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Monday, November 29, 2010

A 99% Recovery

Hurrah!!! Hooray!!! And no, I'm not cheering about the (still flagging) American or European economy (which, of course, isn't showing ANY sign of a recovery) ... no, it's my left hamstring! After, like, a couple of months, it is Finally not hurting. Now I must remind self, whenever I'm doing a stretch in a forward fold/bend - I must Engage, Engage and Engage those thigh muscles - it's the only way to protect those hamstrings from being over-stressed/stretched. The fortnight-long rest also helped.

Oh, and here is something that had never happened to me before:  there I was, doing whatever when my mobile phone went off. "Dun-dun-dun," it rang. "Dun-dun-dun-dun" ... and it just kept ringing. "Okay, this is getting REALLY annoying," I thought ... "Dun-dun-dun" ... *scream* "Where is the battery? Where is the battery?" I lift away the phone battery cover and quickly yanked the battery out the phone... Phew! ... "Dun-dun-dun-dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn" ... OMG!!! What is WRONG WITH THIS BLOODY PHONE and WHY IS IT STILL RINGING!!!???

Then I woke up ~ and my alarm was still going off.



Honestly, is it age? Or is it these dark winter mornings? I've NEVER slept through an Wake-up Call alarm before!

PS Number of my pageviews has DOUBLED since September!! So if you like what you are reading ... come back and visit again!!!  

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Me and Others

But First, the (Super Duper) iPad. Which I upgraded (to iOS 4.2.1) the other night. Well, morning. What happened was when I clicked on the upgrade button at around 11pm, I thought I'd just lie down  and wait for the computer to do whatever it needed to do ... but faster than I could say "sync", I was, like, unconscious until 6am the next morning. I got up and looked at the iPad, expecting it to be upgraded and completely drained of battery power. Well, it was neither. I was pleasantly surprised to find it still had, like, 70 per cent battery strength but it was waiting for me to sync various files. Anyway, having fiddled a bit more and - viola - the upgraded version! With the new interface, it looks exactly like the iPhone 4. In fact, it now functions like an iPhone 4, having the ability to multi-task, organise things into nice little neat files and locate things... oh wow, my iPad has, in fact, been upgraded into a Woman!

Studies have found women can multi-task better than blokes (even on a yoga mat)

Back to today's entry: Me. And Others. Have you ever found yourself doing things not for yourself, or for your own good, but for other people (family, friends and colleagues) that are not necessarily in  your best interest?? Perhaps it has something to do with the way some of us were brought up, or it's just our nature, but many of us (me included) have this tendency of doing things that please others. Perhaps we just care too much about what other people think of us: according to social psychologists, we apparently build our self identity/image upon how/what other people percieve us. Okay, I can see this happening when we were teenagers (remember how we all desperately want to be popular at college?) but as we grow older, we should have a better and stronger sense of the Self than to need others' approval of who we are.

So, I've decided to be more "selfish" in the future. Life is too short, right? And if We don't do things the way We want, when and where we see fit, then why live at all? Why should We live our lives just to please the Others? Of course, we should be considerate (to the Others) but I think for those of us who have forgotten who We are because We have been spending too much time thinking about how the Others think, it's time to be considerate to Ourselves. 

It's okay to be who I am. It's okay to put Me first. It's okay to look after my own self interest before that of Others. It's okay to stand up for Myself  and tell Others to piss off. It's okay to be ... Me.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Flock of Flamingos


Isn't this the weirdest? (From The Guardian Web site)


(Flamingos gather in the shape of a flamingo in Yucatan, Mexico. Photograph: Robert Haas/National Geographic/Caters News Agency)


"Flamingos have many extraordinary qualities, but until now they have never been considered to be performance artists. Now, thanks to this amazing aerial photograph of a flock of Caribbean flamingos in the Mexican province of Yucatán, we may have to think again. Some believe that the birds' ability to arrange themselves into the shape of a flamingo (albeit a rather inelegant one) is evidence of divine intervention. But like all flocking behaviour, it is simply the best way to avoid predators and to find the best place to feed. Still, a once-in-a-lifetime moment for photographer Bobby Haas, who managed to grab just one image before the birds dispersed." The Guardian's Stephen Moss

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Big Deep Long Stretch

HURRAH!! Finally found a video that EXPLAINS why wide-angle forward bend is so difficult especially for us guys:

(This video comes from Yoga Garden, which I have just subscribed on YouTube)

Sounds like if I keep practising this stretching pose, everyday, for maybe a couple of years, then I may gradually move from "X" to "O" !! (BTW this Yoga Garden Chanel is pretty cool ~ it features ordinary people who are NOT flexible doing the demos as well as tips on how they/us can improve our poses.)  


Saturday, November 20, 2010

More Phone Talk

Being a total mobile phone geek, my family, friends and colleagues often come to me for advice. The most common question I get asked is (other than "Is that another new phone you have there?"), which phone model they should or shouldn't get. In this city, iPhone is seriously all the rage - most of the people I know are using either the 3GS or the latest 4G - but perhaps that is one reason why you should choose something different? Here are my recommendations:

iPhone

I know, I know ... despite comment above re: it being totally common, I must say it is probably the coolest-looking phone on the market right now. (NB I am NOT an Apple fan). Its user interface is one of the easiest I have used (I owned a 2G for about a month when it first came out) and its screen resolution is just stunning. Its operation system (OS) is extremely stable, it has zillions of free apps, and all in all a hassle-free phone. With a data-plan contract, the iPhone is also affordable so, if you don't mind using its (in my opinion) extremely annoying virtual keyboard and/or having a so-so camera, then the iPhone is for you.

Nokia

Still the brand that has the biggest share in the global mobile phone market, most probably because it has an extremely wide range of models: from really cheap (US$25) to outrageously expensive (US$1,000). I personally am obsessed with some of their more geeky models (i.e. N Series) ... I dunno what it is ... Nokia just builds phones that look a bit different, its form factor is sometimes so out-there some models don't even look like phones but are fun nonetheless (see previous posting "Not Much to Say But ...") The first geeky Nokia model I REALLY liked was the 7710 ... I think it was one of its first touch screen phones and, at the time, we are talking about five or six years ago, had one of the largest/hi-res screens on the market. The only thing was, like MANY of these Nokia phones that run on the Symbian OS, it hanged like a wet corpse (Eww indeed!). Even to this date, now I am using one of the brand's most-hated models, the N97, the Symbian system is TOTALLY unstable but what can a geek boy like me do, but to put up with it?!? The N97, for instance, is an extremely versatile comunication device (when everything works) and the N Series on the whole is affordable. For most people though, I'd advise them to get a cheap Nokia ... they are, well, cheap and extremely durable. Once I dropped my Nokia, which bounced off the floor several times, but I just picked it up and continued with my conversation...

Blackberry

Its original Bold is the most enduring phone I've used in recent years. Extremely ugly but functional. Serves almost your every business needs but, hell, it IS ugly and boring. Ironically mine was given to me free by the service provider a couple of years ago so I could test it out. Today, I'm still using it! 

LG

Cheap and Cheerful Korean brand but, boy, do they give their competitor Samsung a run for their money ~ if not better. There were days when Samsung was fun and trendy but now they are just boring. LG has been very progressive, though their OS is not always stable. Like Nokia, it has an extremely diverse product line that aims at both the youth and more sophisticated end of the market ... and despite having very naff TVCs, I find their phones usable.

(I actually know someone who looks like the K actress Kim Tae-hee)

HTC

No, no, not its Window 7 phones ~ Yikes, horrible user interface ~ but ones that run on the Android OS including the Google Nexus One. It's basically a dull looking version of the iPhone so despite the media hoo-ha about this new OS, I would go for the iPhone. 

J Phones

Boy, are they cute or what BUT why fork out $$$ for phones that cannot function fully in this town? Might as well get a LG ...

And if you are thinking about getting a Sony Ericsson or Motorola ... well, don't! 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Two Challenging Yoga Classes

After a mini (one-week) break off the mat, I returned to it today feeling energised, then drained. Unfortunately, the pain in my left hamstring is still lingering (even after an acupuncture session), meaning I needed to continue to adjust my practice around that. My first class with Lawrence was challenging in that while my head was telling my body to do one thing, my body had other ideas, like, "sorry, not working today!" So it needed some pushing from both my instructor (and boy, did he push!) and myself to move the shoulder blades closer (heart more open), to lift the chest higher and to hold several poses longer. We did work around my left hamstring, by keeping my left knee bent, but what was interesting was that when I was doing my half moon pose on my left leg:



Not only was my left leg shaking, the entire left side of my body was powerless (would that be just psychological? But this left-right imbalance has kinda always been there: left hip, knee and foot have always been weaker). First I felt pain in my left hamstring then, my, err, left upper buttock began to contract and hurt, making it impossible to hold up my left leg. It took me several attempts to get into the pose, which usually isn't an issue.

Anyway, by the time I was resting, it was time to dash over to another class ~ hot flow with instructor Eswar. It was my first time taking his class and I think I would have enjoyed it more had I had more enegery. The sequences were, in fact, similar to what I practised earlier but only in a hot room. The flow was good, challenging at times (especially I was pretty tired by then) and I was completely in awe of the instructor's flexibility. Luckily he didn't push any of us - he kept telling us it is important that we smile - to do a back bend drop like he did, in nano seconds. By the end of the class I was SO exhausted it took me about an hour to catch my breath back.

But now, having some food in my stomach, I am feeling great. Not only did I rise to the various challenges but I am now prepared to get back on the mat in the coming week ~ something cool to look forward to.

An after thought re: difficult poses that are still beyond my reach .. my teacher said to me earlier today when I commented that the flat we practised in has no view: "but the sunlight still gets in". What a poetic way to say "it's okay"!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Self Practice

Trust me, practising yoga on your own requires a lot of discipline and determination. A fortnight ago I'd asked my yoga teacher Lawrence to give me a class plan so I could keep up with my practice while he was away. He's now back and I've only just tried it out ... that's partly because my lingering hamstring problem (after more than a month) and partly because I found it hard to bring yourself onto the mat at home ... there really isn't a reason for that, it just IS! On a practical level, it's also hard to keep having to go back to the piece of paper for the next instruction...  now I realise how much I rely on verbal instructions in my practice.

Okay, the first instruction is: Sit yourself in a comfortale position in a quiet, self created sacred space. Simple enough, right? Not really. Finding a scared space inside my flat has actually been more tricky than I'd anticipated, especially I have two curious dogs who are constantly checking on my whereabout. I settle for my bedroom, which isn't ideal cos of its size but at least it's private and dogs-proof. Yesterday, I also had to look for a scented candle - and believe me, it does make a difference - and I bought one that mixes lavender, tea tree and geranium, which is very relaxing.

Lights!!!
 Now, having set the scene for the practice - I cannot over emphasise the importance of this - I am ready to start. The first part of the practice is mostly Meditation and Visualisation. It is amazing once you sit yourself down, calmly, you become extremely aware of yourself and your surroundings: doors being shut, things being dropped, cars zooming past and, of course, your own deep breathing. I am asked to think of different colours and then to connect with them. Red fires up my breathing and, oddly enough, by the time I get to purple/violet, I actually feel light and happy. At some point I start to think about those flashing LED lights on most Japanese phones and, come to think of it, violet is a colour that I like best, which may explain my sense of giddiness. It's interesting how colours are linked to our emotions. After that I am asked to visualise a descend - walking down a flight staircase - at this point I grab my piece of instructions again ... after the descent, am I supposed to head back up again?!? The instruction doesn't say and I suddenly feel a little claustrophobic ... so I decide not to go down too deep.
It's after getting myself in a state of complete self awareness that I finally begin the asana practice. That includes the standard sequences (in a Hatha yoga class) and the whole session should last around an hour ... but because of my hamstring and  my flow becomes all over the place (keep forgetting which foot I should put forward next, left or right ...) mine ends slightly early.

The "recipe" certainly works - I was sweating by the end of the session - but next time, I think I will have to ask Lawrence to record his instructions.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A New Nephew

And here is one they made earlier ... He was born today on Nov 11. 11-11. And my mom says he looks like a little buddha with those massive ear lobes (!)

A new life has just begun ...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Something Called Passion

What is your passion in life?

For this bloke, it must have been writing and the use of words and language.


So it is rather unfortunate that a brain tumour has robbed him of his ability first to recognise words and then to express himself verbally or in writing. It will eventually take his life. This article has put me in a very solemn mood earlier today. It prompted a lot of questions about life - and death. Let's take one step back. So what REALLY matters in our lives? Working? Shopping? Love? Family? The last is actually very important to me as I realise my parents/brother are getting older, it becomes crucial that I spend more quality time with them. Let's face it, when they are gone, they are gone. Like, no more. I often dream and think about my grandparents (my dad's parents) who passed away several years and we still talk about them fondly but we know we will never see them again. The notion of not seeing people once really close to you is, at times, totally incomprehensible because, even though we all KNOW that death is inevitable, our brain is somehow programmed in such a way it feels distant, irrelevant.

Well, take that one step back and start thinking what really matters to you and, at the end of the day, I am sure it's not work or money or anything materialistic (in my case, phones!!)

I then attended this concert in the afternoon called The Butterfly Effect, featuring drummers Budgie, Mabi and Leonard Eto as well as guitarists Sugizo and Knox Chandler. It really was a blast. Their passion in music was pulsating, their enthusiasm SO contagious before I knew it, I was in tears because I could FEEL the pulse of life. Our hearts were beating in that same rhythm ... and when they sped up the beats it felt like we were all running, running, running, racing towards something beautiful, towards life. It really was quite an awesome experience. Well, for me, at least. For most of the audience, they were there to see Sugizo. It was cool to see people enjoying themselves. The thought of death, once again, receded back into the background.

Sugizo ... His hair does look this beautiful in real life!
In yoga, we try to be "present" when we practise, to savour each breath because each breath is Life itself. To realise there is more to life than just work and play. Then I also realise time really slips past quickly like sand in a time glass. I sometimes feel kinda helpless, not knowing exactly what to do with my time : my yoga teacher once asked me to jot down what I still wanted to achieve etc ... I stared at the piece of paper ...

So what IS my passion in life?



Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Three Ouches

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!

Okay, I think I am doing something wrong here. Yoga, as I understand it, should be about working/nurturing the mind, body and soul in a dilligent manner, usually through controlling and focusing on our breaths, and should Never, Ever, be Painful. So when I looked at my left inner thigh tonight and see this swelling ... I think I have overdone it - again. You see, I pulled my left hamstring about a month, or maybe six weeks, ago. Since then I've been very careful not to further aggravate this "injury" by engaging the muscles around it ... this way, I am both protecting the stretched hamstring while exercising it (gently) at the same time. But I think after takning two quite intensive classes tonight (with deep poses), my p***ed off hamstring decided enough was enough and simply became inflammatory. I think I will listen to my body this time and will take a break next week. But not before my next self practice session.

Lawrence my super duper instructor is away, teaching in North America (you can follow his diary via The Freedom Yoga Project link on the left hand side of this page or just click here http://thefreedomyogaproject.blogspot.com/) but I've asked him to provide me with a class plan that I can follow and test out. It's a bit like trying out a recipe. Follow the instructions but maybe add a bit of my own invention ~ if necessary. Unfortunately, I've been too busy this week to get the mat out at home but will certainly give it a go over the weekend. I shall report my experience here in this blog so Watch This Space! Meanwhile ...



Still mad about my new N97 (mine is Black in colour!) even though this particular model has had such crap reviews. But, hey, at least not every single person on the street is using it, like they do with the iPhone *yawn* I like phones with a bit of an attitude, even that attitude is: I don't feel like working!