Monthly Archives: September 2012

Day 9 – Seeing beyond the physical

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Day 9 began with a wonderful conversation I had with Clinton, over oatmeal on his balcony. I had initially went knocking on Chandra’s door to look for hot water (ah life in a simple bamboo hut) not realising that she had went down to the beach to join the early morning group for some meditation and swim in the sea. I ran into Clinton and we ended up on his balcony talking about what we think of the course so far. Somehow our conversation steered towards teachings, and mastering new poses.

Before I arrived in Koh Samui, a friend of mine had heard about my practice and had wanted me to teach him and his partner yoga asanas. His request was to learn hand stand. And amongst other poses which I have been struggling with since time immemorial, is of course inversion poses. Hand stands, head stands, anything that requires me to see the world upside down.

But through my conversation this morning, I realised that yoga is more than just mastering poses. “If it’s only hand stand he wants to learn, tell him to go to a gymnastic class instead” were the wise words of my fellow YIT. And I can’t agree more. I had been a little down from previous evening practice, losing a little bit of motivation as I watch the rest of my fellow YITs fly up to a hand stand, or just casually relaxing on a head stand and had questioned my ability of becoming a good yoga teacher. And it occurred to me that one of my favorite teachers never needed to teach us any of those difficult inversion poses (largely because the age range in the group) but I still loved his classes, and I still appreciate the little anecdotes he reads to us while we are in Savasana at the end of each practice.

Theory class today saw the arrival for our 3rd teacher, Ram who will be teaching us yoga philosophy until our Anatomy module begins. Asanas, according to Ram is just one arm of yoga. And that spoke volumes to me, revealing to me even more than before that to teach yoga is to teach beyond the physical perfection of Asanas. It is, again according to Clinton “seeing beyond the physical” and feeling our way through our own practice and teaching it as we feel is best.

Seeing beyond that which meets the eye

Day 7 & 8 – Of yoga hickeys and acro yoga

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I had another lightbulb moment today – I am probably going to come home much more browner than I had left, my mum would probably have trouble spotting me in the airport. Haha. Just kidding. My lightbulb moment occurred today sometime in between learning acro yoga and getting a one-to-one coaching from George on how to get in and out of a headstand safely.

And that is, our quality of life and the way we experience it is probably largely determined by how much we allow our fears to control us. Granted that at appropriate times our fears arises as a sort of protection mechanism, so as to not hurt ourselves, be that physically or emotionally. But sometimes I think these fears can also limit the things we experience from life.

We were introduced to acro yoga this morning and George did a fantastic job demonstrating with Yuko Nolte, another resident yoga teacher at Vikasa. In acro yoga, you would typically have a person who acts as the ‘base’ that supports the other person who is the ‘flier’, or the one that is doing all the cool yoga poses in mid-air.

George and Yuko, in bat pose – photo courtesy of Tone Lise

I was lucky that the team I got to work with were all strong ‘basers’ (if you may call it that!), an important skill to have if you were to get into acro yoga full swing. Another thing we were taught as the ‘flier’ is the person should not ground his/herself while in mid-air because that will put off the balance the base has to hold the other person up. But despite knowing each of their strength, I had troubles shaking off the nerves. One of my YIT, Eugene could sense that I was a little scared which make me think .. wow I am either shaking in mid-air or this vibe is practically jumping all over and out of me that even the other two YITs who were there to catch us in case we fell off the pose kept repeating to me – don’t be scared. Relaxxxxxxx

Once I got into it though, and all upside-down, with my head stuck in between Eugene’s knees (exactly as the photo above, with maybe less finesse as Yuko), it was just a feeling of.. WHOA, THIS is accomplishment.

I am learning so many new things on this training course, more than I had thought I initially had signed up for. All of them amazing, and wonderful, mind opening things of course. One of these is also getting acquainted with the yogi language. Beyond just memorising asana poses in its Sanskrit version, I learned last night that there is this term called “yoga hickey”.

My immediate reaction when I heard George said that in class was to giggle and went “are you serious?!” out loud while the rest of the class sort of just smiled a little and maintained their composure. It made me think maybe I am the last person on this earth who just heard of such a term. Haha!

In any case if you were wondering what that means, it is when someone who leans on the slim and ‘bony’ side does a shoulder stand for long periods of time that his/her top spine (C7? I can’t remember the specific name) presses into the floor too long that it results in a red circle forming on the skin, somewhat similar to a bruise.. hence the hickey!

Day 5 & 6 – Night out and Raw Food Cooking Class

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Friday is our last practice day of the week before we have our 1 day break on Saturday. A number of us decided that it would be a good time for us to go out and explore the night life in Koh Samui, so after dinner we all bunched into Vadeem’s pick up truck/tuk tuk (since we ARE in Thailand after all). Since he was on his way out to collect some new arrivals to the studio who are staying for the weekend, we made plans to be dropped off at the Fisherman’s VIllage in Chaweng.

Yogi-in-training night out

Fisherman’s village, on a Friday night looks like Petaling Street on any given night. Hawkers selling hot food, home made ice cream, hand made jewelry and other curiosities line the street until the end where the beach is.   Jade, one of our yogi-in-training Vikasa family knew of a nice little place to go to at the end of the Fisherman’s stretch. It was a cozy little joint, with bean bags and low coffee tables placed right on the sand on the beach.

Our pretty art for the lantern

We saw some lanterns being lit up and set to fly into the sky in a bar nearby so Rodney somehow got the group one and we wrote our names on it before lighting it up and sending our intentions high up into the night sky

Vikasa TTC Sep 2012 lantern ready to be set free

The lantern certainly added a nice touch to the night as it gave us some symbolic way to show our appreciation of being here and on this training. And I don’t mean that in any fluffy, wishy washy that-was-a-nice-thing-to-say kind of way but rather in a way that we all seem to agree to. That we are all here for the same reasons, beyond things that are larger than just a series of coincidences.

Saturday morning, 7 of us arranged a raw cooking class with Ta, a woman who owns an organic cafe down near Lamai beach. We had heard of her from a fellow YIT who had attended a 7 day detox prior to the TTC and had had her own cooking class with Ta. As soon as we arrived, Ta greeted us at her lovely home that reminded me more of a modern version of a rumah kampung you would find these days in Malaysia. And what a warm woman she is. We were given two large bowls of raw almonds that were soaked overnight to peel and the 7 of us spent close to 90 minutes peeling it clean. We talked, and made jokes, and exchanged thoughts on what we feel of the course so far. I think this is what it must’ve feel like in the olden days when people get together to prepare and cook their food. Except in this case, it wasn’t so much ‘cooking’ but rather mixing together different ingredients to make really, really good food.

Raw Tom Yam

When we had arranged the class with Ta earlier in the week she had given us a list of items we could pick from that we wanted to learn to make. One of them was raw tom yam. Ta chopped open about 5 young coconut, for its juice and its flesh and put in the typical spices and herbs and vegetables you would normally have in a cooked tom yam. What is even more amazing is that Ta grows all her vegetables in her own garden. Aside from the nuts and other things which she can’t produce on her own like raw cacao powder, everything we made and ate today came straight from her garden. The raw tom yam tasted incredible. Despite my initial thoughts of not knowing what to expect as I have never eaten raw tom yam before, it tasted…AMAZEBALLS. Like real tom yam only 10 times better. The raw coconut flesh, the coconut water, the keffir lime leaves and bird’s eye chillies came together into what could possibly be THE best tom yam I have ever tasted in my entire life.

The next challenge is of course to replicate that when I get back home.

Towards the end of the day, we found ourselves at the north side of Chaweng to collect our laundry and do a little bit of shopping. I had told myself that there will be no shopping and whatever I needed I can get back in KL. But of course that never works. We sat down for coffee and juice after our little trip and found ourselves in really deep and engaging conversations, about the course and other things related to life. That is one of the things which I completely love about this course and the people on it. It’s like having easy, accessible deep conversation partners on tap. I had a big AHA moment today, like a lightbulb that has been turned on, thanks to Ryan (who is by the way, a life coach back in his ‘real’ life in Bali) and the 3 girls I was with.

My experience so far has been really personal and engaging. Both within the course and with the other fellow YITs which I feel I have come to love in less than a week. What a blessing it has been.