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Integrative Transformational Yoga

It is interesting to note that the percentage of people practicing Yoga in America is rising by 14% on average per annum. Given that the majority of Yoga available out there are mostly limited to Asanas, I wonder what percentage of this 14% increment had actually experienced the full complete practice of Yoga up till now.

In Singapore we have a plentiful supply of Yoga classes in gyms, Yoga studios, and public communes known as Community Centers. There is a curious side of me that loves asking every Yogi that I meet this question – What is your understanding of Yoga and why do you want to practice Yoga?

Most of the answers I get are “For physical health; increase flexibility”. Some people who have been practicing for years would say “mental peace; body mind awareness”.

I have yet to come across anyone in Singapore (or most developed countries where Yoga is a rising phenomenon) that could answer in a way that demonstrates a true understanding of what is Yoga and what it offers.

Briefly, the real meaning of Yoga is “Union”; and the real reason behind practicing Yoga is to cultivate the Mind towards its highest realization. What is this realization?

This realization refers to the understanding of how a person is an ‘architect of his own destiny’ as Swami Rama calls it; and the freedom to choose thoughts and actions leading to the highest possible development and expression of this person.

Something I would add to that would be the cognitive ability to realize how at any given moment in time, we as an individual human being is partnering the greater creative power of Life to result in both individual and planetary outcomes.

All the benefits of physical health, mental peace, higher awareness are milestones along the Yoga path, they are not the actual benefits although it is not a bad thing to practice Yoga for these benefits.

Yoga is just – Yoga

So which is the ‘best’ type of Yoga to practice? My take is – all Yoga are good. Any practice is better than no practice at all.

However if you have a chance to know and practice the authentic system of Yoga that brings benefits on levels much more than the physical plane, wouldn’t you want to?

Think of the scenario where you have a choice to invest the same amount of money into 2 different risk free bonds. Within the same investment period, one gives you 2% return, and one gives you 8% return. Which one would you choose?

In this case, your time and effort is your investment money, and the type of Yoga is the bond that you choose to invest in.

Many people, after practicing for years and decades, have come to realize that Yoga offers much more than what is being taught. One can’t help but wonder how much more progress they would have made if they had invested the same number of years in practicing Yoga integratively.

Contemporary types of Yoga

The most commonly known types of Yoga are namely Ashtanga, Hatha, Iyengar, Bikram, Power, and the rapidly growing Yin Yoga.

In the 196 scriptures of Yoga Sutras, only 2 of the above words are mentioned – Ashtanga and Hatha.

Let’s look at Ashtanga (made popular by the teacher Pattabis Jois). Based on the Sutras, the original meaning of this word is ‘8 fold path’. It describes the systematic process to enlightenment with 8 steps, of which Asana and Pranayama are 2 of them. However, now if you do a google search for Ashtanga Yoga, you would find it to be defined as ‘a series of challenging Asanas…’, and most Ashtanga fans now hardly practice it beyond the challenging Asanas.

Now let’s look at Hatha Yoga. The word Ha means ‘sun’ and Tha means ‘moon’. Hatha Yoga refers to a physical Yoga practice to balance the sun/masculine and moon/feminine channels of a person. Again, looking at the cyber information out there, there is much misrepresentation. For example, some websites explained Hatha Yoga as a ‘forceful yoga’ on their website, which is totally off from the original meaning as taught from the Sutras.

Iyengar Yoga is named after the teacher BKS Iyengar, and makes use of props like blocks, chairs and ropes etc to reach deeper postures. Bikram Yoga, also named after the teacher who invented it, refers to a specific series of Asanas done in a hot room. Power Yoga is yet another contemporary form of Yoga that integrates aerobic movements and cardiovascular strength training poses to result in a challenging workout.

All of the above are good, except that more than 50% of the important aspects of Yoga have been left out. Much of the work done out there are limited to the physical body. Based on the ancient teachings of Yoga, this physical body is only one out of the five bodies we have. Which means contemporary types of Yoga, in their isolate natures, give us limited benefits. 

The premise of Integrative or Transformational yoga

According to one of the earliest Taittiriya Upanishads, there are 5 koshas or ‘sheaths’ to every human being. We have namely a physical body, energetic body, mental body, higher wisdom body and a bliss body.

The cultivation of the mind towards enlightenment, can only begin to happen when these 5 bodies are activated and integrated.

To begin working on these ‘sheaths’, we have to start with the densest body which is the physical body – this is where Asanas are used.

After the physical body is cleansed, the next step is to activate the energetic body with Pranayama – which means vital energy generation and redirection.

Subsequently, the mental body is cleaned up and activated with Mantra invocations, which is a combination of breath, sound and mental focus; and meditation.

After the first 3 bodies are activated, we enter into the higher wisdom body using self study/contemplation, Bhakti Yoga (which is the Yoga of devotion and love), Karma Yoga and guided meditation with visualizations.

The final 5th body is the bliss body. When awareness permeates through the outer 4 bodies, we connect with this bliss body, and a supreme sense of joy is experienced. When the bliss body is lived, a person embodies characteristics similar to the Divine Consciousness – of pure creation, joy, bliss, unconditional love, equanimity and Oneness.

Why Integrative Transformational Yoga works every time

We have countless testimonials from Yogis who, although have had a number of years of conventional (by conventional I mean conventional by modern world standards) Yoga practice proving the effects of Integrative Yoga practice. After just one practice, they often exclaim that they felt a deep sense of calm and peace, an awakening that they never felt in other ‘normal’ Yoga classes; or some would inform us that they achieved the same effects as when they had done 3 times longer of a practice.

Besides a solid education of the relationship between Chakras, Nadis, Prana and Kosha systems, what sets our Integrative Yoga classes apart from the others, is the underlying fundamental understanding that humans are a multi-dimensional organism. Our experience of reality is made up of a multiplex of projections.

At the beginning of every Integrative Yoga class, the sequence is designed with a purpose of waking up and activating the respective Chakras, directing Kundalini up the spine, permeating awareness through the 5 bodies, and then a guided Shavasana leading into Yoga Nidra.

Every practice brings you deeper into integration, closer to Spirit and makes you more aligned with the creative forces of Life.

 (C) Linda Loo

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5 Mistakes with the modern conventional diet

Human beings in this current civilization of 15,000 years, have never been more wealthy, advanced and well informed. Yet, if you look at statistics, we are getting sicker and dying younger. We get sick mainly from degenerative diseases – which by the way never existed until the last century; and to deepen the assault, we are now getting diagnosed with mental illnesses that scientists and doctors have to create names for.

There are probably more than one contributive reason to this phenomenon, and most experts would agree that the number one factor is the problem with our diet.

Too much metabolic waste

Whenever we consume food, in order for our body to assimilate nutrients from the food, there are by-products created from digestion. Generally, the more complex the structure of the food, the more by-products are created; and foods with simpler molecular structure are easier to digest with less by products.

Foods that create a high toxic digestive load are basically all meats – with those higher on the food chain containing more toxins than those lower; foods that create the least toxins are plant foods like fruits vegetables seeds and nuts.

Chlorophyl deficient

The most important substance that give life to all organisms on Earth, is chlorophyl. It is the basic substance of life because of its ability to generate sugar and oxygen by taking in sunlight and carbon dioxide.

Chlorophyl is the single most alkalizing and healing substance. Countless scientific research has already shown the dramatic healing effects of chlorophyl on degenerative symptoms. It is the most abundant material on Earth yet humans are not getting enough of it. Why? Because we have taught ourselves to denature, cook and process our food.

The easiest ways to include Chlorophyl in our diet is via the form of green juices, green smoothies, fresh salads with plenty of raw greens, and raw condensed green powders/concentrates.

EFA myth

Today the supplement industry is valued at USD40bil, out of which an increasing chunk is being channeled into Omega 3 supplementation.

The word EFA stands for Essential Fatty Acids. The word Essential means our body needs it but we cannot manufacture it, hence it could only be obtained from the food we eat.

We need both Omega 3 and 6 to have healthy brains, cell membranes and basically proper functioning. 3’s are found mostly in nuts, seeds, plant foods and seafood; 6’s are found in all land animals and processed cooking oils.

If you do a study of the most healthy tribes and civilizations of our time, their diets all have something in common – high in plant foods and just a small portion of meats. Today, we have managed to completely reversed this – we eat a diet super high in meats and just a small portion of vegetables. We have now increased our ration of Omega 3 to 6 from 1:5 to 1: 30 within less than a century.

The cause of disease today stems mainly from the inflammation that is in turn caused by an over supply of Omega 6.

There isn’t much money to be made from us lowering 6’s consumption; but there is a ton of money to be made from having us increase our 3’s. That is the likely reason that we have so many advertisements on Omega 3 supplementation today.

Supplementation aside, if we can consciously reduce our Omega 6 intake, it could do wonders for our health.

Gut Health

Many people do not know that our gut is our second brain. Memory loss and brain fog is not merely caused by deficiency, but also a gut with imbalanced flora bacteria.

Lately, scientists have discovered that our body is mainly empty space and bacterium. It may not be incorrect to say we are an organisation of bacteria colonies. There is an intricate balance of good versus bad bacteria in us, and in many cases, our health and sports performance depends on maintaining the balance and the stability of the balance.

Our diet today, besides giving us too much metabolic waste, also does a good job at wiping out our good bacteria. Things like anti-biotics and over processed foods make sure that our gut has a harder time re-establishing the good bacteria. In a certain sense, our body is always working against the ‘current’.

To reset the healthy bacteria balance, we have to take note of 2 things – Probiotics and Prebiotics. Probiotics are the strains of healthy bacteria that we can ingest; the good news is that they are widely available in health food stores in capsule or powder form. Just make sure to get a variety and rotate them over time. The second thing is Prebiotics – this is the food that the good bacteria feeds on. Think fibrous vegetables, sweet fruits like bananas. Its not that difficult to gain back that balance once you know how to.

And of course, consuming plenty of fermented foods like kim chi, saukrauet, kombucha tea, rejuvelac and kefir drinks will help reset the flora back to optimum.

Fats avoidance

Avoiding fats because we think they make us gain fat is like throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Our body need fats for the following reasons:

  • To absorb fat soluble nutrients
  • Flavoring food and making us feel satiated so we won’t over eat
  • Facilitates neurotransmission
  • Cushions our organs against shock and nervous stimuli
  • Fat is needed to burn fat

When we are fat deficient, we tend to eat more, have cravings, mood swings, memory loss and coordination problem. We also tend to be more edgy. For those thinking that they could lose weight by avoiding fats, it is a mistake because the body holds on to fat for longer when your diet is fat deficient.

The key thing to note is that not all fats are the same. You want to take in the good uncooked plant fats that are unprocessed and whole. Go for raw sprouted seeds and nuts, high fat fruits like coconuts and durians, and a small portion of cold pressed seed and nut oils.

Remember that your body is not a ‘thing’. It is a constant work in progress; a state of manifestation and expression of your accumulated choices. Whatever you do today has an impact on creating new cells and organs tomorrow, and in 6 months you get a completely new organ.

Instead of perfection, aim for progression. Make your journey of health a fun and enjoyable one!

(C) Linda Loo

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Christmas Reflection 2016

The sounds of Christmas bells, carols and the dazzling bright lights of Orchard road always warm my heart this time of the year. My favorite festive has to be the Christmas season indeed. There is a story behind this.

Most kids live the best of their childhoods at 10 years old. I had a rather unconventional one. My parents’ marriage didn’t work, they didn’t bring out the best in each other, and I kind of took the biggest impact of it all. Often physically beaten up for no reason, and emotionally abandoned, I had no access to resources for love and nurturance in the earliest years of my life.

At 10 years old, I contemplated suicide. Standing on a chair at the kitchen window of an 8 storey flat, I imagined jumping off and ending my life. I wanted to finish the experience of being human because I was sad about my parents’ fighting, scared of again being bashed up for no reason, and miserable at having nobody to turn to. In some distorted way, I thought maybe I was the cause of my parents’ disharmony. It seemed better to end this life and hit the reset button.

But I stood there by the window sill for some time, thinking: What if I don’t die? What if I got injured and needed to be sent to the hospital? Do I need to bring my school pass for identification? Do I need money for transport if I don’t die?

Eventually, somebody knocked on the door, disrupting me from the train of thoughts. I got down from the chair, climb into bed and went to sleep crying.

The next day when I woke up, I had a new resolve. Since I didn’t quite manage to die, I told myself I shall jolly well live a hell of a life. Let’s make it bad-ass and awesome! 🙂

With that began a magnificent journey of self discovery, love, forgiveness and courage, which I am still on today.

From 10 to 13 years old, I kind of made it through by studying like crazy (I was told I won’t be given any resources to study beyond Primary 6, so I cherished whatever chance I had to study) and switching off my emotions to numb out. My big break came in my 13th year. That year during Christmas, a friend recommended me for a part time job as sales assistant at a Christian gift shop.

I remembered sitting by the telephone for days, staring at it, willing it to ring, hoping that it would be the owner of the shop calling me to start work. When I finally got the call to report for work at S$2 per hour, I knew that I could be free of the circumstances I was born into.

That was huge to me. I knew that I could work my way to University, and I could create the life that I want to live.

My first Christmas, at 13 years old, was unforgettable. The Christmas songs that I heard for the first time then, got ingrained in my head, even up till now, and they conditioned feelings of empowerment, hope, freedom, love and support. Images of Santa, snow flakes, reindeers, sleighs and Christmas pine trees always make me wanna smile and dance with joy.

Subsequently, with several other part time jobs, I made it through the rest of Secondary School, College and University. Fortunately, I was able to leave home when I turned 14, escaping the abusive environment; bunking in with classmates and their families who treated me as one of their own.

I’m immensely grateful for all these people whom although were not related to me, gave me love and care. Because of them, and the employers who paid me extra salary to help support my studies, I held the world view that people are good, we ought to help one another as a humanity, and that the Universe is friendly.

In retrospect, I saw that my parents did love me to their best ability, through whatever limitations and filters they have about life. Although in my experience as a child, I definitely did not feel loved and cared for. They had their own life paths to live and lessons to learn; and as for me I could choose to blame them and remain a victim of life/circumstances; or I could take on the pain of purification, convert my wounds into blessings, shine my light for myself and others. The latter was what I chose.

Many of us grew up taking after our parents, making them our role models; and most of us only knew that our parents are not perfect, after we grow up, which is usually after the damage was already done to some extent.

The circumstances into which I was born into had very little resources. I was probably the least likely kid to grow up as a success and be living a life that I love. Today I am loved immensely, surrounded by beautiful people. I’d found family in people who have no blood ties with me, in strangers who would go out of their ways to help me; I am financially very comfortable, and super blessed to be doing work which I am passionate about.

Most days, I wake up escstatic to be alive, and amazed with the miracle of just being able to draw a deep belly breath. Just about almost everything from Nature to music fascinates me. Everything tangible and intangible that I have and own today, I’m proud to acknowledge that I’ve worked hard for it.

Granted that in life, it is never just a bed of roses. There are times where people whom we trusted sort of turned on us and hurt us. In fact, last year’s Christmas and this year’s New Year period was a time of profound growth and heartache for me. Someone whom I had came to trust and love deeply, bailed out on me, my heart was broken. It took me nearly a year to completely neutralize the intensity of emotions so that I won’t attract the same scenario again.

Actually, I am quite grateful for all the experiences of hurt because they taught me to discern between what is real from what is not. I’ve never been stopped in love and I don’t believe I ever will be. If anything at all, I’m more sure now than before that the Universe is in my favor.

You would probably agree with me that everyone has a story of struggles. I believe that our past does not indicate our self worth, but rather, it is what we make of our past that does. One fundamental belief that we need to have in order to be successful, is the belief that life is always organizing itself to our highest good.

This Christmas, I invite you to ponder on these 2 questions which had served me on my darkest periods. The right kind of inquiry never fail to bring enlightenment if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and meet the questions bravely –

“If all of Life is organizing itself to my highest success, what would I be thinking, saying and doing?”

“What is the one thing that I can do right now to be more loving?”

 

(C) Linda Loo

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Healing Amenorrhea with Living Foods and Yoga

The most amazing thing up to now about my life, is that I reversed Amenorrhea with a decade of Living Foods and Yoga.

When I was 27, my periods began disappearing after years of crazed marathon running and extreme water sports. At first it was a month, then 2 months, and eventually they disappeared altogether.

At that time, visits to the gynecologist revealed that my body was not producing estrogen properly, due to the stressed state of over exercising. Doctors attempted to assure me not to worry because many female athletes experience similar conditions, and periods could be induced with estrogen pills.

So I heeded their advice to take medication; however after taking merely one course of the hormone pills, although my period returned, I broke out in Eczema that lasted months after the period finished.

Not having periods was disturbing, but compared to the suffering of Eczema, it was tolerable. I stopped the hormone pills immediately. And in order to cure the Eczema I went to several skin doctors, spent a lot of money, and got a ton of medication that did zilch to provide relief.

It was kind of a last straw for me, when I decided to accept the fact that western medicine does not really work for my body.

Close to being desperate to cure the Eczema, I went around looking for solutions. That was when I discovered the concept of eating right and Living Foods. Just after my 28th birthday, I sought out Alissa Cohen, a teacher of Living Foods in Boston. After that, my life took on a huge turning point.

In a nutshell, I turned to Living Foods to cure Eczema; through Living Foods I became inspired and passionate about Yoga and spiritual evolution, did a ton of work internally (and still am working on it).

After 9 years, my periods began to return, at first erratically. I was 36 then. And just after my 37th birthday, it started to regularize.

Now, a year later, my periods come on the dot almost every single month; except for the times when I make changes to my Yoga practice where it sometimes comes 2-3 days early or late.

Nothing short of amazing isn’t it? It is almost like having your eggs frozen for a decade and then having your facility reactivated. I was told by physicians that probably I’m going to remain fertile for a longer than average time, and maybe live longer too.

If you google for raw living foods, most of the conversations out there are about menses stopping or becoming light after raw vegan or Living Foods. You would hardly find any case similar to what I experienced.

People widened their eyes in disbelief whenever I shared with them. Even the most open minded doctors and physicians raised an eyebrow when I described to them my experience.

Out of the 10 years, I was on hard core 100% raw for about 7 of them. That means zero cooked stuff and no alcohol. It was also during these 7 years that I did the most impactful inner work. Lots of internal shift and release; really coming to terms with what is life about, and who am I beyond whatever that has happened in my life so far.

As I reflect upon the process of recovering the body of a healthy normal woman, in retrospect, I realized there are several valuable lessons that I learnt. And I am sharing that below so they may benefit others too:

There’s a will there’s a way

Can’t emphasize this enough. From grand civilizations to state-of-the-art skyscrapers, all great things are accomplished with determination and persistence. Whatever it is that you want, hold that possibility in the mind, continue to hold the vision as you work towards it, and be happy working towards it.

10 years is considered a rather long time for healing a health condition. The beautiful yet strange thing is that my main goal was first to cure Eczema, and after that was cured, I wanted to just heal my body and spirit. It was good enough for me to have above average health, extraordinary energy, to open up more parts of my brain, and of course looking good would be a bonus. Actually I did not really pray for my periods to return any more than a solid relationship with Divine consciousness.

I simply held the vision of progressive healing, recovery, growth and enlightenment and kept working at it.

Listen to yourself above others 

One of my favorite authors Neale Donald Walsh conveyed before in one of his conversations with God “There is only Truth in your heart that you need to know. Everything else is just what others say to you.”

Short, sweet and so to the point.

How many times have we failed in something, or failed to even start a project, just because somebody said to us that we would not make it?

How many times have we allowed ourselves to play small simply because someone told us we could ‘not make it’?

Many people told me it is not possible to heal Eczema; or to escape sicknesses when you grow old. I even knew people who ‘talked themselves to sickness’. It is quite sad to witness people telling themselves limiting beliefs about their own health just because some ‘authority’ said so.

In my own life, from well-meaning doctors to family and friends, I have had all sorts of things told to me. I I were to believe even half of them, I would probably be six feet underground now.

Whatever people tell you, if it limits you in anyway, listen to it with a grain of salt. And watch the way you talk to yourself. Most of the time the thoughts you think may not even be generic.

Our human body – the most amazing and advanced organization of cells and tissues

You are dwelling in the most incredible creation of Nature – the human body. I continue to be amazed and humbled by this masterpiece of cells, tissues, organs, bones and skin. The reason I stuck by eating raw living foods, even though I already achieved my objectives of healing, is because I want to continue to honor my body with the best raw materials, and allow it to perform its best.

Our bodies is a continuous work-in-progress. It is a temporal state in time, and not static at all. Every day old, cells die and new cells are born; in 6 months we get new organs and in 12 months we get entirely new structures of tissues.

To maintain top notch health and energy, we need to minimize metabolic waste. It is possible to do so within boundaries of still having our life work and be enjoyable. One of the things I’m grateful for in life is that I learnt to be a Living Foods chef because I can make healthy foods taste good, and I could offer this value to everyone I care about.

You could too, if you learn how to be Living Foods Chef. It is actually very easy and fun!

What brought you here, may not bring you beyond

A meditation teacher once told me before ‘Picture a wheel with spokes. Your objective in meditation is to get to the centre of the wheel, by taking a particular path – which is the spoke. Once you get to the centre of the wheel, you let go of the spoke because you don’t need it anymore.’

As human beings, there are tendencies to overly attach to a ‘path’ that we take, whatever that may be. At one point of time in my Living Foods journey, I was so fixated to extremity, that I would feel like sin if I so much as ate a vegetable soup.

Some would say that it is the flip side of determination, and some would say it is a disease unto itself to be so anal about it. Looking back now, I recognized that this kind of obsession was necessary for me before I could reach the point of dualistic neutralism without losing enthusiasm.

What I mean by that, is to be enthusiastic about health and Living Foods, yet sufficiently detached from blind pursuance. As long as the majority of my actions are generating health, it is ok to relax sometimes over a good glass of wine, maybe 2.

Sometimes I have so much fun that I drink much more than that (wine is indeed my weakness); but then I make sure I detox with juices and Vinyasa the next day, and I make healthy choices all over again.

The funny thing is that after my menstruation regularized, my body seemed to have change. I found my body colder than before, and I needed more calories everyday. If I wanted to fast, I had to make sure I eat more the 2 days before, or otherwise I was less than functional.

So I began making small changes – adding in organic milk, organic eggs and deep sea salmon 3 times a week while keeping the majority of my diet raw vegan. I found that as long as I keep up the green juices, smoothies and warming fruits like durians, I am ok in terms of stamina and brain alertness. Whatever I do, I discovered that I usually get into trouble when I miss out my green drinks for the day. So I simply made sure that I get that checked.

Someone asked if I would still be eating Living Foods in my 80s, my answer was ‘I don’t know; but if I were to know, most likely it would be a yes because I want to have health in order to experience a great life, great relationships and discover my potential as a human being.’

I hope my sharing added value to you. If it does, please write to me; I would be happy to hear from you.

Be fixated on the goal, not the means.

Namaste!

(C) Linda Loo

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Meditating on Tibetan Mantra: Aum Mani Padme Hum

There are more than several similarities between Traditional Indian Schools of Yoga and Tibetan traditions of Buddhism and Tantra Yoga. Tibetan teachings date back to roughly 200 BC (while the Vedas which forms the Upanishads, date back to roughly 1,200 BC). Many seekers and teachers including myself, believe that the original teachings were from one same source, and over the earliest years of our current civilization, had gotten dispersed.

Tibetan Yoga focuses substantially on Mantra Invocations. Sound has become something that many commercial Yoga centers leave out nowadays. Many conventional Yoga gyms and studios have avoided the practice of Mantra and Meditation to attract more customers and avoid possibly coming across as religious.

(More about that misconception of Yoga appearing ‘religious’ in another discussion.)

There are many similarities between the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism and the Upanishads; although I like both, personally I feel the deepest connection to the Upanishads more than anything else. Each time i read a verse from any of the 12 major texts, it seems to be talking right at me, and it feels like home.

However, something about Tibetan Buddhism catches my attention – the Mantras.

The word Mantra comes from the root word ‘Man’ which means “Mind”. Mantras are sound invocations to adjust the control panels of our Mind. And it is totally cool because these invocations work even if the reciter does not understand the full meaning of a Mantra. As long as full attention and feeling is given when singing the Mantra, the effects would be felt.

One time, in a TV interview, the host asked the Dalai Lama his Holiness to translate and explain the meaning of the well-known Tibetan Mantra “Aum Mani Padme Hum”. Smiling with the innocence of a child, and shaking his head gently he said “Oh no no no, it is impossible to translate into English.”

That is the superiority of Mantra over language. Be it English, French, Mandarin, or any other language, regardless of the richness of the history, it is still a meaning-based tool, and bears little power over working on the subtle entities of thought and emotion. In fact, language is often a subject of our thoughts and emotions. We speak a certain way because we have a certain thought or emotion.

While we could attempt to understand roughly the vibrational meaning of a Mantra, it is simply not possible to capture the full meaning of a Mantra into words.

Let’s look at the Mantra in a little bit more detail:

Aum

Containing 3 pronunciations – Ah – Uh – Mm, this sound represents the past, present and future dimensions. It also symbolizes the cleansing and transformation of impurities of the body, mind and speech.

Mani

This sound is given to mean ‘Jewel’ or a ‘Precious Stone’. It symbolizes the preciousness, and purity of our intention. That in all that we say and act, we base our intention on compassion. Compassion for ourselves and others.

Padme

This symbolizes the flower ‘Lotus’. Think of the Lotus flower that is grows from mud, and yet keeping its head above water and looking clean, beautiful and serene. In the same way, this invocation reminds us to always keep our head above water, to maintain our ‘Lotusness’ even in the face of mud. One can also take the meaning further to understand that the spiritual journey involves mud coming into life, and that mud is inevitable. But we can still remain Lotus-like, and we have the power and discernment to choose people and situations that perpetuate our Lotusness.

Hum

This symbolizes the methodology and wisdom for transforming impure to pure. So that when we call out the Mantra, we will find the right method towards the right wisdom.

The right method brings us right wisdom; and then we will have wisdom to choose the right method. 

Brilliant and beautiful isn’t it? I hope you may find this useful, and that you would start using this Mantra for meditation.

(C) Copyright Linda Loo

Mandala of Abundance

Yogi Alert: 5 Tips for a better practice!

Ok dear Yogis! This post is something that I had been wanting to publish for months, but for some reason I only managed to locate it from my archives until now. Like the Zen saying goes – ‘Now’ is the appointed time!

Maybe you had been practicing for decades, years, or maybe you had just begun the journey of self exploration with the body. Whichever it is, I am sure you will be interested to learn that there are lifestyle tips that you can incorporate to get more out of each practice.

Sounds good? Here goes:

1) Take a cold shower before practice

I know it does not sound too pleasant, especially for those of us who like to practice in the mornings. The thing is, cold showers constricts our blood vessels and increases their elasticity, preparing them to transport more energy when we practice.

For someone like me who practices in the mornings, the cold showers always ‘shakes things up’. At first I would squirm and jump around; but after the first few seconds it feels so good and I would break into smile and song.

The only exception to this I would say is probably to refrain from it on the first 3 days of menstruation – for the ladies. In which case, it is good to either take a break from practice anyway, or do a modified practice with significantly less strenuosity.

2) Try not to shower immediately after practice

This is especially true if you are a seasoned Yogi. Water is a conductor of electricity. The sweat emitted from the body right after practice are charged with Prana, and if we shower immediately it could wash away quite a bit of energy. It may deplete Chi and make us tired.

In fact, ancient teachings (conveyed by Swami Rama from his book The Path of Light and Fire) encouraged dedicated Yogis to massage the sweat back into the pores after practice! I know it sounds a little gross for us modern urbanites; well… if we stink after each practice, maybe its time to eat a living foods diet, or at least a 50% clean diet. How clean our bodies are internally actually shows up in our smells and sweat!

Most people I know love how they smell after switching to eating more Living Foods. Their spouses and partners love it too! Try it and you will know what I mean.

3) Start doing home enemas

You think you are what you eat? Yes that’s true.

Although I have something to add to that – ‘You are what you do not poop!’

Remember the times when you were constipated, perhaps for a few days, and then finally you managed move the bowels? Did you notice it immediately felt like heaven?

If you want to feel lighter, make your mind quieter, and experience deeper meditation, don’t forget to clean those pipes Yogis. Home enemas can be easily self administered, are cost efficient, and so good for shifting states. It takes a little getting used to, if you are new to it. But after a couple of sessions you would become an expert.

Feel free to check with me in class if you want to start doing home enemas but don’t know how to do it yet. I would be most happy to share 🙂

4) Remember to make sound

Sound is the manifestation of Prana.

When you strengthen Prana, you strengthen Sound; when you purify Prana, you purify Sound, and vice versa.

Any Yoga practice that omits sound, in my humble opinion, seems somewhat incomplete. Mental states of thinking, judging and fear of being judged, are sneaking around somewhere if we are not making sound while holding an Asana. We can hear the instructions “Be with your breath and focus on the now” a hundred times but the mind simply has another mind of its own.

However, the moment you do a Bhramari, the mind has to come to the present. Many teachers are unaware of the power of the Bhramari Pranayama. Bhramaris have been researched in India, and its been proven that 20 minutes of practice a day have the ability to reverse any hormonal and adrenal imbalances of the body.

20 minutes a day versus years and years of medications, pills, maybe even surgery, sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Besides Bhramaris, Mantras are another method using sound to train Prana, although its effects work more on the mind, rather than on Prana. Something very noteworthy (for the thirsty Yogi-fanatics) is that: Mantra Yoga is an essential component of Tantra, and Tantra is in fact the juice of all Yoga.

5) Be intentional

As with anything you do in life, be intentional. Before you do something, ask yourself what is the outcome you want from your practice. Beginning with the end in mind is one of the most powerful manifestation practices I’ve ever known. And of course, knowing does not equate mastery. We do not really understand a principle until we are able to demonstrate it with results.

Starting with your very next practice, start to set intentions. Start with one intention per practice. It does not have to be elaborate. The simpler the better. It could be for your health, to gain a certain realization, to solve a problematic situation in the highest possible good or simply, just for the liberation of your loved ones.

I like to offer my daily practice for the happiness and health of all my loved ones, friends and Yoga students. In a very intricate way, we are all one, people to plants to all living things to Earth and to every star in the galaxy. We are all connected in a beautiful interwoven tapestry of life. This is the highest cultivation of Yoga, known as Tantra (of its many translations, one of my favorite is ‘loom’).

Has this article been helpful to you? I hope it helps you get more satisfaction and enjoyment out of your practice. Namaste Yogis!

(C) Copyright Linda Loo

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What is the real purpose of an Asana

Many years ago, one of the things that inspired me to take up Yoga was the possibility of standing on my head. I found the idea of a full body inversion really cool.

In my first few years of attempting Yoga, I could barely touch my toes in forward bends, or sit in Dandasana (Staff Pose) with a straight back. I had zero flexibility, and close to zilch core strength. Naukasana (Boat Pose) always got me cursing and swearing silently, and when I hear ‘Uktasana (Chair Pose)’, I would actually shudder with dread.

Ironically, I did my first Yoga Teachers’ Training at the age of 31. It was one of the major shifting points of my life –  I could assume a freestyle Sirashasana (Head Stand), and it was so empowering. Besides the cool fact that I could see inverted perspectives of life that were hidden when upright, holding free style inversions erases fear, self doubt, builds self confidence, and deepens the connection between inner child and Spirit.

The floodgates opened after that; I became intrigued with Asanas! The subsequent years saw me exploring various other major Yoga traditions including Ashtanga Vinyasa and Iyengar. I loved Asanas so much that I would practice upon waking, before sleep, in the lift, and just simply about anywhere where nobody was watching.

Holding an Asana, refining it, tuning into the body, isolating the sense of body muscles, sweet pain and agony, sweat pouring out from my head, and heat from inside the core that feels like an erupting volcano – that sweaty feeling of bliss at the end of every practice, I was addicted to all of that because it made me felt alive. Maybe I still am.

The first few years after my first Teachers’ Training, I had what I called the Asana OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I moved into deeper back bends and arm balances. Training for any new Asana is always challenging. With my OCD I trained non-stop like a mad woman, sometimes 5 hours a day, and although I managed to assume the difficult poses, I did some damage to my wrists (which totally defeated the original purpose of Yoga in the first place). Not pretty!

Like they always say, it takes one minute of realization to see through years of folly. In one Ashtanga workshop that I participated, I met a Canadian guy whose arms were as strong as his legs. Let’s call him Mr Macho Arms. He could push effortlessly into a handstand, and walk around the hall on them. I was super jealous because I had to train like mad to stand on my arms; and he just made it look eating cake.

When he sat down next to me, I had to ask him – “How long did you have to train to get here?”

He looked at me and said – “I had a car accident when I was 17 and my lower body is mostly metal. To compensate for my legs I had to train to make my upper body stronger. My dream is to be able to sit still in lotus.” Then he paused and said “If I can sit like you, I will give up hand stands anytime.”

I looked down at my legs and realized I was sitting in half lotus. It had been such a natural thing for me that I sometimes don’t even notice the stability of my seat. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with what felt like a combination of embarrassment and gratitude.

Based on the most ancient teachings of Yoga, the whole point of performing Asanas is to prepare the body to be able to sit still, and prepare the mind for meditation. Asanas is but a small fraction in the whole system of Yoga.

And for the purpose of shining more light on how Yoga could possibly have been misunderstood by the masses today, the word Ashtanga actually means a 8-fold path towards self realization. The Himalayan Tradition expounded Ashtanga Yoga as a Royal path towards Samadhi. When you say the word Ashtanga today, people think lots of jumping and human pretzels; but the real meaning as taught in the Yoga Sutras is not that.

In fact, sacred Yogic texts taught that once a Yogi can assume Siddhasana (a meditation pose), all other Asanas become quite redundant.

Challenging Asanas like Sirashasana, and any other inversions for that matter, serves the purpose of directing kundalini from root to crown chakra, integrating the 2 major dualistic-natured energies (Sun and Moon, Male and Female) of a human being, activating the central channel along spine, in order that individual consciousness (Jiva) can unite with ultimate consciousness (Atma). This can only happen when both body and mind are absolutely still.

Of course, Sirashanasana brings with it many other benefits – decompression of spine, reversal of gravity and aging, full body strengthening, enhanced senses and so on. Is it a good Asana? Yes, definitely! Why else would it be called the “King of Asana”.

Is it a compulsory pose for enlightenment? Is it a sign of spirituality? Heavens no! This is where the line gets clear between the practice of Yoga and Gymnastics/Acrobatics. In Yoga, we train the body in order to get to mind, and then beyond. With the other sports, it mostly stops at the body.

Back to that afternoon with Mr Macho Arms, I was embarrassed because I realized I was already at the door – the sweet spot of Yoga. And yet my mind was still going after new Asanas like boys chasing after pretty girls. I began to laugh at myself – my Karmaindriyas (the 5 outer senses) are in overdrive, always lusting and greedy for more experiences, more achievements. Totally guilty.

As for gratitude, it was towards the deep rooted training I had in Integral Yoga – giving me flexibility in hips and legs within such a short time. I was also grateful for a chance to understand Yoga from the Himalayan tradition – whose teachings originate from one the most ancient and untainted source of Tantra.

There is a huge difference between practicing Yoga as it was handed down in totality compared to practicing its components in isolation. You start to see the human being as a multidimensional organism, a micro reflection of the macro cosmos, how we are continuously driven by our external senses, the mind as a diverse and fickle structure; and how to tackle and unite these separated entities within oneself to achieve stillness and congruence in life.

Last but not least, perhaps the most important of all, from my own experience, is how to remain this material world with all its temptations (which are really enjoyable by the way, so please enjoy them responsibly!) without forgetting our truest essence, and still practice stillness.

 

“Understanding without practice is better than practice without understanding.

Understanding with practice is better than understanding without practice.

Residing in your true nature is better than understanding or practice.”   Upanishads

(C) Copyright Linda Loo

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Yoga Nidra Part I – Burning Samskaras

According to the Mandukya Upanishads, one of the 15 major Upanishads handed down over time, there are 4 levels of consciousness.

Consciousness is defined as the state, or quality of awareness. It refers to the state of being aware of an external object or of something within oneself.

Many websites, schools and theories erroneously explain Yoga Nidra as a state of relaxation, or mild hypnosis. These are misrepresentations, not due to ill intend, but mainly due to a lack of true information.

Yoga Nidra is in fact a practice used by Rishis and ancient Yogis to reach a deep state of consciousness in order to purify Samskaras. It is a near-extinct tool for cultivating the mind towards a successful life of self mastery.

Samskaras is a Sanskrit word for the impressions on the mind that had been made over time as we recycle through existence. They are the drivers of our behavior, and thus – destiny.

Fate as we call it, is not due to unseen forces. Fate and destiny are both controlled by our inner state of consciousness.

The 4 levels of Consciousness are – 1. Awake 2. Dream state 3. Deep Sleep 4. Turiya

1. Awake

This is the state that we are most familiar with. This is the state that we know as our waking state.

2. Dream

When we close our eyes in bed at night, we first enter into Dream state, to process the issues that are unresolved in the Awake state. Most of us remember the Dream state only partially, and majority of us cannot control what happens in this state.

3. Deep Sleep

After issues are processed and resolved in Dream state, we then enter into Deep Sleep state. This is the state of deep rest that is required to recharge, rejuvenate and heal body cells. In this state, we are not conscious. We are not aware of it, nor do we have control over it.

4. Turiya

This Sanskrit word means ‘The Fourth’. It refers to the center of Consciousness from which all our experience of reality projects from, and lays beneath the first 3 levels of Consciousness. The only method to enter into this state while remaining conscious is via the practice of Yoga Nidra.

In Yoga Nidra, we intentionally shift attention to various parts of the body, systematically, in a specific sequence. When done properly, the process enables the mind to enter into Turiya, while remaining fully awake and conscious.

When we enter Turiya while retaining full consciousness, Samskaras are purified with discoloration.

This is how it happens – Samskaras are observed in their latent forms (observation can only happen when we are conscious). With this alert yet detached observation, Samskaras begin to discolor, purify and lose their push/pull effect. When we return to our daily life in the first state of consciousness ie Awake state, these Samskaras lose their control over our thoughts, feelings speech and behavior. Thus, Yoga Nidra is a hugely powerful tool in reshaping our destiny in order to self realize.

There is life as we know it, and there is life that we know ‘could be’. Most people dream about what they could become, only a small handful of people are able to realize it. What stands between your current life and your desired life are simply the Samskaras. Discolor that, and you assume the driver seat of your life.

(C) Copyright Linda Loo

Yoga Nidra (Beginners Level) 12 Nov Sat

Yoga Nidra (Intermediate Level) 13 Nov Sun

Email contact@lightlovelaugheracademy.com for details & registration