Tag Archives: Yoga Retreat

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

Starts today!

3 Deepening Mindfulness Practices

1st: Deep Body Presence

2nd: Whole Body Sensing

3rd: Moving Body Sensing​

Most of my students seek me out to find means to de-stress through yoga, and to be more at ease in mind and body. My advice is often not only limited to stretching and meditation. We need other ways to get out of our heads. Helen Sanders has a great article on Health Ambition on 15 easy ways to relax under 5 minutes. Pick any of these that fit you best, and implement it daily, for a week.

For those who want to explore the wonderful benefits of meditation, I advise them to 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.


  • 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.

Give it a go?

Join my popular Body Sensing 3-Day course with me, as my guest. Being able to rest in our bodies is key to naturally soothing our nervous system. This is one of the most important primal skills that we can all train to regain. What you'd need is 30 minutes a day, for 3 days. If you are willing and ready to train with me, see you there!

Head Massage, Restorative, Nidra

Why You Have to Turn On Your “Off” Button

There’s a war raging in your body!

Win it through the path of least resistance.

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

When we are facing stressful situations, the sympathetic nervous system is on alert, automatically recalibrating to increase blood pressure and heart rate and reduce digestion, to prepare the body for battle. Needless to say, our contemporary workaday lives, which is full of stress and sensory overload – tracking indices and social channel updates, digging ourselves out of a bottomless inboxes, rushing from meetings to lunch, to meetings over lunch – place a constant stress on us and trigger this ‘fight or flight’ response all the time.

Weekend warrior - is that a great idea?
Weekend warrior – is that a great idea?

When we are time starved, we often try to have an efficient workout, either by going for a hard run or a bootcamp session or choosing physically demanding yoga sessions. Perhaps these are efficient from a burning calories standpoint and, with discipline, speed, muscle build-up, weight loss and other results can be attained. But are they giving us overall health, vitality and balance?

With our relative physical inactivity, from desk-bound jobs, elevators and surfing the Internet, getting into weekend warrior mode with high-intensity workouts jolts the body’s system.

Restoring the Body through Yoga

Where it comes to physical yoga, slowly building up the practice with discipline, and keeping it a regular part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle is better than a strong dose once in a while. More importantly, it is critical not to neglect the counterpart of active yoga – the more restful, effortless style of yoga practice often called ‘restorative yoga’. It is so called precisely as it replenishes and renews the practitioner, with the body slowly eased into shapes. Poses are held for up to 10 minutes at a time, supported by various props and gravity.

Viparita Karani is a deceptively basic yoga pose which is incredibly powerful for the nervous system and the body's vitality and energy levels.
Viparita Karani is a deceptively basic yoga pose which is incredibly powerful for the nervous system and the body’s vitality and energy levels.











Sleepless in the City

Now you ask, to quiet our ‘fight or flight’ response, why don’t we just get to bed earlier? Proper deep sleep turns on the parasympathetic response of the nervous system, which has the beneficial effects of lowering blood pressure and heart rate and increasing digestion, and also promotes cellular regeneration. It unleashes our capacity to heal ourselves from within.

However, many of us are not actually getting the proper rest that is so crucial for these restorative processes to happen. A combination of city noise (including light and actual sound pollution), mental noise and tension arising from chronically held stress, strain from late nights, irregular and imbalanced work and rest hours and meal times, keeps the mind-body in constant duress. We may not even get to the deep sleep stages of the sleep cycle.

Chronic Lack of Rest is Debilitating

After a strenuous physical workout, it may take you perhaps a day or two for the muscle soreness to go away, but your nervous system takes a much longer time to recover.

Have you ever noticed that nagging fatigue, the feeling that you’re just not ready to start the week ahead? It can be from the lack of proper rest and an over-active sympathetic response.

Our bodies need proper rest for the vital systems to rebuild to compensate for the stress that we subject them to. Without good quality rest, there’s no chance for cellular repair and regeneration to take place. Athletes too under-perform when they are over-trained. Mark Jenkins gives a succinct explanation here.

In the United States, according to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. It is a lifestyle disease caused by a variety of factors, including poor diet, irregular and lack of physical exercise, but a constantly stimulated nervous system is also a factor for heart disease. It is a likely explanation for hormonal imbalances, chronic pains, diabetes, allergies, etc. As long as we don’t give our bodies the chance to heal, we’d be depleting our overall immunity and wearing down the other essential functions of the body over time.

Restorative yoga is not optional, it is essential to our continued vitality! We all need these self-care therapeutic sessions. Try starting your week, or day, with it.

If short on time, practise ONE restorative poses for 10 to 15 minutes as a pick-me-up anytime your energy feels like blah…).

Like most skills, relaxation takes practice! Start with some guidance, and include it as a conscious time out in your schedule. It’s your weekly ‘Top-Up’!

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Videos from Sattva Retreats (India 2016)

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Participants share their reflections from their time at Spice Yoga’s Sattva Retreats!

Ange Ong on getting value out of an intensive programme.

Chloe Wright on “magic” and “men in suits”!

Saskia Knoop on a complete yoga training.

Hazel Quek on finding authentic passion through yoga.

Sarah Poh on becoming stronger.