Yoga, the Science of Body, Mind, and Soul

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‘Yoga’, a photo by Omar Bariffi

I’m very happy to share this news! I have 3 scheduled workshops in 3 cities in Indonesia with the topic of Yoga: the Science of Body, Mind & Soul.

The schedule is:

  • Sentul (Bogor) – at Fei’s Place, Saturday 13 August 2016 [Sold Out]
  • Bandung – at Amala Yoga Studio, Sunday 11 September 2016
  • Surabaya – at Hotel Santika Jemursari, Sunday 6 November 2016

In this workshop I will share about how yoga is a holistic methodology to uncover harmony and integration of the many layers of beings, the body, mind and soul. Yoga is not only asana (poses) but so much more! Topics covered are asana, pranayama, meditation, layers of beings and how does it work together, overview of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra & Bhagavad Gita, the different paths of yoga, and kirtan, a bhakti yoga practice.

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I decided to offer this workshop due to my own experience a years ago. After months and years of regular yoga asana practice, I thought “Is that all there is to yoga? To be able to do challenging, difficult poses? There’s gotta be something more!”

I was really curious about yoga, and they say that when a student is ready a teacher will appear. I met a teacher that showed me glimpses of how whole, vast, and rich the world of yoga is. I went to the school where the teacher came from, and what they teach gave me a solid holistic framework to continue my own study. I’m still studying now, I am a perpetual student in yoga.

I’m grateful to have met someone that showed me clues or sign post pretty early in my yoga journey. I notice that this content is rarely offered in Indonesia, so I decided to try to offer this. I hope by sharing these, more yoga practitioners (and teachers too) understand how holistic yoga is, and that yoga is so much more than asana.

Image: Yoga by Omar Bariffi

Peace of Mind

This is one of those whatsapp messages that got shared in groups. I thought this one is worth remembering so I post it here. After googling around, I found GK Dutta’s post, which could be the original source. Enjoy!

Once Buddha was traveling with a few of his followers.

While they were passing a lake, Buddha told one of his disciples, “I am thirsty. Do get me some water from the lake.”

The disciple walked up to the lake.

At that moment,  a bullock cart started crossing through the lake.
As a result, the water became very muddy and turbid.

The disciple thought, “How can I give this muddy water to Buddha to drink?”

So he came back and told Buddha, “The water in there is very muddy.  I don’t think it is fit to drink.”

After about half an hour, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back to the lake.

The disciple went back,  and found that the water was still muddy.

He returned and informed Buddha about the same.

After sometime, again Buddha asked the same disciple to go back.

This time, the disciple found the mud had settled down, and the water was clean and clear.

So he collected some water in a pot and brought it to Buddha.

Buddha looked at the water, and then he looked up at the disciple and said,

“See what you did to make the water clean. You let it be, and the mud settled down on its own, and you have clear water. Your mind is like that too ! When it is disturbed, just let it be. Give it a little time. It will settle down on its own. You don’t have to put in any effort to calm it down. It will happen. It is effortless.”

Having ‘Peace of Mind’ is not a strenuous job, it is an effortless process, so keep your mind cool and have a great life ahead…

Writing Habit

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It’s been a while since my last post. I do still post every two weeks on my other website wannabezen.com, but I haven’t written anything here for months.

Why?

I guess I lost the habit of writing. I got more things going on and just didn’t make time for it. Writing become less a priority on my list.

So it’s almost June, 5 months passed since my last blog post Bibliophile or Tsundoku (11 January 2016). After there were a few posts, two were recipes and the other was an event.

How to establish the writing habit again? One of the tips I found after googling about it is to find a topic that motivates you. I love writing about life, meditation and spirituality, and now it has a place at wannabezen.com. So I need to find other topics and inspiration for here.

Possibilities of topics:

  • Yoga
  • Health & wellness
  • Being introvert
  • Books

I will keep this topics in mind. I will try my best to stick to my original posting schedule here (every Mondays). Starting next week.

 

 

Bibliophile or Tsundoku?

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I’m a self-professed bibliophile. I’m also a chronic tsundoki (I made up the word – it means someone who keep doing tsundoku.).

Bibliophile (n) : a person who loves or collects books

Tsundoku (n) : the constant act of buying books, but never reading them. Specifically, it is letting books pile up in one’s room so much that the owner never gets a chance to read all of them.

The speed of me acquiring books is faster than me reading them. So the books piled up. The last couple of years I have restrained myself from buying too many books, but still they managed to find a way into my collection, often I just… couldn’t… resist… Especially when I travel, I often ended up buying a book or two at the airport. Earlier this month I was traveling to India, and books there were so much cheaper that I couldn’t help but bringing home 17 books (I actually bought 18, gave one to a friend).

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Books from my last India trip

Recently I found a very useful application to catalog my books – libib. It’s web based, accessible through computers or through its app. With the app installed in my phone I just need to scan the ISBN barcode of the book with the phone’s camera and voila, the book is added into my collection!

My books don’t have a proper home, they’re kinda distributed over shelves, cabinets and boxes all over the house. And I still have some books left at my parents’ too. I dream of having a personal library with tidy shelves full of books and a comfortable chair, you know like in the movies, where they sit, read, and drink coffee. Maybe someday. Meanwhile, having a digital catalog is the next best thing.

I have input 200+ books so far. It only took me a few hours – just a matter of getting the books out of the shelves/boxes and scan the ISBN at the back. When the barcode is covered (book shops tend to stick their own barcode covering it), I can manually input the the ISBN number.

I haven’t finished adding tags to them yet. At a glance my books are in these themes:

  • Yoga
  • Spirituality
  • Self development
  • Science
  • Marketing, Brand, & Business

Some findings:

  • I have many Bihar School of Yoga books – I bought them when I study the Diploma of Satyananda Yoga.
  • I have many popular science books – books by Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, Matt Ridley etc. The topics ranged from evolution, linguistic, & the human mind.
  • I don’t have many fictions. The handful fiction books I got are gifts.
  • Majority of my books are in English. The few Bahasa Indonesia books I got are mostly hand-me-downs
  • I have several versions of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra & Bhagavad Gita

I’m thinking of letting go some of the books, although I haven’t decide how I’m gonna do it. I started separating the books into two libraries.

I’m not finished separating the books yet – there will be more books added to the Open Shelf. If you’re in Indonesia and interested in one of the books from Open Shelf, I may sell it as a second hand book and post it to you, or maybe swap. Comment here or send me an email.

Onwards to 2016

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I wrote a recap of 2015 in my previous post Adieu 2015, Hello 2016. This post is about things I did in 2015, what worked and what I will keep doing, and what didn’t work and what to change.

What worked

Using a calendar app to manage my schedule
I used to keep my schedule in an old fashioned way with a Moleskine weekly planner. One of the productivity tips I often read is keeping a “one calendar to rule them all” – and it was difficult to do it with pen and paper.

I started using the Google calendar app on my phone since October 2013. Along the way I experimented with several calendar apps and found one that worked really well called Business Calendar, I’ve been using it since then. Leaving a 9 to 5 job and switching to freelance yoga teaching made my schedule became more varied and flexible. Having a digital calendar on the phone means it’s always with me, can be quickly updated, and I can modify it from the computer as well if needed. I’ve been relying on it more and more. I will continue to use it, and I’m going to use it more by scheduling in my other activities too.

Cook more often
I’ve been cooking more last year, mainly because I’ve been at home more. I started to stock my fridge with relatively hardy vegetables like broccoli & zucchini, and started to stock aromatics like onions garlic & ginger as well. Prior to 2015 I hardly cook, and I rarely bought fresh vegetables as they tend to just wilt in the fridge drawer. When I did buy them, I bought those ready to cook portioned & packaged veggies, so I used everything up in one go. Now I’m comfortable with buying a whole head of cabbage as I’m cooking it up in a few days.

I think cooking is like a chicken & egg situation for me, I didn’t buy vegetables because I didn’t get to cook them and they just ended up in the trash. On the other hand I couldn’t cook because I didn’t have anything to cook with. Now as I always have something around to be cooked, I cook more. So I’m gonna keep the fridge stocked, not overwhelmingly ambitiously so, just enough to allow me to whip something up quickly.

Keeping a gratitude journal
For years I had journal that I write on, but I had never been able to consistently keep it. I wrote everyday for a few days or weeks the most, and somehow trailed off, not writing for weeks or months, and then came back to it, and same thing happened again, writing on it for a few days, and off again.

I stumbled upon this Five Minute Journal with this headline “The simplest, most effective thing you can do everyday to be happier”. I agree, I think journaling is one of the things we can do to improve our quality of life, if only I can do it everyday. The creator of Five Minute Journal, Alex Ikonn & UJ Ramdas, posted a digital version of the journal that I can flip through. Essentially it’s a journal with prompts, so one just need to write responses to that prompts. A set of prompts is for the morning before we start the day, and another set of prompts for the end of the day.

The journal ships internationally but I couldn’t wait that long – plus the shipping charges makes it very expensive. I decided to try creating my own, using a plain notebook and writing the prompts manually.  At the beginning I wrote the prompts at the same time as writing the answers. After a few days I tried writing the prompts ahead, and I found that having the prompts already there worked better. After a few more days I tried differentiating the color of the prompts and the color of the content – I use black for the prompts and blue for the answers. After a few more weeks I tried writing the prompts with capital letter. I’ve been keeping it that way since then.

How did I fare? I started the journal on 23 July 2015. Out of 162 days ( from 23 July to 31 Dec 2015) I wrote on the journal 94 times, that’s just slightly under 60%. There were two main reasons for not writing. First reason was I finished the first notebook, and I didn’t have a new notebook ready. I meant to immediately set up a new notebook, but it dragged on for more than a week. Lesson: prepare the new notebook  a few days in advance when the existing one is almost finished. Second reason was because I didn’t bring the journal with me when I was traveling, because the notebook is a bit thick and I wanted to travel light. Lesson: make a lighter, portable version to bring when traveling.

Did it work? Yes I think it worked. The journal made it really easy to write things – literally just five minutes a day – so easy that my success rate is close to 60%.  I think the journal helped setting up positive condition at the beginning of the day, and closing the day with a short reflection. I’ll keep at it hopefully with better percentage in 2016.

What didn’t work

Exercising regularly 
With a flexible work hours I should be able to find more time to exercise, yes? Well it didn’t work so well. When I was still working in an office, my weekdays schedule was rather predictable; I woke up at the same time everyday, did morning meditation, left the house around 5:40 am, arrived at the gym or track around 6:15, did my work out, and be at the office by 9. Now as I teach morning yoga classes, I couldn’t exercise in the morning. Theoretically I could use the time after teaching to exercise, but I didn’t, for various reasons, that boiled down to the failure of setting up a new exercising habit.

What will I change this year so I exercise regularly again?

  • I will try to actually schedule exercise time in my calendar, just like my teaching schedule
  • In the days where I’m not going to the gym, I can run around my neighborhood. Or I can do a functional type exercise at home with a youtube video

*

So that’s three things that worked and I will keep doing and one thing that didn’t work and I will change in 2016. What about you? What worked, what didn’t work, and what will you change in 2016? 

Image: Sunrise over the mountains – November 2015, Dharamshala, India.

Adieu 2015, Hello 2016

Today is the last day of 2015. I’m writing this post as a review of 2015, before starting 2016.

Leaving corporate world

I took a big step of letting go my office job in January this year. I decided to try to rely on my teaching yoga as a main source of income. It did took some adjustments but it worked out. I was so used to having a monthly regular salary from one source, and not having to worry about having enough money in my bank account. When I left the corporate job, my income directly correlate with the number of classes I teach – so when I teach less class or have less client, I have less income. And vice versa, when I teach more class or have more client, I have more income. This took some getting used to.

To know exactly my income & expense I started tracking them using this app Goodbudget. It’s a finance tracking app based on envelopes concept. Very easy to use, highly recommended.

Teaching yoga

Teaching yoga became my main activity, and although the actual teaching itself is only 1 – 1.5 hours per session, it actually involved quite a lot, including travel time, class planning, etc. And the most important thing is to take care of my self in such a way that I feel good when I teach. I learned to arrange my schedule in such a way that I don’t get burned up or too tired. I think as a yoga teacher we exude energy during teaching, whether I’m aware about it or not, so I have to maintain my positive energy.

Aside from the regular classes I teach in several studios in Jakarta, here’s some more teaching experience this year:

  • Family Fitness Yogilates, Medan, as a guest teacher
  • Anandamaya Wellness Festival, Jakarta
  • During the Plum Village retreat, Bogor
  • During the retreat at Tushita Meditation Center, Dharamshala, India
  • Journey to Wholeness Retreat, Lembang, Bandung
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Teaching yoga to 100 retreat participants from 40 different countries, on a rooftop with the view of Himalayan mountains, at Tushita Meditation Center, Dharamshala, India. Grateful for the experience.

Meditation

Since I met Om Swami last year I meditated a lot more.

This year I was fortunate to have experienced some meditation retreat / courses:

  • Immersive meditation retreat with Om Swami, Rishikesh, India
  • Meditation Training with Swami Pujan, Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Go as River Family Retreat with Plum Village monastic, Bogor, Indonesia
  • Introduction to Buddhism course, Tushita Meditation Center, Dharamsala, India

I use the app Insighttimer as a timer & meditation log when I meditate on my own. Looking back at the data, in 2015 I did 259 meditation sessions with total 4443 minutes (74 hours), this does not include the retreat meditation sessions. If the retreat sessions are accounted for, the total hours are probably around 120. Some number crunching: out of 365 days of the year, I meditated for just a little more than 5 whole days. Even if I take into account sleeping hours, out of 6570 waking hours (365 days * 18 hours), I meditated for 120 hours. That’s not even 2%.

I started a weekly donation-based meditation group at Karuna, one of the studio where I teach yoga. The attendance has been steady, in average 4 people, maximum was 9, minimum was 2. I enjoyed facilitating these sessions, the participant told me that they felt the benefits of meditation.

Learning

I’ve always known that I love learning. A test from this website (Martin Seligman’s Authentic Happiness, part of University of Pennsylvania) confirmed that love of learning is my highest-scoring character strength out of 24 items (the other 23 are: gratitude, kindness, citizenship, appreciation, self-regulation, love, forgiveness/mercy, integrity, open-mindedness, curiosity, perspective/wisdom, humor, humility/modesty, persistence, prudence, hope, intelligence, bravery, vitality, creativity, leadership, fairness, spirituality). Go take the test yourself to find out.

Similar result when asked to choose value cards during a Dale Carnegie training last year. We were asked to choose 3 out of 32 value cards, and my result was lifelong learning, integrity, and passion.

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3 chosen value cards out of 32

This year, thanks to my more flexible time, I had the opportunity to learn more. Technology enables everybody can learn from anyone through the internet. Notable online learning experiences:

I did  several offline face-to-face learnings as well, in addition to the meditation retreats I listed above:

Blogging

According to the stats, I published 38 posts in 2015. The blog received 1953 views from 951 visitors. Top 10 visiting countries: Indonesia, followed very closely by USA, and next come India, Australia, UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Netherlands, Ireland, Brazil. The growth is significant compared to 2014 (24 posts, 498 views from 208 visitors). Thank YOU for reading!

Top 5 posts in 2015:

I meant to post once a week every Monday. Looking at the posting pattern below, I only did it till April, started to wander off in May, only posting once a month in July & August, and somewhat posting randomly September onwards.

postingpattern

In October I started a new collaborative blog: Wannabe Zen, where I post spirituality-oriented writings, taking turns every other week with my friend Christine. In that blog I was exploring the topic of “seeing the world as it is” in a series of posts:

Fitness 

In 2015 I finished 3 marathons: Tokyo Marathon (February), Bali Marathon (August), and Jakarta Marathon (October). I did the Sungailiat Triathlon sprint distance in April and Cipali Duathlon in May.

As I started to teach yoga more, most of my mornings were taken up for teaching. My preferred time for workout is early morning, when I was still working in an office I hit the gym or the track everyday at 6 AM, sometimes even earlier. I haven’t been able to implement a new working out routines with flexible timing since. My workout has been sporadic. Even if I could go to the gym after teaching in the morning, often I only did very light workout, partly because I was going to teach another class that day and I didn’t want to be too tired.

The lack of workout resulted in weight gain – I gained around 4 kgs this year *gasps*. Gotta do something about it.

Moving forward

After review logically comes planning, but this post is getting too long, so I’m gonna stop here and continue next year.

Happy new year!