Sunday Student Showcase- Jasmine Sun

15 Aug

Picture 3

Name: Jasmine Sun

Hometown: Hong Kong

Years Practicing Yoga: since 2004

Other than yoga what are your hobbies? Flower arrangement

I also asked Jasmine about her recent work with Habitat for Humanity in Mongolia. Here are some of her thoughts on her experiences:

The Mongolia build is one of the most inspiring experience in my life. This time I went with two of my best friends and we joined the US team. It was planned to build 30 houses in Ulaanbaatar to benefit 30 families to upgrade their living from a Mongolia Ger to a decent house. There were altogether over 100 people from all over the world. They divided us into 30 teams, each team was helping one family to build their house within 5 days.

I think you can imagine how much we received from the team spirit, the relationship that we had built with the family, we were even speaking a different language…. the local workers, the people coming from around the world all together as one. Also the visit to their orphanage was also a sweet one. We had brought along with us some pens, notebooks, candies, and tools for building houses…. spreading happiness and love…all these have created a lifelong memory. I’ve been having dreams about Mongolia the few weeks after I’m back. So silly….

The most beautiful thing of the experience was stepping into the depth of the connections with people by working on the same thing and achieving the same goal, a full awakening about why everyone in the world deserves a decent place to live.

What are your special talents?
Everyone is really someone bigger than they think. We can be anyone, anything that we want to be.

What is your vision of yoga?

When I started my yoga practice, I had a tendency to explore my physical body. Now I find yoga an EXPRESSION, an expression of myself, an expression of my dream, my emotion, my love my passion towards life.

What do you enjoy most about Dheesan yoga?
Dheesan yoga offers a bigger horizon and dimension of practice, a training of physical challenge with a clarity of mind. You can’t do it without thinking. It gives me the same expansion of perspective towards everything I’m doing in life.

Jasmine is a yoga teacher at Pure in Hong Kong. Please share a special story or moment that you have experienced through your teaching.

When I see the same group of students coming to my regular classes, I totally understand the feeling of a mother who sees all the kids coming back home for a weekend dinner. I just want them to get the best experience that I can offer, as a mother dedicating her best meal to her kids.

Do you have a favorite quote, sutra, or thought that you would like to share with us?

If there is one thing to practice in life, I choose compassion. Trust that everyone is doing their best at every moment. Forgive and forget. Be kind to all beings.
Speak kindly to everyone.

For this upcoming week can you give all of us a challenge or something to think about while we practice or in our daily lives?

For this week, pick one day, to make everyone who comes to you without leaving better and happier.

Thank you for sharing! I am always inspired by Jasmine’s grace and ease when she practices and the example she sets by sharing her time and teachings to her students and to all of us!

I appreciate all of you continuing to read and share your thoughts with me. I am learning so much from all of you! I was unable to practice in class last week so more to come soon!

You and I are ONE. Namaste!

11 Aug


One of my friends from San Diego recently inquired, “What does Namaste mean?” Since I have been unable to attend Master’s class for a few days I thought I would share Dr. Madavan’s insights from our recent conversation on the significance of Namaste and why we often perform the gesture at the commencement and closure of a class.

Although the Sanskrit word Namaste is spoken as a greeting, Namaste is an action in which both hands are placed together close to the heart, eyes closed, and head bowed. When we offer Namaste to one another we are recognizing that regardless of age, sex, religion, or any other perception, the same divine Self I am you are also. Namaste in Sanskrit means, “namas” to bow, “te” to you… “I bow to you” and is a deep form of humble respect. Dr. shared the significance of placing the hands at the heart and the power of the heart:

“We bind the hands nearer to the heart because love, compassion, forgiveness, and tolerance comes from the heart. Our ancient realized people taught us not to listen from the head as the mind sometimes gives the wrong direction but instead listen with the heart. When the brain analyzes and asks, ‘can I do this or do that’ although it will answer and keep answering, it is not until you finally ask the heart that it will give you the answer that feels right. This is why we sometimes say to one another, ‘I am talking to you from the bottom of the heart’—it never lies. Such a unity, if it comes from the heart, banishes the ego. You and I are one…. not different.”

In many religions and spiritual paths people often bow their heads and place their hands at their heart in prayer. As with the honoring gesture to one another the same recognition of unification is acknowledged in prayer with God. Dr says, “When you pray to God you are asking the truth of God to merge with you, to enlighten you with divine power. When you transcend the ego through this humbling respect, the I-ness and My-ness that keeps us separate from one another and God is overcome and you realize that you and God are one.”

“Giving Namaste to another is essentially to surrender the ego. Once you surrender the ego the experience of love starts to come. Love is the only binding material which unites us with our natural true quality, and which binds us to God. The very simple way to experience love is to radiate love. The truth whether from religions, in all true ways says this, ‘love one another.’”

In our Dheesan yoga classes, and often in most yoga classes, Master offers Namaste to his students at the beginning and end of a class in honor and gratitude for his students and his opportunity to share what he has experienced. We then respond with the same respect and love in return. In many Asian and Indian cultures Namaste is as common as a handshake or a kind hello and is a symbol of respect and peace… a way to say you and I are equal. For me I see Namaste as a “thank you” or a way to say “I am honored….” After listening to Dr. I see a deeper significance. As we unite our hands to our heart we are asking that our judgments and dual mind be put aside, even only for a moment, to honor the underlying truth that can only be witnessed through loving and seeing one another as equal. Namaste is not just a word or a concept, but a simple powerful action. For many of you who do not practice traditional yoga practices and may not have the opportunity to offer Namaste to another try remembering at least the significance that Dr. shared with us. When shaking someone’s hand even at a business meeting or greeting someone with a hug have your respect come from the heart. Realize we are all equal. We often overlook how our daily practices and routines can have such a powerful significance. Fellow yogis and yoginis I hope Dr.’s thoughts give you a deeper insight into the symbolism and truth behind such a common gesture we often perform in our classes.

We all want to experience a deeper sense within, something that gives us purpose and meaning… we all want to live a life of purpose and love is the way. As Dr. says, “Love binds… radiate love… love one another.” Every moment offers an opportunity to be love and to love.


Sunday Student Showcase- Fanny Lo!

8 Aug


While reading some of your comments and talking with our yoga friends this past week I was inspired by how so many of you were willing to share your ideas and insights. I think I mentioned to May how sometimes all it takes is a common bond (like yoga!) or spark of inspiration to give us an outlet to be our best and create a supportive community that inspires one another. Since there are so many of us who share the same love of yoga under Master Sudhakar’s instruction, each Sunday I am going to showcase a Dheesan Yoga Student with an interview. Because we all are blessed with our own unique perspective and special gifts, I thought this would be a nice way we can all learn about one another and share thoughts on our practice in class and off of the mat. For all of you readers who have yet to practice yoga I am hoping to show that yoga is not just physical discipline involving flexibility and stretchy clothes! Yoga is a mindset, a way of life– maybe I am making an assumption, but I think for most yoga practitioners, yoga is that spark of inspiration to be better in our own lives in whatever way we can. Try to realize that with a little effort through what we love we can all find ways to share with others whether it be through our daily practices like yoga, our careers, simple kind acts to friends, or even just asking a question from time to time to new people to just show you you care. Hopefully we can all apply some of our yoga friends’ thoughts and examples in our own lives!

Our first Sunday Student Interview:

Name: Fanny Lo ( or Fanny Chan as Wai’s surname is Chan)

Hometown: Hong Kong

Years practising yoga
: 6 years

Hobbies: yoga and more yoga!! I love dancing especially Kuchipudi which is a South Indian classical dance. Most of the time though I primarily focus on yoga and have not had much time to practice Kuchipudi.

Special talent: I cannot think of any special talent from me! (This is from Jen: Fanny is a great photographer, and has a sincere and sweet demeanor. She is always willing to help and makes everyone feel so comfortable by just being herself. And lets not forget her special talent is sharing her love of desserts and making us all drool with her tasty looking pictures!!)

What is your vision of yoga? What dos yoga mean to you?: Yoga gives me happiness and peace. From the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali we learned in our teacher training, the benefit of practicing yoga poses is, ” Tatto dvandvanabhigatah.” It means to me that yoga practices help me accept the dualities of the mind which frees me from sufferings. Instead of thinking this is right/wrong, good/bad everything appears more centered and balanced with yoga.

Asia Yoga Conference Workshop

What do you enjoy most about Dheesan Yoga?
First of all, whenever I come to Dheesan class, I feel relieved, like I can let go of my pressures and troubles. Because I sometimes am filled with tension and challenges after work, whenever I walk into the Dheesan class, I forget all my troubles and can focus on me.

Dheesan yoga specifically helps me accept where I am at because Master’s teachings and advice always remind us to just be ok where we are at in our practice. While I see many students are unhappy and upset when they find they cannot do certain posture, for me I just enjoy the process. For example, I could not do headstand for many years and I keep practicing the poses that would lead the way to headstand instead of trying to jump into the final pose and falling. I was patient and it is eventually coming to me. I compare being patient in yoga like dating a new lover. At the beginning stage when you feel a connection to your lover you are wondering if he feels the same for you. The chase and curiosity is exciting and attractive. The same way in practicing yoga when I want to achieve a pose but are still not there, each and every step of the practice should be exciting and enjoyable not just the final pose. In my headstand practice, I look at it this way. Once I get the headstand, it is maybe like getting married. Once I achieve the final postures it may be exciting but not as much as the dating and preparation along the way! (Shhh! Please don’t let my husband read this!) So my advice from learning in Dheesan class is to enjoy the process, enjoy the present moment of practicing asanas and appreciate the same patience in your life.

My favourite quote

Like Sand In the Palm…
“Asanas are like holding sand in your palm. If you squeeze the sand by grasping the sand in your hand tightly, the sand will escape from your hand. But if you hold the sand loosely, some of the sand will remain in your hand. Relationship with the one you love is like this too.”
Quote from Master Sudhakar.

Special moments during our yoga Teacher Training:
During our TT in the mornings we had 3 hour practices with eyes closed. I totally concentrated on my inner self and felt very peaceful during the practices… so peaceful I didn’t realize time even passed. Time seemed to have stopped during our morning intensive with eyes closed. It was like I had no thoughts and could feel the stillness and calmness inside of me… almost like I was the only one existing in the universe at that moment. It was a very impressive and amazing practice. Since then I have kept my closed eyes during my self practices at home.

Give a challenge to our classmates
Try to keep a “sacred” place at your home. A place or a corner where you practice meditation, pranayama or even asanas. Then when you feel unhappy, feel down or without energy, come to that sacred place in your home and you will feel peaceful, comfortable and recharged.

Thank you for taking the time to read Fanny’s thoughts! Feel free to share your ideas with her and with all of us by posting comments. It is definitely keeping me motivated to write! Have a beautiful Sunday!

Fanny and her two favorite men in her life!

Are you happy with your asana practice?

5 Aug


Right after I whispered to Celia before class, “I don’t like Hatha 3 because I feel like I can never do the poses well enough” Master started our Hatha 3 class today with a question, “Are you happy with your asana practice?” How appropriate right?! Most of us laughed after his question and said “no.” “Why not?” He asked. Why are do we feel that our back bend is not good enough or our forward bend could be better? Why do we feel we “are not there yet?” What keeps us from experiencing a greater acceptance and enjoyment in our practice?

When we are always looking ahead instead of looking within… when we are comparing our poses with those around us we lose sight of the value of our practice and limit our ability to actually progress in the way that is best for us. Master mentioned in South India where he practiced as a youth there were no mirrors to look at himself, fancy yoga books, websites, or internet resources to show the “right” final posture, instead he relied on his teacher, a blurry old photocopied Light on Yoga book, and how he felt inside. The moment that we hesitate or put a limit and an expectation on our practice by comparing and judging ourselves we will never achieve or enjoy the process leading to a posture. Even more, he discussed how when we improve we hardly realize our improvement because we always want more. He reminded us to remember when we first started practicing… how much fun it was to just practice because we really had no idea of what we were doing or what a posture “should” look like. Master challenged us to practice today with a different perspective and a greater sense of awareness and acceptance of what we have instead of what we don’t have compared to others.

Our practice consisted of practicing falling out of headstand and pincha mayurasana with control into backbend and rotate back to our starting position. Fun right?! It was definitely a good way to break through the fear of falling and learning to control our lower bodies. We also practiced various ways of preparing for handstand and falling out of handstand.

By showing us how different practitioners have different abilities and ways to control their body in handstand I realized that I literally could not compare my body or my practice to anyone else. Eric had great upper body control, Madoka amazing hip control… each was suggested by Master to practice to improve differently. The one advice that was given for all practitioners was to keep gradually practicing the preparatory basics.

Here is Madoka practicing handstand preparation:

Today was a humbling class, not because I could or could not do handstand, but I was reminded yet again to enjoy where I was. Enjoy the practice and realize that only with an open willing attitude and proper guidance can I truly improve. If any of you have any questions about what your own strengths are in your body or any questions at all about how to improve your own practice remember to visit Master’s website on my links or email him directly!

What is yoga to me…

4 Aug


Since we did not have Dheesan class today, I thought I would accept Randy’s challenge and share some personal reflections on my own yoga journey and how Master, Dr, and so many of you have recently guided me to a deeper realization of my Self. So, here I go… what does yoga mean to me?

Although I am a fairly new asana yoga practitioner, the path of self-realization has been my purpose since as long as I can remember. I have told Master when I first began taking his classes the path of yoga is one I have been traveling my entire life I just did not have the way to accept it…

As a child, my mom never failed to remind me that my most favorite word was “why” with the burning question of “Who Am I” being the backdrop behind my constant inquiry. I had always recognized a deeper meaning in life and I sought to understand what that feeling meant. I chose to define this feeling of truth or, ” the true me,” through exploring many different facets of intellectual understanding and creativity whether that be through studying spirituality and religious traditions, philosophy, fine arts, writing, music, even fitness or I imagine relationships. My entire life for the most part has been an experiment as Dr. kindly reminds me, in explaining truth. Even though through each of my life endeavors, my passions, have burned bright with a deep sense of spirit, the fire of passion can only last so long if not nurtured with balance and most importantly acceptance. The moment you seek an answer outside instead of witnessing within, the flame dies.

I have gone through many passionate cycles in my life only to have sought an understanding from another book, person, challenge, spiritual quest, etc etc. As Master says, I have dug many shallow wells never digging deep enough for water in just one place to find what I have been seeking. Interestingly, when I began to take yoga classes initially for a new physical and mental challenge I felt a deep recognition of that inner thread that seemed to kindle and connect all of my passions in such a gentle way. I know it probably sounds silly, but I felt like I arrived at the point that I begun.

Today Sarah and I discussed the simple first Yoga Sutra of Patanjali which states:

atha yoga anushasanam

“Now, after having done prior preparation through life and other practices, the study and practice of Yoga begins.”

I know this first sutra may be simple and seem obvious, but to me it says, the purpose you have been seeking your entire life, or lifetimes is for this very moment– the one you are experiencing now. When you begin to accept that “you are on purpose,” your study and practice to truly experience yoga, or your true divine Self begins. As Sarah says, “I am right where I need to be.”

One of my most favorite philosophers Emerson, wrote, “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” Always seeking an understanding from others, I guess it has taken someone to inspire me to… just be. I think we all want someone to help us be the person we believe we should be or can be… for me for whatever reason I was ready, Master Sudhakar and Dr Madhavan have helped me begin to accept a sense of being-ness and also realize that the path of yoga can be a way to truly unite me to that deep sense always.

I know for many students, yoga is a way to release stress, improve flexibility, for pure enjoyment, a physical challenge, even a social outlet… yoga is all of these things to me, yet from my tiny lifetime of experiences and perhaps the many realizations of the past, I witness the subtler aspects of yoga too. Balance, ancient, connection, unification, truth, inner peace, moral discipline, consciousness, compassion, purification, flow, realization, guiding, light, softness, ease, fluidity, power, purpose, God, conserving energy, sharing, willingness, acceptance, letting go, loving…. being…….. and most resounding………….. stillness.

Although I am feeling more rooted in “Who Am I” through yoga, I am still here typing on a computer, thinking of what time it is, asking myself why am I writing so much, wondering if I am hungry, remembering I need to pay this bill, call my sister and parents… Peace of Mind still appears to be at least not this moment, but—– at least I have my goal in mind and I am blessed with spontaneous glimpses of what lies between those thoughts. I am so grateful for my teachers, my amazing inspirational friends… grateful for my past struggles and experiences, grateful for the path of “Who Am I” grateful for you to share with and…. grateful for this moment!

Now, may I challenge all of you to just for a moment to read the simple yoga stura above and recognize for whatever purpose you sense… that you are here for a purpose, that you have all of the answers and creative potential within TO BE– …whatever you decide. What you do with this moment or really how you perceive this moment is the true beauty of life. When you are ready to realize the path you have been journeying the inspiration will be waiting. If not now…. when? (hee hee!)

I guess I could have summed up Randy’s questions simply:

Yogah Samadhi

Twisting flow

3 Aug


Master is back and said he had an amazing time in Singapore! We missed him and were ready for his class. For all of you who took Dheesan today, I am sure you can relate when I say, Master Sudhakar truly has mastered the art of creating the most unique flow sequences! The concept of today’s class was spinal twisting (focusing on upper back) and hip and shoulder opening (integrating even parivritta janu sirsasana!). I honestly cannot describe the poses in the sequence with words so will just have to post pictures later after I practice myself again as there were variations on twisting child’s pose.

Master always says that twisting practices and postures are very powerful. Here is what one Yoga Journal article said about twisting:

“Indian yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar describes twists as a ‘squeeze-and-soak’ action: The organs are compressed during a twist, pushing out blood filled with metabolic by-products and toxins. When we release the twist, fresh blood flows in, carrying oxygen and the building blocks for tissue healing. So from the physiological standpoint, twists stimulate circulation and have a cleansing and refreshing effect on the torso organs and associated glands.”

Basically it releases inner tension physically and emotionally. I truly enjoyed the innovative flow and postures leading up to unique binding poses and challenging twists.

For me today’s class made me remember honestly why I he is my teacher– I have no time to think in his class I only can focus on whatever he is guiding me to do and experience. The moment that we moved into one posture and flowed into the next I felt fully in the moment able to embrace the experience. I believe a true teacher not only can properly teach postures and create purposeful sequences, but also can somehow keep your focus inward even if a practice is physically dynamic and challenging.

Pictures coming soon for twisting child’s pose! Oh, with all of our twisting, rotating, and flowing, Master happily commended us on our willingness to ACCEPT (one of his famous 3 A’s!) the sweat of our partner’s mat. Hmm… not sure I was accepting but will try harder next time to adjust and adapt (thanks Annie)!

Nasal Irrigation and Threading

2 Aug

Nasal Irrigation and Threading

Irrigation and threading are not what comes to mind when I think of jala neti and sutra neti but loved how the neti kriyas were described when I searched online! My fellow teacher training friends I am curious how many of you are still practicing the Hatha yoga kriya (ways of internal and external purification) practices? For those of you who practice Hatha yoga did you know that there are more traditional Hatha practices other than asanas? Everyone else, jala neti and sutra neti are traditional ways of cleaning the sinuses and nasal passages in our body. Here is a video and demonstration:

During our teacher training we practiced jala neti and sutra neti daily. I have continued the practice (for the most part–oops!) daily and have felt the practice has become a regular routine. I usually suffer from nasal allergies but have not had any symptoms for awhile. I know it looks intimidating but at least for me it is painless and like brushing my teeth now!

I am sure for many of you, you are wondering why this is a “yoga” practice. Anything that assists in further purifying the external body assists in purifying the subtle energetic layers of the “body.” Yoga assists in establishing a state of health to all aspects of our selves. Health is not just being free from disease in the physical body, but also a state of balance and ease in the mind and all of the other subtle levels in which our consciousness exists. Anything you do to care for your outer body effects you inwardly.

So even if you choose not to practice traditional kriyas it is good to form daily habits with an intention of maintaining or improving your health. Anything you do with a desire to be better than your usual state automatically makes you “feel” good. When we feel positive and good about our daily routines we are less likely to be effected by dis-ease. Today think of a few things you can do to care for you body in a way that you have put aside even if it is something as silly as floss your teeth more or drink more water. TT friends, take Dr.’s challenge and perform the kriyas at least once a week!

Practice with eyes closed

31 Jul


While attending Master and Dr.’s Vision of Yoga teacher training one of the main “visions” he and Dr. Madhavan impressed upon us was to try to practice with our eyes closed, to go within ourselves, and feel the posture, listen to our breath, and focus inward without allowing our mind to wander. With our eyes open we are always comparing ourselves to one another distracted by what is around us instead of realizing what we are doing on the inside. Yoga is meant to CONSERVE energy instead of expend energy. When we are focusing outside of ourselves we are wasting energy thinking, comparing, judging. Closing our eyes changes the experience from practicing for others to practicing for yourself.

From my teacher training notes:

The True Asana Practice

-should not produce sweat

-the friction in cells produces heat yet asana practice should reduce friction

-purifies 72,000 nadis (subtle energy channels in the body)

-should be practiced with the least physical effort

-the practice should create an inner stillness and greater acceptance within

Today I simply did 12 rounds of sun salutations with eyes closed, practiced headstand, and  performed a few rounds of nadi suddi (alternate nostril breathing pranayama). With my eyes closed I found each round of sun salutation to be a form of moving meditation. My breath was smooth and coordinated and I felt a deep sense of awareness of my body position. It was a simple yet powerful practice.

Throughout the day I tried to apply this vision to my life. How often was I comparing and judging myself to others? Was I truly aware of what I was doing? How was I spending my energy? Today taught me how attached I was to thinking and how detached I was to what I was truly doing.

We should all ask ourselves, how can we live our lives with eyes open but with the experience of our eyes closed?

Self-practice with friends and Headstand Prep

30 Jul


Master is out of town at a workshop in Singapore so a few teacher training friends and I decided to practice together. We did several rounds of Surya Namaskar, 3 rounds of Dheesan sequence (26 posture flow designed by Master) and worked together to improve our sirshasana (headstand), natarajasana (dancer’s pose), and hanumanasana (front split). Since headstand is the “King of Asanas” I will share some of Master’s tips.

In headstand we often forget to go through every step in preparation for the actual pose. Master suggests that before we progress into full headstand we  established a base in practicing dolphin pose. Here is a video that teaches dolphin which is good preparation for all inversions:

dolphin preparation

These are the steps to lead us to half headstand which Master says is the key to truly mastering a completely straight headstand which will give us the maximum benefit of the posture. Here is Annie demonstrating half-headstand

1. Sit in vajrasana (on knees) bend forward

2. Interlock elbows to measure arm distance

3. Release arms and interlace fingers with tip of thumb touching

4. Place crown of head on the floor (measure crown by placing thumb in between eyebrows and middle finger on top of head)

5. Lift knees stand on tip of toes and walk forward, shift weight completely forward standing lightly on toes

6. Lift one leg, and slowly lift the other

7. Stay in half headstand pose with back completely straight

Most people round their back and shift forward to maintain balance. Instead practice finding stability with back completely straight and chest in line with hips.  You will feel unbalanced but as our teacher says, “balance your imbalance.” Find balance in an “unbalanced” state.

Although we were all far from mastering this pose we did practice flipping our legs backwards and finding balance without curving our backs which was difficult.

Sirshasana is the “king” of asanas because it stimulates the nervous system and endocrine system, the control and regulatory systems in the body, and slows down the metabolic functions in our body as blood flow is reversed and thoughts still. As we eventually find complete balance and are in a straight line (very hard to master as initially it feels imbalanced and the fear of falling keeps us from even trying to accept the instability) our sense organs begin to stop perceiving information, thoughts cease, and peace is attained. Sirshasana helps us still our mind and conquer fear.

For me I need to remember to practice where I need improvement instead of jumping into the final posture. It is humbling to accept where you are sometimes in your self-practice but without knowing our limitations how can we receive the full benefit of a progressive practice? Sirshasana teaches me patience and letting go of the goal after I have understood what I am trying to accomplish. This pose truly reminds me of the purpose of yoga… training your mind!

I know its not headstand but a pic from our morning session-Randy assisting Edy in Natarajasana

Making time to write

29 Jul

Although I have been practicing Dheesan Yoga under Master Sudhakar’s instruction for over a little over a year, I have yet to fully commit  to maintaining his advice in keeping a daily yoga journal. Every single Dheesan class that I have taken has been unique, challenging, and always taught me something new about how to mindfully practice asanas and implement the philosophy of practice in my personal life. Hopefully this entry will be the first of many as I intend to finally heed Master’s advice and record my experiences and his teachings for myself and for all of you.