Ever since moving to Singapore from the UK in 2012, I have been increasingly intrigued and impressed by the flexibility of the locals. Although my hips are not very flexible, I have been attending intermediate classes for a number of years.
Quite often I will find that there are a number of poses that I cannot even attempt due to me inflexiblity. This extends to binds as well. During the YTT at Tirisula yoga and looking more closely at muscles actions and movements, I’m interested to discover if I can ever come to a full lotus pose. After following the advice from Master Sree to frog pose and a half lotus for extended periods, I have been able to form some variation of a full lotus.
The fact that holding conditioning poses for extended periods has improved my flexibility leads me to think that regular yin yoga sequences would be a good idea for me and many other westerners who like to practice intermediate of even advanced yoga but have tight hips.
What are some yon yoga hip stretched that I could consider using in my practise?
Winged Dragon (five-minute hold on each side)
Shoelace (five-minute hold on each side)
During the final week of YTT at Tirisula Yoga, we have been learning about the business side of yoga. Master Sree has spoken about his most popular class where his students practise fun postures, like forward roles that they have not practised since childhood. This idea intrigued me because I’m a primary school teacher and children like to have fun. We tend to be less concerned about fun as adults.
I have come to understand and appreciate that Vinyasa, Hatha and Ashtanga are the main styles of yoga, but what are some of the more unusual styles that have surfaced in more recent time?
1 Yoga Rave – As Yoga Rave put it “The Yoga Rave Project will bring the spiritual element back to celebration and the way we have fun, offering a drug free alternative for our youth to gather and release their energy and tension.”
2 Goat yoga is yoga practiced in the presence of — and in tandem with – live goats.
3 Broga Yoga is a yoga class geared for men (where it’s okay if you can’t touch your toes).
4 Laughter Yoga is one of the more developed unusual styles of Yoga, counting with its own world conferences and even its own “Laughter Yoga University.”
5 Tantrum Yoga is a yoga class shaking, screaming, foot-stamping and chest-thumping.
Master Sree spoke about teaching from the mind and inspiring others rather than doing the same. I intend to spend some time trying out some different styles and planning some more creative lessons… maybe I’ll try one of these classes if I can find one online.
If you’re in the midst of Yoga Teacher Training or have already completed it, you’ll probably know that eating a protein rich breakfast will provide the stamina for hours of san salutations, vinyasas and inversions. Throughout YTT with Tirisula Yoga, I have experimented with a range of breakfasts. Master Sree advised that we should eat no sooner than 2 hours before morning practise.
During the first week, I would make a fruit smoothie with berries, peanut butter, seeds and coconut milk. During the second week, I attempted boiled eggs and bacon. I found that the smoothie was easy to consume early in the morning, however, it did not sustain my muscle strength during the 3-hour morning practise. During side planks, my arms would start to give way. The eggs and bacon contained more protein but I experienced nausea during during poses that engaged the core.
During week three, my partner suggested making a protein-rich Caramel Cookie Dough Slice. WHAT A GAME CHANGER! I was able to hold arm balancing for longer periods and managed a headstand without a wall (with assistance).
While this might not be the most traditional of breakfasts, it is filled with protein and healthy fats. I can eat a small square of it and feel ready tackle advanced poses without. I’ve not experienced any nausea during physical practise.
COOKIE DOUGH BASE:
1 ½ Cups Almond Meal
3 Tbsp Coconut Flour
2 scoops Vanilla Noway Protein Powder
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
1 Tbsp monkfruit/stevia
1 Tbsp Vanilla Essence
2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
Dash of almond milk until a dough consistency is reached
Sugar-free choc chips
1 ½ Cups dates soaked and blended with date water
3 Tbsp peanut butter
3 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp coconut oil
Dark chocolate of choice
To make your cookie dough base, mix together all the dry ingredients (except the choc chips) in a bowl.
In a separate bowl or mug melt together the coconut oil, peanut butter, vanilla essence and sweetener. Stir until well combined.
Add mixture to your dry ingredients and slowly add in the almond milk until you have a dough-like consistency.
Make sure the mixture has cooled down and add in ½ of your choc chips – if it’s too warm they will melt.
Press mixture into a silicon tray and place in the freezer to set while you make the caramel.
For the caramel – melt together the peanut butter, maple syrup and coconut oil and stir well till a caramel consistency is reached. Mix in the blended dates.
Pour the caramel over the cookie dough base and place back in the freezer to set.
Once hardened melt your chocolate and pour over the top.
Let the chocolate set before slicing up.
At the very beginning of YTT, learning Sankrit asana names seemed a huge obstacle to me. Sanskrit names are integral to my progress and languages are not my strong point. I tried hard to hear the sounds when Master Sree spoke in Sanskrit and vigorously searched the manual during theory lessons. However, I knew that I needed to self-study and find methods that suited my learning style.
Which methods have I tried?
1. I made a 1-page resource for each sun salutation (large images and names) so that I could practise poses while speaking. I felt a positive shift in confidence. This was the initial breakthrough.
2. I downloaded the “Yoga 108” app recommended by Master Sree. This was useful because I was able to study the Sanskrit and English names for poses at my own pace and play the audio, which helped me to learn pronunciation.
3. I recorded myself saying the Sanskrit names for the sun salutations and played it back to myself while completing the poses. It helped me to be less embarrassed about my pronunciation during studio practise.
4. I asked my partner to follow my instructions in English and then in Sanskrit. He seemed impressed, which gave me some confidence. We practised for an hour at night and 30 minutes in the morning before class. I noticed an improvement in my memory.
4. Finally, a friend offered to make me some flashcards with English/Sanskrit names for ashtanga Series 1 poses. She also broke down some of the words for me, such as Ardha means half, Baddha means bound, Padma means lotus and so on. I’m still working on remembering so many names but knowing some common words is really useful.
Although I have a long way to go, I can now see that it is possible to learn to Sanskrit names and most of all overcome self-doubt by practising regularly.