We are all truly one

Today it seems that almost everyone is aware of how human activity is harming our planet. We are probably already consciously trying to reduce our impact by recycling, driving less, and making an effort to choose the “green” products at the supermarket. To take a step further, we can begin a practice of cultivating gratitude and appreciation for the Earth. When our actions are ignited by a heart-centered consciousness, we can affect the larger world in limitless positive ways.

In many circumstances the habits of our daily lives cut us off from the natural world, where we are constantly cooped up within the four walls of an office, with our eyes perpetually fixated to screens of a mobile, desktop or television. Yet the reality is that we are intimately joined to nature. Similar to our planet Earth, our bodies are made up of seventy five percent water.

Focusing our attention on the everyday gifts that nature provides, will encourage us to cultivate a sense of admiration and gratitude.In my own life, just placing my feet on the floor to connect with the earth first thing in the morning fills me with gratitude. Splashing water on my face connects me to the water that flows all over and through the planet. Breathing oxygenated air into my lungs as I feel the rays of the sun envelope me brings a sense of joy, because fire, air, and prana have united in me. In those first moments of waking, I feel a deep connection to the Earth. When we take time to appreciate and be aware of these connections, we can experience a sense of grounding, abundant well-being, and a sense of belonging.

We are all truly one.

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 4 The Theory

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 4  The Theory

Love the theory part, not so much that I like to read now, but so relax and easy that someone there talk and I listen, the science, the philosophy, the art, and the stories.

I had already much forgotten to recall exactly how many years from the day I enjoy listening to the teacher’s classroom teaching.

It’s back to my old golden days.

After all, after reading for so many years, my eye sights getting bad. Just packed up all my books into 26 cartons of boxes while preparing to move them to another location.

After this course, I think, likely will start collecting and pick up again, books on the Yoga’s title.

It’s pleasant reading on the Yoga Sutra, though initially having difficulties and hard time stirring my tongues over the Sanskrit words and trying to figure out what’s the meaning by reading the long explanation inside the manual, which eventually made me more confused.

Lucky enough, I managed to find and organized from the internet.
Well, IF, I meant “IF”, If I have the time, likely will add on to it’s German and Chinese or even other languages translation at my leisure if I can find it.

Here share if you need.

Here go we happy Journey to Yoga Lifestyle.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra Translation Sanskrit to English

 

汇编 Complied by Angie Chua 20190909.

Yoga and OT

In occupational therapy, the first practice model we learnt (CMOP-E) comprises the 3 key parts of OT: Person, Environment, & Occupation. In this context, occupation is all the activities we do daily, for self-care, productivity, or leisure. OTs help people by teaching new skills, adapting the environment, or modifying valued activities, all to enable people to be as independent as possible in their daily lives. Guess what is at the centre of the model as the core component of the person – Spirituality! – which refers to the essence of the person and the meaning that people attribute to what they do, which drives their motivation. We learnt that engaging in meaningful and purposeful activities in life was essential for overall good health and well-being. It made me think about what activity I was doing that met these criteria – and yoga was the first thing that came to mind. Yoga is meaningful to me as I experience a sense of strength, balance, and calm when I do yoga, which motivates me to continue attending weekly classes to not only feel this calming sensation, but also develop my yoga practice.

During the 200hr Yoga TTC, we learnt that Asanas (poses) and Pranayama (breaths) are tools and techniques used for the outcome of Yoga (union). In yoga, there is a holistic view of the person, in terms of mind, body and spirit, all of which – in union – contribute to overall good health and well-being. There are similarities between yoga practices and therapeutic interventions we learn, especially for mental health. For example, we use the Inhale 4: Hold 2: Exhale 6 second breathing technique for anxiety, joint warm ups and stretches to maintain physical function, and relaxation sessions which include progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness/meditation. The holistic view of the person is also a core part of OT practice and I feel I have a better appreciation of this now, after more in-depth learning about breathing techniques, postures, and meditation in yoga practice.

– Ari (200hr YTTC, 2018) 

Are 200 hours enough to make you a YOGA TEACHER?

A batch of “YOGA TEACHERS” will be Christian soon after going through 200 hours of intense training daily. Would 200 hours be enough to make you a good yoga teacher?

Let’s take a step back to analyze this. What makes a teacher a teacher? (With all due respect to the teachers out there) In my humble opinion, anyone can be a teacher. Just pay the course fees, attend the lessons be it theory or practical and when you pass, you are certified as a teacher. However, what makes a teacher, a real teacher? A Real teacher needs to learn the knowledge and skills needed for that course and he or she must be able to share this knowledge to the students in a way that the students enjoy learning and also understand what the teacher is talking about. Have you gone to a class and at the end of it you realize you do not remember what was being taught but it was a damn awesome class? Have you gone for a class that could be so structured and notes are taken, and you understood what the teacher is trying to “teach” but your mind wonders to what you going to have for lunch and what movie to watch on Netflix later, etc? Every “teacher” delivers the lesson plan in their own unique ways. The skill to be able to pass on the knowledge in a structured way and at the same time captivating the students to want to know more about the subject being taught is deemed a perfect teacher.

However, there will always be two sides to a coin. What about the students being taught? What makes a student a good student? One that is willing to learn and also willing to be taught?

200 hours training to be a yoga teacher is definitely not enough. It’s just touching the tip of the iceberg. There are so much more to learn and to understand, but we only have that 24 hours a day. The knowledge that is being taught is more of survival skills needed to be a yoga teacher. It does not make you a good yoga teacher. Some of us are gifted in the way we can deliver speech and lessons, some of us are gifted in a way to interact with the students, some of us are gifted to be able to control the crowd and gather the sheep, some of us are gifted to absorb all the knowledge being taught but cannot deliver it back to students. Too many factors will make or break you as a yoga teacher. An example would be getting a master’s degree in business and finance does not necessarily make you a millionaire. The knowledge that we learn, we will need to be able to transfer it to the students or it will just be knowledge for self -improvement.

It’s a journey that never ends. We just have to keep learning new knowledge even after the 200 hours course to improve our own understanding of the true meaning of being a YOGI. In the meantime, we will share our experiences with others that are interested to learn and we call ourselves yoga teachers.

We are all connected.

We are all connected. Whether we realize it or not, our actions impact one another. Yoga teaches us to pay closer attention to cause and effect of actions in life. Just as we develop our Asana practice by learning how muscle groups are interconnected, and see how a posture can improve significantly if we simply reposition our palm or shift our weight to the back foot, we become more in tuned with how our actions affect the people around us. As we practice in a group class, we may notice how one person toppling out of a balancing posture such as Vrkshasana (tree pose) can bring down others around. We may also notice how one person’s negative mood in class can bring down the collective energy of the class. Nowadays, with social media significantly reducing the degrees of separation within our communities, our actions are more powerful than ever – positive or negative. Everyone has the capacity and responsibility to effect powerful positive change, even from the smallest of actions. Understanding this, I believe it is so important now to help spread this message of interconnectedness to encourage more mindful action. This is a key message I want to spread as I continue my yoga journey and teach others along the way.

Bye-bye beauty salons! The anti-aging benefits of yoga

There are various health related benefits to yoga. The good news is that anti-aging is one of these benefits! I have in fact met some instructors whom I thought were in their 40’s, only for them to surprise me by telling me that they were in their 60’s!

So, why exactly does yoga come with anti-aging benefits?

· Based on deep breathing

In the world of yoga, there is a breathing method called Pranayama, which is regarded as one of the most important aspects of yoga.

By performing these deep breaths, it has the effect of bringing energy into the body. This breathing method is what produces the following health benefits.

–   Normalizes hormone balance, allowing you to become youthful from within.

  • Lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow, helps digestion and activates metabolism of cells.
  • Stimulates parasympathetic nerves and furthers relaxing effect, reduces stress and anxiety, and suppresses inflammation in the body which causes aging.

–   Promotes turnover of the skin, improving skin glow and blood color.

・Trains your muscles to become elastic and supple
As we get older our muscles slowly deteriorate, and it is said that muscle fibers become thinner. However, similar to the brain, our muscles become stronger and more effective the more we train it.

The relaxed movements of yoga stimulate our tightened muscles without adding undue stress, and helps train them. It helps with skeletal realignment and improves our posture. As it places stress on our joints and connective tissues, our joints become strengthened as well.

As blood flow improves, our internal organs become active and metabolism improves, assisting in resolving obesity and improving body balance.
Furthermore, since antioxidant substances (substances to remove reactive oxygen) in our blood increase, waste accumulated in the body can be discharged, leading to the rejuvenation of the body. Because a strong core (mainly deep belly, pelvic floor, muscles along the spine etc.) will also be trained, we will become better at using our own body, and less likely to become injured in our daily lives.

・Improved balance and stability

We lose our sense of balance as we get older, as well as stability. Falling and broken bones are the most common reasons we need care as when we age. The number of people who suffer a broken femoral neck increase exponentially in accordance with age.

Yoga contains many poses which force us to maintain balance. Our brain and body must work in unison when trying to balance, and furthermore both sides of our brain must fire together. Yoga is also a good way to train both sides to communicate more efficiently.

・Heightened sense of inner consciousness, allowing us to live more mindfully

We often feel stress in our modern society. It is said that “stress is the source of a million diseases”, and stress can in fact trigger serious sicknesses. In addition, there are many people who are too busy with their daily tasks that they cannot devote any time to managing their own health.

Practicing yoga will allow you to turn your eyes toward your body and thoughts, and to notice even the subtlest of changes. It will also allow you to build healthy habits to not accumulate stress.


2 Recommended Anti-aging Poses

・Shoulder Stand
A pose that secretes hormones for rejuvenation. It is effective for improving poor circulation and swelling.

First, lay down facing up. Keep your legs perfectly straight, and slowly extend them towards the ceiling. Hold your hips with both hands, and continue to lift your butt and hips toward the ceiling, in that particular order. Try to think of it as standing on your shoulders and keep your body as straight as possible.

Exhale and inhale for a few repetitions, slowly bring your body back to the floor and you’re done!

・Camel pose
It is a pose that improves blood flow, activates internal organs and produces a detox effect. It is recommended for people with desk jobs, stiff shoulders, and hunchbacks.

First, spread your legs slightly and stand on your knees with your toes vertical to the floor. Exhale slowly while pushing your pelvis forward, and open up your chest while looking up at the ceiling.

If possible, try to touch your heels with your hands for a better effect. Exhale and inhale for 5 repetitions in that pose, and slowly bring your body back.

Haruka

Yoga = Instagrammable Poses?

When you think of Yoga, what comes to your mind?

A bearded monk meditating in India ? A flexible woman who is in an Instagrammable pose? Or a fashionable lifestyle practiced by celebrities in Hollywood ?

Yes, these are the typical stereotypes about Yoga. But these stereotypes are often misleading. Yoga is not all about poses.

Yoga in our modern society has been commercialized to a large extent and it has lost some of its originality and tradition.

The purpose of practicing Yoga in the modern context is “to attain good physical health”, however, originally it was “to attain peace of mind”. In Sanskrit, the language of yoga, the word “Yoga” means “connection”, where the mind, body and soul are in perfect harmony.

The basis of Yoga is “the ability to control your thought fluctuations” as mentioned in Yoga Sutra, a widely regarded primary text on yoga, and the best way to achieve this is through meditation. Fundamentally, meditation requires one to close out all other senses and to concentrate or apply single focus on one particular objective. Being in a meditative state is Yoga itself.

In Sanskrit, these poses are referred to as “Asana”, and the root meaning of the term Asana is to be in the sitting position. Contrary to popular belief, the numerous Asanas practiced in yoga serve as building blocks to build a strong foundation for one to meditate which often lasts for hours. 

It might seem illogical but Asana in its original form, which is the sitting position is far more difficult than the other forms and positions of Asanas which are practiced today. This is because sitting asana requires a long sustained combination of controlled and steady breathing, upright posture of the torso and most importantly, which happens to be the most difficult, a fully-focused mind.

The Yoga Sutras refers to eight limbs (Ashtanga) of yoga, each of which offers guidance on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life.

The 8 Limbs of Yoga

  1. YAMA – Restraints, moral disciplines or moral vows
  2. NIYAMA– Positive duties or observances
  3. ASANA – Posture
  4. PRANAYAMA – Breathing techniques
  5. PRATYAHARA – Sense withdrawal
  6. DHARANA – Focused concentration
  7. DHYANA – Meditative absorption
  8. SAMADHI – Bliss or enlightenment

The first five of eight limbs including Asana which is the third limb, serve as a preparation for the last three limbs which are forms of meditation.

Modern practitioners have lost their ways by coming up with versions of yoga such as “Dog Yoga”, “Beer Yoga” and the like and have deviated from the true form and meaning of yoga.

While it is great that people are starting to take care of their health through yoga, I sincerely hope that the original meaning, practice and art of yoga will never be diminished and always be kept intact in its truest and original form.

Haruka

The Most Underrated Asana: Savasana 

“Lie down, close your eyes and relax” – the words we all look forward to hearing at the end of the class, meaning we’ve worked through some sun salutations, practiced asanas and are ready to rest. After getting into a comfortable position, taking a cleansing breath or maybe an audible exhale, we find ourselves in savasana, also known as corpse pose.

I think savasana is perhaps the easiest asana to perform but one of the most difficult to master, a form of conscious surrender. In today’s fast-paced society, people are so used to instant gratification and efficiency, where we want effects of our actions to be nearly immediate, thus find it hard to take a moment to slow down. I know I definitely do, where I used to really struggle just lying still for a few minutes and always had the urge to fidget. Even when I did self-practice, I often left out savasana because I wanted to get back to my day instead of lying around. On the other side of the spectrum, some find themselves falling asleep, where they let go and lose focus, enjoying the pose a little too much.

However, savasana has many benefits both physiologically and psychologically. It is an opportunity for us to physically and mentally relax each part of the body, usually starting from the feet up. By taking time in savasana, we can absorb the energy from the physical asanas and dissolve any tension in our muscles, letting our body recover and rest, as well as taking a mental inventory and checking in with how our body feels. Besides that, we can allow our parasympathetic system to take over, where we can slow down our respiratory rate and heart rate, and give our bodies time for them both to return to resting rate. Although the autonomic system usually works unconsciously, in savasana we can consciously notice and register how our breath and heartbeat is slowing down, and in that way, feel more relaxed.

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I am not flexible = I cannot practice yoga

I can assure that you have heard this phrase as many times as I have. When you tell your friends, your family, or random people that you practice yoga or that you are doing the YTT they tell you “I cannot practice because I’m not flexible enough” or  “You must be super flexible”.

My answer is laughing and asking: Should you be a great cook to go to a cooking class? Should you speak Japanese to go to a Japanese course? Should you know how to drive to go to a driving academy? NO. You go there because your goal is to acquire that skill.

The same happens with yoga, not all the yoga teachers can touch their knees with their nose in a forward bend, and not everyone that practice yoga can even reach their toes. That’s one of the reasons why we practice yoga because we want to be able to do it.

A yoga teacher once told me:

how old you are is not that important, how flexible you are is the main thing. Keep flexible and you will be young forever.

Now I understand what he meant. It’s not something you will get with one or two classes, as you will not learn a language with two or three classes, you need constant practice, you need to immerse yourself and live what you are learning, you need to have a reason why you want to do it. A dream without a goal will always remain a dream.

So find a reason and remember that to learn a new skill you just need practice and practice. 

Adriana

Should or shouldn’t I mention that I have a health issue to my yoga teacher?

During these four weeks of YTT, we have been hearing and talking about those students that have health issues but don’t mention them to the teacher. In this post, I want to talk from the perspective of one of these students.

I have an autoimmune disease that affects mobility, strength, balance, among many other things. So let’s go straight to the question, should or shouldn’t I mention that I have a health issue to my yoga teacher?

The answer is: IT DEPENDS.

 

These are some of the things you have to consider:

  • What your doctor recommends
  • The condition you have
  • How much do you know yourself and your body
  • How much do you understand your disease
  • What do you expect from the yoga practice
  • The yoga style you are practising.

 

Reasons to mention your health issues:

  • Your doctor recommended you to practice yoga to recover yourself
  • It will affect the flow of the class
  • You are not sure if the level of the class is right for you
  • The teacher is asking to do something you really cannot do

 

Reasons not to mention your health issues:

  • You feel good and are confident about your practice
  • You have tried yoga before and know it will not affect your health
  • You don’t trust the teacher
  • You just know you can do it

 

In my case sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. For the normal classes I usually don’t mention, because I don’t want the teacher to treat me in a different way, I just do what I can and don’t do what I cannot. For the YTT I just mentioned the day we were starting, because I realised there were some poses that were going to take more than a month for me to achieve.

So, after saying all this I just recommend you to be aware that many of the students you will have won’t tell you about their health issue, unless it’s something obvious or unless they want your help and guidance. Be mindful that not everyone has the same strength, flexibility or abilities and if you have a health issue, keep looking there will be a yoga style that is suitable for your condition.

Adriana