6 Master Yogi Quotes to Inspire Your Practice

In one of our lectures in the YTT 200, we were asked what our favorite quote was. There are hundreds of quotes by famous people to choose from, but when someone asks you point blank and out of the blue which quote you live by, the answer may not come easily. Picking a quote – the quote – that should define what you stand for prompts you to reflect at the very least, or make you feel vulnerable at the most.

But throughout our lectures in the program, our teachers have showered us with insight and wisdom – a few we can barely pronounce but all we can truly apply in our lives.

For this post, I’ve put together six (6) of the key insights from our Master Yogis that I think are worthy of being enclosed in quotation marks:

1. “Do what your body wants you to do, not what your mind wants you to do.” The decision should happen on its own. The body is instinctive and has a natural ability to achieve physical homeostasis. The body is able to discern what is good or bad for it and we have to be in tune with what the body needs and what it rejects, rather than allowing the mind to dictate what the body wants and needs. For example, our body only becomes hungry when we need added nourishment. Craving for unhealthy food is a psychological announcement that is formed in the mind.

2. “There is comfort in consistency.” Maintaining a daily Yoga practice is difficult for most people because you need time, discipline and persistence. But we can push through the discomfort until we are able to ride smoothly through the consistency of a daily routine, which stabilizes your mood and provides you a reservoir of energy to push yourself to do more in other aspects of a Yogic life. So, having at least five regular poses that you do daily can be a big help to regulate your mood, establish consistency, and strengthen your connection with each asana.

3. “Establish a pattern of completion. Whatever you do, finish it; don’t leave it hanging.” Completing something no matter how challenging and no matter your mood relates to the previous insight. However, this one is more on reaching your destination no matter the hurdles and distractions. I think this also links to our habit of complaining and sour-graping. When we complain and have bouts of sour grapes, we place ourselves in a state of constant pain jealousy. We build the hurdles ourselves. We also steal ourselves away from what we need to do (relates to asteya, meaning non-stealing). Without completion, there is no consistency. Without consistency, there can be no relief, growth and vitality.

4. “Find a connection with pose; don’t be a slave to it. Being a slave to something is a form of suffering.” Our masters keep saying that we must enjoy the pose. It can be difficult to hear this, especially when you are struggling to hit the right spot for a certain asana. For example, you might still have a wobbly headstand or you can’t bind in Marichyasana C and D. The frustration can get to you and ruin your mood. But if you can control and manage your mood in relation to a pose, or to any another subject/object, you do not suffer. You can let go anytime. Only then can you be a master of your own mind.

5. “Where there is desire, there is also fear.” The fear can come from thinking that we are unable to achieve the desire or that we are capable but are unworthy of attaining it. The fear could also come from knowing that once we achieve our desire, we would have to move on to another desire, challenge, dream, and, basically, any object that becomes the destination of our life – and changing this destination might require us to redefine who we are and what we represent, which can be confusing and taxing. But Yoga is less about achieving desires and more being recognizing our desires and our human tendency to fall prey to these desires and suffer in the process. As we get older, it also becomes apparent that as individuals, we have basic desires that evolve and mature. However, these desires are basically the same ones that have driven us all our lives. And if we don’t recognize the fear we attached with out basic, individual desire, the fear will also evolve and mature, bringing us further from achieving our desires.

6. “A weakness is a strength, but at the time you labeled it as a ‘weakness’ was actually an inappropriate application of a strength.” Someone’s weakness could be another person’s strength. We can also take this lesson to mean that our abilities and limitations have a proper application; we just need to be able to discern opportunities to apply them in different situations. In addition, we also learned from the YTT 200 that appearing weak and imperfect could be a strength in a Yoga instructor. Students, especially beginners, feel intimated by a muscular and perfectly shaped teacher who does elaborate poses. Instead of listening and trying, all they can take away is how far the gap is between where they stand and how far the teacher has gone. In this scenario, both the student and the teacher fail.

These are just six of the many powerful lessons I picked up from our Yoga teacher training. Certainly, there will be more as we approach the end of our training program, and as we go off into our individual Yogi journeys. But these six quotes are a good starting point to define our ongoing practice and bring us closer to the quote that would define and direct us.

Everyone can learn something from the sutras of Pantanjali

If you really want to get a sense of how old Yoga is look at the sutras of Pantanjali.

The Yoga Sūtras of Patañjali which are the foundational text of classical yoga philosophy are around 2000 years old.

They fell into relative obscurity for nearly 700 years from the 12th to 19th century and then made a comeback in late 19th century.

During the 20th century, modern practitioners of yoga elevated the sutras to common use translating it into various languages so it could be understood around the world.

Sutra in sanskrit means a rope or thread that holds things together.

The themes of the sutras are universal to the human consciousness and a way of mindful living and are still very relevant today, despite their age. As Patanjali writes, all that matters is that we begin here and now and commit to living and practicing with greater self-awareness and presence.

The sutras show you the lineage of yoga to help you get a better understanding of the history behind certain poses and sequences. From that you earn a certain respect and understanding of the asanas. They remind you of the true purpose of your practice and the sutras talk about the philosophy and helps you to understand the barriers to living a happy and fulfilled life and essentially on how to begin to live your yoga.

I want to end with a verse I found translated. I think it’s amazing how philosophy like this can withstand the test of time and still be as relevant today as it was around 2000 years ago.

“We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy. If we are to die in a minute, why not die happily, laughing? (136-137)”
– Sri S. Satchidananda, The Yoga Sutras

The benefits of yoga during my pregnancy

The benefits of yoga during my pregnancy

I believe yoga significantly helped me progress through three pregnancies in five years with minimal discomfort. During the three trimesters I practiced yoga between one to three times per week and only ceased my practice two weeks prior to my due date. I’m convinced that my yoga practice prevented me from experiencing severe back pain, edema or gaining excessive weight. The combination of physical postures, breathing exercises and meditation gave me a balance in body and mind throughout each pregnancy, labor and delivery.

Practicing yoga provided me with the opportunity to focus on myself, my baby and my body. Particularly with the second and third child, it provided me with some time-out from my busy mummy life :-).

I found that there were also many benefits post pregnancy. For example, I did not experience any problems with incontinence or other pelvic floor muscles issues. My only remaining challenge is the 1.5 to 2 finger gap between the two rectus abdominis muscles (commonly known as diastasis recti) which has never completely closed.

I`m hoping that the yoga teacher course will help enhance my own exercise technique as well as providing me with the knowledge to improve my body alignment and the use of important muscles such as the M. transversus abdominis. In turn, I hope to be able to close the gap in my own rectus abdominis muscles J

Pelvic floor muscles and Yoga

Pelvic floor muscles and Yoga

Early in life, we automatically learn to use most of the muscles in our body. We learn to walk and to coordinate the actions of all muscles in our legs and pelvis. There are however some muscle groups that we may never learn to use correctly such as our core muscles, in particular, the M. transversus abdominis, a stabilizer in the abdominal muscles or the pelvic floor muscles.

As a physiotherapist, I have treated many people, especially women over 40, post pregnancy and childbirth or patients with obstipation problems, overweight or those whose professions require heavy lifting, which have a weak pelvic floor. Like all muscles in the body, the pelvic floor requires regularly training in order for it to remain strong.

 100 times a day tighten the pelvic floor muscles it`s training !!!

Unfortunately, many people do not know how to engage their pelvic floor muscles and they use their gluteal muscles instead.

For a physiotherapist, it`s difficult to determine whether a patient has activated this muscle group as it cannot be viewed externally. However, simple yoga exercises can help a patient locate their pelvic floor muscles. This can be achieved by lying on one’s belly (Crocodile pose) or sitting down (Sukhasana) and focusing on one’s breathing, as the pelvic floor moves in synchrony with the diaphragm.

Although it takes time to feel this muscle group, there are many yoga poses and variations which strengthen the pelvic floor such as the bridge pose (sethu bandhasana). Essentially, any yoga pose where one sucks in one’s belly such as chair pose, warrior, boat pose, as well as many Pranayamas, activate the pelvic floor.

Yoga and social media.

I pick this topic because now a days the world is moving so fast. Social media is one of the most popular and trendy places to be, even though is just an fake space inside a phone, people use it for different reasons like:

  • Help their ego to decrease their insecurity on society.
  • Share their life.
  • Show of the places they were.

I do believe social media can be useful if you want to share believes, information and life experiences with others. It just depends on the reasons and purposes you use it for.

 

In the other side, Yoga is been jeopardized by this generation because of the way they have been teaching and modifying the technique of it. How trendy and famous yoga is? Well, you can see it everywhere gym, fitness center, conventions, courses, master classes, weekend activities, etc. and that’s how trendy is right now. The faster it grows the more modify yoga gets.

 

But, when I said I do believe in social media means (for me) that everyone who has a user account in any app is able to have its own judgment and profit. If you really take time to search for good accounts that provide quality information, then social media turns into a good source and motivational activity.

 

If guide my social media activity with some yoga believes, I am truthful to myself even though I can be connected to the world. For example, if I apply one or two limbs of THE EIGHT LIMBS OF ASHTANGA/RAJA YOGA, I will use:

 

  1. – disappearance of all suppressions.
    1. Ahimsa: non violence, which transforms to love of all. I won´t use my account to attack any person, believe or behavior.
    2. Satya: I´ll share myself the way I am and I live life.
    3. Asteya: freeing oneself of jealous instincts. Don´t watch anyone who make us feel jealous or angry.
    4. Brahmacharya: gain vitality and energy. Share our energy the way it is.
    5. Aparigraha: non-possessiveness. No attachment to the amount of followers, likes, shares and friends we have.
  2. -
MIND FIT FOR CONCENTRATION.

The mind becomes capable, ready and fit to express all it carries inside. Your mind becomes able to create things within a short time. The science and ability to project anything you want is Dharana. Is a methodology through which your mind is fixed on an object, subject or an idea such that your consciousness is raised to a higher frequency or state. Your mind becomes capable for concentration in every topic or subject to need to share or read. You project anything you want, you find your own way to be in this world without anyone that disturbs you, you are completely conscious.

 

I try to apply how in this complicated social media world yoga helps us to be entire aware of what are we doing. There is nothing wrong with this world, we make good and wrong decisions through actions that are based on our level of conscience. Use social media to change the world, to return some of the joy God gives you.

 

 

Yoga and the Media

In today’s modern word, it’s hard to avoid the impact of the media, especially the ‘social’ kind. Many industries have boomed with the rise of social media attention and yoga doesn’t seem to have escaped this growing trend. But, with such an ancient practice, how has modern day media ‘shaped’ the art of yoga and is it detrimental to the fundamentals of what it means to be a yogi?

It seems inevitable in a capitalist society, that nothing is exempt from commercialisation, including yoga. Falling under the ‘fitness’ banner in many western countries, yoga has become big business and with the rise of social media platforms, such as Instagram, yoga has been steadily growing in popularity. You don’t have to search for long to find vast numbers of yogi profiles from around the globe, proudly posting photos of pincha mayurasana against a pristine-white-beach backdrop, or another demoing a dynamic flow, wearing the latest stylish gear. The thriving yoga industry has led to the rise of the ‘celebrity yogi’ – a diverse group of accomplished practitioners, with a strong Instagram following. Many of these high profile yogis will openly share their own views about how social media has led us away from what it means to practice yoga, yet the irony is that the platform from which they post these views, isn’t able to truly capture all that yoga stands for.

Read More

Yoga for a Happier Digestive System

Since six years old (or maybe even further back), I’ve suffered from constipation. It’s been common for me to empty my bowels once to twice every week. My family and friends who know about my constipation, used to say it may be because I don’t drink enough water or eat enough fibre, but that’s wrong. I drink at least 2 litres of water per day and eat a well balanced meal with enough fibre.

To ease my constipation I’ve tried incorporating yoghurt in my diet (which helped a bit) but stopped due to frequent skin break outs and a stomach bloat. As well as taking probiotic supplements, which didn’t seem to make a difference.

As time passed, I’ve ignored my digestive problems, telling myself that maybe my body takes a longer time to move the waste out of my bowels. But then as I commenced the 4 week yoga teacher training course, I’ve been going to the toilet to empty my bowels every single day. EVERY SINGLE DAY! AND SOMETIMES EVEN TWICE A DAY! It’s been an amazing feeling, where my stomach feels empty and at ease.

I haven’t changed my life style, diet, sleeping patterns, etc. The only new thing that was incorporated into my lifestyle this past week has been yoga practice (asanas and pranayama).  Five days of yoga in a row, practicing the asanas along with pranayama for minimum two (2) hours in the morning before lunch.

One might suggest it’s because I’ve been “exercising”, but the answer is no. I’m a freelance spinning instructor, teaching minimum of five 45 minutes classes a week. I “exercise” enough, thank you very much. Sure you can get an “exercise” out of yoga, but I’d say I’ve been moving my body a lot more in different angles and planes, twisting my body along with proper conscious breathing which probably massaged my colon internally, thus stimulating elimination.

Yoga really does purify your body, especially your colons. I look forward to continuing this regular practice (partly) for a happier digestive system. You know what they say, happy tummy equals happy me.

 

— Miso

Bhujangasana

We had our final exams today, it was a very intense and sweaty practice but fun at the same time.  You can see everybody at their best alignment, drishti and pranayama.  Everybody looked so graceful and beautiful with all the asanas.  At some point, there were cards layed on the floor for us to teach with a time limit.  Tadah!!! I picked a card and got Bhunjangasana – Cobra Pose.Read More

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