22 January 2010

My students


07 October 2009

Finding Your Yoga

"The onus will be on each individual student to find a yoga teacher who's style is suitable with his or her own preference.”
LeoNard Se

This blog is an introduction (simplified/beginner) to yoga practice. However there is no substitute for learning with a qualified yoga teacher. You may also further your knowledge through many books on yoga at your favourite bookshop. Just a note of caution, not all poses can be done without a yoga teacher - especially on breathing techniques or correct postures, when you follow a step by step guide in the book.

The main form of Yoga commonly known today is Hatha Yoga, which is also an umbrella term that encompasses other physically based Yogas, such as Iyengar Yoga, Ashtanga Vinyasa or Bikram Yoga. Less well known terms or names of other Yoga practices, which might be called branches or the tree of Yoga (read introduction).

Regardless of which branch or tradition of Yoga appeals to you, a good teacher always helps. Do ask potential teachers about their qualifications, keeping in mind that the Yoga industry is not as structured as law or accountancy. Although more and more training programs are available, many very experienced and wonderful teachers don't hold a teaching certificate. What they offer is a deep intuitive understanding, gleaned from years of disciplined practice.

"On the physical level, Yoga is not about flexibility, but the right attitude and mindset, it's more than winding yourself into the form of a pretzel" said Louis Chong (my first yoga teacher who inspired me to further my learning).Your journey into Yoga is a personal one, find a teacher with whom you feel a good connection, they might just turn out to be a helpful guide as you navigate your path through life.

I no longer own a studio (Sadhana Yoga LLC) or aspire to teach in a big studio with full amenities, a small class size is preferred so that everyone receive the same attention. Instead of rooting myself on a stage or platform dishing out instruction like a military boot camp, I constantly move around correcting your posture if necessary. Giving you feedback on alignment, prescribe various poses techniques and stimulate your mind with ways to stay present during the practice.

All are welcome to join my class/retreat, however I do have limited slots. I do not preach or talk about religions or invoke recitation. My students range from 18 - 75 years old, from Muslim to Jews.

Lastly, you will discover that yoga teachers take many approaches; some will focus more on the mental aspects, some on the devotional path, and others on the physical forms of yoga. My approach to yoga will be more towards the body, spiritual and mind.

06 October 2009

International Yoga Workshop

Attending Simon Borg Oliver workshop - October 2011 in KL

BKS Iyengar - China - India Yoga summit in GuangZhou 2011
Parmath Niketan (Rishikesh, India) satsang with HH Dalai Lama
Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa (Kundalini master)
Me and  "my" Rishikumar
International Yoga Festival 2010 (Rishikesh, India)
Michel Besnard's Workshop
Michel has been practising yoga since 1978, and has been teaching since 1983. Until 1993, he was practising Iyengar Yoga and was a direct student of BKS Iyengar. He has studied under Mr Iyengar in Pune, India several times. Michel has also been practising Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga since 1993, and has studied directly under Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India.

Truly a teacher’s teacher, Michel brings the depth of knowledge and years of experience into class that is so often lacking from modern yoga teacher trainers.

Absolute Yoga @ Esplanade Park ______________________________________________________________

Simon Borg Oliver's Workshop
Simon began his practice of the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga Series in 1985, learning first with Robert Lucas (1st Series) in Australia, then with Cliff Barber (2nd Series) and Danny Paradise (3rd Series) in India. Simon still practices the Ashtanga Vinyasa Series on average once a week, and never fails to attend the classes of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois when he was in Australia. Between 1986 and 1997 - Simon held several workshop in S.E. Asia and the last I attended his workshop was in KL October 2011.

Saumik Bera's Workshop
Master Saumik Bera started learning yoga at the very young age of six years old and he has been practicing yoga for more than 19 years. He has more than 10 years teaching experience, teaching in different parts of the world including India and Europe and over the last three years in Singapore. Master Saumik holds many prestigious championship awards which include three gold medals in the International Yoga Cup held in Italy in 2005 and gold medals in the Artistic Yoga category in the World Cup Championship for three consecutive years from 2005 to 2007. In 2007, Master Saumik was recognized and honoured as the best Asian Yoga Teacher in Artistic Yoga and is currently the Chief Advisor and Main Master to Real Yoga Studio in Singapore

17 July 2009

About my class

All my classes duration are in 90 mins instead of the usual 60 mins, that way students learn to pace themselves, exercising the proper Asana (posture) as mentioned in "Finding Your Yoga" above.

Over in my class, there is no rush in trying to catch up with the others or trying to outshine the rest. We learn and do the same, growing together. That explain my intent of keeping the class size up to a maximum of 10 students.

Tuesday and Friday @ FGS punggol (www.fgs.sg) 8pm - 930pm
Currently on waiting list

Thursday (90 mins) @ Dance Ensemble Studio (www.des.org.sg) 7pm - 830pm
Filling up fast

Tuition fee: $25 (walk in) - $20 per lesson (per month basis).

If you decide to form your own private group:
Tuition fee: $150 (1-to-1) $200 (2-to1) or $200 (up to 10 students).

In the event that all classes are on waiting list, you are encourage to contact me for the next available slot.

You are welcome to join my Yoga Retreat be it first timer, beginner or Yoga teacher. Please call Leonard at 9029 6767 - to find out more.

*Please bring along your own Yoga mat

14 July 2009

Yoga Retreat @ D'Kranji Farm Resort (2D1N)

Propose date: 29th - 30th August 2009

Rates quoted Inclusive of:
  • 01 Breakfast at Altantis Seafood Restaurant (Vegetarian meal upon request)
  • 01 Night Villa Accommodation
  • 2 x 90 mins Yoga sessions
Rates quotes exclude:
  • Personal expenses
  • Optional Tours (Farm Tour)
  • Items not mentioned above
  • Spa facilities
S$150 per participant based on twin sharing
S$110 per non-participant based on twin sharing

*please bring along your own Yoga mat

Yoga Retreat @ Bintan Lagoon Resort (3D2N)

Propose date: 28th - 30th August 2009

Rates Quoted Inclusive of:
  • 02 way Ferry ticket from SIN-BIN-SIN
  • 02 way Seaport taxes to Bintan
  • 02 way Security and Fuel surcharge by Ferry
  • 02 Night Accommodation at superior room
  • 02 Breakfast
  • 02 Buffet Vegetarian Lunch at Kopi-O restaurant
  • 02 Buffet Vegetarian Dinner at Kopi-O restaurant
  • 2 x 90 mins Yoga session (1 x beach Yoga - subject to weather condition)
  • 1 x 90 mins Yoga workshop
Rates Quoted Exclude:
  • Personal expenses
  • Optional Tours
  • Items not mentioned above
  • Travel Insurance
  • Entry Visa to Indonesia (if any)
  • Spa facilities
S$400 per participant based on twin sharing
S$330 per non-participant based on twin sharing

*Please bring along your own yoga mat

Introduction - with my humble portfolio

"When we break free from the habits that limit us, a new world of possibilities open up"

Martine Batchelor

I used to think that yoga is all about doing great asanas, like many layman, vrksasana (tree pose) comes to mind instantly when yoga is mentioned. Probably under heavy and overly use commercial advertisement we see around us. Those beautiful setting and environment surrounded the mind that cast such impression, looking good, hang out in places to be seen as yoga seem to be the latest hit in fashion.

I had slip-disc at my lower lumbar area since 2001, it was a choice between going under the knife or seek other alternative treatment. I exhausted a lot of hard earn resources. Then a friend introduce me to Yoga. I started practicing since 2005 and decided to further my knowledge and skill by becoming a teacher (registered with Yoga Alliance (RYT200) graduated in August 2008). Currently I teach 3 times a week on a regular basis as well as running regular charitable program to create Yoga awareness in school and temples.

Yoga is a way of life, an integrated system of education for the body, mind, and inner spirit. This art of right living was perfected and practiced in India thousands of years ago but, since yoga deals with universal truth; its teachings are as valid today as they were in ancient times. Yoga is a practical aid, not a religion, and its techniques may be practiced by everyone from all walks of life, regardless of race or religion alike. Yoga is union with all.

Yoga is a fine art and seeks to express the artist’s abilities to the fullest possible extent. While most photographers need a camera to express their art, the only equipment a yogi needs are from his body and his mind.

There are several types of Raja or Ashtanga Yoga practice to suit the needs of the modern world. Raja, Kundalini, Hatha, Mantra, Yantra, Nada, Laya. Underlying the same basic principles with different emphasis. However, all must observe the eight limbs of Raja yoga mindfully.

There are four paths of Yoga:

Karma Yoga (Active) - To eliminate the ego and its attachments. Serving humanity without expecting any reward. Suitable for people with an active temperament, giving of oneself, but working on a spiritual level.Bhakti Yoga (Devotional) - This path tends to appeal to people who are emotional by nature. Through various practices such as chanting, prayer and repetition of mantra, emotional energy is channeled into devotion, turning anger, hatred and jealously into a positive direction. The Bhakti tries to see God in all.
Raja Yoga (Scientific) - Hatha yoga is a form of Raja yoga that emphasizes asanas and Pranayama. Without Yamas, Niyamas, and the other steps (the eight limbs), it is not yoga.

Jnana Yoga (Philosophical Path) -
Intellectual approach to spiritual evolution describe the world as illusion. This path demands a sharp mind and an unclouded intellect.

The eight limbs of Raja yoga:

Yamas – restraints
Niyama – observances
Asana – steady poses
Pranayama – control of the vital energy
Pratyahara – withdrawal of the sense from objects
Dharana – concentration
Dhyana – meditation
Samadhi – super conscious state

The Benefits of Yoga

From the moment of birth, we take our first breath, filling ourselves with life force. As we continue our life journey, not a minute of the day passes without us giving nourishment to our body and mind via the breath. Unfortunately, that quality of nourishment can diminish as we get caught up in the cobweb of life. Our fast pace of life tends to place increasing stress on our bodies, directly and indirectly affecting many physiological process.

One of the first reactions to stress in the body is the over-stimulation of our sympathetic nervous system. The diaphragm begins to constrict and set up rapid shallow breathing. Unbelievably, a vast range of illnesses can occur from this simple reaction. Other factors such as poor posture, diet, muscle tone and emotional responses, can all have the same effect on the way we breathe.

Being able to breathe correctly will make an enormous difference to your over health and emotional state. Prana is the life-force which permeates both the individual as well as the universe at all levels. It is at once physical, sexual, mental, intellectual, spiritual and cosmic. Prana, the breath, and the mind are inextricably linked to each other.

Yoga helps us to balance our lives, to be happy, healthy, and to improve our relationships with our partners, children, friends, and with ourselves.

As Yoga totally embraces our mind, body & spirit, regular practice can help change a negative mindset by offering inner peace and an ability to face upheavals and deal with problems. The benefits of yoga seem to be endless. It is perfectly adaptable to all kinds of lifestyles – Eastern, Western, children and adults. It can replace the so-called buzzes of alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and other stimulants with a wonderful sense of energy release. It is a fabulous way to tone and strengthen our bodies and relax our mind.

Wellness – Not Illness:
When you practice yoga regularly, you may find it:

Helps relieve depression and anxiety
Increases energy levels
Aids weight control
Helps relieve arthritis
Boosts flexibility and energy
Improves body posture
Improves digestion
Lowers blood pressure

The Sun Salutation Theory

The Sun Salutation - Surya Namaskar
(The sanskrit word surya means sun. Namaskar is the Hindi word for Namaste, from the root Nam, to bow. Namaskar means salutation, salute, greeting or praise).

In Hindu mythology, the sun god is worshipped as a symbol of health and immortal life. The Rig Veda declares that “surya is the soul, both of the moving and unmoving beings”. The sun salutation originated as a series of prostrations to the sun. Traditionally, it is performed at dawn, facing the sun. In time , each of the twelve positions came to have its own mantra, celebrating aspects of the sun’s divinity.

The sun salutation is a graceful sequence of twelve positions performed as one continuous exercise. Each position counteracts the one before, stretching the body in a different way and alternately expanding and contracting the chest to regulate the breathing. Practiced daily, it will bring great flexibility to your spine and joints and trim your waist. It limbers up the whole body in preparation for the asanas as taught by Swami Vishnu-devananda, founder of the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centers.

1. As you exhale the breath, bring your chest in the prayer position. This is a powerful physical, mental and psychic way of centering the body.

2. Inhale and stretch your arms up over your head. Arch your body backwards, keeping the arms alongside the ears, and knees straight.

3. Exhale as you bend forwards and bring the hand down to the floor next to the feet. If you cannot put your hands on the floor with knees straight, bend the knee slightly.

4. Without moving your hands, inhale and stretch the right leg back as far as possible. Drop the right knee to the floor and then stretch the head up. In my variation, I did not drop my knee, instead I hold the lunge position with my buttock tighten.

5. Without allowing the hand to move from their positions. Move the left leg back and bring the hips up. Push the heels towards the floor and keep the knees straight. Drop the head down between the arms. This is often referred to as inverted “V” pose or downward dog.

6. Exhaling, drop the knees straight down to the floor. Keep the hips up. Without rocking the body backwards. Bring the knees, chest, chin straight down to the floor in between the hands. (In my variation, I tuck my elbow next to my chest and did not allow any of my body parts to touch the floor. This position is also known as chaturanga dandasana).

7. Flatten your heel as you slide your body forwards until the hips are on the ground. Arch the chest up and bring the head back into cobra pose. Elbows are slightly bent, with the shoulder down and back, so that there is no tension in the neck or shoulder area. (In my variation, I did the upward dog, without allowing any of my body parts to touch the floor).

8. Without allowing the hand to move from their positions. Move the left leg back and bring the hips up. Push the heels towards the floor and keep the knees straight. Drop the head down between the arms. This is often referred to as inverted “V” pose or downward dog.

9. Without moving your hands, inhale and stretch the right leg back as far as possible. Drop the right knee to the floor and then stretch the head up. In my variation, I did not drop my knee, instead I hold the lunge the position tighten my buttock.
10. Exhale as you bend forwards and bring the hand down to the floor next to the feet. If you cannot put your hands on the floor with knees straight, bend the knee slightly.

11. Inhale and stretch your arms up over your head. Arch your body backwards, keeping the arms alongside the ears, and knees straight.

12. Exhale as you stand upright and return to the starting position, you are ready to begin the next sun salutation cycle with starting with your left leg.


The Pranic Benefits of Yogic Breathing:
Breath is seen as the outward manifestation of prana, the vital force or energy that flows through the physical body but is actually in the Astral body. By exercising control over the breathing, you can learn to control the subtle energies within the body, and ultimately gain full control over the mind.

Pranic Benefits:
The prana, when consciously controlled, is a powerful vitalizing and regenerating force. Once you are able to control the prana, it can be manipulated for self development, for healing yourself of seemingly incurable diseases, and to help you to heal others.

The Chakras:
The areas in the pranic sheath of the astral body where many nadis, or astral nerves, come together are called chakras. We can imagine them rather like a telephone exchange, with many wires leading in and out. The chakras represent the vibratory levels of the astral body, becoming more subtle as they ascend. Through breathing exercises, or Pranayama, the yogi tries to raise his vibratory level. The energy pattern of each chakra is represented by particular colours and a certain number of lotus petals. Each petal bears one of the 50 letters of Sanskrit alphabet, and one letter forms the central sound, on mantra.

The Nadis:
To the serious yoga student, purification of the nadis is of the utmost importance in ensuring the healthy flow of the prana. An energy blockage in these astral tubes, or meridians, may result in physical and mental diseases, so yoga exercises work in a similar way to acupuncture to purify and strengthen the nadis. Of the 72,000 nadis, the sushumna, ida, and pingala are of prime importance to the yogi. Only during meditation does it come into the sushumna. Yoga breathing exercises help to balance the energies.

Alternate Nostril Breathing – Anuloma Viloma
The principal benefit of practicing Alternate Nostril Breathing, or Anuloma Viloma, is that it strengthens the respiratory system. As exhalation is twice as long as inhalation, stale air and waste products are drained and expelled from the lungs, and from the entire body. Alternate Nostril Breathing calms and balances the mind; you should try to perform at least 5 rounds daily. Begin with the right hand in the Vishnu Mudra position and the thumb on the right nostril. When exhaling, try to empty the lungs completely.