Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Cold practice

It was about 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahreheit) this morning indoors (no heater at home). First time doing yoga practice in such a cold environment. I did the full primary series practice in long sleeves, and barely broke a sweat. At my yoga studio I usually start sweating in samastitihi, right when we are about to start chanting. Practice certainly isn't easy in this kind of environment, but it's "safer" for me since I can't collapse into poses and over-stretch when it's so cold.

I watched what I could in David Garrigues' video about breath and receptivity (reviewed in Nobel's blog). Couldn't watch the whole thing because I'm "borrowing" neighbor's wi-fi with my iPad and the connection is not so great. Took me 10 minutes to watch 3 minutes of the video. David mentioned that there should be a balance between effort and receptivity. He also said that the breath will do its own thing depending on the body condition and environment. Well, my breathing in sun salutations were done in slow motion today (I am known to rush through the whole series in 60 minutes). I guess in the cold the body's too stiff to rush through the motions. My mind wasn't awake enough to dominate my natural breathing pattern, and it wanted to take its time to heat up the inner body. Cold practice sucks for the ego, but is good for my body and breath.

It's bizarre to be practicing yoga in an environment where everyone else barely cares about their bodies (or they try to eat their way to health - diet supplements sell really well here). My sister has a haunch back so severe, I've only seen such a curved spine among really old people. She refuses to do much about it. I don't understand how she holds herself up. Last year when I saw her, her back got much better since she had a massage therapist friend who manually adjusted her and really improved her spine, but now it's back to an old lady spine. Her son and daughter also both have haunches, non-severe ones but nobody says or does anything about it. One cousin tells me she has lower back pains and unknown foot problem such that she can't walk for more than an hour at a time. As far as I know, no one's conditions are completely hopeless, but everyone seems to choose to let the body worsen rather than doing something to improve it. I guess in a culture where watching TV and eating are the biggest national hobbies, as long as the mouth and eyes still function, the rest of the body parts don't really matter.



8 comments:

  1. Hey YYogini, are you in Taipei? My very first Ashtanga teacher is now teaching at Space yoga there, if you have the time and are desiring of a Mysore room, I highly recommend it. Never been there myself, but he's a really good teacher so I'm sure you won't regret it :) Gong Xi Fa Cai by the way!

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    1. Thanks for the recommendation D. Everyone here goes out of their way to try to take me to places, even if it's just to department stores and shops. I appreciate the hospitality but at the same time it seems that people are deeply fearful of boredom. I don't know if I will find time to make my way out to yoga in Taipei. I will blog about it if I do :)

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  2. Hi YYogini,
    I am also practicing outside of a shala these days-in my boyfriend's house in Halifax. I like the space, but sometimes with the winter, it's hard to get the heat up to a reasonable level and there's just no way I can whip myself as deeply into postures as I can when the weather's milder. I find that being slightly less bendy can help with building strength though. And once the spring or summer comes, or you get into a warm shala, it all comes back, if that's any consolation for your ego. It is for mine. ;)

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    1. Hi AYEA, I can't complain because I am going on a yoga retreat in a week. I totally need to build strength more than I need flexibility right now. Halifax must be pretty cold right now, but I heard it's a very friendly city!

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  3. Hello Yyogini,
    I feel your pain. It seems that there is a powerful trend in contemporary Chinese society that sees working very hard to be healthy or fit to be something unseemly or uncool: Somehow, you are supposed to be able to eat whatever you like (and eat as much of it as you like), do nothing, and still look good. If you work hard at being healthy, you are seen to be trying too hard. And trying too hard is not cool. At least, that has been my experience.

    The interesting thing, though, is that yoga seems to be really gaining popularity in China (yes, I know that mainland China is not Taiwan, but aren't they close enough geographically for trends in one place to affect trends in the other?). If this article is right, China is on its way to becoming the next yoga superpower: http://dailycupofyoga.com/2012/01/26/china-becoming-the-worlds-next-yoga-super-power/

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    1. Hi Nobel, thanks for offering your theory. It's not really my pain. It's their pain that I feel bad about, but I can't understand why they stubbornly choose to hold on to it. Perhaps the idea of trying something new and foreign causes more mental pain than actual physical pain itself. I don't know about China, but I have heard that in Taiwan, if you go to one of those yoga mega studios regularly, and you can't achieve a handstand within a few years, you are looked down upon. I'm not sure if I am comfortable practicing in this kind of environment either.

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  4. Hi Yyogini,

    Where exactly are you? Sounds freezing!! It's currently 80 degrees here in Los Angeles. And, I understand about people not taking care of themselves. My sister and I are very different. I'm a hardcore yogi, toned and in great spirits all the time. My sister is a large girl, that usually isnt motivated to do much of anything healthwise. But, I think it has something to do with her environment as well. She's in Texas. Fried everything and smothered in gravy would leave me tired and unmotivated as well. It's hard for me to go home sometimes, because it's really hard for me to relate to these behaviors. Which, unfortunately, most people from my hometown have. Oh, and lots of beer out of cans. I work in the health profession and maybe its easier for me to see what yoga (or any exercise) can do to improve your health. Unfortunately, people aren't going to change if they don't want to. :-(

    -Justin

    Justinsjourney.net

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    1. Hi Justin, I am in Taiwan. It is extremely humid, which is why it feels so cold even though the temperature isn't that low. My family is the same as yours, but the difference is that they think they can substitute exercise and good food with nutritional supplements. They are free to live the way they want to live, but it's been very difficult when they try to get me to live their way.

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