Blog 4: Reflection on Innerworks – Attachments

In one of my conversations with Master Sree, I remembered he looked at me sombrely , and told me that there’s one thing that I would need to be consciously and constantly working on – which is letting go of attachments. I was taken aback, not because of Master Sree’s words, but because it was very true that I am someone who forms deep attachments to many things in life – be it people, places, memories and even to things like food. I have constant bad experiences in trying to let things go and telling myself that it is okay, and instead suppress that pile of negative emotions that accompanied with the action of me forcing myself to be okay that certain things that weren’t meant to be. Similarly to this YTT course, there’s some form of attachment that grew on me over the span of three weeks – the routine of getting up early to the studio, the physical practises, the time spent with my classmates and even the trips to Jalan Besar MRT – I have begun to like this routine and would love it to continue to roll on for a while more. However, it is not realistic to have the YTT continuing for a while longer, and neither is it healthy for me to form such attachments. I too, began to wonder, does it mean that to not be attached to a certain person, place, ideology, it meant that I have to not feel for it? Or do I need to keep my distance away from it, in order to avoid forming attachments? I couldn’t grasp that idea of detachment – it was too abstract and unfamiliar to the point whereby it’s uncomfortable for me to even accept detachment in my daily life. Personally my attachments and associations with things, people, objects  comes with a great deal of emotions, thoughts and even memories – and hence I find it difficult to release these attachments in my life. These attachments are part of my identity, and it’s something I also used to define my self. For the past 2 weeks I often wondered, if I let go of these attachments, then what am I left with, what can I used to define myself and my identity?

When we were learning about Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga – Aparigraha ( in Sanskrit) and when translated it refers to non-greed and non-attachments. This Yama’s teaching emphasised on how one should only take what they need, to retain what serves them at that current movement, and learning to let go at the right time. A quote by Krishna as follows: Let your concern be with the action alone, and never with the fruits of action. Do not let the results of your action be your motive, and do not be attached to inaction. Sometime we are often caught up with wanting to achieve the end-results of a certain process, but we too also forgot that the process itself is equally important – and Krishna’s quote reminds us that one should place their focus on the actual process, and not overly-emphasising on the end-results. Personally, this is very applicable for me – as I find myself driven by performance-based results – I need to see actual growth in myself before I am satisfied with the situation that I’m handling with. For example, back in my University days, I find myself being too caught-up with wanting to achieve a certain goal, and sacrificing my own health in the pursuit of results, and I too have forgotten that critical thinking and learning are the processes that I need to be focused on in my studies, and not just the end-results. Even for yoga, I tend to place my focus on the accuracy of the postures, and often forgetting to breathe – which is not what the practise is suppose to be like. With Master’s words and the philosophy learnt in this YTT course, i find myself often reflecting what is important – and subsequently made peace that perhaps it is okay to be not that great in certain poses such as Sirsasana and Chaturanga – the process is something that I need to fully submerge myself in this course, and that the actual learning is my takeaway, not the accuracy of my poses. This gave me the freedom from the constant stress of the need to perform better, which is a new thing for me as I’m always under constant stress from benchmarks and anchor points in life that I set for myself. Master Paalu also showed us a video excerpt from the Avatar: The Last Air Bender. In that clip, it emphasise that letting attachments go do not equate to letting it disappearing from your life, it is just simply accepting the fact that you can’t bring this person or item with you wherever you go – it’s already part of who you are, and we need to understand that when it is time to let go, we do need to let go. It doesn’t dissipate right now, and it won’t be here forever as well. Many attachments are formed out of love and familiarity, and I too have formed such attachments in my life that I find it difficult to let go. So learning to understand what it means to let go is crucial for me, to navigate more upcoming hurdles and obstacles in life – if not these attachments will in turn become my very own obstacle instead.

As I read up more on Aparigraha – I realise there’s a need to integrate it in my mental works – and I chanced upon this Sanskrit word in an article regarding Aparigraha – which is ‘Parinamavda’. Parinamavda preaches that change is the only constant in life – and that everything ‘is in a constant state of flux’. Seasons change, people come and go, and life still goes on. The tendency to cling onto past memories, people, results, and forming this attachment that I need to be someone of a certain calibre, or to achieve certain results, in order to properly define who I am. However, with Aparigraha, I will release myself from these stress points in my life, to allow myself the freedom to enjoy the process, and be in the current moment. This is not only beneficial to my own health, but also for my personal development as well. Parinamavda is also important – and it should be a constant reminder for me to prevent myself from forming over-attachments.

Looking forward, I do realise learning attachments and detachments will be a life-Long lesson for me, in order to truly understand and work on Aparigraha. Integrating aparigraha in my life and yoga practise will bring me the freedom to actually experience without stressing out what things should look and be like, and instead learn to experience it proper for what it is by letting go, releasing my preconceived notions and unhealthy attachments in my life and practise.

Blog 3: Yoga and Self-awareness

In our morning check-ins with Master Sree, one key theme kept repeating itself, which was how yoga can allow us to achieve self-awareness and self-conscious  in our daily lives, and the importance of having these two components – to lead us to have a more meaning life in our lifetime. One thing that struck me was what Master Sree said in the first week of our YTT training – by the age of 40, if we yet to fully understand ourselves as individuals, as human beings in this earth, this space, it might be too late to start searching for ourselves, and one way to avoid such situation is to begin being self-aware, being aware of ourselves, being conscious of our daily decisions in our lives.

Importance of self-awareness

Self awareness is defined to be the conscious knowledge of one’s own characters and feelings. This ability to narrow down and place a huge focus on ourselves – to better understand our thoughts, actions and emotions, and question if these aspects aligns with our inner values and principles we set for ourselves. An individual is defined to be self-aware if he or she can effectively and objectively conduct an evaluation on their own actions, thoughts and emotions, and align their behaviour with their principles. When one key aspect of their behaviour is not aligned with their core values and principles, they would be able to take the initiative to rectify and make a change. Being aware of ourselves – in situations and in the face of challenges is important, we will then be equipped and empowered to make improvements in our lives.

Yoga philosophy tied in with self-awareness

In our asana practise, as a form of excerise, yoga itself releases endorphins – creating some form of happiness in our daily lives. However, there’s more to what Yoga could offer – the asanas itself creates an opportunity for us to stay focus on our breathing and our actions, which allow us to be aware and conscious  of our mind, body and soul. In practise, svadhyaya, or otherwise known as self-study, often appears in my mind. The study of my breathing, my body reactions to different postures, the emotions that it brings at each pose true transition. Looking at Master’s Sree demonstration in class – I realised there alignment and adjustment doesn’t just happen for just yoga postures, but looking and observing other people will act as mirror for us to realise what is wrong and what needs to be corrected. I used to practise Yoga on an adhoc-basis, treating it as a mindless activity as it seemed to be a mental escape from my environment and the various commitments I have in my life. However, after weeks of YTT practise, I too realised that Yoga is not a mindless activity – it as a sequence of movements that requires me to be focused on myself – and such awareness mirrors the self-awareness we need in our lives as well. As what Master Sree has said: Life is like a pattern, you enter yoga to break the pattern. Sometimes people are prepared to die, but they are not prepared for changes.

Questions to check-in with ourselves:

At times  it is difficult to answer certain questions and be truly honest with ourselves – there are truths that we find it difficult to face and being humans, the preference to stick to our comfort zones often outweigh us acknowledging that there are things we need to change, or things we have to face. Facing the truth often indicates us leaving our comfort zone – a bubble where we live in self-denial and not willing to admit Nor accept certain parts of ourselves. However, one step to develop better self-awareness and self consciousness is to first face the harsh truths – there are things we dislike about ourselves, about other people, about the world, and it is okay to acknowledge it and not suppress it – as these makes us another component of us. Like the moon, we often have our bright, lighted side by the sun, we too have our own shadow side – the parts which we like to conceal and hide from others. However, accepting this part of us is often crucial, and understanding our shadow side will allow us to understand ourselves better, in our actions, thoughts and emotions. Some questions that we can ask ourselves may include:

  • What are the things you truly dislike – what do you dislike about yourself, your environment, and the world? Why?
  • Who/what do you hate, and why?
  • What can you change about yourself? Why?
  • Who do you envision to be, and who do you not wish to become?
  • Which version of yourself is the best version of yourself?
  • What defines you – what are you good at, what adjectives will you use to define yourself?
  • What decisions do you truly regret?

Blog 2: Rediscovering myself with Yoga + Reflections (Day 10/20 of YTT)

Taking up this YTT course was a pure coincidence – my actual work was rescheduled to start in September, and I completed my research work with my University in End-June. Was looking around for something to ground me during this two-month break and chanced upon the studio’s social media ads for the YTT course. Coupled with my friend’s recommendation about the program and the studio – I took a leap of faith and register myself for this YTT.

For a long while, I wasn’t really sure if I was doing the right postures and was very uncertain about my foundation work for Yoga – there was a lot of things I don’t know and probably knew the basic Hatha Sequence and Virabhadrasana A. Despite these fears, i wanted to pursue Yoga proper too. Little did I knew how steep my learning curve would be – it’s like constant information overload for every single day and I felt I stressed that I don’t have time to digest the things I learned – be it the sequence, the poses, the Sanskrit words that we have to memorize, and the yoga philosophy – it felt overwhelming at first but subsequently, I think we managed to keep up with the tempo of the YTT schedule and find that right momentum to keep going. I always thought that Yoga is all about sequences and poses, but I realized there is more to practical work – the philosophy parts are equally important as well, which is something that isn’t taught in most places where I practiced Yoga.

With YTT – there were a few lifestyle habits that I had to force myself to change – for example, I started to eat breakfast (because Ashtanga Yoga is really intense for a morning session), also started to sleep earlier as I’m a night owl – I tend to sleep at 2-3 am, started to appreciate a routine lifestyle as previously my university life was literally all over the place – I don’t have a consistent schedule. As someone who craves stability, having a routine lifestyle was great, and slowly I began to enjoy it. I love that every morning I get to eat, read my news, see the sunrise from my bedroom, and get ready to go to the studio for the practical. It is something I will keep up after the YTT ends, and I like this new discovery of myself.

I also appreciate the morning philosophy sessions + mental exercises with Master Sree, I found that many yoga philosophies are aligned with what I knew from my religion (Buddhism), and there were things I felt I need to hear and remind myself again before I embark on a new journey – at my mid-20s where the world is changing rapidly, I need to keep myself in check and realign my life goals and principles – what truly matters to me and how do I keep myself grounded in this world? What are the values and principles that I should anchor myself with for the upcoming changes in my own personal life; what bad habits should I continue to work on – and what I need to learn to let go of.

It’s been a very tiring 10 days, and I wish I had more time to digest the things I have learned, however, this YTT opened my eyes to new perspectives that I never thought of and forgotten about, and indeed is a journey of rediscovering myself, and really grateful to be working on my spiritual awareness at the same time.

 

 

Blog Post 1 -Sattvic Diet for a Vata Singaporean

Never knew that in yoga, diets form an important aspect in a yogi’s journey. It is true when they said you are what you eat. Through a quiz that was assigned by the Masters, I was identified as a Vata-Pitta, but today we will focus on curating a Sattvic menu for a Vata body type.

Typically, a sattvic diet revolved around a concept that is applied in the choice of food we eat, and our eating habits as well – which is to adopt a “pure, essential, clean and energy-containing” essence in our diet. It complements the practice of Yama, specifically Ahimsa, which is the practice of non-violence. In theory, the sattvic diet places a huge emphasis on fresh/season foods, nuts, seeds, oils, ripe vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and non-meat based proteins. In modern literature, the sattvic diet is commonly referred to as the yogic diet. Often, vegetarian diets can be categorized as sattvic diets as well.

Vata corresponds to the following body parts: breath, circulation, mental activity, the passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract, joint function. When Vata is in balance, it helps to promote flexibility and creativity in self. When Vata is out of balance, it brings out the fear and anxiety within us.  The Vata Dosha revolves the element of Air and Space, and out of the three doshas – it has a high tendency to go out of balance as compared to Pitta and Kapha dosha, and hence is important to balance Vata through our food and eating habits.

In a post made by HalePule, ayurvedic diets also help to nourish and calm a Vata dosha, where they recommend the application of ayurvedic theories such as “like increases like the opposite brings balance.” Food is the best medicine and gives us prana – and a well-curated diet will help us to achieve the balance we seek in our daily lives as well.

In Singapore where food is a core anchor in our lives, to make a switch to pure Sattvic diet seems pretty difficult especially if you are a huge meat-eater! It is important to eat in moderation as well, as over-eating may make your Vata out of balance.

Therefore, for someone like me, a sample menu for a Vata as follows:

Breakfast: Warm Oatmeal + Sliced Banana, perhaps with a tablespoon of honey (manuka honey of course) + A glass of warm water to kickstart the day

Lunch: Roasted Vegetables seasoned with cumin powder/pepper and a pinch of salt (A good mix of asparagus, red beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, radish, zucchini, spinach and brussel sprouts (in small quantities)) + A glass of warm water

Dinner: One bowl of Brown Rice + Teochew Style Steamed Fish (with ginger and light soysauce) + An Apple + A glass of warm water