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.

Guidelines for Lesson Planning (Beginners)

Looking for a beginner yoga lesson planning inspiration?
Read below tips to stay inspired when developing lesson plans for beginners!

 

I was exploring for many ways to create a lesson plan for beginners as part of my assignment … How do i spark interest in those who’ve never tried yoga?

There are some pointers to consider when creating lesson plans for beginners, especially for beginners who’ve never tried yoga before. Below could be some tips to capture the hearts of students:

 

Venue

Yes! Venue can influence how a person feels when he is in class. An outdoor space can potentially boost the energy level of students as compared to an indoor studio. For morning classes, students may be more motivated to attend classes conducted in an outdoor setting (in a garden/park) with a gentle flow because of the serenity and the fresh air. For afternoon classes, students may prefer an indoor setting with a more energetic flow.

Anatomical Focus

Wondering what does it mean by anatomical focus? Depending on the style of the class, anatomical focus help the students to be more aware and conscious during practice. For such therapeutic classes (i.e. hip-opening / back-bending), hamstrings, etc.), students will be able to improve flexibility for the intended area of focus. Additionally, identifying focus areas can help teachers to sequence and select the yoga poses to be taught during the lesson!

Adjustments

Beginners will definitely need the help and support of the teacher through adjustments. Correcting their postures allow them to feel the muscles they have to contract/relax during the various poses. For longer term benefits (i.e. minimize injuries), teachers should focus on fundamental alignments when teaching the beginners.

Accessories

For beginners, accessories such as straps and blocks should be available during practice. Otherwise, teachers may want to consider modifying to a less ‘demanding’ pose if blocks might not be available for the student to garner additional support. Students can also use towels as a substitute for straps.

 

Beside the above tips, having the passion to teach will naturally enhance the vibes of the class.
Beginners will be attracted to the class’ energy and feel good after the practice!

Relax, practice and be yourself.

Sutra Neti – A cleansing Kriya I wish I discovered earlier

I have been plagued with persistent non-allergic rhinitis since I can remember. I get flare ups ever so often; 3-4 times a week. The perpetual sneezing, runny nose, blocked nose, accompanied with coughs, sore throats, headaches and puffy eyes; it is disruptive, so bothersome and oh-so-tiring. The only solution was to take medication (or if I have the luxury of time or able to take medical leave – sleep it off)

Now, I am not one who is in favour of taking medication. Litres of H2O and a lot of rest are my go-to remedies. However, it becomes a different story when a flare up occurs.  So when Master Paalu said he will be showing us how to perform “Sutra Neti” and that it is good for people with sinus problems, I found myself seated in the front row for an up-close view of the demonstration. Anything to relieve me of rhinitis flare ups, I will try.

Before I commenced my YTT class at Tirisula Yoga, I saw it on their social media channels; it was taught as part of the YTT programme. I wondered what it was all about – “What are they putting in their noses? Why were the students cringing? Oh my gosh, doesn’t it hurt?!!

After the demo, we tried it out ourselves. Cringing, gagging, drooling, with tears welling up in our eyes. We were told to conduct the Sutra Neti three times a week, in the morning, with an empty stomach. But me – I was specifically told to do it everyday. At that point, I thought, “Wow.. it must be so obvious that Master Paalu knows of my rhinitis issues just by looking at me.

So, what is Sutra Neti?

Swatramana described the practice of Sutra Neti in the second chapter of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika as follows:

“A cord made of threads and about six inches long, should be passed through the passage of the nose and the end taken out in the mouth. This is known by adepts, the Neti Karma. The Neti is the cleaner of the brain and giver of divine sight. It soon destroys all the diseases of the cervical and scapular regions.”

What is Sutra Neti, again?

Sutra Neti is a Hatha yoga technique to clean your nasal cavity. In Sutra Neti, a waxed cotton string is inserted into the nose and then pulled out from the mouth. Then both ends are held with the hands and nasal cleaning is done by to and fro motion of the strings. In layman terms, the action is akin to flossing. Traditionally, a specially prepared cotton thread was used. Several strands were tightly wrapped together and dipped in melted beeswax. However, today, it is more convenient to use a thin rubber catheter so that it slides easily through the nasal passage.

Demo video:

And its benefits? 

The nasal cavities can get clogged with impurities which may cause infections, inflammations and headaches. Sutra Neti can give the following benefits:

  1. It helps to maintain the nasal hygiene by removing the dirt and bacteria trapped along with the mucus in the nostrils.
  2. It de-sensitizes the sensitive tissues inside the nose, which can alleviate rhinitis, allergies and some types of asthma.
  3. Several health problems like sinusitis, migraine, headaches, can be reduced by doing Neti.

So has Sutra Neti helped me with my rhinitis issues?

I have not had a major flare up since. REJOICE!

Why always start Asanas from right side?

It was puzzled me quite a long time every time when I practise the yoga, and now, I would like to share my findings. It views from prana, traditional, and scientific aspects.

  1. Prana

Prana is energy in your body, which is through the whole body, centralized spine area, and it visualized as two snakes enwind the spine, below picturesque described how the prana likes

These two snakes known as left vein and right vein, and spine in the middle is known as mid-vein, the balance in the Yin and Yang is called HATHA in Sanskrit.  “HA” represents the Sun or Yang prana, “THA” represents the Moon or Yin prana, so “HATHA” is balance of Yin and Yang, and it one of the purpose of yoga.

2. Traditional

It is traditional in India, to give a gift with right hand when you walk to a new house, take your first step with your right foot.

It’s respective and inheritance from the prophets.

3. Scientific

When we twisting, always start from right side, because the organs, especially digestive system, is clockwise movement, twist from right side can helps digesta move from transverse colon to descending colon and finally discharge out.

When we move out from savasana, turn first to right side, as the heart is on the left side, and then to the right side to distribute the blood evenly through gravity.

When we move the right side, the left brain is active, which governs the rational part. That is to say, our practice starts from reason, and then move to the right brain, which is emotional, creative, quiet and meditative. It’s easy to remember that it’s just a tradition, well no matter which side start with, remember to do it on both sides, to balance the body and mind.

Overcoming the Fear of Inversions

Here’s to everyone who is trying to overcome their fear of inversions.

It’s perfectly normal to fear inversions. Even seasoned practitioners still feel the fear sometimes. When i first started practicing inversions, I was afraid of the judgement around me. I was afraid of possible injuries and i was afraid that i might not be able to practice again.

So … first thing, PRACTICE SAFELY.

 

How to practice safely?
There are many ways to practice inversions safely. Below are some of the ways attempted by myself:

  • Practice together with a friend and support each other
  • Lay cushions (or similar) around you
  • Practice against a wall and away from the wall (so that you don’t create a dependency on a wall for inversions)
  • Practice the techniques of inverting in a swimming pool

 

How to conquer the fear?
Below are the secrets to conquering the fear of inversions, now read carefully and remember them… 

 

1. Take Small Steps 
It’s all about stability achieved in a step-by-step basis. Never rush for an inversion, the chances of falling over could be much higher! For headstands, start slowly with bent knees and build up the core and balance. Keep calm and balance.

 

2. Mental Preparation
Yes! Preparing yourself mentally before you proceed to practice inversions can be helpful. Kind and courageous words to yourself before engaging in any inversion practice makes the entire process a more positive one. Try saying to yourself, ‘Today, I am going to focus and focus and focus… 
Then, i am going to lift off my feet with my strong core and shoulders and stay balanced for 5 seconds. I can do this!”

 

3. Plan to Fall
Having a plan to fall keeps yourself prepared for the fall (it happens, no running away from this). Everyone falls during the learning journey… who doesn’t? Common ways for falling out of inversions are back bends or cartwheels (use arms to support). Never ever land hard on your spine! Practice falling to gain the confidence for inversions. Yes… start learning how to fall.

 

4. Review and Improve
There are always room for improvements! Try to take videos of yourself during practice, so that you can identify the areas for improvements later. Up till now, I still take videos of myself when i practice inversions. This is to look at my own alignment and to ensure that I’ve engaged the muscles that i need to engage (i.e. core, tucked in hips, keeping my back straight, etc.).  This method works effectively and it allows me to be more aware of my own movement during inversions. It gives me a visual of how i would look like, and for my mind to focus on engaging the correct muscles. Try it!

 

Lastly, be patient and keep practicing. Practice makes perfect.

Learning from Teaching Yoga

When I started to teaching Yoga with some of my neighbours, I felt that it is easier to be a student than teacher.

  1. Confidence – when I teach the first Yoga class, I keep ask myself, am I ready to teach others? It was super nervous to speak in front of the student and my mind were empty. I can’t give clear instruction and smooth sequences.
  2. Planning – the level of student are mixed for every class, so I have to plan for each level of student.
  3. Communicate – Student can feel how you feel, a good teacher can communicate with student via Yoga poses teaching.
  4. Until today, I still have 5 classes balance for assignment, I know I am improving, not only the way I teach, but also the experiences i gained.

Yoga in my life

When I want to learn Yoga, I did not expected how it will impact my life. As a student for 2-3 years, I did not face any challenge feeling during Yoga class.

As beginner, I was so envy that other classmate can do the perfect poses so easily. I cant do it even after 1 year practice.  I cant figure out what is the reason. But after teacher training class, i understand the weakness of my body, and learned how to improve and straighten my body.

Every daily practice, sometimes, i will skip the Yoga practice, and I will feel guilty and have to continue after 1-2 days rest.

I will keep practice Yoga and continue to teach Yoga in my life. Not matter is self-practice or in a studio, Yoga has become a part of my life.

 

Stamina, Strength, Flexibility

In our first YTT lesson, we learned that yoga improves not only flexibility; we work on stamina, strength, and of course stretching. Since starting YTT in July, I have noticed improvement in all three of these ways, in body and in mind.

Stamina is defined in the Oxford English dictionary as The ability to sustain prolonged physical or mental effort.”

I used to struggle to do a headstand. As soon as I felt a small wobble, I would bring my legs down and I could barely hold the pose for 3 breaths. Now, even after an hour of practice, I can comfortably hold headstands for 10 breaths, overcome the wobbles and breathe more calmly. I will continue to build my headstand stamina to 12, 15, 20, 30 breaths…

The past year has been challenging for me personally and professionally, but with every challenge – particularly since starting YTT – I have surprised myself, at how I have been able to work through difficult situations to ‘bounce back’ quickly with solutions. I’ve also noticed greater persistence; for example, I’ve stuck to a daily gratitude practice. My mental stamina has definitely improved with practice.

To Strengthen is to “Make or become stronger.”

How do I know my body is getting stronger? One way is seeing improvement in jumping back from bakasana (crow pose) to chaturanga. It takes strength and control – from isometric contraction of the legs in crow pose, engaging the core, and all the while the arms hold the weight of the entire body as the hips and legs move up in the air and back. I couldn’t do this before YTT; I accomplished this for the first time in a YTT session!

One of the yama is satya – truthfulness, or living one’s truth. To me, this is not just about being honest; it’s also about staying true to oneself, not being swayed or affected by external views that aren’t one’s own truth. I like to ask advice from many people, and so it has also been easy for me to be swayed by others’ views. But this year I have learned to be stronger, how to better weigh up others’ advice, and come to what I think are more ‘truthful’ ideas, and ways of looking at people and the world.

The dictionary offers several definitions for the word stretch.

  1. “Straighten or extend one’s body or a part of one’s body to its full length.”

Before I started yoga, I could not touch my toes. With my own tight hamstrings, I marvelled at those superhumans, who can completely fold in half, chest to thighs, in forward folds like paschimottanasana. Although I could reach my toes when I began YTT, I was nowhere near ‘fold in half’ flexibility. But, during a YTT session, for the first time I could feel my chest/belly on my thighs during a forward fold. Yes, my classmate was assisting me at the time, but it was clear that my flexibility has improved significantly!

  1. “Make great demands on the capacity or resources of.”

In YTT, we were introduced to many topics I had never thought about, let alone studied before. Chakras, aura, and other metaphysical topics were particularly challenging for me. In the same way one might stretch hamstrings or do ‘hip opening’ poses, I too had to stretch and open my mind, to try to understand and appreciate the ideas. I’m grateful that I had these prompts to make my mind more flexible.

  1. Cause (someone) to make maximum use of their talents or abilities.”

For me, that is what the YTT journey has been all about.

Do you have these “strange” habits after yoga for a long time?

Yogis have had “odd habits” that are quite difficult to be understand by those who are not practice yoga.

Check the following list to see if you have managed to get rid of the yoga rookie’s hat.

  • You always want to invite your friend to join you when you do yoga.
  • Your wardrobe completely full of yoga attires.
  • Everything else has to make way for yoga practice.
  • You will chat to anyone about yoga even it’s the first time you meet each other.
  • Choose a hotel with a yoga room when you are on vacation.
  • You feel you cannot bear a cheap yoga mat any more.
  • No longer try the diet way to lose weight.
  • Stop pose your selfie but your yoga pose instead.
  • You have a new vision after you practice yoga.
  • Keep your mind fresh to look yoga all the time.

Practice … Practice … Practice more … then cheerful!

Something about yoga practisers

You thought those yoga practisers are only slim lovely girls.

Actually they can rise up a bucket of water. They have power due to daily 1-2 hours yoga practise.

 

You thought those yoga practisers don’t like delicious food.

Actually kitchen is their paradise. They love all kinds of food including desserts and hot pot. But they know to control the appetite and enjoy the food.

 

You thought those yoga practisers are all girls.

Actually many yoga teachers and masters are men. Nowadays, more men come to yoga classes because yoga is for everyone.

 

You thought those yoga practisers are doing variety show.

Actually those difficult poses need years of practise to be done. They are working hard to practice.

 

You thought those yoga practisers are all very peaceful.

Actually they are as same as you have emotions, just they are more disciplined and they would like to choose a happy way to live. As pure as a child.

 

Those yoga practiser actually are as same as you as a human being.

But they love their life more.

To be healthy, happy and positive.