Santosha – Contentment

In a blink of an eye, we are at the end of the course. I remember whining about having to wake up way before my usual routine, to make it for daily 8am classes. My course mates and I would joke about how dreadful mornings are, and seek solace in one another sharing the same struggles to this new routine.

Fast forward to the second last day of the course, thinking about how our YTT journey is coming to a close and the possibility that our paths may not cross again leaves me feeling bittersweet. Overheard in class today, “I am going to feel so lost. No need to wake up early and come here?” Funny how when YTT is ending, we are actually going to miss waking up at 630am!??

It also reminded me of Santosha, the second Niyamas of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga –  contentment.

Demand is high only and especially when supply is low, vice versa. We whined when we had to wake up early, and then start missing this routine when it is coming to an end. In a nonexistent perfect world, if Santosha was in practice, we would be appreciative of every new day we have from waking up from our sleep, our able bodies, the opportunity have a class to attend and the luxury of time to be able to attend this course. We would be in the present and enjoy every moment, without complaints. But of course, this is highly unrealistic. We know this in theory, but practicing it is a different ball game. All we can do in our best ability is to be mindful. Accept and appreciate what we are, what we have and make the best out of it.

I believe showing gratitude to the luxuries of time, health, money we currently have will fill our hearts. More often than not, complacency takes over and we tend to forget that life is unpredictable. A twist of fate can happen any moment, and everyone would go “THAT’S SO SHOCKING” … as if we never knew how life works.

In light of Thanksgiving today, I am thankful to share the last 19 days with my course mates, and an impish buddy who cracks me up every day. Thank you Sree for sharing your stories and wisdom with us.

Namaste

Yoga Lesson Plans

One more lesson to exam. OMG time really flies; I am sure I will miss my weekends with the girls and having “boot camp” early in the morning – precious memories.

Am glad I signed up this course, no regrets and also grateful to have Master Sree and Master Paalu who guided us patiently 😊

We were taught on how to sequence lessons for the last part of the course and it was an eye opening experience for me because, there were so many things to consider!

Are there any new comers in the class?
Anyone doing Yoga for the first time?
Any medical conditions?
Simple postures which I took for granted might not be suitable for beginners.

Gosh!

The timing for each pose, the sequencing of the pose, the warm up, the opening, the closing, the tone of your voice all needs to be taken into considerations of the class you are teaching.

But the contradictory thing is that after painstakingly planned for 2 classes, I actually enjoy planning the rest of the class, taking note on the type of asanas, which asana comes first, seated first of standing first – so much fun!

But of course, being a student is so much easier.
Be in your Yoga wear, come in time for class and just follow the instructions.
Finish, go home.

New found respect for the teachers.

Bravo!

Oh thru class planning, I found out some of my favorite asanas – Tree, Malasana & Camel!

21092019 Weekend YTT
Post 4 of 4
Shirley

Swadhyaya.

Swadhyaya is the practice of self-study and self-analysis.
In Yoga, swadhyaya is incorporated by doing asanas, pranayama and Meditation. In the past 3 weeks I’ve  been reflecting on myself, and gaining a deeper understanding of my body and mind through YTT.
It’s hard to accept myself when I see how I am perceived through others, but there’s no other choice . Here are the things I noticed

I’m as confident as I want to be.
I’m not accepting of my own flaws . I speak slowly and softly , and have a habit of withdrawing my words before I finish my sentence (voice getting softer towards the end ). I don’t like that about myself and am trying to change.
I’ve trouble making decisions.  I am often unkind to myself in my head
I’m easily influenced and affected by others’ opinion of me.
I get stressed out easily in my mind when there’s actually no need to be.

I’ve also drawn a few conclusions in regards to what I can do;
I can be nicer to myself, I don’t have to be so harsh all the time.
I can treat others’ opinion of me as a stepping stone , to improve or to ignore. I can take everything with a pinch of salt.
I can try to speak with more intent, and be present when I speak.
I can accept that I am not perfect and relax in that fact because nobody is perfect and perfection is unattainable.
I can be at ease when I know that there is no right or wrong or bad or good. my flaws are just there as a part of me, I don’t have to fix everything in one second, I can do it at my own speed.

I started off writing this blog with discomfort  (because it was painful to look at my flaws) and ended it with ease. It’s nice to relax and know that when we face our fears and discomforts, it goes silently away. It’s a pleasant release of emotions.
Walking into the eye of the storm is scary, but when you get to the middle, you find calmness.
Whatever we resist, persists, so walk into your pain and feel it. It is not as painful as we imagine it to be. 

 

Mind over matter/ Tapas/

I think I was slightly over-ambitious when I decided to take this course and work full time.  It’s towards the end of the third week and I feel both physical and mental exhaustion creeping in along with a visit from Aunty Flo.
On Thursday I was late for class because I didn’t sleep well and I woke up at 3am and couldn’t sleep because I was berating myself over not having enough time to finish my emails and do my yoga homework. I did some homework  and then ended up falling asleep again at 5 am and having gut problems and not being able to get up. I contemplated skipping class (not something I usually do) but decided to go in the end because I think I could still function. I was surprised by my body’s ability and strength to keep going even though I was mentally exhausted.
Even on Friday I felt a little tired but I kept going and trying my best in my asanas practice and by the end of it I wasn’t even as tired as the first two weeks of practice. I think my body has perhaps gotten used to the practice or become stronger.

I’m thankful that I have a healthy and strong body to be able to practice yoga and I think most people take this for granted .
I believe in the body’s ability to self-heal .If I become a yoga teacher,  that will be my motivation– knowing that I am helping people heal their bodies , mind and spirit.

 

My yoga journey to YTT

I have been practicing yoga on and off for 8 years. I still remember very clearly that my first yoga class was a substitute class when my bodycombat class got cancelled. I decided to try on yoga since I’m already in my workout attire and ever since, I like this ‘exercise’ but I’m not committed to it and NEVER like those challenging asanas such as Ashtanga Yoga.

I’ve been in my yoga ‘comfort zone’ in the past few years as I only attended hatha yoga or yin yoga and most importantly I don’t like being sweaty. Moreover, I’ve bad experiences on inversion asanas which results in me having a great fear of headstand up to today. I’ve tried to avoid or skip those inversion asanas in the past.

As I am on my career break now and to ensure my time is not ‘wasted’, I’ve sign up this YTT to deepen my yoga knowledge. However, part of me still hoping that this course will be toward hatha training. But things do not turn up as it is…

Day by day, I’m amazed by topics taught in the course and eager to learn more. Through this course, I understand that yoga is not about asana, it includes other segments such as philosophy, pranayama, anatomy, meditation, and others knowledge that beyond any words we can describe in this world. Through the daily practice, I feel my physical and mental are growing and I started to face my fear towards the challenging asana and willing to try them and the same goes to my mental reflection. I’m so grateful to have this wonderful time in my life and I couldn’t imagine what my life will be if I’ve missed this course. And hopefully one day I will be able to share whatever I learn by teaching yoga.

Returning to a natural state

My 2-year old toddler is a natural yogi. Seriously. She stretches in supta padagustasana when she drinks milk, flips her tiny body into ardha kapotasana when she’s done drinking & gets up, drops into malasana when she plays with her toys, rests in supta baddha konasana, sees the world upside down in adho mukha swanasana when she’s horse-playing with me and my husband. Effortless and natural movements.

Watching my toddler move, to me, embodies the spirit of yoga asana practice. To return the body to a natural state, the way we moved before our bodies manifested bad postures, habits and our samskaras.

Beyond the mat, my toddler has also taught me other yoga lessons. At dinner last night, she used a Chinese soup spoon, western spoon AND fork to eat her dinner. Switching between the different utensils every few mouthfuls, grinning from ear and ear when she succeeded in eating rice with her fork.

Food for thought. How much of what we do is conscious or unconscious? Do we accept what we are told, or do we take action ourselves? When was the last time we learnt something new? In our natural state, we are a blank piece of paper, no ego, openness to everything around us, fearless in our actions. As I continue in my yoga journey, I take inspiration from my toddler to return to basics and keep things simple.

When was the last time you used different utensils to eat your dinner? Or walked backwards simply because it’s fun? Perhaps it’s time to give it a try.

What is your karma?

“What is your karma? What is the current action you should take in your life now?”

As Master Shree asked the class this question, I instinctively whispered to myself “my karma now is to nurture”.
As this thought left my mouth, I realized how much it resonated with me, like a wheel clicking in place.

In a moment of sharp mental clarity, I saw how my choices in life and career were weaved to the theme of nurturing. Becoming a mother 2 years ago, my choice of profession, finding myself naturally slipping into a mentoring and coaching role at work.

Even doing a YTT feels like a step towards nurturing a seed or kernel within. I’ve practiced yoga asanas for a long time, going on and off the mat, but always returning, each time staying longer. I’ve dabbled with oil painting, writing, dance, and yoga is the only practice I’ve maintained consistently.

Perhaps this is samsara* at work, pulling me back to yoga time and again. And choosing to commit to YTT is a thread of samskara**, woven into my karma to nurture.

*The literal translation of Samsara would be “a wandering through.” This refers to the means within which everybody passes through a variety of lives and states. It encompasses the idea of reincarnation and therefore the fact that what an individual does in their current life are going to be reflected, through karma, in their future lives.

**Samskaras are the mental impressions left by all thoughts, actions, and intents that an individual has ever intimate with. They can be thought of as psychological imprints. They are below the level of normal consciousness and aforesaid to be the root of all impulses, as well as our innate tendencies.

Pratyahara: Detachment

A primary teaching Master Sree is a big advocate for, evident in his daily theory classes is to

Not be attached to anything.

Not any labels, not any religion, not any beliefs, not even memories.

With every module taught, this teaching stood still.

Pratyahara – Letting go of attachments, take only what we need, keep only what serves us, let go when the time is right.

This state of open-mindedness resonated as it is similar to us being exposed to the wide range of religions available, not excluding astrology, numerology, tarot card reading, crystal healing, fortune telling, etc. The same can be applied of the limitless diets: paleo/ keto/ raw/ vegan/ blood type or intermittent fasting advocated by everybody who achieved successes through their personal experiences.

Who is to say which is the best diet, or which is the one true god or the most accurate tarot card or fortune teller? Who is to say if eating meat is unnatural or are they meant to be eaten?

Everyone’s belief is different, everyone’s truth is different.

A sneak peek to a few thought provoking ideas mentioned in class –

Commercialized by pharma industry Popping painkillers pills for body/head ache 
Alternative idea Using natural herbs and spices to self heal
Commercialized by bottled water industry Drinking 2 litres of water daily
Alternative idea Drinking only when youre thirsty even if its 200ml
Commercialized by farmers/grocers Poultry are meant to be eaten as food
Alternative idea Animals are living things and are not meant to be consumed as food
Commercialized by all industries Love makes the world go round. We love our partners and family.
Alternative idea Only self love is the purest love. Every other love is conditional.

My takeaway from this is to keep an open mind. Don’t be attached to any of it. Take in all the information with an open heart, and make your own assessment if it will serve you and you will like to take it with you. And in time to come, when it no longer serves you, let it go.

We are our own worst enemy

Prior to signing up for Tirisula’s last weekday YTT of 2019, I spent two years flirting with the idea of a YTT. I clicked on every Instagram (IG) story or post that popped up in my feed from studios promoting their YTT and reading all about them. While I was crippled by self doubt and fear during these two years, I witnessed the growth of other braver yogis who took the leap of faith. Watching them through their YTT journey, starting a new yoga account on IG, sharing their teaching schedule of their new found expertise, slowly gaining experience and respect by taking one class at a time, one studio at a time and conducting their own workshops/retreats eventually.

I think self doubt could be one of the common dilemma faced by anyone contemplating YTT; wondering if we are good enough, if we are qualified enough because we haven’t practiced “long enough”, how can we lead a class when we cant do certain poses, how do you lead a class etc. The fear of failure and inadequacy holds us back. Our mind comes up with a long long list of reasons/excuses why we cant do it, in support of our lack of trust in ourselves.

While there are many bad connotations of yoga being wildly altered from its traditional roots by popular media, one of the great gifts of social media is the power of sharing. Through sharing, I was empowered by the journeys of fellow students who advanced into experienced teachers. Their stories gave me courage, they showed that anybody and everybody can do it. You don’t have to be the strongest or the bendiest. All you need to do is to take the first step.

One step at a time. One breathe at a time.

It is the midway mark of our journey today, 10th of our 20 days training.

Lots learnt, lots more to learn.

Focus on what you can do

“Focus on what you can do, don’t worry about what you can’t.”

As I near the end of week 2 YTT, Master Shree’s comment helped to clarify my self-doubt.

I have been attending yoga asana classes for several years, going on-and-off the mat depending on the ebb & flow of life and career. I can perform postures, but not to an advanced level as I’ve never really committed to a practice. At YTT, I met fellow students who slipped into poses effortlessly, despite starting their practice only recently. While I understood that yoga is not asanas, I observed myself weighing heavily the ability to perform poses well, and thinking that I’m not suited to teach after graduating. Thoughts raced through my mind, “What if I encounter students who can do the poses which I can’t?”, “Teachers are supposed to be better than their students!”.

The irony was that Master Shree had asked us to read what Patanjali had to say about common barriers* that keeps one from a yoga practice only earlier in the week.

*These being Disease, Dullness, Doubt, Procrastination, Laziness, Worldly-minded, Illusion, Impatience, Inability to maintain state of yoga*

The comment from Master Shree was timely. Indeed, we don’t spend enough time wisely building on our strengths. Instead, we spend more time worrying about what-ifs and what-nots.

Thus as I enter the 2nd half of YTT, I’ve made a pledge to myself to continually broaden my perspective on yoga, and surrender expectations on what I “should” be able to do. Instead, I’ll enjoy the learning journey, bring an explorer’s mindset & build on what I can do.