted, because angeli mudra asana is viewed to belong at home or in the temple. i need to pick up my manduka. my favorite cake is carrot cake and Saturday is my birthday. my favorite ice cream is chocolate. my favorite cologne is sandalwood. send gifts. the weather is warm. today the cleaning lady cleans the apartment. i'd rather be reporting on Jolly Green Giant, Bamboo Knight, Leaping Lung, Mellow Man, Cobra Tamer, Pot of Poppies, Mr & Mrs. Swan, Moon Pop, the Aviator, Silentsilk Maiden, La Francesita or TalkingPink Lilly.

7/13/10

texted massage call

Teacher was not feeling so good yesterday so he texted everyone to please practice at home today and come back on Thursday, so he can rest. for me, practice at home today means yin yoga, because i can't work up a sweat. upon completion of yoga the bathroom will be occupied and i will not be able to shower before going to work. so i need to do a non-sweaty practice.

yesterday i thought i would go for a massage to the local studio of a chain. i go often to a larger location of the same chain, in the middle of the commercial district. i requested a traditional Chinese massage. the therapist was a meat grinder. it was as if a 20 year old was practicing on another 20 year old. asking to go softer did nothing to alleviate the pressure. when he was at the lower back i freaked out so he avoided the area.

i have been unsubscribing from emails from vendors, to the tune of two per day. my email inbox gets about 25 emails daily. those from family and friends, or on yoga and architecture i plan to keep.

7/12/10

wet all psychosomatically

i'm soaking wet, a combination of hot practice and rainy weather. i'm experiencing evaporative cooling right now. something Bamboo Knight said while adjusting me in Utihita Hasta Padangustasana somehow made sense today. While he was assisting to keep the leg up he said, "don't contract; let go". that made a lot of sense- the muscles want to contract as if you're going to walk, but you don't need to because the foot is extended up. In Ukatasana he said to bend the legs more, push the pelvis back more and lift the chest more. all of that made sense too. it felt like, "when the student is ready the teacher arrives", as if my body was taking in lessons psychosomatically. he noticed that i struggle with binding in Marichyasana D on the right side. i said i could do it on the left side. so he said that if i did it first on the left side, i would probably get it on the right side. i tried that and almost got it on the right side. "it's all a balance thing", i said. Urdva Danurasana was OK today but feels better on days i do intermediate.

7/11/10

pattern sleep meditated

my pattern lately is that of a five-day-a-week ashtangi. there is precedent for that. before, as now, Sundays is the day of most intense practice, so i can sometimes be sore on Mondays and need rest. recently, the reason is that Sunday is the most intense day of varied activieties - yoga, work, Chinese lessons, housekeeping, ironing clothes, cooking for the week - all in one day. it makes me sleep more on Mondays. today, for example, i got ready for yoga, waking up early and taking my turn in the bathroom. i live with flatmates and my bathroom turn is the earliest. if i miss my turn it conflicts with their schedule. after getting ready, i went back to sleep. at least i meditated.
these pictures pictures from the NYTimes on the World Cup are amazing. in the second one you see exhilaration and pathos all in one picture.

7/10/10

next lift auspicious


i was was given the next pose! Skippetty's least fave - Laghu Varjrasana. :)) i wasn't asking for it. the picture is of Arjuna doing it, from his website. it was again sweaty-hot today in the shala - good for tapas. when doing Urdva Danurasana - now i'm doing about nine lifts up, on the last three i thought of Guruji's statement, "walk hands inside feet" to walk the hands towards the feet and get more lift. there must be wisdom in those words. i could lift way up comfortably.
at the office i needed some cushions to get my body up on the chair so that my hands can be at a comfortable angle, draping over the keyboard, thus minimizing repetitive movement stress. i could not find the relax-the-back basic black wedgie cushion. i found these choices in the internet here, playful probably because of the local aesthetic.



finally, i settled on two basic Ikea cusions in red. the color red is auspicious in China

7/8/10

laowei bundle packed

thanks for your comments on what causes thigh discomfort. i'll comment back when i get back home. we had a led class this morning. there were only two of us laoweis (foreigners) so the class was in Mandarin. it's a good way to learn anatomy in Chinese. Cobra Tamer was doing her usual "Me Jane" warmup in the morning. she's a bundle of funny energy. MoonPop joined us; the Swan Family missed. the room was packed. in retrospect, i'm not sure how i got through this week with so many time pressures.

thunder thighs

does ashtanga practice make your thighs throb in the afternoon, while you're sitting at a chair doing work, making them feel huge, even though you have not gained weight? that is my experience recently. it could be the yoga or it might be amplified by bicycling to the shala, then to work, then back home. in the afternoons, my thighs fell like thunder thighs, like those of skater JR Celski. photo credit here. or maybe it's soreness because of practice. but the throbbing ocurred in both legs. do you longtime practitioners experience the same? maybe it's an opening, or a that in yoga, in general, pain travels. so now pain is enjoying it's holiday on my thighs. i wonder where will it visit next time. it seems to have left the lower back. is Kai's gremlin Nidra makes the rounds?
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