Yoga With Serene - Part 1 of 3

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I realised a drastic drop in my health condition and physical being when my biological clock strikes 40. It's scary and alarming. Back in my 20s, I can run in my 3-inch high heels, now I wear flats or at best 1-inch heels. I used to eat like a cow and not grow fat, now I put on weight even when I breathe. I used to live on a 6-hour sleep, now I turned zombie with less than 8-hour sleep.  I used to do cart-wheel even in my 20s, now I think my wrist might break. What's happening here?  Obviously, my metabolism has dropped, my stamina has gone down the drain, my muscles are losing strength and my body is no longer as flexible.

I know I need to do something. So I strive to eat and drink better and do a little running to build up my stamina. But what about core muscles which I need to strengthen and improve their flexibility?


Our body has 29 core muscles located mostly in our back, abdomen and pelvis. This group of muscles provides the foundation for movement throughout our entire body, and strengthening them can help protect and support our back, make our spine and body less prone to injury and help us gain greater balance and stability. Pilates and yoga are great for strengthening our core muscles. - Dr. Mercola


So when Serene, a yoga instructor, approached me for collaboration, I was elated! How do you know that I was contemplating Yoga, Serene? It was so timely! But, before I agreed to Serene's proposal, I did my research but ended up with more confusion than not. So I asked the professional instead.




There are many different types of yoga, how do individuals, particularly those new to yoga (like me), figure out which particular one is right for them? I asked Serene Martin for advice.

Serene: Those new to yoga may initially be intimidated as there are several types of yoga including Ashtanga Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Hatha Yoga and Hot Yoga. Individuals should choose a style that really suits their own personal preferences and bodily needs. That requires a certain amount of experimentation with different styles and it would be good to at least try a few sessions of a particular style before deciding if it's your cup of tea as a you will only better appreciate the subtle nuances of the practice over time. Yoga Journal gives a nice breakdown of some of the major styles of yoga and what you can expect. 

Although certain forms of yoga such as Ashtanga or Hot Yoga are often considered more challenging and rigorous compared to other forms like Hatha or Yin Yoga, yoga instructors are constantly customising their classes to cater to the needs of different students. So, you will notice that there are studios offering beginner classes for various styles of yoga. After experimenting with different types of yoga, you may find that one style really suits so you end up sticking with it. However, you may end up being drawn to other styles over time depending on your individual circumstances such as your age, health or energy levels. Every style has its merits and no style is better or worse than the other. So most importantly, assess which style works best for you and enjoy your practice! 


What is Hatha Yoga? And what are the benefits of practising it?

Serene: The "ha" in Hatha means “sun” and the "tha" means “moon.” This refers to the balance of opposing energies within all of us. There are nearly 200 hatha yoga postures with hundreds of variations. You certainly do not need to know how to perform all Hatha postures to benefit from the practice. 

The postures work to make the spine supple and promote circulation in all the organs, glands, and tissues. Hatha postures also stretches and align the body, promotes balance and flexibility. It is a powerful tool for self-transformation as it enhances your breath-body-mind coordination and in doing so makes you more focused on embracing each moment as it unfolds. If done at a faster pace in a flow sequence, it can also be a good form of cardiovascular workout that builds stamina and burns more calories.

Some Hatha Yoga Poses
A classic sequence that is often integrated into Hatha Yoga classes is the Surya Namaskar (‘Sun Salutations’). The sun salutations comprises a sequence of 12 yoga postures which includes a number of forward and backward bends. If done quickly, it provides a good cardiovascular workout.  When done at a slower pace, these postures help tone the muscles and are more meditative and can relaxing. Regular practice of the Sun Salutations improves the functions of the all major bodily organs, reduces stiffness in the body, enhances blood circulation and ensures proper functioning of the nerve centers. You will be exposed to different variations of the Sun Salutations in my classes. But if you are ready to try, watch this video below.





What then is Yin Yoga and what are the benefits of practising it? 

Serene: Compared to other styles of yoga, Yin Yoga is much more passive and consists of a series of stretches that are held for about 3-5 minutes each. The yin poses target the connective tissues that tend to get stiff and immobile because of a variety of reasons ranging from stress, poor postures which disrupt the alignment of the body and age.

Yin yoga enhances the mobility of joints, improves flexibility and can assists with muscle recovery from other more strenuous forms of exercise. This is why it is also a nice complement to a more vigorous style of yoga practice as it induces a sense of deep relaxation. Because of the time between each posture, Yin yoga is also excellent in training the mind to be patient and tune in to the various sensations that are being felt in the body. Students may initially feel bored or impatient when holding the poses. Some may feel discomfort as they have hardly experienced the outcomes of doing such stretches before. But, over time, the relationship that students have with these thoughts change as they learn to surrender into each pose and enjoy the sense of calm and rejuvenation that comes after each yin practice.
     
There are a full range of Yin Yoga poses ranging from the ‘Sphinx’, ‘Stir Up’ to ‘Caterpillar’. A deeply restorative pose that’s often done in Yin Yoga is the reclined butterfly pose. To get into the pose, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together, allowing the legs to open. Relax the inner thighs and groin.  To deepen the stretch on your thighs, place your hands on your thighs and gently rotate your inner thighs externally, pressing your outer thighs away from the sides of your torso. Although it may seem as if this pose only targets the inner thighs, it also enhances blood circulation in the lower abdomen, improves digestion and increases hip mobility. 


You may also refer to this link for some beginners' yoga poses. 


I understand that you have a Yoga series (
Hatha-Yin fusion) coming up in June, could you share more about it?

Serene: In my Hatha-Yin classes, you will get the opportunity to strike a balance between practising more energetic, active poses in the Hatha sequence and at the same time experience the simplicity and restorative bliss of Yin practice. There will also be nice soothing music sourced from the waters of the Ganges, Rishikesh. You get to enjoy all this in the comfort of the All About Yoga studio that is spacious and full of natural light. 

This Yoga series is suitable for:
Beginners to yoga who are curious about the practice.
Moderate ability practitioners and anyone who would appreciate a programme that balances the rigour of Hatha Yoga with the soothing effects of Yin Yoga.
Mothers who are looking for a means to speed up post-delivery toning and strengthening of their bodies.

It runs from 17th June to 16th July 2016. Classes will run every Friday (7.30 pm-9 pm) & Saturday (1pm-2.30 pm) for 5 weeks. The usual price is $400, but I am giving all an exclusive introductory offer of $200 for these 10 sessions. All the sessions will be held at All About Yoga Studio. For more information on the classes and to sign up, visit www.yogawithserene.com and fill up the contact form at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, you may email me at yogawithserene@gmail.com. Reservation will be confirmed upon full payment. Registration will close once maximum class size of 20 is reached.

* All About Yoga Studio is located at 605B MacPherson Road, #05-11, Citimac, Singapore 368241. It is within walking distance from Tai Seng MRT station.


Would you like to join me in these Yoga sessions?






18 comments

  1. That's nice Serene, Yoga is indeed a wonderful for our body and me too used to do it. I felt how my immunity and flexibility has improved.

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    1. It is lovely to here of how much Yoga has benefited you! What is wonderful is the calming effect that lasts long after the session. Would love to see you in my classes. Let me know if you would be keen :) xoxo

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    2. It is lovely to hear of how much yoga has benefited you. What is lovely is the calming effect that lasts long after the practice itself. Would love to see you in my classes. let me know if you will be interested :) xoxo

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  2. I also realised my health has deteriorate lately.. readings not good on my health screening report and I just got chicken pox! Heard a lot of good stuff about yoga years ago but the bending styles do scare me a little. :) THe common 'excuse' of not doing yoga (or exercise) is 'no time'... I guess it is a commitment that has to put in place eventually. :)

    Phoebe (BPDGTravels)

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    1. I actually envy those yogis who could bend here bend there! I wish I could do the same!

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    2. Hi Phoebe & Jenn,

      I understand what you mean when you say the bending scares you. That's the common perception many people have about yoga because alot of social media posts focus on the 'acrobatics' of yoga. But there are dozens of very simple postures which you can do before you progress to the more advanced postures. And they benefit you tremendously too. Do give it a chance :)

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  3. I hear you on the health deteriorating as we age part. $200 for 10 sessions sound like an awesome deal! This is very very tempting.. Let me think about it.. Or rather convince someone to take the kids if I go.

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    1. It will be awesome if you can come Bumble Bee Mum. Right now the class size is pretty cozy...not more than 10 currently so there will be lots of time to go at your own pace and you can enjoy more focused attention. Let me know and have a great weekend! :)

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  4. Yoga's not for me :) But I pray your health improves! Let's get healthy together. Jiayou!

    Xoxo,
    Jingyi
    Coffeeandtoastmama

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  5. Always thought Yoga was very relaxing and I love doing the stretches but my mind always seems to wander haha. Keep up the good work in wellness journey!

    Ai @ Sakura Haruka

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    1. Hi Ai Sakura, I know what you mean. My mind wanders even now..and we can gently bring it back to focus and get better with it in time :) xoxo

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  6. Perhaps I should give yoga another try. I attended a few sessions when I was younger and almost fell asleep because the movement and poses were too slow for me. But now that I'm older....

    Michelle @ The Chill Mom

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    1. Hi Michelle,

      If you do fall asleep, it is perfectly fine and in fact it shows that your body is having optimal rest :) Nothing to feel shy about. I hope you do explore yoga again sometime in the future when you are ready and would love to hear about your experience again :)

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  7. Yoga is an ancient way of life to good health. It is good that people like Serene are continuing the tradition and imparting good health to ppl.

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    1. Hi RainbowDiaries,

      Thank you so much for your support. It means a lot ! In a fast paced society like Singapore, it is important to press the pause button and find a way to center ourselves and rejuvenate our health. There are many different sports and activities one can do and Yoga is an excellent way to make that mind-body-spirit connection using nothing but your body itself. Would love to see you in my classes if you are keen on exploring this option. Have a lovely weekend! :)

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  8. Yoga is something which I always wanted to try.
    After reading your post, it really motivates me to find time to try it!
    Great deal at $200 for 10 sessions

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    1. Hi 3 Wheelingtots,

      Thank you for sharing that and I will absolutely love to see you in my classes! Do let me know if you or any of your friends will be keen. Happy weekend! :)

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