After a two month break in India, where we learned many new and interesting things, we are back again in Langkawi.
Daily classes resumed on Monday the 26th of July and we had an Intensive Yoga Retreat from the 27th of July to the 1st of August. Thanks to all the participants of the retreat who joined us on a clean up of one of the island’s waterfalls.
Here are some additional dates we have penciled in for upcoming retreats, but of course we can still work around your own dates even if they are not listed below.
- 4 day yoga retreats
- August 13 – 16
- August 16 - 19
- September 6 - 9
- September 22 - 25
- 8 day Intensive Yoga Retreat
- September 10 - 17
- 11 day Intensive Yoga Retreats
- August 21 - 31
- October 21 – 31
After waiting a full year we have finally been granted a business license. Most of the delay was due to the ongoing issue of the fatwa imposed on yoga in Malaysia since November 2008. The terms and conditions of our business license stipulate that Muslims are forbidden from attending our yoga classes and we have been told to put a sign outside our yoga studio saying “for non-Muslims only.” While we are happy to be the first, and only, licensed yoga centre in Langkawi, the legal obligation to discriminate on racial and religious grounds is unfortunate.
Asana of the month
Balasana - Child’s pose
This is a simple, but tremendously beneficial asana that can be performed with minimal effort by the majority of people.
- Kneel on the floor with the knees together and then sit with the buttock on the heels.
- Slowly lean forward supporting yourself with your hands until your forehead touches the ground.
- If possible place the centre of forehead and even the tip of the nose on the ground, without putting too much pressure on the nose.
- Place the hands beside the feet with the palms turned upwards.
- Relax the shoulders and elbows.
- Keep the eyes closed.
- Breathe slowly.
- Relax the whole body.
Keep the awareness on:
- A - The contact between the thighs and the abdomen.
- B - The lower back, visualizing the individual vertebrae separating as you inhale.
- C - The contact of the forehead with the floor. Feel the blood coming down into the face and the frontal lobes of the brain.
If the forehead doesn’t reach the ground comfortably you can make adjustments by placing one fist on top of the other and supporting the forehead on them and/or move the knees apart.
Keeping the knees apart is helpful for those who have a little extra around the waist or particularly for women with big breasts.
Keep the buttocks on the heels or if necessary place a cushion or a folded towel between the buttocks and the heels.
Remember the important thing in any asana is to be comfortable and particularly so in Balasan where the emphasis is on relaxation.
As a semi inverted pose where the heart is higher than the head, the brain, and particularly the frontal lobes, which are responsible for higher cognitive and decision making faculties, get thoroughly irrigated with oxygen rich blood.
The lower vertebrae get a nice gentle stretch and this pose is particularly useful as a counter pose after back-bending.
On a psychological and emotional level this is also a wonderful counter pose to the back bending which can often make people a little agitated, anxious or even angry due to the stimulation of the adrenal glands and the subsequent release of adrenaline into the bloodstream.
There is also a very strong body memory linked to this fetal position which helps us feel more secure and grounded.
Child’s pose is very useful in dealing with the emotional crises that life invariably throws at us sooner or later.
It sooths and calms the mind and as such can be used to treat problems like insomnia or hyperactivity. Practice for ten minutes before bed and you’ll find yourself much calmer as you put your head on the pillow.
Recipe of the month
- 1 cup cooked chick peas.
- 4 tablespoons of tahini.
- 4 table spoons of olive oil.
- 4 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Salt to taste.
In the last newsletter we looked at how to make your own homemade Tahini from scratch at a fraction of the cost of commercially available products. Tahini is one of the important ingredients for making authentic Hommos, though at a push you can get by without it.
The main ingredient of course is chick peas, one of the best and most easily digestible sources of protein. Chick peas contain as much protein as meat but the body actually assimilates more protein from chick peas than from meat. If you ate chick peas even once a week instead of meat you would increase your protein intake and at the same time you would be doing the planet a big favour by reducing all the methane produced by livestock. Plus it makes more economic and ecologic sense to eat something that grows rather than feeding it to animals and then eating the animals. Ethically… well, definitely less blood spilled when making hommos.
You can either use canned chickpeas or alternatively buy dried chickpeas which should be soaked in clean water overnight. A pressure cooker is one of the quickest and easiest ways to cook chickpeas.
The key is not to add salt to the water as this will make the chickpeas tough and difficult for grinding into paste.
The secret is to add a little baking soda ( a pinch or two) to the cooking water and then the chickpeas will be very tender and soft enough to mash with a fork if needs be.
Canned chickpeas are usually pre-cooked, but they can be cooked for a few minutes to soften them up and to get rid of some of the preservative used in the can.
Put the chickpeas, lemon juice and olive oil into a blender and mix to a paste. Add a little water if necessary and then add the tahini.
If you don’t have a blender a sieve over a bowl can do the trick at a push. You’ll need a strong fork and a bit of elbow grease to push the chickpeas through the sieve. The resulting paste will be a little more coarse than with a blender, but that has its charm too. If you add a little more baking soda when cooking the chickpeas it will make this a lot easier. Then add the other ingredients and mix well.
Some people add garlic to hommos, but traditionalist will frown on this and the only reason to do so would be to mask the taste of bad ingredients.
Serve at room temperature with a little olive oil dribbled on top and accompanied with carrot or celery sticks or fresh bread or use it as a spread.
Keep the feedback coming and feel free to ask any questions you would like to see answered in upcoming newsletters.
If have any feedback or if there are any topics you would like us to cover, or if you have any yoga related questions that you think might be of interest for any future newsletters just let us know.
Thanks for your time and wishing you peace and harmony in your daily lives.
Hari om tat sat.
Marc and Meng Foong (a.k.a M&M)
May all beings be happy.
Determination, courage and self-confidence are the key factors for success. If we have firm determination, we can work out obstacles and difficulties. Whatever the circumstances, we should remain humble, modest and without pride.
- Dalai Lama