I recently caught a CBC radio interview with twin sisters Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz of the French-Cuban musical duo Ibeyi. They have roots in France, having grown up in Paris, and in Cuba, homeland of their late father, well-known percussionist Anga Diaz. In the interview, the sisters commented on how everyone sings in Cuba. Singing is not restricted only to performers or to professionals. Maybe it’s because kids don’t have other things to do, they said. No PlayStation and other material things. In contrast, in other countries and cultures, little kids might all sing, but soon separate into singers and non-singers. An offshoot of singing is chanting, another vocal … Continue reading Do you sing? Do you chant?
At my sister’s home in Santa Cruz, I do a brief yoga practice before breakfast with my niece. In my bedroom, there are large mirrored closet doors. I typically face away from the mirrors. During my last trip, however, I ended up doing … Continue reading Yoga and mirrors: do they mix?
Visiting San Francisco last summer, I took a few classes at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco, within walking distance from my friend’s house. “Have you done Iyengar yoga before?” a front-desk staffer asked me when I arrived. “Yes,” I nodded and smiled, but said … Continue reading Going “undercover” as a yoga student
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” If Carl Jung is right (and he probably is), I haven’t been a blogger lately. I had high hopes to post frequently in August. After all, I had a few weeks’ break from yoga teaching. (In contrast, last summer in Pune I was immersed and extra alert (first time at RIMYI, first time in India). But I averaged a mind-boggling (for me) three posts per week. Then and there, I was compelled to write.) When I don’t write and my blog stagnates, I feel a bit guilty—as I do when some of my New Year’s resolutions remain undone. With only four months … Continue reading Four months left in 2015: What will you do with it?
Several months ago, I acquired 100 grams of matcha from someone who sources it directly from a Kyoto farmer. Japanese green teas, such as sencha and gyokuro, are my favorites, but I’d rarely had matcha. I immediately did a Google search for “matcha preparation.” Among the many … Continue reading Matcha: traditional versus trendy
In my first class for teens, I taught an active, but basic, sequence, with lots of jumpings and standing poses. Most were absolute beginners; even the basics were demanding. After class, however, the teens’ teacher, an Iyengar yoga student herself, made a request. “Next week show them some of the fancy poses,” she said. “Fire them up. They don’t know anything about yoga and need to see where it can go.” In my typical adult classes, I demonstrate a pose only if relevant to the day’s sequence. Rarely, almost never, would I demo a pose if I’m not teaching it. Here, she was asking me to do just … Continue reading The yoga “demonstration”
For four weeks last spring, I taught Iyengar yoga to 40 teenagers. All were academically gifted students enrolled in an early-admission university program. While a couple had done yoga in elementary school or with Wii Fit, most had never attended a single yoga class. Thank goodness they were split into two groups of 20. Teens, no matter how advanced academically, behave nothing like adults in class! While I taught a particular subset of teenagers, here are my observation on teaching teens versus adults: Teens can’t stop talking I mistakenly assumed that because these kids were stellar students, they would immediately shut their traps and listen silently (as do adult students). No way! They … Continue reading On teaching teens
In January, Dove released a “Love Your Curls” video, an offshoot in its “Campaign For Real Beauty.” Like any mass-marketing campaign, the video is one that people either love or hate. It features a bunch of little girls criticizing their unruly curls and declaring that straight hair is more beautiful. Then, the girls are led to a surprise party, with a bunch of curly tops, dancing and singing an uptempo “we love our curls” anthem. It’s a corny, somewhat cringe-worthy scene. But, I must admit, when I was their age, I felt exactly as did these little girls. I remember the same self-consciousness, the same discontent, the same fervent wish for … Continue reading Santosha, contentment, and curly hair
Two weeks ago, I traveled to Winnipeg, the capital of Manitoba, for the first time. I knew little about Canada’s “Gateway to the West.” I’ve met a few people who grew up here. I remember a movie, My Winnipeg, that screened at the Vancouver Film Festival several years ago. That’s about it. Well, my first impression was very positive, Travelling can be really fun and it can help you to get more positive. (Winnipeg in December might have been a different story.) My Winnipeg top 10: Continue reading Top 10 things about Winnipeg
On the third Sunday in April, I woke with a sore throat. By evening, I had laryngitis. Strange symptom chronology. And strange timing. Already spring! Sunny enough to go glove- and scarf-free. How incongruous to be sick. After a week of coughing so … Continue reading My first time: nasal irrigation
Before a pranayama class at RIMYI in Pune last August, we students were sprawled on our mats. Some sitting, some chatting; others, like me, lying down leg stretches. When the teacher, Rajlaxmi, entered the room and settled herself on a bolster, I swung up, sit-up style. “Lie back down!” she yelled. What? In a flash, we lowered ourselves to the floor. “Now, roll to the right,” she directed. “Look down. Push yourself up. That’s how we sit up in yoga.” Rajlaxmi is practical, focused primarily on alignment and technique. But that day she reminded me of yoga protocol–the rules and rituals we follow … Continue reading Yoga protocol: why does it matter?
For my first six months of yoga classes, I used no props–at least what I now know as props. At the Berkeley RSF in the late 1990s, all we had were towels and padded gym mats (which did come in handy for kneeling). Eventually we got mats. But I didn’t try a block until I set foot in an actual yoga studio. In a year or two I began acquiring my own props. My first foam blocks were the dense, textured ones sold by Yoga Props, a longtime Internet retailer based in San Francisco. (I’ve never seen them sold elsewhere.) In classic black and with an un-scratchable … Continue reading The yoga block