Gomukhasana ( Face of Light)

This beautiful pose makes wonders for its deep release of  hips and shoulders  simultaneously. It releases hidden tensions in joints , nerves and muscles. Staying in the pose may stimulate digestive fire hence to improve elimination.Overtime , this pose produce serenity, the natural state of a cow at pasture. (Go means cow/light) Eventually , that serenity unfolds into a radiant spiritual light.
instructions
begin by sitting in hero Pose
exhale sitting to the left side of your feet
inhale as you erect
exhale folding your right leg over the top of your left, bringing your feet to the sides of your hips , with your knees nearly on top of each other .
inhale stretching your left arm over your head , folding it so that your palm can reach down your spine.
exhale reaching your right hand across the back of your waist as far as possible . then flex your elbow so that your hand reaches down your left hand. if possible , grip fingers together .Keep the back of your hand towards your spine.
inhale expanding your chest as you firm the grip of your hands. Breathe steadily for 6 to 12 rhythmic breaths
exhale releasing your arms
inhale stretching your legs out to stick pose. Then reverse the pose.
Avoid sitting on your feet, rather keep them to the sides of your feet. It is more important to maintain an erect posture , its alright if you do not manage to to even touch your hands. If you DO NOT touch your hands , connect it with a towel . After a few breaths, you can slowly move your hands closer together to deepen the opening of your shoulders. AVOID stressing your lower shoulder , as it is in a vulnerable position that could stretch ligaments rather than muscles.

Savasana

Do not belittle this pose. For me personally I find this pose most rewarding. Here is a small little text we can understand more about it.
In this deep relaxation posture, you lie motionless, appearing outwardly as still as a corpse. this is where the name of  this posture is given.  This classical pose of relaxing mind and body is to fully absorb the benefits of yoga practices. The deep relaxation promotes helps, to restore and rejuvenate the student. With this pose after yoga asanas we can become exploreres which we travel deeper into ourselves through layers of consciousness . ( most of us will also think that it is a time to fall asleep)
The relaxation deepens into meditation upon the constancy of duality, the nature of activity within stillness can be directly perceived.
By staying conscious during relaxation , one improve the strength of your mind. At first, relaxation training may put you to sleep or bring about an unconscious emptiness. These reactions are normal and are indicative of neurological reprogramming to your parasympathetic nervous system. These are the anatomical structures of  your relaxation reflex. Should anytime you go unconscious, relax and make the transition from stillness slowly, gradually, moving with deliberate anticipated motions.

Feel it and Generate… your Manipura

“Then my angel said, “Here’s a pair of scissors. Why don’t you cut all those rubber bands and free yourself?”
We ‘reorder’ our lives when we choose spirit over the illusions of physical circumstances. With each choice we make, we either become more involved in the illusory physical world, or we invest energy into the power of spirit.
(excerpts from Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss, PH.D)
Manipura
The energy of the Personal Power Chakra. Fire heated in the right degree depending on how you manifest it.
The third chakra is the core to our strength and illnesses. You choose which way you want to lead your life with. It is activated by issues related to self-responsibility, self esteem, fear of rejection and an oversensitive to criticism.
This is when you can look at yourself and say, there is a lot to learn from every right and wrong from the doings of others and yourself. Who is to judge what is right and wrong? Hence, what is there to be happy, angry and sad about. I reckon it is how one sees the situation. I can see someone running into a lamp post and laugh while another can look at me and frown at such a reaction. When I laughed, it did not mean I had no empathy, when I laughed it is because of past imageries that have formed in my mind that made me recall the silliness of it all. You fall, you get up. Not only do you get up, you get up and smile. Why dwell in the unhappiness when you can turn it around and make things light for yourself and others. Every situation is an experience, hence it’s there.
Have you ever seen a child who fell and will get up on her own BUT when she looks around and sees the sad faces of  her parents, she cries and will wait for her parents to rush over to ‘hold’ her. It was that same child who fell and got up on her own when she realise she is on her own and there is nothing to cry about.
Every time we fall is it, our self esteem, our ego that has been crushed hence we react the way we do? And we suddenly do not response according to what we are capable of? It is easy to blame others for something that has happened or in this case, it is our ego that has been shamed.
It is not easy I must say, I have been through it all, the laughter and the tears and the anger (mother of all evil). And which ones are the ones we could have looked at it and thought. Was it necessary? Did it help? It sure did but how long did it take? Was it worth our energy?
Did you know when you get angry, your cells contracts and invariably leads to weakness in the body as your cells are now useless and become waste matter? The contraction of cells interferes with a normal healthy body.
How do we feel about ourselves? We need to understand this to understand why others are doing the things, reacting the way, they do.
The spiritual goal is to have a relationship with yourself before you can have a ‘relationship’ with others. If one can understand to why it is not a literal ‘relationship’ as mentioned, it is because you have the comprehension that the spiritual quality inherent in the third chakra compels us to create an identity apart from our tribal self.

Be Present, Carpe Diem, Existentialism?

All 3 different depths of living some of us swear by.
I know for sure, I have lived my 20 years by Carpe Diem”. I want to believe where I am today and the person I have become are all experiences from believing and living by the phrase. I was introduced to this at an early age, loving the movie, Dead Poets Society.
Now, living past quarter of my life, I have confronted my self and learnt that Carpe Diem has been good to me and now, to live life to its fullest, I can take it up a notch and “Be Present”. Just Sieze the Now WITH various conditions. Firstly, would be to inculcate the daily practices of Yamas and Niyamas.
 Be Present: Existing or happening now; current
Carpe Diem: Sieze the day. The phrase “And if not now, when?” (Pirkei Avoth 1:14)
Existential: maintained that the individual is solely responsible for giving his or her own life meaning and for living that life passionately and sincerely,[7][8] in spite of many existential obstacles and distractions including despair, angst, absurdity, alienation, and boredom.[9]  Simply, I have took these 3 ways of living as a comparison. As much as I would like to believe, I am not an existentialist. May I say, I care too much to be such as describe as someone who only has “I” in her dictionary.
Definitely, a careless and carefree person who seizes every moment and lives her life. That is me. The risks, physically and mentally are always seen as an excitement for me rather than a challenge. “What is there to lose?” One question I am always asking myself before delving into matters or choices I make in taking care of myself, enjoying the fruits of labour, getting into trouble for I believe “You only live once!” who cares what people think, just as long as I think I am doing something that will not hurt others, I am good to go. Will I make that extra effort, spend that extra hour to make it work the way I will be happy with? Yes, I definitely will. IF not, why do it? It is also an All or Nothing attitude.  This confidence did not just come by the snap of one’s fingers, it is the people around me that I have to Thank. They have built the confidence in me to be able to say. “Let’s just do it! I know I can more than just cope!” And if you really think about it, people like me who plunges into doings just by the ‘feel’ of it, often gets hurt. We get burnt playing with fire. There is always the Pain to know the Joy. Having said this, every ounce of the dead cells while getting burnt is worth it because I have learnt. What I am learning to do is to Get burnt once and move on and not get burnt once and continue with playing with that same matchstick. You burn and you end up in ashes, nothing is left for you to fuel up your energy. That would be the ultimate dumb.
You need that understanding and the right guidance to bring you out of the rut and make your ‘practice’ a perfect one. I have found my answer in the 8 limbs in my path to Be Present. I would like to believe if one has Self- Respect, a lot of the practice leading to Being Present will fall in place.
Now that I have the Carpe Diem Zest, I will take that and walk the path of a True Yogi.

Head Stand

Salamba Sirsasana
Introduction
‘Sirsa’ refers to the head and ‘Salamba’ means ‘supported’. This is a basic posture with vertical stand; which means, all Yoga practitioners have to experience the pose by holding their legs together throughout and balance on their heads and forearms. It, at the first beginning, may look very difficult; but once you overcome the fear psychologically and balance well physically, I am sure everybody can do it with confidence.     
The Posture
Warm up is a must for this posture. I suggest to start with six sets of Surya Namaskar . According to my experience and Yoga rules, it will be better if you can finish 12 sets of Surya Namaskar before practising Salamba Sirsasana.
First, kneel down with your knees together and bring you hips back over your heels, place your elbows aligned under yours shoulders. Deeply interlace your fingers and creating a semicircle throught the palms. Place the crown of your head on the ground up close against yours hands, lengthen through the back of your neck and extend the back of your head into your palms, curl your toes under and straighten your legs then walk your feet towards your body until your torso and hips are raised vertically upwards. Hold your abdominal muscles contracted as you pull back in your hips, bend your knees and rasie your legs so that your thighs rest over your abdomen as you bring your torso into a vertical position. If you still building your confidence with the head balance, you may wish to spring  your feet up softly one at a time, gradually working towards springing them up together until your abdominal strenght and confidence develop enough for you to float your legs up and straighten them together.  Remember to keep on your breathing soft and deeper.  For beginners , hold 3-5 minutes; for practitioners, keep it for 15 minutes or above if you can keep yourself very stable.  To recover, reverse your path slowly and carefully then move into the child’s pose so that your head and neck are supported in line with the rest of your spine.
 There are two very important things you have to pay extra attention: 1. Have to keep balance;  2. Beware of your cervical vertebrae (C1-C7) especially those who had injured their spine before. Taking myself as an example, I had my C4 injured and almost lost my confidence to practice this posture until I can practise Salamba Sarvangasana well. So, keep balance and play safe are my advice to all Yoga beginners when trying out this posture.  
Benefits
Salamba Sirsasana is an indispensable part of a Yoga practice. It influence the functioning of the body in numerous ways; benefits are experienced on a physiological, metal and spiritual level, and this postures revitalize the entire system. It can help alleviate fatigue, insomnia, headaches, varicose vine, digestive problems and excess tension and anxiety. So that  this posture is often referred to as the king of all postures.

yoga benefits

Health Benefits ascribed to Yoga Practice.

Yoga, as we all know, is aimed to unite the mind, the body, and the spirit. Yogis view that the mind and the body are one, and that if it is given the right Yoga knowledge and taken to the right environment, it can find harmony and heal itself. Yoga therefore is considered therapeutic. It helps you become more aware of your body’s posture, inner body, alignment and patterns of movement. It makes the body more flexible, alert and helps you relax even in the midst of a stress stricken environment. This is one of the foremost reasons why people want to start Practicing Yoga – to be healthier, be more energetic, be happier and peaceful.
Yoga is a science that has been practiced for thousands of years. It consists of Ancient Theories, observations and principles about the mind and body connections, which are now being proven by modern medicine and science. Substantial research has been conducted to look at the Health Benefits of Yoga – from the Yoga Postures (Asanas), Yoga Breathing (Pranayama), and Meditation. The information on Yoga Poses & Benefits are grouped into three categories-physiological, psychological and biochemical effects. Furthermore, scientists have laid these results against the benefits of regular exercise.
Just to name a few physiological benefits :
Excretory functions improve
Endurance increases
Endocrine function normalizes
Eye-hand coordination improves
Psychological Benefits of Yoga
▪    Somatic and kinesthetic awareness increase
▪    Mood improves and subjective well-being increases
▪    Self-acceptance and self-actualization increase
▪    Social adjustment increases
▪    Anxiety and Depression decrease
Biochemical Benefits of Yoga
▪    Glucose decreases
▪    Sodium decreases
▪    Total cholesterol decreases

Kurmasana (tortoise pose)

The yogi looks to be more like the calm, cool, collected reptiles and amphibians. Thus more relaxed, steady and ready for any situation. Poses like ardha kurmasana (half tortoise) are designed for just that. The head is below the heart, forehead resting on the floor, back spine and neck are elongated and relaxed.~ Theresa M
Chakra: Vishuddha
Dristi: Third eye
Benefits
Your abdominal organs are gently massaged, as you bend your hip and stretch your spine. Being a ground hugging forward bend the blood circulation to your brain and to the spine, hips, thighs increases. Due to the added flow of blood to the brain and sinuses, it also builds your body’s resistance to sinusitis.

  1. Aids prevention of Diabetes and diseases of the stomach.
  2. Helps reduce obesity

Contraindication

  1. patients suffering from postural vertigo or sharp variations in blood pressure

Instructions:
Stretch your legs forward while seated comfortably.
Spread your legs to a distance wider than hip width apart.
Bend knees slightly and anchor heels
Bend forward and slide shoulders under the knees
Stretch arms to the sides with palms pressed facing down
note:
The ideal time for you to do this exercise early morning on an empty stomach. Do it  before having your bed tea or breakfast. But if you need to do it during the daytime then you should allow for a gap of five hours to elapse after having meals. An Asana to be mastered!
 www.kundalini-yoga-poses.com

Hello Tiisula Yoga!

It’s pre-dawn and nearly time for class to begin (I’m a student in the 200 hr training) and I wanted to check if I can blog via iPhone. Hope you’re having a lovely day, yogis and yoginis!

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