Home practice in my hometown

IMG_2014Flying into Hilo, my hometown, two weeks ago, I gazed out the airplane window. An endless, supersaturated palette of green, along the Hamakua Coast. While much of the world, including California (my subsequent stomping ground) is suffering from drought, Hilo has had over 12 inches of rain in the month of April alone.

The aerial view was striking. What a vast bountiful island. So much undeveloped land. Still a chance not to ruin it. I thought to myself: I’m lucky to have grown up here.

I didn’t always appreciate Hawai‘i, not enough anyway. One of my worst habits is not appreciating what I have–in the moment. Only afterward does it hit me. Maybe I can see clearly only with distance, in time, in space…

What I like about Hilo:

I like the sound of pounding rain. Not clammy drizzle or all-day grey, but deafening downpours, especially at night. I like Hilo’s dramatic tropical weather.

I like how people always wave or give the shaka sign if you’re driving and let them turn, pass, or enter your lane.

IMG_2009I like that change is slow. Yes, Hilo now has Target, Home Depot, Walmart, and every big-box chain. Yes, Starbucks is the most popular coffee stop in town. Yes, there’s numbing commuter traffic into Hilo from Puna during rush hour. But the population is still less than 45,000, and the small-town vibe remains.

I like to hear birdsong in the morning. Cardinals, doves, mynah birds, plus an occasional gecko clicking or coqui frog chirping, still in night mode.

I like the black night sky. Only in Hilo can I clearly see the North Star. I like that I unexpectedly glimpsed the April 14-15 lunar eclipse on my first night home.

I like walking around Lili‘uokalani Park with my parents. I like how my dad found a coconut, brought it home, dehusked it with his all-purpose pickaxe, and cracked the shell with a hammer. I like fresh coconut, including the water, which tastes nothing like the stuff they sell in cans.

I like waking, automatically, at 6am. I like feeling sleepy by 10pm.

IMG_2047I didn’t always like that my parents bump into friends or acquaintances whenever they go out. In my own life, I prefer more anonymity and fewer blasts from the past. But, visiting Hilo, there’s something nice about the frequent meet-and-greet. It’s a real community, and I like it.

I like the way KTA (locally owned supermarket) is a gathering place on weekends. Families, couples, seniors: stocking up for the week, talking story. Nobody’s in a mad rush.

I like to my mom’s hibiscus collection, blooming in ruffly colorways of pink, orange, yellow, purple, red.

I like starting my breakfast with fresh papaya, plus my dad’s homegrown banana, mountain apple, poha (gooseberry), pomelo, orange, or whatever’s in season.

I like having done a daily morning yoga practice. When staying with family or friends, it can be hard to fit in yoga time; I feel guilty about it, as if I’m selfish or set in my ways. My parents are super cooperative, however, and we synched our morning routines among Dad’s golf, Mom’s exercise, my yoga, breakfast together.

Here’s an outline of my practice, 60-75 minutes:

  • Supta Sukhasana, supine backbend on rolled mat, with arm variations
  • Gomukhasana
  • Fire Log Pose
  • Adho Mukha Virasana
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Chatushpadasana, three times, alternating with Elbow Plank and Side Elbow Plank
  • Supta Virasana
  • Salamba Sirsasana
  • Salamba Sarvangasana
  • Savasana

Images: Taro, dendrobium orchids, and hibiscus, in my parents’ backyard, Hilo, Hawaii, April 2014


  1. Hilo is beautiful. Hawaii as a whole sees so much poverty for those living there that people in resorts rarely notice. My dad used to live just outside of Hilo and it truly is an amazing area! Hilo, and Kauai as a whole island, both remind me of such a beautiful, peaceful jungle!


  2. thanks for posting your practice! I have always wondered what you do every day to make you so good at every pose. am I right that there are none of the ‘bread and butter’ standing poses? I would be interested in your thoughts on this, whether these are necessary, whether you do them sometimes, etc. apologies for the possibly naive question, unlike many of your commenters I am not a yoga teacher!


    1. Thanks for your question, Lisa. My home practice is always in flux, so my Hilo sequence is a snapshot in time. In Hilo, I chose to focus on the basic inversions, Salamba Sirsasana and Salamba Sarvangasana, and especially on Supta Virasana. These grounding poses were ideal for me on those tropical mornings in my childhood home.

      Sometimes, logistical issues determine my practice. For example, until I stocked my parents’ house with yoga props, I could not do certain poses (such as shoulderstand). So I would do more standing poses!

      To answer your question, I believe that the basic standing poses are essential and I do them regularly; they are ever challenging and they feel different in my body from week to week, year to year. We never master them!

      That said, consider the “actions” in each pose. If I do full Gomukhasana, for example, the hip/pelvis actions inform standing poses such as Utthita Parsvakonasana and Parsvottanasana, don’t they? Thus standing poses are influenced by other poses (and vice versa). In other words, almost any pose will improve the other poses. So almost any practice (if logically sequenced) is beneficial.

      I appreciate your thoughtful question. See you soon! Luci


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