My Kapha Boy

My Kapha Boy

Every day, 4pm he comes home, takes of his shoes outside (smelly feet) and walks to the fridge looking for coca-cola. He will find none. Next question is: ”When does the next fairprice delivery come?’’ ‘’On Saturday, but there won’t be any coke,’’ I say.

This is my 15year old Kapha boy.

His physical characteristics all match Kapha, not only has he always been a big boy, already heavy when he was born, getting bigger very fast, he also has thick hair and soft eyes. His skin used to be radiant, but is not anymore (pimples/puberty). He sleeps very sound and has a regular digestion (maybe I shouldn’t tell that?).

The not so good thing is, he gains weight very fast and is now an overweight teenager.

It not only puberty, that makes him cry in emotional movies, it’s also his Kapha characteristic of emotion. He is very calm, thoughtful and loving. He is not only comfortable with routine, he loves routine and steadyness. He is loyal to only a few good friends, he has known for a long time and and gets a lot of friendship back from them. He can be very patient, but maybe I should call it slow in his case😉.

Sometimes, when Kapha excesses, he gets very resistant to change and very stubborn.

Kapha people don’t get angry, it is said? Well sometimes this is not true.

So what is to do?

It important to balance this Kapha boy!

As he clings to the status quo, he needs the stimulation of new sights, sounds and experiences, so the family tries to do a lot of stuff together at the weekend, e.g. sightseeing, going to the museum or cinema. During the week he has to cling to a routine. Come home from school, do homework and everyday 30 minutes exercise in the gym. And the ‘’poor’’ boy is always watched over by the apple watch, this means no cheating over the exercise!

As I have mentioned before, there will be no soft drinks for him, at least not at home, outside nobody knows, only water.

We have reduced the intake of dairy, which is not difficult considering what you pay for cheese or yoghurt in Singapore. All beans are good for Kapha types, this is easy, he loves them. Eat a lot of vegetables is not as easy, not very popular in the teenage community. I always put the recommended pumpkin and sunflower seed in the daily salad, but if the salad is not eaten, wt…

We have limited the consumption of red meat very much and eat more chicken, but red meat doesn’t go with the climate over here anyway.

As for grains like barley, corn, millet, buckwheat and rye, I have a few suitable recipes for wholemeal breads. Another place to put pumkin and sunflower seeds in!

As for my Kapha boy, there is still a long way to go and the puberty doesn’t make it any easier to create a Kapha diet for him that is lively and full of energy and helps him to lose weight.

 

Heike

 

 

Yoga and Concentration

 

 Yoga and concentration

 

Do you sometimes hardly know where your head is, because you have so many things to do at the same time?

Carelessness and lack of concentration complicate everyday life. But the ability to focus our attention and focus can be practiced! What’s more, it has far-reaching consequences for our entire lives. Every child should learn to be attentive and focused at an early age. The ability to hold and focus attention is more about the child’s future than a child’s IQ or the financial situation of the family in which it grows up.

The concentrative practice and the deliberate focus of attention are also the nuts and bolts in yoga. To focus one’s own attention and to concentrate in a certain action and in the present should help in the long term to understand oneself. For the first time, the concentrative practice is mentioned in the ancient Indian scriptures, the Vedas. Already there yoga is described as a disciplined introspection and meditative concentration.

And so it is: Regardless of whether we practice mindfulness, meditation, pranayama, or asana, concentrating on the execution of what we do, and thus the now, is of great importance. We focus on a particular exercise and keep all our attention there. If our thoughts wander off while practicing balance positions, we will lose balance and fall. And that’s just one example of why focused attention is always and everywhere important in yoga.

In the Yoga Sutra after Patanjali, Dharana, concentration, forms the sixth stage of the eight limbs of yoga. It is designed to prepare practitioners for practicing meditation. This in turn is not possible without prior concentration practice.

The concentrative exercises of yoga in the long term strengthen our brain areas – such as the prefrontal cortex (PFK – cognition) and the hippocampus (memory), which help us in the long run to be more focused, to better control ourselves and what we perceive correctly in our memory. Better activity in these areas helps us to be attentive, to think clearly and to make decisions.

Yoga therefore promotes our ability to decide in which direction we want to focus our attention and what we really and consciously want to “see” and “hear” in our lives. And that’s not so easy … Let’s handle over 90% of everything we do and do every day without really being aware of it. And that has consequences: our consciousness is “veiled” …. Smartphones, tablets and the constant confrontation with messages is everywhere.

But when you have practised Pratyahara and have withdrewelled all the 5 senses from objects and subjects, you will be able to move inwards to consciousness. This makes your mind fit for concentration, Dharana.

 

Heike

Nauli Kriya

Although I’m not able to perform the Nauli Kriya, I am truly fascinated by this and hope I’ll be able to share some of the things I’ve learnt while reading up about it.

What is Nauli Kriya?

  • It is one of the 6 cleansing methods used and this particular cleansing technique focuses on the abdominal massage and purification.

How is Nauli Kriya performed?

  • In order to attempt performing Nauli Kriya, it would be good to first master Uddiyana Bandha which is the upward abdominal lock.
  • Nauli requires the ability to isolate the rectus abdominis in the abdomen which are a paired muscle running vertically on the anterior wall of the abdomen.
  • Stand with feet apart, bent forward and hands on thighs.
  • Take a deep breath and blow one’s breath out (like blowing a balloon)
  • Tuck the chin in for jalandhara bandha (throat lock)
  • Contract the abdomen region inwards and upwards where there would be a ‘suction’ feeling
  • Attempt to isolate the rectus abdominis muscle and create a churning action which would require some time to master it. It may take weeks or even months so don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t happen straightaway!
  • Types of Nauli:
    • Vama – isolated contraction of left side
    • Daksina – isolated contraction of right side
    • Madhyana – isolated contraction of both sides

Benefits of Nauli Kriya

  • Massages of the internal organs (ie. Stomach, spleen, liver, large and small intestines)
  • Relieves constipation
  • Strengthens the abdominal muscles

Contraindications of Nauli Kriya

  • Should not be performed by people with hypertension, hernias, stomach ulcers or any other gastrointestinal issues
  • Do not practice during menstruation or pregnancy

When should one perform Nauli Kriya and how often can it be practiced?

  • It is ideally done on an empty stomach, especially in the early morning
  • Can be repeated about 5-6 times iin a 24 hour period
  • It should not be overdone as it can cause problems such as indigestion and loose bowels.

Looking forward to being able to do the Nauli Kriya one day 🙂

Linda Lim (YTTC200 – January 2018)

“Uttanasana” – more than only “Forward bend”

This Asana is one of the first ones which a Yoga beginner will practice as it has a high importance in the sun salutations.

When you translate the word “Uttanasana” to English, it can be translated with “standing forward bend”. In my opinion, it’s more than only a forward bend, it’s a powerful stretch as well.

Before you start with this Asana, you need to warm up. The warming up includes almost all parts of your body. Shoulder, spine, hip, knee, pelvis, hamstring and calves are included. You can’t do this Asana with a full stomach, be sure that your stomach and bowels are empty before you start. Uttanasana has some interesting benefits as it heals and rejuvenates your body. The reason is that the head is below your heart and therefore, this pose improves the blood circulation in your head. As a result, more oxygen reaches your cells.

At the beginning, you have to be in a standing position. During the inhale, you raise your arms up to the ceiling. Actually, you don’t have to raise up your arms but I think it helps to get a fluent and good bending. During the exhale, you have to bend forward – folding from your hips. Bring your belly as close as possible to your tights, your chest to your knees and your head to your lower legs. Look between your lower legs. You can bring your arms down on the floor, next to your feet.

Till now, you can already make a lot of mistakes. First, it’s really important that you bend your hips as much as possible and that you tilt your pelvis forward and avoid rounding of the lower back. Your buttocks have to point up to the ceiling by moving your hips by tensing your hip flexor. If the stretch in your hamstring is too much, you should bend your knees slightly more. Generally, the knees aren’t locked but gently bended. The stretching of your hamstring will be one of the most influencing parameters. Don’t forget your calves – you will feel a stretch as well.

If you have done all these elements of this Asana well, the next challenge will be to find the balance. If your weight is too much backward, you won’t bend your upper body as much as possible. If your weight is too much forward, you will get imbalanced. Therefore, bend your toes and press them into the ground. You have to shift weight on the balls of your feet and not on your heels. You will see how much more bending is possible, if you will consider this.

Contraindications or take care if you have a lower back injury, a tear in the hamstrings, a sciatica or problems with your eyes like glaucoma.

If this Asana is too difficult, you can adapt it in some ways. Bend your knees when your hamstring-stretch is too intensive or put your hands on the wall (instead of on the floor) and bring them parallel to the floor when someone has a back injury.

This Asana can help to stretch your back, hips, calves and hamstrings, reduce headache, massage the digestive organs, improve the digestion and strengthen the thighs and knees.  

This Asana seems to be easy but it’s a big job for your body.

 

Sylvana F., YTT Jan. 2018

Half moon pose – Ardha Chandrasana

Today, is the 31st of January, and the world will get to witness a rare astronomical event, where the lunar eclipse, blue moon, and supermoon, will occur simultaneously. This has inspired me to find out more about the half moon pose, Ardha Chandrasana.

 

How to perform the Ardha Chandrasana

  1. Transition from Utthita Trikonasana (right). Shift your weight to your right leg, and slowly slide your left leg closer.
  2. Ground your right heel firmly onto the ground, and straighten your right leg. Place your right hand on the ground, simultaneouslylifting the left leg parallel to the floor. Actively engage your core, glutes, and legs.
  3. Rotate upper torso to the left, and bring the left arm up, fingers pointing to the ceiling. Gaze on your left thumb.

 

Preparatory poses

– Warrior 1

– Side angle stretch

– Utthita trikonasana

 

Options/ modifications:

– Use a block under downward arm

– Gaze forward and kept the head in a neutral position

– Practice the pose against the wall

 

Common mistakes

– Bottom hand too close to leg

– Locking the knee of the standing leg

– Not engaging the top leg

– Collapsing the chest, causing the spine to round

 

Benefits

– Strengthens: ankles, legs, glutes, spine, core

– Stretches: calves, hamstrings, chest, groin, spine

– Improve balance and coordination

– relieves stress, indigestion, fatigue, and menstrual cramps

 

Contraindications and Cautions

– Neck problems (keep head in neutral position)

– Headaches

– Low blood pressure

– Diarrhea

 

Cassandra Mai  YTTC200 – January 2018

The 8 limbs of yoga – meditation

I was going through the notes on the 8 limbs of yoga, and the readings on pratyahara, dharana, dhyana , and Samadhi, intrigued me very much. This is just my two cents on relating it to what I have read previously, about the ‘powers of the mind’. Pratyrahara is the practice where we withdraw your senses, and move our consciousness inwards. We are always living in our external world, through our 5 senses (sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell), and are constantly distracted by it. In order to feel joy, and inner bliss, we have to withdraw our senses, and draw ourselves into our inner ‘world’.

Dharana is the mind fit for concentration. Once we are conscious of our inner world, we are able to focus on an object or a goal we desire, not allowing other thoughts to interrupt our focus. Dhyana is where we are one with our goal, meaning that we are emotionally involved with it, and can feel that we are already in possesion of our goal. Lastly, Samadhi is the super conscience state, where we are on a similar vibrational energy to our goal/ object we desire, attracting our goal/ desired object.

 

Cassandra Mai   YTTC200 – January 2018 

The three gunas and food

In Ayurveda, it is believed that the food we eat, affects our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. They are categorized into 3 gunas: Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic.

Sattvic foods are mainly pure, organic foods, such as fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, wholegrains, and lightly cooked vegetarian fare. Eating these foods make us feel happy, calm, healthy, and fresh.

Rajasic foods on the other hand, are foods that are sour, bitter, hot, and pungent in nature. It includes onions, garlic, spices, stimulants (coffee, tea), and even tobacco. Consuming these foods overstimulates the mind, and makes us feel emotions such as anger, greed, jealousy, and egoism.

Lastly Tamasic foods, are foods that are stale,impure, putrid, and rotten. Some examples are mushrooms, fermented foods, meat, intoxicants (alcohol, opium), and convenience foods (frozen, canned, contains preservatives). These foods make us dull and inert.

From a yogic’s perspective, we strive to be sattvic in nature (relating to the 8 limbs of yoga), as we want to feel calm, refreshed, healthy, and alert during our practice, and in our way of life. It is then important to include more fresh/ organic foods in our diet.

However, it is also important to have the Rajasic and tamasic attitudes in our lives, under different circumstances. Also, according to studies, spices are not just seasoning for food, they contain many health benefits, and some even healing properties. As for tamasic foods, I feel that it is all right to give in to our cravings from time to time (that cupcake, or some chips).

As for me, I would try to include more fresh foods (fruits and vegetables) in my diet. Not to take life with just a pinch of salt, but add a little spice in my life, and be kind to myself by having a snack from time to time. Eating in moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle 🙂

(Cassandra Mai  YTTC200 – January 2018)

The purpose of challenging Asanas

I have struggled with the Asanas, Sirsasana and Bakasana for quite some time and til today, find it a challenge! There are moments where I find it demoralising and I am aware that without mastering these poses, it would be near impossible to attempt other poses. In the past, I would tell myself perhaps it is my scoliosis that has hindered me and maybe it won’t be possible to master them or that perhaps, I’m just not strong enough (which is still true today).

However, it is because of these challenging poses and the desire to improve that I continue to show up on the mat and attempt practicing or prepping for these poses. There is still much to improve technique wise but also internally, such as the fear of falling, to develop greater discipline and structure in my personal practice. It is through these challenges that I am able to push myself a bit more, to explore ways to overcome these obstacles which may one day be useful information or lessons for others facing similar issues.

Thus, to anyone that is reading this and you feel like giving up on something, be it something on the mat or off the mat, I hope you’ll be patient with yourself, believe in yourself and that you’ll continue to try 🙂

Linda Lim (YTTC200 – January 2018)

To choose a yogic lifestyle – yes or no?

Is it important to adopt a yogic lifestyle? What does it mean to adopt a yogic lifestyle?

In my opinion, there is no set mould for having a yogic lifestyle. The yogic lifestyle incorporates a variety of things such as the 8 limbs of yoga – Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi which provide a moral and ethical framework; knowing about the 3 Gunas and Ayurvedic Doshas which can guide a person on how they should eat, think and behave. There is more that remains to be discussed and probably also more aspects that I am unaware of.

However, after my brief introduction and learning about the Philosophy of Yoga in the past four weeks, one thing that stood out most for me was ‘Satya’ which falls under one of the 8 limbs of Yoga – Yama. Satya means truthfulness, and it does not simply mean speaking the truth/being honest, but living a life that is truthful to yourself. As important as it is to follow what people would assume a Yogic lifestyle is (ie. Practising Asanas, meditating, eating healthy), it is of greater importance to listen to what goes on inside your mind and heart and to be truthful with yourself.

Thus, it is of utmost importance to follow a lifestyle where you can be comfortable and honest with yourself rather than a lifestyle that has been defined by the masses, books or others.

Linda Lim (YTTC200 – January 2018)

The Joy of Yoga Sequencing

One of the greatest thing I enjoyed about the 200YTT course was learning how to plan a yoga class and choreographing the yoga sequence. It taught me to appreciate each Asana more, to learn more in depth about the muscle involvements, benefits and contraindications. In addition to this, it taught me to see and understand the connection between different Asanas which had the ability to make a lot of difference in a class. This could result in the class flowing smoothly, leaving students feeling great and recharged or flowing with much disruption.   

Yoga sequencing has helped me in developing a ‘deliberate practice’. More often than not, there are times I go through the motion of things without much thought. However, sequencing has motivated me to think and question the purpose of my practice, to explore my strengths and weaknesses and to find out areas that require more improvement. With this, it has allowed me to use and incorporate these tiny lessons from my practice into a class for others.

Another aspect of yoga sequencing that I enjoy a lot is that despite having certain guidelines such as following the template of a ‘standing-sitting-prone-supine’ structure, there is much room for creativity and experimentation. There are many variations one can have and it truly is fascinating to have others share their yoga sequence and how they approach their practice.

Therefore, there is much joy in the art of yoga sequencing. To me, Yoga sequencing is like the composition of music, except with the use of poses in state of notes. There is much opportunity to create something beautiful and moreover, something that has a lifelong benefit for the individual.

Looking forward to developing a deeper personal practice and planning for others in the future 🙂 

Linda Lim (YTTC200 – January 2018)