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.
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
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
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.
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…
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.
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.
Before when I heard about meditation I was pretty sceptical about the idea of it, and trying to understand how it works, or is it really works?, when you consider that even if have health insurance being sick is going to cost you money in one way or another and there’s research to suggest that meditation can help you manage the symptoms of asthma, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure and more, which I can be easily have due to lifestlye, hereditary or just a random, and I also experiencing depression for about 7 years now, then meditation starts to seem like a pretty sound investment for instance it might reduce my needs for costly prescription drugs, research has been proven that meditation can be very effective in reducing pain sometimes even more effective than morphine. That’s why I want to focused my knowledge or practicing meditation because it helps me a lot, it moves me in mysterious ways.
Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. Meditation develops concentration, clarity, emotional, positivity, and deep sense of self confidence. I want to train my mind to be in the present moment is the number one key to making healthier choices. Many of us turn to food to cope with stress, anxiety or sadness. We often forget to be conscious while we eat, feel the smell, flavour, eat slowly and with full attention.
And just today we teacher Paalu teaches us more about the meaning or definition of meditation, how it help us in our daily lives, how to control the many thoughts in our mind, thoughts that can disturb us easily by moving forward, and how not to be falling asleep while doing meditation, he set an easy example so we can understand more easily. Then after when we do the meditation I am impressed with the outcome of the explanation of teacher Paalu because I can truly concentrate now in my meditation, I can follow whenever he tells us to focused on one thing and by not falling asleep, I am still aware of surroundings. It really helps me a lot.
Do you have days when you feel there’s so much frustration and anger bubbling inside you that you lash out at anything that moves—our spouse, our kids, our BFFs, the dog—for behavior that normally wouldn’t bug us.
We are all human beings and with the constant stressful life around us, we will all have moments of letting our anger got over the top and said or do things that we regret.
First before we start on the yogic ways to control anger, let’s see how our body stores our emotions. You may or may not feel the emotions as they may accumulate in our body feeding our energy until we are exhausted and drained. Therefore scanning your body and identify the suppressed emotions associated with it is important for us to maintain our mental wellness.
We open our hearts in backbends, and surrender through forward folds while loosening the hamstrings, which are connected to our ability to let go (or not). The hips hold on to sadness, and the liver to anger. Stress and tension takes to shoulder and stiff neck. Are there days when you felt these places in our body are so heavy, tight or stiff that you felt so drain and exhausted? We hold on to feelings, replaying circumstances in our minds, holding onto grudges, anger, and resentment. Even if we believe we’ve forgiven on an intellectual level, what does the body say? Have we really let go?
There are a few ways which you can identify store/building up of emotions before it builds up:
1) Meditation – Pratayaha
Pratayaha, the 5th limbs of yoga which teaches us to withdraw our senses. This withdrawal of senses is for turning our awareness inwards and start to mentally scan our body; examine the sensations that show up in our body when you are upset, when you are angry, when you are stressed. By identify our stored emotions; one can combine the practice of rest of the yoga limbs (Yamas, Niyamas, Asana, Panayama and Dharana) to help us release, control or balance our mental wellness.
Did you know there are specific yoga poses to release emotions like anger, sadness, and even worry? We practice pratayaha to explore and scan where specific emotion accumulates and uses Asanas practice to clear or relieve them out. Targeting specific areas can help clear stubborn blocks, identify your chakra system and support your ongoing quest for emotional freedom.
Backbends: Griefs (Heart chakra related to love)
When we grieve, our hearts hurt. We lost something we loved. Practicing backbends postures help us open our hearts, release our emotions. When our hearts are open, we’re able to ride the flow of life.
Twists: Anger (Solar Plexus Chakra – Manipura chakra)
Anger’s connection to the liver is also found in both Chinese medicine and yoga. The liver cleans the blood and stores energy. In yoga, the liver is related to the third chakra, in the belly. This is the seat of will and power.
Hip-Openers: Sadness, Stress (Sacral Chakra – Svadhisthana)
The hips hold a variety of emotions, from stress to sadness to trauma. It is related to the Sacral Chakra – Svadhisthana, which is the energy center related to emotions.
So next time when you feel trapped, sad or tired, remember to scan and meditate first. Try this, I walked away feeling lighter, relieved and free, the emotional release we feel keeps many of us coming back for more.
Last week, I partnered up with Sharon to conduct a restorative class for our fellow classmates as part of our practical training and I thought it might be interesting to share with you some of the tips that I have learnt.
Like what the name suggests, a restorative class aims to induce deep relaxation for the participants, sending them to a meditative state. I’d like to summarize our tips into how they influence the 5 senses that have. Hopefully you will find it useful and be able to incorporate this in your daily life ~
Ideally, the lighting should be dim and the space, clutter free. It is difficult to feel at ease with light glaring into your eyes and being in a space with a lot of things lying around you.
This is the space we prepared for our class participants.
It is advisable to play some relaxing background music – sound of nature (e.g. rain, waterfall, waves), meditative music. Lucky for us, as well as those in our class, it started raining a few minutes into our class, giving us extra Zen points.
After lots of research, Sharon picked this piece (link below) which has 432 Hz.
Apparently, listening to 432Hz music helps release emotional blockages and expands consciousness, allowing us to tune into the knowledge of the universe around us in a more intuitive way.
If you are keen to learn more about this magic number, feel free to click on the link below.
Usually, the poses are held longer (5 minutes per pose) in a restorative class. During those times, we took turns to play the singing bowl. The sound emitted from the singing bowl works as a type of energy medicine that has been known to heal pain, depression, and stress disorders.
Here’s a quote from the director of Medical Oncology and Integrative Medicine at the Cornell Cancer Prevention Center in New York, Dr. Mitchell Gaynor:
“If we accept that sound is vibration and we know that vibration touches every part of our physical being, then we understand that sound is heard not only through our ears but through every cell in our bodies. One reason sound heals on a physical level is because it so deeply touches and transforms us on the emotional and spiritual planes. Sound can redress imbalances on every level of physiologic functioning and can play a positive role in the treatment of virtually any medical disorder.” — Dr. Mitchell Gaynor
If you are interested, this is where Sharon got her Singing Bowl:
The Singing Bowl Gallery (33 Erskine Road 01-05, 069333)
At the end of every pose, we used a pair of tingsha bells to signify the end of the pose and prepare the students for the next pose.
Random Fact: Krisianto fell asleep.. so something must be working 🙂
In our class, we lit up a slightly scented candle.
Alternatively, you can explore the wide range of scents that is available in the market to combine aromatherapy into your restorative yoga class.
Rose: one of the most common and noticeable, rose is a wonderful scent that is used by many thousands of people to enter a state of meditation. The smell also brings about thoughts of romance and love among its many pleasures.
Frankincense: This is ancient oil that has been used for thousands of years in both healing and spiritual practices. The fact that this was one of the gifts to the baby Jesus delivered by the three wise men has put it in an honoured place in the Christian religion. However, the fact that frankincense is one of the most precious aromatherapy gifts has not gone unnoticed even in modern times.
Rosemary: Another of the essential oils used in healing, rosemary also has a marvellous scent that is perfect for entering the proper state of meditation as well as brightening up the home. You can mix a few drops of rosemary essential oil with water and spray the room to help get the full effect or use an essential oil diffuser.
Cedar & Sage: Native Americans have used these products in many of their traditions which includes smudges and burning dried herbs. There is a type of sacred vibe that comes from the use of cedar and sage as essential oils which are unmatched by virtually all others.
Sandalwood: This is another ancient scent that is very much a part of the Christian and Hindu belief system. Used quite often for meditation, sandalwood has a very pleasing scent that offers a pathway to a calmer mindset which is why so many people opt for this particular essential oil.
You can be creative with your choice of props. In our class, we made good use of the cushionsand yoga blocks that were available in the studio. We also suggested our class participants to bring large towels, blankets, or bolster to enhance their experience in our class. Denise even brought her cute bunny soft toy 🙂
We did a few adjustmentsto help the students with their alignments and to help them relax deeper into their posture (e.g. pressing their shoulder blades down in Savasana, pressing on the lower back in Balasana). However, not all the adjustments were successful (sorry Tammy, Louine, and PQ!!!)
Note to self: Be extra gentle in the future.
With all the tips above being executed properly, your class participants should get a taste of an awesome restorative session. Pun intended.
I hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to use this tips in your daily life to reduce stress and release tension.