Featured, Yinspirations

5 ways to incorporate Ahimsa into your daily life

March 16, 2015
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Ahimsa is a concept that is more commonly known amongst yoga practitioners when it comes to learning about yoga philosophy. Ahimsa, which refers to non-violence, is one of the five aspects of Yama, which highlights the essential rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

I am certainly not the best person to be delving into the more sophisticated interpretation of the eight limbs of yoga, as well as the five aspects of Yama. However, as I learnt more about Ahimsa and its significance in cultivating compassion not only towards self, and also other living beings, it becomes more and more apparent that incorporating Ahimsa into your daily life can only make you a more loving, genuine, and centered person.

Here are the five ways in which you can practice Ahimsa into your daily life:

1. Eliminate judgement of self and others

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Taken from tumblr

Eliminating judgement of yourself and others goes a long way in practicing more Ahimsa into your life. Having the understanding that every single person has their own battle to fight, and using that understanding to judge less and emphatise more, will make you a more positive, loving and definitely a happier person. Whenever you find yourself passing judgement towards other people, stop yourself and tell yourself that it is their life, and it is their choice. Sometimes circumstances result in their decisions, and we really have no right to say whether what they do is right or not.

2. Always choose to be kind 

Often times in difficult interpersonal situations, we have two choices – whether to return the nasty and negative vibes, or to just let it be. Unfortunately, many of us tend to lapse into the habit of returning the negative vibes back. It is often a difficult decision to make, and sometimes being negative seems like an easier decision to make as opposed to being kind and positive. However, we often regret our decision after, and realise that sometimes being kinder to others, even when they don’t seem to deserve it, is not for their own good and sanity; it’s for our own good. We often feel better and more liberated when we choose to be kind, as opposed to be caught up in our negativity as a result of others’ actions. We can’t control what other people may do or act, but we can control how we react to them.

3. Be happy for yourself and others

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(Image credits: Risa’s Poster Dump)

We often live in a society or find ourselves in a social circle that is toxic, where negativity and unhappiness seems to be the norm. In fact, sometimes it becomes so normal that we are afraid to feel contented and happy with our lives and for others. When we remove judgement of ourselves and others, and embrace the good things in life and be brave enough to be happy about it, we empower ourselves to take charge of the vibes we give out to ourselves and to others around us. When your friend finds a job, gets a breakthrough, or when something great happens, be happy for them. Same goes to when it happens to yourself too. That way, we remove the negative vibes and energy in our lives and multiply the positive ones.

4. Remove harmful thoughts in difficult situations

While it is easy to be kind and positive when life seems to be smooth-sailing, it may not be so when the going gets tough, and especially when you find yourself caught in unpleasant situations. You may find yourself thinking harmful thoughts about people who were the cause of the unpleasantness – and you may wish ill on them. It is important to stop yourself whenever you find yourself thinking such thoughts, and take a step back. If the situation gets overwhelming emotionally, step out of that situation and do something relaxing and calming, before getting back to it again. Sometimes our anger or frustration tend to get the better of us, and it is important to take deep breaths and do what you need to do to take care of yourself emotionally.

5. Incorporate vegetarian/vegan diet into your lifestyle

There are so many arguments between vegetarians/vegans and people who do not pursue that lifestyle. To me, I find little need to dwell into that argument simply because incorporating vegetarian/vegan lifestyles shouldn’t be an end all be all kind of thing. Some people may prefer doing a slow transition into a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle by starting with a vegetarian/vegan meal a day, or twice a week. Some may find more success in doing a total change within a short span of time.

Since Ahimsa is about non-violence towards all living beings, naturally incorporating a vegetarian/vegan diet into your lifestyle would be a way to practice non-violence towards animals. More importantly, vegetarian/vegan lifestyles have immense health and environmental benefits. For me, it is always a work in progress. I have not transitioned into a full vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, but I am definitely not eliminating that possibility in the near future.

 

If you have any suggestions or thoughts about how to incorporate Ahimsa into your daily life, feel free to comment below. I hope you guys have a great week ahead! x

Featured, Yoga hacks

Munching for yoga!

March 9, 2015
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This is a guest blog post by Lin at @tumblinbumblincrumblincookie.

Hello yogis! I’m Lin, otherwise known as @tumblinbumblincrumblincookie, or the pestilential, highly dubious account with the ridiculous username that won’t quit splattering peanut butter and chocolate all over your instagram feed. I’m quite chuffed and more than honored to be able to join forces with the super-bendy, super lovely Angie in guest posting on each other’s websites—which was a long, arduous process made long and arduous on the sole basis that I am an incompetent doofus that couldn’t eke out a decent piece in the midst of my various commitments. So a very humble and sincere apology to Angie for making her wait with saintlike patience that must have summoned all the meditative calm of a thousand tree poses —but here it is and here we are, and I’ll be chatting to you today on the topic of post or pre yoga noms!

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I used to take yoga lessons myself, which was a way of easing back into a regular exercise pattern; I did both Yin and Vinyasa alternately, and it was a very eye-opening experience (I had never before experienced such intense muscle-soreness from something that wasn’t cardio: sun salutations in particular made muscles I never knew existed ache in ways I never knew could exist). Whilst yoga is an exercise that invigorates spiritually and gives you a boost of mental clarity and energy, it is also very much a workout and it’s important to ensure you have enough energy to sustain that warrior pose, do a smooth chaturanga, and hold that headstand. It is also equally important to ensure you give your body some help to repair the tired and stretched-out muscles after, so finding sufficient sustenance for your yoga-ing is an indispensible step to being a happy, healthy yogi!

There are a lot of sites out there that go into the specific science of pre and post workout snacking—some tell you how your body will draw on the energy to repair or fuel muscle, how the energy will be metabolised, maybe that specific combination of carbohydrates and protein and fat to give you a super energy rise. I won’t be going into that purely because I am firstly not qualified, being neither a nutritionist or well educated in sports science; and secondly because I believe that it’s highly subjective to what works for your body, and what you feel gives you energy /makes you feel best! We are all different and made uniquely, and our bodies function very much on a different level; it’s up to you to experiment and gauge how well your body runs on different types of food. You might only want a banana or a small handful of almonds before and prefer to refuel after your exercise; you might prefer to have a meal and allow that to settle before exercising so you have enough energy; both are perfectly fine! As long as you are listening to your body, respecting its boundaries and giving it the fuel it needs to allow you to yoga to your heart’s contentment and desire.

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Here are some snacks I find work for me and that can be taken either before or after yoga:

  • A slice of toast (wholegrain/multigrain/seeded/wholewheat/rye) topped with nut butter (almond butter, peanut butter, tahini, coconut butter) or greek yogurt and either a little berry jam, some sliced banana/berries/peach or a drizzle of maple syrup. I also like to garnish this with a little sprinkle of granola for a bit of crunch, and chopped almonds or cashews work equally well—or chia seeds if you want that extra omega-3 boost!
  • A bowl of yogurt (greek yogurt, soy yogurt, coconut yogurt) that can be either made chocolate flavor by stirring in cocoa and cinnamon or served with a swirl of warmed berries, along with a sprinkle of granola or cereal, fruit, and either a square of chocolate or a spoon of peanut butter!
  • Energy balls—I have a recipe for bliss balls and a recipe for raw citrus fig and walnut balls on my blog here and here They’re a great on-the-go snack if you have to be moving somewhere, and are both versatile, super easy to make and super easy to pop into your mouth!
  • A smoothie—start off with a base of frozen or fresh banana and add a variety of frozen or fresh fruit, a splash of almond/coconut/soy milk and ingredients that are up to your taste such as nut butter, cacao, a dollop of yogurt, some oats to thicken it up, chia seeds, avocado, a handful of greens, a scoop of protein powder, superfoods like maca and acai powder! Just blend it up and you’re good to go—something that allows you to cool down whilst sipping slowly, and that you can top with coconut, goji berries or cacao nibs and other toppings.
  • Half to one steamed or baked sweet potato drizzled with peanut butter, warmed raspberries and a dollop of yogurt with a sprinkle of granola. Again, easily customizable—add any toppings your heart desires!
  • A protein bar—you can always make your own (there are plenty of recipes just a search away on Pinterest) or buy those easily available like Trek bars, Clif bars, Luna bars, and Nakd bars—the ones I’ve tried and prefer are Squarebars and Quest bars.
  • Popcorn! I pop my own, which requires no time at all—and it can be topped with melted nut butter, tossed in maple syrup and cinnamon, drizzled with melted dark chocolate or just served plain with maybe a banana or some fruit.
  • Bananas! These are the ultimate energy-booster, and are good either frozen and blended to form delicious banana ice cream, chopped into coins with peanut butter sandwiched in between before being dipped into chocolate and frozen to form banana peanut butter sandwiches, rolled up in a tortilla wrap slathered in nut butter and sliced to form banana sushi, or just eaten plain.
  • Trail mix—if you’re on the go, trail mix is a good way to pack in loads of different ingredients to satisfy your peckish stomach without creating a mess! Add dried fruit like raisins or cranberries or apricot, yogurt dots (frozen yogurt circles), pretzel chunks, roasted nuts, seeds, toasted coconut chips, freeze-dried fruit, apple chips, banana chips, chocolate chips…the world is your oyster!

These are all snacks that give me energy to power up after a workout where all I want is a shower and a long nap, or before a workout to give me energy to press on, move my body and get a sweat going! It also helps that they are very delicious and make the whole sweating-and-aching process a little easier with the knowledge that you had/will have some yummy goodies that will fill you with energy to live, and move, and laugh.

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Besides the list, I also reach for homemade goodies if I have the chance, like these peanut butter oatmeal dark chocolate chunk cookies. They take only one bowl to make, are vegan and gluten free, and can provide that sweet ending to a long and tiring day! The cookies are filled with soft and hearty oats, toasty ground flaxseed and gooey melted dark chocolate chunks, and provide a soft crumb that is buttery rich and full of roasty peanut butter flavor with a caramelized darkness and golden sweetness from coconut sugar. They’re a great source of healthy fat, fibre and general all-round deliciousness, and make next to no mess in no time at all!

I hope you enjoy making the recipe and any of the snack ideas above if you do try them out—it’s been an honor working with Angie on this! If you have any comments, do add them below or hop over to my blog to shoot me an email. Hope everyone has a lovely week ahead filled with happiness, joy, gratitude and smiles.

Untitled4peanut butter oatmeal dark chocolate chunk cookies

You will need:

– Heaping 1/2 cup flour (buckwheat, oat, all purpose, wholewheat, spelt)
– 1 tbs ground flaxseed
– 1/2 cup rolled oats
– 6 tbs coconut sugar/raw sugar
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1 tsp vanilla extract/vanilla bean paste
– 2 tbs coconut oil
– 3 tbs maple syrup
– 6 tbs peanut butter
– 6 tbs to ½ cup dark chocolate chunks

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the oil, maple syrup, peanut butter and vanilla until emulsified. Add in all of the other ingredients and fold to combine; you should get a thick, sticky dough. Line a cookie tray with parchment/baking paper and divide the dough into 9 portions of cookie dough, leaving at least a half inch between each cookie dough scoop. Press each one down gently into a round cookie shape and bake for 10-15 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown and just crisp around the edges. Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container if not serving immediately. Enjoy!

Featured, Features, Yoga Teacher Training

5 lessons I’ve learnt during my yoga teacher training

February 16, 2015
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This post is courtesy of Tirisula Yoga.

Hello you guys! I’m sure some of you know that I am currently doing my yoga teacher training, and I’m into my 5th week so far, with another 10 weeks to go! As I am doing a part-time weekend course, a 200-hr teacher training takes a lot longer to finish as compared to a full-time weekday course. I’ll talk more about the pros and cons of doing a part time teacher training in another post!

Today, I thought it’ll be great to share with everyone some of the really important lessons I’ve learnt during my YTT so far, that has really transformed my yoga practice. Prior to starting my YTT, I have been practicing for 2 years at various studios, only settling at Pure Yoga around 6 months ago. I thought I had considerable knowledge about yoga and what I am doing, but training at Tirisula Yoga has really changed my perspective about my own practice.

1. Alignment is extremely important, but also extremely overlookedProcessed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetThis realisation was one of the biggest lessons that has transformed my yoga practice, because most of the times, yoga teachers outside don’t emphasize the importance of alignment in ensuring a safe practice enough. Most of the time, many of us collapse our weight into our lower back without realising it, in a bid to enter more deeply into the pose.

My YTT has been a lot of unlearning and relearning of alignment and asanas even in seemingly basic poses such as Virabhadrasana I, II, Utthita Trikonasana, and many more. Because yoga teachers out there do not have the luxury of time to correct every single student in a yoga class, many of us are left with severe misalignment in our asanas without even realising it. This can cause severe spinal injuries in the long run. Yoga is supposed to heal, it is not supposed to inflict long-term injuries.

If you are in pain in an asana, you are probably in the wrong alignment.

2. The importance of pranayama and meditation 

10965298_10152630661126232_912702255_nKeeping up with a newfound habit of morning pranayama and meditation!

Pranayama and meditation are great but also under utilized tools in creating greater mental awareness and alertness that can help us immensely throughout the day, even outside of the yoga mat. Doing 50 rounds of Kapalabhati first thing in the morning and doing a short 5 minute meditation before starting your day can do wonders to our level of alertness and stress.

And no, meditation and pranayama are nothing about being religious – it is a tool to clear out the toxins in our body that builds up during a restful night’s sleep. You will be amazed how simple breathing exercises can help to clear out toxins and distractions in our mind and body.

3. Yoga is not just about flexibilityProcessed with VSCOcam with hb2 presetThis is something that I have always emphasized since the very beginning, even before I started my YTT. I always highlighted how yoga is not for the flexible – it is for everyone! You do not need to be flexible to do yoga. However, this lesson was constantly emphasized again and again during my YTT.

Yoga is a combination of strength, flexibility, and stamina.

The most difficult part about yoga is about balancing all these three aspects to perform different asanas. For example, sometimes flexibility can be a hindrance because one tends to collapse into the lower back due to back flexibility. This hinders one’s ability to balance in an inversion. Similarly, one who is really strong can find that they might be really tight in some of their major joints, such as shoulders and hips. Of course, stamina is another aspect altogether. Our stamina is constantly put to the test with 3 hour asana practices, and intensive strength and conditioning trainings.

4. Do not be afraid to ask questions

Processed with VSCOcam with lv01 presetOne of the trainers, Erica, adjusting me into reverse prayer

That being said, I think it is important to ask questions after yoga classes if you have any questions about entering into an asana. Sometimes online resources has its limitations, and it is always better to have a more hands-on experience with your yoga teacher who have seen your practice during class and may be able to point out modifications or adjustments that are more specific to you. As I mentioned earlier in the first point, alignment is constantly overlooked in yoga classes because of the relatively large class size and a lack of time for the yoga teacher to go around and adjust individual’s alignments. Therefore, it is on our own onus to ask questions and be more inquisitive about alignment in yoga asanas.

If you experience any pain during your yoga practice, it is also extremely important to flag it to your yoga teacher so he or she will be able to suggest various modifications. Keeping quiet will only aggravate your injury or misalignment, and can be very detrimental in the long run!

5. Yoga teacher training is not only for aspiring yoga teachers

Many people may have the misconception that yoga teacher training is only for people who eventually wants to be yoga teachers. However, this is definitely not true, because there are so many fellow yoga teacher trainees around me who are doing this as a way to deepen their practice. YTT has definitely helped me deepen my understanding of yoga and transformed my yoga practice. Even if I don’t plan to be a yoga teacher in the future, all these information and lessons will definitely improve my yoga practice and physical wellbeing in the long run!

 

I will be sharing one of my YTT sessions at Tirisula Yoga with you in my next post! I am also planning to do a Q&A post for those of you who might have any questions or worries about yoga teacher training. I will be more than happy to answer them. Meanwhile, I will be posting more updates on my Instagram and tumblr, so do remember to give them a follow and say hi!

Featured, Life

#OmForAGoldenHome with me!

February 12, 2015
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Hello you guys! If you have been following me closely on my Facebook, tumblr, or Instagram, you would have heard about #OmForAGoldenHome, a yoga charity fundraiser that I am organizing together with The Yoga Co!

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What is #OmForAGoldenHome?
This yoga charity fundraiser is a personal project that I have pledged under this campaign For A Golden Home. The campaign aims to raise funds for Project HomeWorks by Habitat for Humanity Singapore, by empowering young individuals with a platform for them to raise funds for a common cause. It provides the opportunity for Singapore youths to create their own project, movement, or initiative in a way that they are most familiar with. It can be baking, arts and crafts, photography, or in my case, yoga! Not only is it for a really meaningful cause, it also seeks to show how easy it is to make a positive difference to everyone around us, especially to the needy community in our society.

What is Project HomeWorks then?
Project HomeWorks is an ongoing project by Habitat for Humanity Singapore, that seeks to restore basic living conditions of the elderly living alone in Singapore. Many of these elderly live in squalid conditions with dirt, grime, old furniture that not only pose safety but also severe health hazards. The proceeds from #OmForAGoldenHome will go to purchasing cleaning items, new furniture, paint, and so on, in order to help restore basic living standards for these elderly.

How can I help?
You can donate to the cause, pledge your own project, or even take part in any of the pledged events! They are all listed here.

What is happening on 14 March then?
#OmForAGoldenHome is going to be a day packed full of yoga classes, wonderful baked goods, juices, and yoga apparel. Proceeds from the yoga classes, baked goods, and juices will go to Project HomeWorks.

Here are the classes lined up on 14 March:
1. 11am to 12pm: Hatha Yoga (by Pei Shan)
2. 12.30pm to 1.30pm: Triple Threat Bootcamp (by Sandra)
3. 2pm to 3pm: Flow Yoga (by Elina)
4. 3.30pm to 4.30pm: Arm Balance & Inversions (by Erica)
5. 5pm to 6pm: Yin Yoga (by Pamela)

Classes are multi-level so no matter whether you are a regular yoga practitioner or someone looking to try something new, there’s always a mat for you. Drop in for a class on 14 March for $35 and all proceeds will go to Project HomeWorks. Hang around and mingle with us after your class with delicious baked goodies and healthy juices!

How can I sign up?
Email hello@theyoco.com to book your mat! And come say hi when you see me at The Yoga Co on 14 March! Looking forward to seeing you guys on that day! x

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Featured, Yoga hacks

Celebrating Valentine’s Day the yogi’s way!

February 9, 2015
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Valentine’s Day is upon us and what’s a better way to celebrate the day with your friend or partner yogi-style? The boyfriend and I always thoroughly enjoy ourselves when we attend yoga classes together, especially partner yoga workshops. Partner yoga is a great way to learn how to trust, communicate, and of course, fall and laugh together! It is definitely one of our favourite activities to do together.

So if you are looking for a special event to bring your yogi girlfriend/boyfriend/friend to this Valentine’s Day, here are 3 great events that you should sign up for:

1. Partner Yoga with Yun Ng and Roxanne Toh


Where: Hom Yoga
When: 10.30am to 12.30pm
$$$: $40 (prepaid), $50 (drop-in)
Discounts: 10% off for Hom Yoga members

Bring your yoga practice up a notch by incorporating a partner to bring you deeper into poses for healing and therapeutic purposes. Of course, there may also be some acroyoga elements thrown into the 2 hour long session as well! I personally have attended 2 partner yoga workshops by Hom Yoga in the past and I have always enjoyed myself thoroughly.

Check it out here!

2. Handstand in Partnership with Marc Bauchet

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Where: Sadhana Sanctuary
When: 1.30pm to 4.30pm
$$$: $90 (per person), $170 (per couple)

This 3 hour long workshop is definitely great value for money. Not only do you learn how to enter handstands safely with the help of your partner, you also get to learn massage techniques and stretches that will help to evolve your practice. Learning how to spot others in their practice would also do wonders in creating greater awareness to your own body in your yoga practice. Plus you get a complimentary massage or facial spa with every sign-up!

Check it out here!

3. Valentine’s Day Contact Yoga with Marc Bauchet and Crystal Gui

Screen Shot 2015-02-09 at 11.18.24 amWhere: The Lumen Room
When: 7pm to 9pm
$$$: $50 (registered), $90/pair (registered), $60 (drop-in), $110/pair (drop-in)

For friends and couples looking for serious acroyoga fun, this would be the workshop for you! The workshop incorporates elements of acroyoga and dance, and there is also a milonga (social dance for tango) happening after the workshop. It is free for those participating in the workshop to observe and a discounted entrada of $8 for those tango dancers attending both. Definitely a fun way to spend your Valentine’s Day night!

Check it out here!

 

I hope you enjoy yourself with your friends, partners, and loved ones this Valentine’s Day! Who says Valentine’s Day is only for couples? It can definitely be a day to remind ourselves to show appreciation to the friends and family that we love dearly. Have a great week you guys! x