The Yogic Moment of HolyShitasana

‎So my yoga pal coined a word for an asana. It’s holyshitasana. Practically speaking, it refers to any yoga poses or asanas that make you scream out of frustration:”Holyyy shitttt!!! Why ain’t it getting any easier every time I give it a try?!!”

The answer is our body isn’t built for doing the asanas. Seriously. Just take it easy. Don’t push yourself too hard. Be lenient to your own body. It’s your temple. That’s ahimsa. But that’s of course what you naturally say to comfort yourselves before you‎ take a glance at the neighbors who manage to do better, or slightly better. Envy works in a so subtle way you can’t even detect it.

‎Yet once again I post another challenging yoga asana photos my yoga buddies can’t do without props. I know some will sneer at it. I am completely aware not everyone likes it. I feel like a jerk sometimes for posting it. But then I realize I should just do it. Because who knows someone will get inspired and keep doing his or her practice? You’ll never know. So I stop judging myself for being a poser and let it inspire others. If it doesn’t inspire, let it amuse them in some way I don’t need to know.

If you’re into yoga and really want to try the pose, try some warmups in the quads, hips, back, lower back and chest. Lots of work to do, I know. But if your body is built like mine, you can just skip the warmups and hocus pocus, it’s done!

About Doing Challenging Poses, its Benefits and Risks

yoga downPeople complain about how stuffed social media and the web 2.0 have become right now with all the self-centered yogic rants, flashy photos and self-worshipping tutorial videos of yoga ‘gurus’ and practitioners. But deep inside, to a certain extent they keep their admiration of it for themselves. Heaven knows…

Oddly enough, most simple and less challenging yoga poses provide greater benefits, claim some. Also, the most challenging poses are often not worth the risks, say some. I don’t know what to believe. Which poses they refer to? There should be more in-depth study and discussion on this matter.

Some people criticize those who keep doing challenging yoga poses as “too physical” or “superficial”. But how dangerous is doing a challenging pose actually? It depends on various factors. Mostly on its stress caused in vital organs, which eventually affects our health in general.

A yoga teacher I know mentioned it’s all about our ego. By doing challenging yoga poses, we try to satisfy our thirsty egos. We don’t care about the risks – whether it can break our neck, ruin our hamstrings, or rip our quads – because what matters most is how it can impress people on social media. “Look at him doing that or this? Is he out of his mind? Twisted that way? Folded in a way no normal human can do? Pure awesomeness.”

Yes, I am one of them. I need to feed my ego at times. Because yoga makes me someone with certain competence. Someone with uniqueness. And this makes my self esteem soar. For someone with no athletic skills like me, it means a lot. Yoga provides us this self-gratification. I know, however, that there needs to be limits here.

There are in fact several points to know about challenging poses as I recall from several chats I had with a friend.

Firstly, it’s all about propaganda, campaign. A friend told me that based on the history of yoga practice, challenging poses are done for the sake of propaganda. He mentioned the legendary yogi Krishnamacharya once stated he did the extreme asanas in front of the Maharaja of Mysore. This also would be great opportunities and moments for photographers to capture because challenging poses are quite rare to witness because it takes perseverance and significant amount of time to master them. That way, more and more people are interested in learning yoga. Admit it, humans are visual creatures easily stunned and amazed by unusual objects. Despite that, Krisnamacharya always advised his students should always do simple poses every single day or in their daily practice. Do simple poses which provide benefits for the body for daily practice, he said. Challenging poses, therefore, are meant to impress and persuade people to practice yoga. That totally makes sense to me.

In my case, I too get inspired to deepen my practice after seeing yoga photos. If I can conquer the challenging poses, that’s lucky of me. But if I can’t, I know it’s time to just relax, and meditate, examining myself, and becoming less competitive and more forgiving to myself, respecting my own boundaries. I won’t hurt myself just because I want to master certain poses. So when the Yang element (the more competitive and agressive) of me declines, the Yin elemen arises. Both create balance in me. So far that’s how I practice yoga.

Secondly, extreme poses were usually done by yogis circa 200-300 years ago in India for financial purpose. They were so financially deprived they needed to feed themselves, earn money by doing challenging poses on streets or places where crowds gathered. So if you can do extreme poses, especially these days when people are excited to learn yoga because of its fitness benefits, you’re more likely to gain financial profits.  Yet, this also needs to be controlled in such a way so as not to spoil the purity of yoga.

Lastly, challenging poses we practice nowadays, said my friend, is the bastardized version of the original, ancient Hatha Yoga. Hatha itself means forceful, so the postures and kriya (breathing practices) were practiced to awaken kundalini. This was way different from Raja Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga (Ashtanga refers to the philosophy of yoga, not the school of yoga founded by the late Shri K. Pattabhi Jois). In Ashtanga, yoga is taught as 8 limbs and asanas are meant to be only in seated position. In Raja Yoga, yoga refers to the union done by calming our psyche and mind so as to facilitate the process of uniting or Samadhi. “What we do now is actually the hybrid or the bastardized version of Hatha Yoga modified specially for fitness and mindfulness practice (except for the followers of Tantra Yoga who seriously learn to awaken the energy of kundalini within,” he explained further. He said he learned it all from yoga literature, which is more accurate and objective.

In brief, challenging poses in yoga are not prohibited at all. Of course there are risks involved in doing them but with risks, there are benefits you can’t ignore. Again, challenging poses are tools. They can benefit or ruin you. But never blame them. Blame your ego.

(Image courtesy: Uci/ Model: Myself)

Kunci Melakukan Pose Mermaid dengan Lebih Mudah

Pose mermaid atau putri putra duyung mirip dengan pose eka pada rajakapotasana (one-legged royal pigeon pose) tetapi sebenarnya ada satu perbedaan: sisi tubuh yang diregangkan. Dalam pose mermaid, Anda lebih fokus pada peregangan lateral alias dua sisi samping tubuh. Namun, dalam pose eka pada rajakapotasana lebih ditekankan peregangan pada sisi depan torso, sehingga terbentuklah gerak condong ke belakang yang disebut back bending.

Dalam foto, saya seharusnya lebih memiringkan tubuh ke samping tetapi karena sendi bahu saya terlalu lentur dan mungkin tangan saya agak panjang dan sendi pinggul saya juga lebih terbuka lebar dari orang kebanyakan, saya tanpa sadar mengkompensasikan peregangan sisi samping tubuh dengan kelenturan sendi bahu saya yang memungkinkan saya mengaitkan lengan dan telapak kaki lebih mudah.

Nah, jika Anda ingin mencoba melakukan pose mermaid dengan lebih baik, saya sarankan untuk lebih sering melakukan peregangan yang membuka sendi pinggul agar kedua paha benar-benar menyentuh matras atau lantai hingga dari samping tak tampak ada celah. Benar-benar menempel ke tanah seluruhnya. Caranya dengan memperbanyak pemanasan hip opening seperti pose pigeon yang telungkup ke depan untuk regangkan otot di paha samping. Kemudian bisa dicoba juga pose anjaneyasana agar otot quadriceps di paha depan lebih teregang sempurna. Dengan melakukan anjaneyasana yang baik, kaki belakang dalam pose mermaid akan lebih mungkin menyentuh lantai secara menyeluruh.

Untuk peregangan torso agar lebih siap melakukan pose mermaid, cobalah pose banana atau pisang. Berdiri tegak kemudian miringkan tubuh ke kanan dan kiri tanpa membuat bahu jatuh ke depan. Artinya miringkan torso dengan seolah punggung belakang dan kepala serta bahu masih menempel pada sebuah dinding imajiner. Dengan begitu sisi samping torso akan lebih siap.

Untuk mengaitkan kedua lengan dengan lebih mudah, cobalah melakukan peregangan bahu dengan lebih intens. Pose sapi atau gomukhasana akan membantu sekali. Dan jika disertai kelenturan pinggul, kelenturan bahu akan memungkinkan telapak tangan dan siku saling bersentuhan dan terkait.

Selamat mencoba!

Yoga is a Life-long Practice, Says Jois

Practicing yoga is useless unless one does it throughout his or her lifetime.
Practicing yoga is useless unless one does it throughout his or her lifetime.

Yoga means that our mind has the controlling capacity, taking practice. That is yoga, according to the late Shri K.Patthabi Jois. “Yoga is chitta vritti nirodha”, says he. Chitta means mind control, he adds.

Normally people don’t control their mind. Instead, they are controlled by their mind, because the mind is wandering, searching all other places. That is NOT good, Jois says in an interview.

Is this practice(yoga)spiritual or physical? Jois claims that yoga (to him) involves both aspects.

What if we’re not quite into the spiritual aspect? Jois advises that we should just practice regularly. So even of you’re not that spiritual, you may later on become more spiritual as you’re doing more and more practice. “Take practice, and it’s automatically coming,”he adds further. That is the ‘one and only method’ in mastering ashtanga yoga. The emphasis on the importance of practice is just obvious when Jois says:”Don’t ask theory. Theory (I) don’t want.”

Jois explains the 2 methods he employs: the outside and inside method of yoga practice. Outside method, according to him, consists of asanas practice, pranayama, yama, niyama, pranayama. Whereas inside method involves pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi. “Inside, correcting is possible; outside, correcting is impossible,”Jois elaborates. In other words, when a yogi/ yogini practices yoga, adjusting asanas or pranayama techniques can be a piece of cake. Almost everyone can do that, such as fixing the wrong alignment of feet, position of the palms, etc. However, when it comes to inside practice, others – even the best yoga gurus on earth – cannot fix or adjust what you do wrong. That may be why practicing yoga asanas won’t make one a better person. Becoming bendier, physically healthier is great but it’ll need more efforts to be balanced, both physically and spiritually.

When we follow the practice on a regular basis, eventually when we look inside, we may find God.

To Jois, yoga is not a short-lived fad. It’s a life-long practice and committment as he says,”One month, two months, one year, two years, ten years…No use! (The) whole life!”

Our whole life is practice…

Manfaat 5 Jenis Asana/ Pose Yoga


Sekadar berbagi saja bagi Anda yang suka beryoga tetapi belum mengetahui khasiat kesehatan masing-masing jenis gerakan yoga yang dilakukan. Dan bagi yang belum pernah beryoga dan belum tertarik mencoba, mungkin Anda akan menyukai yoga setelah membaca ini. Silakan menyimak manfaat-manfaat yang kita bisa tuai dengan melakukan 5 jenis asana berikut ini.

1. Asana berdiri: Pose-pose berdiri seperti tadasana atau pose gunung memberikan vitalitas, energi, semangat. Jika ditambah dengan gerakan mengangkat tangan, detak jantung akan makin meningkat dan menambah semangat. Karenanya, pose-pose jenis ini sangat bagus dilakukan di pagi hari, saat kita membutuhkan penambah semangat. Daripada minum kopi atau teh, lakukan saja pose-pose yoga berdiri untuk menambah semangat. Lebih sehat dan tidak menguras air dalam badan.

2. Asana duduk: Pose duduk seperti paschimottanasana (melipat tubuh ke depan), vajrasana, atau sukasana yang mudah dan bisa dilakukan semua orang membuat kita yang melakukan menjadi lebih tenang. Calm, begitu kata orang Barat.

3. Asana memutar: Memutar atau yang disebut twisting sangat bagus untuk membersihkan (cleansing and detox) organ-organ dalam misalnya organ pencernaan yang setiap hari kita kotori terus dengan memasukkan makanan dan minuman yang belum tentu menyehatkan tetapi malah membebani tubuh. Jika Anda suka menderita sembelit misalnya, cobalah melakukan pose-pose memilin torso atau batang tubuh sehingga organ pencernaan terstimulasi dan akhirnya terdorong untuk mengeluarkan material sampah dan racun di dalamnya. Ditambah dengan pola makan yang sehat dan asupan air yang mencukupi, pose memilin tubuh akan mengusir sembelit. Niscaya…

4. Pose melompat: Dalam melakukan yoga, kadang dilakukan lompatan-lompatan, seperti saat kita harus beralih dari downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) menuju half forward standing bend (ardha uttanasana). Di sini, ketrampilan dan kelincahan (agility) kita diasah.

5. Pose terbalik / inversi: Melakukan pose yang membuat posisi jantung ada di atas kepala memacu detak jantung lebih cepat dan bagi banyak orang, asana semacam ini relatif menantang karena risiko terjatuh, terbalik, pusing, berkunang-kunang dan sebagainya membuatnya terasa ‘menakutkan’ dan harus dihindari dengan segala cara. Padahal rasa pusing, takut itu jika dihayati dengan sebaik mungkin dan dilakukan dengan tidak berlebihan akan membuat kekuatan mental kita lebih baik daripada sebelumnya dan yang pasti membuat kita menjadi lebih pemberani dalam menghadapi tantangan dalam kehidupan. Mencoba sesuatu yang baru akan terasa lebih mudah, terutama bagi mereka yang suka zona nyaman (siapa yang tak suka dengan zona nyaman?).


Pose Capung (Dragonfly Pose)


Vinyasa krama pose capung (dragonfly pose):

  1. Duduk jongkok di atas tumit kiri, kaki jinjit,  jari tangan di atas lantai
  2. Silangkan kaki kanan di atas paha kiri
  3. Perhatikan telapak kaki kanan tidak boleh melampaui paha kiri
  4. Duduk jongkok di atas tumit kiri
  5. Tangan kiri dan kanan di lantai, putar tubuh ke arah kiri
  6. Aktifkan tiger claw
  7. Lengan kanan atas berada di tengah telapak kaki kanan
  8. Kencangkan bokong dan kedua kaki, panjangkan punggung ke depan (root to extend)
  9. Jinjit kaki kiri sampai siku berada di atas pergelangan tangan
  10. Cari titik seimbangnya dan angkat kaki kiri dari lantai
  11. Kaki kanan terus tekan/ injak ke lengan atas
  12. Luruskan kaki kiri ke samping
  13. Tetap tekan kaki kanan ke bawah untuk memanjangkan kaki kiri ke samping (opposite action)

Paripurna Himalayasana


Vinyasa krama Paripurna Himalayasana:

  1. Posisi kayang (urdha dhanurasana)
  2. Geser berat tubuh ke sisi kiri
  3. Putar telapak kaki kiri ke luar
  4. Angkat tangan kanan ke dada
  5. Kunci bahu dan siku kiri
  6. Jinjit kaki kanan. Tetap di sini hingga kuat.
  7. Angkat kaki kanan dengan posisi menekuk
  8. Buka lutut ke samping
  9. Tarik kaki kanan/ kaki atas ke pusar
  10.  Raih jempol kaki atas
  11. Tendang ke atas

Mengenal Nafas Ujayyi (Ujayyi Pranayama) dalam Yoga

“Ujayyi” artinya “victorius”  atau kemenangan. Ada juga yang mengartikannya sebagai nafas penakluk (conqueror breath). Ujayyi pranayama atau ujayyi breathing merupakan salah satu teknik pernapasan dasar dalam beryoga. Teknik ini dilakukan dengan sedikit menekan epiglottis (tempat kita merasakan sensasi batuk atau berkumur) ke langit-langit mulut dan tetap menjaga aliran nafas keluar dan masuk melewati hidung. Jika sudah berhasil, biasanya nafas kita akan terdengar bersuara lembut namun kuat seperti hembusan angin yang melewati dedaunan di tepi pantai. Devi Asmarani dalam bukunya “Yoga untuk Semua” menggambarkan pernafasan ujayyi sebagai “suara berdesir halus dari daerah tenggorokan seperti ketika tidur nyenyak”.

Teknik ini menjadi teknik yang paling umum digunakan dalam Hatha yoga. Ujayyi breathing berguna untuk mempertahankan asana yang sudah dicapai agar lebih kuat dan stabil. Kita akan rasakan dada sedikit menggembung.

Menurut sebagian ajaran yoga, teknik pernafasan ini akan dapat dikuasai dengan sendirinya dari waktu ke waktu, jika yogi/ yogini membiarkan pernafasannya bebas mengalir dalam melakukan praktik asana, bahkan yang paling menantang sekalipun.

Efek ujayyi breathing ada 3 menurut Mark Stephens:

a. Nafas menjadi hangat saat hanya bernafas melalui hidung, paru-paru pun menjadi hangat, darah pun demikian. Sangat berguna untuk membangunkan tubuh dalam melakukan gerakan alaminya dalam melakukan asana.

b. Suara dan sensasi ujayyi membantu mempertahankan kesadaran (awareness) pernafasan agar tetap mengalir konstan, nyaman, dan seimbang.

c. Suara yang ritmis/ berirama dari pernafasan ujayyi membantu menenangkan syaraf yang tegang dan membantu latihan yoga menjadi lebih terfokus pada diri kita sendiri, bukan ke lingkungan eksternal.

Pada intinya, pernafasan ini sangat berguna untuk memantau kualitas dan tekstur nafas kita selama berlatih (Asmarani: 7, 2011).

Cara mengajarkan ujayyi breathing pada murid:

– Duduk dalam posisi yang nyaman di kedua tulang duduk dan batang tubuh tegak, bahu turun, jauh dari telinga. Sikap tubuh rileks. Kedua kaki bersila dengan senyaman mungkin.

– Mulai menutup mata perlahan dan fokus ke nafas tanpa berusaha menguasai keluar masuknya nafas. Nafas rileks.

– Tarik nafas dengan menegangkan tenggorokan dan rasakan pita suara kita bergetar. Inilah yang dikatakan sebagai ‘tekstur nafas’ karena seolah-olah kita dapat meraba nafas dari getaran yang ditimbulkannya.

– Rasakan sensasi bernafas dengan getaran ini di seluruh badan. Konsentrasi penuh ke nafas dan rasakan apa yang tengah terjadi pada tulang belakang. Perubahan panjang pendek tulang belakang saat tarik dan hembuskan nafas menjadi salah satu fokus kesadaran.

– Di antara tarikan dan hembusan nafas, tekan tulang belikat ke arah batang tubuh untuk mengangkat dada. Hembuskan nafas pelan sambil rasakan sensasi memanjang pada tubuh.

– Lakukan smavritti pranayama atau bernafas dengan htungan yang sama dan konstan. Tarik nafas dan hitung dalam hati: 1, 2, 3, 4. Lalu keluarkan nafas dengan hitungan yang sama pula.

– Lanjutkan dengan hitungan yang sama hingga dapat dirasakan perpanjangan hitungan menjadi misalnya 5 banding 5 dan seterusnya. Artinya 5 hitungan/ ketukan nafas masuk dilanjutkan dengan 5 hitungan nafas keluar.

– Fokus pada jeda di antara tarikan dan buangan nafas yang dinamakan “Kumbaka” (retention/ penahanan nafas). Anda bisa memulai jeda 1 sampai 3 ketukan sebelum membuang nafas. Pastikan saat melakukannya badan tetap santai, tidak tegang.

– Setelah beberapa putaran, kembalikan nafas normal kita. Bila kepala terasa pusing atau lelah, berbaring dalam posisi savasana.

How to do Eka Pada Galavasana


Eka pada galavasana is one of my favorite asanas. “Eka” means one. “Pada” means a leg. “Galava” is a name of a sage ( B. K. S. Iyengar: 1979, 327).
If you read how mr. Iyengar does this, he would perform Salamba Sirsasana first with head on the floor. The biggest challenge is to conquer the fear of falling ahead, which may happen to those who learn bakasana or bird pose.
My method may be not really safe for everyone especially beginners and Iyengar’s method is safer. But if you want to get the pose higher, my method will help. Remember always to activate your ‘tiger claws’ to evenly spread or distribute the body weight on the palms. Engage all the core muscles, and floint! Flointing which means a combination of flexing and pointing is the best way to straighten and keep the legs active all the time without making them look less graceful or less artistic when photographed. Have fun with your yoga practice and be safe. Namaste…

Eka pada galavasana gives a massage to your abdominal organs and strengthen the feeble wrists

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My Journal : Moving the Mindset from a Self-Taught Student to a Teacher

I started practicing yoga from my own bedroom. I had no teacher. I had no friends. I just had myself, a book titled “The Wonder of Yoga” by Leslie Kaminoff, and a sheer curiosity. Not being able to  afford a pricey yoga class at a premium yoga studio or fitness center, I just did what I could.I experimented. A lot of trials and errors. It’s safe to say I was more amateurish than a novice in a typical yoga class.

To me, yoga is a self practice. It is only about me. Private, that’s how I can describe my yoga practice at the very outset. I locked my room and spread anything on the floor (Seriously, I didn’t have a mat). I never let anyone know I was doing yoga.

Only some months later, I found a class offered by a generous community at a nearby park by chance. That was how I started to do yoga in public and to officially become a student of an instructor, a teacher, a guruji or anyone with more experience who can provide me guidance.

As I practiced in public, I learned a vast array of information and knowledge, a bunch of supportive friends, etc. Then along came competition, in terms of asanas, I won quite easily thanks to my relatively bendy body.

Yoga, however, is not only about bendiness, flexibility and asanas. (Even if it were so, I’d have been extremely easily satisfied and cocky as I can be). And I thank God it is not. That is part of why I participate in the teacher training.

Within these last 2 years, I only practice yoga for myself in my own room and a student in a weekly public class. Hence, it never occurred to me that I would be a yoga teacher or must be one someday.

My mindset is of a student’s for the time being. We all know how hard and long it is to shift a mindset that is rooted from quite a long time. And I basically grew as a yogi  yoga enthusiast with this type of mindset.