Tag Archives: Mindfulness

Body sensing, mala, meditation

Free Course: Body Sensing

If you feel anxious and unsettled, it may be that your mind is someplace else and completely disconnected from the body. Our lives demand our thinking minds to be turned on all the time, processing information, making decisions, scheduling ahead, reading and typing on computers, navigating subways. Our minds are everywhere but here in the presence of our bodies.

Our minds are everywhere but here in the presence of our bodies.

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Meditating at sunset Marina Bay

If you have a lot of nervous energy, you probably have tried sitting meditation, focusing on the breath, and find it difficult to keep up with the exercise. As multi-taskers by default, leaping into concentration meditation on the breath is highly challenging!

FREE Body Sensing Course

3 Deepening Mindfulness Practices

1st: Deep Body Presence

2nd: Whole Body Sensing

3rd: Moving Body Sensing​

Join now for FREE

I have learned one thing from working on meditation with my clients. Beginner meditators should start with the body. One wonderful technique is body sensing, where you turn your mind to the sensations and messages from your body - throbbing, pulsing, dullness, tightness, tension, space, lightness, hollowness, fullness, and so on - without any judgments, making it into a deeply calming exercise.

Ling Acott Quote Beginner meditators should start with the body

Body sensing is a mindful technique which involves scanning the whole body and being attuned to whatever that may arise. You give yourself permission to note anything and everything that may come up for you, resting your awareness on the most palpable sensations, but also tuning into other subtler sensations.

4 KEY BENEFITS TO PRACTICING BODY SENSING


  • Become more attentive to subtle changes in the body and mental states, which may otherwise go unnoticed. Small discomforts may be noted and addressed with proper changes in habits, which can impact on overall health and wellbeing in the long run.
  • Experience a peaceful wholeness as you find your mind-body connection again and feel more embodied.
  • Start to welcome every sensation with calmness, cultivating your relaxation response over stress response.
  • Switch from cognitive processes to sensory processes, creating and strengthening richer neural pathways in the brain.
Viparita Karani legs up the wall yoga pose

Restorative Yoga is Power

Can We Do More with Restorative Yoga?

This post first appeared on the Yoga 216 blog. It is reposted here with permission.

In the previous post, we talked about why restorative yoga is a necessity for us urban folks!

While restorative yoga is about paring down to basics and getting us to slow down, take note… you can still get a lot out of restorative yoga! As we continue to explore this topic, we will focus on some ways to make the best of restorative yoga, through creative sequencing, mixing activity and stillness in your practice, and by working in sync with deep breathing.

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Continue reading Restorative Yoga is Power

Study Yoga For Free

I have to tell you…  I am actually not a teacher; I am a student!
I’d tell you why I prefer to be a student. Student benefits rock, and you should not miss out on them too. Want to improve your yoga practice? I discovered how to learn yoga for free!

Learn yoga for free

The other day, a man came to practice in my class. He had shared about a tight IT band issue. I offered some variations to help him in his practice. I noticed that for some of the asanas, instead of taking up what I had offered, he started to make his own variations, which were innovative and new to me, and he looked completely comfortable while practising them. We had a chat afterwards, and I learned so much about IT bands! He had lived with it for years. He had read a lot of articles, researched strength and stretch exercises, and experimented with them on his body, and knew what worked and what didn’t. He was quite the expert on IT bands. I exchanged notes with him and we both left the conversation with more knowledge about this condition.

At the studios, they call me a yoga teacher, but I am a perpetual student! I learn a lot from my interactions with others daily. I improve my practice and my teaching, and its all grounded on evidence and real people with their unique bodies.

Want to improve your yoga practice and without any course fee? Ready to sign up?

I am going to tell you how to apply this!

….

It goes back to mindfulness.

…      …      …

Listen with curiosity and an open learning mind.

…   …   ….   ….
Try this ‘Be a Student’ challenge this month!

1. Ask someone what they enjoy doing (keep it general or specific – it can be on their yoga practice or health regimen, or anything else!).

2. Listen keenly and let the person do most of the talking. Resist temptation to comment, layer on your interpretation or examples from your own experience.

3. Really, just listen, and let the conversation and your curiosity about the topic lead you into the topic. Ask the “how”, the “why” and all relevant questions to explore the topic as if you’re preparing for an exam! If you have doubts, challenge and query further.

4. After that, immediately make notes about the one main thing that you’ve learnt from that conversation.
Being a “student” simply means bringing consciousness and an inquiring mind into everything that we do. It is about bringing yoga into our workaday lives. In the midst of a challenging project and looming deadline, take a pause, observe yourself, ask yourself what you are learning from the process.

So this month, I challenge you to treat everyone around you as study mates. Be open and present to what you might be learning from your bosses, your staff, your interns, your clients.

It’s exciting! Do tell me what you’ve learned from this month!

I would LOVE to hear all about it and have a conversation with you over your experience! Email me!

@SpiceSadhaka

Sign up here to receive original Mindful Monday letters like this one from me! As a welcome gift, I’d also like to offer you a full length beginners’ guided mindfulness practice audio for free.

 

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Practice Makes Perfect?

If we keep practising anything – swimming, golf, running, yoga – the same way we always do, we don’t get anywhere. We merely reinforce our old habits – of breathing, activating muscles and shifting our centre of gravity around – without focusing on moving more optimally.

If your goal is to “improve your game”, some analysis can identify if you’ve unhelpful movement patterns or a lack of strength or flexibility that gets in the way of a good golf swing or running gait. From there, you can then develop your practice in the direction that strengthens around the right patterns.

Here are two video tutorials on strengthening around the right patterns, using props: plough pose and caturanga.

The important thing is, without any awareness of where you are at, it is not possible to be scientific and systematic in your practice and to reach your goals. Even if you don’t have performance goals or dreams of personal bests, remember, you risk hurting yourself in the long run when you practise unmindfully.

Mindfulness can and should apply to everything that we do. We know we can analyse and get more information about ourselves – our swimming form, heart rate, etc – with the aid of videos, sensors and interactive software today. We can also get feedback from a coach. But there is another source of self-analysis, which is yoga. A good consistent practice of yoga can open our eyes to all of ourselves, and in terms of movement, offer an awareness of how we breathe, how we maintain balance, how we engage our inner and outer muscles, and how we move when we move.

We need to cultivate the right action, not just any action. Through our self-analysis, if we realize that we are overly reliant on one muscle group, or over-compensating with another part, then action can be taken to address these imbalances. This is when mindful practice can bring us to a place of optimal movement and ease, in the long run, allowing us to continue to do the things we do and to love life!

Mindful practice makes perfect.

@SpiceSadhaka

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Get to your big goals using meditation

Bon voyage message in chocolate
All the best…

For the past few months, I have been feeling on top of the world. Life’s great and nothing can get in the way of its greatness! I mentioned that I was leaving and friends and those from my practice circle have been really sweet, sending me all their well wishes. And today, I am sitting here in my sunny room looking out at the Manhattan skyline, thinking, wow, if you want it, you can really get it.

Manhattan skyline
New York – a trip of a lifetime, just a subway ride away.

I have chosen to be here, and I am here, in New York – the mecca for ongoing innovation in yoga. One of the agencies was running a lovely campaign with the tagline: “For most people, it’s the trip of a lifetime. For you, it’s just a ride away.” I do feel privileged to be here, where mindfulness is hot with executives in Wall Street boardrooms and there is so much yoga happening in every street and in every park. I have been spending a lot of my time either practising with my favourite teachers or offering classes, building training curricula, and getting the privilege of being invited to co-lead the Sattva Retreats immersion to Kerala, India in 2016. Drop me a note if you’re interested to join me!

It has not been easy running all these while trying to put together a new life in a new city. But life is boring when it is easy. And how activity energizes and drives you, especially when it is your chosen activity. You set yourself free when you choose to do what you want, rather than what you think you have to want, because you have to be somebody in society, or because there is a mortgage to pay off or because you led yourself to believe that you need a certain level of comfort. These fall away and you know that you can live differently, and that once in a while, you can take a long-distance coach instead of a flight to keep within your new budget; and maybe you figure you need to downsize your possessions and finally get rid of the car, which you barely use, or move out of the full-serviced condominium that has given you a lot of borrowed joy in the past.

Meditation can get you there
Meditation can get you there

We don’t need that much to launch into freedom. Freedom itself is energizing. Just look at all our start-up friends sandboxing, brainstorming, and pitching away to investors in co-working spaces; it seems that at all that is keeping them going is mugs and mugs of coffee. Of course, it is the dream, and the belief in the realisation of it, that drives us all. So many of you who practise or have practised yoga with me also have such amazing stories to share, giving up a corporate job to follow your passion, be it farming, or starting a trendy restaurant, or travel writing, or working with underserved communities, or finally going for that Yoga Teacher Training that you have been eyeing for a while. Sure, many learn after a while that they are not making money from their new endeavours, but they are generating a lot of authentic joy from pursuing that which gives them meaning every day.

Back bend on yoga block
Open up and let possibilities enter your life.

To a large extent, we are the ones holding ourselves back from our own happiness. You know that expansive feeling of joy that wells up when you practise a back bend? When you open up, you let space in; when you stop constraining your options with your preconceived notions of the good life, you let in new possibilities and a tangible connection with the abundance that surrounds you. When you align all your energy and efforts with the ultimate goal of life, you have the foundation for enduring happiness.

In concentration meditation, we practise gazing at a fixed point until everything else just melts away. The same thing happens when you set your gaze on your goal and retain that connection, unbroken, for a long time; everything else just melts away.

I hope you never give up that dream; if you have shelved it for a while, take it off the shelf, dust it and start meditating on it. Quite literally! Write it down and meditate on it every morning and evening. Start with 15 minutes and work it up from there. Notice how it changes the way you go about your week, how it resets what you prioritize in the day.

Be relentless, and when the result manifests itself, I want to hear your story!

May you be happy and free,

@SpiceSadhaka

Healing from the Root

Yoga for Managing Psychosomatic Disorders

Anger

When people experience symptoms and display signs that cannot be easily linked to any specific disease, the underlying issue can often be psychological or social stress. Acute sadness can lead to loss of appetite and libido, or a socially isolated person can develop chronic pain in multiple parts of the body, develop irritable bowel syndrome and more. Sometimes these symptoms almost become a barrier to healing, as the mind builds on them more and more over time.

To heal the body, we can start from healing the mind. Yoga, through the practice of holding uncomfortable poses, and maintaining full alertness and breath awareness throughout difficult moments, can train the mind to handle anxiety and duress better. Meditative yoga also shows us that there is no need for a fight or flight response all the time, that we do not need to over-dramatize the little mole-hills of our lives. A regular practice of yoga and meditation encourages the production of anxiety-reducing neurotransmitters, and helps dissolve chronic signs and symptoms suffered by patients over time. Increasingly, yoga therapy is ordered as complementary treatment for patients with depression, panic disorders, cancer, diabetes and other conditions, to help the mind to cope better, and the body to heal faster. Yoga Health Foundation has more.

A 15-minute meditation practice is built into our extended YinYang class every Wednesday (7:30 – 8:45pm). Do take advantage of it!

At home, get your daily dose from these lovely guided meditation practice sets.

— Spice Sadhaka