About the Author

Translator and practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, Associate Professor and librarian at the Ohio State University. Founder of TEAgether.



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

初冬發現的老舞茸

我借去Parma開會之機,回程時順便短暫訪問了Cuyahoga Valley西北角的Brecksville Reservation保護地。這是一大片以橡樹和山胡桃樹為主的森林。昨天剛剛下過小雪,落葉被一層薄雪覆蓋着,空氣寒冷清新。我隨意停車在路邊一小片空地,先去路右側的林地裡探尋了一陣,直到走到一處峽谷的邊緣都沒有什麼發現,只好回到停車的地方。這時我看到路對面有一些巨大的橡樹,於是過去探尋,終於在路邊一株大橡樹下發現兩叢灰樹花菇。其中一叢已經完全枯萎,另一叢更大,一片一片的菌瓣像乾花一樣,仍然非常完整,但是整頭都已經完全過了盛年, 孢子孔層變成棕黃色,不能食用了。不過這樣大的一叢灰樹花在11月下旬還保持得這麼好,是十分少見的,所以我決定把她採回家,作為一個不錯的標本或者就是欣賞這一壯觀之物。
被薄雪和落葉覆蓋的一大叢老舞茸
採回家放在草地上仔細審視
掂量一下十分沉重足有20多磅
我在翻開她的時候,明顯感到她下面的溫度和濕度,有一些小蟲子躲在那裡。我懷着恭敬的心情為這片挪開後的空地蓋上一層落葉,向她的宿主這株大橡樹致敬。其實,在不到2、3英尺的地方就有一株更大的折斷的橡樹,樹樁非常寬大,但是不知什麼原因,這兩叢舞茸卻都選擇了這株活着的橡樹。有時候大自然的選擇是不可思議的。數週前,一位Instagram朋友在樹林裡尋找了一天沒有找到任何舞茸後說:這些都是大自然的饋贈,你能得到它們只是運氣,並非因為你想要就應該能夠找到,能不能找到,完全取決於大自然,而不是你的意志。
底面觀

舞茸(日語發音Maitake),即灰樹花菇,又名貝葉多孔菌、雲蕈、栗子蘑、千佛菌。是可食用蘑菇中的上品。野生的舞茸常常可以生得十分巨大,品味較人工培育的更加鮮美。英文叫做Hen of the woods(樹林裡的母雞),因為她生於大樹,主要是橡樹根下,常常被落葉覆蓋,加上顏色像迷彩一樣接近周圍環境,有時很難發現,就像是一隻母雞藏在樹下。

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

尋找秋蠔菇

平菇,又稱蠔菇(Oyster mushroom)作為可食用菇類,現已被人工培育,在一般亞洲超市裡可以買到。但就滋味而言,它是不能替代野生蠔菇的。野生蠔菇仍然是野外蘑菇採集者的最愛之一。

在北美,Oyster mushroom(蠔菇)實際上泛指至少三個本地野生品種:
  1. Summer Oysters 夏蠔菇
  2. Autumn Oysters 秋蠔菇
  3. Birch Oysters 樺蠔菇
夏蠔菇與秋蠔菇從形態上很難區分,一般只能以季節來判斷。樺蠔是專門生長在樺樹品種的樹木上,如白樺、白楊等。秋蠔從秋季開始出現,很抗寒,有時到初冬季節還能發現。

要想找到野生的秋蠔,你首先需要知道秋蠔喜愛生長的環境和條件。周圍一定有水源,然後要找到一株剛剛死亡的樹木,或者倒下的樹幹,或者仍然活著但受到傷損的樹木,樹皮仍然沒有完全剝落。因為蠔菇實際上是從樹木的韌皮層中生長出來。當樹木死亡時,韌皮層開始腐化,蠔菇的菌絲首先進入這一層營養質中,然後子實層從樹皮間隙冒出來。更深層的木質則要等待其他多孔菌,比如寬鱗菇或硫絢菇(林雞)來利用。雖然周圍一定有水源,但秋蠔菇選擇的樹木往往是看上去比較乾燥的。

秋蠔菇菌蓋的顏色常常比較深,呈棕或淺棕色,但在光線暗淡的地方生長出來的也可能是白色或非常淺的棕色:
  •  這叢蠔菇顏色呈咖啡色,發現於獨樂溪,其南有一道小水溝,樹木長在臨近水源約5米遠的坡上。
  • 這叢蠔菇發現於奧蘭唐吉印第安人溪谷公園,在小路邊上,一株受到傷損但並未死亡的梣樹樹幹,樹齡估計不超過十年。
  • 形狀完美的秋蠔菇在藍天襯托之下。
  • 此圖顯示蠔菇在樹皮內層生長,這是11月18日在獨樂溪另一臨水樹幹上發現的。因為氣候乾燥,氣溫降低,這叢蠔菇沒有充分生長,大多擠在樹皮下面沒有冒出來。
  • 11月18日發現的白色秋蠔菇 照片之二。

Friday, October 7, 2016

茶的學習與實踐

今晚是我們Tea Friends茶小組組成以來第一次由我給大家作茶的知識與文化講座。我們今後會進行一系列這樣的講座,內容會包括茶的知識、茶的品鑑、紫砂壺以及其他茶具的鑑賞、茶與生活等等。我今天首先想要和大家分享一下有關方法論的問題,然後介紹一些關於茶分類的知識。

【茶的方法論】
  1. 獲取第一手資料
  2. 深入體會、注重實踐
現在我們進入網絡信息時代,在社會化媒體(Social media) 流行的趨勢下,我們特別要注意獲取第一手資料的重要性。社會化媒體的初衷是幫助人們進行創作、分享與交流。但是現在網絡上特別氾濫的就是“轉發”,基本上就是“天下文章一大抄”!你會發現,關於一些概念,比如什麼是“鐵觀音”,所有文章都是千篇一律,大同小異,沒人去管這個信息的來源,手指一動,轉發轉發。這個不行。(普洱茶功效?)

茶的活動應該是一個學習與實踐的過程,在這一意義上,我們說“茶是為道”;我們的生活本身也應該是一種學習與實踐的過程,因此茶與生活是一致的,茶道就是生活之道。你在茶上不認真,實際上反映到你的學習研究上,也不會有什麼獨到的見解或深入的進展。你只會停留在表面、膚淺的層次上。所以,閱讀和掌握第一手資料是相當重要的。

【關於茶的分類學】
  1. 了解茶的分類學是為了理解茶的豐富多樣性,擴展我們對茶領域視野
  2. 地域性分類:比如按國家地區來分-中國茶(台灣地區的特點)、日本茶、西方茶(包括印度茶)
  3. 中國茶種類的豐富性(參考TEAgether)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

關於茶會

我們為什麼要進行茶會?
因為這是一個很有趣的活動。同時,它也是很有意義的活動。
首先,為什麼是茶?為什麼不是酒?為什麼不是其他飲食?為什麼不是其他形式?
因為(對於中國文化而言)茶是一種很特殊的媒介。
中國人有所謂“開門七件事”:柴米油鹽醬醋茶。
中國的文人作七種雅事:琴棋書畫詩酒茶。
茶均列其中。
中國人認為茶是最好的飲料。當一個人渴了,他要喝茶。
中國人又認為茶是一種健康的飲料,甚至是治病的飲料。當一個人上火了,我們建議他喝些綠茶;對一個患有腸胃炎症者,我們建議他堅持喝熟普洱茶。現代科學已經證實,茶多酚可以抗氧化,因此飲茶可以抗衰老,增強免疫力。
中國的茶人更說:茶乃是一種可以達致道的境界。

因此,茶介於日常必需品與奢侈品之間,介於俗與雅之間,介於飲食與醫藥之間,介於物質與精神之間。

功夫茶的出現,也是茶這種俗與雅、物慾與精神交界的表現。據史料記載,功夫茶最早出現於兩種截然不同的地方。

清袁枚在其《隨園食單》中描述了出現在福建武夷山佛教寺院中的功夫茶飲法。。。。壺小如香椽、杯小如胡桃。。。
在廣東潮汕地區,有所謂旦歌的風俗。最早的旦歌據說是住在六蓬船上的艇仔妹(妓女)們傳唱的。但她們不是普通的妓女,而是很有文化的妓女。有文化的客人來到她們的船進行詩歌唱和。這時,旦女除了要為客人彈唱,還要泡茶,這就是潮汕功夫茶的起源。

後溪水比前溪清
前溪月共後溪明
處處旦船爭向月
三更不斷管弦聲
--- 清陳作舟(潮汕人)《竹枝詞》

我們看到,原來茶竟然可以在最具有出世精神的佛教寺院中與在最具有物慾色彩的妓女的船上扮演着至關重要的角色! 這是為什麼呢?這不能不歸於茶的特殊媒介功能。

什麼是茶會?
茶會就是以茶為主題或媒介,舉行的一種小型集會。
茶會的場所稱之為茶席。
席就是座位的意思。舉辦茶會的主人,邀請客人出席茶會。這種預先決定的主人與客人的不同身份,也決定了二者不同的禮儀。因此,茶也是一種禮節與儀式。

茶席處處表現着中國人的哲學思想:
最簡單的茶席可以就是鋪展一方質樸的巾布,這就劃出一方空間,在這片空間裡即將表演茶的行為。這塊巾布可以代表地,於是其上方與周圍無限的空間就是天,而參與茶會的人,會有意識或無意識地隨主人與客人身份的不同、互相之間熟悉程度等等因素,選擇最為恰當的座位。中國人的茶席必須是自然的,又必須是合理的。

茶會的主人相當重要。首先,她必須要能處處為客人著想。其次她必須勝任茶席上的一切困難,包括燒水、布器、沏茶、斟茶、介紹茶品、回答問題等等。她必須安排得體,保證客人的舒適,醞釀茶會的精神。

茶會的人數:
張源《茶錄》云:獨啜曰神、二客曰勝、三四曰趣、五六曰泛、七八曰施。
陳繼儒《岩棲幽事》云:一人得神、二人得趣、三人得味、七八人是名施茶。

茶會的道具
茶會的過程
茶會的境界

現在回答問什麼是茶,而不是酒的問題
陸羽在《茶經》這部中國第一部關於茶的經典著作中, 闡明了茶的特殊作用:
翼而飛、毛而走、詘而言,此三者皆飲啄於世,。。。。
設若救渴,飲之以漿;蠲憂忿,飲之以酒;盪昏昧,飲之以茶!

茶文化--東方的內斂、制約
酒文化--西方的開放、宣洩

然而我們不是說中國人沒有酒文化,西方人沒有茶文化,恰恰相反,交流與結合(更多)

Friday, April 8, 2016

TYME

茶席为表皮
野花为肌肉
瑜伽为筋骨
佛法为精髓

Tea, the way
Yoga, the union
Mind, the nutrients
Essence of being

The essence of yoga is to achieve a union. The union of body and mind. It has three aspects: flexibility, balance/ alignment, and strength.

Yoga is to challenge yourself. It's not like martial arts where there's always a sense of fighting with external enemies. Yoga is a battle, too. But here the sole enemy is yourself. Whether you can do a headstand or frint split have nothing to do with overcoming others, but to overcome yourself, your own body and mind.

Monday, April 4, 2016

野花溪谷

我很庆幸昨天去了克利弗顿峡谷寻访早春的野花。因为受到额尔苏拉风暴(Ursula)的影响,那里刚刚降了一场雪,因此上午的天气很冷,多云。到中午的时候,云散了一些,阳光照到溪谷里,温度略有上升,薄雪也融化了。湍急的溪流,响彻宁静的峡谷:

溪谷中洁白的三叶延龄草花正在开放,花瓣上还带着雪融化的水滴:
风铃草黄色的花瓣在风中摇曳:
还有肝叶草的白花羞涩地垂着头:
从今天开始,整个一周都将是低温多雨天气,估计下次再能去探访野花要等到受风暴影响的天气过去以后了。中西部的气候就是这样,春天短暂而多变。欣赏野花必须抓住时机。

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

雪花延龄草

今天第一次亲眼看到了“雪花延龄草”Snow Trillium,一种现在已经比较罕见的美东本土野花。

下午刚刚参加了一个野生地远足活动:寻找雪花延龄草。一行只有四人,除了领队、一名志愿者助理和一位与领队比较熟悉的朋友之外,实际“新手”参与者就是我一个人!我们去了德比溪地公园平时很难到达的一片地区,那里有一条平常关闭的路径。穿过一片开阔地,走到溪谷石灰岩土壤的岸边,发现了这片雪花延龄草生存地。今年冬天气候偏暖,早已没有雪了,可雪花延龄草正在开花。这种野花对土壤选择性很强,喜欢在石灰岩上面的薄土层生存。因花期早,常常不被人知道。而且每株每三年才开花一次。

雪花延龄草,学名Trillium Nivale,株形比较矮小,全株不超过9厘米,将将露出落叶层表面。像所有延龄草属植物一样,雪花延龄草也具有不分枝且各部分都为三片的特点,比如只有三片(假)叶、三个花颚片、三个花瓣,连雌蕊雄蕊都是三的倍数!多年生草本,靠地下根状茎过冬。在俄州三月初开始开花,进入春季之后很快就消失得无影无踪(进入地下根茎睡眠期)。

Friday, December 19, 2014

烏龍茶的問題

【問題】有朋友問:『烏龍茶』與『鐵觀音』有何區別?
【回答】這個問題本身有問題!要想解決這個問題,必須先了解通行的茶葉名稱分類法和地區性的茶葉名稱概念。

一、通行的茶葉分類法
  • 在目前國際上比較通行的茶葉名稱分類法中,『烏龍茶』是一個大種類名,又叫『青茶』(現代意義的分類法是把茶葉分為綠茶、白茶、黃茶、烏龍/青茶、紅茶及後發酵茶六大類)
  • 『烏龍茶』作為一個大種類,又包括很多種茶。比較方便的是按照生產地區進行劃分:
    1. 福建閩南烏龍茶區
    2. 福建閩北烏龍茶區
    3. 廣東烏龍茶區
    4. 台灣烏龍茶區
  • 其中閩南烏龍茶的代表就是傳統意義上的『鐵觀音』茶。因此,就通行分類法而言,『鐵觀音』是『烏龍茶』的一種。

二、地區性的茶名與分類法
  • 在台灣,的確有將『烏龍茶』與『鐵觀音』分開當作不同茶類的說法!一般的台灣人會認為『青茶』有『包種』、『烏龍』和『鐵觀音』三種。
  • 當然,台灣茶人也知道其實這些都是『青茶』或『烏龍茶』。只是這種說法可能由來已久。
台灣的『烏龍茶』概念:
  • 首先從茶樹品種上,是指幾種特定的茶樹品種,比如只有『青心烏龍』和『大冇烏龍』才被視作正宗的烏龍茶葉。
  • 其次,在製作程序上,台灣烏龍茶與大陸烏龍茶也有很大不同。簡單地說,台灣烏龍茶比較更重視保留茶葉原始的香味,因此發酵度比較低、焙火比較輕,茶湯比較綠。大陸的烏龍茶--特別是閩北岩茶和廣東潮汕烏龍茶,發酵度比較高、焙火比較重、茶湯顏色比較深。
現在說說『鐵觀音』:
  • 傳統意義上的『鐵觀音』,從其名稱上看,之所以冠以『鐵』字,就是說(1)茶葉揉成的顆粒緊實堅硬如鐵,(2)顏色深,像鐵。
  • 但是,現在大陸『鐵觀音』的製作已經發生了很大的變化,傳統意義上的『鐵觀音』在大陸已經很難再找到了。大陸生產銷售的『鐵觀音』雖然仍然揉成半球狀,但顏色比較淺,顆粒比較散脆(一捻就碎)。
  • 相反,台灣還保留了傳統製法的鐵觀音,那就是在台北的『木柵鐵觀音』。
  • 當然,大陸的安溪鐵觀音仍然銷售到台灣,有的在經過香港時,還進行了第二道焙火。
  • 另外,正如上面所說,既然台灣人概念中的『烏龍茶』是特殊茶樹種類的葉子,則『鐵觀音』也需要是特殊的『鐵觀音』樹種的茶葉。
  • (1)大陸現在生產的『鐵觀音』與傳統上作為閩南烏龍茶代表的『鐵觀音』距離越來越大。
  • (2)台灣人概念中的『烏龍茶』是特指的幾種茶樹品種,用與大陸『烏龍茶』不同的製作方法製作。台灣『烏龍茶』與大陸『烏龍茶』很不相同。
  • 正是這兩個原因導致台灣人將『鐵觀音』當作另外一種特殊茶類,因此會有:
  • 『烏龍茶』與『鐵觀音』有何不同的問題!
不知道這麼解釋,大家是否清楚了?

那麼,就地區性茶葉名稱分類意義之下的『烏龍茶』與『鐵觀音』到底有什麼不同呢?
  • 這個首先還是要大家親自嘗試之後才能明白。
  • 重要的前提是你喝到是正宗的台灣烏龍茶和正宗的安溪鐵觀音!
  • 這個前提具備了,我個人總結『台灣烏龍茶』與『鐵觀音茶』的主要不同在於:
  1. 它們是不同茶樹種類的茶葉:『鐵觀音茶』指的是單一的鐵觀音茶種,而『台灣烏龍茶』則有很多樹種。
  2. 沏泡口感上:台灣烏龍茶比較保持茶葉原始的香味,如花香或果香。而鐵觀音追求的是一種叫做『觀音韻』的東西。
至於到底什麼是所謂的觀音韻,那就要看個人的體會,以及鐵觀音在採摘時間的不同、製作過程中的不同中仔細比較了。台灣烏龍茶樹種不同,茶區也有不同。因此台灣烏龍茶要根據不同的『山頭』(茶區)來區別,比如梨山烏龍茶就與阿里山烏龍茶不同。


網絡資料

Friday, March 16, 2012

An interesting home-storage green tea

Today I finally decided to try a bag of green tea that I kept in refrige for how long? FOUR years! Unbelievable. Time flies. This is a 2008 Spring 黃山毛峰 Huangshan Mao-feng, which I wrapped in a coffee bag, put into a air-tight glass jar and stored in the refrige on May 8, 2008 (according to the note I wrote on the bag). The tea still performs quite well --



The dry leaves are still green, covered with thin tiny white hairs, and once infused in hot water, turned out a quite fresh looking. The aroma is the typical "mung bean taste" to be expected for good green tea.

 Turned out to be a real joy ;-)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tea and Yoga Practice

I like this simple expression of tea and yoga:
... Tea helps build the connection to ourselves and to those around us. Tea helps achieving relaxation, bringing harmony and connecting with each-other as a family. In addition to the positive mental connections to drinking Tea, the beneficial properties of Tea builds on those that you receive from practicing yoga.
(read whole article here)

Monday, October 10, 2011

My new Ashtanga Mysore class experience

This month, I just began my small-class training in the Ashtanga Mysore style with a local certificated instructor.
  • The teacher stopped me at the point of Marici C, because I could not bind with joint hands on my right knee (I can do it on the left side though)!
  • So, I'm now stucking with this asana and trying to accomplish it on my right side.
  • In the Ashtanga tradition, asana sequence is strictly followed. A beginner is introduced one asana at a time, and until you accomplish that asana, you are not allowed to proceed to the next. However, all finishing asanas are encouraged, which usually include the Sarvanga (Shoulder stand) series, Shirsha (Head stand) series and the Padma series plus Shavasana. Modifications are given (only) when you have injuries preventing you to do the full pose.
  • This is exactly the case in the class I'm attending. The teacher encourages not only finishing poses but also backbend practice.
  • The small sized class is entense for me for now.
  • The teacher makes sure all the time that the students are following the sequence -- which means no skips, no changing order, and NO modifications!
  • If you can't do an asana, you learn how to do it.
  • Into the 2nd week (I'm attending a 3 times/week schedule), my right knee pain got severe to a point that I can't do any lotus. I can't even do Janu-shirsha on my right side.
  • I think it was the standing Ardah-baddha-padma asana and a deep full lotus (was the deepest I've never attempted) at the end of one session literally killed my right knee -- I had previous similar experience, but usually recover by itself in a few days so I think this time it's really serious.
  • So, for the rest of the week day classes, I was given "modification" as said, but it is not the thing you will do in a so called "modified primary" class in popular yoga center. Here, I was still asked to do THE pose in the same manner, but using props and stopping at the point of pain. As for Ardha-baddha-padma, I was still crossing my right leg but put the right foot to the outside of the left thigh. Using a large rubber band, get my right hand bind with the righ foot, and bend upper body after ensuring right hip opening (right knee point straight downwards).
  • The difference between "stretching" and "tearing" -- the latter should be avoide at all expense.
More on the knee pain
  • The pain IS a result of practicing yoga asana, and not because of doing other sport activities or from whatever incidence - this is no doubt. But that still doesn't mean that the yoga asana caused the pain. It has to be because I tried to get the knee into deep lotus before having the hip join fully opens.
  • I would emphasize that the pain is NOT an injury, because full range of motion is still there; plus, I don't feel pain by doing daily body movement, such as walking, sitting, and jumping up... It only felt when doing the specific asana posture - for me now, any lotus. I can't even do Janu-shirsha on my right side; and when seated with knee fully folded underneath, will have sensation of pain in the right knee, especially when putting more weight on it. On the third day, getting into deep squat also became difficult, though I could still manage to do that. Once getting into the deep squat, the pain relieves. The situation will also improve after warm-up with a few rounds of Sun Salute.
  • It's now clear to me that the knee, though being a hinge join, does allow some range of motion to let the fore leg flip inward (sole up, shin on top of the opposite groin). But this very allowance should be well conserved, because it can give an illusion that you can put your legs in lotus, but actually not in a safe and wory-free manner. The pain, or in other words, injury of ligarment, will not immediately show up at the time and even shortly after doing deep lotus. It usually comes on the next day, and the situation will only go worsen and a period of healing time will be required and how long will depends on how much you get injured or varies person to person. I'm right now keeping a record on seeing how many days it will take me to have all the pain gone and be able to do lotus again.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Black lentil sprouting

My first lentil pea sprouting experiment is successful! Today's recipe is sesame paste, Black Beluga Lentil sprout and molasses, sprinkled with some Shiso fumi furikake.


It takes only four days to sprout:

Friday, August 5, 2011

Translating Tea

Building up a glossary -- Our special focus is not only on translating names of tea or tea products, but also on a deeper appreciation of tea such as equivalent term for taste, feeling and cultral-spiritual dimension of tea activities.
  • A glossary for translation projects and communication by Sherab

Reference sites

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Vegan and fatty acids

-- Notes from reading Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet / Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina

Fatty Acids
a basic component of fats and oils, are divided into the following categories
  • Saturated Fat (SFA)
  • Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MFA)
  • Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA)***
  • Trans Fatty Acids
Saturated Fat (SFA) molecules completely packed or "saturated" with hydrogen. Generally hard at room temperature. Often considered "bad fats" because they have consistently been linked to an increased risk of heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Monounsaturated Fatty Acids (MFA) fatty acids having one spot in the carbon chain where hydrogen is missing. Fats high in these MFA are generally liquid at room temperature and semi-solid when refrigerated. These are generally considered "good fats"; they are beneficial to health and can protect against chronic diseases, especially heart disease. These are neutral or slightly beneficial in their effects on total cholesterol levels and do not decrease HDL ("good") cholesterol; may even slightly increase it. Some evidence show MFA reduce blood presure and enhance blood flow... Main dietary sources are olives, olive oil, canola oil, avacados, most nuts (except for walnuts and butternuts), high-oleic sunflower oil, and high-oleic safflower oil.
Polyunsaturated Fat (PUFA) fat molecules having more than one spot in the carbon chain where hydrogen is missing. Fats high in PUFA are liquid at room temperature and when refrigerated. Reviews concerning their health effects are inconsistent.... Main dietary sources are vegetable oils, seeds, nuts, grains, legumes, and other plant foods.

***Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)
The two polyunsaturated fatty acids required in the diet.
  • Linoleic Acid a parent in the omega-6 fatty acids family
  • Alpha-linolenic Acid a parent in the omega-3 fatty acids family

Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
larger polyunsaturated fatty acid molecules.
  • in omega-6 family: Linoleic Acid --converted-- Arachidonic Acid (AA)
  • in omega-3 familty: Alpha-linolenic Acid --converted-- Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Steps to improve yoga back-bend post

Works on opening the shoulders and top of legs

YogaBody offers these two following practices:
  • Hands-on-wall Downward Dog
  • Lie on your belly on the floor; crown of head touching a wall
  • Chest liftup and put hands on the wall like doing Downward Dog
  • Relax and hang there for a minute, then 2 to 5 minutes
  • Supta Vajrasana
  • Master Vajrasana till comfortable bum on floor between feet
  • Proceed to lean back, elbows first, lower your back and head to the floor
  • Grab opposite elbows over your head; Relax totally for 2-5 minutes

Practice on lengthening the lower spine and opening the groins
-- from Vancouveryoga.com
  • To maximize the benefit and minimize potential discomfort in backbends, the pelvis and lumbar spine must be positioned in a way that lengthens the lower spine and opens the groins. To prevent compression in the lumbar spine, the pivot point in the backbend must be the bottom or apex of the sacrum, not the base. Many yogis mistakenly pivot from the base which compresses the vulnerable joint between the the sacrum and L5 and can cause discomfort by pinching muscles and ligaments in the lumbar area.
  • To experiment with these concepts, first warm up the spine with Catcow:
  • on all fours, arch the back and tip the tail up to the ceiling on each inhalation; on each exhalation, round the back and tuck the tail and head under. Repeat slowly and with awareness for 2 or 3 minutes.
  • Bow Pose is a good one in which to practice lengthening the lumbar spine and groins in backbends:
  • Lie on your stomach with arms overhead. Reach back with your right hand to grasp the right foot.
  • Inhale and press your pubic bone gently into the floor. This encourages you to center the pivot point of the arch in the backbend at the apex of the sacrum. As you inhale, lift your upper body and right thigh off the floor. Keep the back of the neck long. Exhale and return to the floor. Continue for several breaths then repeat on the left side.
  • To contrast the results, do several movements without first pressing the pubic bone into the floor. Notice the increased compression in the lower back.
  • If you are able, do the full pose by lifting both thighs and the upper body off the floor as you inhale and anchor the pubic bone into the floor. If you feel any compression in the lowback, practice one side at a time until you learn to lengthen the spine and pivot from the sacral apex.
  • Do several more Catcows as a counterpose.
  • Take this concept into more complex poses such as Camel and Wheel. The more you can lengthen the lumbar spine and maintain space between the vertebrae by lowering the pivot point of the backbend to the sacral apex, the less the compression and discomfort. Subtle energies can then flow more freely and you will receive maximum benefit from the energizing and cleansing backbends

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Delivering a tea seminar to OWO

I was invited to deliver a tea seminar to the Ohio Women Organization. The topic I gave was:

On the Aesthetics of Tea Arrangement 茶席的美學

(details forthcoming...)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pawpaw Sandwich

September is the month of a feast on autumn wildness tastes! Persimmons, Eastern Black Walnuts, and yes, the Pawpaws are some of the mother nature's gifts I'm gratefully accepting. Well, certainly you have to "search" for them, as they will not show up in the market. The discipline is, however: Don't take too many. You won't have time to process (and digest) them all at once if you come to be too greedy.


This morning, I made pawpaw sandwich, another way to enjoy this locally grown but exotic in taste fruit. I call it Vegan Butter!



This fall, I found a six-fruits-in-one - They are multiple fruits produced from a single flower! This really looks beautiful and interesting. It is said that "pawpaw fruits often occur as clusters of up to nine individual fruits." (source)




It's hard to describe the taste of pawpaws... To me, it's mango but no acid; banana but more fragrant; persimmon but not that sweet; pear but with custarda... A serious reader might want to consult the web sources and below are a few pages to begin with. However, if you are really serious about pawpaw, you should consider attend the Ohio Annual Pawpaw Festival!



......

Friday, September 10, 2010

Morning glory

I love morning glories! and I'm particularly in favor of those purple or blue ones. They just add a wonderful refreshment in the morning, really. These are a light blue variety I found at roadside, Beijing, when I was traveling to there last month. The color is just so touching!
seeIMG_1866

seeIMG_1867
One thing about morning glories is that they are so modest in nature, and they thrive everywhere there's decent light and moisture. The trumpets of beauty sing the glory of the sun.

This dark purple one is in my patio. I took this picture a day after coming back from Beijing -- it's still in the season of morning glories!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Siddhasana problems

The importance of Siddhasana (Siddhāsana) does not need to be repeated here. One benefit in practising this asana is openning the hip joins, which is a prerequisite for Padmasana and other lotus postures (such as Ardha Baddha Padmottanasan). Some say that this seating posture is easier than Padmasana for in Siddhasana, you don't have to put the feet higher on top of the opposite thighs as required in Padmasana. In fact, it only looks easy but not so especially for beginner like me. Specifically, I find the following difficult points in siddhasana practice.
  • What is the right position of the inner or lower foot? Should it be placed right below the perineum, the groin of the opposite leg, or touching the pubic bone of the same leg side?
  • What exactly is achieved in terms of hip joint opening in this posture? In other words, what range of motion is improved?
  • The relation of the (male) genitals to the two feet, and related concerns?

Reference