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Since being back I’ve only gone to Bikram yoga classes with Manny at Koko Marina. I haven’t been moved to take any Vinyasa classes… even with my favorite Brigitte. I’ve been missing taking class with Dharma Mittra in NYC so a couple of weeks ago I ordered his DVD. I’ve never done yoga off of a DVD before so I didn’t know what to expect. As student that took class with Dharma for at least two years I can say that his DVD’s are as challenging as his classes. There are several options for Intermediate and Advanced levels– within those categories are three options for length of practice the shortest being 53 minutes. There’s even an option to OM with him and do his beginning of class blessing. Within a couple of minutes I was sweating profusely. It’s not a replacement for a live class but it’s definitely a great alternative.

In other news my posts here have slowed down a little because I’ve been working on 319 on Beauty. I think I busted out ten posts today. Very satisfying.


Hurry up and get here

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I’ve been searching for the perfect yoga mat.  Methinks it doesn’t exist.  I bought a Manduka prolite from local  Lily Lotus (my favorite) a few weeks ago and it didn’t work out.  I was slipping around in downward dog so bad that I thought I was going to fall and break my nose.  My teacher, Brigitte, came over to adjust me and I whispered ‘too slippery!’ And she got me a rental mat to use over the Manduka.  Before I left I checked the brand: it was a Harmony mat.

Trolling the internet for credible user reviews, I found a great blog called Om Shanti: A yoga blog. Not only did he have a nice post about slippery mats but he also had a recent post about the lack of diversity in American yoga classes.  Good stuff and thoughtful product reviews.  The blogger seems to prefer Manduka’s eKo mat.

I sent my proLite back to Manduka by UPS this morning.  The customer service person said she would send out my new eKo as soon as they receive it.

Ah yoga.  Ah things.  When will I not need things to do other things.

The Breeze at Dawn

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I’d missed 4 days of yoga and felt bad about it.  Being sick this week  made going to class feel like a chore. I didn’t want to slip into that rut.  The day I went back Brigitte read this:

For years, copying other people, I tried to know myself.
From within, I couldn’t decide what to do.
Unable to see, I heard my name being called.
Then I walked outside.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

Jalaluddin Rumi version by Coleman Barks

Manny No Monkey Tree

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I dragged myself to Bikram yoga in Hawaii Kai this morning (with K’s help).  I’m so glad because it was the best Bikram class I’ve taken so far, better even than many of the non-Bikram classes I’ve taken.  The key is the teacher Manny.  He’s very tough but for all the good and right reason.

The class is at Koko Marina Shopping Center and it’s the only studio on the island that uses infrared heat.  I was resistant to going because it’s thirty minutes away and lately I’ve had to summon up a lot of energy to travel just five minutes to the Kailua Studio because sometimes it can feel like a chore.  The Kailua studio is the only Bikram place I’ve ever been to prior to this.  So, in fairness,  my realm of comparison is limited.

To preface what I have to say next I should explain that people sweat buckets when doing Bikram yoga.  It’s the reason people do it.  There’s a standard classroom design for Bikram studios which includes carpeting.  Buckets of sweat, wet carpet, humidity, heat…it’s a recipe for some stinkiness.  With that said,  the basic difference between the two Bikram studios is that Kailua’s  smells like a big foot (as I’ve heard most Bikram places do) and Manny’s studio is clean, peaceful, beautiful and it smells nice–like semi-sweet crayons.  Kailua isn’t awful.  The environment is supportive and I really like class with Kathryn.  I think maybe Manny’s class was just really great.

I figured today since I was going to a new class in a new town with a new teacher, I would use my new stuff including my barely used yoga mat bag:

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I’ve been too embarrassed to actually bring this bag into classrooms because it’s kind of fancy.  So I’ve been leaving it in the trunk of our car.  Today I brought it in with me and it was fine, no one’s eyebrows went up.

Manny started out by talking to four of us that were new to the class in the lobby.  He is very insistent about how you behave in his studio.  He didn’t want us holding any of our stuff while he spoke to us.  And even if you’d done Bikram before he wanted to go over breathing, stance, and doing the asanas with grace.  After a couple of minutes he let us in and class started shortly after.

Like I said, he runs a tight ship.  One of the other new girls kept making little indignant noises every time Manny would say something like  ‘your job is to keep the floor around you dry…etc etc….I don’t care what happens in other studios, this is how it is in this studio’.  I just giggled because I’d heard and read online that Manny, to some people, seems very eccentric but I found him charming.  Another great line:  “please no chatting, it’s not that i don’t care what you have to say, it’s that others don’t”  That made my stomach clench because it was so funny.  The thing is, as I’ve said, his studio is so well kept that it’s a pleasure to be there.  Also, Manny keeps such tight control of the class that it makes you feel like you can relax and just worry about yourself.  It’s very liberating.

Pretty much every Bikram teacher I’ve had before him keeps up this relentless prattle through the 26 poses.  I understand that it’s part  of the style or method of keeping you in the moment but most times it just makes me anxious and distracted.  Manny speaks in a low gentle voice and he shares information (which is why I also like Kathryn at Kailua).  My favorite thing he said today was that Bikram Yoga helps you sleep–not because you end up so physically tired but because it helps you learn to quiet the monkey in the tree.

Brilliance.  I’m sold.

Afternoon in Hawaii Kai

The other weekend we met K’s friend Jeremy at the Koko Marina Center’s Starbucks. We were picking up K’s keyboard which he had loaned Jeremy and in return we got a gift bag of organic awesomeness:

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Here they are later in our house.  It was like a bottomless bag:

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I asked him where he did his grocery shopping and aside from Wholefoods he mentioned a place called Kale’s Natural Food.  He also told us about a website that was a great resource for home remedies. We spent 3 hours at that Starbucks which is a record for me since coming here.

This is currently my favorite thing from the batch.  It’s delicious with oatmeal and bananas for breakfast:

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Koko Marina Center is big-time compared to Kailua.  It’s very fancy and has lots of stores like Bubbie’s Ice Cream and a multiplex.  Part of the reason I wanted to check it out was because Laura from Lily Lotus had said that there was a good teacher at Hawaii Kai’s Bikram studio.

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We found the studio tucked away on the second floor but it was in session so we couldn’t go in.  I read online that it’s the only bikram place in Oahu that uses infrared heat.  It looks very quaint and clean from the outside.   At some point one morning I’ll drive over there and take a class.

Driving to Hawaii Kai you pass right through Waimanalo and its stunning beach.  I tried to get a picture when we were driving home but this is the best I could get:

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Me. What is a Yoga head?

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I dragged my butt out of bed at 7AM this morning to go to class at Kula.  I really like that place–particularly teachers Martin and Brigitte.  I was telling Ken that Brigitte makes you feel like she’s paying attention to you even if she doesn’t look at you or talk to you.  She’s really tall but there’s this gentleness that emanates from her.  It makes you want to cry.  That sounds bad but it’s not.

It wasn’t an old lady class.  It was in fact very hard.  Halfway through I had to stop and rest.  I had this fleeting thought:  why is it that despite doing yoga almost every day it’s still really hard to get through most classes.  I think it’s because I’m competitive and I forget to breathe.

After class we went to Lily Lotus for new yoga togs for me!  I wore a hole through my yoga pants.  K got me a top from Lululemon (which is great)  but I hate how their stuff looks so jock-ish. I prefer this:

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That’s a t-shirt.  I like it so much.

As I was choosing stuff to try on, the Lily Lotus person would come and take my things and bring them to the dressing room.  After the third time I looked up and smiled at her and she crinkled her brow and said ‘did you take class with me?’  I totally didn’t recognize her so I said no. She said ‘I think you did…at Open Space’.  After a minute I figured out that Sarah and I had taken a class with her over a MONTH ago.  We came in 10 minutes late and it was a hard class.  We left without saying hi to the teacher, Laura.  That was her.  She remembered we came in late AND she remembered that Sarah and I were together though she thought she was my sister.

We talked for a little bit.  I said it was hard for me to find a class that didn’t make me worry about my bad knees while at the same time being a rigorous enough workout.  She suggested a Mysore class at Purple.  That I might be able to develop my own practice.  She said the owner, Cathy Louise, is from NY and if I wrote to her she could make suggestions for my knees.

She also satisfied my curiosity about the missing Yin Yoga class.  The woman Jaime Schrack who taught it at Open Space moved to the Big Island to study cranial-something-or-other.  That’s why all her classes disappeared from the online schedules.

I told her I’d been trying Bikram and that it was weird.  She laughed which was great that she knew what I meant.  She said there was a good teacher in Hawaii Kai.  Maybe one day I’ll go try it.   Laura was really nice.  I will definitely check out the Mysore class she assists at Purple.

Sarah joked that there were yoga teachers that every student has gone too–that I was going to be the student every yoga teacher has had.  Not a bad thing.

We had lunch in Kaimuki.

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It was good but it was tooo much food.

Finally, I’m obsessed with these cookies.  Maybe because I’m drinking less coke.

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The Sunrise Ruby by Rumi

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Martin at Aloha Kula Yoga read this on Valentine’s Day. I loved it. SOURCE

In the early morning hour,
just before dawn, lover and beloved wake
and take a drink of water.

She asks, “Do you love me or yourself more?
Really, tell the absolute truth.”

He says, “There is nothing left of me.
I’m like a ruby held up to the sunrise.
Is it still a stone, or a world
made of redness? It has no resistance
to sunlight.”

This is how Hallaj said, I am God,
and told the truth!

The ruby and the sunrise are one.
Be courageous and discipline yourself.

Completely become hearing and ear,
and wear this sun-ruby as an earring.

Work. Keep digging your well.
Don’t think about getting off from work.
Water is there somewhere.

Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that
is a ring on the door.

Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there.

Hot!

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Well.  It took me a total of three hours but I walked to Kailua Shopping Center to take a yoga class at Bikram Yoga Kailua.  It wasn’t bad.  The sky is gray today so I can imagine that on a sunnier day the walk would be pleasant.  But I didn’t mind–the street wasn’t busy and I caught up on my Left, Right, and Center podcast.

In all my time doing yoga I’ve always steered clear of Bikram (hot) yoga.  I tend to overheat quickly and I thought the style would be bad for my knees.  Surprisingly, I felt stronger after class.  My knees felt less sore or tender.  I don’t know that that’s one of the benefits of Bikram.  For example, Iyengar yoga is meant to be more rehabilitative and good for the injured.  Bikram, like Ashtanga, always seemed similar in that their suited for people in tip top shape. Contrary to all of that, being hot made my joints more supple.  The class pace is slow and not very intense (except for the sweat pouring off you).  I liked it.  I signed up for the new student offer 30 days for $30.  That’s even better than Open Space!

The format for class is a little weird.  The room is small.  The teacher talks you through the class sometimes demonstrating if you’re having trouble.  But the weird thing is that she uses a headset–as in a microphone.  Like Madonna.  It was funny but it makes sense.  You shouldn’t be struggling to hear the teacher.  The other thing is that you face a full wall mirror the whole time.  I was wary at first but then I liked being able to make adjustments based on how I looked and not just how I felt.

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Last night Sarah and i took class at Manoa Yoga Center.  My picture makes it look like a prison complex but Manoa is so lovely.  A very picturesque residential area.  We took class with Ray, one of the owners.  He’s certainly the most experienced teacher I’ve had class with here in Hawaii.  I think we’ll go back again, mainly to take a more intermediate class.

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Sarah showed me Punahou School where she, Sean (and Obama!) went to highschool.  There’s a carnival coming up at the school organized by the junior class and staffed by students, alum, and parents.  It sounds so fun- food and rides in Manoa!

Gung Jiang (Malinis)

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The Hilo Kid is fighting in 4 hours.  I don’t think I’ll get to see the fight.  But I’m excited about it anyway.  Sarah and Steve said that Therapy Sports Bar in Hawaii Kai is showing the fight for free.  But K is working on some stuff and I’m doing Chinese New Year cleaning one week late.

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K’s friends are having a baby shower and the gifts we ordered online from Nomi in LA arrived early this morning.  I was really looking forward to seeing all the cute stuff but they wrapped all of it.  It’s pretty festive.  I wish I could see what’s inside though.

I was going to try class with Martin at Aloha Yoga Kula this morning but I woke up at 9:30 and decided to play Monopoly on my iPhone instead.  I think my body could benefit from the rest.  I’ll either go this afternoon or back to Koa tomorrow.

This is a letter:

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…that confirms my participation in a conference in which I’ll present my writing as part of a Filipino Diaspora panel.  I can’t get myself to even read it.  It’s not until April but I haven’t been moved to write anything new at all.  It makes me anxious.  At some point I have to be serious;  stop being afraid of video ghost; settle myself and start writing.  Or at least start thinking about it.

The Skirt that was a Teddybear

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When I was in highschool I used to call very good days ‘love’ days in my journal.  As in, ‘Today was a love day’.  Today was not that for me but in the same spirit I would call today a Sun Day.  K’s job isn’t a normal 9-5 job.  Sometimes he has to leave very early in the morning.  Sometimes not until mid-afternoon.  In a way it’s nice because everyday can be different somehow.  But the suburban in me longs for routines and schedules you can count on.  This morning felt like a day that could be someone’s routine.  K was driving into town and the timing worked out that he could drop me off at yoga class.  We were even able to do some early morning grocery shopping before heading downtown. It was a very lite FM kind of morning.

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I loved it.

After two weeks of dedicated attendance ( 11 of 14 days) Sarah and I came to the the end of our new student discount at Open Space Yoga.  The sadness is that we’ve been able to go to an unlimited amount of classes for only $30.  We saved over $100.  We’ll definitely go back for classes with Murti and to try the Yin Yoga class which we didn’t get to do.  But next week we’re moving on to a new place.  More than likely Manoa Yoga Center.

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Sarah and I were going to try lunch at Mix afterwards because neither of us had been.  It was really crowded and I suggested we go back to Nuuanu and eat at Indigo.  We’d passed it on the way and Sarah said it was a buffet style lunch that was rather good.  And it smelled good!  So we splurged and had a little bit of a fancier lunch.

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Yum!

It was a very decadent day.

Sometimes talking to Sarah is like a Master Class on Hawaii for me.  She drove me back home to Kailua and on the way she was telling me about Mu’u mu’u Heaven–a little shop in Kailua that carries dresses and apparel made out of vintage mu’u mu’u’s.  The store is tucked in behind Foodland.  Its’ so awesome that I’ve passed the turn countless times and never knew it was there.

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So many lovely things– dresses, skirts, tops, jewelry, bags…  When Obama was last here he donated his Toot’s mu’u mu’us to the store and the designer made a bow tie and cummerbund for him out of the material.   I pulled a post-Holly Hobbie/ Laura Ingalls type skirt off the rack and told Sarah that I loved it so much that I could feel it in my stomach but that I would never wear it.  Rather I’d sleep with it every night like a teddy bear forever.

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Shortly after Sarah dropped me off I got a call on my cell from an unfamiliar Long Island telephone number.  I tentatively answered assuming that it was a wrong number.  Turned out to be a friend of someone that K and I both know back in NY.   We got a message that  this woman was going to be in town and didn’t know anyone aside from the friend she was staying with and that friend was going to be working much of the time she was here.  I very off-handedly sent a message saying she could call me and I’d meet her if I could.

I answered and she said she was at the beach (which is right across the street) did I have time to come out.  My instinct was to say I couldn’t because I was tired and had alot of writing I wanted to do.  But I told her to come over and after I had some time to change we could go to the beach and swim.

It was unexpectedly a very relaxing  and pleasant afternoon.  Sunah was very nice.  We ended up spending a long time bobbing in the water and talking about all types of things.  I’m really glad that I behaved counter intuitively and met up with her. Maybe there’s hope for my Aloha spirit afterall!

These are the cookies she left behind:

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