Anthony Bourdain – RIP

Just read this:

Chef Anthony Bourdain favorite destination is Japan. He has toured 80 countries over the course of 15 years, delving into their histories and eating as much of their food as possible.

“Japan is endlessly, endlessly interesting to me,” Anthony Bourdain said. And even after going on nine filming trips there, “I don’t think I’ve even scratched the surface and I don’t think I ever will.” He’s especially in love with Tokyo and the Sushi culture.

“If I had to eat only in one city for the rest of my life, Tokyo would be it,” Anthony Bourdain wrote for CNN in 2013 on his Parts Unknown blog. “Most chefs I know would agree with me. For those with restless, curious minds, fascinated by layer upon layer of things, flavors, tastes and customs which we will never fully be able to understand, Tokyo is deliciously unknowable.”

“It’s that densely packed, impenetrable layer cake of the strange, wonderful and awful that thrills,” he added. “It’s mesmerizing. Intimidating. Disorienting. Upsetting. Poignant. And yes, beautiful.”

*** I was in Tsukiji a lot last 2 weeks and I would have to agree.  There’s so much joy to all things food related there not in a glutenous way as you see very few overweight people – Thank you – Arigato – Anthony Bourdain. You are so missed !

Making up a module – Yoga for Youth – Return from Japan

A long pause here – returned from Japan Friday and immediately next day, Saturday, I was attending Niroga’s advance yoga studies.  Yes, I am still on that 800 hours Yoga Therapy Certification training journey and what a journey it’s been – winding and … by choice, loooong.  My Yoga Therapist cohort size was 20-something but it’s a bit of a surprise that now the cohort size has grown to over 40 … I really hope Niroga will resume the yoga training after the current focus on bringing Dynamic Mindfulness (the practice) and Transformative Life Skills (“TLS”) curriculum to schools across America.

This module I was making up this weekend was “Yoga for Youth”. I had missed a couple of modules Year 2 of the program, as my mother collapsed, suffering a stroke last year.  I had to fly back to Japan to see her in ICU to witness her recover enough to finally leaving the hospital and then to see her through a rehabilitation sessions with several PTs.  I have a great deal of respect to physical therapists and occupational therapists to say the least as she regained most of her motor functions.  Now she has 3 PT sessions a week and nearly back to the new normal.  Thanks to early detection, attention and care, while some damage to her brain will never be restored, doctors have shared the amazing nature of human brain.  Brain can rewire to compensate for the lost dead brain cells and function – with appropriate training, given the sufficient time to heal. Yes, it’s just as we learned in Niroga’s yoga therapy module – Power of Neuroplasticity !  Never give up you guys !

What I love about Japanese culture is their respect for the elderly and with that, how their healthcare system do not give up on the seniors –  they will keep plugging away until you see improvement.  My mother had a remarkable recovery and improvement in her mobility – and thus, I am grateful to their healthcare system that spurred her progress and healing possible.

During all this family emergency, I missed two and a half modules:  (1) ironically – Yoga for Aging; (2) Yoga for Youth (this one); (3) Yoga for Addiction. Luckily, here I am.  I am back.  I get to show up  – thank goodness.

So truth be told – I had little interest in teaching yoga to youth, but this program has made me re-think to reconsider that possibility.  I am just open but what one of the presenters said was memorable:  If teaching this special population depletes you, then it’s not for you.

On first day, we had two guest speakers – a 16 year old teenager girl in regular public high school and a 18 year old teenager girl in youth detention center – calling in – to hold a Q & A on their experience with yoga.  While it was not a surprise to hear from the mouth of a 16 year old how much she hated yoga and tried to avoid having to be in class by even considering not coming to school to get out of it, she admits now in hindsight that yoga had helped her and now she loves yoga.  So the question was – when did such a breakthrough happen?  Her answer:  when I actually followed through on all instructions instead of doing them halfheartedly.  Instead of not really participating, kinda going through the motions but not really doing them to really doing them.  So once she actually tried going all out, doing all 100%, then afterwards she felt really good.  It felt GOOD.  Anyone who has tried any yoga class, we’ve all felt this.  It’s no miracle.

Question:  What was your image or your understanding of Yoga before you started it?  And what did the word Yoga mean to you before ?

Answer:  I thought yoga was something adults did to deal with stress. I was not interested. But …( ! )

I always wanted to be Buddhist ( ! ? ) so I realized that you can’t just meditate and become Buddhist – there are steps and yoga helps. ( ! )


*** what?  wanted to be Buddhist?  Why???? ***********

that is the question I should have asked – why would a 16 year old young lady with presumably mainstream American life make such a startling (to me) statement?

Especially, having just returned from Shinto/Buddhist country, I was very curious with this 16 year old’s statement.  As the weekend intensive wore on, answers to that nagging question (I should have asked her then and there), I think became more and more apparent.

“Yoga Asana @ The Knee Joint” workshop

with Jaki Nett, an excellent teacher at IYISF.  It was the first time ever for me to be at this studio/Institute and a bit surprised that  – it’s so close to Nihonmachi, I had no idea – it’s been in the Japantown neighborhood all these years.  I was just interested in the topic of this workshop which took me there. I did not know anything about the teacher but the topic is what I was drawn to – figured, if it’s at IYISF, I can’t go wrong. But nice discoveries are made… when you seek out what interests you:  (1) a superb teacher; (2) well equipped studio -wall ropes, ceiling ropes, chairs, all props are abundant; (3) positive but calming vibe; (4) nearby, a nice Thai restaurant for dinner:) (5) walking distance to Japantown where there is my favorite bookstore, Kinokuniya.

I loved this style – or should I say that it’s not really a “style” of yoga as late BKS Iyengar probably did not start teaching as a “brand”.. It’s beyond branding – it’s this masterful and innovative teacher’s archive of lifework. I had so loved the teachings by Judith H. Lasator (lyrical, philosophical,   and so much attention to details) and Richard Rosen (brainy and quirky funny) so it would be natural that I would be gravitated back to their school of yoga, even though initially Iyengar classes tended for me to be way too stiff, serious, dogmatic and militant … almost patronizing – not at your eye-level,  in tone BUT NOT this teacher.  She’s warm, welcoming, and knowledgeable and skillful in imparting her knowledge.  That comes from her self-knowing and confidence founded on real life long experiences living yoga.  I was most impressed with the fact that she videotapes her own lecture she said, because she reviews them and uses them to improve – there’s that humility too while being self-assured – THAT, is so inspiring that she never stops trying to better herself in the art of teaching.

It’s kind of like asana “clinic” when you go to these workshops.  It’s not the “fun” flow class with the curated “playlist” – no, not at all – nor is it the Zen mindfulness practice for stress management, reboot and balance … there’s no bounce, vibrancy and a pop of a spark – rather, in this school, yoga is a serious discipline and quite methodical and much about alignment and bodywork – thus – highly recommended for those who like to take the time to get into a pose and then hold the poses to perfect them. Then… repeat. To develop as their literature says “strength, stamina, concentration, coordination, flexibility and more”.

Jaki Nett made the class joyful while keeping it challenging and very informative. There’s no fancy powerpoint or handouts but we were invited to take photos of the picture presentation she posted on the front – yes, all about that joint – KNEE ! which she carefully went over.   The anatomy and the movements of the knee as it relates to our yoga practice were thoroughly discussed and issues addressed.

Learned so much that reinforced the yoga therapy TT  module where Baxter Bell, MD went over yoga for sports medicine working with PT’s . It was just fine without any curated playlist as it’s more a “school” than a practice space.  Music and the frills are not needed when the void is filled with your own focus and detailed anatomical and alignment reminders given by a senior/veteran, highly experienced teacher.  This was a 3 hour workshop but I am so curious about her regular classes – does she impart knowledge in regular “practice” classes as well or is it just to practice in a group setting … If her class resembles her workshop, then, that class is a class I’d want to come back for more !

The following asanas were experimented with attention to the workings of the knees and how to protect them in each of these poses and how they relate to the concept of “open & close chain” – the concept that all joints are connected to illicit healthy alignment and how one is to approach the asana to avoid torching a joint  or tearing a ligament, ending up with injuries.  When your knees are so weakened that they cannot go into full flexion, there’s no need to berate your own body temple – TLC then yoga to enhance body intelligence and practice with injury prevention always in mind :

  • Vajrasana
  • Virasana
  • Svastikasana
  • Padasana
  • Tadasana
  • Dadasana
  • Vibrabhdrasana
  • Janu Sirsasana
  • Agnistambhasana