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Sunday, January 30, 2011

A New Yu-Gi-Oh Game

Well, new-ish as it was released end of 2010. The Yu-Gi-Oh (translated into Chinese roughly as "King of the Games") is one of my favourite game series; I was introduced to it years ago and have been addicted to it since. It has actually taken me years just to understand/master the rules (like all card games, there are MANY rules and cards to remember). But I love this series/game because of the many, many possibilities it offers ~ and playing it does require using the brain as, to win, you need both luck and strategic-thinking.

I actually got a bit bored playing Dissidia (smash and slash *yawn*), so until the prequel is released in March, I decided to pick up the latest release, Yu-Gi-Oh Tag Force 5 (I still play the Ultimate Masters - World Championship Tournament 2006, which was the last game released for GameBoy Advance) and with over 4,600 cards (doubling Ultimate Masters' 2,000+, which is already A LOT), I am sure it will keep me entertained for hours on end. But first, I will have to quickly learn how this game works (though the basic rules are the same, the gameplay is totally different) and that, in itself, is going to be challenging. And I do HATE starting a new game with their really, really crappy startup pack, which won't get me anywhere. But I guess I'll have to start somewhere ...

Oh, had a really satisfying Level 2 yoga class today. After the warm up, my body kinda "open up" and for 90 minutes or so, everything seemed possible (I think it probably has more to do with my state of mind at the time and I was feeling positive). Taking advantage of that, I went a little deeper than usual and, with the assistance of my breaths, was able to stay both strong and flexible without injuring myself. Boy, did that feel good or what?!?

Okay, Yu-Gi-Oh beckons ....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Challenging Evening Class

@ 8.30pm, every Monday, for the past couple of months or so, I've been going to this Power Yoga class that I initially didn't particularly enjoy. That's partly because it's at that time of the night when you are feeling tired and wanting to call it a day; also this (part time) instructor often asks us/me to move in ways that I am not used to. Side twist in three-legged dog (Arggh), both sides (Arggh x 2), and arm balances as warm ups ... I found myself heaving away before the real work started! But soon I realised there was a reason why I didn't like these poses: perhaps I hadn't been breathing properly or engaging my muscles enough ... so the more I found these poses challenging, the more I wanted to find out how I could ease into them.

Then last Monday, right after my yoga retreat in Bali, the class was extra challenging: there were a lot of reversed poses, back bends, arm balancing and twisting ... all of which required both strength and flexibility and v steady deep breathes to open up the body, to make room for the body to move ... but to my surprise, I could do quite a number of them ~ including the Mermaid pose (!) Perhaps I "unblocked" something, somewhere inside during the Bali retreat that helped loosen up parts of my body. I was ecstatic! (Instructor later told me because there were a lot of advanced students in the class so she had to make things more challenging to sustain interest!) So now I have a "date" with this instructor every Monday not because I see myself as advanced (what does that mean anyway?!?) ... but I know the more I am unfamiliar with the asanas, the more I "don't like them", the more satisfaction I will get out of the class.

Each day, I feel I move a little closer to the inner Self; each day I get to know myself/my body better ... it's not always easy (life, I guess, is not meant to be) but that doesn't make it less enjoyable, right?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

This and That (Part 2)

Now that my sun tan has peeled off my nose, my back (and onto the mat ... hope I didn't gross anyone out in the yoga balance class earlier today ... I was, literally, quite flaky) Bali seems like a lifetime away now. What I miss most about the place is the warm climate ... Back in HK, in this cold weather, my body feels positively stiff and tired. I miss being able to move like an oiled machine and I miss the sounds of the wild even more. I didn't actually take that many photos when I was there and these are the last ones I dug up from my camera phone ...




And talk about phones ... I traded in two old ones for one new one ... am still resetting ... 

Actually, I asked fellow Retreater Holly (Hi Holly!) what does it mean to "reset" and she said: "To start with a clean slate."  I like that!!!

Hmm, someone stumbled into this blog after searching for "sore thumb in the morning" ... is that a medical condition? The only reason I get a sore thumb is playing too much PSP (FF Dissidia) ...

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Metaphysical



Where does this path lead to and What lies ahead?
Following onto the last entry, what fascinated me the most about the Mind Reset retreat was the journey into the deep, inner Self. I'd previously heard that a yoga retreat could sometimes evoke feelings of self-loathing (no idea why though) but in my case, my meditation (well, in between streams of fidgeting ... sometimes the physical sensations of, say, a sore bum or foot from sitting cross-legged for too long do get the better of me) brings me calmness and, sometimes, a little sadness.

Meditation is one way of reaching the Anandamaya kosha (or bliss body) ... sometimes I wonder if it is mere a concept than an actual "thing" ... it is "something", as Tara pointed out, that is beyond words. To get there, we have to travel through one layer of cover (or kosha, sanskrit for "sheath") after another, a bit like peeling off an onion. So on the outer most is the Annamaya kosha (physical body), then Pranamaya kosha (breath), Manomaya kosha (senses and thoughts), Vijnanamaya kosha (the mind, ego) and, finally, the Anandamaya kosha. I wouldn't call this a "spiritual" journey in the sense there is nothing "religious" about it but maybe a metaphysical one: the bliss body cannot be pulled from a hat like a bunny.

Tara split the journey up into five meditation sessions over four days, through which we were to tap onto each kosha with our (thus far untrained) inner antenna. These koshas are not separate entities and they are constantly interacting with one another. For instance, my meditation is constantly interferred by sensations and thoughts and the ego ... making reaching the infinite bliss body almost totally impossible.

But how does yoga come into all this, you may ask. Here is where I find Tara's explanation (as I understand it anyway) quite a revelation: it's that (and this is in my interpretation) what's blocking us in the journey into the bliss body can be reflected in the physical body, such as physical tightness, and yoga can help us open up, thus making us more intuitive, easing the path to the supreme "force" or "power" ... the human consciousness, which Science has yet to understand or explain.

PHEW! And Tara made this all quite fun to learn!!! A LOT of thoughts gatecrashed my mind over the four-day retreat, some of which quite unwelcome, but it helped me to understand just a tad more about myself -- and those who were there with me ... our sharing session on "intuition" was particularly powerful: we talked about how we follow our gut instincts/intuition, even though some of the intuitive (or "correct") decisions made were difficult, if not downright painful.



In stillness, silence and solitude I find comfort and consolation
Okay, all this is doing my head in!! I shall be returning to The Physical again next month in a 30-hour Workshop on Yoga Anatomy. Can't wait!

The Physical

I've just been to Paradise and back. The retreat in Bali - at this fabbo "eco-village" resort called Desa Seni (http://www.desaseni.com/) - was just amazing. I signed up for a four-day programme titled "Mind Reset" conducted by Tara Judelle, a gorgeously funny and intelligent yoga teacher hailed from Los Angeles, who is now based in Bali. The experience was amazing on several counts: the location, in the middle of this vast paddy field in Canggu, is breathtakingly beatiful; the people are beautiful on both the outside and inside; and for an urbanite like me, to practise yoga in the open air (in the wild even!) and to meditate to the sounds of Nature was just mind-blowing. I can gush on but here are some photos I took that speak for themselves ...


Views from where the house I was staying in ... each house is given a name and mine was called "Rumah Mandau"; the attention to details given to decorating the space can only be described as meticulous.

Yummy vegetarian food served in the village resort includes this kinda sticky rice pudding.

The Jewel of the Crown for me, though, will have to be the Trimurti Studio:


It's blissful to step into this space to meditate and practise

As the title suggests, the retreat had more to do with the Mind and Tara took us on a journey through what are known as the "koshas", which, in layman terms, are like the different aspects of the Self. In the final class, we set out to search for the "bliss body" that resides in all of us but remains, most of our life time, undetected -- not in our waking hours anyway (more on this in the next blog entry).

The Beautiful people (from around the world)
I practised with;Tara Judelle is the third up
from the left...

Of course, a yoga retreat would not be a yoga retreat without the, er, yoga practice! Tara is a certified Anusara® Yoga instructor, though her vocabulary is not exclusively of that particular genre/method. The emphasis is not so much on the asanas but how we blend poses with our exploration of the koshas. It was both challenging and fun ... and in the warm Balinese climate, I felt my body was more open and relaxed and I was able to achieve one or two poses that are simply impossible in freezing HK studios.

The Physical is merely a (visual/tangible) manifestation of something a lot deeper within ...

Before I move onto the next entry, I have to say I'd have loved to see a bit more of the island but, unfortunately, my former instructor from HK who is now also based out there (and without whom I would not have even known about this retreat) was probably too busy to find time to show us around ~ and the only pointer he gave me, on my last hour there, was that I'd been cycling around with the bike rest down ... Maybe my head needs a total reset is well ... 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Anticipation and Zero Expectation

Okay, off to Bali tomorrow for a yoga retreat ... I have NO idea what to expect but a fellow yoga student told me that the village where I'll be staying (and where she visited some years ago) - Desa Seni - on the southwestern coast of the island, is really nice, especially the (vegetarian) food. My one and only concern is how to get my yoga clothes dried in time for my (marathon) practice ...


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Yogi Action Man

One reason why people study Yoga Anatomy is to learn how the human body moves and why we all move differently, according to one's built. And who's better to demonstrate this complex subject than, err, Action Man himself?! He is, after all, built to move just like humans ... only his is the perfect alignment. (As anyone who has owned an Action Man knows, their joints are extremely flexible). So, no yoga asana is too difficult for him. Double Pigeon/Lotus Position (below left)? No Problem! Though I have to say when I twisted him into a more demanding pose such as the Mermaid (below right), his joints started to make weird creaky noises ... so you can imagine how I feel when I try to settle into this pose ... 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Jiji the Cat

As requested by my friend, who is a HUGE Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli animation fan (esp. Ponyo ...), here are two very cute (and short) clips from one of my favourite Miyazaki animations, Kiki's Delivery Service ... enjoy!

  
(Help! Help!)

(Look out for the cat's facial expression and how he soaks the carpet...)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Yet Another Phone

Ohh, it IS the new year and how could one resist? I actually HAD this (old-ish) model before but now it is fully unlocked!!! No more "Out of Range" ...


Saturday, January 1, 2011

A Great Start to a New Year

Well, great-ish ... I decided to kick off 2011 by going to this hot + yin yang yoga class this morning. The instructor, whom I'd never tried before, has a fantastically positive and enthusiastic attitude and the 75-minute session was exactly what I needed to get my mind focused on this year's intention: to better my yoga practice and, in doing so, myself. The only thing was I kinda forgot I don't fare very well in hot classes mainly because I find the heat complete (energy) draining. Thirty minutes in and my heart starts to race and even lifting up a leg feels like fighting a uphill battle. Also, I thought this morning's class was billed more as a hop-opening - than a core - session so when I was holding plank and then chaturanga for the nth time, I was, well, going "arrrgh".

Begging for mercy, otherwise known
as the frog pose...
Anyway, I did my best not to collapse (but I did, several times) and by the end of the 75 minutes, and after the hip-splitting finale -- frog pose that we had to hold for what seemed like an eternity -- I was Exhausted. So exhausted I skipped my favourite salad and went straight home (drank lots of water along the way, was completely dehydrated too), collapsed onto my bed and was out like a light (for a couple of hours). I only bolted up when I remembered (all of a sudden, as one does) that I was very, very late for a social appointment.

Now though, at 10pm, I'm feeling great and am ready, oh yes, for another hot class (thank God just for an hour) + yoga therapy tomorrow afternoon. Can't wait.