Yoga and I

Yoga is amazing and it always inspires me. Every time I hit rock bottom and confuse about my life ahead, yoga always bring me back on track.

My life had been smooth and easy until six years ago. I graduated with a poor high school score despite I had done my best. As a result, I could not successfully enter to the university and faculty that I wanted. That was my first experience of failure. I was feeling down and shut myself away in my room during that time. I was really afraid to face the reality and the messy situation.

It was then I knew yoga. I was brought to yoga class by my sister. Gradually, I started to like this sport. At that time, I only treated yoga as a sport.

 

After a while, I finally found my life direction and went to the University of Taiwan to study Chinese. In Taiwan while I was pursuing my degree, I was attending yoga classes. Slowly I began to discover that after every yoga class, my heart always feels calm and stable. Most of the time I felt very happy and satisfied.

After graduated from university, I started my job in Malaysia. Without any previous working experience, I could not perform well in my job and I was under pressure. I felt I was a failure and very depressed at that time.

Until I returned to yoga, once again, yoga brought me back to the right track. I began to think more deeply about yoga, and realized a very important truth. When my breathing is right, everything will be right.

Thanks Yoga for entering my life and I am sure our story will be continued.

3 ways for beginner to start implementing yoga in daily routine

Firstly, I really understand the struggle of the beginners getting yoga into their life. It is challenging to schedule yoga practice in our daily routine while having a full time job. How to maintain daily yoga practice is always the question my friends put to me. I figure out the 3 methods I use to make daily yoga sustainable:

  • Sign up with a yoga studio which is next to YOU

When I started yoga, I knew that there were many yoga studio to choose from, but because i am packed of my work, so that I chose the yoga studio which is the closest from my company. After working, short distance from work place, changed to yoga clothes. You can directly go to the studio and start yours yoga practice. Believe me, it is really saves a lot of time and effort.

 

  • Fix your yoga schedule

After fixing the time, it must be strictly enforced. I barely changed the time that I fixed on my practice. Your practice continuously, it can bring you the effect that you wanted. Yoga is definitely worth your insistence in yours life!

 

  • Find a Yoga teacher you like in your studio

Your favourite teacher can be your positive motivation. No matter what reason you like the teacher, I believe that the energy generated by your favourite teacher can influence you more. You will become willing and more proactive. Just like my favourite teacher.

How to include yoga in our daily routine – Part 2

In my previous post, I have talked about 3 ways that requires minimal physical effort or time to implement yoga in my daily life. Now, let’s talk about the physical part, which requires a little more time.
If possible, wake up half an hour to an hour earlier. On days that I only manage to wake up half an hour earlier, can do some simple breathing exercise and stretches to clear the mind and wake up the digestive system.
1. 20x 3 sets of Kapalahbathi breathing
2. Anuloma Villoma (10 times)
3. Uddiyana Bandha (5 times)
4. Paschimottanasana (1 min)
5. Bhujangasana (1 min)
6. Ardha Matsyendrasana (1 min)
7. Show gratitude
If time permits, can add in 6 rounds of sun salutations and a headstand. Finally, end off with relaxation and a simple prayer.
If all else fails, at least do a 3 min headstand daily. This does not take a lot of time and would be more sustainable.

How to include yoga in our daily routine – Part 1

For years, I have always felt good and at peace after each yoga practice and I think that is what yoga is about. It was only until this course that I realized there is much more than asanas! Hence, I would definitely like to add more yoga into my daily routine. But I am always tied for time, so I will implement it in the most easiest and sustainable way that suits my current lifestyle.
Here’s how. First of all, I will start with my thoughts. This requires no physical effort but more on awareness and mindfulness. Practice Yama at all times! This will be a guiding principle to make my daily decisions. Be it at work, at home, teaching kids or with friends.
Next will be food choices. I will be honest, it is impossible for me to avoid Rajasic and Tamasic food totally. However, I can definitely minimize them and choose more sattvic food not just for myself but also for my family.
Thirdly, I will be more mindful in my postures. For example, whenever I need to pick things up from the floor, instead of squatting down, I can bend from the hip, keeping back straight, to get a good stretch for the entire back and hamstring.
I will also take note of my standing posture. I have hyperextended knee and this probably explains my weak knee joint. Before this, I don’t even know knee can be hyperextended!
These are the few simple adjustments that I can add in my daily routine and I am confident I can practice this for a lifetime.

Running and Yoga

A few months ago I signed up for my first ever half marathon. Practicing yoga really helps me to run stronger and recover faster. It keeps me running balanced with a strong core and a nice steady cadence. So many people talk about how amazing running is when its combined with yoga, however running is not the best physical activity for my yoga practice.

After running, my quads, hamstrings and ITB all tighten up and make it difficult for me to lengthen out, especially in some of my favourite poses like Adho Mukha Svasana and Paschimottanasana. It surprised me just how much of a drastic difference it made in my asanas the day after a run compared to having not run at all.

After guidance from Sree during my TTC, I now leave my yoga practice for directly after a run. This helps lengthen my muscles out again and also loosens them off so they’re not as tight. What I’ve personally found to be very helpful is by starting with 3x rounds of Surya Namaskar, at a nice slow pace holding each asana for 5 breaths, to really get a nice deep stretch. I then follow this with 3x rounds of Surya Namaskara A and Surya Namaskara B. I follow this with all of the standing postures in the ashtanga primary series, Paschimottanasana, Purvottanasana, Janu Sirsasana and a few core exercises before I go into Sarvangasana, Halasana & Karanapidasana.

I find that all of the standing postures in the primary series are perfect for lengthening out those target muscles that all become tightened whilst running. 45 minutes – 1 hour of yoga straight after a run really makes all the difference!

Yogic Principles in Daily Life Part 1

By doing the 200hr TTC, it has taught me that I need to properly warm up the body and the mind each morning. It is important to do the following activities after rising, on an empty stomach.

In the morning the yogi can start with 3x rounds of 20x pumps of Kapalahbathi, this is to clear the sinus cavities and nasal passageway. It also purifies the nadis and energises the mind whilst removing sleepiness.

This is followed by Anuloma Villoma which helps to balance the nadis. Anuloma Villoma is done in Sukhasana, easy pose, with the left hand in Jana Mudra and the right hand in Vishnu Mudra. In the morning we start with the first inhalation on the right nostril, then after retaining the breath, hold the right nostril and open the left nostril exhaling slowly. Then inhale left nostril, hold, open right nostril and exhale slowly. Continue for 20x rounds on each nostril.

Following this we perform Uddiyana Bandha for 5 rounds. This is done to strengthen and tone the abdomen, internal organs and pelvic floor muscles. It stimulates the manipura chakra and soothes anxiety. Uddiyana Bandha has to be done on an empty stomach and avoided when menstruating.

This is then followed by a few asanas to gently warm up the physical body. Pachimottanasana, Bhujangasana and Ardha Matsyendrasana should each be held for 1 minute.

The final part of the morning routine is to meditate on what we are grateful for in our lives. Cultivating gratitude is a practice which elevates our individual consciousness.

This is a part of yogic practice which is now already integrated into my daily routine and will continue to be after the TTC has finished.

Namate, Yoga!

Meeting is a kind of fate, and fate is so amazing.

Yoga, that is, we met.

When beginning practicing yoga, it is often a pain throughout the body, and there is always a thought of giving up.

Want to be beautiful and beautiful? Stick to it!

Want to improve your temperament? Stick to it!

At this moment, there is always a voice in the heart to encourage myself. In fact, “persevere” is not just a life attitude, but this is paid back by the time.

First of all, the weight has dropped, and the pain in the shoulders has been relieved. These changes are all due to the persistence of yoga.

Secondly, yoga’s meditation, and soothing music also let me slowly relax from the anxiety, and my mind gradually calmed down. These subtle changes in mind and body also benefited me a lot.

The peace of mind and the peace of heart are all due to yoga.

Feeling yoga! Grateful to meet!

Namaste!

Yoga and Diabetes

(Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes. A V Raveendran et al. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018 Sep; 33(3): 307–317. )

 

Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disorder that is becoming increasingly common. It is characterised by insulin resistance with relative or absolute insulin deficiency. This can result in devastating vascular complications such as kidney damage, heart attack, stroke and blindness.

 

The prevalence of diabetes is increasing in Singapore. The National Health Survey conducted in 2010 revealed that 11.3% of Singaporeans aged 18 to 69 year of age had T2D and 14.4% had pre-diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance). Faced with these alarming statistics, the Ministry of Health declared a “War on Diabetes” in 2016.

 

I chanced upon an interesting article that very gracefully weaves the role of Yoga in the management of diabetes.

 

Dietary management of diabetes with Yoga

  • The regulation of eating patterns, the practice of mindful eating of clean and pure food, and the advocation of greater awareness are beneficial not only in improving dietary practices but also adherence to medication.
  • Meditation and heightened mindfulness may help curb binge-eating patterns.

 

Beneficial effects of Yoga practices

These have been postulated to have beneficial effects through various mechanisms.

  • Stimulates insulin production through brain signalling
  • Massages the pancreas, stimulating insulin secretion
  • Boost metabolic rate, promote weight loss, reduce sugar levels, reduce body fat
  • Improves digestion and stimulates peristalsis
  • Improve blood circulation
  • Improves cardiorespiratory endurance
  • Enhances insulin receptor expression in muscles, causing increased glucose uptake
  • Positive effects on glucose utilisation and fat redistribution
  • Soothing and calming effect on the mind, improves mental and physical health
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Better sleep

 

Go ahead and read the full article for further details.

Remember to share your practice with someone you know who is battling with Diabetes!

Yogic diet and mind balance

By Harsh Thakkar

Do you control your mind when it comes to eating what you want to eat or does the mind tell you what to eat? And how does the food one eats contribute to the state of mind?

Ayurveda is described as the traditional Indian system of medicine (incorporated in Atharva Veda, the last of the four Vedas) which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing. Balance as we know now is also one of strongest pillars of Yoga. Literally translated it would be “Ayur” meaning Life or Age and “Veda” meaning science or knowledge. In most western countries although it is considered as a system of complementary and alternate medicine. Even though I do not have the complete knowledge of Ayurveda and all its practices, whatever I have read so far it tells me that it provides guidelines for diet, seasonal routines and homemade remedies from plants and herbs to remind us that one’s health is a delicate balance between the environment, body, mind and spirit.

According to Ayurveda, food has a prominent role in achieving balanced body-mind-soul consciousness. It is said that the nature of food a person consumes reflects their nature or temperament.

Any food you eat can be categorized as either sattvicrajasic and tamasic according to its character and effect upon the body and the mind.

Sattvic food

Sattva is that which makes us curious, thoughtful, and alert.

Sattvic food is always freshly cooked and simple, juicy, light, unctuous, nourishing, cooling and refreshing to mind and body. It increases the energy of the mind and produces cheerfulness, serenity and mental clarity. Sattvic food is highly conducive to good health.

Foods: Whole grains and legumes like Rice, Whole wheat, Millet, Corn, Lentils, Oats, Beans etc. Freshly picked and organically grown vegetables like Celery, Sweet potatoes, Sprouts, Cauliflower, Zucchini, Lettuce, Green beans, Spinach, Broccoli, Asparagus etc. Fresh fruits such as Apples, Peaches, Oranges, Bananas, Guava, Berries, Papayas, Pomegranate etc.

Rajasic Food

Rajas are invigorating and mentally stimulating and make us active, giving us the desire to work, push, and manifest.

This is food that is fresh but heavy. The rajasic diet is also cooked fresh and is nutritious. It may contain a little more oil and spices compared to sattvic food. Rajasic foods are bitter, sour, salty, pungent, hot and dry. It stimulates aggression, passion, fire, imbalance of the emotion, energy, alters the consciousness, and creates depression.

Foods: Fish and meat such as Salmon, Sole, Trout, Lamb, Chicken, Turkey, Tuna, Eggs etc. Excess of Sharp Spices like Salt, Pepper, Black Pepper, Ginger, Onion, Radish, Garlic etc. Stimulants such as Coffee, Tea, Tobacco, Sugar, Cola Drinks, Chocolates, Alcoholic Drinks etc.

Tamasic Food

Tamas gives us the desire to stop, slow down, and rest.

Tamasic foods cause lethargy, inactivity, mental block, severe anger, darkness, ignorance, and no control of self. These foods are considered to be highly detrimental to the body and mind.

Foods: Fried food, Eggs, White flour, Fast food, excess starch and sugar, chillies, sauce, fermented or stale food, ice creams, chocolates, preserved meats/ fruits and jams, artificially flavoured drinks, alcohol, breads, cakes, Pickles.

We have all the three Gunas / qualities within us in different proportions. All 3 of these qualities (Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic) are necessary for survival and to move in a progressive direction in life. How we respond to the events and circumstances in our life very much depends on the predominant Guna / Quality within us.

Sattva qualities make a person calm and joyful. ‘Small amount’ of Rajas makes the person active and passionate, while Tamas in ‘moderation’ is considered as grounding and promotes stability.

 

 

 

 

Finding time for Yoga Practice

How do we find time to practice yoga regularly?

I have been searching for answers to this question ever since i started working … Work really does take up a lot of time. Like many others, I hesitated before I commit myself to a yoga studio and then I hesitated again when i wanted to take up the Yoga Teacher Training… It was then, i decided to take a leap and signed up for the Yoga Teacher Training with the mindset that “I will make time for this.”

I am grateful for the decision i made and the chance to meet all the amazing batchmates alongside, practicing yoga during the weekends. It is never about how busy we all are, it is about how much time we are willing to make, to commit to the things we want to do.

I explored for ways and learnt to find time for the things I always wanted to do. So i mapped out my thoughts… The main question i asked myself was “Why will i not have time to do something that i want to do?”. My answers seemed more like excuses because I could find resolutions to all my own answers after some time. Let me quickly share my thoughts: Finding Time to Commit (Ange)

I am prepared for times where I find myself struggling to fulfil certain commitments (i.e. weekly/focused practice). I assure myself that it is perfectly fine because I am not giving up on practice. Sometimes, I just had to make time for something else. 

There is a difference between (a) not committing to practice because… and; (b) committing to practice however …

Most importantly, never give up practicing if it is what we want to do regularly. Keep finding ways to make it work.

Finding time is possible.