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
  • 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