Thursday, August 21, 2008

Women And Heart Disease

I read in this month’s Reader’s Digest that current statistics from the World Health Organization show that heart disease and stroke kills as many women as men. It also says that women are losing the war against heart disease as women who have heart disease are more frequently misdiagnosed. Only 35% of women with heart disease have the typical symptom of angina. The tendency for women to be older when they develop heart trouble; women develop heart trouble about seven to ten years later in their lives then men, results in a higher mortality rate for them than men. At this older age, women are more apt to suffer from additional health problems such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis that can complicate recovery.

While chest pain is the most common sign of a heart attack in both sexes, women experience different symptoms from men. In addition to chest pain, both sexes may also feel pain in their throat, arms, shoulder blades or jaws. But women, in particular, may be short of breath or nauseous or they may feel cold, clammy or generally unwell. Women also tend to underplay symptoms. Any chest symptoms are treated as gastric pains and women usually self-medicate before seeking medical treatment. And women tend to wait an average 24 minutes longer than men to call an ambulance when they’re having a heart attack according to the British Heart Foundation. Women need to be aware that they do die of heart of attack.

How to Prevent Heart Disease

• Don’t smoke – this is the single most important thing you can do for your heart.
• Have your blood pressure checked periodically.
• Watch your cholesterol levels.
• If you have diabetes, it should be treated and controlled.
• Eat a healthy, low fat diet and pay attention to your weight.
• Keep your Body Mass Index number – an indicator of total body fat, based on a ratio between weight and height – at less than 25.
• Maintain a waist measurement of 35 inches or less.
• Report chest, arm, throat, shoulder blade or jaw discomfort that comes on with exercise and goes away with rest.
• If you are in your 40s, 50s or 60s and experience shortness of breath, report it to your doctor.
• If a close relative – a sibling or a parent – had early heart disease (in or before the 50s or 60s for, respectively, a man or a woman), your chance of heart problems is doubled, so you must work hard to reduce other risk factors.
• Exercise – take a brisk 30 minute walk every day.

(Taken from Reader’s Digest August 2008 issue on “A Dubious Equality” by Adeline Loh)
Read article on "Yoga Reduces Heart Disease Risk"

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yoga and Awareness

Last Saturday, I attended Azmi’s Karma Yoga workshop where he enlightened us on how to improve our yoga practice. He told us that he has seen some yoga practitioners remaining stagnant in their yoga practice even though they have been practicing for several years. This is because they have not learned to let go which is to focus awareness on their body which will help them to progress further in their yoga practice.

During the workshop, I learned that the first thing I should be aware of when going into any asana is to have a firm foundation to ensure that my body is grounded for the pose. Awareness of my breathing to the various parts of my body will help to create space to open the tight spots in my body as well as having a correct alignment for the poses. Having a “drishti” or gazing point for each pose is important to help me remain still and focus. I also learned that locking my bandha in the asana will help to lighten the other parts of my body especially for the arm balancing poses.

At the workshop, Azmi took us through practice sessions encompassing the above to let us feel the difference in our practice. He also informed us that in order for us to be more aware of our body, it is important to have a self-practice.

During the practice sessions, I noticed that when I closed my eyes in a pose, I could feel my body swaying. I know that this is because I did not let go for fear of falling. This fear of falling has resulted in me not being able to go further when I am doing some of the poses in my yoga practice. Because of this, I am still struggling to raise my legs in my tripod headstand and am still looking down instead of looking up during my bakasana. I know that the only way I can conquer this fear of falling is to learn to let go and allow my breath and awareness to takeover.

I hope that I will be able to bring this awareness into my yoga practice and will try to do self-practice whenever I am not able to go for my yoga classes so that I can take my yoga further.

Thank you, Azmi for inspiring me to take my yoga practice further with this workshop. Namaste.

Don’t be afraid if things seem difficult in the beginning. That’s only the initial impression. The important thing is not to retreat; you have to master yourself” – Olga Korbut

Friday, August 15, 2008

Savasana - The Most Difficult Pose To Do

The other day I was thinking of the yoga poses and deciding which one is the most difficult to do. Is it the head stand, bakasana (crane pose) or the other arm balance poses? All of which I am still finding some difficulty going into.

As I lay on my bed, I realized the most difficult pose is actually savasana (corpse pose). You might say, what is so difficult with a pose that need you to just lie on the floor? Well, the difficult part is to clear the mind of all thoughts and relax the body completely to get the maximum benefits of the pose.

Often, as I lay down to do the pose, my mind would start to wander and I would be thinking about the things that happened during the day or what I need to do the next day at the office. It is especially difficult when you have a lot of things on your mind, as one thought would come in after another.

One day, as I listened to the instructions from my yoga teacher, I started to observe my breathing and surrender to the sensations taking over my body, letting each part of my body relax and totally let go of all thoughts. As I came out of the pose, I felt less tense and a feeling of peacefulness.

Savasana is one of the most valuable poses in the yoga practice. Its benefits are:
  • it calms and quiets the mind

  • it soothes the nervous system

  • it removes fatigue

  • it aids in recovery of illness

  • it diminishes migraines

  • it gives an awareness of areas that hold stress and tension

"That is the end of your practice for today, but it's not the end of awareness." -- Patricia Walden

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Yoga Zone Is A Lifestyle

I was trying to call Yoga Zone Damas outlet to check on the class schedule when I received this sms from a friend, “All YZ outlets closed for receivership”. I felt so sad the whole day even though I knew that this would happen. I guess I was hoping that what TJ said in the blog would happen; a new management would takeover, the teachers would be paid and all the members would be able to continue to have their classes at the outlets.

But the day has come for us to face the fact that YZ has been placed into the hands of a receiver who will decide on the fate of the company. Whether YZ will be able to survive this ordeal will depend on the financial condition of the company. But for now, all YZ outlets will remain closed.

Yoga Zone really lived up to its slogan “Yoga Zone is a Lifestyle”. Because of its affordable fees and variety and unlimited classes for its yearly and life-time members, the members have really made it their lifestyle; going to one class after another and in between or after classes, going for a body massage or foot massage. I don’t think I will be able to find another place like Yoga Zone. Where else will you be able to go for yoga everyday and attend as many classes as you want? Where else can you find a group of dedicated international and local teachers who have become your guru as well as your friend?

I really feel so sad that this is happening to YZ, the place where I went to almost everyday for my yoga practice. The place where I got to learn from some of the great teachers like Azmi, Claire, Nanci, Lila, Alex, Matthew, Indra, Angie, Serena, Dennis, Chris, Pari and Dr Ameen. Their guidance and encouragement have really helped me in my asanas. The place where I met my fellow practitioners who have become my friends, having lunch after class with them and discussing on the merit of the teachers and whose class was the best to follow.

I know it is time to move on, to find another place to practice my asanas but I can’t help feeling so sad for the loss of this place which has become "my second home".

Friday, August 8, 2008

Promise Yourself

  • To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  • To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
  • To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
  • To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
  • To think only of the best, to work only for the best and expect only the best.
  • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
  • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.
  • To think well of yourself and to proclaim this fact to the world, not in loud words but in great deeds.
  • To live in the faith that the whole world is on your side so long as you are true to the best in you.
This was originally published in 1912 in a book titled: “Your Forces and How to Use Them.” The author was Christian D. Larson, a prolific writer and lecturer who believed that people have tremendous latent powers, which could be harnessed for success with the proper attitude.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

How Yoga Zone Has Affected My Life

The issues surrounding Yoga Zone for the past few weeks has made me ponder on how Yoga Zone has affected my life. Looking back to the day I went for the trial class with my niece and the time I signed up for my membership at Plaza Damas, it seems such a long time ago even though it has only been about 15 months. This is because Yoga Zone has become a very important part of my life. It has become my second home as I always look forward to going to my classes straight from work. I love being able to learn from the fantastic teachers there and meeting the other practitioners who were strangers and now, have become my friends.

Yoga Zone has brought yoga to me, which has brought positive changes in my life. Although, my younger sister who has been practicing yoga for some years in a yoga centre in SS2, has been urging me to take up yoga, I was not very keen to sign up for any classes even though I went with a friend of mine to check up on the centre. Maybe, it was not the right time for me then.

Back to how Yoga Zone has affected my life, well, firstly, it has introduced yoga to me which has brought a sense of balance to my life; physically, mentally and spiritually. My body has grown stronger, more toned and more flexible as I move from one asana to another. I feel much better about myself especially when my friends (thanks! Lisa and Sue) admired my toned body whenever I walk in front of them. Yoga encourages positive thoughts and self-acceptance!

The breathing techniques I learned in my yoga classes help me to remain calm whenever I get agitated and stressed especially when I am stuck in a traffic jam. Yoga also helps me to build awareness of my body, my feelings, the world around me and the needs of others. I learn patience, forgiveness and the value of gentleness.

Going to Yoga Zone has also resulted in my family especially my mom, my sister, Jackie and myself growing closer. Jackie and I will plan outings with my mom who will follow us to Yoga Zone on some Sundays. We will arrange for her to have a foot massage at Comfort Zone while waiting for us to finish class. After class, we will go for a nice lunch and do some window shopping. My mom will complain that her legs are very tired at the end of the day and have wasted the foot massage but she will willingly follow us along for the next outing.

I am sad to see what is happening at Yoga Zone but I am trying not to let it affect me. I will go for the classes that are being taught by the teachers that I like but I not putting all my hopes on Yoga Zone.

"Change is not something that we should fear. Rather, it is something that we should welcome. For without change, nothing in this world would ever grow or blossom, and no one in this world would ever move forward to become the person they’re meant to be." (anon.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Scrambled Eggs With Tomatoes

Last Sunday, I watched a Mandarin Variety show where 2 male artistes were required to cook two dishes to show off their culinary skills. One of the dish they were asked to cook was scrambled eggs with tomatoes which seems like such a simple dish to make. They were not given any recipe on how to cook the dish. They started by cooking the tomatoes and eggs individually and then towards the end, only mixed them together. The dish ended up with the two ingredients having their own taste. Later, a master chef showed them how to cook the dish to ensure that the taste of the tomatoes and eggs are blended together so that they complement each other. He added a little mixture of cornstarch and water so that the two ingredients can combine together. If you would like to try the dish, here’s the recipe:

Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes: Fan Qie Chao Dan
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • Dash of salt
  • Dash of white pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 3 tsp water

Drop the tomatoes into a large pot of vigorious boiling water and allow to cook for 30 seconds. When you see the skin starting to split, they're ready for removal. Transfer the tomatoes into a bowl of ice-cold water and you can easily peel off the skin of the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes into 1 inch chunks. Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in skillet or wok over high heat. Once the pan is very hot and the oil is shimmering, add the tomatoes. Season with salt and white pepper, and cook them very briefly, only about 30 seconds. You want the tomatoes to retain their shape, you don’t want tomato sauce. Don’t stir them too violently or you’ll break them up. After about 30 seconds in the pan, transfer the tomatoes to a bowl and set aside. Add a tablespoon of oil to the wok or skillet again and heat over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the beaten eggs. Season the eggs with a little salt. Quickly scramble the eggs until it is almost cooked but still runny, then add the tomatoes and stir fry until the eggs are cooked. Stir in the cornflour water to thicken the sauce. Sprinkle chopped spring onion and stir well. Serve with rice.

Often in life, we have to work in a team on a project. We will be assigned tasks and asked to do them individually without any formal discussion. The project will most likely faced a lot of problems due to lack of cohesion and collaboration between the team members and end up being individual effort of certain parties instead of a team effort.

Like the scrambled eggs with tomatoes dish, a project needs the extra ingredient which is a good team leader to ensure that all the team members work together to make the project a success.

Definition of a team: A small number of people with complementary skills committed to a common purpose, specific performance goals, a common working approach, and mutual accountability.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Many times when I attend a Hatha 1 class, the teacher would ask if anyone is new to Yoga in the class. Very often, there would be at least one or two persons in the class who has never done any yoga before; coming into a class which is actually an intermediate class.

I feel that in order for a newcomer to Yoga to attend the Hatha 1 class, she must at least have attended a few Element classes. The Element classes provide a fundamental introduction to the yoga poses. The teacher will go through the basic postures, providing guidance for correct alignment and breathing technique.

In practicing yoga, there should not be any shortcuts. Without learning the correct techniques and having the correct alignment, the practitioner is only causing more harm to herself. We hear practitioners complaining of injuries from yoga which is actually due to repetition of doing poses incorrectly.

Many times in life, we also tend to take shortcuts. We will find ways to shorten our journeys, not realizing that we are missing the beautiful sceneries along the longer route.

When we take shortcuts to accomplish something, we will not enjoy the reaps of our success as much as when we have work hard to get it. Sometimes, when we take shortcuts, we might end up on a dead-end or have to start all over again.

"People create their own success by learning what they need to learn and then by practicing it until they become proficient at it." - Brian Tracy

Monday, August 4, 2008

Letting Go

When I attend Teacher Azmi’s yoga class, he will always ask us to "let go" as we go deeper into our asanas. Letting go will create a space in our mind and body, allowing us to accept and observe the changes that is going on in our body instead of focusing on the discomfort that is caused by the pose. When we keep focusing on the discomfort, we tend to tense up, hold our breath and want to come out of the pose.

In life, we tend to hold on to things or thoughts that will always bring negative feelings to our mind. We will let it fester in our mind until we get depressed and sad. When we let go, we will be able to look at it from another prospective, seeing the positive side and how the problem can be solved. Letting go allows us to accept the problem and think of ways to overcome it.