It was the craziest decision to go to this YTT in Feb 2018 in Bali.
I just got back to China from Bali in January 2018, and was going to fly back home to Europe after 3 months of being away from home in 2 days. When I saw YTT randomly online, I thought: it’s impossible to go.
As I’d have to spend lots of money to change the flights to Europe, buy the flights to Bali just 2 weeks after being back in China, and pay 3000 USD for the YTT, and find a babysitter to take care of my 4 year old girl in Bali while I would be in the YTT—all of which seemed impossible to arrange in such a short time!
But then I heard the calling inside me: do that YTT in Bali!
So I did.
Miraculously it was super easy and flowing, as if the Universe was at my back. On February 5th, from the moment the plane arrived in Bali, my heart was settled:
Warm weather, delicious fruit, spectacular ocean, amazing wild nature and animals, simple and unsophisticated people, ethereal music and dance…
Every time I came to Bali, my life was greatly rewritten.
The End and Beginning of a Romance
On the first day of yoga training, I wrote a short but firm letter to my ex-boyfriend that I loved the most so far in my life, and gently asked him to let go and stop contacting me. And I was ready to begin my official romance with Yoga—a lover that I met when I was terrible sick at the age of 16 and had an on-and-off relationship with ever since.
From the first day of yoga training, everything was just right, and it was naturally on the right track.
In this miraculous way, I found the rhythm and order in my life – this was the most challenging part for me.
Because of my habit of being spontaneous and free, I used to care less about details, frameworks, and structures of the daily life. Sometimes I feel that I am very spiritual in the eyes of others, and my ideas are very advanced, but my real life is a mess.
However, since I practiced the Ashtanga primary series every day in the YTT, I found myself slowly drifting in the direction of what Confucius said: “following the dictates of my own heart; for what I desire no longer overstep the boundaries of right”—meaning that I could be free, spontaneous, living life at the present moment, without the need to be rebellious or against anything.
With sore muscles, sweat that slowly oozes, hair that is constantly soaked and then air dried by the sea breeze, listening to Sa Ta Na Ma and Gayatri mantra, I was practicing yoga every day with the waves splashing at the shore.
Rituals, discipline, health and routines that this YTT brought me, marks the direction of the evolution of my soul in this life.
Effortlessly, I enjoyed this self discipline, which did not take away my freedom, but instead brought me true freedom.
It is the greatest self discipline which allows yourself to be together with the person, the place, the frequency or the idea you love the most.
This is the feeling of walking on the path of soulful evolution.
Even if you love someone or something to the moon, you will still struggle. But with the struggle, you get to grow. In this wonderful three weeks, I am struggling as well as growing together with my lovely classmates tremendously everyday. All the teachers said, this is an excellent class that they have not seen often.
There are some girls who are dancers, gymnasts and cheerleaders. I admire how well they can handle all the challenging poses, and they gave me so much help and encouragement as well, which helped me make progress even faster, and achieved poses that I never dreamt of doing in no time!
A girl has broken 30 bones before YTT, but still maintains a good shape. In our eye-gazing meditation, we became friends in silent gazing, and we remain soul sisters through the training, supporting each other on each other’s lowest days.
A mom in her 40s was doing much better than me in a split, which makes me realize that my body is so stiff for a girl at this age!
Life in Bali is a life of multiple climaxes.
Just at the end of February, a few days after the full moon, something happened.
First of all, on the day of the graduation ceremony, we made a channel of love. Each person walks through the channel made by classmates and teachers in turn, and each person whispered something to the person in the channel.
A: I hope we can watch the Meteor and sing together at the beach again.
B said: I hope that you can complete your dream of swimming with whales as soon as possible.
C said: You are a wonderful mommy.
D said: You have a very unique kindness and friendliness.
Some classmates held me tightly… I cried very badly in the middle of the process, and my whole body is shaking. Suddenly I felt that my thoughts that nobody noticed me a few days ago was just silly. I was loved. All along.
Out of YTT
So that’s what I’ve harvested from the YTT in Bali, Feb 2018:
Lots of laughter, friendship, sweat, songs, nice deep breaths, love, healing, transformation—physically, emotionally and mentally. Everyone who knows me told me I am different after it—in a good way. And many of them started to do yoga as well.
I had been a weak girl since childhood. And I never had any regular, disciplined exercise—physical or mental. But ever since the YTT, I’ve kept practicing the primary series then the rocket series almost daily for 6 months, then I found myself ready to transition to what I really love the most—dance.
My self-esteem was boosted, my girl began doing yoga with me, my Instagram fans suddenly increased, I got to do things that I never dreamt of achieving with my body and mind, and I started to hang out with different kinds of people—mostly yogis, martial artists, dancers and movers, who continue to inspire me to do even better jobs in my personal development and in my work.
It seemed impossible to be a dancer, an artist, or whatever crazy teen dream job at the age of 29, as a single mom who just stopped being rootless and started to get income last year.
But thanks to the YTT, I found myself capable of doing almost everything I dreamed of.
And one year after the YTT, I’m going back to Bali to start my new life there, and lead my own workshops!
I could not imagine such great life without having attended the YTT.
I’ll be forever grateful that I took this crazy decision to do it against all odds at that time, and even more grateful to have harvested Yoga—my lifelong partner which will only make me a happier, healthier and wiser woman as years go by.
Originated from India, Hinduism has been around for at least past 5,000 years. Although, current research has marked the existence of Hinduism from the various archaeological and literary sources, its beginning, evolution, and progression over such an extensive period of time, remains obscure. Whether Hinduism is classified as a religion is debatable as unlike many other world religions, Hinduism lacks a designated founder or prophet, and hence, most Hindus would consider it a way of life.
The Core Beliefs
Hinduism, in its core philosophy, believes that God is absolute, formless, and only known as Brahman, the Supreme- Universal Soul. Brahman equates with the universe and everything in it, it has no form nor does it have any limits; it is Reality and the ultimate Truth.
There are three principal beliefs in Hinduism, which are afterlife and reincarnation, Karma (action), and Dharma (righteousness). Essentially, the primary goal of Hinduism is to attain ‘moksha’ from the cycle of rebirth.
On one hand Hinduism is a pantheistic religion: it identifies God with the universe and human beings are only manifestations. On the other hand, Hindu religion is also polytheistic as it is populated with myriad gods and goddesses. As a prominent Hindu saint Sri Ramakrishna once wrote, “There can be as many Hindu Gods as there are devotees to suit the moods, feelings, emotions and social backgrounds of the devotees.” The exceedingly wide variety of gods to choose from allows the aspirant to draw on and embody the symbolic power of a particular god when needed in specific life circumstances.
Below is a list of 8 Hindu gods and goddesses that you would commonly come across in the modern yoga world today:
The god of preserver, Vishnu is also known as the divine arbitrator. Symbolically, Lord Vishnu represents justice and moral order. Comes after creation, Vishnu sustains the universe and upholds its many laws. You might call on Vishnu if you’re seeking protection, patience, knowledge, or prosperity.
The god of both protector and destroyer, Lord Shiva is a powerful god and is widely worshipped for its potent destructive energy. Shiva is married to Parvarti, also known as Shakti, with whom he has two sons: Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles; and Skanda, god of war. Shiva is the ultimate representation of how great destruction precedes new opportunities. You might call on Shiva as a source of inspiration as you try to achieve a goal or when experiencing hardships in life.
There are many mantras reciting Lord Shiva, one of which is Om Namah Shivaya.
The god of creation, Brahma is the creator of the world and all creatures. Lord Brahma represents the source of the universal mind as well as intellect. Brahma is the least worshipped god in Hinduism today. Currently, there are only two temples in the whole of India devoted to him- one in Pushkar and the other in Kerala. One of the reasons why Brahma is rarely worshipped is that Brahma’s role as the creator is over. It is left to Vishnu to preserve the world and Shiva to continue its path of cosmic reincarnation.
Trinity of Gods (Trimurti)
Trimurti, the term denotes “having three forms,” refers to the three main Hindu gods mentioned above: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Initially, the Trimurti was worshipped as a single entity- the Supreme Being. Later, the three gods were separated and took on their own individualism. It is commonly believed that these three forms actually represent earth (Brahma), water (Vishnu), and fire (Shiva).
Powerful yet widely misunderstood, Mother Kali is the goddess of death, time, and doomsday. Albeit her immense destructive power, she is a strong mother-figure and symbolic of compassionate-love. Kali is said to remove our attachment with the body reinforcing the awareness that the body is a temporary condition. In a sense, Kali grants liberation by demising the illusion of the ego.
For Hindus, the goddess Lakshmi is the symbol of prosperity, fertility, purity, generosity, and the embodiment of beauty and grace. Known as the daughter of mother goddess Durga and the wife of Vishnu, Lakshmi is an important domestic deity and her presence is found in almost every household. In statuary and artwork, Lakshmi is usually depicted as a beautiful woman with four hands, sitting on a full-bloomed lotus and holding a lotus bud. Her four hands symbolizes the four ends of human life: dharma or righteousness, kama or desires, artha or wealth, and moksha or liberation from the cycle of birth and death.
Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and arts, represents the free flowing of wisdom and consciousness. Saraswati is the daughter of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga. She possesses four hands, which represent the four aspects of human personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness, and ego. You would call upon Saraswati for the power of speech, wisdom, and learning.
A very popular god in the modern yoga world, the elephant-headed god Ganesha is one of the most important deities in Hinduism. The son of Shiva and Parvati, Ganesha is the lord of success and the remove of all obstacles. He is commonly worshiped as the god of education, wisdom, and wealth. Ganesha’s head symbolizes the eternal soul (Atma), while his body signifies illusion in the material world (Maya). You would call upon Ganesha for protection and removal of any obstacles that may come your way.
Hanuman, the mighty monkey god, is the ultimate image of faith and devotion.
Hanuman’s tale in the epic Ramayana- in which he is given the mission of locating Rama’s wife Sita who was captured by the demon king of Lanka- Ravana, is known to inspire readers to face adversities and overcome obstructions in the way of the world. Hanuman’s strong character is used in the Hindu religion as a metaphor of the unlimited power that lies unused within each human individual. In times of doubt and great difficulties, you would call upon Hanuman for physical strength, perseverance, and devotion.
In the early 1990s, Rodney Yee began producing instructional yoga videos and DVDs through Gaiam – selling millions of copies and cementing himself as a household name in the United States. But what made his content so successful? Why did so many people opt to practice in their living rooms with Yee rather than travelling to their local studio?
While the answer has something to do with Yee’s exceptional talent and the convenience of a home practice, much of the series’ success can be attributed to Rodney Yee’s personal brand. Long before Instagram, YouTube and the dawn of online streaming services like Gaia, Rodney Yee understood that an instructor can leverage themselves to get people on their mats. That teachers can use their personality to sell classes or, in his case, DVDs.
And believe it or not, you can too. In our ultra-connected world, yoga teachers have countless avenues to share their story and connect with their target audience. But how do you establish your personal brand when just starting out?
What is a personal brand?
Think about your favourite yoga instructor. What do you like about them and why are you more likely to turn up to their class than one led by someone else? The answer may lie in the style of yoga they teach or how rigorous you find their classes. You could simply enjoy their personality or the way you seem to flow with them. This all boils down to that instructor’s personal brand and the way they offer value to their students.
Simply put, your personal brand as a yoga teacher is what you do and how you do it. A personal brand is all encompassing. It includes:
The services you offer and type of classes you teach.
Where you teach.
Your personality, the stories you tell and how much you choose to share with your students.
Your style of cueing and adjusting students.
Little touches you add, such as essential oils, poetry readings and so on.
The way you challenge students and introduce new positions or exercises.
And why does it matter?
Back in the day, the studio was your primary means of connecting with potential customers. The Internet and rise of social networking has changed all of that, however. Today, yoga teachers have countless opportunities to interface with students and advertise their classes. More than ever before, yoga teachers can work for themselves rather than for one studio.
There are several reasons to build your personal brand, especially when you’re new to teaching. With an established personal brand, you’ll be better equipped to:
Ready to get started? Here are some brand building tips you should know.
1. Social media is an amazing tool
Love it or hate it, social media is an incredibly effective way to reach customers. Unlike traditional advertising, social media marketing is personal – it allows you to share your story and communicate openly with fans and followers.
Some best social media tactics for yoga instructors include:
Make business-related handles – Ditch the personal username and choose a handle that reflects your yoga business clearly.
Use multiple networks – Don’t limit yourself to a single network. Stay active on multiple platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.
Emphasise video content – Viewers retain 95% of a message when watching a video – versus just 10% when reading!
Get personal – Don’t shy away from sharing your values, thoughts and opinions. Social media is meant to be personal, just keep it professional too.
2. Find your point of difference
There’s a lot of competition out there. What makes you different?
Successful brands have a clear point of difference – a reason customers would choose their product or service over the competition. To establish yours, find ways to incorporate yourself into your practice. That might mean coming up with themes each class, establishing your own style or hosting some kind of challenge for students. The most important thing is to make sure you’re constantly adding value for your customers and giving them reason to come back.
3. Treat it like a business
Good brands don’t just happen and your personal brand is no different. Successful instructors invest time and money into their yoga teaching business and themselves. To stay on top of your trade, it’s important to constantly work towards deepening your practice:
Like any other business, your yoga teaching brand should be guided by a clear mission statement and set of values. Sit down and think about why you decided to share your practice with others and list the relevant values you hold most dear. What is your vision for the future and what do you hope to achieve through your teaching?
Once you’ve brainstormed, articulate this into a clear, concise mission statement you can use as the basis for your business and personal brand. Check out our mission statement below for an example:
5. Get out there!
At the end of the day, being a successful yoga teacher is all about impacting others and interacting with your clients. To this end, don’t get so caught up in your personal brand that you forget to get out there and do your thing!
As a new instructor, take every opportunity to teach and make your name known. Host events, go to workshops, try out different studios and don’t be afraid to work for free if it means connecting with new students and showing what you can do. Marketing and branding are amazing, but it always comes back to how well you can make people feel!
Welcome to Asana ABC. We are creating a library of step-by-step tutorials of yoga poses to help you develop, grow, and expand in your yoga practice. Here, you’ll find instructions on how to get into a posture whilst learning how to reduce the risk of an injury. Learn about alignment and how to practising safely. Each tutorial covers modifications and variations of each pose to aid you in working out what works best for your body. Find out how to do standing, seated, twisting, and supine poses that are suitable for beginners to advanced practitioners. Happy practising!
Utthita Trikonasana – Extended Triangle Pose
Utthita Trikonasana or, Extended Triangle pose, is a standing posture that stretches out the legs all the way from the ankles up to the hamstrings, whilst building strength in the legs and the core. It also opens up the chest and shoulders.
This pose is often featured in vinyasa flow classes and is one of the first standing postures in the Ashtanga Vinyasa series. Learn how to safely practice this pose with alignment cues below, as well as learning the modifications that your body may currently need.
Remember to honour your body and listen to your breath.
1. Step your left foot back so that your right foot is pointing forward (90 degrees) and your feet are a little bit wider than hip distance apart. Line up your back foot so its parallel with the back edge of the mat. Bring your heels in line with each other.
2. Raise your arms out beside you so they are at shoulder height. Extend your palms wide and keep your fingers together.
3. Push your right big toe into the mat. Inhale reach as far forward as you can keeping your front leg straight and lengthen the right side of your body.
4. Exhale come down and hook your right big toe with your peace fingers on your right hand. Open up your chest and gaze up at your top hand.
5. Hold here for five deep breaths.
To exit the pose
Exhale look down at your mat. Inhale press your feet into the mat and rise all the way up to standing with your arms out beside you. Exhale step to the top of your mat with your feet together and bring your arms down by your sides.
Repeat these steps to practice the pose on your left side.
If you find that you are currently unable to hook your big toe or you strain whilst doing so; either bring your lower hand to your shin or your ankle. Or, use a block for support.
Place the block on the outside of your right foot at any height that works best for you. As you come down place your right hand on the block.
If you have a neck injury or problem avoid looking up and gaze straight forward instead.
If you have high blood pressure look down rather than up.
“You do not have to worry about Nature because Nature is an intelligent force which takes care of itself. If man does not protect Nature but destroys it, Nature will punish him.” ― Swami Satyananda Saraswati – an Indian yoga teacher and guru
This is the way I see the environmental situation: it is not about us (humans). We need to start thinking differently about our role as species on this planet or otherwise, we are facing extinction. Full stop. The end. !Hasta la vista, baby!
Every real change starts with an inner breakthrough. Usually, we experience something in a way that makes us see “the Light”, “the Truth” (How come I didn’t see it earlier?). And only then us, humans, are determined to make a change (our species has done amazing things so far, biologically speaking humans love challenges!).
Most of us are already familiar with yoga and the benefits it can bring to our lives both physically and mentally: a stronger and more flexible body, a calmer and more understanding mind… Basically, yoga helps us connect to our inner Self and create and develop a connection with our body and mind. In summary, yoga tries to bring awareness to our own inner physical, emotional, mental, psychic and spiritual environment. But how about the care and awareness of the environment protection and pollution? Not sure about this.
Yoga and the Environment
The five Yamas of yoga philosophy
After many years of leaning towards the physical side of yoga, I had my own breakthrough a few years ago when I started reading the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (the “Bible” for yoga practitioners). It outlines the “eight limbs of yoga” – the guidelines for a meaningful and purposeful life. For the sake of having you all finish reading this article, I will focus on the first one: “Yamas”, a set of ethical rules or moral imperatives. The five yamas listed by Patanjali are:
● Ahimsa, the first of the yamas, means non-violence or non-harming oneself or other living beings. Vegetarianism is based upon this yama. However, let’s get started by making a more realistic step towards embracing it; think of all the plastic products you use in your everyday life. Unless you live in a developed country with the resources to store and recycle plastic properly, it often ends up being improperly discarded and soon will reach our ocean.
Yes, One Ocean to keep us all alive.
● Satya is truthfulness or honesty. What actions are you taking to have a more positive impact on the environment? I am definitely trying to reduce the use of plastic. However, I have to be honest: here in Thailand, there is not potable water tap, so I still buy big plastic bottles of water; I still drive my motorbike to work…
So let’s keep making small steps: think of your personal environmental fingerprint and how to reduce it. Believe it or not, by doing this you will be already moving towards the right direction – one step at a time.
(Photo from malydziennik.pl)
● Asteya means non-stealing. I address mostly to the “First World” or developed countries. For decades, under the name of “international trade agreements”, those countries with more wealth and power have guaranteed themselves with the best natural resources (water, fish, labor, etc…) – most of the times taken from far away and at very inexpensive prices. Ultimately, those plundered nations end up being even poorer and face civil wars that force the people to either face death or flee their homes to a better future.
I understand the current problem of immigration is much more complex than this, but hopefully, you might get the point. When it comes to the Earth and sustainability there should be less of “I have plenty of” and “I own all this”, but more of “There is plenty of this so let’s share it globally” for it does not (and never did) belong to a single country or nation.
● Brahmacharya addresses overindulgence. By buying less “stuff”, eating fewer animal products and sourcing our food from sustainable farms, we can spread the word that better solutions do exist and they don’t have to cater to mega-corporations and lobbyist pressure.
● Aparigraha suggests not to be greedy or possessive. So rumour has it that some big corporations are trying to make natural water sources private. It could be a matter of time that the air and crops become private, too. Similarly, in the yoga world, for the last
ten years, the founder of “hot” yoga has tried to copyright his sequence of yoga poses in a heated room. Apparently, this self-styled guru seemed more interested in amassing personal wealth and recognition than staying true to the essence of yoga. Hopefully, for the yoga community, he has lost the legal fight and the poses were and remain in the public domain.
These two are just examples of aparigraha or the idea that we can just grab anything that was already out there naturally or previously created, and pretend to OWN it with the single goal of becoming more powerful and wealthier.
(Photo from finerminds.com)
“The Fundamental Law”
I read this book when I was a child: Ami “Child of the Stars” (no asteya here, it is a free download). In the book, something called “The Fundamental Law” is explained: “Evolution means approaching love. The most evolved beings experience and express more love. The measure of a being’s greatness or smallness is determined only by the measure of his or her love…”.
Maybe it is time for us to take a look at the bigger picture. To embrace this Universal Law. To embrace love and evolution. A question of measures.
Let me finish by quoting a great human and yogini, Denise Bordeleau: “I used to put my mat on the earth, but now I try to make the earth my mat”.