Inhale, Exhale and Apply Yamas to the Workplace

There are 8 Limbs of Yoga, each describing a different aspect of our yoga practice. These 8 Limbs can be applied beyond the mat and into life. The first limb refers to “Yamas”, which is known as moral discipline i.e. to be ‘moral’ in our current situation and in our conduct. The “Yamas” guide us towards practices of how we act towards ourselves and others. Given that most of us are working and spending a good part of our day with colleagues, for this post, I would like to apply the 5 Yamas to the workplace, to understand how our thoughts, emotions and reactions to our colleagues and the daily grind can come from a more considered and aware state.

 

1. Ahimsa

Ahimsa means ‘non-violence’ or ‘non-harming’ in words, thoughts and actions. This means not thinking negative thoughts or physically harming ourselves or others and ensuring that all that we do is done in harmony.

It is common to have disagreements with colleagues, due to differences in perspectives on how things should be done or intolerance to certain behaviour. However, it is important to peel back the layers and to uncover the main trigger, to develop a better understanding of how we should exercise Ahimsa at the workplace.

Once, I was asked to take over a project from one of my team members to be the main liaison contact. Overtime, I noticed that the colleague became reluctant to share information with me and was holding up the progress of the project. I decided to talk to her about it and she expressed her concerns about not being able to return to the project if she shared all the information needed. To be honest, I felt upset and found her reason non-valid and unreasonable then. However, as I relook at the situation, I realised that me taking over the project may have caused her to feel like she was not needed in the team, hence the need for her to hold on to some information so she could still play a role in the project. Moving forward, I became more tactful and roped her in project discussions for us to work effectively together.

Another scenario – making mistakes at work. Projects are always running at a tight deadline, making everything urgent today. People are becoming reactive with high stress levels and low empathy. When we make mistakes at work, we become critical and hard on ourselves, blaming ourselves and thinking of “what-ifs” scenarios. Instead of beating ourselves over it or playing through different scenarios in our mind, we should be more mindful of our emotions and learn to practise self-compassion and be gentle with ourselves. This also applies to fellow team members who have made mistakes, forgive them and help them to move along and improve.

To practise Ahimsa in the workplace, we should:

  • Communicate clearly with our fellow colleagues, to understand them from their point of views. Not only do we learn about them, we learn something about ourselves too. 
  • Show empathy to our team mates, do not form negative thoughts or jump to conclusions based on their reasons. 
  • Give colleagues the benefit of doubt, listen to them and discover the root of the issue, to solve the problem. 
  • Practise self-compassion, be kind to ourselves and not beat ourselves up over mistakes that have already been done

 

2. Satya

Satya means truthfulness; being honest with ourselves, honouring where we are at, seeing things as how they are. Complete honesty with ourselves requires some time and space and is not an easy process, much less with others. Satya in the workplace could translate as being true to ourselves and the team and the team’s goals.

For example, we should be honest with ourselves about our skills, and our work preferences. Everyone possesses different skills levels, based on past work experience and the type of education we went through. We have different interests in the type of work that we do as well, some prefer problem-solving, some prefer planning and running events. Too often, we are afraid to show our weaknesses and ask questions in fear that we will get penalised or get judged harshly by the bosses. We may even be worried about being honest about the type of work that we like, as this might give off the impression that we are not keen to learn and grow in other areas. As the quote goes “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life”, it is important for us to be honest with our bosses and colleagues on our work preferences so we can enjoy the work that we do. We should also be honest with them,  if we are finding difficulty in our work and to seek help from our colleagues.

There was once, I attended a team meeting to discuss the year’s work plan. It was a fruitful discussion as all team members were encouraged to be themselves, to bounce ideas and share constructive feedback to build on these ideas. There was good teamwork between all team members, who were dedicated and were engaged fully in the discussion on forming the new team goals. This is another example of how Satya can be applied to the workplace, through creating a healthy and safe work environment for employees to be themselves, to share ideas, engage in debates and work together as a team. Employees can also do their part by being truthful about their views on the ideas and providing constructive criticism to strengthen the ideas, without being afraid of getting judged based on one’s ideas. This also applies to appraisal when bosses and employees discuss the work done and provide feedback to each other. We should be honest and provide constructive feedback on how the other party can improve and be a better version of themselves. This is probably easier said than done as it is sometimes difficult for employees to feedback on how their employers can be better, for fear of souring the relationship with the bosses, or getting penalised thereafter. We can start with baby steps, just giving one honest feedback at a time until you feel comfortable to give more. Of course the teachings of Ahimsa do apply here, ensure that your words do not intentionally harm others.

To practise Satya in the workplace, we should:

  • Be truthful with ourselves, our work preferences, our work skills. Recognise our strengths and our shortcomings and see how we can develop ourselves better.
  • Be honest with our bosses and our colleagues, give constructive feedback and help each other grow. Being open and truthful will help to strengthen relationships, inculcating teamwork and better camaraderie between team members.

 

3. Asteya

Asteya means non-stealing. A closer look into this, shows that the need to steal arises because of a lack of faith in ourselves to create what we need. The moment we feel that ‘incomplete’ or are lacking something in life, we start to form desires, wants and search for something to gratify and fill this ‘empty’ sensation. For Asteya, we want to move towards feeling that we have enough and that we are enough by ourselves.

To practise Asteya in the workplace, we should:

  • Not steal ideas or take credit for someone else’s work

We are always told to work smart and to use productive and efficient means but that does not mean taking shortcuts and claiming others’ ideas as your own. We can learn from others, seek help where needed but do give your colleagues credit on the work they have done or ideas they have given.

  • Be Timely

Be punctual for meetings, meet all the timelines stated in the Gantt Chart, do things early, do not procrastinate, complete your tasks within working hours so you can have a good work life balance. These are some ways that you can prevent yourself from “stealing” other people’s precious time that could be otherwise, spent working on other work projects or doing other things. A useful tip would be to plan the next day’s task list on the night before so you can work on it when the day starts. In addition, sometimes we digress from the main topic during meetings, causing meetings to run longer than expected, which delays other meetings and other work to be done. To be more efficient and to prevent ‘stealing’ others’ time, we should do our best to stick to the meeting’s agenda and complete all discussions needed at the time slot given.

  • Do not compare with others

We fall into the trap of the rat race where the goals are promotion, high salary and greater benefits. We compare our projects with others, to see which projects are more “important” i.e. visible to the top management, to determine who can get promoted and reach the top first. If we dig deep within, we know that we only start comparing with others because of a lack of faith in ourselves, hence we want to ensure that our competitors are not as good as us. Having colleagues as competition may motivate you to strive towards certain goals, however I’ve always found it unhealthy. It is imperative that we respect our colleagues for their abilities, celebrate their achievements and be happy for them when they reach their goals. Everyone is different, with their own set of abilities, hence we should not be comparing or benchmarking against others. We should also believe in ourselves, in our capabilities and our skills and not put others down to make ourselves feel better. 

 

4. Bhramacharya

Bhramacharya means the right use of energy, which guides us on how we can use our energy i.e. directing our energy away from external fleeting desires and towards finding happiness and peace within ourselves. In the workplace, it can be translated to not exhausting ourselves over work matters that are irrelevant and having a work-life balance.

How do we incorporate Bhramacharya into the workplace?

  • At work, we should make best use of our time and energy on our various work tasks. This means staying focused on the daily work tasks, to complete them by the end of the day, limiting the time spent socialising with colleagues in the pantry or workstations, catching up on office politics and gossip. It also means reducing phone usage and not taking longer than necessary, lunch breaks and meetings. The key is to do everything in moderation to ensure that time and energy is spread out efficiently, to ensure productivity and a healthy work-life balance, keeping burnout at bay.
  • Practise work-life balance, carve out boundaries between work and leisure. Work does not define your identity and it should not be the core focus in your life. Find a hobby, pick up a skill, learn something new. Use your time and energy creatively and wisely into other activities beyond work, to make yourself happy.

 

5. Aparigraha

Aparigraha means non-possessiveness or non-attachment. This Yama guides us to take only what we need and to let go of things that no longer serve us. 

This Yama is very applicable to the workplace in so many ways. It is amazing to feel so much passion for your work, to see your projects coming into fruition and benefitting the recipients. But what happens when we become too attached to the projects? 

  • Being too attached to achieving the desired outcomes of the project leads to greater disappointment. Very often, projects may not go the way that you want them to and desired outcomes are not achieved. Sometimes, projects even get aborted, postponed or replaced by something else that you are not spearheading. This leads to one feeling great disappointment and even unworthiness. We should not get too attached to the work that we do and we must be able to let it go when it no longer serves its purpose. Hence, we should not become so attached to fulfilling the goals that we neglect other aspects like, learning and developing ourselves and others, building on soft and technical skills in the workplace.
  • Being too attached to projects may cause us to have a tunnel vision i.e. we are not receptive to constructive criticism or feedback on our ideas, and we think that our ideas are the best. We believe that we should control all aspects of the project and become micromanaging, from the little details to the big picture. We should adopt a learning attitude, be open to ideas from people, learn from our challenges and failures, learn from others’ experiences and think of how to do things better.
  • When we get attached to the projects, we also get attached to the people whom we work with. However, people come and go in organisations, we should learn to let them go if they have found other passions in life and be happy that they are embarking on new endeavours. Too often, when a team member tenders, I see them being treated as ‘invisible’ in the workplace by their fellow team members. Colleagues no longer share jokes or provide updates to the staff leaving and the staff is no longer included in meetings. It’s sad to see this but it’s the harsh reality. Sometimes, when a staff leaves, the team members behind feel betrayed as they have to take on the new workload of the leaving staff and they feel left behind. Here, we need to incorporate the teachings of Ahimsa and Aparigraha together i.e. not to hold negative thoughts towards others and learn to let go and be happy for people.

To practise Aparigraha in the workplace, we should:

  • Learn to let go of work projects and ideas that no longer work. 
  • Let go of people and be happy for them with their choices.
  • Be receptive and respectful of others’ feedback and perspectives.

 

Conclusion

I’ve covered the 5 Yamas and showed how we can use them in the workplace. There are so many things that we can do, to develop a better understanding of us and our colleagues’ thoughts and reactions and to make the workplace a better place for us to work in. We do not have to instantly apply all Yamas, it’s not going to be easy changing habits that have been ingrained in us. However, we can slowly change one thing at a time, after all, change is a constant. For me, Ahimsa would be easy, but not Satya especially when it comes to being honest with my colleagues and providing constructive feedback. A lot of work is needed on my part, but I’m sure I will eventually get there by working it one at a time.

Leaving you with a  favourite quote from Mohandas Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world (workplace in this case)” Let me know if you guys have more ways on how we can apply Yamas in our workplace. Sending you peace and light. (:

The Yamas and my Headstand Practice

I found Yoga Philosophy to be very abstract and difficult to understand when I first came across it during the YTT theory lessons. After thinking them through and reading more about them, I came to appreciate them more and see how they relate to our everyday lives and in my yoga practice.

Particularly, I found myself remembering some of the yamas (Ahimsa, Asteya, and Aparigraha) when I was trying (very hard) to practise my headstand.

Ahimsa – non-violence; to not hurt yourself and others with words or actions

  • I had difficulties in getting both legs up in headstand at first and felt a lot of my weight being pushed onto my head and neck, even though I tried my best to push into my shoulders. I was adamant on getting both legs up that I tried again and again, even when my neck and shoulders were getting sore. I ended up getting a sore neck the following day and I knew that I probably had pushed myself too hard.
  • Remembering ahimsa, we need to take care to not push ourselves over what we can take, and rest when it is needed.

Asteya – non-stealing; freeing oneself of jealous instincts

  • Besides the literal meaning of not committing theft, asteya also means to refrain from coveting others’ possessions, time, abilities etc.
  • In the past, it was common for me to look up from my mat to see how others were doing in a yoga class. Some of them could do advanced poses easily whereas I was struggling as I was not flexible or strong enough. As I grew older (and more mature haha) I began to understand that what others are doing does not matter to me in my own practice.
  • Even so, in trying to achieve headstand, I found myself thinking about how others seem to do it so effortlessly and wishing that I had that ability too. And then I remembered asteya – instead of focusing on my “lack”, I can shift my focus to gratitude. I am thankful that my body allows me to practise yoga and I know it is getting stronger and better every day. Also, as Master Paalu often tells us, we need to believe in ourselves and our capabilities, because it is in us!

Aparigraha – non-attachment; non-grasping; non-possessiveness

  • Aparigraha suggests that we do not accumulate more than we need. This can mean wealth or material goods, or in my interpretation in relation to yoga practice, we do not need to “accumulate asanas”, as if there’s a checklist for us to track how many poses we can do.
  • Greed and accumulation may stem from a fear of not having enough, or not being good enough.
  • Practising aparigraha may also mean reducing or removing the attachment you have to outcomes. Instead of focusing on the destination – a headstand, I can focus on the journey to achieving it. We have been taught in our training that asanas are just the final posture, the movements leading to that are what’s key. And when we have gotten our desired outcomes, we should not be too attached to it and instead remember the journey of getting there (you have worked hard!).

Thanks for reading and hope this will help you to reflect on how you have incorporated the yamas or the other limbs of yoga in your daily life or yoga practice too 🙂

Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodhah

In the western world, most of the people perceive yoga as another form of physical workout with relaxing benefits. Some people treat it next to veganism as another trend. Yoga studios are usually full but at the end when some of the teachers start chanting most of the practitioners leave the room- they typically say that they aren’t interested in this ‘spiritual stuff’ they just want to do yoga-for them yoga is the name of the workout, the same as kickboxing, pilates, fitness etc. It might be because lots of gym places offer yoga class next to physical workouts, so its mixed, contaminated and there is no so many real yoga teachers out there. 

When I first started, I didn’t really understand what yoga is about. I felt that it’s something more than physical practise. I started doing it to help me with some emotional problems, I needed it not for my body but for my mind. At that time, it was a form of support to help me deal with stressful situations at work etc. Now I know its not about that but without this, without me feeling this stress  I wouldn’t start it. If I was completely happy in my material life I wouldn’t be looking for something more. Actually, when I think about it I was never fully satisfied in my material life.  There was always something missing.

My approach to life was so emotional. If someone said something or did something I didn’t agree with I had this strong need to defend myself, to explain that it’s not true, I was so attached. I’m not saying that you should agree with everything that someone is saying about you, but being emotionally attached to every judgment takes you further away from understanding yourself. 

Yoga in its ancient traditional development its not primarily about the body, about making you relaxed or distracted form your hectic life style. Yoga is connected to mind.

The three Sanskrit words Chitta Vritti Nirodhah hide the answer to what yoga is really about.

Yoga sutras(basic principles, manual for yoga practitioner ) written over two thousand years ago by Patanjali are the traditional foundation of the inner journey through the spiritual practice of yoga -and its physical part -asanas-practised by most of the people in the west is only one part of 8 limbs of yoga.

The yoga sutras explain what happens to our mind, emotions when you practice yoga- In second sutra Patanjali says ‘Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah– yoga controls, quiets waves(thoughts) of mind, consciousness. You don’t compulsively( obsessively) control the mind but you allow the mind to rest, to switch off by itself. Patanjali further explains that through committed practice and detachment we ll be coming closer to not identifying ourselves with the thoughts, emotions that are the reasons of internal pain, that take us away from our true selves.

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.

Life around Chakras

By Harsh Thakkar

We are living in the age of data. Yet there are so many things around us that we know nothing or very little about. Back in the stone age when the Neanderthal man did not know or understand something, he looked at stars to see signs to guide him in the right direction. Then came the middle ages and the homo sapiens around the world had been taken over by religion. They started going to priests and reading the scriptures be that the Holy bible or the Quran or ancient Hindu Vedic scriptures to enlighten them and tell them what to do when they were lost. Today when we are lost we google. Which is of course the biggest warehouse of – you got that right – Data. Yoga on the other hand tells us to look inside when you feel lost. Understand yourself and your own body so that you can understand your surroundings.

However, we still understand very little of our own body and how that fits in the vast reality we call universe. Yoga Sutras always had an answer to this question for the mind that seeks. Different books and interpretations of how the human body is powered have been written and explained in different cultures across the world. Of course, over time when we underwent the scientific revolution we found logical answers too to pretty much every religious and cultural belief that we had accepted over hundreds of years. The same scientists still send a silent prayer when things go beyond their rational expertise or will shout out to God to be saved if they were thrown in front of a hungry tiger. No I’m not undermining science or its miraculous achievements. I’m just trying to shine some light that there are so many things that still cannot be explained by science.

Different people are governed by different motives or energies at different stages of their lives. One could say that you have been motivated to work towards becoming a millionaire or that promotion in your current job or to write that novel or this blog. In another part of the world; there is a poor farmer who labors day in and day out just to earn enough to survive and feed his family, a young teenager from the same village puts in the hard work in school and college and becomes an engineer. Another from a different village become an entrepreneur and a millionaire. What is powering these different people from similar backgrounds yet able to achieve such diverse goals and destinies? Then there are some who are born with a silver spoon, everything served on a silver platter, yet they’re not motivated enough to leave their own mark on the world. Chakras may have the answer.

So what are chakras?

Ancient texts between various traditions noted 5 to 114 chakras throughout our body some even elaborated as many as 88,000. The most important of them can be shortlisted to only seven. They can be explained as small rotating or vibrating discs of energy centered around the plane of the spine from the base of the spine at the pelvic floor to the crown of the head in a human body. Every chakra since it is a concentrated disc of energy has its own frequency and color associated with it. And if all chakras in a human body are rotating at the ideal frequency then you as human being are balanced spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically.

Every chakra is related to a different ailment, or a different strength of your body, even different traits of your personality. At times the focus of your life can be determined by a certain chakra being more powerful than the other. Let us start with describing these Chakras first: 

1. Muladhara (Root) Chakra, Color: Red, Frequency: 396 Hz

Think about your root chakra as the foundation of a house, except for your body—it’s sturdy, stabilizing, and supportive, keeping everything safely connected if it’s functioning properly. It’s associated with the base of the spine, the pelvic floor, and the first three vertebrae, and responsible for an individual’s sense of security and survival. Because of that, it’s also connected to whatever you use to ground yourself, including basic needs such as food, water, shelter and safety, as well as your more emotional needs such as letting go of fear and feeling safe. As you well know, when these needs are met, you tend to worry less.

When it’s unbalanced: A variety of ailments can occur from blockages, including anxiety disorders, fears, or nightmares. Physically, the first chakra is associated with problems in the colon, with the bladder, with elimination, or with lower back, leg, or feet issues.

2. Svadhishthana (Sacral) Chakra, Color: Orange, Frequency: 417 Hz

Located above the pubic bone and below the navel, it’s responsible for our sexual and creative energies. Associated with the element of water, when your sacral chakra is aligned, you will likely feel great: You’re friendly, passionate, and successfully fulfilled while also eliciting feelings of wellness, abundance, pleasure, and joy. By honoring your body and expressing yourself creatively, you’re keeping the energy wheels turning and fluid.

When it’s unbalanced: When you’re feeling uninspired creatively or have some emotional instability, your sacral chakra may be misaligned. Likewise, this can also be associated with physical sexual dysfunction, while also potentially experiencing fear of change, depression, or addiction-like behaviors.

3. Manipura (Solar Plexus) Chakra, Color: Dark purple, Frequency: 528 Hz

With its name meaning “Jewel City” in Sanskrit, the third chakra is said to be your source of individual power, ruling over self-esteem. Located from the navel to about the rib cage, it reportedly governs all things metabolic, digestive, and stomach-related.

When it’s unbalanced: You can suffer from low self-esteem, have difficulty making decisions, and may have anger or control issues. It’s not just feeling badly about yourself, but also may lead you to outwardly express apathy, procrastination, or that you’re able to be taken advantage of easily. Likewise, you’ll also possibly have a tummy ache of some kind such as digestive issues or gas.

4. Anahata (Heart) Chakra, Color: Green, Frequency: 639 Hz

As the central chakra, found at the center of your chest, represents where the physical and the spiritual meet. Physically, it’s said to encapsulate the heart, the thymus gland (which plays a vital role in your endocrine and lymphatic system), the lungs, and the breasts. And as its name implies, is all about the love. “It’s the awakening to spiritual awareness, forgiveness, and service”. Associated with the color green, it’s believed that when your heart chakra is aligned and balanced, love and compassion are flowing freely—both in terms of giving it out and getting it back.

When it’s unbalanced: A closed heart chakra can give way to grief, anger, jealousy, fear of betrayal, and hatred toward yourself and others—especially in the form of holding a grudge against something or someone. Holding onto hurt harbors negative feelings and cuts you off from opportunities to love.

5. Vishuddha (Throat) Chakra, Color: Blue, Frequency: 741 Hz

Have zero problem saying how you feel? Your fifth chakra, which is all about speaking your inner truth—or specifically, ensuring that your opinions are properly communicated—is likely well-balanced. The throat chakra rules all communication and is the first of the three solely spiritual chakras (as opposed to the lower ones, which manifest themselves in a more physical way). Anatomically, the throat chakra is associated with the thyroid, parathyroid, jaw, neck, mouth, tongue, and larynx. When this chakra is in check, you’re able to fully listen as well as speak and express yourself clearly.

When it’s unbalanced: In addition to having trouble speaking your truth, you find it hard to pay attention and stay focused, or fear judgment from others—which can further hinder your ability to keep it real. Physically, this blockage can manifest itself as a sore throat, thyroid issues, neck and shoulder stiffness, or tension headaches.

6. Ajna (Third Eye) Chakra, Color: Indigo, Frequency: 852 Hz 

The third-eye chakra is physically located between your eyebrows. Organs including the pituitary gland, eyes, head, and lower part of the brain are said to be ruled by the third eye. And it reportedly governs your intuition—plus the ability to recognize and tap into it.  What’s more, the third eye is also said to be responsible for all things between you and the outside world, serving as a bridge between the two, allowing you to cut through any illusions and drama to see the clear picture.

When it’s unbalanced: You may have trouble accessing your intuition, trusting your inner voice, recalling important facts, or learning new skills. And if your lower chakras—AKA the root, sacral, solar plexus, and heart chakras—and are unbalanced, your third eye will likely be as well, which may cause you to act more judgmental, dismissive, and introverted. A third-eye blockage is associated with a broad range of issues, including depression, anxiety, and a more judgmental attitude—while physically, it’s said to cause headaches, dizziness, and a slew of other brain-health issues.

7. Sahasrara (Crown) Chakra, Color: Pure White, Frequency: 963 Hz 

Known in Sanskrit as the Sahaswara chakra or the “thousand petal lotus” chakra, it is the center of enlightenment and our spiritual connection to our higher selves, others and ultimately the divine. As the name suggests, the seventh chakra is located at the crown of your head. When aligned, the realizations that occur within you are said to be along the lines of pure awareness, consciousness, undivided and all expansive.

When it’s unbalanced: Unlike the other chakras, the crown chakra is often only opened fully through specific yogic or meditative exercises, or at certain times—which is not a skill set you can call upon at any given moment. You may be able to get a taste of it, though, through daily practices—anything from meditation, prayer, to moments of silence and gratitude—to have those moments of spiritual connection.

Chakras are essentially nerve centers in the human body the presence and the frequencies of which has been proven scientifically. If the Manipura Chakra is powerful in a human being then he/she would go after power, money and recognition making him/her very ambitious during that phase of life. On the other hand if a person is barely just surviving financially and fighting over stability and security in life he/she is ruled by the Muladhara Chakra. A motivational speaker or an influencer on the other hand is being ruled by the Vishuddha Chakra. With the practice of certain asanas, meditation or breathing one can balance and master the different chakras to maintain proper energy flow in the body. I would like to end this rather lengthy article by quoting Dalai Lama :

“In the view of Tantra, the body’s vital energies are the vehicles of the mind. When the vital energies are pure and subtle, one’s state of mind will be accordingly affected. By transforming these bodily energies we transform the state of consciousness.”

~ The 14th Dalai Lama

Yoga for beginners

by Harsh Thakkar

When we grow up, as humans we start taking things for granted. Small miracles which power our everyday life are still happening with the same frequency and un-mindfulness at which they used to happen when one is born. For instance, you still are involuntarily breathing – without really thinking about it or giving it a second thought. You still eat food, and in a few hours, it provides you with ample energy to engage in activities you love and strengthens your overall body, or simply put “it becomes your body”. Yes, there is a scientific explanation to all this, but nobody thinks about it while doing it. Nobody has the time.

Actions and milestones which used to be groundbreaking when you were 1 year old – the first eye contact, the first step, the first solid meal, the first word that comes out of your mouth, all these happen daily now in your adult life, but they have stopped being miraculous. When I convinced myself to sign up for a yoga teaching course, I didn’t know why I did it. The teacher asked everyone in one of the first few classes – do you want to become a teacher? My answer was maybe, at certain point in my life if I get good at it (still far from it).

I am now in that phase of my yoga journey when I’ve become physically capable of doing most asanas (I must add not perfect yet) but still wondering “What is Yoga really? ”

Recently I started teaching basic yoga to some of my friends and family – they were the only ones who were brave enough to take the risk. And during these sessions I found myself explaining to them – “Yoga is not an exercise regime, it’s about wellness. A way of life.” Essentially the word means “Union”, the union of mind, body and soul – some would say. Or the “Union of oneself with the nature”. Easier said than done, one of my friends chimed. I couldn’t find myself to deny that and just smiled in response.

I read somewhere on the Internet of all things that Yoga is “a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.” Well that sounds amazing, apart from the fact that the religion of Hinduism has nothing to do with it! Yes, it was written about and established by saints at the time when Hindu religion was going strong in India. But that would be the equivalent of saying that Pilates is a “Nazi system of exercises using special apparatus, designed to improve physical strength, flexibility, and posture, and enhance mental awareness.” Although Pilates was developed during the first world war, Nazism was not even coined at the time even though Hitler was serving in the German army, he had not yet taken control of Germany. Pilates has nothing to do with Nazism, just like Yoga has no religious link – plain and simple.

Living in the moment has become hip these days, but how many people are doing it? If you actively start doing it, that would mean just enjoying the present and not thinking about the future. You earn 3000$ a month, you spend it all, have a great time and live from month to month. Not sure if that’s a good idea. But does it have to be financial all the time?

Living in the moment could also mean, enjoying small mercies in life, that great cup of coffee; the sweet taste of fresh fruit in your mouth; spending time with your loved ones. And then the more basic stuff – you’re still alive and kicking; still able to breath and enjoy the sunrise and sunset, able to walk and get around.

If I were to quote Sadhguru, founder of Isha foundation his definition of Yoga is “that which brings you to reality. Literally, it means “union.” Union means it brings you to the ultimate reality, where individual manifestations of life are surface bubbles in the process of creation. Right now, a coconut tree and a mango tree have popped up from the same earth. From the same earth, the human body and so many creatures have popped up. It is all the same earth.”

When one is practicing Yoga, your mind is focusing on getting that asana right, getting the breathing right, that pain in your thighs during Utkatasana, the rhythm of movement during Suryanamaskara. You’re at that time living in the moment 🙂 So one could say that Yoga teaches you and trains your mind to live in the moment.

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 4 The Theory

Moving Forward! Start a journey to a Yogi Lifestyle – 4  The Theory

Love the theory part, not so much that I like to read now, but so relax and easy that someone there talk and I listen, the science, the philosophy, the art, and the stories.

I had already much forgotten to recall exactly how many years from the day I enjoy listening to the teacher’s classroom teaching.

It’s back to my old golden days.

After all, after reading for so many years, my eye sights getting bad. Just packed up all my books into 26 cartons of boxes while preparing to move them to another location.

After this course, I think, likely will start collecting and pick up again, books on the Yoga’s title.

It’s pleasant reading on the Yoga Sutra, though initially having difficulties and hard time stirring my tongues over the Sanskrit words and trying to figure out what’s the meaning by reading the long explanation inside the manual, which eventually made me more confused.

Lucky enough, I managed to find and organized from the internet.
Well, IF, I meant “IF”, If I have the time, likely will add on to it’s German and Chinese or even other languages translation at my leisure if I can find it.

Here share if you need.

Here go we happy Journey to Yoga Lifestyle.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra Translation Sanskrit to English

 

汇编 Complied by Angie Chua 20190909.

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

 

Oh my goddess pose!

This is the pose to do for everyone who wants to leave negative feelings behind, be opened and overcome a broken heart. Goddess pose reminds you that you are in charge of your happiness!

The sanskirt name states how strong this pose is working for you – Utkata Konasana, where utkata means powerful or fierce (kona means angle). Fierce is represented in the angle of the legs but also in the strength and determination built through mastering this pose. In addition to lighten your emotions, drawing energy form the universe and empowering yourself for challenges to come, this pose also gives a nice workout on your quadriceps, hip groins, chest and inner thighs.

To get into the pose start in Tadasana, place your hands on your hips and then bring your feet about three to four feet apart. Turn your heels in and toes out to pointing in the corner of your mat. Bend your knees deeply so that they are aligned directly over your toes and lower your hips into a squat. Work your thighs to be parallel to the floor. Keep your hands on your hips, place them at heart centre or extend your arms out to the sides at shoulder height with your palms facing down, before turning your thumbs up toward the ceiling, so that your palms face forward. Bend your elbows and point your fingertips toward the sky; your upper arms and forearms should be at a 90-degree angle. Tailbone is drawn in slightly and hips are pressed forward, while drawing your thighs back. Roll your shoulders down your back and fix your gaze.

Utkata Konasana heats your body and allows a good circulation. This is a pose which develops outer and inner power at the same time and balances the body inside and out. The main chakra tackled in this pose is the svadisthana chakra (second chakra) that sits in the lower abdomen and pelvic area. This chakra is linked to self-esteem, fertility, loving yourself and consciousness of the own body. Practice this pose at seaside to really feel the drawing of energy from the universe when staying in Utkata Konasana.

 So next time you want to say oh my G…. just inhale and exhale deeply and get into goddess pose to balance yourself inside and out!

BG

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