Tsukiji, Tokyo

Anthony Bourdain would approve – Vegetarian ? no.  Pescatarian ? Yes. Vegan? No, sorry – I love sushi too much – I now never eat them in the US – it’s just not good unless it’s prohibitively expensive so I pass  – sorry, but here – OMG, it’s excellent & reasonable – after all, it’s our soul food.  Yet, I do vegan cleansing on seasonal basis – at transition from one season to next, I will go on 10- 30 days (have gone one full year once and that did not work well for me), completely vegetarian – then vegan (progression) diet – then progressively return to primarily Pescatarian diet.  Change of seasons is an important tuneup time for our system.

Actually above sampler from Haneda Airport – but ingredients from Tsukiji. Not bad. 3 out of 5 stars?

Here’s Tsukiji market alley … a wider alley than some even narrower:) Stalls mostly for tourists as professional chefs are all done; auctions take place 3am or earlier.

Special Medicinal Herb soba noodles – hand made during this “Yomogi” herb season only. Another Japanese soul food to be sure – soba. This is 5 out of 5 – al dente perfection –  love.

Dessert of Matcha ice cream, roll cake and fruits from Sakura, International House, Tokyo. Every plate was a piece of art work. 

Thought about Anthony B. at a bookstore stall in Tsukiji known for all Foods, Restaurants & Cooking related books.  Chef’s paradise to be sure. A lot of tourists milling about in this world famous fish market. Maybe 11am-ish and that’s after-hours here when peak business takes place 3 am.

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.

“The Art of Stillness”

This book was one of the recommended books at the Invitational by Judith H. Lasater, PhD/Yoga Teacher/PT and this quote from the last page resonates with me this week. Don’t get me wrong, we need to exercise, move, dance all those but somewhere during the day and night … take a moment (75-90 minutes yoga class would be ideal:).

“In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow.  In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.

And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.

You can go on vacation to Paris or Hawaii or New Orleans three months from now ( I wish !), and you’ll have a tremendous time, I’m sure.

But if you wan to come back feeling new – alive and full of fresh hope and in love with the world – I think the place to visit may be NOWHERE.”

– Pico Iyer

I wish I wrote the above because it’s my sentiment exactly & Pico Iyer says it so well. Sitting still is not meant literal of course (while Zen at a monastery is certainly a training) but he means that we can all weave in a moment of reflection, repose, a conscious time-out – that moment of PAUSE even during the movements. Our self-worth is not measured by how busy we are.  Rather, by paying attention, our mind clears up and our body is more in tune with our inner wisdom  – all of which yoga teaches us so well.

And this is the sentiment because I am breathless running around in flurry of self imposed activities trying to pack to get off to Asia this week.  Yes, I am going Somewhere … bearing gifts, with baggage and all.  Things to do list piling up and anxieties over not getting them done mounting every minute. Still I am proud of myself that I retained my yoga practice and even slipped into Knee Workshop and … most memorable yoga class on a Memorial holiday (Yoga Therapeutics by Harry’s LAST CLASS – tears and laughter as he bids goodbye to start his new chapter …) so now going into a tailspin as the week restarts but somehow amidst the juggling, there’s that PAUSE where the debris settle to the bottom of the swirling well and only the distilled essence can be bottled. How to pause?

Stop.  What’s the worst that can happen?  What is most essential to this life I live? There are those who depend on you, yes, but … what do they treasure in you?

***

Deep Breath.

Invite the stillness; the tranquility to approach all those things on the list with

serenity and grace.  Is that even possible.

To make the impossible possible is my intention this full moon week

by living my yoga – We can even “stretch” time … Namaste.