Anatomy and asana – Vriksasana (Tree pose)

The tree pose is one of the first pose that drawn me into yoga.
Although it is not part of the Asthanga serie, it is an emblematic pose worth noting and exploring.
I appreciate the contrast of strength and balance which is needed to hold the pose and the gracefulness that can be expressed with the arms and the upper part of the body. With enough focus, one can really feel the tree analogy, the energy connection with the earth when properly rooted and the lightness of the arms micro balancing like branches slowly moved by the wind.
How to get into the pose?
Start in Tadasana (mountain pose), lift the right knee 90′, using the wall for support if needed, place the sole of the feet against the inner left tight, or below the left knee if need be – make sure the pressure is NOT on the knee.

Make sure both sides of the trink are equally stretched. Breathe slowly and steadily.

Keep the hands on the hips or folded together in prayer position in front of the chest. Control your hips and pelvic region and ensure they are in neutral position and balanced, tuck the tailbone in if need be.
On an inhale, lift the arms up, alongside the ears, with the palms still pressing on one another. Steady the gaze. Smile. Stay in the pose for several deep breaths. Enjoy, and feel free to open the arms and stretch them. Do you feel the wind?
Exit the pose by releasing the hands and the knee with control, back into Tadasana. Switch legs.
Watch out areas:
– Standing knee, make sure it doesn’t hyperextend and that the folded leg doesn’t put any direct pressure on the joint.
– Control the flexion of the folded knee, and rest the sole of the feet below the knee of the standing leg if flexion is too strong.
– If any lower back pain or injury, control the balance and stability of the hips and pelvic region, control the level of flexion of the folded knee.
– Shoulders: if lifting the hands and arms straight over the head is not possible or painful, keep the hands in prayer position at chest level.

Breathe!

After a few days on the mat, things are supposed to get better, but is it really the case?
The body is feeling sore, and during Asanas each diificulty gives the mind an opportunity to jump in and challenge the situation.
‘I can’t do this’…,
– just breathe and move with the flow without thinking about what comes next.
‘What am I doing here?’…,
-just breathing, nothing else to think or do.
‘I feel so tired’… ,
– but I can still breathe!, this is what matters for now and it is just enough to make it to the next move.
‘Maybe I’ll injure myself if I go so deep in this pose’…,
– just breathe, stay centered, steady, focus on your bandhas, feel lighter, trust the teachers, the process and yourself…
‘How many more Vinyasa ane Chaturanga can I endure?’… – who cares, just this one matters, breathe, feel your body pulsating, feel just how good this inhalation is.
Don’t pay attention to whatever comes through the mind, just focus, just breathe, discover the joy of this single, simple breath and ride on it like on a wave, and the next one…, and the following one…

Tiramisu- love diet


Similar to all asanas, there are different recipes on bakings to cater for beginners.
Below is a very simple tiramisu recipe which I learnt while staying in Italy for a year & it tastes fabulously.Two different recipes are featured below and they are so simple that even young kids can join in to bake together.Before we start,(especially  for beginners) , below is a brief explanation of what is Tiramisu:

Tiramisu ([tiɾamiˈsu], Italian spelling: Tiramisù; lit. “pick me up”) is an Italian cake and dessert. It is made of ladyfingers (Italian: Savoiardi) dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of egg yolks and mascarpone cheese, and flavored with liquor and cocoa.[1] The recipe has been adapted into many varieties of puddings, cakes and other desserts

 
Recipe 1:( 1st time beginner)
Ingredients:
EGG YOLKS, 3
EGG WHITES, 1 or 2
SUGAR, superfine (castor)
3 tablespoons ESPRESSO COFFEE, strong, 1/4 cup
MASCARPONE CHEESE, 250g
SAVOIARDI (LADY FINGERS), 4 ounces
 
Instructions:
Soft cream:

  • Make a cream mixing eggs yolk, sugar and mascarpone.Add white egg  & mixed , beat until it is fluffy.

 
Tiramisu:

  1. Prepare thick coffee and let it cool
  2. Dip the lady fingers into the coffee and put it into a plate.
  3. Cover the lady fingers with the soft cream cream
  4. Repeat action 2 and 3 for another 1/2 layers.
  5. Sprinkle some grounded chocolate over the cream as a finishing touch
  6. Refrigerate for several hours before serving with a cup of coffee

 

Recipe 2: ( 2nd time beginner)
Ingredients:
EGG YOLKS, 3
EGG WHITES, 1 or 2
SUGAR, superfine (castor),
3 tablespoons VIN SANTO, or MARSALA, or BRANDY,
1-1/3 cups ESPRESSO COFFEE, strong, 1/4 cup
MASCARPONE CHEESE, 8 ounces CREAM, 1/2 cup
SAVOIARDI (LADY FINGERS), 4 ounces Directions
 
Instructions

  • Make a zabaglione by beating the egg yolks and sugar in the top of a double boiler until ivory colored.
  • Add 1/3 cup liquor and whisk over gently simmering water until the mixture begins to thicken. Let it cool.
  • Stir the coffee into the Mascarpone.
  • Whip the cream to soft peaks.
  • Beat the egg white(s) until stiff. Fold the egg white(s) into the zabaglione.
  • Dip the lady fingers into the remaining liquor and line the bottom of a 9-inch bowl or individual containers (wine glasses work well).
  • Cover them with half the Mascarpone, then half the zabaglione, then half the whipped cream.
  • Repeat the layers, finishing with the cream.
  • Refrigerate for several hours before serving

Beginners class #1

By Elaine Ee
Beginners Yoga: Lesson Plan #1
Intro: My name is Elaine, I’m going to be your yoga guide for the next 60 minutes. This is a beginners’ yoga class and today we are going to learn some basic yoga poses and movements, focusing on alignment, breath and working a little bit on strength and flexibility.
Mantra: 3 Oms
Breathing: Start with deep breathing, 6 counts inhale, 6 counts exhale.
Introduce Ujayi breathing (breathing using the throat, nose is only a passageway)
5min
Warm up: Head to toe: neck rolls, shoulder rolls, arm rotations (forwards, backwards, both directions), stretch deltoids (hold for 5 secs), pelvic rotations, hip rotations, ankle rotations
– x 5 times per side/direction
5 min
Surya Namaska A
– step back version x 5 times (knees, hips, chin on the ground; hold downward dog for 5 deep breaths)
(harder option: jump back)
10 min
Asanas
Standing:
Ukatasana with arms overhead, parallel
(easier option: arms in front; harder option: arms overhead, palm touching)
Transition from Ukatasana into easy chaturanga, upward dog and downward dog
Step into Virabradrasana A, left and right side; then Virabradranasa B, left and right. Hold each warrior pose for 5 deep breaths.
Transition back into Ukatasana.
Step back sideways into Trikonasana; left and right, hold for 5 deep breaths each.
Back to samasthiti
Padahastasana, holding heels. Pull on heels, face flat on shins, weight forwards. 5 breaths.
Step back sideways into Prasarita Padottasanana A. Go down with a flat back, knees locked to protect hamstrings, tummy tucked in to push sit bones up. 5 breaths
Samasthiti
Sitting:
Sit in Dadasana
Push up to Purvattanasana, counter pose. 5 breaths x 2
Sit back in Dadasana
Pachimottasana A. Walk sit bones back first, use peace sign fingers to grip big toes, emphasize flat back. 5 breaths x 2
Dadasana
Janu Sirasana A, 5 breaths each side. (harder option: Janu Sirasana B)
Dadasana
Triang Mukha Ekapada Pach, 5 breaths each side.
Supine:
Supta Vajrasana (fixed firm), to be counter pose to forward bends and to transition into supine positions. 5 breaths x 2; child’s pose in between
Ushtrasana (camel), 5 breaths x 2; child’s pose in between
Sasangasana (rabbit), 10 breaths x 1
Finish:
Twist: right leg cross over left, flex right knee, place right foot by left knee; right hand on floor at the back for support. Raise left hand, twist and place left hand by right knee. 5 breaths each side
(harder version: bend left knee)
Pranayama
Uyaji breathing, 25 breaths
Mantra
3 Oms
Savasana

Lesson Plan – Building Up to Trikonasana

Introduction (3 min)
The following lesson plan focuses on building flexibility and strength in the core to hold and position the body properly in Trikonasana, open up the hips so that the toes and kneecaps can be pointed in the correct directions, as well as increase flexibility in the back of legs and strengthen the quads so that back leg can be used actively to support weight distribution.
Ohm and Pranayama (12 min)

  • Ohm x10
  • Ujjayi – 5 min
  • Bhramari – 5 min

Warm-up (5 min)
Asana (30 min)
Suryanamaskara A x5
Suryanamaskara B x5
Navasana (Boat Pose)

Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

Santolasana (Plank)

Vasisthasana (Side Plank)

 
Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose)

 
Tiryaka Tadasana (Side Bending Pose)

Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Leg Forward Bend)

Parsvotanasana (Intense Stretch to the Side Pose)

Ukatasana (Chair Pose)

Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle Pose)

Parvaritta Utthita Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose)

Closing sequence
Closing (10 Min)

  • Kapala Bathi
  • Savasana
Thanks to the Fat Girl for doing the poses.

When Garbha Pindasana Cannot Be Said or Done Without a Slur (or Hiccup)

It was a reunion of sorts. A Saturday girls’ night out in Club Street with my girlfriends after I’d spent a week away working in Hong Kong. After my self-proclaimed, “booze celibacy” (AKA the 200 hour training course), we were also celebrating the first night I could go out on a proper pisser since late June.
I was flattered that they had taken such a curious interest in my progression in the course. Week after week I’d entertain them with reports of what I’d learned that week, what poses I could accomplish, and a tally of how long I’d gone without booze. 
After a great dinner (which consisted of meat; I’d also taken a reprieve from flesh eating during the course), we headed to the neighborhood rooftop bar and continued our binge. Although earlier in the night they’d insisted I demonstrate the poses I’d learned, I’d sloughed it off.  Little did I know that they would not only remember this request, but would require proof that I was indeed in training for the past month and not just blowing off their invitations to meet them for drinks.
Not very yogic, I know.
With a confidence only gained at my fourth Glenlivet, I ceded their request.
“GarrrrbHaa Pindasssssshaannnaah”.
“What?”
“GarrrrbbHaa Pindasssssshaannnaah. You know, it’s like an embryo in the womb. It’s meant to CALMMM the MINNNND and bring EMOOOOSHUNNAL stability” (I was shouting at this point because I became unaware that my own volume might not have been louder than that produced by the speakers above our heads).
“In GarrrrbbHaa Pindasssssshaannnaaah, you also massage your abs and benefits digestion…”  I even went so far to begin explaining as I began demonstrating, removing my 3 inch red heels.
Step one: Sit in Lotus.
Step two: Slide your arms, one by one,  between the gaps found in your thigh and calf.
Step three: Fold up your elbows and bring your hands up, resting your chin in your palms.
At this point, I was getting applause from the table, though I knew I was not properly in the asana. After all, Garbha Pindasana is performed in the second half of the primary Ashtanga series, and I hadn’t warmed up properly for this.
“Bhutt WHHHHait, I’m not finnnnnishhedd.”
I began to attempt the nine rolls back and forth, however my arms, legs and everything flew akimbo as I was desperately flailing for balance. I’m thankful there were no cameras to capture this mess.
I’ve learned my lesson. Having respect for the practice is necessary for achieving the benefits. I clearly did not respect Garbha Pindasana, and I was not met with the rewards that this pose intends to provide.
Stay bendy, everyone.

Asanas for the 7 Chakras

Chakras refer to the energy centers in the human body which is vertically aligned in the center of the body close to the spine. There are seven chakras, or energy centers, in our body. Each of these chakras is associated with a different part of the body along the spine from the coccyx to the crown of our head. As centers of force, chakras can be thought of as sites where we receive, absorb, and distribute life energies. A proper balance in the seven Chakras is essential for us to have good health. Through external situations and internal habits, such as long-held physical tension and limiting self-concepts, a chakra can become either deficient or excessive—and therefore imbalanced. An imbalance in the chakras can result in diseases and ill health. Yoga postures can help in aligning the chakras and making them healthy and active.

By practising yoga we can learn to focus the concentration and energy to and from the various chakras in our body.  By balancing the energy among all seven of the chakras a balance can be achieved.

Asanas for the different chakras

1.         Muladhara Chakra (mula=root, cause, source; adhara=support or vital part). This chakra is located at the base of spine (coccyx) and is associated with adrenals, kidneys, muscles and blood. An imbalance in this chakra can cause diseases and conditions like constipation, back pain, diarrhea, piles, colitis, high blood pressure, obesity, kidney stones and impotence. Some good yoga postures for this chakra are Setu Bandhasana (Bridge), Salabhasana (Locust), Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-knee) and Upavista Konasana (Wide angle forward bend).


2.         Svadhisthana Chakra (sva=vital force, soul; adhisthana=seat or abode). This chakra is located below navel at the lower abdomen and is associated with reproductive organs and stomach. An imbalance in this chakra can cause diseases and conditions like uterine fibroids, pre-menstrual syndrome, irregular periods, ovarian cysts, irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis, testicular disease, low back pain and prostate disease. Some good yoga postures to practise for this chakra are Bhujangasana (Cobra), Garudasana (Eagle), Kapotasana (Pigeon) and Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half spinal twist).


3.         Manipura Chakra (manipura=navel). This chakra is located at the navel (solar plexus) and is associated with the liver, pancreas, gall bladder, spleen, digestive system and nervous system. An imbalance in this chakra can cause diseases and conditions like diabetes, digestive problems, liver disease and gall stones. Some good yoga postures to practise for this chakra are Bhujangasana (Cobra), Dhanurasana (Bow) and Chakrasana (Wheel).

4.         Anahata Chakra (anahata=heart). This is the heart chakra and is associated with the heart, thymus gland, lungs and circulatory system. An imbalance in this chakra can cause diseases and conditions like heart diseases, allergies, breast cancer and problems related to the immune system. Some good yoga postures for a healthy heart chakra are Bhujangasana (Cobra), Matsyasana (Fish) and Ustrasana (Camel).

5.         Visuddha Chakra (visuddha=pure). This chakra is located at the throat and is associated with the thyroid gland, lungs and respiratory system. An imbalance in this chakra can cause diseases and conditions like thyroid, anorexia, asthma, bronchitis, hearing problems, mouth ulcers, sore throats and tonsillitis. Some good yoga postures for this chakra are Matsyasana (Fish), Halasana (Plough) and Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand).


6.         Ajna Chakra (ajna=command). This chakra is located at the forehead in between the eyes and is associated with the pituitary gland, eyes, nose, ears and skeletal system. An imbalance in this chakra can cause diseases and conditions like migraine, glaucoma, cataracts and sinus problems. Some good asanas for this chakra are Matsyasana (Fish), Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand), Sirsasana (Headstand)

7.         Sahasrara Chakra (sahasrara=thousand-petalled lotus). This chakra is located at the crown of the head and is associated with the pineal gland, brain and central nervous system. An imbalance in this chakra can cause diseases and conditions like depression, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s. The yoga asanas to practise for this chakra are the same as that for Ajna chakra.