Monday, January 26, 2009

The Ox Arrives

No practice today as it is the start of the Chinese New Year, which ushers in the year of the Ox. Today also happened to be on a moon day. Well, of course, since the Chinese calendar is based on lunar cycles.

Ashtangis generally observe moon days as yoga rest days. For those curious to know why, click on this link. There is also a timetable listing of moon days in the website.

Anyway, Chinese new year celebrations (a 15 day event) is usually a reunion of family members, who for most parts of the year are away for work or studies. There is generally a feast on the eve. On the new year, there are the customary offering of tea to parents, grandparents, etc followed by exchange of red packets with token monies in them. In the old days, firecrackers are a norm but it is now illegal, in Malaysia anyway.

There are all sorts of customs to be observed - amongst these are - new clothes are to be worn and there should be no sweeping of floors during the first day.

As is usual with the start of the new year, people tend to look to their horoscope to see what the year holds for them. The ox is one of the 12 Zodiac animals, which forms part of the 12 year cycle. The Chinese Zodiac is said to follow the stations of Jupiter's orbit around the sun, which is just shy of 12 years. Some also believes the animal can influence events through the year.

For me, I don't spend a lot of time on horoscope. I was, however, brought to ponder about it 2 weeks ago when I had lunch with an ex-colleague. He happened to be the president of Feng Shui Association (or so, I'm told). Out of the blue, he mentioned he looked into my birth date and apparently, this year will be difficult for me, with health problems and so on. Yikes! I was born in the year of the sheep. So, I'm not sure if this applies to all sheep or just me. I didn't know what to make of it so I didn't ask much about what it meant. But, I guess at the age of 42 this year, it's probably a good time to do a full medical check up.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Practice Notes

Nothing much to blog about except that I'm quietly enjoying my practice - not trying too hard to achieve anything, but just enjoying the movements and breaths within the confines of my mat.

I managed to bind (with help of course) on both sides of Marichyasana D last Sunday. The last two mornings I was tempted to move past Marichyasana D this morning during my self practice. But for the time being, I think I'll stop there until I can bind by myself.

That said, I've moved past that in led classes. In fact last Sunday's led class comprised primary up to Navasana and then the first few poses of second - up to Kapotasana! I don't even know if that is the right spelling - well, Kapo it is for now. Those second series poses take so much out of me!! But, amazingly, the backbends during finishing sequence felt comfortable. My usual "machine gun" breaths during the backbends was replaced by normal sounding breaths and I could even play around with shifting weight between my hands and feet.

Tiring though it is, I can see benefits in doing those first few poses of second series. Someone mentioned doing those poses is very energising. I'm probably a long way from being there as 3 hours after the class, my energy level went flat and I was dead to the world. Lucky the class was on a Sunday!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pork Chops Or Cubs?

Just received this email today, which I thought is quite apt as a follow up post to my previous one :

In a zoo in California , a mother tiger gave birth to a rare set of triplet tiger cubs. Unfortunately,due to complications in the pregnancy, the cubs were born prematurely and due to their tiny size, they died shortly after birth

The mother tiger after recovering from the delivery, suddenly started to decline in health, although physically she was fine. The veterinarians felt that the loss of her litter had caused the tigress to fall into a depression. The doctors decided that if the tigress could surrogate another mother's cubs, perhaps she would improve.

After checking with many other zoos across the country, the depressing news was that there were no tiger cubs of the right age to introduce to the mourning mother. The veterinarians decided to try something that had never been tried in a zoo environment. Sometimes a mother of one species will take on the care of a different species.The only 'orphans' that could be found quickly, were a litter of weanling pigs. The zookeepers and vets wrapped the piglets in tiger skin and placed the babies around the mother tiger.Would they become cubs or pork chops??
Take a look...

Now, please tell me one more time ........?
Why can't the rest of the world get along??

I thought dressing the piglets up in tiger skin would be a bit disturbing ...

Sunday, January 11, 2009


One of the many invaluable things my teacher in KL tried to stressed on us students was to always have an intention or intentions for our practice. It could be a dedication or a prayer which can be done just before practice starts or after it ends.

The violence that is happening in the Gaza Strip has recently been highlighted in the media. It is distressing to see pictures of victims and the anguish it caused to the families affected. So, how about we all set an intention or prayer for peace to come quickly for these people the next time we practice?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Futsal And Yoga?

Was wondering whether to get up early this morning. So far, I've had a led class on Sunday and did self practice on Monday and Tuesday. That's three days in a row! So, I decided to give this 41 year old body a rest. Besides, I have futsal planned for this evening.

Ya ya I know - playing futsal makes my hamstrings tight and slow down my progress in flexibility. Still, playing football was my first love. And first love is hard to let go. It's a different kind of love to yoga. I don't think the spirit of ahimsa is quite there when playing football.

I do think yoga and football can complement each other. I know of footballers who were state players going through meditation program and they reported an improved focus and performance during their matches. If only I knew this during my school days ...

I like to think playing football does have its benefits in yoga. Maybe it helps with the breathing?

Whatever. Football is fun and we can all use a bit of that.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

First Practice Of The Year

Had the first practice in 2009 today, which was led primary at the studio I go to in KL. Felt nice to be back - I haven't been to the studio for 3 weeks. There were lots of hellos and happy new years amongst the practitioners who go there. Even the studio had a new feel to it, with newly painted walls and the absence of mirrors.

Took it easy as I have not practice for 2 weeks. As expected, Marichyasana D's progress took a step back, especially on the left side. Surprisingly, the Pasaritas were not affected. Anyway, it felt great to be on the mat again and to see all the familiar faces. Also, great to see my teacher, Manoj, looking fresh from his holiday in India.

Thinking of starting a daily practice this year. Will see how this pans out.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Yes Man

A new start to the year - usually a time to reflect on the past and make resolutions for a better future. Watched "Yes Man" over the Christmas period, which gave me the idea for this year's resolution - Don't Shy Away From New Challenges.

For a creature of habit like me, the resolution itself will be a challenge. Anyway, here's to a new year and new adventures!