Hi there! It's beetee. Thank you so much for those angels who read or listened to my Yoga Quick Dive #9 two weeks ago, and followed my lead in supporting Afghanistan's hunger crisis. You know you are an angel with a big heart, and I love you!
This week's quick dive: Paschimottanasana Seated Forward Fold, Ahimsa (Non-violence) and Design Thinking's Greatest Quality.
Yoga Pose of The Week: Paschimottanasana Seated Forward Fold
In Sanskrit, Paschima means 'west' or 'back of the body'. In standing position, the physical body can be compared to the cardinal directions (the four main points of a compass) - the head being north, feet south, face east, and the back west. "Ut" means intense and "tan" means "lengthen". Does "uttan" remind you of anything?
This pose is very similar to one we previously discussed, i.e. Uttanasana Standing Forward Fold, but the different center of gravity creates different affects on the muscles and the mind. The standing pose redirects more blood flow towards your head, but the seated pose increases the contact surface with the floor, which makes you feel more grounded and relaxed. Which is why it's usually practiced towards the end of the session.
When you choose to do any pose or movements, a gentle reminder to think about what you're trying to achieve. It's ok to think aesthetically ("I want to be able to touch my toes"), but the more useful approach is to think functionally. As the purpose of this pose is to find a back body stretch, as long as you feel the stretch, it doesn't matter whether your legs are 100% straight. If you can't reach your toes, it's nobody else's business; grab a yoga strap or hand towel around your feet. Make sure you keep your back as straight as possible though, to avoid a curving lower back that could result in injuries.
The Eight Limbs of Yoga - Ahimsa
Remember I once told you about The Eight Limbs of Yoga, the eight-step guidelines on how to live a meaningful and purposeful life, according to the yogic traditions? Today we're going to start to dive a little deeper into each of these eight steps.
The first two limbs are the five Yama and the five Niyama (ethical disciplines, moral codes or ways of 'right living'). While the Yama govern how a yogi should treat other people, the Niyama focus on how he/she should self-discipline for a healthy physical and mental living.
The first Yama is a concept after which U2 has created a song of the same name: Ahimsa. Watch the lyrics video, it's just beautiful! In Sanskrit, Ahimsa means non-violence. The name speaks for itself: not physically, verbally or mentally harming others, ourselves, or nature; not thinking negative thoughts about others or ourselves; and making sure that what we do and how we do it is done in harmony, rather than causing harm.
This concept of non-violence reminds me of historical figures such as Mohandas Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. leading movements for peace in the face of oppression. Or, the 1967 Nobel Peace Price Nominee Thich Nhat Hanh (nominated by MLK himself), a Vietnamese influential Zen Buddhist monk, who passed away last Saturday at 95. The impact of his teachings remains profound for many, including me.
To learn more about Ahimsa, read an extract from B.K.S. Iyengar's Light on Yoga book here.
Anything above the Earth and below the Sun is Life. Hopefully something useful to you, or at least something that will bring a smile to your face. 😊
Empathy at the Heart of Design Thinking
If you are to apply to any job that requires a little bit of design thinking, whether to map a customer journey for a service, or to design a handy product, or to sketch what the interface of Gmail should look like, or to build a code for an smartphone app, do you know what the Number 1 trait recruiters are looking for, even before talent or experience? It's empathy. As Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, explains, innovation is all about meeting unmet, unarticulated, needs of the marketplace, of people and organizations that are made up of people. To be able to identify these needs, we need deep empathy, the ability to put ourselves in other people's shoes and see the world the way they see it.
I personally think all jobs requires design thinking, hence empathy, the most humane quality we all have or can unlock. Research has shown that empathy makes people better managers and workers, and better family members and friends. Research has also shown that we're born with the capacity for empathy, but it's learned behaviour. So how do we practice empathy? It happens when two parts of the brain work together, neuroscientists say — the emotional center perceives the feelings of others and the cognitive center tries to understand why they feel that way and how we can be helpful to them. So pay a good active listening in conversations and don't be afraid to use your curiosity to ask and learn what the other person feels. Remind yourself to put yourself in someone else' shoes.
Do you know someone who comes across as super empathetic? How does that person make you feel when you speaks to them? Share with me a situation where you received empathy and it helped you!
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Until then, take a deep breath and keep your worries away!
Yoga Quick Dive is a series of bimonthly newsletters that should take no more than 5 minutes of your reading time. Let's deep dive quickly into 3 topics: Body, Mind and Life.