Monthly Archives: March 2012

Yoga, a practice that binds

A couple of people asked me how I felt and what I thought about my first “international” yoga retreat and workshop.  I think I was still not done savoring the experience and cannot answer the question well.

First, I was so amazed at how the practice of ashtanga yoga binds people from all over the world! Swiss, Germans, Americans, Brazilian, Filipinos, Japanese, Thais,  Singaporeans — all have the same practice! I cannot believe that a single man was able to influence  people around the globe to take on the discipline to practice yoga!

I was mesmerized by Tiwariji.  His presence was comforting, his words were encouraging and uplifting,  I have not really met anyone in the past that had the same effect (maybe Fr. Reuter during my high school years).  He always had a smile on his face! He looked really happy! My friend Berta says maybe that’s how enlightened people look — I might just agree with her!

It took quite some time for me to understand how four women, who were devoted to their families would leave for more than a week!  What will make them do that?! The trip wasn’t about getting or running away.  I believe it is about touching base with the teacher, being close to an “energy” source, finding ways to enrich the self so that there can be more to share.  It was an affirmation of the person you have become.  It allowed me to look back when my practice began and where it can go — how my life was before yoga, when I started yoga and yoga in my life.

Yoga is literally translated to “yoke” – a bond.  I understood myself more through the practice of yoga.  It allowed me to bind my whole being — weaknesses, strengths, potentials, unaccomplished goals.  I opened up myself to people I would never have met if not through the practice.  Yoga binds people; people close to you, people new to you, people who live far away.





Let’s talk about FOOD!

Having a vegetarian buffet was a delightful experience for me (at first)! Unlike in the past when you need to check each server and figure out what you can or cannot take.  Here, you are welcome to all the dishes!

For breakfast, I would have a bowl of fresh fruits (which I normally and regularly don’t have) with a scoop of granola, a scoop of muesli, yogurt and honey! I love it! I would like to continue having this at home. Then I would have eggs either omelet or poached (Chef cooks poached eggs really well!)  The best thing about breakfast is sitting, savoring the food while looking out at the beautiful beach!

I was exposed to certain food such as quinoa, ladoo (thank Connie!), ghee, mung bean paste and lentils. This was one of the best meals we had; the mushroom and the stir fried vegetables tasted delicious!

They served us pizza once and it was delicious!

And while others were getting into the detox program, we decided to take cooking lesssons!

We were exposed to Thai vegetables! We made Pad See Eiw, Haw Muk and Sticky rice!

Pad See Eiw

Un-steamed Haw Muk!

Sticky rice with mango! (Thank you Berta for the pics on the cooking class!)

But as the days passed, the food kinda started to look and taste the same…I am hoping they serve the mung bean paste again and the blueberry yogurt shake…They would serve raw pasta dishes and unbaked chocolate cake which I am not ready to dive into yet…

Overall, the food experience was unforgettable and generally enjoyable…


Lessons from Paul

On uddiyana bandha and nauli…

(photo taken from

… about three inches below the navel

…passive abdomen, diaphragm is active


1. Exhale, pull in the lower abdominals, 2. One-fourth of a second relax, anus is relaxed, 3. Diaphragm is actived, 4. Relax, 5. Inhale

(6. Isolate the abodminal rectus for Nauli)


On Central Nauli also known as the crown hatha, helps in…

… elimination, digestion, assimilation, circulation, cleansing of the lymph nodes and has a overall positive effect on the nervous system


On Agni Sara is kind of the opposite of uddiyana bandha….

…active abdomen, passive diaphragm


1.  Exhale, pull back lower abdominals, 2. Flick forward the lower abdominals (transversus), anus is relaxed, 3. Expand abdomen, organs start to float in the positve environment, 4. Repeat flick and expand three to seven times, 5. Inhale.

…you may hear digestive abdominal sounds when doing this, and that’s ok!


Too much talking is an obstacle in yoga.

We are all divine! But divinity is not to be achieved, it has to be re-discovered.  An obstacle to divinity is lack of awareness.

The cause of happiness or suffering is brought about by the function of the mind. Yoga will help channelize the function of the mind. Pranayama helps control the mind.

Practice with awareness.  Sincerity in practice. Any art or science in life needs sincerity in practice.


The Fire Ceremony

Every morning at 6:15 am, we take the short walk to the retreat center to join the Fire Ceremony.

Tiwari-ji explained that the sun is the most important creation according to the vedas scriptures.  He says that fire is the daughter of the sun and one way to communicate to the sun is through the daughter, Fire.

I understand that the fire ceremony is an act to remember the process of creation, to be thankful for the sun.  It is also an invocation to the sun for clarity of mind.  During the ceremony, we are asked to silently say our mantras ten times.

The ceremony starts and ends with Paul sounding off a signal by blowing through a conch shell.  My friend Cherry who sat with the inner circle today says you can feel the vibration when he blows through the shell.  I can imagine its sound being heard by others in the distance.

During the ceremony, flowers are offered to the fire and placed around the pit and water (I think it’s water) is spread around the pit to prevent insects to get into the fire.

Chants are made during the ceremony. Towards the end, milk is distributed by Paul to the participants.  Milk is an offering to the sun, it symbolizes the purity of mother’s milk. We sip it and put it over our heads (this I am not too clear about…)!

Apparently, the fire ceremony can be done without the physical presence of “fire”.  This knowledge however gives me a better view on the importance of the sun and it’s place in the process of creation.

My sun salutations may be different after this….om….

My happys today

The following brought me much happiness today.

1.  Practicing yoga without thinking “what time is it?”.

2.  Seeing blue skies, white clouds and coconut trees during bujapidasana.

3. Tiwari-ji chanting Sarve at the end of morning pranayama practice! This is a chant I had learned from my first yoga teacher Raj, and I continue to chant this on the days I do pranayama without asanas.

4. Hearing waves rushing into shore during savasana.

5.  Stress-free meals! I don’t have to think of what to eat and if I could eat that food…


Ticking off my yoga bucketlist

Check mark! To travel just for yoga.
Check mark! To learn from my teachers’ teachers!

In the three years I have been practicing ashtanga yoga I have met friends who would be gone days at a time to take up yoga classes or workshops in another country. I have always been curious and would look up websites in an attempt to satisfy my curiosity. And as I became more involved in the practice, my desire to “yoga travel” increased.

So finally tomorrow I will venture off to my first “yoga travel”! I will be going to Samahita Retreat Yoga Thailand. This is where most of my yoga teachers acquired their teacher training.

I am kinda excited. I will be with friends/teachers. I am eager to meet and learn from both Paul and Tiwari. Aside from asana practice we will be learning pranayama and philosophy.

I’m soooo excited!

My yoga journey continues…om.