So when is a cat not a cat? When it starts making noises that are not exactly cat-like ... there is no purring, no meowing, no hissing but instead, like, it growls. So basically when it behaves just like a dog. Siu Pak (Little White in Cantonese) is our communal pet. He (though initially we thought it was a she) was born in our car park and has been living with us the past five years or so. Unlike other strays, this one stays. He loves running around in our carpark and the hill next to our blocks of flats. Most of all, he loves sitting at our front entrance like a watchdog. While most cats run away when approach, this one actually comes to you and expect to be, err, scratched. Today Siu Pak is in a jolly good mood and decides to pose for me:
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Physical adjustment is a tricky area in yoga practice. First of all, not all students want to be touched, let alone being "handled" (no matter how familiar they are with their instructors), while not all yoga instructors would touch their students: there is this concern that imporper adjustments can lead to injuries. I'm lucky to be practising at a studio where most (though not all) instructors handle physical adjustment cautiously; like, they'll Always ask before they do anything. I actually love being adjusted because only then do I actually FEEL some of the benefits of the poses. Yesterday I was at a stretching class and it was great to have the instructor gently pushing me deeper into asanas as simple as the Child Pose.
In this pose, most practitioners can easily rest their bottom on their heels. But for me, perhaps it is the tight hips, or hamstrings, or the gluteus maximus (bum), or a rigid spine, my bottom can never touch my feet. Not that it really matters but sometimes I feel I am not getting the sort of stretch that I should be getting in this particular pose (so, ironically, I struggle in what is supposed to be a resting pose). So, yesterday, my teacher came over and gently pressed my lower spine down in order to get me into the position. I wish I can remember where or what was being stretched but I was too busy feeling the amazing sensation!! Later, he came over to give my "Cat Tail" (a lying down pose) a deeper twist by pushing my my hip and shoulder down simultaneously, as well as helping me with my (beg-for-mercy) Frog pose (see earlier post). In these positions I could feel my body resisting though keeping the breath going helped me relax a little more, thus allowing more space for depth...
Here is one teacher's (David Muesham) perspective on posture adjustment (posted on Yoga Abode), which I find quite interesting:
"It's become quite common in recent years for teachers to move through a yoga class giving many physical adjustments, and the students can come to expect and enjoy being touched. So, it's possible that teachers sometimes feel obligated to make sure everyone gets plenty of adjustment.
"This opens the door to ‘over adjusting,' - ie adjusting at times when it's not really necessary. Many years of experience with students of differing experience, ability and body type is needed to understand adjusting, and especially when not to adjust.
"My approach is to adjust only when I think it's necessary. There are times when adjustment can help a student to discover a new aspect or depth of a posture, but at the end of the day, I feel that my role is to help the students learn to practice on their own.
"Of course, adjusting does not always mean pushing people deeper into yoga postures; it may be done verbally, or with very gentle physical corrections or directions."
PS Always good to know I am not the only one: http://www.yogaforums.com/forums/f16/hero-pose-childs-pose-etc-7970.html
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
... to say I am back on the mat after a week off (sick). In tonight's unusually physically-demanding Hatha 1 class, we did a lot of twisting (partly because I'd requested that at the beginning of the session). It has become quite an obession of mine lately. As mentioned in an earlier post (Extreme Tightness 2), I can really FEEL (and have a dialogue with) my body in these twisting asanas. Whenever I twist, I need to a) breathe more deeply and slowly and b) lengthen my spine in order to give the upper body a fuller rotation. In doing so though, I also feel tension in areas (mainly the bum/legs/ankles) that are being stretched or pulled, and this very tension creates inbalance or, sometimes, a loss of balance. It's hard to describe the sensation(s) in writing but the twisting makes me become more aware of the tightness of my body and limbs. So I need to keep breathing ~ which actually is not that easy when you are in a twist. But that is also what fascinates me: how to find relaxation, balance and liberation through these poses and breathing...
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
As Gregor Samsa wakes up to find himself turned into a beetle in Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis, I woke up to my own nightmare this morning, sounding like a toad. As I said "good morning", all that came out was: croak, croak, croak ... it was quite funny except the croaking kinda didn't stop and went on for another hour or so ... and when I started to get this droning headache, I decided I needed medical attention.
So, this super flu bug saga continues as I go through today without a voice. It also means I am off the mat for a few more days ~ thinking back, I hope I didn't infect the entire hot class on Sunday ... I honestly thought the bug was gone, not waiting to pounce once more after, like, almost a week!
Talk about continuous nuisance ... just read on my cousin Grace's blog that Tokyo continues to experience minor and moderate quakes. She says she has to stay vigilant as she doesn't know when the next biggie is going to hit (!) And what is this about Japanese authorities raising the severity rating of their nuclear crisis to the highest level, seven (source: BBC)? I thought they were saying things weren't getting worse? I'm not scaremongering but I think the Japanese Govt should really come clean on what really is going on so that people are protected. Grace says there is a ration over water (some say bog rolls are also pretty scarce) and electricity... my thoughts continue to go out to all those people who are left homeless and who are affected by the disasters ... we are now left to the mercy of Nature, which I have to the say us humans have not been too kind to over the past few decades, have we?
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Got struck down by this strange flu (if it was a flu) virus that only attacked my throat/lymph glands. So basically I didn't have a runny nose nor did I have a cough, I just had this REALLY, REALLY SORE throat. So sore it hurt when I talked. Anyway, decided to take this cocktail of painkillers + anti-inflammatory drugs for a couple of days ~ and hoped for the best. Day Three today and I am kinda okay. Throat still hurts a little but glands appear to be less swollen. Also took a hot yoga class earlier to sweat out the toxins. No sure that is how the detoxing (is supposed to) work.
BTW, the above paragraph will guarantee to generate view page hits for this blog entry, especially from the States ... I've come to realise, by looking at the blogspot statistics, that Americans LOVE googling terms like: "painkillers", "drugs", "anti-inflammatory", "sore", "toxins" and "cocktails". I'd always known they are a fun-loving nation.
OH, while in my sickbed I re-discovered my Nokia N97 (I have this quaint habit of playing with my mobile phones when I am in bed; in case you are curious) ... it's kinda like a piece of antique now -- its OS, operation system, is very slow -- but it still works. And then I was watching this film (Source Code, freshly torrent downloaded onto my laptop when I was messing around with my Nokia) and, in one scene, this Jake Gyllenhaal character desperately tries to type/google something on this phone on this express train and I was, like, is it the darn text/long google search, or the bad Internet connection, or the rocking train compartment, or the Nokia keyboard that is causing him such great distress and all the fumbing? So much for production placement if it was the final answer, and sure enough, he was using a Nokia N97 ...
Monday, April 4, 2011
My (jetsetting) instructor Lawrence dropped into town for a sojourn last weekend so we met up for a quick class on twisting. "Twist me like a Rubik's Cube" I said, and surely enough, he came up with a series of poses that did just that: crescent lunge with twists, triangle, side angle twists, reverse triangle, sage twists etc. And what I found out was how TIGHT the hip area, the glute muscles and even my leg muscles are ... and this tightness, to a large degree, has been impeding me from carrying out deeper twists. As the result, instead of twisting, I am actually stretching my hip/glute/leg muscles ~ which is interesting (cos I don't think that is the point of twisting). And if I try to twist really deep, my knee will eventually buckle and I simply fall over. There is not much I can do about this at the moment but to stay at where I am and keep BREATHING ... hoping that, one day, these areas will open up.
Saturday, April 2, 2011
At a fundraising yoga session (for earthquake/tsunami victims in Japan) earlier this week, guest yogi David Swenson said we would be sending positive energy/vibes and our best wishes over to the Land of the Rising Sun by way of 108 sets of sun salutation. The number (referring to the number of beads on a mala, used in prayer or meditation) didn't quite register in my head until, some 90 minutes later, when my arms and legs were shaking slightly, I finally realised what that meant. Each studio instructor - and there were a number of them - was to take us through a set of sun salutation and it was interesting to learn how many different ways this routine can be performed: instead of stepping forward, you can jump forward with both feet using the core muscles; instead of knee down-chest down-chin down, you can lower into a Chaturanga; instead of Cobra, you can do Up Dog etc. While it didn't feel physically straining at first, seriously, after doing this routine for more than 100 times, your body started to go into a state of shock ... but it was too late ... by the time I showered got changed, I felt I could barely walk. The next day, I was SORE all over ... but what to do cos I already booked TWO more evening classes. Instead of cancelling them, I decided it would be good to exercise those sore muscles a little ... and by the end of those two classes (one of them Power Yoga), I just raised the white flag -- and was SORE for the next few days. Am in the middle of a three-day break before taking a gentle hot class tomorrow.
But Sun Salutation is, for now, totally off limit ...