An Ultra Beginner Class

Who is considered as an ultra beginner exactly? Well, someone who has never done yoga before; someone who doesn’t do much exercise at all; or even, just take a look at the coffee shop across your house, those middle age people or elderlies that are relaxing and chilling away with their coffees in the lazy afternoons – those, are ultra beginners. 

 

If these group of people are to be considered as ultra beginners, that means the class would meant no downward dogs, nor any warriors. Then how should we plan such a class for 60 minutes? 

 

I played around with some poses, and tested them on the ‘ultra’ beginners that I could grab around me from office and among my friends, and this is what I’ve got.

 

  • Introduction

Sit comfortably, introduction of the session, open the class with OM chants

  • Deep breathing exercise

Inhale through the nose, exhale through the nose. Long deep breaths for 6 to 10 times

  • Warm ups
  1.  Neck Rotation
  2.  Shoulder Rotation
  3. Side bend/Stretches
  4. Vakrasana
  5. Baddha Konasana
  • Asanas
  1. Tadasana
  2. Padangusthasana
  3. Prasarita Padottanasana
  4. Vrksana
  5. Chakravakasana
  6. Dandayamana Bharmanasana
  7. Balasana
  • Counter stretches
  1. Apanasana
  2. Supta Matsyendrasana
  3. Ananda Balasana
  • Cool Down

Lie in Savasana

  • Closing

Chanting of 3 OMs to close the class. 

 

Namaste.

 

Still, some of the stretches were not easy, surprisingly, for these ultra beginners, but they are definitely manageable, and would suffice for an ultra beginner class for a good 60 minutes! 

Power of ‘OM’

 

I have always wondered why Yoga sessions always begin and end with OM chanting, and what does it actually mean?

 

And here’s what I’ve learnt. 

 

OM, also can be spelt and pronounced as AUM, is the highest sacred symbol in Hinduism.

It is a basic, yet sacred sound of the universe, and when pronounced correctly, you will realise it is actually a four-syllabus word. 

 

‘A’ begins in the solar plexus and it sends a vibration up into the chest, which represents ‘creation’. ‘U’ will roll and move that sound up into the throat through the upper palate, representing ‘manifestation’. M is a prolonged syllabus that enhances the vibration and then bring your teeth together, representing ‘destruction’. The last part is merging the chant into a blissful state of deep silence. And as a whole, it represents a union of the mind, body and spirit. 

 

By repeating this chant for 3 times before yoga, it increase your mental and emotional vibrations. It allow us to separate our practice from the rest of our day, reminding ourself to be mindful that this is a sacred time dedicated to the practise. The rhythmic pronunciation when done correctly causes vibrations that results in a calming effect on the body and the nervous system, which in turn may help to lower the blood pressure and increases the health of the heart. This vibration that is felt through your vocal cord can also clear and open up sinuses!

 

I hope this explanation can give the shy ones a little push! So, the next time when you join a yoga class, don’t be shy and give it a try! Join in the chanting of OM, loud and proud. Your body will thank you for it after that!

I have all I need – Asteya

What is Asteya, you may ask. 

 

Asteya, explained by many and all over the internet, means non-stealing on non-jealousy, coming from the 3rd attribute of YAMA in the 8 limbs of Yoga. 

 

But textbook explanation aside, what exactly does it mean?

 

Asteya actually means so much more than not physically taking something from someone else. It means cravings. It also means desires. Craving and desire for things that mankind will long for, which they do not possess, even things such as time and space. This feeling often arises from the lack confidence and faith in ourselves, and the fear that we are inadequate in our life. This ‘lack’, in particular, may refer to insecurity, wanting, or a feeling of incomplete. When these emotions overwhelm, one may begin to look for something to fill up that emptiness, and may even feel as if everyone else has got what we wanted, which in turn may lead to greed. 

 

But what we often forget is that, these wants and desires in life are not what we truly need. Our happiness is not dependent on what we have. It’s on one’s mindset. It is about practicing knowing that we are enough, and have enough. We do not need to be jealous of other people or admire them for what we do not have as we are all different in our very own ways. We need to learn to live our own values, play our own strengths, and embrace our own body. We must feel thankful and practise gratitude, then will we feel the confidence and contentment. 

 

Always have a mindset that we do not lack anything, and should be grateful for the abundance we already have at hand. 

 

“Comparison is the thief of joy”, this quote by Theodore Roosevelt could be something we can keep in mind every day to practice Asteya, to remind ourselves constantly that – I have all I need. 

Relieving My Anxiety Through Yoga

It’s undeniable that stress and anxiety issue has become increasingly pervasive in this modern world that we live in. Again, and again, we see people being overwhelmed with pressure coming from all aspects of their lives, and thus resulting in a noticeable downwards trend in the state of people’s emotional well-being. There are times when we would spend hours worrying about something that has yet to happen, or just be too bothered by what others thought or said – because, well, that was me, drowning in that anxiety whirlpool. 

 

Anxiety disorder was not easy to deal with, though you might wonder, how hard could it be? Well, there are many times where I will be in such a heightened state of nervousness and fear, which would escalate to the point where I would start feeling shortness of breath. There’s constant excessive worrying in life, which makes daily life difficult to focus and concentrate. Sleep disturbance became a norm, and insomnia somewhat triggers more anxiety, and thus becoming a vicious cycle. Anxiety can also bring about fatigue and restlessness, with days you would not want to get out of bed nor socialize. And the symptoms go on and on. I had to deal with it. I had to live this. I had to address this anxiety. 

 

I sought professional help, and was prescribed with medication. But that’s not a long term solution. I know I cannot, and should not rely on that treatment plan. That’s when I was recommended to practise meditations and mindfulness, and in short -Yoga.

 

Though Yoga is said to be able to relieve anxiety, most people will tend to simply follow the teacher blindly and perform the poses to the best of their ‘looks’, rather than how the poses should feel. And many of them would therefore not know that, these poses, known as asanas, actually can calm your nervous system if you do them correctly with the right alignments. They help to lower tensions and promote relaxations of the muscles in the body, as physical tensions are what we actually experience in most fight or flight situations.

Many of the controlled breathing yoga exercises known as Pranayama, actually soothes our nervous system as well. It teaches us to breathe with awareness, focusing on nothing but our breaths in that present moment. As we breathe slowly and deeply, we will feel much calmer and less uneasy, and this controlled breathing will deactivate the body’s stress response. 

Also, Yoga teaches us to have flexible and healthy mindsets. Many of us were stuck in the anxiety cycle due to many rigid and inflexible mindsets. We run away from triggers instead of facing them. Through Yama and Niyama, it teaches me to be more self-accepting, and feel contentment, and also to be self-motivated and discipline. That I should also learn to face my fears and have courage, even if I don’t succeed at my very first try, I will eventually get there as long as I do not give up. 

Last but not least, through constant practice of concentration, and withdrawal of senses, it provides us with an opportunity to take step back, take a look at, and observe ourselves. It also relieves us from distractions and the saturated negative and toxic thoughts inhabiting in our mind, allowing us to put attention only on what we are focusing, 

In retrospect, though stress is an evitable part of our busy, modern life, we should never neglect our mental well-being. It’s a long journey of recovery, and it isn’t an easy one. I am truly glad and gratified that I am being introduced and exposed to Yoga. Yoga is such a powerful adjunct treatment for my anxiety, and it certainly has changed my life tremendously one way or another. I truly hope it does the same for you too.