7 Types of Headstand

I usually have trouble in writing and explaining things, I think I might have speech dyslexia. At times, what comes out of my mouth and in writing is not what I have in my mind. I’ve always sucked at this. So instead of fully writing and explaining everything, I thought I’d make another approach, and share a sketch instead!

Sketching and doodling has always been one of my first hobbies when I was young. I always loved to draw as a kid. But as I grew up, I slowly lost my touch with the pencil and paper replacing it with computer programs, and always had an excuse to do other things aside from drawing. So now I’m giving it another chance! 🙂

A few weeks ago, Master Sree asked us to do headstands on the wall. Unfortunately most of us couldn’t do it without the support of the wall (help please, exam is coming up!), but luckily one of our classmate, Varuna! could amazingly do it with such ease, poise and stillness. So with that, Master Sree introduced the 7 types of headstand in the Ashtanga Secondary Series and tried it with her. Amazingly she could do all the poses with the help of Master Sree’s guidance and support (without any wall I might add). So with these lessons, I would just like to share the 7 types of headstand. 😀

 

ok… In our class, the forearm headstand was actually not included, I just found it on an Ashtanga website, but I though to include it in. Master Sree actually tried out the “No Hands” headstand with our classmate instead, which was awesome and scary at the same time!

I hope you enjoyed Master Sree explaining the headstands in this sketch. Heehee.

Stay Happy and Healthy Always Yogis!!! 😀

 

Yoga for creativity : Meditation and Pranayama (Part 1)

  1.  Are you stuck in a creative rut?

I am a victim of this. I always feel that I have lost my creativity or I get stuck after some time of working long hours, trying to meet deadlines, following schedules and fixing problems in projects and design. It happens to a lot of us, we lose our creativity as time goes. I’ve read some studies online that explains, the reason we lose creativity is because of working too much, stress (because of that first reason), following routine and habits, worrying about the future, fear of failure, having self-doubt, too tired and not having enough time for ourselves, especially in this chaotic world (insert Covid-19 into the mix as well), yikes. Ahhh.. yes, that is called adulting. So I guess this means we may be burning our brain way too much and in the wrong way.

 

What does yoga have to do with creativity?

While yoga is often a way to find peace and clarity in our minds, it also helps reduce stress, anxiety, and clear away the clutter in our brain, balancing our emotions and bringing out the creativity within us. Aside from getting in touch with ourselves, it can also be a way of helping us tap into our creative process, bringing inspiration deep within us. Doing regular yoga practice also supports and further increases your creative expression. As part of your yoga exercise, including meditation and pranayama before your asanas are important as an overall guide to your boosting creativity. Doing only asanas or yoga poses may not totally clear your minds. While meditation is a practice of cultivating awareness, Pranyanama is the practice of refining the ability and awareness of your breathing or flow of your life energy. Meditation can calm our thoughts and make you focused, while Pranayama connects your body and mind, helps you decrease stress balance and through the right breathing techniques.

 

1 – Meditation

Are you still in a confused and lost state, or perhaps not in the right mood?

Try meditation + mindfulness

Meditation or Dhyāna (Sanskrit) is the training of the mind. It is a practice of cultivating awareness of our habitual thought patterns. This has been the core practice of Buddhism in combination with other related practices which together can lead to a perfected mindfulness and detachment.

With meditation, we should also be mindful. Mindfulness meditation is not about wandering thoughts or emptying your mind, instead, it is about paying attention to the present moment, and to rest in the here and now, fully engaged with what we are doing in the present and in that moment of time.

The practice of meditation can be achieved by every individual and when we meditate, we are dedicating a certain amount of time and effort to being as mindful as we can. Practicing meditation regularly can also help reduce stress, increase calmness and clarity within us. It also helps you learn new skills and train your thoughts, allowing your creativity to flow out.  

Benefits of meditation:

  • Reduce stress
  • Enhances self-awareness
  • Lengthens attention span
  • Reduce memory loss
  • Improves emotional intelligence
  • Controls anxiety

The first step is committing some time for this practice. Taking at 10 minutes out of each day shouldn’t be hard, but it is quite easy to get distracted with all the things around us. Commitment and discipline is the key. Including this practice as part of your morning wake up ritual or before going to sleep or starting work also helps.

It is important to create an uninterrupted space where you can sit comfortably, whether it is sitting on a chair or on the floor, it doesn’t matter, as long as you are giving your body is in an easy position and relaxed state.

Aside from staying in one place in mindfulness meditation, there are also other types of meditation that famous companies such as Google and Walt Disney use to boost their employee’s creativity, one of them is walking/ movement meditations, and another is focused meditation. Each person is different, so maybe you want to move after sitting for a long time or staying in one place. Trying out different types of meditation such as movement meditation by walking, dancing, stretching and doing slow movements mindfully can also help release some physical tension and relax, also helping your blood circulate.

I, for one enjoy walking meditation around reservoirs and nature parks. I find that listening and being surrounded by nature makes me calm and more relaxed, and at times when I’m not able to go out, I would try doing mindful meditation. I am still learning mindful meditation as I have a fidgety mind and can last only 5 minutes. Trying to discipline my mind slowly takes time and I’m hoping to get better at this.  

 

To find out more on how to meditate and other types of meditation, here are some links showing easy meditation steps:

https://www.mindful.org/how-to-meditate/

http://www.oprah.com/health_wellness/4-easy-meditation-steps

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/types-of-meditation

 

2 – Pranayama

Following meditation with a pranayama

Prāṇāyāma is the ancient practice of controlling and regulating your breathe in yoga. In Sanskrit, “prana” means life energy and “yama” means control. In Pranayama, you are controlling the timing, duration and frequency of every breath and hold, making a pattern in your breathing exercise.

The goal of pranayama is to strengthen the connection between your body and mind. Aside from meditation, pranayama can also promote relaxation and mindfulness. Other benefits of pranayama is to improve brain function, better digestion, improve hypertension, boost immune system, strengthen your respiratory system, control or balance mood swings and so much more depending on the type of pranayama you practice.

 

Pranayamas that stimulate creativity:

Kapalabhati (Skull Shining Breath)

In Sanskrit, “Kapal” means skull and “Bhati” means shining or illuminating.

The practice of Kapalabhati or Skull Shining Breath consists of repeated rounds of forceful exhalations, followed by smooth inhalations. The exhalation is generated by forceful contractions of the lower abdominal area. It is an energizing breathing practice that brings clarity and lightness in the frontal region of the brain.

This breathing technique can improve your immune system, help to sharpen your senses and perception, balances and strengthen your nervous system, improving your concentration and memory, aids digestion, asthma and sinusitis, and most importantly for creativity, it de-stresses and brightens your mind.

The best time to practice this breathing technique is on an empty stomach early in the morning, or wait for 3 hours after meals or food consumption. This technique can be followed by a more subtle pranayama such as Nadi Shodana or Anulom Viloma.

For precautions, please avoid this breathing technique if you have high blood pressure, having your menstrual period, pregnant or suffer from any heart diseases. It is advised to consult your doctor or a health care professional before trying this out.

With that said, here are some links and videos that I found on how to practice Kapalabhati:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lA2qAyuaPz0

https://chopra.com/articles/release-toxins-with-kapalabhati-breath

 

Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

In Sanskrit, “Nadi” means channel or flow and “Shodhana” means purification.

With the alternate nostril breathing technique, this helps to equalize your brain hemispheres, leading to deep calmness. Breathing on one side of the nostril at a time stimulates the opposite side of your brain. Example: inhales starting from your left nostrils and ending your last exhale at the same side, stimulates your right brain hemisphere and the other way around.

This breathing technique calms and centres your mind, helps harmonize your left and right brain hemispheres, and also purify and balances the flow of energy or life force through your body. By holding your right fingers in Vishnu Mudra, you will use your fingers by alternately using the right thumb to close the right nostril and the right ring finger to close the left nostril through the breathing exercise. By starting and ending with your left nostrils, this helps to activate the creativity side in your right brain hemisphere.  This can be repeated in 5-10 cycles. For precautions, it is not advised for people suffering from hypertension to do this technique.

Here are some links I found on how to practice Nadi Shodhana:

https://chopra.com/articles/nadi-shodhana-how-to-practice-alternate-nostril-breathing

https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/channel-cleaning-breath

 

Stay Healthy Yogis!

 

Yoga For Creativity : Asanas (Part 2)

Before going to asanas, I’ve explained in another blog about how Meditation & Pranayama are part of the keys to unlocking your creativity. 

When you feel stressed out, unfocused or just feel right out dull, a good way to boost yourself is by doing some Mindful Meditation or Pranayama, and then the yoga poses. 

And now leading to asana, the fun part. 🙂

 

Asanas

The asanas for creativity

 

Sun salutation (Surya Namaskar) for warm up

Whichever sun salutation suits you best at the moment, whether it be Classic Sun Salutation C or Ashtanga style Surya Namaskar A or B, go for it. Sun salutations are a great way to warm up and energize your body, increasing you heart rate and to get ready for your next asanas. Remember, listen to your body, the rest will follow suit.

Repeat 3-6 times.

 

Child’s pose (Balasana)

Get to relax and breathe in this pose. This pose helps to lengthen your spine, and release muscle tension. It also strengthens your lower back, helps to relieve indigestion, fatigue, anxiety and stress. So let everything go as you do this pose.

 

Pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

One of the best hip opening poses, this pose not only opens your hips, but with the forward bend, this also stretches out your thighs, back, piriformis, and psoas muscles. This is a good antidote for people who sit all day everyday, hunched in front of their computers or laptops. Make sure to square your hips while bending forward.

Repeat this pose at the opposite side for 5 breathes.

 

Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog (Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana)

After your downward facing dog, go ahead and raise your right leg up to enjoy the stretch and lengthening. This is one of my favorite asanas, where I get my full body stretch and lengthening.

This pose also energizes you and rejuvenates your nervous system. And guess what it’s also a good release from stress, headaches and fatigue. (This is becoming the theme most of the poses I am including here)

Repeat this pose at the opposite side for 5 breathes.

 

Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog Variation (Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana Vrschikasana Pada) or Scorpion tail pose

Based on the original Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog, transitioning to this variation, where you bend you raised leg. With the same benefits as the original, this pose opens your hips even more and stretches your thigh muscles even further.

Repeat this pose at the opposite side.

 

Flip Dog pose (Camatkarasana) or Wild thing

Most commonly known as the Wild thing, this pose combines backbend and a single hand balancing act. Go figure, your body and limbs must be going into an awkward, wild position. Similar to a backbend, it is a fun and dynamic pose that I often experienced in yoga flow practices. This pose improves your spine’s flexibility and strengthens your arms and wrists. It also activates your throat chakra, and opens up your heart while expanding your chest, embracing confidence, acceptance and love. And also as quoted from John Friend’s Anusara Yoga, “it is a style that celebrates, among many things, expansive heart opening postures that radiate “Radical Joy”.

There are a few modified transitions going to this pose, one is coming from side plank, and another is coming from Scorpion tail or Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog Variation (Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana Vrschikasana Pada). I find the last transition option opens you up more to this pose. So go ahead and do your wild thang!

Precautions: Not advisable for people with wrist, neck, back and shoulder injuries, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Repeat this pose at the opposite side.

 

Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

Garuda known as the “king of birds” also happen to be the vehicle of Vishnu.

You know that feeling of slowly unbinding after this pose? Where you finally feel you muscles relaxing from the strain caused by all the twisting and flexion in your muscles? Think of relaxing and untangling your limbs from this pose as slowly unbinding your mind like you are removing all the tangles and stretching out your brain. What do you think about that?

Repeat this pose at the opposite side.

 

Head stand (Sirsasana)

Ok, let’s face it, not everyone can do Sirsana. Even I admit that I am struggling with this pose. I’m even scared to do it without a wall backing me. But don’t worry, everything will come in time with practice, discipline and hard work. Try it out, practice it, and let’s hope for the best!

This pose helps relieves stress, increases focus, stimulates lymphatic system, and develop your core muscles. This asana also has youthful benefits, helps detoxify your body,  improve blood circulation, and  decreases fluid build-up in your legs and feet. 

And you get to view things upside down! Who knows, maybe when your fully comfortable on your headstand, some creative ideas may come out upsidedown.

Precautions: Not advisable for people with wrist, neck, back and shoulder injuries, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Women having menstrual period are strongly advised not to do inversions.

 

I hope you can try out these asanas. Stay Healthy Yogis 🙂

Ayurveda and Your Dosha

Ayurveda means “the science of life” and is one of the great ancient tools to help you discover your physical and emotional tendencies. It is categorized into three Doshas or mind-body types: Vatta, Pitta and Kapha.
Each dosha is characterized by two of the 5 elements: earth, water, fire, air and space or ether. By identifying your dosha, you can create a yoga practice and lifestyle to support the nature of your mind-body type. The idea of following your dosha type is to add or balance out the missing or opposite elements to stay balanced.

 

The 3 Types of Dosha

Vata: Air and Ether or Space

A person with this dosha is usually of thin or light frame or slender features. They are creative, have active minds and high energy. Vatas loves excitement, embraces change and new experiences, they also have impulsive and moody personalities. When imbalanced, Vatas suffer from anxiety, fatigue and insomnia. When they feel overwhelmed or stressed, their thoughts and questions are: “What did I do wrong?”

How Vatas can stay balanced:

  • Follow the correct diet
  • Maintain a daily routine
  • Find time to exercise, and also find time to rest and relax
  • Stay warm and get enough sleep 
  • Have regular massages that are soothing and grounding
  • Avoid very cold and dry environments
  • Avoiding noisy and crowded places and environments with too much movement and talking.

Recommended food:

  • Protein: eggs
  • Dairy:  ghee, milk, butter
  • Grains: white & brown rice, wheat, corn, millet, barley and oats
  • Legumes:all except for lentils
  • Vegetables:sweet and bitter vegetables such as asparagus, cabbage, cucumber, cauliflower, celery, green beans, lettuce, peas, parsley, potatoes, zucchini, sprouts, cress, chicory, and mushrooms.
  • Nuts and seeds:  flaxseeds , pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
  • Fruits:  sweet fruits such as apples, figs, oranges, mangoes, plums, melons, pears; coconut and avocados
  • Herbs and spices: No spices except for turmeric, cardamom, fennel, cilantro, cinnamon and small amounts of black pepper.

Foods to reduce:

  • Best to avoid animal products and meat
  • Dried fruits
  • Food that is too spicy, salty or sour


Pitta: Fire & Water

A person with this dosha is usually of medium size & weight. They are intellectual, outspoken and have a strong focus & ability to concentrate. They can also be short-tempered and opinionated. When imbalanced, they suffer from ulcer and gastric problems, and excessive body heat.
Spending time in nature and near bodies of water will help nurture this dosha. A more cooling and heart-centred practice will also improve and balance this dosha.

How Pittas can stay balanced:

  • Follow the correct diet
  • Get in touch with nature and get plenty of fresh air
  • Stay physically and mentally cool, and do things in moderation
  • Staying patient and being considerate to other people
  • Avoid hot and humid spaces
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Avoiding conflicting situations and arguments

Recommended food:

  • Protein: eggs
  • Dairy: ghee, milk, butter
  • Grains: white & brown rice, wheat, corn, millet, barley and oats
  • Legumes: all except for lentils
  • Vegetables: sweet and bitter vegetables such as asparagus, cabbage, cucumber, cauliflower, celery, green beans, lettuce, peas, parsley, potatoes, zucchini, sprouts, cress, chicory, and mushrooms.
  • Nuts and seeds: flaxseeds , pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
  • Fruits: sweet fruits such as apples, figs, oranges, mangoes, plums, melons, pears; coconut and avocados
  • Herbs and spices: No spices except for turmeric, cardamom, fennel, cilantro, cinnamon and small amounts of black pepper.

Foods to reduce:

  • Best to avoid animal products and meat
  • Dried fruits
  • Food that is too spicy, salty or sour


Kapha: Earth & Water

A person with this dosha has a heavier and earthier body type compared to the other doshas. Kaphas are naturally calm and grounded, patient and understanding. Their speech is slow and melodic, they enjoy routine and regularity and have a positive attitude. When imbalanced, Kaphas tend to get attached and hold on to things, jobs and relationships even after moving on. They become stubborn and resist change, tend to overeat and avoid exercising.

How Kaphas can stay balanced:

  • Follow the correct diet
  • Waking up early
  • Exercise the body & mind regularly
  • Stay warm and dry
  • Break from routine and allow new challenges and excitements in your life
  • Don’t stay stagnant and learn new things
  • Avoid taking long naps and sleeping during the day

Recommended food:

  • Protein: eggs and white meat
  • Dairy: Low fat or reduced-fat milk, soy milk, cheeses with less fat content
  • Grains: quinoa, millet, buckwheat, couscous, barley and oats in small quantities
  • Legumes: all except for white beans and lentils
  • Vegetables: spicy and bitter vegetables such as celery, red beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, garlic, lettuce, mushrooms, onions, parsley, peas, radish, spinach, sprouts, fennel, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Nuts and seeds: flaxseeds , pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
  • Fruits: berries, cherries, mangos, peaches, pears, and raisins , Dried figs and plum.
  • Herbs and spices: all spices


Foods to reduce:

  • Hot cereals and steamed grains
  • Cheese with high fat content
  • Very salty foods
  • Sugary sweet foods of with refined sugar content
  • Sour foods


If you are not sure what your dosha is, there are a lot of quizzes online to discover your dosha! I have shared some links below to explore your dosha type. Some people may have a mix of the 2 doshas equally depending on the percentage they get. The dominant dosha is the reason why a person may not be able to tolerate heat or humidity or spicy and oily foods while another person may have no reaction to them.
I personally tried out all of them, and I my results came out as predominantly Vata.

Try them out and see which type you are! 🙂

 

Tests: What’s your Dosha?


https://kripalu.org/content/whats-your-dosha
https://www.euroved.com/en/ayurveda/test/
https://yogainternational.com/article/view/dosha-quiz