Hi there! It's beetee. It's good to be back! The past month of holiday was a privilege to me, to be able to spend time with my family & friends I have not seen for more than two years. I even met and practiced yoga with some of you, readers of my Yoga Quick Dives, for the first time in person after 2 years of online practice. The human touch is magical! For those of you I was so lucky to meet with, thank you so much for making the time for me!
This week's quick dive: Vrksasana Tree Pose, Can Exercise Help The Mind and Sun Salutation With Annalisa.
Yoga Pose of The Week: Vrksasana Tree Pose
If you ask kids to show you how to do yoga, the first thing they would do is probably this pose - Tree Pose, nowadays the iconic image of modern yoga.
This is the reason why I always choose this mandala colouring sheet above for their mindfulness activity when I teach kids.
It is usually the first standing balancing pose you learn & practice in your yoga class. Combined with a hip opening, the pose could be simplified by lowering the "tree branch" foot towards the standing leg's calf muscle or ankle. On the other hand, if you want to make it even more challenging, try to close your eyes and observe how your mind fluctuations affect your balance.
Have you ever experienced any form of spirituality walking in the woods among big trees? Do you wonder how many years they have been there? Trees are sacred in Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism traditions. The Buddhists worship the Peepal Tree, as Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment under this tree. In Jainism, the 24 jinas saviours are each associated with a tree. In Hinduism, Sita took shelter under the Ashoka tree before her husband Lord Rama came to rescue her. King Bhagiratha, stood in the Tree Pose for many years in penance, persuading Lord Brahma and Lord Shiva to bring the Ganges River to Earth. Tree pose teaches us to always find strong rooting from the Earth, but grow upwards to the unlimited sky, building a sense of balance in the body and mind.
Can Exercise Help The Mind?
I need to lose weight. I need to get toner. I need to look fitter. I want a flat belly. Motivations for workouts come abundantly from the state of our body. But some of us also come to workouts or movements to get the mind fitter, stronger and healthier. Jennifer Heisz, a director of the NeuroFit Lab at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, has proved the effects of exercising on the mind in her book "Move the Body, Heal the Mind". At the end of every workout, she explains, you typically get a brief reprieve from anxiety, due to neuropeptide Y, which increases with exercise. It’s a resiliency factor. It helps soothe the anxious amygdala, which is the part of the brain that recognizes danger and puts us on high alert. She even linked exercises to depression treatments. For some people with depression, exercise, instead of anti-depressants, may be the medicine they need, because it helps fight the inflammation, which is linked to stress.
Be careful, however, with the intensity of the exercise. Apparently, light to moderate exercise, like walking, cycling, swimming, dancing, for about 30 minutes 3 times a week is enough to have a positive effect on your mind. However, really high intensity exercises could induce more stress and anxiety to your body and your mind.
How intense is intense? I guess that depends on how resilient your body & mind are at the starting point. For some people, a brisk walk that elevates not but races the heart is intense enough. For some others, they need to see 180 bpm on their fitness watch to feel the post-workout eustress effect. Either way, all I can say is, yoga is the best! Move the body, heal the mind :)
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. 😊
Salute The Sun With Annalisa
Another Sun Salutation? Yes, this time, literally!
During my holidays in Singapore and Vietnam last month, it was the hottest time of the year with scorching sun and humidity going through the roof. In such lands of perpetual summer, folks like my parents have figured out ways to take advantage of the solar heat and save energy. On their rooftop, they installed water heating pipes that look like this:
Free hot water! This also means that during rainy days, no hot shower for the Trans. But no worries, cold water makes you stronger!
Now, meet Dr. Annalisa Bruno, my private yoga student. Annalisa has been practicing yoga with me online for the past 2 years. I only met her in person last month in Singapore. Annalisa is a scientist at the Energy Research Institute @ Nanyang Technological University (ERI@N) and at the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy, and Sustainable Economic Development (ENEA). I thought of Annalisa while sitting on that rooftop next to the water pipes because last year, Annalisa held a Tedx Talk about her research on innovative, versatile and sustainable, highly efficient solar cells.
Solar is the most abundant renewable energy source that we have. As Annalisa cited, the solar radiation shining on Earth in an hour is larger than the amount of energy consumed by the whole world in one year. Yet solar panels until this day still don't quite efficiently capture all that energy, which is where Annalisa and her team comes in. They recently developed scaled-up perovskite solar cells which have achieved the highest power conversion efficiency ever recorded. Her Tedx Talk is quite informative, easy to understand, entertaining and motivating at the same time. It's just 15 minutes of your time, watch it here.
Don't you wish all the energy you need for your house just come from your rooftop? How cool would that be?
Thanks for reading! But don't leave just yet!
Ask me TWO questions or leave me TWO comments below. I'd love to hear from you.
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.