Yoga as we age

For our first attempt at lesson planning, Master Sree asked us to teach an ultra beginner’s class as if we were teaching grannies how to do yoga. It was quite a fun exercise thinking of easy poses that could be modified, how you would help an elderly person get into such a pose and also pretending to be grannies in a yoga class.
When I was back home and planning for the 30 minute class we had to teach the next day, my mum saw me struggling and suggested that I try out my lesson plan on her. I was quite confident she’ll easily manage a 30 minute class as she’s pretty healthy and fit for her age. Then my dad came around and was curious as well so I ended up agreeing to teach both my parents a short yoga class. I tried to tailor my class to 2 senior citizens above 60, while they do exercise regularly, they are completely new to Yoga. With all this in mind, I tried to modify what I had planned so that everything would be doable. However, I was pleasantly surprised. My parents were a lot more capable that I gave them credit for and I even might say a bit competitive with each other. They did so well that I taught them 1 or 2 ‘hard poses’ as well.
This made me reflect afterwards, what constitutes ‘Yoga’ and what it means for other people. We might not always have a name or detailed steps for getting into a pose, but doing some back stretches in the morning or a few sit ups to wake up the body, is still movement. My dad waking up 15 minutes earlier each morning to do these simple exercises seem to have done him well. Movements that keep your joints active and your body healthy.
I think yoga for me is less and less about hitting a certain number of classes per week, but rather how it can be incorporated into my daily life and also for a long time from now. I can only hope that my practice be it physical, mental or spiritual will keep me healthy even in 60s and beyond 🙂

Starting a home practice

Having started going for classes 2-3 years ago, my practice usually revolved around going for a 60 min class maybe once or twice on a good week. I just didn’t quite know what to do without a teacher instructing through poses and keeping count. Doing yoga at home didn’t even cross my mind. It’s quite possible that I didn’t want to have to think what next and liked that I just have to follow along especially after a long tiring day at work.

Last year, things changed a little and I decided to buy myself a good mat so that it would entice me to practice yoga on my own rather than depend on classes. I tried sometimes for a couple of minutes whatever I could briefly remember from classes or watched online videos that could guide me along. However, I would easily get distracted and could never stay on the mat for longer than 20 minutes.

Jump forward to this week, I realised how I actually look forward to time on the mat where I can have my personal practice, be it trying to master a pose or simple stretching out in cat-cow. The time we’ve spent on lesson planning comes in handy here and what better way to make use of these skills learnt than to apply on yourself. I find myself thinking of how I want to start my practice, what warm up poses should I start with, and if I had a pose I wanted to master, how I should complement it with some preparatory poses and then counter poses.

It is quite interesting looking back seeing how my practice has evolved and will continue to evolve. As for now I’m excited for what’s next and where this new home practice will take me.

Studying for the theory exam

As we’re reaching close to the end of the course, the stress of an exam is beginning to set in. I’ve not had to study since I last left Uni. What if I can’t remember all the tough Sanskrit names, all the details on the muscular or skeletal system!? While it all seems a lot more daunting now with a set deadline being exam day, I also recognise that push when under pressure and time constraint circumstances can sometimes be the push we all need. The hard part is juggling time at work and time I have to study. I started my week with a plan and a checklist of stuff to tick off as the week progressed but as always things get pushed back especially if I had a long day at work and didn’t come home in time for my allocated study session, things would naturally have to be carried over to the next day. Suddenly I realised I have 5 days to the exam but not that much information in my head. This is where I found some study tips really handy and I thought I’d share it here.

1. Printed out a poster I found online of the Ashtanga Primary series poses. While the printed version didn’t have great resolution, you can still work with it. After learning the names of poses from the text, I tested myself by writing out the names in Sanskrit.

2. Learning some key Sanskrit words and their meaning. Master Sree had taught us some cheat codes to help in remembering Sanskrit. It’s easier knowing the meaning of “Pada”, “Ardha”, and other repeated words.
3. Creating cue cards that you can ask your family or friend to test you on. I even looked up an app for this but didn’t have the time to test it out. Apparently, also very helpful for learning a new language.
Lastly, amidst all the studying and stress of an exam, remember to practice Pranayama and some asanas. You could take it as killing 2 birds with one stone, getting some learning in as well as your daily practice.

Why I decided to do a YTT

It has been something that I have considered since 2017, but always seemed quite far reaching for me given I felt I was not good enough in my practice for something so intense.

Come 2019, I’m still at the same level I would deem myself as 2 years ago and I thought to myself maybe the only way to get better in my practice is to just go for it. While searching for studios and which YTT I wanted to join, I also discovered my close friend and yoga buddy, Stacy was considering a YTT too. After some convincing we both decided starting our course in Jan 2020 would be a good way to start the year and went ahead to put in a down payment making it OFFICIAL.

Now looking back at the 9 weeks of Yoga, I can say one thing you’ll never be 100% ready but if it’s some thing you truly want, the only way to get better is to just go for it.