From All Perspectives

Hello everyone, how are you?

I will be writing the final blogpost for TTC as our exams are tomorrow. I apologise for the slight delay in uploading this as I just returned from U2’s concert at the National Stadium.

U2 is an amazing band and many of their songs carry political messages, they opened the concert with Bloody Sunday and closed with One Love. Many of their songs preached universal peace and  many talked about understanding a situation from various perspectives.

Some things in life need not be only viewed from the front, there can be other useful angles for observation too!

I was wondering of how I was just revising adjustments of asanas a few days ago. Similarly, there are 3 planes where instructors can inspect and modify their student’s asanas and muscle movements.

Frontal Plane:

The frontal or coronal plane of movement dissects the front of the body from the back.

The movements along this plane can be easily seen from the front or back of the body. Imagine an axis drawn from the top of your head down the centre of your body which splits it left and right, meaning any time you abduct (move away from the middle axis line) and adduct (move toward the middle axis line)

Transverse Plane:

The transverse plane of movement divides the body into upper and lower portions. All movements in this plane involve rotation, either inward (internal rotation) or outward (external rotation). It is important to note that Joints which permit rotation include the shoulder and hip.

In yoga, asanas that move in this plane are twists like Marichyasana D. 

Sagittal Plane:

The sagittal plane of movement dissects the right and left sides of the body.

Sagittal plane movements take place when we move our body front or back such as forward folds or backbends. We can often adjust the students alignment in postures like Vrksasana by observing from the side of the body for the lifted leg which may tilt front or back, or the hips which may not be lifted. Kakasana and ukatasana can be also accurately observed and modified from the sides of the body.

Asanas

I will be sharing about my favourite asanas in this post but don’t worry, it will not be too long.

Setu Bandhasana (Setu Bandha Sarvāṅgāsana) – Bridge Pose

This is a great asana for opening the chest to go into deeper backends. With regular practice, bridge pose builds strength in the lower back quite quickly and is recommended for people with lower back pain to help gain strength and flexibility. It also stretches your back, neck, and chest and relaxes your body, remember to breathe with the throat as you press your chest into your chin.

Utthita Parsvakonasana – Extended Side Angle Pose

Another chest opening asanas which lengthens the side of your body to create openess in the chest area and the heart. It deeply stretches groin, back muscles, spines, and hamstring.

Those who seek to strengthen themselves can tip toe on the front leg and lift upwards, or go indo a bounded side angle pose to create a twist that massages internal organs/meridian points.

Ardha Pincha Mayurasana – Dolphin Pose

This is one of my favourite pose to practice as I venture into more arm balancing and inversion classes. Dolphin pose strengthens and stretches the shoulder, arms, upper back, and legs at the same time. It really is an elevated downwars facing dog and provides relief from headaches, insomnia, fatigue, and mild depression.

In this pose, one begins to understand and feel the body weight on forearms and shoulders and work on keeping the back straight by bending the knees, and eventually work towards putting the heels on the mat.

Supta Baddha Konasana – Reclined Bound Angle Pose

This is a pose that has been difficult for me due to my tighter hips. This asana increases blood circulation in the lower abdomen and improves digestion. I feel that it works my entire hip regiong, sretches the inner thighs and also increases range of external rotation in the hips.

Baddha konasana or supta baddha konasana then becomes an immensely useful posture for those of us who lead the modern lifestlye aka long sitting hours in the office.

Mock Class Teaching

Hello everyone, how have you been?

Towards the end of YTT, we had to do some practice mock classes for 30mins – ultra beginner (which was just stretch actually), beginner, intermediate, and 2 theme class.

Teaching was a little difficult at the start due to us not being familiar with the class format. One rookie mistake made was the assumption of how advanced beginner students are.

Master Sree shared that he sometimes get ultra beginner students to do eye rotations! This drew some gasps from the rest of my YTT classmates too.

However teaching does get easier after some practice and I learnt a lot about how to adjust different body types and the kind of students that we can encounter in class. The best advise given to us was to “go with the flow” because no matter how you plan, there might be students who might come with unforeseen circumstances like a pulled muscle or even a huge belly.

Master Paalu shared that we can build our yoga classes around 5 of our favourite asanas, I found this extemely useful so I will be sharing some of my favourite asanas in the next blog post!

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Be Present :)

“Yesterday is history,

Tomorrow is a mystery,

And today is a gift…

That’s why they call it present” – Kung Fu Panda

 

We heard this quote most of the time. But how many people are really living in present?

 

The best take away for me from this course is understanding of ‘being present’.

 

Past – our memories

Sometimes we will think about our childhood memories or any of our happy and sad memories and as we think about the memories, we are subconsciously comparing our current life/moment with our past and usually this is where the sadness come from. When we faced problem in life, usually we will think and miss our childhood times, and at this moment we will feel sad because we are consciously or subconsciously comparing past and present.

 

Future – our expectations

Sometimes we will think about how we want our future to be? We want to have a big house, have a good career or perfect partner. If we focus too much in the expectation or life projection, we will look forward or have overactive imagination in the life that not exist yet and forgo to enjoy the current life we are living. Moreover, if things do not go according our way, we might living anxiously which affects our health.

 

Of course, the ‘past’ and ‘future’ are part of our life and we cannot forget or ignore them. Our past is our life experience and lessons that shaped us to who we are and our future projection is the motivation for our improvement in life. However, we need to balance them with ‘present’ and yoga has personally help me on this ‘balancing’.

 

In yoga, while we practising pranayama, we learn to focus on our breathing and how our breathing affects each part of our body, our thought without any judgement and actually this is the time that we focus on the present moment. Also, we will learn to practice asana with present-moment awareness by anchoring the mind to the physical movement, breath control and also muscle movement. By living and enjoying the present moment, we will be contented and find happiness.

Teaching Yoga

I always thought teaching yoga is easy as the teacher seems effortless when instructing the class. But after these three days of teaching, I started to understand the effort that goes behind the scene.

There are a lot of factors (see below) need to be considered when conducting the yoga class and usually these factors needed to be performed simultaneously. As mentioned by Master Paalu, teaching one hour class might be equivalent to two hours of working in office due to the intensity of the focus you given to the students in the class.

  • Breathing instruction
  • Counting
  • Sequence of asana
  • Transition of asana
  • Variation of asana for different level of student
  • Anatomy of asana
  • Physical alignment for student
  • Observation/ attention to student to prevent injuries
  • Instructor’s tone/ Morale of the class
  • Benefit of the asana
  • Detachment of personal emotional of the teacher

Last but not least, the most important key is to teach with heart. We need to put ourselves in our student shoes, we might be able to do all the advance poses but the student we teaching might be ultra-beginner who are not able to bend or stretch properly or elderly persons who has physical health problem such as knee cap or leg injuries. Regardless of the type of students we have, we need to be empathize with them by teaching them the poses which are suitable to their physical limitation.

Teaching yoga is not an easy job. I really respect and appreciate the seen or unseen effort of all the yoga teachers.

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. 

 

FT YTT 200 Hours #04

We’ve heard about many girls come to yoga to get over a break up. Being lucky or unlucky enough, this might be the reason of the beginning of your yoga journey. Unlucky that your romance is ended by now. On the bright side, you were at least lucky enough to fall in love once in your lifetime. The jackpot is yoga can definitely help you; not just to mend your broken heart.

Yoga is the union of mind, body and spirit. You have to be physically fit at this point of time if you’re mentally unfit because yoga is not only about breath in and breath out and you will be recovered from the break up. Beware that sometimes the muscles ache after yoga physical practice could be more painful than the heart ache caused by your past love.

Letting go of a relationship can be a  complicated process; but you’re on the right path towards the recovery. We would be at the denial stage of grieving upon breaking up; be it you initiated the break up or you just got ditched. Our belief system is ruled by our heart instead of our mind at this point of time; it’s hard to adjust to the idea that we are losing someone in our lives, even though he is still alive out there. And after this stage we would be in anger, why did he do that to me or why is life being unfair to us. The truth is, life is always unfair and things are changing beyond your control; especially for a relationship. After this you may be regret or still wish to text him or talk to him and hoping him to come back. The best thing to do is not to do anything to him. Give him some time and also spare yourself some time to think if he is really the person that you want to spend the rest of your life with; or just for the moment. Distance creates attraction at some points; if you didn’t do something really bad to him. For sure, he will think about you; at least for three minutes after the break up. You might be in depression and not wanting to do anything or being on the verge of tears most of the time.

On the contrary, this is the best time to start practicing yoga. Instead of dwelling on the past love, divert your attention and spend your energy to learn something new. Self improvement is essential; we always want to be a better version of ourselves. He may or may not come back, but if he will and he will. There’s nothing you could change about him; but you could change yourself, gradually, in a better way with a positive mindset from the learning of yoga.

There are a few asana we could practice, ideally is to heal your broken heart.

Start with Balasana, child pose. Melt yourself onto the mat with your knees distance apart and let your stomach sink to your thighs. Hug the earth if you couldn’t hug your ex anymore. Stay for ten breaths and when you get up you will feel good just because you are still breathing on this earth.

Uttanasana, standing forward bend is a good pose as well. Stand with your feet hip width apart and toes rooted to the ground. Raise your arms up and fold your back over the front of your thighs, bringing the crown of your head towards the ground. You may hold onto opposite elbow and shake them to the left and right a bit or just hands down on the floor. If you feel like crying because you still think about your ex now, you may cry a bit at this point because nobody would see it when you’re doing this pose with your head down; if only it makes you feel better.

There are of course a lot more challenging poses but you need to warm up your body with a few round of Surya Namaskar, sun salutation. You will be able to sense the heat and power from your body. Do it with proper inhalation and exhalation at every change of pose. Practice also Virabhadrasana A & B, the Warrior 1 & 2: these could really make you feel like a real warrior. You have to engage your muscle, suck in your belly, gaze at the correct dristi, breath in and breath out steadily and balance your pose. I assume that you would not have time to think about your ex now because you may now realized that there are so many things to do in life.

It’s not easy to come to an acceptance; for anything. But there’s a time for everything. A time to tear down and a time to build. A time to weep and a time to laugh. A time to mourn and a time to dance. Yoga may not be able to heal your heart ache fully; but it could definitely do something beyond that. Your muscle will tone up after regular practice, your skin will be smoother, and endorphins makes your feel happy, most importantly your mind will be at peace. If he comes back and you still want him, treasure every moment and try to do better together. Otherwise, you could be happy by yourself or a better man is out there waiting for the better you!

P.S.: Yoga is for life; not just for the break up healing!

My Beginning of the End

So almost everyone’s first post is about how they started yoga. And if you think this post is going to be different, you are wrong. Sorry to disappoint! 

I personally think it’s important to share how one got into yoga. Everyone has a different story and each story is beautiful in their own ways. What’s mine?

My first yoga lesson was eight years ago, and it was one of the classes provided by my gym then. I know I know, why did I take a yoga lesson (If I recall, it’s Yin yoga) in a gym? Beats me too. Anyways, that session was so boring and I nearly fell asleep 15 mins in. And I told myself yoga is not for me. 

True enough, I did not step into a yoga lesson for three years. Until in 2014, my friend, Nerissa, asked if I was interested in yoga. As you can imagine, I was reluctant at first. But after much persuasion, I caved and went for a trial class, thinking I won’t be interested and I will yet again fall asleep. Little do I know, that class changed my perception of yoga. It was such an invigorating session. As flexible as I thought I was (clearly I was not and very ignorant then), I was ‘defeated’ by the poses. I saw some of the regular practitioners who did it with such poise and grace. I was in awe and it was an eye opener. Naturally, both Nerissa and I signed up with the yoga studio and went for classes regularly. But as much as I was enjoying yoga, I felt that something was missing. Something just did not click but I did not know what it was. Sadly, I decided to quit yoga.

During the three years I stopped yoga, somehow I miss it. There is just something about it – the energy, the poses. So after much deliberation, I decided to join a yoga studio. I started to practice yoga again. I am not going to lie, it was tough in the beginning. My body was stiff and it aches after each session. But as sessions go by, I began to fall in love with yoga. This time round, one way or another, I understood yoga better. It’s not only about the poses but the beauty of the union of the breath and movement. It made me want to learn and understand the meaning of yoga (Yoga and me clicked this time. Hooray!). What really is yoga? The thirst for wanting to know more grew. At the same time, Nerissa (who else) asked if I was interested to join YTT at Tirisula. So here I am writing this post, enjoying every moment of it. As they say… The rest is history.

Time for another story another time. 

Shine on.

The 9 obstacles of Yoga

To be able to exercise our body, mind and spirit , is an incredible blessing that not every has, yet those of us who do, take it for granted.
According to Patanjali there are 9 obstacles in yoga and what I think we can do to overcome them ;

Vyadi Physical Illness
When we are ill and unwell our minds will tend to focus on the discomfort and pain in our body and perhaps even beat ourselves up because we are unable to do anything. Illness is the body’s way of telling us we need rest to recover. Focus your mind on positive things and visualise yourself in a healthy and strong state and take lots of rest , and then  you can slowly pick up on our practice again, as your body allows. 

Styana –Lack of Interest
Boredom is a state of weariness and restlessness . One could be in a healthy physical state but still face lack of interest or enthusiasm mentally and spiritually. There is lack of nerve power, a feeling of stagnation and no inclination to commit to anything. The mind focuses more on the opposition of interest rather than interest itself. To overcome this I think we should constantly try new ways of approaching yoga and practice sadhana with an open mind everyday. 

Samshaya –Doubt/ Indecision
How does Doubt about ourselves arise? It is when we compare ourselves with others or when we do not have confidence and faith in ourselves. To overcome this, we just have to keep an open mind,  keep trying , watching and learning from those who have succeeded before us.

Pramada –Negligence/ carelessness
We have to pay careful attention to every aspect of our practice, if we do not , we may be habitually careless in our practice, lose focus and even cause serious injury to ourselves. Even the seemingly small adjustments can help us practice yoga safer. Practice with your mind body and spirit and be fully present in your practice.

Alasya –Physical Laziness
It is a bad mental habit acquired by continued yielding to the love of comfort and ease and tendency to avoid exertion. If we may say so, languor is a purely physical defect while laziness is generally a purely psychological condition. To overcome this We have to practice tapas, and be disciplined in our practice. Constantly challenging ourselves with difficult postures will allow us to improve.

Avirati –Desire for sense object/lack of control
In the beginning when we start practicing yoga it is not easy to shut out the interests of the worldly life abruptly. If we really see the illusions which are inherent in the pursuit of worldly objects like wealth, honour, name etc. then we lose all attraction for them and naturally give up their pursuit.

Bharantidarshana –Living under illusion

This means taking a thing for what it is not. It is due generally to lack of intelligence and discrimination. A Sadhaka may, for example, begin to see lights and hear sounds of various kinds during his early practices.

“This incapacity to assess our supernormal experiences at their proper worth is basically due to immaturity of soul.”“These things are very spurious and do not mean much and yet there are many Sadhakas who get excited about these trivial experiences and begin to think they have made great progress.
We have to keep our mind child-like, always learning and open to new possibilities.

 

Alabdhabhumikutua –Missing the Point/Non-achievement of a stage
When we hit a roadblock or what seems to be a dead end, we should not give up . This failure to obtain a footing in the next stage can cause distraction and disturb the perfect equanimity of the mind unless the Yogi has developed inexhaustible patience and capacity for self-surrender.  If needed we should rest and try again.

 

Anavasthitatva –inability to maintain achieved progress
From personal experiences; I was able to do a headstand without the wall one night, and then the next day I tried with a timer and I could not. The mind reverts to its previous stage and a considerable amount of effort has to be put forth in order to regain the foothold. We should not give up, but keep practicing daily.

We are meant to transcend whatever obstacles we face in life. We should not avoid or run away from these obstacels as whatever we resist, persists.
Keep on keeping on, fellow yogi’s 🙂

 

FT YTT 200 Hours #03

We often heard about Karma. But do we really have the exact idea of what is karma and what is your karma?

There’s no word to translate karma to English. And there’s no any exact translation of any Sankrit word to English. What we are learning today may not be the full content from the past due to the lost in translation.
Karma is the cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect). Good intent and good deeds contribute to good karma and happier rebirths, while bad intent and bad deeds contribute to bad karma and bad rebirths. It would be in the form of samsara: the imprints from the past.

Thus, good karma produces good effect on the actor, while bad karma produces bad effect. This effect may be material, moral or emotional: that is, one’s karma affects one’s happiness and unhappiness. The effect of karma need not be immediate; the effect of karma can be later in one’s current life, and it extends to future lives.

Some people may spend a life time to figure out what is their karma but not realizing that karma is already doing its work. Some times we may not know what we want in life but we often know what we don’t want. Even though everything is about making decision; we wouldn’t know what is a good or a bad decision at that point of time. What we can do is only trust ourselves, be patient, and only time will tell.

Even if we made a dumb decision in the past, we learn from it and hopefully become wiser; most importantly not to repeat it again. However, we should learn if we are doing good or bad thing. If we don’t know what’s the exact good thing we can do, here’s the good guideline of 5 Yama that sage Patanjali said:
. Ahimsa: non-violence
. Satya: truthfulness
. Asteya: non-stealing
. Brahmacharya: chastity (if only you will)
. Aparighaha: non-possessiveness

What’s done cannot be undone; and what’s past is past. And of course, this too shall past. Do not dwell on the past and start doing good thing. Nobody knows what’s the future holds but what we are doing now definitely have the impact for the future. Do not worry about the future; stay present and live at the present – be a brighter person. Good karma won’t come to you if you’re doing bad thing: be wise enough to dive in and be wise enough to walk away!

 

P.S.: love yourself with utmost respect before you love others or expecting others to love you!