Sunday, January 30, 2011

Review: Hatha Class in Pure Yoga - Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

Lackluster Class
Attended a 50 minute Hatha class. There were about 20 students in Studio #6. "Pranayama" was for 20 minutes. Then came one round of sun salutation. Each side had a hip opener and hamstring stretch thrown in so the one round took about 10 minutes. Then plank, side plank and bakasana, held for 10 breaths each. There was a smattering of half moon poses. Bridge and a short savasana ended the class. The vibe suspiciously felt like an aerobics class.

The teacher was kind and considerate throughout the 50-minute practice. Originally thought he would take the no touch-no liability approach but towards the middle part of the "pranayama" he did the rounds of adjustments until the end of class.

Swanky Facilities
Excellent facilites. Manduka black mats provided in all the rooms. Check out the amigas having a bit of gossip with a harbour view at their side. Wonderful retail outlet with Lululemon, Zobha, Beyond Yoga and Manduka. They have a well-stocked book and DVD wall. Wish we had locker and shower room facilities like this in Manila.

Should have spent the HK$300 drop in rate on dimsum

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Ashtanga Playlist

On days when I wake up too late to catch a class, or when I simply want to practice alone, my companions are my mat, my towel and my iPod. 

I find that a great playlist can mean the difference between a ho-hum practice and an inspired one. Here's what's on my Ashtanga Playlist (best played on Shuffle mode)

  • Baba O'Riley by The Who
  • Bullet with Butterfly Wings by Smashing Pumpkins
  • Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It) by Beyonce
  • Good Girls Go Bad by Cobra Starship
  • Teenage Dream by Katy Perry
  • Don't You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds
  • When We Were Young by the Killers
  • Crazy on You by Heart
  • Cherry Lips by Garbage
  • War Pigs by Faith No More
  • Paint It, Black by The Rolling Stones
  • Elevation by U2
  • Sabotage by Beastie Boys
  • Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd
  • John the Fisherman by Primus
  • Feel Good Inc by Gorillaz

          (and more songs that betray my age...)

Purists may think that only New Age music or recorded chantings are appropriate when doing your sadhana. Some even think silence is required. But so what if I listen to Guns n Roses' greatest hits while sweating through the standing series? In the end, I finish my practice, happy and contented. And I guess that's what counts :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Yoga Speak

Ever had an unintelligible conversation with a yoga enthusiast? Or ran across a vague status update about the moon? Or a cryptic tweet mentioning Mercury? 

Image from

Just like any other group, yogis and yoginis have developed their own slang. Can you decipher these phrases? 

  • That's so not yoga - That's pretty messed up
  • It's a moon day tomorrow. Let's party! - Yoga holiday tomorrow. No need to wake up early and nurse a hangover while practising
  • Mercury is in retrograde - I won't be meeting my deadlines and my tardiness is due to the current planetary alignment 
  • My biorhythms are off - I'm PMSing 
  • Yoga is all about the breath - I'm not interested in how many reps you did at the gym

Namaste! :)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Where to Go If You Owned Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg is the youngest billionaire of our time, and boy does he need yoga! If you believe the movie, he must be carrying a lot of emotional baggage in his hips, his heart and his back. Plus, screwing his friends and colleagues over can't be good for his karma. 

Mark Zuckerberg. Image from

The upside of Zuckerberg is that he has about $6.9 bil at his disposal. With all that money, he can stay at any or all of the most beautiful, most exotic yoga retreats in the world.

Here are my picks for boy billionaire.

Uma Paro in Paro, Bhutan

  • Yoga: Hatha, Vinyasa Flow
  • Food: Holistic Bhutanese-Indian and Western cuisine
  • Treatments: Holistic therapies, including reflex zone massage, Ayurveda, facial treatments. Bhutanese hot stone bath with hot boulders and massage
  • Recreation: Hot-stone bath house, indoor pool, camping and trekking tours, mountain biking, temple visits
  • Books to Pack: "Tibetan Book of the Dead" by Sogyal Rinpoche and "Seven Years in Tibet" by Heinrich Harrer

Jungle Bay Resort & Spa in Dominica, British West Indies

  • Yoga: Hatha, Anusara, Vinyasa Flow
  • Food: Carribean, freshly caught fish, breadfruit salad, beetroot salad, baked bananas, grapefruit juice
  • Treatments: Massage,  facial, pedicure, manicure, aromatherapy, detoxifying body rub, honeymoon massage
  • Recreation: Tai Chi, hiking, day trips, mountain biking, snorkeling, kayaking, diving
  • Book to Pack: "The Green Pope" by Miguel Angel Asturias

Yogamagic Eco Retreat in Goa, India

  • Yoga: Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Scaravelli, Sivananda, Kundalini, Iyengar
  • Food: Organic tropical vegetarian cuisine
  • Treatments: Ayurvedic massage, Reiki, Indian head massage, foot massage, nutritional advice
  • Recreation: Ayurvedic massage courses, swimming, art and music lessons
  • Books to Pack: "Be Here Now" by Ram Dass, "A Son of the Circus" by John Irving and "The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy

Esalen Institute in California, USA

  • Yoga: Hatha, Anusasra, Raja, Tantra, Chinese Yoga, Tibetan Buddhist meditation, Ashtanga, Sivananda, Iyengar
  • Food: Vegan, vegetarian and meat cuisine, mainly organic, much grown on site
  • Treatments: Swedish massage, wellness/stress management massage
  • Recreation: Arts Center, Big Sur National Park, hot springs, night swimming, massage training
  • Books to Pack: "Confessions of an English Opium Eater" by Thomas de Quincey and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson

Santa Maria del Sole in Puglia, Italy

  • Yoga: Hatha, Ashtanga, Iyengar, Kirtan
  • Food: Macrobiotic, homemade organic pasta, pizza, cheese from the surrounding region
  • Recreation: Swimming, hiking, horseback riding, day trips to the sea
  • Books to Pack: "Peace is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hanh and "A Walk in the Dark" by Gianrico Carofiglio

Look for these books in National Bookstore!

Source: Taschen Great Yoga Retreats

Monday, January 10, 2011

Yoga Knickers

I have long wondered what the best yoga undergarment (for ladies) is. Seamless boylegs? Athletic thongs? Good old cotton panties? Or how about just going au naturel?!

Folks, this is serious business. VPLs aside, the wrong foundation garment can make or break your practice. Who wants to be readjusting their nether regions in between poses?

VPLs. Image from

I can't say what the best yoga undie is out there. But to help you choose, here are some (embarrassing) lessons I've learned throughout the years...

Lesson #1 - Mid waisted knickers peek out of yoga pants during Paschimattanasana. I now stick to undies that ride low on the hip. 

Lesson #2 - Yoga pants tend to become sheer in poses like Padangusthasana and Padahastasana. Wearing similarly colored undies and pants can help avoid this peekaboo boo-boo.

Lesson #3 - Thongs can be surprisingly comfortable in practice. You just need to choose the ones with comfortable seams

Some good options out there: 

Lululemon lovers can keep their LLL frenzy alive by using these high-performance Technithongs ($16.00 from Lululemon online)

Lululemon Premium Technithong Image from

Zobha has a wonderful boyleg undie that is both comfortable and virtually invisible under yoga pants. Look for them in Certified Calm (P845.00)

Zobha Boyshort Panty. Image from

Check out Victoria's Secret's Bare Ultimate Hiphugger. These super smooth hipsters come in a wide range of colors to complement your yoga outfit.  (3 for $30.00 at

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Download, download, all is coming

The great guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois is known for saying "Practice, practice all is coming". Sounds logical. So how come it doesn't always work?

We've all come up against that particular pose - our Waterloo, our Achilles Heel, our Death Star. And how many times have we practiced, studied and dissected that asana until our limbs felt like jelly?

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. Image from
The Death Star. Image from

After battling my personal Death Stars, I have come up my own version of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois'  iconic statement:
"Practice, read, download and all is coming"

There are many yoga books around and the sheer volume of it can make choosing what to read a pain. Here are some books on my bookshelf, recommended to me by teachers and friends

Ashtanga Yoga: Practice and Philosophy, by Gregor Maehle
Ashtanga Yoga - The Internediate Series: Mythology, Anatomy and Practice, by Gregor Maehle
Ashtange Yoga: The Practice Manual, by David Swenson

All these, and others, can be ordered through National Bookstore. Go get 'em.

Image from

Many nights have I spent youtubing and googling my "favorite" poses. I've also tried downloading Podcasts and torrents. Some are free, some aren't. I like seeing how other people do the pose in slow motion. It helps me visualize my own limbs when I finally try the pose the next morning. 

Corollary to downloading is buying a yoga DVD. Seane Corn, Shiva Rea and Baron Baptiste  are just some of the yoga stars who have increased their net worth by reaching into the Home DVD market. Sorry Rodney Yee, I am not a fan! 

Image from

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Ladies with layers. Chicks with ponytails. Justin Bieber. How do you manage your hair during practice?
Shaggy hair in Urdhva Mukha Paschimattanasana.
Photo courtesy of Manuel Ferreira
Pigtails coming out of Supta Kurmasana.
Photo courtesy of Eileen Grey

I have tried and tested many hair accessories to keep my shag in place during practice. It is quite annoying to have to swat away sweaty strands of hair each time you come out of a pose. 

Some products I've used:

Lululemon Slipless Headband
Stays in place most of the time but sometimes falls off during Prasarita Padottanasana A B C D. Available at ($12.00)
Image from

Prana Wide Headband
Wonderful for keeping those Anna Wintour bangs out of your face. Thin enough to keep on during Headstands. Unfortunately it slips off during the more vigorous parts of practice. Available at Certified Calm.
Image from

This is the cheapest yet most effective solution I've found. It is unobtrusive, it keeps my hair in place and it can, through strategic placement, tame even the most unruly hair. Just make sure you don't stab yourself in the skull when you get into Headstands.

Next question, what to do with your ponytail during Chakrasana? 

Yogi Toes

Every time I go in for a pedicure, I have to endure my nail technician's look of horror.  "Miss, what happened to your toes?!"

To be precise, my big toes and the underside of my feet are not Vogue cover material. Daily practice has skinned the area beneath my toes and callused the balls of my feet. There was even a time when I had skinned right through to raw skin <ouch!>. 

Feet in Kurmasana. Photo courtesy of Manuel Ferreira
Walking on cut skin forced me to find a solution. I started taping my toes.

The trick was finding a tape strong enough to keep together during jump-throughs yet flexible enough to roll with my toes during transitions from Chaturanga to Upward Dog to Downward Dog.

Found Cramer Athletic Tape while randomly browsing through a sports store. Started using them, and 6 rolls later my toes have regained some of their former skin layers.

Taping up before practice. Photo courtesy of Manuel Ferreira

For those in the US or with easy access to international shipping, Cramer Athletic Tape can be found in Sports Authority. ($5.99 for a 2-pack)

* Ran out of Cramer Tape. I went into Toby's and found Kindmax Sport Therapy Tape (Php 395.00). A little flimsier but works just as well.

Crazy Breathing

To anyone with the free time to visit this blog, welcome.

If you are looking to peek into someone's philosophical or spiritual musings, then hit the Back button, buddy, because this blog ain't for you.

This blog is dedicated to the fun and frivolous side of yoga. After all that ujjayi breathing, I often come up with random questions, humorous realizations and crazy quips. Hope you have a good read.

Shanti-Om, folks!

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