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Yoga 101 “What is Yoga?”
2019.12.5 | Yumi Tanaka

Shad Darshana

In India, there are 6 classical philosophical systems called Shad Darshana. Shad means six and Darshana means Philosophy. Yoga is one of the philosophical systems and has been formulated by the founder, Patanjali.

Other philosophies include:

ーNYAYA / VAISHESHIKA

ーSAMKYA / YOGA

ーMIMMAMSA / VEDANTA

(These words were originally written in Sanskrit, thus the spelling may differ depending on the interpreter.)

 

Yoga Sutra

One of the scriptures of yoga is Yoga Sutra. It was compiled prior to 400CE by Patanjali.

The word Sutra translates to “thread” and each section of the sutra is tersely formulated. There are 4 chapters (or Padas) and 195 aphorisms (or Sutras). Each chapter has a theme and each aphorism is written in line with the various themes that gives us life hints, goals, realizations, precautions in a very simplified yet precise manner. The original texts were written in Sanskrit and have been translated into languages from all over the world. It is an essential guide book for those studying yoga.

 

In our Yoga101 Workshop, we are going to introduce a famous Sutra from the book.

 

Yoga is a Reminder

When I started practicing yoga, I thought I wanted to be better, I wanted to change, but in a vague manner. I didn’t know where to start. Neither did I have a specific plan. I ended up not doing much.

 

Once I started practicing yoga, and what I mean by this is not just the physical movements, but studying the philosophy, my view towards yoga completely changed.

 

It no longer became a hobby or an after-work lesson. It became a lifestyle. The way I perceived my thoughts, actions, and all aspects of my life started to change.

 

For example, why do we eat?

Is it to make us full? Or to satisfy our taste buds?

I realized that through my yoga studies, we eat because it directly becomes our energy source.

It sounds very simple and obvious, but bringing me back to the basics was what yoga taught me.

 

“How do we view the world?” is a big theme in the Darshanas I mentioned earlier.
This means to have a healthy mind and body, to be humane, and to enjoy life.

 

Why Yoga 101?

Through our Yoga 101 workshop, we want everyone to have and value their own practice. We want everyone to realize that moving the body is just one subject of the big picture. That there’s more to yoga. That is why we decided to share this workshop with everyone.

 

In the present-day society, we always seek for answers. It’s so easy to search about the yoga philosophies on google. However, reading it doesn’t become knowledge.

 

Do you remember the first time you rode a bike? Your parent or family or friend probably explained to you the steps and tips. Then boom! You were able to ride it! It probably wasn’t that easy. You rode it multiple times, falling over, and getting up again and again and again. You brushed up your skills over time through practice.

 

Yoga is just like riding a bike.

You learn the concept, and you put it into practice.

 

You probably read or heard all the benefits of yoga. However, the biggest benefit is to practice it yourself and feel it for yourself. Only then, you will be able to call it yours.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still in the middle of my journey.

 

Whether it be self-care, lifestyle, or wellness, there’s different angles you can try to tackle yoga.

 

Dec 8, 2010 from 14:30-16:00

Excited to meet you all on the mat for the Yoga101 Workshop!

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Hakuba Yoga Retreat Reflection 2019
2019.10.18 | Namita Kurokawa

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?!

 

Kriya

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, 

  1. Neti: Nose cleansing
  2. Dhauti: Digestive tract cleansing
  3. Nauli: abdominal massage cleansing
  4. Basti: colonic irrigation cleansing 
  5. Kapalabhati: Skull Cleaning
  6. Trataka: Eye Cleansing

 

During our yoga retreat (and also during our monthly Kriya Cleansing Workshops), we preform Neti, Nauli, Kapalabhati, and Trataka. 

 

Pranayama

“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). 

 

Asana

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!

 

Ayurveda

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. 

 

Going Forward…

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!

 

Founder and Yoga Instructor at Nami Yoga Studio.
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Four-Day Cleanse
2018.7.15 | Yumi Tanaka

Juice Cleanse

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.

 

Recovery Meal

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.

 

She started practicing Jazz and Hiphop dance at teenager. In 2007, she moved to Tokyo to enter university. After graduating from university, she experienced physical changes while she was working in sales and started looking for a new healthier lifestyle. Her focus changed from dancing to yoga. Through her continuous practice, she learned that yoga could be applied to daily life, thinking habits and discipline. In 2016 she was qualified as a yoga instructor.
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Betia’s favorite Green Detox Smoothie
2018.6.7 | Betia Pappa

This green detox smoothie if great for any time of day. Especially in the morning before or after your yoga practice or work. All the ingredients are individually great for your health and combining them all together creates a power drink. I think!

 

This drink will make you feel good inside and out and will boost your immune system so you’ll stay strong and healthy and avoid getting sick.

 

I hope you enjoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 Cup of water or a little more (depends on how thick you like your smoothies)

1 or 2 celery sticks

1 cucumber (with skin-give you more fiber)

½ and apple (with skin- more fiber)

1/3 cup o f frozen or fresh pineapple

a small piece of ginger root (depends how much you like ginger) Without the skin

One whole lemon

 

Directions:

  1. Pour the water first into the blender. Then add all the ingredients. If you have a very small blender I highly recommend cutting all the fruits and veggies into small pieces especially the ginger. You can even peel the ginger.
  2. Blend it all together!
  3. Add a little more water to smooth it out.

 

If you let the drink sit for too long make sure to stir the drink before you continue drinking it.

 

**TIP**

For the summer!

 

If you like your smoothies cold, I recommend precutting all the ingredients and freeze them over night.  Then when you blend, it comes out nice and cold.

In case you have a small blender, leave the frozen ingredient sitting in the blender for ten minutes for them to soften and avoid breaking the blender.

 

So you can put ALL the ingredients in the blender, get ready for work or practice, come back blend and drink!

 

Enjoy!

Elizabeth (aka Betia) is an avid traveler and lover of life. She considers herself a student of the world and has gained a deep respect and admiration for many people, cultures, and places she has had the privilege to visit. Betia currently teaches yoga and English in Tokyo.
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What Is Your Intention?
2018.5.7 | Yumi Tanaka

I’m going to share tips on maintaining high motivation and concentration throughout your yoga practice.

 

During practice, it’s not unusual for your mind to wonder off thinking of what you were doing, or what you’ll be doing.

“What should I do after class?”

“I’ll go to that cafe and read a book.”

“I need to go grocery shopping.”

“What was in my fridge?”

A bunch of daily distractions pop up in your mind.

 

If you made a choice to come to the yoga practice that day, might as well make the most out of it. In my case, I try to focus on three simple points.

 

  1. Set a clear goal

Remind yourself why you came to class today. Asanas are physical practice. Even if other thoughts cross your mind, it’s important to reiterate that you’re here to practice yoga today. It sounds very simple, but this repetition is the key.

 

  1. Count your breath

By counting your breath at your own pace, it helps to quiet the mind. Count “1, 2, 3, 4…” for every inhale and every exhale.

 

  1. Eliminate unnecessary visual distractions

Even if we intend not to see, if that item comes into our vision, we have a tendency to start thinking about it. For example, if I have a watch on I keep looking at it even though time is not a matter of concern. Then, it bothers me for the rest of practice.

What you need in class is very simple. Let’s keep it minimal. By doing this, it’ll free you from outside distractions and allow you to concentrate.

 

“It’s very important to set goals in the correct place.”

These were the first words written in my yoga teacher training textbook. The level of practice differs amongst everyone so a goal setting for yourself is necessary. We need to set a long-term goal and the steps of reaching there. Most importantly, what will keep your motivation high as you aim to achieve that goal?

 

The other day at Lululemon, we had a goal setting workshop. At the workshop, they introduced a 7-step process which is as follows:

 

The Goal Cycle

  1. Identify your values
  2. What is your best life scenario, and visual yourself in it
  3. What are your priorities
  4. What is your goal
  5. Start your process of achieving your goal
  6. Continue your process
  7. Let the things take its own course

 

The above is just one example. I hope it works as a motivation to continue your practice.

I’ve simplified the steps above, but if you want to discuss it more in detail, please come speak to me (Yumi).

 

I hope that your peaceful and meaningful practice “on the mat” leads to a peaceful and happy “off the mat” life.

If there’s anything you want to discuss or questions or requests for class, please don’t hesitate to share with me. I hope to see you all on the mat soon!

She started practicing Jazz and Hiphop dance at teenager. In 2007, she moved to Tokyo to enter university. After graduating from university, she experienced physical changes while she was working in sales and started looking for a new healthier lifestyle. Her focus changed from dancing to yoga. Through her continuous practice, she learned that yoga could be applied to daily life, thinking habits and discipline. In 2016 she was qualified as a yoga instructor.
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