Friday, November 28, 2008
Meditation means awareness. Whatever you do with awareness is meditation. "Watching your breath" is meditation; listening to the birds is meditation, walking in the garden or park silently is meditation, sitting still looking at the sky is meditation, looking out into the ocean absorbing it's beauty is meditation. Meditation can be practiced doing simple repetitive tasks. As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation..
The word meditation, is derived from two Latin words : meditari(to think, to dwell upon, to exercise the mind) and mederi (to heal). Its Sanskrit derivation 'medha' means wisdom.
Here's a wonderful explanation of the types of meditation I came across from health care online:-
Concentration Meditation focuses the attention on the breath or an image in order to still the mind and allow a greater awareness and clarity to emerge. This is like a zoom lens in a camera; we narrow our focus to a selected field.
The simplest form of concentrative meditation is to sit quietly and focus the attention on the breath. Yoga and meditation practitioners believe that there is a direct correlation between one's breath and one's state of the mind. For example, when a person is anxious, frightened, agitated, or distracted, the breath will tend to be shallow, rapid, and uneven. On the other hand, when the mind is calm, focused, and composed, the breath will tend to be slow, deep, and regular. Focusing the mind on the continuous rhythm of inhalation and exhalation provides a natural object of meditation. As you focus your awareness on the breath, your mind becomes absorbed in the rhythm of inhalation and exhalation. As a result, your breathing will become slower and deeper, and the mind becomes more tranquil and aware.
Mindfulness Meditation , according to Dr. Borysenko, "involves opening the attention to become aware of the continuously passing parade of sensations and feelings, images, thoughts, sounds, smells, and so forth without becoming involved in thinking about them." The person sits quietly and simply witnesses whatever goes through the mind, not reacting or becoming involved with thoughts, memories, worries, or images. This helps to gain a more calm, clear, and non-reactive state of mind. Mindfulness meditation can be likened to a wide-angle lens. Instead of narrowing your sight to a selected field as in concentrative meditation, here you will be aware of the entire field.
Here are the physical benefits of meditation:-
- Deep rest-as measured by decreased metabolic rate, lower heart rate, and reduced work load of the heart.
- Lowered levels of cortisol and lactate-two chemicals associated with stress.
- Reduction of free radicals- unstable oxygen molecules that can cause tissue damage. They are now thought to be a major factor in aging and in many diseases.
- Decreased high blood pressure.
- Higher skin resistance. Low skin resistance is correlated with higher stress and anxiety levels.
- Drop in cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease.
- Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing. This has been very helpful to asthma patients.
- Younger biological age. On standard measures of aging, long-term Transcendental Meditation (TM) practitioners (more than five years) measured 12 years younger than their chronological age.
- Higher levels of DHEAS in the elderly. An additional sign of youthfulness through Transcendental Meditation (TM); lower levels of DHEAS are associated with aging.
- Increased brain wave coherence. Harmony of brain wave activity in different parts of the brain is associated with greater creativity, improved moral reasoning, and higher IQ.
- Decreased anxiety.
- Decreased depression.
- Decreased irritability and moodiness.
- Improved learning ability and memory.
- Increased self-actualization.
- Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
- Increased happiness.
- Increased emotional stability.
Breath awareness is to meditation what good lighting is to fine photography. The cost of stressful reactions is that they give negativity a foothold in the nervous system, which is then translated into unpleasant symptoms. During meditation, breath awareness short circuits this translation process. It does not eliminate the conflict, but helps prevent it from taking up residence. The phrase ' I need to go out, get some fresh air and clear my head." is exactly what meditation tries to do. When breathing remains relaxed and a steady focus of attention, problems are not so easily oversold to the nervous system and are less likely to overwhelm us.
Breath awareness is associated in yoga with a particular function of the mind, a function variously described as the ability to the inner witness of experience, to remain detached in the face of discomfort, and to act decisively.
I have personally used meditation in a positive manner. It's not hard to do, if you put your mind to understand what's going 'through' psychologically. In the classes, I would ask the students at the end of the physical exercises, to relax on the mat and focus their attention to their breaths again. If they had any thoughts coming through while relaxing, to either focus back on their breaths, and if they can't, to try and turn those thoughts into positive thinking.
I don't see meditation as religious. You can look at it from all different angles and choose how it will best help you. Meditation is universal. In Wikipedia Dictionary online, this is how it describes Meditation:- Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the conditioned, "thinking" mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. Meditation often involves turning attention to a single point of reference. It is recognized as a component of almost all religions, and has been practiced for over 5,000 years. It is also practiced outside religious traditions.
Last but not least:- There are all sorts of meditation. Be decisive and choose wisely and base your decision on facts rather than opinions, understand what it truly is before commenting.
Okay, getting late now, night night and see ya later alligators.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Overall, she came to conclusion Chinese eat meals that are nutritious with vegetables as a 'must' for most dishes at dinner tables. Also the meals are simple but tasty at the same time. She went on to say most chinese people eat things to nourish the whole body, rather than being concerned with just its outer shape, which is the case with many Western diet regimes.
Surprisingly, Clissold made a research and her findings was that the Chinese actually consume 30 per cent more calories than Westerners but stay 20 per cent slimmer, a claim originally made by T Colin Campbell in The China Study, a comprehensive survey that examined the link between diet and disease in China and other countries.
If you are interested to read more about it, visit this site
I was on my way to meet a friend for breakfast at the Country Patch coffee house but decidedly made a detour to the pet shop to get some fresh aquatic plant for my fishes in the studio. Was looking around the shop and was admiring the little 'Nemo' fishes (okay, I have no idea what is the correct name for this little cuties but I still think they are gorgeous) when something else caught my attention. There were two tiny terrapins in a huge fish tank. One was on it's back and wasn't moving. The other perched on a wooden plank and was dry as burnt lobster. And yes, being an ICU nurse came into reflex action, I cried out to the shopkeeper and said, " Have you been looking after the terrapins? Do you know one of it is probably dead?" The guy looked at me as if I was a mad woman on hot wheels. He lifted the one on it's back and true enough it was dead.
The other one was barely moving and looked as if it was dried out. The shell was super soft and I was nearly in tears. I bought him at full price regardless and rushed to the studio. I set him in a small porridge bowl and called him Lucky. I don't know whether he'll survive or not, but better something then trying nothing at all.
I called Peter up, who was still asleep at home, " Peter, get to the studio, you need to babysit Lucky. I found him in the pet shop and he doesn't look well. Please come!"
"Have you had too many coffees again? You're talking strange."
I was even more worked up after," Look, he doesn't look well. I need you to come over and give him some tender loving care. I need to meet up with a friend for a while."
" ..............you should be named Lucky and for me to be crazy to say yes to this."
"....(in my head, I was thinking...I know) I know..."
I told Elaine (my cousin) to keep an eye on it while Peter made his way to the studio. While having breakfast with my friend, I couldn't stop thinking about Lucky. After breakfast, I rushed back to the studio. He was looking a bit better.
Cross fingers, little lucky will be lucky to see through the week.
Hmmmm, Izan was playing a couple of boy band music the other day. I was just recalling the boy bands I fancied back then. Ya, you guess right. I loved NKOTB. They were so cute then. It drove my family nuts that I was playing their music everywhere. Even when my dad was driving, I would reach out from the back seat and shove my NKOTB into the cassette player. His comment would be, " Every song is girl, girl, girl, girl. This you also like ah?" I would nod my head vigorously and smile from east to west. My favourite guy was Jonathan Knight. Oh, not to forget Tommy Page. What's that song again? Paintings in my mind. Alzheimer's has not set in just yet.
What else was so 80's and 90's? Curly hairs, puffy sleeves, Jane Fonda, big sun glasses, plastic bangles (they have been in fashion until now), big granny pants, bermuda pants, Tiffany, Reebok, glitters in the face and hair..........(not that I ever did it myself...ahem....) I am sure there would be a lot more than this......K, will continue this a bit later. Gotta go. Class to teach.........Here we go with a few more warrior poses.................................
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Got back home, logged into blogsite and notice Nora R. url online message. One click and since then I can't stop smiling. What a relief! I am so glad the ban is off. It's so nice and wonderful when nation's leaders stand up for their people's rights and beliefs.
So, if you like to read more about it, do click onto http://danurasana.blogspot.com/2008/11/exhale.html
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
The night ended with an ashtanga yoga session. The student turnout was great. We did lots of arm strengthening, balancing and inversions. Even though the sitting series of ashtanga was a challenge, the students determination and will power to flow through the series were amazing.
Anyhow, I left the studio late last night at 10pm. I arrived home in Kapok and ate some noodles and headed off the bed only to have my alarm clock ringing off at 4.30am sharp. My eyes were still half shut as I walked blindly towards the bathroom. Trying to force my eyes open with both hands was really a sight to see....or not. I grabbed hold of something that felt like a towel and dragged my tired feet to the washroom. My eyes stubbornly refused to open. It was like peeping through a keyhole to see the rest of the world. I don't even remember what shampoo I grabbed to use. Maybe it wasn't a shampoo. ...oh well, messy hair is in fashion nowadays....Even after spending 10 minutes in the shower, I still had my eyes half closed.
I dressed up what I thought was a right combination of sportswear and took off in my monster vehicle to the studio. The radio was full blast just to keep me awake. The morning DJ played all 80's songs which kind of help me think back to my early days. Aiyah, feel so old lar.
I arrived at the studio 5.30am and was ready to have a kip before the first class start, but it didn't happen. Too busy cleaning the studio.
Three classes, one after the other, was enough to be 'yogeeeek' out. 2 cuppa coffee and I am still dozing off while writing this.
Monday, November 24, 2008
The unprecedented comment bordering on rebuke by Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah exposes the deep divisions caused by the Fatwa Council's edict in this Muslim-majority country against yoga, a form of Indian exercise, breathing technique and mind control popular worldwide.
The council said on Saturday that yoga is rooted in Hinduism and its practice could corrupt Muslims. The edict angered many ordinary Muslims who said they have been performing yoga for years without losing their faith.
Sultan Sharafuddin and the other eight sultans of nine Malaysian states form the Conference of Rulers and take turns to be the country's king. The rulers occupy a largely ceremonial and titular position but command great respect among Muslims.
The king is seen as the supreme upholder of Malay tradition and symbolic head of Islam, while the sultans occupy that position in their own respective states.
None of the other sultans - including Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, the current king - have commented publicly on the yoga ban.
In his statement, Sultan Sharafuddin said he hopes 'that in future, any fatwa decision that touches on issues involving the general public should be referred to the Conference of Rulers to be approved first before it is announced'.
'This is to ensure that the process of channeling the fatwa decision is implemented wisely to avoid any confusion and controversy,' said Sultan Sharafuddin, who rules the central Selangor state.
Decisions by the Fatwa Council are not legally binding on the country's Muslims until they are enshrined in national laws or Shariah laws of individual states.
Sultan Sharafuddin said the fatwa on yoga 'is still not enforced in Selangor because it has not been brought to the Selangor State Fatwa Committee'.
The committee will meet to 'discuss this matter in greater detail regarding yoga activities in Selangor so that a decision is not made hastily,' he said.
It is the first time that a Fatwa Council's decision has been criticised by a state sultan - a sign that the country's Malay Muslims, who are 60 per cent of the 27 million population, have not accepted the fatwa uniformly.
Still, the edict reflects the growing influence of conservative Islam in Malaysia, a multiethnic country where minority ethnic Chinese and mostly Hindu ethnic Indians have been clamoring for more rights.
Recently, the Fatwa Council said girls who act like boys violate Islam's tenets. The government has also occasionally made similar conservative moves, earlier this year banning the use by non-Muslims of the word 'Allah', the Arabic word for God.
Analysts say the fatwa could be the result of insecurity among Malay Muslims after their party - in power since 1957 - saw its parliamentary majority greatly reduced in elections because of gains by opposition parties supported by the minorities. -- APArticle extracted from The Straits Time dated 24th November 2008
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Thank you for your kind attention
Yoga teacher and Seraphina Manager
Seraphina Health & Fitness is glad to present you the Goodwill Concession Card. This card is applicable to waitors, waitresses, seamstress, salesgirls, domestic helpers, retail workers, janitors, factory workers, shop assistants and lorry drivers. The care entitles the individual to a 50% discount walk in and also subsidised fees for package deals.
The card is only in use at Seraphina Health & Fitness and nowhere else. Please bring your identity card with you when applying for the Goodwill Concession Card.
There will be new aerobic (energy workout) classes at 6.15am every Friday and Saturday with Raquel. Please do confirm your bookings with her for these particular classes.
We look forward to seeing you.
Yoga teacher and Seraphina Manager
Ps:- *Only approved students are entitled*
Some of my muslim students have text me in the early morning, asking me if I have read the article. I replied telling them I would respect any decision they make if they choose not to attend my classes. I didn't think I should enforce my opinions on anyone. We are all individuals in our own unique ways. To my surprise, they all replied saying they were still planning to come over to Seraphina regardless. They were just texting me to give me some moral support. And for that, I am truly thankful.
I have read the online comments in other blogs and a lot of Muslim Malaysians are pretty annoyed and angry with the decision. They didn't understand the reasons behind it. I personally feel the Muslim council should at least explain in details what they really thought was wrong. The council keeps repeating over and over again about Hindu elements in yoga. I cannot imagine what would they consider unorthodox for the Muslims in yoga practice. The council have been ambiguous in their comments on yoga. Not detailed enough.
We live in a multi racial world presently and there will always be hints of religions or culture elements in the things we do or even consume. But we are surrounded by tons of reading materials and different ways of communication, I think I can safely assume majority of the world today are fully aware of the things they are involved in. If yoga was really a cult or religion, won't you think we would have churches or temples for it by now?
Yoga has been increasingly popular in the last 5 to 6 years in South East Asia. The word on its own sounds foreign and can be misunderstood as a tie of a cult or religion due to its origin. If the Muslim council are afraid of Muslims being deviated away from their faith, why is it that for the last 10 to 20 years, most yoga teachers all over the world are still in their own respective religion while practicing yoga regularly? Yoga teachers are international.
Why discriminate an exercise routine like yoga in comparison to kickboxing, karate or tae kwon do? Yoga is a low risk injury exercise that benefits an individual till old age. That's why yoga is so popular all over the world now. It is now a known factor that yoga helps maintain and prevent stiffness in joints and muscles.
People may wonder why would people prefer to do yoga instead of a high impact sport. A lot of my students are now more consciously aware they must take care of their health especially their knees. Most of them would have had knee injuries or health related problems to back pain in the past due to high impact sports. Yoga postures helps the individual to stretch and strengthen those muscles. Plus it's a sport that doesn't require you to jump to 'head banging' music while exercising. It's a quiet movement from one posture to the next while at the same time bringing awareness into your present general 'feel' of the body's condition. This in a whole bring a general sense of calmness into a person when practicing in such a quiet or soothing background with little noise.
Yoga teaches to 'just be' mentally and emotionally. The world is always so busy, noisy and loud that people are relief when yoga offers a peaceful quiet and soothing environment to practice in. In doing so, they achieve a sense of calmness and peace while still reaping off the physical benefits of yoga. I think like any other self help books or seminars, yoga assist an individual to deepen their beliefs and faith rather than deviate away from it.
The religious leaders are probably anxious and afraid that yoga may be a new found religion just because of the peace and calmness it brings to an individual. But really yoga isn't a religion. It's just part of an individual lifestyle. That's all. Let's just say it's a new found tool in a person's busy life to destress and relax after a busy day's work.
Perhaps religious leaders around the world won't find it so much of a threat if they actually make a point in trying to understand it better rather than making false claims.
Personally, it would be good for them to show fairness by investigating into the subject and to show an openness to understand what yoga really is. I don't think they have based their ruling on actual evidences. Has there been any converts from Muslims to Hinduism or any religion of any kind from their practice of yoga? It's like accusing someone blindly without getting your facts right in the first place.
But truly in all, I would hope the Muslim council rethinks their decision. Yoga is a lifestyle not a religion.
If anyone reading this blog feels you're not sure of what yoga actually is, please do feel free to ask me. I am not here to argue or to judge. An open mind and heart is always the way to the truth.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Peter and I decided to just stay up awhile to watch MI2 on
HBO. I wasn't paying much attention to the movie (not a big fan of Mission
Impossible) and didn't think Peter was either since he isn't a Tom Cruise
fan. I looked over and there was little Nadia fiddling with Peter's
head. It was so cute, with Nadia's 'sarong' wrapped around his neck and
with Peter keeping still for Nadia's pretentious play. I should have given
Nadia some 'play doh' to style his hair a little more.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
I googled the search engines for nice templates and ya, I loved the other options. So, ya, like a silly clueless yogini, I paste the new found template into the 'edit box' .....AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH..............to my horror, nothing came out. It was just a blank page on the screen preview.
I tried pasting my old template html from microsoft word into the 'edit box' again and it was even worse, preview of the blog showed CRAZY WORDS, all muddled up!
"PETER BYFORD!!!!!!WAKE UP".....Ya, that was me screaming into poor hubby's ear at 1.30am in the night. I had too many cuppa coffees yesterday. The poor man didn't know what hit him cause he just bolted out of bed as if the house caught on fire.
"My blog site is totally gone. It disappeared. IT HAS BEEN EATEN UP BY AN INVISIBLE FORCE. You HAVE to do something!!!!" said me while shaking him viciously around the shoulders.
"What have you eaten tonight? Am I dreaming this?"said sleepy hubby.
" IF you don't wake up this minute and fix my blog, I will cook you for curry tonight. DO SOMETHING!!!" (Okay, I'm usually not that mean but I was panicking!)
So poor hubby had a look and all he could say was," Jac, were you just simply pressing buttons and hoping you will magically get a nice template for your blog? Why did you EVEN used microsoft word when it told you to use notepad?"
"I just thought they're both the same as each other. Aren't they?"I said while looking at him like a child with a broken toy. In my heart, I prayed really hard that somehow Peter would work his magic IT talent to retrieve everything back to normal.
He had a real fiddle with the templates for 1 hour, and everytime he looked over at me, I squirmed and sank deeper into the sofa, hoping to disappear into the chair.
"Sweetie, .......(his little pause of not saying something was a real killer!) I think you have to start all over again. ...."
I was little bit tearful, and looked at the part of the templates that Peter managed to retrieve back for me. He managed to save the posts only.
"Okay, I won't cook you for curry.....you probably UFC me if I tried anyways"
So, we both went to bed, with me feeling all cheesed off with myself. I thought to myself, I will wake up early and rewrite all the schedules, so forth and so on into the blog again. Goodness knows how long that would take..........
BUT GUESS WHAT!!!! I woke up early and decided to repair my website. I played around with the template and by some miracle, I don't know what I pressed or touch (cause I did fiddle around with the templates in my old blog again) and VOILA!!!!! My old template returned back to me......................................WOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, maybe some of you saw an empty blog site last night, some of you may saw half a website very late last night till this morning ......but now, you see good ol' yoga at heart back at track again.
Okay, so it's not exactly Leonardo Da Vinci's work of art template but you know what, I ain't going to upgrade it. Reading those HTML business is like speaking a whole lotta foreign language to me.
But even when my brain say don't touch the template button again, I was desperate to get my blog back...........so, yes, I did fidget with the template once more.
Yes, some people say women never seem to remember the pain they went through the last time. Otherwise, they won't go through child labour time and again.........
Will cook Peter a nice curry with a lot of love tonite............. :P
Yoga is generally still an issue in Malaysia and I can only hope the matter will resolve in a peaceful manner.
I was very anxious and angry when I first heard Malaysia's plan to ban Muslims attending yoga lessons. But later, I realised, I didn't need to. Even when I did have muslim yoga students questioning their practice with me and some have sadly decided to stop coming to my classes, I have not taken it personally. Yoga has been a personal practice to me and I am very glad share it with all my other students. I have made a leap from nursing to this amazing job as a yoga teacher and have not regretted making that change. Whatever comes my way, should it meant a change my career due to unforseen circumstances, then I will always find a way to do other great things. I believe in abundance. There are far worse things out there in the world that I feel a blessing to have already achieve what I have done with myself and in life.
I came across Ninie Ahmad yoga instructor diaries blog site and think it's great her passion lies in yoga. She also has very interesting comments on yoga and the effects it has on her faith and religion. Kudos to her for standing up for her rights as a muslim yoga teacher. Just maybe not so keen on a photo of herself doing a certain rude gesture. I know she's frustrated, but the best thing to do is have an open invitation yoga class to the opposers and clear out their misconceptions about yoga.
I too have been judge by my own faith (christianity) about yoga as a cult. I was probably as mad as Ninie A about it, but now, I just shrugged it off. I believe yoga is a growing industry in places like Brunei, Malaysia, Phillippines, Japan and Jakarta. The word 'growing' as in early days. Yoga is still in a nutshell to a lot of people here and I do believe it's the misunderstandings and general 'fear' of not knowing is the main problem for the strong accusations against yoga.
Soooo, I do think as yoga teachers, we have a duty like any other teachers, to teach with an open heart with patience and compassion for the less non-enthusiasts. So, let's teach with courage rather than anger or fear.
I do wish Ninie all the best and hopefully she carries on with her yoga teaching........
Ps. If you are interested in reading Ninie's blog, click http://www.yogainstructordiaries.blogspot.com
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I was super nervous before Izan put me live on Pilihan radio FM. It was pretty cold in the studio but I felt so warm with the blood rushing to my heart and head, I didn't even think the frost setting on my ears (Nah, just kidding). Izan was so accommodating and made me felt at ease. I felt butterflies in the tummy and felt I was going to choked half way through the session. But Izan's warmth and bubbly character made me forgot half of it and I remembered Peter's advice to treat the whole event as if I was talking to a friend in a coffee shop.
Well, Elaine (my cousin) was there. Thank goodness for that. She's been such a tremendous support for me. Anyhow, I am glad Izan helped me explained and clarify that yoga was a good exercise for both men and women of different ages, and it doesn't effect anyone's religion despite the rumours and myth about it. We also talked a lot about the yoga phenomena that's taking place in Brunei and other places in the world. Yes, Madonna and Gerri Halliwell did make a debut with it, but had amazing overall results from the practice.
We gave away 10 free yoga vouchers to the listeners and the response was amazing. AND Elaine and I thought it would be nice to give Izan one month of free yoga lessons. She looked pleased and surprised. So, hopefully she'll come over and try us out. There were lots of callers wanting the other 10 free aerobic vouchers, but sadly we had to end it at 9am.
All I can say is THANK YOU IZAN for such a great time at Pilihan FM and thank you all for tuning in.........
With big hugs to all of you
The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen in Kabul
story and photos by Aaron Huey, from Shambhala Sun
In the spring of last year I drove through Kabul, Afghanistan, past rows of mortar-scarred buildings, down the Darulaman Road, a former front line in the mujahedeen war, toward the Allahoddin Orphanage. Next to me in the car sat the reason for my journey: a young yoga teacher named Molly Howitt.
What Molly showed me that day was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen in Afghanistan. From the top tier of a bunk bed, in one of the largest and most corrupt government orphanages in Kabul, I saw a scene through the viewfinder of my camera unlike any other in that war-torn country.
Below me was a floor covered with bodies. Not dead, or dying, or starving, but perfectly at peace, calm, and present. A dozen young boys between the ages of 8 and 12 were lying on their backs in shavasana, arms at their sides, palms facing upward. Some were smiling; others just lay still, their minds turned inward. Before that day, through that same viewfinder, I had seen a very different set of images.
I lived in Kabul for five months of 2007, photographing the opium and heroin trade, prisons, mercenaries, and massacres, among other subjects that involved terrible loss or suffering. In Molly’s yoga class, I saw compassion, and I saw hope—hope that is desperately needed in a country that is increasingly unstable and violent. Over the past few years the Taliban have reclaimed much of the south and east of the country, and their suicide bombings are increasing in both frequency and scope.
Most of the children in the Allahoddin Orphanage have lost a father or a mother to war or illness. The country has been in a continual state of conflict for 30 years. When children enter an orphanage in Afghanistan, they find themselves in a world that is cold and violent, neglectful and punishing—a world in which they are used as props to lure in foreign donations, then locked up again once the money is guaranteed.
Molly Howitt is a 28-year-old American who moved to Kabul two years ago from New Mexico. During her first weeks in the city, she was taken to the orphanage by the director of Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Support for Afghanistan and offered a chance to teach yoga to the children there as part of the orphanage’s vulnerable children’s program. She was shocked by the conditions: The rooms reeked of unwashed, neglected bodies, and in the winter broken windows let in the bitter cold. The most basic necessities, beyond food and a bunk, were not met. There was very little human touch, Molly says, and hopelessness darkened the prisonlike environment.
Molly began practicing yoga twice a week with two groups of boys, using traditional techniques in playful, simple, and interactive ways. They practiced in their dormitories, where 24 bare bunk beds lined the walls of each identical room. The boys took immediately to yoga with bright, energetic smiles. They were always on time and jumping with enthusiasm before class.
At first they seemed to be responding to the activity, the fun, and the physical contact, but little by little Molly noticed changes in their ability to focus. At the end of each yoga class, the children were calm, centered, and content, and the changes migrated out of class, where other staff members noticed more positive, kind, and caring behavior in the boys throughout the day. Slowly, Molly says, they came to understand even the more subtle aspects of yoga: controlled movements, breathing, resting, and stillness.
When Molly debriefs the children at the end of each class, she usually asks them what kind of special place they went to during shavasana. Often they describe “flying” to their homes, seeing mothers or fathers or grandparents who had died. Sometimes they go to the zoo, or to a park that may or may not really exist. It’s the first step in teaching the children to take control of their thoughts and their happiness, Molly says. She finds that if children can give themselves enough space they can move away from painful thoughts to ones that give them strength. In a place so full of suffering, the comfort this simple routine provides is immeasurable.
Aaron Huey is a photographer whose work has appeared in such publications as National Geographic, the New Yorker, and Smithsonian; www.aaronhuey.com. Excerpted from Shambhala Sun(July 2008), the 2007 Utne Independent Press Award winner in the category of spiritual coverage; www.shambhalasun.com.
Monday, November 17, 2008
I was so happy about it that I didn't think much about it till now. I'm thinking I hope I say the right things. It's not as if you can rehearse interviews or imagine what your interviewer may asked you. So, having a bit of 'butterflies' in the tummy now.
Nora R. has done such a good job over the past years at promoting yoga and clarifying what yoga is in her website. I do think yoga is more well known in Brunei in the past years due to her efforts and determination to share yoga with others. I am continuing her support to yoga as I feel it's important people should be generally aware this is not just a fashion trend, sport or competition, but yoga is there to help tone muscle and build an overall sense of well being with the body and mind. It's not something that you can just easily do in one day. The movements are like art itself, it takes time to condition the body. The best thing about yoga is you always feel a sense of calmness and serenity during and after the session. Okay, maybe you would sweat it out and wishing the sun salutations would just 'end there'. But it's the after effects that gives you the 'good feel' factor.
Well, hopefully people will tune in and listen in. And cross fingers, I won't jumble my words up!
See ya later alligators!!
Friday, November 14, 2008
Raquel and I have been chatting about students perception towards yoga and the meaning of it. A lot of the issues have been raised since the latest news released about yoga as a religion. Some people think Sun Salutations has gestures in it that seems similar to other forms of religion. The gestures in yoga are called mudras, meaning 'seal' in old indian sanskrit language. The mudras are similar to reflexology which helps to stimulate organs in certain parts of the body.
Anjali Mudra is the most commonly used gesture in yoga (As above with the hands). The gesture seals the energy in the body, inducing a sense of awareness in yourself.
The Sun Salutation Pose, also known as Salute to the Sun and Surya Namaskar, is a flowing series of 12 poses which help improve strength and flexibility of the muscles and spinal column. This pose also warms up the body and tones the abdominal muscles. Virtually, all parts of the body, especially the thoracic and abdominal organs are exercised and rejuvenated with vitality. Traditionally, dawn and dusk are considered the most auspicious times of day to practise yoga, as the rising and setting of the sun both charge the atmosphere with energy. However, if these times are impossible for you, just practise when you can.
If you are interested in what sun salutations look like, then view http://www.abc-of-yoga.com/yogapractice/sunsalutation.asp
Yogic practices stresses on regulation of breathing which helps the yogi to gain control over the life force within the body as well as outside. Synchronisation of the breathing is an important constituent of the practice of Hatha yoga. In Surya Namaskar, the different postures when correctly practised, appear rhythmical, one naturally leading to the other.
There are always going to be ongoing comments about yoga and it's affiliation to religion. The way I look at it is everything is connected to religion. It's as if you would stop doing Tai Chi or Kung Fu just because it was initially practised by the buddhists. Be mindful and be fully aware of what you are practising. If you don't feel comfortable, then fine, stop.
Hatha and Ashtanga yoga are regular performances of combined postures and practices that has been clinically observed by the medical practitioners throughout the world to enhance overall health and both prevent and reverse disease. Yoga is often referred to as "the fountain of youth" because there is clinical evidence that it slows the aging process and promotes long life. Symptoms of aging, such as wrinkles and a poor complexion, are caused by poor circulation of the blood, allowing metabolic waste products or toxins to build up in the system. Through the practice of the yoga asanas, blood circulation is restored and the metabolic waste products are washed out, resulting in a more youthful look and feeling.
Here's a favourite pose of Christy Turlington, 32 year old celeb, looking great, doing Kukutasana.
Our plan for the Friday was just to spend the day together since it's been hectic in the last two weeks for us. Thinking it was going to be a nice relaxing day, my mum knocked on my door (yes, long story, we live as one big happy family in one house...... :0) ) and told me dad was unwell. I didn't have time to even brush my teeth. Yes, lucky me, I had peppermint sweets in my handbag. Took dad to Gleneagles and good ol' Dr Patrick said it was a false alarm. I was so relief. I wasn't prepared to have dad being in hospital again. It was strange to be back in the hospital but I didn't felt I missed anything. Perhaps reminiscing the friends I used to work with. Yeoh, if you are reading this, please be sure to tell Eileen we made the right moves.
Then thinking I was going to have a peaceful lunch, I had more errands to run through. I think I would have burned more than 250 calories running like a lost chicken.
The afternoon went on okay, and Peter decided to take us out to Country Patch after the ordeal of the day I had. I have never been there and am impressed with the setting. Very 'Nosebag' restaurant Oxford like setting. I ordered Ice Cuppuccino (ya, after the day I had, I didn't think twice about the sugars) and Salmon Pasta. Just when I was digging into my food, my handphone rang. It was my sis from UK telling me my mum was taken ill and my dad was on his way to hospital. Okay, you may think me heartless, but I was super hungry and stressed after the call, I shuffed and scoffed 5 scoopfuls of the pasta into my mouth and scurried quickly to my car to meet my parents in A & E.
Mum looked pale and completely 'off'. She felt nauseas with pressure at the back of her left eye. When the nurse took her vital signs, I was already diagnosing my own mum. Mum has been anxious in the last two weeks and the event of the day just set her off. So my guess was anxiety and not having enough rest. Waited in A & E for nearly 2 hours, and then was seen by the doctor. Yes, he too diagnose the same and told my mum to take it easy.
FATE, I didn't go to the Empire Hotel as I won't even have stayed there longer than 9hours. FATE, I used to be a nurse so I didn't feel too panicky about my parents situation (I could be a hysterial woman screaming at nurses and doctors for my mum to be seen first within 5 minutes) . FATE, I married a wonderful husband who understands and supports me . FATE, glad I had a quick dinner before the two hours wait. Hospital food not my 'cup of tea'. FATE, I am a yoga teacher now, all the deep breathing Ujyai breaths really helped big time.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I have put on a bit of weight around my waist, hips and thighs. No matter how slim you are, you will always notice this small changes. Peter says I'm vain. If I am, then the whole entire world would be too. There isn't a person out there I don't know that isn't uncomfortable with certain parts of their body. Think is, I don't take it too far with being too overly body conscious. But what bothers me is the slow metabolism that's heading in my direction and that's a real bugger!
I used to be able to eat piles of food and still not put on much weight. Now, it's like I have to pay back big time if I slip one cupcake into my lunch box. Bummer!
Sooo, I have been rethinking what I could do to boost up my metabolism......rethink what I used to do back in my 20's. Voila! !!!! DANCE DANCE DANCE.........so, am really blessed Raquel is around with the latino aero dance. I don't like jumping around alot but the latino dance is a nice moderate/fast pace. Just imagine walking down the street while dancing. That's how it feels like doing Raquel's workout. Gees, I hope I have done her justice trying to explain what latin aero is.
And I think the weight is slowly shifting . It's not easy to lose weight in Brunei since the food choices are more restricted to heavy meals like rice and noodles with lots of meat. Plus, we don't walk around in Brunei as much. I felt it was much easier losing weight in UK since I walked tons from the house to the town center. There were more variety of wholesome sandwiches and salads to choose in coffee shops and restaurants as well.
So, even if I'm doing yoga, I realise the rest of the days consist a lot of eating, laptop work and napping. Plus, it's a hot country and I'm not drinking enough to flush out my system.
Weight is always an issue, otherwise it won't be a health problem if it wasn't. I don't think you have to be stick thin to be pretty. The hollywood starlets all look gaunt, drained and starved. I think being atheletic looking is the best way to maintain a healthy body. A nice curve to a woman's body looks more appealing. Plus, you survive much better with more meat if you were in a prison camp or war.
So, before the start of next year, I'm already making my resolutions, and one of them is be more active and to keep my butt off the chair.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Haven't been blogging awhile. Had been unwell as well for the past two weeks and managed to recover in the last few days. Ya, a lot of gunk came out thru' the nasal passage (hee! hee! being polite and all). But what a luxury it is to be able to finally breathe thru' my nose again. What other stuff have I been up to? Well, lots of lying in bed, watching Weeds in bed. Pretty funny and not for 'young' eyes to view. I rate it parental guidance.....
So, what else? My birthday's coming up and am hoping I will have an Abba karaoke night. Pete's dreading it. Love Meryl Streeps in Mamma Mia. Been playing the tracks in my car a lot on the way to work. On my wishlist, to do scorpion pose without the wall, have a 'magic' yoga mat that cleans on its own each time I use it, get new reading glasses, to get more sleeeeeeeeeeeepppppp, ....there are more, but I don't dare to put it on the web yet. Have to get it first,...ya, how sad, I am getting it for myself, (from me to me gift) and then let ya know.
Ps.....I have a new instructor, Raquel who's just joined me at Seraphina. She's really cool, able to do yogalates, cardio workouts and aero dances. So, if you're interested, do join us for some fun!!!! I have placed her timetable in the website. It's so nice to have some one to be 'there' to practice yoga with. Plus I FINALLY get to be a yoga student again in Raquel's class. WOOHOO!!!! The little pleasures I find in life. Ahhhhhhhh.....
Well, see you later alligators.............xoxo :P