Yoga and Muscles? Yoga was never designed to build muscles. But if you already practice yoga and want to build strength and muscles at the same time, then why not combine the best of both worlds? They actually complement each other. While being on the spiritual path, we also need strength to add vitality to our day-to-day lives. The same yoga asanas can be performed, slightly differently, with the same focus on breath, mindfulness and non-reaction.
The Japanese Doctor's Method I came upon a Japanese program featuring a Japanese doctor developing his own method in building muscle mass for car-accident patients who suffered atrophy. The movements are exactly the same as that of the gym, but a lot slower. It's too slow that synchronizing a slow breath with that slow movement would leave you gasping. Thus, several full breaths have to be squeezed-in within one movement. Add the yogic qualities of deep steady and slow breathing, mental focus, non-reaction, visualization of the outcome, and you cannot distinguish anymore the routine from a yogic asana.
The 90-Minute Class
Introduction - complementary or contradictory?, Japanese doctor, breath (deep, slow, steady from the nose) + mindfulness + non-reaction remain the priority. Give a heads-up on what the class will be like - breathing, then asana, then vinyasa.
Asana - asana will always be followed by + vinyasa + 30 breaths
Push-up for Scapula - high plank, exhale, lower down the body while keeping the hands straight, squeezing the shoulder blades together. Inhale, lifting up, rounding off the back, shoulder blades moving far apart, one minute + vinyasa + 30 breaths
Push-up for Triceps - high plank, hands facing each other, lower down very slowly, elbows pointing towards the side. Hover, don't touch the ground. Slowly push down to lift up, one minute + vinyasa + 30 breaths. NOTE: If the push-up becomes too strenuous at the end, you can push-up from the knee while keeping the body straight.
Push-up for Pecs - high plank with palms lower down on the side ribcage (not the chest). Exhale, lower down very slowly, elbows pointing to the back. Hover, don't touch the ground. Inhale slowly push down to lift up, one minute + vinyasa + 30 breaths.
Leg Raises for Lower Abs - one minute, one minute + vinyasa + 30 breaths.
Seated In-and-Outs for Upper Abs - one minute, + vinyasa + 30 breaths
Body Arching for Hamstring/Gluts - curving the body up, not bending knees, heels and shoulders pressing against the mat, one minute + vinyasa + 30 breaths
Superman/Airplane/Locust for Lower Back followed by Half Forward Bends - one minute on Superman then one minute on repeated tadasana-half forward fold-tadasa (Ardha Uttanasana)+ vinyasa + 30 breaths. The half forward bend is easy so it's best to pre-fatigue the lower back by doing the Superman first.
One-legged Squats for Thighs - from standing pose, bend one knee while lifting the other leg forward. Go down as low as possible with one leg carrying the full body weight. Exhale on the way back, other side for one minute + vinyasa + 30 breaths
Two-legged Squats for Thighs - because the thighs are already tired from the previous. One minute + vinyasa + 30 breaths
One-legged Calf Raises - better if there is a ledge. One minute, then other leg + vinyasa + 30 breaths
Back on a Wall with Bent Knees - this emulates sitting on an invisible chair. Just stay here for one minute + vinyasa + 30 breaths. For fun, this can also be done partner-yoga style.
Handstand Push-up for Shoulders - wall-assisted, one minute + vinyasa + 30 breaths. This requires a lot of strength to do even just one. To prepare for it, just do a slow decline - this develops the same muscles needed to do a full handstand push-up.
Clasped Hands pushing Up and Down - 30 seconds each side, breathing the entire time then relax the body completely while doing 5 intense Ujjayi breaths.
Pushing Palms Together - 30 seconds, palms pressed together by the solar plexus. Push together while breathing then relax the body completely while doing 5 intense Ujjayi breaths.
Interlaced Fingers Pulling Each Other - 30 seconds each side then relax the body completely while doing 5 intense Ujjayi breaths.
Knees Pushing Out - 30 seconds, sit with legs bent and together, lock arms together outside the legs. On exhale, push the knees sideways away from each other while being blocked by the arms. Breath continuously then relax the body completely while doing 5 intense Ujjayi breaths.
Knees Pushing In - sit with legs bent and shoulder-width apart, lock arms together inside the legs with elbows open on the side. On exhale, push the knees towards each other while being blocked by the arms then relax the body completely while doing 5 intense Ujjayi breaths.
Row - use chairs or go underneath a table. Facing up, lift the body up by pulling against the table's edges and repeat + vinyasa + 30 breaths
Ending Thoughts I saw an interview with a Tibetan Lama who just finished a multi-year retreat where he was just in meditation. He said he wanted badly to achieve a constant ekagrata-citta(single-pointed focus of the mind), but his body was an impediment to the goal - in short, his physicality was his limitation. With all due respect, I take the opposite view: I pursue dhamma not in isolation but by living life in the default world together with all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams. I need spiritual fortitude, yes, but equally, I need strength and muscles to run the gauntlet of life. It's not enough that I can effortlessly climb a flight of steps - I want to climb mountains...and I do. This practice allows me to ground one leg on solid reality while the other leg dances on Cloud 9.
Joanne @inhaledeeplyexhalefully (Jul 30, 2020) You are a fantastic teacher, Gigit. I appreciate a teacher who leads me to go further to my limits.
Thank you so much for your passion and sharing your knowledge 🙂 I am lucky to get training from you!
Gigit (Jul 30, 2020) Not all yogis push themselves to the point of failure - that doesn't just take a strong body but a strong mind - you have both! Your devotion to your practice is unwavering and consistent. I'd like to meet you again in 5 years just to see how far you've come.
(July 31, 2020) Chiang Mai has been resuming normalcy from the Covid lockdown. Events are back and people are beginning to come out. Yoga in the Park is now daily. Chiang Mai Blues Band is now gigging at My Bar and Thaphae East. I saw old friends who managed to stay intact during the lockdown. Some were stuck somewhere else awaiting for Thailand's borders to open up again. The first order of the day was to let old friends know I was back. I've already invited a few for a catch-up at Nawa Saraan or just around the bend at EM16 Bar.....more »»
(Sep 30, 2020) Siddhis are yogic super natural powers that develop involuntarily as the yogi's practice goes deeper and more focused. There are 64 minor siddhis and 8 major siddhis ranging from clairvoyance to levitation.....more »»
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bus Station Train Station Chiang Mai International Airport Nong Buak Hard Park - free yoga classes daily
Arun Dara Villa - 7 exclusive rooms, 1 swimming pool for every room, grand opening
Nawa Sheeva Hotel - big rooms, high ceiling, salt-water pool, restaurant, cafe
Nawa Saraan Hotel - low density (4 spacious rooms), stone garden setting, Koi fish pond, Old City location
Arun Suite - 3 bedrooms in a 3-storie guesthouse within Old City, ideal for families
Tawan Bike - motorcycle rental | +66 91 635 2863 | Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200
Chiang Mai FYI / Tips
crop-burning season in Chiang Mai is between late Feb to early April. But laws change everytime. This year, 2019, there is a 61-day ban on burning so the farmers started burning early. When my plane was approaching Chiang Mai on Jan 24, 2019, there was already a thick blanket of smog covering the entire city (and beyond). But within the city itself, you won't feel it (but that doesn't mean the air is healthy). To monitor air conditions in real time, refer to site: Chiang Mai Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI)
hot season begins March and lasts until June
wet season begins July and lasts until September
best time to visit Chiang Mai is mid-September to mid-February - after the monsoon and before the burning
you have to try Khao Soi, this is north Thailand's culinary staple
the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located in the Old City
to exchange your dollars to Thai Baht, the Super Rich Money Exchange give the best rates. There are many branches scattered around Chiang Mai
get a red cab (songthao) outside the train station for Baht 50 (instead of paying B100 if inside the train station) to Old City - if you haggle nicely enough...I did!
shared red taxi (songthao) - B30 standard fare plying all over Old City
for only B50/day, best to rent a bike to go around the Old City - it's a 2.5km2 with lots to discover
FREE daily yoga classes from 9:00am to 10:15am at Nong Buak Hard Park (southwest corner of Old City). Resident and passing-through teachers take turns conducting yoga classes.
Blues/Jazz Bars in Chiang Mai
North Gate Pub - at Chang Phueg Gate, great Tuesday jam session, Blues on Sundays by the 11pm band
Taphae East - 88 Thapae Rd. (just north of Night Bazaar). Fridays at 9:30pm by Chiang Mai Blues Band
Boy Blues Bar - at the Night Bazaar. Mondays at 9:30pm is open mic
Chiang Mai Cost Index
B60 Chiang beer
B250 1 hour drop-in yoga session
B200 one hour Thai body massage at WAYA Massage(highly recommended)
B50 noodle soup with meat
B40 pad thai
B30/kilo wash-only laundry
B50/kilo wash+iron laundry
B100-150 dorm bed/night
B250 fan room/night
B30 internet cafe/hour
B170-190 Movies Sat-Sun and public holidays
B130-150 Movies weekdays
B100 Movies Wednesdays (movie discount day)
B750 1/2 day Thai cooking lessons
B900-1000 1 full day Thai cooking lessons
B400 Muay Thai boxing ticket
B2500 starting room rate at the luxury hotel, Nawa Sheeva(highly recommended)
B450 bus, Chiang Mai to Bangkok
B160-180 bus, Chiang Mai to Pai
B1250 bus, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
B1650 slow boat, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
B210 bus, Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, 3-4 hours
B360 Green VIP bus, Chiang Mai to Mae Sai (Thai border town for visa run to Tachileik, Myanmar)
B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours
B200 motorbike rental, 24 hours
B273 #51 sleeping train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
How to Get a 60-Day Thai Tourist Visa and then Extend by another 30 Days
60-Day Thai Tourist Visa
NOTE: There is no need to go back to your country to get the Thai tourist visa. Any major city with a Thai Embassy will do. Apparently there is also no need to have an invitation from a Thai establishment to justify the visa.
Bring the following to the Thai embassy:
a) proof of money (bank statement will suffice)
b) flight booking to Thailand
c) onward flight back to your country from Thailand
d) filled-in tourist visa form
e) 2 passport pictures
f) hotel booking in Thailand (they didn't ask me for this but better be safe)
g) passport with at least 6 months validity
After handing over all the documents, they will ask you to come pick your passport with the visa the following day from 4 to 5pm. That's it!
NOTE: after 2 successful attempts, I was already questioned the 3rd time.
NOTE: When your 60-day visa is close to expiry and you want to extend your stay. No need to leave Thailand.
bring the following to the Immigration Office:
a) passport (make sure your Tourist Visa hasn't expired yet)
b) Baht 1900
c) photocopy of your passport + visa duration date stamp + TM6 card (white immigration card) and sign all the copies
d) completed TM7 visa extension form (available at the Immigration Office)
e) one 4cmx6cm passport picture
submit the above to the Front Desk. They will give you a stub with your number on it. Take a seat and wait for your number to be called
when your number is called, your picture will be taken. Then go back to your seat. They will call you again.
when they call you again, they'll give you your passport with your extended visa. That's it!
when there are no lines, the whole process can take only 10 minutes
arrive early - in case there is a snag (visa snag, documentation snag, transport ticket snag, etc.), you will have ample time to troubleshoot the problem if you arrive early (to the airport, to the bus terminal, etc.)
put detailed itinerary on the Calendar apps of your smart-phone according to timelines - this is where you do all your thinking and planning. Once written down, you don't have to think anymore while you are on the journey...you just follow the steps. This frees your mind for something else that might happen while you are already en route
avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!