Friday, April 29, 2016

Final Week - Yoga Teacher Training

The week started with most of us feeling some anxiety as we had to sit  for the In-Class Final Exam on Wednesday and do the Final Practicum on Thursday.   In order to receive the 200-hour Yogaworks Diploma, we have to pass the In-Class Exam and the Take-Home Final Exam as well as the Final Practicum.

To help us study for the In-Class Exam, David did reviews of the topics taught with us and also played a game of questions and answers where we were divided into two teams.   My team, the Om Girls managed to beat the other team, China Gang by one point.    The game helped to reinforce what we had learned and was a good way to relieve some of the anxiety as we had fun playing the game.

For the Final Practicum, we were each given some poses to teach in sequence.  Although there was some tension in the air, all of us performed quite well and we were informed by David that all of us have passed the Final Practicum.   David also gave each of us feedback on our teaching skills; our strong areas as well as areas which needed improvement.   I am glad that I have finally found my voice and was more confident in my teaching and managed to give clear instructions for the poses and with the help of Ken gave a good demonstration for assisted handstand.

Although we still have to do the Take-Home Final Exam, there was a sense of relieve after finishing the Final Practicum as we only have to submit it two weeks after the program ended.

Today, we had lunch together to celebrate our completion of the program and also a closing ceremony where we shared our feelings and what we have learned during this whole month.   There were tears and laughter as we have seen each other's growth during this month together and I will miss each of them and hope we will see each other again.

Om drawn by Elly, given to me as a present

There is a saying "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear,"  I am so glad to have taken this teacher training with David Kim.  He is a very patient teacher and he goes all out to make sure that we understand his teachings.  As we have some Chinese learners in the class, he had to do a lot of demonstrations for the poses which not only help them but also those of us who were not quite sure of the actual position and movement of the joints during the anatomy lessons.  He also made sure we understand the sutras by incorporating them during the asana practice.    We learned so much about how to sequence a class as he goes through with us the sequence of our daily asanas practice by asking us to identify the component parts and the preparatory poses for the peak pose of the sequence.  His dedication and sincerity in his teaching has been an inspiration for me to deepen my practice further.  

I would like to express my gratitude to him for all his guidance and encouragement during this amazing journey.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Week 3 - Yoga Teacher Training

It seems like this week just passed so quickly and we have only five more days before our yoga teacher training program ends next Friday.    For the last couple of days, there was a sense of heaviness among us as we know that after the training we would all be going back to our own lives and will miss the camaraderie that has formed during the past three weeks.

We have learned so much about each other during the "Look at Bodies" sessions in the program with David asking us  to identify some of the misalignment in the way the pose was done as we start to notice the little tendencies in the way each of us hold the poses.

Practicing hands-on adjustment allowed us to be a little intimate with each other as we learn to give the proper adjustment for correct alignment in the pose.

Encouraging and cheering each other on when we do the Practice Teaching and discussing the answers to the worksheets and trying to remember the sequencing of the asana practice provided us the opportunity to share our knowledge with each other.

I am so glad to share my journey with this group of amazing yogis and hope that all of us will do well in the final exam next week.  All the best!  加油!

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Week 2 - Yoga Teacher Training

This has been another week of hectic learning and getting to know my fellow trainees better who are an amazing group of yogis with different backgrounds coming together to support each other as we share a common goal and our passion for yoga.

I am finding that I have to do a lot of  unlearning and relearning as I learned the proper alignment for the yoga poses and getting rid of my incorrect habitual ways of doing the poses.   The daily asana practice has provided a stronger understanding of the poses as I listened to David's instructions for the poses.

I find the anatomy studies to be the most interesting as I learned how the muscles and joints movements affect the poses we do.  Although it sometimes get confusing trying to figure out the position and movement of the joint, David's advice on doing the pose ourselves help to make it clearer.   The anatomy and asana studies also help me to remember the verbal cues we should give for the key simple, counter and complementary actions when the students are in the pose.

The sutra studies is getting easier to understand as I start to connect the yoga philosophy with my practice and how it relates to my personal life.  

We have been doing a lot of practice teaching which is the most challenging part of the program for me.  When I am asked to teach my fellow trainees the pose, the words I am supposed to say gets stuck in my throat.   I end up becoming nervous and my voice would become softer making it difficult for my "pretend students" to hear and understand what I am saying.

I have been trying to overcome this by saying the instructions out loud as I am stuck in traffic driving home after training.  I have also recorded myself giving out the instructions at home so that I can listened to how I sound like.  I am still trying to find my voice and I think I am slowly getting better with the encouragement and support from David and my fellow trainees.

I found out that there are some talented artists among my fellow trainees as I have seen Noah sketching David as we sit listening to his teachings.   Another trainee, Szefone has made drawings which is an innovative way to help her to study the breath and poses for Surya Namaskar A and B which she has allowed me to share them here.

Surya Namaskar A

I am looking forward to deepen my practice further for the next two weeks and I will end my post with this inspirational quote for my fellow trainees and myself.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Week 1 - Yoga Teacher Training

I  have started my 200-hour Yogaworks Teacher Training program with David Kim on 4 April 2016 and the first week has passed so quickly.

I chose to do the Yogaworks TT program as it offers a balance and comprehensive training to prepare the practitioner to teach skillfully with safety, integrity and compassion.   Having attended David Kim's workshop before, I wanted to learn more from him as he is a teacher who teaches with passion and enthusiasm and his precise instructions made it easy to learn and follow his teachings.

Our first class began with learning to stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose) which is the blue print pose for the other poses.  We learnt how to activate and engage different parts of our body to ensure that our body is in correct alignment to ensure a good foundation.   Tadasana was done standing up, against the wall and lying down so that we can  build the 3 platforms - knees over ankles, hips over knees and shoulders over hips for the optimal alignment where there is a plum line through the center of the torso.

During the course of the week, we also learnt about the key simple actions, key pairs of counter actions and complementary actions when doing the poses like Utthita Hastasana, Prasarita Padottanasana, Parivrtta Parsvakonasana, etc.

The morning session of the class was spent on anatomy studies, followed by 2-3 hours of asana practice before we break for lunch.    After lunch, David would go through the yoga sutras to help us understand the philosophy of yoga.    We have also started to learn to chant the sutras which help us to familiarize ourselves with saying them.  

We have started to look and analyse each other bodies, learnt to do some hands-on adjustments and practice teach with a partner during the week.

It's been a hectic first week of absorbing all this new knowledge but I am grateful to David for letting us know that it is normal to feel anxiety and sometimes lost during the first two weeks of the program.  I know that I only need to stay focus in class and do the daily reading and written homework assignments to keep on track and let everything falls in place without thinking too far ahead.  David is also helping us by letting us know the areas where we should pay particular attention to for our final examination.

I am very inspired by my fellow trainees.  Two of them, Ken Yang and Claudia who are teachers are still teaching classes in the evening after the long day of spending eight hours learning in the class.   I am also very motivated by the group of trainees who are not well-versed in English who need to spend additional time to translate everything that David is teaching into Mandarin.   I really admire their dedication and courage in taking the teaching training in another language.   Ken Yang who is the owner of Simplylife Yoga who brought the Yogaworks TT program to Malaysia has earned my admiration as besides attending the program himself, he is also giving revision class to these trainees on Saturday to help them understand the teaching materials and assisting David in translating his teaching in Mandarin during class.

I hope to support my fellow trainees by posting inspirational quotes daily and sharing information which are relevant to our training on my FB page.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

10 Yoga Poses for Bone Health

A pilot study of yoga moves to determine whether yoga might be an effective therapy for osteoporisis conducted by Dr Loren M. Fishman has turned up some encouraging results.   You can read the full article here.

The participants of the study were taught the following yoga poses with frequent adaptions in keeping with their limitations and abilities.  Please click on the link for each of the poses to learn more about the pose, contraindications and modifications for the pose.

Trikonasana (Triangle pose) 

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Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog pose)

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Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog pose)

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Setu Bandhasana (Bridge pose) 

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Urdhva Dhanurasana (Rainbow/Wheel pose) 

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Janu Sirasasana (1-legged Head to Knee Forward Bend) 

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"Yoga puts more pressure on bone than gravity does.  By opposing one group of muscles against another, it stimulates osteocytes, the bone-making cells.  Even if bone density did not increase, improvements in posture and balance that can accrue from the practice can be protective.  Spinal fractures can result from poor posture, and there's no medication for that, but yoga is helpful.  Yoga is good for range of motion, strength, coordination and reduced anxiety, all of which contribute to the ability to stay upright and not fall.  If you don't fall, you greatly reduce your risk of a serious fracture." (excerpt from interview with Dr Loren M. Fishman from article by Jane E. Brody published in The New Yoke Times) 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Structural Body Alignment and Rebalancing with Mike Tan

Yesterday I attended a Body Assessment and Rebalancing workshop facilitated by Mike Tan, a massage therapist based in Chiang Mai.  You can read more about his profile here.   Mike's approach to long-time healing the body is through assigning specific exercise for release, strengthening and mobility.

At the workshop, we first learned about how to do a body assessment.  We start by trying to find out as much about what is affecting the person's body and if they have any recent injury.   We were given a sheet with anatomy drawing where we can indicate where the pain and misalignment were for the assessment exercise.  

Mike taught us to assess each other bodies by asking some of us to stand in a relaxed position with all the joints stacked (ankle, knee and hips in one straight line) and the insides of the feet aligned in parallel.    We started by looking closely at each portion of the body individually and in more detail; beginning with looking at the lower legs i.e the feet, ankles, shins and calves, followed by the knees and upper legs, pelvis (sacrum, groin, hips and low back), arms and shoulders and lastly, the upper torso (chest, upper back and neck).

Mike went through some of the conditions that could cause pain, movement limitation and what we can see from the each part of the body when the body is aligned vertically. When the body is not structurally aligned, how one part of the body that is impinged caused additional stress on the muscles, tendons and ligaments which can also caused pain in other areas of the body.

Mike taught us how we can rebalanced the body through releasing, stretching, strengthening and increasing the mobility of the muscles in those areas.

We were shown how to use the Lanna Roller for Body Rolling which is sometimes referred as Self MyoFascial Release (SMFR),    Body rolling is an effective way to balance muscle tension in the body.   It is a self-massage technique by placing your body weight upon the roller and applying some pressure on the muscles.  (I had also attended Mike's Body Rolling class on Friday and felt so relaxed after the class).

Mike also showed us how to use the other various tools such as lacrosse balls which can be used to massage different parts of the body and stretch resistance bands for exercises to open the shoulder and back.

Mike is a great facilitator and his vast knowledge of the body made the workshop so fun and interesting.  There are requests for Mike to come back to KL to do the workshop again, so don't miss it when he comes again.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Yin Yang Yoga "The Power of Stillness" with David Kim

Although I have been practicing yoga for many years and had gone for many workshops with some of the great teachers like Kino MacGregor, Christina Sell and Matthew Sweeney, I have not given much thought to going for a Yoga Teacher Training program although I have been encouraged by some of my yoga teachers and fellow practitioners to go for it.

Recently, I read an article about creating a second income to fall back on by doing something you are passionate about.  It got me thinking about my love for yoga and how I love the practice by blogging about it and sharing articles with my fellow practitioners,  I realized then, the next step for me would be to go for a Yoga Teaching Training program so that I can deepen my practice and spread the teaching of yoga to more people.   I do not have the confidence to go for a full 200 hour YTT course yet, so when I saw the Oscillation Yoga's post on David Kim's 13-hour Practitioners and Teachers Program Series in Yin Yang Yoga "The Power of Stillness",  I decided to sign up for it on my birthday as a birthday present to myself.

Last weekend was the David Kim's workshop which started with a Community Yoga session which was opened to all levels with a yin-yang class incorporating the breath awareness and heat building movement of vinyasa with the slower passive holds of yin yoga.   After the class, when I looked around the studio,  I could see a group of practitioners looking calm and serene from the effects of the yin-yang practice.

For the 1st session on "Yintegration - Balancing Vinyasa and Yin Yoga" David started by talking about anatomy and having us look at each other bodies to have a better understanding on how our unique bodily structure can limit our ability to do/move deeper in certain poses.   It was really an eye opener to see the difference in our bodies and how we compromise some parts of our body when we were told to go into a pose with specific instructions from the teacher.   Yin yoga enables us to be more aware of our body limitations and to move to a space where effort meets comfort.

For the 2nd session on "Yin Yang Yoga for Athletics", David talked about the importance of maintaining stability when our body is doing different range of motions.   He also talked about how our nervous system controls the body's activities and reacts by stopping us in certain movements to keep us safe .   He had us do some partner work to demonstrate how our nervous system can be tricked to enable us to stretch further by repeatedly doing ranges of motion through eccentric contraction of our muscles. This repetitive training of muscle memory is the yang aspect which enables the short burst of energy required by athletics to sprint to the finishing line.  Chronically engaged muscles tends to shorten which causes tightness and reduces our range of motion.  Yin yoga which focuses on the deeper connective tissues in the body helps to increase joint mobility.  With the balance of both yin (mobility) and yang (strength) yoga in our practice, we learn to move with stability, grace and focus and lower our chances of getting injured.

The 3rd session was "Heaven & Earth - Yang Inversions, Yin Backbends" where David led us through the progression poses to prepare us for the inversion poses of forearm handstand and handstand.  David also let us experiment with doing the inversion poses with different placement of our forearms and hands.   As I have a fear of banging my head on the wall when I am doing handstand, David told me not to use so much momentum when jumping into the pose and to rely more on keeping my top leg lifted, my shoulders over my wrists when hoping with my bottom leg,    We ended the class with some yin backbends poses which helped to cool down our body as well as having a grounding effect after the inversion poses.

The last session  on "Core Focus for Seated Meditation"was on cultivating core stability which involves strengthening the inner deep muscles that stabilizes the spine,  David led us through a routine where we were asked to maintain the integrity of our spine as we move in the poses.   We finished the workshop with two rounds of Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) and a seated mediation practice.

I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop with a great teacher who shares his teaching with so much passion and enthusiasm and his precise instructions made it easy to learn and follow during the asana practice.  I also met a group of dedicated and inspiring yoga teachers and practitioners who shares my passion for yoga.    The workshop is my first step to embark on my next yoga journey.

Teacher David Kim and my fellow yogis at the workshop

"You don't have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step" - Martin Luther King Jr.