Sinus – my ex best friend



I have been having sinus problem for many years. 

I am allergic to change of temperature, dust, air-con, crowd, hair, messy and cluttered place (yes, sensitive to both psychological and physiological triggers). In addition to the usual running nose and sneezing, my sinus glands would swell up so much that I feel a bad ache in my jaw, teeth, forehead and the sides of the nose under my eyes. In serious sinus episodes I am pretty much a dysfunctional human being and the only solution will be to sleep it off after popping multiple clarinese/zrytecs/panadol cold flu/telfast/any other anti-histamine pills. 
One morning when Master Paalu introduced the “Sutra Neti”, I was horrified by the sight of the rubber bands handed to us. Geez, my nose is already so sensitive (I can’t even pinch my own nose) and we gotta stick the rubber tube up into the nostrils and pull it out of our mouths? and this is supposed to be good for people who have sensitive nose?!
I was determined to fix this problem and decided to give this ancient method the benefit of the doubt. 

How to practice of Sutra Neti ?

I followed Master Paulu very closely as he demonstrated the Sutra Neti. FYI I would highly recommend anyone who is trying Sutra Neti for the first time to learn it in a guided practice preferably from a qualified yoga instructor. Take the rubber tube in your hand and very gently insert the tube inside your left nostril. Take care not to rush it; do it very slowly as it can irritate the sensitive membrane inside the nostril. Many people have mild nasal septal deviations, which is more or less harmless. If the deviation is acute then one may feel a block while inserting the rubber tube, try to slowly wiggle it in a different direction and gently insert it in further.
1. Push the tube into your nostril upwards, till it bends and go down the throat. Continue inserting the tube slowly
2. Open your mouth and use your middle and index fingers/index finger or thumb to grab the tube from inside your throat.* This takes a little practice. Once you get the knack of it, you can do it with ease
3. Pull the tube out so that part of it is just outside the mouth. Never leave the other end of the tube, which you are holding with your other hand
4. Now using both hands move the tube in a massaging motion to clean the nostrils and throat. (optional)
5. Clean the tube and repeat the procedure with the right nostril.
6. After the practice is over, remove the tube and clean it. Store the tube in a clean place for another day’s next practice.

*try to pull the tube out as gently as possible and avoid scrapping the throat with your nails as the throat lining is quite fragile  
My experience 

My first experience of Sutra Neti was exciting but less than glamarous. I could smell the rubber but resisted the urge to take it out immediately. I tried to insert the tube very very very slowly and wiggle a little whenever I felt a block in my nostril. It involved a bit of tears, saliva (all due to reflex action), and of course, mucus that I did not knew existed which was sitting at the back of my nose in my nasal passage. When I pull the tube out of my mouth, to my surprise, my hands were covered with mucus (I know…..), and I thought my nose was completely cleared the very morning before trying the Sutra Neti.
For the first time in my life, I felt my nasal passage completely CLEARED. This means generous amount of fresh air flowing in and out of my nose into my lungs with no blockages! I managed to clear up a space in my nasal passage that I would not have ordinarily reached without using the tube.

For those who are interested in trying it out, here are some of the other benefits of Sutra Neti.

Benefits of Sutra Neti

Sutra Neti has benefits similar to that of Jala Neti. The nasal cavities can get clogged with impurities which may cause infections, inflammations and headaches. 
1. It helps to maintain the nasal hygiene by removing the dirt and bacteria trapped along with the mucus in the nostrils.
2. It de-sensitizes the sensitive tissues inside the nose, which can alleviate rhinitis, allergies and some types of asthma.
3. Several health problems like sinusitis, migraine, headaches, can be reduced by doing Neti

My tip to anyone who’s keen to try is that don’t be horrified by the pictures and the process. Put away any subconscious biases and judgments and try with an open mind. You might just discover something that works for you. 
Shi Jye
200hr Hatha/Ashtanga Weekends – July 2015

Finding Stillness Everyday

One of the most sought-after benefits of meditation is to help the practitioner achieve a stress-free life by cultivating stillness in the mind. It’s not easy to cut away the mental chatter or break away from the thoughts of a million things you need to do. 
And it’s only recently that I found meditation less of a trial, and begun to experience some of its benefits. On the occasions where meditation went smoothly for me, I found that I had greater clarity, and felt more uplifted afterwards. Here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way:
The first few times I tried meditating, I almost gave up. The moment I sat down, my mind started wandering. Even today, it’s all I could do to sit quietly for 5-10 minutes.
But I’ve learned that instead of trying to fight my thoughts and feel even more frustrated that calmness is not washing over me, I just concentrate on those the things that come to mind, let it linger for a while, then let it go.
Granted, you can meditate anytime, anywhere. But I do recommend that beginners, like myself, try to set a scene that’s free of distractions to ease into the process better. 

For me, I first trawl YouTube for a yoga music playlist that strikes my fancy, light my favourite lemongrass-scented tea candle, dim the lights and plop myself down on my mat, back against the wall, with a pillow supporting my lower back. 
Sit however you like (take a Padmasana, Sukhasana or Virasana pose, if you will), wear whatever you like (if you feel you need to wear your yoga pants or change into your PJs to get into a meditative mood, so be it!), and most importantly, find the right technique of meditation for you. 
 If you’ve been attending yoga classes regularly, you might have encountered instructors who like to include a bit of meditation in their classes. Sometimes you get into it, sometimes you don’t. 
I’ve never been able to concentrate fully in the body-scan meditation (running through the entire body to find awareness), nor the Trataka meditation (gazing upon a fixed point).
What works best for me though, is simply practicing mindfulness. It’s easier for me to settle myself in the here and now, and just be. Even if I have distracting thoughts, I accept it as part of being in this moment, and wait for it to pass. Eventually, everything stills. 
I hope you’ll find these little pointers useful in guiding you on your own meditation journey! 
Cheryl Leong (200hr Hatha/Ashtanga Weekends – July 2015)

"Get Comfortable In Your Downward-Facing Dog"

In every yoga class I go to, that’s what all the instructors love to say. That, and the fact that it’s a “resting pose.”
I’ve never found Downward-Facing Dog particularly relaxing. I remember the first few weeks of YTT where we had to hold the pose for 5 arduous breaths (longer, if there were adjustments to be made for the entire class) in every Sun Salutation sequence.
It was pure torture. My arms trembled, because I was finally told not to hyper-extend my elbows, and had to rely purely on arm strength; my legs shook from the strain of lifting my kneecaps and pushing my thighs back. It wasn’t until recently that my Downward-Facing Dog became an asana for me –  a steady, comfortable pose.
Simple though it may be, it’s a great stretch – especially for the back, shoulders and upper body – after a long day of sitting at your desk. When done right, this foundational pose can power up your practice, help you to develop upper body strength and alleviate stiffness and back pain.
Here’s how to work into a proper alignment for your Downward-Facing Dog.
1. Come on to all fours. Make sure that your hands are shoulder-width distance apart, and your knees are hip-width distance apart.
2. Tuck your toes under, ground your fingers and palms firmly into the mat, and lift your hips up.
3. Make sure that your arms are straight, but don’t lock or hyper-extend your elbows. Check that your shoulders are away from the ears, and not hunched.
4. Keep your spine straight. Engage your Uddiyana Bandha to lengthen your spine, and lift your tailbone.
5. Shift your weight back into your legs, so that your hands are not taking most of the weight.
6. Try to press your heels down onto the mat if possible. Otherwise, you can maintain a micro-bend in your knees, but continue to lift those hips high.
7. Stay here for 5 breaths and chill in your Downward-Facing Dog.
Or take it out for a walk among Nature. 🙂
Cheryl Leong (200hr Hatha/Ashtanga Weekends – July 2015)

Virabhadrasana I

Virabhadra was a super being created by Shiva to avenge Shiva’s wife, Sati’s death.
Daksa, Shiva’s father-in-law, organized a banquet for a great sacrifice (Yagna) and did not invite Shiva and Sati. Greatly humiliated, Sati went to the banquet and self immolated by invoking yogic flames.
Shiva was enraged to hear the news of his wife’s violent death, tore a hair out of his head and threw it down to floor, hence Virabhadra was created.
According to ancient text, Virabhadra entered the Yagna by thrusting his way up from deep underground with his sword held over his head un both hands – a feat re-enactment in the posture Virabhadrasana 1.
Anatomically Virabhadrasana 1 has:

  1. Spinal extension
  2. Shoulder flexion, slight abduction of the scapulae, and extension of the elbow.
  3. Front leg: Hip flexion, knee flexion, ankle dorsiflexion
  4. Back Leg: Hip extention with internal rotation, knee extension, ankle dorsiflexion and supination

Having meniscus injury on my right knee, warrior poses have help me a lot in gaining muscle strengh around injured knee areas. It is necessary so that to prevent further injury. Generally for meniscus-injured patient, mobility exercises, strengthening exercises and functional exercises are recommended. Mobility exercises to increase knee joint’s range motion. Strengthening exercises to build stability and functional exercises to bridge the gap between rehabilitation and returning to full sport fitness. However, everyone’s body is different hence do consult doctor before doing any exercises.
Juliati Surya (200 hr YTT Weekend Class Aug ‘15)

Practising ahimsa in our daily life

Ahimsa means non-violence, being non-injurious or inflicting pain upon others. The practice of Ahimsa forms intergal aspect in the practice of classical yoga for over three thousand years. It comes before all yamas, the basis of yoga practices that guide yogis to Samadhi. It has much wider spiritual connotation in principles, philosophies and practices, however there are many ways we could practice it in our daily life such as minding our actions.
Often we do not realize that our actions may have hurt other people. Wrong choices of words, intonations and body languages while expressing our intention could easily lead to misunderstanding. Most of the occurrences are due to environment pressures. As example, office deadlines that inflicted stresses, can easily caused one to be irritated. People with poor control of their emotions will then have higher tendency to throw temper over small issues at others, be it to their colleagues, friends or family members. If other parties also reacts base solely on emotions, eventually handling these small issues could lead to many incident possibilities: quarrels, fights, etc.
Hence, let us begin with minding and weighing our actions and reactions. Are our actions and reactions based solely on emotions?
Juliati Surya (200 hr YTT Weekend Class Aug ‘15)

Rocket Leaves

Arugula (scientific name: Eruca sativa) is one of the nutritious green-leafy vegetables of Mediterranean origin. It is a small, low growing annual herb-featuring dandelion like succulent, elongated, lobular leaves with green-veins.
Arugula is known as ‘salad rocket’ simply because of its rocket-fast growth speed. Also known as ‘garden rocket’ as it is popularly grown in gardens, along with other herbs like parsley and basil. It is highly drought resistant and is cultivated in areas of poor rainfall. It needs little water, grows in dry disturbed soil and shoots up to form a mature plant in short period.
Salad rocket is an excellent source for Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, and B-complex group vitamins. Studies found that vitamin A and flavonoid compounds in green leafy vegetables help protect from skin, lung and oral cavity cancers.
Vitamin C is a powerful, natural anti-oxidant. Foods rich in this vitamin help the human body protect from scurvy disease, develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity), and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
Vitamin K has potential role in bone health by promoting osteotrophic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. In addition, adequate vitamin-K levels in the diet help limiting neuronal damage in the brain and thus, has established role in the treatment of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
Its leaves contain adequate levels of minerals, especially copper and iron. In addition, it has small amounts of some other essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus.
Other facts on Salad Rocket
1. Arugula was hailed as a potent aphrodisiac during the ancient civilization of Rome.
2. In ancient times, powerful love potions were made using arugula and other herbs like lavender.
3. Even today, you can gain the benefits of arugula by eating it regularly to boost sexual performance.
4. Studies show those who eat arugula on a regular basis are found to have more sexual drive and energy.
5. It enhances the sensory system and stimulates the body’s touch responses.
Juliati Surya (200 hr YTT Weekend Class Aug ‘15)

Love Hate Relationship With Adho Mukha Swanasana

Adho Mukha Swanasana, also known as Downward Facing Dog, is one of the basic asanas that resembles a dog stretching its spine and legs.
Looking back when I started my first few yoga classes, to hold Downward Facing Dog pose for three breaths was already a real struggle to me. As much as I tried to follow instructions, my body just wouldn’t corporate. My heels were unable to touch the floor; my shoulders and arms were trembling hard at third breath and my sweat ran down like raindrops. I envied those people whose heels are able to touch their mat. To my huge dislike, Downward Facing Dog is also a resting pose that could be incorporate after series of asanas. That frustated me even more, while trying to hold on the pose, my breaths got faster and shorter. Eventually, I got tired easily.
“Slowly, one deep breath in, and one deep breath out” I repeat to myself.
I gradually learned to focus on and control my own breaths. Rather than focusing on outcome, I learn to enjoy the process while believing it is just a matter of time with constant practice.
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Downward Facing Dog is no longer as frustating as it used to be anymore. When it does or any other asanas do, repeat “Slowly, one deep breath in, and one deep breath out”.
Juliati Surya (200 hr YTT Weekend Class Aug ‘15)

Yoga Philosophy – Asteya

Asteya for everybody living in a modern society
There was a period of time in my early 20, when I and my girlfriends started our first career and earned income on our own, we loved to spend the money for the nice shoes and bags. Often we showed off what each of us got and we felt fulfilling by talking about how well we spent money to buy those stuffs. With a mixed feeling of being envious and jealous of, we had competed each other over shopping. Not only the materials we owned, we even had compared each other by the salary level, job and boyfriends. Yes, that is what we call ‘Materialism’ and I admit I had gone through it, rather heavily.
In every aspect of lives, we compare ourselves to other people and some of us put the benchmark of their own lives to what someone else has and build the envious feeling within us. Even sometimes, the enviousness turns into the jealousy. The jealousy causes hatred, it is a worm in our mind that kills your pure motivation to achieve your own life.
I have seen some of my girlfriends competing over friendships, compare each other who has more friends than the other, there’s even no need to mention the people checking how much asset others have.
Unfortunately we are living in the society where the quality of life is measured by the materials and it is difficult to separate ourselves from what is considered as norm in our world. But we should always remember we should live our own lives, not someone else’s and you don’t have to jealous over other people.
Asteya in yoga philosophy teaches us not to steal someone else’s either tangible and intangible things. The desire to steal something comes from the jealousy or enviousness.
Many times, we forget how enough we have already. Think about the job you have, the meal you just ate today, a clothing you are wearing. You may not be very satisfied with them and wish you have a better one, but there might be someone else who desperately need them outside. You are already blessed to have them enough, you don’t need to chase after someone else’s life, your life is already filled with bless and happiness. All just comes from your mind. Or you might find bigger satisfaction with your life by giving what you have to other people. It will make you realize how much you have already.
Live your life, not someone else’s, try to see deep in your life and find out what you have, what you can share. Do not let yourself to lose the control of your life, you own your life.
200hr weekend YTT


Nutrition tips for Vegetarian dummies like me
Since I started to take yoga seriously, I decided to become a vegetarian. Not only because I want to practice Ahimsa, but because I feel that I have to be more responsible to take care of my own health and my family.
Giving up meat means that I had to give up the usual meals that I enjoyed in my life time. Also I had to be more conscious on my daily diet to get the right balance of nutrition.
As someone said- when one door closes, another door opens. Giving up the meat dishes means I have entered to the new vegetarian food world and I would explore the new kinds of dishes! Moreover I started to realize that there are more different kinds of vegetables that I do not know how to ‘use’.
So I have thought about what basic rules I need to follow to get the balanced vegetarian diet and made following 4 rules for kitchen.
1.Harmonize the ingredient. Each ingredient has a different kind of nutrition and sometimes it becomes more nutritious when it’s combined with other ingredients. The example is a tomato and olive oil. The substance called lycopene in Tomatoes is more effectively absorbed to the body when it’s combined with a fat such as olive oil according to the study from Ohio University. Also remember some ingredients are not compatible with other ingredients, it’s simply a bad combination such as cheese and fruit.
2.Cook properly. Back to the example of tomatoes, grilled or pan-fried tomato with olive oil is even more nutritious than the raw tomato. When tomatoes are cooked, the wall to cover the cell is broken down so more lycopene is released.
3.Consume whole grains. Many studies shows whole grain provides many health benefits, it provides fiber, minerals and more vitamins. More importantly whole grain contains Phytochemicals, which is a chemical compounds that has been generated within the plant itself naturally. It is like an immune system that the plant builds by itself. So taking the whole grain means we are taking the grain with its immune system which is also beneficial for human body.
4.Enjoy cooking! Vegetarian food doesn’t have to be boring and doesn’t have to be a salad all the times! I recently bought one of the vegetarian cook book from Japan and it introduce incredible recipes to cook vegetables so I dive myself into the vegetable cooking nowadays. When you cook, you will actually learn how to appreciate the taste of each ingredients – like we always say, live life completely and eat completely!
200hr weekend YTT

Asana – live in the present

Like many people I initially started yoga to find a way to release the stress from work. When I am on the yoga mat after work, I did not have to think of anything but solely focus on my own body and movement. I felt the time has been stopped whenever I am in the studio, during 1 hour practice in the studio room I did not have to look at the watch and I did not have to be chased by anything. Yoga was like one of the means of escape from work.
Since I started YTT, I have been exploring a new world of Yoga. Despite of the fact that I have struggled a lot for the first 3 weeks with enormous Asana practice I have never had in myself, the past 2 months of Asana practice taught me one important lesson – live in the present. I might have already practiced this when I went to yoga studio to forget everything happened at work and only focused on the yoga practice, but that was it. I was still distracted by other students who were better than I am, I was again looking at myself from outside. As I started to practice yoga on my own regularly, I could feel the progress of my practice every day and the more practice the more I have become stronger. When I finally got into the head stands and other arm balance poses, I felt the strength that I never thought I had before.
I still have a moment that I feel like escape to the yoga studio sometimes, but my motivation for yoga practice has been completely changed. If I had practiced yoga to heal my soul from the stress, now I am doing yoga to feel the confidence in myself through the stronger body than ever. I no longer compare myself to someone else, because I know my practice will progress on my own pace and it naturally happens when my body and minds flow together.
200hr weekend YTT