Monday, 26 November 2012

Stretch and Relax - Trying Out Yoga

"Actually yoga is all about the body, the mind and energy", said Ariff.

Aside from being an officer in the government, Ariff is also a certified yoga instructor and has practised yoga for 10 years.

Being that he is my daughter-in-law Akma's elder brother, I can truthfully claim that we now have a yogi in our midst.

I had always been fascinated by yoga, ever since a yogi from India demonstrated some incredible contortionist movements at school all those decades ago.

It was only when yoga became fashionable and got incorporated into fitness regimes and were made available on VCD's did I try doing some of the postures.

Well... let's just say, for me in the beginning some were difficult and the rest were hard. But they got easier the more I tried.

When I joined my gym, I attended a few of the beginner yoga classes and always came out from them feeling very light and refreshed. But if you're always the only older and rounder and stiffer one there, you tend to feel intimidated by the Madonnas all around you and not want to attend any more.

So I cajoled Ariff into conducting an introductory class for about a dozen of the clan on Chinese New Year morning, many many months ago.

Apparently there are many systems of yoga, from religious/meditative to purely physical. We are interested in the physical only, and Ariff geared it towards anti-ageing yoga, going by the average age of the group.

The introductory session had three segments interspersed with a time-out module where we lay on our backs with eyes closed and Ariff took us through some relaxing visualisations and awareness of our serene surroundings and the sounds of a flowing stream, a light breeze and birds a-chirping, in the distance the faint rumbling of a lawn-mower.

Basically the first segment was an exercise in getting to know our various joints from the toes, knees, pelvis, to shoulders and neck. 

Joints can be "opened", helping the circulation of fluids that lubricate them hence making them more flexible and less prone to seizing up and fail.

Here is an example of how you can practise self-massage for this purpose:

Yoga: Self-Massage -- powered by

In the second segment we were introduced to stretches. Stretching the muscles associated with those joints helps loosen any tightness hence relaxing them.

Yogi Ariff taught us proper breathing techniques which is essential in yoga and enhances the relaxation effect during stretching and helps calm the mind.

He patiently guided us through these stretches or "poses" or "asanas"as they say in yoga, while reminding us not to over-extend but to listen to our own bodies on how far to execute the poses. A good session should leave us feeling lighter and more relaxed, not the opposite.

And true enough that was what it did, to me at least. After a breakfast of Nasi Lemak 222, I fell into a deep stupor as soon as I got home.

Pictures are from a second session we had some weeks later

The naga asana or cobra pose, said to increase the flexibility of the spine 
and expands the lungs which is therapeutic for asthma

Watching a double boat pose being demo'd 
in what is known as partner yoga

This group, including Yogi,  have been pretty busy with other events and activities last few months, I think now we can find some time to do this again.


Al-Manar said...

This sudden rush in new postings must be the work of yoga

I hear you but it is not for me. I sit and watch the sea and the waves and say to myself, 'No wonder HE uses sea to remind us of HIS might'.

Zendra-Maria said...

Someone enquired after my health after noticing my long absence from the blog. So I thought I should allay any fears of my being indisposed by posting a couple of entries in quick succession. The yoga one was already in draft which was convenient. Since the 2nd class there hasn't been any more. Some yogis may claim that zikir by the sea a form of yoga, it's just a claim and I go by "Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion"

Love your insight, Pakcik. Take care.

Uncle Lee said...

Hi Zendra, Ini exercise I have to pass, at my age da lepas batu enam puluh, chari pasal, not that I don't get involved in almost similar kinds of stunts in certain other activities, which is more pleasurable, also origins from India, but itu lain cherita....

I guess I'll stick to my almost daily Reflexology...with my hands. I do it at red lights, more while waiting for the least my bones the funny ones and not funny ones won't complain.

Also I hurt my back badly twice, once falling down in the snow, another down 12 flight of steps...sikit lagi my isteri pakai baju hitam, and then get involved in a second wedding, ha ha.

This Yoga thing is very popular among the Mat Salleh women where I am, especially those whose favourite sentences are, 'make mine a double cheese and fries and don't spare the gravy, just lay it on'...

But it is very good, and glad to know you having fun with it. Make sure you can untie yourself after that perfect knot.
Have a nice day, and keep a song in your heart.

Zendra-Maria said...

Hi Lee, I haven't been exercising as much as I should, just a couple of dancing classes a week, stretches some mornings and treadmilling/cycling at the gym once in a while. Just thinking about starting yoga again, you know lah practise deep breathing and engage the core muscles so can keep enjoying fries every now and again.

So Lee, what do you for exercise other than rendezvouing under two moonlights? or maybe that's enough to burn the calories the missus lovingly prepares for you?

Keep warm and have a good weekend :)

Yaseen Abbas said...

May be with help of Yoga I quit smoking and increase my stamina which would help me in trekking .

Antoine Lockhart said...

I enjoyed watching the video. It was really informative. I have learned a lot of new things about yoga. I found yoga as something like a formal stretching lesson.