How Do We Apply Yamas in Our Modern Life?

Yama is the first limb of yoga according to Raja the eight limbs of yoga, that focuses on our behaviour and perspective of life. I personally find the 5 yamas concept very useful even in a modern material world.
The Five Yamas
Ahimsa: Non-violence
Satya: No-lying
Asteya: Non-stealing
Brahmacharya: Celibacy, preserve the vital energy
Aparigraha: Non-possesive
How Do we apply Yamas in our Modern Life
Ahimsa means non-violence and is not just about physical harm but also mental harm. We need to be more mindful how our thoughts and words might hurt other people’s feeling.
Satya means truthfulness and not telling lies. However, white lies are often excusable since our initial intention is good. Also, the truth should be reflected in your spoken and unspoken words.
Asetya means non-stealing, which is applicable more than material things. There are lots of things one can steal. One can steal someone’s time if not being punctual. One can steal someone’s intellectual work by plagiarism and taking other people’s credit in the workplace. Do respect other people’s time and work.
Brahmacharya is often identified with celibacy. Preservation of vital energy through moderation in sexual activity is part of brahmacharya. This is a old-fashioned view of the practice. The main idea is to preserve our vital energy and stay focused. We need to develop awareness of which sense experiences are harmful or excessive.
Aparigraha means not possessive. Do not have emotional attachment with material stuff or a certain person so we do not form the habit of hoarding stuff. Stay alert with the lures from advertisement, since the sellers try to implant unconscious influence inside of us to feel happy about owning a certain products. A simple philosophy of applying aparigraha is to be happy with what you have without emotional attachment and do not be sad with what you do not have.

Sound Meditation: Why it Helps?

Sound has an ancient kinship with meditation and healing.
Sound baths is a meditative experience, where the attendees are “bathed” in sound waves. By using repetitive notes at different frequencies, you will be able to remove your thoughts and enter to the meditation stage. Generally, these sounds are created with crystal bowls, gemstone bowls, cymbals, and gongs.
Sound meditation is a type of meditation that focuses on the hearing sense. There is an ancient sound healing ritual practice, similar to modern sound baths, that uses Tibetan singing bowls, quartz and bells in the session. The practices highlighted how the experience of sound manifests not only through hearing but also through tactile physical vibrations and varying frequencies.

Current research has also indicated music has mental and physical health benefits in improving mood and reducing stress. There are many different theories that attempt to explain why sound experiences can be linked with deep relaxation and physical pain relief.
One hypothesis is that sound can numb our pain perception by stimulating touch fiber through the vibrational tactile effects in our body. Study has found that low-frequency sound stimulation improves sleep and decreases pain.
Another hypothesis is that while listening to certain frequencies of the sound, our brain can synchronize and change the electrical activities (brainwave) accordingly. The premise of the second hypothesis is that the brain synchronizes its brainwave frequency to the difference in hertz between tones played in each ear, which, depending on the frequency, can lead one to states of deep relaxation associated with beta waves or meditative theta waves.
Try to discover the sound healing effect next time when you do meditation.


Muscle Anatomy’s Application on Lower Back Yoga

Lower back pain (LBP) is the fifth most common reason for physician visits and it affects nearly 60~80% of people throughout their lifetime. While the lumbar spine is sturdy and resilient, it is subject to a high degree of stress and loads, which may cause various problems, resulting in pain.

Lumbar spine plays an important role in our daily activities. 1. Support and stabilize the upper body 2. Allow truncal movement 3. Protect the spinal cord and cauda equina 4. Control lower body movement with lumbar spinal nerves control the sensation in the legs. ……

Lower back pain can be caused by the muscles and ligaments of the back or lumbar vertebrae. The lower back muscle anatomy includes the multifidus longissimus spinalis (spinalis lumborum, longissimus lumborum and Iliocostalis lumborn), quadratus lumborum, psoas, erector spinae, transversospinales and etc.

Movements that put stress on the back can result in pulled muscles. For example, lifting a heavy object, twisting while lifting, falling, or some sports could cause lower back pain. Acute pain from a lower back strain can resolve in a short amount of time, but low levels of pain can continue for weeks or months after the initial injury. After two weeks, back muscles can start atrophy from lack of use and cause more pain. If the lower back pain is not addressed properly, it can even lead to disability.

Try the following poses to activate the lower back muscle and build the awareness of the lumbar to prevent yourself from lower back pain.

  1. Cat-Cow Pose: This pose provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs

This gentle, accessible backbend stretches and mobilizes the spine. Practicing this pose also stretches your torso, shoulders, and neck.

Muscles worked:

  • erector spinae
  • rectus abdominis
  • triceps
  • serratus anterior
  • gluteus maximus
  1. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend): Uttanasana is a symmetrical pose, offering the opportunity to identify asymmetry and imbalances between the two sides of the body, It is also a form of inversion which helps to lengthen the spinal muscles to prevent from lower back injury from tight muscle


Muscles worked:

  • Spinal Muscles
  • Psoas
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Piriformis
  • Adductor magnus








How Do You Open Up Your Hips?

Do you often find tightness in your hamstring and glute muscles? Do you find it difficult to do lotus pose or split your legs apart?
I am one of the inflexible yoga students who find lotus pose being one of the most challenging poses in the whole of Ashatanga primary sequence.

Why we need to do hip-opening exercise?
Apart from yoga poses, most of our daily tasks involves the usage of our hip joints. When hips are tight, it will increase the load and cause overuse of the spine and this is why tight hips are often correlated with back pain.
Tight hips affect everything from performing your usual daily task to hindering your ability to get into intermediate yoga poses. Of course, we should not treat the yoga asana as ends but a mean to other parts of our lives.

Which group of people is vulnerable to tight hips?
One category of people at a higher risk of developing tight hip flexor muscles is those who sit for long periods of time or actively engage in exercises that repeatedly pull their knees towards the torso (e,g: runner).
Understanding about hip joint:
Hips are ball and socket joints, which are the most mobile joints in your body. The head of each thigh bone (femur bone) forms the “ball’, which sits in the socket (acetabulum) of your pelvis. Ball and socket joints are required in circumduction, which means moving in all three planes, like when you swing your leg in a circle.

Our hip joint consist of more than 20 muscles.
Hip joint has 6 movement: flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, external and internal rotation. When we try to open up our hips, remember to practice all 6 movements rather than focusing only on one or two.

How to use yoga poses to open your hip joint while balancing in all 6 directions?
1. Flexion: Flexion at the hip joint means pulling your thigh up to your chest
Asanas: Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1)

2. Extension: Extension is taking the leg back.
Asanas: Yoga poses that extend the hip joint will create an opening and stretch the front of the hips in the sagittal plane. Most poses including lunges and backbends, and would help with hip extension. e.g: Virabhadrasana I (Warrior 1), Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
3. Abduction: Abduction refers to the movement of the coronal plane at the hip by taking the legs apart
Asanas: Prasarita Padottanasnana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend)

4. Adduction: Bringing your legs together with movement involving coronal plane is called adduction.
Asanas: Sirsasana (Head Stand),Garudasan (Eagle Poses)

5. External rotation: External rotation happens when we try to turn our thighs out in the transverse plane.

Asanas: Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle) front leg,

6. Internal rotation: Internal rotation happens when we try to turn in our thigh in the transverse plane.
Asanas:Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose); Virasana (Hero Pose), Tadasana (Mountain Pose)