My journey of discovery

Coming to yoga teacher training course with a special agenda of mine… to find out how yoga can help me in having healthy, glowing and flawless skin. This journey allows me to explore more in depth about what I can do to make this happen.

It’s undeniable that toxins in our body, free radicals and hormone imbalances would hinder us from getting a good healthy skin. Environmental factors such as stress, diet, UV exposure, climate can cause major skin problems such as rashes, acne, pimples or even hair fall.

Skin being the largest organ of our body will naturally be affected if is not well taken care of.

Proper diet plays an important part to attain good healthy skin. Sattvik diet is a pure vegetarian diet which includes seasonal fresh fruit, ample fresh vegetables, whole grain, pulses, sprouts, dried nuts, seeds, honey, fresh herbs, milk and dairy products which are free from animal rennet. The word sattvic means “pure essence,” and sattvic foods are thought to be pure and balanced, offering feelings of calmness, happiness, and mental clarity. I have learned more towards sattvic diet preference and cut down on rajasic diet. This diet allows me to see the change in my complexion. Having said all, It’s vital to consume the right amount of Vitamin C; particularly from fresh fruits. Enough fibre intake of veg and fruits is also essential. One should also expose more to early morning sun ray before 9 am as it has tremendous healing elements.

When we incorporate them into yoga practice, it actually help in improving the digestive system. This will also enhance the blood flow in our body and thus every part of our body is sufficiently oxygenated hence a better skin. Yoga asana pranayama helps in regulating oxygen flow in our body too. Irritants and pollution in the atmosphere are some external factors for damaging our skin. For example, pollen from flowers causing allergy. By Increasing/building our immunity perhaps may lower the chances we will be affected by them. Of course undoubtedly, skin should also be attended to and should be cared for externally. Part of my findings was to use a towel to exfoliate my skin just like what my granny used to do… more like the ancient way of scrubbing your skin without the use of chemicals to remove dead skin and unclogging the pores. Using milk or coconut oil instead of commercial skin care.

Dermatology and psyche are inter-related. If you are stressed and tensed or overwhelmed with anxiety. This will affect your body. Mind plays an important role in skin health. Psychodermatology has always been used to address skin problems related to the mind. Yoga is however, always focused on the root cause of all disease related to the mind. For example, letting your body repair and work on the hormone that responsible for your skin by having good night sleep and relaxed meditation. It is believe to sit in a quiet moment for 10 mins a couple of times a day and to have music and mantra in your mind will destress and calm your mind immensely. Doing a good amount of shavasana or makarasana is also beneficial to soothe and tranquillise the mind.

This is just some findings of my discovery journey and I am sure there are a lot more for me to discover. I will definitely make this yoga practice a long life learning journey and be part of my life 😉

Yoga Philosophy

Yoga is not only the asana practice. It’s much more and beyond that. It accepts three reality – purusha( consciousness), prakriti (matter) and ishvara (god). It primarily emphasises on the practices and disciplines to control the modification of body, breath, senses and especially control of your mind.

Yoga word is derived from root word ‘yuj” which means to yoke or concentrate or to unite. It authored or compiled by Sage Patanjali.

It compiled around 200 BC. It’s called patanjali yoga sutra, containing 196 sutras. Yoga chitta vritti nirodha main focus is 1. mind, 2. obstacles to yoga, 3. Systematic yoga practice, 4. Attainment tot the highest goal.

Sage Patanjali’s system of meditation is called Ashtanga. It means 8 parts of limbs. It emphasised on how to live a meaningful and purposeful of life. They serve as a prescription for moral and ethical conduct and self-discipline; they direct attention toward one’s health; and they help us to acknowledge the spiritual aspects of our nature.

The eight limbs of yoga are 1. yamas (abstinences / five restrains / prohibition), 2. niyama (five observances), 3. asana (postures), 4. pranayama (control of breathing), 5. pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), 6. dharana (concentration), 7. dhyana (meditation) and 8. samadhi (total of absorption). The eight limbs form a sequence from the outer to the inner. The first 5 is external practice in nature or they are called bahiranga sadhana or technically call it hatha yoga. The last 3 limbs which is internal practice (dhyana yoga)

There are 5 niyamas that cultivate of dharmic virtues. Santosha mandates contentment and forbearance.

Santosha

The Sanskrit word santosha is divided into two parts: sam, meaning completely or entirely, and tosha, meaning acceptance, satisfaction, and contentment.

How can I apply that in my life: particularly during my yoga practice

I often doubt myself or have some negative thoughts about myself that I cannot do certain poses. For example, While I am working my way into a posture (downward facing dog/ chtturanga plank and etc) and i just couldn’t help but take a peek around the room to see whether I am doing ‘ok’ compare to someone else in the class. And I concluded that I did the worst in the class.

Well, I have to believe in myself and accept my flaws and work on it, I have to accept myself for what I am and appreciate what i have and what I am already, and moving forwards from there.

How others can apply in their lives:

Having said all, this doesn’t mean we are sitting back and relinquish the need to do anything. It simply means be contented and be focused. The most important message to take away from this? is in our nature to want more, to not let ourselves rest until we’ve satisfied some temporary happiness or urge, for example, losing weight, getting an ideal job or being able to get ourselves into that yoga posture we’ve been working towards instead, be Contented even when your situation is very far from ideal.

Because once we’ve conquered what we wanted, but how long does it really last? Once we’ve reached that place of temporary peace, we ultimately become very attached to this feeling, and fight to keep hold of it, eventually leading to sadness again until we find that next goal to make us ‘happy’. We remind ourselves. This is enough. This is perfect. All is wonderful. Feeling satisfied with your possessions, your status and your situation.

Pranayama – sama vritti

Pranayama is the yogic practice of focusing on breath. Prana means “vital life force”, and yama means to gain control. In yoga, breath is associated with the prana, thus, pranayama is a means to elevate the Prana shakti, or life energies.

I have done some research on breathing techniques of Sama Vritti,

In Sanskrit, ‘sama‘ means ‘equal,’ ‘vritti‘ means ‘rotation/flow,’. Sama Vritti Pranayama is part of the yoga practice that teaches one to breath in four steps. This kind of breathing in English is called the Square Breathing or sometimes called Four Parts Even Breathing. (Nose) / boxing breathing

The four steps or the breathing cycle is given below:

  1. Puraka (Inhalation)
  2. Antar Kumbhaka (Retention after Inhalation)
  3. Rechaka (Exhalation)
  4. Bahya Kumbhaka (Retention after Exhalation)

Without changing anything observe the natural inhalation, the exhalation and the natural pauses between each breath.

  1. Begin with an exhale for the count of four.
  2. Hold on the exhale for the count of four.
  3. Inhale for the count of four.
  4. Hold on the inhale for the count of four.

The benefits

It can help you to cope with panic and stress when feeling overwhelmed.  It helps you to sleep when you are having insomnia. To control hyperventilation as you can instruct your lungs to breathe rhythmically. To stay focused when you are having a busy or stressful day. (Focusing the mind helping to remove distractions making it easier to concentrate and meditate.) Refining the breath and awareness of prana flow. Conscious inhalation of equal duration helps to improve the capacity of the lungs. It helps to energize the sleeping cells of the body. Long and deep inhalation (Puraka) build strong awareness. When Prana consciously held inside the body for equal counts its capacity to charge other organs increased automatically. It distributes the energy equally to all the organs of the body.

Pigeon pose

The pigeon pose is one of the well liked yoga poses that helps release tension points and improve the mobility and flexibility in the hip joints. This pose requires particularly high mobility in the hip joint. Limited and improper rotation in practice can cause severe damage to the knee joint.

Anatomy to perform pigeon pose

Start on tabletop position and step one leg forward with the knee bend in between your hands. The front knee is bent in the sagittal plane. Take the foot away from the thigh to open the angle while keeping the hips square (pelvis neutral). it creates rotation In the hip and knee joints.

The back leg is straight and the foot is in plantar flexion (untuck toes). Keeping the pelvis in the centre and neutral.

The hands are placed on the floor to the sides of the knee. Maintain in this position and Inhale while the chest opens forward and upward, lifting the sternum, depressing your scapula. During elevation and thoracic extension, the back erector spinae muscle contracts and the iliopsoas muscles of the back legs are stretched.

Exhale and descend slightly with the pelvis in the centre and neutral without slumping to one side.

After a few breaths, bring the hands forward on the floor with palms facing down and rest your forehead between the hands. This movement integrates external rotation in the hip joint and flexion of hip. Muscles such as gluteus medius, piriformis, gluteus minimums, gluteus maximus are stretched and lengthened during this motion.

Students should feel the stretch only at the hip joint. One should get out from the pose immediately if there is any strain at the knee joint. Pressing the legs while applying force into the position is one of the most dangerous things in the pigeon pose and can lead to severe injury in the supporting ligaments of the knee joints. Never force or pressure a students to perform or stay in this position if they feel ache or pain in the knee joint.

In case of knee pain in the pigeon pose. One can try to reduce the angle between the knee and thigh to avoid or reduce rotation. Alternatively one can also increase the flexibility and mobility of the hip joint and hip rotator flexibility. Use a block or a blanket to elevate one side of the pelvis to maintain the pelvis neutral.