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Self-Confidence Setting Intentions Barefoot Running


12 20 International Yoga Teacher Training (200 Yoga Alliance Hours)

BE A YOGA TEACHER Learn To Teach, Teach To Learn WHAT













Date : April – June 2012 Venue : True Yoga, Ocean Financial Centre (Raffles Place) Early Bird Price : S$5,200 (before 15 February 2012) Normal Price : S$5,500


For more details, please visit or email

Inside JANUARY 2012

Dristi Self-Confidence

Special Features

Self -Es ody elf-Es -Estteem in the B Body ody,, 12

In Pursuit of Happiness, 20

Mihaiela talks about how our physical bodies reflect our emotional life.

Lauren’s thoughts on where to find the elusive happiness.

Savasana, 22 Why savasana is so

Self-Love as taught by Thich Nath Hanh, 14

important, explains Elonne.

Inge tells us what this venerated Buddhist master says about loving ourselves.

elaborates on dharma in the Gita.

Self -L ove is the ans wer elf-L -Lo answ er,, 15

The Gita, 27 In part two, Sankirtana Setting Intentions, 32

Janet outlines one way to set new year’s intentions.

Robin explains why our love for others must start with loving ourselves.

Barefoot Running, 34 Can a yoga

Ground of Confidence, 17

practitioner run? Can a runner practice yoga? Paul is experimenting.

How does self-confidence differ from arrogance, asks Kim.

Yoga and the Beatles, 41 Clayton


suggests that a popular song of the Fab Four is heavily influenced by yogic spirituality.

About Namaskar Lost & Found, 42 June’s personal story of how she found herself through yoga.

Who reads Namaskar? 5,000 copies are distributed for free in Australia, Cambodia, China, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Netherlands, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UK, USA, Vietnam If you would like to offer Namaskar to your students or customers, email

Namaskar provides a voice for the yoga community around the world. The publication is a vehicle for practitioners on a yogic path to share their knowledge, learnings and experiences with others. Namaskar, is published quarterly in January, April, June (coinciding with Asia Yoga Conference) and October. We welcome unsolicited submissions, therefore the opinions expressed within these pages are not necessarily those of Namaskar or its volunteers. Namaskar is distributed at no charge through yoga studios, fitness centres, retail outlets, food & beverage outlets and other yoga-friendly locations. For more information, to contribute or to order Namaskar, please contact:: Carol, Administration Wai-Ling, News Editor & Copy Editor Frances, Editor & Publisher /+ 852 9460 1967

Running and yoga - can the two really be practiced together? Read what one senior teacher thinks on page 36.

Deadline for April 2012 issue: March 15, 2011 3

The dristi for this issue is self-confidence and self-love, and there some informative and thought-provoking articles on different aspects of these subjects from four women: Mihaiela, Inge, Robin and Kim. This dristi also inspired the choice of the cover photo because it made me think how self-confident one would have to be to assist someone so deeply in Kapotasana. And also how much love they should have for the person they were adjusting.


Another reason for the choice of the photo was the prominence of the barefoot (Paul Dallaghan’s I think), as we have an article on barefoot running and yoga. These are activities close to my soul (or soles) as I have been practicing barefoot/minimalist running for the past 18 months. It took a good seven-months (three visits to the chiropractor, weekly acupuncture and massage and lots of calf stretching) to become totally comfortable running this way. And I now feel lighter on my feet and suffer virtually no hamstring or lower back tension after a run. Perhaps an even greater benefit is deep connection one develops with the environment. The minimalist Vibrams I run in have no support and just a thin rubber protection for the sole, so you can feel quite acutely what you run on. As a result you must be very focused on choosing each step - sidestepping sharp rocks, slowing down over fallen twigs, anticipating what might be under a leaf, avoiding insects. In yoga there is much emphasis on connecting to our earth, and for me it’s much easier to feel when actually out among the trees, birds and rivers, than in a studio on the 25th floor of a skyscraper! And if running’s not your thing, try walking or just sitting regularly in a country park to be nourished by nature’s prana. An intention being to experience a simpler, though perhaps deeper, sense of happiness and contentment. Other articles in this issue touch on that: Lauren writes where to find happiness; Janet shares her own method for happiness through setting intentions; Elonne talks about her road to finding savasana; Clayton explains how the Beatles found glimmers of happiness with yoga and; Lauren’s article is her personal journey through the lows and highs of a year in her life. Thanks to Alex, Barbara, Carol, Moosa, Nigel, Paul, Sankirtana, Tia, Wai-Ling and Yogaraj also for their contributions to this issue. And finally thanks to you for taking the time to read these pages and, if they have helped, for sharing a copy of Namaskar with your fellow yogis and yoginis Frances Gairns EDITOR

SOMETHING TO SHARE? If you have something to share with the yoga community, please email


NEWS 170 JOIN YOGA CHAMPIONSHIP The first Dayal International Yoga Championship was held in Hong Kong recently with over 170 participants from India, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, China, Vietnam, USA and Hong Kong. It was organised by the Hong Kong Yoga Federation (HKYF) and Dayal Leisure and Cultural Association. The participants were divided into 5 age groups, below 18, 18-25, 25-35, 35-45 and above 45. The youngest participant was only 5 1/2 years old from India and the oldest participant was 63 from Hong Kong. Prizes totalling HK$60,000 were distributed to the winners and runners up. Hong Kong Yoga Federation is a registered federation in HK dedicated to promoting yoga and the betterment of human health. It was founded by Debdatta Biswas, Nilesh Karmakar, Samrat Dasgupta and Yuva Dayalan. WHITE LOTUS CENTRE OPENS IN HONG KONG Central, Hong Kong White Lotus Centre has opened in Central to offer a unique range of therapies, treatments and techniques to support the mind, body and spirit. With a group of highly and fully trained therapists, White Lotus Centre offers a wide choice; from Aromatherapy Massage and Reflexology to yoga and Pilates, Craniosacral Therapy and Homeopathy to Life Coaching and Hypnotherapy, as well as Acupuncture, a Back Pain Clinic, and Exercise Physiotherapy. Practitioners also work together and refer clients on to their colleagues for complimentary therapies and treatments, instead of simply looking at the problem in isolation. Every Wednesday is Kids’ Day with a range of activities

Jenny joins the Flex team offering Yin Yang yoga on Wednesdays and a lunchtime express class on Thursdays Yoga Championship participants - (l to r) seated: Avinash Kumar, first runner up; Joey Yung, Overall champion. Standing: Nilesh Karmakar (HKYF), Helen Yeung (Sponsor of Runner Up Title, Patron of HKYF), Edith Chen (Managing Director of Calvin Klein, Asia and Vice President of HKYF), K. Sital (Hon. President of Indian Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong and President of HKYF), Yuva Dayalan (HKYF), Kalyan Dasgupta (Sponsor of the Champion of Champions Title), Samrat Dasgupta (HKYF), Debdatta Biswas (HKYF)

including Yoga for Kids, Sensational Babies, and Baby Reflexology. The Centre also offers a wide range of Maternity services including Massage, Reflexology, Gentle Birth Method, and Antenatal Classes & Workshops. For more information White Lotus Centre, Room 2001, 1820 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central;; +852 9135 8502, or BODYWIZE LAUNCHES NEW DANCE & YOGA STUDIO Happy Valley, Hong Kong Bodywize launched their latest Dance studio in November offering upbeat and enticing dance classes (Hip Hop, Funky, Belly dancing, Bollywood and many more) and yoga classes (Power Vinyasa Flow, Dynamic Flow, Destress Yoga and Easy Yoga). To book your “Free 3day pass”, call +852 2838 5881. For more information 1/F, 155 Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley;, EASY YOGA OPENS IN HONG KONG Taiwanese yoga clothing brand has opened a Hong Kong showroom in Causeway Bay (2/F 17 Yun Ping Road. Prices for clothing range between HK$550 - $750. They also carry yoga accessories. In addition to the 800 sq ft shop, there is also a cafe serving simple food. They are open to collaborating on yoga events in their space. SPACE WELLNESS OPENS IN TAIPEI SPACE Wellness opened its doors as Taiwan’s first holistic centre offering personal Yoga and integrative therapy programs designed to bring the best of yoga therapy to your personal practice. The facility features four spacious private practice rooms, all furnished with yoga wall, yoga barrel, backbender and inversion swing, as well as a personal meditation room. For more information NEW CLASSES AT FLEX

Yin Yang Yoga with Jennifer Rockowitz Wednesday at 8:45-10:15am Jenny has been studying Yoga for 14 years and teaching for 9 years. She has taken teacher trainings in Ashtanga Yoga, Baron Baptiste Power Yoga, and Yin Yoga. Her teaching style is compassionate, with an emphasis on seeking balance within the posture, body and mind. Yoga for Special Needs Children with Sanjukta Sharma Mondays at 3:30pm This course is for children 4 years and older with special needs which may include autism, physical disabilities, sensory impairments, attention deficit or hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities and a range of other developmental disorders. Sanjukta is certified in yoga for the special child and has been working in the Individual Needs Department of South Island School since 2003. For more information; +852 2813 2212 or NEW YOGA CLASSES AND HOLISM WITH DARIO CALVARUSO Bodywize Yoga and Day Spa, Happy Valley, Hong Kong Starting from February, 5

WORKSHOPS include Sri Dharma Mittra, Sharath Jois, Bo Forbes, Roger Cole, Cyndi Lee, Scott Blossom and others. Registration is now open. For more information, Dario is teaching numerous styles of yoga at Bodywize in Happy Valley, Hong Kong

signature private and group classes with Dario Calvaruso including Vinyasa Dynamic Flow, Hot Detox Vinyasa, Yoga Therapy and Yoga for Stress Management. Dario Calvaruso spent 15 years in India to study Yoga, Ayurveda, Nutrition, Philosophy, Psychology and Holistic Therapeutical Sciences. He combines all in a multidisciplinary and effective method. Yoga classes can be integrated with Wellness Consultation, Holistic Therapy and Nutritional Advice to provide you with a complete holistic experience. For more information;; +852 2838 5686 BALISPIRIT FESTIVAL Ubud, Bali 28 March - 1 April Five days of non-stop workshops, concerts, healing and community events focussed on yoga, dance and music. For more information EVOLUTION ASIA YOGA CONFERENCE Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, Wanchai, Hong Kong 7-10 June Evolution Asia Yoga Conference returns for the sixth year in 2012. This year’s teachers 6

PRANA YOGAM TO OPEN IN MIDJANUARY Tsimshatsui, Hong Kong Prana Yogam is an oasis in the heart of Tsimshatsui offering yoga classes as well as Ayurvedic Therapeutic and Energy Invigorating consultancy and massage by qualified professionals from Kerala.

Frances Tse joins Yogaraj as one of Prana Yogam’s first teachers when it opens in midJanuary in Hong Kong

Prana Yogam is presented by Master Yogaraj CP, the holder of two Guinness world records and experienced Yoga teacher. Classes include Pranayama & Meditation, Yoga Therapy, Rhythmic Yoga, Artistic Yoga, Partner Yoga, Yin Yoga, Yin Yang, Prenatal Yoga, Hot Yoga, Yoga Teacher’s Training and much more. For more information visit Prana Yogam, 2/F, Ocean View Court, 43 Mody Road, Tsimshatsui; +852 2736 2294,

MYSTICAL DANCE Agama Yoga, Koh Phangan, Thailand 1, 30 January-5 February Explore the world of mystical dance with Monika Nataraj. For more information;; +66 892 330 217 IYENGAR YOGA INTERMEDIATE JUNIOR INTENSIVE WITH GLORIA GOLDBERG Iyengar Yoga Centre Indonesia 17-20 January This intensive is only for certified teachers holding introductory level II certificate and above. Sessions will be devoted to integrating the important principles of the Iyengar Yoga method for the Intermediate Junior syllabus. Participants will learn the skills to teach both asana and pranayama at these levels as well as how to integrate philosophy into their teaching. Gloria has taught yoga since 1980 and has been a Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher since 1987. She is Director and teaches at the B.K.S. Iyengar Yoga Center of La Mesa in San Diego, California. Gloria studies with the Iyengars in Pune annually and is known for her inspirational and clear style of teaching. For more information; +62 21 7193101 CONSCIOUS BIRTHING WORKSHOP FOR COUPLES WITH PEGGY CHIU The Yoga Room, Hong Kong 14 January; 3 & 24 March 3-6:30pm For more information +852 2544 8398 or METAPHYSICS WORKSHOP Agama Yoga, Koh Phangan, Thailand 17-21 January

Explore the meaning of yoga from a metaphysical standpoint. For more information;; +66 892 330 217 THE HATHA YOGA PRADIPIKA WITH LAMA MARUT 18-19 January– Pure Yoga Hong Kong – Tsim Sha Tsui 20-22 January– Pure Yoga Singapore – Ngee Ann City The most famous book on yoga ever written is the Yoga Sutra - but there is nothing in the text about how to do the specific poses or asanas of yoga. Topics to be covered include the importance of retreat, commitments and vows, a description of the major asanas, proper diet, the kriyas, pranayama, the bandhas, mudras, kundalini, partner practices, samadhi, and a deep investigation into ultimate reality or “emptiness.” For more information; SVASTHA YOGA THERAPY PROGRAM WITH THE MOHANS India 30 January-3 February Module 1A 6-10 February Module 1B This program offers the most effective aspects of traditional yoga and Ayurveda combined with modern medicine. It is designed for Yoga teachers and advanced practitioners, but it should also be of interest to people from related fields. Specific guidelines for different conditions and general treatment principles will be detailed, empowering you to safely and effectively address disabilities and ill-health through yoga. The goal is to enable participants to integrate newly acquired knowledge immediately in their teaching. The program is delivered in intensive modules (5 days for

each module with a flexible structure). Each section may be attended independently and certificates will be issued for each module. Module 1: Musculoskeletal System – A: Lower Back, Pelvis & Lower Limb; B: Cervical & Thoracic Spine, Upper Limb, and Anatomy of Breath. For more information; PRACTICAL TRAINING FOR YOGA THERAPISTS – ADAPTIVE YOGA FOR CHILDREN WITH MODERATE LEARNING DIFFICULTIES White Lotus Centre, Central, Hong Kong 4 February 9am – 5pm Taught by Sanjukta Sharma & Carol Chapman with Gecko Yoga; to demystify yoga therapy and present the common concerns for those people who are Yoga teachers, parents or educators working with children with learning difficulties. This training will help show which poses are great for the spectrum of children’s learning difficulties as well as their contraindications. Carol Chapman has over 30 years experience in this arena of childhood education along with Sanjukta Sharma who teaches yoga to children of all ages and all abilities. For more information; +852 6973 1792 BARON BAPTISTE: 40-DAY PERSONAL REVOLUTION PROGRAM WITH TRYPHENA CHIA 4 February-14 March – Pure Yoga Singapore – Ngee Ann City This programme is designed to challenge your personal philosophy and your body, so you can tap unknown resources within yourself. Take this yoga challenge and experience a whole new way of living and being in just 40 days. For more information; ROSS RAYBURN: THE SCIENCE OF THE SUBLIME WORLD TOUR 7 – 9 February Hong Kong Anusara teacher Ross Rayburn will be teaching a three-day teacher training intensive and three open classes in Hong Kong at the Red Shoe Dance Studio, 3/F Arbuthnot House, 10 Arbuthnot Road, Central. For more information PARTNER YOGA WORKSHOP WITH KUMARAN Anahata Yoga, Hong Kong 11-12 February 11 February - Fun Series: Learn the basics principles of partner yoga and explore the art of having fun and joy in your yoga practice with your partner. 12 February - Flying Series: Experience flying and freedom in this workshop. A series of partner yoga postures from basic to advanced will be practiced in this workshop with in-depth study on body locking supports, lifting and balancing movements. For more information; +852 2905 1822 ANUSARA YOGA WEEKEND WORKSHOP WITH DESIREE RUMBAUGH Pure Yoga Hong Kong – Tsim Sha Tsui - 10-12 February Pure Yoga Singapore – Ngee Ann City - 21-22 February Anusara blends the Universal Principles of Alignment with the tantric philosophy of “looking for the good.” This is a combination of therapeutic and mixed levels of yoga. Join Desirée to learn simple, precise techniques that aid in healing injuries and new tricks to experience the fun of challenging asana. INTRODUCTION TO ASHTANGA WITH CHUCK MILLER Pure Yoga Hong Kong – Central 10-12 February This workshop starts at the beginning of the Ashtanga Vinyasa method, moving into the Universal Principals that are the seeds and foundations of the whole method. For more information; UPSIDE DOWN & INSIDE OUT WITH TIFFANY CRUIKSHANK Pure Yoga Hong Kong – Tsim Sha Tsui 24-26 February Whether you want to learn to stand on your hands or just upright on both feet this series of workshops will give you a whole new perspective in your practice and your life. With her training in sports medicine and Chinese medicine, Tiffany will teach you the anatomy you need to learn how to use your flying gear and the depth you need to take your practice to the next level. For more information; KAZUYA YOGA WORKSHOP Hong Kong 9-12 February Kazuya Yanagimoto from Japan leads this gentle alignment and stretching combined with Ashtanga Yoga workshop for beginners. Learn how to practice asanas with breath and the control of energy to calm the mind; and through the calmness, experience your deep inner self. For more information; call Yumika on +852 2577 0533

YaYa Himat Kaur will be leading a Kundalini workshop at Bodywize in Hong Kong as part of an Asian tour

KUNDALINI YOGA WORKSHOP Bodywize Dance, Yoga and Day Spa, Hong Kong 11-12 February 2012 Kundalini Yoga Asia Charitable Workshop Conversations with the Soul with YaYa Himat Kaur. For more information +852 9368 1428; A TRANSFORMATIVE WEEK OF YOGA WITH SIMON LOW AND JEFF PHENIX Samahita Retreat, Yoga Thailand 11-18 February Simon and Jeff, two of the UK’s most popular teachers, worked together for two years at Triyoga in London, until Simon moved on to set up The Yoga Academy. This wonder-filled week will offer two classes daily, with Jeff and Simon alternating the teaching, with additional assistant teachers for every class. Come and deepen your practice and understanding of yoga over this special week. Children are welcome as Jeff and his wife Jennie will be coming with their two children too. For more information

For more information; 7

THE BREATHING AND FLOW OF THE BODY IN MOVEMENT WITH JUDY KRUPP The Yoga Room, Hong Kong 24 February Noon-2:30pm For more information; +852 2544 8398 YOGA THERAPY WORKSHOP WITH JUDY KRUPP The Yoga Room, Hong Kong 24-26 February For more information; +852 2544 8398 EXPERIENTIAL TANTRA Agama Yoga, Koh Phangan, Thailand 24-26 February A continuation of the Tantra 1+2 workshops with lots of practical exercises. For more information;; +66 892 330 217 HANDS OF A YOGI: EXPLORING HAND BALANCING AND MUDRA MEDITATION WITH SEAN GALE SPACE Yoga, Taipei 25-26 February In this workshop, we will investigate hand, wrist, arm and shoulder anatomy as well as the preparatory exercises and postures which aid us in warming up for a more intense hand-balancing practice. An exploration of Mudra meditation will also give insight and a well-rounded understanding of how one’s hands can be used to bring about awareness, healing and clarity of intention. For more information IYENGAR YOGA ALL LEVEL WORKSHOP WITH JAMES MURPHY Iyengar Yoga Centre Singapore 3 - 4 March 8

Time: 9am-12pm & 2-4pm For more information,; +65 62204048 PROFESSIONAL WORKSHOP WITH JAMES MURPHY FOR CERTIFIED IYENGAR YOGA TEACHERS AND THOSE IN TEACHER TRAINING Iyengar Yoga Centre Indonesia 7-8 March 9-11 March James Murphy pursued a 10year career in dance touring worldwide with the Nikolais Dance Theater when he became interested in Iyengar Yoga. He helped found and is the Director of the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York and has been teaching there since it began in l992. For more information; +62 21 7193101 3-DAY FORREST YOGA CONTINUING EDUCATION WITH SIN HEE YE-MCCABE Pure Yoga Hong Kong – Tsim Sha Tsui 3-5 March Suitable for teachers aspiring to improve their teaching skill and personal practice at a deeper level. The aim of the training is to make you a more insightful, passionate, compassionate and authentic teacher. For more information; MUDRAS AND MANTRAS: HEALING TOOLS FOR EVERYDAY LIFE WITH SHUBHRAJI Ananda Yoga, Hong Kong 9 March Mudras are gestures of the hand that produce a healing effect on the physical and emotional body. It is a powerful tool for removing any negativity and accelerating spiritual growth. Mudras have been used for centuries and are time-tested techniques that

provide a wide range of benefits. In this workshop Shubhraji will lead simple chants that can be used in our daily life. She will use breath, visualization and gestures to help enhance health, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. For more information;; +852 3563 9371 CHANGING NEGATIVE EMOTION INTO POSITIVE ENERGY WITH SHUBHRAJI Yoga Room, Hong Kong 10 March How can we release our minds from the conditionings that hold us in our continual patterns of unproductive living? An look at how to reflect on our present life and ways to create fresh channels of positive thinking and action. Shubhraji will guide us through this with exercises.

Join world-renowned certified Ashtanga teacher, and bestselling John Scott, on a journey that transcends the physical into the subtle. In his only 2012 stop in Northeast Asia, you will learn the authentic method of Ashtanga Yoga through his precise and detailed teaching. For more information WORKSHOP AND INTENSIVE WITH SIMON LOW Pure Yoga Taipei – Pure Tower - 29 February – 4 March Pure Yoga Hong Kong – Tsim Sha Tsui - 12-18 March Pure Yoga Singapore – Ngee Ann City 4-9 April

For more information;; +852 2544 8398 THE POWER OF MANTRAS AND ITS RELATION TO CHAKRAS AND MEDITATION Prana Yogam, Hong Kong 11 March What are mantras? How can they be used effectively to help us with our everyday life, as well as connect with God? The talk will focus on the art of using mantras and relate it to chakras and meditation. Shubhraji will guide us with some simple techniques to enhance our spiritual practice. For more information;; +852 2736 2294/ 9713 4597 JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF ASHTANGA VINYASA WITH JOHN SCOTT SPACE Yoga, Taipei 12-18 March

Simon Low will be at Samahita Retreat and Pure Yoga in February & March

For more information; INTRODUCTION TO THE MOTOR DEVELOPMENT ANATOMY & PHYSIOLOGY OF CHILDREN White Lotus Centre, Central, Hong Kong 10, 17, 20 March This series provides an introduction to children’s physical development for those working with children and families in the health and social care sector. It is suitable for therapists, carers, parents and teachers alike, you are welcome to attend just one or all three. Taught by Helen Binge – Founder of PhysioBaby, Chartered Physiotherapist,

RETREATS Paediatric and Developmental Specialist with Gecko Yoga, Hong Kong 10 March 9:30am-12:30pm Development of the infant from birth to walking 17 March 9:30am-12:30pm Development of the child from 1 to 7 years 20 March 6-9pm – Development of the child through adolescence For more information email or call +852 6973 1792 PRANAYAMA AND A LOOK INTO BUDDHIST PHILOSOPHY WITH SRI O. P. TIWARI AND PAUL DALLAGHAN Samahita Retreat, Yoga Thailand 18-31 March Sri O. P. Tiwari is one of the most recognized and accomplished masters of Yoga, its practice, and its meaning. A subject close to Tiwariji’s heart is the Buddhist dharma, its place in the history of philosophy in India, its

sessions. This course will touch a new level of study and practice, and will be an intensive internalizing period. The primary focus will be Pranayama practice with in-depth pulse reading of each student, varying as necessary. For more information ASTROLOGY IN TANTRIC YOGA Agama Yoga, Koh Phangan, Thailand 26-30 March How to integrate Astrology into Yoga. For more information;; +66 892 330 217 JIVAMUKTI IMMERSION WITH YOGESWARI AZAHAR & WILL LAU Pure Yoga Hong Kong – Tsim Sha Tsui 28 March-1 April Immerse yourself in the deeper teachings of the Jivamukti. The material presented is drawn from the one month Jivamukti Teacher Training, but is presented in a more relaxed way with plenty of time to enjoy and reflect. For more information / or email

O.P. Tiwari will be teaching on Pranayama and Buddhist philosophy at Samahita Retreat, Yoga Thailand in March

connection with Yoga and its similarity with Vedantic philosophy. This area, along with all of your great questions, will be covered in the afternoon discussion

CHINESE NEW YEAR RETREAT AT THANYAMUNDRA Khao Sok National Forest, Thailand 21-24 January Using the foundation techniques of Ashtanga Yoga to develop meditative awareness in both the traditional seated meditative posture, in yoga postures, as well as during movement. Mornings will be reserved for more invigorating yoga practice, while evening practice will consist of restorative poses and sitting meditation. Thanyamundra is an exquisite eco resort with an organic farm, a haven of tranquility and wildlife in the oldest rainforest on the planet. For more information; Kim Roberts YOGA AND HEALTHY DIET-FINDING BALANCE WITH JESSICA BLANCHARD Samahita Retreat, Yoga Thailand 28 January-4 February This retreat is designed to help you find vibrant health using Yoga and a balanced approach to nutrition. During this retreat you will learn simple and practical ways to incorporate yoga and a healthy diet into the demands of modern life. You will learn a dietary approach that is grounded in modern scientific research and can be adapted to the individual from the legacy of Ayurveda. The retreat emphasizes how yoga can help you to find the deep inner strength and mental clarity necessary to make lifelong changes. For more information

Wai-Ling compiles and edits this section of news, workshops, retreats & teacher trainings. Email her on with your news.

THIRD EYE RETREAT Agama Yoga, Koh Phangan, Thailand 10-19 February A 10-Day Silent Meditation retreat that explores Ajna

Chakra, The Third Eye. For more information;; +66 892 330 217 ANUSARA YOGA IN THAILAND Anusara Immersion I-II-III January & February Yoga Therapeutics Training 1925 February For the past eight years Jonas Westring has been offering Anusara Yoga in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. Reasonably priced residential retreats with a diverse group of international yogins. Jonas brings 30 years of yoga and many other adjunct disciplines to his teachings. For more information CONSCIOUSNESS/BLISS RETREAT Agama Yoga, Koh Phangan, Thailand 9-18 March A 10-Day silent meditation retreat that explores the play of Shiva and Shakti. For more information;; +66 892 330 217 YOGA AND YOUR HEALTH - THE PRACTICAL APPROACH TO A BALANCED LIFESTYLE Samahita Retreat, Yoga Thailand 31 March-7 April This retreat with Samahita Retreat Wellness Director, Claudia Jones offers a practical approach to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. This is for those wishing to make positive changes in their lifestyle to combat the pressures of today’s modern living. Yoga classes include guided asana practice with Ashtanga Yoga Mysore style if appropriate. The retreat will also feature restorative yoga, breath work, pranayama and meditation. 9

TEACHER TRAININGS For more information ASHTANGA YOGA RETREAT WITH CLAYTON HORTON Purple Valley, Goa, India 31 March-13 April For more information; CROWN CHAKRA RETREAT 6-15 April A 10-day silent meditation retreat that explores Sahasrara, the Crown Chakra. For more information;; +66 892 330 217 YOGA BALI RETREAT WITH RIANA SINGGIH 5-11 April Enjoy daily yoga in Ubud to deepen your practice and pamper yourself with spa and massage. Students will be able to participate in twelve intensive Iyengar yoga sessions with the Riana Singgih. For more information; +62 21 7193101 TOTAL IMMERSION YOGA WITH ADARSH WILLIAMS Samahita Retreat, Yoga Thailand 7-14 April A retreat is the perfect opportunity to take a pause from the usual demands of life and to relax, reflect and go inward. This special retreat will focus on making our yoga mat practice a “life practice.” Using both traditional and contemporary Ashtanga techniques, you will be guided through the complete practice of yoga postures, breathing, and meditation. For more information

ASHTANGA YOGA AS A SPIRITUAL PATH Samahita Retreat, Yoga Thailand 14-28 April Practice with Kino MacGregor and Tim Feldmann in a beautiful beach front setting with amazing vegetarian food and fresh seafood. Kino and Tim travel the world sharing their message of Ashtanga Yoga as a spiritual path. Being so busy they rarely teach together, but when they do their unique styles complement each other perfectly. For more information EXPAND YOUR AWARENESS: YOGA ASANA, PRANAYAMA Samahita Retreat, Yoga Thailand 28 April-5 May During the Pranayama sessions you will be introduced to different yogic practices and breathing techniques to purify the body and the mind. In Asana, for those who already have a Mysore practice, you will do your self-practice under the guidance of Gerald Disse and Linda Munro. For the others, you will be given the tools to develop your personal practice. Afternoon lectures will expand your knowledge of the entire spectrum of yoga. Dynamics of breathing; building practice with bandhas; eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga; chakras and the energetic body; chakra meditation. For more information SERPENT POWER RETREAT Agama Yoga, Koh Phangan, Thailand 4-13 May A 10-day silent meditation retreat that explores the secrets of Kundalini Shakti, the dormant energy in our being. For more information;

10; +66 892 330 217 MINDFULNESS OF BODY Phuket, Thailand 2-30 June A yoga and meditation intensive to explore how the body can be an aid to deep meditation practice. Intimate and serene retreat setting, organic meals, comfortable, simple accommodation. For more information Kim Roberts ADI YOGA RETREAT 2012 – THE COMPLETE PATH OF KUNDALINI HATHA YOGA Held at the world’s largest temple dedicated to the Hatha Yoga tradition, and set on 40 acres of lush tropical jungle amidst the idyllic mountains of northern Thailand. You will partake in daily Hatha Yoga practice sessions and philosophy classes followed by sumptuous, nourishing meals of Thai cuisine made by professional chefs from locally grown ingredients. Also includes a two-week immersion in Ayurveda. Led by Dharmanidhi Tantracarya, one of the only recognized authorities on the original yoga tradition of the Indian Mahasiddhas (Great Adepts). This retreat will be given in successive, complete packages, ranging from 1 week to 6 months, beginning 16 April. For more information

MYSTICAL DANCE TEACHER TRAINING Agama Yoga, Koh Phangan, Thailand 30 January-10 March Become a teacher of mystical dance classes in this 6-week immersive training with Shakti, Monika Nataraj. For more information;; +66 892 330 217 200-HR YOGA THERAPY AND AYURVEDA TEACHER TRAINING Anahata Yoga, Hong Kong 30 January-29 April Students will learn the therapeutic benefits of yoga and Ayurveda and their applications; the mind and body principles to determine one’s body constitution; balancing and regulating the 3 doshas; yoga therapy techniques and Ayurveda diet principles; treating various common ailments; and massage healing techniques. For more information +852 2905 1822; 200yogatherapy/index.php LEARN TO SHARE THE GIFT OF YOGA WITH CHILDREN 10-12 February The Radiant Child Yoga Program® is a comprehensive training designed to bring peace, creativity and joy into children’s lives through the ancient practice of yoga with Jenny Smith, founder of Gecko Yoga, Hong Kong. Designed for anyone who is interested in teaching yoga to children. For more information;; +852 2851 9684 KRI KUNDALINI YOGA TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAM LEVEL 1 International School of Kundalini Yoga (iSKY)

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Dristi Self-Confidence

Self -Es elf-Es -Estteem Seen in the Body Mihaiela Pentiuc

WATCHING PEOPLE WALK IN A BUSY AIRPORT or in and out of a yoga class is a fascinating collection of glimpses into unmapped inner territories. A shoulder higher than the other, a head tilted to the side or a tight spine could tell a long story about the body’s owner, his or her inner life, brain, condition of the physical structure.It takes only calm observation, real interest and compassion to start deciphering such tales. These days ‘body language’ describes best the object of this reflection. “The body is really our thoughts, moods, convictions

Self-confidence is not a feeling of superiority, but of independence - Lama Yeshe and emotions objectified, made visible to the naked eye”, notes Swami Sivananda, a medical doctor, in Thought Power. How does a self-confident person feel inside? What is different in his or her body and brain compared to an awkward, shy neighbour?

Does a person’s physical body reveal their inner confidence, or lack thereof?

BIOLOGY INTERMEZZO We live our lives and move around based on a so-called body schematic, a body image reflected in the brain. The length of my arms, how many muscles I use to kick a ball, the straightness of my spine during meditation – these and thousands more are integrated automatically in the brain, in our subconscious mind. The entire physical structure is reproduced in the brain in two cortical regions: parietal lobe (sensory information, the sensations) and frontal lobe (motor commands, the source of movement). To react quickly to the different internal and external requests, our nervous system permanently keeps the muscles in a state of minimal tension called muscle tone. The level of muscle tone is determined by permanent nervous signals travelling back and forth between our body parts and the brain. An induced paralysis during surgical anaesthesia will interrupt this flow of neuro-electrical signals and, consequently, the muscles will become slack and the body will lose its shapes, its personalising features. Muscle tone and contraction form the engine behind our so-called body language. The integrative function of the brain – our thoughts – permanently interferes with the


neuron-based signals determining which muscle is more toned, contracted, tensed. Even closed, symmetrical pairs of muscles can present differences: one shoulder raised, head tilted, a peculiar orientation of various body parts. All of them have an anatomical background in differences of the condition of their muscles and connective tissue. Our emotional life is continuously reflected by the signals of these neurons. As such, our body is shaped by the brain, by our thoughts and beliefs. A very bold person feels inside in a certain way and expresses confidence in all he or she does: postural attitude, choice of movements, patterns of muscular tension or relaxation. Going more deeply, on a physiological level, selfesteem can be translated as a specific neural pattern of signalling; some areas of the brain are more activated than others and the connections between certain neurons are stronger. A person who does not have this pattern might feel incapable of understanding even the concept of confidence. We often hear: ‘I was a coward all my life; don’t ask me to be brave just now’. The yogis disagree and modern science adds further credibility to the position of yoga. Neuroplasticity – the malleability of our brain and ability to change it – has been accepted as scientific truth only within the last decades of the 20th century. Neuroplasticity refers to the ability of the brain and nervous system to change structurally and functionally as a result of input from the environment. Learning and memory are some of the functions that constantly induce such structural changes. Recent studies have proven the same effects for meditation and yoga. Changing the mind is more simply said than done; everyone who sincerely tried it encountered many failures to start with. Thoughts are volatile and fast-moving, difficult to grasp. Nevertheless, we can better control the other part of the equation: the body. We can change and hold a physical position fairly easily. Every posture sends signals to the brain which will develop the body image but will also be translated in emotional and psychic terms. As Paul Ekman, Wallace V. Friesen and Robert Levenson published: Emotion doesn’t just flow from the inside out; it also moves from the outside in. When they studied facial expressions corresponding to

anger and distress they found themselves feeling terrible. The opposite is also proven: smiling intensely in the right way convinces the brain to produce a feeling of well-being or happiness. All these modern discoveries explain the basic principles of working with the body in Hatha Yoga, how the transformative effects occur on human personality. In a practise of genius, the yogis used the physical postures to alter the more subtle parts of their beings. Imagine yourself in the warrior pose. Place your body in this position just now. Hold this position for around five minutes and then come to a more comfortable and neutral stance and close your eyes. Become aware of your body and inner emotions. Do you feel heavy, lazy or sleepy? Go beyond the muscle fatigue or boredom of the mind; look into the full body attitude. Is this different than how you normally experience your body? How do bold people feel their bodies, how do they move? Watch a big class of beginners practising warrior pose for the first time or simply standing. Can you determine who is the most self-assured person in the group? Most people can. Individual self-esteem manifest in the body’s position, in the level of muscular tone, in the facial expression. All deliberate changes in these domains will entail changes at the emotional and psychic levels. BUILDING SELF-ESTEEM THROUGH PHYSICAL RE-SHAPING Sustained, repeated practise of specific asanas and mindfulness of body position influences the level of tension and toning of different muscular groups. The key points in this process are time and repetition. It takes minutes to produce a real change in the connective tissue during a stretch but it could take hours summed up in daily reinforcement to change the neural signalling and synaptic connections. A recently published study reached the conclusion that there are no mental effects following yoga practise, only physical ramifications. This came as a surprise for many yogis because experience shows the opposite and many other previous studies even provided a long list of mental and emotional benefits of yoga. The explanation becomes very clear when one looks into the details of this study:

subjects practised once a week and were instructed to continue at home – we all know compliance for daily practise is minimal in unsupported beginners. Repetition, holding an asana for longer than one minute and mindfulness are essential to produce deep changes. As a top marathon runner cannot be produced overnight, a new body schematic, a confident pattern of physiology and anatomy, requires some efforts. Connective tissues, muscular fibres and neural signals have to build up a new pattern to replace an old one. How common is it for a yoga teacher to notice one particular student always has difficulties in one specific posture or fails to sustain a correction for longer than seconds? Rectify a stooping spine and if soon after the mind forgets and falls into its previous trend of thoughts, worries and automatic reactions, and you’ll surely see the curve returning. Abhyasa (persevering practise) and vairagya (nonattachment) are the secrets of yoga success according to father Patanjali. RELAXATION Low self-worth reflects in the body in the form of various contractions, tensions and even pains. Check the abdomen of a timid person. It is stiff and tight almost all the time. Before an exam or interview internal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea are not uncommon. The practise of relaxation is essential in building a new body image. Sometimes only relaxing certain areas of the body intentionally – perhaps the shoulders or abdomen – can change the level of inner stress and reassurance. APTITUDE When the body-brain connections are changed, the physical attitude transforms into an aptitude which will never be lost again. The bashful guy or girl is gone and a shining personality takes over. This is the aptitude, the permanent capacity to appreciate profoundly who we are and to react properly to what life brings. It is a fascinating experience to explore all the dimensions of an aptitude for selfconfidence. The bodily position, both static and dynamic, the neural controls, the activity in our brain as well as the flow of prana along the nadis, the specific kind of emotions we predominantly encounter, the

patterns of thinking and the spiritual abilities that are built on top. EVOLUTION FURTHER ON From the point of view of the spiritual science of Yoga, self-esteem is a function of our inner instrument, ahamkara, a result of integration of the sensory perceptions of manas and support for the discriminative power of buddhi. Achieving the right level of self-confidence is one necessary step in the process of evolution. Without this achievement, one cannot think about the realisation of the true Self, Atman. On the other hand, confusion of this intermediary stage with the ultimate realisation is stressed as regrettable in spiritual sciences. SELF-LOVE Yoga practise leads one to turn his or her attention from the delusive power of external events to the richness of internal experiences. Every sincere practitioner becomes fascinated by the beauty and complexity of the human structure in a short time. It does not matter how imperfect we thought we were, this changed perspective helps reveal to us fully: we have a wondrous instrument for living this life. Start with the anatomy of the physical body, with what is material and easily observable: there is no humanly manufactured mechanism that can perfectly replicate an organ of this body. No prosthetic is better than our own limbs and no computer can replace our brain. Additionally we can explore what is not visible but yet the yogis still describe in detail: energies, the chakras, the subtle structures. What is the essence of the difference between a dying person and a corpse? What happens during our sleep? What is nirvikalpa samadhi? So many wonders, so much complexity, so many facets of what is me. Isn’t this mysterious structure worth our love? Most of the time, what is required is only a changed perspective. A wise perspective, a calmer mind and a relaxed body. The union of yoga. Mihaiela is a medical doctor, holistic doctor as well as Meditation and Yoga Teacher. She is a founding member of Agama Yoga in Thailand.


Dristi Self-Confidence

Self -L ove as ttaugh augh yT hich Nath Hanh elf-L -Lo aughtt b by Thich Inge Santoso

THE SPIRITUAL TEACHINGS OF YOGIC AND Buddhist traditions which I am familiar with eventually lead to self-acceptance and self-love, by way of self knowledge, that light to self-understanding. The Buddha offered many meditations on love, such as the Metta Sutta (Discourse on Love). In this article, I would like to introduce the teachings on self-love by contemporary Zen Master, Thich Nath Hanh based on Metta Sutta. Master Hanh states “until we are able to love and take care of ourselves, we cannot be of much help to others.� He believes we have the seeds of love within us. Our duty is to nourish them with proper sunlight, water and tender care. Then one stops being a source of suffering in the world and becomes a reservoir of joy and freshness.

(elements, heaps or aggregates): form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness. We have to survey these skandhas thoroughly, including the elements within us that are at war with each other. To bring about harmony, reconciliation and healing within, we have to understand ourselves. Looking and listening deeply, surveying the skandhas, is the beginning of love meditation. We begin by looking into our body to see whether it is at peace or suffering from illness. We look at the condition of our lungs, heart, intestines, kidneys, liver, to see what the real needs of our body are. When we do, we will eat, drink and act in ways that demonstrate our love and our compassion for our body. Usually, we just follow ingrained habits. But when we look deeply, we see many of these habits harm our body and mind, so we work to transform these habits into ways conducive to good health and vitality. Next, we observe our feelings, whether they are pleasant or unpleasant or neutral. Feelings flow in us like a river, and each feeling is a drop in that river. We look into the river of our feelings and how each feeling came to be. We see what has been preventing us from being happy, and we do our best to prevent those things. Doing so, we become stronger and better able to love ourselves and others.

Then we meditate on perceptions. The Buddha observed, the person who suffers the most in this world is the person with many wrong perceptions. And most of our perceptions are erroneous. We see a snake in the dark and we panic, but when our friends To know the real situation within ourselves, we have to survey our skandhas shines a light on it, we see that it is only a rope. We have to see which wrong perceptions cause us to suffer. Love meditation helps us to learn to look with clarity and serenity We begin practising this love meditation on ourselves, contemplating: in order to improve the way we perceive.

May I be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit. May I be safe and free from injury. May I be free from anger, afflictions, fear and anxiety.

After that we can practise on others (he/she) contemplating:

May he/she be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit. May he/she be safe and free from injury May he/she be free from anger, afflictions, fear and anxiety. After that we can practise including ourselves with others (we) contemplating:

May we be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit. May we be safe and free from injury. May we be free from anger, afflictions, fear and anxiety.

Next, we observe our mental fomations, the ideas, the tendencies within us that lead us to speak and act as we do. We practise deeply to discover the true nature of our mental formations, how we are influenced by our individual consciousness, and also by the collective consciousness of our family, ancestors and society. Unwholesome mental fomations cause so much disturbance; wholesome mental formations bring about love, happiness and liberation.

Finally, we look at our consciousness. According to Buddhism, consciousness is like a field with every possible seeds in it, such as the seeds of love, compassion, joy and equanimity, but also the seeds of anger, fear and anxiety, as well as seeds of mindfulness. Consciousness is the storehouse that contains all these seeds, all possibilities that might arise in our mind. When our mind is not at peace, it may be because of the desires and feelings in our store consciusness. To live in peace, we have to be aware of our tendencies, our habit energy so we can exercise some self control. This is the practise of preventive health care. We look deeply into the nature of our feelings to find their roots, to see which feelings need to be transformed, and we nourish those feelings that bring about peace and joy and well-being. To practise this love meditation we sit still, calm your body and your brathing and recite:

May I be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit. May I be safe and free from injury. May I be free from anger, afflictions, fear and anxiety. 14

Self-Love is the Answer support you need, and to practise mindful awareness. The Buddha said once we realize we are the closest and most precious person on Earth to ourselves, we will stop treating ourselves as an enemy. Love meditation dissolves in us any wish we might have to harm ourselves or others. Look deeply at the seeds of anger in yourself; look deeply at those you think have brought you harm. Love meditation helps understand both, and it helps us let go of our habitual patterns of thought and action that ceate more suffering. We see the person who has harmed us is himself suffering very much. Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nath Hanh

We practise mindful breathing to embrace emotions and feelings. For example if you find yourself angry, stop and practise breathing mindfully. The anger will dissipate after mindful breathing. Your selfunderstanding will deepen. For example, you will see how fears contribute to your unhappiness, and you will see the value of loving yourself and cultivating a heart of

Contemplating his suffering generates understanding and love in us, and with these energies healing is possible. We become the doctors who heal ourselves and heal others. (“Teachings on Love” by Thich Nath Hanh, pages 21-27) To love first is to accept yourself as you actually are. Knowing thyself is the first practise of love. Then love and

Buddha observed the person who suffers the most is the person with many wrong perceptions compassion, instead of living with some generalized fear. When you practise also observe how much peace and lightness you alredy have. So the antidote to negative states is already present, we just need to keep on touching our positive resources by mindful breathing and mindful living. Look deeply not just while on your meditation cushion, but wherever you are, whatever you are doing. Living mindfully is the best way to prevent mishaps and to protect yourself. Recognize your deep desire to live in peace and safety, to have the

understanding will appear as a beautiful flower. Then the deepest love will unfold itself like a beautiful lotus of the Boddhisatvas! Inge is a long-time practitioner of yoga and meditation. She has compiled a collection of spiritual poetry and writing. She also designs spiritual jewelry, yoga and casual wear.

Robin Giang

WHEN WE THINK OF LOVE WE GENERALLY SEE images of red hearts, strangers kissing and embracing, someone special we care about, and perhaps even a beautifully-wrapped gift. These images of love are precious. Society has done a remarkable task in shaping our view of what love is or what love looks like. It has assiduously crafted imprints in our minds that love exists externally outside of ourselves. Seek love and we will find love, has been our antidote for love. With this goal in mind we embark on a life journey to seek the love we so long desire, with our deepest hope that when we find it, this love will complete us and fulfill us in every way. For most of us, the love we crave we seek from our families and friends; the people who have the closest ties to us including our parents, siblings, grandparents, relatives, and partners. After all, if our families and friends, bonded by blood and oath, do not love us unconditionally through thick and thin, then who will? For some of us, this answer may lie outside our circle of families and friends and within our own communities and religions. Organized interest groups can become our closest of kin. We seek love from these entities to preserve our sense of belonging and to garner stability and hope in our times of change. For the rest of us far and in between, we seek the love we need from our material existence. It is through our belongings our financial assets - including our home, vehicle, money, and attire that provide us with the life force and love force to sustain our livelihood.

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when darkness sets in their true beauty is revealed only if there is light from within - Elisabeth Kübler-Ross 15

Dristi Self-Confidence But if what is encouraged of us to do – to seek love and will find love – leaves us unfulfilled, incomplete, and unloved when we believe we have found love? Do we start to ponder could there exist another path to real love? To this question, Oscar Wilde offered the answer, “To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” The notion of falling in love with oneself, or self-love, can be interpreted as a sign of vanity. However, a closer look and understanding of what it means to fall in love with oneself can ultimately be the Holy Grail we are seeking on our path of love. Self-love lies internally within ourselves rather than externally outside of us. We simply need to connect to this source of love inside of us without needing to go beyond ourselves to find it. Self-love is a lifelong journey, which when traveled with consciousness and sincerity, can lead to pure genuine love we have sought since the beginning of time.

When we seek the love we desire, and rightfully deserve, from within we take on the power to fully experience a kind of love that is meaningful, unconditional and eternal. Self-love is the seed that when conscientiously nourished becomes the tree of life with roots and branches reaching out to touch all goodness of life. In this process we become embodied with oneness and wholeness through love. The source of self-love is well planted during our childhood. With each breath, each laughter, each wonder, and each triumph, we fortify our sense of self-esteem. Along with our self-assurance are gestures of confidence, authenticity, and innocence illuminates our world. This is a time when we naturally trust our instinct. We believe we can fly. We say what is in our hearts. Our early childhood experiences and memories of our worthiness, greatness, and courageousness form the inner anchor where we continue to find solace and to stay grounded amid life’s uncertainty and change in adulthood. Our source of self-love gets tested and challenged over time. Our voice may be drowned out by the noise of our daily existence. Our laughter may no longer deem appropriate. Our sense of wonder may no longer be appreciated. Our triumph may no longer be enough. Under such milieu, our sense of self-love gets disconnected as we become deaf, blinded, and muted by our worries, doubts, and fears. Compounded with our insecurities, our piled up responsibilities, commitments, and expectations all swiftly consume the minutes of our day. Technology in the name of progress and convenience compels us to be quick and connected at all times. Rest, sleep, and play seemingly become a bonus more so than a choice. For self-love to flourish under today’s societal demands, we need to be bold, to take a stand, and to walk the path our inner wisdom guides us to do, despite all the noise and drama telling us differently. To love ourselves we embrace who we are and what comes may. Only time knows what the future holds, so follow the compass of our hearts - trust. How we spend our time and who we spend it with matters - laugh. Our courage to take a leap of faith into the unknown is our greatest cornerstone for transformation – grow. It is perfect not to kinow everything and perfection is an illusion - discover. What we are fully capable of is beyond our imagination - awaken. Success is a life authentically and purposefully lived – self-love.

early childhood experiences form the inner anchor to stay grounded amid life’s uncertainty and change in adulthood

In this new year let us be children where self-love is as inherent as the air we breathe. Let us connect to our internal love source filled with potential to bless us throughout the year. Let us laugh. Let us sing. Let us dance. Let us rejoice in the love we graciously merit and give to ourselves. Let this self-love within us radiate the peace and happiness we feel onto the world. Let us come together to humbly affirm:


love myself; I am honest and true to my soul. love myself; I listen to and care for my body. love myself; I speak kindly and compassionately to myself. love myself; I allow my beauty shine. love myself; I accept and embrace all of me. love myself; I am worthy of love and self-love.

Robin is the Social Behavior Coach and Play Therapist at Cosmo Kids. (852) 2915 8138

Above the cloud with its shadow is the star with its light. Above all things reverence thyself - Pythagoras 16

The Gr ound o on e Ground off C Con onffidenc idence Kim Roberts

MAYBE YOU KNOW THE STORY: YOU LOSE YOUR job, get dumped by your boyfriend or girlfriend, then the cat runs away and you tear your hamstring, all in the same week. Your morale takes a plunge. After all the work you’ve done on the mat and off, training in the discipline of yoga practice, trying to be good and wise, calm and centered, your confidence plummets.

True confidence is ubiquitous presence through thick and thin, as people and situations pass through your life. Some may encourage you, some may break you down, but true self confidence stays steady, rises above the flux of phenomena, and trusts that no mater what the circumstances, you are unequivocally, unquestionably, eternally: loveable and good.

You might feel gypped, like karma is not paying attention to your balance sheet.

Confidence is trusting yourself, not to attain any particular goal, but trusting yourself to stay steady—to remain 100% present with whatever happens. To be authentically present, even in the face of that which you do not want.

“Hey, I practice every day! And I helped that little old blind lady across the street!” you yell to no one in particular. You’ve been so good. So why is this happening? Because this is the point: it’s part of the process of waking up. Sometimes you get knocked down on the path. It forces you to develop the muscle and the humility to keep standing up again and say, or rather shout, “I am alive.” Confidence is not the opposite of failure— it is the result of it. That moment when you are your most vulnerable, without your protective shell of success, is ripe with potential. Anything can happen. At that moment you are totally defenseless, perhaps lost and unsure how to make your way forward, hopeless about your prospects for happiness. At that moment you have the chance to stand up, brush yourself off, look around and take stock. You choose a direction. Then, you put a gentle smile on your face, and you take a step forward, even without a clue as to where you are going. That is how you establish self confidence. We all have low points that challenge our sense of self-worth. But these failures— these things that appear to threaten confidence— can actually be the very thing to help fortify it. Failure throws us back to earth. Confidence is the strength we build by pushing against the ground that we fall down upon. Confidence is not pride in your accomplishments. Confidence is not masking true feelings. So then what is self confidence?

Ultimately, confidence is unconditional. Self consciousness transforms into selfconfidence, which eventually gives rise to confidence, plain and simple, no “self ” involved. It is shifting our allegiance from ego’s endless struggle to pristine awareness, known by Buddhists as our inherent Buddha Nature. Buddha Nature, or tathagathagarbha in Sanskrit, is the seed of enlightenment inherent in all beings. Tathagata is an epithet for the Buddha, garbha means “womb” or “essence.” That seed is in each and every one of us, no exceptions.

The late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche spoke of basic confidence and fundamental confidence

Confidence is not the opposite of failure — it is the result of it

All we have to do is water that seed with practice, create the right environment through discipline and kindness, and then that seed will grow. Then we can shine, extend our roots into the earth and grow gloriously toward the sun, inspiring others to do the same. Then we bear fruit— peacefulness, kindness, wisdom, joy and equanimity— that ripens when we no longer react so much or so strongly to things not going our way. We don’t ride the emotional roller coaster as frequently, or as intensely. So we therefore are more confident. When you know you can handle any situation that comes along, because you have the right tools, then fear has no hold. Instead, you think: So what if I may suffer another heartbreak? So what if I fall, yet again, or end up making a fool of myself one more time? So what? If you want to live fully, these mishaps are 17

Dristi Self-Confidence practically requirements. You have to know the dark aspects of yourself before you can fully appreciate the light. The dark must be incorporated—integrated into the body— embodied. And we do that by living fearlessly in the present moment, open to whatever arises and steadily staying with it when it does. Failure and insecurity only serve to strengthen the trust you have in yourself because you see that they will not devastate you. It’s like this: you can let yourself be defeated, or you can use the energy of the downfall to catapult you to the next level of existence. You choose. Defeat from another point of view is simply letting go. Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche spoke of basic goodness (his term for Buddha Nature) as fundamental confidence. Not confidence in anything in particular, but simply confidence in the ground of wisdom that is part of our inheritance as human beings. When you trust the fundamental ground of existence, then you can trust that whatever happens is just fine. It really doesn’t matter. It’s all –every last heartbreak and disappointment and ego slashing—an

Confidence is trusting yourself to remain 100% present with whatever happens opportunity to wake up to the truth of the moment, which is always the same: an invitation to open and accept of the play of the phenomenal world. It’s up to us to tune into that truth. We can access it with awareness: through the breath and use of speech, our posture, connection to our center (bandhas) and through maintaining a steady, spacious and kind gaze. Another key to developing lasting selfconfidence is to help others. When you are well enough in your own skin, you can extend out to help others do the same. We can see in others what we can’t see in ourselves, so we learn as much from them as they do from us. Kim, pilgrim, writer, teacher, lives part of the year in Phuket, Thailand. or follow Diary of a Pilgrim,


We all experience difficulties; every one of us knows suffering. But have you noticed that those who are brave enough to really acknowledge suffering without flinching carry a certain spark of brightness around them? Rather than stewing in selfaccusation because things didn’t go the way

you wanted, or denying the feelings altogether, recognize that these moments are ripe for change. At the moment that you can no longer hold on to your dreams, or your illusions of what life should look like, you can let go into the flow of life, and accept whatever it is that life wants to show you. Rather than struggling upstream, you can learn to accept the natural course, trusting that you will eventually reach the ocean. There may be more rapids to negotiate, but we will all, eventually, reach the ocean. We are a goal driven planet— our world worships the masculine paradigm. Perhaps this is why it seems men often come by self-confidence more easily than women. The qualities of softness and acceptance are often looked upon as signs of weakness. Until we shift our world view, we will fail to honor those feminine aspects in ourselves, and we will continue to disrespect it in others. We need yin and yang in harmony. When we don’t recognize that, we fall out of balance. So it is up to us to help shift this perspective, by starting with ourselves. Acceptance is a feminine trait, and if the moment of acceptance is the moment of change, then the feminine force is infinitely powerful. It’s called surrender. When you can let yourself be defeated, when you can say, “ok, I give up” then you no longer need to struggle to make things fit into your version of how things should be. By surrendering your concepts of what happiness looks like, you open yourself to the possibility of true happiness—the joy of living in the flow, of trusting whatever comes along will be inherently good—not necessarily pleasant—but a manifestation of the universe’s guiding light, guiding us to our own awakening, however much we may kick and scream along the way. With perseverance, patience, and practice, you will come to a place where you can simply rest at ease in the moment of notknowing. Rest in the confusion and chaos. Even if you can’t change what life dishes up, you can change your attitude, and trust yourself enough to handle whatever happens, with compassion for yourself, because this is the root of all selfconfidence. So, despite the circumstances, even if things seem to be conspiring to put you down, know that you are fundamentally wonderful and good.



In Pursuit of Happiness - Which Direction Should We Run in? Lauren Mark

“GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES,” CLOSED A RECENT TIME Magazine article on the United States’ drought dilemma.

greeted with open hospitality while visiting a foreign country rather than pick-pocketed or faced with open hostility?

Something about the phrase struck an uncomfortable chord with me, and after doing a little digging, I found the phrase originated in ancient Greece from playwrights Aeschylus and Sophocles. Its current English phrasing was later coined by the English political theorist Algernon Sidney and adopted by Benjamin Franklin, who fittingly lived with the philosophy that God didn’t intervene in human affairs.

Perceptions are fleeting, despite our stubborn tendency to cling to stereotypes about individuals or cultures. How instantaneously can a friend morph into someone suspect when he shares a knowing smile with your wife? Or how suddenly can the heavy discomfort of being near an arrogant colleague dissolve once he cracks at joke at his own expense? Why then are we often so timid about working magic through change? How might our work environments change if we greeted an antagonistic colleague’s scowl with a smile instead of barreling down the hallways poker-faced, mentally preoccupied with our day’s agenda?

If we are content to believe God doesn’t intervene, or we don’t believe any higher governing power exists, then where is the next logical place to turn? What helps us most in the long run? How much do higher salaries or a momentary ego boost help us in the end? If the transient nature of a new purchase or being lavished with praise still leaves us feeling restless a short while later, then what are some possibilities for obtaining meaningful help that are more likely to linger on? Are immeasurable actions such as a smile, a good deed or an open-minded outlook arguably more lasting? Although the “Pay it forward” mentality is scarcely a new idea in the East or the West, how often do we imagine interpersonal energy interacting in the world the same way chemical pollutants affect the earth when they are carelessly discarded? Wouldn’t it be nice to think we can exercise some control over whether we’re


The notion of EQ took Taiwan by storm a few decades ago when it was first proposed by Daniel Goleman. He constructed a model that includes the constructs of self awareness, self management, social awareness and relationship management. You need a highly evolved level of awareness of yourself and your environment with a broader agenda than personal success to pick up on the many cues that shape interpersonal interactions unfurling. Try taking a personal assessment online, and you’ll probably find that it’s significantly more difficult to score “high” on this sort of test than it is to ace the vocab or math sections on any conventional intelligence test, in much the same way that it’s far more difficult to

successfully conduct a meeting of opinionated colleagues than it is to prepare and present a PowerPoint of your personal research. My Taiwanese classmate first introduced me to this concept during our postmodernism class in the States, and the picture she painted of a society where people weighed interpersonal communication as carefully as sheer skill was enough to convince me to move there after graduation. Since moving here, I can happily say I haven’t been disappointed. I recently watched in awe at an international social mixer as a new friend deftly facilitated a conversation between strangers with playful humor, alternately drawing some of us into her confidence while poking fun at others in flattering ways, asking thoughtful questions and evading direct answers that would require her to reveal enviable traits. I mostly admired her adept brilliance at putting others at ease, always effortlessly navigating a few steps ahead of the conversation, while taking care not to let her astuteness become apparent. We all became slightly more perspicacious [having a ready insight into and understanding of things] in her presence, striving to help unravel her threads of humor, and not to let side conversations elapse into the dull, standard questioning so easy to use as a first resort when asked to meet stranger after stranger. There’s a Buddhist idea if you dedicate the benefits of your prayers and positive actions to all humanity, those benefits will become inexhaustible. It’s pretty similar to natural dissemination, where if you have an orange, you can enjoy a juicy snack and then throw away the peel and the seeds, or you could give those seeds so others can plant their own orange trees and enjoy the fruit of multiple harvests. If you haven’t kept a clear record of what has made you happiest in the past, you could try embarking on your own mini-happiness project. Try dedicating two weeks or a month to taking notice of

the needs of those in your various social circles and how you could help them. For example, when you were originally planning to take off at the end of your work day and go to the gym and a coworker comes to you asking if you could help him with a project, forgo your original plans and see what happens. And then the next day, which you had made your consolation gym date, when a different friend asks you to help her bake cookies for her parent-teacher conferences so she can finish grading papers, try forgetting about all the cake you inhaled that afternoon in anticipation of your gym session and agree to proliferate others’ consumption of sugar instead. Create a happiness appraisal you can take at the beginning and the end of your pledged period of self-sacrifice, and see if there’s any change. If you really want to be thorough, you could also make a sadness appraisal and see if it’s affected by your experiment as well. In short, see for yourself if you agree with Soren Kierkegaard, who said

The door of happiness does not open away from us: we cannot rush Steve Merkley to push it open. It opens toward us. Lauren is a long-standing member of The East West Culture Project, a dynamic center of cultural exchange and unique learning opportunities based in Taipei. She is an itinerant English teacher, translator and dancer who is fortunate to have found a second home in Taiwan.

Teacher’s Voice asana with ease and I always strive hard to maintain it particularly for this asana. I invented and practice this asana since coming to Hong Kong.

Yogar aj CP ogaraj WHAT IS YOUR MOST CHALLENGING ASANA, AND WHY? Single Hand Crane pose (Eka Astha Bakkasana). The reason is very obvious in its name. It should be performed on a single hand maintaining the balance, posture and stamina. Thus it is challenging. You have to maintain your body weight to the lowest possible level to perform this

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED FROM THIS? This asana reminds me of my favourite slogan: Life is all about balancing the situation. I used to make a monthly calendar with 12 of my best asanas of the year. Last year when I was performing this asana on the edge of a cliff for a photo shoot, I realised how much this pose has taught me about the art of balancing. Whenever I teach my students I always tell them to maintain their body, mind and emotions as you need all these elements to perform asana. Without this balance of the three components, even if someone could perform asana, it is not complete.

WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF YOUR PRACTICE? Discipline of mind, food, and daily activities is the most challenging. A yoga practioner’s difficult task is not about keeping one’s body flexible, but to live as a yogi always. Unlike a desk job, a yoga practioner is not someone who is a yogi just from 9 to 5. We have to maintain the state of a yogi 24/7. Be it a food habit, personal cleanliness, work outs, spiritual thinking or moral thinking all have to be in a order for a yoga practitioner. The rules get even tougher when you teach yoga. For me I consider this aspect as not a challenge, but as a passion, my driving force. Yogaraj CP is the holder of two Guinness World records. He has been teaching yoga in Hong Kong for many years at various studios and is now director of Prana Yogam, which opens mid-January at 2/F, 43 Ocean View Court, Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong.


Asana 101

The World Needs Savasana Elonne Stockton

MY TEACHER, PAUL DALLAGHAN OFTEN SAYS, “THE WORLD NEEDS savasana.” He explains savasana is very difficult to achieve, and what we are talking about is not technically savasana, but rather what Pattabhi Jois would call “taking rest,” or what Swami Vishnu-Devananda would call “proper relaxation.” And it is not that the world needs more sleep necessarily. Maybe people are getting enough sleep, but their adrenal glands are overworked and exhausted. They wake-up still tired because their sleep gets compromised. Their overactive minds sabotage them and do not allow them to rest properly. Savasana, according to the Hatha Pradipika, wards off fatigue and brings mental relaxation. It is a way to remove fatigue from the nervous system, which may come from either pranayama or asana practice. It could also come from work, family or other stresses. When I first started practicing as a teenager, I would rarely allow myself savasana. And with only books and tapes to instruct me, I could do whatever I wanted. As soon as it came time to take rest I was up and out the door. I didn’t understand the importance of savasana and thought it was a waste of time. I had work to do, things to assemble. And because I negatively associated lying down with being lazy, naturally I didn’t want to take savasana.


As I ran from school, to work, to practice, most of the time I was working on adrenaline, with little sleep, food or time off. It had been such a long time since I experienced deep relaxation I forgot it existed, and why I needed it. I started to taste the benefits of relaxation when I was practicing asanas, but it wasn’t until I reached my early twenties that I realized I seriously needed to slow down or I would run myself into the ground. Although I was out of balance, I was not abnormal. All too many people in modern society are overworked, undernourished (even if they are eating enough, it is often the wrong kinds of food), stressed, and their adrenals are spent. Whenever I teach in a city, people are so short on time if class goes overtime even a couple of minutes people are out the door. To make sure they take savasana, I leave plenty of time at the end of class. When teaching in a retreat setting I also find it usually takes people a couple of days to relax. When they arrive they are still on hyper mode, and the pollution of their stress often lingers for a few days. I was one of the lucky ones who found a way out of the cycle of stress. When I found Sivananda in my early twenties, it was a timely gift. The moment I walked into the Sivananda Center in Chelsea for the first time, my whole body relaxed. Hanging on the wall in one of their practice rooms was a picture of Swami Sivananda with Sami Vishnu-Devananda (the founder of the Sivananda Organization) standing beside him. The picture was black and white, clearly old (it was from the late 40’s), but for some reason when I saw the picture I thought it was current. It exuded

love and happiness, the smiling faces of guru and disciple jumping out of the frame, and I thought, “I want to meet them.” Soon afterwards I realized my mistake, but the pictures, which filled the Center, retained the same sense of familiarity to me. Whenever I came to take classes and to attend satsang at the Center, I felt I was visiting Swami Sivananda and Swami VishnuDevananda. To this day I feel them reminding me to slow down. In Sivananda’s all-level asana classes they do savasana after each pose. I practiced Sivananda yoga at a point in my life when I needed savasana more than anything else. I remember finishing my first class with a deep sense of relaxation I hadn’t felt since I was a child on vacation. But there was something still missing. I regret not having found Ashtanga earlier. If I had started practicing Ashtanga when I found Sivananda I might have developed a relationship with Pattabhi Jois. But as I reflect deeper, I realize Ashtanga was not what I needed at the time, and if I had started at that age I would have approached it in the wrong way. Later I found the softness of Ashtanga and its potentially restorative nature. But had I started earlier it might have exacerbated my imbalances. It was with Sivananda that I began to tap into the pranayama I practice now. Had I turned Ashtangi in my early twenties I might not have discovered this precious jewel. I think it is impossible to convince people of the importance of savasana, the importance of taking rest. It is something each person must experience and accept individually. However, there is

no way to deny the benefits once we finally feel this deep relaxation. Once we get a taste of what savasana must be like, we will never question its importance again. HOW TO PRACTICE Lie down on your back. Let your legs fall open and your palms face upwards so that the shoulders roll open. Close your eyes. Start with some deep breaths and slowly allow your breath to fade to a subtle or almost non-existent breath. Allow yourself to move towards a state where the body and mind are still. Take rest whenever you feel fatigue in the body or mind, whenever there is a strain on the system. That may be before practice, during practice, after practice or anytime during the day. If it is during practice, between poses or pranayamas, you can rest for a few breaths to a few minutes, without letting the practice get sleepy. If it is after practice or during the day, rest for at least five minutes, ten minutes is better and you can stay as long as you like without falling asleep. Rather than looking at a watch, try to feel when it is time to come out of the pose. Listen for an inner voice telling you when you are ready – or not – to come out of the pose. Any sweat on the body should have evaporated by the end of savasana. And you should come out feeling energized and fresh, ready to embrace the rest of your day! Elonne is a resident teacher at Samahita Yoga Thailand.


Conference Review Humans ar e Mor e Impor dw ar e are More Importtan antt than Har Hardw dwar are Aerin Alex O’Malley

IN SEPTEMBER 2011 I ATTENDED THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF YOGA THERAPY SYMPOSIUM. HOSTED BY THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION of Yoga Therapy (IAYT), it was an awesome event full of some of the brightest minds and yogis from around the world. It was held in Monterey, CA. at the Asilomar conference center. The gist of the symposium was to share empirical research that impacts not only how the established medical community is beginning to embrace yoga as a healing modality but also how the yoga community is beginning to recognize the power of the practices we share to make a somatic impression on every individual we encounter. What follows is a smattering of some of what I learned. example of the changing paradigm from There are numerous studies in the works, and recently published, regarding the efficacy conventional mind-body dualism towards integration. of yoga as a prescription for preventative healthcare, depression, anxiety, lymphedema, PTSD, ADD, insomnia, pain Doctor Rajmani Tiguanit, PHD, the spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute, relief, and stress. The IAYT Journal has addressed the symposium about the recently been accepted into the WEB MD importance of defining therapy. He stressed publications as a source for healthcare the need to incorporate philosophy, alternatives. The IAYT itself is a member psychology, and metaphysics in training and of the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care treatment. As therapists, he said, it is our job to combine the components for (ACCAHC) and the National Ayurvedic treatment. There were a number of Medical Association (NAMA). These variations on this theme throughout the relationships are important because they weekend. A woman from the Bible Belt demonstrate the commitment to science within the yoga therapy community in order talked about the gigantic church in her town Bo Forbes talked about yoga for mental health at the yoga therapy symposium which has denounced Yoga as devilish and to more wholly blend ancient knowledge from the east with current western practices. asked for suggestions about how to present place of the word “yoga”, she introduce the use of “breath and stretching for her work. Gary Kraftsow from the As yoga translates from the Sanskrit, to relaxation.” This idea, that the use of American Viniyoga Institue, suggested in yoke, this blending represents a real time



language can reach an audience who would not be open to yoga is beautiful and again, incorporates all that is the essence of yoga! Technology has jumped by leaps and bounds over the last 25 years and has provided a window into the functions of the brain and connections between the brain and body. The key concepts that drive many of today’s researchers are that of neuroplasticity and awareness of the basic structure of the brain. Neuroplasticity refers to the capacity of the brain and the nervous system to “reprogram” messages/stimulation and interaction with the body and mind. Understanding the structure of the brain plays a crucial role in the ability of therapists to make choices about appropriate treatment. Here are some of the ways in which yogis, doctors and psychologists are incorporating the science to create more efficient, holistic treatments for patients with any number of emotional and physical challenges. Shoosh Lettick Crotzer specializes in developing yoga practices for the prevention and treatment of lymphedema, arthritis, MS, and fibromyalgia. At the symposium she shared a practice for breast cancer survivors, approximately 38% of who develop lymphedema. Matt Fritts and Mona Bingham presented the work they are doing with the U.S. military to create a system called Total Force Fitness. This system incorporates yoga and mindfulness training into the traditional requirements for military readiness in order to build emotional stamina as well as physical. William Hutschmidt discussed his weekly yoga classes with homeless vets. One of every four veterans is homeless in the US. Hutschmidt’s yogic practice manifests as a relief from the constant stressor of homelessness and the emotional, physical, and psychological toll it can take. Bo Forbes discussed the role of yoga as therapy in the treatment of mental health. She emphasized yoga and psychotherapy are in the business of transformation and spoke to the need to narrow the gap between understanding the process of emotions and the real experience of change. What each of these practitioners add to the working pool of knowledge is the connection of yoga to the treatment of physical ailments, preventative health care, and mental health respectively. It is exciting as a yoga teacher and practitioner to realize that so much of what has been only a felt sense of the power of yoga is being studied. The general takeaway from this symposium is that we can “change” our minds and in turn have an impact on our biology. In the age old argument over nature vs. nurture, it is becoming more and more evident that it is wise to include both and to nurture what we can on both the physiological and emotional levels for the most positive outcomes. Yoga heals! Alex is a graduate student in Somatic Psychology at JFKU, CA. Having traveled extensively, she is currently based in San Francisco, CA teaching privately. Alex is a certified as a trauma sensitive yoga instructor.


Philosophy A Primer to the Bhaga vad-Git a, II Bhagav ad-Gita, Sankirtana Dasa

THIS IS THE SECOND ARTICLE ON THE BHAGAVADGita. The first focused on dharma and now we discuss how dharma links with yoga. We used the metaphor of a building with dharma at its foundation. We now consider how we move to the next level of the building where yoga is. What are the different systems, where do they lead and are they equally valid? The speaker of the Gita is Bhagavan Krishna. He tells his disciple Arjuna that he appears for the reestablishment of dharma when dharma declines. Remarkably, after speaking on dharma for 18 chapters, Krishna paradoxically instructs Arjuna to abandon all kinds of dharma. Pursuing the metaphor of a building where dharma is the first building block that ensures a sustainable mode of living, we enter the next floor where attempts to transcend the material world take place. There we find a variety of processes described in the Gita: karma-yoga, jnana-yoga,

astanga-yoga and buddhi-yoga. Each brings equilibrium to the mind enabling one to overcome the binding forces of the three modes. The forces of the lower modes drag pure consciousness down to selfish motives, impeding the execution of occupational duties. By Krishna’s teachings, Arjuna is obliged to perform his duty of fighting, but pushed to raise his motivation from fame and selfish enjoyment to pure devotion. Inaction is not an option because living entities intrinsically are active. However the motives for action are reformed through yoga, so one ultimately reaches the third floor of the building, the liberated state where selfless service takes place. This is the perfection of all the yoga systems. Krishna recommends karma-yoga over jnana-yoga as the better path for attaining this perfection. Throughout the Gita, Krishna hints that the practice of acting for his pleasure is ideal. When the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna takes most intimate turns, Krishna stresses devotional service, bhakti-yoga, as the perfection of dharma. The Gita emphasizes following a teacher to learn this topmost level of dharma.

Accepting this has an important implication: it doesn’t denote a special activity partitioned off from one’s life. It cannot mean what it has come to mean in modern times, namely an extra appendage to our ordinary activities. Bhakti-Yoga allows no separation between our spiritual life and our daily life. It demands full commitment. Therefore the Gita’s final point is to abandon all other occupations. Careful reading of the Gita guides us to Krishna’s ultimate intent: to abandon all other interests for the happiness of a life of devotion. In the Gita, the yoga is used 103 times and bhakti 30 times. One might wonder whether Bhakti-Yoga suggests a religious belief. To answer this we have to consider what religion means now and then. Traditionally, the religion meant, relink, as it derives from the Latin re-ligare. We discover the meaning was the same as yoga, ie. to link. Sankirtana takes Chinese students to holy places in India.




Workshop & Book Review

Life Lessons & Yoga Gifts from Rockstar Yogi: Ana Forrest Barbara Passy

ANA FORREST, LEGENDARY YOGI AT THE PINNACLE OF HER CAREER, neatly summarized her personal history as well as her knowledge of yoga into one fascinating and informative volume called Fierce Medicine. Filled to its brim with Forrest yoga basic context, philosophy, asanas, and sequences, this book is essentially the “Bible” on all things Forrest. Renowned as a top practitioner, teacher, healer, and Medicine Woman (from the Native American tradition), Forrest traced the roots of her style of yoga to exploring and uncovering selfknowledge and constantly asking the question, “Does this work for me?” If something did not work, she explored alternatives that were able to help both in her practice and in her life. But what makes her a powerful teacher and worked similarly for her book was her use of her own life lessons to demonstrate that these practices are effective. Jam-packed with fascinating anecdotes about her time as a top-tier horse trainer as well as historic context on those who influenced her both on and off the mat, she provided inspiration by the boatload to both readers and yoga practitioners alike. In fact, one of the strengths of Fierce Medicine is it is not just about yoga, it is about life. Many readers have picked it up and scoured it and become interested in yoga as a result of this exposure. In this sense, Forrest’s book became a driver for those teetering on the brink of

history of addictions and epilepsy, she was living proof that pursuit of a personal yoga practice can help to heal and shift physical and emotional chemistry. In Fierce Medicine, she advised tracking the source of both physical and emotional pain. With respect to emotional pain, she wrote: “Emotional pain can be harder to track. It can show up physically but not necessarily in the part of the body where you think it should be. Treat pain as a barometer rather than as a reason to go into victim mode. Go diving. Something like colitis might have been triggered as a habitual stress response to your SOB boss, drinking too much coffee (a common irritant that makes nerves more raw and reactive), not getting enough sleep, or any combination of causes.” Her legendary attention to breath was evident in the Hong Kong workshops and her book. One of her catchphrases, “Change your breath, change your life,” was quickly snatched up by the Hong Kong crowds. The studio in Kowloon became a giant lung infused with deep, slow inhales and powerful, controlled exhales. She challenged readers and class participants to become alert to destructive habits and behaviors as a first step to shifting them. Truth speaking, she explained, was an important way to share internal perspectives with oneself and others. She acknowledged this method of exploration was a very high mountain for herself and others. But she noted it should not be underestimated as a method to create change and improve one’s life. Within Fierce Medicine, Forrest provided a series of exercises, such as the Death Meditation, that are meant to assist in organization of life priorities. Forrest recognized early on what most people find out only too late. Life is too precious to waste and to waste time is one of the most tragic of endeavors. She also included sequences to help to resolve a wide array of physical and emotional problems. Her emphasis in her book on core work as essential to strengthen abs and lessen back pain recognized that by nature it would be challenging and acknowledged eventually this part of the yoga practice would be incredibly rewarding. In each of her Hong Kong workshops, students reacted similarly to ab work.

Ana (second from left) with her Hong Kong teaching team at the book signing for her book - Fierce Medicine

checking out yoga to elect to become students of the discipline. Another factor in the spread of Fierce Medicine has been that Forrest took it with her around the world in 2011 and graced students with reading excerpts. Forrest, a regular visitor to Hong Kong, has taught teacher trainings and at yoga conferences there. Her workshops and reading in Hong Kong in November 2011 were totally congruent with her teachings and philosophy. It was quite apparent Forrest ‘walked the talk.’ During packed sessions at Pure Yoga, she brought an array of sequences that suited beginners as well as advanced practitioners and a wide variety of physical and emotional circumstances. Forrest was very clear in both her book and in her workshops that emotional conditions have a clear correlation in the body and to shift a mood or an outlook, yoga was a primary option. With her 30

In this book as in her workshops, Forrest recognized and explored her own life and shared her learnings which were precious treasures for readers and students. Listening to Forrest read from her book was a powerful experience as well. Although working with her as a teacher was an awesome experience in Hong Kong, strengthening one’s Forrest training with Fierce Medicine can be an equally viable choice for those in search of alternative ways to make changes and shift out toxicity and unneeded behaviors from one’s own life. Barbara, a Chicago-based yogi and banker, graduated from Mount Holyoke College and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Initially, her personal practice was a “weight-win” tool to tackle a serious weight problem. Now, her daily time on the mat is used for celebrations and revelations that she can weave into her life off the mat.



Setting Intentions for the New YYear ear Janet Lau

THE NEW YEAR IS A WONDERFUL TIME TO reflect on 2011 and to set our course for 2012. If we reflect on our growth each year, re-anchor our intentions, it is very likely we will live a happier and more fulfilling life. Before writing down a “to do list” for the new year, why not look back at the and see what we learned from it: WHAT WERE THE PLEASANT OR UNPLEASANT INCIDENCES THAT HAPPENED IN 2011? We tend to remember the pleasant, unpleasant, or the most recent occasions. But reflecting on both pleasant and unpleasant things reminds us joy is there, and that there are challenge in life. After you have written down the two answers, think about: WHAT LESSONS DID I LEARN FROM 2011? Instead of dwelling in the details of what happened, why it happened, how it happened, why me? This question gives us an opportunity to take responsibility for our actions and to understand we have full power to create our possible future. When you look back at the challenges you had in 2011, you might notice they were actually teachings in disguise. Challenges stop us, invite us to step out of our comfort zone and refine our way of doing things. Challenges stretch our limit and we end up being stronger than we ever thought we could be. Some incidences teach you how to avoid certain actions, but if you look deeper at the challenges, and especially the way we react to the challenges, they actually

tell us more about ourselves, especially our conditioned behavior. Our conditioned behavior (you might call it your personality) drives our thoughts, speech, and actions (most of the time) without awareness. When we are not aware of our habitual behavior, they sometimes lead to regrets later. I challenge you to look deeper at your conditioned behaviors and notice how it is shaping your life. Is your habitual behavior taking you in the direction you want to head to in your life? Or does it lead you astray? This is a good check point for you to re-route your path if you notice you are not going where you want to go in life.

self acknowledgement as opposed to self criticism is self acknowledgement makes us more powerful, and self criticism makes us small and weak. We can only grow what we have; we cannot grow what we do not have. Instead of looking for what’s missing, try expanding what we already have. When our mind is in a more powerful position, it is much for likely for things to happen in the way we want them to be. Now, after much reflection on the past year, we are ready to set our intention for 2012. Notice we use the word intention, instead of goal. In case you want to understand the difference between an intention and a goal, here is the dictionary definition:

The more you are aware of your behavioral patterns, the easier it is to control habit energies rather to have your habit control you. So when you notice you are about to lose your patience (if that is your habitual pattern), you can stop, take a few breathes, and that gives you some space before you react the way you always have. Your awareness might come after you lost your patience, but eventually, you will be skillful enough to catch your habitual behavior before it arises. Now we move to another question to ourselves:

Intention: purpose or attitude toward the effect of one’s actions or conduct Goal: the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end

IN WHAT WAYS DID I GROW IN 2011? This question allows us to acknowledge our strength, our power, and our wisdom. Perfectionists, espcially, tend to spend most of our time “fixing” or “correcting” ourselves, “correcting” situations, correcting others, we do not leave ourselves much time to acknowledge the good qualities in ourselves. But the interesting thing about

The future is made of the present, so the better we live our present, the more beautiful the future will be. A good practice to remind yourself to be present is to ask yourself from time to time: “what am I doing?” Then take a few breaths, allow yourself to come back and focus on the task at hand.

The two are very similar, but an intention directs our attention to the journey, and the goal directs our focus to the end. When we focus on the goal, we tend to miss the means to the end. If we are not mindful with the path we take, it is easy to become lost in the way and not be able to make it to the goal.

intention directs our attention to the journey, and goal directs our focus to the end


So we would like to set intentions for 2012, rather than setting goals. Which means, when you write down your list, it should be something workable, completely under your control, rather than setting a goal in which you set the subconscious mind to be passive and wait for results. The more specific your intention, the more likely you will be to accomplish it, and become closer to the goal. On the other hand, the more general your intention is, the less likely you will be able to achieve it. Another thing you need to bear in mind is the intention needs to be realistic, not something that sets your up for failure - it should be something you can start right now, rather than waiting for other conditions to happen. Here is an example of what not to do: 1. I would like to be able to do headstand by the end of 2012. 2. I would like to spend more time with my family in 2012. The first example focuses on the goal rather than the intention and it does not provide us any graspable action to the goal; it does not give us any specific to-do actions for us to walk towards the goal. So the first intention would be more constructive as:

1. “I will practice headstand preparations (whatever stage you are working on) xxx days a week.” (if you do not know how to start the headstand, then phase it in this way: I will ask my teacher to help me with headstand and start practicing for xxx days a week or take private lesson xxx days a week.) If you write your intention this way, instantly, you can start walking towards the goal and you feel powerful and inspired right away. Now, let’s rewrite the second example: 2. I will join my family for dim sum on Sundays, and I will take my daughter to DisneyLand during the Chinese New Year. Writing the intention this way is very easy to understand and apply, allowing us to see our shift in action right away. I hope these tips help you shape your new year, allowing you to tap into your inner power and strength.

Bhagavad Gita: Do your duty without attaching to the fruits of the results. Do your best but knowing there are many uncontrollable variables to our future. We cannot make our future, but we can create our possible future. A committed student of Buddhism and yoga, Janet teaches at Pure Yoga, Causeway Bay in Hong Kong.

I leave you with something from the



Book Review

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa Reviewed by Tia Sinha

The only thing to do is to quite painfully unmask – Chogyam Trungpa IN THE WORDS OF THE LATE CHOGYAM Trungpa, “walking the spiritual path properly is a very subtle process. It is not something to jump into naively. There are numerous sidetracks which lead to a distorted, ego-centered version of spirituality. We can deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our egocentricity through spiritual techniques. This fundamental distortion may be referred to as spiritual materialism.” In short, when the ego takes over the spiritual search and gets strengthened through spiritual practices, spiritual materialism is born. This book is a record of lectures given by Chogyam Trungpa in 1971-72 in Colorado. The book is valuable because it discusses ways in which self-deception creeps in when we are looking in. The questions and

answers at the end of each chapter are useful. Although the book discusses the Buddhist approach to spirituality, the problems of spiritual materialism are common to all spiritual paths. Ego is ego, neither Buddhist nor Hindu nor Sufi! The illusory ego is quite devious. It fears its annihilation. More precisely, since something that doesn’t really exist can’t be annihilated, ego fears dis-identification with itself, it fears the unmasking of its various games. Darth Vader does not want to be unmasked. Perhaps because he doesn’t really exist, he puts on quite a performance when one sits down to meditate or does other spiritual practices. So the ego takes over the spiritual search. Ego can convert everything to its own use, even spirituality. Chogyam Trungpa points out the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of ego. This means stepping out of ego’s constant desire for a higher, more spiritual, more transcendent version of knowledge, religion, virtue, judgment, comfort or whatever it is that

We can deceive ourselves into thinking we are developing spiritually when instead we are strengthening our egocentricity that particular ego is seeking. Our vast collections of knowledge and experience are just part of ego’s display, part of the grandiose quality of ego. We display them to the world and, in so doing, reassure ourselves that we exist, safe and secure, as spiritual people. Trungpa also points out the need for honesty when relating to a guru, our doctor who wants to cure us of our illness. He stresses the need to acknowledge the raw, rugged, clumsy, embarrassing and shocking qualities of one’s ego and to give up selfcriticism and self-evaluation which are just aspects of the ego stemming from low self confidence and our inability to trust ourselves. And he emphasizes the need to give up hopes, expectations, fears and march directly into disappointment, work

Buddhist meditation master, the late Chogyam Trungpa

with disappointment, go into it and make it our way of life, which is a very hard thing to do. Without facing our neurotic patterns of thinking, our turbulent emotions, our storytelling mind, our fantasizing mind, or our lower motives for practice such as wealth, fame, praise or self-improvement, how do we unmask? We have to see our confusion completely in order to see through it, to see the absurdity of Darth Vader’s lies. Our hypocrisy is so dense and multi-leveled that as soon as we remove one layer of our suit of armour, we find another beneath it. The process of dismantling, undoing, opening, giving up, is the real learning process. The only thing to do is to quite painfully unmask. And it’s an operation without anesthesia. It’s mayhem in there. It may take work, but the good news is this edifice created by the ego is nothing but a Tower of Babel, ridiculous nonsense. And it can be dismantled because the ego itself is a joker that doesn’t really exist. If you want to do the painstaking work of spotting and dissolving your own delusions, breaking down your own disturbing emotions, unraveling your own conditioning, without which there can be no genuine spiritual path, this hard-hitting, no-nonsense book can be of some help. Tia, who teaches Hatha Yoga to the nuns of Dongyu Gatsal Ling, Himachal, has of late been spending most of her time in solitary retreat at the nunnery.



Born tto oR un, B orn tto o Sit Run, Born Paul Dallaghan

VAGUE MEMORIES OF MY YOUTH INSPIRED ME to read Christopher McDougall’s “Born to Run”. As a teenager I had been a pretty good long distance runner, but had not done much since then. Yoga has been my mainstay since my early 20s, and I’ve spent many years doing asana on a daily basis to an, sometimes, intense level. I have wondered how a body with such training would work with other activities. Still the emphasis for me in any yoga practice is on the subtle development, and so as a scientist-anthropologist I am curious to see how different activities work with or take away from the subtle development going on inside. The Hathapradipika, a key text on hatha yoga, offers over-exertion as an obstacle to growth in practice. Is there a way to do other activities, such as running, while adding to the gross and subtle development of the body and mind? “Born to Run” does a great job at telling an interesting story of the Tarahumara of Mexico who have honed their ability to run hundreds of miles without rest or injury and explains the science and history of human developement, with running as part of our evolutionary course. Barefoot running at that. Only in the last 30 years have running shoes had padded soles and mega sports corporations and brand names arisen.

came on retreat and to practice, many of the men would like go out running and prefer a shorter asana routine. As I explore it further I instinctively find myself picking out the appropriate asanas to counter running, to get back into the hips, pelvis, back and, of course, legs right after a run. There was also an interesting line in the book stating “don’t do yoga with your running practice, it makes the body too open and then you get injured.” (I paraphrase for want of finding the exact line in the book). I understood the point but ultimately couldn’t agree. If you do asana correctly it can have a gyrotonic effect, stabilizing muscles while allowing muscles and ligaments to lengthen. And in the case of our psoas muscle, lengthening is strengthening. Most long-term runners have chronically-tight psoas, as well as hamstrings, closing off the body and in effect making it weaker and more vulnerable to injury. A lifelong runner may experience this opening when first getting into yoga and feel this as pain. If you approach asana as one approaches a race, with a competitive mindset, you are going to get injured. This is the other element of barefoot/minimalist running that appeals to me: it was not out to prove anything or win big prizes, but could still be super effective, compete with the best, and respect the body.

the principles behind barefoot running echo those of a yoga practice Before that shoes had no support and native peoples ran without shoes. The principles behind barefoot or minimalist running seems to echo those of a yoga practice: a stable upright posture with the core engaged by pulling in the area at and below the navel, while allowing the arms to be as free as possible. This is another way of saying sthira sukham asanam, being the definition of asana - supported yet free. Though I am still carrying out this experiment with barefoot running, my insight so far is yoga can work quite well with such an approach. Running in such a way may help some people’s yoga practice. I have noticed over the years as many couples 36

One of the main characters in the book, which is a completely true and personal story, is Barefoot Ted McDonald. He is one of the main proponents of barefoot running in the US. So I gave him a call to find out more about this art of running. A really nice guy with whom I spoke for over an hour and a half. Towards the end I discovered his girlfriend, also a dedicated runner, is equally a committed Ashtanga yogini. Suddenly it all started to make sense and the connection of “Yoga Barefoot and Barefoot Running” became clearly established. What more was there for me to do but to arrange a joint retreat with Barefoot Ted to explore both running and

asana (July 7-14, 2012 at Samahita Retreat – Yoga Thailand)? Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run” has been one of the most exciting and interesting books I have read in a while. In it he also introduces Professor Lieberman and his anthropological studies on the uniqueness of Homo Sapien as a super long distance runner, surpassing even our close rival the Neanderthal. The science presented to support this evolutionary running development is impressive. And while we may not need to run super long distances today for our actual survival, it is a popular pastime for many. So from running, to asana, to sitting with breath till there is just space, I see this as a continuous line in our evolution of refining the body and its movements, while using our intelligence, to explore the subtleties within. It seems the human experience is capable of spanning the range of, as I will dub it, “From Running to Sitting”. Or better still, “Born to Run, Born to Breathe, Born to Sit”. How could these two not be connected - running and yoga? It’s just a matter of how much you do and how you balance them out. That’s what I hope we can explore more. Paul is director of Samahita Retreat, Yoga Thailand.


Recipe Simple V ege oup or W in Vege egettarian S Soup oupss ffor Win intter Moosa Al-Issa

SOUP IS BODY AND SOUL SATISFYING AND NEVER more so than in winter. Making a great soup is pretty easy: liquid + vegetable + seasoning = delicious soup The liquid portion of the soup can be a homemade stock, stock made with a vegetarian bullion cube or simply water. The high starch vegetables such as potato, pumpkin and yam are perfect for creating rich, thick winter soups. With the myriad of herbs and spices available the possibilities for seasoning soups is only limited by one’s imagination. POTATO & ROASTED GARLIC SOUP Ingredients: 3 lbs potatoes, peeled and diced 1 lbs onions, halved and sliced ½ cup fresh squeezed lemon juice 1 liter vegetarian stock Zest of two lemons, minced 6 heads of garlic, roasted 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary finely minced White Pepper to taste Sea salt to taste


Method: Cut off the tops of the heads of garlic, place on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 45 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove from oven and cool. In a medium saucepan fry the onions with a few tablespoons of olive oil until they are cooked and starting to caramelize and brown slightly. Add the potatoes and the vegetarian stock to the saucepan and bring to a low boil. Cook till the potatoes are soft. Carefully puree the mixture in a blender then add the roast garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste continue blending for a few minutes. Garnish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or a dollop of crème fraiche and serve. Moosa is the Executive Director of Life Cafe and Director of Just Green Organic Convenience Stores in Hong Kong




Light on the Beatles, an insight into “Across the Universe” Clayton Horton

IN 1968, THE BEATLES TOOK A THREE-MONTH TRIP TO INDIA WHERE they spent time in Rishikesh, India on the banks of the Ganges River. They stayed at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh, the renowned founder of Transcendental Meditation (TM). At the ashram, the Beatles were able to seek refuge from the dark side of their uber popularity. This was at a point in their career when they could hardly do anything in public without traveling in an armored vehicle with a team of bodyguards. Amidst the need for a sanctuary from their public life, an underlying thirst for something greater than material success gave their trip to India a spiritual tone. This was at time in which the whole world had their eyes on the Beatles. Almost everyone under 35 years of age wanted to be like and do whatever the Beatles were doing. Suddenly, the Beatles were going to India to hang out at an ashram and learn yoga and meditation from an Indian guru – totally far out and groovy. This act in and of itself was one of the greatest influences on the growth of yoga in the Western world. This three-month period was the Beatles most productive songwriting period ever, in which they wrote 58 songs. Infused with elements of Self–realization, cosmic unity, gratitude of the Guru’s grace and a hint of expanded reality psychadellia, their hit, Across the Universe is one of the songs which personifies the mood of their pilgrimage to India. Along with George Harrison’s My Sweet Lord. To the average listener, this song may not seem deeply spiritual or rich in yogic overtones. The chorus of the song “Nothing’s gonna

change my world” may easily be misunderstood as a negative hippy attitude of someone who is socially, spiritually and environmentally disengaged from the world with no hope of making the world a better place. Lyrics to the song are: Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind Possessing and caressing me Jai Guru Dev Om Nothing’s gonna change my world Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes They call me on and on across the universe Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letterbox They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe Chorus Sounds of laughter, shades of life are ringing through my opened ears Inciting and inviting me Limitless undying love which shines around me like a million suns And calls me on and on across the universe Chorus What is actually being expressed in the chorus of the song is the experience of realizing the eternal, non–changing nature of the Self. Atma Darshan is a Sanskrit term for a moment when an individual sees or experiences this eternal true Self. Once this occurs, the individual becomes established in the Self and no one or nothing can challenge or take away this newly-established awareness of core personality. Nothing can change this. The chorus begins with “Jai Guru Dev, Om” which directly translates as: Victory Teacher God, this phrase is commonly used when expressing gratitude for the grace of one’s teacher who shows the way to the divine; by grace and synchronicity often in a miraculous way. Om denotes the sound of all of creation and in this context, refers to witnessing the vibration of all sound, light, love, thought and energy which pulsates throughout the Universe. The lyrics of the song suggest certain actions are occurring which are personal as well universal, suggesting the awareness of a brilliant and psychedelic cosmic unity. In conclusion, the song is hinting to the fact that our thoughts, actions and emotions (karmas) extend far beyond our immediate sense field. So, be mindful what every step you take. We reap what we sow. Most importantly, Across the Universe suggests to have a strong sense of self will, do your practice so your peace of mind will not be disturbed by what arises or disappears. Continues on following page


My Story

Lost & F ound Found June Chan

June (middle standing) with some friends from the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram in India

I BELIEVE EVERYONE HAS AT LEAST ONE BEAUTIFUL STORY TO SHARE. No matter who you are, where you’re from or how you were brought up, everyone has an exquisite experience to share. It might not be of interest to everyone, but believe me, there is someone out there who would find your story inspiring and that it could even change the person’s life. A chapter of my life I want to share happened in April 2009. An out of the blue inspiration, a supportive boyfriend and a leap of faith, we both created a masterpiece – Foodie Magazine. Our “baby” was launched three month’s later and has since become the only freely distributed food magazine in Hong Kong. After a couple of months, the business was way harder than we predicted. There were times we wanted to give up, yet we kept going because we believed we could make our dreams come true with our passion. In fact, we did it! A local media company invested in our business taking it to the next level. When you want everything to be as perfect, sometimes life just THE BEATLES, FROM PREVIOUS PAGE In the last shloka of the Yoga Taravali, Shankarcharya eloquently delivers his perspective of “Nothing’s gonna change my world”: O mind! Engage your flow in Nivikalpa Samadhi, then thoughtconstructed virtues and faults will not be capable of touching me. I will not be affected by the pitcher shaped breasts of beautiful women with eyes like that of the black antelope, nor by whether I am considered to be respectable and proper, or a lost idiot. Jai Guru Dev – OM. Clayton is Director of Greenpath Yoga.


doesn’t work out the way you hope. Things fell apart and our relationship drifted apart. We separated and agreed to give away our one-year-old baby. In a month, I lost two of the most meaningful things that once meant the world to me. Returning to being single

Tia’s Crossword This crossword pays homage to a few of the 84 Mahasiddhas, or great spiritual adepts, whose fascinating stories continue to inspire us. Most of the information about the book has been culled from the book, Buddhist Masters of Enchantment, The Lives and Legends of the Mahasiddhas, translated by Keith Dowman and illustrated by Robert Beer. and jobless, I’d never been that lost in my life and so I wandered off to India to begin my journey of soul searching which led me to Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Dhanwantari Ashram. Arriving on 1 October 2010, I signed up for a two-week yoga vacation. This was my debut voyage to India and also my first experience living in an ashram. Instead of being over-excited, I expected this trip to be a typical holiday. From day one I treated it as therapy. I promised myself to learn to let go and embrace whatever I’d encounter and discover in this new chapter of life. My daily routine in the ashram was very structured and simple. Every day, we pretty much followed the same schedule. We got up at 5:20 am and gathered at 6 am for morning satsang. Satsang consisted of silent meditation, chanting and reading on yoga philosophy. For the hour and half, I completely dedicated myself to it. It quietened my chatters and unified my mind, body and soul through the silent meditation and peaceful mantras. For the rest of the day, it was compulsory that we stay committed to our asana practice, yoga lecture, karma yoga and evening satsang. The daily meditation, prayers and chanting helped me release hidden emotions of sadness, anger and fear. I started to feel a change on my sixth day. As the days went by, I learned to loosen up and understand everything in life happens for a reason and to accept we can’t control everything. Yet, we’ve absolute control of whether we want to live each day dwelling on the past or let go and prepare for the better. On the tenth day, I knew I’d completely let go of past attachments I once thought I couldn’t live without. Believe it or not, when one door closes, a window opens. As soon as I gave room for myself to grow, I opened up new opportunities in life beyond my comfort zone. My two-week retreat guided me to find a new me. Changes in life are not at all nerve-racking because I understand I’ve nothing to be afraid of losing. Every journey is a lesson to enrich your well-being. Nowadays, whenever I doubt myself, I meditate. Whenever I’m distracted by too many voices from the outside world, I

ACROSS 1 Outwardly lazy, inwardly realized, this monk who composed The Way of the Bodhisattva was given the nickname Bhusuku (eat, sleep, defecate). (10)

DOWN 1 Mahasiddha famous for his songs, Three Cycles of Dohas and for his fondness of radish curry. (6)

5 Instead of compassion, his practice led to pride in his siddhis, making him inflict violence on a dakini. (7)

2 Banished by his daughters-in-law to a grass hut in the garden, an aged weaver who practiced in secret, becoming a Mahasiddha.

10 Vina playing prince who attained Mahasiddhi by contemplating the sound of his instrument. (6)

3 A Mahasiddha banished from his kingdom for consorting with a woman of low caste. (7)

11 & 9 DOWN. Mahasiddha who grew a red horn while practicing. (4, 5)

4 Jumble ‘pur via’ to give a Bengali Mahasiddha. (6)

12 A king who valued his pleasures and treasures yet attained Mahasiddhi. (6)

5 Mahasiddha who wore just a black blanket. (7) 6 Brilliant scholar who realized upon meeting a hag that he was trapped by intellectual knowledge. He sought a realized guru and underwent 12 labours or trials. His Six Yogas are legendary and still practiced by some Tibetan Buddhists. (6)

mediate. At 26, I’ve learned to lose, accept the loss and embrace the found. What is meant to be will be, so take it easy, listen to your heart and things will eventually fall into place. If you wondered whether everyone who goes to an ashram comes back afresh, the answer awaits your discovery. This is why everyone has a unique story to share. June is a former journalist based i n Hong Kong. Currently, she’s taking some time off to reconnect with herself as well as pursue her next goal in life alongside yoga.

7 A poor man, who, cured of his fantasy to become wealthy, became a Mahasiddha through spiritual practice. (6) 8 Born of a lotus, this scholar of Nalanda University willingly plucked off his eye to help a cunning old hag. His Four Hundred Verses are a philosophical masterpiece. 9 See 11 ACROSS Solution on page 46



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Namskar Jan 2012  

Yoga News & Events in Aisa

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Yoga News & Events in Aisa


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