Rituals

Yin & Yang: How Balanced Are You?

Yin & Yang: How Balanced Are You?


The Yin Yang Theory is based on ancient Daoism. With darkness comes light, as we observe closer to nature, we realize that the universe is a delicate balance of the Yin and Yang energy. 

Yin represents softness, grace, Divine Mother, passive, darkness, and shade. Yang represents rising, power, action, masculine force, action, and brightness. As humans, we are in the ebb and flow of these two essential components of life. We rise with the Sun and rest with the Moon. We take actions in life and retreat into solitude to rest. Like the season, our true nature embeds this delicate balance.

When we're off balance, our body, mind, and spirit dwindle. Juggling too many things, we fall short on sleep, over-caffeinated, digestion slows down, and anxiety or depression sets in. In Yoga, life is a journey of reaching a higher state of consciousness. What does that mean? From the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, the Eight Limbs Path is a step-by-step manual showing us how to reach fixed concentration (meditation) and ultimately reaching Samadhi (absorption). 

How we do anything is how we do everything. Our yoga practice is a sacred mirror of our life. Are you practicing just power-based yoga and not balancing with meditation or Yin yoga? Are you rushing in life from one stop to another and never stop to smell the roses? 

Take a look. 

If you feel that you're out of balance, here are a few tips you can try:

1. Practice In The Morning

Morning is usually the best time to practice yoga. It can be physical postures, or seated meditation and breathing exercises. Starting the day with yoga can help harmonize the rest of your hectic day. If that is not feasible, do a 5-minute meditation before you eat breakfast and see how small actions can have a huge effect on your mind.

2. Mindfulness Time-Out

Every hour or so, take a mindfulness time-out. A mindfulness time-out is when you pause and tune back to your senses. Smell the air, taste your coffee, listen to the sound in your surrounding, and take a look at the fine details of a flower or painting. Mindfulness time-out can help take you out of your mind and back to the present moment.

3. Choose your yoga practice wisely

Sometimes we get fixated on the style of yoga we practice. The truth is, we have to practice to what our body truly needs that day. I am a supporter of discipline and feel that we should keep to a routine. However, if we're already having a super busy day, it's good to end the day with some gentle Yin yoga and meditation. 

4. No yoga is sometimes the best yoga

If you're constantly busy doing a million things from the moment you get up, see if you can take a day where you do absolutely nothing. Eat alone and enjoy the taste of the food, read or take a slow walk in nature; smell the air and appreciate the beauty of the people and things around you. 

Finding balance is a skill that we can cultivate. Try these tips out and see how it feels to be in complete harmony.

Spirit Soul Surf

Flowing through the creeks and grooves of life, at times it’s smooth and at times it’s not. My spirit is my smile, witty jokes, ambition, handstands; napping on a blanket in a warm summer day and sipping chilled mango shakes under the swaying palm trees. I would ride that spirit wave high to elation and giggles; laugh until my stomach aches and my arms sore from doing too many cartwheels. Let’s radiate my positive light to my lover, friends and strangers. I am invincible, secured and bright. This is my spirit.

When the moon wanes and the tides are low, my spirit dwindles so thin that it flickers unnoticeably even in the darkest night. Who is there then? Who is there to caress my insecure heart and hold my trembling hand?


My soul replies: “me.”

Like draping a fresh warm towel over my stone cold feet or slowly dipping my overworked rigid body into a hot simmering bath, my soul soothes the wrinkles on my forehead and wipes the tear lines off my cheeks. It is my aloneness and quietness, a cup of hot tea and a good fictional book or to curl myself under the heavy blanket listening to the monsoon falling tumultuously outside. Like plugged-in to the blues music at an underground jazz lounge, my soul enwraps me entirely and transcends me into a self-healing plane of existence. 

spritsoul.jpg

This is my ride on my Spirit Soul surf. I know when I fall, it’s when I cling on to the sense of ‘foreverness’.  Nothing is forever. My perceived ever-lasting elation is fleeting and so is the last drop of tears before I helplessly smile again. 

So hang on to your dreams and goals when your spirit runs high; and surrender with grace when your soul sets in.

Sending out this Serenity prayer to the vast universe, I hope it will reach you, when you need it most:

Grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can;
 and the wisdom to know the difference.

 Oceans of LOVE

Annie

3 Weird But Effective Yogic Morning Rituals

If you take a peek into a yogis life, you might find something interesting, unusual or out right weird. For centuries, yogis have researched, experimented and integrated different techniques to cleanse their bodies. The cleansing process is to get rid of toxins from the body, consequentially, a less agitated body will lead to a more tranquil mind.

Mornings are the golden time frame in a day of a yogi's life. Waking up at the crack of dawn, a yogi cleanse the physical body and get ready for his/her Sadhana (spiritual practice). Well...the cleansing is a little bit more than a shower. Here I will share with you 3 (of many) interesting yogic rituals:

1) Nauli Kriya (NAW-LI-KREE-YAA)
This is an internal organ massage. Yup. To prepare, you create a suction in the belly and then 'drop' the Rectus Abdomini forward followed by undulation of the belly. If this didn't make sense to you whatsoever, see the picture below:
You don't always have a funny face like him. However, it might be like putting mascara on, where the lips naturally part. You might just can't control your Nauli Kriya face...

There are many benefits doing this particular cleansing technique. First,  it initiates movement in the gastrointestinal tracts thus promoting bowel movements. (Good for the infrequent goers.) Secondly, it tightens up the mid section, increases muscular tone and reduces abdominal fat. Thirdly, it's a good show off trick.
Not everyone is suitable for Nauli Kriya. Some of the contraindications are high blood pressure, pregnancy, diarrhea and abdominal surgery. 

2) Oil Pulling
It stems from Ayurveda. Oil Pulling is an ancient toxin removal technique from Mother India. Typically using cold press sesame oil or coconut oil, oil pulling is best upon waking up and before drinking any liquids. Take a tablespoon of oil and rinse it in the mouth for 10-20 minutes. Careful not to swallow it. When the time is up, simply spit it out and brush your teeth you normally would. I usually do this with tongue scraping. That I use a chinese/Thai silver spoon and scrap the thin layer of overnight built up on the surface of my tongue. Your tongue is the key indicator of your current health. If you have a lot of built up overnight, white color (or funky color) or bad smell, it could mean part of your organs are malfunctioning or you might have a systematic problem (like Candida).
Oil Pulling is great for everyone and all ages. I say some people can't tolerate the smell of the oil or tend to gag when rinse for too long. If it helps, try to rinse 5 minutes for 2 rounds total.

3) Jala Neti (Nasal Irrigation)
Jala Neti is done with a neti pot. It looks like genie in a bottle but no wishes are granted. Jala Neti is a little more commonly known in the Western world. Even Walmart carries neti pots. It's where you pour salty lukewarm water into one nasal and out the other. It's great for clearing up nasal congestion and minimizes seasonal allergies. So what's the big deal? Well, some yogis think salt water is for the sissy, so they use their own urine. Now is when I clarify I only use Himalayan Pink Salt and never have I tried my own urine. But just remember, only use the midstream of your morning urine and ideally not after a night out drinking.

So here you go, 3 effective but unusual yogic rituals. To spend your morning wisely, I suggest the following timetable:

4:30am: Wake up
4:30-5:00am: Scrape Tongue & oil pulling
5:00am: Nauli Kriya (NAW-LI-KREE-YAA)
5:15am: Meditation
6-7:30am: Yoga Practice (Asana)
7:30am: The rest of your family wakes up and you go on being a normal person

Namaste

Article written by Annie Au. RYT 500, Yoga Teacher, Vegan, Traveler.