My journey to yoga

I am a person who resonates deeply with the outdoors.  I hear the ocean in our breath, feel the swell in the currents of life.  Some days I wake up dry and achy as an old tree, and need soft winds to encourage the movement in my limb.  Sometimes I feel as strong as a mountain, or as vast as a valley carved out by the brute strength of a glacier. The sound of a hummingbird’s wings make me giddy as a child.  There are moments when I look up a granite wall, seemingly impossible to ascend, but with every move, every crack, every smudge, hold, and pinch, I make my way towards the place I hope to reach.

My most honest journey to yoga began in one of these places (although I’d been to studios and classes many times before).   On the shores of Bahia de Conception, Baja California Sur. I can close my eyes and see it. Feel it. The place is not a memory to me, but almost like a singing bowl; silent in place, then awakened by a vibration, a movement, a resonance within.   It was there that I began to realize things about myself, to make an agreement with myself. My yogic journey is a piece of that, and so that is where my journey to yoga began.

I started visiting Baja to work hiking and sea kayaking expeditions in the southern part of the state.  As I drove down the single highway for three days to reach the campus from which I was based, I saw a lot of desert. Dry vast spaces, the landscape only broken up by giant cardon and cholla cactus, old fences, brittle and falling. I had not spent any significant time in the desert before. I couldn’t realize what I was seeing.

The ocean of course looked more inviting.  As I drove down the west coast the Pacific thrashed upon rocky shores, smashing rocks into pebbles, into sand, into dust.  On the east the sea was much calmer, a deep blue contrasted by the dry mountains. The tension of wind lines clear from far away, but from a distance only a ripple on the water.

But still, I was just seeing the superficial.

My journey to yoga began when I started to realize that everything  has an adaptation, a way to be, a reason to be, and an unconscious perfection in this world.  That the leaves on the trees rotate with the sun, to harvest its energy, but also to protect is physical self.  That the cholla clings to movement because it is wise, and it wants to expand its space. The mesquite root drives deep into the earth to pull its water and life source, while the cardon fans its roots to catch water as the sky releases it back to Earth.  That the bat ray jumps to impress its mate, and the whale jumps for perhaps no reason at all..

 My journey began when I started spending time (a lot of time) in the outdoors. Not days, but months on end in natural and wild places.  When I started paying better attention to the moon and the stars. When I started to cycle with the moon and be honestly more connected to nature.  As I started to pay attention to what was going on around me, my consciousness was stirred. I began reflecting on pain-body, presence, non-attachment.  Although, as I said, I had been to many yoga classes at the gym, I can now look back and realize that the beginning of my practice manifested in a more spiritual than physical way.

My life has been quite privileged in the way that I get to spend so much time in nature.  However, my life in the past two years has moved me away from the wilderness in which I once lived.   Sitting here in Singapore, I realize and reflect on the distance that I’ve put between myself and these environments which are so important to me.  By environments I mean not only nature, but the internal environment where I once cultivated self love, awareness of life, and compassion and curiosity  toward all entities and beings.

It is with most humility that I can admit I feel a loss of that in myself these days.  And so, coming full circle, my current journey in a yoga practice is to find a vehicle to move once again  to the place I was before. Physical practice is an opportunity to realize my body and mind as a path toward spirituality and awareness because my physical, natural environment cannot always exist.

Maybe what I’ve learned most of all,

Is that no amount of money, career, or prestige is worth what I feel in nature.

A holistic practice is what I journey towards now; a plan to return to the wilderness with increased philosophical and physical practice. And soon enough, I’ll reflect again.  And we’ll see where my journey goes from there.

 

Back to Basics

Asanas in a yoga practice seem to be what many focus on – getting that insta-perfect shot or pushing your body to strive for that perfect pose. When I began yoga, like many others, I thought it was only about the poses, and maybe a little bit of meditation. I would strive to attain a perfect split, go for hot yoga to enable my body to do more and get into poses with ease. During my yoga journey, i have been fortunate to yet meet with any serious yoga injuries, but I have heard of people who pushed themselves beyond their limits to attain a pose and in return, sustain some form of damage.

Besides learning that there is more to yoga than the Asanas, I have learnt the importance of going back to basics to train the mind and body to prepare for more challenging poses is necessary during one’s asana practice. Yoga is not all about the inversions such as headstands, handstands and pincha, but also the basic poses like virabhadrasana, udhva mukha svanasana, ardo mukhua svanasana and even paschimottanasana – I mentioned basic, and not easy, because if done with intention and correctly, you would know these fundamental poses are not easy.

In a Virabhadrasana B, for example, what may seem like a  simple squat with arms parallel to the ground, is actually a powerful stretch to the groins, legs and chest, when correctly executed. Moreover, it helps to train up one’s stamina, thighs and glutes. I’ve found myself breaking into much sweat when staying in this pose for 5 long breaths, and definitely feeling those muscles working hard. What stands out for me even more about these simple poses really work some muscle you otherwise would not necessarily work out such as your inner thighs! Asanas have a way of stretching and strengthening at the same time, and i’ve found it a great way to gain fitness at my own pace.

It is the basic poses that serve as a foundation for different inversion poses. It is through practising the dolphin pose and holding it there for a while, which will build the back muscles you need to come into a headstand with little protest. It is through paschimottanasana that allows your body to be flexible enough to walk your legs in close to your body before raising up into a Pincha.

With that, I often remind myself: to perfect the simpler postures before mastering the challenging ones; to accept my body as it is and the shape my body forms with every pose, which will be different from the person next to me; “Do not stop trying just because perfection eludes you” – B.K.S Iyengar

Food for thought

The nutrition is directly linked to the performance of asanas and our lifestyle in general. The yogi diet is based on Ayurvedic teachings. Some products are strictly forbidden by them, others are consumed in small quantities and in a certain period of time, and third yogis eat constantly. Three types of food in yoga According to Ayurveda, even the best and cleanest foods are not always healthy. So, there is food that should be consumed only in winter or summer. Some foods should be eaten in the morning, because they excite and give energy, others in the evening, as they calm and set you up for a long sleep. Yoga  divides all food into three types:

       Sattva, which means “purity.” This includes all fresh vegetarian food. Mostly seeds and sprouted grains, fruits, wheat, butter, milk and honey.

      Rajas is a food that excites the body. It is better not to use products from this category or to reduce their amount in the diet to a minimum. This includes citrus fruits, tea and coffee, as well as spices, fish, seafood, eggs, alcohol, soda, garlic and onions.

     Tamas is a rough and heavy meal. It is difficult to absorb by the body. It does more harm than good. Relaxes, after eating it makes you want to sleep. These are root vegetables, red meat (beef and pork), all canned foods, mushrooms, food with a heavy taste (roach, etc.). This includes frozen food and one that has been stored for some time. These are also considered dishes that are reheated, alcohol and food that has been cooked in a restaurant or store.

 Doing yoga, you will feel what products you will not need. Changes in the body will occur harmoniously and in accordance with the needs of your body. The gradual process of rebuilding the habits of the body is very important.

Many (and not only in yoga) make the same mistake: they abruptly begin to change their diet (completely abandon meat, fish, eggs, switch to the most sophisticated diets, such as raw food diet, etc.). With this development of events, in a few months you will face a series of ailments, such as colds, exacerbation of all previously existing sores, and digestive upset. And then it could be worse. Naturally, there can be no question of doing yoga.

Beware of this mistake!

  • never abruptly change your lifestyle, especially in nutrition, non-compliance with this rule leads to big trouble;
  • a complete rejection of meat food does not always bring positive results. If you abandoned the meat, you need to replace it with another animal protein: milk and dairy products, eggs, fish;
  • in your diet should always be present in large quantities vegetables and fruits;
  • food should always be fresh and harmoniously selected.

It must be remembered that the body will never tolerate abuse of itself both in the diet and in the mode of activity. And with the right approach to yoga, you become as independent as possible from environmental conditions, feeling great in any situation, with any set of food products.

 

Yoga or Pilates?

For many people , Yoga and Pilates look very similar – there are no power or cardio loads, exercises are performed slowly and consciously , with calm music. Pilates and yoga are wellness systems that include exercises to develop flexibility, endurance, and concentration. Regular exercises tidy up the body, allow you to find harmony with yourself. In this, both areas of fitness are similar.

But, having examined   these   practice closely, we  can find a lot of differences between them

    What is yoga?

     Yoga is the ancient Indian system of human self-development, which originated long before our era. This is a spiritual tradition, experience and wisdom of many generations that millions of people around the world have followed to this day.

Translated from Sanskrit, yoga means “union, communication, harmony.” Those. the unity of the physical and mental state of a person, the harmony of health and spiritual beauty. The purpose of classes is to achieve and maintain this unity.

It is impossible to imagine yoga without performing various asanas (static postures) that help improve the body. But physical practice is only part of the philosophy of yoga, one of the tools for working on consciousness. It also includes:

  • rules of personal and social behavior;
  • breathing exercises;
  • meditation
  • singing mantras;
  • body cleansing;
  • concentration of attention;
  • desire for complete control over the senses.

Therefore, yoga is a way of life aimed at achieving a balance of physical and psychological health, and not just a set of static exercises that develop flexibility and endurance.

What is pilates?

   Pilates is a system of healing the body, based on the dynamic performance of exercises that are performed in a specific technique and sequence. Their goal is to develop flexibility, improve the condition of joints and spine, posture and coordination of movements.

Pilates, unlike yoga, is a young trend in fitness. The German trainer Joseph Pilates developed gymnastic exercises for the rehabilitation of patients suffering from diseases of the musculature system at the beginning of the 20th century.

6 fundamental differences between Pilates and Yoga.

  • Yoga is the oldest system of self-development, philosophy, lifestyle. Pilates is a relatively young wellness system for the body, one of the types of fitness.
  • Pilates training is aimed at creating a healthy body, practicing yoga – at achieving harmony of the body, spirit and mind.
  • Many exercises and asanas are similar, but have a significant difference in technique. If in classical yoga you need to enter a pose and fix it for a long time (static load), then in Pilates the main thing is movement. All exercises are dynamic, repeated several times. Important consistent articulation of the spine and body muscles when entering and exiting the position.
  • Pilates breathing control helps to concentrate on doing the exercise and working muscles. Ancient practice provides breathing, as one of the steps to self-improvement (pranayama).
  • In Pilates, the muscles of the back and cortex are mainly worked out, in yoga – all muscle groups.
  • In classical hatha yoga additional equipment is not used. In Pilates classes  fitball, rings, rollers are actively used.

In my opinion, you should try both this practice and chose which is most suitable for you. However, if  you want to get a little more than just a beautiful and healthy body, then you may want choose yoga. After all, ancient practice is also aimed at working with the mind, includes methods of spiritual development and self-improvement. Practice will show what is right for you.

A Yoga Journey

Every person’s yoga journey is different and unique, and I thought I’d share a snippet of my personal yoga journey – Perhaps it will be an encouragement to some of you.

My journey begun some time in late 2013 and this came about when I met with an injury from a sport that I invested much time in – running. It was a relatively cool afternoon and I thought I had warmed up well enough – doing all the usual stretches and preparation before my race. Little did I know, this race would be one of my last few 400m hurdles competitions I’d have the chance to take part in. The gun went off, the runners and I charged ahead from the starting line. 10 hurdles to go. As I crossed the fourth last hurdle (250m mark),  I felt a strange tightness in my right glutes and my right leg felt weak as it reached the ground. I had pulled my glutes after crossing the seventh hurdle and could failed to complete that race. The road to recovery was long and painful, but looking back, the loss of a sport I invested 7 years of my life, led me to find a love for another.

Starting yoga was not that easy for me. With every pose, even a warrior 2 pose, I could feel my glutes give way. Despite the challenge, I told myself to stick with it, and to show up on my mat once a week. I did so for 10 weeks, then 20 weeks, and what started as a uneasy and unfamiliar route to recovery, soon became a habit.

Like most things in life, it was not all fine and dandy and I soon got out of the habit of showing up on the mat. I moved to overseas for my studies soon after and found it even harder to commit my time to yoga whilst focussing on my studies and co-curricular activities at school. To make matters worst, perhaps lady-luck was not on my side, and I broke my wrist whilst on a ski trip with some friends. That most definitely threw me off my already not-so-regular routine of practice. Yoga was was placed on hold for yet another six months while I worked towards gaining my strength back in my hand to do even just the regular things, like holding a mug or washing dishes. However, strangely enough, this incident of not having something for an extended period of time led me to miss it even more. I vividly remember my first yoga practice since breaking my wrist. My arm shook in a plank, and for a moment, I was very sure my wrist was going to snap again. It was frustrating to know even the simplest poses felt the most challenging back then.

But it was for this yoga teacher I had the opportunity to meet, Sue, whose words of kindness and reaffirmation helped me open my mind to be patient with myself and my limitations of my body. Looking back, it was through Sue’s classes that I learnt a lot more about yoga, advanced on with my practice, and made this a habit, showing up week after week. When I moved back to Singapore, I was sure of continuing yoga and finding a studio that would help me deepen my practice, because  if it were not for yoga, I do not think I would have gained back the mobility and strength in my wrist I have today.

After months of trying different studios, I found Tirisula Yoga, and I decided to stick with it. I took the leap of faith and challenged myself to do the YTT200, and here I am today, 467 days since I joined the studio, thrilled to start a new chapter as my teacher training course at Tirisula comes to a close.

Every person’s yoga journey is different and unique. Some will fall in love with it instantly, others may take a while longer. But like most things in life, you’ll never know till you try, or stay with it long enough to fully experience it.

Meditation.Self Journey

For me yoga was always about physical practice. I have never done meditation at home and was skipping that “boring part of yoga” in yoga classes. But after some time, part of me has developed feeling that I maybe missing something. So when I signed up for Tirisula yoga teacher training course, one of my goal was to concentrate on  spiritual part of yoga. And that’s what I have learned so far.

Meditation is an integral part of yoga practice. Yoga helps to improve and develop physically. But spiritual development is no less important for a person. The goal pursued by meditation is self-knowledge of oneself, achieving clarity of mind, the ability to relax, the desire for complete inner harmony.

In medicine there is a concept such as “chronic fatigue syndrome” – a disease of modern man.By doing meditation, you can learn to concentrate and relax, control your emotions and mind. Meditation helps to strengthen health, get rid of existing diseases, prolongs life.

The best part –  you can do it yourself, in any convenient place. In yoga centers, classes are led by experienced teachers who will help you understand and master the basics of meditation.If there is no time and opportunity to visit specialized centers, you can master meditation yourself. After a hard working day, it’s good to take 15-20 minutes. relaxation in a homely atmosphere.

As in any practice, there are certain rules in meditation. Here are a few points for conducting an independent practice:

  •     Choose a place for relaxation, where nothing will distract from immersion in yourself. Although, it should be noted that neither advanced noise nor extraneous sounds interfere with advanced practices.
  •    Take a comfortable position.
  •   Try to relax as much as possible each muscle of the body, mentally observing relaxation.
  •    Concentrate on breathing. Monitor inhalation and exhalation – the exhalation should be longer.
  •    Try to turn off your mind. Throw all thoughts out of my head. This will help focus on something specific – on breathing, on relaxation.
  •   Try to withstand a certain time. 10 minutes is enough for a start.
  •     To leave meditation smoothly, without rushing, trying to feel new sensations and maintain a state of calmness.

After trying my best and practice it regularly every day for some time , I came to understanding that : Meditation is not as difficult as it may seem. But the benefits of this practice are undeniable. And very good when it becomes a habit.

The Yoga Mum

Let’s start from the start of the day.Being a mum is definitely the most rewarding and a very demanding job. There are days when you question your own decisions and choices and then the silver lining of love in the form of hug assures you that “all shall be well”.

Every morning sun comes up with its own list of do’s and never ending decision making at each stage.

According to me that luxury I give myself to spend some time every day with Yoga has helped me with many different aspects of my mummy role.

In this hustle and bustle of life , we sometimes forget that “I” as we are so caught up with playing ‘the responsible person” role. Yoga gives you that time to connect with your soul when you spend time doing Pranayam and let the thoughts pass by.

Next time when my daughter gets into a unpleasant discussion ,instead of getting into an argument  I will consciously try and  tell myself that this too shall pass whether its protein or nutrition.

When we are practicing yoga, we take care of the finer details, like positioning the front leg in right angle in uddita pashvakonasana , and sucking the tummy in to fold forward in pashchimotan asana. These little detailing can transform a pose from an unpleasant  or even painful exercise to rejuvenating experience .

In a similar way, going into little awareness can often completely lift the quality of parent-child communication. . With young ones this may be as simple as giving advanced warning of an impending transition to stave off tantrums. More so then ever one does realise that keeping calm mind like in yoga also when applied in parenting can take care of most awful moods. And if nothing works, ‘breathing in and breathing out and hug can bridge lots go gap.

 

 

Yoga and menstruation: should I or shouldn’t?

Is it possible to do yoga with menstruation?What to do if you decide to actively start learning yoga? Does every month have to lose a week of precious time? Not at all. Moreover, yoga during menstruation is not only not harmful, but also beneficial. Of course, subject to some precautions and the right choice of asanas.

There are top poses, which should be avoided while you on your ‘’special days’’

Sarvangasana. Should be  excluded from yoga during menstruation. All inverted poses are equally harmful during this period. They delay bleeding. As a result, excess fluid is not excreted from the body, and can cause the formation of fibromas, cysts, and even malignant tumors. Also prohibited: halasana, shirshasana, adho mukha vrishkasana;

Navasana. During menstruation, you should not  do any asanas engage your core muscle . And this is almost all power poses. So, first of all, exclude exercises on the abdominal muscles and balances on the hands. During such asanas, bleeding and pain may intensify. Also prohibited: bakasana, lolasana, mayurasana;

Kapotasana. Yoga during menstruation should not include strong deflections of the   back. This creates excessive tension in the abdomen. Also prohibited: ardha chakrasana, ushtrasana;

Yoga Nidrasana. During such yoga classes, you should exclude extreme twisting and squeezing the abdomen. Also prohibited: eka pada shirshasana, jathara parivritanasana;

Mula Bandha. Do not do yoga, which will include unnatural bandha and pranayama. For example, excessively intense breathing of a bhastrika or uddiyana bandha can disrupt the natural course of processes in the pelvic organs. Also forbidden: kapalabhati, maha mudra.

Top asanas that are safe during  menstruation

Baddha Konasan .This asana relieves the pain and stress that accompany the days of menstruation. Even if you do not dare to do yoga these days, you can simply practice this pose separately. You can also practice: padmasana, sukhasana;

Ardha Chandrasana. This pose helps control the discharge if it is excessive. Pain in the back is also reduced. It is also possible to practice: utthita hasta padangustahasana, vriksasana;

Dundasana. Yoga offers simple forward stretches to relax the brain and calm the discomfort in the lower abdomen. You can also practice: jana shirshasana, marichiasana;

Shoshankasana. Relaxing postures help with excessive irritability and in the event that heaviness in the chest bothers you. You can also practice: shavanasa, adho mukha sukhasana;

The breath of ujaya. Calm pranayama in a simple pose or shavasana will help to relax the body. Full yogic breathing is safe during your period too.

However, we should keep in mind that there are no two identical women.  Someone waits the onset of new cycle with horror, and someone has almost no symptoms and can continue with the usual daily routine. So as the conclusion, remember to  be sensitive, listen to your body, and it will answer all your questions.

Yoga Makes Me Happy

I have practiced yoga for the past 15 years and had never experienced the mind, body and soul connection until recently.
Every new pose that I am able to achieve gives me a sense of achievement and pushes me to do better.
Every instructor who guides me along the practice tends to give me a different thought. I am able to be more mindful and clam in a tough situation or critical decision making process.
Yoga changes my life, posture and well being in amazing ways.
I want to grow old gracefully with yoga, spread the love and share my thoughts with others.

#Relax and Breath

Head Stand

I have always thought that Head/ hand stand is an important pose in Yoga. After trying for many months, I still couldn’t get my leg raise and the fear of falling to the back still exist.

I have tried going to different studios to practice inversion and each instructor gives me a new tip to correct and get into the pose.

Its can be arm, shoulder, core , hamstring and etc. It is all about how you engage your core muscles and move your legs up and stretching the hamstring.

Once you are there, it’s really not a big deal.

Before you want to try that pose, you need to be diligently training your muscles. Doing a lot plank, dolphin, chaturanga, boat pose and hamstring stretch will help.

You will not regret; after all you’ll get nice and strong arms while building your muscle.

# relax and keep breathing