Trying 3 New Poses

Gandha berundasana/ viparita salabhasana

What makes something keep captivating is the challenge that it offers. So is in yoga. When it comes to challenges, yoga offers an endless supply of challenges. New asanas, the proper breathing technique are only two I have to learn a lot these days.

As holding breath is not advisable while doing yoga, one has to keep breathing deeply while holding a pose or asana. It’s not a big deal when you’re used to a pose. A pose is easy, to me, when I can still breathe as deeply as I want to while holding them for several cycles of breathing (some sets of inhaling and exhaling).


Yanti Warso, a yogini, helped me hold this challenging pose for a while.

Very recently, I tried to try new poses. Gandha berundasana (viparita salabhasana), as Yanti Warso calls it, is one of them. She said the Sanskrit word means literally “terrible cheek”. I saw the pose in a book and gave it a try. At the very first attempt, I had no idea how to reach the pose. But then I saw on Youtube how John Scott, an ashtanga yogi, initiated the pose. At first I thought I would break my neck or hip or waist or my entire torso and spine but that was just my groundless paranoia. By kicking frontwards and bending my waist backwards, it feels much easier.

The full locust pose disrupts the normal breathing cycle because positioning the neck on the extending torso increases the resistance in the respiratory channels, not to mention it’s against the gravity.

The next two is bakasana (crane pose) turning to handstand. It proves to be extremely advanced pose to those with heavy-built posture, but bakasana is quite easy to me. All I need is a pair of more stronger arms to support the rest of body. And if I manage to do that, I can someday erect my folded torso gradually without anyone else’s assistance like now.

Bakasana or crane pose.

DriveBooksJkt: Donate Your Used Books Now!


Scott D. Hanna of Drive Books Jakarta and Nila Tanzil of Taman Bacaan Pelangi were joining the Social ‘Yoga Gembira’ band. They hoped us to take part in the charity! Donate your used books NOW! 

My Favorite Yoga Poses

Scorpion pose or "vrischika asana"

Yoga really explores my potential. I never thought I could bend my torso like this before.

So here I try to compile some of my most favorite pose and several details you may find interesting:



At first I tried this once and I felt like my waist was going to break into two afterwards. These are the details:

Type of pose: inversion, backbend

Benefits: strengthens the shoulders (wish they were bulkier so as to create a bigger body image I’m dying to have), strengthens abdominals and back (definitely, my waist was terribly aching at my first attempt), improves balance (not an expert myself, so I still need wall as an aid)

Any menstruating women should never try to perform this pose, or any of inversion poses. Or try at your own risk!

For advanced yogis/yoginis, a more challenging version of this pose entails bringing the feet to rest exactly upon the head. At least for now, I am not going to do that. I’m not that flexible a guy after all.


Natarajasana (king of dancers pose)


The type of pose is standing and balancing. And the benefits are to strengthen legs (because you have to support all your body weight only with a single leg), to improve balance (yes, balance really matters in yoga), to stretch shoulders (I feel like someone pulls my arms and torso backwards).

Want to give it a try? First of all you stand in tadasana (mountain pose), shift your weight onto the right leg. Bend the left knee and grasp the inside of the left foot with the left hand. Start to bring the left foot and the right arm toward the ceiling as you bring your torso forward. Hold 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side. Try to fix your gaze on something that doesn’t move so you’re not losing balance.




Chakra asana (wheel pose)


The type of pose is backbend, obviously. The benefits are  having your spinal flexibility a lot improved, stretching the shoulders and chest, and strengthen the arms.

As you may know in high school, you just have to lie on your back and lift your torso upwards. But one piece of advice is never try this after having a huge meal or else you’ll end up puking all over.



Sarvanga asana (shoulder stand)


Next to the headstand, this posture is considered one of the best asanas. Why? Because by performing the pose, the thyroid gland works at peak efficiency. The gland is responsible for our ideal weight and youthful appearance. Besides that, it regulates the sex glands. It vitalizes the nerves, purifies the blood and promote good circulation, strengthen the lower organs and helps them to stay in place.

It is advisable that we retain this position  for 15 seconds to 6 minutes, adding 15 seconds per week.

My Yoga Class at Taman Suropati

This man is my fellow yogi, Budi. As you can see, I bet he wants to drop some pounds by doing yoga. 😀











Vasisthasana (side plank pose) is a bit hard to hold perfectly, even for me. It does need strength and balance at the same time.











No offense, but Ardha Matsyendrasana (half lord of the fishes pose) is a piece of cake!

























Yes, Anyone can Do Yoga (Devi Asmarani's Book Launch)

Devi Asmarani in the book signage session. She inscribed "Dear Akhlis! Stay healthy and joyful". But I was literally moved as like no one else, she spelled my name correctly!

Yoga is indeed meant to be practiced by all. Regardless of  how skinny or obese you can be, how rigid or plastic your body is, how young or old you are, yoga keeps benefiting anyone doing it.

As for me, yoga caught my attention by accident. It looks like gymnastics, a kind of sport I was excelled at in high school. But it’s different. I can’t tell you what the differences I’m talking about are. I’m a novice myself, who has started practicing as recent as less than a year (around 8 months). The bottomline may be I nearly always feel better after each class.

Your body is a temple, a ‘sacred’ laboratory

Touche! Just a great quote from Devi. Unlike some people who think like John Mayer (“Your body is a wonderland”, where everyone and anything can enter, have fun with no apparent limit, binge, get drunk, litter and go away), I am absolutely in line with the proposition that our body IS obviously a temple, a shrine.

Feeling a bit curious because of my own natural and genetic propensity of having slightly-above-average  flexibility and underweight issue, I decided to cast a question. So basically I just wanted to know what yoga can give people with these ‘enviable’ issues (as I asked the question, a middle-aged lady ‘offered’ me to be her fats donor *floored*).

Devi explained people with issues (or ‘blessings’ as she put it)  like mine, are supposed to be aware of the possibility of injuring him/herself. Doing several challenging poses quite effortlessly doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ‘the man’!  So this is why yoga also teaches us to be humble. Humility applies both for ‘freshmen’ or ‘professors’.

Also, Devi mentioned one thing I can relate to:

Flexibility and strength rarely come in the same package”

But further on Twitter, she assured me that strength, fortunately, is trainable.

After the launch, I ran into Iwan Setyawan, the author of “9 Autumns 10 Summers”. Because we already knew each other on Twitter (Rhein Mahatma mocked us as he found out our Twitter avatars show me doing scorpion pose and Iwan peacock pose at the same time). The universe works in an unexpected way…

Namaste…(The divine in me honors the divine in you)

Devi's "Yoga untuk Semua" (Yoga for All)










I came 50 minutes late and got a rear seat thanks to Meta who would rather stand up to chat with her fellow yoginis.

Scorpion Pose


I’m recently trying to do scorpion pose. I’m a scorpion (by zodiacal sign) so I feel like I have to master this. LOL!

At the first attempt, I used a wall as a supporter. It was easier than I thought. But the thing is …I bent frontward too much.

Update: This was taken after a week of practicing..

It took me 20 Scorpion poses before deciding to upload this one!

Why I Love (Free) Yoga at Taman Suropati

“Life’s Good” says LG. But yes it IS good when you’re surrounded by the right people. So if you find yourself unhappy, look around. It might be because of your wrong choice of friends or social circles.


T’was one fateful Sunday morning in December 2010 at Taman Suropati, Menteng, on Jalan Imam Bonjol if you want to go there someday. Trees, lawn, the fresh dirty smell of ground, and most importantly the oxygen are among other things I (and million other Jakartans) am dying to find amidst the concrete jungle.

My eyes bumped into someone. He sat comfortably there, inhaling and exhaling without giving a damn to his surrounding. He was Yuddhi, a guru of yoga. I knew it was yoga and I knew he was doing yoga. I read a book on yoga before that. And I know I’ve been interested in yoga, which pushed me to draw nearer to him. A sheer curiosity I call it.

And that sheer curiosity gradually led me to a deeper understanding and practice of yoga.  On the following Sundays after the first proper breathing class with Yuddhi, the yogi, in that morning, I started practicing yoga frequently.

Why Yoga?

Ok, yoga sounds too queer. No young man at my age (I’m 27) is interested in this kind of ‘elderly’ and ‘womanly’ sport. But don’t get me wrong, yoga can burn your calorie and demand more physical strength more than cycling, bodybuilding or aerobics combined.

Seriously, I have never met a peer here at Taman Suropati. But it doesn’t necessarily mean I must quit. I love this…

So this is why I love this body-bending-and-folding workout. First of all, it suits my body frame! The yoga workout regime is hard..YES, but that’s for someone with less flexibility and more heavily-built figure. Happily, I’m slim, ok, underweight to be precise. So in my case, it’s much easier to do whatever yoga poses I want with this super lean body.

You may argue that being thin doesn’t always mean more flexibility. Yup, I can’t agree more on that. But with a lighter body, you can lift your body easier.

Secondly, God gave me a body with higher flexibility level. I didn’t know why but as I was a kid at school, I loved gymnastics more than I did soccer (which is played by suckers).  I could kiss my knees effortlessly while others couldn’t on my high school days. In short, I was blessed with it.

Thirdly, I love yoga because of its portability. Really, you don’t need anything but your body (and soft material to cover the floor for certain poses) to practice it anytime and anywhere you want. I like bodybuilding (it’s great for gaining body mass) but still I have to find the right spot to work out. And above all, you can’t carry those dumbbels around with you at work.

Fourthly, it requires no competition. Yoga isn’t about competing with anyone else. It’s all about me, understanding my mind, getting to know my body. I don’t care if you can do a handstand better than I do, because I do the poses for the sake of myself. I won’t be damned or scorned by the guru just because anyone else can hold a pose longer than I can.

Fifthly, the workout brings me to the new social circle, as I said earlier. I know lots of great people.

Last of all, it’s FREE….

See you at Taman Suropati. When you see a flock of people doing something ODD, that’s us. Don’t hesitate to approach us and follow the guru’s instruction, as in here, everyone’s invited.

Yoga 101 : The Basics Everyone Needs to Know

A dancer of Sri Devi Nrithyalaya performing on...
Image via Wikipedia

There are some basic issues that every yoga practitioner needs to know and implement. So here is a simple list of the most frequently asked questions regarding yoga.

Where should I do yoga?

Practice in a clean, quiet, well-ventilated, and peaceful place. A sticky mat, carpet, or any other soft but non-skid surface would do. Don’t practice in extreme temperatures (either too hot or too frigid), direct daylight sun, and drafts.

What should I wear?

Wear  non-binding/ loose clothes such as tee shirt and sweatpants, tights, or shorts. Bare foot is better so take off your footwear, that includes your socks. Cotton or any other natural fabrics allow the skin to breathe easily. If we can do without our glasses or contact lenses, take them off before practice.

Is there any specific apparatus?

Yoga needs refreshingly little in the way of extra apparatus, although many props and aids for practice are sold out there. We’ll need a thin cushion (for relaxation and meditation) and a blanket or shawl to cover our body on cold days. We may also need a canvas strap (to help with postures that are beyond our range), a non-skid mat (to keep the footing solid) and an eye pillow (to darken daytime light during relaxation).

Continue reading “Yoga 101 : The Basics Everyone Needs to Know”

How to Integrate Yoga into Our Life Style

Yoga Class at a Gym Category:Gyms_and_Health_Clubs
Image via Wikipedia

“To know the truth we have to deepen ourselves and not merely widen the surface” – Sarvepatti Radhakrishnan

Don’t be fooled by the title. It is not as philosophical as it sounds.

Yes, lately I’ve been doing yoga. And it really works for me, to relieve stress and get fit.

These are what I’ve been trying to do to integrate yoga into life style:

  • Taking time to practice every day. I try my best to make it regular. Once I stopped doing yoga for a longer time, things felt wrong. It did occur to me just this week. I stopped practicing a while (3-4 days) and my body seemed to lose its flexibility. And it takes some time to regain the fitness and flexibility level I achieved before. So whether it’s a brief stretching session before going to work or during lunch break, I find it good for my body and mind.
  • Practicing at the same time and place. This could be the hardest challenge if we’re mobile people. Finding a suitable place to practice yoga in an undistracted manner proves to be frustrating.
  • Getting to know the basic preparations. The preparation includes waiting at least 3 hours after eating before practice, wearing loose and comfortable clothes and bare feet. One ought to have a sticky mat, but I myself have not purchased one. So my safe bet is practicing on soft material like mattress, or at least anything that feels comfortable to prevent injuries.
  • Practicing at our comfort level. My body is not an enemy to conquer. I’m not competing against anybody here. Pushing my body too far or too fast could result in injuries. In short, yoga makes us understand our body better. It takes some time especially for those who love competing sports to adapt to yoga practice style.
  • Honoring ourselves. Acknowledge our limitations without accepting them as our fate. Don’t forget, practice is about exploring our possibilities. This may begin with becoming aware of our tendency to chase perfection. Letting go of that will help our practice now and in the years to come.

Don’t know how to start? This video may be a guidance for you to do some basic yoga poses. Enjoy!