Monday, September 22, 2008

Tugging at my Hamstrings

Autobiography of a Recovering Yogi

Its been nearly a year now since I started my yoga practice. I started with a free, introductory yoga session at my neighborhood yoga studio and then started attending weekly Vinyasa classes there. Since then I have been challenging myself to the more strenuous Ashtanga primary series classes. I feel really peaceful and meditative at the end of these classes. The next morning, however, my body aches.

I did't want to give up doing my yoga just because of these aches. A few friends recommended that I try Bikram because the heated environment allows for deeper stretches and for accomplishing challenging poses. My body definitely felt a lot more relaxed after the class but I didn't find the same post-class bliss that I found with Vinyasa and Ashtanga.

A few weeks back I attended a workshop at the Balance center where the instructor analyzed the way I sat, stood, walked and slept. One key observation was that I arched my back and leaned backward while standing which messed up my entire posture and resulted in the aches.

So now I am consciously leaning a little forward while standing. To improve my poses, I signed up for Iyengar yoga. In these classes, I hold my asanas for longer with the correct technique (with the help of the instructor). My teacher noticed that my asanas were crammed because I had tight hamstrings (because of my arched back). This has affected even my foundation asana such as the downward dog.

Her prescription is two months of daily Supta Padangusthasana or the Reclining Big Toe Pose (See video below)

Will document the results after two months...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Viral Marketing Technique - Schmap

Imagine if you could get your web audience to contribute to your site and then act as your marketing agent...all for free. This is the ploy used by Schmap, maker of interactive city guides.

I upload most of my pictures on flickr with a liberal creative commons license, and I was pleasantly surprised when I received this mail from the managing editor at Schmap:

From: Emma Williams
Subject: Schmap Yosemite Photo Short-list
Hi Maneesh,

I am writing to let you know that one of your photos has
been short-listed for inclusion in the fifth edition of our
Schmap Yosemite Guide, to be published late September 2008.

Clicking this link will take you to a page where you can:
i) See which of your photos has been short-listed.
ii) Submit or withdraw your photo from our final selection
iii) Learn how we credit photos in our Schmap Guides.
iv) Browse online or download the fourth edition of our
Schmap Yosemite Guide.

While we offer no payment for publication, many
photographers are pleased to submit their photos, as Schmap
Guides give their work recognition and wide exposure, and
are free of charge to readers. Photos are published at a
maximum width of 150 pixels, are clearly attributed, and
link to high-resolution originals at Flickr.

Our submission deadline is Sunday, August 31. If you happen
to be reading this message after this date, please still
click on the link above (our Schmap Guides are updated
frequently - photos submitted after this deadline will be
considered for later releases).

Best regards,

Emma Williams,
Managing Editor, Schmap Guides

I was more than happy to submit the photograph for the final selection phase but more importantly I was pumped that it would show up in an official guide, albeit a guide that is a new kid on the block.

A few weeks later I got this mail:

From: Emma Williams
Subject: Schmap Yosemite Fifth Edition: Photo Inclusion
Hi Maneesh,

I am delighted to let you know that your submitted photo
has been selected for inclusion in the newly released fifth
edition of our Schmap Yosemite Guide:

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

If you use an 
iPhone or iPod touch, then this same link
will take you directly to your photo in the iPhone version
of our guide. On a desktop computer, you can still see
exactly how your photo is displayed and credited in the
iPhone version of our guide at:

Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

Finally, if you have a blog, you might also like to check
out the customizable widgetized version of our Schmap
Yosemite Guide, complete with your published photo:

Thanks so much for letting us include your photo - please
enjoy the guide!

Best regards,

Emma Williams,
Managing Editor, Schmap Guides


So now I have a widget on my blog pushing readers on their site as well :P

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Half Dome Revisited

Several posts back, I had written about my return to Yosemite to erase the ghosts of my unsuccessful 2004 half dome scaling attempt. I was back again in Yosemite for the labor day weekend. The weather was hot as before (100 degrees during mid-day) and the national park in the usual tourist mode. I had made no preparations for the strenuous hike and climb either but all I had this time was a shoe with a better grip and a determination.

We started at 5am from the valley and progressed our way up to the base of the half dome by 10am. I found a few people still ruminating over when they wanted to do the last rope climbing stretch. I remembered my cabin-mate Ben reading the book 'Blink' and I decided to proceed up right then. No power bars, no early lunch...just donning an old pair of unmatched gloves lying on the floor and then hauling my way half-dome rink at a time. In a half-hour, I was up and watching the yosemite valley from the top in all its glory.

Comic below for illustrations.