"The success of Yoga does not lie in the ability to perform asana's, but in how it positively changes the way we live our lives" - T.K.V. Desikachar

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Weekend Of Yoga Love

When I received news that two of my favourite teachers would be in town and will be teaching during this weekend, I did not hesitate to confirm that I would be attending both sessions although it was on the 3rd and 4th day of Chinese New Year.  

Yesterday's session with Lila was a donation based class as the proceeds collected from the class will be donated to flood relief and repair in Kuantan.   The class was a healing yoga therapy class with a slow-paced flow yoga class and ended with a chakra balance session during savasana.  I felt so wonderful and relaxed after the class.

Today's workshop with Azmi focused on invoking strength and completion in vinyasa,  The workshop brings back memories of my practice with Azmi from the music that was played to the poses that was practiced.  Azmi's instruction at the beginning of the session on setting intentions reminded me why it is important to have an intention every time we step on our mat so that when we practice we are more aware and mindful.

Although the two sessions were very different, there was one common thing that both of my teachers had emphasized on which was the breath.  When we breathe in the poses, we will find ease and balance in the poses.  And as Azmi reminded us at the end of the workshop, we should remember to welcome the breath when we inhale and expressed our gratitude when we exhale as the breath is our life force.

Azmi's workshop at Yogaonethatiwant @ Saville Melawati 
Btw, the workshop was held at Yogaonethatiwant Studio @ Saville Melawati, a very nice and spacious studio.  Check out Yogaonethatiwant studios here and you can also join freeyogafit sessions organised by the studio on Saturday mornings at KLCC Park, Central Park Bandar Utama and Tasik Shah Alam.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bed-time Yoga Poses

Recently, I received an email from Lindsay from Casper, a new start-up mattress company asking if I would be interested to be part of their newest project "Bed-time Yoga Poses".  All I have to do was write a blog post of my favourite yoga poses or stretches which can be done on the bed which could be included in their blog post at the end of the campaign.    As I have been doing some of the yoga poses on the bed when I am too lazy to roll out my yoga mat, I decided to write the post.

Here are some of the yoga poses that I find so convenient to do on the bed whenever I need to stretch my body before going to sleep or when I get up in the morning.

Pigeon Pose

Image taken from here

This is my favourite pose to open my tight hips.  Pigeon pose helps to elongate the back, open the hips and groin, stretches the hamstrings, relieves pressure on the lower back and helps to treat sciatica.  On the bed, come on all fours on your hands and knees.  Slide your right knee forward towards your right hand.   You can keep your shin parallel to your knee or you can slide it a bit down if your hips are not flexible.   Slide your left leg back making sure that it is in line with its hip socket and the left foot is laying flat.  To keep pressure off the knee cap, the right thigh should have a external rotation while the left thigh should have a slight internal rotation.  Flex your right foot and ensure that your hips are square and you are not leaning on one side. Keeping your torso long, exhale and fold forward.  Stay here for 10 to 15 breaths before changing side.

Double Legs Lifts

Image taken from here
I do double legs lifts whenever I want to work on my core.  Double leg lifts strengthen the abdominal and back muscles.  Lie flat on the bed.  Place your hands at the sides or under your buttocks to stabilize your back on the bed.  As you inhale, raise both your legs, keeping the legs straight and your buttocks flat on the bed.  Exhale and lower your legs towards the bed slowly and with control, stopping at about 45 degrees or to a point at which you can no longer lower your legs without arching your lower back.  Inhale and slowly bring your legs straight back up to complete one cycle. Repeat 10 to 15 times.  Do not use your shoulders to help you lift the legs, the shoulders and neck should stay relaxed . Try to keep your lower back resting on the bed throughout each cycle and pull your navel in towards your spine to keep your abs tight.  You can bend the legs if you feel any strain on your lower back.

Modified Reclining Hero Pose

Image taken from here
This is a modified version of the Reclining Hero Pose which stretches the abdomen, thighs and deep hip flexors (psoas), knees and ankles.  I like to do this pose as it helps to treat digestive problems of intestinal gas and acidity and this restorative pose also helps to relieve tired legs.   Stack some folded blankets on the bed.  Kneel on the bed in front of the blankets, open your feet slightly wider than your hips, keeping the tops of your feet flat on the bed and your big toes angled in towards each other. Exhale and lean your body forward slightly as you sit your hips back halfway and slowly sit between your feet while drawing your calf muscles towards your heels. Place hands at the side of the body, exhale and lean backwards towards the blankets on the bed.  Take the weight on to your hands and then your elbows and forearms.  When you are on your elbows, place your hands on the back of the pelvis and  slowly release the buttocks and lower back by pushing yourself downwards towards your tailbone. Then finish reclining onto the blankets.  Hold in this position for 5 breaths or longer.  To get out of the pose, slowly release one leg and then the other.    When you are in the pose, you can allow a little bit of space between the knees as long as your thighs remained parallel to each other. Do not allow the knees to splay apart wider than your hips as it will cause sprain on the hips and lower back.

Reclining Supine Twist 

Image taken from here

Twisting poses provides many benefits to the body and mind as they not only help to develop flexibility in the spine, they also help to increases circulation and cleanse the internal organs.   I  like to do the reclining supine twist with my legs in eagle legs position on the bed as it helps to stretch the back muscles as well as the hips, relieving tension and pain after a day spent sitting at the desk.   Lie on the bed with your knees bend and your feet flat on the bed.  Open your arms in a T-shape, cross your right knee over your left knee and wrap your right foot over your left calf.  On an exhalation, shift your hips slightly to your right and drop your knees to the left, keeping the knees close to the chest. Turn your head to the right and try to keep your right shoulder down on the bed.  You can place a blanket under your right shoulder if it lifts up.  To deepen the twist, you can use your left hand to gently press your knees down.   Breathe deeply and stay in the pose for 10 breaths or more and then repeat on the other side.

Legs Up the Wall Pose

Image taken from here
This is my to-do pose on the hotel bed whenever I travel as this pose helps to relieve my tired legs after a day of sight-seeing and shopping.    This is a restorative as well as meditative pose as it rejuvenates the lower back and legs, ease tension and helps boost circulation and at the same time brings the body into a state of deep relaxation.   Lie on the bed with a wall and with an exhale, swings your legs up onto the wall so that your heels and sitting bones are supported against it.  If you feel any discomfort in your lower back, adjust your body slightly back from the wall so that your sitting bones are not touching it.  Rest your head on the bed, keeping your spine straight and your knees slightly bend so that your kneecaps are not locked. Put your arms at the sides of your body, on your belly or above your head.  Close your eyes and breathe deeply. You can stay as long as you want in this pose,  If you have lower back pain, you can place a pillow beneath your back to support your body.

There are many other yoga poses which you can do on the comfort of your bed but make sure you have a good mattress that does not sink in when you are doing the poses.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Notes from my practice - Be Consistent

It has been almost five months since I last posted on this blog about my practice.   I guess it's because I have not been practicing consistently for the past few months.  I have been skipping classes and my practice has become quite stagnant and even deteriorating as I am having difficulty doing some of poses which I could do before.

One of the reasons I have been skipping classes is due to the ever-changing of teachers at Chi Fitness where I am practicing.   Having got used to practicing with one teacher when I first started practicing yoga, I find it difficult to adapt to the style of some of the teachers.   I would give myself a reason to skip the class if I don't feel like going to the teacher's class. I know that the problem lies with me and not with the teacher because whenever I do go to class, I always feel good after.    

I have been looking for inspiration to come back to my practice and thanks to the articles below posted by these inspiring yoga teachers, I am starting back on my yoga journey knowing that it's all up to ME to make it work. 

David Garrigues's Asana: The First Limb of Ashtanga Yoga 

Peg Mulqueen's Parampara: How important is the teacher/student relationship?

And this status update posted by Jason Crandell on his FB page will serve as a constant reminder for my practice.

"In order to strengthen and open your body, you have to be consistent in your practice.  In order to be consistent, you have to be honest and realistic with yourself about how much intensity is truly sustainable for you.  Challenge yourself to practice in a way that you can truly come back to time and time again."

I am also looking forward to attending Matthew Sweeney's workshop in Jakarta in June 2014 which I hope will help me find back the passion for my practice.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Live, Love, Laugh and Be Free with Angeline

Today was my first class with Angeline Liew although I have known her for some time.  I never managed to go to her class when she was replacing the classes at the studio I was practicing at that time.   I was delighted to find Angeline's name in the schedule for the Hatha class this morning and today being a state holiday for Selangor, I was able to make it to her class.  

I have always followed Angeline's blog Live, Love, Laugh, Be Free and I know that being a student of yoga herself, she always teaches from the student's perspective.    

Today's class focused on some balancing poses as well as chest and shoulder openers.  When we were in tree pose, Angeline mentioned that there must be some wind blowing in as the trees were swaying.  It lightened the atmosphere and reminded us not to take our practice so seriously and throughout the class, she gave us the encouragement to try the poses and not be afraid to fall as she herself had fallen numerous times before she nailed the pose. 

I received some great adjustments from Angeline as she assisted me to open my chest and shoulders in some of the poses and she also reminded me to work my thighs in my downward dog. 

Recently, Angeline and Raymond have opened a new studio Prana Yoga KL which is located at Pusat Creative Kanak-Kanak Tuanku Bainum, Taman Tun Dr Ismail.  If you are staying or working around that area and is looking for a place to practice, do check our their studio.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Notes from my Practice

This is just a short post on my observation in my Mysore Self-practice this morning.  As I am still recovering from my shoulder injury,I have been doing variations in some of the poses for the past few weeks of my self-practice.   I have also skipped some of the poses in the series if I feel that it will aggravate the injury especially if I feel pain in my right shoulder when I do the pose.  

This morning, I did most of the poses in the Primary series; doing a variation of the pose when necessary.   When I reached Setu Bandhasana, the last pose of the series, I was contemplating whether I should do the pose as I have been feeling a crushing pressure in my neck when I do the pose.   

I decided to do the pose as I have been told that the pose you avoid most is the pose you need the most.  As I did the pose, I paid attention to the feeling in my neck by not settling the weight on my head.  Instead, I kept my sternum and upper back lifted and open and my legs engaged and internally rotated.  I did not feel any crushing pressure in the neck and was able to stay in the pose for five breaths. 

Below is a video with clear instruction from David Garriggues on how to do the pose.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Progress in my Practice

It has been more than one month since I posted about doing my Mysore Self-practice every Sunday morning in Chi.  I have been going regularly and so far, have not missed any practice which I hope I will able to keep it up.

During the past few self-practice, I have also started incorporating poses that I need to work on which sometimes meant that I have to skip some of the last few poses in the Primary series as I have to finish the practice before the next class starts.    

I have been setting an intention before the start of each practice as I believe it would helped me to focus on what I should work on during the practice.  Some of my intentions have been finding length in my breath and in the poses, paying attention to my alignment in the poses especially in the standing poses and finding ease in the poses. 

I have also learn to accept that progress in my practice meant that I do not have to be able to do the full version of the pose but to be able to go further in the pose each time I practice.  I have learn to appreciate the little progress I have made in the poses that I thought I would never be able to do.   

I am been using Kino MacGregor "The Power of Ashtanga Yoga" book as a reference to check on my alignment in the poses and Kino have provided techniques and modifications for the poses which I find very helpful in my practice.  

"At first you might find that nothing happens there. But if you have a sacred space and use it, eventually something will happen. Your sacred space is where you find yourself again and again." ~Joseph Campbell