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

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 Love Hate Relationship with Yoga

I chanced upon yoga a few years back when a new yoga studio opened just 5 minutes from where I stayed. I went for their open house during their grand opening and signed up for a one-year package. Took my first hot yoga and fell in love with it. That hotness in the studio makes you perspire like hell, but you feel so good after. That same night I slept like a baby.

I continued various different classes with different teachers. Hatha, flow, hot, yin and Ashtanga. That’s where I discovered the style (Ashtanga) that I love the most. I started attending Ashtanga classes more frequently on a weekly basis with the same teacher without fail. However, it started my love hate relationship.

Ashtanga has a fixed sequence that your body will remember after consistent practice. You just flow through the variation poses like water flowing with the tide. However, I find certain poses intimidating and challenging especially the inversion and backbending poses.

I guess quite a lot of beginners like me finds those poses a huge hurdle. Without proper guidance or explanation, there is no way you can learn to stand on your head or bend it gracefully like a gymnast. Pun intended…  

Even though I continued my weekly classes without fail, I have yet to conquer that hate. After one year, I quit from the studio and yoga practice. And went on a hiatus. Until early last year, where my sister suggested to try out a studio (Tirisula) that she has been attending yoga classes regularly. I attended the first class with her and fell in love again. Angelika, the yoga teacher for that day was amazing. Her dedication to all the students of all levels was undivided. She pays attention to every student individual different needs and adjusted our posture for every class that I have attended. I must say, the teacher, teaching the classes plays an important role. She motivated me to overcome my hate. And from there I fall in love all over again and has never look back since.

Patsy Kaye Ang, YTT200 Weekend Warrior – March 2018

 

In Search of A Good Massage

We decided to move back to Australia after my daughter was born.  Since then, I have been looking forward to starting a new life in a foreign country.
As we settle down here, it eventually sits in me that this is not like Singapore where we can get almost anything and everything that we want easily and readily.  Shops close at 5pm here.  Eating out is expensive.  Services are expensive. So I had to learn to do everything by myself/ourselves, from housework to cooking to lawn mowing. It can be quite daunting especially for someone who has lived in a country (Singapore) where help is readily available and highly affordable.  I had to adapt.
It has been nice to be able to wake up to thin crisp fresh air every morning. I look forward to the season change. I look forward to the fresh produce.  I am happy here though at the back of my head, I wish I could get a good manicure/pedicure and most importantly, a good acupressure massage!  I missed those good massages that I used to indulge in to ease the body aches.
My back and neck aches from the housework and also the toll of carrying my 2-year-old daughter around.  After checking around for a good masseuse for sometime, I decided that it was not going to be an easy task.  I was disappointed in the nail treatments here, they are not as thorough as the manicurists in Singapore when it comes to cleaning the cuticles and they are certainly expensive.  After a couple times at the nail shops, I decided that DIY at home for me works well than paying to get it done.
I was thinking about my massage and I decided to Google for workout places when I had that spare time.  I chanced upon Pilates classes and there was this particular school, which had a Pilates Beginners class that was just about to start.  The timing of the class suits my schedule and I immediately signed up for the class.  Pilates has been something that I wanted to give it a go when I was in Singapore but hardly had the time to do it.
I was surprised to find that Pilates exercises are not as confronting as Yoga, which is good for someone like me, someone who hasn’t really exercise since I left school 2 decades ago.  The five weeks of beginners breezed through and I was happy with myself for doing it.
Pilates taught me the importance of breathing and core stabilization.  Something that can be easily overlooked.  It also shed light on the importance of having a strong core so that one can execute our exercises or day-to-day life’s tasks effectively without inflicting injuries on us.  It also taught me to be focus and discipline in what I do.
I started attending twice weekly classes and very soon, I found that I no longer suffered from neck and back aches.  Even the pain at the tailbone (which I started having after childbirth) was gone!  I am very impressed by what it does to my body.  When I am too busy to squeeze in an exercise session for the day, I will do quick warm ups with the hundreds, roll up and down, spine articulation exercises for 10 minutes before I start my day.  It works wonder.
It has been two and half years since I started my journey with Pilates.  Now whenever my friends asked if I want to go for massage whenever I am in Singapore, I will tell them I have a good masseuse already and he is Mr. Pilates!
 
Michelle, Mar 2015 Pilates Matwork Instructor Course, Tirisula Yoga

My Mother-In-Law

Every married women will very likely cringe whenever the term “mother-in-law” is brought up in any conversation.  I am one of those lucky ones to have a lovely mother-in-law who is very independent despite being sickly. She is 78 years old this year and was a nurse who did her nursing scholarship in UK.
After we moved back to Australia, it dawned on me that it is inevitable that we will have more frequent contacts/visits with my mother-in-law.  With every initial conversation pleasantries, my mother-in-law will usually continue to tell us about the pain that she is having on the back, neck, legs, cramps etc.  Everyday there will be some form of pain being brought up as we speak.  Some days, I avoided asking her how is she as I already anticipated what she would say.  I tried asking if she had been to physiotherapy, acupuncture, Pilates, etc. She will always have an answer ready for me.  It is like “she has been through and done that and that I am a step slower than her”.
Having said that, with her past experience as a nurse, she knows the importance of being diligent in physiotherapy and it is something that she does not missed.  Sadly physiotherapy alone could not help her much.  She tried acupuncture but the needles were too painful. She tried Pilates but the exercises were too tough for her and she couldn’t do them. She had consulted chiropractor on a few occasions but it did nothing to elevate her back and neck ache. She had an answer for almost anything that I suggested that she try.  She had surgeries done in her back and shoulder before and hence I can understand the intensity of the pain that she is feeling whenever it hits her.  Somehow none of the things that she tried or took to have done much to help her in her situation.  Though I can get “annoyed” with her whenever we are at this topic of her pain, deep down inside, I secretly wished I can have or help her find the right “antidote”.
Meanwhile, I started going for Pilates classes as part of my fitness regime. It had been something that I heard about but didn’t get the time to do when I was in Singapore.  My husband was surprised that I continued with my Pilates classes after I completed the beginner’s lessons.  He was even more surprised that I increased the number of classes that I go to every week and the fact that I was looking forward to going, surprises myself too.  I felt really good after each Pilates workout and the exercises are actually not difficult exercises. In fact, the exercises can be modified to suit each individual’s condition.  People noticed that I look different.  Even my mother-in-law!  She had her opinion on Pilates since it didn’t work for her.  I tried convincing her to give it another go as I have seen many elderly women attending the same Pilates class as me.  If they can do those exercises, I don’t see why my mother-in-law couldn’t.  She wasn’t keen, as she has tried Pilates before, so she said.
Lately, she started seeing a chiropractor again. She has been telling us how good this chiropractor is. She felt good these days after each chiro session with her.  I thought about what she said and asked her how different is this chiropractor from the previous one that she had seen. Her answer was the chiropractor’s hands were good and her suggested exercises were easy for my mother-in-law to do.  My mother-in-law even suggested that I go with her for her next appointment so that I can see for myself.
The day came and I accompanied her.  The chiropractor went about her ways to examine my mother-in-law. It was all routine until she asked my mother-in-law if she has been doing the few exercises that she had drawn up for her. My mother-in-law said she had not been doing them, as she has forgotten some of the exercises.  The chiropractor demonstrated the exercises again and told my mother-in-law that she needs to strengthen her core. Being kyphotic lordorsis, my mother-in-law encounters frequent neckaches.  Her protruding stomach is putting a strain on her back and she needs to build up her core muscles at the abdominal. Emphasis of the exercise regime for her is to focus on intercoastal breathing and using breathing to work on the respective muscles.  There and then, I felt enlightened and it struck me that the recommended exercises are all Pilates-related and how useful they are! After leaving the clinic, my mother-in-law was surprised when I told her that these are basic Pilates exercises.
Ever since that trip with my mother-in-law to the chiropractor, I have been thinking about how Pilates can improve one’s overall wellbeing not only for the immediate day to day but also for the future.  It is definitely a good hedge to have when we grow older.  That’s when I started my research on Pilates instructor course so as to learn more about Pilates.
Pilates is something I never regret picking up and is also definitely something that I will grow old with other, than with my beloved family….
 
Michelle, Mar 2015 Pilates Matwork Instructor Course, Tirisula Yoga

The 5 must-have’s to be a good Pilates instructor

shutterstock_119600044So you want to be a Pilates instructor? I do. That is why I am doing the 80hr program now. I am just half way through. For the little time that I have been trained as an instructor, there are a few things specific to Pilates that come to light.
1) You must love Grey’s Anatomy. Oops, I mean Gray’s Anatomy by Henry Gray (even though I do follow every episode of Grey’s Anatomy diligently). To be a good Pilates instructor, you have to know your anatomy like the back of your hands. Why? Pilates is all about precision and control. In order that you can be in total control, you really need to know your tool, which is body anatomy. So all those who didn’t pay much attention in Biology classes at school will need to brush up fast. All the bones and muscles and nerves can be a bit nerve wrecking initially. But it is the only way to really know how the puzzle comes together. To be honest, it can be quite fascinating. It came to a point that I was obsessed with it even though I hate to learn to spell in Latin.
2) You must be totally in touch with yourself. Contrology – the essence of Joseph Pilates’s method to Pilates training. It requires intense concentration and control of every part of your body. To do that, you need to be very well tuned in with your own body – full awareness and ability to engage certain muscles for particular exercises. Otherwise it would be very difficult for you to teach or help others when you don’t even know how it works for you.
3) You must be very ‘naggy’ in a positive way. There are 5 fundamental principles of Pilates training – breathing, pelvic, rib cage, scapula and cervical stabilization. They are usually deployed simultaneously in most of the exercises. Unless you are a master in multi-tasking, it is really not easy to apply. You will have to be like a kindergarten teacher who is constantly reminding the 3-yr-olds! eat your veggies, wash your hands, stay quiet, do your homework… In order to help the students, you will literally hear me repeating the same things over and over again throughout the practice. But it works and it is necessary. With that, it just brings me to the next point.
4) You must be a creative thinker with good imagination. In order not to sound like a broken record, you need to be creative with words. E.g. to remind the students to engage the transversus abdominis muscles (which is the deepest layer of the abdominal muscles), you can say — Suck your belly in, bring your navel to your spine, engage your powerhouse, activate your core… you got the idea. You may also want to think of some interesting choice of words like shine your chest to the front or melt your back to the mat. How about peel your shoulders off the mat or float your feet off the floor? I will spare you the details about what comes into my mind when I visualize these actions. But they certainly make the class a lot more interesting.
5) Last but not the least, you must be able to count!! The first and the basic Pilate exercise starts with the famous 100 – a hundred repetitions of the same move. Yes, 100 times! For someone like me — who can’t count and talk at the same time, it is quite a challenge. As for the rest of the regime, it is also about repetitions. While
you are busy observing your students and correcting them, you need to be able to count at the same time. It is definitely a good way to train your cognitive mind.
If the above doesn’t speak to you now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t be a good instructor. These behaviors can be developed over time. The key element above all, as with any profession or interest, is the passion. If you are passionate about Pilates, all will follow in due course.
Grace, Mar 2015 Pilates Matwork Instructor Course, Tirisula Yoga

Inversion Poses

Yoga Poses – Inversion

Yoga inversion poses are Asanas (yoga poses) where feet are raised above the head like headstand (Salamba Sirsasana) or shoulder stand (Salamba Sarvangasana). Practicing inversion poses helps us to see our world in a different angle, an angle that we hardly see; upside down.

The concept behind inversion poses is expressed in yoga texts as Viparita Karani, meaning “opposite process”, which simply means facilitating a different perspective.

Physically, our body is normally supported by our legs and feet but during inversion poses, our body is supported by our hands or/and head. In addition to that, this exercise is more than just a physical change in direction. It also increases our ability to adapt to change instead of being stuck in our everyday habitual state, which increases our capacity for growth and transformation.

handstand-adjustment 

Health Benefits of Inversion Poses:

a) it reverses the blood flow in the body and improve circulation as it uses gravity to provide the brain with more oxygen and blood, thus increasing mental functioning, and improving concentration and memory.

b) it gets more blood moving to the brain, which results not only in physical invigoration but mental revitalization as well.

c) it increases core strength: shoulders and arms-especially for women who tend to be stronger in the lower body, inversions create body balance by developing upper body strength. To hold a straight headstand for an extended period of time, we must engage the obliques, the rectus abdominus and the transverse abdominus.

headstand-pose

d) inversions stimulate and provide refreshed blood to the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. These glands are vital to our well-being and they also regulate all other glands in the body(thyroid, pineal and adrenals).

e) any fluid that is retained in the feet is able to drain(edema), therefore reducing the onset and prevalence of varicose veins.

f) inversions increase digestive fire and body heat. The intestines are cleansed by reversing the pull of gravity, while releasing congested blood to the colon.

Experiencing the inverted yoga poses personally have progressively amazed me. While I could manage the Halasana(plow pose) and Salamba Sarvangasana (shoulder stand), each time the experience seems to differ: holding the pose while doing the Ujayi breathing and gazing at the right spot all at the same time. And each time the pose becomes more comfortable with more practice.

While I was struggling to get my legs up the in air for Salamba Sirsasana the 1st week of the course, the 2nd week had successfully lifted my legs off the ground(while against the wall). Now that it’s coming to the 3rd week, I’m looking forward to hold this pose without the wall and stay longer at it!

Samantha Loh
200hr weekday
March-April 2014