Friday, January 23, 2009

Gong Xi Fa Cai

I would like to wish everyone "Happy Chinese New Year". May the Year of the Ox brings prosperity, good health, peace and happiness to everyone. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wear and Tear

I have just finished reading the book “Wear and Tear – Stop the Pain and Put the Spring Back in Your Body” by Dr Bob Arnot and would like to share some of the interesting points from the book.

Do you know that our modern lifestyle is one of the causes of wear and tear in our body? Sitting in our cars and at our desks for long hours without stretching and moving may result in the tightening and shortening of our tendons and muscles. Day in and day out, our tendons and muscles get shorter and shorter when we don’t stretch them. The tendons also get thicker as tissue fibroblasts become active rapidly and start to lay down new collagen in response to lack of movement. This explains why our muscles are so stiff and why it is so difficult to stretch the muscles back to their normal length and why a sudden stretch can cause a tear. The book has some simple tests to determine if you suffer from stiff man syndrome by checking on the range of motion in your joints.

One of the solutions given by Dr Arnot to restore our joints is YOGA which he believes maybe the single most effective way of dealing with wear and tear and restoring lost youth. The book provide some yoga postures from the Bikram series to open the hip and restore the knee which include the triangle pose, wind-removing pose, standing head-to-knee pose, head-to-knee stretching pose, awkward chair pose, eagle pose and dancer’s pose.

One of the chapters in the book is about eating food that helps you to lose weight. Do you know why you are able to eat so much more at a buffet? This is because our brain has specific senses to satisfy. Each time you introduce a new taste or smell that has not been satiated, you will not feel full. So, in order to lose weight, it is recommended that you should go on a “dull diet”. A dull diet means eating foods that have very similar qualities, i.e. the same texture, colour and even taste and you will automatically limit what you eat!

The book is very comprehensive as it includes easy-to-follow guidelines to show how to slow, stop or even reverse wear and tear.

I would recommend this book to you if you are suffering from pain in your joints and muscles and would like to do something about it so as to have a healthier lifestyle and to put the spring back into your step.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Naming Your Yoga Poses

Cat...cow...crane....cobra...child's pose.....especially for a new yogi, it is sometimes quite difficult to remember the names of all the yoga poses. It gets even more confusing when the teacher says the Sanskrit name of the pose. You are completely lost and have to look at the other practitioners to see which pose you are suppose to be doing.

I found this great website which has a game called ConcentratiÕm to test your memory skills and yoga knowledge by matching the photo of the pose to the name of the pose. When you match the correct name to the pose, it will display the description of the pose and its benefits together with the name of the pose in Sanskrit. You can play the game again and again as there are new poses each time you play. This is a fun way to remember the name of the poses as well as giving your brain cells a workout too. Try it out and see how you fare!

Monday, January 19, 2009

10 Easy Ways to Healthy Eyes

by Lynn Behrendt, contributing writer to Green Living at

It’s easy to forget how important eye health is, until a problem comes up. Here are some easy, commonsense tips to help avoid macular degeneration, cataracts, blurry “computer” vision and more.

1. Eat greens. Ingesting lots of leafy green vegetables like spinach, collard greens and kale help avoid macular degeneration. (The “macula” is an area at the back of the eye that enables us to see fine details. When the macula doesn’t work, there is blurriness or darkness in the center of our vision).

2. Take vitamins. There are supplements made specifically for eye health. Be sure that they include these: Vitamins A, C, E and B2 and the minerals zinc and selenium.

3. Keep your eyes hydrated. A simple saline solution can help to lubricate and soothe eyes. (Be sure to check with your doctor if you experience stinging or burning in your eyes, or a sandy or gritty feeling, or you don’t produce tears when you cry. These symptoms could indicate “dry eye,” a condition that needs medical attention).

4. Eat apricots and blueberries. Blueberries are associated with reduction of eye fatigue and apricots are rich in beta carotene and lycopene, both of which promote good vision.

5. Get plenty of Omega 3 fish oil. It helps clear eyesight and eye health. (Heart-healthy diets in general tend to be good for the eyes as well, since blood circulation is so important to eye health).

6. Pamper your eyes. Try placing two slices of soothing cucumber over closed eyes for 15 minutes. It cools and refreshes the eyes.

7. Drink tea. It’s thought that drinking tea might help to deter cataracts.

8. Try Bilberry. This herbal remedy, according to some herbalists, can help to improve night vision.

9. Wear UV filtering sunglasses. Harmful UVA and UVB rays can contribute to cataracts.

10. Give them a break. If you work at a computer, remember the 20/20/20 rule. Take a break every 20 minutes. For 20 seconds, look at something 20 feet away or farther. This allows your eyes to refocus and relax and prevents the blurry vision that can occur by staring at a computer screen for too long.

These common sense tips, in addition to regular visits to a qualified ophthalmologist, will help your eyes stay healthy for years to come.

Take The Eye Exam to give you an idea of where your eye power lands.

Friday, January 16, 2009

5 Ways to Ease Knee Pain

To relieve and prevent knee pain and its causes, try these recommendations from physical therapist Chantal Donnelly, a faculty member for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Mount Saint Mary’s College and a certified Pilates instructor in L.A.

1. Strengthen your butt

When the main butt muscle (gluteus maximus) is weak, it causes the pelvis to drop and the upper thigh bone (femur) to fall inward. This imbalance creates painful downward stress on the hip, knee and ankle every time you take a step. Hip extensions are helpful exercises to strengthen the glutes.

2. Stretch the muscles that support your knees

When butt muscles atrophy or become imbalanced because we tend to sit much of the day, the hamstrings and hip adductors (inner thigh muscles) also overwork — to compensate for the underdeveloped gluteus maximus — resulting in compressive force on the knee joint. By stretching out these support muscles, you decrease the chance that they’ll get tight and cause muscle imbalances. So remember the complementary two-fold process: As you strengthen naturally weak muscles like the glutes, also stretch supporting muscles like the inner thigh muscles.

3. Tone your core muscles

Abdominal weakness will cause your pelvis to tilt forward, creating excessive low-back curvature and shifting the leg bones inward. You can experiment with this yourself: Over-arch your back and notice how your legs and knees want to roll in toward the midline of the body. Then flatten your back and notice how the opposite movement occurs at the legs. Strengthening the core helps to keep your back in a neutral spine position and places the lower extremities — specifically the knees — in the best possible position for movement without joint compression.

4. Maintain a healthy weight

Fat decreases muscle strength, and excess body weight adds strain to knee joints. In fact, there’s an inverse relationship between body weight and quadriceps muscle strength: the higher your body weight, the weaker your knee muscles.

5. Mind your feet

You may look great in three-inch stilettos, but keep in mind that high-heeled shoes increase the compressive force on your knee joints by 23%. Wearing heels also encourages tight calf muscles, another common cause of knee pain. A tight calf can pull the foot inward to a position called pronation, which essentially collapses the arch of the foot and causes the lower leg to roll inward, placing stress on the ankle and knee. So embrace the flat shoe fashion trend and stretch out those calves.

Check out the video Knee Pain? Work Your Butt

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

7 Ways to Make a Difference to Your Life

1.Smile more often! Be amazed of how many will be happy to smile back at you. Besides, this is the best facial exercise you can make to delay aging signs -- so smile!

2.Eat right! Boost your immune system by eating more natural food, like fresh fruits and vegetables. This alone can significantly reduce your weight and health concerns.

3.Exercise regularly. The reason is not just to lose weight, but it's a great habit to maintain good health by improved circulation, elimination of body toxins, etc.

4.Drink water more than 'colored drinks' for your health. Water has no sugar or additives.

5.Read and learn more. Devote time and money for self-improvement, the best investment you can make that truly pays off.

6. Love, care, give, and share more. This practice is the very purpose of your life.

7. Keep believing. Pray. Nurture your spirit. This won't cost you any, but help or answer to your needs can be just a prayer away.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Which Styles of Yoga to Try?

Yoga offers something for all, but not every style of yoga is for everyone. Ashtanga, Kundalini, Iyengar, Sivananda, Bikram; which is for you? Although the names may cast more confusion than light on this ancient practice, a beginner can find the best yoga path with a little information and some knowledge of their own physical goals.

Most of the yoga practiced in the West falls under the broad classification of Hatha yoga. When people say they are taking a yoga class, they usually mean they are learning the poses (or asanas) and breathing techniques of Hatha yoga. Each of the following yoga practices shares roots in Hatha yoga and a common focus on awareness, relaxation and conscious breathing — yet each follows its own unique yoga path.

Iyengar Yoga

Yogi B.K.S. Iyengar developed a style of yoga emphasizing body placement and alignment. The style incorporates "props" to support postures and accommodates students of varying degrees of fitness and flexibility. Items such as wooden blocks (which "raise" the floor) or cotton straps (which aid in stretching) are helpful to students with injuries, weakness or inflexibility. Iyengar instructors pay close attention to the details of body alignment which leads to precise, dynamic asanas. Classes are slower due to the concentration given to each pose and the focus necessary to perform them correctly.

Iyengar yoga is ideal for newcomers who may enjoy assistance with more challenging poses.

Ashtanga Yoga

The most dynamic and vigorous form of yoga, Ashtanga approaches yoga with a continuous flow of movement. Top athletes who seek a more intense workout enjoy this form of yoga, sometimes called vinyasa or power yoga. Ashtanga creates heat in the body to purge it of toxins. Students perform a variety of asanas interspersed with "sun salutations" (set sequence of poses executed rapidly). The emphasis in Ashtanga yoga is flexibility, strength and endurance.

Ashtanga classes are best for those seeking physical and spiritual gains from yoga and for those fit and flexible enough to link poses in rapid succession.

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini is derived from the Indian word kundal, which means, "lock of hair from the beloved." The uncoiling of this "hair" (often referred to as a serpent) is the awakening of the kundalini, the creative energy stored in the base of the spine in all humans. Kundalini yoga practice aims to activate this energy through breath, poses, chanting and meditation. Several forms of breathing techniques are used to clear the system and allow energy to flow into the "chakras," or energy centers located in the body.

Practitioners embrace Kundalini as a holistic form of yoga that applies to all aspects of life and does not focus exclusively on fitness.

Sivananda Yoga

Sivananda yoga integrates many forms of yoga, including a traditional Hatha approach. More than just a set of poses, Sivananda weaves a five-point philosophy into every class, including principles of relaxation, exercise, breathing, diet and positive thinking. Classes follow a sequence of breathing exercises, a routine of postures and deep relaxation and meditation.

Newcomers seeking a familiar series of poses and a spiritual boost through meditation and chanting will enjoy the supportive atmosphere of Sivananda classes.

Bikram Yoga

Rising in popularity, Bikram yoga, developed by Bikram Choudhury, uses rooms heated above 105 degrees with about 40% humidity and repeated postures in the workouts. Classes are demanding, even in beginning practice, employing the same 26 postures and two pranayama breathing techniques. Bikram shuns the use of props and avoids demonstration of the asanas in class: students are expected to learn poses by watching and listening to the instructor. Students swear by the results of the disciplined, highly-focused classes.

Enthusiasts of action-oriented, high-endurance fitness routines are most likely to gain satisfaction from this challenging form of yoga.

Find out What Kind of Yogi You Are by taking the quiz.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What Does Your Favorite Yoga Pose Say About You?

By Cyndi Lee, Natural Solutions magazine

Whether you prefer twists, backbends, or inversions, here’s how your favorite poses can give you valuable insight into your personality. If you like:

Forward Bends
You prefer to keep your own counsel like a smart ostrich. At those times when life gets overstimulating – too many choices and too much responsibility – forward bends seduce you with the sweet serenity of folding inward and retreating from the world.

You like to know who and what’s going on around and behind you. You don’t see things in black or white but are stimulated by multi-dimensional situations and are not afraid of tension. Twists are a natural draw for those who find nourishment and joy from connecting to people and places while staying firmly grounded.

You find it refreshing to reverse the typical schlump of desk, car or depression. It feels good to rest your soft, open front on your confident, flexible spine and take in a big breath. Turning yourself inside out is quite extra-ordinary! For shy types this is scary and a true victory. For extroverts, it’s a natural as a sensuous morning stretch.

Balancing on One Leg
You are more curious about precision than perfection. For you, nothing is more fun than figuring out how to sway like a tree and still stay upright. You don’t even mind falling over because you always get back up and try again, understanding that is truly the heart of practice anyway.

You’ve learned to include fears in the mix of a total experience. Perhaps you’ve started to blur the distinction between upside down and right side up, allowing for a vibrant sense of nowness wherever or however you are. Creative types who see things from all sides are drawn to inversions and so are those of us who just like to shake things up!

Read more about your yoga personality at What Does Your Favorite Yoga Pose Say About You? By Kate Hanley

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

7 Ways to Chill Out and Relax

1. At least once during the day, take five or ten minutes to sit quietly and do nothing. Focus on the sounds around you, your emotions and any tension in your neck, shoulders, arms, chest, etc.

2. Keep something handy that makes you laugh. It could be a collection of your favourite comic strip or a funny voice mail from a friend.

3. When you face a daunting task, play soothing music – be it classical, country or jazz. At work, you can use the CD drive on your computer to keep the music at the ready.

4. Focus on someone or something you care deeply about for anywhere from 15 seconds to five minutes. Or picture a scene from a peaceful vacation or a phrase that make you feel positive about yourself.

5. Get up from your desk or wherever you may be and take a ten-minute walk.

6. For five minutes, slow your breathing down to about six deep-belly breaths a minute. In other words, inhale for about five seconds, exhale for about five.

7. Right before bed, and after the alarm goes off in the morning, take five minutes to relax your entire body. Start by tensing your toes, then consciously relax them. Move on to the muscles in your feet, and then your calves, upper legs, buttocks, moving upwards until you end by scrunching up and relaxing the muscles in your face.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Natural Recipes for Perfect Skin

With all the partying and late nights during the holiday season, your face would have taken a about trying these homemade cleanser and mask to revitalise your face. It is also an alternative to going for expensive facials.

You can make cleansers, toners and nourishers from fruit and vegetables. Many fruits have a nourshing, revitalizing and astringent action. Some vegetables fight inflammation and contain vitamin A. Here are some recipes to try:

Cucumber Cleanser

Peel, seed, puree and sieve one-quarter of a small cucumber. Stir two tablespoons of honey into two tables of the juice and add a tablespoon of full-fat milk. Apply to the face and neck for 20 minutes, then wash off with water.

Banana Anti-ageing Face Mask

Mash a small banana and stir in two tablespoons of fresh double cream, one tablespoon of honey and one tablespoon of potato flour. Apply for 30 minutes and then rinse off.

Lemon Toning Mask

Beat one egg white until stiff, then fold in the juice of half of a lemon. Apply to the face for 20 minutes, then wash off.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Reflections and Looking Ahead

It’s already the second day of 2009… how time flies…it’s less than a month to Chinese New Year. Already you can hear Chinese New Year songs being played on the radio stations and at the shopping complexes.

As I reflect back on the events in 2008, the biggest thing that affected my life would be yoga. The Yoga Zone crisis that erupted in July 2008 had a great impact on the yoga community in Malaysia as so many yoga practitioners were affected not only, financially but emotionally as well. I learned to be more vigilant as I was one of the affected victims. It was not the money lost, luckily, I have finished paying my monthly installments by October 2008 but the emotional pain of losing a wonderful place for my yoga practice as well as learning from some of the great instructors teaching there. Fortunately, I was able to continue my yoga practice with Azmi, Lila and Matthew at That’s Yoga and also at the private classes held in November and December.

The other big yoga issue in 2008 was the banning of Yoga to the Muslim community in Malaysia which was also highlighted in the international arena. The issue has now received some reprieve with the intervention of the Sultans and the PM and hopefully, it will be resolved amicably soon.

As for myself, I am still continuing my journey with yoga. Yoga has brought me a sense of peace and calmness whenever I feel anxious and I hope to be able to continue this journey of enlightenment and to bring the teachings of yoga into my daily life…to be more patient with others as well as to be more receptive to people and the things happening in my life.

I am now anxiously waiting for the opening of Be Yoga Sanctuary as my practice has not been consistent for the past month due to the holiday season.

"It is not how much you do, but how much love you put in the doing" – Mother Theresa