Yoga and CBT

Starting a short, simple routine first thing in the morning is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I only ever ended up drinking 2 glasses of water daily when I wake up, and doing some stretching. During 200hr Yoga TTC, we learnt the Tirisula 5-Step Rejuvenation to do every morning. I must admit I do steps 1-3 and then I do my own stretching, especially opening up the shoulder and hip joints where I feel most stiff in the mornings. However, it enabled me to finally kick-start a morning routine, and as it only takes 30 days for something to become a habit, I am the better for it, and of course I will get to completing all 5 steps every morning!

Just before starting this course, I completed an online course about the Essentials of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), something I’ve become interested in since learning about it at uni. CBT is used to help shift thoughts and behaviours to more positive and productive ones. A key concept of CBT is “people get better by making small changes in their thinking and behaviour everyday” and as someone who practices or teaches yoga, I think it is important to remind ourselves and our students of this. Common thoughts I have are “I have no time” or “I’m too tired” which leads to not doing yoga as often as I’d like to. Now I keep reminding myself I’m doing a beneficial thing that has long-term positive effects, and when I do complete the morning routine I tell myself “it’s good that I did that today” – as suggested in CBT to build a sense of self-efficacy. I will continue to do this as I increase the yoga practice to include asanas in my morning routine once this 200hr Yoga TTC ends!

– Ari (200hr YTTC, 2018) 

Yoga and Life

This was the year I knew I was going to do things I’ve been thinking about but never did, to feel the sense of loving life again like when I was a kid. Two things I always wanted to do were tour Europe and do a yoga teacher course, and this year I took the opportunity thanks to good timing with my uni break and a family wedding in London.

I did a Topdeck tour after the family wedding, travelling on my own for the first time, from Barcelona to Rome for 11 days, through 6 cities. Turns out most of the 40 people on the tour were also living in Australia, and I wasn’t the only one travelling on my own! Between each city was an 8 hour driving day spent on the coach, with rest stops every 2 hours. I knew they would play an arrival song every time we stopped, and I wondered what ours would be. I was fast asleep on the first driving day, and woke up to the sound of whistling coming through the speakers. It was the start of the arrival song, “Love Life” (by John Mamman in French/English). The song instantly became a favourite, as it was the reason I booked the tour, and I needed those lyrics this year more than ever. (Coincidence, or a sign from the universe? haha) I knew I was in the right place at the right time. Each time I heard the song, I felt more at ease, and felt that I was actually starting to love life again, because I was just enjoying living in the moment.

I am now completing the 200hr Yoga TTC in my hometown where I was first introduced to yoga at the age of 11 by my mum. During the course, we learnt about taking care of ourselves through our daily routines, actions, thoughts, even the food we eat. I feel happy learning so much more about yoga, which has been one of the few consistent things in my life. Yoga has kept me sane and grounded throughout my time at school, and now uni, soon to be throughout my career too. “Always find time for the things that make you feel happy to be alive” – the quote on my phone’s lock screen. It is absolutely true – the Topdeck tour and Yoga TTC are the best things I’ve done in Season 24 of my life. So, if you’re reading this and thinking about doing something but have been putting it off, just go for it!

– Ari (200hr YTTC, 2018) 

Yoga and listening to yourself

Often in yoga classes, I observe people trying to complete the advanced version of yoga poses, even though they struggle in an easier option and in doing so, place their body in an awkward posture or fall over completely. On the other hand, I am overly conscious about my body’s limits in terms of strength and flexibility. I always move into the easy option of the pose first, even if I’ve done it countless times, as my mind and body are not the same every day. I think this comes from having good yoga instructors who always remind me that it is not about getting to the advanced level of a pose and suffering in pain there, no. It is about listening to your body, going only as far as you can, aligning your body in the correct posture, maintaining awareness of breathing, and enjoying being comfortable in a pose. It is also important to focus on yourself during the poses, and not compare yourself to those around you in class.

During the 200hr Yoga TTC, we learnt about Patanjali’s sutras for Asanas – 2.46 being “sthira sukham asanam” which means “steady, comfortable posture”. I think as a yoga teacher it is very important to emphasise this to students, especially beginners who have never done yoga before, though gentle reminders throughout the class that they should be able to smile during an asana and not be suffering in pain. This directs the mindset of how postures should feel, and enable the students to carry this on as they develop their yoga practice over time, to strengthen the connection between mind and body by listening within. I still continue to remind myself to relax into each pose, not just the ones I like because I can do them well.

– Ari (200hr YTTC, 2018)

End of My YTT Journey, Start to a New Beginning

In our life, we crossed path with many people. Some comes and goes. While others, stays along the way.

In this YTT journey, I have met people from all walks of life. Different nationality, race, gender and religion. But we all have the same mind and goal. We shared stories about our life, worked as a group and cherished the moments as we embarked in the 10 weeks long journey together. We are the March Weekend Warriors.

Though the time spent together are short, we had great fun learning from our masters. They have taught us with their utmost passion and sincerity. And I bet you, their dedications are unlike the others.

From this wonderful journey, I have seen the unseen. I have done the undone that I never knew I could. New knowledge gain with nothing to lose.

Over the 9 weeks training, a word has been etched in my mind even since I was introduced to it. “Dhāraṇā” from the Patanjali’s Yoga-Sutra. Somehow, I was drawn to it. Dhāraṇā is the sixth stage or limb of eight as explained by the Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga. It’s translated as “concentration” or “single focus”. Somehow, we are always caught up in our daily life, always busy with work and working hard to make ends meet or keeping up with the wants that we start to lose sight of ourselves. We got so engrossed with keeping up with the lifestyles and standards that the world and social media portrays. Over time, we start to realise that we have lost so much time focusing on all the unimportant aspect of life that we forget who we are in the first place.

Dhāraṇā teaches us to focus our attention on the present moment and to bring attention to our SELF. By taking up YTT, I have discovered self-realization. Discovering that sometimes letting go of many of the things associated with our individual identity is needed in order to find our true Self. Take a moment to slow down the pace of your life and start taking the first step to discover yourself.

“Every journey has an end but the start of a new beginning.” Anonymous

 

Patsy Kaye Ang, YTT200 Weekend Warrior – March 2018

 

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

Asteya – Mind and Body

Asteya is the fourth Yama of Patanjali’s Five Yamas of the Yoga Sutras. Asteya has been called non-stealing, non-covetousness, even non-desirousness, which essentially means non-jealousy. Just like the other Yamas & Niyamas , ‘non-stealing’ means so much more than not physically taking something from someone else.
The meaning behind Asteya refers to our actions, words and even our thoughts. You may be thinking, “I don’t think about stealing things all the time or at all.” but it means so much more than physical theft. To steal or ‘steya‘ pretty much means to take something that we are not entitled to. It can also refer to the thoughts we might have about something we desire but do not yet possess. To forsake a want and not have the desire to possess is Asteya.
One of the challenges of humanity is the inborn capacity to cause harm, be dishonest, steal, be greedy and jealous.
Asteya typically arises when:

  • We feel insecure – We think that “we are not good enough…” Because we are insecure, we feel incomplete and thus desire to have more, thinking it would complete us and make us whole.
  • We are jealous – We have what we need, but because someone else has something more, like a bigger car, nicer handbag, we feel the need to want more so that we can fit into the material society.
  • We rob ourselves away from our true self – this can mean changing our demeanour to satisfy someone just to be accepted.

In yoga asana practice, I find myself constantly reminding myself to practice Asteya. There is always the desire to be able to master that arm balance, inversion or pose that everyone else seems to be able to breeze through. I used to push myself to stretch deeper, reach further and hold longer. It was unnatural and unsatisfying because I knew my body was not ready back then. It also often led to more frequent visits to my chiropractor.
I was fortunate to have a very good yoga teacher who constantly reassures us that we should never push ourselves beyond our limits. One great example was when I was learning to do headstand. He would help me after class and kept asking me what’s the rush, there’s no need to compare? He insisted that I should be patient and keep walking forward until I can comfortably hold in “hip over shoulders” position for 1 minute. He also reminded me to observe the sensations of that position and stretch before I proceed to lift my legs. I tried and practiced the routine daily and a week later, I was surprised how I was able to casually lift my legs off the mat.
Over time, I’ve learnt to accept myself and my body’s limitations. Without the desire to achieve certain poses just because someone else could, I was able to bring awareness to my breath and body and understand what I can or cannot do. I surprised myself because, despite being unable to achieve some of the poses I desire, I was happy because I was listening to my body and working with my true self and capabilities.
I leave you with this quote by Swami Sivananda, which is so true and precious –

“If you are established in non-stealing, all wealth will come to you”

Namaste
Mabel
200hr YTT Vinyasa Flow Weekend

I'm a warrior!!

First of all, I’d like you to watch this Japanese commercial which title is “SURVIVE!! GLOBALIZATION”. I like it very much.  (Click ‘CC’ for English caption) 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_iDfoy1v5g

 

This is a Cup Noodles’s commercial from NISSIN, well known in Singapore as well. Especially, if you have Japanese friends, it must be fun. 

When this was on TV last year in Japan, I heard that NISSIN got a lot of complains and sympathies from TV viewers. Some people said it was rude with the Japanese some of top companies (UNIQLO, RAKUTEN, NISSAN, SHARP etc…) which had changed their official language in English already before it was on TV. The others said it was too self-ridicule and pathetic for Japanese. But, I think this kind of people are Japanese. Of course including me, we are fighting with ourselves.

I’ve always wanted to overcome such a mental issue which the people in the commercial have, not only English. I didn’t have any confidents to jump into the new world and get through it until few years ago. But I think yoga practice gives me a lot of awareness and the way how to gain self-confidence. 

 

“Remember not to get frustrated with yourself”
“Remember not to rush the movement”
“Be patient with yourself”
“Take it easy, go step by step”
“Keep practicing, and it will come”
“Enjoy your journey!!”….etc.

 

These words gave me positive energy a lot!! I would like to say thank you to all of my yoga teachers.
Small little improvements everyday make a huge differences over a lifetime of practice. I’ll keep that in mind and practicing even if it seems impossible, not only yoga but also my English 😉

 

Chiaki Kikumoto   200hr TTC May 

Yoga and Time

Often yoga teachers speak about time and consciousness in class. Mostly I am told (1) to ‘be present’, and that all that exists, exists in the present. Yet at the same time, I am also told (2) that past, present, and future are equally real. I have been trying to figure where this fits in with scientific and philosophical theories of time. Both (1) and (2) represent mutually exclusive philosophical theories of time.
Two common views in the philosophy of time are (there are more, but two are sufficient for this purpose):
Presentism – only what is present is real, and exists.
Eternalism – ‘past’, ‘present’ and ‘future’ are all equally real.
One is either a presentist or an eternalist, but not both.
At first glance, it seems that when your yoga teacher tells you to ‘be present’, she is speaking as a presentist. Yet, if past, present and future are all equally real, then it seems that your yoga teacher is speaking as an eternalist.
I am not implying that yoga teachers are flippant when they speak of time. It is plausible that there is a coherent yogic philosophical theory of time such that statements (1) and (2) can both be true at the same time. I have not figured this out, but it has been on my mind constantly these past four weeks, and I am curious enough that I might spend a semester doing research on yoga and the philosophy of time.
WL

New life, 2013.

2011
(2009, 2011)
The person you see now, every day jumping around in class and eating almost everything, is currently at her happiest and healthiest.
I had a severe eating disorder 4 years ago. The picture on the left showed the days when I was in Polytechnic. I made sure I exercised at least two hours and consumed less than 10 food items every single day, all for someone I loved then whom said I was too fat. Later, when I managed to lose 8 kg, I did not realize I lost much more. I lost what it meant to be called a woman. I lost quite a bit of hair as they thinned out so much, I missed my period for nearly one year, lost my two best friends called ‘breasts’, and surprisingly, my self-esteem. I rejected outings with my friends just to exercise and restrain myself from social eating. I was so thin, and some friends then joked that they can stick a straw and drink water from my collarbones.
After going through so much and losing my friends one by one, I thought I had sacrificed a lot for the one I loved. Ironically enough, it never lasted because I ended up losing so much weight, he said he felt like he was hugging a lamppost instead. Upset, feeling cheated and totally heartbroken, I ate all that I wanted. University started around then too, and the late nights made me indulge in junk food even more.
Needless to say, my weight rebounded. The photo on the right was taken 2 years back, when I had to wear baggy clothes to cover my tummy and weight gain. I still wore shorts because I could not deal with the fact that I was putting on so much weight, I had to convince myself that I was still fine, that I could still pull the shorts up my thighs. During that time, I ate with my emotions and within a year or so, I put on 10 more kg, even heavier than I was before. I was elated when my period finally restarted, and I no longer had to eat hormone-regulating pills. But I was not happy. I was feeling fat, sluggish and totally wasted. I started doing yoga more often, and stuck to it because I loved how I feel after every session. I did begin to shed off some weight and gain some strength. The calmness I felt during yoga was something I never got off the mat, which gradually made me realise how harshly I was treating my body in the past.
In this 200hr training course, after getting to know others and learning about their stories, I felt I was lucky to not have suffered from severe body issues having put myself under such undue stress previously. The body is such a precious temple that we have only for this lifetime. I also learnt much more about body anatomy, about the type of food we eat and how to eat right for a healthy body.
Right now, I may be heavier, meatier and rounder compared to when I was at my lowest weight, but I am undoubtedly happier and healthier. At least I do not have to worry about breaking my own bones when I fall in inversions or arm balances. I also do not have to worry about whether I was getting regular periods, or whether I had to stuff tissue into my bra just to look more normal and lady-like in my clothes.
It is true that when you have gone through suffering, you are more compassionate towards others and can truly understand how they are feeling. Compassion is such an important characteristic of a yoga teacher, not only when guiding total beginners into the practice, but also in living the yoga off the mat.
I do admit that I still stare at my jiggly bits now and then, wondering when will they ever leave me one day, but then I remind myself that I am blessed to be in relatively good health, and armed with the knowledge and means to make it better.
For that, I am already very thankful.
– Joy

my training experience

As of today, I have completed 3 weeks of yoga teacher training (halfway into the course!). I wanted to start penning down my thoughts while it was still fresh in my mind but I could not. I was physically, mentally and emotionally drained. All I could remember from the first week was my poor body was all aching and sore. It was like I never knew those muscles existed, or maybe they have always been sleeping.
So here I am, with a clear mind, moving into the 4th week of training and ready to write and reflect on this wonderful journey. The past few weeks have been physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. I remember having a drug allergy by the end of the first week; I developed rashes all over my neck and body, it did not help that I was perspiring like mad every morning and could not resist the urge to scratch. Thankfully it was cleared in about 5 days but as soon as I thought things were getting better, I twisted my left foot while attempting the jump-through… ….
Oh well everything aside, those incredible weeks were one of the best days I ever experienced in my life. On some days I was on a high from training. I could not get enough of how much I have learned and would go home and talk for hours to my partner about everything I was doing and learning at the course. Of course on some days I was totally exhausted to a point where I just did not want to speak to anyone. (Master Paalu was right, it really happened!)
There were also instances where, I secretly tear on the mat when training got a little tough. Honestly, I always thought I was a tough cookie. Seemed like I have over-estimated my strengths. But I was very determined to maintain my composure and not let it affect me. I have learned to take things in stride, and not let my emotions get the better of me. So far, my trusty mat has collected a fair amount of sweat and tears over the past weeks. It was very interesting to monitor my attitude and emotions and observe how it would shift from day to day. As I move deeper and deeper into practice, I also move deeper and deeper into self-love. For me, going through this training was also a transformational experience. I was on the road to self-discovery.
Most importantly, I have NEVER done a single head stand in my entire life and at week 3 I finally conquered the fear of being upside down. This is my biggest achievement in practice so far. It is really quite incredible that I am able to let go of that fear and I am really working hard to achieve more boundaries.
Physically, I have to be prepared to train every morning, whether my body was ready or not. I also often asked myself if my practice was adequate or strong enough for teacher training.  Everyone was at a different level; some of us could do certain asanas while a few of us struggle with them. But today, I realized that on top of being good with your asanas, there is another aspect that is just as important. It is to be able to teach and lead a class. We need to discover and develop our own unique style, through the way we give instructions and how we project ourselves. I am so looking forward to explore which style suits me and I shall discover this in the next few days.
Although my practice has deepened and improved since day 1, there is still more room for improvement. And as I build strength to balance steadily my asanas, I also build strength to face whatever the world throws at me. For now, I am truly loving this awesome training experience and being in the ‘present’. Practice, practice, and more practice.
Sandy