Yoga for Scoliosis

Yoga for Scoliosis

Scoliosis refers to the sideways, or lateral, curvature of the spine.  When I was 10, I found out that I had mild lumbar scoliosis, i.e. a slight curvature in my lumbar spine.  As the curvature remained under 5 degrees, I did not have to undergo surgery or any other form of treatment.  The scoliosis does not cause any pain (for now, at least), but it has resulted in some asymmetries in my stance.  So I hope to use yoga to reduce this curvature, or at least prevent it from worsening as I grow older.   

(1) Bend towards convex side of curve

In a class with Master Paalu, I learned how I could modify certain positions to straighten up the curve in my spine.   Generally, I should try to bend towards the convex side of the curve (which is my left side) as much as possible. So in poses like Utkatasana (Chair Pose) or Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), I can modify my alignment by twisting towards my left side instead of facing forward.  Similarly, Balasana (Child’s Pose) can be modified by moving my arms toward my left side, keeping the arms shoulder-width apart.

I can also incorporate more twisting asanas in my practice. These may include Ardha Matsyendrāsana (Half lord of the fishes pose),  Bharadvajasana and Marichyasana.  While I should practice these asanas on both sides, I should spend more time twisting to my left side.  It is important to lengthen the spine before twisting into these poses.

Side-bending poses like reverse warrior may also be useful for lengthening the spine.  More time should be spent bending to the convex side of the curve.

(2) Maintain proper posture and place equal weight on legs

Master Sree has constantly emphasised the importance of proper posture, whether we are sitting or standing.  To keep the spine straight and healthy, we should maintain an upright posture and avoid slouching or hunching the spine.  This is particularly important for people with scoliosis, since we have the tendency to slouch to one side.  We need to always remember to place equal weight on both feet and remain aware of any imbalances in our posture.

(3) Strengthen abdominal muscles

If the abdominal muscles are weak, the back muscles overwork and thus tighten. This may cause lordosis or worsen the scoliotic curve in the lower back.  Therefore, it is important to practice asanas that strengthen the abdominal muscles. 

(4) Strengthen musculature on convex side

A study has shown that regular practice of a modified Vasisthasana (side plank) pose with the con­vex side of the lumbar curve down can reduce the scoliotic curve. The modification was to hold the upper ribs about a half-inch higher than in the classic pose.  The researchers hypothesized that the poses may help straighten the spine by strengthening the musculature in the abdomen, spine and lower back on the convex side of the curve.

In essence, regular practice of carefully selected and modified asanas will help to reduce the scoliotic curve.   The key principle is simple: strengthen the muscles on the convex side and lengthen the muscles on the concave side.   While yoga may not bring about instant results like surgery, it is definitely the safer treatment option and is ideal for people with mild scoliosis.

Food for thought

The nutrition is directly linked to the performance of asanas and our lifestyle in general. The yogi diet is based on Ayurvedic teachings. Some products are strictly forbidden by them, others are consumed in small quantities and in a certain period of time, and third yogis eat constantly. Three types of food in yoga According to Ayurveda, even the best and cleanest foods are not always healthy. So, there is food that should be consumed only in winter or summer. Some foods should be eaten in the morning, because they excite and give energy, others in the evening, as they calm and set you up for a long sleep. Yoga  divides all food into three types:

       Sattva, which means “purity.” This includes all fresh vegetarian food. Mostly seeds and sprouted grains, fruits, wheat, butter, milk and honey.

      Rajas is a food that excites the body. It is better not to use products from this category or to reduce their amount in the diet to a minimum. This includes citrus fruits, tea and coffee, as well as spices, fish, seafood, eggs, alcohol, soda, garlic and onions.

     Tamas is a rough and heavy meal. It is difficult to absorb by the body. It does more harm than good. Relaxes, after eating it makes you want to sleep. These are root vegetables, red meat (beef and pork), all canned foods, mushrooms, food with a heavy taste (roach, etc.). This includes frozen food and one that has been stored for some time. These are also considered dishes that are reheated, alcohol and food that has been cooked in a restaurant or store.

 Doing yoga, you will feel what products you will not need. Changes in the body will occur harmoniously and in accordance with the needs of your body. The gradual process of rebuilding the habits of the body is very important.

Many (and not only in yoga) make the same mistake: they abruptly begin to change their diet (completely abandon meat, fish, eggs, switch to the most sophisticated diets, such as raw food diet, etc.). With this development of events, in a few months you will face a series of ailments, such as colds, exacerbation of all previously existing sores, and digestive upset. And then it could be worse. Naturally, there can be no question of doing yoga.

Beware of this mistake!

  • never abruptly change your lifestyle, especially in nutrition, non-compliance with this rule leads to big trouble;
  • a complete rejection of meat food does not always bring positive results. If you abandoned the meat, you need to replace it with another animal protein: milk and dairy products, eggs, fish;
  • in your diet should always be present in large quantities vegetables and fruits;
  • food should always be fresh and harmoniously selected.

It must be remembered that the body will never tolerate abuse of itself both in the diet and in the mode of activity. And with the right approach to yoga, you become as independent as possible from environmental conditions, feeling great in any situation, with any set of food products.

 

Meditation.Self Journey

For me yoga was always about physical practice. I have never done meditation at home and was skipping that “boring part of yoga” in yoga classes. But after some time, part of me has developed feeling that I maybe missing something. So when I signed up for Tirisula yoga teacher training course, one of my goal was to concentrate on  spiritual part of yoga. And that’s what I have learned so far.

Meditation is an integral part of yoga practice. Yoga helps to improve and develop physically. But spiritual development is no less important for a person. The goal pursued by meditation is self-knowledge of oneself, achieving clarity of mind, the ability to relax, the desire for complete inner harmony.

In medicine there is a concept such as “chronic fatigue syndrome” – a disease of modern man.By doing meditation, you can learn to concentrate and relax, control your emotions and mind. Meditation helps to strengthen health, get rid of existing diseases, prolongs life.

The best part –  you can do it yourself, in any convenient place. In yoga centers, classes are led by experienced teachers who will help you understand and master the basics of meditation.If there is no time and opportunity to visit specialized centers, you can master meditation yourself. After a hard working day, it’s good to take 15-20 minutes. relaxation in a homely atmosphere.

As in any practice, there are certain rules in meditation. Here are a few points for conducting an independent practice:

  •     Choose a place for relaxation, where nothing will distract from immersion in yourself. Although, it should be noted that neither advanced noise nor extraneous sounds interfere with advanced practices.
  •    Take a comfortable position.
  •   Try to relax as much as possible each muscle of the body, mentally observing relaxation.
  •    Concentrate on breathing. Monitor inhalation and exhalation – the exhalation should be longer.
  •    Try to turn off your mind. Throw all thoughts out of my head. This will help focus on something specific – on breathing, on relaxation.
  •   Try to withstand a certain time. 10 minutes is enough for a start.
  •     To leave meditation smoothly, without rushing, trying to feel new sensations and maintain a state of calmness.

After trying my best and practice it regularly every day for some time , I came to understanding that : Meditation is not as difficult as it may seem. But the benefits of this practice are undeniable. And very good when it becomes a habit.

Yoga during the Time of the Month

During the Time of the Month, most of us would choose to take a panadol and rest in bed. However, it isn’t recommended to constantly rely on medication. If your body allows it, yoga can help alleviate back pain and cramps. It also helps in balancing emotions, reducing mood swings, irritability,and anger.

Some poses you can do to help relieve menstrual cramp:
Baddha Konasana
Supta Baddha Konasana
Janu Sirsasana
Paschimottanasana
Supine Twist

These poses stimulate blood flow and circulation, helping to relieve symptoms of bloating, heavy bleeding, PMS and lower back pain.

Word of caution: Do not force your body into anything if you’re not feeling it. Alternatively, if you are too uncomfortable for a full practice, you can practice deep breathing such as Ujjayi Breath and Anuloma-Viloma

Doing these yoga poses/pranayamas at home helps to manage period pains. While it is tempting to turn to snacks, panadol and Netflix as a form of relief, we all know that it is a short term fix. Practicing yoga for even a few minutes a day will be beneficial in the long run 🙂

Training – Through Teaching

As we are completing our teacher training program, I asked Teacher Sree on his experience teaching – was there a time he was nervous or anxious before a class. And how did he overcome that.

He said, come with the wonders of a kid, stay a kid and do not be a master

In my own words to translate the Sree Sutra above:

Come with a humble heart, an open mind and a positive vibe.

A willingness to share, to teach and to spend time with the students.

An acceptance that there will be students more experienced that you and that’s really cool.

An understanding that we are not good or bad, the others are not good or bad.

A pure soul.

Granted, it will help to remember the sequences and not go in blank.

As part of this training program, we also got a chance to train in teaching by conducting a class in the studio. I took my chance last week. I knew all of them – all of different gender, racial and background profiles. Yet, for once in our friendship history, I could consciously generate to be present for everybody. To be aware of each person’s strength, weakness and to work with each one’s experience, unaffected by the others.

I realise that I do love all the students the same. Finally got what he said weeks ago – a divine connection of an unconditional detached attachment.

There was no condition. I detach myself from each soul. I treated all soul the same. And thereby I was able to be attached to each one of the soul at the same time. Practicing this helped them to be able to have a full experience regardless of the gap in experiences.

We attach, and then we detach, and then we attach, and then we detach, and then we attach, and we detach again and the cycle repeats unconditionally.

It was a rather beautiful afternoon.

Engage your core

The wonders of a physical yoga practice is that there are always variations that fits all fitness levels, and progression is limitless. It brings you out of your comfort zone when trying a new pose i.e. inversion. Have a good laugh while falling all over safely and enjoy the process. Stretches can be deepened and strength to be built and that’s why yoga journey never ends.

Have you ever attended a yoga class that never mentioned “engage your core” or “suck in your belly”? I have never. Arm balances and inversions require a strong core to hold the poses. A strong core comes in all shapes and sizes other than beautifully defined abs. Half the time when I cant get into or hold certain poses, its due to the lack of core strength.

The benefits of a strong core is beyond achieving advanced poses. It is the fundamental strength we need for a healthy well being. It has the potential to strengthen your entire body with greater balance and stability. Our core is responsible for our bending, twisting and lifting, making it easier to reach for the top shelf or pick something up from the floor. Building core strength is an important part of maintaining your body at any age. As we age, and our bodies start to wear down, we will be thankful for a strong core that will delay or keep pain away.

Sharing an easy 5 min work out to add onto your work out routine:

The 5-Minute Core-Strengthening Workout
  • 1 minute upright plank
  • 1 minute side plank (30 seconds each side)
  • 1 minute static boat pose
  • 1 minute crunches (or crunch hold)
  • 1 minute dead bug

Having the intention is the very first step. Practicing it, is next.

And remember, don’t give up if you fail to keep up the routine. Try again another day.

 

 

 

 

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.

From Mat Yoga to Rope Yoga, From Floor to Mid-Air, From Fear to No Fear

Kundalini Rajju Yoga

 

Today, I would like to do a small sharing on my yogic journey from the mat to rope….from the floor to  mid-air…..from fear to no fear ….it brings my yogic journey to a whole new level of breakthroughs and fun.

 

It was initially tough when we first started to learn rope yoga in January this year. We had to grab the rope in between the big toe and the second toe and pull ourselves up the rope with the strength from our legs and arms.

 

It was intense pain initially for all of us, as our feet were not conditioned to withstand such rough tension from the rope. We had to face pain in its raw state and dis-identify with pain. It took will persistence to show up at each session of training and to repeatedly attempt to climb the rope in spite of the pain.

 

Our toes get seasoned over a couple of weeks of regular rope yoga training sessions. Then we were able to advance into more asanas on the rope.  Doing asanas on the rope brings out different dimensions to our yoga practice.

 

Besides having to constantly dis-associate with pain, we now have to face our hidden fears.  In many areas of our life, we are often able to avoid our deep fear by choosing not to do things that frighten us. For example, if one is afraid of snakes, one just need to stay away from snakes.  However, when we are on the rope, we had to face our fears squarely.

 

We have experiences tremendous breakthroughs on the rope and the effects of the breakthroughs filter through all other aspects of our life….many of us also experience rapid progress in our mat yoga practice as a direct result of our exposure to rope yoga.

 

I would like to invite you to come and join us to experience the breakthroughs on rope yoga for yourself. You may contact me via watsapp at +65 9889 5654 or +65 9245 5656 to find out when and where we have our rope yoga sessions….

 

Looking forward to more fun and breakthroughs on my exciting journey of yoga….

 

Dorisq Tan

www.FB.com/YogicBodies

YogicBodies@gmail.com

+65 9889 5654

Dorisq Tan
Building Yogic Bodies, Vedic Minds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You and Your Mind

Through the 200 hour course, we heard about the Brahman and the Atman and how one ties into the other. The human consciousness is nothing but a mirror of the higher consciousness… but that is only once we learn to live in silence. Silence from distractions, from thoughts, from noise and pollutants that infiltrate our senses almost single second of every day!

We have our phones feeding us with updates and news of people and things around the world constantly. If it isn’t that, we have friends and family and their lives that we think about. Not to forget the stress of finances and employment and so many other things.
But I feel, most of all, I have to start with my mind. My mind loves to make excuses. It’s the first thing that gives up when I’m in a challenging situation. It is the first one to start complaining when something isn’t going right. It also is the first one to put me down when I haven’t met expectations. Why is my mind against me? 

Here’s the juice – minds are like dogs. If you train them, you get a loyal companion for life. If you don’t train them, you end up a messy, indisciplined, unruly stranger who doesn’t really have your best interests at heart.

It happened to me today!We’re nearing the end of our course and for the last few days we’ve been focussing on theory of yoga more than the practice of asanas. Today after a very long time we had a super intense practice and I could hear the voice beginning to get louder. “How much longer”, “We’ve already done 10 rounds, why is he making us do 5 more?”, “This is inhumane”.

Oh and let’s not forget the excuses – “It’s more important to be safe than to push harder and hurt myself”, “This is not going to come in the exam so it’s okay to not do it the best right now”, “Endurance can be built over time – I’ll start once this course is over, I can slack off for now”, or the best “I’ve already done 40 Chaturangas in this practice and we’re going to have to do 10 more… they’re not going to make a difference so I can cool off on trying”

Also the self deprecation, “You have no arm strength and you’re not going to build it all in today’s practice, so stop”

I looked around the room and my amazing classmates were diligently jumping into and out of their chaturangas. It was all the inspiration I needed. I shut off the voice in my head and jumped into my 41st chaturanga – easy peasy. My body was okay, it was my mind holding me back. Self awareness is such an important trait and today was a lesson in how to make changes that help you move towards a higher consciousness.