went to one of those meet-the-client trips where at lunch and dinner wine and baijiu flowed and cigarette smoke wafted the room. there were toast after toast until i felt a little toasted myself. my clothes today smell like i visited a bar of the 1980s, prior to the smoking ban. one host had a laugh a minute. which made me reflect on how recently i was in India, where there they offer laugh therapy. is the character of Indians serious so they need this therapy? it seems the Chinese don't need laugh therapy. they laugh a lot already. in America, they have laugh tracks on TV shows, so we are trained already. but i digress. it's part of the business culture in China to eat and drink socially. this image is of yogis, not at yesterday's meetings, an Israeli, Chinese and fellow Puerto Rican. haha.
some yoga practice is possible, except there are too many meetings to prepare for during this trip. looking at the neighbor's cars after breakfast. when my colleague went to add gas to her Toyota Corolla, it cost 2.5 Kuwaiti Dinars, or about $9 USD for a full tank. she said this country ranks among the top of countries with least expensive fuel costs.
after a busy day of work in KW, i ate at the Chinese villa where i'm staying. dinner was rice noodles with tomato and egg spicy sauce. when i returned to the apartment where i'm staying, my boss and his wife where sharing dinner with some colleagues. she was visiting from the mainland of China. they invited me to eat dumplings and share drinks. i could not eat much more but i joined them and sampled shrimp dumplings. thank God i understand more Chinese now, since all the conversations where in Chinese for two hours.
R. photo bombing a group's photo taking in Ooty's botanical gardens recently. then inviting himself to photos with others.
i practiced an hour and a half in my room today, during which i had the following yoga thoughts:
if i'm going to bind again in the Marichyasanas, i need to loose 10lbs. it's not just practice and it will come. it's practice, lose weight and it will come.
i want to order the inversion table recommended by Karen and Susan
once back in SH, i should practice at least once weekly with Rob Lucas.
in my home practice, it's ok to do half of primary one day, the second half of primary another day. when i'm able to start second series again, i can combine the poses i'm working on with that half of primary. but that may be a long time from now.
we arrived from India monday morning. since then, i've been busy preparing for a business trip, and facing new requirements to be earlier at work. so therefore i have been unable to practice. now i'm in the airport bound for Kuwait for one week, for important presentations. hopefully i will practice while there. i will stay at the home where Chinese colleagues live. my two sisters in law came to prepare dinner; today is Valentine's Day and Lantern Festival Day. then they all took me to the airport. how fortunate to have loving support here in China.
we were walking to a bus stop outside mall of Mysore, near the Latitah Mahal Palace. we had visited Chamundi Hill two hours earlier. it was already dark. there were some big open pot holes on the sidewalk. i avoided falling into one by stepping on the edge. i assume that R, a few steps behind me, would do the same. suddenly i hear a scream and saw that R. disappeared totally into a hole. i was upset, scared, asked R. why he wasn't paying attention to where he was walking and cried, the crying could be caused by the intense yoga practice. i've read the practice can have that effect sometimes. or maybe i was crying about possible loss of a friend, and concern about how his family would feel if he was hurt. R. managed to pull himself out with only a scratch on the left arm and right elbow. luckily the hole was not deeper than his height. his new camera was okay as well. he was still wearing sunglasses at night, not a good idea. it took me a while to regain my composure. i felt responsible for his well being.
on the street some Indians came to check on R. and find his shoes, lost in the hole. He bonded with an Indian man on the bus to the city, describing his experience. another Indian man spent the next bus ride home talking to me about his yoga and pranayama practice. it was comforting that the people here are kind. although i took out travel health insurance for this trip, i would prefer not to have the reason to use it. we are here to practice yoga and do some moderate sightseeing, but we must pay attention to our energy level and return home early. when we get overly tired, we start doing stupid things.
on Sunday, after Sharath's conference, we had the opportunity to meet Angie. we all love her inspired, poetic writing.
she's very bubbly.
said hellos to Greg and Juan Carlos,
to Robbie and Amberlin
and lovely Susan.
daily, our practice gets stronger. as to what we will do when we get back to Shanghai, i have some ideas. Rob Lucas has two Mysore classes per week, one on Thursdays and one on Sundays, and one led primary series class. the studio he is in, Red Door Yoga, has reasonable prices and you can get a class card for several classes.so this may be an option for practicing with a teacher. he's Venkatesha's student. does that mean i will become bendier? haha. another option is that our host in Mysore, Stephanie, knows two ashtanga yoginis from Shanghai, so she will put me in touch with them and i can find how the teacher might appear. right now, i think the two authorized teachers are no longer in the city.
there are reasons why it's a good idea to travel here periodically, beyond studying with the teachers. you draw inspiration from others when you meet with them. you help each other with your practice when sharing observations and giving each other advise. the practice in the rooms is very concentrated, regardless of the level at which one is in the series at the moment.
today we had lunch with Greg Nardi. it was nice to see him after many years.
i'm not sure, when i get back to Shanghai, if i'm going to commit to following the strict ashtanga method, or continue with my vinyasa krama practice. my body may become stronger if i continue with ashtanga. i may have to continue with self practice, as it's hard to find a Mysore room where we live. someone suggested seeing a teacher once a week. maybe i could talk the managers of a studio to give me a price to be able to do that. or i could go to the full ashtanga primary class, led by Rob Lucas. that could give me some structure.
today's practice was better than before, beginning to be able to bind again, although not yet in Marichyasana D. in discussions with a yogini, she reminded me that i need to have extension and flexibility in the arm to reach around legs to bind in the pose. there also needs to be opening of the hips. she recommended some exercises that can be done periodically to relax the tightness. the following are exercises to open the hips and stretch the arms in preparation for binding poses of ashtanga.
1. begin with three surya namaskaras to warm up the body. one variation to try is the moon series of surya namaskara, as shown in this image from here.
2. come to samastitihi, feet near each other. place a block under the right foot, such that the heel is on the floor and half of the foot is on the block. hinge the body forward. bend the left knee. keep the right knee straight. hold for 20 breaths. feel the stretch in the calves and thighs.
raise the torso up to standing. place the block on the left side. place the left foot on the block, again with heel on floor and instep of foot on block. hinge the body forward. bend the right knee slightly. hold for 20 breaths.
3. from samastitihi, twist the body and bring the left foot behind and to the right of the right foot. hinge the body forward. straighten the left leg to stretch it. bend the right knee. feel the stretch on the left foot. hold 20 breaths. come back to samastitihi.
reverse motion, bringing right foot behind and to left of right foot. bend the the left knee. feel the stretch on the right foot. hold 20 breaths.
4. do a variation of parsvottanasana. from samastitihi, bring left leg back behind the right, legs wide apart. step the left foot outside the mat. hinge the body forward. keep both legs straight. led the head relax and shoulders relax when bent forward. hold for 20 breaths come back to samastitihi.
reverse sides. bring the right leg back, wide apart from left leg. place foot outside mat. hinge body forward. keep both legs straight, feeling the stretch. relax the head. hold for 20 breaths. come back to samastitihi.
5. do lunges. stretch left leg back. place block six inches inside the edge of the of the mat. place right foot on the block. lunge the body forward, feeling the weight on the hips. bring hands to mat and hold for 20 breaths.
push right hip back. stretch right leg, keeping right foot on the block, hold the stretch for 20 breaths, right leg straight.
reverse sides. place block six inches from the left of the mat. place foot on the block. keep the right knee bent. lunge forward and place hands on the mat. hold for 20 breaths. next stretch left leg, straightening the leg, keeping foot on the block. stretch for 20 breaths. come to downward dog, cycling the feet to stretch them.
6. next, widen the leg stance. place the block on the right side at the edge of the mat. place the foot on the block. the left foot is bent and stretched back as far as possible. bring palms of hands to the mat, then the elbows, creating a deep stretch. hold for 20 breaths. come back up.
reverse sides. the right foot is bent and stretched back as far as possible. place block on the left at edge of the mat. place foot on the block. bring palms of hands to the mat, then the elbows. hold the stretch for 20 breaths. come out of the pose to downward dog. cycle the feet to stretch.
7. prepare for pigeon pose. bring the right leg to a lunge, the left leg bent on the mat. slowly bend the right leg towards the left edge of the mat. keep the leg bent at 90 degrees. make sure the bending of the knee is not 45 degrees. stretch the left leg back as far as possible. bring the palms in front of the right leg and stretch the upper torso up, elongating the spine. hold for 20 breaths. bring the head towards the mat and walk the hands forward, stretching hands as much as possible. place forehead on mat. feel the stretch on the right hips and thigh. hold for 20 breaths.
come out of the pose and reverse sides. bring left leg into a lunge, with right foot back. bend the left leg 90 degrees across the mat. stretch the right leg back as much as possible. bring the hands in front of the bent leg, palms on the mat. stretch the spine upwards. hold for 20 breaths. lower the head towards the mat, slowly walking the hands forward in front, as far as possible. feel the stretch on the left hip and thigh. hold for 20 breaths. come out of the pose to downward dog. cycle the feet to relax them.
8. from pigeon, do a variation of eka pada raja kapotasana. with right leg bent in front, left leg stretched behind, place right palm on the right knee. bend the left leg and catch the foot with the left hand. if possible, hook the elbow around the left foot and pull the foot, while pushing the right knee down. hold for 20 breaths without tipping.
reverse sides. with left leg bent in front, right leg stretched behind, place the left palm on the left kneww. bend the right leg and catch the foot with the right hand. if possible, hook the elbow around the foot and gently pull the foot while pressing down on the knee. come out of the pose into downward dog. cycle the feet to relax them.
9. do baddha konasana with a block. place block about one foot in front. bend both legs in front, placing feet on block. hinge body forward. hold for 20 breaths. come out of the pose.
10. prepare for arm stretches. come to table pose, knees bent, hands under the shoulders, palms on the mat. lift the right arm towards the ceiling. rotate the torso rightward. arch arm backwards, stretching it. gaze towards the arm. hold for 10 breaths. bring the arm down, then move left in front of the chest on the mat. place the weight of chest on the arm. rest the head on the mat. hold for 20 breaths.
come back to table pose and repeat on other side. bring left arm up. rotate torso leftward. arch arm backwards stretching it. gaze towards the arm. hold for 10 breaths. bring the arm down, then move in front of the chest on the mat. place the weight of the chest on the arm. rest the head on the mat. hold for 20 breaths. come out of the pose.
11. sit on shins, knees bent. hold for 5 breaths. shift the buttocks to the right of the feet, on the mat. place right arm on the mat, or on a block if necessary. lift the left arm upwards, then bend it behind the neck. feel the stretch on the left hand of the torso. hold for 20 breaths.
come back to center, sitting on shins. move the buttocks to the left side of the mat. place left palm on the mat. stretch right arm upwards,then bend behind the neck. reach upwards, feeling the stretch on the right side of the torso. come out of the pose.
12. lay on the back on the mat, feet stretched out. place right hand behind the lower back. bend both legs. rotate the torso to the right. place the head on a block if uncomfortable. provide a stretch to the right arm. keep the feet pressing towards the mat. hold for 20 breaths.
slowly come out of the pose, stretching both feet again. place the left hand behind the lower back. bend both legs. rotate the torso to the right. provide a stretch to the left arm. keep the feet pressing towards the mat. hold for 20 breaths. slowly come out of the pose.
about my practice, i knew where i would be stopped, so when on my first practice Saraswathi asked me until which pose i was practicing, i said Marichyasana D. i have trouble with that pose now. i'm not going to miraculously be able to bind while here. her assistant helped me bind as much as possible. three years ago, tightening on the left knee area made it increasingly difficult to bind on one side. my teacher had to change shalas. the high membership price at the new place, and a schedule not convenient to a professional's schedule made it more reasonable to practice at home. i gravitated to vinyasa krama, where i would be able to practice many asanas slowly over the course of two weeks, without a set routine. then i gained 5kg (15 lbs) over a year. all of these contributed to diminished ability to bind.
now presently, during mysore practice i start having problems with binding at Marichyasana B, which is really an easy pose. at least i find my breath is good and it's good to sense the energy from all the dedicated practitioners.
during led class today i practiced all asanas. my challenge pose, other than the binding ones, to my surprise was sirsasana. i do it daily at home, but there my practice does not consume as much energy. here by the time of closing poses, my body is sore and i'm afraid of falling. so i also have not been doing the 90% inversion, which i understand how to do - the pelvic area is brought back to counterbalance the extension of the feet. but all i could do was dolphin pose- a dive to allow an inversion to happen.
while here i've heard many praises for the teachers. the Jois family is amazingly dedicated. if one practices with Saraswathi, Saturdays is led class and Sundays is the day off. so we booked an excursion to see a village called Ooty, which has a lot of Scottish type of farmhouses and high mountain scenery among lush vegetation.
now that i'm here, i feel prepared for the Mysore experience from years of hearing from my teachers of their stories of when they came here, and reading so many fellow blogger's posts. i remember the stories of my teachers about the previous shala. i'm remembering things others said about their experience. That one should pay one's respects to the family that carried the tradition of yoga practice. That although one might not get a lot of adjustments, one will experience the energy of the room, filled with dedicated practitioners.
it's also been a little comical time, because R. is accompanying me, and he's learning yoga. he expresses things that might have been in one's mind when one was starting to practice yoga. "oh, this is hard", "this is torture", "i can't bind, my hands are too short." but at the same time observing, "the effect of this is great. it is good exercise for the body, it clears the mind, it helps for spiritual aspects."
i had the wonderful opportunity to have lunch with Karen and Susan. after 8 years of talking to each other because of blogging, the virtual world became real. i had also promised Karen two and a half years ago that around this time and this year i would be coming. so happy this was a reality.
we had lunch at Vivian's, who cooked a Chinese New Year/Indian meal.
all around you meet wonderful yogis, such as the hosts of the guest house where we are staying, Mark and Stephanie. everyone is a yogi. there are people from everywhere, Germany, Finland, Italy, Australia, UK, Canada, US, China - and that's just the ones i personally met. there are many other countries represented.
the community is so connected, that while we where having lunch, my host Stephanie showed up to pick up some things from Vivian's for her Chinese New Year lunch party. here she posed with Susan.
at their guest house, Mark, who is an authorized teacher, worked with a student
I'm an architect, originally from Puerto Rico, living and working in Shanghai, China. I practice ashtanga yoga and Buddhist meditation. I also observe calorie restriction while seeking optimal nutrition (CRON).