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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Last Posting Before 2014



Yes! I've made it! Year 2013 shall not go down in my blogging history as the laziest. But I have to say this has been a close one (well, statistically by one entry). For some reasons I haven't been blogging as much as I should. Even though, ironically, and thanks to Spambot, "Monday Morning with ..." has, allegedly, recorded quite a lot of eyeballs lately (this month has been pretty astonishing!). *snigger* who cares, really? I just love blogging cos it lets me vent and *** bad language alert *** it lets me get my own back on some moronic blogger retard (new word learnt this year: "fucktard") who talks shit (about yours truly). Hey, fucktard, just because you blog, it doesn't mean 1) you can write or 2) have an opinion, let along an intelligent/valid one, or 3) you can slag off other people and think you can get away with it. But hey, free world/society, so whatever ... 

Anyway, I'm looking forward to 2014. I'm not going to make any New Year resolutions just yet, though high on the list, I'm sure, will be to up my tolerance level of fucktards ... I swear, they are taking over the world.

Happy New Year!

Two More Entries ...

First of which will be about my yoga practice. The Hatha class I took several days ago was surprisingly effective despite it being quite a gentle session. We did do some core exercises, which left my core, well, sore today. Maybe it's just that I'm unfit (!?) Anyway, cos my hip flexors are also feeling a bit sore I was a bit worried that I might have torn my hamstrings (again) ... but given I haven't been practising the (half) split I doubt they are torn ... and sure enough, they aren't (phew) ... so maybe I just need some rest before this weekend's practice (which promises to be extremely challenging...)

Oh, did I mention that I've decided to take teacher's training next year? Not that I really want to teach but I'm just curious what that entails and whether it would help me with my practice. Today I looked into the mirror (something that I really seldom do) when doing a wide leg forward bend, and I noticed my lower back/spine instead of "folding", it was curving (which didn't look right). I had to lift myself up to stretch my spine (which is more the point of the pose). But my hips just don't rotate/tilt forward far enough to allow my lower back to fold, that coupled with my tight hamstrings ... I'm wondering if my inflexibility will be a major issue in advancing in my yoga learning & practice??

Monday, December 30, 2013

Spambot VampireStat

I mean, how stupid is that? Apparently this vampire thing has been leeching onto my blog ~ no wonder it has recorded some spectacular spike in its page-view figures lately (!) But you know what? I don't really care cos it makes this blog looks, like, popular! The only thing is, DO NOT click on its link or else, it's, like, inviting it into your house. Sheer horror. Oh, and I just found this in some forum talking about these spambot:

Kayla G: "They don't gain anything. From what I've read, they are bumping your blog view count simply because they want to make you curious about them. If you see that something called vampirestat has read your blog 40 times in one day, you might be curious about going to their website through their link on your stats page. Then, when you get there, viruses download themselves onto your computer and they can either control it or simply destroy it. They are really there just to cause trouble. Some people are just mean."

Agree. Well, suck it VampireStat, I ain't gonna click on your stupid link but thanks for boasting my page-views all the same!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

More on Final Fantasy X-2 HD (Part Two)

Have been making some cool progress in this fun game and have just found out how the "Coliseum" works. One of the many appeals of this game is that it's just so ... vast! Other than the main story (split into, like, five chapters) there is tonnes of side-quests and missions to do and battles to fight. I'm sure there is more to be discovered so more reports later.

Meanwhile, I think its theme tune is beautiful...


PS yes, with two more days to go, I think I'll have enough blog entries this year to make 2013 not the laziest in its four-year history ...    

The Hobbit

Hello, dinner

I do wonder who actually like this film series/franchise other than the people who made it (I don't know, maybe not even them). Just watched The Desolation of Smaug and thought, what a lot of bollocks it was. Did I just spend, like, almost three hours watching a bunch of bearded men (dwarfs) looking and acting like a bunch of idiots? But they ARE (!!!) Pray tell, where is the story? It was SO tedious. Basically the movie version of this J.R.R. Tolkien classic is, like, one very, very, very long (and did I say tedious???) tale of this, what, talking dragon that, in the first instalment, goes to sleep; then in the second, wakes up; then ~ and I'm ONLY guessing here, folks ~ in the final, dies. Like, wtf. I'd rather watch paint dry than sitting through this literally very dark tale of nothingness (if I only knew!) If I had the patience, I might read the book, which am sure is more interesting cos I probably have a more vivid imagination than the director. Actually, did I imagine it or the dragon Smaug (sounding terribly regal and English?!) became, like, Disney-fied at some point? Oh look, there is a slight tilt in the mouth corner that suggests it might be, like, smirking (in that wicked and English sort of way)? 

There are, of course, other sub-plots peppered throughout the epic but they kinda got lost and drown in the ... boredom of it all. Gandalf the Grey kinda drifts in and out of the narrative like a warning bell, ringing caution and all the dread to come ~ the same dread that he himself cannot escape as he gets consumed by this ... eye (or is it something, more, err, sinister and even sexual???) The romance is kinda moving ~ and interesting ~ as interracial relationship obviously gets the thumbs up here, even if it's between a messy (but unusually tall?) dwarf and a clean and no doubt gorgeous-smelling she-elf.    

Maybe The Desolation of Smaug suffers from what is known as the middle-child syndrome: the second of a trilogy, the-one-that-precedes-the-final-movie, is always plain and boring because the filmmaker saves the best for the last. (We all remember the Harry Potter movie that precedes the last one, in which Potter and his mates go on this terribly whingy, yawny and long camping trip that it threatens to kill he-who-must-not-be-named before his number is up...) 

At the end of Desolation, Bilbo the protagonist asked ominously: "What have we done?" Yes, I wonder that too; howabout: just wasted three hours of people's life?

Anyway, I hope the last Hobbit movie, There and Back Again, is more interesting and, yeah, kill that bloody gold-proof dragon already. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

More on Final Fantasy X-2 HD

This is what I just posted on a game forum re: my first impression of the game:

"Okay, so far so good!! Taking a bit of getting used to deciphering the language but it isn't that big a deal (sure, it requires extra effort but it's worth it!).The quality is quite superb; since I've also been looking at YouTube clips of the PS2 gameplay, I'm sure SE'd tweaked the graphics and made imrprovements. I'm surprised how simple the command execution is (just like FFIV, which uses the same ATB system). The fun part is, of course, the "dresspheres" but have yet to work out exactly how the garment grid and dressphere work together ... so will continue to explore that (with help from the English walkthroughs!)

Compared with, like, type 0, this is FF on saccharin; the tone is light and it's very bubble-gummy (if not girly), which is fine as it feels like a breath of fresh air. Can't wait to learn more about the unique gameplay features!

One thing I'm quite disappointed though, is that the game doesn't really make use of the Vita (hmm, if there are features that require the use of the touchscreen, I haven't discovered them yet!) Also, to navigate around, all you need is the left joystick so basically I don't get a 360-degree view of the enviro, which sucks BIG time cos what's the point of porting it to the Vita if they are not gonna exploit its capabilities (??)"

It's all Japanese to me
Abroad Celsius
Yuna ~ so tiny in front of a save point

Friday, December 27, 2013

Yuna ~ from Final Fantasy X-2 HD


Yuna in FF X-2
O.M.G!!! The wait is over! Final Fantasy X-2 HD was released last night (well, on Boxing Day) and I don't care if it's in Japanese (the localised version will not be available until March). I Just. Want. It. Since this is a remake, it already has a walkthrough in English so at least I can get all the basic info there. But first, I didn't even know the difference between Final Fantasy X and X-2 (FF X HD was also released last night). Since I've played Dissidia before, I vaguely know FF X features Tidus and Yuna, while the latter is very popular among FF fans, not the same can said about her boyfriend who comes across as a complete brat. Anyway, I chose X-2 simply because I love Yuna (her being a Summoner) ... though, to my dismay, after I started downloading the game from PSN, I realised there is NO summoning in X-2. The game, however, does have, apparently, a fantastic gameplay, which I shall be testing tonight :o) The game did take some 12 hours to download (stupid PS Vita paused in the middle of the night) so didn't have a chance to start playing it until after work (then I had to re-install Final Fantasy IV the Complete Collection onto the Vita cos, me being totally anal, I want all my FF games on the same memory stick).  

Anyway, it was well worth waiting for. The graphics of FF X-2 is really good and I love the turn-based battle system and, finally, I'm getting the PS console experience on my handheld. The only thing is, of course, the language ... but apparently this game is not exactly cerebrally challenging so I should be okay. 

Okay, off to replay the opening sequence (I missed some items at the beginning so I wanna go back and get them!!!) 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

What Really Goes on on a Yoga Teacher's Mind (?)

By an "anonymous" yogi, published in The Guardian earlier this month:

"The typical image of a yoga teacher is a vegan, teetotal Buddhist, but I'm partial to a kebab after the pub. I'm also supposed to be a "conduit for healing", but my mind is often anywhere but my class. I'm usually picturing the ice-cream I'm going to devour when I get home. I struggle with the po-faced earnestness of my role: it's hard to "teach from the heart" when I'm sniggering about what they all look like with their bums in the air. Sometimes I ask them to go into particularly amusing positions, such as the camel and the lion, just for my own entertainment.

My students aren't much better: they squabble about their favourite spots and compare each other's outfits like a bunch of children. The room is often "alive with energy", but it isn't due to the yoga, more that they're eyeing up the attractive bloke who always takes off his T-shirt at the first opportunity.
Some of my students' choices make me boggle. Take the man who insists on wearing micro-shorts: it's a rare week when he doesn't expose more than his inner serenity. It's hard to open your heart to love with that in your peripheral vision.

As the class warms up, a distinctive aroma begins to brew. Alas, it is not coffee. It's sweat. Every class has a stinker; mine doesn't believe in deodorant. "Tolerance,", I think to myself, "forgiveness." I imagine it oozing over me like warm syrup. But that just takes me back to the chocolate sauce I'm going to drizzle on my ice-cream tonight."

Eyes Closed (2)

Rather interestingly (and coincidentally), today's special Christmas yoga class was all about striking the right balance -- with our eyes closed. Balancing between breathing in and breathing out, between breaths and movements, between left and right, between front and back, between up and down, between tension and relaxation, between the physical and the metaphysical. And one way to actually find that balance is not with the eyes opened but closed. That way you become so much more focused (thanks YTSL for your interesting comment & sharing in my last entry on this topic!!) so you can "see" yourself much better: Am I breathing too hastily? Am I being too tensed up? Am I leaning on my side and placing unnecessary stress on it? Am I striking the right balance in my life? Am I too good without being a little bad (it OKAY to be bad!) Is there too much Yin and not enough Yang in my life ...

Balancing Life on the Head ...

The list goes on. However, closing the eyes also, sometimes, induces fear. This may sound really weird but I've recently developed this "phobia" in my home's shower cubicle because, for some reason, I think the boiler (which is actually physically inside the shower cubicle) is going to explode, killing me inside. The thing is, when my eyes are open, things are okay, but the second my eyes are closed, I imagine there a bang so loud and devastating that it feels SO real I have to open my eyes. In fact, I also developed this fear of flying some years ago that's kinda weird, given I've been "flying" before my teens. Anyway, this may be something I can work on in 2014 ... conquering imagined fears...   

Another Quick Entry

I'm trying to cram in as many blog entries as possible before end of 2013 ... so this year doesn't go down in history as my laziest? *lol* 

One thing I have noticed lately is that this blog has been getting more (regular) page views than before (which is kinda nice given I don't really write for a particular audience other than myself). But I do wonder which particular topic generates more interest (I know anything "medical" will get lots of hits from the health-obsessed US... Russians are more into tech and games, I think). Anyway, I'd like to think that I can share my experience -- whether in gaming, gadget-ing or yoga -- with others (and vice versa) so that, hopefully, we are all, like, better informed.

I'm all for information sharing (suck it, Facebook!) cos knowledge is, indeed, extremely empowering. Like, if I Google for info, other people's Blog entries (containing that specific piece of info that I'm searching for) will show up, without the need of me signing up in order to access that info (did I say Facebook sucks?). I don't mind signing up for Google-related services, such as Gmail, for instance, because it IS a service but for social networking sites, I think information should be free and made available whatever and whenever. Granted, I think nothing is really private or personal on Web-land these days (oh yes, I was rather amused that the person I play online games with could well be a spy ~ so thank you, Mr Snowden for confirming our suspicion!), still it's the principle, isn't it?

Off to a holiday special yoga class this afternoon for some inner nurturing ... I need that before returning to work after a five-day break! Merry Christmas everyone!




Tuesday, December 24, 2013

A Moment of Reflection (2)


Sony Xperia Z that reminds me of Cadbury
chocolate bars 
What can I/ anyone say about the latest phone releases (?!?) Nothing much really. Where I am people use either the iPhone (5S) or Samsung (Galaxy S4 or Note 3). How boring is that?!? Remember those days when Nokia (yes, Nokia ...) produced all these handsets with groovy designs? Now everything just looks the same. Not one to follow trends, I still use a Blackberry 9900 (yes, how trend-bucking is that, right?!), Sony Xperia Z and maybe either Nokia 8 or 7280 (yes!) or the DoCoMo F-02D (Japanese phone). Since I've just bought a T-Mobile (Sharp) Sidekick LX2009 on eBay (which I doubt will be here in time for Christmas ~ boo-hoo), I was thinking maybe I should now sell the DoCoMo and 7280 but neither have any market value (so will have to just, yeah, give it to the shop where I trade in my old phones). I might as well just keep them (but the problem with old phones is that once you shelve them away, they die...) 

Good news is, I've just recently changed the trackpad on my Blackberry and it totally fixed the (extremely) annoying problem it had: the cursor would go bonkers when the phone is exposed to direct sunlight (I used to refer to my 9900 as a vampire phone). Now I think/hope I can use it for another year or two before it retires. Well, who knows what fate awaits for Research in Motion (RIM) that manufactures the Blackberry... So, other than that, think I will continue to use these (six!!!) phones in the coming year.

(Update: the Sidekick LX 2009 - beautiful - just arrived so decided to let go of the DoCoMo and 7280 cos they have started to playing up ... so am down to four phones now ~ phew!!)

Patrick Creelman in
parivrtta janu sirsasana

Last night I actually dreamed that I could do this amazing leg-behind-head yoga pose ~ can't remember exactly which one (parivrtta janu sirsasana, perhaps?) ~ but yeah, exactly, only in my dreams!!! I have made much progress this year despite the fact I'd practised fewer hours. I've come to believe that, like most good things in life, too much of yoga is actually not that great for the body. I still remember I used to have this quite subtle knee pain during the first few years of my practice. My issue being that I have v tight hamstrings (thanks to all that cycling I did during my youth!) and equally tight hips that, when I tried to do certain poses (esp those that place A LOT of stress on the hips), instead of my hips taking the pressure (through rotation or any other pressure-releasing movements), my knees (!) end up taking ALL the strain ... But as I become a lot more mindful with my practice -- something that I cannot over emphasise when I share my yoga practice with my friends -- I realise there are poses that I simply cannot do and turn to modifications (something that yogi David Swenson had encouraged us to do -- even with Ashtanga). I also have managed to rein in that bouncy little monkey in my mind ... that brief (but wonderful) experience I had during a morning meditation session in Koh Samui this summer has been most inspiring.

And I think with all that I began to make progress. In the coming year, I'm hoping to take a 200-hour teacher training course. I think will see if yogi Patrick Creelman will be heading any programmes where I live cos I think he is one of the best and most recognised teachers in town (I'm getting used to his wild Canadian accent...) I think I'm now ready to take my practice to another level...

A Moment of Reflection (1)

It's that time of the year again when I look back and ... realise I haven't been blogging as much as I should! The number of entries this year has been the lowest yet (only 54 including this) as I celebrate its fourth anniversary... I guess I just have been quite busy this year (esp October ~ zero entry)! But I'm happy to see this blog is now regularly visited ... by people looking for tips on yoga practice, gaming and (sometimes gadgets). 

And THIS is a bumper entry (in two parts)!!!


Have to say ever since I bought the PS Vita (last March?), I've been gaming A LOT more. Years and years ago (we are talking about Pokemon Ruby Edition here!) I was just a moderate gamer, playing mainly turn-based (card) games like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh (which I still love). Have never been really into hack and slash. Then I started playing the Ultimate Marvel Alliance games (first one still the best) on the PSP before moving onto my first ever (life-changing) Final Fantasy game (by Square Enix). With that game I had to confront my inability to coordinate between, like, my brain and my fingers. It really took a lot of practice for me to learn different sequences of moves, how to execute them and with precise timing (am still crap at that though)... that was followed by Dissidia (played this series for more than two years, I am sure) and Third Birthday (with the notorious bonus shower scene), which was basically a shooters game (not my cuppa) before I moved to PS Vita.

Persona 4

PS Vita has fantastic graphics/screen resolution, which is why I love playing on it so much. In terms of gaming experience, I think my favourite games this year (and last?) will have to be Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling TogetherPersona 4 the Golden (fantastic OST!) and Final Fantasy Type-0... all of which I played right through to post game, with Type-0 the only one I still have to "complete" (I really cannot grind) ... talk about grinding, Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention was also fun but to grind up to level 9999? Not that crazy (yet). I also had, like, a hack and slash galore with Dynasty Warriors: Next and, similarly, One Piece 2 (latter I'm still playing). But really not my style of gameplay.


So, lately have been itching for a new (great) game to sink my teeth into but they really are hard to come by these days esp for the PS Vita. Thanks to the fact that much gaming has now shifted platform from hand held to, like, *spit* the mobile phone (gee, Angry Birds and Candy Crush and even Injustice?!?!? Come on!!!), the market for the Vita has shrunk so much outside of Japan I think it'll probably die soon. So, while it lasts, I'm hoping they will release Final Fantasy X-HD soon (even though I have a feeling it's going to be an anti-climax) ... the last time I heard it's not gonnabe released until, like, next March (2014). I'll probably have lost interest by then.



In the meantime, I've recently bought (and played) Valhalla Knights 3 (okay but Boring after post game) Y: Memories of Celceta (don't like), Atelier Meruru Plus: the Apprentice of Arland (bit like Holy Sorcery Story but more extensive and have yet to get into it). Surprisingly, I've picked up Final Fantasy IV: the Complete Collection and started to get into it. I've put it off for quite a long time simply because I'm very annoyed I lost the guide I bought for it ... and trust me, to fully enjoy the game, you HAVE TO HAVE this guide (despite what others say on games forums). I already missed a few, er, missables but, okay, it's annoying but no big drama. Nonetheless, it has a great score (really, really good) and I love the gameplay (turn-based!) despite it being a very old game. 

Up next: other passions of life: Phones (not as burning as before) and, of course, Yoga ...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Eyes Closed


Something that we don't do often enough I think. Before I started practising yoga regularly, I think I seldom closed my eyes during the day. Now, I'll keep my eyes closed whenever I have a chance on and off the mat, mostly to block out the outer world and to seek calmness in, or bring focus to, the inner self. It's a comforting and nurturing feeling. Also, I think we are constantly distracted by what's happening around us that we forget about the self: how are we feeling physically and emotionally? Is the body sending out signals that we are ignoring? Having/increasing self awareness is a good way to maintain one's physical (and metaphysical) well-being. Taking a few short moments during the day to breathe deeply and go inward is very nourishing for the soul...

  

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Iyengar Yoga

Stumbled across this beautifully-shot short documentary by Lindsey Clennell this morning, showing how Iyengar yoga (founded by B.K.S. Iyengar) had helped people (former addicts/ ex-convicts/orphans) lead a better life. It features interviews with the guru himself.


Have to say how this particular school of yoga is taught in India is a bit rough & tough (more like something out of a correctional institution), which is not really my thing ... the practice serves a more functional purpose (think Iyengar yoga puts a big stress on alignment and is used to help practitioners who suffer from scoliosis) than being a lifestyle choice. Interesting all the same. 

Rather unfortunate that yoga is getting a bit of a bad rap/rep lately, with one scandal after another (John Friend and Bikram Choudhury in particular), which is a shame cos I still think practising yoga is good for the soul. Just gotta show even gurus are subject to human flaws...  

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Not Much on the Go...

My PSVita has been collecting dusts lately mainly there aren't that many good games on the market right now. I've stopped playing Valhalla Knights 3 after entering post-game, it just got a bit repetitive and tedious. Ys: Memories of Celceta, despite reasonably good reviews, isn't really my kinda game. It's mostly hack and slash and I rather play One Piece 2 (which turns out to be quite a long game!!!) Downloaded Rainbow Moon last night -- good thing it is only a trial (free) version because it's not that fun. Tactics Ogre (and maybe P4G) is still the best turn-based RPG ever released!

Patrick Creelman in King Pigeon

Progress, on the other hand, is being made in my yoga practice. Last week I took a class that focused on back-bending and after much warm up (King Pigeon pose!) I was able to advance on my wheel pose: when I was in the pose, I was able to shift forward and backward, thus allowing my lower back to further loosen up and my arms to really straighten up (yeah!), which is very encouraging. Though I don't practise as much these days but I still find taking three classes a week is quite optimal for my body. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Fallen Arch

Here's the thing, my mom used to say I walked weird; since a young boy, the heels of my shoes (parts that wear out over time) show the arches of both my feet collapsed inwards (so shoe heels always looked slanted) ... over the years, I've kinda corrected this ~ but only with my left foot. I look at my shoe heels now and the right one still looks uneven. Now, I kinda forgot all about this until yesterday when I was walking and I felt this very slight discomfort on my right foot, I actually felt the arch caved in with each and every step. Then the penny dropped. When I do the side angle pose during my yoga practice, while I can keep my left outer foot on the mat (as it should be), my right outer foot always flies off the ground. Initially I just thought maybe because my right leg is, like, somehow shorter (I know, ridiculous and ignorant) but now I realise the outer foot is not touching the ground before the inner foot naturally caves inwards. That, actually, could be one of the causes of my bad knee, too. 

Anyway, such is the beauty of yoga: it doesn't only heighten my awareness of my body (physical being) but I'm hoping the various asanas will now help me balance my right foot pressure again. I will become more mindful when I do the side angle pose in the future!

Hello Isabelle

Over on games land, I'm still grinding Valhalla Knights 3 for various unique armour sets that are not sold at the shops (so addictive, it's almost like Tactics Ogre LUCT all over again!!). After changing my main's class (from Prisoner to Shaman) after the Shaman job card finally dropped from a priest after hours of farming, I decided to upgrade a few other team members too: from fighter to soldier (a real tanker! it's like the knight/paladin class in TO), and archer (useless, if you already have a mage) to the newly released Hero of Legend class). I also swapped out my second female mage (useless) with Isabelle the Bunny Girl. The female mage (unfortunately named Bambiana ... and she really was a bit of a bimbo who got killed all the time) just wasn't worth keeping and, in the end, I had to sell her, even though I max-ed her skills) but at least I got a bit of dosh out of the sale.

So my new team, I think, is pretty balanced now. I have two magic wielders for AOE (Shaman and Mage), two healers (Priest and Bunny Girl), two tankers for melee (Soldier and Akatoki) and one magic + melee (Hero of Legend, which I still don't know how to use properly). The game, apparently, will release more classes in the future so will see what they are like. But, to me, the Shaman is quite the ultimate class  right now; it has pretty OP magic attacks + reviving powers. I haven't started post-game yet ... heard it's actually quite boring ~ even though I do find its main story not bad (just very, very badly told!) Will post a photo of my team later (now that I know how to capture screen shots with my PSVita!)

On tech land, I bought the new SmartWatch2 that is supposed to be a physical extension of my Sony Xperia Z (which I had since March this year) but have not opened it yet since it looks like it deserves some quality geek loving & attention, which I don't have for it right now as I'm in the midst of all the grinding *LOL*

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Galaxy Supernova

Okay, here is another fun cover (since Wonder Girls' Nobody) of a J-pop commercial song (by K-Pop group Girls Generation) ... how do people find the time to learn these seemingly complicated steps?!?



(That tall boy in glasses is hilariously good...)



And above is the song from the ad -- (listen to how the Japanese pronounce "Samantha")

Thanks for Watching!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Flowing

Have been taking some vinyasa (flow) classes lately, which I find quite enjoyable. All the asanas are quite manageable but what is most challenging about this particular form of practice is that there are, obviously, no breaks in between. It's a bit like doing the (first half of the) Primary Series in one go; it really tests my stamina. Breathing - or mindful breathing - must be the key to this practice as that keeps the body energised. Yesterday's class was quite fun as we flowed for an hour (while doing a couple of head stands in between). We also did the Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana (but with the bend knee behind, below) which I can do again after my hamstrings had healed. I love this pose because it works my pelvis/hip area.

Patrick Creelman @ Pure Yoga

As mentioned in previous postings before, the more I practise the more I feel the imbalance between my left and right side of the body. In a side angle pose, if my stand is too wide, the edge of my (left) foot would come off the mat, which is a little bit annoying cos the whole point is to have the foot grounded so there is energy channeling up and down the body, from the side of foot to the tip of the finger, in this pose. But having that awareness is good -- so I can work on pushing the foot down....  

On Game-land, I (randomly) bought the Valhalla Knights 3, which turns out to be quite a blast. What I like most about this game is that it reminds me of Tactics Ogre: Let US Cling Together because of its class/job system: Paladin, Priest, Mage, Shaman etc and skills ... this one has a Prisoner class (main character) which I'm grinding hard to unlock its mastery skill ... so, lots of fun. Then I think I will switch him to either Mage or Shaman ... magic in this game is, well, a blast! However it gameplay is a bit hard to navigate (have lots tonnes of money cos I didn't realise I was hit by a curse) and the loading time is just ridiculous. And it has something called the "sexy time" (category III stuff!) which supposed to reflect the Japanese hostess culture. Sounds totally pervy but am not holding my breath. But the "bunny girl" class does sound rather fun. Anyway, am grinding (!) away so no time to blog ;o)-

Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Sense of Balance and Some Letting Go

Finally having time to sit down and write, talk about NOT balancing my time out. 

The Koh Samui retreat, needless to say, was fantastic (even though the trip is nothing but a distant memory now) and I've learnt the very basics of the Ashtanga self practice, which is basically meditation/ pranayamas, Surya Namaskara (sun salutation) A and B of the Primary Series. This is a surprisingly effective routine to warm up the body and gets me sweating within minutes. However, to progress further down the Series really requires a lot of hard work and pushes the physical body (and mind) to the limit.

So, upon my return, I decided to clear out a corner of my room (who would have imagined I'd accumulated so much rubbish over the years, including an Easter Egg from a friend, like, five years ago) and made it my own practice space ... have to say I haven't yet used it (though I have already set up the mat space, incense and stereo), not even for meditation yet. This weekend, for instance, I will have to work on both days (luckily I can squeeze in a power class on Sunday morning). Have so far been only using the space for doing handstands :o)




Friday, September 6, 2013

A Sense of Anticipation & Excitment

I'm not big on travelling or going abroad but I'm quite looking forward to tomorrow's yoga retreat @ Samahita in Koh Samui. This is a longer retreat than the one I had a couple of years ago in Bali, lasting almost 10 days, and I'm going there alone, which is rather nice. My friends are quite surprised I've never been to Thailand before, consider it's quite close to Hong Kong and not an expensive holiday destination.

I normally plunge into these "holidays" straight from work (like working right up to the last minute before boarding the plane) but today, I've decided to take a day off to, well, prepare (like checking out flight times, shopping for things to wear on the beach ~ yeah ~ and buying things like insect repellent...) Have to say I really hate shopping but at least I got that over and done with in a couple of hours. Bought so many environmentally friendly stuff cos the retreat is totally eco-friendly. 

I don't have any expectations at all ... titled "Stress Management", I actually don't think I'm stressed out at all (other than the travel and flying itself) ... but it's just a good excuse to take a break and just totally relax (have already booked a number of massage sessions) and unwind. Am wondering if I'll want to return to, like, civilisation after a week there!   

Saturday, August 31, 2013

So Much Depth in One Game

Though I've been revisiting Tactics Ogre - Let Us Cling Together lately -- just to do a bit of fun role-playing but soon got a bit bored cos there isn't much strategy, let alone challenge, to speak of when I have all the exclusive weapons etc -- it's Final Fantasy Type-0 that I keep going back to. Not only am I not done with the game (even though am at the end of third playthrough, my highest level character, Machina, is only @ lvl 70) and am still way off to even attempt the Agito Tower/final dungeon ... I have still got all these Summons (or Eidolons) to level up.

Firebrand


Astaroth












My favourite summons being Astaroth (Diabolos class) and Firebrand (Ifrit class) at the moment ... with the latter particular good against ice-type monsters. However, I'm still studying their abilities ... and because they are only available during missions and take SO LONG to level up, it will take awhile for me to realise their full potential. Also, what a bummer I won't be able to exploit them in dungeons like the Agito Tower! 

Anyway, this weekend I will give self a bit of a rest ... before heading to Koh Samui next week (yeah!!) Was attempting the handstand away from the wall last week but because I wasn't fully engaging mt core, I felt flat on my back (quite literally) ... so think will get a haircut this weekend instead *haha* ... if I'm really up to it, then might go to a level 2 class tomorrow.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Pete Guinosso ~ More Core and Less Neck (3)

So here is the surprise: I wasn't gonna practise yoga today (since I had two classes already earlier this week) but my friend Louis told me there was this workshop @ our studio that was, like, Free (well, we only had to make a charity donation) so I was, like, why not. It turned out to be a great session with an America yogi (hailed from San Francisco) called Pete Guinosso on, yup, arm balances and inversion ~ my favourites! 

Yogi Pete Guinosso

Perhaps because there are other workshops taking place at our studio this weekend, there were only half a dozen of students @ Pete's workshop, which, actually was brilliant because the instructor could pay more attention to each of us individually. And sure enough, Pete did just that and I have to say this guy is sharp. He almost immediately noticed I unnecessarily engage my neck A LOT. And he showed us how, if we broaden our upper back (okay, draw the shoulders in, down and broaden), that action  frees up the neck (and it works) ... so I will try to do that in down dog -- or in which other poses that is applicable. No wonder my neck hurt so much after my last inversion workshop with the Bryce couple ... I think I was automatically tensing my neck a lot (maybe due to nervousness). 

And since this WAS an arm balances and inversion workshop, activating the Core was a must so we began the two-hour class with some (literally) Hard Core exercises -- and that alone was energy draining (but more on this later ... for there was a reason for that). Then we almost went straight into handstand. Just like what Briohny and Dice told us, when we are doing the handstand, we need to activate our Arms, Palms and Fingers (actually, like how we activate our legs and feet when we are standing up or walking) and Pete reminded us of that, and -- voila -- when I paid more attention to my arms etc, I felt an immediate sense of stability, which I never felt before (of course, my activated core also helped) ... so that was a bit of a revelation (just like when I realised when doing the headstand I really need to push my forearms down onto the ground for a sound and firm foundation). 

And the third thing I learnt at the workshop today is that I am NOT breathing enough; and I tend to hold my breath when I'm upside down so another thing to remember in the future: less neck, more core, more arms/hands/fingers, and more breathing (and not shallow breathing). 

Finally, the reason why I was so tired, so quickly was because the studio we were in was, like, HEATED ... yes, in the middle of summer, here in Hong Kong, we were practically doing inversion/arm balances in a Hot room. Crazy. I'm surprised I survived cos, at one point, when I moved from down dog to warrior 2, I almost passed out ... anyway, I feel great this evening and am SO glad I took the class.

Monday, August 12, 2013

More Core and Less Neck (2)

If only I can actually practise that! After my rather euphoric experience at the Briohny and Dice workshop I woke up the next morning feeling as if I'd been beaten up -- bad, with pain especially around the two sides where the neck is connected to the shoulder. It must have been all the upside down work, especially the handstand that did it. When I was doing the handstand, a lot of weight went to the shoulder -- and instead of pressing my body Up (using my arms and core), I must have let the rest of my whole body weighed down, and as a result, my shoulder bore all the pressure. Actually, during the second session I already felt the slight pain on my left shoulder. I think I really need to practise more to build up not only my flexibility but also strength...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Briohny & Dice

Oh yes, this yogi couple are as beautiful/gorgeous in real life as they are on TV ads and YouTube videos. But what's more important is that, having taken two workshops today led by Briohny & Dice (at Pure Yoga HK as part of the "Bryce Yoga Asia Tour), I've come to realise they really are super lovely/nice, youthful and sunny inside too.

The workshops I took today were all to do with inversion or going upside down (I'm told these asanas are particularly great for the body as the brain and heart get some serious blood rushes!). Some of the poses weren't exactly easy (come on, handstand in the middle of the room without falling flat on the face?) but the double sessions were easily the most fun yoga classes I've ever had to date. Each session began with some warming up exercises, including a bit of crunching that activated the core (boy, am I glad I took that Core class earlier this week; boring that it might be, it did help me prepare me for what I had to do this afternoon). 

Seriously, don't be fooled by how easy Dice runs up that wall;
without core strength that is IMPOSSIBLE

Among the many principles that we learnt today is that in order to go up (or fly) we need to push down hard onto the ground, for instance in poses like bakasana and handstand. In bakasana/ crow or crane, those hips and heels need to kinda shoot up to prevent the pose from going pear shape. There are also all these (subtle) movements in the shoulders and thighs that help to provide stability ... one involves (when upside down), shoulder blades down, spread the upper back and then tug in a little those shoulder blades! So no need to press together the shoulder blades at all! Oh, and of course, a strong Core always helps! 

Hips up, man

I actually know some of these tips before but Briohny & Dice have such a lively way to teach and explain that there was not one boring moment in the classes. They are actually a great double-act. As Briohny just had a baby (like, three months ago ... though she hardly looks like she was preggers so recently) a lot of demo was done by her hubby ... and by way of teasing, she would ask him to demo more and more really difficult poses (doing handstand blind-folded!!!) and Dice was such a good spot and performed them all. We were all just totally wow-ed. Interestingly, Briohny says there are poses that she used to be able to do before giving birth but now she can't cos she has to rediscover her core strength ...a teacher in the class then quipped: "welcome to our world!" 


Some great tips on side plank



Dice does make yoga look so easy and effortless

Well, that certainly is my world cos my core is still very close to non-existent ~ though I have to say I'm getting a lot better with my "pressed" handstand (i.e. handstand without the kicking), especially if my standing leg is on a block, or two (another trip they showed us this afternoon). Though the "pike" is still difficult for me to do (probably due to tight/short hamstrings) ... I think my legs start to shake in that position ...

Briohny and Dice (with me looking
  disheveled in the middle) 

Anyway, I walked out of the last session feeling great and rather pleased with myself, knowing that I hadn't wasted my afternoon (and was privileged enough to have shared an afternoon with such a perfect couple!) I feel what I'd learnt today could be a springboard to something better and bigger in the future, whether it's in my practice or my life. There was one moment during an inversion that I felt I'd made some sort of leap forward. This is my fifth year practising yoga and I get very excited every time I feel I have moved forward. Like recently I started to get deeper with my split. I can't wait to go to Koh Samui for my "de-stress" yoga retreat ... I feel that my time there will be an extension of/to what I'd experienced this afternoon ... joy and purpose.    

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More Core and Less Neck

To prepare for this Saturday's yoga workshop on inversion (with yogi couple Briohny & Dice), I took a Core class last night to start building up some inner strength. However, I must have done something wrong cos my Core is actually not that sore today but both sides of my Neck are very sore (!) So guess Where I've been exercising my muscles. 

It's hard not to engage the neck. Let's consider the image below...



In order to keep the upper body lifted off the ground, you need to engage, yes, the core muscles that wrap around the torso/trunk. However, you also need to look forward and keep the chin up ... so neck muscles are engaged even though your hands are also supposed to be pulling the head up (but the head is pretty heavy) ... so, hence you can imagine the neck can get pretty intense. I guess my problem is that (unlike the model above) my upper body/chest is not high enough (i.e not enough core strength) to ensure my head is looking ahead... I must bring my awareness to this the next time I practise.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Physical Limitations

Tonight I took my usual hot yoga class (a woman was carried out of the last class ... she looked like she'd fainted!) and did the best I could given I have arthritic knees :o( The block came in handy as I couldn't really bend my knees too deep. That coupled with my slightly warped hips I found some of the poses (which I could normally do) quite challenging. I did try the split again and I could do that (at least the half split) easily, sitting on the tall side of the block. But I have come to accept my limitations in my practice. Just as I've accepted that there are things in life that you can't really change and just have to let it be. 

This morning something really annoyed me at work and for a brief moment I thought I'd kick up a big fuss about it ... then I took a few deep breaths and thought: oh well, why fret? I decided not to take any action or do anything cos knew it would have been futile ... I actually feel good about my decision now cos I didn't work myself into a lather over something that, to be frank, is pointless.    

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Some More Letting Go

This might sound trivial to many but I've decided to let go of some of the older video PSP games -- Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention, Persona 4 -- which I've spent hours (TO close to 1,000) playing. But I need to free up some space in my memory card for new games. And some of these games just don't appeal anymore. 

But I'm really into the Final Fantasy series right now (am doing some serious grinding and farming in Type-0 after another quick foray into Dissidia: Duodecim 012 earlier) and will very likely buy FF X when its HD rework is released on the PS Vita later this year. Won't play FF IV and the After Years until I get my hands on a walkthrough (which I'm told I'd need if I was to make any good progress in it). I did have a walkthrough but I stupidly gave that away :o(

With Type 0, there are so many ways to play the game ... I started the game playing Ace, Machina and Rem (for thematic reasons cos they are, like, the main characters) but have also been trying out King, Deuce and now, Trey, Jack, Eight and Queen. What makes this such a great game is a lot of thinking (and I really mean a lot) has gone into making all 15 playable characters unique. I still have, like, six Class 0 warriors unexplored (their weapons just don't look as sexy ... I mean, swinging a mace?!?) but am sure will try them out at some point. But looking at the ones I have played:

Machina: He is, at the moment, the strongest guy ( @Lvl 65) on the team; he is such a powerhouse and by combining his Sword Field and Darkside basically he can attack and defend at the same time.

Diabolo 
Deuce: I'm really re-discovering this flute girl; with dodging ability and her Concerto (which is long/short range and breaks enemy defence), she is basically invincible! And I proved it by taking her into a lvl 70 dungeon and she is the only one walking out alive, with her beautiful hair intact (but a very sore thumb pressing down on the triangle button). However, all that dodging really uses up her MP so ...

Rem: here is where Rem comes in as her main job is to re-fill the entire team with MP!!! She is apparently an amazing Mage, the strongest in the game, however since I still haven't learnt how to Magic Cancel, I'm not really using her correctly. I have been exploiting her Re-raise ability (to sacrifice then resurrect) though so I can spam Summons (Diabolo ~ WOW!!!) that can get the team out of some really sticky situations (like the final side mission in Chapter 7 where the dragon nest/egg needs to be destroyed). 

Trey: This is another cool discovery ... his bow & arrow can shoot Really far and he's a balanced weapon wielder and magic user. Can charge his shot while running. The only thing is I've been farming/grinding for his Rune Bow in Besunel Cave but Still No Luck. But he seems to be able to OHKO enemies, the only problem with him is that is not very good at closeup combat. 

Ace: He's always been reliable but I've only been using his Teleport cards ... never used his open deck so will explore that later.

King: Like Ace, he is always reliable and a great range attacker ... but he seems to be less interesting than Trey and his Never Give Up (re-raise) ability doesn't always seem to work. And I hate it when he has to reload his gun in the middle of a battle. But all in all, an easy character to play.

Jack: For closeup OHKO, Jack is the guy but the timing of his Kill or Break Sight/critical hit is kinda hard. Playing him well needs practice. And he limps and is slow. However, I have his mid-range katana, which is great.

Eight: Eight is another one who is quite hard to play ~ though his play-style is probably the most interesting ... given he has SO many moves! But not for anyone who gets confused with too many control button combinations.

Queen: She is powerful and potentially v interesting to play but haven't come round to really trying out her moves yet. But I tend to have quite a few exclusive accessories for her already so will probably use her to grind high-level dungeons later. 

I don't think I'd missed out anyone. So in terms of grouping, I think below makes sense:

Machina + Rem + Deuce: a powerful & perfect combo!
Trey + Jack + Eight: the lads are predominantly short-range, magic fighters
King + Ace + Queen: more a long range and no nonsense team...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Mother of All Migraines

Oh yeah, she paid me an unwelcome visit last weekend and it really was paralysingly painful. It took not one but two Advils to numb the pain. I blame it on the weather/low pressure as this part of Asia enters the typhoon season. In fact, the recent crap weather really has much to answer for: both my knees took turns to swell (with arthritis) and then the migraine. All this, of course, meant I've been off the yoga mat for almost a fortnight (I did squeeze in a hot class on Monday, which was nice) ... but with my regular yoga instructor away, it doesn't look like I'll be taking many classes next week either.


However, must get back to regular practising soon as I'd signed up for a workshop by this (beautiful) couple called Briohny and Dice. At first I didn't want to sign up cos I knew I'd be just staring at these people (like, in awe of their presence as they are kinda, like, celebrities in the yoga world but since my friend is going and there will be quite a bit of partner work, I thought I'd just go and help out. Their workshop is made up of five sessions (over three days) but I'm only attending two (one one day). They will be inversion classes (bring those Core exercises on, baby!) which I quite like/enjoy. It really is a bit like training for the circus but the practice requires a lot of focus, balancing, control and inner calmness. So, something to look forward to next month. 

Meanwhile, much has been happening on VideoGames-land (while I was nursing swollen knees) ... I grind-ed big time on One Piece ... then kinda got bored. Went back to  Final Fantasy Dissidia 012 Duodecim and got a bit deeper/further into the Labyrinth and Scenario 000 before I decided to take another (maybe long) break. Don't understand why I'm not getting any decent weapons. 

So I'm now back on Final Fantasy Type-0 (seriously, this is such an amazing game I have no idea why Square Enix won't localise it for the international audience)... anyway, discovered that Deuce (the flute girl) is close to invincible. When she plays her Concerto -- with her "avoid" skill active -- she attacks and protects at the same time, which keeps her HP high. However, all that dodging depletes her MP (even though I've already upgraded that skill to minimise MP consumption) ... but throw in Rem, then we have a winning double act, with Rem refilling everyone's MP with her Convert skill. The thing is I'm now at this horrible grind-y stage (really, so much grinding in the video games I play it's not funny...) where I'm not sure whether I should start my third playthrough soon (but still need to complete Chapter 8 -- without Rem and Machina ... which will be no fun at all). Will see how next week progresses. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

A Sore Core

What I hate about doing Core exercises is the Sore afterwards (!) I took one class on Wednesday night and I can still feel my "effort" today, three days later; i.e. can't laugh or sneeze without feeling the muscle pain.

Building up the Core (which is kinda like a thick belt that wraps around the abs and around the back) is vital in a yoga practice not only to give practitioners (inner) power -- there are so many yoga poses that require Core strength such as Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III) --  but to protect our lower back. Having Core strength is also vital for the inversion poses. 

Warrior 3
There are many ways to train the Core ... and one of my old yoga instructors, Lawrence, used to ask us to get into various poses that require Core strength, which I enjoyed. The practice also helped us focus. There is also what I'd called the drill method, which basically means you spend the entire class just targetting the core with repetitive exercises (a bit like crunching in fitness training... that was what the Perfect Human Specimen used to do during part of his Core classes) ... last Wednesday our instructor adopted the latter method for the ENTIRE class. I mean, that was kinda sadistic (but I think most of the (female) students actually enjoyed it despite all the grunting and moaning ... could be the myth of weight loss at work again).

I don't think I will go to his class again (esp I tend to laugh and sneeze a lot). Am resting this weekend but will probably get back into some serious practice next week....

Friday, June 28, 2013

No Rest

I totally fell asleep during a commute ride just now and almost slept right through my stop! Woke up and felt totally zonked out when disembarking.  Am really tired these days (last night's Yin class also knocked me out)! Desperately need a break so v thankful one is coming up in a couple of months.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Scene On A Bus

And it wasn't a pretty one. A father was taking his mentally-retarded daughter to pick up some medicines (a long way from home) early in the morning ~ and she just wouldn't have it. She (not a girl but a grown up woman) just wanted to get off. The older man wouldn't let her. He yelled, he slapped her, he looked around, evidently, embarrassed. Several thoughts went through my head: is the woman being kidnapped? Why did she want to leave the bus? Is she dying to go to the loo? Then a woman sitting in front of them tried to calm her down (too young to be the mother, maybe a sister? A cousin? A helper?) Anyway, the girl eventually sat still ... and I got off the bus before they did.

Sometimes we complain about our lives: oh, things are not going the way we want; we feel being hard done by; life is unfair etc however, many of us don't have to deal with situations like the one above. Think of that family: the old man, his daughter, their relatives ... every day of their lives is probably a struggle, every day is about getting by without any major incidents. If our glass half full or half empty? This blog entry, however, is not about showing pity but how perhaps we can all be more humble and more appreciative of what we have.

Jeremy Piven doing the split!! Note his back leg:
that is where the hip flexor gets stretched

I'm going to be away from the mat this weekend, I think; the past week I've been doing quite a lot of splitting (on a tall block!) ... dunno why, of late, all of a sudden every instructor wants us to split (latest yoga trend?!?) Oh well, at least I'm (or my bum is, rather) - slowly - being gravitated towards the ground. I think it has as much to do with loosen hamstring in the front leg as stretched hip flexors in the back leg. And the more Yin poses I practise the more "relaxed" these muscles have become. And when it the pose, it actually feels quite good (!!!) However, here is one pose that you have to do a lot of warm up for. I think the last hamstring injury I had (which lasted some nine months to a year) was split-induced. I just have to be extra mindful while doing this pose ~ the rule of engagement applies here ~ so to avoid tearing the hamstring.

So, will play a bit more One Piece ~ which is getting more fun when more characters are unlocked.  My favourites at the moment are Smoker and the literally the cool dude Kuzan ...


Smoker
Kuzan
Dunno who these are yet (below) but they look kinda cool too ...





Saturday, June 15, 2013

Something to Look Forward to

Though the week-long yoga retreat I'm attending is not until September but have to start sorting out details this weekend / early next week (reservation and flight bookings etc as I'm trying to get cheap direct flight from where I am to Koh Samui). It's nice to have something to look forward to especially when the weather  here has been so miserable lately. Need a bit of sunshine, a bit of space (physical and personal), a bit of optimism as well as a bit of calmness, away from all the going-ons in the work and city life.

I've, again, booked a double class for tomorrow morning ... hope the instructor this week has prepared his classes better; the one last Sunday practically just prepared for one class so I was very disappointed, if not a tad annoyed, to repeat the same sequence for two really different classes: hatha and yin/yang. I think that's the problem with large studios. I don't really blame the instructors as their schedules are pretty packed but doesn't that kinda defeat the whole purpose of yoga when instructors are themselves all stressed out and not motivated?

The Bahamut from Type-0


Bought two new (and really neat) recordings @ the Asia Yoga Conference last week, one is called Invocation ... and Just found out one of the word's many meanings is:  "the act of summoning a spirit or demon from another world by ritual incantation or magic" (TheFreeDictionary) ... Wow!! That is a bit like the Summons in the Final Fantasy games (Type-0, which I have started playing again) ... Digressing here, still going gaga over the PSP Vita, which, unfortunately, is slowly being phased out by mobile phone/ tablet games (like Candy Crush Saga !!!) 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Another Crack @ Dynasty Warriors Next

So, I bought this new game called One Piece, which I heard is pretty popular in Japan and I got the Chinese version. It's basically, as my friend put it, Dynasty Warriors in a different skin. So, I went back to playing DWN (just to familiarize myself with the gameplay again) and found myself addicted to it all over again. The thing is I discovered this new mode (Conquest Mode), which is really fun.

In this mode I can choose the characters I enjoy playing and put them on my team. So far I've been pretty invincible but I read the level will begin to scale as I conquer more land. I'm not a big hack & slash fan but it appears this is what I need right now to distress!!

Talk about distressing, am booking a yoga retreat @ Samahita Retreat in Koh Samui in September. Can't wait to take a break! Back to Tonight though, I'll take a hot yoga class just to stretch out the body, relax (maybe) and focus.

And to appreciate the Now & Present.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Kathryn Budig (Part 2)

Last night's workshop on getting in touch with the Core was FUN! Exactly as advertised, the class led by Kathryn Budig was creative and playful and we learnt things like "pick up + jump back" (moves that are familiar with Ashtanga practitioners). Woke up this morning feeling great -- though hip areas a bit sore -- which means other than the core muscles, I also worked my hip flexors (and other muscles in that area), which am not sure is good or bad.

My yoga practice always catches me by surprise and I make progress when least expected ... after having this hamstrings injury (on my left side) for close to (I reckon) some nine months, it finally healed and -- all of a sudden my heels can finally touch the floor in my down-dog pose. That is despite I, in general, have practised less (cos of the injury and lack of instructor choice at my yoga studio).

There was supposed to be a Part 3 to this multi- blog entry but have to skip the last of this three-night workshop to attend a work function. Which is a shame cos I much rather be on the mat ...   

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Kathryn Budig (Part 1)

Probably best known for those sexy, stylish (and for some, controversial) black and white ToeSox ads, Kathryn Budig is in town, in the flesh as it is, to host a three-night workshop called Aim True (this reminds me of a song by Elvis Costello/Everything But the Girl's Alison). Tonight, she explains to us what "aim true" means by way of a several examples/incidents: when she was dumped, those ToeSox ads, and when she found love again. Have to say her experience is harder for a guy to relate to but the rest of the class (mostly women) seems to totally get it and nod in unison.

Budig says since a child she'd been fascinated by the Greek goddess Artemis but this twin sister of Apollo gradually disappeared into the background as Budig grew up. Many years (and apparently boyfriends) later, Budig found console, strength and inspiration in Artemis, who is tough and independent and would forge herself forward even in face of adversities (i.e. being dumped). Choose love, not fear.

Wow!


Then there are those ToeSox ads, which feature her in various asanas, wearing nothing bar the Toesox. I thought this is a very successful ad campaign because it not only cries out for attention, but those black and white images really are very tastefully done. However, it also stirred up a bit of a controversy (in conservative US) when one (female) instructor wrote to the Yoga Journal accusing the campaign (though without naming any names) of objectifying women. Budig says she stood by her decisions and despite what other people say about her (in relations to these ads), she says she'll be true to herself. She has not regretted doing those ads because, well, she didn't mind having her beautiful body splashed across a major magazine and across America. Good on her.

The final story she told us was when she agreed to skydive with a friend. She totally regretted the decision later. However, she stuck by her promise to her friend and eventually did it ... the sweetest part of this story is that it was during this daredevil act that she met her fiance!

So Budig asks us to write down what "true aim" means to us and I wrote: just do it!!

The second part of the workshop is a flow class and we try out some challenging poses. But my core is weak so my body feels very heavy when going upside down. Well, tomorrow's class is all about making a connection with the core so stay tune! 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Anticipation

Still recovering from tummy bug; went to my GP this morning and he said I had food poisoning (hmm, still thinking what could it be ... the sushi rolls that I had last week?) ~ just as well I don't have to go into work this morning. I'm hoping to have this sorted pronto cos it's the first day of the three-day workshop with Kathryn Budig, who is also here for the annual Asia Yoga Conference. 

Shavasana


To "prep" for this workshop I went to two classes yesterday morning - hatha and yin yang - led by one of my favourite yoga instructors Anri. What I like about her teaching is that it is very progressive; every class is different and well thought out and they get progressively hard! 

The hatha session was quite challenging as there was a lot of sun salutations (+ reversed pyramid/triangle!) and we worked up a good sweat. That was followed by the yin yang class, which didn't look difficult but moving slowly from one pose to another is really a lot more harder than imagined. The only thing was the music she played was V sleep inducing and it's quite hard to concentrate when your body is tired ... But we did a lot of "body opening" poses, esp for the shoulders and the hips. I can feel the good sore this morning and am ready for the workshop tonight. 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A Tummy Bug

Not good. It's the weekend and there is much to do ... however not feeling too great. Still, need to get better pretty quickly because I'd signed up for Kathryn Budig's "Aim True" workshop next week. She is one of those yogis that make even the most challenging pose look totally effortless. I'm particularly interested in the session on exercising the "core": how to connect the mind and body with it. A strong core can help with many asanas, especially with arm balances and inversions. Incidentally, I am told Inversions can help with settling the tummy, maybe I should do a few headstands today...     

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Breather

Blogging on bus to work. It's been a hectic few months but still managed to squeeze in a couple of yoga classes every week. My practice has become v much an anchor in my life; it's good to have that "me" time to reflect and focus while everything else in Life whirl around me as if I'm @ the heart of a vortex.

The hot class I attended last night was v gentle (the temperature was just right) and this morning I woke up feeling surprisingly refreshed.

Game-wise I might return to some of the older titles; there's nothing on the market that's worth getting. So sad.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Tales of Hoffmann

Went to this opera production (for the first time) this week and re-discovered the famous "Barcarolle" -- totally and utterly sublime.


The whole scene (beginning of Act III) is quite magical when the Muse, takes the form of Hoffmann's best friend Nicklausse, warns the poet against the alluring courtesan Giulietta. How the two voices (mezzo and soprano) take turns to lead is ingenious. (Though the above is not the best recording out there but it sure is great to watch!!)


Sunday, May 12, 2013

A New Game

It turns out that neither Soul Sacrifice nor One Piece, Pirate Warriors 2 are games that I wanna play, after all. The former is not as good as Final Fantasy Type-0 (which I still like) while the latter is just another reincarnation of Dynasty Warriors - Next (Zzzz). 

But I do need to take a break from Type-0, Persona 4: the Golden, and Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, so I downloaded this dungeon-crawling game called Holy Sorcery Story (Japanese: Sei Madou Monogatari) ~ NO idea what it is about but the graphics is kinda kawaii. It's all in Japanese so I just played through the first chapter blind ... but cos I can understand the hanji so I vaguely know what's going on. Basically it's a game that you have to keep upgrading your weapons and magics to beat the bosses. Levelling (of the protagonist) is not essential cos that is reset every time you enter a dungeon. The most frustrating part of this game is, if you die, you lose Everything you'd collected in the dungeon. 

But I think I am getting the hang of it now so am enjoying the first couple of dungeons even though they are a bit of a grind...