Being present

Inhale, exhale. One breath, one move.

Behind this cue of action, it is actually reminding us to be aware. This sense of awareness can be translated to different parts of our life.

Being aware of our surroundings, our train of thoughts, reaction to different situation as well as our own emotive states. Oftentimes, we are so ingrained with our daily habits – brushing teeth with our master hand, picking up the phone to check the time when we wake, wearing watch on the left wrist and etc. It has become second nature to us that we do not even realize or be aware of it until either we lose the privilege to do the same things or if someone pointed it out to us.

Practicing yoga has made me more aware, specifically, more aware of my breathing, the limits of my physical body as well as the noise inside my head. By not listening to my body and breath during asana practice, there is a high probability of me injuring myself.

Being aware also helps me to stay grounded and stay present. People always say, be in the moment. But do they practice it? The pace of life in Singapore is so fast and ever changing. It is so easy to get swept up with the paper chase, material security and what not. Are we truly appreciating being in the moment – e.g. savouring the taste and texture of the food in our mouth, appreciating the time people took out to spend us with or just shovelling food in as we reply our text messages and make plans for later?

With the current flurry of fluctuation and uncertainty that the world is facing right now, yoga reminds me that one breath, one move. Be present with yourself, appreciate this current moment and sometimes, that is all we need, for that moment.

Yoga and Awareness

One thing that yoga has taught me is awareness.

Physical awareness: Being aware of my surroundings, being aware of my posture, being aware of the way I am presenting myself.

Mental awareness: Being aware of what I am thinking, being aware of how I am reacting to situation, being aware of the inner conversations that I have.

Emotional awareness: Being aware of my emotional state at work, with friends, when I am alone.

Sometimes we get so caught up in our daily lives that we forget to be in the moment. Have you ever had a moment where you stopped and wondered what happened to all your time? All those days? All those months? All the years? Those moments come to me most during the night, just before I slip into slumber… I suppose this is when there is an increase of alpha brain waves. Alpha waves (8 to 12 Hz) are present when your brain is in an idling default-state typically created when you’re daydreaming or consciously practicing mindfulness or meditation.

With regular practice of yoga, these moments come to me more often, as I turn inwards to reflect on my actions and my thoughts more consciously. How are my actions affecting my surrounding, my environment? What would I do differently if I were given a second chance? What if I just lived in the moment instead of chasing something far away in the distant future?

Sometimes, as cliche as it sounds, yoga brings you back to your mat, to smell the roses, to appreciate this life. And sometimes, that is all we really need at that moment.

Meditation.Self Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to be successful

In my earlier post, I mentioned about Prāṇāyāma; how it is is the practice of breath control in yoga and how important it is in our lives. But today, this”Prāṇāyāma”  shifted up the priority list (in my own ranking of 101-important-things-to-do).  As simple as it may sound, you must be thinking, how much benefits can breathing bring? Why are we talking about this again? It is just breathing, come on.. Believe me, I felt the same way. I started out learning a couple of different Pranayamas in class and was always dubious about the benefits that was tied along with each different breathing exercise. One of it, Kapalabhati, involves a series of forceful exhalations followed with passive inhalations and this is said to cleanse and detoxify your mind and body. As this breathing exercise belongs to the energizer series; it is advisable to perform early in the morning, the first thing you do when you wake. Once practiced, it is said to be an invigorating wake-up call, and you should feel instantly fired up after performing it. What is believing without seeing? I decided to try it myself each morning on days (without woman’s problems 😂) and I can testify that it is true, you feel the heat in your belly, you feel more awake and at times I start to sweat a little (on my bed at 6am yes).

Apart from the fiery breathing styles we learnt, we were also exposed to the calming pranayamas which I was equally as interested to find out. Of course, I had to test it out yet again. So I practiced some of it at night before I sleep, and I particular love this one. I admit I have yet to instill good discipline to perform it like a nightly ritual, but on nights where I do practice, I vaguely remember drifting off to wonderland quite instantly after this breathing exercise. This belly breathing can be done lying down; reasons why I love it the most, all you need to do is take deep breaths from your belly, allowing your belly to rise and as you exhale, your belly should fall. This breathing exercise focuses on inhaling more oxygen rather than short breaths from the upper chest, hence your chest level should remain relatively still.  The deeper the breath is, the more relaxed you will feel.

There is just so many different pranayamas but finally I will come to this last one for this post and I was introduced to this as THE prayanama to do if you want to be successful in life. Ahh, have I gotten your attention? Known as the Kumbhaka Pranayama – Full breath retention, you basically inhale, hold your breath for however long you can (the longer the better), followed by a longer exhalation in a ratio where it is twice that of your inhalation. Teacher said that when you hold your breath in, you will slowly start to activate your brain and push it to a greater depth of thinking (i.e he used vineyards as an example, about how deep their roots can grow and penetrate down into the soil), likewise so can our brain as we dig a little more and more and open our minds to a greater depth of thinking and creativity. Definitely caught my attention if not yours, but it does sound pretty abstract to me. Won’t be able to share with you my thoughts/experience on this (just yet), but do give me some time to verify this hypothesis. After all, holding of breath versus a successful life, how hard can the former be? 

 

The 9 obstacles of Yoga

To be able to exercise our body, mind and spirit , is an incredible blessing that not every has, yet those of us who do, take it for granted.
According to Patanjali there are 9 obstacles in yoga and what I think we can do to overcome them ;

Vyadi Physical Illness
When we are ill and unwell our minds will tend to focus on the discomfort and pain in our body and perhaps even beat ourselves up because we are unable to do anything. Illness is the body’s way of telling us we need rest to recover. Focus your mind on positive things and visualise yourself in a healthy and strong state and take lots of rest , and then  you can slowly pick up on our practice again, as your body allows. 

Styana –Lack of Interest
Boredom is a state of weariness and restlessness . One could be in a healthy physical state but still face lack of interest or enthusiasm mentally and spiritually. There is lack of nerve power, a feeling of stagnation and no inclination to commit to anything. The mind focuses more on the opposition of interest rather than interest itself. To overcome this I think we should constantly try new ways of approaching yoga and practice sadhana with an open mind everyday. 

Samshaya –Doubt/ Indecision
How does Doubt about ourselves arise? It is when we compare ourselves with others or when we do not have confidence and faith in ourselves. To overcome this, we just have to keep an open mind,  keep trying , watching and learning from those who have succeeded before us.

Pramada –Negligence/ carelessness
We have to pay careful attention to every aspect of our practice, if we do not , we may be habitually careless in our practice, lose focus and even cause serious injury to ourselves. Even the seemingly small adjustments can help us practice yoga safer. Practice with your mind body and spirit and be fully present in your practice.

Alasya –Physical Laziness
It is a bad mental habit acquired by continued yielding to the love of comfort and ease and tendency to avoid exertion. If we may say so, languor is a purely physical defect while laziness is generally a purely psychological condition. To overcome this We have to practice tapas, and be disciplined in our practice. Constantly challenging ourselves with difficult postures will allow us to improve.

Avirati –Desire for sense object/lack of control
In the beginning when we start practicing yoga it is not easy to shut out the interests of the worldly life abruptly. If we really see the illusions which are inherent in the pursuit of worldly objects like wealth, honour, name etc. then we lose all attraction for them and naturally give up their pursuit.

Bharantidarshana –Living under illusion

This means taking a thing for what it is not. It is due generally to lack of intelligence and discrimination. A Sadhaka may, for example, begin to see lights and hear sounds of various kinds during his early practices.

“This incapacity to assess our supernormal experiences at their proper worth is basically due to immaturity of soul.”“These things are very spurious and do not mean much and yet there are many Sadhakas who get excited about these trivial experiences and begin to think they have made great progress.
We have to keep our mind child-like, always learning and open to new possibilities.

 

Alabdhabhumikutua –Missing the Point/Non-achievement of a stage
When we hit a roadblock or what seems to be a dead end, we should not give up . This failure to obtain a footing in the next stage can cause distraction and disturb the perfect equanimity of the mind unless the Yogi has developed inexhaustible patience and capacity for self-surrender.  If needed we should rest and try again.

 

Anavasthitatva –inability to maintain achieved progress
From personal experiences; I was able to do a headstand without the wall one night, and then the next day I tried with a timer and I could not. The mind reverts to its previous stage and a considerable amount of effort has to be put forth in order to regain the foothold. We should not give up, but keep practicing daily.

We are meant to transcend whatever obstacles we face in life. We should not avoid or run away from these obstacels as whatever we resist, persists.
Keep on keeping on, fellow yogi’s 🙂

 

A Clean Stomach Is The Key to Enlightenment

Detoxify! Detoxify! Detoxify!

My Guru, Paramahamsa Nithyananda, says that keeping our stomach clean is the key to establish ourselves in the ultimate understanding again and again.

 

With the divine blessings of My Guru, in December 2018, I have made a decision to change from a regular meat eating diet into a sattvic vegeterian diet and started my journey to build a yogic body through daily yoga, right sattvic diet and occasional detoxification through Nirahara Samyama.

 

The sattvic vegeterian diet has its own challenges. It wasn’t that I miss meat at all….it was more of a problem looking for pure sattvic food while we are eating outside. Little india area in Singapore is probably the only location in Singapore, where Sattvic Vegeterian food is readily available.

 

My new yogic lifestyle of starting my day with cleansing Kriyas, followed by physical Yoga in Brahma  Muhurta hours, together with Haritaki and Sattvic Diet has unlocked tremendous energy sources for me. On average, I sleep around 3 to 5 hours a day. I used to need 8 hours sleep and still felt sleepy, tired and drained out.

 

Dorisq Tan

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Dorisq Tan
Building Yogic Bodies, Vedic Minds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to implement the yogic system in our daily lives? I

With the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, we tend to find it hard to calm our minds and settle comfortably within ourselves. Social norms and rules have also shaped us to be extra critical not only of others but of ourselves too. Which is why the need for a place of silence is even greater now than ever before and what better way to create such spaces than within ourselves?

Meditation (Dhyana) is a way we can do just that for ourselves. It helps us learn to block out distractions and disturbances whilst calming the mind and soul. It is the time we can take to reflect on ourselves and things that happen around us. When we direct our focus inward, we feel invigorated yet relaxed at the same time. The power of the mind is strengthened and we learn to love and appreciate ourselves and the universe that little bit more.

We tend to give ourselves excuses like not having free time during the day or not being able to sit and meditate for a long time. However, meditation does not necessarily have to be done for hours on end to be effective. Even a short 5 minutes a day before stepping out of your house would suffice to center and prepare yourself to tackle the rest of the day. It is simply choosing to make the conscious effort to dedicate an extra 15 minutes to yourself daily (though preferably in the morning).

Choose to work on you because self love, time and space are the best things you can gift yourself. Remember you are always worth the time and effort!

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.

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.

My WIP: Meditation

One of my work-in-progress is to sit still.

Top two instances I have issues with this: (1) Yin class; and more importantly, (2) for meditation. The latter being the more problematic one for me. Within minutes, my thoughts would drift, and soon my perfectly alright body would suddenly have an itch somewhere or a sudden muscle ache that calls out to me to shift my limbs.

Surely, I can’t be the only one thinking of lunch during meditation?

A definition provided by Cambridge of the word meditation is:

If you meditate, you give your attention to one thing, and do not think about anything else, usually as a religious activity or as way of calming or relaxing your mind.

In yoga, we focus on the latter. Start the practice with a point of focus. On top of feeling relaxed, focus your thoughts around themes, such as peace or joy. Breath in and out for approximately six counts. And as with asanas, a starting ground would be to meditate for 5 minutes first, preferably (but not strictly) in the morning. You could start by complimenting your yoga practice with meditation, either before or after your activity. If your thoughts drift, slowly bring your thoughts back to your set theme.

When you’re able to meditate independently without yoga, lengthen the meditation practice.