Yoga Philosophy – lessons from the quest of finding oneself

I lost someone special to me when I was 19.

In my journey to recognising my true nature, I have come from being lost to reflecting deeply about every circumstances in my life. When yoga became part of my being, I find myself relating my life lessons to its philosophy. 

  1. Asanas, uniting my head with my body – Since the event, I started to question why I felt so lost for majority of my life.

I realised that I was restless and easily distracted. I have many likes, but I never stick to one. I have many plans, but I never follow through. However, I realised if I put my mind to it, I can truly accomplish the things I aim to do. Of course, my yoga journey was my starting point to finding , it came (still comes) with a sprained neck and aching wrists – at one point, a bleeding mouth. The improvements are immense though; I can feel that my yoga positions are sharper and my balance is better. I realise, that only through the acceptance of my multiple failures do I start to understand the techniques to get to the asana allows consistently each time. Which part of my muscles should I engage? Where did I engaged the last time I did the asana? How did it made me feel?

The difference between one who never gets to his destination to one who does is separated by a thin line – and to me, that is mindfulness, which is part of niyama, by always being conscious of our actions and their consequences, and that our choices are always ours. I, then, realised, that in the same way, I hold the key to my own grief.

2. Pratyahara, letting go of external disturbances disrupting one’s mind – Letting go is always the hardest. I find myself turning to physical “pleasures” like random shopping, spending days eating out with friends, overworking to keep the mind busy with no purpose.

The art of surrendering is perhaps a lifelong learning, but if I want to start really making progress in life, I have to cut back on doing things that no longer serve me. Clichéd as it may be, I began to believe there’s a reason for every circumstances. Later, we’ll understand why, sometimes, never, but circumstances always mould us in certain ways, and in what way is a conscious choice. Acceptance of past hurts allows me to detach from all the meaningless habits, and instead reflecting on what to be thankful about each day, allowing me to cultivate an inner bliss that is more permanent.

Perhaps, the greatest lesson I have been trying to learn and finally understood is that one can keep fighting for things, but certain circumstances do not change because one fights. Sure, it shows effort and sincerity, but it also is a sign of desperation. Sometimes, letting loose will allow things to work out on its own – maybe the consequences are not to our favour at times, in my case, I had no chance in fighting against the nature of life, but there is always lessons to be learnt and we end up better people.

My journey towards enlightenment is far from over, and perhaps I will never achieve it in this lifetime. But in my quest, I am learning to give myself up for a higher purpose, to quieten your mind and focus on moving forward.  

 

 

My yoga journey

A life-changing practice

What was your first impression of yoga? When I first started yoga, I took it as a leisure activity that moved my body with some stretching and balancing poses. Nothing too physically demanding or aggressive. This was just nice for me, being a couch potato, who never liked doing any kind of sports. Nonetheless, I am kept being reminded of how a sedentary lifestyle can increase the risks of getting chronic diseases. Therefore, I am so thankful to have found yoga as my go-to exercise in my early twenties.

I like the soothing effects of the simple stretching and twisting poses on my body, the training of focus that brings me the mental and emotional steadiness when practising balancing poses, and how I become more relaxed during each yoga practice. As I progress with my practice, my body becomes more and more flexible. Moving on with more difficult poses, I sometimes ask myself if I am doing the poses correctly to get the benefits out of my practice?

Yoga is not all about the poses. I remember how I enjoyed my first pranayama practice as I managed to unblock my nose with the alternate nostril breathing technique, bringing me a smoother breath and a calmer mind. I remember how I was impressed by the Shanti Mantra when I first heard of it in a yoga class. It was a beautiful chant with the subtle vibration in the air.

Soon, I realized I want to learn more about yoga. I want to learn the correct alignment to prevent any injury and maximize the benefits as I hope to practise yoga for the rest of my life. I also want to learn yoga as a whole, not just the poses, but also the fundamental anatomy knowledge and spiritual aspects. With a leap of faith, I signed up for the 200-hr yoga teacher training course in Tirisula Yoga. Before the training, I was so worried about it as I never learnt headstand and any arm balance poses before. Now, we have come to nearly the end of the training and I know I won’t regret of my decision to join the training. The course has been a holistic personal development that works on my body and mind.

Throughout the training, in order to strengthen my body, I have become more self-disciplined to do body workout. Instead of only doing the exercise during my free time, I will make sure I have spared some time to work on my body daily. I also make time to do meditation and breathing exercise at home in order to reap the benefits from consistent practice. The yoga practice has also increased my self-awareness to maintain a good body posture, manage my facial expression and control my eating habits.

In the past, I always avoided practising  inversion pose as I was not used to going upside down and I did not see any benefits of doing so. On the first day of the training, we were asked to do headstand. I am glad I get to learn this beautiful pose as it teaches me lessons more than just going upside down. I have learnt to let go of my fear. Taken from our studio motto, ‘The body achieves what the mind believes’. Sometimes, we just need to let go of our fear and push ourselves out of the comfort zone to overcome the challenges. If you think your body cannot do it, you will easily give up after a few attempts. If you think you can do it, nothing from your mind can hold you back and you will become so determined to turn your body upside down.

Having said that, there were physical limitations that I had to overcome in order to do this pose. I realized my core was too weak and I never learnt how to engage my core. For this, I have focused on abdominal workout to strengthen my core. By learning how to engage my muscles in headstand, I get to control my muscles in this unusual position of going upside down. Together with the controlled breathing we learnt in our pranayama practice, this somehow gives me a sense of gaining control in life, especially during this difficult period of pandemic.

The yoga teacher training also greatly boosts my self-confidence through teaching. For someone who is not comfortable with public speaking, I am thankful to have this opportunity to get to practise teaching in class. By practising backbend such as camel and wheel pose, the physical action of opening my chest has somehow prompted me to mentally open my heart as well. I am more inclined to accept others and focus on bringing kindness to others.

Last but not least, I have also started to do a lot of self-reflection after learning the yoga philosophy in class. I started to think what kind of person I want to become. After learning the concept of ‘desire’, I started to find my motivation to work toward my goals. I also learnt the importance of keeping momentum in every aspect of our life, whether it is daily workout, meditation, or pursuit of knowledge.

 

With love,
Wei Li

Impact of Our Warriors

Virabhadrasana 1 (Warrior 1)

Practising this asana brings a whole host of benefits: It strengthens your spine & back muscles and relieves backache, lumbago and sciatica. Tones the abdominal muscles. Relieves acidity and improves digestion. Strengthens the bladder and corrects a displaces uterus. Relieves pain and heavy flow during menstruation.

Skeletal joint actions
Spine Upper limbs Lower limbs
    Front leg Back leg
Extension, slight rotation for chest to face forward, pelvis level

 

Scapular abduction and upward rotation, shoulder abduction and external rotation, slight elbow flexion, forearm supination SI joint nutation, hip flexion, knee flexion, ankle dorsiflexion

 

SI joint counternutation, hip extension and adduction, knee extension, ankle dorsiflexion and foot supination at heel and pronation at forefoot

 

Muscular joint actions
Spine
Concentric contraction Eccentric contraction
To extend spine:

Spinal extensors

To rotate chest forward:

Internal oblique (front leg side); external oblique (back leg side)

To prevent hyperextension at lumbar spine:

Psoas minor, abdominal muscles

To support weight of head as neck extends:

Rectus capitis, longus capitis and colli, verticalis, scalenes

Upper limbs
Concentric contraction
To abduct and upwardly rotate scapula:

Serratus anterior

To supinate forearm:

Supinator

To stabilize and abduct shoulder joint:

Rotator cuff, biceps brachii (long head), middle deltoid

Lower limbs
Front leg Back leg
Concentric contraction Eccentric contraction Concentric contraction Eccentric contraction
To resist tendency to widen knee (abduct at hip):

Gracilis, adductor longus and brevis

 

To allow hip and knee flexion and ankle dorsiflexion without collapsing into gravity:

Gluteus maximus, hamstrings at hip joint, vastii, soleus, intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of foot

To level and center pelvis over feet and to maintain balance side to side (the narrower the stance, the more active and long these muscles need to be):

Gluteus medius and minimus; piriformis, superior and inferior gemellus

To extend hip:

Hamstrings at hip joint, gluteus medius (posterior fibers), adductor magnus, gluteus maximus

To extend knee:

Articularis genu, vastii

To maintain arches of foot without inhibiting dorsiflexion of ankle:

Intrinsic muscles of

foot

 

To allow outer ankle to lengthen without collapsing inner knee or inner

foot:

Peroneals

 

 

Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior 2)

This pose exercise your limbs and torso vigorously, reducing stiffness in your neck and shoulders. It improves your breathing capacity by expanding the chest. Alleviates the condition of a slipped disc, reduces fats around the hips and relieves lower backache. This pose also makes your knee and hip joints more flexible.

Skeletal joint actions
Spine Upper limbs Lower limbs
  Front leg Back leg
Neutral spine, slight rotation for chest to orient to side, head rotated to face front leg, pelvis level Scapular abduction, shoulder abduction and external rotation, forearm pronation

 

SI joint nutation, hip flexion and abduction, knee flexion, ankle dorsiflexion

 

SI joint counternutation, hip extension and abduction, knee extension, ankle dorsiflexion, foot supination at heel and pronation at forefoot

 

Muscular joint actions
Spine
Alternating concentric and eccentric contractions Concentric contraction Concentric contraction
To maintain neutral alignment of spine:

Spinal extensors and flexors

To rotate chest to side:

External oblique (front leg side); internal oblique (back leg side)

To rotate head toward front leg:

Rectus capitis posterior, obliquus capitis inferior, longus capitis and colli, splenius capitis

(front leg side); sternocleidomastoid, upper trapezius (back leg side)

Upper limbs
Concentric contraction Passively lengthening
To abduct scapula:

Serratus anterior

To stabilize and abduct shoulder joint:

Rotator cuff, biceps brachii (long head), deltoid

To pronate forearm:

Pronator quadratus and teres

Pectoralis major and minor (particularly

in back arm)

 

Lower limbs
Front leg Back leg
Concentric contraction

 

Eccentric contraction

 

Concentric contraction

 

Eccentric contraction

 

To abduct hip:

Gluteus medius and minimus

 

To abduct hip and allow hip flexion without collapsing into gravity:

Gluteus maximus, piriformis, obturator externus, superior and inferior gemellus

To allow hip and knee flexion and ankle dorsiflexion without collapsing into gravity:

Hamstrings at hip joint, vastii, soleus, intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of foot

 

To extend and abduct hip:

Gluteus medius and minimus, hamstrings at hip joint, piriformis, obturator externus, superior and inferior gemellus

To extend knee:

Articularis genu, vastii

To maintain arches of foot without inhibiting dorsiflexion of ankle:

Intrinsic muscles of foot

To support inner knee:

Gracilis

To allow outer ankle to lengthen without collapsing inner knee or inner foot:

Peroneals

 

 

 

Virabhadrasana 3 (Warrior 3)

One of the favourite poses to improve balance and focus. Teaches body awareness and proprioception as you learn to adjustment your body. Additionally, this asana strengthens the legs, arms, back and core muscles.

 

Skeletal joint actions
Spine Upper limbs Lower limbs
Standing leg Lifted leg
Neutral spine or axial extension

 

Scapular upward rotation, abduction, and elevation; shoulder abduction; elbow extension

 

SI joint nutation, hip flexion and adduction, knee extension, ankle dorsiflexion

 

SI joint counternutation, neutral hip extension and rotation, knee extension, ankle dorsiflexion

 

Muscular joint actions
Spine
Concentric contraction
To maintain alignment of spine:

Intertransversarii, interspinalis, transversospinalis, erector spinae

To prevent anterior tilt of pelvis and overextension of lumbar spine:

Psoas minor, abdominal muscles

Upper limbs
Concentric contraction
To upwardly rotate, abduct, and elevate scapula:

Upper trapezius, serratus anterior

To stabilize and flex shoulder joint:

Rotator cuff, coracobrachialis, pectoralis major and minor, middle deltoid, biceps brachii

(short head)

 

To extend elbow:

Anconeus, triceps brachii

 

Lower limbs
Standing leg Lifted leg
Concentric contraction Eccentric contraction Concentric contraction
To keep knee in neutral extension and balance on single leg:

Articularis genu, quadriceps, intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of foot and lower leg

 

To control hip flexion:

Hamstrings

To allow lateral shift of pelvis over standing foot

for balance and to keep

pelvis level:

Gluteus medius and minimus, piriformis, superior and inferior gemellus

 

To maintain neutral hip extension and rotation:

Hamstrings, adductor magnus, gluteus maximus

 

 

 

Reference:

Yoga Anatomy-2nd Edition-Human Kinetics (2011) by Leslie Kaminoff, Amy Matthews

The Path to Holistic Health by BKS Iyengar Yoga

 

 

 

 

Yoga: My journey to a happier life

I came to practice yoga in 2019 when I wanted to have a better health. At that time, my health screening result was quite bad and it took me to a point that I should do something to improve my physical health, then yoga came to my mind. I signed up for a yoga package later.  

I had been practicing yoga on and off from then until late 2020, I started to practice regularly and I saw some positive changes in myself – physically and mentally.

  1. I am healthier – this has proved by my job as an assistant to mural artist. When I have to draw at site, I tend to stand for long hours. Previously, I had painful back and legs every time after I finished my work, but now, I have no pain at all and I am not easily get tired like I used to be. I am more productive – it’s just wonderful!
  2. I love my body even more – with yoga, I can see improvement in my body. I become more flexible and stronger. With the regular practice, I am able to do some poses that I was not able to do before and I don’t have to compete myself with anyone, it’s just myself. It’s a kind of development that I can see in my body. Also, after yoga classes, I feel good to eat healthy food and I opt to eat vegetarian more often. I feel that my body is much lighter when I eat Sattvic food.
  3. My mind is clearer – I easily get stressed and yoga helps me to relieve stress and anxiety. Being mindful with the practice, it helps me to stay present and enjoy the moment. It’s a kind of meditation to me. Especially, when I came to practice Yoga Teacher Training, I learned more about alignment and when I practice with correct understanding of the alignment, I have more body awareness and the practice become even more mindful and joyful.    
  4. Lastly, I am happier and just feel I can achieve what I want in life easier. From yoga philosophy I have learned, maybe it’s just because I am contented and grateful for what I already have.

I believe yoga will continue to give more benefits to me, so what I can do is…KEEP PRACTICING.   

Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) – Simple pose but not that simple (at least for me)

When I came back to practice yoga in 2014 (after my first trial in 2009 and thought yoga is probably not for me), I only went for hot yoga. The reason was so simple – I didn’t feel good doing Downward facing dog! I felt very uncomfortable holding the pose and I didn’t know that I totally did it wrong. In fact, I just understand the correct alignment and do it better at Tirisula and especially during Yoga Teacher Training. With the correct weight distribution and alignment, I don’t feel bad holding the pose anymore!

How to get to the pose:

  • Hands shoulder-width apart, spread fingers wide.
  • Feet hip-width apart, toes point forward
  • Microbend the elbows
  • Relax the neck
  • Draw shoulders down along the spine. Shoulders are away from ears
  • Engage the lower belly and draw the navel back to the spine. Lengthen the spine.
  • *Squeeze and Lift the hips up to make the body as an upside down V shape* To me, this helps a lot to distribute the weight equally between hands and feet and this technique helps me to hold longer in the pose and can be rest in the pose.
  • Place the heels down on the mat
  • Gaze towards the navel

Terms of movement

  • Scapula depression
  • Arms flexion
  • Hips flexion
  • Ankle dorsi flexion
  • Torso extension
  • Knee extension

Muscles used for Downward Facing Dog

  • Stretch Gluteus Maximus
  • Stretch Latissimus Dorsi
  • Contract Abdominals
  • Stretch Pectoralis major
  • Contract Triceps
  • Contract Quadriceps
  • Stretch Hamstrings
  • Stretch Gastrocnemius and soleus
  • Contract Tibialis anterior

I hope my experience of getting into downward facing dog can be useful to someone. Enjoy the pose!

When Santosha (being contented) hit me hard!

People always want to have something they don’t have and never feel enough for things they already have. We keep seeking happiness from outside. Me too!

When I studied yoga philosophy, this Santosha which is the second of Niyama of the 8 limbs of yoga has hit me hard.

Niyama is freedom from all observances, consist of:

  1. Saucha: purity of thoughts
  2. Santosha: contentment, acceptance
  3. Tapas: discipline, persistence
  4. Swadhyaya: self-study
  5. Ishwara-pranidha: devotion

I felt that Santosha is telling me something. From young, I always wanted to be successful especially in my career and whenever I got what I wanted e.g. promotions, salary increments, I still wanted to have more and took more actions to get more. I thought that when I get what I want, I will be happy. Yes, I was happy for a moment and started to want to have more again – sounds so greedy, but I am sure I am not alone. The result was I rarely enjoyed and appreciated what I had, I aimed for more and more. My next goals were bigger and more challenging.   

In Santosha, being contented (not happy or sad), enjoy every moment, supreme joy is achieved. Wow, it sounds easy than I thought and from my own experience, it’s so true. Yoga teach me to stay present. When I practice yoga, I am mindful with my body for movement and alignment, I forget about my past and my future. I enjoy the moment. That’s why I fall in love with yoga.

Off the mat:

To adopt Santosha into my life, I practice to be more mindful in my daily life activities. I practice to be grateful and appreciate with what I have including my work, my health, my relationship, my possession, and even my food. Yoga, pranayama, and meditation help me a lot to be more mindful and I added all these into my daily life. I meditate every morning and practice yoga and pranayama at least 3 times a week.

On the mat:

I also adopt Santosha to my practice in a way that there are some poses that I can’t do well, for example, all hips flexion poses like Paschimottanasana, Prasarita Padottanasana. I need to keep practicing to make my hips more flexible. Sometimes I am unhappy that I can’t do the poses like my other classmates. With Santosha, it makes me understand that I should enjoy that I still can do the pose, it is not perfect, but it may be better than last year and it’s enough. Everyone is different and I should be contented with the way I am, the way my body is. With continued practicing, one day when my body is ready, I will be able to do the pose 🙂 

Anulom Vilom and its benefits to my body and mind

I am personally interested in spirituality and I have been trying a few kinds of meditations. But I only learned more about pranayama techniques in the yoga teacher training (YTT) with Tirisula, so Pranayama is new to me. I practiced some pranayama when I attended some yoga classes earlier, but I didn’t know much about its benefits and details. 

 

In Sanskrit, ‘Prana’ means life energy and ‘Ayama’ means expansion. I am interested in pranayama because the course manual says it’s a link between body, emotions, mind and spirit – so interesting!

 

Because of the homework of pranayama practicing, so I have been practicing Anulom Vilom every morning for a few weeks. For myself, I want to be more mindful and energize my body before I start my day so I choose to do Anulom Vilom to see if there is any effects to my body and mind.

 

Anulom Vilom is an alternate nostril breathing. To breathe with Anulom Vilom technique, we use the right hand with middle and index fingers folded towards the palm. Place the thumb on the right nostril and ring finger on the left nostril. Close the left nostril (or right). Inhale through the right (or left) nostril, close and exhale through the left (or right) nostril. Focus on the breath and continue for at least 10 rounds. It’s best to be done on an empty stomach.

 

From my studies, there are many benefits of Anulom Vilom:

  • Intake more oxygen and purify blood
  • Relieve stress and tension
  • Improve concentration and focus
  • Energise the body when do it in the morning
  • Calm the mind down when do it at night

 

When I do Anulom Vilom in the morning, it helps to improve my concentration and energise my body. I like the fact that we can control our mind by control our breathing.

 

At night, when I can’t sleep, I will lie down on my right side so I can breathe well from my left nostril and it helps me to fall asleep faster. I don’t have insomnia, I only take time to fall asleep and Anulom Vilom helps!

 

This is only one pranayama technique among many other techniques that I learned e.g. Bastrika, Brahmari, Sheetari, Sama Vritti, etc. I will also use other pranayama techniques to suit the benefits I want for my body and mind and I would encourage everyone to try too 🙂  

The Deceivingly Easy Pose (for me at least)

PASCHIMOTTANASA (SEATED FORWARD BEND)
Paschim (West) + Uttana (Intense Stretch) + Asana (Pose)

Muscles Involved

  • Erector Spinae
  • Iliacus
  • Tensor Fasciae Latae
  • Rectus Femoris
  • Sartorius
  • Hamstrings
  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Gastreocnemius

Benefits
To motivate students to fold deeper/ hold longer when they are in the pose

  • Stretches/ tones the spine, shoulders, hamstrings, calves and opens up the hips
  • Stimulates the liver, kidneys, ovaries, and uterus
  • Improves digestion and releases blocked gas
  • Relieves the symptoms of menopause and menstrual discomfort
  • Soothes headache/anxiety and reduces fatigue
  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress
  • Therapeutic for high blood pressure, infertility, insomnia, and sinusitis

Contraindications and Cautions
Take note of students practising this pose if they have the below conditions

  • Asthma
  • Diarrhoea
  • Pregnant
  • Arms, shoulders, back, hips or ankle injuries

Fun Tips!

Get a buddy to help you fold deeper! Go into the pose and then have the buddy gently press his/ her hands against your lower back and pelvis as you exhale. Ask the buddy to check that your spine is straight as you fold forward – try to bring belly to thighs, microbend your knees if you need to!

If your hands are at your shin, reach for your toes. If you are holding your toes, aim to wrap your hands around the feet. If you are holding the feet, put a block against the soles of the feet and hold the block!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Research on Kapalabhati

The Practice of Kapalabhati

The Kapalabhati, involves forceful exhalation and breathing at a high frequency approximately 1.0 Hz, though rates are high as 2.0 Hz are known to more sophisticated yogis. It is a form of Kriya – A kriya is a cleansing technique taught in Hatha Yoga.

Kapalabhati –a high frequency yoga breathing practice, is the steady repetition of forceful exhalations followed by slightly slower, passive inhalations. It is translated to ‘shining forehead’ (kapala = forehead, bhati = shining or splendor, in Sanskrit).

Kapalabhati  is an invigorating breathing practice that clears the sinus, lungs, the nasal passages, and consequently, the mind. With this rapid exhalation, it brings lightness and clarity to the frontal region of the brain. Requiring a rapid contraction and release of the abdomen, it focuses primarily on the exhalation; the inhalation occurs passively and without effort.

Among the many breathing practices found in yoga, many emphasizes on muscular control during inhalation, not exhalation. Kapalabhati uniquely reverses this familiar pattern. In kapalabhati, the exhalation is active, with inhalation playing a passive role.

 

The Benefits of Kapalabhati

Kapalabhati is energizing and warming. It helps to cleanse the lungs, sinuses, and respiratory system, which can help to prevent illness and allergies. Regular practice strengthens the diaphragm and abdominal muscles. This exercise also increases your body’s oxygen supply, consequently, stimulates and energizes the brain while preparing it for meditation and work that requires high focus.

Other known benefits of practising Kapalabhati are that it releases toxins, expands lung capacity, strengthens the nervous system, balances the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, powers up the third chakra, increases stamina, energizes blood flow and circulation, delivers oxygen to the brain, resulting in improved focused and a natural state of calm awareness, strengthens the immune system, aids in digestion etc.

 

How to practise Kapalabhati

Start by taking a couple of full breaths, grounding the mind and gently awakening the bodily senses. When you are ready to start practicing kapalabhati, expel the breath forcefully through the nostrils (without strain or tension) and simultaneously pull the navel dynamically inward toward the spine, gently contracting the abdominal muscles. Most of the work should be by your lower abdominal area, not diaphragm. As you release the abdomen, let the inhalation occur passively; the lungs will fill without any effort. Immediately repeat with another forceful exhalation, drawing the navel inward again, and then let the inhalation follow passively. This process is repeated in rapid succession—one exhalation per second, or faster. On the final exhalation, completely empty your lungs of the CO2 and then let your breath to return to normal to end.

 

Positions of Kapalabhati

Usually, this cleansing technique is carried out in sitting position, in a basic cross-legged pose or Padmasana aka Lotus pose. The hands should rest gently on the knees, palms facing upwards. Fingers in any Mudra.

 

When to practise Kapalabhati

Always practice either on an empty stomach or more than 2 hours after eating. This practice will build stamina if it is done consistently over time.

In the morning: Kapalabhati breathing is an energizing exercise, doing it first thing in the morning for an refreshing wake-up call.

When you are feeling cold: Kapalabhati is also a warming breath, so if you feel chilly, 20 cycles of Kapalabhati can warm you up, even on a snowy day.

Mid-afternoon: If you are feeling a case of the mid-day sluggishness, try 20 cycles of Kapalabhati to energize your mind and body to power you through the rest of the day.

Note: More seasoned yogis can go up to 50-100 cycles. Over 120 cycles can cause a reduction in oxytocin levels.

 

Cautions

Persons with high or low blood pressure or with coronary heart disease should avoid doing Kapalabhati. Those who have problems with their eyes (for example, glaucoma), ears (fluid in the ears), or nosebleed should not practice this exercise. Also, this breathing exercise should not be practiced by pregnant or menstruating women. Stop if you experience any pain, dizziness or light headedness, or unable to maintain a steady rhythm. Our energy moves up and out in unexpected ways, so staying within our pre-set boundaries for experimentation is extremely important. Most importantly, pay full attention to your capacity. Whenever your body shows signs of fatigue, end your practice immediately.

 

IT IS NOT A LIE – Yoga helps to delay the AGING PROCESS

Our bodies are like clocks and one day we are going to stop ticking. Everything in our body is constantly aging but why does this happen and how can we slow down the process?

What does aging mean? For some, it means growing up, while for others, it’s growing old. Yet finding a strict scientific definition of aging is a challenge. What we can say is that aging occurs when intrinsic processes and interactions with environment, like sunlight, and toxins in the air, water, and our diets, cause changes in the structure and function of the body’s molecules and cells. Those changes in turn drive their decline, and subsequently, the failure of the whole organism.

We cannot stop aging process, as human bodies aren’t build for extreme aging. Our capacity is set at about 90 years. But with yoga practice, it is helpful to delay human aging process. The study published by the US National Library of Medicine shows that yoga combined with meditation, helps to delay the aging process and prevent the onset of many different diseases. After 12 weeks of YMLI (Yoga and Meditation Based Lifestyle Intervention), there was significant improvement in both cardinal and metabotropic biomarkers of cellular aging compared to the baseline values.

I think Yoga is helpful in delaying aging process in the below ways:

  1. People who practice yoga eat more mindfully, Yogis believe vegetable and fresh food have more energy (prana) than the stale food or meat. It helps with the digestion system, stimulate the cleansing process to detox.
  2. Yoga Asanas improve the body flexibility. Many asana poses help requires the body to twist or to stretch. It significantly increase the flexibility with practice. Flexibility will reduce your change of getting injured physically as it increases the muscle balances. My grandma is 70 years old, and she often walks very fast. Hence she fell and hurt her knees a few times during winter times, it was like once a year. But surprisingly she did not hurt her bones, considering fall down is very dangerous for people at her age. My family believe it is because my grandma always do some kind of stretches regularly. It helps to withstand more physical stress when she walks or fall down.
  3. Yoga Pranayama and Meditation helps people to maintain a positive state of mind. People look younger when they are in good mood. That is why sometimes we will be surprised by how young a people looks for his/her age and vise versa. In Yoga, we believe Pranayama and Meditation help people to clean the energy channels to make sure the chakra is not blocked. In another word, it helps people to clean their thoughts and mind so that they get more energy to deal with different challenges in daily life and still keep a positive mind.

Never give up on Yoga!!