Taking YTT 200 with an injury

Eight years ago, I injured my left knee. I can’t recall what exactly I was doing but I’m certain it was nothing important or strenuous. I felt a sharp pain every time I landed my foot on the floor of whenever I bent my left knee. It felt like someone was driving a thin metal-cold knife right under the knee bone. But a few months passed and my knee was back to normal.

Two years ago, the same thing happened. On a random day, I bent down from a standing position into a squat to pick up some things on the floor, and the same sharp pain came back. I couldn’t bend my knee without feeling the invisible thin knife slicing through the joint. And this time, my entire knee began to swell. Climbing a flight of stairs was a struggle. Lifting heavy luggage was a struggle.

By this second bout of injury, I was already active in my Yoga practice. But the injury made it excruciating to do simple poses like chair pose. And after every practice, my knee would swell and I had to take a few days rest so it could partially (no fully) recover.

Unlike the first time, the pain had no plans of leaving me. Three, four months had passed and the trauma on my left knee remained. My movements had severely been limited.

When I attended Yoga classes, I couldn’t perform any asana that involved kneeling or the lotus position. Doing cat and cow and then moving into a low lunge was a NIGHTMARE.

My knee was stiff but its insides felt so tender. Whenever I pushed my knee beyond its limit, at the end of the class I always got the feeling that my lower leg was about to fall off – like when you lift the drumstick off a whole roasted chicken, and the cartilage and skin begin to tear. All you need is to pull it towards you and the chicken leg comes right off.

And my Yoga teachers gave different pieces of advice like strengthen my thigh and avoid placing weight on my left leg. They also suggested Pilates to help strengthen my leg.

But, rather than strengthening my left leg, I developed uneven legs. I could barely stand on my left leg without support or without the pain searing through. So, I would place most of my weight on my right leg to compensate — my right leg basically became more macho than my left leg.

When I visited the rheumatologist, he said I had early onset osteoarthritis. Because of two prior injuries, my knee has decided to have an accelerated “wear and tear.” He also told me there was nothing I could do about it other than to ensure I didn’t add to the progression. I wasn’t supposed to do any running, jumping and mountain climbing.

I was only 29 then and I had an old person knee problem. I was horrified. And one of my biggest fears in that moment was that my knee condition would require me to take a step back from doing Yoga.

But instead of slowing down, I decided this was a push towards the right direction. I took the diagnosis as a sign that I needed to find a place and time where someone would teach me, specifically and properly, how I could continue with my Yoga practice without my knee holding me back. I wanted to find a way to excel in my practice despite having a chronically injured body part.

That was when I decided to take the Yoga Teacher Training 200 course.

I had apprehensions; I was afraid my knee would act up and I would have to give up the course half way. Giving up the course was not a practical option for me since I was flying all the way from Philippines.

But lo and behold, our batch is in our last week of training and I am still in one piece. My left leg has gained strength over three weeks, which was possible because of three key aspects in the training:

  • Daily asanas that were heavy on technique (which were really challenging on certain days but beneficial every step of the way)
  • Knowledge of the muscular and joint system (I understood which thigh muscles to pull so that I could relieve the left knee of stress, pain and overextension)
  • Awareness of the fact that Yoga can really be used for therapy.

An injury will come in different shapes and forms. It might be inevitable, especially as our physical bodies get older. But it should not stop you. Instead, it should inspire you to want to get better. An injury does not mean you have to stop Yoga; rather, it means you need to take a new approach to your practice. It might also mean the current way you treat your body is not proper or optimal, and that you need to seriously make a change; and giving more attention and taking on an educated approach to your Yoga practice is a great way to start.

4/4

Yoga and Diabetes

(Therapeutic Role of Yoga in Type 2 Diabetes. A V Raveendran et al. Endocrinol Metab (Seoul). 2018 Sep; 33(3): 307–317. )

 

Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disorder that is becoming increasingly common. It is characterised by insulin resistance with relative or absolute insulin deficiency. This can result in devastating vascular complications such as kidney damage, heart attack, stroke and blindness.

 

The prevalence of diabetes is increasing in Singapore. The National Health Survey conducted in 2010 revealed that 11.3% of Singaporeans aged 18 to 69 year of age had T2D and 14.4% had pre-diabetes (impaired glucose tolerance). Faced with these alarming statistics, the Ministry of Health declared a “War on Diabetes” in 2016.

 

I chanced upon an interesting article that very gracefully weaves the role of Yoga in the management of diabetes.

 

Dietary management of diabetes with Yoga

  • The regulation of eating patterns, the practice of mindful eating of clean and pure food, and the advocation of greater awareness are beneficial not only in improving dietary practices but also adherence to medication.
  • Meditation and heightened mindfulness may help curb binge-eating patterns.

 

Beneficial effects of Yoga practices

These have been postulated to have beneficial effects through various mechanisms.

  • Stimulates insulin production through brain signalling
  • Massages the pancreas, stimulating insulin secretion
  • Boost metabolic rate, promote weight loss, reduce sugar levels, reduce body fat
  • Improves digestion and stimulates peristalsis
  • Improve blood circulation
  • Improves cardiorespiratory endurance
  • Enhances insulin receptor expression in muscles, causing increased glucose uptake
  • Positive effects on glucose utilisation and fat redistribution
  • Soothing and calming effect on the mind, improves mental and physical health
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Better sleep

 

Go ahead and read the full article for further details.

Remember to share your practice with someone you know who is battling with Diabetes!

My postpartum yoga

Early this year, the best thing which can ever occur to anyone happened to me, I became mother of a wonderful child. I loved him since the moment I knew he was here in my tummy and all the more as the time goes.

Having a child has an incredible impact on your mind, on your soul, you see things differently, you feel things with new eyes.. You simply mature suddenly and enjoy the world thru this little thing that you call “my son”. But sadly, your body may disagree, this is a very exhausting moment where you whole limbs are under great stressed. During pregnancy, your activities are slowly reducing, then your womb starts to make place by pushing your abs away and finally when the moment has arrived it becomes an even greater deal.

The impacts on the body are obvious, and I would say the most difficult part is to accept it; my body is not the same as before, I can’t do what I used to do, those amazing pose that people do which I used to do. But the good news is: nothing is preventing you from getting it back! 2 key words: Patience and dedication.

 slowly started doing yoga again after giving birth, practicing at my own pace to reconnect little by little with my body. With time passing on, I dedicated myself on learning, not only asana but as well the philosophy going together.

My body slowly regained its former self, without ever pushing too hard I was feeling better and better. Yoga helped me to listen to my body and it gave it to me back.

For mama who got a green pass from your doctor I would like to recommend you some yoga poses you can practice at home while your little one is napping (even 20 min you can do it!)

NAVASANA (modified)

It’s important to take it slow. Most women have large separation between the abdominals after birth — I had a width of two fingers between my abs.

Sit with your knees bent, toes on the mat just beyond your butt. With a flat, straight back, pull in the abs to support the lower back. Take your fingers to your knee and balance on your Sit bones, taking most of the weight out of your toes.After a few weeks like this, play with releasing your hands from behind your knees and reach them out straight in front of you.You can also try to have fun with your baby by placing the baby between your legs hold his hand and raise your legs slowly up and down

Ustrasana ( Camel pose)

Be sure you’re ready for this and take it slowly before you drop back into Full Camel, just to make sure your abdominals and spine are ready for it. Perhaps first work into Camel with your hands resting and supporting your lower back.  Simply arch the back and open your heart to the sky.As your strength and flexibility increases, begin to play with reaching for your ankles. Again, take it slow as you don’t want to overstretch.

Rabbit pose

One of my all time favorite poses, and the inverse of Camel, Rabbit Pose stimulates and articulates the vertebrae. It stretches through the lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine, and stimulates the internal organs and thyroid gland thanks to the tight chin tuck.Hold for five beautiful, nourishing breaths.

Bridge pose

Anxiety is very common after birth. Your mind can run a million miles a minute calculating every possible thing that could ‘go wrong’ or happen to your little one. (A bit of anxiety is normal, but if ever starts to get in the way of your daily life, talk with your doctor.Bridge is a fantastic antidote to anxiety.It calms the mind, helps with headaches, and alleviates stress and mild depression.

 

 

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.

Read More