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7 things that make a Yoga Class rock

Almost 2 out of every 10 guys I meet nowadays say they had tried a few classes and liked it. Today there are no shortage of Yoga classes to choose from – fitness centers, gyms, boutique studios and in Singapore we have something called Community Centers (which offer government subsidised services for mass market consumption). But good classes are rare. Any savvy and genuine seeker of Yoga knows that there aren’t that many authentic Yoga classes in  Singapore that offer close to the benefits of what Yoga is supposed to bring.

Because I feel blessed to have the karma of learning the most original, undiluted teachings of Yoga, I’d made it my personal mission to share this ancient tool of self development with as many people as possible for their positive transformation.

This article is written mainly for certified Yoga Teachers; but it would help expand any practioner’s perspective when choosing a class for yourself. Whether you had done your certification with us under LLLA’s Teacher Trainings or with other institutions, I’m sure this will interest you.

What makes a Yoga Class awesome and sets it apart from a mediocre one?

  1. Work with the Chakras – If you don’t know what are Chakras and you call yourself a Yoga Teacher, you are shortchanging your students. Chakras are energy vortexes from which our several dimensions of reality arise ie phyiscal, emotional, mental and so on. Everything is created from the vibration of Chakras; and the whole point of Yoga is to purify and balance these Chakras to achieve union. Your class will be amped up if you understand what are Chakras, how they affect daily life of a person, and how to structure your class in accordance to the locations of a person’s main Chakras.
  2. Your own Practice – This is one of the underlying factors that will determine how effective you are as a teacher/facilitator; actually this extends to almost anything you do. As a trainer, your students can only progress as much as you do. So before each class, you first have to make sure you have done ample practice to super charge your cells with Prana and vibration. So that you can ground the space and provide the room for your students to reach that deeper part of themselves that they could not reach on their own.
  3. Your Listening and Perceiving – I don’t mean listening with your ears. I mean listening with your whole being – your 5 senses and more. Once class begins, feel every of your student, feel their breaths, and through their breaths feel their feelings and thoughts, resistances and fears. Feel where there is room to work a little harder, and feel where acceptance is required. Listen to the sounds they make, and beyond the sounds. Witness how they are pushing beyond their own boundaries. Hold that space for them in love, and non judgement, as they have entrusted you to.
  4. Meditation – This could be done via sitting, lying down in a simple guided relaxation, or a deep Yoga Nidra practice. A Yoga Class is incomplete without Meditation, don’t skip it for any reason. You could cut the another part of the class but not the Meditation because this is the ultimate goal of Yoga. A good facilitator will know how to remind the class that Meditation is the primary reason why they huffed and puffed through the challenging Asanas. A Yoga session becomes awesome when there is shifts in the consciousness, and these shifts can only occur via Meditation.
  5. ‘The’ Class vs ‘A’ Class – Before every session I think, plan, meditate and run through everything I intend to teach in the class, with one main objective – to create upward shifts. It is not simply ‘a’ class that I mechanically go through; it is an event that I treat seriously because I know there will never be the same class again. When you treat something as a precious experience that will only occur once in your lifetime, your whole perspective changes.
  6. Variety – The fact is that human beings are easily bored creatures, hence the saying familiarity breeds contempt. Too many commercialized Yoga classes teach the same old sequence again and again, some for years. Nothing wrong with that, especially if its a sequence that works. But if you want your students to still feel the wow in your sessions after years, then variety is key. I get bored with my own training after an average of 3 months, and I make sure I cross train my muscles with running and swimming. Finding new ways to keep yourself engaged as a trainer determines how much your students benefit from your classes.
  7. Individual Attention – I have a prejudice against large classes. I feel anything larger than 15 people in a class is an ineffective use of time for the students. I once heard a Yoga teacher (supposedly celebrity level) from Bali say that “every class is just bodies and bones, and with 50-80 students in a class, most of the time I have no freaking idea what is going on inside of them.” Well, I don’t have x-ray eyes either, but I find it hard to trust a teacher who sees me as just one of the many “bodies and bones”. If I were attending a class, I want to know that my trainer got my back while I’m exploring my potential. This is not baby sitting, but rather an extra pair of eyes to help me watch where I can push and where I should let go. It is literally impossible for a trainer to give that kind of attention to a class of 20 and more. So, keep your classes small and you will impact your students better.

 

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Bereavement is God’s Love Song

Have you ever lost your loved ones to death before? If you had, I believe this article will resonate deeply with you.

My father was my best friend, soul mate and mentor rolled into one. At 30 years old, I reconnected with him after years of resentment. Over 2.5 years, we completed everything in our relationship. We said all our ‘sorry’s, ‘thank you’s and ‘I love you’s. There is nothing unsaid between us.

It is quite difficult to imagine the level of connection I had with my father. Most people don’t even come close to that in life long marriages, let alone parent-child relationships. Let me try to describe it to you.

My dad and I could discuss about anything under the sun – from complex topics like science, religion, spirituality to something as simple as permaculture. One moment we could be dissecting the multi-layered concept of quantum mechanics, the next moment we would suddenly break into a song and poem. Full moons, sunsets, the sea and forests, these are the grandeurs of nature that we share an immense love for.

Many times dad and I walked silently hand in hand. We could be watching an angry thunderstorm unfold from indoors, or we were lost in the sounds of crickets at the park. It doesn’t matter what we do, or where we go. What matters was that we had each other’s company and we enjoy every moment deeply, while holding hands.

We would watch comedies together and laugh till we cry, or watch sad movies and cried until we laughed. Everything we experienced together reminds us of all the mistakes we had made, me as a daughter, him as a father, and how grateful we were to have each other again.

That is not my boyfriend, or my husband. That person I am talking about is my father.

If I said 2.5 years was enough, I’d be lying. It is too short. Like a kid whose toy had been snatched, I was angry when dad passed. I wish I had more time with him; I wish I could reverse the clock and stop him from going to the place where the accident happened; I wanted to strangle the person who caused his death; I wish I had the sensibility to wake up earlier and reconcile with him earlier, so that I can have 20 years instead of 2.5 years with him; I wish…the wish list never ends.

In the first year after his passing, I sold my apartment because everything in it reminds me of him. Footsteps in the corridor, the sound of keys, the door bell ringing all gave me hope that I would see him returning. After I moved out, his memories followed me. For almost every night, I played back the recordings of the songs I sang when I was out with him. Although I could not hear his voice, i could sense his energy from the moments of recording. It was the closest I could get to having him with me at that time.

Grief never really ends, as I’ve learnt. It comes in waves, often when we least expect it. 3 years after dad passed, the waves of grief began to spread out. In between there are gaps. Gaps for life. I feel life at a much deeper level. I feel people and their emotions; sometimes even emotions that they didn’t know they had.

Gradually, the waves of grief get triggered not only by memories, but new beginnings as well. A milestone in my work, a lover’s loving caress, a perfect sunset, full moon or an intense moment of concentration in nature, these too led to my missing of dad, and tears of joy. Sometimes it lasted a few minutes; sometimes it lasted several hours. In all these moments, all my senses were filled with God’s presence.

And I have come to realize that, as long as I want deeply connected, passionate, fulfilling relationships with people, I cannot avoid pain. I’ve lost count of the times which I’d felt incredible pain, through death or through breakdowns in relationships with people; but I would never choose any other way to live. I know I’d rather feel the pain and feel alive, than to avoid it and slowly die inside. No matter how badly my heart had been broken, there is nothing God cannot fix. Maybe there is nothing to fix at all; because my heart broken does not mean I am not whole. And since I am a speck of God consciousness, how can I be not whole?

And thus I leave you with my little nugget of dealing with grief. Don’t be afraid of it. Face it, go fully into it. Let it engulf, overwhelm and break you. When you are through, pay attention to the bareness, vulnerability of your heart. Stay in that openness, and operate your life from that openness. That is the space of love, from which no acts of violence or terrorism can arise. That is the space from which you too will hear the music that is God’s love song.

(Article is an excerpt and edited from 2013’s version)

(C) Copyright Linda Loo

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An unconventional application of Karma – Take Life, and Run

Karma is defined in the ancient texts as “Action”. In general, this is a concept that outlines the cause and effect of our actions. Karma determines the conditions of existence, it holds no judgement nor forgiveness towards the good or bad, right or wrong; but merely an impersonal universal eternal law that governs the universe.

Human beings cannot live without doing karma, or action. Every action brings a set of consequences. Even if we sat there in silence, and do nothing, our thoughts create a reverberation in the universe.  So, to live is to do karma.

I am especially cautious towards spiritual teachings that uses the term Karma to instill fear and discipline. There have been too much misunderstanding and misuse of this concept to the point that it causes delusion and inertia. Think of people who lament that their fates are acts of karma, convincing themselves that they are helpless victims. Or those who uses karma as an imprisonment, afraid to take actions. As with anything in life, karma has been misappropriated as a bandaid to allow people their escape from themselves.

We need to first get it that the value of any self transformative concept is only as good as the positive impact it brings to your life. By positive impact I mean specifically that which furthers you into yourself, that which makes us closer to God or the Divine part of ourself, that which brings out your best potential, and eventually makes us more connected to other human beings.

So, as much as a believer of the karma-concept can experience moments of enlightenment by contemplation, he can also be a victim of it if he is not careful. You can be overly attached to the concept of karma itself, which itself is another level of suffering.

My recommendation on using the karma-concept is simple. Take action everyday. Make your action slightly bigger compared to yesterday. Take one action per week that you have never taken before – it can be anything like visiting new places, connecting with new people etc. Do something ‘abnormal’ once a week, something that freaks you out. Do these, and then watch what happens in your reality, ponder on it silently at night. And then take action again the next day. You will know what I’m talking about because you will begin to see how you are solely responsible for every single result in your life.

Karma : take it up and run with it.

 

Copyright 2015 Linda Loo

 

KidsPlaying“The most attractive quality a person can have is not physical looks, not face, not body, nor money or favors. It is the level of self awareness, introspection, self observation and self correction.”

– Linda Loo

Photo Credit: http://consciouslifenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/KidsPlaying.jpg

tree1“One of the greatest blessing in life is to have someone to love beyond attachment.

The practice of love, without wanting anything from them, nor to imprison, control or demand exclusivity, yet unflinchingly give ourselves without closing up our hearts in the name of self protection. This act itself is like a kriya of purification. To love someone more than our identity, is crippling at first. But if you allow the vulnerability to play out, you discover a place of priceless connection between you and the Lord. And then it dawns on us that we are that which we love.

I call this a Love kriya. It is an internal state, something you maintain inwardly. By the time your words and actions reach the surface, they carry the fragrance of a purified love. And it is one of the most attractive quality humans can have.

So, go out and fall headlong in love. Love your parents, your lover, your pets, etc. Daringly love, and meekly surrender.”

– Linda Loo

Photo Credit: http://www.bandannabooks.com/time/pix/tree1.jpg

random-acts-of-kindness-03“An empty or half empty vessel makes more sound. A full vessel makes no sound. It is silent. There is little satisfaction in mindless chatter or excessive noisy company. Other than enjoying a goal oriented life, make time for silence twice a day, even if it is only for 5-10 minutes. Just center and sit to watch your breath.

When we eventually experience silence, we realize that words are empty. Silence is complete, and whole. It is perfect. In this silence we discover a freedom, a kind of lightness which comes from knowing that we ARE this silence, and we are this completeness. From there we become a little kinder, a littler gentler.”

– Linda Loo

Photo Credit: http://cdn.likeaboss.com/posts/2014/09/16312/random-acts-of-kindness-03.jpg

foxes-roeselien-raimond-3-1“Always be contented, but never be satisfied. There is a fine line but a world of difference. Contentment means being happy with our progress, happy with where we are; but dissatisfaction motivates us to aspire towards higher and better potentiality. We can be happily dissatisfied.”

– Linda Loo

Photo Credit: http://static.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/foxes-roeselien-raimond-3-1.jpg

spiral-galaxy-ngc1232-1920“Silence is Golden. Speech is silver. Talking in words always diminish the subject experience becoz there is only this much you can say. Whatever you say, it is always incomplete. The moment you speak, there is an unspoken part. Learn to communicate with your presence and energy, talk less, observe more, feel more. Say only that which is absolutely necessary.”

– Linda Loo

Photo Credit: http://i.livescience.com/images/i/000/033/696/wW3/spiral-galaxy-ngc1232-1920.jpg?1353553724