Monday, 19 January 2015

Day 19: Chandra Namaskar / Moon Salutation


Moon salutation is a reflection of sun salutation and the only significant change is the addition of ardha chandrasana. The moon energy which flows in this sequence is associated with cooling, relaxing, creativity and consciousness. Mastering the steps in sun salutation will be helpful to adapt with moon salutation.

Time of practice: Evening/night, especially when the full moon is visible. Practice with empty stomach.

Duration: Repeat 3 to 7 rounds.


Steps
Technique



Stand upright with your feet together. Place the palms together in front on your chest in namaskar mudra. Normal breathing.


As you INHALE, raise both arms, focusing on extending your torso and gently curve your back. Palms can be placed together in salutation.




EXHALE as you bend forward. Try to keep the legs straight and reach to hold any part of your leg.  Ideally, you can try to interlock your big toes with your thumb, index and middle fingers.



HOLD YOUR BREATH, bring the right leg to the back and place the left knee on the floor. INHALE, expand your chest as you gently curve your back and gaze upwards.


Maintain balance in Ashwa Sanchalanasana. INHALE deeply and raise both arms over the head. Arch the back and look up, raising the chin.


HOLD YOUR BREATH and bring the left back. EXHALE and raise the knees. Try to press the body backwards to lower the heels to the floor.




Maintain palms position, lower both knees to the floor. HOLD YOUR BREATH and lower the chin and chest to the floor. Eight points of your body will be in contact with the floor.
  •            Chin
  •            Chest
  •            Both palms
  •            Both knees
  •            Toes




Slide your knees to the back. INHALE and raise your upper body, keeping the elbows bent. Allow your neck to stretch to a comfortable level and gaze upward.


INHALE; lift the hips and knees off the floor. EXHALE, straighten the legs, press against the floor to lower the heels.


Slide the right leg to the front. Place your right leg in between your palms and left knee on the floor. HOLD YOUR BREATH, bring the right leg to the back and place the left knee on the floor. INHALE, expand your chest as you gently curve your back and gaze upwards.



Maintain balance in Ashwa Sanchalanasana, INHALE deeply and raise both arms over the head. Arch the back and look up, raising the chin. 




HOLD YOUR BREATH and bring the left leg to the front next to the right leg. EXHALE as you bend forward. Try to keep the legs straight and reach to hold any part of your leg.  Ideally, you can try to interlock your big toes with your thumb, index and middle fingers.
As you INHALE, raise the body up, lift both arms, focusing on extending your torso and gently curve your back. Palms can be placed together in salutation.



Stand upright with your feet together. Place the palms together in front on your chest in namaskar mudra. Normal breathing.



#beSTRONGin2015

Do angels really fall in this pose?This is a scary one! Never tried this before and I learnt to get the balance in 20 minutes. I did topple, hit my shoulder and crashed my landing multiple times. Oh by the way, please excuse my serious face on the photo because I was super scared and this position is so awkward to stay in. Let's say I'm more of a serious angel for today. Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the outcome for a first time attempt. My ability to learn and physical strength is way beyond my imagination, actually. I'm already freaking out for tomorrow's challenge because it will only get tougher from now on. I hope all you had an awesome weekend and cheers to the new week! Toodles!

~M~

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Day 18: Bandhas.

The word bandha means 'to hold', 'tighten' or 'lock' a specific part on the physical body. These are very important group of yogic practices. They have profound effects on the physical, pranic and mental levels.  Organs, muscles, nerves and various processes in the body are massaged and stimulated while the contraction/lock also affects the flow of prana within the body. Surprisingly, performing the bandhas contributes to the removal of mental blocks which hinder an individual from evolving.


Bandha
Technique
Benefits
Jalandhara Bandha  



Contraindications:  Not recommended for those suffering from high blood pressure and heart ailments.
  •  Sit in a comfortable position with knees in contact with the floor
  •  Place your palms on your knees
  •  Exhale deeply, and hold the breath.
  •  Bring the chin in contact with your chest, and straighten your arms. Stay in this position for as long as you can comfortably hold your breath.
  • Then, release the lock and inhale.
  • Do not strain under any circumstances.
  • 5 rounds will be sufficient for beginners.
  • Massages the thyroid glands and helps regulate hormone secretion for development and maintenance.
  • Increases lung capacity, enabling a person to hold the breath longer.
  • Pressure on the carotid sinuses slows down the heart and brings mental relaxation. Great help in meditational practices.

Uddiyana Bandha



Contraindications: Not recommended for those suffering from high blood pressure, heart problems,peptic/duodenal ulcers,colitis and serious abdominal problems. Women should not practice during menses and pregnancy.
  • Stomach must be empty before practice or wait for 4 to 5 hours after a meal.
  • Sit in a meditational asana with palms on your knees.
  •  Exhale deeply (lungs emptied completely) and contract the abdominal muscles while the palms are pressing firmly against the knees.
  •  Do Jalandhara bandha.
  •  Hold the position for as long as you can comfortably hold your breath.
  •  Release the locks without straining and inhale slowly.
  •  Repeat 4 to 5 rounds.
  • Contraction of the abdomen pushes out the stagnant blood and revitalizes all organs at this region.
  • Prevents indigestion, constipation, diabetes, colitis and abdominal ailments.













Moola Bandha

Contraindications: Not recommended for those suffering from high blood pressure and heart ailments. Women should not practice during menses and pregnancy.
Place of Contraction
  • Male: In the perineum, between the anus and sexual organ
  • Female: At the cervix.

Sitting position
  • Male: Siddhasana
  • Female: Siddha yoni asana

Technique
  • Sit comfortably with palms pressing against the knees.
  • Exhale deeply,perform jalandhara bandha and perform the contraction at the mentioned area.
  • Hold the contraction for as long as you can. Be fully aware of the contraction.  
  • Then, release the contraction, release jalandhara bandha and inhale.

  • Similar benefits as mentioned for Jalandhara bandha.
  • Improves blood circulation to the reproductive organs and removes problems related to reproductive system.
  • Helps awaken the mooladhara chakra.


*Reference:Yoga & Kriya by Swami Satyananda Saraswati


#beSTRONGin2015


After falling sick, recuperating and getting my brain back to its form, I'm catching up with my challenge photo updates. Finally, I am ready to get back on my blogging cycle since we only have another 13 days left before January ends. I think the photos are pretty self explanatory. Overall, I had a bittersweet week. Hoping for a better one tomorrow.

~M~

Thursday, 15 January 2015

Day 15: Sheetali and Sheetkari Pranayama (Repost)

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.

I had to skip blogging and posting on day 14 because I was down with a fever, which is so unlikely to happen. It was probably the least expected thing to happen to me. And surprisingly, it only lasted a day. Although I feel okay today, I've decided to take it easy and not strain my body and mind extensively. Hence, I chose to repost an important pranayama due to the intense heat waves we are experiencing here. Well, I'll be back with to my routine and posting regularly tomorrow. Good day everybody!

~M~

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Day 13: Ladies, It's that time of the month! Do's & Don'ts.

Supta Baddha Konasana












Do's

  • Rest as much as you can. 
  • Gentle surya namaskar/sun salutations.
  • Practice gentle and restorative asanas (See here). Better still, take a break from physical exercises and asanas for a day or two. 
  • Sleep early. Shavasana and yoga nidra will be a perfect company.
  • Mild meditation and Brahmari pranayama will give a soothing effect to your minds and helps your body to relax.
  • Eat light and make better choices. 
  • A tablespoon of fenugreek seeds can help relieve menstrual cramps. 
  • Listen to your body's need. Turn your attention within and be kind to yourself.
  • Maybe, take a break from going to class. You won't be compelled to perform asanas thought in the class. Moreover, no one needs to know you're on your monthly cycle. 

Don'ts

  • Inversions are a no-no! Including Khandarasana and Chakrasana. We don't want to reverse the flow of our menses and create complications in our system. 
  • Avoid asanas which are strenuous to the abdomen, pelvic region and possibly your entire body.
  • Do not perform and practice Bandhas(locks) for similar reasons. 
  • Pranayama to avoid - Kapalabhati and Bhastrika as these will increase the heat in the body and exert pressure on the abdominal and pelvic region.
  • Cleansing practices to avoid - Kunjal, Nauli, Laghoo and Shankhaprakshalana.
  • Food to avoid - Coconut water, sour, spicy and oily dishes. 
  • Do not wash your hair for the first 3 days of your menses. 

If constant menstrual cramps, irregularities in menstrual cycle and other problems related to reproductive organs health persist, consult an experienced yoga teacher for solutions. A Shatkarma cleansing and regular yoga practice can be helpful. Remember to see your menstrual cycle as your body's gift. A gift that allows you to analyze and detect issues within and make necessary adjustments for a better health and life. Hope this will be helpful my fellow yoginis. 

#beSTRONGin2015




















I know, I know! My headstand is far from how it's supposed to look. After gaining the courage to practice headstand without assistance since last month, this where I'm at today. I feel proud, actually. To reach to this level with constant practice, I feel high when I see the world upside down! *giggles*
Day 13, I'd say "Nailed it". Have a great rest of the day.

~M~

Monday, 12 January 2015

Day 12: Ladies, it's that time of the month! Can YOGA help during menstruation?

Pink lotus
Menstruation is one topic us women cannot see eye to eye. We all have different opinions about our body and emotions during our monthly cycle. Females are complicated and our periods are way more complicated. Every women goes through her unique experience during menstruation and the symptoms and effects of one woman will not be identical to another woman. We cannot possibly generalize one method or practice that will work for every women. The only advice I would give to any women out there is to listen to your body ad mind at these delicate times. The state of your menstrual cycle actually indicates the state of your physical, mental and emotional health. Observing the symptoms, effects and patterns of your menstrual cycle is crucial. Look at it as an opportunity to examine your body and mind, a chance to bring about good changes and regain balance in our body, mind and emotions. Yoga practice can be useful to help alleviate any period pain or back pain, balance the emotions - mood swings, anxiety, anger, depression, irritability and gentle open the pelvic region, relieving any congestion. Menstruation is a time to vary ones yoga practice to look within and find the peace and tranquility.



Recommended Asanas:

1. Pawanmuktasana Series 1

2. Surya Namaskar/Sun Salutations













3. Manduki Mudra




















4. Marjari Asana

















5. Vyaghra asana





















6. Supta Vajrasana





















7. Poorna Titali Asana




















8. Shashankasana



9. Leg Swing













10. Shavasana


Recommended Pranayama:
Recommended Cleansing Practices:

Disclaimer: Practices, suggestions and information provided are based on personal experience. Please consult an experienced yoga instructor before you begin the practices.

#beSTRONGin2015








Since I skipped the challenge yesterday, I had to catch up with both today. Day 11 was Jump through and Day 12 requires us to do a Chin stand. Heard of it, but never tried. So, I'm posting my best attempts for today. Check out Part 2 of this post where I will be discussing on do's and don't of yoga practices during your menstruation cycle. Till I see you tomorrow, take care!

~M~


Sunday, 11 January 2015

Day 11: 'Do Nothing' Sunday & Eye Wash (Repost)

Like the title of the post says, I chose to do nothing today. Not literally, but I decided to escape from my usual routine and have lesser tasks for the day. I still taught my classes as usual and I am still posting to keep up my commitment. The exceptions are, I didn't post for day 11 of my challenge and no new content for the blog today. Breaking my routine gives me some space to breathe and get inspiration for new ideas. Doing the same thing over and over again can be tiring and leads to lack of creativity. I still have over half a month to blog everyday, so I need to recuperate and be able to come up with interesting posts for the rest of the month. Let's just say I'm a Sleeping Beauty wannabe today. I will be back to posting regularly tomorrow and catch up with the challenge for day 11 and day 12. My 'do nothing' Sunday has been successful. I feel free and light weight. Sometimes, having no plans can be the best plan. Enjoy reading one of most popular posts from last year on how to maintain your eye health. Have a relaxing Sunday and see you tomorrow!

Here's the link  on Eye Washing practice. To make everyone's life easier, read below the post from last year.
























It may sound odd to you, but eye washing practise (Chakshu dhauti in Sanskrit terms) does exist and it is an important cleansing technique according to yogic science. You need an eye cup for this practise like the one shown in the photo above. It's mine actually. I try my best to do it at least once a day but in fact, it can be done a few times in a day as you desire. Continue reading to learn more about this simple yet effective practise.

Who should do it?

ANYONE. No contraindications for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Shouldn't be an issue for anyone suffering from any eye disorder but please consult your doctor if you are unsure and if you have undergone any form of eye surgery. Make sure to remove your contact lens, if you wear any, before you begin eye washing.

When to do it?

ANYTIME OF THE DAY.

How to do it?


  1. Fill up your eye cup with clean, room temperature water up to the rim. Try not to use tap water.
  2. Bring the water in contact with your eye ball.
  3. Blink and roll your eye ball in the water for about 1 to 2 minutes
  4. Discard the water, fill up the eye cup again and repeat on the other eye.
  5. You can repeat the steps above 3 to 5 times.

* Important: Make sure not to rub or even touch your eye area once you complete each round of eye washing. Just wipe the excess water on the cheeks but do not go close to the eye area. Allow the eyes to rest completely.


What really happens during eye washing?

Imagine giving your eye balls a much deserved bath. Remove impurities collected in the eyes, refresh and feel a cooling sensation through eye washing. If you feel any burning sensation or irritation, don't be alarmed because it's a natural reaction as the eyes are going through a "cleanse".


Benefits.

  1. Remove dusts and impurities.
  2. Refreshes the eyes and reduces excess body heat.
  3. Improves vision, reduces eye strain and heals eye conditions.
  4. Relieves itchiness or discomfort that can come from allergies, environmental conditions or contact with chemicals.
  5. Helpful for migraine, headaches and sleep disorders.

That was easy. Not just to read but it's super easy to practise too. I will try to get information on where you can get these eye cups if you are interested in getting them for yourself. Although, I think you can get them at your local pharmacies, but it does come with the chemical eye wash solution. Let me know if you ever give this a try or if you have been practising, share with me what changes you have experienced. WASH YOUR EYES PEOPLE!

~M~

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Day 10: My Saturday.

Happy Saturday lovelies. I decided to post something more lighthearted and random today. First of all, I am totally in love with the bright, sunny day we're experiencing here. See how pretty the sky looks in the photo. Someone recently told me that I'm a weirdo who loves sunshine in Malaysia. I do. I love warm sunshine. Gets my system going. Rainy and gloomy days just makes you lazy I think. Since it's  a Saturday, that's just like icing on the cake. Warm, bright and sunny Saturday. Ahh!! Blissful! I could just sit  and soak up all this sunlight. Everybody anticipates for the weekends I suppose. Me neither. I get to teach more and catch up with all my lovely students and friends. My Saturdays are usually more hectic compared to weekdays since everyone will be free during this time of the week for yoga and outdoor activities. I began my day with my practices and went on to conduct my first class at 8 am. We did 12 sets of sun salutations as usual and carried on with some balancing poses and inversions. Finally, ended with a 10 minutes shavasana. Then, I got back home and tried to brainstorm for today's post till I decided on this subject. Meanwhile, I had to shoot my photographs for today's #bestrongin2015 yoga challenge. Take a look at my attempt of the side crow for day 10.



The rest of my evening was spent at my Kriya Yoga class conducted by Master Mani at Malaysian Yoga Society, where I'm still learning the authentic techniques to awaken the Kundalini within me. Ooo laa laa.... As fascinating as that sounds, the practices and the path have been rocky. Tamas will be your greatest challenge, speaking from experience.





























The highlight of my day was receiving this very thoughtful gift from my youngest student. The most intelligent and talented little missy that I've met. She made those macaroon key chains while I was teaching her parents. Overall, I had a peaceful Saturday and I am off to prepare for my classes tomorrow. Have a great rest of the day!


Friday, 9 January 2015

Day 9: Benefits of Sun Salutations.
















It's so cold and gloomy today. Even after starting my day with 12 sets of sun salutations, I still feel cold and it's a lazy kinda day. So, I took my sweet time to prepare this post and decided to keep the intro really short. Let's jump right in.

Benefits....

Sun salutation exercises the entire body, without a doubt. All the forward and backward bends, arms stretching and bending, and abdomen compression and stretching influences the health of the whole body. Let's see how sun salutations are beneficial for the systems in our body.

1. Digestive System

Compression and stretching of the stomach and abdominal organs acts like a massage to the internal organs. Problems related to digestive system can be eradicated.

2. Elimination System

Sun salutation stimulates the peristalsis in the intestines and prevents constipation. Increased perspiration during sun salutations allows elimination of toxins from the body and helping to prevent skin ailments. 

3. Excretory System

The kidneys are gently massaged along with improved blood circulation to these organs. The kidneys are encouraged to function properly, improving the flushing and filtering functions of the organs.

4. Circulatory System

The dynamic poses in sun salutations increases the heartbeat and improves blood circulations from and to the heart. Blood purification and elimination of waste materials take place.

5. Lymphatic System

Increase in blood circulation also helps to remove poisonous bacteria (lymphatic drainage) and aids the body to work more efficiently against illness.

6. Respiratory System

Sun salutations, when done correctly with breath awareness, accentuates the exchange of air at the lungs and exercises the muscle around the chest. You can almost feel an extra super-charge of energy.

7. Endocrine System

Sun salutation harmonizes the system, helping to regulate hormonal imbalances and directly massages the relevant endocrine glands. 

8. Nervous System

Sun salutation stretches, massages and stimulates the millions of nerves present in our body. Toning the nerves and stimulating the brain centers for better performance.

9. Muscular & Skeletal System

All the main muscles and joints are engaged during sun salutations. It is an excellent method for loosening up the body for further asana practices.

Practice, practice, practice! That's a wrap!

Reference: Yoga & Kriya by Swami Satyananda Saraswati

#beSTRONGin2015





































Doesn't that look scary? I was petrified the first time I saw the picture of this pose. The funny story is, tripod headstand is super easy. Way easier than a full headstand. This may be my favorite for this week. I feel so proud of myself for constantly practicing and not giving up at any point. I shall be kinder to my body and mind for all the great things it's allowing me to achieve. Post your attempt using the #bestrongin2015.

#howtobehappyjanuary



A midst of the gloomy day that I've been experiencing, I received my printed flyers. Woohoo! These beautiful design was done by a dear student of mine. Well, I haven't made any plans to distribute these. We shall see where the flow takes me. Happy Friday peeps!

~M~



Thursday, 8 January 2015

Day 8: Bye-bye Soreness! 5 simple ways to rejuvenate today.

Image courtesy:www.ehow.com
I love Wednesday evenings. One time of the week where I get to be a student, an opportunity to listen and learn. Honestly, I think I have been really hard on myself and  pushing my body beyond its comfort zone. Yesterday, I did a total of 15 sets of sun salutations, 20 minutes advanced asanas in the morning and spent 2 hours doing yoga in my evening class.  Good though, because growth comes through constant effort. I chose this path hence, I will invest my time, heart and soul into it every day. Soreness and pain are just a little setbacks. I truly see it as a victory for my hard work. In order to keep going, I have to be kind towards my body with mini pampering sessions. I don't like using creams and gels and pills are a no-no to me. My rejuvenation therapies are more old fashioned.

*Disclaimer: I am not an expert in Sports Therapy, this is what works for me, my simple ideas and methods to treat myself. Do not quote me on anything. Always listen to your body and choose one therapy that you will feel comfortable doing.


1. Ice, Ice honey!

Heat treatments are good but ice packs are my go-to treatments. You know how FROZEN things make you LET IT GO! Ice treatment or cryotherapy can be very soothing to your muscles, especially if you live in a sunny wonderland like Malaysia. 

2. Rock Salt Compress.

I prefer this method over hot water bags. I feel a much faster relief. So, you want to take about 2 cups of rock salt and toss it on a pan over medium heat. Once you see smoke and hear them pop, place it on a thick cotton cloth and tied it up into a compress. Place the cloth on affected areas and enjoy the warmth!

3. Soak yourself.

If making a salt compress is too much work, add the rock salt directly into your warm bath water. If you can soak in a tub of warm salt water, that will be perfect. Warm water and salt helps ease stiff muscles and relaxes your whole body. 

4. Feel yourself kneaded.

Massages are a girl's best friend. Enough said. Give yourself a gentle massage to improve blood circulation to fatigued muscles. Better yet, make someone do it for you. 

5. Go Easy!

Experiencing sore muscles are not an excuse to back out of your practices and workout routine. Instead, turn down your practice today and focus on stretches to give a relief to your body. Try out something new today and focus on relaxing poses. Shavasana will be a great help!


To sum up everything, fatigue is a sign your body needs rest. Try to sleep a little earlier, treat yourself to something nice, probably your favorite food or just a dessert. Revitalize yourself and be happy! We've got to climb another mountain tomorrow! #howtobehappyjanuary


#beSTRONGin2015




































When I saw this picture yesterday, I thought it was going to be impossible for me to get into the pose. I realized how the mind can be deceiving over your own potential. I have to thank my teacher for guiding on the techniques of this pose yesterday. Today, I believe my body and mind are stronger than what I think. Doing this challenge and immersing myself in yoga makes believe in myself and strive for greater things.

~M~