8 tips to convince your boyfriend to do yoga

He still doesn’t understand why yoga is such a thing. He doesn’t support your passion and thinks that yoga is only for ladies.

Well, here are some tips to convince your (gentle)man to get onto the (gentle)mat.

1/ Yoga makes you happy (and will make him happy too).

Yoga clears your mind and releases endorphins. Yoga gets your body tuned up, inside out. And simply because he loves you, you shouldn’t actually work so hard to convince him.

2/ With Yoga pants.

Not only you in your pants, but seriously, is there anything more comfortable than a pair of yoga pants? He should try a pair!

3/Show him the Boys of Yoga

Normal and cool guys like him who decided to start yoga. Tell him your yoga teacher is one of them. He will come to the class.

4/ To spend more time with you.

Warrior 1 – If he brings you to watch a movie to hold your hands and avoid a real conversation, tell him that he can probably get the same in a yoga studio, with some benefits.
Warrior 2 – Give him a simple private lesson. Ask your loved one to sit and breathe with you for a few minutes. There’s probably a good chance he won’t say no. Yoga feels even better together and he will experience it himself.

5/To spend more time solo.

With a studio at pretty much every street corner, he can make some new friends for sure. However, yoga is an individual practice and a moment to reflect and observe. What better place in the entire world than a child pose?

6/To get the famous beach body… faster!

They spend lots of time in the gym but complain about the low and slow results? Well, yoga accelerates weight-loss and body toning, increases flexibility and strengthens muscles. One hour of Bikram yoga can burn 500 calories. 500 calories, that’s like a chicken porridge and a char kway teow together.

7/To stress less.

It has been proven that 12 weeks of yoga significantly reduces anxiety.

8/For better sex.

According to a study published online in The Journal of Sexual Medicine (Nov. 12, 2009), regular yoga practice improves several aspects of sexual function in women, including desire, arousal, orgasm, and overall satisfaction. Should work also for him, isn’t it?

If after all these fantastic reasons he’s still reluctant to practice yoga, it is probably better he doesn’t join you. You’ll have your little secret garden at the studio, share your latest adventures with your friends, and live 10 years longer than him. Namaste!

Yogi’s Morning Routine – 30 Min Simple Habit To Start Your Day Right!

Since the global pandemic started earlier this year, I know a lot of people have struggled in the beginning. This massive shift in our lifestyle left us confused and some might have been gone through mental health issues as well.

 

With too much time in a day since we don’t have to get ready and commute to work, are you the type of person who is sleeping in till 5 min before your work hour…? I hope not! haha

 

I personally overwhelmed with too much time in my hands at the beginning of lockdown. In the first one or a couple of months, yes I did try those quarantine exercises, new recipes, zoom parties, etc.

 

But it got extremely bored and I became so uninspired.

 

Then, I had this realization. What I need is not all of this destruction to kill time. Killing time killed my passion. All I needed was a simple routine that sets me in the right mind and spirit and keeps my mental and physical health sane.

 

 

Since ever I joined Tirisula Yoga Teacher Training, I learned a lot about Yoga from Master Ram. He is one of the well-respected Yoga masters in the world and has trained students for decades of time. I did not only learn yoga, but I also learned about life.

And, one of the things he empathized with at the beginning of the course was the morning routine.

 

I will share with you guys my learning from my master incorporate with some of the things worked well for me during my morning practice.

 

1. Simple stretch upon waking in the bed

Apanasana (Knee to Chest pose) and simple twists in the bed when you wake up.

Sit up in the bed and do paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) before getting up from the bed.

2. Dharana – Concentration

One of the 8 limbs of yoga is Dharana. Dharana means 1 thought and it takes a mind fit for concentration. When you practice dhyana, you focus your mind on a particular external object or an internal idea and excludes all other thoughts.

Eventually, your mind will become one with the object.

As a starter, staring at one point on the wall for 3-5 min.

3. Dhyana – Meditation

Once you quiet your mind with Dharana practice, meditate.

Even you only have 5 min in the morning, it counts.

4. Pranayama

Pranayama is a Yogic breathing exercise. There are so many types of pranayama, and Master Ram recommends practicing kapalbhati every morning.

Kapalabhati clears the toxins from the body and let go of attachments.

Try 100 pumps.

5. Asana – Sun Salutation

Finally asana practice. I personally like to start the day with Sun Salutation to energize myself.

Try 3 – 5 rounds.

If you are a beginner and if this is too intense for you, pick 3 poses such as forward bend, cobra pose. and twist will be great to start off your morning right.

 

 

I hope you will find peace and happiness in simple daily life… Just like  I did 🙂

 

It only takes 30 min!

 

It takes a good amount of “tapas” (discipline) to follow through with what you decide to do. We do it not because it will make us successful or it will make us money… we do it because a tiny bit of tapas every day makes us feel great. We feel great because finally, we stop betraying ourselves by not doing the things you decided to do and we start to keep small promises to ourselves.

 

 

Running with Mindfulness

A short reflection on running and mindfulness today.

 

My first love is and always has been running – I’ve run consistently since I was a teenager and it’s been a kind of up-and-down relationship. Running when I’m angry, running on good days and holidays. I found my way to the yoga mat in a period when I “broke up” with running for a bit, frustrated with a hairline foot fracture. I feel like this is the beginning of a story we’ve heard many times: person has an injury, yoga saves their life. That is difference from my experience; I keep looking for ways to create balance between yoga and running. These nine-plus weeks in yoga teacher training (YTT) has given me a lot of time to reflect on my relationship with running and how my practice can complement it. In the last weeks, we’ve moved through many asana and the phrase that I keep coming back to, is “sthira sukham asanam” – that asana should be steady, stable and motionless, bringing comfort to the mind without swings or pain, pleasure or suffering. Is it possible to apply this to the act of running? To simply, naturally, be in the motion with no discomfort?

 

On the last few runs, I tried to bring my focusing to my breath and being present (and also not crashing into cyclists or lamposts!). It’s quite different from switching off from being numb or bored after long distances. It’s almost liberating, to find seconds and minutes of centred-ness in motion. Like mindfulness practice, I count the inhalations and exhalations while running, working to get my strides aligned with my breath. Cycles of 20. I’m currently working my way through a book “Still Running” by Vanessa Zuisei Goddard, a mindfulness practitioner and ultra-runner. Her book is helpful and enriching in many ways, but this section was particularly memorable. In “Abdominal Breathing” she writes: 

 

“Begin by establishing a running pace that you can maintain for the duration of your run… Using the hara as ground or ‘seat’ of your awareness, focus all your attention on your breath as you run. Notice how your abdomen naturally expands as your inhale, then contracts as you exhale. Breathe easily and evenly, placing slightly more attention on the exhale as you let your body inhale by itself…. Anchor your mind in it. Let every cell in your body, every thought in your mind, be nothing but breath.When you become distracted, see the thought, set it aside and come back. Keep running until you feel you are well grounded in the breath.”

 

Here I’m thinking – that’s it! Mindfulness as applied to running. Metre to kilometre, seeing the thought and setting it aside. Focus on the breath. I’m going to do this with my runs and see where this takes me, internally.

Yoga For Creativity : Asanas (Part 2)

Before going to asanas, I’ve explained in another blog about how Meditation & Pranayama are part of the keys to unlocking your creativity. 

When you feel stressed out, unfocused or just feel right out dull, a good way to boost yourself is by doing some Mindful Meditation or Pranayama, and then the yoga poses. 

And now leading to asana, the fun part. 🙂

 

Asanas

The asanas for creativity

 

Sun salutation (Surya Namaskar) for warm up

Whichever sun salutation suits you best at the moment, whether it be Classic Sun Salutation C or Ashtanga style Surya Namaskar A or B, go for it. Sun salutations are a great way to warm up and energize your body, increasing you heart rate and to get ready for your next asanas. Remember, listen to your body, the rest will follow suit.

Repeat 3-6 times.

 

Child’s pose (Balasana)

Get to relax and breathe in this pose. This pose helps to lengthen your spine, and release muscle tension. It also strengthens your lower back, helps to relieve indigestion, fatigue, anxiety and stress. So let everything go as you do this pose.

 

Pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

One of the best hip opening poses, this pose not only opens your hips, but with the forward bend, this also stretches out your thighs, back, piriformis, and psoas muscles. This is a good antidote for people who sit all day everyday, hunched in front of their computers or laptops. Make sure to square your hips while bending forward.

Repeat this pose at the opposite side for 5 breathes.

 

Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog (Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana)

After your downward facing dog, go ahead and raise your right leg up to enjoy the stretch and lengthening. This is one of my favorite asanas, where I get my full body stretch and lengthening.

This pose also energizes you and rejuvenates your nervous system. And guess what it’s also a good release from stress, headaches and fatigue. (This is becoming the theme most of the poses I am including here)

Repeat this pose at the opposite side for 5 breathes.

 

Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog Variation (Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana Vrschikasana Pada) or Scorpion tail pose

Based on the original Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog, transitioning to this variation, where you bend you raised leg. With the same benefits as the original, this pose opens your hips even more and stretches your thigh muscles even further.

Repeat this pose at the opposite side.

 

Flip Dog pose (Camatkarasana) or Wild thing

Most commonly known as the Wild thing, this pose combines backbend and a single hand balancing act. Go figure, your body and limbs must be going into an awkward, wild position. Similar to a backbend, it is a fun and dynamic pose that I often experienced in yoga flow practices. This pose improves your spine’s flexibility and strengthens your arms and wrists. It also activates your throat chakra, and opens up your heart while expanding your chest, embracing confidence, acceptance and love. And also as quoted from John Friend’s Anusara Yoga, “it is a style that celebrates, among many things, expansive heart opening postures that radiate “Radical Joy”.

There are a few modified transitions going to this pose, one is coming from side plank, and another is coming from Scorpion tail or Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog Variation (Tri Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana Vrschikasana Pada). I find the last transition option opens you up more to this pose. So go ahead and do your wild thang!

Precautions: Not advisable for people with wrist, neck, back and shoulder injuries, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Repeat this pose at the opposite side.

 

Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

Garuda known as the “king of birds” also happen to be the vehicle of Vishnu.

You know that feeling of slowly unbinding after this pose? Where you finally feel you muscles relaxing from the strain caused by all the twisting and flexion in your muscles? Think of relaxing and untangling your limbs from this pose as slowly unbinding your mind like you are removing all the tangles and stretching out your brain. What do you think about that?

Repeat this pose at the opposite side.

 

Head stand (Sirsasana)

Ok, let’s face it, not everyone can do Sirsana. Even I admit that I am struggling with this pose. I’m even scared to do it without a wall backing me. But don’t worry, everything will come in time with practice, discipline and hard work. Try it out, practice it, and let’s hope for the best!

This pose helps relieves stress, increases focus, stimulates lymphatic system, and develop your core muscles. This asana also has youthful benefits, helps detoxify your body,  improve blood circulation, and  decreases fluid build-up in your legs and feet. 

And you get to view things upside down! Who knows, maybe when your fully comfortable on your headstand, some creative ideas may come out upsidedown.

Precautions: Not advisable for people with wrist, neck, back and shoulder injuries, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Women having menstrual period are strongly advised not to do inversions.

 

I hope you can try out these asanas. Stay Healthy Yogis 🙂

Decolonise Your Yoga Practice – Why and How?

When the British colonised India in the 18th century, Yogis were discriminated and tortured due to their spiritual aspect. The British intention of was to dehumanise low class Indians to oppress and control them. They denied and took out of Indian ethics, values, philosophy, and spirituality to make Indians feel inferior to the Western values. In the 19th century when the British started to work on policies of conciliation for the Indian cultures, Indian officials and intellectuals agreed with the British to create a “new tradition” of India to show it to the world; something traditional and Indian yet something relatable to the Western world. Traditional Hatha Yoga was selected to be re-created (i.e re-appropriated) with more physical aspects because physical exercise such as gymnastics was extremely popular and weighed in the West at that time, so it naturally was in India (it was imported and implemented in India by Western colonists). That eventually became a similar form of the current Yoga that most of us know. The modern Yoga is a creation of India, and respectable Yogis and philosophers in India refined and reconstructed by linking this physical activity with traditional Yoga Sutras as national tradition. However, the initial project was controlled by the British and highly influenced by Western cultures. Sadly this mindset has built Western Yoga (Asana-focused, highly commercialised), which has been dominating the world and it still stirs the yoga community with cultural appropriation today. If someone thinks Yoga is just a physical practice, or knowing other aspects of Yoga and thinks they can cut the physical training out, they are still bound by the past violent colonial project, consciously or not.

Some Yoga fundamentalists say “Don’t learn from white people, look for an Indian teacher”, but things are not that simple. South Asian communities already received a strong wave of Re-imported Yoga from America and this kind of racial typecasting doesn’t work anymore (and it could be simply racism, obviously). Not to forget to mention that there are genuinely amazing Western Yoga teachers who have been learning, teaching, and promoting Yoga with deep understanding of philosophies and histories. Despite your skin colour or where you live, the fact now is that it is so difficult to avoid Western Yoga trend completely unless you consciously make decisions. So what do you need to do to get yourself out of it?

 

Learn Yoga, Not Only Asana

First basic yet essential step is to learn that physical aspect of Yoga is only one out of 8 limbs of Yoga. Stop treating Yoga as a physical activity. Accept that it is a spiritual, philosophical path for your life. During the British colonisation, the ethics of Yoga was completely demolished with violence. If we ignore the non-physical side of Yoga, it means we are subconsciously justifying the past colonists’ mindset. Read Yoga Sutra or on Yoga Sutra, and history of Yoga. Connect yourself with the authentic Yoga.

 

Liberate Yourself From Superficial/Materialistic Yoga Trend

Do not be so obsessed with Yoga fashion, which was created by Western Yoga and its capitalism. You do not need to wear Yoga pants or look slim to practice Yoga, unlike a lot of yoga clothes brand advertise. If you are happy wearing yoga pants, and if you know that the brand is ethical, go ahead. But if you feel you NEED to wear them to attend a class, ditch that mindset. If you feel ashamed about your body, or your teacher/classmates make you feel your body shape is not beautiful enough to do Yoga, do remember that Yoga is for every body, not only for young, slim, pretty female who are heavily advertised in commercialised yoga studios and fashion brands frequently.

If your Yoga teachers (or public figures you follow online) are highly materialistic, such as always wearing high-end Yoga fashion, promoting a lot of non-Yoga related products online such as perfume, watches, staycation giveaway etc, they may be great Asana teachers but may not be Yoga teachers, you may want to take note of that.  Another example; if a studio promote their “luxe/exclusivity” with extremely high rate, we may get tempted to check it out, but we shouldn’t; they are materialising Yoga and over-profiting, just like how Western Yoga has been stepping on traditional Yoga for their own benefits.

 

Respect Its Birthplace, but Avoid Exotification

It is still not uncommon to find people who have Indophobia yet love Yoga practice. This has been a deep issue in Western Yoga. For example, people would swear by Yoga practice when famous (non-Indian) Hollywood celebrities mentioned Yoga, but once they are home, they avoid their South-Asian neighbours. This habit is spotted in Asia too. Maybe you can ask yourself; are you in love with Yoga but not willing to appreciate the Indian communities and cultures as a whole? Is your affection and admiration for Yoga filtered by Western or Pop cultures? If you like to learn and practice Yoga, make sure to pay respect to the origin and people who are related there.

Second thing to self-check is the usage of Sanskrit words, Om, and Mantra etc. Completely excluding it is bringing you back to Asana-centric Yoga. However, overusing them without fully studying them “just because it’s cool” is exotification, that can lead you to cultural appropriation. Exotification is not equal to a real love and respect towards the culture. It is simply fetishising Yoga, and your Yoga practice will be derailed by doing it.

As a bottom line, I would like to stress the first topic again; keep studying Yoga. Once you start practising 8 limbs of Yoga, and learn the history of Yoga, your urge to decolonise your Yoga practice will naturally find you.

Reference: Decolonizing Yoga by Susana Barkataki

Anxious Mind

Sirsana:

Sirsa meaning “head”

Asana meaning “posture”

Today was the 5th day into the YTT course. And of course Sirsana aka The King of Asanas AKA Headstand cannot be missed.

While we were warming up for inversions, many thoughts flooded my mind.

“Can I do it?”, “I don’t think I can do it..”, “I’m afraid of falling..”, “I have phobia of being upside down..”, “No just don’t do it.”, “I am sure there are other things that I can make up with during the practical exams.”

Master Sree went around supporting my classmates with their headstands. They did so well!! It was my turn…. I measured the distance from my elbow to elbow, ensured that my arms and elbows are fixed at 90deg, placed my crown on the ground and I chickened out.

***

Your mind tells you what it wants you to do. Your mind tells you things to protect you, it is natural. However, no matter how much you listen to your mind, it will find its way back to your head with another disturbing thought. It feels like your thoughts are telling you things that scare you and the horrible consequences that could happen if you perform certain actions. But you do not have to listen to your mind.

My mind told me that I will break my neck and injure my spine when I go into sirsasana. I have had that phobia since the day I fell while doing a pas de Deux when I was still dancing. My mind was protecting me from having to fall again.

After hearing those motivating words from my classmates and Master Sree, I realised that thoughts are just thoughts. I have to break that habit of obeying my mind. I cleared my mind and I started over with the headstand. I did it!

Thoughts are not facts and they stop you from realising your potential. When you have an anxious thought, step back and recognise that it is just a thought. Get back to whatever you are doing and focus on that present moment and do it.

You will not be able to stop your mind from throwing thoughts into your head. But that is ok, thoughts are just thoughts. Just do that headstand and breathe…

 

Reminiscing yoga retreats

I can’t decide which one I love more – yoga or travelling.

Combine them both and it’s absolute bliss – a yoga retreat! It has been close to an annual affair for me for some time. There is nothing quite like removing yourself from the daily grind, and fully immersing yourself in nature, yoga and general good vibes. 

Though travelling seems like a distant dream for the time being, I remain ever hopeful that the world will heal itself, and that the borders will open very soon.

In the meantime, here are some of my personal favourite destinations around the region, for your consideration when we can start flying again!

  1. Samahita Retreat (Koh Samui)

This is one of my personal favourites as they offer a full-year calendar of excellent yoga retreats, featuring many internationally renowned teachers. It was here that I attended my first full-fledged retreat under Chuck Miller and fell obsessively in love with Ashtanga! This is a full-board type of retreat so accommodation and all meals are included in the package. The rooms are modern, comfortable and well furnished, and I remember each meal being super wholesome and scrumptious! It is also a great place to network with and be inspired by fellow yoga aficionados as the majority of participants are pretty passionate about their yoga practice.

Having said that, a plus point about this retreat is that it also offers numerous non yoga-specific wellness programmes (such as the CoreCycle programme, which is more fitness-based), so this provides a bit more flexibility if you wish to travel with someone who is not that into yoga.

 

2. Yoga Barn (Ubud Bali)

This is more of a yoga school than a full-fledged retreat (though they do offer personalised yoga retreats) but I like it for the comprehensive selection of classes on offer each day, including very interesting ones like Ecstatic Dance in which participants engage in free-form dance to high energy music. Sound meditation and Kirtan are also scheduled. You can just stay at any of the dozens of accommodations located within walking distance away, buy a class pass, and attend all the classes you like! Great for anyone who prefers more flexibility in their schedules than following a strict daily routine.

I also love the cosy cafe that’s situated within the compound. Overlooking lush greenery and offering healthy vegan food, it is the perfect place to chill out after the class.

Speaking of delicious vegan food, Ubud has a really bustling restaurant scene,  offering vegan-friendly creative cuisines in gorgeous settings. I do hope all of them managed to stay open despite the current pandemic.

 

3. Tallala Retreat (Sri Lanka)

Situated on the south coast of Sri Lanka facing a beautiful stretch of beach, Tallala Retreat was definitely worth the slightly longer travelling time. It is set on quite a big space and offers a variety of accommodation options, from ‘glamping’ huts to the more luxurious villas, so it caters to different budgets. The vibe is very laid back here – almost everyone walked about barefooted the last time I was there!

I had only paid for my room, meals and daily yoga when I last stayed there. However, I see now that they offer more holistic yoga packages that also include excursions and cooking classes. Should be interesting!

I would also highly recommend exploring more of the southern coast before or after your retreat as Sri Lanka is such a beautiful and peaceful place.  I had checked out a few more beaches, did whale watching in Mirissa and stayed at the charming historical town of Galle.

 

And finally these are on my wish list (again keeping fingers crossed they will re-open / stay open)

  1. Desa Seni Bali

Love the eco village vibe of the place, and the schedule looks pretty comprehensive too.

2. Purple Valley Goa

For fellow Ashtanga fans

 

Application of Niyama for Stage Fright

In the middle of my 3rd class, I won’t lie, I was seriously questioning myself why I signed up for YTT instead of other simple workshops. Yes I wanted to deepen my knowledge for my home practice, but I was not planning to be a teacher anytime soon. My simple mind told me “YTT would be great. Learning how to teach, I can be my own teacher” but one very important thing I conveniently forgot back then was that I actually have extremely bad stage fright and public speaking issues.

As much as I’ve still enjoyed a lot of the course, it’s been a mental challenge for me. Even with a simple cue practice, I was already extremely nervous from the beginning of the course. While waiting for my turn to come, I would have sweaty palms, rapid heartbeat and nausea, and I would be so busy trying to make myself relax with pranayama. Once I step in front of my classmates, my brain would shut down, my tongue locked and a single word couldn’t come out. So many times I found myself standing in front of everyone and saying nothing for a while. Oops. This is really bad. How would I survive this course if I cannot teach? And more importantly, if I can’t find peace and fulfilment with yoga, I’m doing something wrong.

I came back to read on 8 limbs of yoga again with an intention to apply it in teaching and public speaking. It is quite known that pranayama and meditation/dharana can help to ease your stage fright, but on top of that, applying Niyama has been helping me with my root cause. This 2nd limb of Ashtanga Yoga is composed of 5 positive duties/observances (“dos”, as opposed to Yama’s “don’ts”) for your personal growth. I tried to link each of them with my stage fright issues and thought how Niyama practice could help. This is based on my own case but below are the applications I made to remind myself during the YTT course.

 

1. Shaucha : Purification/Clearness

This cleanliness principle is applied not only to body but mind. It is crucial to keep your mind clean; that means, we should stay away from negative, destructive thoughts and emotions. For my case, they were fears and lack of self-belief. I imagine myself failing at a challenge, rather than nailing it. “I might forget the sequence, my sequence might be too boring for students, my explanation may not be clear”, etc. I applied Shaucha to clean up my mind.

Application: Image training and Self-affirmation such as “I perform with joy” “I enjoy teaching” “I will be calm” etc.

 

2. Santosha : Contentment, Acceptance

In a modern world, practicing contentment is not easy, be it materialistically or mentally. We may know that achieving contentment can give us a peace of mind, but constantly getting full of information of people who are/have better than you, we tend to bring out our uneasiness/competitiveness (especially in a “kiasu” place like Singapore). One of my stage fright triggers happens when I feel pressured to be perfect AND I know I can’t be. When I need to instruct something I’m not confident with, the stage fright kicks in. Once I accept where I am now and be honest with what I remember and what I don’t, I became less afraid to make mistakes or to be judged. I could feel a lot lighter.

Application: Know what you know and teach only what you already know. Accept and keep reminding that mistakes happen to everybody. It will take time to be a good teacher and IT IS OK.

 

3. Tapas : Self-discipline

Santosha to me is to know and accept your current status, so we can see a clear vision of what to do next or what to do to maintain the current status in a good shape. Following Santosha, Tapas may be the easiest to apply. We all need to build a basic habit of practice, without being forced by external factors for self-improvement. Know what you need to do, and after that is the execution.

Application: Practice, Practice, Practice. Be it Asana practice or teaching practice or taking time to create meaningful sequences.

 

4. Svadhyaya : Self-study, Introspection

When I started reading some articles about Yoga and Public Speaking, most of them were talking how effective Pranayama is. It does, on the spot, relieve my mind but I was feeling that it is just a temporary solution. At the next teaching or presentation, I will have the same nervousness again. When I came to the 4th Niyama, I felt this is what I needed to do. Know the enemy and know yourself; this time the enemy is inside of me but I started throwing questions at myself to dig my issues. Why are you afraid to talk? Any bad memories that stop you from performing? When do you feel less nervous, and when more? What kind of crowds make you feel more nervous? etc. 

Application: Analyse and observe yourself.  Find the root causes from your past experience. Be Objective to review each teaching practice you did. Find your weakness to improve. Find your strength to stay motivated.

 

5. Ishvara Praṇidhana : Surrender to Higher Being

With a concept of Higher Beings, this last Niyama has been the most difficult for me to grasp and apply to my case. After reading several resources of Yoga Sutra interpretations, I understood this as “concentration and stable mind can be achieved when you have an attitude to let your ego go despite all the effort you have made”. When we apply the earlier 4 Niyamas (Shaucha to Svhadhaya) and practice them, we will likely see an improvement in life. But that might lead you to develop some feeling such as ego, pride, too many expectations of good results, and reputations. The last Niyama is to learn to cancel all those “tensed” feelings, completely. Do not expect anything based on who you are or what you did, but leave the outcome to the nature or somewhere out of your control instead.

Application : Constantly practice to be prepared and ready. But do not let your ego come up. Focus on improvement and do not let expectations bug your mind. Give your best self to the given circumstance without thinking of outcome.

 

I admit there were stressful moments during YTT as an extreme introvert, but it has been a great opportunity to face my long-term stage fright issue. With Niyama, I feel I can keep training myself to lessen my stage fright little by little. Even if the change is subtle, seeing myself breaking out of the shell is quite amazing 🙂

Spinning and Yoga?

Yes it is a perfect combi!

I have been spinning quite often and sharing my experiences with my course mates in YTT that how fun spinning is and I will never get tired of it. I was also struggling to decide what to write next for my blog post, till one of my course mate (you know who you are!) gave me this idea to write about spinning and yoga. So here it is. 

I have came across articles about yoga and indoor cycling and surprised to learn that it is becoming a trend as more and more studios are starting to integrate spin and yoga into a single class. As I have been spinning quite often, sometimes I wonder if spinning too much will be detrimental to my knee joints, and over engagement of my quads and hamstrings, or may even cause shortness of breath easily as it is considered as an anaerobic exercise (high intensity version of workout). 

Actually, there are so many benefits of spinning which will help in our Yoga practice, vice versa. Some of the benefits of spinning are:

  • It can help to build endurance and stamina
  • Increase strength and bone density
  • Reduce the risk of Osteoporosis
  • Helps to boost metabolism and lose weight
  • Strengthening of heart. 
  • Improve balancing skills, as in most spin classes, the spin instructor will have you stand up and down in the bike saddle while still peddling. This would require you use your core to prevent your
  • It also helps in achieving a nice figure as it trains the full body, lifting of your gluts and core muscles too. Some classes even incorporate the use of hand weights for adding resistance to train your upper body. 

Of course there is a limit to everything. Try to refrain from spinning more than 3 times a week, as it may cause strain on your muscles and tightened overtime. Hence, Yoga will help to bring the body back into perfect balance. I have been spinning 2-3 times (45 mins per class) a week and would sometimes practise Yoga for at least 10-15 minutes after each spin class. From yoga, tightened/overactive muscles will be naturally stretched and lengthened, and underactive muscles will be strengthened. It is amazing as I only came to realise now that this is the reason why I hardly have muscle aches anymore. 

Yoga or Spin first?

For best results, do yoga after spin will be more effective as your body is already warmed up. Yoga after spin class can help to heal your muscles, increase your strength and flexibility. If it has been a few hours since you cycled like myself (to rest or work), good to start with at least three rounds of Sun Salutations to warm yourself up. As hip flexes will be tight from riding on the bike, here are some of the post-spin poses, which are mainly hip openers that will help in lengthening your hip flexor muscles. Do not forget your consistent pranayama throughout the practice to slow your heart rate down. 

1) Low lunge/ Lizard pose 

2) Wide angle seated forward bend / standing forward bend 

3) Downward facing dog 

4) Bridge pose 

5) Supine body twist

6) Finally relax in corpse pose. 

If you haven’t thought about Spinning before, perhaps you should! You will enjoy the music and reap the cardio benefits from Spinning that naturally brings ease to our daily yoga regimen! 

Interesting Fact: Do you know that Jennifer Aniston, a Hollywood actress works out every morning by spinning for 30mins and yoga after for 40mins? That’s pretty intense! 

Finding the right essential oils

If you are a Naruto fan, you must have heard of “Chakra” powers! Chakra means “wheel” or “centers” of energy that are perpetually in motion along our spine. There are 7 main Chakras that possesses a colour and vibrational frequency. I love to imagine these wheels circling within the centre of my body. It is important to keep the chakras “open” as they are linked to our nerves, and major organs that are in proximity to each chakra. Aside from yoga and exercises, do you know that different essential oils can also help to “unblock” Chakras?

Essential oils are 100% organic as they are extracted from plant components. It is known to enhance the mental and emotional wellness of oneself. You can also use these oils to improve your skin, relieve sore muscles, and improve spiritual wellness.

The 7 chakras will start from the base of the spine to the crown of the head as illustrated below.

Source from: healthline.com

The 7 Chakras explained, represented by its colour.

1) Root chakra Muladhara” 

Location: Bottom of Spine.

It is the foundation of chakra system that manages our most basic needs: safety, security, trust, fear, pooping, survival, etc. When in balance, we will feel safe in life and have a sense of trust on what, who and when toproceed with caution. When it is “blocked”, it may exhibit as fear, insecurities, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, health issues like constipation, or fatigue.

To open this Chakra – Practise poses like wide-legged forward fold, malasana squats, mountain pose, tree pose or any balancing poses.

Recommended Essential Oils: Vetiver, Ginger, Patchouli

2) Sacral chakra Svadhisthana” 

Location: Below Navel

Associated to our reproductive area and responsible for our sensuality, creative energy, and expressing emotions. Issues with this chakra can create health problems like urinary tract infections, lower back pain, and impotency. Emotionally, this chakra is connected to our feelings of self-worth around pleasure, sexuality, and creativity.

To open this Chakra, would recommend doing strengthening of Pelvic floor exercises, bridge pose or hip openers poses like pigeon/Lizard Pose

Recommended EssentialOils: Ylang Yang, Orange, Neroli

3) Solar plexus chakra Manipura

Location: Upper Abdomen, Stomach area.

It’s responsible for self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as helping you feel in control of your life. It is linked to central nervous system, pancreas, liver, digestive tract, skin. If blocked, digestive issues like ulcers, heartburn, eating disorders, and indigestion will occur.

Opening of this Chakra – Do Core strengthening exercises, boat pose, twists, warrior III.

Recommended Essential Oils: Neroli, Rosemary.

4) Heart chakra “Anahata” 

Location: Heart, Center of Chest

Heart chakra is all about our ability to love, show compassion, forgiveness and accepting others. A balanced heart chakra would display confidence, warmth, self-discipline, reliability, and a positive sense of self. A closed heart chakra can let in grief, anger, jealousy, fear of betrayal, and hatred toward yourself and others.

Opening of this Chakra – Do chest opening by doing back bends poses such as Camel, wheel, upward facing dog, reverse plank.

Recommended Essential Oils: Sandlewood, Ylang Ylang

5) Throat chakra Vishuddha

Location: Throat

This chakra rules all communication. It is the ability to speak with truth and clarity. If it is well balanced, you are able to fully listen and express yourself. When it’s blocked, you will find difficulty staying focused, speaking your mind and fear judgment from others. Physically, you will experience sore throat, thyroid issues, stiffness in neck and shoulder areas, and headaches.

Opening of this Chakra – Try fish pose, plow pose, shoulder stand. This will help in opening the back and front sides of your neck.

Recommended Essential Oils: Lemongrass, Peppermint, Eucalyptus

6) Third eye chakra “Ajna

Location: Between your eyes, on forehead.

This chakra enables us to follow our intuition and to open up to new ideas. It is associated with the pituitary gland, left brain, left eye, nose, ears, conscious mind, neurological system. A balanced third eye chakra will have strong intuition, good memory, ability to visualise and imagine.

Opening of this chakra Forward fold, Child’s pose, Dolphin or Eagle pose.

Recommended Essential Oils: Bergamot, Frankincense, Jasmine

7) Crown chakra “Sahasrara

Location: Top of your head.

It represents your spiritual connection to yourself, others, and the universe. It also plays a role in your life’s purpose, self-realisation and enlightenment. When the it is misaligned, you may experience a spiritual distrust, a sense of negativity about life, and a disconnectedness from your body. Whereas a balanced Crown Chakra will be perfect as it brings peace, joy, serenity, and positivity to your life!

Opening of this chakra Headstand, Tree pose, Corpse pose

Recommended Essential Oils: Palo Santo, Lavender

In conclusion, the type of chakra that is imbalanced may affect both emotionally and physically to the parts of your body in close proximity to that chakra. Poor personal habits such as poor physical alignment or posture, eating unhealthy food, or self-destructive behavior may also cause a chakra to be imbalanced.

How To Apply Essential Oils?

There are many ways to use essential oils in yoga classes or at your home, car or workplace. You can apply them on skin, spray around, release from a diffuser, or even use them for cleaning purposes.

Feel good, smell good and may you find the balance in your body.

 OM