Sunday, November 30, 2014

Friday, November 28, 2014

Yoga Accomplishments and Challanges

Since I started practicing yoga over two years ago I have seen many improvement in my practice:
  • My Downward-Facing Dog has greatly improved; my heels are closer to the floor. Even better: Heather, my Vinyasa teacher tells me my Down Dog is one of the postures she has noticed that has significantly improved.
  • My Easy pose is much better. Specifically my back is not as rounded while sitting, though I still need a cushion or a blanket to sit on. This is something I notice all the time because, before I attended physical therapy and yoga, I was not aware that I had this problem.
  • Forward Fold. When I started yoga I could not even get my finger tips to touch the floor. Now my fingers touch in the beginning of a practice and most of my hands are touching by the end of each practice.
  • Tree pose. I still cannot balance on one foot, but I am getting better!
  • Other postures. I am sure I have improved on nearly all my postures, but the above are the ones I and my teachers have noticed the most as improving.
I am very lazy and almost never practice at home. This is a big problem in my practice. I read somewhere that for the most part, the postures you hate the most are the ones you should working on often. There's some truth to this for me; I don't like these postures because I either cannot do them/do them very well or they are uncomfortable. Here are the postures I want to practice at home, and some of them I do not like to strike:

  • Tree pose. Yes I have improved on this one, but I am still far from holding the posture for more than a few seconds.
  • Boat pose. I hate it and cannot hold it for very long, nor can I balance the posture very well.
  • Hero pose and advanced modifications: I'm too fat to feel comfortable doing this, but I can do it. I feel for my fellow students who have to stand on their knees when the rest of us are in the posture. Reclining Hero pose I cannot do and would like to; also Hero pose with my toes facing forward--stretching my soles of my feet under the pressure of my body (Sorry I don't know the name, but I call it Torture!).

Finally, not a Hatha Yoga posture, but Meditation. I have started on this and I hope to continue.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Xu Lizhi (1990-2014)

This story is heartbreaking, and I found out about it, ironically, on my iPhone!

The poetry and brief life of a Foxconn worker: Xu Lizhi (1990-2014)

There are other interesting posts on Nao's Blog. I'm adding it to my list below.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

MEATUP. Finally, a good reason to visit a CrossFit gym

When he is not busy kicking my ass in chess, Angus creates websites. Recently, he shared with me a website he created for someone who creates and sells food for Paleolithic (Paleo) diet customers. MEATUP is a Northern California business that creates Paleo dishes and delivers them to CrossFit gyms (Surprise!) in the area. 

Normally, I would scoff at any food service, cookbook, cooking show, or person involved with trendy diets, but there are people who suffer from allergies and who struggle with digesting processed food. Not me, and I have the gut to show for it. So the Paleo diet could be here to stay and that's where MEATUP becomes a tasty advocate for these people.

Glazed Chicken w/balsamic reduction
I have just started using the service and have found the food I have ordered so far to be very good if not very economical. My first sample were a healthier option to Slim Jim meat sticks: EPIC bars. I tried the spicy Beef bar and the mild Turkey. I don't normally eat these kind of protein snacks so the fact that I don't care for them much did not detract from the service

The first meal I tried was the Glazed Chicken with Balsamic Reduction which comes with a side of roasted rosemary butternut squash and brussels sprouts. Not a big brussels sprouts fan, but I liked the seasoning so I ate the veggies like a good boy. The chicken was very good! (Sorry, I'm not a food critic as you can see. This failure is abundantly clear on my now fallow hamburger/scooter culture sister blog The Burger Scoot.

The "MEATUP Meatballs" were next up and the most anticipated in this order. This alternative to the traditional meatball is made with ground pork, sweet potato, shitake mushrooms, cilantro, free-range eggs, fish sauce, and spices. (Some critics of the "free range" definition say that these chickens don't wander out of the barn--making the "range" a matter of feet. I want to know how far do free-range eggs roll.) 

I had my meatballs with pasta, and enjoyed it, damn it! (Thumbing my nose at all those CrossFit, Paleo meatheads!) I like the subtle sweet potato taste. I was supposed to bring a chunk of Artisan bread to work to have with my Chicken and Pumpkin Spice Stew (the last item on my maiden order). I missed the bread, but the stew was very good, with just the right amount of spice. 

I liked all of these, but really wanted to taste the meatloaf that was on the product list when Angus first showed me the site. He pointed at the product, beaing at me saying, "she uses sweet potato!" as if he thought it was a stroke of genius. Perhaps it is. I don't know how to cook so I took his uncharacteristic smile as something really special. Alas, the item disappeared by the time I ordered. I emailed MEATUP and was told the meatloaf would return. So will I. "She," by the way, is MEATUP owner, Genevieve Ross, featured in a Cathy Anderson's column in The Sacramento Bee.

MEATUP Meatballs. (I added the other stuff)
There is an emphasis on the protein values on each product both on the website as well as the product packaging--a piece of information that takes a backseat to calories for me. I'm not sure why the emphasis on protein. Is that another selling point to the CrossFit folk? Don't know. Don't care.

And speaking of the CrossFit folk: I am not what one would call a people person--my history as a sales rep proves this. One of the nice things about MEATUP is it is an online service. Alas, you ultimately have to deal with someone when you pick up your order, and this first time didn't go well. My son picked up the first order and the person handing the order over did not check the whole freezer. When my son took out the printout I gave him to compare my order against what was in the bags the guy told him, "It's all there," as if he couldn't be bothered. When I got home I found that it was not "all there."

It's easy to blame my son for this--ask him to get a carton of 2% milk and it's a 50% chance I'll find 1% in his grocery bag. Still, he was righteously miffed at how the guy shined him on. Thankfully, my friend Angus works out at that CrossFit gym and found the missing package under his order in the freezer. 
Chicken & Pumpkin Spice Stew

As you can tell, I wear my prejudice of CrossFit proudly despite liking four people who work out at these places. This could be an ongoing problem with picking up food orders at a CrossFit gym. MEATUP does offer home deliveries, but that's a different problem.

MEATUP's product line is very small, and dynamic with items being rotated as well as new items being introduced. I have been told some of this is based on the seasons. The produces are a bit pricey, but for me it is convenient food when there's nothing in the frig and I want something healthier than a greasy burger.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

“Sitting is the new smoking”

My modified workstation with movable monitor arms and a keyboard tray that elevates. (Sorry for the mess.)
Part of the reason I jump started this blog has to do with this "disease." No, it's not really a disease just as Degenerative Disk Disease isn't one, but one creates the other. If it weren't for Sitting Disease I wouldn't have Degenerative Disk Disease in my lower back. If it weren't for Degenerative Disk Disease I wouldn't have gone to a physical therapist. If it weren't for my physical therapist I wouldn't have discovered yoga, if it wasn't for yoga, Man!, there's a lot of great things that yoga is responsible for.Only one of them is getting my doctor to sign off on getting "reasonable accommodations" at work, where I can stand and do the same work I've been doing sitting down for decades.

Here's an article from The Sacramento Bee on "Sitting Disease." I took the quote “sitting is the new smoking” as the blog title. Yes, it's over-stated, but it gets the point across. Now, get off your ass and get into a yoga class!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Yoga Etiquette for New Students

I never knew there was such a thing as Yoga Etiquette for New Students--just good manners. Now I know. Thanks Yoga!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Observations From the Mat 1: An Introduction to my Various Practices

I attend three, sometimes four, yoga classes a week. While I have been practicing yoga for over two years now, I am still pretty green. This is mainly due to spending my first year only attending one Gentle Yoga class a week and treating it mostly like it was just a component in my weekly workout plan, which also included treadmill walk/jog intervals, push-ups, and pull ups. 

About a year or so into attending the weekly Gentle Yoga class I increased my frequency to two weekly yoga classes. The second class is a Vinyasa or Flow class, which is my favorite. It was the instructor of that class that got me hooked on yoga. She was a sub for the regular Gentle Yoga teacher. I left the studio a different man and started reading books on yoga and looking for other yoga classes at my club. Six months into taking two classes a week I began to attend a third class. That class was more difficult and I occasionally made excuses for skipping it. Recently, I have knuckled down and have attended this class regularly.

About two months ago I began attending a fourth class--this one at work. It is very different from the others and is dependent on space availability and the teacher's time that make the class not as regular as the other three, but worth my time. This one is not very physically challenging, but has a spiritual element that I like. 

Since each class is lead by different teachers and--for the most part--attending by different students the feel of each class--even beyond the postures and sequencing is very different. This is the first in a series of posts of mostly non-technical observations of these classes--not so much critiques of the teachers, but other observations, some of them quite silly.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How to do a headstand's surefire ways to nail your headstand a yoga sequence to get you there. I'm years(?) away from doing that kind of an inversion, but I'm posting it here for future reference. For now it's strictly "Legs up the wall."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Climate Change Cheat Sheet

Mother has this cool Climate Change Cheat Sheet for winning arguments with narrow-minded conservatives.

Friday, November 14, 2014

How Yoga Changes Your Body, Starting the Day You Begin

An interesting graphic from   about great yoga is for your body.


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Guided Mindfulness Meditation for Vata Season

This morning was the first day I started a daily morning meditation regime. I have attempted to meditate without guidance and in an irregular manner since the time I rejuvenated this blog last summer. A yoga teacher who grew up in a family that meditated regularly told me not to be discouraged and to start with a modest goal and work your way up: "It's like lifting weights, if you want to lift 200 pounds start with 100 and work your way up."

I have many different sources to help me: I subscribe to Tara Brach's podcast as well as have copies of her guided meditations from her book Radical Acceptance,  some other podcasts that may have guided meditations, iPhone apps like Headspace, Be Fearless, and Simply Being.

However, this morning I chose to start with Omvanti, which features optional background music. I hope that this won't be another failed attempt at self improvement. I suppose I shouldn't be too hard on myself.

I hope to post exciting news of my progress (That's better! ). In the meantime here is an interesting article from about mindfulness meditation--the type of meditation that appeals to me the most, and appears to be the most difficult type of meditation.

Guided Mindfulness Meditation for Vata Season

Monday, November 10, 2014

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Yoga by Equinox

An impressive display of expertly executed asanas

...and a parody that gives me a more reasonable goal to reach for:

Lower Back Blues? | Yoga International

Lower Back Blues? | Yoga International