Monday, December 27, 2010

True discipline is just self-remembering, no forcing is necessary

My yoga practice gets waylaid by the side whenever I do not get to go to class.   For the past three days, although I had planned to do a self-practice, I have given myself excuses why I could not do the self-practice.  I did not even do the stretching poses that I normally do before getting ready to go to work in the morning and I could not even force myself to do even a few sun salutations. 

This evening when I reached home early as there was not much traffic, I did a self-practice before I had my dinner.   It was just something that I wanted to do immediately when I reached home.  Although I could hear a lot of background noise… the TV was on, children were screaming,  someone was hammering… these distractions faded away as I began to practice and  moved from one asana after another using my breath as my focus.

I emerged from the practice feeling energized and a smile on my face.  It felt great that I did not force myself to do the practice. It just came naturally to me as my body and my mind connected and remembers that it is time to do the practice after three days of non-activity.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

May this Christmas end the present year
on a cheerful note and make way
for a fresh and bright new year.
Here’s wishing you a
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Surya Namaskar

Lifting my wings, being given breath,
        I salute the sun.
Returning that gift, I bow
       To salute the earth.
Hovering now, over its' firmness
        I feel it, belly to belly.
Swooping, first upward, then backward,
Lifting playfully, facing the earth,.again,
        I rejoice.
The patterns of evolution embedded in my cells
Move me in and out of poses,
Riding on my breath.

-Janet Hockfeld, 2004

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Evaluating My Yoga Practice

Azmi has told us that he will be evaluating our practice and will be giving us a “report card” next week during the Christmas Gathering.   He has been observing us in class for the past week and will be evaluating us on our strengths and weaknesses.      I am quite apprehensive to know how Azmi has evaluated my practice but I know it would be good to have the evaluation as it would give me the guidance to progress in my practice.

Meanwhile, I have been doing some thinking about my own practice and made some evaluation of my own.  I think sometimes, I pushed too hard in my practice when I let my ego take over in trying to show the teacher that I am able to do the poses.  Instead of listening and checking in with my body on how I am feeling in the pose, I try to go beyond my limit and it becomes how I look in the pose.  I also feel that I need to be more present in the pose as I sometimes get distracted by how another practitioner is doing the pose which causes me to compel myself into a pose instead of observing and focusing on how my body is feeling in the pose.   I think this is one of the reasons why I like the Mysore class as I feel that I am able to be more present as I am more focused using my breaths to hold in the poses.  

"If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A to Z Reflection on what Yoga has given me….

who is my favourite “Cikgu” whom I have been practicing since I started my yoga journey four years ago.  Azmi’s guidance and encouragement has helped tremendously in my progress in the asanas.   From him, I have gained a lot of insights on how to apply what I learned from the asanas into my daily life.

B for Blog
I started to write this blog after practicing for one year.  My first blog post was about Yoga and Life where I wrote about how my approach to the asanas mirrored my approach to life.  This blog has become an important part of my life as it documents my practice, my research on the poses as well as sharing of information with my fellow practitioners and bloggers.

C for Compassion
Yoga has taught me to be compassionate when dealing with myself as well as when interacting with other people.  To learn to accept my own failings and as well as others.  To think how my actions will affect the other person and not to react immediately but to always learn to listen first.
D for Daring
Yoga has made me more daring to face the challenges in life.  Not to be afraid to fall down but to get up each time I fall and try again. 

E for Excitement
The excitement of going to my yoga classes… the growing camaraderie between my fellow yoga practitioners and the enthusiasm shown in learning the poses makes going to class so much fun.

F  for  Foundation  and  G for Grounding
First, we learned to build the foundation to the pose, then we learned how to ground our foundation.  A good foundation will ensure stability and keep us balance.   “Balance in the body is the foundation for balance in life. In whatever position one is in, or in whatever condition one is placed, one must find balance.”  -  B.K.S. lyengar

H for Headstand  
Headstand is my challenge pose for 2010 and having accomplished the challenge before the year-end has given me the confidence to meet any challenge whether in doing the asanas or in life.

I for Inversions
Doing Inversions allows me to see the world upside down which teaches  me to look at things from a different perspective . 

J for Jump Back and Jump Through  
Jump Back and Jump Through helps to keep the flow of an Ashtanga practice, maintaining the energy level for the endurance of the whole practice.  I am working on keeping my jump back and jump through light and graceful. 

K for Kicks
I am learning to kick up into handstand and although I am still not able to go into handstand by myself, I am kicking higher each day and I believe that one day I will be able to do so.  

A teacher and a friend.  She has taught me not only how to execute the poses but to see the light in every tunnel.   Her enthusiasm and attitude towards life has been an inspiration to me.

M for Music for Yoga
Music is used to provide a soothing and relaxing background while we practiced our asanas.  I love to listen to music for yoga while I am working and the station Anima Lumen on plays the best types of instrumental, new age and Celtic music which are suitable for yoga and meditation.   I have the pleasure of attending a Kirtan session with Daphne Tse, a regular performer at the yearly Bali Spirit Festival and was introduced to this genre of music which involves chanting hymns or mantras to the accompaniment of instruments in a call and response manner.

N for Never Say Never
When I first saw photographs of people doing yoga poses such as Headstand and Tittibhasana, I was thinking there was no way I could ever do them.  Now, I know that by using the 2Bs – breath and bandhas, I will be able to execute these poses and more.

O for On-going Journey
I embarked on my yoga journey four years ago and am enjoying each experience where there  is no permanent destination but an on-going  journey of self-discovery as I go through each phase of my life.

P for Posture
Before I did yoga, I used to hunch my back.  Yoga has improved my posture due to increase body awareness.

Q for Quite Mind
Meditation has taught me how to quite my mind when my life is in chaos and to focus on things that are present and not let perceived thoughts affect me.

R for Retreats
This year I have gone to two yoga retreats.  Being able to do yoga and enjoy the beautiful sights of Bali and Angkor Wat (Siem Reap) have been a wonderful and memorable experience.

S for Strength
Yoga has helped to improve my physical as well as my mental strength.  The poses have helped to strengthen my joints and muscles and tone my body.   By learning to stay focus during the asanas, my mental strength has also improved as well as greater attention through body awareness.  

T for Teachers
To all the teachers who have taught me, I wish to thank you all for your guidance. 

U  for Urdhva Dhanurasana
Urdhva Dhanurasana,  my nemisis pose.   The pose that taught me about the virtue of being patient; waiting for the pose to  come to me when my body parts are opened and ready for it. 

V for  Virtual Friends
Virtual friends in the form of fellow bloggers who share their passion for yoga by writing about their practice and sharing and giving comments to my blog posts. .   Learning that someone else is experiencing the same problem that I am having when doing certain poses makes it less daunting.

W for Workshops
I have attended a few Yoga workshops this year for the simple reason that the workshops provide a more in depth instruction on specific yoga poses.   I also met a great teacher and sister blogger, Michelle Myhre when I attended her workshops on Forward Bends and Back Bends in July this year. 

X for  X-hilaration
X-hilaration (exhilaration) after Savasana especially when you have the feeling of having "returned" from somewhere.

Y for Yin Yoga
Yin yoga for days when the body needs a relaxing and stretching workout.  Yin Yoga is the perfect complement to balance my Ashtanga  “yang” practice.    

Z for Zealous 
Yoga has shown me that being zealous about something is not wrong.  It can only get better and better if you continue to pursue it. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Jump Back

In an Ashtanga and a Vinyasa flow class, we will be doing a lot of jump back and jump through.  Being able to do a smooth jump back and jump through will help to keep the flow in the practice.  

Whenever I do a jump back during a vinyasa, I have this problem of going straight down to Chaturanga Dandasana.  Instead, I will hover in plank before going into Chaturanga.  At first, I thought that it was due to not having enough arm strength but the funny thing is I would be able to go straight down to Chaturanga from Chakrasana.

I have been viewing some videos on instructions for the jump back (thanks to Youtube!) but still have problem executing the pose in my practice.  Recently I found the video below on vimeo. 

Blanca Aviles - Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga from Van Yang on Vimeo.

I noticed that as she pressed her palms into the ground, she draws her hips up to her belly, rounding her back and leans forward before gracefully jumping back into chaturanga.   By drawing her hips up, she was creating a lot of space between herself and the floor and at the same time, engaging her core. I have tried this out in my self-practice yesterday and noticed that I am able to go straight into chaturanga but the execution of the pose still needs some working on to have a more soft and graceful landing.

From my research for the pose, I managed to find this great article “Pick Up and Jump Back” by Maty Ezraty which provides more insight on how to execute the pose  and  I would like to quote this from the article.  “Let this journey be a metaphor for your life. With the grace of your breath, start at the beginning, move with awareness, and open yourself up for the ride. Step by step, you'll get there.”