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:




(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!

Before Visiting Rishikesh
2018.7.22 | Sami Araki

In the Beginning…

I visited Rishikesh last March. It was my second visit. My main purpose of this visit was International Yoga Festival (IYF) Rishikesh 2018 because my guru and founders of Jivamukti Yoga, Sharon ji and Jules ji were going to join this Festival. They were going to teach Jivamukuti yoga almost every day. I started planning this trip at the end of 2017 as I came to know my yoga friends are also in Rishikesh and Mari sensei (also teaching at Nami Yoga Studio) agreed to join me.


I sometime hear people say “You go to India when India calls you.” I wasn’t sure what this really meant, but I decided to go to India again anyway. When I travel abroad alone, I get really nervous about my safety. With my bravery and charm, I overcame the difficulties and worries. Smile is a universal language. Also, saying “Thank you” with gratitude and “I’m sorry” when I did something wrong are also universal. Especially when I can’t communicate with language, these helped me to understand one another.


Our Journey to Rishikesh, India

We arrived at Indira Gandhi International Airport in the morning, the flight was delayed about an hour and a half. Our taxi driver was waiting for us patiently and we felt at ease when we found him. Now our long road trip to Rishikesh started. It took about 7 hours including 1 hour break for the lunch. If you are not a road-trip-type-of-person, I strongly recommend you to take the domestic flight from New Delhi. If you can enjoy the sight from car window or chatting with the local driver, you will probably enjoy this long drive.


Cars, Cows, and People

The sun was setting when we arrived in Rishikesh. We soon walked to Ganga river to see the sun sets as soon as we dropped our luggage at the hotel. The Ganga River flows through Rishikesh. We use one of the two bridges that crosses over the Ganga. Ramjura Bridge is the closest one to our hotel so we passed that one every day. A lot of people walk or ride a bike over the bridge. Riding a boat is another option. There are a lot of shops near the bridge. Restaurants, cafés along with stores that sell clothes, fruits, drugstore, several goods, books, yoga, mala, jewelry and so on. They sell in stores, on the streets with a simple table, rug, or cart. The streets get really busy with cars, rickshaws cows, pigs, and horses. We often meet monkeys, dogs and other animals when we’re strolling along. Cows, who are considered gods in India, are sitting alongside people. They usually come along when you’re munching on food.


International Yoga Festival

Our main purpose at Rishikesh was joining the IYF between March 1st to 7th. The event was held at Parmarth Niketan Ashram. We stayed on the opposite side of the Ganga from Parmarth Niketan Ashram, but many people including teachers were staying at Parmarth Niketan Ashram as it has accommodation service in expansive grounds. The yoga class started from 4am all the way up to 9pm. You have to manage your own schedule as the choices are countless. There were also multiple events going on at the same time, including speeches, workshops, and concerts. There were only two types of tickets: 1-day pass and 7-day pass.


Happy Holi

Rishikesh becomes more vibrant during the festival as many people gather from all over the world. During the event, we were able to experience another festival called Happy Holi, which took place on March 2nd. On March 1st, people in Rishikesh started gathering and start the festivity a day early. One guy was making big fire to pray for Happy Holi and we sat near the fire to keep us warm. More people joined us to give their prayers. The climate was almost as same as that of Tokyo but when the sun is strong we can be with T-shirt and the air in the morning and night was chilly. You hear music when you get up early in the morning, most of those are sanskrit mantra, singing voices and other voices of prayer. In day time, you hear more sounds of bike and horn.



If you get tired to walk or want to go where that’s too far to walk, it’s good idea to ride a rickshaw. You can get on a rickshaw from rickshaw parking near the bridge or catch one on the street. Personally, I recommend to catch one on the street because you can get on for cheaper. Usually, you share the rickshaw with other people. Now you’re on, how do you get off? The best way is to tell them a major landmark. People ride on and off at the point where they want. Just note that it you get on from Rickshaw parking with small number of people, you have to pay more. 7 to 8 people can ride on at once.


More about International Yoga Festival

The highlight of this year’s IYF was to meet Dalai Lama and vice president of India. Unfortunately, Dalai Lama didn’t show up in front of people, but a lot of people gathered to pay respect. I heard he was not in good condition. On a different day, a person from Shinto Japan was introduced to people. Night time was usually very energetic with live music and dancing. There are enough events to keep you busy at the ashram, but you can also walk around town or join other yoga studios in the area.


In the Ashram, there was buffet throughout the day. It’s only available for people who purchased the festival ticket. There are also cafes and restaurants in town that you can visit. There are all sorts of variety from Indian to Western food including fruit bowls, porridge, and snacks.

I hope you get an image of what Rishikesh is like!

Sami was born in Tokyo, Japan. As a child, she was naturally drawn into yoga as she imitated her mother’s yoga practice. After graduating University and working at various companies, she started to practice yoga. In 2013, she received her yoga teaching certification by the Government of India. In 2015, she became a certified jivamukti yoga instructor.
My Cup Of Masala Chai
2018.4.22 | Namita Kurokawa

Childhood Favorite

As a child, I’ve always loved chai. My father would drink it every morning and I would have a sip of it. Today, it makes me happy that my kids love it, too. I’m sure there’s the caffeine concern, but I use decaf or smaller amount of tea leaves when I make it for the kids.


Another way to go is to scratch the tea leaves completely and make spice milk. The spices used in chai have many benefits, especially on the digestive system.


Spices and Benefits


Ginger is known to sooth upset stomach and promote the digestive fire. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, lowering swelling and pain that comes from poor diet or even stress. I recommend to keep the skin on while chopping or grading to maximize the nutritious value.



Cinnamon balances blood sugar levels and kills harmful yeast in fungus in the gut, increases energy, improves skin health and supports weight loss. It is said that less than one teaspoon is enough to see these benefits.



Cardamom is known to improves digestive functions and balance stomach acids. Similar to ginger, it reduces swelling and reduces pain and cramps. The spicy flavor you taste when drinking chai mainly comes from Cardamom. Even if you don’t have any other spices, just make sure you have this one!



Cloves have the property to dull pain associated with toothaches, headaches, joint pains and menstrual cramps. It also has anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities making it a perfect ingredient to add during colder winters when we tend to get sick more often.



Peppercorn aids digestion and weight loss as it warms up the body. If available, I recommend getting the fresh, green peppercorns from local spice stores since it has natural oil that maximize its benefits in the digestive system.



Anise helps with upset stomach, intestinal gas, and runny nose. It also regulates mensuration, and reduces symptoms of menopause.


Sugar vs Honey

I recommend honey over sugar for the following reasons:

Less amount of honey required for same sweetness

Honey is slowly absorbed in the bloodstream, thus a healthier digestion process

Honey has more nutrients


Masala Chai Recipe

Makes 2-3 cups


3 cardamom pods (smashed)

1 cinnamon stick

1-2 teaspoon black peppercorns (green, fresh ones if possible)

1 piece fresh ginger (graded)

5 whole cloves (ground is ok)

1 piece star anise (optional)

2-3 teaspoons cheap loose black tea leaves

1 cup water

2 cups whole milk

Honey as you wish



  1. Prepare the spices accordingly.
  2. Put water and spices in a pot and simmer over low-med heat.
  3. Once it comes to boil, add tea leaves.
  4. Add milk and let it boil. Before it overflows, reduce to low heat. Bring it back to high. And repeat 3-4 times.
  5. Add honey as you wish and enjoy!
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