Ten Sanskrit Terms I learned in our local Yoga Studio

There are plenty of reasons why people go to a Yoga Studio. Some go to improve their physique. They want to be flexible and strong. Some go for mental clarity to deal with their everyday hangups. Others, to improve their spirituality. They try to create or renew their relationship with God, their universe, or their higher self.

I have been attending Yoga sessions at The Yoga Playroom for ten weeks now. It has served me well in all aspects—physically, spiritually and mentally. As a bonus, I get to learn beautiful words from the ancient Sanskrit language. And really, they are lovely words.

The Sanskrit language is one of the oldest languages in the planet. Sanskrit means refined. It is the major religious language used by Hindus and Buddhists around the world.

For this post, I want to share the ten favourite Sanskrit words I learned at the Yoga Playroom.

Ujjayi Breath – this was the first Sanskrit word I learned aside from the word “yoga.” Our teacher reminded us that being mindful with the breath will be helpful for the practice. She sat next to us and demonstrated Ujjayi breath (yogic breathing). It’s breathing through the nose with a sensation felt at the back of the throat.

Asana or Yoga Poses- this is one of the most common Sanskrit terms you will hear in the studio. You usually add the word Asana to every yoga pose like tadASANA or bakASANA.

Savasana or the corpse pose- this is one of my favourite poses because it is a resting pose. It also signals the end of the yoga session. But, it is one of the most challenging poses because it requires you to let go, and letting go is difficult.

Dhyana- Asana or Yoga poses is just one of the many kinds of yoga. In our Tuesday classes, our teacher would ask to come earlier for Dhyana or meditation. It’s sitting still and focusing on the breath. Dhyana is one of the eight limbs of Yoga.

Prana or Life Force- This is our breath. Without prana, we are nothing.

Pranayama- if Prana is breath, Pranayama means managing the breath. Every now and then, our teachers would tell us to lengthen our inhales and exhales.

Drishti or focused gaze- In most asanas, our teacher would ask us to gaze at one point: “Gaze at the back” or “gaze at your mat” or “gaze at your toes.” Drishti leads to focus and concentration. I often hear our teachers say the Sanskrit word during Warrior poses and balancing poses.

Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation is the most common flow we do at the studio. It is a series of Asanas.

Ahimsa or non-violence. This is our teacher’s favourite word. It means being kind to others and being kind to yourself. Doing yoga is sometimes frustrating. I have experienced episodes of frustrations whenever I am the only person in the room who cannot do the pose. But this word reminds me that it’s ok not slay the poses and it’s also ok to get frustrated. Also, Ahimsa goes beyond the mat. This is how we treat other sentient beings.

Last but not least, NAMASTE, a staple word at the end of the yoga session. It means honouring the light in everyone, including oneself.

Namaste and I hope you enjoyed this! If you wish to drop by at the Studio, click here for more info.

Trying Out Osho’s Dynamic Meditation at Home

Spirituality is rebellion; religiousness is orthodoxy. Spirituality is individuality; religiousness is just remaining part of the crowd psychology. Religiousness keeps you a sheep, and spirituality is a lion’s roar. – Osho

I did not know anything about Osho except for his fierce quotes I see on Pinterest and Instagram. He has this huge eyes and long white beard, wearing a long sparkling robe. I attempted to draw him before because his looks were very iconic. And then I watched the Netflix documentary, Wild Wild Country. It was part expose and part “educational”. It is about the cult he established in the 80s called Rajneeshpuram. Everyone must watch the documentary because it is very relatable. It tackled the good, the bad, and the ugly of EVERY institution, religion, cult, or organisation.

I still find Osho and his teachings very relevant and inspirational even if the cult made me cringe. I still regard him as one of the greatest teachers of the modern world.

One of his legacies was his famous Dynamic Meditation. For Osho, to still the mind and the body, you must undergo intense physical activity and catharsis. The Dynamic Meditation is a 5-stage meditation technique leading to stillness. The cult members claimed the effect of this meditation similar to being high. I was sceptical at first, but my curiosity led me to try it. I prepared my room, cleared out all the clutter and finally opened the video on youtube (for the music).

This meditation is actually done as a group meditation, but I tried it on my own, in the comfort of my room.

Below are the stages and my reaction to every stage:

Stage 1: Breathing chaotically for 10 minutes. This is intense breathing as if you are exhaling even the mucous inside your nose. You use your whole body for the momentum of the exhalation. You can jump, move or hop to exhale, but make sure not to make a pattern out of it. Let it still be a flow.

Experience: My nose cleared out. I tried it while I have allergic rhinitis. I almost fell into the trap of making a pattern out of my body movement.

Stage 2: Let it all out. You can shout, cry, or punch a pillow. You have to release everything. You have to let it all out like this is your only chance to let go of stress, anger, fear, worries, pain and suffering. You do this for another 10 minutes.

Experience: This was a very cathartic moment for me. I cried my heart out. I remember my mom who was suffering from Cancer and her chemotherapy. I remember how unfair life is. I remember the cruelty of this world, the endless suffering, the chaos. I punched the pillows around me. I shouted like it’s my last day on Earth.

Stage 3: When you think it is over, you have to raise your hands and jump up and down while shouting “Hoo Hoo” as your mantra. Again, you do this for 10 minutes.

Experience: My body was full of salt because of the sweat and tears of Stage 2, and now I have to do this exhausting stage 3. I felt tired by jumping up and down, but I must not stop. My heart palpitated. My knees got tired. But I had to exhaust everything in me. I was on the verge of quitting the meditation, but I tried my best not to.

Stage 4: After jumping, you have to pause at the 10th minute. You must not move at all from your last position. You have to stay still for 15 minutes.

Experience: Weirdly, I did not feel any discomfort, but I felt my whole body. I felt the rush of blood throughout my body. I was vibrating. When was the last time you felt that you are one with your body? Have you ever felt as if every cell in your body is alive?

Stage 5: Dance and celebrate. You can sway with the music. You can dance like you are a crazy person. Enjoy the present moment. This is for 15 minutes.

Experience: I actually just sat down during this stage, took some fruits and enjoyed the moment. I was smiling the whole time. I was laughing about the stupidity and craziness I did. But it felt good. I felt that I was high. It was bliss.

My favourite part was Stage 2. It felt good to shed all those tears and all those emotional baggage I was carrying. Now I understand why the Rajneeshis looked like they were floating in clouds. Maybe if you do this on a regular basis, you can empty yourself and float wherever the wind takes you.

Will I do this again? Yes. But I cannot actually do this on a regular basis. I could repeat this every quarter or twice a year.

Osho designed other meditation modalities, but this one was the most used and most popular among spiritual seekers. So before I end this, let me quote one of my favourite Osho quotes:

“Experience life in all possible ways –good-bad, bitter-sweet, dark-light,summer-winter. Experience all the dualities. Don’t be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more mature you become.”― Osho

Meditations at the Chemo Department

As I write this, mom is inside the Chemo room having her 7th out of the 8th round of Oxaliplatin. We are almost done with the treatment. It’s nearly 9 months since the diagnosis.

The view is the same every 3 weeks. Patients are waiting for their turns. Some are wearing wigs. Others believe that bald is bold. Oxy does not make you bald, and we are thankful for that. Either way, that was the least of our problems. We only want mom and other patients to survive this.

My maternal auntiedom is here—from Mom’s eldest sister to the youngest sister in law. Like me, they do not want to miss a session. They alternately go inside the treatment room for attendance. Visitors are medicine, too. Love is overflowing.

Kids are playing and running around the place. They have no idea what was happening inside the chemo room. Or they are aware. My first encounter with a cancer patient was when I was 8, and that was still vivid to me, and it still haunts me.

My dad is drinking his macchiato. I buy him coffee for breakfast. This is becoming a tradition already, part of our new normal. In fact, I usually get my coffee at a Starbucks near the hospital. The barista will usually do their spiels:

“How’s your day?”

“I am good.”

“Do you have class or work today?”

“No. I came from the hospital. My mom is having chemo today”,

Then they will give me their genuine smile because people are generally lovely.

I was looking the faces of the significant others of the patients. Are they ok? How are they coping? Are they scared?

The chemo unit of the hospital suffocates me. But, it is also comforting knowing that we are not alone in this battle. We all know what randomness means. The randomness of receiving a cancer diagnosis to the “Why Me?” questions of the patient. We all want to set aside our values and maturity and say “FUCK YOU, CANCER!”

At 11am, I go up to check on the newborn babies at the nursery. I have 2 thoughts, “Welcome to Earth! Life is sooo good and beautiful” and “Poor babies, life is suffering”. We cannot separate sadness from happiness, ugliness from beauty, the yin from the yang.

The chemo unit scene is one of the many faces of the reality of life. You see the pain in every bad prognosis and happiness in every report of healing and remission. It is also a sacred place to realise things you don’t usually learn in other areas.

Praying and hoping that all will be well for all the cancer patients and their caregivers.

May the divine bless you with good health and good tea and coffee!

New Moon, New Blog

Disclaimer: This blog may offend you.

“Hey Darby, I heard that you have gotten weirder?”, my former life group leader told me when we saw each other in McDonald’s. I wrote a blog post years ago about this transcendental spiritual experience I have had with a local shaman. People read it. The word “shaman” is a taboo to a lot of people.

A week after that, my dad confronted me because one of my aunts told him that I was into “New Agey” stuff. Again, it was because of that same blog post I wrote. My dad and I laughed it off because that same shaman was able to encourage my dad to drink green smoothies every day. Although I find this genuine concern from friends and family members funny, I stopped writing about spiritual stuff. I stopped writing about matters not accepted by traditional Christianity. I deleted the blog. It was an interesting blog with stories about tolerance and beautiful people with different belief systems.

I grew up in a Methodist church with equally colourful rituals and traditions like the esoteric faith systems of the east. I love bible studies, Sunday schools, choir practice, praise and worship and out of town youth gigs. After my college graduation, I travelled around Asia. I deconstructed my childhood beliefs and tried to construct it on my own again. Although I have great respect for my parents’ beliefs, something inside me wanted more. I needed to give myself the favour of at least personally search for something that will work for me.

Spirituality amazes me. One faith system would claim that they are the ONLY way. Others would say all faith systems complete each other. I believe the latter.

I remember when we were in Kuala Lumpur, a Muslim family from Iraq hosted us. My impressions of Iraq were Sadam Hussein, civil wars, terrorism and religious extremism. Anyway, the eldest son toured us around town the whole day. He was a vegetarian, a yogi and practices Islam. Quite a combination. While travelling, he showed us a picture of his mom who was picking flowers in South Iraq. “There are flowers in Iraq?”, I said to my ignorant self. When we finally arrived in his apartment, he introduced us to his mother and brother. His mom looks pretty. She prepared for us a bowl of fruits and told us something in Arabic. His son translated it. What she told us changed my view.

“Christianity, Judaism and Islam complete each other. One cannot survive without the other.”

Then she stood up, took a couple of traditional Iraqi scarves and gave them to us. “Give these to your mothers”, she said. I will never forget that moment. Whenever I hear religious intolerance in the news, I recall that memory.

I do not believe that God is a dull, monotonous deity with a long beard and a white robe. He loves variety. He is colourful and creative energy. That is why I have decided to recreate my old blog. This is a great blog topic and a topic that the world needs to hear.

To make things “weirder”, I will launch a new blog on a December New Moon, because why not? December is the name of my mom and this month is her birth month. For some people, the energy of the New Moon is good energy to start anew. To make it much weirder, according to some, it is the luckiest New Moon of the year.

I hope you enjoy this blog and please comment below regarding your thoughts. Peace!