Monthly Archives: December 2016

Fukuoka was right: weeds and plants coexist nicely

One nice thing about the holidays is the time off from work has allowed me to spend more time in my garden. But as my mother-in-law likes to point out, I don’t do much in my garden except stare at my plants. Guilty as charged! I find the evolving life mesmerizing.


You can see from this wide shot how lush my garden has become. The steady rains of Hawai’i in December means all the time I would have spent watering can just be spent in observation. I have added a few large round flat bricks to give me better access to the garden.


This snap pea plant (above) is using both my trellis and a long grass blade to prop itself up. These can grow up to 6 feet tall (2 meters).


In my determination, I have replanted new beets which are coming up out of their seed balls. The lesson I learned is not to move the straw around too much as there is tons of new life hiding inside. That decimated my original crop of beets.


A tiny tomato plant (with the jagged leaves above) has peeked through the ground cover. The “weeds” that my neighbor identified in a previous post in combination with White Clover have proven to be fertile “green manure” for a host of other plants. This proves Fukuoka’s theory that plants can live in harmony in conduction with other plants which many consider “weeds.”


Underneath this tall grass (above) is a patch of Romaine Lettuce. The grass has protected the lettuce from the onslaught of slug invasions that have also claimed many of my plants. I am finding the more lush the “weeds” and grasses grow, the fewer plants succumb to the slug and snail attacks.


This bitter melon plant (above) is thriving with its roots in the straw, weeds, and clover underneath.


You can see this nice row of daikon growing (above). At least I think it is daikon. The constant challenge in Fukuoka gardening is identifying seedlings and young plants as they randomly pop up. Before I thought it was annoying, but now it is fun as it forces me to constantly learn about new plants.


On the other side of the yard, my wife has a “traditional” garden. As you can see her plants are doing very well. She has had to replant and resoil a few times to keep her garden in good shape. Every night we go on “slug hunts” with our flashlights to keep pests out of both our gardens. It is actually nice bonding time for my wife and I ūüôā


A nice Christmas day sequence by Iyengar teacher Hong Gwi-Seok (Peggy)

I want to wish all of you a merry Christmas.

Here is a wonderful sequence by Junior Intermediate III level instructor Peggy Gwi-Seok (aka “Badass Yoga Nun”). She has a very nice message and works to spread Iyengar yoga to the Detroit area.

As Blogspot and WordPress don’t play well together, I simply¬†added the link.


Many blessings everyone!

Helping my friend Evelia in her fight against breast cancer.

I found out on Facebook that a dear friend and fellow Iyengar instructor has developed stage 4 breast cancer. The Iyengar Yoga Silent Dance Center FB page announced Friday that Evelia Pineda-Torres has the illness and will be undergoing specialized therapy and has a crowd funding site to help her with her fight.


I practiced my early days of yoga with Evelia in the park with our teacher Das. She has evolved in her practice to become a Junior Intermediate I Iyengar instructor. The one thing I always remember about Evelia is that she has a supremely intensive practice, yet is kind and always willing to help her students. She has helped me get yoga teaching jobs over the years and has guided the way for me in many aspects of my journey to become a certified instructor.

Evelia is a fierce warrior. One time her house burned down and she lost everything. While she was going through that she still taught classes without batting an eyelash. Even as she found out about her diagnosis in March 2015, she kept silent until now and her students were shocked as she has not shown any sign of weakness.

For those in the Iyengar community who know Evelia, please wish her support. Again, I will provide the link to her crowd funding site. Many blessings Evelia, and you will conquer this as you have all the other trials I have seen you overcome.


It’s been quite a year…

As I was walking around the block after tonight’s dinner, I had a chance to reflect back on this year of intense change. Despite having some major personal losses, this year has also had a few bright spots for me.


One major highlight was finally meeting H.S. Arun. In the above picture, before a class in his Kailua workshop he asked me “how much do you weigh?” “200 pounds” I replied back. He then had me sit on him as a weight for his Upavishta Konasana. He asked me to take my hands to Urdvha Hastasana to centralize the weight. We really bonded well during the workshop. Thank you Robin Mishell for the photo.


My classes are growing. I used to have an average of about 6 people per class. This year it has grown to about nine. The really nice thing about these numbers are that many of my students have been practicing with me for more than 5 years, and a small handful for more than a decade.


I’m still in teacher training. Despite all that has happened this year, I am still working toward my Junior Intermediate I certification. Above is one of my mentoring teachers Ray Madigan with Laurie Freed (in Kurmasana) who passed her Junior Intermediate II this year. Along with Shelley Choy, Ray has been leading trainings a few days a month. I am blessed to have these small sessions with my teachers.


My garden. I can’t express how much pleasure I derive from gardening. Watching life grown and change daily before your eyes awakens me to the miracle of this existence. Above is a tiny lettuce sprout springing out of the straw. I may even start another blog just focusing on my garden and the techniques of the Fukuoka style.


My loving, talented wife. She has propped me up during my down times, and I have propped her up during her down times. We make a great team and I love her very much. Also helping to keep joy in our lives is my hanai niece Sasha who often joins us for our misadventures like eating robot served sushi.


Lastly, my blog. If people keep viewing at the current rate, I should make 100,000 views this year. To me that is far higher than I have ever dreamed for this little blog of practicing Iyengar yoga at home. Thank you all for your readership, and I hope to have some great posts in 2017…


The twists and turns of Fukuoka gardening

I have to admit that I have good garden days and bad garden days. Some days I feel that my garden is doing great, an other days when I feel like I’d be better off just buying produce at the farmer’s market and be done with it all. In yogic terms, it is much like citta vritti, or endless mind chatter. If you’ve been following my blog, I have had a lot of bad news lately and today I took a “mental health” day off from work and spent a good part of it tending to my garden.


The “weeds” I talked about in the last post were starting to overpower, so I covered them with straw and coffee grounds (above) to suppress them. I’m not trying to eradicate them, just restore the natural balance to my garden. It seems to be effective.


A patch of snap peas (above) are growing strongly in one area. I sowed these seeds directly under the straw as opposed to putting them in seed balls. They are doing remarkably well.


This Japanese cucumber (above) is growing right out a seed ball along with what looks like romaine lettuce seedlings. Often times there are multiple types of seeds in a ball and they spread out like this. You can also see the rich mixture of clover seedlings, weeds, and grasses in the background.


This mint is the only transplant in my garden. It was droopy for the first few days, but is now full with new leaves growing. You can see how it it towers over the tiny clover seedlings about a half a foot below. Nature has the most aesthetically pleasing¬†patterns, doesn’t she?


I think this is the last remaining beet seedling in my garden as the others have perished. I put a marker to I don’t trample on it as I suspect I have with countless other seedlings.


My kabocha pumpkin patch is thriving in the corner of my garden. Once these start to bolt they will take up plenty of real estate.  You can see from this angle how many textures there are in this garden. It is like you would see these growing in the wild along with grasses, weeds, and other plants. The soil is moist and rich under the straw.


Another patch of tiny Romaine lettuce seedlings growing right next to a patch of grass. In this style of gardening there is no weeding, just allowing nature to take turns growing what it wants to grow in the soil. I hope you found this post as therapeutic as I have.

An early birthday recognition for Geeta Iyengar

Geeta Iyengar turns 72 in a few days. I would like to take a moment to recognize some of her many contributions to yoga.


Being trained intensely by her father, BKS Iyengar, Geeta has helped in the development of a systematized curriculum for certified teachers. This has allowed for high standards to be maintained while utilizing an apprenticeship model mirrors how yoga has been traditionally taught for centuries.

Her book Yoga: A Gem For Women¬†in an excellent companion to her father’s seminal work Light On Yoga. In reading this book for my certification and training, I have found it beautiful weaves philosophy with asana practice. She has also developed wonderful teaching materials in the Yoga in Action series which recently added an intermediate course.


She has graciously taught many Western Iyengar instructors (including my own teachers) which has helped build the Iyengar method of yoga worldwide. She is still active in the certification process and has been signing diplomas of newly certified teachers since her father’s passing in 2014.


She has developed many methods on treating issues specific to women’s needs through asana. She has also written many books aside from “Gem” about sensible practice for women at every stage of life.¬†She now leads the¬†medical classes at RIMYI in where people with specific medical conditions are given prop intensive asana treatments and sequences to help them manage their illness and conditions. She also trains teachers on the therapeutic Iyengar methods during these classes.

geeta teaching

In the past few years, her birthday celebration has been concurrent with the Yoganusasanam event in Pune where she and her niece Abhijata teach hundreds in a large badminton stadium.

geeta stadium

What is dear to my heart about Geeta is how she did much of the above while being a caregiver for her father during when he was ill. As a caregiver and yoga teacher, her example is an inspiration of what can be done as an ardent yoga practitioner. Happy birthday Geeta!