Extended hand-toe pose

This post is written by a 200Hr Yoga Teacher Training student, Nancy. I’ve just posted it on her behalf. Here is goes:
Utthita Hasta Pandangusthasana,
Extended hand-toe pose.
Translations:
Utthita: extended
Hasta: hand
Pada : foot
Angusta: big toe
Asana: Pose
Level: intermediate
Actions:
The upper body: the spine is neutral; shoulder is flexed; hand holding the lifted leg: elbow extended; index and major are flexed. Hand resting on the standing leg hip: elbow flexed;
The standing leg: extension of the hip and the knee;
The lifted leg: flexion of the hip of the lifted leg; knee extended;
Muscles contractions:
Upper body: Isometric contraction of the Deltoid and the for-arm muscles holding the lifted leg; Advance variation: in step one if flexibility allows the lifted leg is lifted more upward the face, this induce an isotonic concentric contraction of the biceps brachii
Lifted leg: isotonic concentric contraction of the Hamstrings, Iliacus, and posterior deep muscles;
Standing leg: isometric contraction of the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, astus medialis, gluteus, gracilis, adductor magnus and calf’s muscles.
Drishti (gazing): Step one of the pose, look forward on something steady over the lifted leg. Though some suggested focusing on the big toe, and I do it personally, I noticed that when my balance is not settled then I am distracted by my shaking toe, I find it easier to focus on something in front that does not shake. Step two of the pose look at something fixed over the shoulder of the standing leg, same idea. The difficulty in the Ashtanga primary series is when you have to keep your balance from gazing A to gazing B, sometimes it easy and sometimes I lose my balance. I noticed that when rotating my head and leg, I need to keep my abdominals really tucked in.
Getting into the pose:
Stand tall and firm in tadasana (mountain pose)
Balancing:
Abdominals are contracted. The deltoid, pronator teres, flexor carpi and Palmaris longus of the extended hand holding the big toe are engaged. The chest is open, spine straight, abdominals contracted. The standing leg is fully engaged, muscles squeezed tighly.
Critical zone: abdominals, standing leg and chest upright.
Tips: stretch your legs on something high, it will help lengthening the muscles when lifting the leg.
Benefits:
Physical: improves balance, strengthens the arches, ankles, calves and tights, strengthens the hamstrings, and lengthens the spine.
Mental: stimulate the mind, develop focus concentration and willpower.
Coordination of the muscular and nervous balance
Contraindications:
For those with knee, or ankle injury, the lifted leg should be kept into the chest
Those with hernia problems, hip injury or sciatica should avoid this position.
Breathing: Ujjahi breathing. Avoid moving the abdomen as the muscles have to remain contracted for a better balance.
My experience:
I found it easier to balance myself when squeezing tightly my standing leg and my abdominals, keeping my chest up right.
I had a tendency to bend my back because of flexibility issues with the lifted leg, however when beginner in this pose, it is best to bend the lifted leg and focus on the engagement of the standing leg and upper body as described above. Once balance is achieved then we can start working on the extension of the lifted leg.
Each of us needs to find our own center point and which method works best for ourself. Feel the pose with your body and your breathing. As Sri K. Pattabhi Jois said, yoga is “99% practice and 1% Theory”, after 4 weeks of practice I may not be to the top but I am working to improving.
~Nancy
Reference: Hatha Yoga illustrated, M Kirk, B Boon, D Dituro; Yoga Anatomy, L Kaminoff; Anatomy and physiology, Cliffs quick review; Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha, Swami S. Saraswati.

Vegetarian Sheppard Pie

This post is written by a 200Hr Yoga Teacher Training student, Nancy. I’ve just posted it on her behalf. Here is goes:
When removing meat from my diet, something I thought I would miss was the traditional Sheppard pie, but as I was reflecting, I still could have it, I just had to be more creative.
Ingredients:
The filling:

  • 2 organic zucchinis
  • 1 big organic eggplant
  • 1 branch of organic celery
  • 2 medium organic carrots
  • 1 cube of organic vegetable stock
  • ½ red organic onion
  • 2 organic garlic gloves
  • 1 can of organic tomato pulp/sauce or paste
  • 1 bouquet of persil
  • A dash of organic olive oil

The mashed potatoes

  • 1 kg of red and white organic potatoes
  • 500ml organic skimmed milk (fresh or UHT)
  • 25g organic butter
  • Salt and pepper (organic if we want to be extreme J)

Optional:

  • ½ can of chick peas
  • Shredded organic Mozzarella

Cut into 5mm x 5mm cubes (or bigger to your taste) all the vegetables, onions, mince the garlic; dissolve the vegetable stock cube with 20-30ml of hot water.
In a pan put a dash of olive oil, stir in the minced garlic, onion, eggplant. After 3-5 min stir-in the celery, carrots. 3 min later add the zucchinis. Pour in the stock and tomato sauce, let simmer until carrots are tender. Optional add the chick peas for proteins. Remove from cooker, reserve, sprinkle with chopped Persil. Season to your taste, if you need more pepper or salt; personally as the mashed potatoes are seasoned I never felt necessary to add more.
Meanwhile cooking your veggies, thoroughly clean the potatoes, keep the skin if you like. Steam them until a fork can go through. Once cooked dispose in a big bowl and mashed the potatoes add the butter and the 500 ml milk, more or less according to the texture your prefer for your mashed potatoes, I personally prefer it moist. Add some salt and pepper.
In a Pyrex plate, pour the veggies. Sprinkle a bit of cheese (optional). Then pour over the mashed potatoes. Sprinkle some more cheese. Put in the oven until the top is golden. Voila!
Now I will not miss my Sheppard pie anymore. Bon appétit J
~ Nancy

Natarajasana

Natarajasana – Lord of the Dance pose or Dancer’s pose. Nata= Dancer. Raja = King / Lord. 
Nataraja is another name of Lord Shiva, who is also known as the “Lord of the dance”. His dance symbolizes cosmic energy in its “five actions:” creation, maintenance, and destruction or re-absorption of the world, concealment of authentic being, and grace. It is said that when Nataraj’s cosmic dance begins it brings blessings in the form of destruction for rebirth, which is an essential part of life’s cycle.
 This pose exudes elegance and grace. I’ve always thought that this pose are usually performed by Ballerinas on stage. Never knew that it is one of the Balancing Asana. The first time i tried this pose was 1 week prior to the Teacher’s Training Exam. I felt like my hamstrings were splitted into many halves.
Before getting into the pose, we did a bit of warm up. We did 20 times of alternate leg switches while in lunge position. It got our heart rate up. We did a few preparatory poses to help open up our hips, thighs and chest. Preparatory Pose Illustration:-
From Adhomukha Shvanasana (Downward Dog), bring your right leg forward and angle  the right shin such that the outside is resting on the mat it forms a ninety degree with your knee. Keep your hips square and left leg should be extended straight out from the hips.. Sink down as much as possible. This is a great hip opener. After you steadied in the pose, lift up your left leg from the knee and wrap your left hand on your ankle. Keeping hips squared, lengthen your spine and bend backwards. Now you’ll feel your chest opening, spine extending and hips opening.
Struggles – Keeping hips square and sinking as low as possible so that the stretch is deepened. When left leg is lifted from the knee, alignment is out. Bending backwards might compress the lumbar if awareness is not in opening the thoracic region and chest. Getting out of the pose is like releasing all the strain from your hamstrings and deep muscles.
Repeat on the other side.
Illustration to get into Natarajasana
From Tandasana, shift your weight onto your right leg. Lift your left heel towards your butt with your left knees bent. (Standing right leg has to stay straight and strong. Square your hips to the front). Keeping chest straight, shoulders retracted, sweep your left hand around behind your back and catch hold of the left foot. (Avoid compression on lumbar by actively tucking your tailbone under). Lift your left foot up, away from the ground,  away from your back. Extend the left thigh behind you and parallel to the floor. Stretch your right arm forward. Hold in the pose and repeat on the other side.
Struggles – Staying strong on the standing leg and keeping the balance with body squared to the front while pulling the lifted leg away from the body. Alignment tends to shift towards the side of the lifted leg.
End result .
An elegant and graceful dancer who makes it all seemed effortless. This pose stretches your shoulders and opens your chest. It opens up your hips, stretches your thighs and strengthens your legs. It helps to improve your balance.
It is no wonder that the chinese said that 1 min’s glory on stage equates to a lifetime’s practice.

The quest for Self-Realization

Or the eternal question: “who am I?” We all want to know who we are truly, what is our goal in life, what is the purpose of the things we are doing? We are taught from a young age to learn and experience things through others. We need to succeed at school, in our work, in our family and we can do all those things, we can go through life with little awareness of who we are deeply. We hear stories about one successful CEO well married, with beautiful intelligent children living his life for a retreat in the mountains. Or others very wealthy, owning a lot of valuables and yet they never seem to have enough, they never feel happy enough. Often it’s our neighbor or a family member who’s being bitter, mean and aggressive to everybody even himself. We need to let go. Nature continues to taunt through life, with afflictions and uncertainties, those who have no discrimination power and awareness. Renunciation is the practice of detachment from desires. (Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali 1.15) We need to learn how to be detached from objects, and then we can remain unmoved by temptation. It is willpower to develop indifference to all types of attachment. Once the senses have been silenced, the mind moves towards Soul Realization.
In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali: Obstacles to healthy life and self realization are diseases, indolence of body and mind, doubt or skepticism, carelessness, laziness, failing to avoid desires and their gratification, delusion and missing the point, not being able to concentrate on what is undertaken and to gain ground, and inability to maintain concentration and steadiness in practice once attained. They are further aggravated through sorrows, anxiety or frustration, unsteadiness of the body, and labored or irregular breathing. Often we meet people who have giving up, caught in the web of pleasures and comforts forgetting on how to look after themselves, neglecting their sadhana (practice).
The way you practice yoga reflexes the way you behave in your life. Are you dedicated? Can you wake up every morning and practice? When you are practicing, are you focused, where is your dishti (gazing point)? Are you breathing correctly with ujjayi breath (victorious breath or sea sound breathing), to allow the distribution of the prana flow throughout the system? Are you pushing yourself further in the posture, beyond your limitations, your fears or expectations? Are you lying to yourself and to others, pretending to do or to be? If you truly, honestly practice Ashtanga yoga it will help you to get to Self-Realization. When we have overcome our intellectual and emotional defects, nature’s gifts readily serve us for realization of the soul. All sorrows and hatred are washed away, and everlasting unalloyed peace comes to the seeker.

How do we know our Chakras are opened?

The word Chakra comes from an ancient Indian language known as Sanskrit, chakra means vortex, spinning wheel or circle. Chakras are the major centres of spiritual power in the human body and are circles of energy, which balance, store and distribute the energies of life all through our physical body along the subtle body. The subtle body is the non-physical body or also known as our soul or spirit, which overlays our physical body.
The belief in chakras started in India, and is utilized in Ayurvedic medicine, the earliest records of Ayurvedic dates from around 2500 B.C. The word Ayurvedic comes from two Indian words Ayur meaning life and Veda meaning knowledge. Ayurvedic or life knowledge medicine may be interpreted as knowledge on how to lead a healthy life. Ayurvedic medicine observes illness as unevenness in the body, which may be treated with a mixture of meditation, physical exercise and herbal treatments.
Imagine chakras as circles of energy, flowing through our body, they assist in the running of our body, mind and soul. If a chakra is not performing correctly, this could cause our physical health, mental health and our spiritual selves to suffer. These chakras start at the base of the spine and move upward to the last one at the crown of the head. They have corresponding centres in the spinal cord and the nerve plexus in the gross physical body. Each chakra represents a state of consciousness.
To have a feel on how well functioning your charkas are, just ask yourself the following questions. The more you answer “yes,” the more open the corresponding chakra probably is. If you see “weak” points here, you can simply focus consciously on developing that area of your life in order to achieve better balance.
Root chakra: Do I feel physically vibrant, healthy, and powerful in the world? Do I feel at home here? Do I feel like I belong? Do I have a strong desire to live? Do I love and appreciate my body as a wonderful treasure? Am I a high-energy person, moving boldly through life?
Sacral chakra: Do I have a strong, healthy sex drive? Do I feel sexually confident and fulfilled? Can I express myself sexually, and give and receive pleasure? Does expressing myself creatively feel wonderful and fulfilling?
Solar plexus: Do I know what I want, and feel confident about being able to manifest it? Can I make decisions and act upon them? Am I aware of my emotions and able to control them? Am I able to mentally sort through and resolve my feelings? Am I emotionally fulfilled?
Heart chakra: Do I have fulfilling, healthy relationships? Do I love friends, family, and myself and have a strong sense of compassion for all living beings? Can I accept others as they are, without needing them to change? Do I expect the best from people, and look for the best in them? Am I good at cooperating? Can I stay in the moment and surrender outcomes to the Universe?
Throat chakra: Can I express myself with skill and ease? Do I do the practical things I need to do in order to be healthy, happy and successful? Do I take responsibility for my life instead of blaming others for my problems and expecting others to take care of me? Do I strive to do my best, and do I feel worthy of rewards or compensation for my efforts? Do I have enough faith in myself to take risks, embrace challenges, and create avenues for fulfillment?
Third eye: Am I mentally sharp and able to figure things out? Do I have lots of creative ideas, and the habit of taking the necessary steps to make them reality? Do answers or insights come to me as I mentally try to understand things? Am I able to visualize my goals and dreams? Do I set realistic, attainable goals? Do my experiences support and validate my beliefs about life?
Crown chakra: Do I feel like I’m part of something vast and wonderful? Do I feel connected to God/ Spirit/ the Universe, and feel that my life has a purpose? Am I able to view myself honestly, and to ferret out the lessons in my experiences in order to develop wisdom?

Child Abuse and Yoga

Child abuse is the physical, sexual or emotional mistreatment of children. It is also defined  as any act or series of acts of commission or omission by a parent or other caregiver that results in harm, potential for harm, or threat of harm to a child. There are four major categories of child abuse: neglect, physical abuse, psychological/emotional abuse and child sexual abuse. 
A survivor of the above categories usually suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Jane, an eighteen year old girl suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) caused by the first 3 categories. Abuser = her biological mother. Jane, is fostered by a close friend, EJ and his wife. I did not know that till the first time i met her.
Traumatic Truth
Jane was cold. I could feel her barrier, a wall which seemed to hold its fort very strongly. She would have passed as a normal teenager who is begining to rebel. Oddly i felt a strong sense of sadness within her, the expression on her pretty face seemed weirdly tired. She carried an air of cautiousness with her. Over coffee, i chided my friend for being bias. I have seen him bonding with his younger son and i thought he was being unfair. That was when he told me Jane is not his daughter. Jane is his sister in law’s daughter.
Since birth, she was being abused. She had gone through days without milk. As a toddler, she was pinched, slapped and punched in front of her cousins. Her mother would call her dad (who had divorced her), physically abused Jane and let him hear her cry over the line. She had also threatened to kill her, throw her out of the window.  Jane’s mother was subsequently sent to IMH after several court cases. EJ and his wife adopted the responsibility to foster Jane. Despite the Protection Order awarded by Court, Jane’s mother continue to abuse her mentally by disrupting her life. Jane was fearful of her because of the pain inflicted and she was traumatized by her past.
When i heard that, all i could think of was to give the little girl a big hug. I empathized with what she must have feel and light shed on why i felt the strange vibes when i saw her. A thought flashed through my mind. We were in a dark room. We were seated facing each other with our eyes closed, in meditation. Yoga. It dawned on me. I did a search on the internet about Yoga and child abuse and found a few articles which relates them.
Yoga emphasizes on Asana. Asana means steady pose. To have a steady pose requires one to be grounded and present. Being grounded for a PTSD sufferer might mean that he/she has to be aware not to be disconnected from the body. Being present, requires one to be able to focus in that moment. A PSTD sufferer will find this very tough because they usually spend very little time living in their bodies. They will often processed their past within themselves and worry about their next move. They are disconnected from their bodies because they are fearful of the abuse inflicted on them and they tend to “flee” from their bodies. For Jane’s case, EJ related that, “her mother would pinch her in front of her cousins till her skin turns blue and yet she was indifferent. It was as if she was not there to feel the pain.”
Yoga can be practiced with the purpose of healing the body and the soul One can practice Pranayama, perform Asanas, learn relaxation and meditation techniques. A research was done and it has shown that PTSD sufferers received flashbacks of the past and worry for the future. When these intriguing thoughts visit them, their heart rate varies and they panic. Deep breathing allows one to be able to remain calm. Ujjayi breathing helps to improves heart rate variability which in turn promotes the ability for one to remain calm. Long term practice of Asanas helps to elicit and release repressed emotions. When combined, with the use of relaxation and meditation techniques, one would be able to reconnect with their bodies and released the suppression of their fears and thoughts and realised self acceptance.  
A few poses that are recommended :-
(A) Balasana (Child’s pose).  Promotes a sense of security as one feels sheltered and protected.  This pose calms the brain and relieves stress and fatigue.
(B) Adhomukha Shvanasana (Downward-facing dog) – promotes thoracic breathing,  increase blood flow to the head, improving circulation and lowering heart and respiratory rates.
(C) Sankasana ( Rabbit Pose) – Improves blood supply to the brain. This pose helps to connect with the breath. At the same time, the practicioner feels secure.
“Hi Jane, your dad said you are keen in learning Yoga?”, i asked. “Yes, auntie Jade. My friend and i are interested.”
That was before i knew about her.  Now, i can’t wait to begin this Yoga journey with her. The question is, how?

What is Yoga?

If you ask people around “what is yoga?”, a lot of them will tell you it’s a stretching practice, that’s it. It’s only recently that yoga is becoming a little better known but still the majority of the population has no clue on what it is truly. The other day I was thinking on what will be my answer to this question when I become a yoga teacher and one of my student ask me, what is really yoga and why should I practice yoga?
Yoga is the way you choose to live your life everyday. One major goal we all want to achieve is to be healthy. Healthy in our body, look physically good and healthy in our mind, feel happy and positive. Yoga is a healing system of theory and practice. It is a combination of breathing exercises, physical postures, and meditation that has been practiced for more than 5,000 years.
Yoga is believed to calm the nervous system and balance the body, mind, and spirit, by keeping the energy meridians open and life energy (Prana) flowing. Yoga has been used to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve coordination, flexibility, concentration, sleep, and digestion.
In Indian philosophy, Yoga is the name of one of the six orthodox philosophical schools. Patanjali is widely regarded as the founder of the formal Yoga philosophy. Patanjali’s yoga is known as Raja Yoga, which is a system for control of the mind. The Raja yoga, also called the Classical Yoga, is often referred to Ashtanga (eight-limbed) yoga because there are eight steps to which one must attend. So before you even start practicing any physical postures you can start yoga by the way you choose to act in life.
The first two steps are high moral character and ethical conduct. They will help you to uplift and purify your mind for further practice of deep meditation. It’s an every day practice, at home with your family and friends, in your car when you want to abuse the person in front of you; instead, you remain calm and just notice that the only one who will feel and hear the anger is yourself. In the post-office queue after having waited for an hour a mother with a crying child arrives behind you when it’s your turn to go and you let her go first. By having a balanced diet and taking care of yourself, etc… Trying to practice the two firsts steps as much as you can will make you feel better and happier, as you will respect the nature, yourself and the others.

Yamas (code of conduct, self-restraints but not in a suppression way): Ahisma (non violence, non injury for yourself and the others), Satya (truthfulness, non-telling of lies), Brahmacharya (sexual abstinence unless intentionally procreating), Asteya (non-stealing, non-covetedness, lack of jealousy), Aparigraha (non-accepting of gifts or bribes). These 5 behavioral norms will help your eliminate your fears and tranquil your mind.
Niyama (religious observances, commitments to practice, such as study and devotion): Saucha (external or internal purity), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (austerity, penance), Swadhyara (study of religious scripture), Ishwara-pranidha (worship of the Lord, surrender of the ego). Niyama, prescribes mental exercises to train the mind to control emotions.
The third limb or step is Asana, in the sense of 84 main postures one can hold for a period of time staying relax and with a normal breathing. The practice of asana will affect you in different ways; physically, on your blood circulation, inner organs, glands, muscles, joints and nerve system; psychologically, on the developing emotional balance, stability and harmony; mentally, it will improve ability to concentrate and the memory; consciousness, by purifying and clarifying your consciousness, your awareness. The more you practice asanas the more you feel the need to practice them. Today when I wake up in the morning and I can’t fit my practice into my day schedule I feel like I’m missing something. It becomes part of your daily routine like cleaning your teeth or eating.
The fourth limb of Raja Yoga is the practice of Pranayama. The word pranayama is comprised of two roots: Prana means the “vital energy” or “life force”, it is the force which exists in all things, whether animate or inanimate. It is closely related to the air we breathe but in a more subtle way. The word yama means control or ayama means extension or expansion. Learning how to control your breath through numerous techniques of pranayama, which utilizes 3 main aspects of breathing (inhaling, exhaling and breath retention), will bring you more awareness on your prana. Most people breathe incorrectly, using only a small part of their lung capacity. Irregularities in lifestyle, wrong diet and stress will obstruct the pranic flow. People will feel “drained of energy”, this will lead to deceases and metabolic dysfunction. The techniques of pranayama reverse this process. All pranayama practice ultimately works toward purification of the nadis (energy channels) and the awakening of kundalini shakti at the muladhara chakra. The awakening of kundalini energy (also described as the awakening of divine consciousness or wisdom), and its ascent to the crown chakra is the final goal of Raja Yoga.
Through the practices of yama, niyama, asana and pranayama, the body and its energy are mastered. The next stage, Pratyahara, achieves the conquest of the senses and mind. The mind frees itself from the senses and turns towards the soul to enjoy its spiritual heights. Through practice of these five stages of yoga, all the lyers or sheats of the self from skin to the consciousness are penetrated, subjugated and sublimated to enable the soul to diffuse evenly throughout. This is true sadhana (practice). Pratyahara forms the foundation for Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi (concentration, meditation and state of expanded or transcendental consciousness, where the activity of the mind ceases and the “The Knower and The Object of Knowledge Become One”).
As you can see, Yoga is far from simply being physical exercises. Yoga will help you to understand what is real, what is necessary and how to make the right choices in your life that will take both in consideration inner and outer realities. Yoga is not something you can intellectualize, you can only learn from practice and experience.

Kurmasana

The most dreadful position for me!

This position comes in the middle of the Ashtanga primary series, so you are warmed up and ready to accomplish a challenging position at this stage. I could say that I am a pretty flexible person in general but this Kurmasana position – also called the tortoise pose because you look like a turtle withdrawn into its shell once you have mastered it – is physically and mentally very hard for me to master. I think I have a mental blockage preventing me from doing this position. Something I need to let go. Kurmasana is a place into which we can retreat to reconnect with what is alive inside of us, instead of what is draining our lives outside of us. But also, all of the things from which we are constantly running away have an opportunity to surface. Our fears, our disappointments, even our regrets can arise in this pose. Once acceptance is reached, Kurmasana becomes a keystone to our practice, the place of contentment that is the foundation to a fulfilling and joyous life.
Getting into the position
Sit on the ground with your legs outstretched. Spread your legs to a distance slightly wider than hip width apart. Bend the knees slightly and anchor the heels in the ground. Lean forward from the hips and slide your shoulders under the knees. Stretch your arms to the side with palms pressing down. The knees may be bent more if necessary. Then, if you feel comfortable, slide your heels further to extend the knees more. Do not tense the back muscles. Gradually, keeping the awareness on breath and relaxation, move the body forward until the forehead or chin touches the floor between the legs. Listen to your body; it’s the greatest protection for preventing injuries. If confident, you can move further to Supta Kurmasana, the sleeping tortoise. Fold the arms around the back and interlock the fingers of both hands under the buttocks or behind the waist, walk the feet towards each other and cross the ankles. Hold. Relax the whole body, close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply. You can stay in the position as long as it is comfortable. Slowly return to the starting position. You should always perform a counter pose if you are not in the middle of the whole primary series sequence. Purna Dhanurasana is the perfect counter pose.
Benefits
The whole spine stretches forward, increasing the circulation and soothing the nerves. The organs of the abdomen receive an internal massage. The intensive forward bend allows the head, neck and shoulders to relax. It induces introversion, mental relaxation, calm and a sense of inner security and surrender. Passion, fear and anger subside, and the body and mind are refreshed through this practice.
“When like the tortoise, which withdraws on all sides its limbs, he (the aspirant) withdraws his senses from the sense-objects. Then wisdom comes steady. The tortoise symbolizes looking inward, and controlling very carefully what is put out”. The Bhagavad Gita. This idea is a foundational concept in the practice of yoga. When the life of the senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell) becomes our main focus, our connection to our center is often lost.

Brahmari Pranayama

Brahmari Pranayama = humming bee breath.
My first encounter with this Pranayama – We were told to sit in a comfortable position, close our eyes and relax. With lips gently close we inhale and upon exhalation we make a steady soft humming sound that goes.. “mmmmmm”. Inhale, “mmmmmmm”. Exhale, “mmmmmmm”….
My instructor told us that this is a good technique to have a sweet voice as it massages our voice box.  Class sounds funny because you get to hear pitches of high and low, cracking sounds which includes my own. At one point, i could even hear myself croak. The next day, i thought i sounded better. My voice box was not as frictional.  Psychological? I wonder. I treasure this technique though. The physical, psychological and mental effects work well for me.
A little sidetrack. Many years ago, i used to sing. For competitions and performances to earn some money to support myself through studies in University. I love to sing. Even though, I’ve always had sinus problems which affects me seriously on and off, they seem minute as they only visited me in the mornings. During my final year, i developed a serious sinus problem known as paranasal sinusitis. I was given 2 options.
1) To go for an operation to open more air passage for breathing
2) To be on nasal spray for long term. Usage – 3 times a day or up to 6 times if my sinuses was bad.
I chose the latter. After a few months, my sinusitis gets better, but i could not sing anymore. When i consulted an ENT specialist, he told me the nasal spray which contained steroids had numb my voice box. My last performance ended up with me cracking on a high note. I never sing again.
Brahmari was a whole new experience for me. Apart from the fact that it could pose as a recovery road for my already numbed voicebox, it has such calming effects. Initially, i tend to focus on my voicebox to stop myself from croaking. Subsequently as my breath gets smoother, my humming steadied. The humming caused vibration at the centre of the skull and it brought my awareness inwards to where the centre of vibration is. Gradually, i feel that my mind was no longer wandering. I feel at ease and it was as though i was able to see myself practicing this Pranayama. I felt tingling sensation flowing through my whole body right to my fingertips and toes and gradually flow back. I did not try to discover why i felt that way. All i know is that after each practice session which last about 20 -30 mins, i feel so relax that i want to sleep. Thus i usually practice at night before bedtime. It helps to get rid of dreams and interrupted sleep.
Long term practice of this Pranayama promotes a deep connection with the flow of Prana within your body. It also helps to alleviate insomnia,promotes concentration and boost memory, strengthen the voicebox and improves the quality of your voice. I feel the effect of this powerful and yet subtle Pranayama both inwards and outwards.

A Simple Dedication

We have been informed and commended by those who study with our Yoga Master Trainers Paalu Ramasamy and Satya Chong Weiling through the Tirisula Yoga LLP (Yoga Alliance Registered Programs) that these Tirisula Yoga inspired certified yoga teachers are unique, inspiring, as authentic as it can get, mind blowing, and who are able to express and relate themselves as fully qualified teachers.
They all have one thing in general, they are simply OUTSTANDING.  I take this opportunity to thank all those teachers whom we had a chance to impart our knowledge inspired by our GURUs, to keep doing, practicing and become your true self.


Dwi Pada Sirsasana Adjustment
I pray to our Parama Guru,
Aum Namo Narayanayah Namah,
Lord of All Lords,
Prana of All Pranas,
Soul of All Souls,
Light of All Light,
Ocean of All Oceans,
Body of All Bodies,
Guide of All Guides,
Mind of All Minds,
I dedicate my soul towards HIS Lotus feet,
to enable consciousness within and
Reach HIM in whatever way possible.