Friday, 19 December 2014

My 2014 Journey.....

With only a few days left before we wave goodbye to 2014, maybe it's time to rewind. Take a look back at how we blossomed or at least crawled through the year. Well, I did both. Some days I danced my way through like a graceful ballerina and there were times when I did not want to get out of bed, yet dragged myself up. But, I have NO REGRETS! Surprised? Me neither. I only feel grateful for all the experiences. Growth is a bumpy ride but totally worth the patience and efforts. The biggest excitement and joy that keeps me going everyday is my passion for YOGA. My ongoing yoga journey brought many unexpected twists, challenging pit stops and gratifying success. The meaning behind 'count your blessings' makes more profound sense today. With the spirit to strive to become better, to grow kinder and stay grounded, I bid farewell to the fantabulous 2014.

Highlights of my 2014 Yoga Journey.....


1. Weight Loss!!!

    Losing some weight definitely has its high points. You look amazing in outfits, feel lighter in inversions and asanas and the greatest happiness is when you can share the no-secret method with others and inspire them to do so. You know what's even better, you don't gain the weight easily too. You don't go through the peaks and valleys on the weight chart.


2.  My flexibility, posture and stamina got better!

       You know the proud feeling that spreads through your body when you can successfully stay in Bakasana or lift your body off the floor in Astavarkrasana. That's an awesome feeling which every yogi can relate to. Having the energy to teach flow yoga, standing and sitting with an aligned posture and an increase in overall energy are some of the victory through practices.

3. Mental and emotional strength.

      I usually think twice whenever I need to advice somebody regarding mental and emotional health or merely just discussing the subject. The sensitivity of the topic kind of intimidates me. Let's just talk about me here. From my personal observation, I have become more optimistic, open-minded towards various situations and easily bounce-back from emotional spurs. Kindness has become my mantra in life. 

4. Friendship balloons!

    Those who have known me for a long time, I am a balloon lover! Balloons excite me! All the beautiful friends that I have made along the way this year make me feel like I'm being surrounded by hundreds of balloons!


5. Touching lives through my words.

    Apart from being a yoga instructor, teaching asanas, pranayama and meditation, sometimes I'm in awe how much my personal sharing and information help others to lead a healthy and peaceful life.
Truly a blessing.

6. Endless Knowledge.

    Learning is a life-long process in yoga. What I have learnt this far is equivalent to a drop in the ocean. Learning and the knowledge of yoga makes me feel humble and realize the long journey that I must embark to continue developing myself. Learning partner yoga, yoga therapy and kriya yoga was enlightening. To learn, live and grow your passion is a beautiful gift.

7. Freedom of creative expressions.

    Blogging, photography and teaching has carved the platform for me to express ideas, information and thoughts. It also gave me the opportunity to reach out and connect with people from all over the world and share this amazing journey with them.


8. A life changing cleanse.

      I am a believer of the yogic shatkarmas. I have felt the benefits and witnessed so many people experience transformation. Continuing the practices every single day has only led to a better life.

9. Uncountable Injuries. Ouch!

       Where do I even begin describing those exciting times? Especially, the worst lower back injury that I encountered in July which is still pricking me a little till today. Well, it just taught me to be kinder to my body and be less abusive.

10. Making it happen!

        This year undoubtedly made a 180 change in my life. I still feel an out of body experience every time I see myself as a yoga instructor, a blogger, a yoga student and a self employed little girl. Standing up for what I love, breaking some hearts and bones, pushing through each day even during extreme situations, I feel immensely proud looking at how far I've come. Achieving the unexpected feels NEW.


I take this time to send my love and gratitude to my parents, teachers, beautiful friends and fellow students. With a heart full of gratitude, happiness, sweet memories, new spirit and peace, bye-bye 2014. Hope all of you had a wonderful year and I will be anticipating to reconnect with everyone in ENCHANTING 2015!

~M~

Monday, 24 November 2014

Graduation!!!

Well, after waiting for over a year, I cannot believe I'm saying this, but we graduated! Yesterday, with my fellow MAYI graduates/friends, I experienced one of the most meaningful graduation ceremonies of my life. The organizers and staffs of MAYI had put together an event that exceeded my imagination. I am absolutely moved by this life changing graduation ceremony, especially when I get to share with my dearest friends and family. The joy and proud feeling of achieving this great gift after all the hard work and dedication... Aahh!! Tears of Joy! As much as I am embracing this success, I am also very much aware of the huge responsibility that I have to fulfill. All the precious knowledge that has been taught to me have to reach others. I take this moment to send my heartfelt gratitude to Master Manisekaran (in the photo) and Master Navanesan for nurturing and guiding me throughout the year. If it wasn't for these two great souls, I wouldn't have begun this special journey, This particular journey was unique in its own right, and has created a space and community that I know that I will continue to carry with me into my future endeavors towards learning and teaching yoga. What's next?? Teach, learn and practice. The graduation actually marks the beginning of a new journey, to further my studies and continue sharing as much as I can. So, this is a not a goodbye and more of a see-you-soon to all my friends at MAYI. Can't wait!  ~M~





Thursday, 20 November 2014

Ujjayi Pranayama

As I promised earlier, I am doing a follow up on my current favorite pranayama. Before I even begin, I have to chuckle. I am in awe because I am actually trying to teach a pranayama through a blog post. It is quite difficult to explain the technical aspects of the pranayama and it is much more difficult to not know how anyone is going to adapt or even begin the practice. Oh well, somebody has to do it. Alrighty! Ujjayi.... Something very special, keeping me stable mentally and physically. Ujjayi is extremely simple and produces a hissing sound in the region of the throat. It is far easier to do than to describe. Let's us get on with the techniques and benefits of Ujjayi pranayama.


Technique 1: Basic Ujjayi

  • Sit in a comfortable meditational asana. Close the eyes and relax the facial muscles.
  • A slight contraction of the throat will contract the glottis in the throat.
  • Continue with inhalation and exhalation, slowly and deeply.
  • You should hear a continuous sound emitted from the throat. The sound should be audible to yourself but inaudible to people around. 


Technique 2: Ujjayi incorporated with Khechari Mudra

  • Breathing technique and the sound produced is identical to technique 1.
  • The additional step we include here is Khechari Mudra.
Khechari Mudra - Roll the tongue upwards and the lower surface should touch the upper palate. This mudra should feel comfortable as you will be holding it for some time during ujjayi pranayama. Initially, you may feel immediate discomfort, but continuous practice you can perform khechari mudra for longer periods.  


Benefits.....

  • Removes heat in the head.
  • Removes phlegm in the throat.
  • Practitioner is never attacked by diseases of the phlegm, nerves, chronis stress, enlargement of spleen, dyspepsia, dysentry, cough or fever.
  • Mainly used in conjunction with meditation techniques or merely for relaxation purposes.
  • Immediate calmness of the mind and body.
  • Helpful for people suffering with insomnia and high blood pressure.


I hope that was helpful. I would recommend reaching out to a qualified yoga instructor around you for guidance and better understanding of Ujjayi pranayama. Share with me your thoughts on the practice and the benefits that you have attained so that it can be helpful for other readers. Till I see you in my next post, happy practicing! 

~M~

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Do you have a favorite pranayama?

Pranayama dirgha by Yimi
The past three months gave me a lot of time to ponder on a lot of things. The extra time I had on hand definitely allowed me to deepen my practices. Since I was recovering from an excruciating lower back injury, I had to divert my attention to Kriya Yoga practices, pranayamas and catch up on reading/self-study. So the subject of discussion for today's post will be Ujjayi pranayama. Besides being my preferred choice of breathing practice, I can confidently say that my body naturally adapts to its unique form of breathing pattern. Well, I am not going to discuss much on the details of the technique, contraindications, benefits and etc. For today, I thought of sharing my personal view and experience of practicing Ujjayi. Two words.... calm and silence. Why silence? Let's just say that I understood the power of silence during my period of hiatus. More silence, less drama. I clearly remember, several times when I had to deal with complications and drama, silence and Ujjayi were my best buddies. Ujjayi immediately slows and lengthens the breath cycle as well as allowing more time for the mind to have a clearer space to think. The moment the mind and emotions can become stable, of course we make better decisions and better conversations. Honestly, patience, a steady mind and emotions and optimism does come with practice. Maybe, ujjayi is my stress buster ball. I didn't realize its importance and positive effects until recent times. Nowadays, I naturally go into ujjayi breathing while driving, reading or meditating. It has become a part of my system. I have to admit, every pranayama has its uniqueness and the effects will only show up with prolonged practice. Over time, it will become effortless. Slowly, but surely. I will get into details of Ujjayi pranayama in my next post. If you are a pranayama practitioner, let me know which one keeps drawing you to practice.

~M~

Monday, 17 November 2014

I'm Back! Returning from a blogging hiatus.....

It does feel good to be back. I know I have abandoned this space for over 3 months. Although, it felt like a relieve at first, over time I felt guilty for neglecting my blog. I love writing and creating content for my readers, so that explains the guilt. My blog is a major part of my life, so I think it deserves my TLC. Well, no regrets, I did enjoy the off time. A LOT of things happened. Life changing experiences, new discoveries, new opportunities and the best part is, spending every single day doing what I love was absolutely divine! Despite of struggling for inspirations and ideas, I continued to embrace my journey as a budding yoga instructor, a yoga practitioner and a permanent yoga student. About a week ago, a sudden thought came to my mind and I knew I had to continue what I had started. So... I'm back. Without making any ambitious promises, I am going to allow the flow to guide me and try my best to publish as frequently as possible. Have great day everybody!

~M~

Friday, 25 July 2014

Blogging Hiatus.....



Dear friends, I am taking a blogging hiatus.

I feel I've lost my wit and my ability to express through words. My mind has gone into a silent mode while I am contemplating on other things in life. I have always aimed at delivering good quality blog posts. It will be a disappointment to myself and the readers if I publish posts which are written halfheartedly. Probably, I need a month or two to breathe, to settle down and to compose myself. Till then, this space will be silent. This silent period shall give me time to refocus and come up with fresh ideas to continue what I began in the first place.

And I will be back. Oh, for sure!

Thank you for all your support.

~M~

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Chia Seeds, Coconut and Mango Pudding!


Who doesn't love chia seeds? I know I do. You get this gelatinous texture without using any synthetic jelly powder. Chia seeds are sooo good for you especially during summer time as it helps to cool off your body. Combining it with coconut milk and mango makes it simply divine! Let's get into the recipe right away.

Ingredients.....


Chia Seeds - 1/4 cup

Coconut Milk - 1/2 cup

Brown Sugar - 3/4 cup

Mangoes - 2 medium sized

Desiccated Coconut - For garnish

Salt - A pinch


Let's Begin.....

1. Soak the chia seeds in water for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Add brown sugar to coconut milk and stir till it dissolves completely.
3. Cut the mangoes into cubes.
4. Strain the chia seeds to remove the excess water.
5. Mix in the chia seeds with the sweetened coconut milk.
6. Fill up your favorite glass with the chia seeds and coconut milk mixture. Top it up with the cubed mangoes and as a final touch, sprinkle some desiccated coconut for some extra crunch.
7. Placed in the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes and best served cold.

Taste Test.....

It was soooo YUMMY! Light and creamy with sweet, tangy mangoes. Mangoes and coconut milk are a match made in heaven. The gelatinous texture of the chia seeds really tickles your palate. A perfect summer snack/dessert. It's good for you and tasty. What more could I ask for? It's so easy to prepare, doesn't involve any cooking and you can clean up in a jiffy. Make this for your friends and family or give yourself a treat with this easy pudding. I would love to hear your feedback. Till I see you next week with a new recipe. Don't forget to keep trying the #IndependenceARMy Challenge. Enjoy your summer everybody!

~M~

Monday, 7 July 2014

Cleanse Through July!


Everybody deserves a cleanse! A physical cleanse, a mental cleanse and an emotional cleanse. It is our responsibility to take care of our precious body, mind and soul. Would you be surprised if I told you that it can be done in one day? Plausible. Yogic cleansing has changed lives and I have seen it with my own pair of eyes. I will stand by it any day. Read about my experience and how cleansing changed my life here and here. Good things are meant to be shared. My life has been transformed and I wish the same for you. Hence, I would like you to experience the joy of cleansing your body, mind and emotions NEXT WEEK! You will get to see ME and Puveneshwari, author at yogaprayaana.blogspot.com on the day along with Navanesan, the yoga guru conducting the workshop. Join us and we will help you to heal and rejuvenate from within. The location is to die for, an opportunity to blend with nature while you cleanse yourself.

"With the oil still in my mouth and walking about slowly on the grass, I got to experience the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen in my life. The air was cool but I could feel the warm light from the sun. The garden is located near a lake, the soft rays of the rising sun made the surface of the water to twinkle like crystals. The clear sky was filled with transcending colors from baby blues to hues of pink and lilacs and golden yellows mixed with soft oranges. Nature's form of art. The choice of location was just perfect. There couldn't be a better way to start my day"



EVENT: YOGIC CLEANSING WORKSHOP

WHEN: 15 JULY 2014 (TUESDAY)

WHERE: KELAB KOMUNITI CYBERJAYA,                          SELANGOR, MALAYSIA

TIME: 6.30 a.m. - 4 p.m.

FOR MORE DETAILS, PLEASE CONTACT NAVANESAN (+60129070545)


Can't wait to see you all there!

~M~

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Challenge Time! Get those Arms Ready!


Although I enjoyed the Summer Splits Challenge, I could not commit to it fully because I became ill halfway through the challenge. That's not an excuse to give up. Time to take up the July challenge. It's all about the arms this month. I have to admit, I have jello arms. My arms are probably the weakest in my entire body. Scorpion pose and handstands are almost impossible in my dictionary. Well, I may be exaggerating, because I have built a lot of strength and stamina in one year. But not quite there yet. Nothing is going to crush my spirit. I am going to be tackling the #Independence ARMy challenge and the 30 day arm challenge for the whole month of July. Don't forget to tag me in your pictures using @a_yoginis_life on Instagram. Join me and let's do this together. Girl Power!

~M~

Monday, 30 June 2014

Bye-bye June!


I remember posting New Month, New Hope at the beginning of June and today, we wave bye-bye to June. What happened in between, everything seems blurry. I had my ups and downs throughout the month of June, but no regrets or whatsoever. Before I start yapping off topic, let me share with you some of my June highlights and some not so fun-lights.

HIGHLIGHTS.....

1. Summer Splits 2014 Challenge was so much fun. Then, I became ill and fell off the bandwagon. *sigh*

2. I'm done! Yes! Completed my Yoga Instructors Course! Advance level was gruesome but worth the time and effort! Graduation here I come!

3. Embracing friendships everyday.

4. Diligently practicing for the competition in August. This is way tougher than I imagined. But, I am seeing improvement in my flexibility, strength and stamina. Yippee!!

5. Apparently, I have lost weight according to those around me. That's a good news. 

6. Getting super busy by the day but I am not complaining.

7. As though I've had an Amnesia, I am A completely different person today compared to who I was a month ago. One month can make such a difference.

8. Instagram can change lives!

9. My love for trees continues to grow!


LOWLIGHTS.....

1. Second week of June was disastrous. I was terribly ill due to overworking my body with asanas. Lesson learnt the hard way.

2. My blog had to be neglected for some time due to my tight schedule and my physical conditions. Not happy about it.

3. I reached the peak of my stress level towards the end of June, some crappy situations. *sigh*

4. Being young, confused and vulnerable. Not a good combination. 


That wasn't so bad. I have learnt from my mistakes and definitely had some good fun throughout June. July is going to be super exciting. I've tweaked my schedule to allocate more time for blogging. Fresh ideas and exciting news coming up. More opportunities are waiting for me and new changes to life. Can't wait for July. Don't forget to join the #IndependenceARMy challenge throughout the month of July. Say bye to June and HELLO July!

~M~


Monday, 23 June 2014

Crunchy Roasted Black Eyed Peas
























Finally!!! I am posting a recipe of a savory snack. What can I say, I have more ideas of sweet snacks compared to savory. A girl's gotta have her sweet treats now and then. I have to apologize for the lack of posts for the past week or so. I was very ill and I blame myself for it. I overworked my muscles and I paid the price for it. After a week of rest from yoga practices and everything else, I am back to myself. I suppose it's a mid-year crisis that everybody goes through. It's crunch time and I'm unhappily crunched! So why not make something crunchy to satisfy your cravings.
























Ingredients.....


  • Black eyed peas - 2 cups
  • Vegetable oil (I used sunflower oil) - 2 tablespoons
  • Chili powder - 1 tablespoon
  • Turmeric - 1 teaspoon
  • Salt - according to taste.
























Let's Begin.....

1. Soak the black eyed peas in water for 4 hours.
2. Pressure cook the beans with few pinches of salt until they soften.
3. Drain the beans. Place them between a cloth and wipe off the excess liquid.
4. Pre-heat the oven to 180⁰C.
5. On a baking tray lined with baking paper, spread the beans.
6. Drizzle with oil and make sure all the beans are well coated.
7. Add the chili powder, turmeric powder and salt. Mix well for an even coating. 
8. Place it into the oven and set the timer to 40 minutes. 
9. At 15 to 20 minutes interval, take the tray out and give  a good mix and spread the beans evenly over the tray.
10. After 40 minutes, switch off the oven and allow the beans to stay in the oven for another 10 minutes. 
11. Allow the beans to cool completely and serve.

Black eyed peas getting roasted in the oven
























Time for a taste test.....

Obviously my mother would be the first one to test and comment. She said 'Mmmmmm.......' That's a good sign. It's crunchy, light, well seasoned and the chili powder added a little kick. As I always say, my taste buds may be different to yours. So feel free to spice up the recipe according to your taste. There's no right or wrong in this. When I first came up with this idea, I had no clue of measurements, I just added ingredients according to my liking and it turned out well. *Phew* I bet this will be your favorite portable snack this summer time. It's super easy and quick to prepare and you can make it way ahead of time and it will last you for days. Give this recipe a shot and let me know how it turned out. For those of you who are feeling a little under the weather, take a time off and do something to make yourself happy. Go to a park and breathe in some fresh air. Everything will be ALRIGHT! Hey, summer is supposed to be all about fun! Till I see you in my post, Take Care!

~M~

Saturday, 14 June 2014

The M word.....

What's the M word?

Meditation!
Something that I cannot fathom. Something that I'm unable to learn. I admit, I don't know how it feels. Is meditation all about sitting in a quiet space and letting your mind wander? Are you supposed to be monitoring your breath throughout your quiet time? Let's see what the dictionary says about meditation.

Meditate
1
:  to engage in contemplation or reflection
2
:  to engage in mental exercise (as concentration on one's breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the            purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness

Hmmm....contemplate, reflect and reach high level o spiritual awareness. That's deep! Well, I am very sure I am not at that level yet, probably someday I will, when I've felt the calling. Truth be told, I have only encountered people who are way older to me mentioning the word meditation. Personally, I have not seen anyone in their early 20's mentioning the word meditation to me. That made me think. Is meditation something that comes with age? Does that mean you have to wait to find your inner peace? I look at babies and children, they don't spend time in quiet rooms chanting and breathing, yet they have way more inner peace compared to adults. I think that innocence, nonjudgmental and carefree behavior is something beyond meditation.

Food for Thought

I may or may no meditate. It may or may not come to me. Currently, considering my age, my surroundings and the very little knowledge that I have, I choose to define meditation differently. Meditation to me is doing what I love. I feel happiness and inner peace when I do the things that I love the most. I enjoy my zen time when I am in the kitchen, cooking, baking and creating something new and healthy for my blog posts.Without me realizing, blogging has brought many positive changes into my life, helped me discover my love for reading, writing and photography. Blogging is my second form of meditation. My third way of having some zen time was a secret for many years. It's actually a craft form called quilling/paper filigree. Something that taught me patience and focus. See! It's not necessary to find peace by allocating time and space for it. When you do something that your heart loves and cherishes, inner peace and happiness will come from within you. That's my definition of meditation. Ask yourselves, what is the one thing you enjoy doing and love the most. Take an hour this week and spend time with it. Let me know how it felt.

Have a great rest of the day my lovelies! TTFN!

~M~





Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Sheetali & Sheetkari Pranayama.

Can you imagine the feel of drinking a cold, sweet drink filled with ice cubes up to the rim of a glass. Imagine the cold sensation down your throat. We have all been there and done that. Sounds refreshing, doesn't it? Well, have you ever thought of what happens inside your body after gulping a liquid which is that cold. Ideally, the human body is supposed to be maintained at 37⁰C. Let's say your iced drink is at about 10⁰C, can you picture how hard your system has to work to maintain the temperature of all your internal organs at 37⁰C. If you have some knowledge of heat transfer or even basic science, you would have probably heard of latent heat and that theory applies to the human body as well. Enough said. I agree it's easier said than done. Especially, when the summer heat waves really gets on your last nerves. All I have to say is, we can't change the environment, but we can surely makes better choices. Opting for fruits and practicing the breathing technique that I'm about to teach you can help you omit the need of iced drinks.

Let's discuss sheetali and sheetkari. The only breathing technique/pranayama that I practice. Why? Because, sheetali is the only thing that helps me deal with the excess body heat generated through intense level of practices. It really depends, actually. You're the best person to analyze your body. Some people need heat generating pranayama and some people need cooling pranayama. I leave that decision to you. Probably, get an opinion from a competent instructor before you attempt something new.

Difficulty: Beginners Level


Sheetali

Instructions:
  • Sit in any comfortable meditation posture.
  • Close your eyes and relax the whole body.
  • Extend the tongue outside the mouth without strain. 
  • Roll the sides of the tongue up so that it forms a tube. 
  • Practice a long, smooth and controlled inhalation through the rolled tongue.
  • At the end of inhalation, draw the tongue in, close the mouth and exhale through the nose.
  • The breath should produce a sucking sound.
  • A feeling of icy coldness will be experienced on the tongue, the roof of the mouth and throat
  • This is one round.

Sheetkari 

* For those who are unable to roll the tongue


Instructions:

  • Sit in any comfortable meditation posture.
  • Close the eyes and relax the whole body.
  • Hold the teeth together.
  • Separate the lips, exposing the teeth.
  • The tongue may be kept flat or folded against the roof of the mouth (khechari mudra) 
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through the teeth.
  • At the end of the inhalation, close the mouth.
  • Exhale slowly through the nose in a controlled manner.
  • This is one round.


When to do it?

Practice after asanas and other yogic practices in order to restore temperature balance.

Duration.

With practice, the duration of the inhalation should gradually become longer to increase the cooling effect.
Gradually, increase the number of rounds from 9 to 15. For general purposes, 15 rounds is sufficient; however, up to 60 rounds may be performed in very hot weather.

Precautions.

Do not practice in a polluted atmosphere or during cold weather.

Contra-Indications.

  • People suffering from low blood pressure or respiratory disorders such as asthma, bronchitis and excessive mucus, should not practice.
  • This practice cools down the activity of the lower energy centers and those suffering from chronic constipatio should avoid it. 
  • Generally, this pranayama should not be practiced during winter or in cool climates.

Benefits

  • This practice cools the body and affects important brain centers associated with temperature regulation. 
  • It reduces mental and emotional excitation, and encourages the free flow of prana throughout the body. 
  • It induces muscular relaxation, mental tranquility and may be used as a tranquilizer before sleep. 
  • It gives control over hunger and thirst, and generates a feeling of satisfaction.

Enjoy Your Cool Summer!

~M~



Monday, 9 June 2014

Nauli: Make This Your Morning Routine!

Hello everybody! I'm flabbergasted. My phone has been buzzing constantly with new and exciting opportunities for the past couple of days. I'm nervous at the same time. The usual fear you see. I have to make adjustments with my current job in order to give these new opportunities a shot. I don't mind actually but at the same time, the risk of ruining your current comfort zone for something new, something you're clueless about. Thinking-to-much syndrome. It happens when you're young and you have your finger in too many pies. I guess I just have to roll with the punches. Like someone I know always says "Hey, YOLO!" As usual I have rambled out of topic. Focus M! Focus!

Nauli by Feed the Yogi

Yeah Nauli. Have you heard of it? Another form of yogic cleansing.. I learnt it 5 months ago but then I didn't start practicing until I heard the magic word 3 months ago. 'FLAT TUMMY'. Something every woman desires. Ever since, I have been diligently practicing. I have also increased my practice hours since I attempting on advance poses and training for the Malaysian International Yoga Competition 2014. Phew. Sometimes, while staying in a pose, I taste my own sweat. EEE! That's how tough it's getting day by day. Honestly, I am panicking. I am clueless like a headless chicken and I'm off topic again. *Sigh*

I am sorry to say. Nauli is something I cannot teach over a pictorial or step-wise description. If you are attempting it for the very first time, please, please do it under the supervision of an instructor. We are manipulating very delicate internal organs of the human body. You may ask, then why am I doing a post on it if I can't teach it here? Because of the numerous benefits, I would strongly advise anyone to practice it. Probably I can share a few guidelines prior to your practice along with the benefits.

Time of Practise:

Nauli should be practiced only when the stomach is completely empty, at least 5 to 6 hours after a meal. The best time to practice is early in the morning before any food or drink is taken.

Precautions:

Nauli should only be practiced under the guidance of a competent teacher. If any pain is felt in the abdomen during nauli, stop the practice immediately. Try again the following day with more awareness and less force.

Contra-Indications:

Nauli should not be attempted by people suffering from heart disease, hypertension, hernia, high blood pressure, abdominal pain, gallstones, acute peptic ulcer, constipation, or those who are recovering from
surgery, especially abdominal surgery. Pregnant women should not practice nauli. However, six months after normal childbirth the practice can help strengthen the abdominal and pelvic muscles.

Benefits:

  • Nauli massages and tones the entire abdominal area, including the muscles, nerves, intestines, reproductive, urinary and excretory organs. 
  • It generates heat in the body and stimulates appetite, digestion, assimilation, absorption and excretion. 
  • Regulates menstrual cycle, hormonal imbalances and any disorders related to the reproductive system.
  • It helps to balance the adrenal component of the endocrine system.
  • Nauli stimulates and purifies manipura chakra, the storehouse of prana. 
  • It helps to increase mental clarity and power by harmonizing the energy flows in the body.
  • Oh no forgetting...FLAT TUMMY! 

Get your Nauli on this Summer!

~M~

Saturday, 7 June 2014

An Asian Dessert: Red Beans and Black Glutinous Rice Stew.
























Hello everybody! Sorry that I have been MIA for the past few days. I am still adapting to a lot of changes with my new schedule. Let me put it in a list as usual.

  • I am back to my yoga school to finish up my hours to complete the advance level of teaching.
  • I am diligently putting in more hours to practice on my own at home to prepare myself for the Malaysian International Yoga Competition 2014. *panicky* 
  • I have taken up more teaching opportunities. Exciting times.
  • I have to squeeze in my work, self study, assignments and lesson preparation as well.
Well, I'm not complaining. More work or less work, I love blogging and I am not going to compromise it for anything in this world. I made a commitment and I'm going to stick by it. Yippeee! Sometimes I do feel guilty for not being as witty as I used to be because my attention is divided into various things at one time, but I'm not going to let that stop me from continuing what I love. It's just a temporary setback. This too shall pass.
So let's get to the recipe that I have prepared for today. 

INGREDIENTS.....

























  • Red Beans - 1 cup
  • Black Glutinous Rice - 1 cup
  • Coconut Milk - 1/2 cup
  • Rock Sugar - 250 grams
  • Pandan Leaves - 2 to 3
  • Water

LET'S BEGIN.....

1. If you want to be done quickly, please use a pressure cooker. Then, you omit the need for long hours of soaking and boiling.  Patience is not always a virtue. 
2. Add the red beans, glutinous rice, pandan leaves and 6 cups of water into your pressure cooking vessel. Keep the flame at high and you probably have to wait for 15 to 18 whistles until all the red beans turn soft and start to break apart.
3. Once all your red beans are soft enough, add another 1liter or 1.5 liters of water along with coconut milk and rock sugar. The reason for the addition of more water at this stage is because, the stew will continue to thicken as the sugar melts.
4. Turn off the flame and remove the pandan leaves. Allow the stew to cool down, serve warm or chilled.




TIME FOR A TASTE TEST.....

I loved it. It's packed with protein and the fragrance of the stew itself is amazing. Adjust the coconut milk, water and sugar measurement according to your preference. My measurements are just guidelines. If you have a pressure cooker, you will be done within one hour and it will be a great, before dinner snack. Let me know how your batch turned out. Happy weekend everybody!

~M~

Monday, 2 June 2014

Let's Take Up the Challenge!

 This image has been going viral since May. Thanks to Kino Macgregor for coming up with such a fantabulous idea. I challenged myself to take up the challenge for the whole month of June. I think everybody should give it a shot even if you are not a yoga practitioner. Just for the fun of it. Every time I mess up a pose, I end up laughing at myself. Just like Kino said, yoga has taught us to laugh at ourselves. At the end of the month, let's see how many poses we have mastered. I have already done 1 and 2 today. At a glance I can surely say that 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, 12, 15, 16, 19 and 23 are possible. Piece of cake. Best of luck to all you who are taking up the challenge. Don't forget to share your masterpiece using the #summersplits2014.
Happy Summer!

~M~

New Month, New Hope.

Where did the time go? It's June already? Oh well, time waits for nobody, right! Honestly, May was extremely overwhelming and devastating. Too much love and affection can lead to severe heartache. A blatant truth, but I still chose to give my all. It's in a woman's DNA. At the same time, it's impossible to express love with limits and control. When it comes to the matter of the heart, complications are inevitable. If I could buy the gift of patience and acceptance for this person, I believe time will heal all wounds. I tried hard and wholeheartedly, fate just wasn't on my side. My best friend once told me, people come and go into our lives, some stay longer because they haven't completed their purpose in our life, and some people leave halfway because they have completed their purpose of the presence. I would like to share how I convinced myself to stop going through misery and pain. I don't know if I should say this out, but the extreme frustration and depression led to mild epilepsy attacks and a suicide attempt. What I realized in the end was, I was suffering for one insensitive and ignorant person but more than one person were trying hard to help me survive through. Today, I choose to live for people who are worth my attention, love, care and effort. As I have said before, forgiving and forgetting is the best gift anyone can give themself rather than the person you are forgiving. Going forward, I am just surrendering myself to time. Let's see what time holds for me. I wish all of you peace and happiness. Be kind to one another.

~M~

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Tweak Your Eating Habits.


I post a lot of recipes on my blog and I also follow a lot of food blogs along with yoga blogs. Food is such an important aspect of every human being's life. On average, I come across about 30 new recipe posts every week. Everybody wants to share their food love through blogs and photos. **thumbs up** As much as food and variety of ingredients are important to our diet, I have to say that the attitude towards eating does concern me. The primary focus has always been on what you should and should not eat. Sadly, nobody seem to emphasize on how you should eat. Let me tell you, your mood, surroundings and mental state does affect how your body utilize the food that you eat. Probably you may feel I am repeating what you have been thought when you were young, but forgetfulness is in our genes.

1. Like Mama said, Chew Your Food.

As I always say, digestion begins at your mouth. I cannot emphasize this enough. The starch present in your food are initially broken down in the mouth by the salivary amylase. Imagine swallowing your food with minimal chewing, you're skipping the a very crucial step of digestion. This may be a shocker, but it seems you are supposed to chew your food 40 times; if it's vegetable based or 60-80 times; if they are meat based. No excuses! Chew!

2. Keep you water away. 

I have already discussed this subject on a blog post. Click here to read. Drinking water or any type of drink while eating immediately leads to bloating and slows down digestion process. Try not to drink water at least 30 minutes before a meal, during a meal and at least 30 to 45 minutes after a meal. 

3. Shhhhh!

Avoid socializing when you are having a meal. When it's time to eat, focus on the food and the eating process. When you feel hungry, the brain gets a signal that the stomach is going to be filled with food and it directs blood flow to the stomach and intestinal region to aid digestion. So all 5 senses will be focused on food consumption. When you do other activities while eating, you are distracting your senses and blood flow from functioning fully on the eating and digestion process. To summarize on the things you shouldn't do while eating.
  • No talking.
  • No reading.
  • No watching television.
  • No fiddling with your technological devices.

4. Listen to your body.

Do you really pay attention to your body's needs? Or do you eat, drink and sleep according to a schedule set by yourself. I'm sure everybody claims to have a body clock of their own, but does everyone share the same clock? Do you think everyone has to eat at 1 PM? Simple example I can give you, babies don't have a brunch time or tea time, they cry when they're hungry. The older we get, the more distant we get from our natural instincts. What I'm trying to say is, eat when you're hungry, drink when you're thirsty and sleep when you're sleepy. Try not to force your body to fit into a schedule. Listen to your body clock and not the wall clock.

~M~


Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Shakthi Bandha Asanas (Energy Block Postures)


Ahh finally!! I'm posting my first asana pictorial. Part 3 of the Pawanmuktasana, also known as the shakthi bandha group of asanas. This group of asanas are concerned with improving the energy flow within the body. They eliminate energy blockages in the spine, activate the lungs and heart, and improve endocrine function. These asanas are useful for those with reduced vitality and a stiff back and specially useful for women suffering with menstrual problems due to its toning effect on the pelvic organs and muscles. It can be practised after pregnancy for retoning flaccid muscles. The shakti bandha series may be started straight away if good health and fitness prevail. However, if there are any serious ailments, a yoga therapist or an experienced yoga instructor should be consulted.

Difficulty Level : Beginners

  

  1. Raju Karshanasana (Pulling the Rope)

         Instructions:

1.       Sit comfortably on a mat with your legs stretched out straight and together.
2.       Inhale and raise your right hand all the way up, parallel to your right ear.
3.       Imagine there’s a rope hanging above you. Reach out your right hand as high as possible and imagine grasping the rope.
4.       Keep looking forward.
5.      As you exhale, imagine pulling the rope with power and strength; lower your right arm all the way to your right thigh.
6.      Repeat with the left arm.
7.      Practice 5 to 10 rounds on each arm.

**Inhale while raising the arm.
**Exhale while lowering the arm.

         Benefits:
  1. This asana loosens the shoulder joints and stretches the upper back muscles.
  2. It firms the chest and develops the muscles of the chest.

    2. Gatyatmak Meru Vakrasana 

       (Dynamic Spinal Twist)


         Instructions:

1.      Sit comfortably on a mat with your legs stretched out. Keep your legs slightly apart without bending the knees.
2.   Reach out your right arm to hold your left big toe, if you’re unable to reach the toe, you can hold the left ankle or shin.
3.      Stretch out your left arm behind your back, as your spine twists to the left.
4.   Turn your head to the left to gaze at your left thumb. 
5.   Stay in this position for 3 to 5 seconds.
6.   Repeat the same step with the left hand holding your right big toe/ankle/shin while twisting the spine to the right.
7.   This is one round. Start out slow and gradually increase the speed.
8.   Make sure not to bend your knees throughout the practice.

         ** People with back problems should avoid this asana.
         ** Exhale when twisting and inhale when returning to the center.

         Benefits:
  1. This asana removes stiffness of the back and increases flexibility of the spine.
  2. It also decongests postural stress on the back and spinal column.

    3. Chakki Chalanasana (Churning the Mill)


          Instructions:
  1. Sit comfortably on a mat with your legs stretched out. Keep your legs slightly apart without bending the your knees.
  2. Interlock the fingers of both hands and hold the arms out straight in front of the chest.  Keep the arms straight throughout the practice; do not bend the elbows.
  3. Bend forward as far as possible without straining.
  4. Swivel to the right so that the hands pass above the right toes and as far as possible to the right without straining.
  5. Lean back as far as possible on the backward swing.
  6. Try to move the body from the waist. On the forward swing, bring the arms to the left side, over the left toes and then back to the center position.
  7. One rotation is one round.
  8. Practice 5 to 10 rounds clockwise and then the same number of rounds anti-clockwise. 
**Inhale when leaning back
**Exhale when moving forward.

Benefits:

This asana is excellent for toning the nerves and organs of the pelvic and abdominal region. It is very useful for regulating the menstrual cycle and may be performed during the first three months of pregnancy. It is also an excellent exercise for post-natal recovery.

4. Nauka Sanchalanasana (Rowing the Boat)


Instructions:

1. Sit with both legs stretched out in front of the body.
2. Imagine the action of rowing a boat. Clench the hands as though grasping oars, with the
    palms facing down.
3. Breathe out and bend forward from the waist as far as possible, straightening the arms.
4. Breathing in, lean back as far as possible, drawing the hands back towards the shoulders.
5. This is one round.
6. The hands should make a complete circular
movement in every round, moving down the sides of the legs and trunk.
7. The legs should be kept straight throughout.
8. Reverse the direction of the rowing movement as though going in the opposite direction.
9. Practice 5 to 10 times.

**Inhale while leaning back.
**Exhale while bending forward.

Benefits:

1. This asana has a positive effect on the pelvic and abdominal region and releases energy blockages in these areas. It is especially useful for gynecological disorders and post-natal recovery. 

2. It also removes constipation.

5. Kashtha Takshanasana (Chopping Wood)

Instructions:

1. Squat with the feet flat on the floor.
2. The knees should be fully bent and separated.
3. Clasp the fingers of both hands together and place them just above the floor between the feet. 
4. Straighten the arms and keep them straight throughout the practice.
5. The elbows should be inside the knees.
6. Imagine the action of chopping wood. Raise the arms above and behind the head, stretching the spine upward.
7. Look up towards the hands.
8. Make a downward stroke with the arms, as if chopping wood. Expel the breath forcefully.
9. The hands should return near the floor in between the feet.
10. This is one round. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

**Inhale while raising the arms.
**Exhale while lowering the arms.
**Not for people with knee problems.
**Those people who find the squatting pose too difficult should practice in the standing position.

Benefits:

1. This asana loosens up the pelvic girdle and tones the pelvic muscles. 

2. It also has a special effect on the usually inaccessible muscles of the back between the shoulder blades, as well as the shoulder joints and upper back muscles.

3. It helps to release frustration and lighten the mood.

6. Namaskarasana (Salutation Pose)

Instructions:

1. Squat with the feet flat on the floor.
2. The knees should be wide apart and the elbows pressing against the inside of the knees.
3. Bring the hands together in front of the chest in a salutation gesture. This is the starting position.
4. Inhale and bend the head backwards. Feel the pressure at the back of the neck.
5. Simultaneously, use the elbows to push the knees as wide apart.
6. Hold this position for 3 seconds while retaining the breath.
7. Exhale and straighten the arms directly in front of the body.  
8. At the same time, push in with the knees, pressing the upper arms inward.
9. The head should be bent forward with the chin pressed against the chest.
10. Hold this position, retaining the breath, for 3 seconds.
11. Return to the starting position.
12. This is one round. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

**Inhale while bringing the palms together in front of the chest.
**Exhale while extending the arms forward.
**Not for people with knee problems.

Benefits:

This asana has a profound effect on the nerves and muscles of the thighs, knees, shoulders and neck. It increases flexibility in the hips.


7. Vayu Nishkasana (Wind Releasing Pose)


Instructions:

1. Squat with the feet flat on the floor.
2. Grasp the insteps of the feet, placing the fingers under the soles with the thumbs above.
3. The upper arms should be pressing against the inside of the knees with the elbows slightly bent.
4. Inhale while moving the head back. Direct the gaze upward.
5. This is the starting position.
6. Hold the breath for 3 seconds, accentuating the backward movement of the head.
7. While exhaling, straighten the knees, raise the buttocks and bring the head forward towards the knees.
8. Hold the breath for 3 seconds, accentuating the spinal bend. Do not strain.
9. Inhale and return to the starting position.
10. This is one round. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

**Inhale in the squatting position.
**Exhale in the raised position.
**Not for people with knee problems.
**People with very high blood pressure or arteriosclerosis should not practice this asana.

Benefits:

1.This pose has a beneficial effect on the nerves and muscles of the thighs, knees, shoulders, arms and neck. 
2. The pelvic organs and muscles are massaged.
3. It gives an equal stretch to the whole spine and both the arm and leg muscles. 
4. All the vertebrae and joints are pulled away from each other so that the pressure between them is balanced. Simultaneously, all the spinal nerves are stretched and toned.


8. Kauva Chalasana (Crow Walking)


Instructions:

1. Squat with the balls of the feet touching the ground and the heels off the floor.
2. Place the palms of the hands on the knees.
3. Take small steps in the squatting position.
4. For instance, right knee placed on the floor, then your right foot steps forward. Do the same for the left foot. This is the rhythm of the movement. 
5. Take as many steps as possible, up to 50, and then relax in shavasana.

**People suffering from disorders of the knees, ankles or toes should not practice this asana.

Benefits:

1. This asana prepares the legs for meditation asanas and improves blood circulation in the legs. 
2. It also helps to remove constipation.


9. Udarakarshanasana (Abdominal Stretch Pose)

Instructions:

1. Squat with the feet apart and the hands on the knees.
2. Inhale deeply.
3. Exhale, bringing the right knee to the floor near the left foot.
4. Using the left hand as a lever, push the left knee towards the right, simultaneously twisting to the left.
5. Try to squeeze the lower abdomen with the combined pressure of both thighs.
6. Look over the left shoulder.
7. Hold the breath out for 3 to 5 seconds in the final position.
8. Inhale when returning to the starting position.
9. Repeat on the other side of the body to complete one round.
10. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.

**Not for people with knee problems.

Benefits:

1. This pose is very useful for abdominal ailments because it alternately compresses and stretches the organs and muscles of this region.
2. It also relieves constipation.


~M~

Reference and Images : Asana, Pranayama, Mudhra and Bandha by Swami Satyananda Saraswati