The Somatics of Yoga

Practitioners of yoga in modern times may start yoga with simple reasons such as toning, keeping fit, developing more flexibility, or as a way to help deal with stresses of life.  These are all good reasons to start yoga, and yoga will deliver all this, and so much more.  If one will let it. 

In the past 5 years, there has been increasing awareness of somatic work and trauma-informed models of care. The recognition that past traumas are imprinted in our nervous system and stored in the body to be dealt with at a later time.  When we are exposed to an event or circumstance that is too much for the person to deal with, the primitive brain takes over as a form of protection. This results in the body storing that trauma as physical blockage, postural distortions, spinal or muscular tension, and reduced breathing.  It can also result in the person living with anxiety, poor sleep, fear, feeling disconnected from self and community, and being out of touch with their true self.  These walled off parts of oneself are there to protect us, but eventually can stop a person from living their best life.  At worst, it will lead to health breakdowns over-time when this stored trauma is stuck in the system. 

Why does this happen? The brain is designed to keep us alive, that’s it’s job.  The brain is constantly receiving messages from the environment and making decisions about whether you are safe or at risk from harm.  When you are in a safe environment, the brain can relax and the parasympathetic nervous system kicks in.  When the body is in safety, breathing deepens, digestion, rest, and growth happens.  The body is able to repair and regenerate itself.

However, when there is a threat, whether it’s a real threat to physical safety or a perceived threat from an unsafe emotional environment, the brain’s trauma response kicks in.  This is referred to as the Fight/Flight response, and now it is recognised that there are actually 5 trauma responses; Fight/Flight/Freeze/Flop and Friend.  The chart below can help you identify if you may be in some of these trauma responses in the future, or have been in the recent past.


Response Common Thoughts & Feelings Common Behaviors
Fight “It’s all your fault!”, feeling anger or rage Talking back, storming out, showing aggression towards self or others, showing defiance, blaming others
Flight “I’ve got to get out of here!”,

 Feeling anxious or overwhelmed, feeling the urge to flee

Leaving the class unexpectedly, spacing out or seeming not to listen, being intentionally or unintentionally distracted, missing class or work
Freeze “I can’t”, 

Feeling panicked, overwhelmed, or numbed out

Giving up quickly, spacing out/seeming not to listen, showing frustration or overwhelm
Flop “It’s all my fault” or “It’s not worth it”,

 Feeling sad, depressed, hopeless, apathetic

Appearing disengaged, showing little emotion, missing class or work
Friend “Please help me! I can’t do it.”

Feeling helpless or powerless, low confidence

Not taking responsibility for oneself, relying on others to help solve problems


Yoga, when practiced with regularity and dedication, will liberate these parts of oneself that have been walled-off, stuck, and blocked.  Over time, with regular practice, these trauma responses will dissolve and a person will experience re-integration and wholeness. Yoga, which includes the practice of physical postures, deep breathing and breath retention practices, chanting sacred sounds, meditation, purification techniques, and a philosophy of life – will cleanse a person physically and emotionally, and discipline the mind. Yoga, when practiced correctly, will re-connect a person with life energy.  It will awaken both internal life force energy (prana or chi) and connect one with the forces that make up all of creation.  Ultimately, this re-connection, or remembering, leads to experiences of joy, and bliss, and the ultimate goal, inner peace or self-realisation.


Yoga Sutra 1.2, is; åraddhâ-vîrya-smëti-samâdhi-prajõâ-pûrvaka itaresam 

åraddhâ = faith 

vîrya = energy, vigor 

smëti = memory, mindfulness 

samâdhi = oneness, integration 

prajõâ = wisdom 

pûrvaka = preceded by 

itaresam = others 

Which means, “For all others, faith, energy, mindfulness, integration, and wisdom form the path to realisation.” Healing oneself takes time, and often it starts with a real feeling of helplessness.  All it takes is starting, showing up with humbleness to practice, and a willingness to break these patterns.  Yoga is a system that can take you there, to help a person develop faith in themself and the world, to cultivate energy in the body/mind system, to live with more mindfulness, to integrate all parts of one’s being, to live with wisdom by listening to the subtle inner workings of one’s soul, to bring you back home to the wholeness of you.

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.

Self love

Love had been a topic that we’ve been discussing quite often. I remember when Master Sree said for the first time that pure love is self-love I didn’t agree. It sounded too selfish, but I kept thinking about it, and my conclusion is that self-love is a base, a starting point for universal love.

We often hear that to love others you need to love yourself first, self-love is given to us, we don’t have to do much-its there-we always do everything to be happy(whatever you understand by happiness), but the realisation I came into is that if everyone loved everyone, it would be only positive energy around us. Imagine you never do anything against anyone; you are always ready to help, always happy to be there for others. Our world would be so peaceful and harmonious, the power that it would create could heal all evil in the world.  

“Where the heart is full of kindness which seeks no injury to another, either in act or thought or wish, this full love creates an atmosphere of harmony, whose benign power touches with healing all who come within its influence. Peace in the heart radiates peace to other hearts, even more surely than contention breeds contention.” ~ Patanjali

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

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


Asana: The Beginning of the Journey

“and I said to my body, softly. ‘I want to be your friend.‘ it took a long breath and replied, ‘I have been waiting my whole life for this‘” – Nayyirah Waheed.


After chancing upon the weekly yoga class (Denise Chew) at the gym I was at, a relationship began to form between my mind and my body.  In time, I began to feel my body speaking to me. Perhaps it wasn’t quite as poetic in the way Nayyirah Waheed describes it, but there was an unmistakable feeling of doing something positive and nurturing for myself, as well as a definite sense of gratitude and serenity from my physical body resonating in reply.
As a person who enjoys physical activities, I have always had a regular habit of exercising, including running, interval training, racket and ball games – all of which I found enjoyable, but none of which gave me a calm, centered, and serene disposition the way yoga did. Curious, I began to question why.
At this point in time, my life took a turn in the direction of Chiang Mai, and I began practicing at various yoga shalas there (Yoga Tree and Wild Rose).  It was in Chiang Mai that I was fortunate enough to come across who I consider to be my first teacher – a British man called Rupert J, who was once a successful businessman, but gave up most of his material possessions to travel through India and thereafter Thailand. His classes were markedly different from any class I had attended in Singapore.  He spoke about compassion, cultivating an attitude of gratitude, surrendering to Mother Earth, and said that the ultimate goal of yoga was to attain liberation from the suffering mind and worldly desires (kaivalya). My interest piqued, and after a pranayama session with him, asked him point blank: “What really is this yoga thing?”
He sat down with me and gave me a brief introduction on Raja Yoga, talking about the 8 limbs, starting with the yamas and the niyamas.  Thereafter, he pointed me towards the introduction in “Light on Yoga”, the Yoga Sutras, and guided me through my first seated meditation. My journey with yoga slowly began.  At this point, the first clue as why the practice of asana calms the mind was revealed to me in verses 2:46 – 2:48 of the Sutras.
Fast forwarding a couple of years, I’m still learning about yoga, the chakras, the nadis, kundalini tantra, as well as actively developing my meditation practice. I also have had the privilege of studying under great teachers from the Krishnamacharya lineage like Yogacharya Bharath Shetty (disciple of B.K.S Iyengar), Master Paalu Ramasamy and Master Satya Chong Wei Long (disciples of B.N.S. Iyengar). On the swadhyaya front, my first readings of the Yoga Sutras and the Bhagavad Gita honestly raised more questions than provided answers – but I’ve learnt to accept and embrace this while not judging myself on this account.  In so doing, I’m beginning to learn to trust the process and not be too attached to the outcome.  All this wouldn’t be possible without the first instance of trying out yoga asana at the gym.

My point is, the way we can reach out to the masses, and in so doing, spread the joy of yoga, is to be well versed and trained in the practice of asana.
After people feel the benefits of the physical practice, it would be natural for them to inquire further.  Then, they will be able to experience the healing powers that yoga can exert on our emotional and mental planes, and appreciate the sense of serenity it brings to the mind – hopefully, they will start to seek, and eventually embark upon the practice of ceasing the fluctuations of the mind (yogash chitta vritti nirodah) – beginning to see the world not through the lens that modern society at large has programmed us into, but to see the world as it is – without our ego colouring and distorting the picture (thereby ridding of the illusion which falsely identifies our bodies as the seer, when it is merely the instrument of seeing – Sutras 2:6).
Asana is the first vehicle that we can use to touch a great number of people’s lives. The journey inward into our subtle bodies begins with the physical body in its gross form. After all, B.K.S. Iyengar has said (in an interview in Aligning to the Source), in the context of the widespread proliferation of yoga in the modern world, that “after touching the gross, probably they may see the subtle and the subtlest as time goes by….
Wishing you peace and contentment,

Yoga philosophy: The yamas

The yamas are the the first limb of the eight limb path described by Pathanjali in the Yoga Sutras. They describe the five qualities and principles one should follow in everyday life to guide one’s interactions with the outside world.
There are many interpretations of these principles depending on the lenses, be it cultural, religious or spiritual, through which they are interpreted.
After hearing and reading a few commentaries, it struck me that the interpretations of the yamas can vary greatly and a few points grabbed my attention.
One is a tendency to focus on a negative, constraining interpretation of the yamas, eg. You shall not be violent, lie, steal, engage in sexual relations, be greedy – which undermines the positive essence of yoga and its ability to uplift and transform.
The other, which is sometimes linked to the former, is to be dogmatic and controlling in their interpretation.
As an example, Bramacharya is often interpreted as promoting abstinence and the repression of sexual urges. However when focusing on an energy based lense this yama rather encourages us to manage our energy mindfully and to lift our energy up the spine -from the base chakra to the top one- and therefore transcend the sexual urges.
Bramacharya is the way of life of enlightened beings who transcend their root energy for creativity and spiritual purpose. When understood dogmatically there is a real risk that repression of the powerful sexual urge will create tension and lead to attachment rather than freedom.
Focusing on positive, energy based interpretation of the yamas has definetely brought a new light on these five qualities, highlighting their liberating rather than constraining aspects and I can only encourage you to do the same and consider them through that lense.

Summary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

Yoga Sutras describes the way of overcoming the afflictions of the body and fluctuations of the mind: the obstacles to spiritual development. The following summary is based on 5 sutras from each chapter.
Chapter 1: Samadhi Pada-On Contemplation
Verse 1: atha yoganusasanam
Now, seems to be the key word in this verse. You can relate it to “Carpe diem” a Latin term used to describe the phrase seize the day. Live like it is your last day, leave no room for procreation. To act now in the present.
Verse 15: drsta anusravika visaya vitrsnasya vasikarasamjna vairagyam
This verse talks about renunciation and how non-attachment and detachment must be learned by will power. When the five sense of perception and five organs of actions have been silenced self realization is attained. Both abhyasa(path away from pleasure and pain towards bliss) and vairagya(path of detachment) are essential for self-realization. One should be indifferent from all thoughts and emotions and to lead one’s life through their citta (consciousness).
Verse 33:maître karuna mudita upeksanam sukha duhkha punya apunya visayanam bhavanatah cittaprasadanam
Taking verse 15 as a reference, once you are able to plant the seed of joy, detached and indifferent from all thoughts and emotions, this mental adjustment and approach to life keeps the mind of the sadhaka (practitioner) serene and pure. Basically, to lead one’s life with your consciousness forward.
Verse 20: saddha vira smrti samadhiprajna purvakah itaresam
To purse ones practice with faith and strength and to use memory as a guide to leap forward with wisdom, to be in total absorption and awareness. This state is called upaya pratyaya, once you have reached this state one should remember abhyasa and vairagya to break out of spiritual isolation which is not freedom. The practicner should use sraddha (faith with mental and intellectual firmness) to intensify his practice. If trust is instinctive, faith is intuitional. Lead your practice with intuition.
Verse 41: ksinavrtteh abhijatasya iva maneh grahitr grahana grahyesu tatstha tadanjanata samapattih
Patanjali describes Samapatti , the balanced state of mind of the seer (soul) who having attained samadhi, radiates his own pure state. The citta (consciousness) is then like the still, clear water of a calm lake. It transforms itself to the level of the seer (soul), and reflects its purity without refraction. Thus experiencing the true state of the soul.

Chapter 2- Sadhana Pada (On Practice)
Verse 3: avidya asmita raga dvesa abhinivesah klesah
To know the 5 afflictions of the brain which disturb the equilibrium of consciousness are;
1) Ignorance(lack of wisdom)
3)pride of the ego, sense of I
4) Attachment to pleasure aversion to pain
5) Fear of death (clinging to life)
Afflictions are of 3 levels, intellectual, emotional and instinctive. The sadhaka must learn to locate the sources of the affliction, in order to remove them through his yoga principles and disciplines.
Verse 10: te pratiprasavaheyah sukamah
The 5 afflictions are to be eradicated by the process of involution, to look within yourself and silence the affliction at its very source. The mind’s focus is toward the seer (soul) by the process of pratyahara. Withdrawal of the mind from its contact with the senses of perception and organs of action; then the mind’s direction is towards the soul. In doing so one is ready for meditation.
Verse 12:klesamulah karmasayah drsta adrsta janma vedaniyah
Karma or the universal law of cause and effect applies to past present and future lives. To be free from the wheel of desire and lead one life towards the sate of bliss through the practice of kriyayoga, to try and remove residual karma.
Verse 18: prakasa kriya sthiti silam bhutendriyatmakam bhogapavargartham drsyam
This verse talks about the 3 gunas, sattva (brilliance), rajas (action) , tamas (laziness) that are established in the elements of nature, senses, mind, intelligence and ego, serving the seer (soul) for the purpose of experiencing pleasures or emancipation. The 8 limbs of Yoga will help purify the seer (soul) that is clothed with the 5 sheaths allowing one to experience freedom.
Verse 33: vitarkabadhane pratipaksabhavanam
The principals that prevent yama and niyama are to be counted with right knowledge and awareness. One should learn to balance their thoughts by going deep into the cause o f his anger or violence and to study the opposite force with calmness and patience. Also known as paksabhava
e.g: Adjusting ones Asanas cultivates health on a physical level helping the organic system to function rhythmically at physiological level, which effects changes in the senses, mind and intellect at a mental level. This adjustment and observation in the practice of yoga fuses paksa (one side) and pratipaksa and pratipaksa (both sides) allowing one to free himself. The pose first brings inner balance and harmony, but in the end it is merely the outer expression of the inner harmony. In doing so one is able to meditate and free himself from uncertain knowledge.
Chp 3: Vibhuti Pada (On Properties & Power)
Verse 3: tadeva arthamatranirbhasam svarupasunyam iva samadhih
Subject, object, experience. When meditating become the object. For example; reader, book , reading. Become the shake not the shaker. When consciousness appears to have ceased and you have reached a profound state of serenity, Samadhi is reached.
Verse 9: vyutthana nirodha samskaryoh abhibhava pradurbhavau nirodhaksana cittanvayah nirodhaparinamah
The silent moments between thoughts, where there is stillness and silence are to be prolonged into extra-chorological moments of consciousness, without beginning or end. So that, there is room for generation or restraint of thoughts. Consciousness has three dharmic characteristics; to wander, to be restrained and to remain silent. Transform the silence into single state awareness.
Verse 14: santa udita avyapadesya dharma anupati dharma
The moulding of consciousness takes place owing to the change in the gunas of nature. Point zero indicates the point of balance and harmony at which we can unlock and liberate the knotty confusion of matter and emotion. Every moment in the present you are moulding your future. Live life consciously.
Verse 24: maitryadisu balani
Be kind and compassionate to others around you in doing so one gains moral and emotional strength. To regards things impartially without becoming involved.
Verse 48: grahana svarupa asmita anvaya arthavattva samyamat indriyajayah
When the organs of actions become passive and a state of quietness is experienced, the cultured intelligence will turn inwards exploring the realm of the seer so that the mind and ego are brought to rest permanently.
Chp 4: Kaivalya pada (On Emancipation & Freedom)

Verse 2: jatyantara parinamah prakrtyapurat
With consistence practice the practicner afflictions and fluctuations can be brought under control and transformed enabling him to live in a pure dynamic state in this present life.
Verse 7: karma asukla akrsnam yoginah trividham itaresam
This sutra talks about the fourth action one that is free from its fruits and duality. Ambition is transformed into spiritual aspiration. In doing so the practicner becomes refined, mind and consciousness become clear and action cleaned. To act without motive or desire
Verse 14: parinama ekatvat vastutattvam
We see objects according to the predominating gunas in one’s intelligence, an object is perceived differently although its essence remains the same. Truth is one and we must experience it in its real essence. If intelligence and consciousness are filtered and refined, both subject and object retain and reflect their real essence.
Verse 16: na ca ekacitta tantram ced vastu tat apramanakam tada kim syat
When intelligence and consciousness touch the supreme knowledge, one remains merely an uninvolved witness of objects. If an object does not stimulate the mind, it remains unperceived by the mind or the mind fails to grasp it. When the mind is freed from the play of gunas, it sees objects in their true reality, and remains free from impressions. The mind and soul become one, and are one with the essence of all objects.
Verse 21: cittantaradrsye buddhibuddhehatiprasangah smrtisankarah ca
The practice of yoga disciplines and cultures the consciousness of the head, by which it perfects the art of analysis, judges precisely, experiences unalloyed bliss, becomes auspicious and moves towards matures intelligence (consciousness of the heart) and unalloyed wisdom. This return of the consciousness from the seat of the head towards the seat of the spiritual heart is purity of consciousness.