Sunday, August 30, 2009

Opening Your Heart With Matthew

I have been attending Matthew’s classes this past two weeks at Beyoga as he is replacing Azmi who has gone for a holiday.

Matthew is teaching the Anusara style of yoga which focuses on heart-opening and at the Hatha class on Saturday, there were a lot of heart-opening postures. We started the class in Tadasana before doing a few rounds of Sun Salutations and some Standing poses which help to build up heat and soften our muscles.

When we did the twisting poses like the Triangle pose, Revolved Triangle pose, Side Angle pose and Revolved Side Angle pose, Matthew asked us to round our back and pressed the tips of our shoulder blades into our back to open our heart before we lengthen our spine all the way up through our neck and head. He also reminded us to keep our hips square by keeping our heels grounded and to use our breath to deepen our awareness to the pose and to perform each transition pose with grace.

Matthew gives lots of encouragement in the class as he would say “well done, guys!” after we have been holding a pose for a while. I find Matthew to be a very dedicated teacher who is very passionate about his teaching. He goes round the class checking and adjusting the practitioners to make sure we are in correct alignment as well as to help us go deeper into our poses.

I like Matthew’s gentle way of assisting me in my poses and the way he uses his body weight to help deepen the stretches as I can really relax in the pose and do not feel any pain in those tight spots in my body. I was really surprised to feel my thighs touching the floor in Baddha Konasana (I have very tight hips) when Matthew used his weight to help me to deepen the pose during Asthanga Intro class on Friday.

If you would like to try out this “Celebrity” teacher's (he is teaching in Celebrity Fitness as well as in Energy and SunYogaKL) style of teaching, Matthew is teaching two Hatha classes in Beyoga on Sunday afternoons.

"Mountain pose teaches us, literally, how to stand on our own two feet.... teaching us to root ourselves into the earth.... Our bodies become a connection between heaven and earth."~Carol Krucoff

Monday, August 24, 2009

My Pose For The Month - Chair Pose (Utkatasana)

I have chosen Chair pose or Utkatasana to be my pose for the month of August. Chair pose strengthens the lower and upper back, abdominals, thighs buttock, calves and ankles and also help to increase the range of motion of the hip, knee and ankle. It stretches the shoulders and opens the chest. It also improves endurance and balance, helps poor posture and is beneficial for the heart and diaphragm.

1. Begin by standing in Mountain pose (Tadasana): Arms at your sides, sternum lifted.

2. Bend your knees deeply, shift your weight back into your heels (tip: lift your toes if that helps), and squeeze your inner thighs together.

3. Straighten your arms and raise them overhead, reaching your fingers up and bringing your palms together or keeping them shoulder-width apart if that's more comfortable for your shoulders.

4. Lengthen all four sides of your torso evenly, then accentuate the lift in your arms and chest by bringing your upper spine into a slight backbend.

5. Lift your hip bones away from your thighs as you let your sit bones drop closer to the floor with each exhale, aiming to get your thighs parallel to the floor. Stay here for at least 10 breaths.

Some points to note:

1. Tuck your tailbone in to prevent your lower back from arching. Your knees should not go past the toes and are hip width apart.

2. Your heels should remain on the floor. At any point of time, you should be able to see toes.

3. Keeping your hands on your thighs will relieve the strain in the lower back.

4. Beginners or people with tightness in the shoulders may need to keep the arms apart. When the palms can comfortably touch, bring them together and keep the shoulders relaxed.

5. Be careful with this pose if you have hip or knee problems.

Practising this pose dynamically, moving in time with your breathing from standing to the "chair" half squat and back, will help to build your strength and stamina. Holding the pose is even more demanding, it requires considerable strength in your thighs and back to stay in the pose without sinking downward.

The video below shows How To Do The Chair Pose.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Yoga Music Concert with Daphne Tse

Yesterday night, I had my first Kirtan yoga practice with Daphne Tse. “Kirtan is a yoga practice that reveals the heart, when we chant we are tearing open our chests to reveal what is within. We are going on a journey together when we chant” – Jai Uttal.

Before the start of the Kirtan session, Daphne had joined the Hatha class and she was practicing along side with us. Daphne’s soaring voice took over with a blissful chant of her song “Magnificence” while we lay in savasana. It was a preview to what was to come.

The Kirtan practice started with Daphne explaining to us that she would perform the call by singing one line or verse of the chant and we were to response in style. To make the experience more meaningful and enhanced our appreciation of the kirtan, Daphne had explained the meaning behind each of the mantras before the start of each song.

The songs we sang during the night were chants to remove obstacles from our path, opening our creativity, paying tribute to our mother and giving peace, joy and love to all and they include “Saraswati Mata” and “Magnificence”.

As the walls of the studio resonate with the serene music and singing, I can feel a state of inner peace and sublime happiness from the practitioners.

After the session ended, I was still singing along to the songs as I played Daphne’s CD on my drive home.

Daphne will be performing at SunYogaKL on Saturday, 22 August 2009 from 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm. You can contact Indra at for further details.

This is the wordings on the inspirational card that I picked up from the stack that Daphne passed around to us before the practice.

“My imagination is a most powerful tool for creation”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Preventive Measures for HINI

I have been receiving some emails on HINI and this is one which I find might be helpful information and would like to share with you all.

Coconut Water for prevention of HINI

Dr V.M.Palaniappan, former Associate Professor of Ecology at Universiti Malaya has authored several books on complementary therapy called, 'Ecological Healing System'.

Dr Palaniappan said his 33 years of research had shown that high acidity in the body resulted in loss of immunity, thus making people more susceptible to viral diseases like Influenza A (H1N1).Hence, to prevent acidity, it was essential to consume alkaline food and drinks that could neutralise excess acid in the body.

Dr Palaniappan recommends coconut water, which is alkaline, and therefore could be used as a herbal medicine for the prevention of H1N1. For example, he said, those who felt feverish and developed a burning sensation while attending to a call of nature because of extreme acidity, could neutralise it by drinking coconut water, twice a day, for three days.

He also recommended orange, lemon and pomelo which, despite containing citric acid, were very rich in potassium and therefore, would not disturb the body's immunity.

According to Dr Palaniappan, excessive physical activity like running a marathon should be avoided as it produced acid due to excessive metabolic activity.

Similarly, he said, keeping late nights without adequate sleep and working without proper rest could also increase the body's acidity which in turn, lowered immunity and made the body vulnerable to viral attacks.

Dr Palaniappan's blog discusses the therapy in more detail.

Here are some tips from another email I received:

1.Hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications)

2.“Hands-off-the-face” approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat or bathe).

3.Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don’t trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don’t underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4.Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at Sutra Neti (a very good Yoga asana to clean the nasal cavities), but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.

"Prevention is better than cure, Stay Healthy"

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Yoga Dance with Lila

Tomorrow I will be going to the yoga dance class with Lila. I find that many practitioners do not want to attend the yoga dance classes as they are afraid that they will have difficulty doing the dance steps as they might have coordination problems. I am pretty uncoordinated myself, but I decided to go for the yoga dance classes as I find the classes fun and a way for me to learn to let go of my inhibitions.

At Beyoga, the yoga dance classes are taught by Azmi and Lila. I had been attending Azmi’s classes until they were changed to a later timing which is not suitable for me. I have since been attending Lila’s classes which are an energetic fusion of flowing Hatha yoga and dance steps. Her choreography routines have lots of fluid movement. There is a routine which we end up rolling on the floor before pushing ourselves to a sitting position. This routine really works our core muscles. I find the class very invigorating as we always have a very good workout by the end of the class.

Come join us for the class, you will be surprised!

Just when you thought you knew yoga, you discover a whole new way to experience it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stretching To Relieve Muscle Tightness

Just four days of not doing any yoga and I can feel tightness in my hip muscles when I went for my yoga class today. I have been going for classes, about five times a week since Beyoga’s opening and my regular practice has been wonderful in relieving my muscle tightness. But I realize that there are times like last week where I would not be able to go to classes due to work commitments. I managed to find some ordinary stretching which can relieve tension in only 10 to 15 minutes a day which we can do in addition to going for yoga classes.

Here are four common situations in which you can add stretches to your day. To get the best results, hold each stretch for a full 30 seconds without moving and breathe normally.

Sitting in a Chair: Here's how to stretch when you are seated, whether you're waiting in a parked car or working at your desk. Sit with your spine long and tall, turn your torso to face the back of your chair, and grab the top part of your chair (just below the headrest in your car). Keep your legs still and use your arms to gently twist your torso so your chest is moving toward the back of the seat. Repeat on the opposite side. This move will stretch your upper back and shoulders.

Talking on the Phone: Do this stretch every time you answer the telephone. Stand up and put your right heel on a sturdy bench, box, or stair about one foot tall. Hold on to your desk or a handrail with your right or left hand. Slowly lean forward until you feel a stretch in your hamstring at the back of your upper thigh, and reach for your foot with your free hand. Switch legs and repeat.

Waiting for a Ride: Stretch this way while you're waiting for the bus or your carpool. Walk to the curb or a set of stairs, place one foot firmly on the curb or the first step, and hang the heel of the other foot off the edge to stretch your calf. Repeat the stretch on the other foot.

Standing at the Kitchen Sink: This stretch will loosen your shoulders, your lower back, and the back of your legs. Stand facing your sink and place your hands over the edge. Gripping the sink, bend forward and walk back a few steps until your body is in the shape of an L, with your back parallel to the ground. Keep your knees straight and let your head hang down.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Flaxseed for Your Health

I recently discovered the goodness of flaxseed. I have been getting a free bottle of fresh flaxseed oil softgels whenever I buy my calcium supplements and decided to start taking the flaxseed softgels as part of my daily supplements.

After taking the flaxseed supplement for some time, I noticed that the acne on my back had cleared (I have been having them off and on). I decided to check on the benefits of flaxseed for our health.

Flaxseeds are a protein source of essential fatty acids (EFAs) – fats and oils critical to health, which the body cannot make on its own. Flaxseed contains Omega-3 fatty acids which help to lower cholesterol and blood triglycerides, and prevent clots in arteries, which may result in strokes, heart attacks and thromboses. Flaxseed also contains Omega-6 fatty acids (in the form of linoleic acid) – the same healthy fats present in many vegetable oils. In addition, flaxseed provide substances called lignans, which appear to have beneficial effects on various hormones and may help to fight cancer, bacteria, viruses and fungi. Gram for gram, flaxseeds boast up to 800 times the lignans in most other food.

Other benefits of flaxseed include:-

-helps to protect against cancer, heart disease, cataracts and gallstones
-reduces inflammation associated with gout and lupus
-promotes healthy skin, hair and nails, relieves acne, eczema, psoriasis, roascea and sunburn
-maybe useful for infertility, impotence, menstrual cramp and endometriosis
-helps to treat nerve disorders
-relieves constipation, gallstones and diverticular disorders.
-effective against ailments such as cold sores and shingles.

The following are some of the ways you can include flaxseed in your home cooking:-

•Sprinkle ground flaxseed on your cereal and salads
•Substitute flaxseed mixture for eggs in home baking such as muffin and pancake (1 tbsp milled flaxseed, plus 3 tbsp water = 1 egg). Final products will have less volume and taste gummier
• mix with juice, yoghurt or cottage cheese
•Include in other recipe when nutty flavor is preferred
•substitute flaxseed oil for other oils

You can purchase raw flaxseed in bulk — whole or ground — at the supermarkets and health food stores. Whole seeds can be grounded in a coffee grinder and then stored in an airtight container for several months. Refrigerating the whole seeds may also extend their freshness.

Click here to read more about Flaxseed and Health.