"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

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

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Mysore Self Practice

After making the decision to start our Mysore self practice together on Sunday, this morning, Kathryn and myself were at Chi to do the practice when there was no yoga class going on.  

After going through the sun salutations and standing poses without any hitches, when it came to the seated poses, I had a bit of difficulty binding in Marichyasana D initially but managed to keep my fingers locked  together for the five breaths.   As there was no teacher to assist me in Supta Kurmasana, I did not managed to go deep in the pose as I was not able to cross my feet and put them behind my head and clasped my hands behind my back.  I did managed to place my hands on my lower back and slide my feet together in front of my head.
Supta Kurmasana (easier variation) 
From today's self-practice, I know that doing the full primary on my own without any teacher's assistance might take me a longer time to progress in some of the poses but I realized that I was actually getting too dependent on my teacher especially so when I was doing full Garbha Pindasana.  With Kunal around, I would normally gave up on turning around while rolling upwards in the pose on my own, but today, although it was slow and with difficulty and collapsing at the last roll instead of lifting up, I made the effort to do the pose on my own.   

I believe that doing the self-practice would give me an opportunity to watch myself grow and change.  As I would still be going to the Hatha classes, I would still be learning the techniques and getting assistance for those areas in my practice that need attention from my teachers at  Chi.   

I would also be doing research on my own  by reading yoga blogs and visiting yoga websites such as  Yoga Journal and I have also found many yoga videos posted by some of the great teachers such as Kino MacGregor, Christina Sell and David Garrigues where they provide tips and techniques to go into the poses. 

I am so glad to be practicing together with Kathryn as we will be providing support to each other to keep up the self-practice.  

Below is a video on Garbha Pindaasana with Maria Villella which provides a step-by-step breakdown of the pose. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Farewell Tribute to My Teachers

I am quite sad to have to say farewell to two of my teachers who are leaving the country and I am writing this post as a tribute to them for being part of my yoga journey.  

Yesterday morning was my last class with Kunal  who has helped me to progress in my Ashtanga practice for the past year.

I remember my first class with him was when I attended a trial class at Chi Fitness in April last year.  I was the only one who turned up for the Ashtanga class that day and ended up doing a Mysore style practice with him looking on and assisting me in some of the poses. I think it was from that class that I know I have found another teacher who will have an impact in my yoga journey as I decided to sign up for my membership with Chi Fitness after the class as I wanted to continue attending his classes so that I can learn from him. 

As I could only attend his Ashtanga class on Sunday at 4.30 pm, I always tried not to miss the class as all his other classes were in the morning or early evening when I was working.   I would also go to his Hatha class which was a breath-focused practice where he would emphasized the connection of  the  breath with the movement in the poses whenever I was on leave during a weekday. 

As Kunal teaches the traditional Mysore way, I could see my own progress during this past year under his guidance as I had to wait for him to give me the poses; from needing his help to bind in Marichyasana D to binding on my own, being able to catch my fingers in Supta Kurmasana as he helped me to go deeper in the pose, holding my chin with my fingers in Garbha Pindasana and given full Primary and also Pashasana from the Intermediate series

I will always remember his subtle way of telling me to align my feet correctly in the standing poses, keeping my fingers together in the poses, having me do two to three sets of going up and down for Urdhva Dhanurasana while walking my hands in and him doing crow pose on my legs as I did my bridge pose in yesterday's class which I know is his way of reminding me to keep on working on strengthening my legs for  the dropbacks

This morning was my last class with Tea who is a very dedicated teacher who always prepare her sequence of poses based on a theme for the class.   Her theme-based class would have us doing poses that work on opening our hip and shoulders in one class, a core strengthening sequence in another class or a back bending class which would start with poses to open the upper, middle and lower back.  

I will always remember her encouragement to hold on for one more breath in the pose, to work the legs by keeping our abductors engaged  and to listen to the breath to keep our mind  focus as we do the poses.

Thank you Kunal and Tea for all your teaching and guidance and being a light in my yoga journey and I wish both of you all the best in your endeavours.  Namaste!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Showing up for our Practice

For the past two Sundays, only two practitioners including myself were in the Ashtanga  class at 4.30 pm with Kunal.  Normally, there would be 5 to 6 practitioners coming to the class.   Although the class is an Ashtanga Led class, Kunal would ask those of us who are quite well-versed in the sequence to do a Mysore practice while he would lead the rest of the students who are not familiar with the sequence. 

I have heard some students who do not turn up for the class regularly complaining that they are not able to progress in their practice.   My answer to them is “Just show up”.   

Showing up means we are making the effort to change and along the way, we will find the transformation in our practice. 

If you do not attend the class regularly, you will always end up starting all over again each time you go to the class if you also do not have a regular home practice.     

Showing up for the class also means a lot to the teacher as most studios look at student numbers and you may one day find the class you want to attend being taken out from the schedule.

So my fellow Ashtanga practitioners, hope to see you back in class soon.