My Journey to Yoga

It was 4 years back when I had my ever first experience in yoga practice. At that time my idea towards yoga is just one exercise that could help me get in a better body shape and at the same time relief my stress from my work and studies. Apart from a full time job in the daytime, I had to go for part-time night course to further my studies. Thus there’re overwhelming level of stresses which had caused an negative impact on my physical and mental wellbeing.

Knowing the symptoms caused by stress , I started to find some activities that can ease the stress and calm myself down by clearing my thoughts and mind after a long busy day. So here’s how yoga came in my mind.

During that period of time, I didn’t think much deeply about yoga like it’s origins, philosophy and etc. I simply just enjoyed the whole physical practices and the benefits it brought to me. I attended the yoga class almost everyday after work except those days for night classes or dates with friends. It lasted me for about a year. After that I got distracted by other sport activities so I stopped going for it. But in deep inside of me, I truly enamoured in yoga. I deeply believed that one day I will come back again by all means.

Now, after four years, I’m married and have a baby girl with me. It’s an another stages of life. This is the period where I truly know what is it feel like being a mum. It’s definitely a challenging journey to me, yet rewarding at the same time especially whenever I look into her beautiful eyes on her little tiny face.

Becoming a parent for the first time is “the ultimate shift from self-centred living to selfless living” – Carolyn Wagner

It’s truly a life changing moment. It takes unbelievable amounts of patience, constantly worry for every little things, always in a heightened state of awareness and tends to be physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted everyday. So here’s where I call yoga in my mind again.

Another reason is by being a stay-home-mum, I always looking for a flexible job that can earn some extra income at the same time looking after my baby. Besides that I always want to have some me time to do workout or exercise to sweat myself out for a boost of positive energy. Thus sounds like being a yoga instructor fits all my desires in one go. This fully explains why I’m here with Tirisula YTT 200 Hr course and I know I’m getting nearer and nearer to my goal now.

I strongly believe that it’s never too late to pursue our dream no matter how our life circumstances turn us in. Takes the very first step forward, even though just a small one, you will be surprised how a brand new life awaits you!

What makes my favorite yoga class?

As I am going through my lessons plan, I thought it would be helpful to reflect on what make me enjoy a yoga class, so that I can learn from the best practices that I have observed.

I remember a favorite teacher of mine used to say “you should try every teacher’s class as everyone is very different”. Clearly each teacher has very different style – military, relaxing, funny, serious etc… but for me – all of my favorite teacher has one thing in common – they always give me the best experience during their class, regardless of class difficulty level.

So… what does experience mean?

“Something that happens to you that affects how you feel” – Cambridge Dictionary

These teachers made me feel by:

  1. Giving me time to experience my pose – they talk just enough, and give me time to enjoy and go deeper in the pose. I recall taking some very beginner classes yet still enjoying them because each time it felt different for each posture.
  2. They remind me to keep breathing – either by simply saying “keep breathing” or maintain their very steady breath. As a teacher student – we all know now breathing is a very important aspect of yoga.
  3. They gently correct my posture – and through that enabling me to go deeper and deeper into my practice.
  4. They set the stage – by chanting and dimming the light. I found white fluorescent light stressful – it reminds me of a hawker center!

What is Yoga Teacher Training all about?

Have you ever thought “I can’t even do headstand how can I ever dream of becoming a yoga instructor”? . Well, the good news is you are not alone! And the best news is… Yoga Teacher Training is not about getting the perfect posture. It is about enjoying the process, through which you will come out a better person with a much deeper understanding of yoga, and more importantly, of yourself.

For me, it is about awareness. Each class taught me valuable insights about mind and consciousness; and that we are only part of a much bigger universe. I learnt about being happy is to be at ease with yourself, with no expectation of self or others. These awareness help me look at life with different lenses and not live life in a motion.

It is about building trust. Trust that your teacher will guide you through the process to ‘rewire’ your brain, and trust your classmates as they teach you, and you teach them.

It is about building confidence to stand in front of a class. As I go through my lesson planning I gain empathy with different kind of students by putting myself in their shoes. I learnt how to use my facilitation skill to guide them through a class. And more important, I learnt to use my voice – its tone and volume to command or relax a room.

How I found Yoga Teacher Training

How I found yoga is somewhat…typical! Being tired of the corporate life, looking for something to ‘detach’, challenging myself with each poses… and here I am – a nearly graduate of the 200 Hours Yoga Teacher Training. Who would have thought  that I could (in a very near future) become a yoga instructor! 


Believe it or not – my decision to participate in this course was very impromptu. I have always been enjoying yoga, coming to Tirisula for the past two years where teachers and classmates are like my family. In each practice I became more amazed at my body and what it is capable of; and that made me realize that I have not connected and listened to my body at all. In today world we often focus on working our mind but neglect our body; or more importantly – the wholeness of mind and body. I started to feel curious about how my body works, and how each poses that I enjoy so much can have a positive effect on me.  


As simple as that – a curious thought that urged me to embark on the TTC journey. Reflecting on my 2 months study – that curious thought has helped me open countless doors of yoga knowledge that I will forever be thankful for. 


And interesting enough – in the second lesson by Sree – we were taught to always be curious, ask lots of questions and make conflicting stories!

You and Your Mind

Through the 200 hour course, we heard about the Brahman and the Atman and how one ties into the other. The human consciousness is nothing but a mirror of the higher consciousness… but that is only once we learn to live in silence. Silence from distractions, from thoughts, from noise and pollutants that infiltrate our senses almost single second of every day!

We have our phones feeding us with updates and news of people and things around the world constantly. If it isn’t that, we have friends and family and their lives that we think about. Not to forget the stress of finances and employment and so many other things.
But I feel, most of all, I have to start with my mind. My mind loves to make excuses. It’s the first thing that gives up when I’m in a challenging situation. It is the first one to start complaining when something isn’t going right. It also is the first one to put me down when I haven’t met expectations. Why is my mind against me? 

Here’s the juice – minds are like dogs. If you train them, you get a loyal companion for life. If you don’t train them, you end up a messy, indisciplined, unruly stranger who doesn’t really have your best interests at heart.

It happened to me today!We’re nearing the end of our course and for the last few days we’ve been focussing on theory of yoga more than the practice of asanas. Today after a very long time we had a super intense practice and I could hear the voice beginning to get louder. “How much longer”, “We’ve already done 10 rounds, why is he making us do 5 more?”, “This is inhumane”.

Oh and let’s not forget the excuses – “It’s more important to be safe than to push harder and hurt myself”, “This is not going to come in the exam so it’s okay to not do it the best right now”, “Endurance can be built over time – I’ll start once this course is over, I can slack off for now”, or the best “I’ve already done 40 Chaturangas in this practice and we’re going to have to do 10 more… they’re not going to make a difference so I can cool off on trying”

Also the self deprecation, “You have no arm strength and you’re not going to build it all in today’s practice, so stop”

I looked around the room and my amazing classmates were diligently jumping into and out of their chaturangas. It was all the inspiration I needed. I shut off the voice in my head and jumped into my 41st chaturanga – easy peasy. My body was okay, it was my mind holding me back. Self awareness is such an important trait and today was a lesson in how to make changes that help you move towards a higher consciousness.

TAKING A NEXT STEP

Hi guys, it’s me again . so as you guys knew that I am a mother of 3 kids, a housewife . I wanted to had kids in a young age and it always in mine mind since I was little . 

So I didn’t went to university to study after my high school. I met my husband and we had kids after that not so long. And now I’m a mother of 3.

So in my life or most of woman life ,  their goals in life always have Career and built a Family.

And so for me as well, those 2 goals are very important with me. I spending almost 5 year’s to staying home to have kids and  take care of my family. Since the kids going to school one by one, I started to have more time for myself . and I want to learn something, find something that can suit myself , a job that I can enjoy, that I still have time to spend with my family, take care of my kids, or be there for them when they need me anytime. Doing something that make me happy, heathy and the most important thing is NO STRESS .

I talked to my friends ,to my husband about it, and they asked me what do I like , what is make you happy , and what would make me want to do it everyday, everywhere, anytime ???

And I realize that doing YOGA is the only things that I enjoy and fit with all the condition that I wanted.

I had been doing yoga so much ,since got my baby and there are so many benefit from yoga that I find for myself. I do it when I need to release all the tired , the stresses , a place that I can have a peace moment just for myself. For my physical and metal body.

So, I took the next step and registered for 200hr teacher training . It was perhaps the hardest, most rewarding, time of my practice ,all the new vocabularies I need to understand . all the theory that I need to able to understand in English , and the Sanskrit that I need to remember. As a housewife with 3 young kids was very tough for me, sometime I just wanted to give up, I just wanted to sleep all day, and during practice I would actually utter the words “I’ll quit “ , But then I tried to be strong, I push myself more to do it. Tried harder to make my postures right. To lift my whole body up. which is I would never though that I can do that.

I still have one more week to finished my course , but I can feel a big different my mind Physical , mental and Spiritual . I had learn so much from my teacher. I’m get to know more and deeper about yoga, the more I know about it ,the more I’m falling love with it. And I feel I’M NICER AFTER YOGA .

What does Yoga truly mean to me?

Now that I am about 3/4 way into the 200-hour YTT, I feel more prepared to write about this topic that has been in my drafts for the last couple of weeks.

My thoughts about Yoga has been evolving. From when I first started, it was a fitness routine. It had also led me to find a community that made my overseas work assignment feel like my second home (if you’d read my earlier post, you’ll see why). In this world of busy-ness, whereby our schedules are packed tighter than sardines in a can, I find that yoga has led me to become more introspective. By looking deeper into my thoughts and what that inner voice is trying to tell me to do – and this could be as simple as breathing.

For anyone that thinks that Yoga is simple, I would urge you to think again and to think deeper. Yoga as a subject matter is a union, that connects us with the wider universe that we are a part of. I used to be so caught up with plans, schedules and maximising every second of my life, pushing harder, pushing deeper. Whereas the me today takes a more adaptive approach towards life. It does not need to have a plan for every second, though a general longer term plan is still my guide.

In addition to working towards a deeper practice, I particularly enjoy learning about the philosophies of yoga. I was never quite a philosophical person, but I found through yoga, that I am actually pretty reflect-ive as a person. I enjoy learning about the wise words of those who have contemplated so much about life. Beyond the physical practice, I enjoy learning more about the unknowns. How we are connected to this universe in past, present and future lives, how continuous hard work together with building faith will lead us to success and more importantly, knowing that there is almost never an end to this learning journey.

Food for Thought

We rely on our 5 senses — sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch — to make observations. Through association, we make sense of this information in the brain to provide accurate impressions of the world. But are they really accurate?

Take optical illusions for example. 

The image above shows a grid of white lines against a black background with white dots at their points of intersection. Except, the dots are sometimes seen and perceived as black. Do the black dots exist? No. But do we see them? Yes. 

An illusion is a distortion of the senses; A failure to make an accurate perception.

Or what about synesthesia, the condition where people can see colours when they hear noises, or hear sounds when they see moving dots? If these colours or images are only seen inside the mind of one person, does it mean it exists? Or does it not exist because there are no other observers to these images?

But first, what does it mean to “Exist”?
According to the cambridge dictionary, to exist means to be, or to be real. 
What is considered “real” then?

Our senses are evidently not entirely reliable as illustrated in the above two examples. To add fuel to fire, the way our mind processes these sensorial information aren’t entirely accurate either. 

Firstly, the brain only processes information that it thinks will be useful at a later date. So not all information is taken in; only a semblance of a full picture. Secondly, the way we perceive or interpret as fact may often be clouded by preconceived notions, past experiences, and prejudices. Thirdly, imagination and association comes into play in the story telling mind. We often try to fill in the blanks in order to make sense of our reality. 

In the film “Room”, a boy (Jack) lived in a shed where he and his mother were held captive. They shared a bed, toilet, bathtub, television and kitchen. The only window was a skylight. He was born in the room and believed that only the Room and its contents were real. The rest of the world existed only on television. After 7 years of growing up in the room, they finally got a chance to escape and Jack stepped into the outside world for the first time. He struggled to adjust to life in the larger world, and expressed a desire to return to the room. The room was his only reality. 

Is this where we are currently in relation to our knowledge of higher consciousness or the existence of a supreme being? Are we also stuck in the room, thinking this is our reality when actually “reality” is something much bigger? 

Let’s look at a different example.

Schrödinger’s cat is a thought experiment involving a cat in a box and a radioactive source. If there is radioactivity, the flask holding the poison will be shattered, and hence kill the cat. Before opening the box, there is no way of finding out if the cat is dead or alive. It is thus proposed that the cat is simultaneously both dead and alive. 

Applying that logic to the existence of a supreme being — we are in the state of uncertainty and are unable to open the box to prove if it exists or not. Till we are able to open the box, we can only speculate. 

We have no physical evidence to prove the existence of a supreme being. Even if there is evidence through the lens of someone else (like the TV in Jack’s room), are we able to take that as our reality? How do you prove if the outside world is true? If one day we are lucky enough to “encounter” or “experience” this supreme being, are our senses and mind ready to perceive what really is?

But then again, after all these questions being asked, does it matter whether we know for sure or not?

External to Internal, Internal to External

“ACTIVATE YOUR PSOAS” is probably one of the most commonly heard phrase for any student taking YTT. 

The Psoas muscle is probably one of the most important muscle in your body. It is a combination of two large muscles: the psoas major and the iliacus. They attach from the 12th thoracic vertebrae to the 5th lumbar vertebrae, through the pelvis , and to the inside of the proximal femur bone. This muscle is responsible for plenty of day-to-day activities, including stabilising the trunk and spine during movement and sitting. It is also connected to the breath due to its connection to the diaphragm. When startled or stressed, the psoas contracts as well.

In yoga, the psoas plays an important role in all the asanas. For instance, contracting the psoas bends the trunk forward in Paschimotanasana, or draws the knee up in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana. Contracting the psoas on one side flexes the trunk, allowing for Utthita Trikonasana. Stretching the psoas allows for backbends such as Ustrasana. A toned psoas is also required for all inversions and arm balances. 

Outside of yoga however, we do not hear much of this muscle. What is focused on in most workouts or physical exercises target superficial muscles such as sculpting the ideal 6pac abdominals, training for bulging biceps and achieving firm glutes. 

In society, plenty of emphasis is placed on outward appearances. The clothes you wear and how well groomed you are affects the way other people perceive you. Looking the part can help you get ahead in job interviews. A physically attractive person can easily impress others. The endless bombardment of advertisements promoting unattainable beauty standards also has a large part to play. Look good, feel good — Looking good can help build your self esteem. Or so they say. This “self-esteem” or self image, however, is built on what other people think of you. External means are used to fulfil internal satisfaction. 

Back to the psoas muscles — An imbalance in the muscle can cause various problems such as pain in the lower back and hips when lifting the legs. Back pain is common, and posture can be affected. Internal muscles are equally important, if not more important, than superficial muscles. 

Likewise, the inner self needs equal, if not more, nourishment. Clinical depression has surged by huge percentages in recent decades. Self help related sales have been on an increase year-on-year, with books on topics such as happiness and self-esteem topping the charts. People increasingly find that the mind and body are at odds with each other.

Yoga is an internal journey and is beyond anything I have mentioned above. Not only does it strive to achieve the union of mind and body, it also includes the soul. 

The 8 limbs of yoga (Ashtanga) include:

  1. Yamas – guidelines for social behaviour
  2. Niyamas – guidelines for inner discipline and responsibility 
  3. Asanas – physical practice of holding steady, continuous, comfortable poses
  4. Pranayama – practising the extension of breath
  5. Pratyahara – removal of mind from sense organs
  6. Dharana – concentration
  7. Dhyana – meditation
  8. Samadhi – transcendence

It is unknown whether or not samadhi is ever achievable in this lifetime. Having that as a goal and through the practice of yoga however, allows for an internal transformation starting from physical, to mental, to spiritual. What is shown on the outside / the external as a by-product then ceases to matter.

Internal to external. Selfishness to selflessness. Inward focus to outward focus. 

Emotional Release Through Yoga

“Go deeper, go deeper, go deeper.”

I laid down on my back in Savasana after what felt like a very intense and fulfilling yoga session. It was only the third day of YTT, and my body was not yet used to the physical demands of all the conditioning we did. Nonetheless, the workout felt good. Finally, relaxation. Melting the body into the mat, feeling the perspiration slowly dry under the cool air from the air conditioning, the meditative voice of our teacher – it all felt calming. But the moment my body started to fully settle and cool down, I felt a sudden tightness in the body and tears started rolling out the corner of my eyes. Before I could make sense of what was happening, I was bawling.

As it turns out, it is fairly common for emotional releases to happen on the mat. So, what exactly was happening?

Focusing on the breath during meditation or savasana helps to calm the mind, taking away superficial stress and worry. But the silence and “going deeper” also forces us to access the feelings we bury and push aside on a daily basis. Emotional pain can feel overwhelming and crippling. The body hence comes to defense and does things to stop the pain from being fully experienced as a form of coping mechanism. There is thus a break between body and mind. However in yoga, the mind, body and spirit exists as one — or at least that’s the goal. The 3 are interconnected. The body keeps the score even if you’re not consciously thinking about it from day to day. It holds on to emotional tension, pain, trauma and intense joy. Through asanas, it wakes up the parts of the body that holds these emotions, helping to break through unresolved issues and energy.

Some say that hip-opening poses are good for helping to find release. It is not scientifically proven, but perhaps it can be  understood when relating to Chakras. The muladhara chakra is situated in the tailbone. The traits stored in this chakra includes security, self confidence, body image, and connection with nature. The swadishtana chakra, located in the sacrum, includes gender identity, anger, and sexual relations. The manipura chakra, located at the naval, includes belonging, trust, intimacy, friendship, status of your current position in life and whether it deviates from your true nature, and fear. It seems like  plenty of emotions are stored in these 3 chakras, all of which are situated near the hips. Perhaps they are stirred whenever sitting in a hip-opening pose. 

There are also sources that speak of the benefits of chest openers in relation to emotional release. This could be due to the increased flow of Prana (life force) which is situated in the anahada chakra (heart). Prana rides on the breath, which correlates to our respiratory system. According to the chinese, grief is stored in the lungs. Crying also involves gasping for air. 

However, I wonder how accurate these deductions are. If they are, could this be a potential way of identifying internal issues through physical tensions observed during asana postures? Or, could postures targeted at certain emotions be used in psychotherapy for healing?