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The Golden Week – Yoga, Painting, Reading, and Reflecting: Day 5

This was probably the toughest day for me to get through due to so many distractions that kept reining in throughout the entire day. I could barely keep my mind focused through a single yoga practice at times. Surprisingly, a 30-mins painting session was much more relaxing, and I was able to concentrate more easily than a yoga session. I guess it is when you are not a master of the art, you tend to put more concentration on that thing.

First practice: Firefly – Loosen Up Hips

My first practice of the day was initially supposed to be Solar Practice by Patrick Beach. However, I ended up choosing to take a shorter class because I was trying to get myself ready for a call later in the morning. Also, I still felt that my body was not ready at all in the morning. 4 days straight of heavy practice actually was quite exhausting for my just-recovered body I guess…

Although this class by Claudine was not as tough as her other class, the hip opening class in the morning can also be deadly. This is especially true for me since my hip and hamstrings are super tight in the morning and need extra time to stretch than most parts of the body. However, despite having said that, I really felt good after this short 30-mins class.

Second practice: Solar Practice

This class was probably the only classic studio-class style video that I have taken over the course of this personal retreat. What I meant by a studio style is that the video consists of a mix between a short flow and small exercise or time for us to try some poses. As I practice alone and am very familiar with a vinyasa-flow class, this studio style can be very distracting for me. I felt that my concentration that was built by the flow of asanas were disrupted in between. I still really like the creativity in Patrick’s sequences though – don’t get me wrong.

I ended up skipping quite a lot of backbends in this practice. I felt that my back was not very ready for all the “acrobatic” movements at the time, and I would like to have it rest for a bit. However, I guess I made up for all I skipped by being able to lightly hop to pincha mayurasana or forearm stand and even some handstand holds!

Painting: Finishing up Kinkakuji Temple

I eventually finished painting Kinkakuji Temple today. It is funny how I said “eventually” despite working on it for only less than a day. A lot of landscape artists spent hours or even days to finish a painting. However, being influenced by Jeanne Haines, who usually just finish a piece in a only a few hours, if not less than an hour, I found that I like finishing up a painting in one or two sittings. This Kinkakuji painting took me already four short sitting to finish.

There were many instances that I panicked when I was painting this. As I mentioned, the complication in painting this was the number of elements, such as trees and garden, that I had to add to make it more “Japanese” in my opinion. As I tried to paint the first two layers of those elements, the colors turned to look a bit murky and I ended up had to solve by adding more details than I plan. This kind of remind me of how I used to like a saying by someone that painting has an element of problem solving as well.

Eventually, this painting turned out quite well. It is not a perfect architectural painting, but I like the loose and atmospheric style that I intended the piece to be.

Third practice: Float Like a Firefly

If there is any practice that I struggle with the most, this is probably one of the top three. Firefly or Titibasana is one of the most difficult poses for me to practice without a prop. Let alone practicing this pose with a lot of distractions. As I was practicing this, I got a lot of messages about my COVID-19-infected dad who may get moved to a different ward and still is unreachable by phone despite multiple attempts. I know that it is fair to be worried about a family member, but I also know logically that being worried will not help in any case. Plus, this was the time for me to be meditative and do something for my mental and physical health.

As a result of all these distractions, I ended up stopping in the middle of practice multiple times. I didn’t even continue practicing firefly after the sequence as I gassed out and lost my concentration. This was not good, but, at that time, I also don’t know what else can I do.

Painting: multiple flower studies

Apart from Kinkakuji Temple painting, the rest of the paintings were dedicated to flower studies. I took the inspiration and technique from Jeanne Haines and adapt it to other flowers like iris, lavender, and half-blossomed rose. This was the first time I tried painting an iris and it turned out okay. My attempt at lavender was also not half bad. The daffodil, which I followed a video tutorial by Jeanne, also turned out okay. Darya, my big sister and personal art critics, also recognized the flowers I painted. Kudos to me!

By the evening, I also practiced painting a bouquet of cattail, lavender, rose, chrysanthemum, and daffodil. It was actually presentable, and I really like the washes in the background. I hope to further see improvement in my next attempt.

Last practice: Strengthen and Lengthen

The funny part of this practice is that I didn’t realize that I have tried this recently until I was more than half-way through the practice. I also adopted a new technique to increase my concentration by putting the phone face down so that I don’t see any notification. It worked! Plus, I was less tempted to check the time on the video as well.

One major success was that I managed to hold pincha mayurasana again in this practice. I also continue practicing some pincha transition after I finished the video. Finally a good and refreshing practice to close off distracting day!

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