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journey in yoga

Yesterday I was looking at some intro video to Ashtanga yoga, the instructor in the video was saying for almost all the asanas, “it doesn’t matter if you can reach your toes, if you can’t,┬ájust feel the length in your spine, and elongate.” And it struck me that whether you can get into the deepest possible pose is not the point, the point is you are progressing, and you are practicing.

Recently I has just started the seated sequence of primary series, and I got a little frustrated with the jump back and jump throughs.I know that these are advanced, and people practice years to be able to do that. But still, when you are just stuck in the middle of the pose and couldn’t get your legs back in between your arms, there can be a little frustration in my heart.

I remembered when I first started practicing in August, I was so looking forward to the morning yoga practice, coz I know I will be paying full attention to my body and let all my energy develop and flow in my body which feels great, and I always get a sweat on after the practice. But these past couple of weeks, I didn’t really feel the passion in me even though I still practice every day. It is just lacking the spark I thought.

And I know one of the reasons is that I start to get to new postures and some of them I can’t even modify to do it. But I remember the excitement when I can get a posture about right when at the beginning it was really hard.

Watching advanced practitioners practice let me know what each posture should look like, but yesterday after watching the intro level video, I start to realize some problems in my practice. I was struggling in some postures that my breath are shallow. But I think I should not struggle in the asanas. I should relax into the asanas, not pull or push into it. “Use asanas to get into your body, don’t use your body to get into asanas.” And I realize that the postures should be peaceful and graceful and relaxed. It should not be tense or struggle or short of breath.

“Practice, and all is coming.” As Pattabhi Jois said. I shall trust the process and my body will open to the postures as I go.

 

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Slowly progressing in self love

I have been reading a few books that has helped me with my self image.

the first book is ‘the four agreements’. In that book, I learned that if someone calls you fat or says something that hurt your feelings, you shouldn’t take it personally and really it is their own problems to overcome. I was struggling quite a bit when my father and mother in law says I need to lose weight. And they were saying overweight is related with heart diseases, which I have to say, had some influence on me. And I was thinking to myself, OMG, I could have heart disease if I am like myself now. But I think the real problem is I think I am fat too. I was looking at my own pictures and thinking oh if I lose a few pounds it would look better on the picture. And their saying is just like one more confirmation.

but then I realize this mentality does no good in helping me lose weight. I was crying a lot even when I was losing weight but still heard them asking me while video chatting, did you have too much rice? We think you should eat more meat. I was depressed. And it is almost like when I was video chatting with them I just want to find a good angle to let them know that I have been losing weight.

now that I think about it, I realize that I should be more content with myself. I am not going to be able to please everyone. I know they are coming from a good heart, but if I still take those as ‘I am not good enough’ it is bad for my body and mind.

so I felt like a big burden is relieved that I don’t need to lose weight to please them anymore. I don’t need to change anything, I am just where I need to be right now.

but then I know that whenever I am standing on the scale, if it is a low number, somewhere in my heart I am happy. And just like the past few readings, it gets higher than usual, and I got a bit like: what am I doing wrong? I feel good, I am doing yoga every morning. Period is regular and didn’t feel so moody as it comes. And my little mind start to blame things on random, which I don’t even know relate to the weight gain. It could even just be related to the period.

so I know, that I am not entirely free from the imprisonment of weight on me.

But one good improvement that I realize is that yesterday when I was at a friend’s house, they were trying on the scale and see if the scale is working. Usually, I would be so reluctant to step on the scale in front of others but yesterday I just felt like I can. Everyone is different and I am just what I am. Although it is only a tiny thing, but I noticed the difference in my mindset and I am happy about my change.

i know it is all gradual change but I am seeing it already taking place and I have faith that I am becoming more and more acceptant and content with myself and what I got.

 

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Ashtanga yoga

I have done yoga before, but it never has become a commitment. Lately, I have been going to some power flow yoga classes and I am really liking it. I started finding out more about those more robust kind of flows and discovered Ashtanga yoga.

I have been practicing every day in the morning. I started following the primary series and right now I can go until the end of the standing poses.

Before this, I actually decided that I would do some yoga every morning, just for stretching purposes. And that’s what I have been doing, usually some side bends, some twists, sometimes sun salutations.

The spark came when one day I started to connect my breath with the postures. I find myself sweating a lot even just after a few rounds of sun salutations. I always think of sun salutations as a really intro level beginner sequence. But when I try to coordinate each breath with the flow of the postures, it really becomes much more engaging. I never thought it would be hard to do Sun salutations A and B. And I learned that the gazing point when we are in postures are also very important. For example, when we are in forward bend, we should be gazing at our nose, and it really made a difference and you can feel the pull inside your body when you are just shifting the gazing point.

So I understand that the poses are only one thing, and the breath that coordinates the poses is really important, if I am just doing the poses and the breaths are all over the place, it is not optimal for a calming and concentrating mind. So I should be able to breath freely when I am in a pose for 5 breaths. And also the gazing point when I am in postures helped me to stay within.

I feel that I am much more engaged when I am paying attention to my breathing and gazing point, even though sometimes my mind wanders, I can quickly come back to my breathing and gazing to find the place within. After half an hour of practice like this, I am really feeling good.

I think I was just not ready for yoga before, and I think I am finally ready for it. I feel really committed to doing  my practice every morning. And I know I am new and I am just beginning my journey, I already feel that the practice is really benefiting me in my everyday life. I am really looking forward to the practice in the morning besides the breakfast that I am also looking forward to.

They say it is a life long journey. I am curious to see what this journey brings me to.

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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the journey of yoga begins

Recently I have got back to Yoga practice. I went to some power flow classes offered at the school gym and have some really fresh understandings about yoga.

First off, yoga can be challenging. I used to think of yoga as slow and not worth doing and spending the time if I want to get the most effect in fat loss. I mean it looks like only some stretches OK? But boy can it be sweaty and engaged! Added some core work into the sequence and I am getting sweaty all over!

Then, yoga can be beautiful. Sometimes we forget that we have a beautiful body. Society feeds the image of perfect bodies into our head, we didn’t even think about it and directly believe that it is what we want too. But what we really need is to appreciate our body, appreciate what we have. While i am doing some poses like warrior two, and looking at myself in the mirror, and looking at my elongated and straight arms, I learn to appreciate how strong and beautiful I am. And some poses, although it is not challenging, it is just simple and beautiful and so balanced and elegant. I also went to some barre burn classes, which is also so beautiful and makes me fall in love with my body and what my body can do all over again.

Then, yoga is a practice. The end goal is not some headstand or really really hard poses, it is about the feeling and the appreciation and being humble. I noticed that I really want to challenge myself to harder poses, but at the same time told myself that it is not only about the poses. It is also about breath. And as long as we keep practicing, our yogi path will start to deepen and enlighten our soul.

Today in the morning, I was just listening to my heart and didn’t follow any video. I do what I want and what feels good. I started with a simple sun salutation sequence, and then gradually add in one more movement and pose each time, and I finally understand why the classes are always like this. I remembered wondering: why do we do the sequence so many times? why can’t we just directly go to the full sequence? and today I understand that we need to ease into all the poses. The first time that I did the cobra is so stiff and I noticed the difference when I did it the second the third time. It is all a process. Don’t rush.

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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calm and ready

Recently I have been binge listening to “the model health show” podcast, I think Shawn has some really good episodes where he talks about training that really gets my blood pumping for going to the gym, excited to do the workouts, and more importantly, get me to realize the importance of sleep and rest and reduction of stress.

He talked about his morning routine, where I also started to implement to my mornings. 1L of water to inner bath. I feel that this is working great for me, not only did I start doing this first thing in the morning, I also make sure that I drink at least 2 bottles of water at school. I used an app called Strides to keep track of these new habits. This is really helping a lot, coz I want to be able to have a streak of keep doing those things. I also put meditation on the list, which has helped hugely.

Earlier this year, I was really concentrated on doing meditation and was spending about 30min each time to meditate both morning and evening. But I slacked on the physical activity part and got so frustrated with the weight gain. Then I started going back to my workout routine and also started meditate again, but this time, I didn’t spend that long sitting and meditation, I just make sure that everyday I do some meditation. 10min usually. And I can already see what this little tweak has changed my attitude towards the day. I always do a little visualization, reminding myself of the goals that I want to achieve and telling myself I am not giving up until I get there. I also tell myself that today I am going to do everything to the best that I can. And many times, if I get frustrated with myself, I will use the meditation time to distill and think about what is the right way to take a look at things.

I also find that sometimes, when pain comes, I just need to lie there and lie with it and wait until it passes. The other day, I had too much for dinner and I was so frustrated with myself and I was really upset. Usually I would want my husband to say some encouraging words and help comfort me, but that night, I was just lying there, although uncomfortable and really down, I lied there, then fell asleep, and then the next morning during meditation, I told myself that I am determined to make some change to this. And I am seeing good changes already.

I find that many times I put too much food in my plate, and before I can finish the whole plate, I already feel full, then sometimes I told myself I will just finish it anyway, it is not so much more. But every single time, I feel so full that I don’t want to move after the dinner. So I made a note to myself, I need to change this. And I also put this into the list of habit that I want to form into the Strides app. And I know that I want to tick off “controlled dinner” on my list. And I am so happy with the past few days that I am behaving so well. And I am really positive and confident that I really can make those changes long term.

I am happy with the changes that has happened to me recently, and I think I am reducing my stress mindfully, and I am moving through life more gracefully. Like, I can have a vegan French toast for a Saturday morning breakfast, or I can just really take a moment and enjoy the glorious green smoothie bowl with cacao nibs to chew on. How perfect that is. Sometimes we just need to stop and take a moment to appreciate the things we have.

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Easily brain-washed generation

I remembered some time ago I saw a youtube ad with a person claiming to rise from nobody to a man who owns so much. I finished the ad, then I was lead to a website, basically he was trying to sell his program. I was trying to decide whether to buy it. So I googled the review for that, turned out that man is a scam. And sure I kept receiving sales emails from him after I put my email in not really thinking about what it would mean.

I was just shocked by the fact that I am so easily baited. I was that close to buying the program, and when I think about it, you could feel the salesperson tone for this man, which is quite obvious.

I guess it is because I am so eager to be happy, be content with myself, achieve great things and do what I love and earn money. Everything I could have ever possibly want. And when you are desperate and eager, you become the easy bait.

People are looking forward to life hacks, “if you eat this diet, you will lose 10 pounds in one week.” “If you read this book, it will change your life and you will become rich.””If you do my meditation program, you will find your inner peace and be mindful in your daily life.”

But no, it doesn’t work that way.

I found people on social media who only eat fruits, “fruitarian”, I found people who eat a huge amount of rice. I know people who are on banana island. I follow them, finding myself to love those things more because all those fancy people are eating them. Coconut sugar? Well freelee eats it so it must be good.

I remembered I don’t eat a lot of potatoes before I went vegan, I thought they are empty calories. I don’t eat much rice either. Coz carbs are bad, right? Now I feast on them. Mind can change, big time.

Now I recognize those moments of me wanting the same things that others are eating or using. I paused, asked myself why, then the eagerness subside. It is human nature, I just need to recognize it, watch it come, wait for it to go. I need more thinking in for my easily-washed brain.

I was feeling a little stressed lately. After I came to the states and started celebrating the Thanksgiving and Christmas, I have always been not so happy when November and December comes around.

One reason is that I eat more when winter comes and the weather is colder, it results in weight gain, it leads to my stress. Two, i guess it is the time that you review your year and look forward to the next year, and I am more of a person to find faults with myself rather than make peace and praise my achievements.

I was just about to say that: oh boy, finally this year I am free of holiday stress!!! But no it came on as a blow.

During a previous post I talked about how I hided my identity as a vegan for quite some time since I became one around May. Then I met another vegan and we talked about how we are dealing with our identity issues. We don’t want to be a pain-in-the-butt-hard-to-please vegan. We thought we are putting stress on others. But at the end of the talk I realized that I need to change the situation and then I did. I opened up and started opening up to my close friends that I made my choice to become a vegan.

Since that, I have friends who didn’t react much, they are not close friends to be honest, but I just appreciate the fact that they don’t judge, at least in front of me and I felt like I am making my own choices and it doesn’t bother them. I have friends who tried to deny the cruelty that is happening in animal agriculture, he said what I saw is the worst of all, but not all slaughterhouse is like that. I felt like this is not even the logic, and I didn’t really defend. I have friend who is a little bit concerned that I might be deficient in some nutrients if I don’t eat meat, but they agreed on the possibility of eating less meat. After all, my boyfriend has been really supportive all the way although he has no intention whatsoever to become a vegan himself. I stopped cooking meat for him and he is OK with that.

Then I had a nightmare of losing all my teeth one by one and holding them in my mouth. I had the same dream one time before, it was just miserable. Such a long and vivid dream. My father was in it, my mom, my sister. But no one really helped me take care of my teeth, they just kept eating their dinner. And I was trying to be considerate and not causing any trouble for them by holding all my fallen teeth in, waiting for them to finish their meal and attend to me.

Losing teeth is a sign of stress and drastic changes in life. Since I opened up about my identity, I was trying to be a “better” vegan. I was about to buy some dark chocolate then decided no, because there is milk in it. I was thinking what would people think when I am not as skinny as other ambassadors for vegan. I can’t get ill after I become vegan, people would blame veganism for this. I shouldn’t be unhappy with myself or my life coz if I am eating all the right food what could go wrong. I should bring some really fancy looking food to potlucks because if I just bring potatos and carrots curry that I eat all the time, people would think vegan are boring.

Truth is, expectations just lead to disappointment. And vegan is not the final answer like if I got it correct then I got everything fixed. It is not the magic pill. You are still a human, you get ill, your mood changes. And the best thing I can do is to be myself. And that would be the best representation.

After all, it is my life, my body. And it is what I perceive my body and my life that is important. And there is so much more to being vegan than food, there is so much on being compassionate for all beings. It is love.

Peace, plants, namaste.

 

 

 

 

 

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Journey to oneness

Your refuge is not in the externalized anipulation of hte circumstances that present themselves to you.

Your refuge can only be your own selfhood.

That’s the only place where the ultimate experience of inner peace for which you yearn so deeply, can be found.

From <Oneness>.

Many times, I found myself wanting to escape. Wanting to spend the weekend in Destin for example. I do enjoy the peaceful afternoons lying on the beach, but I found myself so irritable even on the drive back home. I guess it means that putting yourself in a situation that is peaceful doesn’t solve the problem. It is your heart that needs the peace.

The other day as I was taking a walk into the park behind our apartment, I saw a friend studying by the lake. It was such a serene scene to look at. Then I realized that, I don’t have to drive 2.5h to find my peacefulness. It is right around the corner. And Meditation is just like a preparation for all the hectic things that are happening in my life, and in my mind. I will center myself and breath in deeply when I found the monkey inside my head starts running around again. Just tell myself that it is OK, It is not you. It is only your thoughts. It is only your emotion. Don’t panic, It is gonna be OK.

And at the end of the day, I just think to myself, this is what I contribute today. There is no regret, no shame, just what I can do and what I did. And I will give all of that to something bigger than myself. And I am detached from them all.