What Yoga is Teaching me

 

  1. Presence: Follow the Butterflies

“Problems can’t exist within the present moment” – Echart Tolle

Our attention goes where our focus are. If you know me for the last 5 to 7 years you might not believe that I once had a considerable amount of negativity I was carrying around with me. 

A kind trainer / coach made the suggestion to me to “follow the butterflies” 

This was enough to trigger my curiosity. Soon after the suggestion was made I started noticing a lot of butterflies in my immediate environment. 

Upon further reflection I began to understand the importance of how thoughts and focus influence the quality of our lives. If we focus on butterflies, that is what we will attract. Conversely so, focusing on negative aspects or things that is out of our control, it perpetuates the same feeling of frustration and not being able to change the situation.

On the yoga matt you must stay present in order to be able to perform the asanas. You stay present through connecting to your breath. I believe that is partly why yoga became such an enlightening experience to me. Rarely do we experience such a sense of presence in our daily lives. Truly an experience to treasure and try replicating in our daily lives.

I believe the way to achieve that off the yoga matt is to connect to our breathing. Breathing transcends us back to the present moment. It also allows us to make more calculated decisions in terms of how we would like to respond to life’s challenges. 

  1. Consciousness

The moment I step onto the yoga matt I become more aware of my body, as well as my mental state. As an enneagram (https://www.wepss.com) type 7 I find it hard to connect to my own feelings. It’s much more comfortable to connect to my thoughts (Head vs Heart).

Therefore, YOGA provides a unique experience to me for reconnecting my body, mind and spirit. 

Being more connected with my own thoughts and feelings also helps me off the matt to be more congruent in how I behave. I am able to respond more authentically to problems, questions, challenges. It becomes easier to express how or what I really feel like about certain matters. 

  1. Emotional Management

I have always been a bottler. It was the example I grew up within our Anglo Saxon community in South Africa. I actually believed that not having outbursts was demonstrating emotional management. Little did I realise the impact of this on relationships. (http://www.susandavid.com/new-index/)

When I am on the yoga matt I often experience an unlocking / release of emotions which was most likely bottled up until that stage. I believe asanas, pranayama and kris help us release some emotions that no longer serve us. By doing so we are restoring energy so that we can move forward in life feeling fully recharged.

  1. Resilience: comfort through discomfort and self efficacy

If I’m totally honest, yoga practice could sometimes be challenging whether it’s holding a pose for an extended period or trying to balance in precarious positions. Yoga’s unique challenges on the matt, however discomforting, has helped me to face stressful, compromising positions in real life with a different attitude. Yoga has made me more resilient and able to follow through with ordinary challenges I face off the matt. 

  1. Connection

By connection to myself on the yoga matt, I have inadvertently realised how intimately everything is connected. I believe there is a real spiritual connection between all living and non-living objects on the earth plane. To realise our sense of connection we truly need to connect to ourselves first. 

  1. Trust

Yoga has truly increased my level of TRUST, both towards myself and especially being able to make myself vulnerable, by following instructions while practicing yoga. I believe I have a deeper sense of trust in the universe and knowing that everything is exactly as it should be. And that following the instructions, and accepting my current circumstances, will lead me exactly down the path of where I should be. Through my current experiences I will also be ready for the next steps that needs to be taken. A slow but purposeful build up to a magnificent “pose”

  1. Acceptance

Even if it’s just half an hour a day, the time I am spending on my yoga matt teaches me to accept my current circumstances. I believe that comes through presence. I have always had a hard time to accept things as they are. I believe it’s just that little thing called being HUMAN. 

  1. Forgiveness

I mainly refer to forgiving myself for not always being able to perform certain postures. Off the yoga matt that also helps me to forgive others for their imperfections by connecting with my own (empathy)

  1. The gifts of imperfection: Vulnerability

Sometimes, especially in intermediate classes, we are challenged with certain poses, balances that we may not be able to achieve (Crow, Crane, head stands, etc). This makes you feel vulnerable and lacking. For me personally it has provided a unique opportunity to identify with the gifts of imperfection. (https://www.newheightscoach.com/uploads/7/6/9/8/76986173/the_gifts_of_imperfection_by_brene_brown.pdf

We all have our own imperfections. The reward is in recognising them, exposing them under the spotlight, and accepting them. There is no PERFECT. The true beauty in life lies in it’s imperfections. 

  1. Self Love and Self Compassion 

You can probably understand why I left the best for last. Yoga has been a very important mirror for reflecting the principles of self love and self compassion back to me as the BEST and most trustworthy companions as part of our human experience. 

Whenever I am over-exerting myself on the yoga matt, I immediately remember that THAT is exactly the opposite of what yoga is about.

Yoga teach us to be self aware, self conscious, listening to our own body and gently increasing our own strength, flexibility and balance as we progress with our experience.

Through connecting and aligning body, mind and spirt I find the best parts of me, which sometimes remain hidden in the busy world which occurs off the yoga matt.

I carry this peace of mind and gentle understanding of myself into the real world in an effort to communicate more authentically.

In Conclusion : 

I believe yoga is a very personalised experience for each of us. I am sure that many more benefits and teachings could be added to the list…

Karin Schoombee – YTT200hrs March 2018

 

Pitta in me

Is interesting to know what’s our body type and start working on it, to balance it out with a healthier diet.

By understanding my body type as a Pitta dosha, I have better control on both my body and mind.

The characteristic of Pitta:

The Pitta dosha controls digestion, metabolism, and energy production. The primary function of Pitta is transformation. Those with a predominance of the Pitta principle have a fiery nature that manifests in both body and mind.

  • Pittas are usually of medium size and weight. They sometimes have bright red hair, but baldness or thinning hair is also common in a Pitta. They have excellent digestion, which sometimes leads them to believe they can eat anything. They have a warm body temperature. They sleep soundly for short periods of time and have a strong sex drive. When in balance, Pittas have a lustrous complexion, perfect digestion, abundant energy, and a strong appetite. When out of balance, Pittas may suffer from skin rashes, burning sensations, peptic ulcers, excessive body heat, heartburn, and indigestion.

In order to keep a balance, I am trying to make the changes to my lifestyle. To allow my mind to calm down with some free time everyday, and not skip meals. Eat more cooling food (sweet fruits & melons). Keep some plants and fresh flowers, cooling and sweet aromas (sandalwood, rose, lavender) at home. Laugh a lot, and stay happy.

Choose the food that help to balance the heat.

  • Dairy can help balance the heat of Pitta. This includes milk, butter, and ghee. Sour, fermented products such as yogurt, sour cream, and cheese should be used sparingly as sour tastes aggravate Pitta.
  • All sweeteners may be taken in moderation except molasses and honey.
  • The best oils to pacify Pitta are olive, sunflower, and coconut. Use less sesame, almond, and corn oil, which are more heating.
  • Wheat, rice, barley, and oats are the best grains to reduce Pitta. Eat less corn, rye, millet, and brown rice.
  • Stick to sweeter fruits such as grapes, melons, cherries, coconuts, avocados, mangoes, pomegranates, fully ripe pineapples, oranges, and plums.
  • Reduce sour fruits such as grapefruits, apricots, and berries.
  • The vegetables to favor are asparagus, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, pumpkins, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, okra, lettuce, green beans, and zucchini.
  • The vegetables to avoid include tomatoes, hot peppers, carrots, beets, eggplant, onions, garlic, radishes, and spinach.
  • Pitta types should use seasonings that are soothing and cooling. These include coriander, cilantro, cardamom, saffron, and fennel. Hotter spices such as ginger, cumin, black pepper, fenugreek, clove, salt, and mustard seed should be used sparingly. Very hot seasonings such as chili peppers, and cayenne are best avoided. Chew on fennel seeds after meals to cool down acid in the stomach.
  • For non-vegetarians, chicken, pheasant and turkey are preferable while beef, seafood, and eggs increase Pitta and should be minimized.

More information on Pitta:

https://chopra.com/article/understanding-pitta-how-feed-your-inner-fire

“Eat Healthy, think Better” anonymous

Jess Chua

200hrs YTT weekend March 2018
 

Meditation to calm the mind

I came across meditation during a group class many years ago. Back then I have no knowledge of what’s all about. My impression was to just keep the mind empty and focus on the candle frame. I couldn’t get myself into Dharana nor Dhyana at all.

As Master Paalu mentioned, not everyone is good at explaining or teaching mediation. It was until he explained further with illustration of “the fish jumping out of the water” theory that makes me understand how meditation should be. It’s ok to have thoughts jumping up and down in my mind before entering into Dharana (Mind fit for concentration). Focusing on 1 thought at a time and breathing helps to calm the mind. And slowly enter into Dhyana (Meditation) with uninterrupted flow of the mind.

When the mind is completely loses the trace of object which merged into nature and the mind also merges into nature, they form a frequency with nature, this is call Samadhi (Super Conscious state). Everything become peaceful and serene.

Beside practicing Asana that helps improves balance, endurance, flexibility and strength, Mediation helps to keep the mind calm, focus and relieves stress.

I have been a workaholics, fast pace and multi-tasker, which have added on unnecessary stress and unhealthy lifestyle. Now, ever since I started to practice meditation 10-15mins everyday, it helps to calm myself a lot. Not rushing into things, staying focus and slow down the pace. I could see my work life balance and with lots of positive energy. My heart rate has since reduce from 72 to 58 at resting, haha that’s a great progress in just 3weeks of practicing.

“The thing about Meditation is: You become more and more you” David Lynch

Jess Chua

200hrs YTT weekend March 2018

The exact moment I fell in love with Yoga

It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with….YOGA

I have been doing yoga on and off over the past 12 years or more. After school my twin sister (Naomi) and I picked up a tremendous amount of weight while au pairing in the Hague, Netherlands. For the next 10 years our major focus was geared towards cardio in order to loose the excess weight. To be fair I believe mainstream yoga has only surfaced in the West approximately 10 to 15 years ago.

As with our mom, we only measure 1.52m and with our Kapha (Ayurvedic dosha reference) rather stout frame, everything we look at is added to our weight immediately. We found this out the hard way.

After being more happy with my weight at a critical point in time, a good friend and colleague (thank you Louden) started influencing me towards strength training. Simply put, I realised that I can do as much cardio as I wish, but without a properly formed muscle, I will never be able to process the fat effectively. 

A bit further down the line I also started realising that our diet contributes approximately 75% to our body weight, regardless how much exercise we are doing. Even over-exercising is futile if we are eating the incorrect food or proportions for our specific body type.

The reason I mention this is because for the longest time I resisted all non-cardio or non-sweat based exercises because of not fully being aware of what role our diet plays in our lives. 

Slowly, but surely, I started inserting more yoga classes in my exercise regime. Just to be clear, after our experience in our 20’s with weight gain, and due to our DNA and natural tendency to pick up weight easily, my sister and I have been exercising at least 6 to 7 times a week, without effort or force. I believe some part of this discipline comes from the days we did ballet, almost 10 years, as well as a love for sweet things. Keep exercising to keep eating what we want. 

For the longest time, whenever we have the opportunity to spend time together (seeing that she lives in London and I live in Singapore), it’s a very special part of our routine and we would carefully work out what exercises will be part of our time together. These days, more often than not, it would be yoga and meditation practiced together.

Concurrently to my exercising I also started meditating regularly about 7 years ago. I followed my sister’s example. I still recall using Jon Kabat-Zinn meditation CDs as a guidance in the beginning. Naomi and I chat every day over WhatsApp. Our first message daily would refer to our meditation and which exercises we did for the day.

The reason for our interest in meditation was stimulated through the realisation how many thoughts we have. This was a conscious effort to calm our busy minds. We are both professionals with a busy and often stressful lifestyle. Today I believe we are all experiencing some kind of stress, whether internal or external, in a profession, family situations, etc. The technology and social media has evolved so much and that has increased the pressure and pace at which we move and have to make decisions every day.

More recently I have also taken steps to further my meditation practice. I am using the Transcendental Meditation (http://sg.tm.org) technique for meditating. I meditate 20 minutes twice a day. It has been a life changer for me.

It still took quite a bit of time before I started doing yoga more regularly. There was definitely a strong correlation between my yoga practice and times in my life that I was experiencing some emotional turmoil though. 

When I look back I have some fond memories of various teachers and special experiences, for e.g. performing a yoga class in Germany with my mother in law and Naomi. Apart from not understanding much, it was easy to follow as yoga is such a universal language. Then there was the yoga on the beach in Santa Monica with the sea breeze on my face and the sun gently kissing my whole body. And a very special rooftop yoga with Naomi and my youngest brother Carel, following a YouTube class by Adriene (yogawithadriene.com)

Shortly after my divorce I had a work trip to Auckland, New Zealand where I combined some personal holiday with my work trip. A friend took me along to a yoga festival (Wanderlust), and even though I was not sure how much yoga I could do in one day, I had a wonderful and unique experience that day.

After a Kundalini class, during Savasana, I clearly had a vision of the sun, illuminated in the brightest yellow you can imagine, followed shortly by a heart appearing at it’s center in a red as bright as blood. At first I was not sure if this was just a dream or hallucination, but then the teacher proceeded to lead a song which she said was normally used to conclude a Kundalini practice session. The song that followed had the following lyrics: 

May the long time sun shine upon you

All love surround you

And the pure light within you

Guide your way on. 

(long time sun song)

Of all my yoga experiences I believe that day is the day that I fell in love with YOGA. It left such a lasting impression for me that I designed my first tattoo around the image of the Sun and the heart. 

Since that experience I did several retreats to Bali where I spent some time at the Yoga Barn at critical points in my life. After each trip I felt rejuvenated and ready to tackle whichever experience or challenge it was that lay ahead for me. 

Approximately a year ago I decided to Stop smoking (with Allan Carr https://www.theeasywaytostopsmoking.com) after a long period of harbouring this habit. It was an incredible relief as it felt like the sword that was hanging over my head vanished within weeks as I started breathing more easily. I also felt a tremendous improvement in my yoga practice. No longer would I be the sole smoking yogi at Yoga Barn.

Another few pieces of the puzzle had to fall in place, before I started looking further into a possibility to pursue Yoga Teacher Training. After coming across Tirisula Yoga studio and speaking to Wei Ling, I was even more convinced to complete my training with her and Paalu. 

My love relationship with Yoga has even deepened further since starting the Yoga Teacher training in March of this year…I am particularly excited about knowing the exact alignment of each pose as well as realising some of the other obvious benefits to my exposure by being more intimately familiar with Pranayama and Kriyas. I can’t wait to be able to share this powerful knowledge with family and friends. I find a strong purpose in being able to help other people, which matter to me, what changes they have to make (in life) to be able to move forward in life. 

Yoga does not judge, Yoga provides a unique experience of a brief encounter on my yoga matt, where my mind, body and spirit is aligned. I have resolved many issues on the matt. Normally this feeling stays with me for the rest of the day and has the power to restore balance and order in my thoughts as well as encounters throughout the day…

I believe my relationship with  YOGA will be a life long relationship…

Karin Schoombee – YTT200hr March 2018

What I eat Everyday

Being an Asian is very hard to eat healthy especially when you live in the countries (MY and SG) where have so many delicious local food. Also, the healthy trend was not hit here back then I am so glad that there are many healthy restaurants in SG now.

I started eating healthily since 3 years ago. I make my own meals every day, eating out occasionally (once or twice a week). I do not eat at fast food chain or any instant meals for almost 4 years. I love fruits and vegetables since young thanks to my mom J I do not like to eat meat as I do not like the smell of meat (especially red meat) but I like fish.

My Favorite Breakfast  (Almost every single day):

Cooked Rolled Oats topped with Chia Seed, Flaxseed Meal, Cinnamon powder, Ashwagandha /turmeric/matcha/cacao powder (I will switch these every time) and some fresh fruits like kiwi/blueberries/banana or avocado.

My lunch is stir-fry different types of vegetables (usually up to 5), protein will be tofu/chickpea/lentils/mushroom/egg, and carbohydrate will be sweet potatoes/quinoa with brown rice/buckwheat pasta.

My usual snack is plain greek yogurt, fruits or nuts. I make energy balls as snacks sometimes, because it’s very easy and no baking is required.

My favorite dinner is pan fried fish and vegetables. Sometimes I will make a bowl of warm soup noodle. My noodle choice is Soba/Quinoa and Rice Vermicelli/ Millet and cook with vegetables, egg or sometimes sliced fish and tofu in Miso soup.

My daily meals sound very boring but I do enjoy very much J I’m looking forward to move back to JB to discover healthy and delicious dishes in my own kitchen. I’m super excited whenever I think about it.

 

 

 

Body and Soul Need New Challenges

Hi Beautiful Human, my name is Pei. Let me start with how I came on the mat, the person who inspired me is my sister (I love her so much). I still remember the first Yoga class I went with her was a hot class when we were both still in the State.  I left the class half way because I felt like I wasgoing to faint but this didn’t stop me so I continue practicing after I graduated and came to Singapore for work.

Slowly I become more into it and I practice every single day. I bring my mat while travelling even there is no time I will still some stretches before bed. I’m a morning person (very glad I am) 🙂  practice from 6-7.30am at home now.

I used to attend yoga classes in studios after work which I don’t find it productive as my dinner time was messed up then I slowly practicing at home.I like to explore in new things like going to a new place or try something which I never thought of. There was one day, I was thinking how do I bring my practice to the next level then I found Tirisula YTT so I just signed up. I feel very grateful that I have the opportunity to take this course, there is always a takeaway every time after the class and the engagement is very strong. I’m looking forward every weekend to attend the training.

This could be the greatest present I gave myself before stepping 30s.

The Upside Down World

I see many of my classmates (including myself!) started to cringe when the Inversion asana (Headstand- Sirsasana, specifically) was being introduced in the first or second lesson of our Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) course. This is understandable, going upside down can be really scary for a lot of people.

Fear and doubt kicks in and I was left defeated, couldn’t even get both my feet off the ground after countless attempts to get into a headstand. I suddenly see light at the end of the tunnel when I was being assisted up to a headstand for the very first time by Master Paalu. Although it was only a mere 5 seconds assisted headstand, the adrenaline rush ( I would like to call it “Cheap Thrill”) i felt, pushes me to wanna do more. This is where my daily headstand practice started. 

The first week of daily headstand practice was frustrating and tedious. I allowed fear and doubt to get the better of me and I couldn’t get to where I wanted. Miracle started to happen on the second week when I started practicing daily Pranayama techniques which we were taught in class. I started to be able to put down my ego, having faith and trust on my own body and able to implement the techniques taught to get into a headstand. Once again, I experienced the cheap thrill having both feet up and off the ground but not with the right form. There were still moments when I felt stuck with my practice and progress and I turned to Social Media (Instagram) to seek inspiration and help. 

Today, I am enjoying the upside down world with ease and relaxation. I’m living in the moment when I’m upside down, nothing matters more than my breath and my mental vision has never been clearer. 

Namaste.

 

Jeslin (March 2018 Weekend YTT)

 

 

 

Asanas. Keep trying. We will get there.

As of 26 March 2018, my group had already completed 8 YTT classes over the past 3 weekends & I had learnt many new concepts about yoga. The new information had been beneficial to me, and I believe to the other participants in the course as well. 

Previously, my concept of yoga was limited. Therefore, I thought that yoga referred to the asanas that I had been doing. Through the classes, I had learnt that these asanas are only part of the tools & techniques to help our mind, body and spirit to align and be balanced.

I had been practicing asanas with different instructors during my group classes in various studios. As the group classes tend to have many students, the instructors may not be able to fully explain the proper techniques, benefits & contraindications of the poses that I had been doing. 

For example, previously, I did not know that practitioners with high blood pressure or female practitioners who are having their period should avoid inversions. For other poses like Paschimottanasana (forward bend) & Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (extended hand to big toe pose), I had learnt the other variations of these poses that can further strengthen my muscles. With the new information that I had learnt, I will be able to prevent injuries and gain much more from all the poses that I had already been practicing.

When I signed for the class, my main intention was to improve on my asanas. Now that I do know more about yoga and especially on the asanas, I should definitely put the knowledge to use to benefit from them. It can be a great joy to share with people around me who are also keen with yoga. Since I had embarked on my yoga journey about 2 years ago, I had benefited tremendously in numerous ways such as getting fewer sick days, the sharp shoulder and lower back pain that bothered me for years disappeared, and being toner which enabled me to fit into smaller pants.

I can see that within this short period of time during the YTT, my body had been improving with the more intense training with the proper techniques. I was previously unable to lift my legs up even against the wall during a headstand. Now with more practice, I am able to bring my legs up. Hopefully, I will be able to work on my shoulders and prop myself up without assistance from the wall. Achieving some of the poses that I haven’t been able to do previously is worth the effort as it is something that I look forward to complete by the end of the course. With just a month left, I wish to do some of the asanas that I had been unable to do for years. I will keep trying! 🙂

 

Chang Rui Fen

March 2018 (Weekend class)

2 April 2018

Don't forget to breathe

The one thing I consistently struggle with in yoga is the breathing – it’s left fairly far behind my asana practice, and not something I give much thought to because…seriously…who cares. 

Now, halfway through the course, I find myself slowly appreciating pranayama as a practice – the techniques and benefits that come with it; its importance within the overall world of yoga. It is always said that yoga isn’t just about the physical movement but also the movement with breaths. I tend to forget that, especially during asanas because I’m fixated on mastering a certain pose. But it really isn’t a myth that breath can get you to the eventual pose and elevate the yoga experience. Can’t say I’ve grasp the techniques as well as some of my other fellow yogi course mates, but as the cliche goes – yoga is a journey.

But perhaps most importantly for me, breathing calms the mind and heightens the self-awareness of your own body. I take to asanas and other forms of intensive exercises because for that hour, my mind is a world away from daily worries and stress. But, really, there’s only so much cardio I can or want to do in a week. Pranayama almost becomes that tiny baby step to meditation and taking your focus to your breath inevitably seem to make all the other (mundane) thoughts melt away. Everything just happens after that.

So while I’m not the most diligent student, I plan on (trying) keeping pranayama as a mainstay to my overall practice. Cheers to some regular skull-cleansing from hereon.

 

Cheryl 

YTT March 2018 (Weekend)

 

Yoga – Lifelong Companion on my Self-Discovery Journey

Yesterday marked the mid-point of the Weekend YTT March 2018 course.

My thoughts thus far? Yoga is a journey of self-discovery.

I still recall the first lesson when we warmed up with five rounds of each of Surya Namaskara A and Surya Namaskara B consecutively. Everyone around me was flowing like water and I was, well, obviously THE fish out of water. It was inevitable that I felt disappointed with myself and wondered if my registration for this course was too premature. But hey, what was I here for? I was here to learn! After that day, I walked out of class gaining more exposure to asanas that I did not know of and having a glimpse into the universe of yoga. Every weekend thereafter was an unveiling of the many facets of yoga and familiarising the body with the various asanas and pranayamas.

Even though I can’t flock with the crows yet (with Kakasana) or part with Paul (the wall), the little achievements like being able to go upside down or to do Chakrasana are reminders that there is a time for everything, as long as I keep trying.

There are only five weeks remaining before the course ends. Someone once asked me would I have signed up if this was not structured as a YTT course? My answer is an absolute yes. I would love to have yoga as my lifelong companion beyond the tenure of this course. There is something about yoga which calms me down even if it might simultaneously be the potential cause of my frustration. The least that I could do is to understand more about this companion and to practise responsibly.

 

Hou Lijun

Weekend YTT March 2018 Course

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