Since Including Ashtanga into my exercise regime, I am now more convinced than ever that practising yoga can hugely complement strength training. This totally opposes the common misconception of most men on what Yoga practise is all about as described in my “Perceptions” post, and this is what I endeavour to change.
Since taking up Tirisula’s Yoga teacher training, I feel prepared with tools of knowledge on how I can spread my opinion of Yoga. With the asanas and the other key aspects of Ashtanga such as mental healing and spiritual well-being, I certainly hope to spread the joy of Yoga to various demographics from old to young and from athletic individuals to newcomers.
Yoga is truly a lifelong journey and, in more ways than one. I will always be open to practising other Yoga styles because more knowledge comes with wisdom. And if given the opportunity to take the path as a yoga teacher, the collective wisdom can greatly help to incorporate a range of learning techniques and ability to curate specific focused practices to cater to a wide range of students in whatever their goals are in their asanas and their overall lifestyles.
By this time, I was enjoying my balance of CrossFit exercise and power flow yoga sessions. I found that both disciplines were complementary to each because my practice in both greatly improved coincidentally when combined both into my weekly exercise regime. Once again, I thought to myself that I found the perfect match and it could not get any better.
In early 2019, my fiancé encouraged me to her for a yoga series she had stumbled upon (a story for another post). It was called Ashtanga and at this time, she had been practicing it for about 3 months. The Ashtanga class she attended in Tirisula Yoga challenged her physically more than ever and it was taught expertly by the Guru, Max Sree. I was initially hesitant as she kept describing how well her inversions have improved thanks to the excellent teaching methods at Tirisula. Since my core strength is not my forte and I had never successfully done an inversion pose, I did not think it was the class for me, but I agreed to try it out. Also, because she had also insisted that I watch how awesome she was in the Ashtanga practise
Once again, I found myself feeling the way as I did in my first Power Yoga class, absolutely drenched, muscles sore, and loving the new experience! I had found a new type of practise that I wanted as part of my exercise regime, but Ashtanga was however more than a physical practise. Ashtanga’s focus on physical strength, cardio, coordination along with mental healing and spiritual well-being made it an excellent well-rounded style that I wholesomely enjoyed.
“Yoga is really good for relaxing the muscles”, a fitness trainer said to me. “I’ll do yoga when I’m old and can’t run anymore”, said another fitness enthusiast and “Yoga is too boring for me”. These are the common perceptions of Yoga by most men, and admittedly myself before, who wish only to partake in tough tackling and muscle bulging activities. Anything else, much less Yoga, would be considered as an insult to the manhood of ill-informed egos such as my once myself.
During the life transformation journey chronicled in my “crossroads” post, I had sought out where I belong. I wanted to find something that I would do not for exercise, but as a lifestyle. Something that basically defined me as a person and would stay with me for decades, or even my entire lifetime.
It was however in CrossFit training that I finally found something that I truly enjoyed. Every session was a challenge that pushed me to my physical and mental limits. I knew then that there is nothing else that can be as intense until I attended my first strength training-based yoga session which the studio called “Power Flow”. Due to my ill-advised perception of yoga, it took a lot of convincing by my then girlfriend (now fiancé) to attend the class although I hesitantly agreed eventually. She is an avid asana practitioner and was lightyears ahead of me in her core strength and flexibility, but I had never thought that there was any form of yoga practise that could match the intensity of my CrossFit regime.
At the end of my first strength yoga class, I was absolutely blown away by not only how drenched in sweat I was, but also at how simple yoga poses when combined with transitions and balancing was such a challenge. My perception of Yoga then on, changed completely and forever.
As a middle-aged man in a first world country, survival and longevity in such an environment meant chasing the 5Cs. There I was 3 years ago, advancing in a career path in IT and keeping my clientele and bosses happy, but something didn’t feel quite right in the inside. It could be that my age had finally caught up with me as I fell sick at a steadily increasing frequency, suffered painful gout attacks in between bouts of sickness and caught infections as quickly as I could design the next awesome IT solution at work. My weight was the heaviest I had ever been, and I was panting by just a simple walk up a slope! What compounded the entire situation of my poor lifestyle was when my shining light at the end of the tunnel of any situation, my girlfriend, said, “I won’t marry you if you get sick again for the next one year”.
It was this realization that I knew that I needed a 360-degree change in my lifestyle and habits if I ever wanted to live a life that did not include a doctor’s visit every other weekend. My body was not invincible like it has been for 36 years and I had to take care of it so that it can take care of me. At a relatively young age, I had truly reached a crossroad in my life where my decisions could adversely affect my long-term health.
Fast forward to 3 years later and now doctor visits is a rarity. The gout problem is also under control and most of the excess weight has made way for muscle. And most importantly, I feel mentally stronger. This has been largely due to the introduction of yoga into my life transformation journey which played a huge role in not only improving my fitness with asanas but also helping my mental well-being with the practices that included meditation, pranayama and savasana.
Saga said: Yoga is the ability to direct the mind exclusively toward the object and sustain that direction without any distraction.
A practice dedicated to liberation through knowledge and wisdom involves both learnings via mind and beyond the mind. It includes studying texts, thinking about ideas, and ultimately developing personal understanding.
A path of doing good deeds
Yoga of awareness focuses on meditation and on stimulation of the glandular and nervous system to heighten creative potential. It consists of simple poses, pranayama, mantra, music and meditation to teaching relaxation and self-healing.
Ashtanga vinyasa yoga
Synchronise with breathing method called ujjayi breath with a progressive series of postures, so the body produces heat and purifying sweat that detoxifies muscles and organs.
One could start to practise one or many of the yoga to be better humankind.
We lost our true self and let the situation controlled our emotional in the 21-century with self-centred, lack of sympathetic world and an increase in depression in the sociality.
We can cultivate gifts and offer them to the world with yoga practice. To be happy and contented to what we have.
To live our life as an experiment, not afraid of failure and removing ego in the list and promotes self-control and firmness in the precepts.
To imprint the six keywords as a daily practice, Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate and Realise.
To the future of humanity
To practise the five of the eight-limbed path as guidance for inner and external transformation in my life.
1) Yama – gives specific guidelines for dealing with my mind and interact with the world on an ethical and peaceful way.
2) Niyama – help me cultivate orderliness and cleanliness, contentment, commitment, self-study, and finally letting go fo the idea that I have control and surrendering to the universe.
3) Asana – describes how to be happy and peaceful in my body. The third limb focuses on poses that help me become more durable, flexible, and balanced. It benefits me emotionally and spiritually.
4) Pranayama – teaches how to control life force. Practice forcibly exhaling and then holding the breath to diminish obstacles to self-knowledge.
5) Pratyahara – demonstrates a way to withdraw the senses to achieve balance and peace.
Since I came to Singapore 13 years ago, I’ve developed a new mentality called ‘kia-su’, or competitiveness. Singaporeans are very good in what they’re doing and I’ve to constantly struggle to not ‘lose out’. As a consequence, I started to become more impatient, non stop chasing 1 achievement after another.
One of the biggest learnings from yoga that I got is patience. As I’m learning the postures, I realized that I can’t force it. If I don’t listen to my body and push too much, I’ll get injured. However, if I practice consistently and patiently, I realized that over time, I can do the postures more and more naturally. It’s like this in life too.
We can strive to do our best, but we can’t force things to happen. There is time for everything and everything will come at the right time. Even if we can’t see it now, we’ll realize later as we connect the dots backwards. There are so many moments when I thought “Aaaah.. this happened because of this” only much later in life.
‘Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.’ – John Lennon
I’m an extremely busy person – constantly juggling to do so many things at the same time. As a result, I’m constantly stressed, trying to finish 1 task after another, not being mindful and able to enjoy life. I felt like a zombie and began to question what’s the purpose of life.
Yoga has helped me so much and showed me that life is full of love.
It started from the ‘feel-good’ after a yoga class – my body feels better, my mind feels calmer. Whenever I don’t practice yoga or exercise at all during the day, I get angry and irritated much faster, I do things without much thinking, resulting in me spending more time in doing each tasks, which ultimately results in more stress and loss of productivity.
Now I thank myself for practicing every day – even a quick yoga stretch helps me a lot. I know that by making time for the practice, I’m saving a lot of time doing the other things as I’m able to be more mindful and to enjoy what I’m doing more. Above all, I get present to how I’m affecting the people around me when I’m constantly busy and stressed. Every time I practice yoga I remind myself to be more intentional in what I’m doing. This allows me to truly experience the beauty of each moment and as a consequence, feel the love of the amazing people around me.
There’s still so much to learn. I’m so blessed to have found yoga in my life and I’ll continue to explore more and more.
Nothing beats the feeling after finishing a yoga class; I feel calmer, more grounded, lighter. My favorite class is vinyasa – a style of yoga characterized by stringing postures together, whereby we move from one posture to another using our breath. It is commonly referred to as “flow” yoga.
As I’m flowing and focusing from 1 posture to another, my mind quiets down. Finally the constant chatter stop and I can feel at peace. Only when I’m in peace, I can be the best version of myself. If I do yoga in the morning, I feel better throughout the day – more focused & productive at work and mindful of other people.
I used to think that I’m a good multitasker – doing many things at the same time. This has been proven wrong by science (as apparently nobody can multitask, not even women – that’s not how our brain works) and experience. What I was doing was jumping back and forth between tasks and it was counter productive.
In the vinyasa classes, I’ve no choice but to focus on 1 posture at a time (or I will lose my balance & hurt myself). This has taught me to find my focus, to find the flow in my life.