How Yoga impacts my life

Chasing numbers and meeting sales target has been quite hectic for me these 10 years. I started to consume caffeine at least twice a day in order to stimulate my mind and body to keep awake. To increase my appetite and relax, I always eat spicy, sour and generally strong-flavoured foods which is referred to as a Rajasic diet. After understanding more about the 3 Gunas and food, I have started to think twice when I am ordering food these days and I have also managed to cut down on my caffeine intake. I am definitely becoming more conscious about where the food on my plate comes from and how the food is being prepared. I also try to wake up earlier to prepare a simple breakfast for my family and myself.

To me, my passion for Yoga not only stems from being able to learn how to do all the beautiful poses, but also because I get to learn more about the Yoga Philosophy. I feel that it shapes me into a better version of myself as I am constantly reflecting, looking and analysing things from different perspectives. I have become more mindful and observant about the little things happening in my surroundings. Yoga philosophy is profound. I am curious to learn and dig out more. I can’t wait to share more with family, friends!

On the Way from Svādhyāya to Ahimsa—Part 2: A random walk takes longer

[The first part of the post is here.]

So we’re on the way from here to Nirvana. Practicing Svādhyāya, we study ourselves to find out where we’re on our way. We walk a little and then stop and study where we are, how it looks like there, how it feels like there. And then we decide on the next direction and go a few steps farther. Our walk is not very straightforward. Because we don’t know the right direction. Because we don’t have a map. If we had a map, we could be much faster on our way to Nirvana… No, there is no map. Just a small road sign here and there if we look properly. But no map. We need to find our way to Nirvana by ourselves…

Let’s go back to the labels. We study ourselves and give labels. To us and to others. Good labels and bad labels, and labels of all shades in between. Marshall Rosenberg, a peacemaker and the author of Nonviolent Communication, calls these labels a violent language, or Jackal language. He sees them as the origin of violence. The Jackal in us is excellent at giving labels. Excellent at telling what’s good and wrong about us and others. And excellent at diagnosing why it is so (e.g., because you’re like your mother). Even the positive labels are violent. They are a form of manipulation, believing that having nice labels will win us the love of others. There is a beautiful video on Youtube worth watching.

In this video, Marshall Rosenberg also says that to resolve any conflict he needed less than 20 minutes from the point in which both parties understood what their own needs and the needs of the other conflict party had been. Even conflicts lasting long years. Even conflicts which had cost many lives.

The thing is that it can take hours or even days to get to the point of understanding of the needs. There is another, 8 hours long, video from another Marshall Rosenberg’s workshop which beautifully demonstrates how difficult it is even for intelligent and eager people to dig deep enough to understand their needs, or even to distinguish what a need is and what not.

The first videos was a small road sign on my Svādhyāya path.

Understanding our own needs goes much deeper and farther than the shallow labels. Understanding of our needs is the hard part of Svādhyāya. But it’s the part which dispels violence. Violence against our selves and violence against others.

Ahimsa is the first yama and means nonviolence or non-harming.
… “suddenly love arises from the abandonment of violence”.

Namaskar

 

Surya Namaskar

Had my virgin experience in teaching Surya Namaskar. It serves as a warmup for the forthcoming yoga asana and need to synchronise the breathing and movement to keep the mind steady.

Back to the experience. Giving instructions while walking around the classroom was mind boggling. In my mind, I was hoping the hot ladies will not kill me for holding chaturanga.

Besides doing it, we need to Inhale/exhale, provide information, correct alignment, encourage, praise and recalling the next move.

Hope practise makes perfect

On the Way from Svādhyāya to Ahimsa—Part 1: Who is the stupid here?

[This post is an afterthought of the Svādhyāya exercise in the YTT class.]

Svādhyāya is the forth niyama and means one’s own reading or self-study.

Listening to the participants saying “I’m a good…”, “I’m a bad…”, “I’m good at…”, “I’m bad at…”, or even “I’m good only for…, I’m stupid for anything else.” We are giving ourselves a lot of labels. We are giving other people a lot of labels. Me too…

I sometimes get really upset how stupid people think and act—there is so much stupidity in this world that it’s beyond a joke. I found for myself a formula to overcome the emotions in such situations: Imagine people 2000 years ago. Our school kids know more than any of those people. The moral and societal standards of that time where much more primitive compared to our standards nowadays. And then imagine Jesus, somebody so much more brilliant than anybody of us living in our time. How hard it must have been for him to watch and live with those people! So, breathe in, breathe out… Your fate is not that terrible at all…

Now, imagine the people living 2000 years after us looking back at our times. I’m sure they will think the same: how horribly primitive we are. Even the best of us, the smartest of us, the most brilliant of us are just a shadow of the people to come, their skills, qualities, and moral standards (under the assumption that we don’t destroy the planet before they get the chance to come).

So, the next time you get upset about others or yourself doing stupid things, just breathe in and breathe out. Nobody is stupid here. Really. Nobody is good or bad either. Really. Good and bad are qualities relative to our standards and expectations. Relative to the standards and expectations of our tribe. They are changing with the times—from more primitive to less primitive.

We all are on our own journey from more stupid to less stupid, from less brilliant to more brilliant. Every day one step further from the lower qualities and one step closer to the higher qualities… Breathe in… Breathe out… At the end of the journey is Nirvana…

How I came to Yoga

As years passed by, I see changes in my body and every month I am suffering badly from cramp and back aching usually lasted for a few days. I started to visit TCM and picked up some aerobics classes like high impact cardio exercise and also yoga classes. I feel energetic after every workout but my monthly condition did not really improve much and was getting worse. After some soul searching and facts finding, I decided to cut down on cold stuff and changed my routine to attend more yoga classes and I feel is working good on me. My pain is shorter now and my back-aching is improving.

I started to get curious and wanted to find out more about yoga and finally I took up the courage to enroll Yoga Teacher Training. After attended 6 lessons, I simply feel no regret to enroll this course as I always thought Yoga is only a form of exercise along with meditation. It is definitely more than that when one of the topics covered the eight limbs of Yoga. It inspired me to move through life with mindfulness for own self and others.

On the other hand, now I am paying much more attention to my breathing using proper technique of Pranayama. Breath is the bridge between the mind and body! After every Yoga lesson, I feel my mind is refresh though my body is worn-out. Although there are so many challenging poses that I could not really do it well yet, there are so many aliens words that I have to memorize etc. Really love the feeling to feel alive again!

My learning journey to Yoga begins. Namaste!

Yoga to others; how it should be viewed differently

Yoga is not a cult. Neither is it merely about flexibility. And no, chanting ‘Om’ does not mean you believe in Hinduism. It’s not a path to something religious.

It is spiritual. Yoga is philosophical.

There are 3 different types of Yoga practices. Sattvic yoga focuses on the natural things in life. And that we do not feed on the efforts of others. It embodies the qualities of balance, calmness, steadiness, goodness, harmony, and peace. Rajasic stimulates the individual to becoming more energetic via passion, confusion, and ambition. (the diet for this Guna is too hard to resist though). And yes, cannabalism is real in the Aghori tribe in Northern India. (of whom practices yoga too, but just the tamasic form).

While the most common form of Yoga strives towards Sattvic yoga, it’s not wrong for the other 2 to exist. Whatever floats your boat, or their boat. As long as you gain some enlightening and lead your life true to your morals and what you believe helps you then you’re good.

It explains and unravels mysteries of life (that could potentially be explained by science) in the philosophical ways to link concepts together. It is way beyond mere poses. It cleanses your body physically first, and then mentally. It teaches you to be aware of your surroundings (a new level of consciousness), and suppresses temptations, violence, falsehood. It explains life in terms of karma, your past karma, present karma and future karmas. All 3 which affects your life and how its being led. As much as you can control what you do in your current, you can’t control the environment you were born into. And that’s why I think I believe in Samsara and Samskara. Where sometimes things just happen without a reason. And I hope my next life would be smooth-going.

Not to mention the 7 different chakras that ground you to who you are and helps appease those who have been trying at life but nothing seems to work – yes just blame it on your under or over-spinning chakras that you cannot even attempt to control. But even so, it offers an explanation, to appease our innate desire for answers with regard to the unknown.

Yoga is scientific.

It’s all about the body. It corrects your spine and body posture. My back has been pretty straight ever since yoga. It also cures certain diseases or illnesses. Instead of relying on equipment, yoga focuses a lot on how the body utilizes strength, in every nook and cranny of the body. And I think that is beautiful in itself because we should make use of what we have naturally.

You follow different postures and finger positioning (that corresponds to different acupuncture points of the body) to ultimately achieve something good for the body. Like they always say, it’s about the journey not the destination. It’s about consciously doing your best (to the maximum you believe you can achieve at every second. I mention at every second because our limits are always ever so changing, and it really is all in the mind) and not consciously only wanting the best outcome.

In the end

Ultimately I do hope to pass down whatever I’ve learnt to people, and bring a form of enlightenment and another type of higher perspectives into their lives. It would be so good if I could change the common misconceptions of what Yoga is to many who don’t know what Yoga truly encompasses. But first Yoga has to sneak into their life somehow. And hopefully I’ll be part of theirs.

Love,

Eunice x

Expectations vs Reality

Everyone can be a yoga teacher, as long as they have the certificate.

I thought it was easy, genuinely. And that made me insecure. How was I to be any different from all the other teachers graduating nearly at the same time as me? I couldn’t even do a headstand then. Plus I was 7 days short of lessons. (out of just 20)

When I came for the first lesson, there was already such a fine line drawn in my mind between giving up and continuing. I was dying in the class from all that chaturangas and all the lack of knowledge comparative to my fellow colleagues who had been in practice for over a week. The sudden temperature change in environment wasn’t helping either, I was breathless from the humidity. Plus waking up early really isn’t my forte. I was finally back after nearly 6 months and I barely had time for myself to rest or to catch up with my friends. But since I’ve already coughed out the money, I had to go. I was, and still am really pushing myself this time round. Frankly I’d have to give credit to my friend who always tells me to push yourself to your maximum, because honestly humans are very capable when stretched.

And so it went on. I think I was already inspired from the first day of theory lesson. I never knew there was so much philosophy behind yoga. How it was beyond postures, how it would ultimately crawl back into your life, and how it did for my instructors, despite them being 100% capable of making big money in other industries. Yoga grounds you, it makes you humble, and it takes things a little slower. It teaches you to work towards something, but not be greedy or obsessive. It teaches you not to compare and not to be preoccupied with the postures or people’s opinions, rather it teaches you self-love and self-awareness. It cleanses your mind of impure thoughts, slowly molding you into a better person from the inside. And I think what’s really beautiful is that the effects can shine through your skin. I’ve never liked people who preached or bragged about things that never showed through their actions but rather it was the success and effort of someone else in the background, and they were merely feeding on it. But Yoga teaches all the opposite.

And yes, this shit is actually tough. I don’t know for others, but it has been a good 15 and counting consecutive lessons of just building my swas, shoulder muscles, arms muscles in chaturanga!! (I can finally go down properly) and every other muscle in the body really. (it is quite timely though considering I have been wanting to cut some weight lately). I have been terribly tempted every night to not go for class the next day by coming up with an excuse, and I’m so glad that I’m already finishing it without breaking the streak. I have gained some newfound respect for yoga teachers who have had to go through this prior to holding a class. And overcoming that fear of constantly breaking your neck during weird poses was really another level as well. Not to mention, having to teach your own fellow colleagues who would rate you immediately after. Wish I could store my confidence in a jar and release it during the teachings, and not beg for it to come out while teaching. Reality sucks, but reality also helps you discover a lot about yourself. That everything is always going to be tough if you want results to show. And it’s so worthwhile.

X,

Eunice

How I introduced myself to Yoga, or rather how it found me again.

I was 19 and lost.

Scraping by days of multiple part time jobs for three quarter of the month, and the other quarter spending all that income on traveling. I documented everything that happened in that year on a book, almost as if afraid that I would forget the difference in the days passing because my life then was nothing noteworthy of. In all honesty I was trying to make my life seem as fulfilling as possible despite all the negativity I was in then: I was probably at my all time low given that I hadn’t received my university allocation to the only course I wanted to go, and also facing the fact that all my friends were entering University and I was desperate to get into any that would take me in for that course (oh how passion drives you). Simultaneously I was in a rather unhealthy relationship I would say; that really tested my emotional and mental strength then. I shall not delve deeper, but in short my intelligence was questioned by my partner, whom I thought would be the most understanding of my situation and how I felt, given I was already at my all time low. (I was usually the top few students in school and then on the exam I busted one of the papers) And so while everyone was living the life that was paved so nicely for them, I was there finding meaning while waiting for results (god this took a good 4-5 months of applying and waiting). Traveling was the only way I felt better, it brought me further from all this that was happening and I was essentially feeding on the envy of people around me constantly having to ask where I was every month. Back then it didn’t feel real, yes every place was beautiful and I loved every single moment of it. I would stare into the scenery and try to absorb as much of it as I could, and yet the tragic thing is even now I can’t remember exactly how it looked like, except with reference to photographs. Anyhow, 2018 taught me a lot of things, I matured so much then. Though looking back at it now I do regret not living in the moment (of uncertainty) considering I did have quite a good life. And through 2018, yoga was with me for a good 6 months. I had never thought of joining it, I honestly can’t even recall how it came into my life. I would never have signed up for a class by myself. Nevertheless, it happened anyway.

My first class flushed all the toxins out of my body, and I could taste it in my sweat (to put into context I was doing Hot Yoga). I never knew Yoga was that tiring. And soon I had 2 of my closest friends join me, both of whom were athletes since young, something I wasn’t, and yet they too were exhausted. Sooner or later our schedules didn’t align and I was attending classes alone. I guess going alone helped a lot, I became more comfortable being alone and that also meant I could focus better on the practice. I found it relaxing for the mind, but really during then it was more of a way to justify that I was doing something in life and also to keep myself fit. It did though, help ground myself down to reality and where I was, and not to compare myself with my friends who appeared to have their shit together. Then I came to Australia, and I lost contact with it for a couple of months and frankly it didn’t matter to me. I was onto pilates by then.

In March it reappeared in my life. I was out of Classpass sessions and I wasn’t willing to pay for any. My friend had asked me to join him for Yoga classes (a ‘him’, I never knew males did yoga), it was on discount even. 10 classes for $35, literally what a steal. My impression of the yoga studio wasn’t great, it was a 30min bus ride away, the teacher was late and he (yes I was also surprised by the gender) didn’t direct the class as professionally as other yoga classes I’ve attended. It was then I asked the yoga teacher if they were hiring, and how to become a yoga teacher, because it looked easy to be one. And suddenly all the information about having to have a certificate and insurance was shooting straight at me. The thought of becoming a yoga teacher was just left in my subconscious in a corner of my brain though. On that day I even brought home a yoga mat that was worth $28 because I didn’t want to rent mats, and so essentially I’m only paying $7 per class.

Subsequently I went for more lessons and I found it to be rather enjoyable. The location albeit isolated, provided a peaceful environment for an early morning practice. I think my last lesson before coming back to Singapore was the celebration of International Yoga day, where we accomplished 108 sun salutations. It felt amazing. I was comfortable with the teacher and the other students, it felt like a little sacred session all of us shared.

I guess it has been in my life since 2018, resting silently and supporting me without myself realising I enjoyed it. And now I hope it is here to stay. Or even if my Samsara takes me elsewhere, I did thoroughly enjoy this and it will forever be part of my journey towards finding myself.

2 weeks from that I signed up for YTT intensive program.

Eunice

Yoga to me, then and now.

If anyone met me when I was 13 and had asked me what I thought Yoga encompasses of, I would say meditation. I thought of it as superficial, especially for those who did all talk and their actions showed only through social media photos of them in seated poses (which ultimately defeats the purpose if you’re doing it to humble brag and not actually for your own well-being). Yoga just never made sense to me considering I had so much on my mind even at the age of 13 – about making new friends in a new school and dealing with boy issues.

Besides the point, I was an ignorant child who never even bothered to google what Yoga is about. And here I am today, with so much knowledge on what Yoga is, to me and to others, and its origins. I am awfully enlightened and my mind is just made of desperate fingers trying to grasp onto every bit of knowledge of new Sanskrit terms (unfortunately my brain capacity does not permit this). I found myself realising that a lot of concepts in Yoga align with the Universe and the cosmos, though so do other religions (as long as someone makes sense of it and creates a link between something spiritual and how we are designed to be naturally). But ultimately the end is always that the teachings leave us with good morals that shape us and our characters. At least for Yoga (to clarify I do not see it as a religion, I had thought of it as one initially but after 4 weeks of YTT that has changed. It is still much easier to explain to non-practicers of yoga that the religion affiliated with it is Hinduism, which I hope I can soon find an answer to this situation), it has brought me to a higher perspective of life and how to view it. All this information has been dormant in my life for the past 7 years. And somehow it has found its way to me, in the strangest and yet in a beautiful way – something I only realised after one of the theory classes in YTT.

Love,

Eunice

What makes my favorite yoga class?

As I am going through my lessons plan, I thought it would be helpful to reflect on what make me enjoy a yoga class, so that I can learn from the best practices that I have observed.

I remember a favorite teacher of mine used to say “you should try every teacher’s class as everyone is very different”. Clearly each teacher has very different style – military, relaxing, funny, serious etc… but for me – all of my favorite teacher has one thing in common – they always give me the best experience during their class, regardless of class difficulty level.

So… what does experience mean?

“Something that happens to you that affects how you feel” – Cambridge Dictionary

These teachers made me feel by:

  1. Giving me time to experience my pose – they talk just enough, and give me time to enjoy and go deeper in the pose. I recall taking some very beginner classes yet still enjoying them because each time it felt different for each posture.
  2. They remind me to keep breathing – either by simply saying “keep breathing” or maintain their very steady breath. As a teacher student – we all know now breathing is a very important aspect of yoga.
  3. They gently correct my posture – and through that enabling me to go deeper and deeper into my practice.
  4. They set the stage – by chanting and dimming the light. I found white fluorescent light stressful – it reminds me of a hawker center!