November 9, 2011 § Leave a comment
Because someone as little as a year old…
…to someone who has lived almost a century…
…can do yoga.
No one is too inflexible, old, little, fat, skinny, dumb, smart…etc etc etc…to do yoga.
“Body is not stiff. Mind is stiff.“ –Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
November 7, 2011 § 4 Comments
1. We are self-driven. Hmm…it explains alot why we’re crazy enough to wake up between the hours of 3am-6am to practice 2-3 hours of intense non-stop yoga. Occasionally, we do have a few “slip-ups,” but most of the time we’re on top of our game. 🙂
3. We care about how we look. Some of us may deny it, but deep down we all know we’re proud of our sculpted muscles from all the chaturangas and downward facing dogs (a teacher told me she counted that we do about 160 chaturangas and vinyasas for the entire Primary series, which is like doing 160 push-ups!)
4. We have high pain-tolerance. The “no pain no gain” saying is kind of true for Ashtanga. Rarely will you meet a devoted Ashtangi who hasn’t gone through some sort of pain, injury, and the like. Yet, as long as we’re not near crippled, we continue our practice. We just adapt the poses into something more bearable.
5. We do not mind routine. We do the same friggin’ routine 6 days a week (moon days are exceptions). We must like routine.
6. We have an addiction to it. We practice religiously every morning, save Saturdays and Moon Days.
7. Other yoga practitioners think we’re insane. And they have right reasons to be. What normal human beings would put themselves in such pain and restrictions?
8. We live in our own bubble. We hang out with other Ashtangis. And once you get into Ashtanga, most of the time it becomes the yoga of your life.
9. We gossip. Alot. Don’t be fooled by our serious and emotionless faces during our practices. We do have senses of humor.
10. We insert “bandha” into every other sentence. Everything we do we think of our bandhas. Riding a bike? Bandhas. Really needing to pee but no bathrooms around? Bandhas. Carrying heavy stuff? Bandhas.
November 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
A few days ago I went with a friend to watch In Time, starring Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried. To be honest, the movie itself wasn’t mind-blowing, but it does carry a message and kind of serve as a wake-up call to our modern society.Time is the new currency in the society portrayed in this movie. Therefore, the richer you are, the more time you have, and vice versa. Each person’s clock starts ticking and counting down to their death after they turn 25. The only way to live is to buy more time, so the rich can pretty much live forever, and the poor may not live past 25. In the two contrasting societies, the upper class have superfluous amount of time on their hands, whereas the impoverished live their lives on a day-to-day basis. Most of them have at most 24 hours of time on their clocks at any point.
“You can do alot in one day”— a brilliant line from the movie. But most of us don’t think so. Problem is, we are probably not doing everything efficiently. We need to rethink our strategies. Perhaps we are spending too much time on Facebook, checking our emails constantly, getting distracted easily. Not that I’m not guilty of any of these charges, but maybe we should all reflect on how we handle our daily tasks.
“Don’t waste my time”–or, don’t waste YOUR time. Are we all doing what we want to do? Are we happy about what we are doing with our time everyday?
…which brings me to…
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.“
At this turning point in my life, I find these quotes very helpful and motivational, and help guide me in the right direction before I fall into a grave I’ve dug for myself. I try to live my life as I want to everday, as if it is indeed my last day on earth, so that I will not regret it at the end of the day or tomorrow. Already I have taken a big, courageous leap away from dogma, not becoming the researcher, the doctor, or professor that many think I should or expect me to. As of now, I am not 100% sure (maybe 70%) where my future will take me, but I’ll let my true calling take its time to present itself. I feel like sometimes the more you force it to come, the further it will go away from you. Just like catching butterflies. Don’t go chasing after them with a net, they’ll only be frightened away. Instead, remain patient, still, and collective, and there, the butterfly comes. Do what you like, dabble at different things, and someday you’ll find your niche.
November 3, 2011 § Leave a comment
Yesterday after our morning Mysore practice, a friend and I stopped at N.Y. Bagels for some breakfast. Over our two hours of breakfast (yeah, we take our time like that, although we each only got a bagel and coffee…), we talked about many things, amongst them, Ashtanga vinyasa yoga.
I have realized over the years that, with Ashtanga, it is usually a either-you-love-it-or-you-hate-it type of yoga for many people. For those who like to experience a variety of yoga asanas, this type of yoga is perhaps not the best for them. Ashtanga vinyasa yoga is derived from an ancient lineage of Hatha yoga, and was modernized and popularized by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in the mid-1900’s. The term vinyasa refers to the linking of breath with movement between each asana, and therefore, Ashtanga yoga is constantly moving, transitioning from one asana to the next. There are a total of 6 series in Ashtanga vinyasa yoga–Primary, Intermediate, Advanced A, B, and C–where practitioners start with the Primary series and work their way up. Therefore, you work with the same series and the same sequences of asanas until the teacher deems you are ready for the next asana or the next series.
Why would anyone want to repeat the same asanas in a strict orderly fashion every single day for 6 days a week? Well, that’s the beauty of it. Once you have the sequence all memorized, you can do a Mysore-style practice, where you practice at your own pace and breath without anyone telling you what to do. Of course, there are usually a few teachers in the shala to monitor your asanas and give adjustments as necessary.
A Mysore-style practice allows the practitioner to find his or her own rhythm to each asana and vinyasa. By repeating the same asanas everyday, you begin to observe the shifts in your body during your practice on a day-to-day basis; you begin to note your improvements and achievements over the weeks; you begin to notice that on certain days, you may not be able to achieve certain asanas as deeply, or that a usually difficult asana for you is suddenly very easy on that one day. Without anyone teaching you, you begin to understand the mechanics of your body on your own, how each asana can be performed efficiently and safely, because you do it every day with awareness and breath.
For 1.5-2.5 hrs of practice, an Ashtangi is pretty much in a deep trance with his body and mind. Each day, the Ashtangi reintroduces himself to his body and to the asanas, because each day the body is different. What you eat, how you sleep, how you interact with people, how you deal with your daily agendas are some factors that predispose the state of your body the next day.
Ashtanga vinyasa is an art–a fluid and dynamic art. It is also a science, because you observe, learn, and make conclusions from your daily practice. Like all things in life, it tests your patience and determination so you are better prepared to combat whatever life throws at you.
“Practice, and all is coming.” –Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
October 30, 2011 § 1 Comment
More like Upward Facing Puppy? 🙂
Paws and legs? Check and check.
Heart open? Check.
Face soft? Check.
The only advice I would give the pup is to use some more abs to lift his thighs off the floor! Otherwise it’s perfect.
October 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
“Our eagerness for worldly activities kills in us the sense of spiritual awe. We cannot comprehend the Great Life behind all names and forms, just because science brings home to us how we can use the powers of nature; this familiarity has bred a contempt for her ultimate secrets. Our relation with nature is one of practical business. We tease her, so to speak, to know how she can be used to serve our purposes; we make use of her energies, whose Source yet remains unknown. In science our relation with nature is one that exists between a man and his servant, or in a philosophical sense she is like a captive in the witness box. We cross examine her, challenge her, and minutely weigh her evidence in human scales which cannot measure her hidden values. On the other hand, when the self is in communion with a higher power, nature automatically obeys, without stress or strain, the will of man. This effortless command over nature is called ‘miraculous’ by the uncomprehending materialist.”
Expert from Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda