Friday, December 30, 2011

My Yoga Journey in 2011

Tonight, when we finished our yoga class, Azmi told us to reflect on our practice for the year and write down our achievements which were what I was thinking to write for my blog before the start of the class.

2011 is a year where I find myself immersing into my yoga practice by going to a yoga conference and attending two wonderful workshops besides going regularly to classes.

My yoga journey in 2011 started with a hiccup in January where I had to stay away from doing the yoga poses that put pressure on my right elbow which was diagnosed with tennis elbow.  Following the doctor’s advice, I did not go to classes and only did restorative poses at home.

After one month of sitting out the yoga classes, I went back to classes regularly and found a new awareness to my practice.  I find myself more in tune to my body, feeling every sensation and pain and learning to ease off to avoid aggravating the injury.   As my elbow healed after going through a needle scalpel treatment, my practice began to grow stronger day by day.

Going to the yoga conference in Hong Kong provided me with insights on the shortcomings of my practice besides being able to practice and learn from some of the best gurus in the yoga industry.   It was an experience that I cherished and hope to go through again.
The workshops with Gianinna and Raymond Lim were fun and the sharing of energy especially in the partner yoga sessions brought forth the importance of communication and learning to trust and support your partner.

Going regularly to the classes with Azmi Samdjaga at My Yoga Sanctuary has given me more confidence as I learned from him the techniques to go into the poses.   I am also grateful to the replacement teachers, Viviane De Doncker, Raymond  and Angie Teh for reminding me the importance of grounding and alignment in the poses.

I am now able to do a full headstand and have learned to control my bandhas to come down from the pose whereas previously I was crashing down from the pose.   Bakasana (crow pose) has become easier as well as some of the arm-balancing poses like Eka Pada KoundiyanasanaII and Astavakrasana.

I have started to practice meditation on a more regular basis although it is just sitting in silence and listening to my breath for about 10 minutes. 

2011 has been a very enlightening year in my yoga journey and I believe 2012 will also bring a lot of changes to my practice.  I will be welcoming the new year sunrise on Sunday morning at 6.30 am with a group of practitioners doing the 108 Surya Namaskar at Taman Tasik Cempaka in Bangi.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ashtanga Yoga Videos

Two very comprehensive Ashtanga Yoga videos where you can practice along with emphasis on the breath and dristi and instructions on the fine points of the poses.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Up Close and Personal with Gianinna

If you have been following my blog, you would know that I have recently attended two yoga workshops with Gianinna. I took the opportunity to ask her for an interview as I find her to be an inspiring teacher and would like to have her share her thoughts about yoga.

What made you take up yoga and why did you become a yoga teacher and how long have you been teaching?

3 years ago I was attending a class, I used to leave before Savasana, running to work thinking “who has time for this”!, but once I decided to stay and I can remember when in Savasana I started breathing in the right way, allowing myself to face my feelings in the silence, opening my chest and feeling my whole body alive, it was a great and a huge inner experience. I’ve never felt so connected with myself before when practicing yoga.

At that moment I realized that I’ve been practicing yoga as a sport only, performing my postures but I wasn’t full minded and either connected with my breath. The more I practiced, the more I realized how important the silence is.

It took me some time to make the decision to become a Yoga Instructor. As soon as I made my choice I was completely motivated to share my experience. I’ve started looking for the way to start, lucky for me, I met the right person to help me to find a soft way to learn how to teach, without mirrors and listening to my body in the traditional hatha yoga way.

I’ve been teaching hatha and prenatal yoga since June 2011 and that’s what I share in my classes with loving, kindness and respect.

I’m a new yoga instructor, passionate about human contact. Teaching offers me the challenge and the joy of self-discovery though the process of yoga and to make contact with people out of the limit of the words.

How long you have been in Malaysia and what do you think of the yoga practitioners here?

Malaysia is a new experience for me, I arrived here in February 2011 straight from Switzerland. Originally, I'm from Peru and sincerely, I’ve found that my culture is similar as yours, despite the differences, we are friendly and as you, we like eating!

Yoga in Malaysia is part of your culture; lot of people is practicing yoga here. In my group classes I have people from everywhere, any sex, age, religion and different needs, it’s amazing. It exists so many possibilities to practice yoga. I have to say that in my prenatal class, I have ladies doing Sirsasana!.

The conscious of the practice is beautiful, “here people stay for savasana”.

What is a healthy yoga routine and how often do you suggest practicing?

I’ll suggest a daily practice. You do not have to practice a full hour and a half every time, as in a typical yoga class. Even a few minutes will do! A few minutes of practice is better than nothing, and every time you practice, you are enriched.

The best time to practice yoga?, I’ll say in the morning, yoga is especially beneficial because we tend to wake up stiff from the night of sleep. Yoga in the morning helps us loosen up and gets the blood moving so that we feel better more quickly.

It also helps to quiet the mind so that when we start engaging in the day’s activities, we can more easily maintain calm, clarity, and connection with our essence.

And of course, before bed, yoga is nice to help unwind from the day and to bring better quality sleep.

You can email Gianinna @ if you would like to contact her about her classes and workshops.  You can also find Gianinna on Facebook.

Gianinna & Raymond in a Partner Yoga pose

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Viva el Yoga! Workshop

It was a workshop to celebrate “Being Alive” where we were asked to leave behind our self-imposed limitations, free our mind and all the stressed thoughts to celebrate life through Yoga, Movement and Dance.

And this morning’s workshop focused on liberating our body.  We started the yoga workshop with Gianinna leading the first session which was “Pavamuktasana-Hip & Shoulders Opening”.  Gianinna had designed a sequence of poses to open the hips and shoulders and increased the range of motion in these areas.   I could feel my hips opening more and more as we go through the poses and being able to bring my hands further back as my shoulder loosen from the tightness that have accumulated there.

Stretching in a side twist in Pigeon pose 
The next session was “Jala Vinyasa Flow” by Raymond. Raymond told us that “Jala” means Water in Sanskrit and in the session, we explored the breath synchronized movements that focus on bringing fluidity to the body. The dynamic movements helped to cleanse the system by stimulating perspiration thus eliminating toxins and the stagnant energy built up overtime. The session also revived senses and thus allow the Prana or life force flowing freely like the stream of water permeating every part of our body.   

Although there were no hard poses, i.e. arm-balancing or inversion poses, it felt like an advanced yoga class as we were led through a past-faced flow session where we used the breath to go into poses like plank to upward dog and downward dog to one-legged downward dog and it was a relief to go down to child’s pose after a few rounds of those continuous flowing poses.

Hip-opener and shoulder stretch 
We had a break after these two sessions and it was a light refreshment of sandwiches and raisins cake courtesy of Raymond with ginger cinnamon tea from Gianinna to help us replenished our energy before the next session.

It was then Partner Yoga time and with the help of my partner, my body was thoroughly stretched in the poses.  Sharing each other’s energy, we were able to deepen and increase the stretch and impact of the pose.  It was also a lesson learned on how to build trust as we worked together to support each other in the poses.

Partner Yoga 
The last session was a Dance session with Michelle, the owner of the studio, Arte E’ Vida where the yoga workshop was held.  Michelle led us through two Axe Zumba dance routines which were energetic and fun.  It was a nice surprise to the workshop as it provided us with an opportunity to let go of our inhibitions as we laughed and danced away to the heart-pumping music and by the end of the session, we were all exhausted and thoroughly drenched in sweat.

Let's dance...
The workshop ended with a meditation and chanting of the closing mantra where we were asked to feel the vibrations at different parts of the body as we chanted each syllable and “AUM” three times.   

Namaste Raymond and Gianinna for the awesome workshop!