10,000 Vinyasas

Archive for December, 2010

A Local Restaurant Goes Downhill…

by on Dec.12, 2010, under food

Sadly, we are about to say goodbye to a local restaurant which, for whatever reasons, has started sliding down the slope of good service and food. I refer in this instance to Sogo, a place I discovered last year, mostly because we would congregate there after acro-yoga practice; Vladimir was fond of it, you see, and to my slight surprise, the food was outstanding, particularly the soups. The owner/chef has some serious cooking chops, and we began to visit it for dinner and some Sunday brunches. Alas, the last few visits have revealed that the local economy is taking a toll on this establishment; first, most of the stock of market items, along with their shelving, was eliminated, leaving a cavernous dining area that scaled poorly in human terms. We noticed also at this time that the menu, which had previously changed daily, had been reduced to “regular” items, with the exception of one soup and one entree. Our last visit was also disappointing in other ways; there was no chilled white wine available at all, even though the wine refrigerator stood empty. When we ordered glasses of red wine, the food arrived quite a while before the wine; in other words, we sat there with our food while the staff, who looked like high school students, struggled to get two glasses of wine to our table, for unknown reasons. Further, there was no acknowledgment on the part of the staff about the lapse. At any rate, we may have eaten our last meal at Sogo, especially for dinner. My heart goes out to the owner; it is certainly not easy to maintain a small, cool gourmet restaurant in an area where most people define “food” as something that is obtainable at a drive-through window, and certainly the irony of having a golden arched establishment in the same strip as Sogo is not lost here. Our opinion is that poor Sogo is not long for this earth. Sad.

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Kino Macgregor Workshop

by on Dec.05, 2010, under teaching, Yoga, Yoga practice

I took the workshop this weekend.

The first substantive portion (after the led primary, which I had to skip) was the building strength and lifting up module. Kino Macgregor has studied directly with Pahttabhi Jois, which was entertaining, since she shared some stories about Guruji. Kino has an interesting diction, which reminded me of the skateboarder/surfer Jay Adams, and made me wonder if she originated in California. She spent some time talking about the common personal excuses that we utilize in avoiding difficult poses in our yoga practice, i.e., “my arms are too short, my butt’s too big, I started too late,” to be able to jump forward and back. This is a favorite topic of mine. At any rate, she most effectively broke down the jumping forward and back process, differing slightly from Mike Matthews’ approach, who encouraged us to jump into a preliminary position with the tops of your feet to the floor, before scooting the feet forward of the hands (Kino referred to it as walking the feet forward), whereas Mike told us to pulse the hips, bringing the feet forward until they came past the hands and “kick the feet out.” In contrast, Kino spent quite some time teaching us what she called “building the foundation,” which meant placing the hands with fingers slightly digging into the mat, bringing the “ball” of the index finger deeply into the mat, rotating the eyes of the elbows in to a 45 degree angle, and emphasizing the strength of the deltoid muscles, along with bringing the spine into flexion and drawing the lower belly in. We went from all fours into plank with these cues. From there, she encouraged us to bring one foot forward, placing the top of the foot near the hands, and then the other, and walking the feet forward, straightening the legs, and then lowering the hips. I can mostly do this without instruction, so this part of the workshop was not enlightening for me, although I did enjoy the different perspective, and the emphasis on uddiyana and mula bandhas in attaining this difficult skill. Separating out all the parts seems to be Kino’s special talent in Ashtanga yoga. The part for me that needed clarification (and Kino gave it to us) in this workshop was the action of bending your arms and bringing your chest forward and down before jumping back. I attained several almost perfect jumpbacks using all of Kino’s cues, and of course, doing it once means you can, eventually, do it again, and then over and over with practice. Speaking of which, Kino mentioned that it takes about 10,000 repetitions of movements to enable familiarity within the body, so once again, we have to practice over and over. Kino also said some things that I’ve been noticing, and have previously posted here, specifically about the long horizon in yoga, the fact that beautiful-looking poses should be looked at as expressions of the amount of work and dedication involved, and that injuries result from students trying to push themselves into poses their bodies are not yet ready for. That was kind of cool, to hear someone that accomplished say what I’ve thought for awhile.

The second day was Mysore, followed by a module on backbending. I loved the Mysore in that hot, crowded, sweaty room, but I must’ve done a little too much, since I injured my left hamstring pretty severely (it’s frustrating that I can never pinpoint when I actually injure myself, apparently; it just happens, and the effects show up later). The backbending was interesting. Since I’ve been practicing with a former gymnast, Vladimir Vladev, I have gotten his instruction on backbending, and it’s slightly different than a yoga-style backbend instruction, but I’m always eager to get a different perspective, and maybe even blend some things if possible. I really liked Kino’s approach to this area, beginning again with building a foundation with tucking the tailbone and drawing the lower belly in, and lifting the stomach, ribs and chest up, creating space in the spine, and then bending the upper back. I can see that my chronic lower back pain has to do with not tucking the tailbone, and this I certainly can use in my practice. All in all, an excellent workshop, taught by an extremely accomplished and charismatic teacher. I can only imagine what my practice would look like with regular lessons from this yogini.

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