Archives for posts with tag: namaste

I know that I have not been posting blogs recently I do not want to write these days and I do exactly what I want and I do not write. If I try to write under these circumstances, I know that I will hurt myself and do something that my heart and my soul do not appreciate and thus, I will be unhappy. So, I go in line with yoga philosophy and I do not write until my mind and soul allow me.

Actually, I do like writing a lot. And, so many things happen in my daily life and classes. However, I do not know why but I want to turn inward and live and experience all these events by myself.

So, how have I started to write again? One of my students asked my why hadn’t I been writing for a long time and told me that she expected to see my new posts. When I was asked this question, I was ashamed. Believe me, I am doing a favor to myself when I am writing but I know that people are reading my posts and expecting the new ones. By not writing, I was not meeting their expectations and I was depriving them of my posts. What a big word it is! “Depriving them of my posts.” It is not such a big deal. I am just writing what is going on in my life and how I feel. That’s all!.

Yes, why have I re-started writing? When one of my students asked why I was not writing, the answer was simple. “Because, I do not want to write these days and I do not want to force myself and do something that I do not really want. When I do something by force, I do not think it will be useful to me. Neither to me nor to others.”

The answer of my student put me back to posting new blogs: “Teacher, you are like the moon. As how the moon reflects the light and the energy it gets from the sun to the earth at night, you should reflect the light and energy you get from your training programs, readings and experiences to us, i.e. to your students. I am not saying that you are not doing so, you are doing so. And always doing so particularly in your classes. However, in your blogs, you talk about some other things that you do not talk in the class when you do not have that much time. Your blogs are more detailed and deeper. Therefore, you should go on writing and should reflect the light and energy just “like the moon.”

This was one of the most inspiring comments I have ever heard. I was moved so much that I could not stop crying. That day, I decided again. I should be “like the moon.” I should read more, I should look into resources more, I should learn more and reflect what I learn to my students “like the moon.” I should be the light and energy. Thank you my dear student. I am so glad that you have walked into my life. I am so glad that I have got to know you. And I am so glad that you are in my life. There are a lot of things that I would learn from you. I bow in front of you with respect. Na’maste.

When I go to my yoga classes, I usually have some flow to pratice that day and believe me, what I have in mind is mostly what the students need that day. What a coincidence, isn’t it? However, some days I want to just show up in the class and get inspired by the students. I go to the class almost half an hour before the session begins, put my yoga mat and I either meditate or lay down supine to relax and rest. When people show up in class, I chat with them and this conversations mostly ends with a yoga plan in my mind. This is exactly what happened a few days ago.

When I went to class, no one had arrived yet. I put my yoga mat on the floor and I laid down to “supta baddha konasana” (reclined bound angle pose). I closed my eyes and totally surrendered my body on the floor. I calmed my breath down and rested before the class began. The students were showing up one after the other. When they came, I left the pose and started to talk to them That evening, our class was a “yin” (female energy) class. Our aim was to relax the bodies and minds on the last week day.

In “yin yoga”, we do not have so many options. As this type of yoga focuses on the sacroiliac joint, hip joint and the thigh bone and it aims to stretch even the deep connective tissues for a genuine relaxation, the “asana”s (pose) are limited. But that evening, I wanted to practice something different but I did not know what when one of the students helped me find what I was looking for. He inspired me.

Before the class began, one of the students had asked whether we could work on “vishuddha chakra” (throat chakra). We had practiced this chakra in our “vinyasa” (flow) classes before and the students was willing to know whether we could also work the same chakra during a yin yoga session. Why not? Surely, we could.

Meanwhile, a new student with “scoliosis” in her throacal spine arrived in the class. I talked to her and learned about her story. I looked into her spine and made some recommendations to her to pay attention during the class. Surely, I would also keep an eye on her during the entire class.

Suddenly, something came up in my mind. That day, we would not only stretch the chest but also stimulate the throat chakra. I could not only make the new students benefit from the class by stretching the chest but also make the other student happen by stimulating the throat chakra. Also, all students would experience a different type of yin yoga class.

We began the class in “supta baddha konasana” to stretch the chest. We rolled the yoga mats and placed it under the scapulato raise the chest and stretch it this way. I asked the students to close their eyes, direct their breath towards the chest and to fill their lungs with oxygen. After staying in the pose for about five minutes, we dropped the bodies to the right side and came to a sitting position.

We stayed at least four minutes in poses like “melting heart” and “sphinx” to stretch and open up the chest. In sphinx pose, we turned the neck to right and left and dropped it to the chest and lift it up the ceiling to stimulate the throat chakra. We rested in “balasana” (child pose) after all these poses. We were stimulating the “anahata chakra” (heart chakra) and letting the “energy of love” rise out of our bodies.

For the throat chakra and the shoulder girdle, we opened up our arms on both sides of shoulders and worked out wrist flexion and extension. Then we accelerated the blood flow in arms with “finger fans.” With “broken wings” we stretched shoulders and relieved the scapula. We stimulated the lung and heart meridians with these poses.

The other throat chakra poses were “marjaryasana-bitilasana” (cat-cow stretch), “sarvangasana” (shoulderstand), “halasana” (plow pose) and “karnapidasana” (ear pressure pose).

We ended the class with “savasana” (deep relaxation and resting pose) after “twisted roots”. When everybody was in “savasana”, I got into “supta baddha konasana” , my favorite pose. The lights turned off, the class dark, the class peaceful and the instrumental version of “What a wonderful world.”

It was hard for every one to wake up from “savasana.” What did I feel during the class? Was it so hard to listen to the voice of our hearts instead of our minds? Weren’t we happier and more peaceful when we listened to our hearts? Actually, wasn’t it the heart that knew the very right for us? So why were we always listening to the mind and were unhappy? Could we feel the vibrations of love in our heart? With the love in our hearts, could we speak out good words? Could we express ourselves in a right way? Could others understand what I was saying in the right way? “Let’s wish to listen to our hearts and do what it says as well as establishing right and accurate communication from now on. I bow in front of my dear student for he has become a source of inspiration for me. Namas’te my dear student.”

I like to be in communication and interaction with students in my yoga classes. As how we teach something to others in our daily lives and learn new things from others, teacher and student can sometimes change roles in yoga classes. When they focus on a flow and theme throughout a class, students can express new ideas and we, teachers, can learn new things from them or maybe face a fact we have never thought before: “How could I not think of this before?”

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We decided on a flow yoga class with “hanumanasana” (monkey pose) as the peak pose of my private class last week. We had not worked out a hip opening sequence for a long time. Our aim was to stretch the hip joint, and muscles in the back, front and on the two sides of the legs. Philosophically our aim was to try achieving a hard thing with devotion. Just like the story of this “asana” says. (For detailed information you may visit https://burcuyircaliblog.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/to-achieve-with-devotion/)
Following opening meditation, we started to stretch muscles and parts of the body neeeded to do “hanumanasana.” In order to stretch “hamstring” muscles, we used “uttanasana” (standing forward bend), “padangusthasana” (big toe pose), “hasta padasana” (hands to feet pose) and “paschimottanasana” (seated forward bend).
We stretched hip flexor muscles with “ashwa sanchalanasana” (high lunge), “anjaneyasana” (low lunge), “uttan pristhasana” (lizard), “half saddle”, “virasana” (hero pose), “supta virasana” (supine hero pose) and “ardha bhekasana” (half frog pose).
To stretch groins and inner thighs, we used “prasarita padottanasana” (wide-legged forward bend), “water bug”, “parsvakonasana” (side angle pose) and yin yoga’s “half frog.”
Lastly, to stretch hip external rotator muscles, we did “eka pada raja kapotasana” (pigeon pose), “eye of the needle”, “square” and “gomukhasana” (cow face pose).
Throughout the class, we placed these asanas in “vinyasa”s (flow) and turned our bodies from the front of yoga mat to the back, from one side to the other side, from the side to the back and from the side to the front. We used every inch of yoga mat. By turning around the mat, we were not staying at one certain point but moving all the time, widening our horizons and changing our perspective.
The student who lost her balance when moving from one “asana” to another, she moved outside the mat for a moment. She put one of her hands outside the mat and re-established her balance. She then turned into the mat. Once she stepped in her mat again, she said, “teacher, I was so afraid for a moment. You saw how I stepped out of the mat. I was so afraid. For an hour, we are moving from side to side in this (showing the mat) mat and we do not step out. I did not want to step out because it was so weird to step out of the mat. On the other hand, in our daily lives we cannot fit into big houses and even the world. Don’t you think it is so ironic that the yoga mat resembles grave? When we die, we will fit in a grave as wide and long as this yoga mat but in our daily lives we cannot fit in big houses and the entire world. Maybe yoga and yoga mat are in our lives to teach us this fact: Live within the territories of this mat. Fit in this width and length of area as you will end up in an area as wide and long as this yoga mat.” At that moment I was enlightened: “How could I not think this before?”
To be in communication and interaction in classes… Giving and taking… The circle of giving and taking… The more I give, the more I take… First I should give that I could take new things in my life. Not material but moral. Exchange of ideas… Philosophical thoughts and interaction. Who is the teacher, who is the student? These are just roles given to us. Teacher and student can change roles at any moment. Sometimes students can express new ideas and teach teachers and at that moment you say, “I haven’t thought about this before. What a nice and correct comment this is. It has enlightened me. ‘Namaste’, i.e. ‘I bow to the divine light within you’.”

Have you ever bought a book but could not read it for some time? Left it on the shelf until the day it has to be read. And that day comes. There are things that you are to about to learn from that book. It is time to take the book from the shelf, open and read it. Last week was such a week for me. A week when I got a book from the shelf where it had waited for years and read.

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The year I joined yoga teacher training program, our teacher asked us to read a few reference books. Books on yoga tradition, “asana”s (poses) and “pranayama” (breathing techniques) and we were obliged to read them. All these books were about subjects a yoga instructor had to know. Our teacher recommeded that we read two more books but these books were optional. One of them was about the healing side of yoga and the other on vegetarianism.
As I had to learn a lot of new information, I only read the obligatory books. During the training program, I was learning a lot of new things. Asanas, pranayama techniques, asana modifications, meditation and cleansing methods. Therefore, I had not read those two reference books until last week.
Last week, one of my students was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome. When she told me that she was feeling numbness in her arms and hands, I recommeded that she consulted a doctor. At the end of check-up, she was diagnosed with three herniated cervical discs and carpal tunnel syndrome. Unfortunately, all these health problems were because of her long working hours in front of computer.
Now it was time to review one of the book that had been shelved for three years. It was on the healing aspect of yoga. I went through the book and found the chapter on carpal tunnel syndrome.
First of all what was carpal tunnel syndrome and what kind of a problem was it caused in the body? The carpal tunnel is a narrow passageway in the wrist formed by ligaments and the eight small carpal bones. These bones are arranged in two rows of four and lie on either side of the crease between the hand and the forearm, Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when the median nerve to the hand gets compressed in this tunnel. The syndrome is seen among computer users and some kind of repetitive hand movements. It causes numbness in hands and fingers.
Luckily, the wide world of yoga has some remedies for this syndrome. However, one has to change his/her daily habits as well. Let’s think. When using the computer, are we pushing hard on the keys or are we just slowly touching them? Similarly, are we bending our wrists when driving and hold the steering wheel strongly? If so and if we are diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, is it possible to hold the steering wheel on the right and left lower edges, round the shoulders back and away from the ears and soften our stance?
Additionally, if we want to alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome with yoga, we have to pay attention to our posture as usual. It is important how we use our wrists and how we treat our spine. Becoming hunchbacked, increasing the neutral thoracic curve (kyphosis) and closing the chest is not a right posture. Moreover it compresses the nerves in the arms. On the contrary, rounding the shoulders back, pushing down the shoulder blades and opening the chest will relax and relieve the nerves in the arms.
So how can we heal carpal tunnel syndrome with yoga? We have to focus on relieving wrists. In “tadasana” (mountain pose), we should turn the palms towards the legs and extend the fingers towards the ground as if we are trying to reach the ground. The wrists should be kept erect and thus the nerves in the wrist area should be relieved. Neutral alignment of the wrists will ease the compression in the carpal tunnel.
Another yoga treatment for the wrists is to bend and open up the wrists. You can place your thumb inside the wrist and the other four fingers outside the wrist and flex and extend the wrist in every inhale and exhale. When we move the wrist into the forward bend, we are lengthening the extensors and when we move the wrist into the backbend we are shortening them.
The other yogic approach to carpal tunnel syndrome is “namaste” (prayer pose). You can join your palms in front of your heart and get into classical “namaste” position. Then you can slightly increase the pressure in your palms and bring your elbows up to a 90-degree angle with the wrist joint and press harder in order to relieve the wrists. Thus, you can feel the bones underneath the muscles.
Another exercise is the flexion and extention of the wrists. After keeping the palms facing downward, we can interlace fingers and open the wrists to the two sides. Then we can raise the right arm and lower the left and then the right arm can be lowered and the left arm can be raised.
The next exercise can be to turn the palms facing towards our body, interlace fingers and begin to gently pull the wrists apart. It is possible to stretch wrists with this exercise. We can do just the opposite too. We can turn the palms towards our body, interlace fingers and try to gently pull the wrists apart. These two exercises will relieve the nerves in the wrists by flexing and extending the wrists.
A sitting exercise can be practiced in “dandasana” (staff pose). In “dandasana”, we can put the hands on the floor next to our hips but fingers facing backward. This position externally rotates the upper arm bone “humerus” and stretches the area in front of the chest, including the upper chest muscle “pectoralis.” If we tend to hunchback when using the computer, this exercise can stretch the chest and open up the upper back.
The last exercise to heal carpal tunnel syndrome with yoga is to interlace the fingers and cradle the back of the neck with the fingers. But we should not increase the natural curvature of the cervical spine when practicing this exercise. When pulling the neck forward with the elbows, we should keep rooting the shoulder blades down.
After being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, we should stay away from asanas bringing a burden on wrists for some time and we should make our yoga practice more meditative. We should suspend arm balancing asanas including “phalakasana” (plank), “chaturanga dandasana” (low plank), “adho mukha svanasana” (downward facing dog), “adho mukha vrksasana” (handstand) and “bakasana” (crow). Therefore, “yin” (female energy) yoga in which we stretch the deep connective tissues and stayed in asanas for at least three minutes could be a good alternative. This type of yoga can help bodily relaxation as it also relaxes and silences the mind.
I have learned all this information from the book that had been shelved for years. Everything has a time. What is important is to do everything on the right time. Yoga is such a wide world that we can always find something that suits. Yoga can be a remedy to everything only if we know how to use it correctly.

Yoga teacher training program has ended. It is as if school has ended, and now it’s time to start earning your own life. But how? I am actually working in an office, but I like yoga so much and I do really want to become a yoga instructor. However, I do not know how and where to begin.

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Suddenly, the universe hears me and my desire to become a yoga instructor. I went to the United States years ago for business. A group of yoga-lovers in the office that sent me to the United States want to get private yoga lessons. I have not been in contact with the person whom sent me to the United States for years, but lucky me, I contacted him again with the help of a friend of mine. I suddenly became their yoga instructor. That’s great the universe is supporting me.
I was giving yoga lessons to my friends during summer after the training program ended, and I was not only helping them relieve mentallly and physically but also I was trying to gain experience.
However, teaching yoga to friends was something and training with a group of people was another. In  fact, I experienced it a few months ago. I was standing before a group of 20 people when I was instructing a yoga internship class with three more people. I was the instructor in the first 30 minutes of the lesson, and I was totally on my own with the entire class. I could not speak at first, I was nervous. However, I was a calm person who never felt nervous in any exams so far, and even I was so calm during the university entrance exam, finished the test an hour before I was supposed to, and I ate nuts and chocolates and checked my answers for three times till the exam ended. So what has happened to me? What was this nervous stance? Has my attitude changed in 15 years?
You will now say that standing before a class and addressing a group is not an easy thing. And, I will remind you about my past and tell you that I was at a high school that gave priority to social activities like poem reading competitions and debates. I was a person who was a must in the debate team.
No, this has nothing to do with standing before people. Maybe, I was not feeling myself ready, I did not find myself sufficient enough to instruct a class. In the end, I was better, I began the class with a meditation, I warmed up the class. I left the class to one of my friends at the end of 30 mintues. This was how my first internship class was.
Almost six months after the internship class, I was standing before a real class. Before a group of people who were expecting a yoga lesson and maybe who wanted to get some philosophical feed up. This was the first time we were seeing each other. Surely, I was prepared for the lesson. I picked a standing yoga pose but a balancing one as the apex pose, the most difficult pose of the lesson, in order to get to know each other and show their flexibility and endurance during the first class. It was “vrksasana”, “tree pose.”  It was a pose in which we could not only get rooted but also observe our balance. The reason why I picked this pose was because I would see the group for the first time. Even thought they were doing yoga for a long time, there were many different types of yoga, and I did not know what they had done and performed so far. A process in which we would both grow had begun.

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In my first class, I began with a meditation in which I told the class about the intention and the theme of the lesson, and prepared the class to tree pose after warming up the spine with cat-cow strecthes, then two or three sets of sun salutations (surya namaskar). After performing “virabhadrasana I and II” (warrior poses), “trikonasana” (triangle), “parivritta trikonasana” (reverse triangle), and “parsvakonasana” (wide angle pose) just to open the hips, it was now time for the apex pose: “Vrksasana” (tree pose). I reminded the yoga-lovers about the alignment principles and they performed the pose first on their right side and then the left side.
I talked about grounding during the whole lesson, particularly during the apex pose, and I told them that the balance could change at any moment and even balance in one side might be different from the other. I said that we should accept all these and should not push us hard,
After the apex pose, I slowed down the class and we did some sitting poses. After a few sitting forward bends and twist, they lay down on their back and experienced cooling down poses. Then they got into “savasana”, deep relaxation and resting pose and they tried to give themselves in.
After “savasana”, yoga-lovers kept their eyes closed, sit in a cross-legged position and performed the closing meditation. I talked about the importance of grounding, everybody’s will to have roots and wish to belong to somewhere, and I defined all these as natural vital instincts. I summarized the intention of the class as feeling the roots during the whole day long, feel the earth beneath the feet, be grateful that we were alive, to love and accept us. I ended the class after we said “Namaste” to each other.
An hour? Did all these happen in only one hour? It was as if centuries for me. To talk about alignments and the benefits of poses, referring to philosophy, and to add intention and theme to the class. It was not as easy as I supposed it would be and it was nothing like playing yoga training with your friends. A real class was something different, hard, enthusiastic, full of adrenaline, enjoying and satisfying.
After the first class, yoga-lovers and I got to know each other better. The video footage they gave me regarding their former classes also contributed to that. This video showed me the strength, endurance and flexibility of yoga-lovers and what they could do. It opened my horizons. What has happened then? We grow up together with the yoga-lover group, they learned something from me, I learned something from them. We loved eached other. We had a good atmosphere in classes. I just think so. What do they think? I do not know, and I think they are the ones to reply to this question, maybe in another blog article.