Namaste Yoga Festival in Jakarta – Nov 2013

A weekend of yoga with great teachers, amazing Indonesian food and relaxing hair spas – what more can I ask from a short weekend jaunt overseas?

In late November, I attended the Namaste Festival at Hotel Sultan in Jakarta. This was three days worth of workshops ranging from yoga classes to martial arts to recycle art. The yoga classes were the main attraction naturally. Because we signed up very early for the festival, we paid only S$130 each (it was a one-for-one deal) for the full festival pass. Barbara, who attended a similar festival in Hong Kong earlier this year, paid about S$500 for that event. This Indonesian one was a very good deal indeed.

The festival took place in downtown Jakarta at Hotel Sultan. We were fortunate that we were able to bunk in for three days with our Indonesian friend Rosiva who lived just 10 minutes away and didn’t have to waste money on accommodation.

The hotel grounds were humongous. All the tennis courts were converted into marquees for the yoga workshops. Here we posed at the pool.

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Yoga – three-legged downward-facing dog

Phew, what a mouthful! This pose that I’m going to get Alicia to demonstrate today is called the three-legged downward-facing dog, or three-legged dog in short, or even one-legged dog. Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana is the tongue twister if you want one.

third legged dog

This pose requires flexibility in the hamstrings and hip flexors. Notice how her back foot is grounded into the floor and she is pushing deeply with her hands. Also important is the hips and shoulders must remain square, i.e. one side of the body shouldn’t be lifted higher than the other.

I will now show you what YOU SHOULD NOT DO in three-legged dog.

three legged downward dog

This is my three-legged dog. This is a common mistake made by inflexible people like me who try to lift their leg as high as possible. What happens is that my right hip is twisted and raised higher than my left hip. My body is no longer aligned. My right knee isn’t facing the ground. I should have lowered my leg and concentrate on my hip and back rather than trying to force the height.

Today at yoga class, I told Alicia, “Okay, now take a photo of me. This is the yoga fail version of your pose.”

“Don’t call it yoga fail… Just say it’s the getting-there photo.”

She was being kind but I shall agree with her and say I’m getting there.

I found a good graphic showing how to get into this pose. As you can see, the hips should be of equal height and the knee should face downwards.

1001-down-dog-splitSource: Women’s Health Mag

If you would like to check out more of our yoga antics, click here.

Yoga – front splits

Front splits

After a good body combat workout session last night, I asked Alicia to demonstrate her front splits. The front split, in yoga speak, is also known as monkey pose or Hanumanasana. In one yoga class that I went to, the teacher told us to get into our “monkey pose” and we all returned her instruction with blank stares. Since then, I knew what the monkey pose was, although I beg to disagree how Alicia looks like a monkey here. If you recall, she also demonstrated the Dancer’s pose in another post.

Once this is mastered, there are variations that can be added to the split, including backbends:

Front splits backbend

A more challenging pose would be to grab the toes of the back leg, which pushes the back thigh deeper into the mat:

Monkey pose

In contrast, this is my current progress. I still have a long way more to go. Splits are one of those things that I’ve always wanted to achieve and it takes daily hard work of practising – something I’ve clearly failed at!

CYMERA_20130601_104401

I had a very good yoga teacher called Brenda who has since left Singapore to work in the US. She told me that once I’m down to my maximum split, I should lean forward until my belly touches my front thigh and hold the pose for a while. Then I should lean backwards into a slightly backbend to get a stretch for my back leg. Essentially, it’s shifting my weight back and forth to put pressure on the front and back legs, which would help me get down quicker.

I like this video from Yogi Juls that explains how to get into the splits.