By Tendai Angela Jambga
As you are reading this, how are you sitting? Are you comfortable? Gently release the tension in your hips, loosen your belly and allow your chest to completely expand and to collapse, inhaling deeply through your nose exhaling deeply through your nose. Release the pressure in the crown of your head, your ears and your shoulders. Adjust yourself slightly into a comfortable position. This is yoga- awareness of the mind, physical body and spirit.
The meaning of the word “yoga” is “union”, It is derived from the Sanskrit root “yuj” (pron. “yug”) meaning “to join”. Many of us go through our lives autopilot and miss out on important experiences along the way because we are not fully present. Take a second right now to bring awareness back into your body. what are the sounds around you? What does the breeze feel like on your skin? What can you smell? These seem like mundane questions, but these are the questions we should be constantly asking so that we reel ourselves back into the present moment, and not allow our mind to wander away as our physical body is performing a task.
I describe yoga as the architecture of peace, a science that links breath to movement, resulting in a heightened state of consciousness. My yoga journey has been serendipitous and fulfilling. It began 14 years ago when my mother slipped three discs in her lower back after three surgeries. She was told she was never going to walk again. It was heartbreaking seeing someone who was so healthy and a pillar of strength to all around her go through the exhaustive process. After years of progressing from a wheelchair to crutches and countless physiotherapy sessions, her neurologist suggested yoga therapy as a form of rehabilitation. To support her I attend the first session with her- I was fascinated, but I was not completely hooked on it because i did not understand it. My curiosity took over and after my fourth session with my mother I asked if I could attend sessions on my own.
Last year I decided to take the plunge and become a certified yoga teacher, despite having a great background in Law and Data Information Systems and working in Australia, Italy, and the Caribbean. I felt like something was missing, as I was just going with the motions of life without being fully present and following my purpose. I scoured the internet frantically and I came across Routes of Yoga teacher training school in the lush jungles of Ubud Bali. I applied and was chosen to be part of their Give Back Cycle scholarship program with flight tickets purchased by one of their alumni in Canada whom I have never had the pleasure of meeting- serendipity at its best ! When you are on the right path doors open for you, and taming that leap with awareness feels like victory at each moment!
Here I am now, a certified yoga teacher with amazing private clients and group classes at The Yoga Room, and a Wellness Curator for corporate businesses, NGOs, and entrepreneurs. Yoga is not simply stretching on a mat, it is aligning your mind, body and spirit. Are you truly happy and at optimal wellness? Release your fear, loosen the tension in your heart chakra, inhale and run in the direction of your dreams, aligning your mind, body and spirit. This is Yoga.
Three Yoga poses to try at home
Malasana: Garland Pose
This pose stretches the ankles, groins, and back, tones the belly and improves posture . If your heels don’t reach the floor, rest them on a folded blanket.
Beginners tip: If squatting is difficult, sit on the front edge of a chair seat, thighs forming a right angle to your torso, heels on the floor slightly ahead of your knees. Lean your torso forward between the thighs.
Balasana: Child Pose
We usually don’t breathe consciously and fully into the back of the torso. Balasana provides us with an excellent opportunity to do just that. Imagine that each inhalation the back torso toward the ceiling, lengthening and widening the spine. Then with each exhalation release the torso a little more deeply into the fold.
- Gently stretches the hips. thighs and ankles
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and fatigue
- Relieves back and neck pain when done with head and torso supported.
Natarajasana: Lord of the Dance Pose
Many beginners, when lifting the leg, tend to cramping the back of the thigh. Be sure to keep the ankle of the raised foot fixed: that is, draw the top of the foot toward the shin.
- Stretches the shoulders and chest
- Stretches the thighs, groins, and abdomen
- Strengthens the legs and ankles
- Improves balance
Disclaimer: Don’t force your body into any of these positions. Everyone is different- try what feels right for your body.
Originally published in the 98th Issue of Ndeipi Magazine.