Yoga – The Mother of All Sports

Imagine the frustration that minutes into playing a normal sport or practicing a martial art technique that you have already sprained your ankle, wrist or any particular muscle. The futile out-of-breath experience after running 200m into your 5K jog routine. It is getting common in modern urban societies where most works have been automated, saving us time and effort looking at the surface, our every body movements in daily life are becoming so easily injured with slight off-balance away from the proper postures.

These are just a few scenarios which are considered minor issues of sports injuries when compared to the more serious ethical issues in sports world such as unethical business practices of poaching customers, selling fake sport goods brand, to the widespread sexual harassment and assault allegations to the coaches of national teams in various countries triggered by the #MeToo movement.

Well, life is not easy anyway but we see multitudes of problems in just doing sports alone. This is where the practice of yoga seems to make a meaningful entrance into helping to address all these area.

In Ashtanga yoga of Patanjali or the eight-limbs of yoga, it covers 8 aspects of our practice. 

1st and 2nd limbs – Yamas (ethical guidelines) and Niyamas (observances)

The first and second limbs set forth in the ethical precepts are moral imperatives or rules for us to live a right and proper lifestyle. The laying down of the fundamental proper values and attitudes are more important even before beginning the training of the body and before obtaining any sporting skills or techniques. Imagine that a talented athlete who lacks of moral conduct will be condemned, even if he wins a medal. Hence proper moral standard has to be cultivated before the start of practice of our physical body. This is also essential for the later stage of practice that a purify mind will have less distractions and hindrances from improving further when we are operating at the advance level.

3rd and 4th limbs – Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing exercises) 

Asanas and pranayama enable us to build strength, increase flexibility and improve stamina at the same time. There will be also less injury during our training as the body is enhanced and calibrated with all rounded strength and flexibility. With the outset of a strong physical foundation, our body will be ready to dive deeper into any field of sports in the next stage.

We can visualise the manifestation of this combinations of capabilities in a great example where an ice figure skater who is able to maintain the body balance while gliding gracefully across the ice ring, having the flexibility to perform difficult stunts in a dynamic moving condition and lastly having the stamina to complete the whole sequences till the end. 

5th and 6th limbs – Pratyahara (bringing the senses inward) and Dharana (concentration) 

Often in competitive sports, an athletes requires elevated concentration and focus to be able to achieve and deliver the best performance during a match. Being able to shut out from the external environments such as the noisy audiences and emotional distractions or pressure from the opponent as well as the player ownself will be crucial to carry through the competition. When all sides fair equally in speed, power and skills, which is especially common when competing at the professional level, by elevating our sharp attention to focus on one point will determines the winner of the day.

7th and 8th limbs – Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (integrating one’s conciousness with the universe)

By understanding that we are oneness with all living beings through meditation and by being at the present moment, we are able transcend our judgemental ego, dislikes, worry and fear. Winning the matches are secondary to being just having the honour to express our potential to the fullest and enjoying the process of interaction of skills with another individual (match opponent) or individuals (audience). To a higher level, sports should have the capacity to unite people together to celebrate human excellence while eliminating political, national and cultural boundaries.   

In India, yoga education is introduced to all government schools. This is a good start for children to begin their lifelong journey in purifying their mind at the same time building a strong physical body. It would be encouraging to see more people, either for sports or just leisure purpose, around the world to start to practice yoga in the coming future.

AI-assisted Yoga

“Bixby, I want to practice Vinyasa flow today.”

“Bixby, I’m feeling a bit stiff, let’s try some Yin yoga stretch.”

“Bixby, tell me the third precepts of Niyama?”

“Bixby, can you play some music for meditatition?”

These are just some the questions or instructions that human can tell to the android AI assistant through speech-recognition to create a sequence for vinyasa flow, changing yoga style from flow to any yoga style desired and getting a reminder of what we should observe in our daily moral practice by Patanjali’s first limb of Yama in the Yoga Sutra and to playback dedicated music for specific mode of practice. It can guide us on doing pranayama as well as meditation. It might even be able to teach us Sanskrit, for example “Shiram sushma asanas” and tell us thousands of captivating stories from the Vedas.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is exploding in all areas from financial analysis, stock trading, medical diagnosis, transportation, creative are such as arts and music and many more. It is inevitable that AI will also converge at one point with the discipline of yoga one day. In my opinion, to resist the advance of AI into yoga practice is futile and I would be more open-minded to accept what it can offer in a positive manner. 

AI will help us to learn and progress faster since it is like an encyclopaedia contains vast knowledge available in the world about yoga aspects. Not only it can give us the answers directly but will also be able to suggest smart variations base on the level of the person in yaga, tailor each practice by taking into consideration of individual body conditions, injuries, medical history and customise total duration of each session. Sequencing poses to poses with harmony, giving precise and clear instructions of getting in and out of the pose, at the same time calibrating the breathing counts depending on the preferred styles (Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Yin and so on) that you choose. It will also sing us the soothing and relaxing yoga nidra towards the end of the practice when we are lying down in Savasana pose.

It seems to look all very pretty what AI can do but there is also some area where AI can still not be able to replace human in terms of human touch – adjustment. For example, we could be doing a headstand but AI can’t hold us up and help to keep us balancing without falling. It won’t be able to align if your hips are not squared when holding in Trikonasana or giving your the extra gentle push when you need a little weight when bending forward in Upavistha Konasana unless the technology is advanced enough for a humanoid robot to be fitted with AI and can move like a human to give us that assistant. AI won’t be able to know whether we have reach Samadhi and are union with our consciousness. As much helpful as a guide and a database of knowledge, AI has it’s limitation. It will be many more years for the ultimate evolution of AI to materialise. At least, I don’t foresee that to be happening anytime soon and thankfully we, the yoga teachers can still keep our job for a little while. 

Essential Oils for Fatigue

As I underwent the 200-hour yoga teacher training course, I could sense the daily practice was instilling numerous changes in my body. Perhaps most notably, the daily physical exertion was resulting in heightened levels of fatigue. My experimentations and research into essential oils was part of my quest to find a suite of solutions which could help tackle this tiredness.
There are a number of studies into the effects of essential oils found in nature and how they affect the mind and body. The ones which are frequently referred to for treating fatigue include eucalyptus, basil, geranium, rosemary and almond oil. Some of these promote circulation of blood to the cranial region, whereas some stimulate alertness or relieve pain.

Among the first oils I tried was chamomile oil. My first impression was that it was quite strong and slightly overpowering for the nose. While chamomile is often consumed as a tea, the essential oil extracted from its yellow and white flowers may offer even more benefits, since its volatile compounds and antioxidants are preserved in a more stable form. Used in an aroma diffuser, it seemed to put my mind more at ease and released some mental and emotional tension.

I also used lavender oil, which is well known for its sleep-inducing effects. Similarly, it seemed to lift a small load off my mind and promoted restfulness. While its effects were not directly linked to fatigue reduction, the more restful sleep I had when using lavender oil definitely contributed to a general feeling of well-restedness the following morning, better performance and slightly reduced fatigue.

However, I found that the effects were still lacking. I had to trace the roots of my tiredness to target the problem more effectively. Upon reflection of my daily habits and checking in with my state of mind, it became clear that I was dealing with physical fatigue as a result of frequent practice and also sometimes shorter-than-ideal sleeping hours. With this in mind, I explored natural oils which were known for targeting muscle and joint pain.

Helichrysum, marjoram and peppermint are known for their muscle-relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties. I did not manage to use these, but the presence of these substances in many massage oils and pain-relief ointments could point to their effectiveness in relieving fatigue.

Also on the list is eucalyptus oil – which I managed to get hold of mixed in with sweet almond oil. Almond oil acts as a vitamin-rich moisturiser which helps to effectively carry other essential oils. The eucalyptus had a sharp scent which was mildly invigorating. Massaged into fatigued joints around the knees and ankles, it seemed to aid the relief of muscle tiredness, more so than when I do a dry massage or use a foam roller. My performance at practice subsequently seemed to improve (though there could be other factors linked to this). I feel like almond and eucalyptus oil used as an aromatic stimulant could enhance the massage’s usefulness insofar as self-massage is effective.

As yoga practice demands a combination of the right state of mind plus peak condition of the body, any behavioural change or diet which can aid this will be beneficial. I found that essential oils could be one such avenue to achieving this mindfulness and performance, and would definitely consider integrating it into my daily practice pending further experimentations and research.

SLEEPING DURING YOGA, PRESSURE POINTS AND YOGA NIDRA

Is it normal to sleep during yoga?

Being someone who has the tendency to fall asleep when not doing something of a certain engagement level can create a fair few problems. Dozing off during class comes across as disrespectful and uninterested although this is not the case for me! I’ve faced this issue from as early on in my life as I can remember. Maybe it’s a combination of growing up in an era where media is causing attention span to decrease, maybe it’s a genetic disorder, I don’t know.

It is close to the end of the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training course and I have fallen asleep during Shavasana almost after the end of each practical class. I have also fallen asleep while holding various sitting and supine poses. So I research about whether it is normal to sleep during yoga and it is completely normal! (Phew.) It also shows that you are in a state of relaxation, a goal of yoga practice.

However, if like me, you would like to not fall asleep during yoga, here are some recommended poses.

5 POSES TO PREVENT FALLING ASLEEP:
Breath of Joy (Pranayama)
Upward-Facing Salute – Urdhva Hastasana
Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
Reverse/Exalted Warrior Pose – Viparita Virabhadrasana
Dancer Pose – Natarajasana

Besides these poses, I feel like inversions also help me to feel more awake. Although I still sleep in class, I don’t think that this is an issue that can be resolved overnight and other measures need to be taken as well. First and foremost, ample sleep. Secondly, a classmate of mine who practices qigong shared with me her knowledge regarding pressure points, saying that pressing firmly onto certain pressure points on my body would aid with my blood circulation and hopefully help me stay awake during class. This is similar to the concept of chakras that we are taught in yoga. Apologies to my non-Mandarin reading friends but I’m sure a quick Google check can provide you with information!

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Any points showed on the red and blue lines pressed during 7 to 9 in the morning would be the most effective.

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There are three indentations at the back of our head, those are also pressure points that are easily accessible to be pressed by ourselves to help relieve fatigue.

Yoga is about going with the flow and not fighting our body’s desires and signals.

Do note that sleep and yogic sleep (aka yoga nidra) is different. Yoga evaluates the overall state of the mind and body by the relative proportion of three inherent qualities: Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas. Sattva is associated with calm awareness. Rajas is the principle of movement and activity. When out of balance, it can lead us off on mental tangents and manifest in the body as twitches and jerks. Tamas is the force of gravity and gives a sense of groundedness. In excess, it can be felt as a restrictive heaviness, dragging the conscious mind into sleep. Falling asleep during relaxation practices is usually a sign that the quality of tamas is excessive or the quality of rajas is deficient. The practice of systematic relaxation requires a balance between rajas and tamas so that we are grounded and comfortably present in the body, but at the same time alert and mentally attentive. When both conditions are present, our consciousness can rest in sattvic self-awareness.

This Sattvic self-awareness can be achieved through yoga nidra, a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping that occurs during the stage where we enter deep sleep. The yogic goal of both paths, deep relaxation (yoga nidra) and meditation are the same, a state of meditative consciousness called samadhi.

I hope my post has been reassuring and informative to those who face the same problem as I do!

My Niyama experience

Niyama: When learning about niyama I wanted to put actions into them because I saw them as guidelines to help improve yourself and grow. Upon taking action and follow the five steps in Niyama, I really loved it.

Saucha: Clean Thinking,
To work on clean thinking I practiced meditation to help keep the mind calm and clear. I feel that the effects of meditation, especially directly afterwards. After meditation my mind always feels calm and peaceful, it makes my mind feel like it has been cleansed, almost like I pressed the reboot button.

Santosha:
Santosha for me is easy at times but I can also really struggle with it at other times. I sometimes can change from happy to sad very quickly and yes it can be very tiring. My body is so energized in one moment and the next thing I know, I feel sleepy and tired. I am still trying to find my balance and I try to help improve this again with meditation practices. Meditation helps when I feel stressed, sad and when there’s energy built up inside me. I now am working on the habit of sitting still for 5 mins and meditating when I feel these things and this helps me a lot to keep balanced.

Tapas:
I love tapas, I love the feeling after putting your full efforts into something. I’ve even put this into my asanas, I used to get lazy with holding poses, but now I struggle through and it feels so much more worth it in the end. Putting your full effort into something isn’t a physical challenge, it’s a mental challenge. It’s like doing sirsasana, if you are confident, and you tell yourself you are balanced then you will be balanced, but if you believe you will fall, you will fall. When you put full effort into one action, you need to tell yourself, you can do it!

Swahyaya:
Self-study is such a special time for yourself. I sometimes struggle with spending some time to myself these days, I’ll be busy, I’ll spend too much time with my family or boyfriend. But lately, I’ve been trying to give more time to myself. It can be from twenty mins to an hour that I give myself to do my solo time, read, draw, just anything that I enjoy doing alone. It feels good just to be with yourself.

Ishwara- Pranidha:
My purpose, as asked, “what do you have that people can take and take where you don’t feel depleted?” When I ask myself this question, now I think of sharing my knowledge of something that will help others. like yoga, I feel that the next big step in my life will be yoga. I want to grow and teach people what I know and make them happy.

Why I like teaching children yoga

Why I like teaching children yoga

Sometimes when practicing yoga at home my two older children like to join in and try out some poses. My five years old son, Timo likes Vrkshasana, Naukasana and Viparita Karni. We find ourselves creating our own yoga practice together, making it up as we go along. Sometimes they even ask me to do “childrens yoga” on YouTube.

I believe practicing Yoga with children provides many opportunities to share fun times together. At the same time, it also enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination and balancing skills. During my 200 hour Yoga teacher training with Tirisula, I noticed that they also offer a Children’s Yoga Certification course. I really like the idea of teaching children. I believe the most important thing is to keep children entertained and to hold their attention long enough to teach them the benefits of yoga: stillness, balance, flexibility, focus, etc. For me personally, it also provides me with the opportunity to improve my creativity whilst telling stories about animals such dogs, cobras, crocodiles, eagles, fish or references to nature like trees and mountains. Many boys also find inspiration from poses such as warriors, kings etc.

Our children live in a busy world with many hobbies, school pressures, competitive sports etc. Usually, we don`t think of these influences as being stressful for our children, but often they are. For this reason, I enjoy having the opportunity to teach children some yoga poses, thereby providing them with a noncompetitive physical activity.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for the interesting (or you might like to use the work ‘inspiring’) 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Course. I learnt a lot about myself and my life. I hope we have the pleasure to meet again in the Children’s yoga training course.

s when practicing yoga at home my two older children like to join in and try out some poses. My five years old son, Timo likes Vrkshasana, Naukasana and Viparita Karni. We find ourselves creating our own yoga practice together, making it up as we go along. Sometimes they even ask me to do “childrens yoga” on YouTube.

I believe practicing Yoga with children provides many opportunities to share fun times together. At the same time, it also enhances their flexibility, strength, coordination and balancing skills. During my 200 hour Yoga teacher training with Tirisula, I noticed that they also offer a Children’s Yoga Certification course. I really like the idea of teaching children. I believe the most important thing is to keep children entertained and to hold their attention long enough to teach them the benefits of yoga: stillness, balance, flexibility, focus, etc. For me personally, it also provides me with the opportunity to improve my creativity whilst telling stories about animals such dogs, cobras, crocodiles, eagles, fish or references to nature like trees and mountains. Many boys also find inspiration from poses such as warriors, kings etc.

Our children live in a busy world with many hobbies, school pressures, competitive sports etc. Usually, we don`t think of these influences as being stressful for our children, but often they are. For this reason, I enjoy having the opportunity to teach children some yoga poses, thereby providing them with a noncompetitive physical activity.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for the inspiring 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Course. I learnt a lot about myself and my life. I hope we have the pleasure to meet again in the Children’s yoga training course.

Building strength with yoga

When I first began doing yoga I wanted to fix my body, my body has always been weak and scrawny. But as my body grew it required more attention and needs and I didn’t do much about it, for that reason one by one, medical problems arose. My immune system was very bad, my bones were tilting, I was constantly tired, stressed and never really hungry. I tried to eat but my appetite was little to nothing. I often got teased about my skinny body. So I tried to gain weight and getting fit. But nothing seemed to help I couldn’t stay motivated with routine workouts, going to the gym. So one day I decided to dedicate time to doing yoga. I had done a little yoga in my life years back, but this time I took it more seriously and I started seeing improvements in my body as I progressed. Yoga helped me stay fit and feel good about my body. My body slowly became stronger and less tense. My hunger grew because I was staying so active and everything began hurting a little less. I recently decided to take a big step into my yoga life, I decided to take on a 200hr teacher training course to firstly learn more about yoga and to share my knowledge to others by becoming a teacher. I think that for so many people they don’t realize that they have the power to change their lifestyle and body to a much healthier way by doing yoga. I hope to help teach others how yoga help me and how it can help them. I hope to still grow and become stronger, my yoga journey has just begun and so I’m so thrilled to see what life has waiting for me.

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 1 The Start.

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 1 The Start.

Having been working with the desktop for more than three decades, started to realized severe soreness all over from a Migraine, stiff shoulder, lower back, hip bone.

I wasn’t sure where’s goes wrong. Couldn’t even tell whether the soreness came out from bone, muscles, ligaments or nerves. Feeling more like the bone is the culprit as if like it has had not enough strength to support the whole body’s weight. Can imagine how clumsy I was with the big fat tummy which I almost changed full closet of clothes to XXL (my daughter said, it’s “Perth Ladies Size”).

Switching from clinic to clinic, from doctors to doctors, signing up packages of commercial massage programmes after programmes, swapping from chiropractic to chiropractic, countless X-Ray showing the bone crack and old injuries reminding me from those “hiking” “mountaineering” “Scuba Diving” age and countless “carrying babies” nights. None of these fully heal me from suffering. Eventually swopping from yoga classes to yoga classes with some hands-on experiences, I decided to settle down my mind to learn yoga in a much organized and systematic logic.

Initiated a thought to search for one that allows me to have an overview of different types of Yoga happening in the market, here I m, with Tirisula Yoga, learning actively from Master Paalu, Wei Ling, and Sri.

Here I go, enjoying the classes in a joyful environment, picking up bit by bit daily, stretch out slowly at a comfortable pace.

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 2 The ASANA

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 2 The ASANA

Yoga is a lifestyle,
Yoga is an ancient wisdom,
Yoga is a science that leading us to achieve the area where scientist not able to explain.

Leading a simple lifestyle, healthily, happily, is a most precious gift and greatest asset I received at the retiring age.

Started to be able to build up some strength, jumping forward backward until blisters all over my little toes, twisting my clumsy body to an awkward shape, till able to see the world upside down.

Daily Stretching soothes off the killing neck and lower back soreness.

Challenging and greatest satisfaction arises, ah ~~~ all of at once that moment opened up in my heart and suddenly non-controllable laughing out loud during the class, when I discovered myself secretly, still being able to reach a certain level of flexibility compared with some younger age.

A little consolation prize strike. Though Master Paalu was puzzled if I was possessed by some spirit since now is the Lunar Seventh Moon.

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 3 BANDHA!

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 3 BANDHA!

Wei Ling taught us the bandha.

Master Paalu made it as our homework.

I didn’t do it that day.

I was too exhausted for the start at the beginning and the next moment I reached home, I slept all way till next morning and drag my body to the class again.

Master Paalu reminded us to do this Bandha again.

“what so fun and what so good to play with the sucking and holding of our inner tummy” initially I thought. Only children will like to show off and play with that.

Then, in order to clock the 20 hours Teaching Practical at Home, I pull my husband to do this Bandha. Ended up, both of us rush to the toilets 5 times within that 3 hours. The last time was yellow and orange color.  My girl was giggling.

Many times, my little girl loves to tease me and giggle over my “hot air balloon”, that I had accumulated the “internal force” with all kinds of buffet foods for more than 20 years.

After reducing the size of this “balloon”, immediately I rush all the way back to the old closets and pull out my L size old cloths, including that 3 “Shanghai Cheong-Sam” that I had collected from Taobao over the stupid “online-order-crazy-times” and squeeze them all into the washing machine. Pressed 2 buttons. “On”, “Start”, walk away, go sleep.

Highly recommended, Sign up for the daily course. It’s only 3 weeks efforts.