Monday, October 24, 2011

My Ego and My Yoga Practice

This post came about after I read Elephant Journal's blog post "Pull Your Ego Out of Your Asana". 

"The next time you roll out your mat, look deep into your ego and what it does to your practice. If you're practicing obsessively because that defines you as a yogi, that's ego.  If you're so caught up about missing a class or even a week of practice, that's ego.  If you think you need to look a certain way in a pose, that's definitely ego.  Achieving a deep posture is not the goal of yoga, however it's the practice of being calmly aware of the present moment, even if you're falling out of a pose."

The above paragraph made me reflect on my own yoga practice. 

Is my ego taking over my practice?  My answer is..."when I allow it to".

Sometimes, I find myself so caught up in attaining the poses that I do not want to miss a class.   There are times when my body gave me signals to take a rest but I just ignore them and went to class. And I realized that those are the times when I felt unsatisfied and frustrated with my poses.

Letting my ego take over has also resulted in trying to twist and bind my way into the poses even though my right elbow which has not completely healed was not ready for them.   Giving myself excuses and trying to ignore the pain in my elbow have been my way of dealing with it.

Although I have set my intention and is aware not to let my ego dictate my practice, I still find that occasionally in class I had allowed these feelings to come into play, "It's feel so good whenever the teacher gave me praise", "I think I am much better at this pose", etc.

I am learning to turn away from those feelings and not allow them to surface by maintaining a connection with my awareness and being present in my practice by using my breath and focusing on my drishti. 

I also noticed that my progress in some of the poses came about when I was willing to wait for it to happen.  It took me so long to able to go into Headstand which only came about after having fallen so many times in class. 

I am certain that I will be able to progress further in all the other poses if I take my time instead of trying to rush into them  And skipping classes once in a while whenever I feel like it will be my way of preventing myself from getting too attached to the asanas. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rejuvenating Yoga and Wellness - Yoga Retreat in the City

Partner Yoga 
After reading the posting below, I was immediately attracted to join the yoga retreat in the city which was held today and I managed to get two of my yoga buddies to sign up with me.

“Make a retreat from your usual Saturday’s to-do-list! Just for a change, come over and spend your Saturday with us in this beautiful private sanctuary in Damansara Heights for energizing yoga sessions, guided meditation, hearty meals, and stretch out those tight muscles in your body accumulated throughout your busy weekdays in our very special “Yoga Stretch & Massage” session.”

There was welcome tea waiting for us when we arrived this morning and before the yoga sessions started, we were sipping on freshly brewed mint tea. 

The first yoga session was led by Gianinna who started the class with some stretches  to warm up our body before going into a modified sun salutation sequence.  Gianinna’s class which was supposed to be a gentle class had us holding in chair pose, lunges as well as working on our abdominals.  It was a great session to get our muscles and joints ready for the next class. 

We had a fruit smoothies and mixed fruits break before the next class where Raymond gave us an energising flow class with hip and chest openers as well as twisting poses.  The poses helped to loosen up tension while letting energy flow throughout the entire body.

After the invigorating workout, we were ready for a healthy  and delicious lunch of vegetable salad with barley and pumpkin taro soup with homemade bread.  It was also time to get to know the other practitioners.

After lunch, it was guided meditation and breath work with Angeline and she started  with a  15-minute meditation and pranayama session where we did alternate nostrils breathing.  This was  followed  with a 15-minute yoga nidra or sleeping savasana which is yogic sleeping with awareness.  It is intended to induce full-body relaxation and a deep meditative state of consciousness.    

I am glad that I did not fall asleep as I was feeling a bit sleepy after the hearty lunch and instead, I emerged feeling rejuvenated from the session.

It was then time for Partner Yoga which was a great way to build trust and communication with my partner while we supported each other in the poses.  And thanks to my partner, I could feel a deeper stretch in the poses which helped  to loosen all those tight spots in my body which also received another boost from the massage session. 

The yoga retreat ended with all of us sitting in easy pose in a circle with our knees touching each other and placing our right hand onto the next person’s left hand.  Raymond led us through the session where we felt and shared each other’s energy.

And we were rewarded with a delicious piece of chocolate brownie made by Raymond to round up a beautiful day of wellness for the body and mind.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Learning from Replacement Teachers

"The truth you believe and cling to makes you unavailable to hear anything new.” - Pema Chodron

Ever since I joined My Yoga Sanctuary beginning this year, I have mostly been practicing with Azmi Samdjaga .   But whenever, Azmi goes on leave, there will be a replacement teacher taking over his classes.    I find that sometimes I am reluctant to go to the replacement teacher’s class as I am so used to Azmi’s classes. 

Recently, I have been to 3 replacement teachers’ class and from their classes, I have found that when I have no expectations and just go to the class with an open heart, I get to learn so much from them.

Viviane De Doncker who is a scoliosis expert, has been replacing Azmi’s Restorative/Yin Yoga classes and in her classes, I found that due to my mild scoliosis, my body has been compensating in certain poses which results in unevenness in my hips in the pose and my body leaning more to one side.   

From Viviane’s classes, I learned to focus on my inner awareness and finding my own optimal alignment and center and stretching muscles that have tightened and strengthening muscles that have become weak from my asymmetrical imbalance.

I have been to Angie Teh’s class before when I was practicing at Yoga Zone and I had found her classes to be quite challenging as I had just started my yoga practice at that time.  Angie teaches Anusara Yoga which is a heart-centered yoga practice with strong emphasis on alignment and grounding.   

After attending Angie’s classes, I found myself paying more attention to my grounding especially in the Warrior poses.  I always remembered her telling us to keep our back foot strong and imagine that the foot is pushing against a wall and the time she sat on my back leg while I was in Warrior II.   

I have never attended Raymond Lim’s class before and did not know what to expect from his class when I attended his Hatha class on Friday.   I like Raymond’s teaching as his instructions were clear as he demonstrated the poses.  It was easy to follow his instructions and I was able to coordinate my movements with my breath.    I attended his Flow2 class today and learned some new techniques on how to do the arm balancing poses which I will try to apply into my practice.

Raymond has been exploring yoga on a deeper level ever since he completely stopped having tonsillitis and gastritis after just a year of constant yoga practice 6 years ago. Fusing with strong passion for yoga and the natural health remedies till this day, this encouraged him to further his yoga studies in India, where he obtained his 200-hour Teacher Training Certiļ¬cation from Yoga India, a Yoga Alliance registered school run by a great guru, Bharath Shetty in Mysore. Raymond again visited India in 2009 to study classical Hatha, Advanced Pranayama and Meditation with another guru, Yogacharya Ramesh Kumar. Raymond had also studied Yoga Therapy and Yogic Anatomy with a Physiotherapist & Yoga Teacher, Dr. H.R Narasimhan for 6 weeks in Mysore, India. Raymond aims to help his students to bring “mindful movement” to their bodies, as well as to challenge their self-imposed boundaries and go beyond their comfort zones.

Are you a one-teacher student and do you go to other teacher’s classes?  What is your experience when you go to other teachers’ classes?