Last month, September 2019, we hosted our first Yoga Retreat ever. Our main goal was for the students to incorporate yoga into their lifestyle on a more regular basis. And by “yoga” I don’t just mean the asanas, but all aspects of “yoga” including breathing, meditation, and philosophy.
We usually perceive yoga as a physical exercise. The meaning of the word “Asana” is not known, even amongst people who seem to be practicing yoga on a regular basis. Asana is a Sanskrit word that literally means “seat.” Many people would say that it means “yoga pose,” right? And it’s not wrong. Originally, it was said that the only posture in yoga necessary was a comfortable seated position. Through time, the perception of asanas changed, but the ultimate purpose of comfortable seated posture for meditation hasn’t changed.
Although we didn’t want to stress people out with the technicality, we did want people to experience yoga as a lifestyle. Through this concept, we introduced kriya and pranayama techniques as well as various asana practices. We also conducted a cooking class on making ayurvedic brownies!! It actually turned out really well, and reminded me of India (where I actually ate it for the first time). We definitely didn’t forget to have fun!!
Ok, first of all, what do all these terms mean?!
In our yoga practice, we address Kriya as cleansing techniques. The purpose of performing the various cleansing techniques are to remove impurities and toxins in our body and to prepare ourselves for pranayama, and move the vital energy to the central sushumna (energy) channel, to attain moksha (or liberation).
There are 6 cleansing techniques in yoga, also known as Shatkriyas. “Shat” means six and “Kriya” means cleansing,
During our yoga retreat (and also during our monthly Kriya Cleansing Workshops), we preform Neti, Nauli, Kapalabhati, and Trataka.
“Prana” means breath or vital energy in the body. “Yama” means to control. There are so many types of Pranayama, but that can be for another blog! I want to point out that Breathing = Life. The reason I say this is because
humans can go…
without food for 40 days,
without sleep for 11 days,
without water for 3-4 days,
but can only go without air for few seconds ~ few minutes!! (This depends on your lung capacity).
A lot of people say “Yoga” when they actually mean “Asana.” As mentioned before, asana literally means “seat.” In the past, it was said that the seated position was the only asana needed to sit comfortably to meditate. In ancient text, it illustrates 84 asanas. Now, there are hundreds, possibly thousands of asanas including variations with crazy long Sanskrit names like Parivrtta Prasarita Padottanasana!
In Sanskrit, “Ayus” means life, “Veda” means knowledge. Ayurvedia is a medical science of ancient India incorporating diet, herbal remedies, exercise, meditation, breathing and physical therapy. Ayurveda and yoga are closely interconnected in terms of techniques used and the overall wellbeing of oneself. There are three types of Doshas which are Veta, Pitta and Kapha. Depending on which category you are, the diet differs and the treatments differ. I just want to point out that ayurvedic diet doesn’t necessarily mean vegan.
The concept of Yoga Retreat in Japan is relatively new. In a culture where taking days off of work is an unspoken taboo, where more hours of work means better reputation, where taking detours in life is seen as unsuccessful (TRUST ME, I’ve been there, done that) we want to slowly introduce the view that it’s ok to take time off for yourself and your wellbeing. We are starting to see a shift in trend and hope that more people view themselves as a priority going forward.
Our Next Yoga Retreat is coming up soon! Will keep you posted!
Hi this is Tsubaki!
Some of you may already know. We started our Kriya Yoga sessions on a monthly basis starting July, 2019! After performing our cleansing techniques, we enjoy herbal tea and recharge with our homemade energetic breakfast! Our next Kriya Yoga will be on Sat, Oct 26th from 6:30 AM! Please check our Events Page for more details!
Today, I’ll be introducing Carrot and Ginger Vegan Cake recipe, one we enjoyed in our previous Kriya Yoga.
Carrot and Ginger Vegan Cake!
① Ginger Batter
② Carrot Batter
③ For Both Batters
The other day, I conducted a four-day juice cleanse. The purpose of the cleanse was not to lose weight, but to rest my digestive system. I tried out one of my favorite juice bar, Trueberry’s cold pressed juice.
We replace our meals with 5 bottles of cold pressed juice a day. (We can drink water, warm water and herb tea throughout this cleanse.)
I felt drowsy throughout the 4 days. Depending on the person, some may experience headaches, lightheadedness and dizziness, but for me it was sleepiness. Nevertheless, my body felt extremely light and didn’t have any trouble with my yoga practice.
During the cleanse, I didn’t have to worry about what to eat next, my groceries, cooking time, eating time or cleaning time. I felt that I had a lot of time on hand. Generally, we spend a lot of our day thinking about our meals and activities around it.
From day 5, I started my recovery meal.
We have to keep in mind that recovery meal period should last as long as your cleanse days.
We slowly start off with porridge or plain miso soup. I had the most difficult time during this stage. At the end of my recovery meal phase, I found myself being very picky about my food. I was being sensitive about the things I consumed.
Things I want to keep in mind about my future cleanse!
1. It’s important to set up your schedule before and after your cleanse.
As mentioned above, recovery meal is part of your cleanse so it’s important to keep in mind the recovery days as well. Before you start your cleanse, it’ll be better to reduce the volume of your meals. In my case, I avoided eating out and had a vegetarian based diet.
2. Keep your options open.
Since it was my first time, I added in Almond Milk (not necessarily juice) as one of my juice choice. Almond Milk gives a sense of fullness, which was a good choice on the first day.
3. Allow some leeway in your schedule.
It’s possible to conduct the cleanse whether it be your days off or not. However, we have to keep in mind that every movement becomes very slow throughout this time. For example, I would get on the escalator at the train stations instead of walking up the stairs, or my walking pace would be very slow. It’ll be better to schedule your appointments with plenty of time before and after.
Everything written here are my own thoughts through my personal experiences.
We are made up of what we eat.
“Eat not for your tongue, but for your mind and body.”
Notice what makes up your body, how your body consumes energy, and how we spend our time eating.
Just like we choose our clothes, we also have the choice of food we consume.
With this in mind, I wish for your lovely dietary habit.
The 24 solar terms, based on the sun’s position in the zodiac, were created by farmers in ancient China to guide the agricultural affairs. It reflects the change in seasons throughout the year.
We refer to this season up till the summer solstice as ‘mangzhong,’ or more familiarly known as the season when the planting of the grains is done. (FYI, for us yogis, June 21st in summer solstice is International Yoga Day!)
Early summer rain (called ‘samidare’ in Japanese meaning fifth lunar month rain) is rainy season where life is given to all living things. It also affects us humans in different ways. For example, it is difficult to maintain the water balance within our body due to humidity which results in swelling of the body and melancholy mood.
However, by changing your behavior and perspective, there must be new findings!
One way is to wake up early on your day off and spend some Ayurvedic time for yourself.
You can use massage oil to self-massage your head, ears, and soles of your feet, or bathe in your favorite aromatic oil bath.
Try your tongue cleansing, nose cleansing, and then your eye cleansing!
Yes, eye cleansing (or eye brushing).
Like the famous photographer, Nobuyoshi Araki says, “In the morning when you wake up, go out into the balcony and take (a photo of) the blue sky. Brush your eyes. Like how you brush your teeth every day.”
As for me, I go out into the balcony to water the plants, look up at the sky and “brush” my eyes.
I ‘brush’ my eyes by looking at the golden beams of the sun brighten the sky, how the clouds swift along, and the leaves sway in the gentle breeze. I ‘brush’ my ears by listening to the birds chirping. I ‘brush’ my lungs by breathing in a big deep breath.
Even during this rainy season, you can look up at the clouds in the sky that form these droplets of water. You can enjoy the chilly misty mornings where the scent of the tree barks are fresh, sipping warm water, listening to the melody of the rain.
Then shifting to your asana practice. Time of bliss.
There’s a fine line between rain as being miserable and rain as being beautiful. It all depends on the perception of your mind.
As citizens of this world and nature living in harmony as one, it is important to enjoy the seasonal changes.
This photo (up top) was taken in February of this year when I traveled to Sri Lanka. It’s an ayurvedic massage oil. The lady at the store said, “This oil smells so bad, but it is the perfect oil to do self-massage! I highly recommend it.” It got me worried that there was no sample of this item, but she was so certain and passionate, I had to buy it.
Oh my… it smells SO BAD! lol
That’s why there was no sample at the store. It’s a very mysterious scent.
That lady from the kingdom of Ayurveda mentioned multiple times that it smells bad, and now I know why.
I tried it out anyway. I massaged from head to toe and the next day, I’ve never felt lighter and in better condition!
It’s like this strong herbal medicine smell that even cats run away from.
Like stripping the bark off the trees from deep in the forest and mixing that with algae.
Like the astringent smell of a cat’s pads.
It’s weird, but you’ll get hooked.
If you’re interested and have a chance, please try it out.
Yoga has a purification method called “Kriya Yoga” to remove toxins from the body. Among them, I practice nose cleanse, tongue cleanse, and eye purification.
Morning time is when the ama (toxins) are discharged. Thus, after brushing my teeth, it has become my ritual to preform tongue cleansing.
Let me introduce to you an Ayurvedic tongue cleansing technique that originated from India.
My tongue scraper is made of copper. Copper is known to have high antibacterial effect and works very well on bad breath. After performing my tongue cleanse, I can notice better oral hygiene.
“My tongue is this dirty?” would probably be your first impression after you scrape off the white toxins from your tongue. I was shocked when I first conducted this procedure. However, after perusing the steps, my tongue felt surprisingly beautiful, and exhilarating!
Besides asanas, there are the eight limbs of yoga known as ashtanga. In that are the yamas and niyamas also introduced in the yoga sutras. Niyamas represent self-discipline that should be performed in your daily life. Out of the five niyamas is Saucha or cleanliness.
Saucha means to keep your body and heart always clean. It’s important to keep your appearance neat, but also our surrounding environment, too.
This includes your oral hygiene so don’t forget to clean your mouth!
*Note: I purchased this copper tongue scraper at Organic Life Tokyo event two years ago for 1000 yen. You can also purchase it on Amazon.