Namate, Yoga!

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

Yoga, that is, we met.

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

Want to be beautiful and beautiful? Stick to it!

Want to improve your temperament? Stick to it!

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

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

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

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

Feeling yoga! Grateful to meet!

Namaste!

How to relax in yoga pose?

In the class, when I trying to adjusts the student’s style, or during my practice, especially when helping them go deeper into the pose, because of fear, or nerves, or students don’t have confidence in themselves or the teacher, me, the muscles will be tense, and hard to help them.

When the muscles are tense, it constraint the energy in the “air (in the body)” to move smoothly, and the breath is not smooth. The yoga practice is also changed from the nature of the body to the strong, which will lessen happiness experience.

We know that all the techniques of yoga are to achieve the purpose of “control the mind”. The physical tension is controlled by the consciousness of the human being, that is, the tension of the consciousness causes the body to be nervous.

If we try to relax our body during the practice, we actually try to control the mind consciousness – making it from a tense state to a relaxed state.

When the consciousness is relaxed, the body relaxes naturally, the body relaxes, the “air” is unblocked, and the air circulation is smooth, nourishing our internal organs, and the various systems of the body – the body is naturally adjusted effectively, so that the body enters a virtuous cycle.

When we practice yoga, we should concentrate completely on the present, and don’t give extra emotions, such as fear, anxiety, sadness, happiness, etc. The heart should be peaceful, and feel the changes in the body as you breathe. When you practice yoga with control, mind and heart, it becomes a dynamic meditation.

Chakra

Chakra colors are usually divided into seven, following the order of the rainbow colors, from red to purple to white.

The colors of the seven main chakras are:

1. Red – first chakra

2. Orange – second chakra

3. Yellow – third chakra

4. Green – Fourth Chakra

5. Blue (sapphire blue or turquoise) – fifth chakra

6. Purple (deep blue) – sixth chakra

7. White (sometimes purple) – seventh chakra

each color reflects a vibration or frequency radiation through the chakra.

The meaning of the red chakra: red is the color of the bottom wheel (first chakra), which symbolizes safety, survival, foundation, and nourishment by the energy of the earth.

If this chakra develops a good friend, he will live and work in peace and contentment and have a sense of security.

If a friend who lives in the first chakra, in addition to the above talents, will only live for survival, only consider survival problems every day, no ambitious goals, no ideals, no understanding of enjoyment.

The meaning of the orange chakra: orange is the color of the reproductive wheel (second chakra); it contains emotion, creativity, sex-related meaning, and is related to water and flow.

A good friend of this chakra development will be particularly friendly and gentle, very human, with good heterosexuality, good interpersonal relationship, enjoy life and live in the present.

But if you are only a friend who lives in the second chakra, in addition to the above talents, you will only focus on emotional life, chasing love, greedy pleasure, and not enterprising.

The meaning of the yellow chakra: Yellow is the color of the navel (third chakra), which symbolizes mental activity, intelligence, personal strength and will.

A good friend of this chakra development will be especially sunny, full of strength, joy, self-confidence, tenacity, and know how to choose.

But if only the friends who live in the third chakra, in addition to the above talents, they will also pay attention to power, like control, conceit or pride, personal willpower is too strong, and they have high demands on others.

The meaning of the green chakra: Green is the color of the heart wheel (fourth chakra), which is related to care, connection, integration, compassion and so on.

This chakra developed a good friend will be particularly compassionate, full of love, gentle, soft, healing ability, able to accept and accommodate each other unconditionally.

But in addition to the above talents, only the friends who live in the fourth chakra will only consider dedication, self-denial, easy compromise, easy thinking, easy to forget.

The meaning of the purple (or deep blue) chakra: purple (or deep blue) is the color of the eyebrow (the sixth chakra); it evokes human intuition, super-perception and inner wisdom.

This chakra develops a good friend, the wisdom will be very high, the object is objectively neutral, the insight is strong, the intuition is strong, and the imagination is rich.

But if only the friends who live in the sixth chakra, in addition to the above talents, they will be too calm, no emotions, no emotional expression, no love for sports, and poor mobility.

The meaning of the white (or purple) chakra: white is the color of the top wheel (seven chakra), which is associated with the universe, spirituality, and consciousness.

This chakra develops a good friend, has a particularly high degree of understanding, is particularly interested in the universe, likes to explore mystery and unknown, has a deep interest in the origin of human beings, has high spirituality, and has a big love heart and cosmic consciousness.

However, if only friends who live in the seventh chakra, in addition to the above talents, they will easily live in spirituality, out of reality, cynical, only pursuing spirituality, not knowing life, derailing from society, and even escaping from reality.

Becoming a Yoga Instructor

As I sit here in contemplation over the last few trainings I have conducted with family and friends, I am starting to feel more confident in taking the role of a yoga instructor as a future employment.

It has become a certainty that this is what I would like to do in my future.

There are a couple of reasons for this, one pair of student(my brother and sister-in law) whom I have been teaching for the past three months have started to see improvement in not only in their breathing techniques, which in turn made way for less snoring in the bedroom and therefore better rest, but also improved postures. Do let me explain how such improvements in their students make one more confident in their teaching… My brother has… a lack for a better term, ‘a hunched back’ and therefore is a hunchback. His thoracic spine has a curvature more convex than normal which make certain postures more difficult and less possible to attain. My sister-in-law after having gone through a caesarean operation three years ago, have a weak core centre and therefore tends to walk like duck or tends to ‘waddle’. Both wanted to get rid of their ‘abnormalities’ and had different end goals to their yoga practice. There was something else they both wanted from the practice, to be able to use breathing techniques to cope with the stresses of having two toddlers running around their home constantly wanting attention.

And soon we started on our yoga journey, one attempting to work and stumble through her instructions while instructing two students who seem very much to want to learn more about yoga practice.

We would meet every weekend, for 90 minutes without fail and concentrated on similar sequences working the core and opening up the upper body and back. They listened to every instruction given to them with no complaints except for the core work which they looked forward to (not really!).

They started to see improvements in the opening of their shoulders and stability in their plank pose. And in time, their elder toddler started to join in the class and it started to be a family routine. The younger toddler would just watch like we were putting up a show in the zoo and she was the spectator, occasionally laughing when someone can hold their poses for too long. She tends to laugh at most things to be fair.

As I start to see the improvements in them, I start to see improvements in myself, having to able to change up the sequence as and when the need arose. I was looking to do more research into correcting my brother’s thoracic spine and what can be done to ease the tension in the lumbar my sister-in-law had.

It was enriching to say the least, looking forward again to see them this weekend for another sequence. Maybe this time, the young toddler would be tempted to join in as well?

Practicing safely and effectively

Recently, a friend of mine who also happened to be in the YTT course texted me over a startling revelation that went,

“So different from what we always been told in class. It was a lot better alignment wise. Basically now I wouldn’t get injuries as easily as in the past and can hold longer”

My quick reply to her was, “all this while you were killing yourself without knowing”. Exaggerated, yet not entirely untrue, and I began to think about alignment in our asanas, as well as our entry into and exit out of the pose.

How many times as beginners did we follow the person beside us in class, only to find out many classes later that the alignment, placement of hands/feet were entirely off? Or those times as intermediate practitioners where we held the pose for just a few seconds, and exited the pose in an abrupt manner?

In Sanskirt, the meaning of asanas is “to take seat here”, suggesting the steady, stable and motionless nature of the pose. One of the problems I face during class is that I cannot follow instructions as I find difficulty in following the cues step by step. Instructors give instructions A, B, C, D and E. And the challenge, not just to follow instructions in the order it was said, but also to maintain all instructions together. For example, in Virabhadrasana I, after squaring my hips and lengthening my spine, is my thigh still parallel to the floor?

Yet, these cues all aid us to enter and exit the pose safely, and to efficiently hold our asanas poses with the right muscles engaged effectively. The benefit is then apparent that there is much to engage and follow for a safe and fulfilling practice.

Is Yoga a complete Workout?

By Harsh Thakkar

The more I read about it the more evidence I find to support it. Well not sure if I can call it evidence yet, because neither have I seen the “evidence” from my own eyes, nor have I paid any medical labs or scientists to conduct the research on my behalf. Yes, I have spent a few hours googling about it, I will not deny it.

My first few findings were that Yoga has a lot of benefit for toning of your muscles, achieving muscular strength, flexibility, core strength, relaxation, endurance and reduce stress levels. There was also mention of it being good for cardiovascular health and increasing lung capacity. And I did come across a few articles explaining in detail how it really is proven by experiments conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the largest exercise science association in the world, that Yoga can be at par if not better than any other aerobic exercise out there in the world like running, cycling or swimming. Now I still am going to take that with a pinch of salt.

The parameters one can use to define physical fitness is cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, lung capacity(VO2 Max), Flexibility and body composition( percentage of fat, muscles, bones, organs and other non-fat tissues). Yoga has been proven in one way or another to improve all of the above within a span of 8 weeks of practice (2-3 times per week) in all age groups irrespective of previous chronic health ailments, sex, smoking habits etc.

Now I don’t know how true this is and whether ASCM was paid by the Federation of Yoga Loonies to prove that Yoga is awesome. I don’t even think such a federation exists, because I just made that up!

What I can put on the table for you to consider are facts:

  1. I lost about 9 kilos in 4 months, since I started practicing Yoga
  2. I do feel positively less stressed
  3. My chronic Rhino sinusitis has been less active
  4. My stamina of exercising and endurance have both increased many fold. And I have eye witnesses in the form of my yoga batch-mates to vouch for that. Still long way to go though…
  5. Don’t even get me started on my flexibility
  6. I still have not achieved the zen state. I must mention this as I do fight with my wife every now and then and she will read this article at some point in time I would like to believe

So whether it’s a complete workout or not – I don’t know. As a wise man said once upon a time, Yoga is not about fitness but about wellness. I will add a bit of running, swimming and a game of tennis to my exercise regime, just because I love it and I don’t like to put all my eggs in the same basket. But will I continue to do Yoga? Heck yeah!

My Takeaways from YTT @ Tirisula

As my YTT experience draws to a close, here are takeaways and lighthearted reflections on the past 10 whole weekends.

  1. I was never late for class

    I am occasionally late for work, often late when meeting friends, and almost always unable to get out of bed to voluntarily exercise when I’m off work.

    But I never rushed, and was never late for YTT classes. My priorities…
  2. Daily practice

    When I started YTT, I thought that it was already a major achievement spending 12 hours every weekend on Yoga. That would be the most intensively I have ever practiced Yoga and I got complacent and didn’t place much importance on the need for daily practice.

    But as the weeks flew by, the significance of regular or daily practice dawned on me. The subtle progress in my practice was addictive. The high I got post-exercise was uplifting. I got hooked. I felt that something was missing when I skipped just a day of practice. Even in the midst of a busy day, I now try to squeeze in at least half an hour of stretching.

  3. Diversity in class

    Our class was diverse. We had people of different nationalities – Singaporean, Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, Australian etc; and of different races in our class. But week after week, our mats were placed close to each other, we shared laughs, we exercised and meditated together. During our breaks, we ate meals together and shared our Yoga experiences and exchanged tips. I think this would be the part of YTT I would miss most.

  4. Tip of the iceberg

    I started YTT thinking that I would be “good” at Yoga at the end of it. I realised now at the end of the course, that what I have uncovered or achieved is barely the tip of the iceberg. I’m excited at the lifelong journey of discovering Yoga that lies ahead, equipped with the tools and techniques imparted by Paalu and Wei ling.

Yoga for everyone

Do you have this moment during a yoga class:

You’ve been attempting a pose for quite a few months already. You’re always taking the modified version – either cause you have tight or weaker muscles. One day you have this moment where you could finally hold the asana pose.

:O

I mentioned this because one of the many reasons people are resistant to practicing yoga is because they lack flexibility. Yet it is because we are not flexible, that we could use yoga to encourage flexibility in the body. After all, we could all use improvement in mobility in our muscles even as we age.

Another misconception that causes people to be resistant is because they googled a picture of an intermediate asana pose and had a tiny shock. The thought must be that yoga is for those flexible and strong. Since our bodies are all different, yoga is a multi-level activity. Props (straps and blocks) as well as easier options are always available till you reach that moment in yoga class I mentioned earlier – where one day you can finally hold the full asana pose.

More exciting is that yoga is a multi-level activity, there are always ways to continuously challenge yourself. You can opt for advance variations for each pose or try a different pose that stretches or strengthens your muscles more, or even do the same pose everyday but with greater flexibility and strength demonstrated.

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.

Conscious breathing

When I first started practicing yoga, my go-to class was vinyasa.

Vinyasa consists of the Sunskrit words (1) Vi – “in a special way”; and (2) Nyasa – “to place”. I remember an instructor explained it prior to starting the class, that on top of the specific positions of your hands, feet and body, even your inhale and exhale as well as drishti (gaze) mattered. The entirety sounded simple, since it was a mere following of instructions.

Quite the contrary. When asanas were harder to hold, my mind wandered off thinking of happy thoughts, and so did my breath. At times, I fumbled over poses, and forgot – “was it an inhale or an exhale when I twist my body?” As a beginner practising yoga by holding asana poses, I felt the breath was secondary to my movement and drishti. Gradually as my practise deepened, so did my appreciation for proper breathing in yoga.

Just as a quick guide:

  • Inhale when you lengthen or open your body to encourage expansion.
  • Exhale to deepen your pose or twist your body to encourage retraction.
  • Also: in vinyasa, one breath one movement.

The introduction of conscious breathing should help ease into asana poses, as well as to deepen your focus and awareness.