Happy New Year!

Om Gam Ganapataye Namah

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shantihi

Om bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥtatsaviturvareṇyaṃbhargo devasyadhīmahidhiyo yo naḥ prachodayāt

May 2019 be a year that brings wisdom, peacefulness, and light to the darkness of our ignorance for all of us.

I look forward this prosperous new year.

Many blessings!

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One hell of a year

As 2018 is quickly drying up, I have a minute to sit and look back at this dense 365 day cycle that has been a doozy. Very early in the year we had a false missile alert scare, for a good part of this year I was not sure my place of employment would have its contract renewed, we had a hurricane threat to the point where I had to board up my house, Geeta passed away just two days after her father’s centennial celebrations, and last Sunday my wife had to have an unexpected surgery. Nothing is scarier and lonelier than waiting for a loved one who is under anesthesia. Happily, the procedure went well and she is recovering nicely.

In all of that, I still managed to pass the teaching portion of my Junior I assessment and finally have a nice vacation with my wife. Since her father died, we have not been able to travel because of caregiving duties. Another bright light is my nephew who was born last December. And recently we added a new member to our family, a Golden Retriever puppy named Kinako.

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I have not posted much yoga-related content this year mostly because I wanted to focus all my energy on passing the assessment and secondly because of all the world’s chaos. Now that I am Junior I, I can give some more asana tutorials from asana-s in that syllabus in 2019.

I appreciate all who follow my garden posts too. Watching the teems of life cycles of each of my plants has helped me heal and stay grounded through all of this.

May you all have a blessed holiday season and auspicious new year.

Om shanti

 

Geetaji 1944-2018

Very sad news from Pune. Geeta has passed two days after her father’s centennial celebrations. The world of yoga will mourn the loss of this legendary practitioner and teacher. My heart goes out to the Iyengar family, and all of my teachers who directly learned from her.

Geeta has written several books on yoga including Yoga: A Gem For Women, and has been instrumental in the teaching curriculum for Iyengar teacher assessments. This is a significant loss for all of us.

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100 years of Iyengar

Today marks the 100th birthday of BKS Iyengar. I wanted to write a short thoughtful post commemorating his date of birth. Although I have never met him face-to-face, I feel that through his teachings and readings and constant study of his method he is like an old friend who is always there when I need him.

As I have said in previous posts, I feel very fortunate to have his signature on my diploma I received in 2013. That was the last year that he was able to sign any the diplomas, as he passed away in August the following year.

Because of his intense effort, yoga has flourished throughout the world. You cannot go to any major city in the world without finding somebody who teaches yoga in the Iyengar method. He has also pioneered a very clear set of teaching skills that when followed with hard work allows people to teach faithfully in his method. Luckily for all of us, his family has continued his tradition of teaching, ensuring that many future generations will reap the benefits of his hard labor. Thank you Mr. Iyengar for all that you have given us.

I’m just winging it in the garden. And still getting results!

Happy belated Thanksgiving! I’m getting out of my writer’s block by posting a garden update. It has been a strange year as most of the seeds that I have planted before with success have not spouted. There has also been some unexpected successes where I have fallen flat before.

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Annuals like my Hawaiian Super Pepper plant are doing well. It is become more like a pepper tree. Just two of these is enough to heat up a whole dish and I use them with care. I give them away to coworkers as there are way more than I can eat.

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And I am getting yields from cucumber plants. Still not fully grown ones, but this cucumber was tasty. I’m calling it a win.

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I have a higher yield of beans this year. Just harvested my first batch and they are nicely sized.

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I planted a few packs of arugula seeds and only a few popped up in places where in previous years there were so many that they were borderline invasive. I think there is an intense hot spot in my garden where seedlings get burned from heat stress. As an experiment, I put a small potted Travelers Palm tree to shade the area where I am trying to grow the arugula. I got the idea when I put a leafy heliconia plant near a Ti plant I was trying to grow and the shade helped it grow heartier.

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Another experiment is trying to grow seedlings, then transplanting. And after I felt that I am just planting seeds to feed my beetles in the soil, I am trying a new method of starting seedlings in this egg tray and repurposing a rusty old grill into a raised bed contraption using the old grills to weigh down the egg tray during strong winds. If there is a stormy night with gusts, I can simply close the lid until morning.

What I like about gardening is that it turns you into some sort of scientist that experiments with different methods and techniques. Every garden is different and needs to be adapted by trial and error. Most of my experiments fail, but I learn a lot from each failure and adapt.

I want to share a few resources that have helped me learn more about plants and gardening:

Here is a lecture on the eight rules of botany. This may be dry if you have no gardening experience, but after a year of gardening this information will supercharge your knowledge–particularly if you are growing fruit trees.

Growing your greens is a youtube channel from John Kohler, who started as a novice gardener to overcome health problems. His channel is a fantastic resource with techniques and interviews with master gardeners.

And of course, here is the pdf of One Straw Revolution from Masanobu Fukuoka, whose theory of “do nothing farming” is the one I am applying to my garden.

 

You don’t need an act of congress to heal the Earth

There are scary headlines these days of how our Earth’s climate is rapidly changing due to CO2 emissions caused by the burring of fossil fuel. Go to any Facebook page and you will get shouted down if you express any opinion about whether climate change is real or not. In the past two years in Hawai’i, I have had enough hurricane close calls to allay any doubt. Climate change is here and now.

It is frustrating to watch the news and see inaction from political leaders. The good news is that we don’t need to wait for them to debate on whether to take action or not. We can take action ourselves. Probably the most radical thing you can do is plant your own food. That doesn’t mean you have to live off what you plant, as that would take a lot of real estate. Start small. The smaller the better. Start a small planter in your window sill or patio. The aim isn’t necessarily to grow sustenance for your family. It is for you to slow down and watch how nature works.

We have become so far removed from nature that we are not even sure how plants grow anymore. By starting to grow your own food, you see the process. You even make errors and learn from those errors. Every year you gain confidence to grow more. After a few years, you are growing enough to feed yourself and family from garden to table several nights per week. You don’t have to garden the way I do, explore what methods work for you. If you can’t figure it out, just take a pack of seeds and plant them on a place on your lawn. Nature will guide you on what to do next.

By watching how nature works, you tend to develop respect for her. That leads to a lot of other choices: use less fuel, turn off lights when not in use, limit plastic use, and vote for candidates who want a sustainable world for their grandkids.

Its not too late. But we do have to act and the sooner the better. I would like to keep things nice for the next generation.

 

Sensitive to the changes of season

Yoga practice and gardening have much in common. The one thing that stands out is that one becomes very sensitive to nature and its forces. This is the time of year in Hawai’i when it is brutally hot and humid. The air is so thick, that senior teacher Joan White was giving a workshop this time of year and said the air actually had “weight” to it. However, there is usually one day in the month of October where the weather changes radically from hot and humid to constant rain. Just before that is the optimal time to plant seeds in the garden. You have to time it just right. Every night I am aware of any temperature drop and feel of rainfall. Once it starts, it doesn’t usually let up for a month or so.

To prep for this auspicious time I prep my garden area which has been overgrown with grass with a hand sickle. I cut back the grass and let it decay for a while which makes a mulch bed for the yet-to-be-sown seeds.

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Coming back from my trip a month ago has left me swamped with catch up paperwork at my regular job. Not to mention caregiving duties and surprise visitors. With the stress, the time change, and the weather, my immune system has lowered and I caught bronchitis. Lo and behold, at the peak of my cold, the time came to sow seeds.

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Not to be deterred, I plotted along and scattered all the seeds I’ve been storing for this occasion. Here are a few. I am trying a few “red” varieties this year like burgundy okra (seen above) red malabar spinach and red Kyoto carrots.

With all the seeds finally planted, I went back into my sick mode and saw a doctor. Turns out I have bronchitis. I have found a good remedy is Korean tofu stew. I usually can’t stand in due its intense hot temperature and spiciness, but its all I have been craving.

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As far as classes, I manage to teach as best I can in my state. It is very difficult to teach when you are not feeling well. However, I do feel that somehow teaching has gotten “easier” since I’ve been back. A lot of my students who have been a way for a while have been returning. There are a lot of injuries and issues, so I have to divide my students into groups. I never had to do that much before now.

We are on the second night of Navratri, and I can feel the grace of Brahmacharini, one of the nine manifestations of Durga celebrated during this time. She was said to be resolute and did tapas for 5,000 years until she met her goal. I always enjoy celebrating and trying to keep up with the time difference between here and India to “catch” the right goddess on the correct night.

This is an auspicious time. A time of sowing, a time of celebration, a time of season change, and a time of recovering after a long journey.

Many blessings.