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.

Chandra Namaskara (Moon Salutation)

Most people who have a regular yoga practice know about and have done Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation). It is a gracefully linked sequence that energises the body and provides a great cardiovascular workout. On a more symbolic level, Surya Namaskara also allows us to express gratitude to the sun and appreciate it as a source of life.

While I was looking for ways to improve my postures in Surya Namaskar, I chanced upon a similar sequence, “Chandra Namaskara”, the Moon Salutation in Hatha Yoga. For those who have never heard it before, you can take a look here: https://www.yogajournal.com/videos/moon-shine

Even though Chandra Namaskara is a rather recent development (according to my research, late 20th century) and does not have as much of a history as Surya Namaskara, it serves as an opposite to Surya Namaskara, just like how yin is to yang. According to Yoga International, we can pay homage to the lunar energy in nature and within by practising Chandra Namaskara. The 15 steps in the sequence below represent 15 tithis, or lunar days; a 16th step honours the tantric goddess Shodashi, who presides over all the phases of the moon, as well as all that is perfect, complete, and beautiful. When practised with devotion and gratitude for the divine feminine, this version of Chandra Namaskara can become a full body prayer.

This could possibly be part of a daily routine – start off the day with Surya Namaskara to warm up and energise your mind and prepare your body for the day. Then end off the day with Chandra Namaskara for inner meditation to teach us to slow down and to be more receptive to our needs. To create equilibrium in our yoga practice and in our lives, it is helpful to observe the power of opposites. Although Surya Namaskara and Chandra Namaskara embrace different qualities, I feel that they complement each other perfectly.

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 4 The Theory

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 4  The Theory

Love the theory part, not so much that I like to read now, but so relax and easy that someone there talk and I listen, the science, the philosophy, the art, and the stories.

I had already much forgotten to recall exactly how many years from the day I enjoy listening to the teacher’s classroom teaching.

It’s back to my old golden days.

After all, after reading for so many years, my eye sights getting bad. Just packed up all my books into 26 cartons of boxes while preparing to move them to another location.

After this course, I think, likely will start collecting and pick up again, books on the Yoga’s title.

It’s pleasant reading on the Yoga Sutra, though initially having difficulties and hard time stirring my tongues over the Sanskrit words and trying to figure out what’s the meaning by reading the long explanation inside the manual, which eventually made me more confused.

Lucky enough, I managed to find and organized from the internet.
Well, IF, I meant “IF”, If I have the time, likely will add on to it’s German and Chinese or even other languages translation at my leisure if I can find it.

Here share if you need.

Here go we happy Journey to Yoga Lifestyle.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra Translation Sanskrit to English

 

汇编 Complied by Angie Chua 20190909.

Yoga Nidra – My first experience

Have you ever been in Savasana at the end of yoga class and just when you feel yourself starting to relax, your teacher calls time? Have you wondered what a longer, deeper period of relaxation would feel like? What might it do for your stress levels and your health in general? Well, I have two words for you: Yoga Nidra.

My first experience with Yoga Nidra was in Nasik, India during my Teachers Training Course. It was a timely and wonderful experience. At that time I was super stressed and the course was more of a destress for me. I, like many others enjoys Savasana but Yoga Nidra did something for my inner most being that day.

The Yoga Nidra was conducted after our usual Hatha session. During the spiritual relaxation stage the trainer used a visualisation technique to lead us into the memories of our past. During this period, I experienced a uncontrollable shedding of tears. Many of the hurts and pain that I felt inside me was slowly being released as many images of my bad experiences flashed in my brain one after the other. After the session I felt so much “Lighter” as many of the unhappiness in me was being lifted.

When I came back to Singapore I started using Yoga Nidra for my dance students especially after their school examination. It worked very well and I continued using it until I stop teaching dance about 7 years back.

Understanding Mudras

Mudra means ‘seal’ or ‘gesture’ and we use them in yoga to facilitate the flow of energy. By placing the hands in certain positions, it helps to stimulate parts of the brain. We often use mudras in pranayama and mediation, but you may also be familiar with them in some asanas too.

Each of our five fingers represents one of the five elements that make up the universe and mudras help to balance the elements within us:

  • Thumb – fire
  • Index finger – air
  • Middle finger – ether/space
  • Ring finger – earth
  • Little finger – water

Gyana Mudra, also know as chin mudra, brings the thumb and index finger together, with the other three fingers gently outstretched. Gyana mudra is known as the gesture of knowledge – palms facing up allows you to receive and palms resting on the knees, facing down is observed for feeling more grounded.

Prana Mudrais the mudra of life and is performed by touching the tip of the thumb with the tips of the ring and little finger together, keeping the other two fingers extended. Observing this mudra provides energy and strong health, stimulating the entire body.

Shunya Mudra is performed to reduce the space element in the body. Bending the middle finger and holding with the base of the thumb, gently apply pressure with the thumb, just below the knuckle. Practicing shunya mudra is thought to provide relief from a range of hearing and balance issues and it can be performed for 15 minutes up to 3 times a day.

Varun Mudra– by touching the tip of the thumb and little finger together, varun mudra, the water mudra, reduces dryness in the body particularly the skin.

Anjali Mudra – bringing the palms together at the heart center symbolizes honor and respect. Anjali means ‘to offer’ and this mudra is often performed at the beginning or end of an asana practice – it connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain and represents the yogic unity.

Try practicing some of these mudras and observe how you feel over time…

Namaste

Faye

 

 

Meditate in Sirsasana (Headstand)

Yoga is meant to be a comfortable position. But boy was I not comfortable with my legs in the air during a headstand! And soon my foot will have the desire to root themselves back to the ground.

“Engage your arms, squeeze your chest tightly!” Paalu would instruct energetically to encourage us. Great, this helped to shift the focus and I could stay 5 breathes longer upside down. But still I won’t be able to achieve the 3 minutes goal that has been set upon us to achieve at the end of the 200-hour YTT. 

Then one day Paalu gave an analogy to meditation. Imagine a sea of fishes; thoughts are like the fish jumping out of the water. Meditation works towards us achieving a state of calmness, the ocean is still, there is no jumping fish… and after some time, those fishes will compartmentalize in groups deep down the ocean and just stay there. Your mind will become one with the stillness, and clarity will simply open up.

The next time when I tried headstand… I notice the jumping fish in my mind and how my hanging feet and spine wobble. Let the fish sink, inhale slowly, exhale smoothly, count your breathes steadily, gaze at the tip of the nose, engage Uddiyana Bandha. The fish fell back into the sea. My mind steadied and I hung comfortably in the air. 

This would continue on as I hold in headstand for 3 minutes. I observe how breathing calm the nerves, the drishti gives a focus and only when the mind is still, then Sirsasana becomes a comfortable posture. 

Of course it would definitely help when one is comfortable with the arms and shoulder strength to push the ground away. And for all those can invert but not hang long enough in headstand… just remember the falling fish analogy. Meditate and work on your crown chakra.

The more challenging a yoga pose, the more relaxed one has to be to get into the posture comfortably. 

Namaste,
Ying

How to Hold Your Breath

This is a good skill to have if you wish to take up freediving as a hobby. Or if you run into someone trying to strangle you. 

Yogis (and freedivers) can hold their breaths for extended periods of time. A number of techniques in yoga practice is useful for lengthening the period in which you can hold your breath. The average lung capacity is 4 litres for women and 6 litres for men. You can directly impact your lung capacity and effectiveness with knowledge of yogic pranayama (breathing techniques), asanas (physical postures) and meditation techniques. 

Awareness of Intercostal Muscles: The intercostal muscles run between and around your ribs. With awareness of how these muscles function and operate, you can expand the area covered by your ribcage on every inhale, which increases the volume of air that you can bring into your lungs. Ideally, your ribs should be able to expand sideways, giving additional room for your lungs to fill with air. Practice with a twisted yoga pose such as Marichiyasana C or D, which requires that you engage your intercostal muscles fully in order to continue taking deep breaths in the pose. 

Breathing Techniques: The diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle when relaxed, and flattened when contracted. It extends across the bottom of the thoracic cavity which separates your heart and lungs from your abdomen. During inhalations, the diaphragm contracts flat to create space for your lungs to expand. Yogic pranayama techniques such as Kapalabathi and Ujjayi trains your diaphragm further by bringing your awareness to how it feels and works in your body when you practice a variety of breathing exercises. In Kapalapathi, you forcefully pump the air out of your lungs by engaging your abdomen muscles. In Ujjayi breath, you lengthen the period of exhale by slowing down the amount of air released from your lungs. 

Meditation: Calming your mind and reducing the amount of thoughts in your head reduces the body’s metabolic rate, which slows down the conversion of oxygen to carbon dioxide, allowing you to go longer on the air that you already have. When you start holding your breath, you begin with a mental battle with yourself to believe that your body can survive on the oxygen available to it. In meditation techniques, you are supposed to hold that thought and let it disappear from your mental horizon, thus in a sense ignoring your mind and body’s compulsion to breathe. When you are very relaxed in meditation, you will find that you have dramatically slowed down your pace of breath. 

Here is a simple exercise that you can do to start practising: 

  • Come to a comfortable seated position. Close your eyes. 
  • Inhale 6 seconds, hold breath for 6 seconds, and exhale for 12 seconds. 
  • Inhale 6 seconds, hold breath for 18 seconds, and exhale for 12 seconds.  
  • Inhale 6 seconds, hold breath for 24 seconds, and exhale for 12 seconds. 
  • Inhale 6 seconds, hold breath for 48 seconds, and exhale for 24 seconds. 

It takes time, technique, and a lot of patience. You will find that your capacity to hold your breath improves. 

In the meantime, don’t hold your breath!

 

– Vanessa Tang –