The king of asanas

The Headstand often called the ‘king of asanas’. What has earned it that title is because to master it requires focus to your balance and alignment that heightens your sensitivity and stability and the strength and the willingness to literally turn yourself upside down. It’s a pose that requires courage and it’s only once you muster that courage, can you reap in the numerous benefits.

Here are some of them:

It’s the elixir of youth
Going Into a headstand and letting your skin hang in the opposite direction can provide an instant ‘facelift’. The inversion also flushes fresh nutrients and oxygen to the face, creating a glowing effect on the skin.

It resets and improve blood flow
When you’re doing an inversion, oxygenated blood flows the other way. It can flow straight to the brain improving focus and mental clarity or to the eyes, improving eyesight. It also increases blood flow to the scalp, which in turn improves nutrient delivery to your hair.

It relieves stress
Combined with slow, long breaths, it’s great for when you’re having anxiety, stress or fear. It also works on your adrenal glands which are responsible for the release cortisol or adrenaline- stress hormones.

It’s great for hormone balance
Aside from relieving stress, the headstand stimulates and provides oxygenated blood to the pituitary and hypothalamus glands which are considered the master glands that regulate all other glands in the body (thyroid, pineal, and adrenals).

It’s great for strengthening shoulders, arms and abs
The headstand uses a lot of muscles to firstly get you up then keep you up. Strengthening these muscles are also great for improving upper body strength and muscular endurance.

It improves digestion
When the effects of gravity are reversed, it helps relieve trapped gases, improve bloodflow and remove waste from the digestive system.

 

“The best way to overcome fear is to face with equanimity the situation of which one is afraid,”

B.K.S. Iyengar says in his section on Sirsasana in Light on Yoga

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 Nidra – My first experience

Have you ever been in Savasana at the end of yoga class and just when you feel yourself starting to relax, your teacher calls time? Have you wondered what a longer, deeper period of relaxation would feel like? What might it do for your stress levels and your health in general? Well, I have two words for you: Yoga Nidra.

My first experience with Yoga Nidra was in Nasik, India during my Teachers Training Course. It was a timely and wonderful experience. At that time I was super stressed and the course was more of a destress for me. I, like many others enjoys Savasana but Yoga Nidra did something for my inner most being that day.

The Yoga Nidra was conducted after our usual Hatha session. During the spiritual relaxation stage the trainer used a visualisation technique to lead us into the memories of our past. During this period, I experienced a uncontrollable shedding of tears. Many of the hurts and pain that I felt inside me was slowly being released as many images of my bad experiences flashed in my brain one after the other. After the session I felt so much “Lighter” as many of the unhappiness in me was being lifted.

When I came back to Singapore I started using Yoga Nidra for my dance students especially after their school examination. It worked very well and I continued using it until I stop teaching dance about 7 years back.

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

Exploring Mudras

To my great amzement, Teacher Paalu shared with us how the hand mudras work and how each of the fingers corresponse to the different element that we may lack or need to expel from our bodies.

Firstly, our bodies and divided into half being the left and the right side. Working like the moon and the sun, the right side of our body is the yang part whereby energy are absorped i.e. the receiving side. The left part our our body, which is the yin part, serves as a form of expellation, getting rid of the the extra and unwanted element from our body.

The different fingers also corresponse to different elements namely:

F – Fire (thumb)

A – Air (index finger)

S – Space (middel finger)

E – Earth (ring finger)

W – Water (pinky)

Often we mistaken fire as an element within ourselves. But in the mudras, the thumb aka the fire finger merely acts as a medium to accelerate the intake or expellation of the elements and thus does not attribute to an element per se.

In order for the mudras to work, we will have to hold the mudras in position for 10 to 20 mins during meditation. e.g. if you want better concentration, you may do the gyana mudra by putting your thumb together with your index finger.

What amases me was that to lose weight I need only to hold my 5 left gingers together and hold it daily for 20 mins. That will definitely save me lots of trips to the dieting salon!Also the explanation of the mudras also set me thinking on what each of the Buddhas were trying to attain for themselves when I visit the chinese temples in future. It will give me a totally new perspective on my temple visits

Some examples that I have downloaded from the internet, are  7 most common mudras that we use in yoga meditation

source: https://www.doyouyoga.com/7-common-yoga-mudras-explained-23667/

1. Gyana Mudra

Hand with thumb and index finger touching in Gyana mudra

This is perhaps the most used mudra in yoga and is also known as the chin mudra. To do this, bring the tips of the thumb and index finger together, and keep the other three fingers together, lightly stretched. This symbolizes the unity of fire and air as well as the unity of universal and individual consciousness.

The Gyana mudra increases concentration, creativity, and is a gesture of knowledge. Keep your palms facing upwards when feeling receptive or rest your palm on your leg when you wish to feel more grounded.


2. Shuni Mudra

Thumb touches tip of middle finger Credit: Omsica/Mind Valley

Bring the tip of the middle finger and thumb together, uniting the elements of fire and connection. This mudra symbolizes patience and discipline, and helps us generate a feeling of stability. Use this mudra when you feel you need additional strength to follow through with tasks.


3. Surya Ravi Mudra

Thumb and ring finger together in Surya Ravi mudra

Unite the tip of the ring finger and the thumb, and you bring together the elements of fire and earth. This mudra represents energy and health, and it provides us with a feeling of balance. It can also help with bringing positive changes into our lives.


4. Buddhi Mudra

Thumb and pinky finger together for Buddhi mudra

By touching the tips of the little finger and thumb together, you are enhancing intuitive communication. The elements of fire and water are brought together, and this symbolizes communication and openness. It can also help strengthen your intuitive knowledge.


5. Prana Mudra

Thumb, ring, and pinky fingers touch in prana mudra

The Prana mudra activates the dormant energy within the body. To do this, place the tips of your thumb, ring finger, and little finger together. This mudra symbolizes the vital energy of prana, and will encourage the flow of this energy, making you feel energized and strong.


6. Dhyana Mudra

Palms facing up with hand over hand and thumb tips touching Credit: leben-ohne-limit

This mudra provides calming energy for meditation and is used for deep contemplation and reflection. To do this, place your hands on your lap, left palm under, palms facing up, and the tips of the thumbs touching.


7. Anjali Mudra

Palms together at heart center

Bringing the palms together in front of the heart space symbolizes honor and respect toward yourself and toward the universe. This mudra expresses love and gratitude. Namaste.


Use these mudras while meditating or practicing pranayama. Pick one that you feel mostly connected to each time, or based on the feeling you would like to generate.

Involve both hands, keep a slow and steady breath, and hold each mudra for at least 2 to 3 minutes, or even 10 minutes if you wish.

 

 

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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Beating Stress with Yoga

Stress is everywhere. Stress is part and parcel of our daily life. But what is stress?
Webster define stress as mental or physical tension or strain. Pressure, urgency causing one to feel exhausted, depressed, tense or disappointed.

Everyone knows stress in the negative aspect, however, there are 2 type of stress. The good and the bad. Eustress and Distress. Eustress is beneficial stress or “good stress”, a positive form with a positive effect on us in terms of strength, growth, motivation and emotional well-being. Distress on the other hand has a negative effect on us involving overload, weakness and vulnerability. And the commonly talked about one on a daily basis.

Stress isn’t something we can avoid. Prolonged stress can take its toll on our physical body; emotionally straining and mentally disturbed. To beat stress Awareness is 90% of the solution.

Yoga has been gaining popularity over the years. To some people, Yoga is just a physical practice. Following the latest trend to keep fit. But this is not the truth.

Yoga is a mind-body practice that combines asana (yoga)poses, pranayama (controlled breathing), and meditation or relaxation. It’s not just about sweating out to lose weight or exercising to keep fit. Yoga has shown to have a calming effect. It works to relieve tension and reduce stress both physically and mentally.

Asana such as Trikonsana (extended triangle pose), Balasana (child’s pose) and Savasana (corpse pose) are some yoga poses for stress relief. These poses helps to calm the mind and eases stress. Extended triangle pose is an excellent stress relieving pose and it stretches the full body and improve digestive system. Restorative and Yin yoga are also great styles for practicing the art of letting go of your stress.

Pranayama (Breathing) deeply and more effectively are another way to relieve stress. Pranayama techniques, particularly Brahmari (humming bee breath) and Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril) are simple technique and instant option to de-stress. And it can be practised anywhere – at home or at work. The Brahmari resembles the typical humming sound of the bee. The humming sound vibration calms and soothes the nerves around the brain and forehead, thus having a natural calming effect. Nadi Shodhana in sankrit means channel or flow purification. This technique primarily aimed at purifying the mind and body. It calms and rejuvenate the nervous system, reduces stress, anxiety and fosters mental clarity.

Meditation is an incredible tool for relaxing and slowing down our mind. It helps to maintain the balance and connect our mind and body creating a greater sense of harmony and peace.

With proper and disciplined practice of Yoga, we can all manage our stress. By acknowledging stress and being aware of it is the first step to take before stress starts creeping into your life.

 

Patsy Kaye Ang, YTT200 Weekend Warrior – March 2018

Alcohol Use Disorder & Yoga

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is not just a disorder but many consider it as a societal problem, both in terms of its behaviourally impairing effects on the drinker and the serious health problems that occur due to long term excessive use. The varied behavioural and cognitive functions that are impaired due to excessive alcohol usage can lead to immediate adverse consequences such as risky sexual and aggressive behaviour, driving under influence of alcohol and the physical after effect (Marczinski, Grant, & Grant, 2009).

In Singapore, alcohol abuse emerged as second out of the top three most common disorders affecting one in every 32 individuals (Institute Of Mental Health, 2011). Men were found to abuse alcohol more than women with a ratio of 4:1 (Institute Of Mental Health, 2011).

Yoga therapies as complementary therapies have been gaining traction and popularity in the treatment of addiction. The philosophy of yoga focuses on the ways in which yogic breathing, postures, meditation and concentration can decrease the vulnerability to addiction (Khanna & Greeson, 2013).

A pilot study conducted in Sweden (Hallgren, Romberg , Bakshi, & Andréasson , 2014) has found that yoga is a practical and well accepted add on treatment for alcohol dependence. Alcohol consumption was reduced from 6.32 to 3.36 drinks per day in the yoga group. Participants indicated that with yoga therapy, their urge to drink has reduced and some described having improvement in sleep.

Yoga therapy has been proven in many studies to be beneficial not only to alcohol use disorder but many other addictions and mental illness such as anxiety and depression. With regular yoga practice and meditation, yoga helps to improve your daily life and mental state of mind.

Patsy Kaye Ang, YTT200 Weekend Warrior – March 2018

 

Reference:

Marczinski, C., Grant, E., & Grant, V. (2009). Binge Drinking in Adolescents and College Students. Hauppauge NY: Nova Science.

Institute Of Mental Health. (2011, November 18). Singapore Mental Health Survey Press Release. Latest study sheds light on the state of mental health in Singapore. Retrieved from Institute Of Mental Health Web Site: https://www.imh.com.sg/uploadedFiles/Newsroom/News_Releases/SMHS%20news%20release.pdf

Khanna, S., & Greeson, J. (2013, Jun). A Narrative Review of Yoga and Mindfulness as Complementary Therapies for Addiction. Complement Ther Med., 21(3):244-52. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2013.01.008

Hallgren, M., Romberg , K., Bakshi, A., & Andréasson , S. (2014, Jun). Yoga as an adjunct treatment for alcohol dependence: A pilot study. Complement Ther Med, 22(3):441-5. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2014.03.003

My yogic way of being free from anger

Do you have days when you feel there’s so much frustration and anger bubbling inside you that you lash out at anything that moves—our spouse, our kids, our BFFs, the dog—for behavior that normally wouldn’t bug us.

We are all human beings and with the constant stressful life around us, we will all have moments of letting our anger got over the top and said or do things that we regret.

First before we start on the yogic ways to control anger, let’s see how our body stores our emotions.  You may or may not feel the emotions as they may accumulate in our body feeding our energy until we are exhausted and drained. Therefore scanning your body and identify the suppressed emotions associated with it is important for us to maintain our mental wellness.

Our Body

We open our hearts in backbends, and surrender through forward folds while loosening the hamstrings, which are connected to our ability to let go (or not). The hips hold on to sadness, and the liver to anger. Stress and tension takes to shoulder and stiff neck.  Are there days when you felt these places in our body are so heavy, tight or stiff that you felt so drain and exhausted? We hold on to feelings, replaying circumstances in our minds, holding onto grudges, anger, and resentment. Even if we believe we’ve forgiven on an intellectual level, what does the body say? Have we really let go?

There are a few ways which you can identify store/building up of emotions before it builds up:

1) Meditation – Pratayaha

Pratayaha, the 5th limbs of yoga which teaches us to withdraw our senses. This withdrawal of senses is for turning our awareness inwards and start to mentally scan our body; examine the sensations that show up in our body when you are upset, when you are angry, when you are stressed. By identify our stored emotions; one can combine the practice of rest of the yoga limbs (Yamas, Niyamas, Asana, Panayama and Dharana) to help us release, control or balance our mental wellness.

2) Asanas

Did you know there are specific yoga poses to release emotions like anger, sadness, and even worry? We practice pratayaha to explore and scan where specific emotion accumulates and uses Asanas practice to clear or relieve them out. Targeting specific areas can help clear stubborn blocks, identify your chakra system and support your ongoing quest for emotional freedom. 

Backbends: Griefs (Heart chakra related to love)

When we grieve, our hearts hurt. We lost something we loved. Practicing backbends postures help us open our hearts, release our emotions. When our hearts are open, we’re able to ride the flow of life.

Twists: Anger (Solar Plexus Chakra – Manipura chakra)

Anger’s connection to the liver is also found in both Chinese medicine and yoga. The liver cleans the blood and stores energy. In yoga, the liver is related to the third chakra, in the belly. This is the seat of will and power. 

 

Hip-Openers: Sadness, Stress (Sacral Chakra – Svadhisthana)

The hips hold a variety of emotions, from stress to sadness to trauma.  It is related to the Sacral Chakra – Svadhisthana, which is the energy center related to emotions. 

So next time when you feel trapped, sad or tired, remember to scan and meditate first. Try this, I walked away feeling lighter, relieved and free, the emotional release we feel keeps many of us coming back for more. 

 

Louine Liew

Weekend warrior (YTT200 – Sep17)