heritage tree ancient

A visit to PR wouldn't feel complete without a walk through Old San Juan, a world heritage site.
The fortress of San Felipe del Morro
The bark of this tree in the plaza is interesting.
Some houses are brightly painted. The presence of the car is ubiquitous. Laruga posted an internet discussion about plans to remove the cars from the ancient walled city. Alas, those talks have been in discussions for years. The car is still present here.
Amparo's house
The Children's Museum.


awakening through extending

In her book, Awakening the Spine, Vanda Scaravelli says, "You have to learn how to listen to your body, going with it and not against it, avoiding all effort or strain and centering your attention  on that very delicate point, the back of your waist (where the spine moves in two opposite directions)." In another part she says that, "the muscles must not be activated through tension or effort but only through the much more powerful wave of extension, which is produced by gravity and breathing."

This speaks to me because I sometimes force asanas, and maybe that is why I sometimes have lower back pain, because it causes compression. Extending, straightening, while softening and breathing goes a lot further in keeping me free of pain in my movements. When I sense tightening and pain I need to extend and relax.

I thought about that while starting practice today. I was stopped during seated poses by my cousin who asked me if I wanted to go into Old San Juan. So the practice was short.


chihuahua puppy chews

My sister obtained a chihuahua puppy from her parish priest, with the intent of giving it to my mom, to keep her company.
While my mom thinks about whether to keep it, not sure if she wants to train him, my sister is training him. He's a few week old puppy.
He's teething, so he chews on fingers, arms, watches, bracelets.

boardwalk yoga swim

My sister and I went to a scenic beach.
The weather has been gray all week.
Waves crash against the rocks forming cascades.
A boardward posed an opportunity for yoga.
After I did those asanas I felt good. When I attempted Uttihita Hasta Padangustasana, however, the muscles connecting the thighs, over the SI joint area, to the lower back twinged on the left side, causing pain. This problem sometimes happens in my body in this asana on the left side. It's not on the superficial muscles, but deep in the interconnecting ones. It leaves me limping or walking sideways.

After the brief practice I slowly went into the water to swim. It was very cold so it took me about half an hour to get submerged. I then paddled around for forty five minutes.


conversation bendito reflex

I did practice today, mostly standing asanas, since my mind was distracted with arguments with family members, way past the time the actual conversation took place, about topics related to Chinese culture as misunderstood by the rest of the world. I usually get so deadpan surprised to get hear these arguments that I am not able to respond at the time they are presented. People who haven't visited the country can't really understand the Chinese just by reading other people's  opinions in books. The West is somewhat unfairly critical at times,  possibly stemming from jealousies. These vivid discussions took place in the mind and on the mat.

As I was having lunch, sampling delicious leftovers and my healthy pudding topped by leftover trifle, I perused the local paper. When there was nothing else to read, I glanced at the obituaries. I didn't expect to find names I would recognize so I was really surprised to find that my great aunt's stepson had passed away. The obituary said he did so while sailing the high seas, doing what he loved best. Ay bendito. So it brought me thoughts that maybe I would like my obituary to say that I died while doing yoga, doing what I loved best, that I died while in Kapotasana. Well, Kapotasana might kill me, so maybe it would be nice to think of a different pose, an easier one to die in such as Kukutasana. Ok, ok, being silly here. If you don't know me, you should now that at moments of some sadness, such as finding out that a distant relative died, my mind switches into something funny so as to make me, and others laugh. It's like a reflex. I am always able to say funny things at funerals, at the few I have attended.  I could not find a decent picture of me in Kapotasana so here is an old one in kapotasana.
Since I'm expecting to be practicing at home for a while when I get back to SH, I'm thinking I might tinker with Vinyasa Krama, following the book. I might as well report that I'm toying with the idea.

By the way, there was an earthquake in Puerto Rico on Christmas Eve measuring about 5.4 on the Richter scale. As some of us where stepping out of the house to go to our aunt's next door, we heard a big rattle on the building behind the house. My family swears it was the sound of people opening the metal shutters in their balconies, but I think that was the rattle of the shutters during the earth shake, because we did not hear anything else. Everyone else has stories about what happened in their house during the five seconds of the earthquake. The laughing Jesus picture belongs to a friend in San Francisco. I changed the background with Photoshop because that part of the painting is damaged, in need of repair.


Yin Christmas moon

Yesterday morning I did yin yoga. That's the view from the balcony. As I began my practice I mentioned in my intentions the cybershalamates, sending them good wishes. I thanked them for being my teachers, for inspiring me. I picked up my limbs with detachment as if they were someone elses. I didn't listen to physical discomfort and made the shapes. Om.

Later we went to my aunt's for Christmas Eve gathering. Our aunt passed away this year, so we remembered her energetic spirit. It's still present in the tree, decorated as she used to do. My uncle is 92 and energetic.

The moon looked beatiful from the balcony.


Seven stewards station

It's sort of a ritual for my sisters and I to go to the Seven Seas beach in Fajardo when we see each other on arrival for the holidays. It was not the best day for beachcombing yesterday, because the northern side of the island had strong winds and high seas.
In the distance you see the estuary of Las Cabezas de San Juan. For four generations it was our family ranch until the government expropriated it to turn it into a park. It is the northeastern-most tip of the island. It has one of the lighthouses built by the Spaniards in Puerto Rico during the late 1800s.

Below is a closeup of the lighthouse, from this source, which explains it's history. Looking back, it was sort of an honor for our family to have been stewards of the property for a few generations. My father had the hopes to develop the land. One government would approve his plans; the following one would disapprove them. Environmentalists pointed out to the great natural value of the bio-luminescent lagoon within the property. Now the government takes care of it and everyone who visits can enjoy the nature preserve.

The tides rose high overnight and pushed a lot of sea grass on the beach.

I still felt the effects of having traveled from China, where the time difference is 12 hours later. So I took a nap in the life guard station.

A female dog and her brood.


Mysore sky illustrated

Today's Mysore was at 9:00. This is how the sky looked when I left my friend's apartment. When I arrived I placed my mat on the third row. It was the turn of one of the teachers, A., to teach, assisted by another teacher, P. Kino joined us in the room to practice. Her turn to teach is tomorrow. I kept my dristhe, but noticed she was doing Third Series. The guest teacher from Naples, Florida was doing Intermediate. As more people arrived, mat shuffling ocurred. Rows of four mats became rows of five; groups of rows moved forward to create space in the back; people doing finishing poses would trade places with newcombers from the back. The room was full, with a good group energy. While most people in the room where women, there were a lot of men. Some of the guys wore swimsuits to practice. That seemed practical. I might be a bit self concious doing so.

I wondered how people could be practicing up to about 10:30am in the midweek. I reasoned that it's a holiday week and that to my recollection having lived here in Miami Beach many years, people work in a lot of diverse ways - in real estate, medical, teaching, entertainment, hotel services, self employed consultants, etc. Not everyone follows a 9:00 to 5:00 schedule. So that might give people flexibility in their hours. I practiced Primary with a good steady flow. The usual problems I have been experiencing lately where still present. After finishing practice, I perused the wonderful book selection in the shala store. On the shelf I saw a copy of the book Loo mentioned that she is reading, Vanda Scaravelli's Awakening the Spine. It was beautifully illustrated, so I bought a copy. I also bought a beautiful mysore rug. Mine at home was getting ratty.
After practice I took a bus to Coral Gables and met my close friend and former colleague, A. We enjoyed lunch at an Indian restaurant. She is from Ecuador of Chinese decent. I've come to realize that many people influential in my life have been and continue to be Chinese.


Holiday Party at MLC

I assisted a Moon Day Holiday Party at Miami Life Center, which was an opportunity for the group here to say thank you and farewell to Greg Nardi.

Greg and his partner Juan Carlos are moving to Vancouver, Canada. You can read Greg's QA about this move in his Facebook page.

Tim and Kino thanked Greg for his passion, commitment, honesty and ethics, which helped establish their strong shala.

Some happy photos with Kino and Tim.

Kino is coming to China next year in September, teaching in Hong Kong and Beijing. I could make time for a weekend jaunt. I hope that my teacher Stanley can arrange for them to come to Shanghai the following year.
And speaking of China, I heard mandarin being spoken in front of the Kenneth Cole store on Collins Avenue, so I naturally had to say hi and say that I live in Shanghai. These cute Chinese are from different provinces in the mainland and are spending their holiday in Florida.
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