“I vow now to develop mindful attention in this body, heart and mind for my own and others’ benefit.”
Just a few more sleeps and it’s 2018! Where did the time go?!
Early this year I was finalizing the education and certifications I planned to do in 2017. So far, I was able to fulfill 5 major training’s that I set myself to do in order to be a better teacher and better person in general (wink, wink). One of the highlights so far was the 10-Day Insight Yoga Level 1 training in Hong Kong with Sarah Powers – my Yin Yoga mother and the one who actually named Yin Yoga as Yin Yoga!
It was my first time in Hong Kong but as usual, I travel not to sight-see but to train with teachers I have been following (or stalking) my entire yoga life. After spending time and learning from her, I am already looking forward to the Level 2 training in May 2018!
Since my paradigm has shifted from being improvement based and yang oriented to therapeutic based and yin oriented, I have become drawn to spiritual and subtle energetic disciplines both in my practice and teaching. I even want to be an acupuncturist now! (Don’t laugh! 😂)
As Paul Grilley (the Discoverer of Yin Yoga, as subset from Taoist Yoga of his teacher) would put it, Sarah Powers has developed a system of practices that cultivates all levels of a human being. Insight Yoga interweaves Yoga, Chinese Medicine, Taoist Principles, Buddhist Meditation and Transpersonal Psychology into an integral practice. It has been 10 days of learning about Yin & Yang Yoga, Chinese Meridian System and Mindfulness Meditation. Yin Yoga is a longevity, meridian and joint exercise, a needle-less acupuncture through pulling and tractioning of our skeleton not with brute force but with time. According to Chinese Medicine, the nourishment and strength of the meridian system is essential for the maintenance of harmonious balance on all levels of the body-mind-spirit.
Until now, I can still hear her voice tell me, “You can only do yoga or follow a yogic path. Keep the breadth and depth of yoga in the way you practice and the way you teach. Keep your student’s longevity in mind; be interested in the Fabric of Being. To be able to get in touch with your higher self, study the ancient wisdom methods through a long-time dedicated teacher and practitioner. Transmit that “Chi” force passed to you the same way your teacher does. Look where the meridians move in the body and don’t’ be obsessed with the aesthetics or alignment.”
After 70 hours of training and learning, the more I realized that I know nothing. My mind is scattered in the thought of learning everything! “Let this not overwhelm you,” she said. A focused mind suffers less. This is where mindfulness meditation comes in handy, I suppose. Insight is the true end goal of meditation. The spirit of internal inquiry that allows us to look inside the dark rooms of our minds so we can search inside ourselves; so, I actually don’t have to know everything. I just have to know more of me and that can be realized thru meditation.
In this fast-paced, culturally imbalanced life, we somehow get destructive and aggressive physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually with ourselves and others blocking our “chi” (energy). Our best defence is to add yin element in our yang lifestyle. A practice that integrates breathing, stillness and contemplation. We only know how to gather and spend chi; we don’t know much of gathering and storing energy. Our life in turn is depleted in every aspect and we find ourselves functioning on auto-pilot. We may sometimes feel alive but not truly awake. That is how a Yin Yoga practice could help us be healed with the help of a skilled teacher. The long held postures of yin partnered with foundations of mindfulness meditation could eventually lead us to discover our inner refuge where true freedom dwells.
As much as I would like to share with you all the all tools of meditation, it is necessary to impart this in a class personally. What I can share is the 1st of the 4 “Shamata” (tranquillity or calm abidance) that Buddha taught: “Anapanna Sati” – Mindfulness of the in and out breath, knowing when you’re in and knowing when you’re off. My 3 favourites from the book of my teacher called Insight Yoga! A tool that can be incorporated while in a yin pose or in your own meditation practice either seated or lying down in as little as 6 minutes a day.
1.Engender loving kindness:
Inhaling may I be at peace, Exhaling may all feel peace
Inhaling I am here now, Exhaling I am releasing resistance
Inhale – track the beginning, middle and end of inhalation.
Exhale – track the beginning, middle and end of exhalation
Whether the breath is long, short, deep, shallow, listen to each with interest as if it is the only one you will ever take. As you observe the natural tides of breath you garner insight into the constant fluctuations of pleasant, neutral and unpleasant feelings that are intrinsic to all experiences.
“I now give myself wholeheartedly to this life, this day, this moment, without hindrance, may I be of enormous benefit to all beings.”