Understanding our Body’s energy

Chakras are circular (or flower petal or triangular shaped) vortexes of energy lying across seven different points on our spinal column (referred to as sushumna). The seven chakras are connected to different glands and organs in the body and are responsible for the uniform distribution of “Chi” (also called “Qi” or Praana or life energy).

When there is a disruption in this life energy or a blockage in any one or more chakras, the individual may suffer from health or mental issues. Thus, the chakras form the energy ecosystem of every individual. A deficiency in this ecosystem (e.g. feeling less vital, energetic, or in a funk) can wreak havoc in different areas of life.

Learning about the 7 chakra points fascinated me because not only does this ‘practice’ date back to ancient Hindu times, other cultures started adopting parts of these teachings to their practice as well. Even TV shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender (A short clip was shown to us by Master Paulo) briefly touched on the 7 Chakra points. After learning about this, everywhere I look, there are many influences on ‘chakras teachings’.

I remembered once I had stomach problems and went to a Chinese TCM, the doctor at the clinic simply helped by forcefully rubbing my stomach in a clockwise direction. Now that I think back, wasn’t she rubbing my Solar Plexus Chakra? What’s more, problems associated with an imbalanced Solar Plexus Chakra are digestive issues (which is pretty common for me)! Knowing what I know now, there are small steps that I can take to try to balance my Solar Plexus Chakra and some of these steps don’t require a lot of effort. For example, drinking room temperature beverage, taking slow, long breaths.

For those that are not aware of our body’s 7 chakra points, I would definitely encourage anyone who is keen to read up more about it and find out about the different chakras and how it affects different areas of our lives. Sometimes, we might feel like we’re in a funk and have no control over our lives be it problems happening, family drama, illnesses but I do believe it’s because we’re doing things that we aren’t supposed to unknowingly which causes this imbalance.

A few years ago, I read a book on mindfulness and there was a chapter on ‘Signs from the Universe’ stating that the universe is always sending us signals and if the same issue keeps occurring it means we haven’t gotten the lesson that it’s trying to teach us. I digressed, but ultimately, the main point was the first step to balance is being aware of what’s causing the imbalance and taking steps to change/improve. Who knows, the smallest steps could be the start of a big change.

Each chakra is also associated with specific chakra colors and represents different things. Below is an excerpt taken from https://chopra.com/articles/learn-about-your-seven-chakras-and-how-to-keep-them-in-balance

First Chakra—Muladhara (Root)

Balance in the first chakra allows you to feel grounded and confident.

Second Chakra—Svadhisthana (Sacral or Creativity)

Balance in the second chakra allows you to feel comfortable in your own skin and accepting of your emotions. It also allows for a creative expression of self.

Third Chakra—Manipura (Solar Plexus)

Balance in the third chakra is indicated by high self-esteem, strong charisma, and confident decision making.

Fourth Chakra—Ahahata (Heart)

When energy flows freely, you will experience compassion, love, and acceptance.

Fifth Chakra—Vishuddha (Throat)

When the throat chakra is in balance, you feel authentic and are a confident conversationalist and good listener.

Sixth Chakra—Ajna (Third Eye)

Ajna means “beyond wisdom,” and in balance, you experience expanded imagination, clairvoyance, synchronicity, and intuition.

Seventh Chakra—Sahaswara (Crown)

In balance, this chakra maintains your self-awareness, wisdom, and connection to the inner compass that guides you to your highest self.

Here are some links you can check out to learn more:

https://chopra.com/articles/how-to-clear-your-chakras-and-free-your-energy

https://www.color-meanings.com/chakra-colors-the-7-chakras-and-their-meanings/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRdcrrO35bU&ab_channel=EarthMamaMedicine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=StrbppmsZJw&t=406s&ab_channel=BijayJeswani

My fullest expression of an asana

I remembered back in University, I was always feeling very stressed and unsure about myself in school, I had a vague recollection of complaining to my friends about finding balance – mind, body, and soul but I didn’t’ know-how. Once I graduated and work started, I finally decided to get down to achieving my own version of ‘inner peace’ and so my yoga journey began. I was extremely grateful that I had friends then that did yoga as well, they introduced me to studios and I got to try different styles of yoga – Hatha, Vinyasa, Hot Yoga, etc. In the very first class, I was so nervous. I kept thinking about how I was going to embarrass myself and fall. But all those thoughts disappeared quickly once the class started because I realize that, nobody cared. No one had the energy to be bothered about other students, everyone was solely focused on their own yoga practice. That was when it hit me, to me, Yoga was like an independent form of exercise done in a group setting.

2 years in and yoga started becoming a part of my lifestyle, it not only works my body but clears my mind. It destresses me after a long day at work and, my body feels energized after a good sweat. Since then, I decided that if there was a chance and if an opportunity presented itself, I would very much like to deepen my practice and learn more about Yoga and so here I am.

Now, as we are midway through the YTT. Nervous, anxious, scared are not words I would use to describe my feelings as compared to how I felt in the first lesson. I’ve really come to look forward to weekend mornings with my fellow course mates – the determination, the grit, the laughs, and the energy that everyone emits when we practice.  We all had the same basic goal – to deepen our understanding of yoga and improve our asanas. Master Sree is an amazing instructor, he will push you and give constructive feedback on how we should improve, same for master Paulo. In class, Master Sree is always reminding us of the fact that everyone is a beginner, there’s just so much to learn about how to achieve the truest expression of an asana – to be relaxed, smile, breath while still engaging the right muscles (the integration of mind, body, and breath) in any asanas. With this understanding, we lower our EGO when practicing yoga, there’s no need to compare our asanas with one another because all bodies are different. Everyone is refining their asanas in their own way and getting to their fullest expression of the yoga pose. Since then, I’m no longer as worried about my progress relative to others, what’s important is that I continue to focus on my own efforts and do better every day!

To anyone who wants to deepen their yoga journey, I definitely recommend it. This course is merely the beginning of my yoga practice, it has opened so many doors for me and I discovered that there’s so much more than I don’t know and want to find out – chakras, mudras, chants, etc. Here’s to me and everyone on the same journey, to practice, practice, practice, and attain our own fullest, truest expression of the asanas every day. I am truly grateful to have gone on this journey and will forever cherish the memories I’ve at Tirisula YTT Program.

My efforts at Yoga Meditation and Mudras

I’ve always wanted to get into the habit of meditation but to no avail, there are always so many distractions out there. I tried all sorts of methods in the past, having a set routine – time and space for meditation, setting alarm reminders, downloading meditation apps like Headspace but I just can’t seem to get into the habit of meditating. However, now, midway through our 20 weekends of YTT sessions, whilst learning about yoga mudras and chakras, I started to really grasp and understand the deeper benefits of meditation. With this newform knowledge, I decided to put what I learned into practice and it really elevated my approach to meditation – not just in the ‘doing’ but also in the ‘knowing’ and ‘internalizing’ what I’m doing.  It was definitely a eureka moment for me when getting the discover the different types of mudras and their benefits.

For a start, I’ve decided to incorporate 3 simple mudras into my meditation practice –

  1. The commonly used Chin Mudra (tips of the thumb and index finger lightly touching, palm facing up) Elements involved are Space and Air. This helps with concentration, our memory, relieves stress, and unnecessary tension, smoothing the mind. I’ve discovered that doing this as and when something is troubling me, whether work troubles or a personal issue, it helps center my mind. Also, on days when I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, sitting comfortably, eyes closed with my hands in a Chin Mudra helps me to start the day right.

 

  1. Another Mudra for deeper concentration and control is the Dhyana Mudra: the Buddha gesture – to bring about tranquility and inner peace. All elements are involved in this Mudra. Personally, I’ve always had problems focusing, with the constant beepings/notifications from social media, emails, messages, etc. it gets hard to stay at one task and complete it without doing something else midway. I practice this for about 10 to 15mins whenever I feel like acting on a temptation e.g. getting a snack, watching a 5 mins Youtube video, looking at my phone, etc. I curb my temptations by refusing to think about it, instead, I think of my inhales and exhales.

 

  1. Lastly, I recently came across the Prana Mudra – “the energy or else spirit of life”.  It activates our dormant energy – increases our energy and health. The elements involved are Space & Water. For when I’m feeling winded or just breathless – after an intense workout or just simply because my involuntary breathing becomes erratic/unsteady – it does help to control my breathing. Sometimes, I do feel that my breath is a good indicator of how stressed I am at the moment – choppy or short breaths, uneven inhales and exhales are clear signs that my body and mind are in a funk and I need to cool down and take a break.

 

You’d be amazed at the results after just 10 minutes, in today’s fast-paced, digitalized way of living, sometimes we forget how to stop and simply observe, not just our surroundings but observe ourselves – our breaths, our mind, our thoughts, feelings. We don’t have to escape to the countryside to find ‘peace’, what most people fail to realize is that with proper effort, peace can be found every day, within ourselves.

All in all, I would say that meditating is starting to come more naturally to me. Before, I had to talk myself into sitting still and calming my mind. Now, after a long day or stressful situation or even in the mornings, I simply sit in a comfortable crossed leg position, close my eyes and practice centering my mind. I’m still a beginner at this and there’s still much to discover but I believe that this is as good a start as any!

A Brief Introduction to Ayurvedic Doshas

I came to know about these 3 Dosha body types when we were studying yoga philosophy. Master Paolo and Master Sree were giving each of us their evaluation of what our body types were. As someone who jumps at the opportunity to take any kind of personality quiz, it intrigued me to want to research deeper.

To give a rough overview, Ayurveda is an Indian system of traditional medicine. Translated literally it means “the science of life” – Ayur means “life” and Veda means “science”. This system of traditional medicine has been around for about 5000 years, and it claims to have a set guide to determining ones’ balance and health. (Similar to how the Chinese have their own ‘system’ of TCM!)

In Ayurveda, there are three types of doshas, each made up of a different combination of the five elements; air, space, fire, earth, and water. The Vata dosha is a combination of air and space, the Pitta dosha is a combination of fire and water, and the Kapha dosha is a combination of water and earth. These combinations of the different elements represent a unique blend of physical, emotional, and mental characteristics (or qualities), essentially, describing who we are.

Everyone has a different balance of the three doshas, usually with one or two doshas predominating and rarely, with a balance of all three. It should be said that there is no such thing as an ideal body model. The key is to understand your dosha type to give you further insight into what your own personal state of balance should be.

By getting to know our Doshas and their qualities, we can make the effort to stay balanced – healthy. This is important because if we were to push ourselves off balance by adopting habits that are not suited to us, we will experience negative symptoms that signal that our mind-body is ‘off’ – such as bloating, rashes, gassiness, bad temper, tiredness, and many more – if left unchecked, it could even lead to diseases. Fret not, there are solutions (or “medicine”) for us to bring ourselves back into balance by drawing on food and drink. herbs and spices, colors, textures, aromas, environments, and lifestyle choices. The key is to choose solutions that have the opposite qualities or characteristics to the symptoms we’re experiencing, to create equilibrium. For example, for pitta doshas, one already has lots of warmth in their bodies thus cooler weather is preferred or cooler foods like salads help, if one continues to eat too much spicy food or is under the sun for prolonged periods of time with no protection, they’ll be prone to overheating, sweating and skin redness.

To conclude, there’s just so much information available for each of the Dosha types – the dos, don’ts, appetite/diet, what to avoid, learning styles, sleep cycles, mental qualities, preferred nature elements/seasons, best yoga styles, general physical appearances/body shape, etc. I hope that by reading this you guys will be as excited as I am to want to find out more about Ayurvedic doshas and your dosha types!