7 DAYS ARM BALANCE YOGA WHEEL CHALLENGE

Class batch: RYT200hrs, P/T, Apr – Jun 2017

Project title: Lifestyle

Project theme: 7 Days Arm Balance Yoga Wheel Challenge

Project by: Andre Neo Tai Chin

High res download link for image (Detail view) below: https://goo.gl/V5kavP

Summary

7 Days Yoga Wheel Arm Balance Challenge is here! This time round the challenge is focused on arm balance with the help of Yoga Wheel. Each challenge comes with tips in allowing you to achieve the asana. Spread the love for this challenge via Instagram and repost. Winner will get your submitted photo/s reposted via Instagram. Let the challenge begin…

INSTAGRAM CHALLENGE

– Each photo must include hashtag #7DaysArmBalanceYogaChallenge

– Each post must mention which hashtag challenge that you’re participating in
Examples:
#01HandstandYogaWheelChallenge
#02HeadstandYogaWheelChallenge
#03PinchaYogaWheelChallenge
#04PinchaScorpionYogaWheelChallenge
#05ChinstandYogaWheelChallenge
#06PeacockYogaWheelChallenge
#07FireflyYogaWheelChallenge

– Have a public profile

T&C
– By participating for this challenge you allow this organizer to repost your photo in Instagram
– All rights reserved
– No expiry date for this challenge
– Random winner will be selected
– Winner will get its photo reposted in Instagram

We look forward to seeing your Yoga Wheel Asanas!

An Unexpected Lesson

Hello. My name is Cheryl and I am a control freak.

Well, at least I used to be. I love making lists; my life was under my complete control. Every vacation I take is perfectly planned with my amazingly detailed spreadsheets with several tabs detailing plans for every hour of every day. Nothing was left to chance. And I loved this control. I planned every weekend with the same military precision. Even rest time was scheduled in.

Then I decided to take up the 200hr Yoga Teachers Training Course. It was all going very well until I had to write lesson plans and then teach them. The writing lesson plans portion I love. Like I said, I enjoyed making lists and a lesson plan is kind of like a list. I wrote, rewrote, rewrote, rewrote until it was perfect. I even went to the extent of drawing little yoga stick figures! (I can’t draw to save my life, so that is a HUGE effort.) I practiced my lesson plans at home until I perfected it, while attempting to memorise them.

lesson plan

The real challenge came when I had to teach it to 20 of my YTT classmates. Now, I can plan all I want, but I have the memory of an ant. Halfway through it, I struggled to remember the next asana in my lesson plan. 20 eager faces stared at me, waiting for my instructions and I just FROZE. I can’t remember the next asana, my mind just went completely blank. I looked pleadingly at Master Paalu to step in to help. He did not. He returned an equally blank look. For that, I am grateful. For that moment taught me so many things I otherwise would not have learnt had Paalu taken over.

I learned a lot in this 200hr YTT course. I truly enjoyed discovering what yoga really is and the anatomy that applies to yoga. Most importantly, in this course, I learned to let go. I learned to take things in stride and go with the flow. I learned to think on my toes. I learned to have a few asanas in my back pocket for when my mind goes blank. I learned that life is more than just creating perfect lists. I learned that life (and yoga classes) does not always happen the way I plan them to. And it’s okay. Life still goes on. And your classmates forgive you for messing up their yoga practice.

Namaste,
Cheryl Li (200hr Yoga TTC 07/14 weekend)

Fear…Don't let it win!

“By recognising that fear is part of the experience of moving forward, fear can slide into the back seat and you take that journey that you have been wishing to!”

This sentence is the ending to an article that I have just read online. How meaningful this sentence is!

I remembered how long I took to decide on taking up this course. I thought over and over again for the longest time…why? Because of fear. Fear that I might not even survive the first week of intensive physical practice, fear that I might have so many poses that I cannot do and I am the worst student in class, fear that ultimately I may not pass the tests and get the certificate and that my money will go to waste. Since young, fear sips into me very easily. I am afraid to take roller coasters, afraid to change job, afraid to make wrong decisions so on and so forth.

In this article, the writer encouraged the readers to not force or fight, and instead just notice what is actually coming up for you. He said “Take a few breaths to allow the fear mechanisms to stop whirling and notice what’s underneath. This is where creation happens. This is where you find nuggets about yourself.” Well said!

I let my fear take a backseat when I went up to Tirisula to register for this course in May. I told myself then, “What’s the worst that can happen? Failing the tests?” It will not cost my life and so here I am… I am now in my final week of this course. Throughout the course, there are definitely moments of fear…when I cannot do a pose, when I have to push myself upside down in a headstand, when I am not sure if my lesson plan is feasible and now in my final week, fear for failure in the tests. Despite these fears, I am very sure I have moved forward – physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I feel more toned and stronger now. Whenever I face a difficult pose, I breathe and just do, and engage. Just don’t let fear win. I know the courage that I took to leave my job for this course is not something many people have, and for this, I applaud for myself. I hope to continue to bring this courage to whatever I dream to do in future. No one knows what the future is. We just do our best in the present and we move forward…

To those who wish to take the course, be it whether you are at a crossroad (not knowing what to do with your life), or you simply want to challenge yourself, DO IT! We only live once. Put all your fears aside and go through this new experience in this school. I made new friends, learnt new techniques, pushed myself beyond my perceived physical limits etc. I will not regret my choice.

-Jean- 

Yoga is; freedom

kundalini
The end of one journey begets the beginning of another odyssey; learning to teach vis a vis teaching to learn.
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response unlike our reactions, lies our growth and our freedom, hibernating abundantly. Yoga is a living process where the crux does not lie in visible attainments; it lies in experiencing, enriching and exploring. Experiencing a process, a movement, while attainments are static; one is internally exploring about the whole field using the energy systems of the mind+body to find out, how universal patterns express themselves through individual idiosyncrasies. Yoga also involves the process of enriching one’s energy, moving out the blocks that limit one both physically and mentally. Akin the farmer who ploughs the field to soften the soil, we can plough our nerves, organs to produce a better life with the psychological and physiological understanding of the asanas. In the genesis, to perceive the unknown, the mastery of the known, must be essential.
Within the subtle enigmatic imprints of nature, resides the ambiguous,ambidextrous progression of art and science. Yoga being an art-science evolves, revolves, re-evolves, catalyzes, rewires, inspires, the archaic union with Self.
Perhaps the timeless maxim;”Know Thyself“, emblem by the ancient Greeks exemplifies; the truths, concentric, contemplative, meditative, magnificent. Just as a sculptor uses the chisel, as a painter uses the brush and palette of color, a musician uses the harmonic instrument; the yogi uses this body to refine our involution.
The ultimate freedom is; when the body is liberated from the shackles of diseases, when the mind is liberated from the shackles of fears, then the intellect is ever alert, ever active. In that activity alone there is creativity, in that creativity alone there is liberation, in that liberation alone there is, precision.
With motion; comes flow; springs velocity.
Roshan
 
 
 
 

Walking back to the light

I have a confession. When I first started the course I had no real intention of being a yoga teacher. And after all this time I still have no real motivation to be so. This feels like blasphemy in the midst of all my other enthusiastic yoga classmates. Don’t be mistaken, I appreciate yoga fully for its spiritual and physical benefits. But within the first to second week of the course, I saw very clearly that my karmic path did not involve being a yoga teacher. However, I do also see that my yoga training will be important to me sometime in the future – I just don’t quite know how exactly yet.

I probably haven’t been as dedicated a student as I could have been. Percentage effort at this point probably stands at 50-60%. I’ll try to up it to 80% for this last weekend for the studying but there been points when my heart just hasn’t been into this. After several attempts at waking up early to do Kapplabhati, falling asleep again thereafter and then later realizing in class that in my sleep-ridden fog – I was practising Kapplabhati wrongly, I figured it was better to just start a little slower and not force myself into it. This is not typical of me. I am an over achiever who is used to aiming for 100% all my life – but over ambition tears the soul apart and at great cost.

I have been aware of my soul for a long time. We are all born with great energy and power and I can feel it moving within me constantly. However, all great things can be used for good or for evil and if I were to look into my soul – it isn’t pretty at the moment (To my classmate who disbelievingly saw my aura as black, you are probably right). I am careful with how I use my energy. I don’t like to talk about it but the reason is I’ve struggled with depression for the past year- did all the bad things you only hear about in stories. Two months before, I knew that I needed to find a means to heal my soul and signed myself up for this course. One week before the course, I told my psychiatrist I didn’t want to rely on anti-depressants anymore. One week into the yoga course, I was finally set free from that negative individual that caused me so much suffering although in essence a lot of it could have been prevented if I had not asked so much from my soul in the first place.

 

I feel that in this course, we have only touched the tip of the iceberg on what it means to do yoga. Healing and understanding come with time and everyone walks their own path. I want to make yoga part of my life, and maybe some time someday I’ll be free if this darkness. Till then, thank you everyone for being part of my healing journey.

 

Namaste.

 

 

By stillfindingmyway

The Journey

‘Do, or do not. There is no try.’
 
–       Master Yoda, Star Wars
 
The words of our favourite little green jedi seems to advocate the need for perfection and success – the importance of reaching the finishing line and achieving your goal. There is no “try”, there is no attempting to do something and only making it through 50% of the way; you either do it and accomplish that 100%, otherwise you fall flat and acquire 0%.
 
However, I see it differently. Yoga is all about awareness of your breath, and awareness of your body. True, you can practice your asanas all day to get into what we call “the final pose”, but what truly matters is that throughout the 5 ujaiyi breaths that you are holding your body in an almost contorted and yet beautiful pose, you remain mindful of your heart, your mind, your breath and your body. You are appreciative of where your body is in the journey toward reaching the final pose – from the curvature of your spine to the tension in your finger tips. In asana practice, we must not see the final pose as something definite, something that our bodies must achieve for us to feel like we have “done the asana correctly”. Rather, the final pose is but a human construct, a guideline that gurus before us have set for us to work toward. Every step of the way that we take in working toward that goal is no less significant and no less “correct” an asana. Yoga is about the journey, not the destination. In fact, is there really a “final” destination? Each step toward a goal is in itself a small destination, and when we reach what we call our “final” goal it really isn’t “final” is it? We continue to push ourselves, to keep improving because there really is no finishing line in our journeys as yogis.
 
For example, in Uttitha Trikonasana, the final pose requires us to hold on to our big toe. Yet the essence of the pose is keeping our spines straight and a lateral flexion from our hips. Many beginners lack the flexibility to proceed all the way down to hold on to their toes during their first few attempts and so they compensate by flexing forward from their hips and rounding their backs toward the ground. Indeed, they can easily touch the ground from there, but they have failed to maintain the integrity of the pose. Instead, one should work toward the final pose slowly, but surely. Beginners can start by holding on to their shins, and then moving down toward their ankles. Eventually, grabbing hold of their big toes will be no problem at all. They should not see their physical inability to reach their toes as a failure to do get into Utthita Trikonasa. In fact, they have done more than simply “try” to get into the pose, they have actually “done” it. A variation of the asana does not make it wrong, as long as one remains cognizant of the essence of the pose and maintains its integrity.
 
In other words, imperfection does not equate to failure. We should work toward complete awareness, rather than total perfection. The practice of Yoga has taught me to channel my energy toward the appreciation of my breath, and that success in all things can come if I take them just one deep inhale, and one long exhale at a time.
 
Just DO it.
 
Namaste.
 
Jody

Tight hamstrings: The bane of bends

A large part of our 4 weeks of training have been focused mainly on perfecting and understanding the correct postures for our asanas and strengthening the relevant muscles. But one thing I have discovered is that while I may understand how the posture should look and how to correct others, it does not necessarily mean that my own body is willing to cooperate. This is particularly the case for forward bends, where painfully tight hamstrings continue to be the bane of my yoga practice.
I know for myself which of my poses don’t look right but room for self correction is limited because any adjustment usually just puts me in a lot of pain. This is a common problem which I see in quite a number of my classmates as well. * So for those of you who are fortunate enough not to have tight hamstrings, please have mercywhen you adjust us. Gently does it…The past 4 weeks of daily practice have improved it a little but for the most part they are still agonizingly tight. Sometimes our instructors keep telling us ‘Don’t round the back!’ and  ‘lengthen the spine!’. That would be no problem at all if only I could cut my hamstrings!
Here are some tips I’ve scrounged from the internet which have helped in my understanding of tight hamstrings:

  • As its probably been mentioned, tight hamstrings are seldom due to hamstrings alone but are often associated with tight hip flexors. It is recommended to stretch the Psoas, hips, lower back, glutes and calves as well
  • Weak lower abdominals or a weak lower back are possible causes of tight hamstrings as well because they have to compensate to pull and support your upper body upright when walking.
  • Sitting for long durations is probably the leading cause of tight hamstrings because your hips are perpetually flexed and the hamstrings in a shortened position. For those of you in deskbound jobs, get up and walk around more often!
  • Use a foam roller to release tension during stretching. I’ve been trying this but success has been limited. Seems to feel like it doesn’t quite go deep enough
  • During common hamstring stretches, not rounding the back (i.e. push your chest forward to lengthen the lower back) really deepens the hamstring stretch!

After 10 year of ballet and dance, a couple of years bashing my patellas out in figure skating and the past 2 years pole dancing (where I succeeded in injuring my left hamstrings twice), I consider myself to be pretty lucky not have given myself any major injuries and still be able to twist myself into fancy yoga poses. At the grand old age of 27, I think my body is likely to be a decade older given the way my joints pop every time I move into new positions. At the moment, I’m in the belief that if I keep up the discipline for my daily yoga practice and practice religiously, I might someday be able to breeze through my downward dogs and forward bends without pain (Imagine the flexibility!).
Till then, keep stretching! 🙂
 
By stillfindingmyway

Yoga is; Adaptation

Books are binded by different volumes and so are human beings; binded by the linear passage of past, present and future. Where essences of truth conscious, condensed and compact resides; where the primordial fractalized Itself into many forms of experience. In”form“ation seems to be the only constant in the era of certain change and we are an emulation of nature, a part of the Universe. The universe which operates under natural laws and humans are a product of millions of years of evolution. Yoga has a consistent and intrinsic way of catalyzing evolution into adaptation. There is immense power of assimilation and resistance in adaptability. All of us are serendipitously seeking to obliterate pangs and angst that we encounter in this life. As there are various antagonist and protagonists intelligently weaved in the muscular system; similarly reflected are the many states of life and mind.
One of the many, superficial definitions of yoga is union of body and mind. To be successful in yoga, the body and mind must be engaged, aligned, and connected. However, it is not uncommon for us to a form of an Asana while our minds is not in the present. We tend to mentally drift, or to become caught up in such self-defeating states as competitiveness, trying too hard, lack of self-confidence, emotional turmoil, worry, or conflicting desires. Breathing well, organically;  always seems to assimilate alignment. Within the vibrant symbolic nature of the asanas, lie answers awaiting to be unsealed. The combination of body, mind and breath is a magical catalyst that inspires insights to emerge. What has been hidden—our fears and our potential—is now revealed. What is offered is the chance to evolve, to move closer to the involution of our inner nature.
Perhaps one of my favorite pranayama to use as an example is the Simha Mudra. The motion supplements excellent stimulation to the throat and nervous system. All nerves connecting the body to the brain must pass through the neck region. It is a vital crossroad, where breathe is the conductive animator or even an intensifier of life. We live in an ocean of air like fish in a body of water. By our breathing we are attuned to our atmosphere. If we inhibit our breathing we isolate ourselves from the medium in which we exist. In most eastern and western mystic philosophies, the breath holds the secret to the highest bliss. That is why breathing is the dominant factor in the practice of Yoga.
We breathe; we pulsate; we regenerate.
Roshan
 

The Inner World

Do it for yourself,

Not for him/her,

Not for parent/family,

Not for anyone or anything else,

But seeking the truth of inner-self.

 

When I first introduced to yoga many years back, I totally have no idea what they are doing and somehow the curiosity that attracted me. Generally people thought that yoga is for elderly or therapeutic purposes and young people would prefer dances, gymnastics or more in physical strength usages. I don’t have any physical illness so far until now but as a teenager at that time, I have a problem in preserving my energy. Due to strong curiosity and outgoing personality, most of my time was spent outside of the house and often feel very tired after I reached home. Sometime I can even sleep over the weekend without doing anything, just to recharge my body after back from some events. I wasn’t a sleeping-habit person where I know that my body and mental need time to recover from excessive usage. Until I get to know yoga, it taught me how to preserve my energy and refresh my mind through meditation. I don’t like to use the words of ‘meditation’ as too many types of method and misinterpretation of the words. From my experience, I described it as the time when you come back to your inner-world, attention drawback and bonding within the physical and mental activities. Its easier to tolerate and control through the well connecting between physical and mental activities, this is where I learned how to manage my energy and emotion. This topic is yet to cover by our master. Well….. be patient and the day will come. Looking forward to learn more.

 

‘Action without vision is only passing time,

Vision without action is merely day dreaming,

But vision with action can change the world.’        -Nelson Mandela

 

Namaste ~~~

 

Yoga reading

Call me old fashioned if you like, but despite the convenience of the internet which brings information to your fingertips – I still prefer nothing better than to draw my knowledge from the good old book. While our yoga instructors have carefully and painstakingly put together a wealth of information in our theory and asana handbooks, I still find it interesting and enjoyable to read further. And now that our lessons have moved more into lesson planning and sequencing, I am happy to have the opportunity to delve further into the individual topics. Below I will review some of the books presently on the market (many can be borrowed from the library).This list is not exhaustive but I hope you will find some of the information useful for your understanding of yoga theory and practice.

  • The Key Muscles of Yoga by Ray Long – As recommended in our course

Beautifully illustrated diagrams of the muscles and anatomy in selected yoga poses along with clear images of how the specific muscles insert.

  • Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff

A good companion to the above mentioned book. Well organized into the different standing, sitting, prone and supine poses with a systematic outline of the muscles involved in each pose. I like the illustration in this book better because the more complete drawing of the figures (with skin and hair etc) looks more pleasant compared to the skeleton and eyeballs figures from the Ray Long book (which make me feel unnervingly as thought the skeleton is staring at me)

  • Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

As the name implies, this book has no anatomy but focuses mainly on outlining the asana, pranayamas, mudras and bandhas. I particularly like the sections on the pranayamas and the explanations on breath and technique which are usually not so well covered in other yoga books.

  • Hatha Yoga Illustrated By Kirk, Boon and DiTuro

A very basic and straight forward book with clear diagrams on how to break down a pose. I like how there is a counterpose, drishti, physical and mental benefits as well as contraindications listed for each pose.

  • Teaching Yoga /Yoga sequencing Both by Mark Stephens

I fell in love with this series the moment I saw it. These books approach yoga solely from the perspective of ‘how to teach’ with the former achieving comprehensive coverage of the 8 limbs of yoga, yoga anatomy and asanas. It outlines instructions of how to guide students into asanas (as opposed to just giving instructions and adjustment) as well as many other useful tips such as class etiquette, voice and language. The sequencing book has extensive information on how to sequence classes along with sample sequences for beginners, intermediate, advanced and themed classes.

  • Moving towards Balance – by Rodney Yee

I am usually not a fan of books that give you a timeline (this one says 8 weeks of yoga) but I was particularly impressed by the clear presentation and breakdown of the asanas in this book. I also loved the section on how they outlined the inhale and exhale patterns for the sun salutations which will definitely come in useful for people like me who always get it mixed up during teaching practice!
 
At the end of the day, these books are just guidelines and sources of information.  The true test of my learning will be whether I can apply what I have learnt to my own teaching practice. Looks like there’s still a lot of work to be done!
 
By stillfindingmyway