Finding Your Roots in Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

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This ancient, reliable pose is often the first balance posture you learn in yoga class. It is a relatively simple posture and strengthens your legs and spine, as well as opening your thighs and hips. When you practice balancing poses, you learn some practical lessons in how to be grounded, find your center, stay focused, and steady your mind. Plus, the process—falling and trying again—helps develop patience and persistence, humility, and good humor.

The Mythology behind the Posture

When the demon king Ravana kidnapped Sita, he naturally assumed that she would fall in love with him. He offered Sita one gift after another, but she said no to them all. She refused to spend even one night inside Ravana’s beautiful palace.
“I am your prisoner, not your guest,” she said, “and I will never be your wife. Remember, I am Rama’s wife and he will find me. And when he does, you will wish you had never set eyes on me”.
“I’m a patient man,” replied Ravana. “Every day I will ask you to accept me. You have one year. After that, if you still refuse, I will cook and eat you.”
Outside the palace, stood a forest of Ashoka trees and Sita made this her home, surrounded by Ravana’s guards. Ashoka trees are symbols of love in Indian folk tradition. The guards were ordered not to harm Sita physically, but they could use psychological methods to break her down. They told her that Rama would never find her, and even if he did, he would not want her back after she had been with Ravana. “Forget Rama,” they said. “Think of all that Ravana could do for you.
But Sita sat, with her back against a tree, breathing slowly and waiting. She concentrated her mind on Rama. Every thought, breath and beat of her heart said “Rama…find me.” She sent her love into the trees, imagining their leaves broadcasting Rama’s name to the world
Trees are patient creatures. They live a long time, and they know how to stay strong through all the changes of day, climate and season. Those trees spoke to Sita: “Stay strong, little sister. Be calm and steady, like us. Seasons change and this captivity is not forever. Remember Rama.”
One day, Sita heard a name called softly from above: “Rama, Rama, Rama…” It was Hanuman, the Monkey God, sent by Rama in the form of a tiny monkey, to rescue Sita.

Vrksasana the Pose

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Learning to balance often has more to do with your mental state than your physical abilities. If you’re stressed, or if your mind is scattered, your body is likely to be unsteady. The very practice of trying to balance is stressful. Most of us, as we try to balance, have thoughts like “I can’t do this” or “Everyone’s watching me struggle.”
Take a moment to enjoy the gift of two strong legs and remember like a real tree, your tree is unique and beautiful.
Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), with your feet together or hip-width apart. Spread your toes. Lift your inner arches. Distribute your weight evenly between the right and left sides of your body. Settle your feet into the floor as if they were sending down roots.
Then, shift your weight into your left leg. Press down with the root of your big toe and your outer heel. Externally rotate your right leg and place the sole of your right foot on your inner left leg, above or below (but not on) your knee. Level your hips.
Accentuate the pressure of the outer left foot on the inner right thigh so that the left knee comes more into the same plane as the left hip. This alignment will improve as your hips and groin open. Bring your palms together in front of your heart and isometrically press them together. Mirror this action by pressing the thigh into the foot and the foot into the thigh. The inward movement of your greater trochanters will help you with this. Feel how the tone in your midsection supports your balance.
Take five deep breaths, release the pose and then switch sides.
If you wish to go further with the pose, raise your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Relax your shoulders and tailbone down as you lengthen your spine upward. Breathe smoothly. Keep your eyes soft and pick a spot in front of you to gaze at softly.

Basic Joint Positions

• The standing hip is neutral.
• The standing knee extends.
• The raised-leg hip flexes, abducts, and externally rotates.
• The raised-leg knee flexes.
• The back extends slightly.
• The shoulders abduct and flex overhead.
• The elbows extend.
• The palms flex slightly.

Reflection:

Sita, kidnapped and held captive, draws strength and comfort from nature. Contact with the earth helps her focus on Rama (her goal). Her body may be constrained, but her mind is free. The tree, patient, stable, and deeply rooted, offers shelter to the one who takes refuge beneath its branches.
It takes a lot to shake a tree.

sherriSherri (Minh) Lowe is a 200 Hour RYT and co-founder of Yogatique Bangkok. She is a fifty-one year old Canadian transplant living in Bangkok. When she is not on her yoga mat, she enjoys cycling, trying new vegan recipes, a cold beer, lingering in coffee shops and exploring Bangkok. When not pursing these activities, she is writing about them in various on line publications.

10 Things I Learned from Yogatique’s 30-Day Yoga Challenge – By Casey O’Connell

 It is hard to believe that we have been open for six months!

We have had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people over the last six months at the studio, people passing through, yoga teachers, people who live in this great city. It has been a wonderful experience filled with diverse personalities and diverse yoga. To celebrate the New Year, we organized an event that we thought would bring our growing community a little closer and to extol the virtues of establishing a regular yoga practice.

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Casey is a young lady that comes all the way from across town to practice with us. We first noticed her a few months back, her sunny personality and strong practice made her stand out. When she signed up for The New Year – New You 30 Day Yoga Challenge we were excited, as yoga studio owners, she is exactly the kind of yogi that you love having in the studio.

Casey rocked the challenge!

Then she sat down and wrote about her experience.

Casey we appreciate your words, not only the kind things you say about the studio and your experiences in it, but how participating in the challenge effected you and your yoga practice. When we set out to organize the event, we hoped that perhaps one person would walk away feeling like you have.

Maybe, Yogatique rocked the challenge too!

Namaste Yogis Bears!

Do you have a Yoga Challenge experience that you would like to share?

Drop us a note at yogatiquebangkok@gmail.com

Things Your Yoga Teacher Wants You To Know

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I am certainly not the first Yoga teacher to write something like this and I know I won’t be the last, but at the start of a new year and with lots of new faces in the studio, I thought it would be a good opportunity to add my own perspective to the subject.

We are all capable of much more than we realize: We see the look on your face when we make our way to crow, headstand or some other challenging posture. We have all had the same look on our face at some point in our own practice. That voice that tells you ,” l can’t do that! ” Don’t listen! It will take time, but with effort, willingness and an open mind, you can surpass your own expectations.

When you come to class, you are supporting a community: You probably don’t realize it, but by being in class you inspire others, including your teacher. We enjoy seeing you in class.  A yoga class is a group experience. We are blessed when you take energy from the class, but also share your own energy with the room. Community is such an important part of a practice. We love seeing you connect and make friendship with other students. This is how communities are born, grow and even thrive.

Know that none of us remembers all this yoga stuff, all the the time:  All of us struggle with self doubt. We all have days when it is hard to focus. We all have to remember to keep breathing. We all struggle with postures.  You are not alone, so dont get caught up in the feelings. You are no less of a yogi for having these feelings. We are all students of the practice and we appreciate that you share your practice with us.

Sometimes less is more: We can see you getting stronger, your hard work and dedication is awesome! Keep in mind that you don’t always need to practice at ” full power” often when we pull back a bit in our practice, we can often move a little deeper, seriously…try it. Effort and ease are of equal importance in a practice.

Consistency is the key: Practice and all is coming. Pattabhi Jois was right. You will get more out of your practice if you do it at least 3 times a week.

We don’t get to practice Asana as much as we would like: Sad but true. So much of our energy goes into your practice. Many of us have other full time jobs, spouses and kids, just like you. We would all love to practice more and often we make sacrifices in other aspects of our lives to do so.

When you can take the things you learn on your mat, off your mat and into the other parts of your life, the messy, complicated, emotional, human part of your life, you are really practicing yoga. 

Can’t wait to see you all on your mats!

A New Year- A New You – 30 Day Challenge – The Yoga, Meditation, Lifestyle Edition

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Beginning January 10 we will be holding our first 30 day challenge. This is not about cramming thirty yoga classes into a month. It is about creating healthy new habits. The goal is to make a series of small changes to our daily lives for thirty day…you know what they say, “make a change for thirty days and it becomes a habit”.

There is an opportunity to collect plus points and minus points depending on your choices.

The Yogis with the highest points will be entered into a draw to win some great prizes (and we have some really good prizes, more on that in the near future)

The thirty days kick off with a fun Vinyasa class, followed by short discussion on the benefits of a healthy diet.

Each Saturday of the thirty days we will hold a mini yoga workshop.

We will also have several guest speakers after the Saturday classes to discuss changes we can make to lead a healthier lifestyle.

The thirty days will end with another fun Vinyasa class, refreshments and the prize draw. ( If you were here for our last open house you know that we can throw a good party)

Stay tuned during the month for updates on events and prizes.

Registration for the class starts Dec 10 and continues to the Jan 10.

There is an early bird special, so don’t miss out.

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Yoga is the Journey of the Self, Through the Self, To the Self –

Ying Yoga is the journey

นึกถึงโยคะ คุณนึกถึงอะไร คุณอาจจะนึกถึงคนตัวอ่อน นั่งสมาธิ ยืนกลับหัว บิดเอว บิดไหล่ ยืด ๆ เหยียด ๆ เบา ๆ …
การฝึกโยคะแม้จะนิยมกันมากในปัจจุบัน แต่แท้จริงแล้วมันคืออะไร ทำไมครูโยกี้ถึงเรียกว่า “ การฝึก “..บางคนอาจสงสัยว่ามันไม่ใช่ “การเล่นโยคะ” เหรอ
การฝึกโยคะ ในนิยามของแต่ละคนนั้นไม่จำเป็นต้องเหมือนกัน และไม่มีคำตอบใดถูกหรือผิด แต่ละคนให้ความหมายโยคะได้ตามประสบการณ์ของตัวเอง แต่สำหรับครูแล้ว โยคะ ไม่ใช่การเล่น เราไม่ได้กำลังเล่นโยคะ แต่โยคะเป็นการฝึก ฝึกเพื่อให้เกิดความเข้าใจในธรรมชาติ โดยเฉพาะ “ธรรมชาติของตัวเราเอง”
การใช้ชีวิตในปัจจุบัน บ่อยครั้งที่เราต้องรีบเร่ง ชีวิตมันสับสนวุ่นวาย จนบางครั้งเราก็ลืมที่จะให้เวลากับการทบทวนตัวเอง ลืมที่จะมีสติรับรู้ว่าใจ ความคิด หรือตัวตนของเราอยู่ที่ตรงไหน
การฝึกโยคะ จึงเป็นเหมือนกุศโลบายหนึ่ง ที่ให้ผู้ฝึกได้มีโอกาสใช้เวลาในการอยู่กับตัวเอง ดึงสติ กำหนดลมหายใจ พร้อมกับการเคลื่อนไหวร่างกายอยู่บนพื้นที่สี่เหลี่ยมผืนผ้า หรือเสื่อของเราเอง แม้ว่าจะมีเสียงครูนำการฝึก มีเพื่อนฝึกร่วมห้องอยู่มากมาย หรือแม้แต่มีการเคลื่อนไหวและเป็นไปของสิ่งแวดล้อมรอบกาย เราจะฝึกให้มีสมาธิ นิ่ง แต่รับรู้ถึงการเคลื่อนไหวได้หรือไม่
สิ่งเหล่านี้ อาจไม่เกิดขึ้นในครั้งแรกของการฝึก หรืออาจไม่เกิดขึ้นเลยก็ได้แม้จะฝึกมานาน ซึ่งไม่ใช่เรื่องผิดหรือถูกอะไร เพราะประสบการณ์การฝึกของแต่ละคนย่อมไม่เหมือนกัน ความคาดหวัง ความตั้งใจในการฝึกของแต่ละคนก็อาจแตกต่างกันไปด้วย
สำหรับคนที่ยังไม่เคยฝึกมาก่อน…มาลองฝึกกันดูไหม จะได้รู้ว่าประสบการณ์การฝึกของคุณเป็นอย่างไร.

Article by Ying
Photo by Wipoo Kaewruamwong.