yj live! sf 2015

I spent the weekend (Thurs-Monday) at the Yoga Journal Live! San Francisco event, volunteering and taking classes from a handful of well known (I guess) teachers. One of my biggest take-aways from the conference was that hearing all the other teachers talk about what they thought yoga was really helped me figure out what I thought yoga was.

To me, yoga is about awareness, acceptance and stability. The physical practice uses the breath to help guide focus the mind in times of (muscular) effort. Off the mat, yoga practice continues in the form of mindfulness in all situations. Maybe, for example, being aware of ones faults, accepting them, and working toward minimizing consequential harm to oneself and others. Otherwise recognizing that we do not have complete control over the situations that we find ourselves in, and letting the associated negative thoughts come and go. Via the physical practice, yoga teaches us to let go of bias and see situations clearly even through emotional turmoil, like the disappointment of a perceived failure.

I feel grateful that even before I started yoga, I had a grounded personality and was generally able to stay relatively calm in times of distress. But I do think that as I’ve gotten older, and maybe with the help of yoga, I’m even more level headed than before and able to “take it as it comes.” I’ve been able to see and set my priorities more easily and therefore been able to maximize my experiences more fully.

Plus my triceps are so, so strong. SYKE! Just kidding. Wishing everybody a satisfying and successful step forward in their life’s journey today, no matter the size.

(Cross-posted on my yoga tumblr Posted on Categories fitness, personal, yogaLeave a comment on yj live! sf 2015

For the past year or so I’ve been tooting the idea of a dreamy five-year plan; a new career path of physical therapist by day, yoga instructor by night. Sounds amazing – I’d get to participate in continual learning and further education in a field that seems so helpful and practical, especially as we all get older. Plus I’d benefit from my training as a PT to be a better yogi and yoga instructor. BUT ALAS I looked up DPT programs yesterday and tuition is so many dollars, and it seems backwards to essentially throw away the investment of my current engineering degree for a new one. It’s a net negative, because the time I could be spending working and making money, I’d instead be spending it on tuition ($75k!)… for a degree that I don’t really need. It feels spoiled and excessive to double-up on two irrelevant post-graduate degrees. So. I think I’m dropping this dream in lieu of bigger picture goals. Like you know, a house, a garden, furniture. If I hated my job/industry/field, it’d be more valid. But I am perfectly happy being an engineer. No major complaints. So there’s no real reason to change career paths after all.

In yoga news, I few weeks ago I did my first forearm stand! And last week I did my first scorpion! At this rate I’ll definitely be able to do handstand in a year and can validly get my RYT (registered yoga teacher) training done next fall. :) Yayyyyyyy!!!!!!

bikram is not yoga

The yoga philosophy goes something like this: Be open-minded and receptive in all things, listen to your body and follow your intuition. Breathe. Balance. Yoga is practice and continuous improvement.

I got a Groupon for 10 classes at Bikram Santa Clara for $30 – basically an intro special to try it out. I went to my first class yesterday and Man was I disappointed. I knew the basic structure of a Bikram class – 26 poses always in the same order, always a 90-minute class in an extremely heated (100+ deg F) and humid room. But I didn’t expect it to be so unrelenting. The “teacher” didn’t allow for modifications at all, whether to ease the pose or further enhance it. In pawanmuktasana (lying on your back, bring one knee to your chest and pull it into your ribcage/armpit) he was repeating how you should be pulling so hard your hip is hurting (…) but since my hips are relatively open I switched to half happy baby instead (instead of holding onto your bent knee, keep your calf at a right angle to your thigh and pull down on your foot) so I could feel the stretch. And immediately the instructor told to hold onto my knee instead. So I shot back with, “…but my hip doesn’t hurt” and he just looked glared at me and said to the class “There’s way too much talking going on in this class today” and ignored me. “If you have any questions you can ask any time before class or after class, but not during class.” (One other person in the class had asked him to clarify something in a previous standing pose: She asked, “The standing knee should be completely locked out? All the way the entire time?” which he had been repeating over and over, which is another issue because since when is it a good thing to lock any of your joints when they’re under pressure????)

Later on in supta vajrasana (start on your knees, separate knees and feet a few inches and sit between your ankles, eventually lie on your back all the way) I wasn’t attempting to do the full pose because it hurts my knees (I always use a block in this pose in my regular classes). He came over to demonstrate, I said I couldn’t do it because of my knees, and he chastised me for not being open minded about the pain being able to heal my knees. Essentially he said “no pain, no gain” which is total bullshit because it’s total bullshit.

9 classes to go, I’m too Asian to not use up the rest of the classes I paid for. I hope the other teachers aren’t as intense as he is, but not keeping my fingers crossed. Bikram the person is known to be a dick, so if that’s the “philosophy” he’s imbuing on his posse then I guess that’s what Bikram practice will be. How disappointing.

mind, body and soul

Sometimes as I’m lying in bed trying to fall asleep, my mind will start having Deep Thoughts and Great Ideas and it sounds so great in my head and I groggily reach for my phone to save the words and phrases that somehow sound so smooth. This was from last night, with some major surgeries done this morning for something at least resembling actual fluency.

In any situation of stress or conflict (or anything else, really), we have three available approaches to find a solution, that come from three places in ourselves: the mind, the body and the gut. Throughout the day we use these three means of making decisions at different intervals and different intensities, either consciously or unconsciously. At work, for example, most of our energies come from the mind. We make intellectual and data-driven decisions and act based on knowledge. Physical needs are generally put on the back-burner for most people these days; we snack and eat without thinking much of it, and maybe stretch our arms a few times a day. Lastly there is gut feel and intuition, or the moral subconscious actions and flow of our days. I’d say this last one also ties into our general mien and personality. I strongly feel that a balance of these three “ways” is vital and natural. Without actively creating a more fair balance of the three aspects in your life, I’d expect it to be tough to be content with your whole self.

Mentally, we need to be stimulated and follow logic. Physically, we need to satisfy the chemical needs of our body (think exercise and endorphins). And intuitively, we have to consider what we gut-feel are the right things to do. When in a situation of conflict, consider evaluating your actions in a single direction, but most likely (of course) going in a direction influenced by two or three factors. I feel that being aware of the decisions one makes, and being cognizant of how that decision came to light, helps immensely with one’s well-being. Even if we don’t know the path we’re on in life, there’s major comfort in putting up torches along the way and bringing light to where you are in each moment. And that comfort can lead to a less stressful trek going forward.

bi-weekly resolutions

Someone said that it takes two weeks to make a habit. I’ve decided to set myself up for 25 bi-weekly resolutions for 2014. That means, every day for two weeks I will do that thing each day (possibly excluding weekends). These are actions that should/would benefit me in some way, whether it be a habit I want to incorporate into daily life, or something I want to try that might be good for me in the long run. I started this off on a whim while talking to Lynn, I commissioned her to wear a skirt every day this week with me. In a non-committed order:

  1. Wear a skirt
  2. Floss
  3. No make-up
  4. 30 extra minutes of cardio So this one failed because after one week I got ridiculously sick with a bad cold.
  5. Bike to work
  6. Shower
  7. Blog
  8. Eat a full breakfast (fruit, carb, protein)
  9. Eat dinner
  10. Eat out for lunch
  11. Wear a backwards-hanger item of clothing
  12. Work 6am-2pm
  13. Work 10am-6pm
  14. No computer time between work and sleep
  15. Extra make-up (foundation?)
  16. Evening sanpo-suru
  17. Clean apartment for 30 minutes
  18. Not straighten hair
  19. Call mom once a week for four weeks
  20. Eat yogurt
  21. Eat one-a-day
  22. Write and send a letter
  23. Wear a different jacket
  24. Something artsy/craftsy for 30 minutes

Anybody want to join me in these bi-weekly resolutions?

2013

Dang this blog is old. 2012 and 2011 and 2010.

Happy new year!

1. Venice canals in LA with Jenn Wang.
2. Maggie visited Califoria with Derek and we hung out at DT Disney. I also went to SD!
3. Went to Albuquerque to interview with Intel…
4. and then Houston a few days later to interview with Schlumberger. Traveling alone (gratis) was pretty fun and I didn’t mind it. And then Seattle at the end of April for mom’s birthday. And that’s when I got a job offer from MiaSolĂ©!
5. After accepting my job offer I immediately dyed my hair red and started my final set of LA adventures as a resident. And then took a full-car road trip up to Norcal with Stanley. We stopped by Santa Barbara, Solvang, SLO and Santa Cruz. Oh and I went vegan and gluten free.
6. Apparently I have no pictures from June. I did make another trip down to LA to pick up the rest of my stuff, but I guess I was mostly settling in at work.
7. Family reunion with babies! Also Layla visited me in Cupertino.
8. Went to Six Flags, made a bunch of amazing address stamps and went from vegan to vegetarian! Stanley came up for his birthday and also I hung out with Alan and Tung.
9. Went to LA for Stan’s friend’s (Charissa and Sean) wedding.
10. Made a birthday cake for Rose/Kristen and had boozey game night #1!
11. Uneventfully turned 24, and went to Minnesota to visit Je and Wisconsin to see Heather.
12. Finished Ben’s giant UCLA painting! Drove down to LA to pick up Stan’s snowboard. Stayed at the Nittler cabin in Tahoe for a few days and snowboarded. And finished the year strong with a lazy two weeks of shut-down! :)

It’s been a big year full of big changes and growing up. And I like it!

mulberry leaves

I wonder how much of my personality/moral character is a direct consequence of events of my childhood.

When I was in middle school, I somehow acquired some silk worms and hid them in a box under my bed, sneaking them a few mulberry leaves from my neighbor every few days. I was super excited to watch them crawl around, and even named them, I think. But when my parents found out, I got in such big trouble. I remember my dad telling me that had I only been honest, and told them the truth, then I would have been able to keep them and watch them grow, no trouble at all. He told me that I should always tell the truth.

I’m pretty sure I took it way more literally than he had meant, or maybe it’s just hard to gauge what a child will take from parental advice. Even now honesty is my number one priority, sometimes even past the point of my parents’ comfort. It is not the Chinese way, after all, to approach someone with a blunt question or request. There are many more subtle go-arounds in place in Chinese culture, in social and personal practice. But I am straight up American, and this is something that is too hard for me to comprehend.

gluteus, gluten, gluttony

I’ve been really consistent with exercising since moving to Norcal, which I’m really glad about. There’s that fear of starting “the daily grind” and having to sit on one’s ass the entire day, then being too pooped when the work day ends to do anything but sit on one’s ass some more. I signed up for a six-month membership of eight yoga classes a month, which means at a minimum I’ll be doing that almost twice a week. I finally understand the appeal of gym memberships; gotta get my $$$ worth and not skip. Eight times a month is definitely doable, and it may be a good thing that I get some rest days.

Even if I’m not cycling to work yet, I’m still glad to have that option for cardio. I ran for 20 minutes on the treadmill today and felt my knees starting to give out, so I guess that’s still not a viable option. But I really missed running – maybe I’ll try inserting a few miles a month into my routine :)

BUT ANYWAY I went to the gym today because of yesterday and today’s carb loading. Yesterday was my first day of gluten in eight months, and ate more than half a loaf of sourdough. It was freaking delicious and I couldn’t stop. Today, my manager brought donuts and bagels to work… so I had a few of those too. And then my coworker Ben gave me his Monopoly McFlurry coupon so I treated myself to that too. And then I felt sad about the impending loss of my almost-abs (I can almost, almost see subtle side shadows in the mornings!) so I had some motivation to do some cardio. Not bad, right? Everything in moderation?

Re: losing my gluten free and vegan dietary restrictions and turning vegetarian –
I’m happy that I don’t have to consciously omit things from my daily eats, but I think I’ll still try to keep relatively low levels of empty gluten and carbs in my diet. Going to make a conscious effort to maintain meals consisting of more vegetables than grains… after my party next week. I mean, a girl’s gotta live a little right? Heh. I’m going to commit to a vegetarian diet for either 6 or 9 months. Since I’m a “diet non-responder,” i.e. my RA didn’t go away on the most restrictive diet, it’s unlikely that it’ll get any better on less restrictions (only no meat). But seeing as I’m used to a vegan diet right now and I’m still enjoying the resurrection of my relationship with bread, I might as well stay on the healthy side and avoid meats for as long as I can manage. Unless I see/feel iron or B12 deficiencies, I see myself staying vegetarian for awhile. (Pescetarian is highly likely though – I miss fish.)