be free, be happy, be peaceful

May all find the teacher within to guide oneself towards unconditional love and peace

Sunday, October 23, 2011

my yoga asana practice part 10 & part 11





Here is part 10 & part 11 - Headstand & post-headstand exercises (shoulderstand, plough, fish and final relaxation - savasan)

I didn't edit this part. The first few minutes is just basic headstand without any variations. Usually in a video that demonstrates headstand, it only shows about the variations of headstand moving in motion. I didn't edit it to show that it is important to stay in the headstand without any variations for as long as possible and comfortably without checking on the time. It is not the time that matters, but being able to stay in the pose comfortably for a long period of time without the idea of time, without changing the pose or posture. This can train the body and mind to be patient and to develop strong determination and will-power.

It is essential to stay in the headstand for a minimum of 5-15 minutes for getting the effects or benefits of performing headstand. At the beginning, one may stay in the headstand just for a few seconds, and then keep practice until one can stay up to 5 - 10 minutes. It doesn't matter if someone still cannot perform headstand after many times of practice, or someone who has some health complications or physical injuries that don't allow him or her to perform headstand, know that this doesn't determine whether we can practice yoga or not, or whether we are practicing yoga or not.

Peace, compassion and selflessness is nothing to do with the ability of our physical body to perform the asana poses/exercises. Anyone whether can perform headstand or not, can stay in headstand for a few seconds or for a few minutes, is still practicing yoga when they have unconditional love and peace, when they are selfless and compassionate, when they know non-attachment, when they have self-control over their own thoughts, actions and speech.

After coming down from headstand, it is important to stay in child pose for a few moments and then rest in savasan for a few minutes and then followed with some post-headstand counter poses like shoulderstand, plough and fish. This can help to release any muscles tightness that arise during headstand, and to balance up the energy fields and to ensure maximum benefits.

Om shanti.

my yoga asana practice part 9



Here is part 9.

Om shanti.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

my yoga asana practice part 8



Here is part 8.

Om shanti.

my yoga asana practice part 7



Here is part 7.

Om shanti.

my yoga asana practice part 6



Here is part 6.

Om shanti.

my yoga asana practice part 5



Here is part 5.

Om shanti.

my yoga asana practice part 4



Here is part 4.

Just practice. Keep practice. No judgment. No comparison, No expectation. No craving. No aversion.

Om shanti.

my yoga asana practice part 3



Here is part 3.

For the leg lift exercises usually I do as many times as my body can do. Sometimes I do more, sometimes I do less. There's no need to count how many times. It is not important how many times we can lift the legs up, and it's not that every one can keep the legs completely straight nor can open the legs as wide as some people do, it's fine. Everyone has a different body type, different physical limitation, and different flexibility and strength. If the lower back is not strong enough or there's some back problems, then put the palms down side by side under the buttocks to support the lower back. If there's some injuries or physical limitations that you cannot perform certain exercises, then don't do it or make some adjustments. Even if your body cannot perform any of the exercises or poses, you still can practice yoga.

Love and peace has nothing to do with whether our body is strong and flexible or not.

Yoga is not determined by how strong and flexible our body is. Yoga is not determined by how many times we can lift the legs up, nor how long we can stand on our head, nor how far our fingers can touch the toes. It's about developing non-attachment and accepting the reality as it is at the present moment.

It doesn't mean that we are "bad" or "weak" in practicing yoga if we can only do 5 leg lifts, and it doesn't mean that we are very "good" or "strong" in practicing yoga if we can do 200 leg lifts. Just do whatever your body can do at the present moment when you are doing it. Every time or every practice it might be different. Sometimes the body is more energetic and sometimes it is less energetic. Sometimes it is more flexible and sometimes it is less flexible. That is the nature of impermanence.

Learn to be comfortable in all the exercises, not struggling and not forcing our body to go beyond its limitation. Relaxed into all the poses and hold as long as you can comfortably. Slowly the body will build up strength and flexibility.

Even if the body still not strong or flexible to perform certain poses after many years of practice, it's fine. That doesn't determine that we are good or bad in practicing yoga.

Learn to accept the condition of our body as it is, and be comfortable with our body as it is at the present moment now. Not comparing ourselves with our own past experience. Not projecting into the future what we want our body to become. Let the result or the benefits come naturally. Allow the strength and flexibility to come naturally. Even though we don't know what are the benefits from doing the exercises or not having any expectation from doing the exercises, the benefits will still be there. It won't increase when we know about it or have expectation. It won't decrease nor disappear when we don't know about it nor not having any expectation. Not comparing with other people nor try to become somebody else that we are not.

Be comfortable with ourselves for who we are, what we are, how we are, where we are, what we are doing and not doing, what we can do and cannot do. There's no craving nor aversion. There's no craving to become more strong, more flexible, more happy, more wise, or more peaceful... Because "we" are not determined by all these qualities... We are eternal peace itself. We don't become peaceful or unpeaceful, that impermanent changing "peacefulness" and "unpeacefulness" is just the impermanent state of the mind... We are not the mind, but we are aware of all the states of the mind. There's no aversion towards what we are now, how we are now, where we are now, what we are doing or not doing, what we can do or cannot do.

Peace is always there in us. It never increase nor decrease. This peace is not determined nor conditioned by the impermanent condition of our body or the ability of our body to do this or that...

Om shanti.

my yoga asana practice part 2



Here is part 2. The video clips are a little choppy in this part.

Friday, October 21, 2011

my yoga asana practice part 1



This is a sample of my daily yoga asana practice to share with those who want to know what I usually do for my personal asana practice.

Asana practice is an important practice in the path of Yoga to help us in purifying and controlling the mind, to render the mind calm and being at the present, as well as rendering the body strong and flexible preparing for meditation and to perform selfless service.

During the asana practice we learn to let go of judgment, comparison and expectation towards ourselves and other people. We learn to accept the present moment now as it is. We learn to accept ourselves as we are. We learn to accept the reality of the present moment now as it is, not necessary the way that we want it to be or the way that we think it should be.

It will not be the same in every session of asana practice (even if we perform the same asana routine). We learn about impermanence and allow impermanence to happen and accept the impermanence as it is. We learn to accept the ever-changing condition of the body as it is. We learn to let go of craving and aversion. We learn to let go of the ego.

When the body needs rest from the asana practice, I don't do any asana practice for that time being. But yoga practice is always there continuously, in every moment, never ceased.

Here the asana poses were being held for a shorter period of time during the video recording and the resting time in between the asana poses was being edited for suitable viewing.

In my daily personal practice, it takes about 2 and a half hours to 3 hours to complete one session of asana practice. The asana poses are being held as long as my body feels like holding comfortably. The sun salutation is repeated minimum 10-20 rounds up to as many rounds as my body feels like doing. The resting time or relaxation in between the exercises or the asana poses is at least 15-30 seconds up to a few minutes depending on what type of exercises or poses and also depending on how my body feels after the exercise or the asana pose. The final relaxation is as long as my body wants to be completely at rest.

Om shanti.

Monday, October 17, 2011

An advice to a yoga teacher

At some point, no matter you have a full time job or just teach yoga, you will need to have your own time to concentrate on your own practice and not doing any jobs or teaching classes. You must remember this - teaching yoga is not an obligation. Never feel bad if one day you are not teaching any classes and only do your own practice. Because your own practice will always be more important than to help others to do their practice. If we ourselves have not been "there", how can we tell other people how to get "there". If we have no peace, how can we share and guide others how to be peaceful?

Everyone's biggest duty or responsibility is upon our own self, our own path, our own practice, our own liberation. After we ourselves found "that", then only we can share "that" with others.

If Buddha didn't go away for many years for finding his own liberation and became enlightened, attained peace and have the knowledge of wisdom, how could he came back to the world to share his path and guide other people to the path of liberation or enlightenment?

One should not feel bad or guilty because he or she has to let go of their everyday duty or responsibilities towards their family and friends and the society to concentrate on their own practice in search for liberation. It is a noble action to find liberation in our own self first. Only the fool and ignorant minds will criticize those who let go of everything (worldly activities and worldly responsibilities) to do their own practice.

Teaching yoga comes later afterwards after we know what is yoga. We cannot teach yoga if we don't know "exactly" what is yoga. We teach yoga classes and share yoga with others it's not because we "want" to teach or "want" to share or "want" to help other people, or to make money, but it naturally happens at anytime, anywhere, anyhow, even if we don't have any intention to share or teach yoga. Even when we are alone by our own self, not doing anything or teaching or sharing, the sharing and teaching is still there. We our own self, this body and this mind, is also one of the beings that need to be helped, need to learn, need to be taught, need to be compassionate towards at, need to be taken care of, need to perform spiritual practice, need to be purified, need to be liberated. That's why "yourself" always come first. You are your own first and last student. Everyone and everything can be our teachers, but you are your own one and only highest teacher.

If we know yoga, whatever we do or don't do, is all yoga.

There's nothing wrong with people who want to learn to become a yoga teacher to teach yoga classes to make money for living. Everyone also can teach yoga as long as they have the sincerity to teach yoga whether mainly for sharing, or to make a living, or for both reasons (yoga teachers need to be able to take care of their own living so that they can be free from anxieties that come from economical difficulty. The living income either is coming from teaching yoga classes or from having some other worldly jobs). But, there is a progression from not knowing yoga -> want to know about yoga -> learn and practice yoga -> knowing yoga and attain the knowledge of yoga -> to share the wisdom of peace or teaching the knowledge of yoga and its practice to others.

"Usually" a person should start with being a yoga student first to learn about yoga and commit into yoga practice, and then, gaining experience and benefits from the yoga practice before he or she aspires to become a yoga teacher to share his or her experiences with other people. There is a progression from never come in contact with yoga or heard about yoga -> come in contact with yoga or heard about yoga -> want to know about yoga -> want to practice yoga -> gaining knowledge of yoga -> gaining experience and benefits from yoga practice -> want to share yoga with others -> want to know how to teach a yoga class -> learn to teach a yoga class -> know how to teach a yoga class -> teaching yoga classes to others.

The fact is, when a person truly knows what is yoga, he or she doesn't need to learn how to teach a yoga class. It's because naturally he or she will know what to share and how to guide others to perform the yoga practices through his or her own experiences. A real yoga teacher doesn't need to go to a school to learn to become a yoga teacher or to learn how to teach a yoga class. It's because a "yoga teacher" is not something that we learn to become. Naturally, we will share the knowledge of yoga with others when we know what is yoga.

The sharing or the teaching is absolutely natural, it's not by learning from the books and teach accordingly to what the books tell us about how a yoga class should be, what to say or what to do, nor by imitating other yoga teachers on how to teach a yoga class. Even though this is possible.

It is possible also if somebody who are teaching yoga classes but they have not much experience in yoga practice but they know the yoga poses and they know how to give instructions on how to perform the yoga poses, and they have not yet knowing what yoga really is about, but in their process of teaching classes, they are learning as well and gaining benefits and experience while teaching classes, and eventually they'll know what is yoga and attain the state of yoga.

Maybe some yoga teachers are not so efficient in giving explanations and are not so confident in giving instructions in a yoga class. But, that is because they have not know what yoga is about. They have not fully attain the knowledge of yoga yet. That's why they don't have the confidence in teaching classes or teaching yoga to other people. They themselves have doubts. They have fear and worries. They have not yet known what is non-attachment and they are not free from ignorance yet. And there is nothing wrong about this either.

Being yoga teachers who are still not free from ignorance yet but having the opportunity to try to share the knowledge of yoga with others and encouraging other people to practice yoga according to the teachings of yoga which they learned from the books or from their yoga teachers at yoga schools, is absolutely possible. It's because it is possible that even though the yoga teachers are not enlightened yet, but one, or some of their students might be benefited from attending these yoga classes conducted by them, and these yoga students can still attain enlightenment through their own understanding, efforts, discipline and realization. This is because the enlightenment is not coming from the teacher. It is from within. Our own Self is our highest and ultimate Guru above all.

Yoga teachers, whether enlightened or not yet enlightened, are just an instrument for the universal consciousness for expounding the teachings of yoga to all, to attain Self-realization through each individual efforts, to be free from suffering and ignorance, to be liberated.

If enlightenment is coming from an enlightened teacher, then all the students of any enlightened teachers would be enlightened already, but it's not. Swami Sivananda was an enlightened Guru, but it is not by being his disciples will guarantee enlightenment. It is up to the aspirants themselves to realize the Truth through their own practice and efforts. A teacher who have not yet enlightened but has learned the teachings of yoga can still share these informations of yoga practice (teachings of yoga) with others even though he or she has not yet grasp the essence of the teachings completely. Buddha was enlightened, but he could not give enlightenment to other people except through sharing and guiding others to practice sincerely by themselves to attain enlightenment. Of course if Buddha himself had no experience at all in the path of enlightenment and had no knowledge about the path of liberation, how could he share the path with anybody?

It is through our own practice, experience and realization that indicates whether we can guide other people to perform the yoga practice "efficiently" and "correctly" or not. We go to a yoga school is because we still don't know what is yoga. If we already knew what is yoga, do we still need to go to a yoga school to learn what is yoga? And so, going to a yoga school is for our own self to learn about yoga and to know how to perform the yoga practice correctly and efficiently from the other experienced yoga teachers. But whether we can teach yoga classes or not later on, it is all up to our own experience and realization. It will come naturally as we practice. Even though we don't call ourselves "yoga teachers" or we don't think that we are doing any teaching, but the sharing will always be there when we come in contact with anybody who needs yoga, out of selflessness and compassion. Forgive anyone who had hurt us or insult us, is sharing yoga with others. Controlling our anger, greed and jealousy is sharing yoga with others. Keep silence and not save hatred with anyone who had been criticizing us is sharing yoga with others. Be patient and cheerful, and endure any difficult situations is sharing yoga with others.

That's why we should concentrate on our own practice, do our own practice sincerely, and let other "things" come naturally, it's not because we "want" to teach yoga class and that's why we go to a yoga school to learn how to become a yoga teacher to teach yoga class.

The entire path of yoga is a journey of learning, practicing, growing, realizing and sharing. And hence, never criticize or look down on any yoga teachers who seem like not yet enlightened and who cannot teach very "good" yoga class.

There are no such things as "I" taught a "good" or "bad" yoga class, "I" am a "good" or "bad" yoga teacher, "I" have how many years of experience in practicing or teaching yoga, or "I" have "good" or "bad" yoga students, in a real yoga teacher.

Some people may have many years of experience in yoga and meditation practice but that doesn't guarantee anything... Some people may not have much experience in yoga and meditation practice, but that doesn't determine anything either.

Some people may be enlightened just by listening to one discourse of the Dharma or during one sitting of meditation. Some people may be going for many discourses and sitting for meditation for many times but still not enlightened yet... Just keep practice. No judgment.

Om shanti.

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Know thyself. There is no existence of 'I'. Everything is impermanent. Be free, be peaceful, be happy.

Om shanti

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Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
My husband and I run ongoing yoga retreats in Langkawi Malaysia. We teach traditional Hatha Yoga - a combination of Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) and relaxation, that has given benefit to millions of practitioners over thousands of years. Our yoga studio is situated in Langkawi. We also run yoga retreats in Europe and India.

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