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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.