Click on water to feed fish

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Some Quiet Thoughts

The yoga studio I go to celebrated its 10th anniversary yesterday. I was supposed to attend a special hot class at around noon but I was late; so I decided to stay behind for the small party they organised for their members, some have been with the studio since its opening in 2002. I normally wouldn't attend this kinda celebratory functions -- hanging around (esp) with a bunch of strangers really isn't my thing -- but I thought whadda hell, I didn't wanna head home and back to the studio again for another class later on in the afternoon. I'm glad I stayed. It was fun and the studio did well to have created a community. There's this old English guy who's been with the studio from day one and he was given a little award for being a long-term member. What a nice gesture. He happens to celebrate his 87th birthday this week and he said he probably wouldn't have lived this long had he not practised yoga. 

Then the teachers and staff gave a fun little performance (above) that tells the story (I'm over simplifying it here) of a series of reincarnations that started with a fish and supposed to end with this figure -- the Indian equivalent to the Messiah -- that will purge all evils on earth and ends this evolutionary/reincarnation chain. (There was a beautiful intro to this performance but I missed it cos I didn't know how to work the camera on my phone ~ DOH!)

Every now and then we need to calm the mind and think about where life is going and yoga (in meditation or asana practice) does provide that space. This afternoon's practice was especially liberating, now that my right leg hamstrings are almost healed. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Weird and Wonderful

Yoga instructor Simon Low is known for his slightly unconventional approach to the practice. While he says he had learnt from the different schools -- Ashtanga, Iyengar, Anusara, Bikram and so on -- he doesn't belong to any. What he teaches now is known as Yin Yoga, a particular style that I am interested in (see my earlier entries on Paul Grilley), with restorative yoga integrated into his teaching/practice. 

I'm currently taking a four-day workshop with him and the man is good. And I can't tell you exactly why/how he is good (other than the fact he comes across as very intelligent and is very good at articulating his ideas), you just have to practise in one of his classes to understand what I mean. Yesterday afternoon, he led a flow (yang yoga) class in which we kept moving from one pose to another, one sequence of poses to another, for over two hours. And the strangest thing was, instead of getting tired, after about 90 mins, we got more and more energetic and I could (okay weird yoga talk time) feel energy whirling around the studio; so when I lifted my arms, I could FEEL the power of the lift and the extension of my arms ... when instructors described this energy to me before, I was, like, Uh? What are you talking about? Now I know. And by the end of the class, I just felt Great. Positive. Confident.

Then after a quick early dinner, we had a restorative yoga session. This part of Yin yoga that Simon teaches is totally new to me and it is kinda ... "elaborate" in its setup/execution ... see photos below:

Seriously ... this is Yoga Therapy
It requires A LOT of use of props: blankets, towels, bolsters, eye bags, sand bags (!) ... basically anything you can get your hands on to support a pose that sets out to relax the body for a long period of time (15-20 mins) ... it's therapeutic I'm sure but I just can't see myself doing this on a regular basis.

Supported spinal twist
Simon did solve one riddle for me in this session: the Spinal Twist.Basically my spine doesn't twist well so whenever I get myself into this pose, if I push my bent knees onto the floor, my shoulder would come up off the floor on the other side, and if I push my shoulder down, the knees will come up (a bit like a see-saw). So the solution to this "problem" is to put a couple of blocks under my knees to give them enough of an elevation to allow my shoulder to rest on the floor. Voila! I get a twist as well as not straining the part that is off the floor (see demo left). Simon says the fact that some of us need that support doesn't mean that we are "bad" at yoga, but just cos we have very different body/anatomical type/built/makeup -- something that Yin practitioners are particularly aware of.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A Smaller & Closer World

I've been on Twitter for awhile now. Have to say at the beginning, it was pretty boring/useless ... not that many (interesting) people have signed onto it and I certainly don't have anything interesting to say that warrants a tweet every two mins. Also, its main function was pretty simple (basically you have to be precise with your BS). 

Today though, it's a completely different story. More users have since signed on, including people you'd never have thought existed otherwise or international journalists or celebrities. I've been following the actor Alec Baldwin for awhile and his tweets are actually quite interesting ... he even posted a pic of himself (in bed with gf) on Oscars night, which I thought hilarious. Most of the time though, he also talks about world affairs, even events that have nothing to do with this part of the world. But, can you imagine, this guy is now practically only a tweet away from all his fans/followers and ordinary folks (with a smartphone phone). I've also been following this goofy comic from the States (he did this really funny video of himself cos he looks like Ryan Gosling) and he lately posted a twitter link to a short documentary he made on his sister who suffers from cerebral palsy. It is a very moving and inspiring film.  

I'm also playing words with friends (my opponent is actually some unknown person out there), contributing to the Tactics Ogre game forum (tehe), and running an (international) blog. So, suddenly, the world seems so much smaller and people so much closer. It's hard to imagine where the human race will evolve from here as they become more empowered by information and knowledge. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Gravity Rush

Have finally found a game that is quite fun and addictive! I first played Gravity Rush (Gravity Daze in Japan) at the PSP Vita launch and was instantly hooked: not so much on the gameplay (the main selling point is the flying mechanics) but the gorgeous graphics. It's basically an interactive/animated graphic novel. The game system is okay ... not as cool (and easy) as Third Birthday (where you can leap from one human host to another) but the fly mechanics is still fun. It needs a bit of practising though but once you get the hang of it (directional keys + top buttons) you stop plunging into the abyss. The only "con" I can think of is when you are off the ground, you don't really know where you are flying to and often end up somewhere you don't want to be (the abyss...)

I also found, and bought, the US version of Dynasty Warriors - Next. The graphics is, again, stunning but, man, the control is ridiculously complicated ... you have to memorise a long sequence (like, six buttons to press + swiping the touch screen) in order to execute one special move ... or just to get on a horse. Being clumsy that I am, I think get hacked to death by  enemy troops before I hit the saddles. I think I'll save the game for later ... I am not much of a button smasher but the weapon accessorising does sound interesting.

So, au revoir, Tactics Ogre ~ there is not much left to do ~ it's been REALLY fun ...