What We Give, We Receive

Up until recently, I had never given much thought to Newton’s third law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This statement was repeated to us multiple times during the course of our training, and thinking about it in detail made me realise that indeed every action we take has an effect that ripples outwards, sometimes in ways that we may never know.

On the yoga mat, Newton’s third law can be applied in terms of channelling the strength and energy to move the body in the opposite direction of gravity. For example, when we stand or sit without consciousness, our body is relaxed, and it slumps and collapses into itself. However, the action of consciously pressing our hands or feet firmly onto the mat will produce an immediate “equal or opposite reaction” of helping us root more firmly into the ground, thereby enabling us to stretch and rise up a little taller. The more energy or strength we expend in pushing against the ground, the easier it will be to lift the body in the opposite direction.

This concept can be applied in life off the mat as well: if we make a more conscious effort to be kind and compassionate, without anticipating anything in return, we will in turn receive an increase in capacity to perform more acts of kindness and compassion, which will help transform our lives to become extra extraordinary. The energy from which we give is not finite; the more you give, the more you have. Likewise, the more gratitude we express or feel for the good things we have in life, the Universe will respond by delivering to us more of the things for which we are grateful.

As week 4 of our yoga teacher training draws to a close, I am grateful for the knowledge and wisdom I have gained from Master Sree, for the friendship and camaraderie of my fellow trainees, and for the freedom and time to embark on this journey.

ST

Crystals & Yoga

A quick search on Google will reveal many ways in which one can use crystals to enhance their yoga practice. There is also plenty of information available online about how crystals are associated with the different chakras, and how crystals can help promote physical, emotional and spiritual healing. While there isn’t (or at least I think there isn’t) any scientific evidence to support the notion that crystals can harness energy, I have always felt drawn to crystals, and started collecting them a long time ago, way before I started practicing yoga. They initially served as decorative pieces, but I subsequently started using them in my meditation practice.

Having formed in the earth’s surface thousands or millions of years ago, crystals are commonly thought of as a means to help us connect with the energy of the universe. Here are some of my favorite pieces. On the extreme bottom left is a piece of Palo Santo wood, which is also used to cleanse my crystals of any unwanted negative energy after meditation.

My crystal collection

I normally do not research the properties of any particular crystal before purchasing it; I will buy it if I feel a connection. Without realising it, I somehow collected more pieces of amethyst crystals than other types – the properties of amethysts are to aid healing and bring about intense spiritual growth and self-discovery, so perhaps my inner sub-conscious thought it was the type of energy I could utilise?

It’s easy to meditate with a crystal. Just sit or lay on the mat with a stone in your palms, focus on the breath, and visualize/feel the energy spreading from your palms to the rest of your body. When you are ready, gently blink a few times and open your eyes, then cleanse the crystal properly (there are many ways of doing this!).

It’s interesting because each crystal vibes with each person differently, so when picking up a stone, trust your intuition in telling you what your soul needs.

ST

Yoga to others; how it should be viewed differently

Yoga is not a cult. Neither is it merely about flexibility. And no, chanting ‘Om’ does not mean you believe in Hinduism. It’s not a path to something religious.

It is spiritual. Yoga is philosophical.

There are 3 different types of Yoga practices. Sattvic yoga focuses on the natural things in life. And that we do not feed on the efforts of others. It embodies the qualities of balance, calmness, steadiness, goodness, harmony, and peace. Rajasic stimulates the individual to becoming more energetic via passion, confusion, and ambition. (the diet for this Guna is too hard to resist though). And yes, cannabalism is real in the Aghori tribe in Northern India. (of whom practices yoga too, but just the tamasic form).

While the most common form of Yoga strives towards Sattvic yoga, it’s not wrong for the other 2 to exist. Whatever floats your boat, or their boat. As long as you gain some enlightening and lead your life true to your morals and what you believe helps you then you’re good.

It explains and unravels mysteries of life (that could potentially be explained by science) in the philosophical ways to link concepts together. It is way beyond mere poses. It cleanses your body physically first, and then mentally. It teaches you to be aware of your surroundings (a new level of consciousness), and suppresses temptations, violence, falsehood. It explains life in terms of karma, your past karma, present karma and future karmas. All 3 which affects your life and how its being led. As much as you can control what you do in your current, you can’t control the environment you were born into. And that’s why I think I believe in Samsara and Samskara. Where sometimes things just happen without a reason. And I hope my next life would be smooth-going.

Not to mention the 7 different chakras that ground you to who you are and helps appease those who have been trying at life but nothing seems to work – yes just blame it on your under or over-spinning chakras that you cannot even attempt to control. But even so, it offers an explanation, to appease our innate desire for answers with regard to the unknown.

Yoga is scientific.

It’s all about the body. It corrects your spine and body posture. My back has been pretty straight ever since yoga. It also cures certain diseases or illnesses. Instead of relying on equipment, yoga focuses a lot on how the body utilizes strength, in every nook and cranny of the body. And I think that is beautiful in itself because we should make use of what we have naturally.

You follow different postures and finger positioning (that corresponds to different acupuncture points of the body) to ultimately achieve something good for the body. Like they always say, it’s about the journey not the destination. It’s about consciously doing your best (to the maximum you believe you can achieve at every second. I mention at every second because our limits are always ever so changing, and it really is all in the mind) and not consciously only wanting the best outcome.

In the end

Ultimately I do hope to pass down whatever I’ve learnt to people, and bring a form of enlightenment and another type of higher perspectives into their lives. It would be so good if I could change the common misconceptions of what Yoga is to many who don’t know what Yoga truly encompasses. But first Yoga has to sneak into their life somehow. And hopefully I’ll be part of theirs.

Love,

Eunice x

Expectations vs Reality

Everyone can be a yoga teacher, as long as they have the certificate.

I thought it was easy, genuinely. And that made me insecure. How was I to be any different from all the other teachers graduating nearly at the same time as me? I couldn’t even do a headstand then. Plus I was 7 days short of lessons. (out of just 20)

When I came for the first lesson, there was already such a fine line drawn in my mind between giving up and continuing. I was dying in the class from all that chaturangas and all the lack of knowledge comparative to my fellow colleagues who had been in practice for over a week. The sudden temperature change in environment wasn’t helping either, I was breathless from the humidity. Plus waking up early really isn’t my forte. I was finally back after nearly 6 months and I barely had time for myself to rest or to catch up with my friends. But since I’ve already coughed out the money, I had to go. I was, and still am really pushing myself this time round. Frankly I’d have to give credit to my friend who always tells me to push yourself to your maximum, because honestly humans are very capable when stretched.

And so it went on. I think I was already inspired from the first day of theory lesson. I never knew there was so much philosophy behind yoga. How it was beyond postures, how it would ultimately crawl back into your life, and how it did for my instructors, despite them being 100% capable of making big money in other industries. Yoga grounds you, it makes you humble, and it takes things a little slower. It teaches you to work towards something, but not be greedy or obsessive. It teaches you not to compare and not to be preoccupied with the postures or people’s opinions, rather it teaches you self-love and self-awareness. It cleanses your mind of impure thoughts, slowly molding you into a better person from the inside. And I think what’s really beautiful is that the effects can shine through your skin. I’ve never liked people who preached or bragged about things that never showed through their actions but rather it was the success and effort of someone else in the background, and they were merely feeding on it. But Yoga teaches all the opposite.

And yes, this shit is actually tough. I don’t know for others, but it has been a good 15 and counting consecutive lessons of just building my swas, shoulder muscles, arms muscles in chaturanga!! (I can finally go down properly) and every other muscle in the body really. (it is quite timely though considering I have been wanting to cut some weight lately). I have been terribly tempted every night to not go for class the next day by coming up with an excuse, and I’m so glad that I’m already finishing it without breaking the streak. I have gained some newfound respect for yoga teachers who have had to go through this prior to holding a class. And overcoming that fear of constantly breaking your neck during weird poses was really another level as well. Not to mention, having to teach your own fellow colleagues who would rate you immediately after. Wish I could store my confidence in a jar and release it during the teachings, and not beg for it to come out while teaching. Reality sucks, but reality also helps you discover a lot about yourself. That everything is always going to be tough if you want results to show. And it’s so worthwhile.

X,

Eunice

How I introduced myself to Yoga, or rather how it found me again.

I was 19 and lost.

Scraping by days of multiple part time jobs for three quarter of the month, and the other quarter spending all that income on traveling. I documented everything that happened in that year on a book, almost as if afraid that I would forget the difference in the days passing because my life then was nothing noteworthy of. In all honesty I was trying to make my life seem as fulfilling as possible despite all the negativity I was in then: I was probably at my all time low given that I hadn’t received my university allocation to the only course I wanted to go, and also facing the fact that all my friends were entering University and I was desperate to get into any that would take me in for that course (oh how passion drives you). Simultaneously I was in a rather unhealthy relationship I would say; that really tested my emotional and mental strength then. I shall not delve deeper, but in short my intelligence was questioned by my partner, whom I thought would be the most understanding of my situation and how I felt, given I was already at my all time low. (I was usually the top few students in school and then on the exam I busted one of the papers) And so while everyone was living the life that was paved so nicely for them, I was there finding meaning while waiting for results (god this took a good 4-5 months of applying and waiting). Traveling was the only way I felt better, it brought me further from all this that was happening and I was essentially feeding on the envy of people around me constantly having to ask where I was every month. Back then it didn’t feel real, yes every place was beautiful and I loved every single moment of it. I would stare into the scenery and try to absorb as much of it as I could, and yet the tragic thing is even now I can’t remember exactly how it looked like, except with reference to photographs. Anyhow, 2018 taught me a lot of things, I matured so much then. Though looking back at it now I do regret not living in the moment (of uncertainty) considering I did have quite a good life. And through 2018, yoga was with me for a good 6 months. I had never thought of joining it, I honestly can’t even recall how it came into my life. I would never have signed up for a class by myself. Nevertheless, it happened anyway.

My first class flushed all the toxins out of my body, and I could taste it in my sweat (to put into context I was doing Hot Yoga). I never knew Yoga was that tiring. And soon I had 2 of my closest friends join me, both of whom were athletes since young, something I wasn’t, and yet they too were exhausted. Sooner or later our schedules didn’t align and I was attending classes alone. I guess going alone helped a lot, I became more comfortable being alone and that also meant I could focus better on the practice. I found it relaxing for the mind, but really during then it was more of a way to justify that I was doing something in life and also to keep myself fit. It did though, help ground myself down to reality and where I was, and not to compare myself with my friends who appeared to have their shit together. Then I came to Australia, and I lost contact with it for a couple of months and frankly it didn’t matter to me. I was onto pilates by then.

In March it reappeared in my life. I was out of Classpass sessions and I wasn’t willing to pay for any. My friend had asked me to join him for Yoga classes (a ‘him’, I never knew males did yoga), it was on discount even. 10 classes for $35, literally what a steal. My impression of the yoga studio wasn’t great, it was a 30min bus ride away, the teacher was late and he (yes I was also surprised by the gender) didn’t direct the class as professionally as other yoga classes I’ve attended. It was then I asked the yoga teacher if they were hiring, and how to become a yoga teacher, because it looked easy to be one. And suddenly all the information about having to have a certificate and insurance was shooting straight at me. The thought of becoming a yoga teacher was just left in my subconscious in a corner of my brain though. On that day I even brought home a yoga mat that was worth $28 because I didn’t want to rent mats, and so essentially I’m only paying $7 per class.

Subsequently I went for more lessons and I found it to be rather enjoyable. The location albeit isolated, provided a peaceful environment for an early morning practice. I think my last lesson before coming back to Singapore was the celebration of International Yoga day, where we accomplished 108 sun salutations. It felt amazing. I was comfortable with the teacher and the other students, it felt like a little sacred session all of us shared.

I guess it has been in my life since 2018, resting silently and supporting me without myself realising I enjoyed it. And now I hope it is here to stay. Or even if my Samsara takes me elsewhere, I did thoroughly enjoy this and it will forever be part of my journey towards finding myself.

2 weeks from that I signed up for YTT intensive program.

Eunice

Yoga to me, then and now.

If anyone met me when I was 13 and had asked me what I thought Yoga encompasses of, I would say meditation. I thought of it as superficial, especially for those who did all talk and their actions showed only through social media photos of them in seated poses (which ultimately defeats the purpose if you’re doing it to humble brag and not actually for your own well-being). Yoga just never made sense to me considering I had so much on my mind even at the age of 13 – about making new friends in a new school and dealing with boy issues.

Besides the point, I was an ignorant child who never even bothered to google what Yoga is about. And here I am today, with so much knowledge on what Yoga is, to me and to others, and its origins. I am awfully enlightened and my mind is just made of desperate fingers trying to grasp onto every bit of knowledge of new Sanskrit terms (unfortunately my brain capacity does not permit this). I found myself realising that a lot of concepts in Yoga align with the Universe and the cosmos, though so do other religions (as long as someone makes sense of it and creates a link between something spiritual and how we are designed to be naturally). But ultimately the end is always that the teachings leave us with good morals that shape us and our characters. At least for Yoga (to clarify I do not see it as a religion, I had thought of it as one initially but after 4 weeks of YTT that has changed. It is still much easier to explain to non-practicers of yoga that the religion affiliated with it is Hinduism, which I hope I can soon find an answer to this situation), it has brought me to a higher perspective of life and how to view it. All this information has been dormant in my life for the past 7 years. And somehow it has found its way to me, in the strangest and yet in a beautiful way – something I only realised after one of the theory classes in YTT.

Love,

Eunice

More than Asanas: Pushing Boundaries, Achieving Personal Best, The Journey Inwards & Beyond

Time flies and we’re on the final lag of the YTT course. It has certainly been a fruitful yet trying journey, one of pushing physical and also mental boundaries.

Those who know me know I’ve got an immense fear of heights and also confined spaces. With that, of course, brings about limitations to certain physical postures that have been impossible for me to do, even with regular practice. Yes, the dreaded sirsasana(headstand). It’s a posture that comes easier to some than others but for me it’s like getting a fish to walk on land. There really is no reason why I would not be able to perform the posture, other than the great fear of falling, which is involuntary and crippling. The fear is real.

I’m very proud to announce that I’ve achieved the impossible (for me at least) and did my first headstand over the weekend in the third week of the course. It’s the ‘I want to stand on top of the mountain and shout, I did it, kind of proud’. The sentiment that with the correct technique, focus and trust in oneself, personal bests and how the impossible can be achieved is not lost on me.

That to me, basically sums up YTT and its’ application to daily life for me. The theoretical aspect of yoga and looking inward on very tough questions like identity, with the practice of Pranayama and Asanas, gives insight and teaches life lessons that might not have been possible to achieve any other way. For me at least.

This journey has definitely been worthwhile and I’ve gained immensely from it. I achieved what I wanted and so much more. The alignment of both physical and mental state of being is a work in progress and something I think will benefit a lot of people. That yoga is more than Asanas & postures. Now that would be something I hope I can share with more people, either through teaching yoga or in some other way. Yoga is here to stay, for me.

Similarities Between a Multi-Tasking Ninja & Teaching Yoga

The connotation of a multi-tasking ninja is no doubt associated with; mothers, an amazing superhuman form who does a multitude of tasks on a 24/7 basis. Whilst definitely not on the same level as a mom, being a female, I take pride in being able to multi-task on a small scale, relatively well. Yes, I’ve gone out and said it, I think us females are better at multi-tasking and in details than our fellow male counterparts. Don’t get me wrong, I think males can get things done well, but just one thing at a time.

The class was exposed to teaching aspect this week, a real exciting yet daunting task. How hard can teaching be right… I’ve gone for my fair share of yoga classes, a few times a week actually and never gave much thought to what teaching really entails.

I joined YTT course for the simple fact that I like the physical aspect of yoga and want a deeper understanding of, not just the asanas, but what yoga really is. I did not except the course to be easy but never thought that teaching could be so challenging.

The class was tasked with teaching sun salutation and the application of posture alignment for it. Doesn’t sound like much on paper, in fact it appears rather fun, but NO. There are so many factors coming into play at the same time; from remembering the sequence of the postures, whether you need to breathe in or out for the postures to paying attention to the students’ postures and making the relevant adjustments… It was mind boggling… Another challenge is the finesse that comes with conducting the class, for instance, alignment of a student’s posture whilst the rest are all holding the pose and absolutely cursing you in their heads. Do not even get me started on having to remember the correct technique to adjusting the postures. Poooffffttt, the bubble that my multi-tasking skills are at a satisfactory level has just burst. Similarly, the stereotypical idea that multi-tasking ninjas are usually females. Look at the number of male teachers out there, who are exceptional at what they do.

To say that I’ve got a newfound respect for yoga teachers and the amount of work involved in teaching is an understatement. Of course, teaching is an art and a skillset that would get better with time and practice. I’m looking forward to honing my skills in that respect, to evolve from a duckling to a multi-tasking swan.

On deeper thought, it is my view that the art of yoga teaching and also yoga teachers on the whole are more like multi-tasking swans than ninjas. Poised, graceful and focused on the surface, but so much more work is going on beneath the surface.

My long way to Yoga

I grew up in a world which doesn’t exist anymore. I’m not writing it with a nostalgia. If it existed, I surely wouldn’t be here today and it surely wouldn’t be me, but somebody completely different, who would be sitting somewhere else in the world doing something different than writing these words.

I’m happy that that world doesn’t exist anymore. But, writing that, I’m not feeling bitter about that lost world either. The environment I grew up in gave me what I wouldn’t have gotten if I had grown up under different circumstances. It gave me experiences which are very precious to me.

One of these experiences happened in a summer when I was 13 or 14—I don’t remember exactly. My uncle was undergoing his spiritual transformation and I loved sitting with him and listening to him. His path brought him also to yoga, which was something completely unknow in our world at that time. That summer he was challenging me with various poses and I realized that yoga was something I would like to understand more.

The spiritual path of my uncle has developed, and I continued loving sitting with him and listening. But there were no other summers with yoga poses. I grew up, the old world disappeared and I had to wait for more than 25 years till my yoga journey has really started.

My uncle is almost 85 now. I don’t have many opportunities to sit with him and listen. But last time when I visited him and told him about my yoga journey. He gave me the precious material he still had from that forgotten time. So interesting to read it and see how times have changed. Only one hasn’t changed—the yoga poses.

Final Week of YTT :-(

As our YTT has come down to the final week, I can foresee with my yogic powers (that I have harnessed over the past 3 weeks :-)) that graduating from YTT with the certificate on Friday will be a truly bittersweet moment, and that for a long time, I will miss the whole experience in this month of July. 

YTT, or rather yoga itself, has gifted me many things, the best one of all is this feeling that I’ve reawakened another part of myself that has been sleeping dormant deep deep inside for a very long time. YTT is just another temporary human experience, the physical practices and drills, the theory and philosophy classes, even the people :-(. But the one thing that YTT gifts you, is this newfound positive empowerment that is sure to last a long time. Throughout this month-long yogic journey, it feels like I found a long-lost friend, like a friend I’ve lost while growing up, but is a friend who will stay with me (for as long as I practise yoga hahaha). Maybe this ‘friend’ is my natural self, my inner self, and 3 weeks of intense yoga practices has brought me closer to who I was, before I became someone I’m not. 

Though I’m sad that YTT will soon come to an end and I will definitely miss this whole experience, I’m thankful for this deep-delving inward journey with all its wonderful treasures and lessons. After YTT, the best thing that I can do next is to help others, even in the smallest ways, to take a step closer to their natural self by teaching yoga to those around me, while doing my best to live up to the Yamas & Niyamas and keeping up my own practise. 

Honestly, because of YTT, July has been the best month of the year thus far. 

After that, YTT 300? Hmmm… seriously considering…