Hi there! It's beetee here. How is December treating you so far? It is getting quite busy for me around here, you know, just the regular year-end festive crazies with travel plans, Christmas gifts and what not. If you have some quiet time though, perhaps it's the best time of the year for some reflections. Feel free to go back to my Yoga Quick Dive #6 from a year ago with 24 Powerful Ways to Finish the Year Off Right for some inspirations.
This week's quick dive: Bakasana Crow Pose, The Last Niyama and 23 Best Sandwiches in The World.
Bakasana Crow Pose
In 2012, during my first yoga class in Singapore where I stepped in with a lot enthusiasm, motivation, excitement and even a bit of arrogance ("I can do anything!"), I was hit with shock and astonishment when the teacher instructed and all the other 30 people in that class just gracefully performed this pose: Bakasana Crow Pose. I remember what I was thinking: What On Earth!
Bakasana is not just a pose, it's an experience. Practicing this pose builds self-confidence by reminding us that we’re stronger and more capable than we think. Since it's an arm-balancing pose, however, before attempting it, please please please, make sure your core is strong and warmed up, some arm strength has been trained, and your wrists have been conditioned. Go back to the last Yoga Quick Dive on how to yoga with safe wrists. And we'll have a lengthy talk about Core Yoga, which I'm quite famous for among my students, another time!
But why do we go such length to do such a ridiculously looking posture? This is one of the poses where we say: because we can! And because it's fun. It is not so much about the very moment when both of your feet float off the floor and you're hanging on your arms for what seems to be like eternity. It's about the whole journey to get you there. Because once you are there, you know you have done intensive work on your core, arm strength, shoulder strength, and most importantly, your "I can" mental strength.
Bakasana is very often included in my Vinyasa class with the Sun Salutation B sequence. Join me!
Eight Limbs of Yoga: Isvara-Pranidhana (Surrender)
This is the last Niyama, I promise, after which we would have completed (having a peek into) the first two steps of the whole yoga journey, before we can actually step on the mat for some yoga postures!
Just as a brief reminder, The Eight Limbs of Yoga is an eight-step guidance for those who practice yoga to live a meaningful life. The first two steps are the Yamas and the Niyamas, which are the yogi's personal conduct towards him/herself and towards other people around them. Only when these first two steps are understood and followed can the yogi move on to the next step: yoga postures, or the Asanas.
For me personally, this last Niyama is where the yogic philosophy starts to be quite... philosophic. The concept of Isvara Pranidhana means cultivating a deep and trusting relationship with the universe, and making each action an offering to something bigger than us. Some ancient yogic texts may refer to a certain ‘Supreme Being’, ‘God’, ‘Brahman’, ‘Ultimate Reality’ or ‘True Self’. Note that yoga in no way forces the idea of God or religion upon anyone, but there is always an underlying idea that something bigger, more profound and pure exists other than ourselves…
Many of the oldest traditional yoga systems based their practice upon devotion and rituals which honoured nature, the universe, or ‘god’. 'God' does not have to belong to any particular religion. 'God' could be your own. Some renowned yogis made a point of stating that ‘Isvara Pranidhana’ means offering our actions up to ‘the divine’, a collective consciousness, and humanity.
During savasana, the last 5 minute of a yoga practice, the best thing you could do is to surrender. Let go. You have done your part, your best, now come what may. Sometimes it is the hardest thing to do, as we always try to control the outcomes. But as my teacher always told me, the three steps to Freedom are: 1) Observe; 2) Accept and 3) Let Go. Letting go is hard, but it is something that can make us feel truly liberating.
Read more about other Yamas and Niyamas in the Eight Limbs of Yoga:
Ahimsa – Non-violence
Satya – Truthfulness
Asteya – Non-stealing
Brahmacharya - Moderation
Aparigraha - Non-possession
Saucha - Cleanliness
Santosha - Contentment
Tapas - Self-discipline
Svadyaya - Self-study
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. 😊
23 Best Sandwiches in The World
After all that philosophic talk, let me take you back to real life! Guess what? We have not talked about food since my last post about the Norwegian Gravlaks in the summer edition of the Yoga Quick Dive! Revisit the recipe if you get inspired to make something different for your Christmas party. Today, however, let's talk about sandwiches.
So I was home to Sai Gon briefly last month. The first thing I thought about when I landed was to rush to my favourite bánh mì stand on Vo Van Tan street, District 3, Ho Chi Minh City.
It's heaven! It's better than all the other bánh mì I have had in the whole of Sai Gon, Ha Noi, Da Nang, Hoi An, Sydney, Melbourne, New York, Orlando, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Taipei, you name it! And then I came across this article on CNN about the best 23 sandwiches in the world. Banh Mi ranks among the top! And here are the ones I have had the chance to taste:
Bánh mì, Vietnam!
Lobster roll, New England, United States
Croque monsieur/madame, France
Katsu sando, Japan
Falafel pita, Middle East
Philly cheesesteak, Philadelphia, United States
Cuban sandwich, Cuba/United States
And some of those I will try one very soon day:
Shawarma, Middle East
Muffaletta, New Orleans, United States
Pan bagnat, France
How many have your tried? Reply to me with just a number and I'll know you love sandwiches, just like me. Oh and by the way, as the holidays are coming up with so many celebrations, don't miss Jamie Oliver's leftover banh mi recipe for the lendemain. See you soon again for one last Yoga Quick Dive before the New Year!
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.