Tuesday, June 30, 2009

H1N1: The bugs and the truth of it all.

Okay, I know that H1N1 is on the rise in Brunei, thing is, is it deadly? I googled it and these were the results I got.

Official: A/H1N1 flu not more deadly than regular seasonal influenza

LOS ANGELES, May 1- Los Angeles County's chief health officer said on Friday that A/H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu, does not appear to be any more deadly than regular seasonal influenza.

"The current situation is certainly one of concern, but not alarm," said Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Jonathan Fielding.

"At this point, what we have looks very similar in severity to seasonal influenza," Fielding said.

He called the A/H1N1 flu "basically a mild and moderate disease, predominately."

"I don't think that this strain, based on the limited knowledge we have to date, is more concerning than other strains, and I'm particularly happy to see a pattern of illness which is not worse than the seasonal influenza," he said.

Fielding said the potential for the disease to become a "pandemic" should not overly frighten residents, pointing out that the term describes the range of the disease rather than its severity.

But Fielding warned that the potential does exist for the virus to mutate, possibly into something more deadly.

"Flu viruses can mutate," he said. "Whether that'll make it worse or better we don't know whether it'll change to a significant degree, we don't know. That's why we're monitoring the situation carefully, as is the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and the World Health Organization."

The timing of the outbreak is somewhat fortuitous for the United States, he said, pointing out that as the weather gets hotter the spread of flu tends to slacken.

Will wearing a face mask protect you from the flu?

The Public Health Agency of Canada asked a panel of medical experts for guidance on how flu is transmitted and how best to protect against infection.

People don't The report was produced by the Council of Canadian Academies, chaired by Dr. Donald Low, microbiologist in chief at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto.

One of the questions the panel considered was whether face masks would offer protection in the event of a pandemic.

The verdict: yes, to an extent.

need mask unless they are continuoulsy within a meter of someone coughing and sneezing who has H1N1(swine), or has symptons and are unsure if they have this virus, this would be an emerg nurse or health care worker, in this instance a regular surgical mask would be fine for a brief conversation, turning away when they cough

A surgical mask offers little or no protection to the health care worker -or anyone else in the area of a person sneezing/coughing as they do not form a tight seal and are limited in their ability to keep aerosolized (the portion of the sneeze/cough that others can inhale and potentially lead to illness) fractions contained at the source.

Respirators such as the N95 are designed and certified (NIOSH) to filter out fractions that can enter the human airway - such as the influenza virus.

At this time, there is no need to wear either when in public. However it is prudent for persons to wear N95 (or better ie: P100) respirator when closer to suspect cases

Why was or is it deadlier in Mexico?

It's also possible that A/H1N1 began life in Mexico especially virulent — that country has apparently been grappling with the virus for weeks longer than the U.S. has — and evolved to become less dangerous by the time it crossed the border. That would not be an unusual evolutionary device, since viruses that are too deadly cannot survive if they kill off their host before being given a chance to spread. "It's fairly common in epidemics to see a trade-off between the ability to cause severe death and transmissibility," says Steven Kleiboeker, a virologist and the chief scientific officer for ViraCor Laboratories. The A/H1N1 virus may be attenuating itself as it spreads from person to person, becoming easier to catch but less dangerous. (Read "CDC Readies Swine-Flu Vaccine.")

The WHO, however, says that so far the virus appears to have stayed relatively stable during the chains of transmission, so it may not be mutating much. Still, the virus's current relatively weak state does not guarantee that it won't return later, much more virulent — which is exactly what happened in the 1918 flu pandemic that killed at least 50 million people worldwide. As the flu season comes to an end in the northern hemisphere, it may lead to a natural petering out of new swine-flu cases in the U.S. But the strain may continue to circulate aggressively in the southern hemisphere, which is just now entering its flu season, and then return to the north next winter.

Any conclusions now will be premature, because we still don't know what we're looking at. Experts predict we'll eventually begin to see fewer new cases in Mexico, as lab results separate real swine-flu infections from normal respiratory disease. Meanwhile, the anticipation of more cases and deaths in the U.S. has already been begun to be borne out. As the CDC's Besser himself has pointed out, swine flu is going to be a marathon, not a sprint — and we've only just gotten started.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

What have you done to change the world?

I have been meaning to watch this movie for quite a long time, and it's only till now, I followed through the whole film. It's such a beautiful story with an interesting concept to it. The story starts off with a young boy who's been given a project by his school teacher to put into action an idea that could change the world. So young 12 year old Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) comes up with a plan to do good deeds for three people who then by way of payment each must do good turns for three other people. These nine people also must pay it forward and so on, ad infinitum. Trevor calls his idea "pay it forward".

The story is moving and it makes you think if you could realistically put it into action. But 'pay it forward' has 3 rules to it:-

1)It has to be something that really helps people
2)Something they can't do themselves
3)I do it for them, they do it for three other people

I looked through the website for what 'others' may have done, having inspired by the movie itself....hmmmmm, maybe they weren't paying attention to the rules...some have paid (anonymously) for a stranger's meal in a restaurant...the person paying may have felt good about it but surely if 'a' person sits in a restaurant, he must have been able to fork out his own meal??

There were some good ideas like:-

1. Forgive some who might have wronged you in the past. Go out of your way to do them a favor.
2. Search out someone who may need some real financial assistance. Maybe someone had their lights turned off because they could not pay the bill . You could be the light that they need.
3. Visit an elderly person in need of assistance or a visit.
4. Give someone your car. (wow, I better make sure I pay my loan first)
5. If you provide services for living, give your services pro bono.
6. Pay someone's mortgage for a month -- or a year for that matter.
7. Help a student with their tuition.
8. Help with an inner city project.
9. Be a mentor.
10. Walk someone's dog.(Done....10 years ago)
11. Shovel someone's walkway.
12. Babysit for free.(Ching!!! You see that...start paying if forward...just kidding!)
13. Have a fund raiser at your school.
14. Clean someone's house.
15. Drive people around.
16. Rake someone's leaves.(I like the leaves on the ground....)
17. Play music for the elderly. ( my piano playing would have them snoozing off)
18. Leave a huge tip next time you go out to dinner.(done...erm, but maybe the waitor would have looked at the tip and said,"are you kidding me?")
19. Give a lottery ticket to a stranger.
20. Treat a police officer to a cup of coffee.
21. Bring some goodies to the fire station.
22. Pick up someone's tab the next time you dine out.(Done!)
23. Pay the highway toll for the person behind you.(No toll in Brunei, sorry!)
24. Invite the less fortunate for Thanksgiving dinner.
25. Donate food, clothing, and money to the needy.
26. Buy the movie tickets for the person behind you.
27. Mow someone's lawn.
28. Cook a nice meal for a friend.(Done, done , done!)
29. Help a homeless person find a home.
30. Read the book, 365 Ways To Change The World, by Michael Norton, and then give the book to a stranger.

Thing is, I do think some of the 'do list' above are things most people can do for themselves. The movie wouldn't have been so appealing if not for Trevor to point out that the help has got be something that 'really'helps people. Small gestures are still blessings but 'pay it forward' feels more like a significant 'difference' you do to or for someone. I mean, are we brave enough to 'go out of our way' to 'do' something different out of our routines to 'help' somebody?

Remember Les Miserables by Victor Hugo? It's like when the Bishop Myriel saved ex-convict Jean Valjean, later telling him to make an honest man of himself. Jean Valjean followed through with his promise. The significance of the bishop's help did turn Jean Valjean's life around. He turned good and did help more than 3 characters in the book that did 'help' and made a difference. I would imagine that's the kind of 'help' Trevor Mckinney was aiming for.

It's made me think and wonder, who do I 'pay it forward' and how many? I always feel I'm conditioned to think to look out for myself, cause we have to survive. It makes you think when everyone's out there for themselves...and Trevor says,"Is the world just s***?"

Trevor Mckinney helped and although some of the 'help' he gave was truly heartbreaking, he showed true courage and bravery.

So let's just say, I'm thinking..
when someone does you a big favor, don't pay it back... Pay It Forward

Friday, June 26, 2009

Yoga 2 dalicious with Danurasana

It's always so nice to be a student again, to take the backseat and enjoy the ride. I did just 'that' today at Danurasana's place today. Before the practice, it was a blessing to have met Nora's gorgeous baby girl Sahara, she has such lovely eyes. It makes me think of my little nephew Gabriel, sigh.....

All in all, Nora did such a great job, creating a beautiful ambience with candle tea lights all around and coloured the background with such enticing music to lure the mind and body to relax all around. With the atmosphere set, I was more than ready to embrace the practice.

Danurasana created the spirited vinyasa with an uplift of virabhadrasana's and open of the heart with trikonasana's. Nora's voice guided us through from one asana to the next with such ease, her directions easy to lead our practice into an uplifting and blissful practice. She did throw in a few teasers which was a little challenging but the relief from it was pretty soothing enough to realise later when she rested us in balasana.

It was so nice to practice with Nora again and I can't wait to return for the next one. Hmmmm, completely yoga 2 dalicious..............

The Best of MJ

Michael Jackson kept appearing on CNN, but the TV in the restaurant was muted and I couldn't see the read up from where I was sitting. It was only when I squinted my eyes a little more, only to realise it read Michael Jackson had died. I was very surprised and it took awhile for the news to sink in. I haven't listened in to his songs for awhile but he was one of the few pop singers I used to love when I was a kid. Me and my sis (back in the 80's) would be playing Billie Jean and Beat It forever in our bedrooms and just dancing crazily to the songs. Thriller used to scare me, especially when MJ grew fangs out and the zombies came out of their graves. Pretty cool but scary.

The coolest thing ever is we got to see MJ in Brunei, and his performance was outstanding. His dance moves are so unique and he seemed to be walking on air when he danced.

I know he has made bizarre moments in his life, but without second thoughts, he has done well in the performing arts and music industry.

Here's one of my favourite songs by MJ.

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

And The Dream We Were
Conceived In
Will Reveal A Joyful Face
And The World We
Once Believed In
Will Shine Again In Grace
Then Why Do We Keep
Strangling Life
Wound This Earth
Crucify Its Soul
Though It's Plain To See
This World Is Heavenly
Be God's Glow

We Could Fly So High
Let Our Spirits Never Die
In My Heart
I Feel You Are All
My Brothers
Create A World With
No Fear
Together We'll Cry
Happy Tears
See The Nations Turn
Their Swords
Into Plowshares

May his soul and spirit find peace...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Yogalicious Retreats, Workshops and Teacher Trainings

Yoga teacher training with Twee Merrigan in Vietnam from January 16th till 23rd 2009. Click here for more info.

Yoga teacher training with Caroline Klebl in Bali on July 23rd till August 19th 2009
Click here for more info.

Anusara Retreat and Teacher Training with Desiree Rumbaugh on the 18th July till the 30th. Find out more here

With Kino Macgregor and Tim Feldmann at Bali Purnati on July 19th till 31st 2009
For more info, click here

Ashtanga yoga with Eagle in September 20th to October 9th at the Yoga Barn in Bali. Find out more at http://www.balispirit.com

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Handsome boys

Max in his Tigger t-shirt..

My nephew, Gabriel and his daddy Joe.

You gotta be kidding me!

Oh!!!! They can't be serious!!! I've just watched Grey's Anatomy and am heartbroken at season's five finale. If you are a big fan of GA, and you haven't watched season's five....don't read on....

Two beloved characters in the series dies and I cannot believe George 'O' Malley and Katherine Heigl may or may not return to season six. Okay, maybe I'm the last to know about the season's plot but I don't like reading early about what happens next in any series but still!!!!! Season five finale is still a shock, even my mum who dislikes gore and blood was caught up in the final act!!!!

Deep breaths....inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale...I feel like doing the precordial thump on George and Izzie....Maybe I should ask Shonda Rhimes to send them to GJ, they're pretty good at revival...Joke...I'm feeling very compelled to write to Shonda (won't it be great if she read this?) ...could you please convince T.R Knight and Katherine Heigl to stay for the next 1 billion episodes......wishlist, wishlist, wishlist, wishlist....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Yoga Mats

Students have been asking me what type of mat they should get or buy, my answer varies. It depends if you need a mat temporarily to try a few yoga classes and would like one of your own for hygiene purposes. If it's a short term use, then there are lots of yoga mats sold in big supermarkets here in Brunei. There are higher quality mats like Adidas and Nike brands. They're priced at $ 70 BND or higher. I prefer the Adidas brand since they're a little thicker and much stickier. The Nike yoga mats are pretty thin and a little more slippery.

If you're looking to invest in a premium yoga mat, then you'll have to look for it overseas or order them online. At the yoga conference, I had a good look around, and the only one I thought were pretty good and long lasting were 'easyoga' brand. They have all sorts of mat to choose from.

Students practicing ashtanga yoga would benefit easyoga 'mandara' yoga mats. They're similar to premium yoga mats, heavy duty and non-slip. The only disadvantage is if you're traveling, it might prove too heavy to carry around. But if you are an environmental friendly conscious person and practice yoga asanas a lot, you might want to invest into the easyoga natural rubber yoga mat.

For the 'Hello Kitty' yoga fans, easyoga sells this too!! It's very pink and Hello Kitty's pictures are on the mat too.....hmmmmm, wonder if they every going to create Transformers for the guys. Or maybe He- Man .....or Captain Caveman ....or the Flintstones....

Ahem...back to seriousness....(:P) and if you're the nomad type, travelling from east to west, north to south and over the pacific to the atlantic, try the easyoga Eztravel. I have seen it. It's like a beach towel, but rubbery, light, non-slip.

I was given this email address by a easyoga representative at the yoga conference, I hope it helps you with oversea ordering....Let me know if it works! Here it is:-

Sales : Priscilla Hsieh
Email : info@greenvogue.com
Address: Shanghai Office Unit 9, No 159, Tian Zhou Rd, Shanghai, China or for Taiwan office is No 30, Shiou-Jiang St., San Chong City, Taipei, 241-49, Taiwan.

Tel No: +862154453308 (China) or +886-2-2970-5930 (Taiwan)

Website: http://www.easyoga.com

I was also told easyoga has a branch in Singapore. Not sure if they have one in KL. Good luck guys!!!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Practice from the Heart

It's amazing when you practice from the heart rather than just the physicality side of yoga. As a teacher, I have depended heavily on being,'perfect' in every pose according to textbooks and magazines, or even a copy of yoga master's asanas. In doing so, I have never felt a hundred percent comfortable in any pose (accept in Balasana or Shavasana) and never felt I was satisfied fully with my own practice. It didn't matter if I did 20 sun salutations according to textbook pictures, I felt something was still missing, inside and out.

Lately, after taking some time off, being a student again in the past week has taught me to look internally. What are my possibilities in all the asanas I have learnt, could I reinvent what I practice? Which part of me is the infinite and which part of me wants freedom? Which part of me finds happiness, physically, emotionally and spiritually?

Practicing with Twee Merrigan, Patrick Creelman, Maya Fiennes and Desiree Rumbaugh has made me realise I can reach out further than I can imagine, if I immerse myself, as if hypnotize, by willingness to reach deeper into my backbend with my breath following what the mind and heart says. Watching myself from the inside. It's like being on a journey to somewhere peaceful within myself when I practice surya namaskara without losing sight and gratitude of the awareness I should bring into each and every yogasanas. Learning to feel prana from the tip of my fingers, from the skin to every part that moves or stays.

In my previous practice, I have always been quick to take my form into the poses and trying to work my way into perfection. I have learned to instead create my pose with my heart, to expand from the center of myself in mind, body and soul. Taking the time to observe my movements has helped me move into the poses with awareness rather than consciousness. As B.K.S Iyengar's explains, self awareness is the opposite of self consiousness. When are you self aware, you are fully within yourself, not outside yourself looking in. You are aware of what you are doing without ego or pride.

I love B.K.S Iyengar's explanation of stretching in the asana......horizontal expansion and vertical extension should synchronize so that you are extending in all directions. Freedom in a posture is when every joint is active. Let us be full in whatever posture it is we are doing as we should be full in whatever we do in our lives.

Somehow, trikonasana hasn't been my favourite pose and have always felt restricted in it, releasing myself from it was my only joy. Lately I have found the liberation in trikonasana by not resisting the posture but to let the posture lead me instead, by letting certain parts of me freely accessible to the pose, I feel I could reach my hand further more than I could imagine.

'B.K.S Iyengar writes beautifully in his book, Light on Life. He describes doing asanas with the awareness of the body and the intelligence of the brain and heart should be in harmony. The brain may instruct the body to do a posture, but the heart has to feel it too. He says the head is the seat of intelligence; the heart is the seat of emotion. Both have to work in co operation with the body.'

"Sthira sukham asanam" Sthira means firm, fixed, steadfast, enduring, lasting, serene, calm and composed. Sukha means delight, comfort, alleviation and bliss. 'Asana is perfect firmness of body, steadiness of intelligence, and benevolence of spirit.'

Ahhhhh, c'est la vie ....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Prana all around.

When I was at the conference, I was asked why I went into yoga teaching. I didn't hesitate to answer, I went into it cause of my love for it. The physical, emotional and spiritual side was awesome. I feel blessed in so many ways I have been able to express myself through yoga and given such a great opportunity in this life time to do what I have always wanted to do. More so, grateful towards the yoga teachers at the conference for giving all of us a great opportunity to practice with them.

It was very much a community of teachers and students gathering to share experiences, embracing the diversity we have among ourselves in yoga and life.

In the last two days, I have taken my practice into mind, body and heart. The practice doesn't end in one class alone, it travels right out into the universe. From waking up, to sitting with a friend, honing into my inner self awareness of my surroundings and embracing life's abundance. Sometimes the spirit within me says.'play' and I do. Sometimes my mind says,'rest' and I don't resist it, I just do.

Even as I'm driving down the road, I am just glad to 'just' be. "It doesn’t take long to hold a thought of loving gratitude for the heart that beats within us." - Daily Om

My thoughts was what the mind thinks rather than what the heart says, but I have learnt to instead let the heart lead as the rest in life will follow through.

As conscious participants in the cycle of giving and receiving, we share our light with others as we become enlivened ourselves, with our heart leading the way.

So finding 'prana' within me and around me becomes easier when my self consciousness is awake. Checking into the heart center and finding the joys in life is right there within reach.

Twee Merrigan...such an inspiration!

Evolution Rocks On!

With Patrick Creelman and Sam M. from SA

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Yogalicious in Hong Kong

The first thing in my mind when the plane landed in Hong Kong airport was," Don't sneeze, don't sneeze, don't sneeze (I have sinus attacks every now and then) or cough!" The last thing I wanted to do was spend days in a quarantine room in the airport. I wasn't ill or anything but there were warning signs on swine flu everywhere at Hong Kong airport. I reckon if you accidentally sneezed at the immigration counter, they probably drag you out of the queque into quarantine immediately.

But overall, my experience in Hong Kong was enjoyable. The hotel room I stayed in overlooked the harbour and was just a minute's walk away from the convention center.

It was pretty good from the start at the yoga conference, we had goodie bags filled with snack bars( I guess it was a hint we were all going to work hard) and little lancome lotions. The yoga bazaar was the first thing you saw before the conference halls and they were filled with yoga apparels to yoga cds and books. Just a look around, it feels as if you were living in yoga journal watching people like David Swensen, Ana Forest, Desiree Rumbaugh, Patrick Creelman, Paul Dallaghan, Twee Merrigan, Ganesh Mohan, Jason Crandel, Maya Fiennes, e.t.c. Better than visiting Madame Tussauds!

I loved Twee Merrigan's playful vinyasa flow and her grace to help us live through our own body and mind experience. Desiree Rumbaugh's good sense of humor and amazing backbends. Maya Fiennes endless energy working through the chakras was out of this world. Patrick Creelman's challenging poses with his groovy and upbeat soundtracks. Yup yup yup....I was yoga saturated big time!! All in all, I reckon I did 100
urdhva danurasana and 500 adho muka svanasana in 4 days...I kid you not!

I met amazing friends from Hong Kong, South Africa, Beijing, UK, Singapore and US.....

Gotta tell you this! Love Twee Merrigan. I had so much fun doing her yoga sessions. We did a class on 840 000 yoga possibilities and she had this wild idea, took us to the yoga aid challenge with MC YOGI and DJ Robin Livingston. We ran and followed Twee from our hall right across the bazaar and straight through to MC YOGI. We danced crazy for 20 minutes and ran straight back with Twee to our own hall again. Talk about having a good warm up session!! IT WAS WILD!!! Brain stormed thru' the poses and Twee's creative imagination took us beyond our set ideas and believes.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to attend such a fantastic event. I will never forget this wonderful experience and hope to see more again in the near future..................

Friday, June 5, 2009

Beam me up, Scotty!!!

Feels like a billion years since I have written in this blog. I have been trying to gather thoughts into words, but got a little stuck with ideas. Pete and I have been house hunting and between those times, completely worn out travelling (whilst teaching) from one place to the other. I reckon the trip I make in one week would have allowed me to travel from Brunei to India. I'm lucky to have the four wheel drive to accomodate all my belongings in the car. I am your 'yoga nomad'.

I love teaching, but exhilarated to be a student again. The yoga conference in Hong Kong will allow me to just 'let go' and listen to learn......ahhhhhhhhhhhh, nice.

The only thing I'm not enthuastic about is 'flying'. Feeling nauseous thinking about it. You see, 'heights' is a no go area for me. A fear I have yet to overcome. I wish they provide parachutes for everyone on board.....plus a survival kit. I still have to study the info guide on passengers' safety jacket...just in case they have made changes ..like maybe they included a 'gps' in every suit. I think they should also include lunchboxes in their survival kit. If I had it my way, I would also make sure there's inflatable boat for every two passengers. Why can't we do the 'Beam me up, Scotty!' way???? !!!!!

I do like the new Star Trek movie. Am not a fan of S.T but I must admit the film was pretty cool!

Somebody might just have to knock me out when we take off!!!!