My Vipassana Meditation Journey and How It Transformed Me

As I arrived at Dhamma Malaya Vipassana Center, anticipation and nervousness filled my heart. I was about to embark on a ten-day Vipassana meditation and mindfulness course. Little did I know that this journey would test my resilience and patience, challenge my beliefs, and ultimately transform the way I see things.

During the ten-day meditation retreat, we were required to surrender our mobile phones, disconnecting from the outside world and observe noble silence. The course emphasized a complete immersion into the practice, which also meant refraining from reading, writing, exercising (what! no yoga allowed?), making eye contact, or engaging in any form of body communication. These guidelines were designed to help us fully benefit from the practice by eliminating external distractions. It was a challenging but essential part of the experience.

To find out more about Vipassana, click here.

The Battle Within

The initial three days were the toughest! I was full of judgments, full of resistance, and my mind was a chaotic whirlwind of thoughts. Sitting in silence, cross-legged on my meditation cushion (for 11 hours a day), I felt an overwhelming restlessness and discomfort. The numbing of my legs and the pain in my knees and right shoulder blade seemed unbearable. Grief and sadness came to visit and insisted on staying for three agonizing days.

Then, on the evening of the third day, after the 7pm discourse, a shift happened. As I sat on my meditation cushion, I started observing my thoughts and sensations in my body without judgment, like a detached observer. I began to pay attention to the present moment with sharpness of mind, and a sense of calm washed over me. Slowly, the storm within me began to settle. The discomfort in my knees disappeared, the pain in my shoulder blade was still there but it didn’t bother me as much, and I was able to commit to sitting still without having to change my sitting position for one full hour! All because I whispered these words to myself- let go, surrender and trust.

When we surrender, let go, and wholeheartedly trust the process, a remarkable shift occurs. As we release our grip on control, we create space for the universe to work its magic. It is in this surrender that I found freedom from resistance and opened myself up to a flow of divine guidance. As I trusted the unfolding of the ten-day course and embrace the present moment, I allowed myself to be carried effortlessly towards my highest good.

Embracing The Practice

Meditation and mindfulness can help us change the way we view the outer world.

Things started to get easier day four onwards. What had initially felt like an uphill battle started to yield to a gentler rhythm. Though challenges still arose during the course, I encountered them with a newfound sense of equanimity. I realized that the true challenge lay not in the external circumstances, but in my own reactions and attachments. By cultivating equanimity and non-reactivity, I was able to navigate through the entire course with grace.

Before embarking on the course, I feared that reconnecting back with the outside world would be challenging. However, to my delight, the inner balance cultivated during this ten-day meditation and mindfulness retreat made the transition remarkably smooth. The challenges and stresses that once seemed overwhelming no longer held the same power over me. Now, more than ever, I am committed to continuing the practice of meditation daily.

As I reflect on that transformative ten days, I am grateful for the strength and resilience that emerged within me, reminding me of the profound beauty that lies in embracing life’s challenges with equanimity.

If you’re new to meditation and mindfulness, you might find this article helpful.

PS: I had the privilege of observing this tree just outside my room. It was probably on day five did I realize the tree had been shedding its leaves, embodying the impermanence of nature. And as the days passed, a sense of awe filled me as I witnessed the tree beginning to sprout new leaves, symbolizing renewal and growth. Witnessing the tree’s journey was truly magical, a gentle reminder of the profound wisdom and harmony that nature holds.

Yoga for Mental Health: How Yoga Can Improve Mental Health

When it comes to improving your mental health, there is nothing more effective than yoga. Yoga has been shown to improve mental health in a variety of ways, including reducing stress, improving mood, and increasing self-esteem.

Yoga is an effective treatment for mental health because it helps to reduce stress. Stress is a major trigger for mental health problems, so anything that can help to reduce it is extremely beneficial. Yoga works by helping you to relax both your body and your mind, which leads to reduced stress levels.

We also recommend you check out Harvard Health’s insightful article talking about the relationship between yoga and mental health.

Lets dive into how yoga can do wonders for your mental health:

What is yoga and what are its benefits for mental health

Yoga is an ancient practice that originates from India. It is a system of physical and mental exercises that aim to promote health and well-being. Yoga has many benefits for mental health, including reducing stress, improving mood, and increasing self-esteem.

Yoga works by helping you to relax both your body and your mind. This leads to reduced stress levels and improved mental health. In addition, yoga also helps to improve mood by increasing levels of serotonin, the “happy hormone”. Finally, yoga can help to increase self-esteem by promoting body confidence and positive body image.

All of these factors combine to make yoga an extremely effective treatment for mental health problems.

How yoga can be used to improve specific mental health conditions

While yoga is beneficial for all mental health conditions, it can be particularly helpful for conditions such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD.

For anxiety, yoga can help to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as heart rate and breathing rate. In addition, yoga can also help to improve mood and reduce stress levels. This combination of effects makes yoga an extremely effective treatment for anxiety.

For depression, yoga can help to improve mood by increasing levels of serotonin. In addition, yoga can also help to increase self-esteem and body confidence. These factors combine to make yoga a very effective treatment for depression.

Yoga poses that are beneficial for mental health

Yoga has a wide variety of positions that can help your body and mind in different ways. Below are three yoga poses that are particularly beneficial for mental health:

Child’s pose is a restorative pose that helps to reduce stress and promote relaxation. It is also helpful for increasing body confidence and self-esteem.

Downward facing dog is an energizing pose that helps to improve mood and relieve stress. It is also helpful for reducing anxiety and improving self-esteem.

Warrior II is a powerful pose that helps to increase confidence and self-esteem. It is also helpful for relieving stress and promoting relaxation.

All of these yoga poses are beneficial for mental health in different ways. Try incorporating them into your yoga practice

Tips for incorporating yoga into your daily routine to improve your mental health

It’s always important to remember that any yoga is good yoga. Even if you only have time for a few minutes, the benefits of yoga will still be there. Here are a few tips for incorporating yoga into your daily routine:

-Find a time that works for you: Yoga is an extremely versatile practice that can be done at any time of day. If you’re a morning person, try doing some yoga as soon as you wake up. If you’re more of a night owl, try doing some yoga before bed.

-Start with a basic practice: If you’re new to yoga, start with a basic practice. There are plenty of beginner-friendly classes and videos available online.

-Make it your own: Don’t be afraid to personalize your practice. Choose the yoga poses that you enjoy the most and focus on your breath.

-Be patient: Yoga is a practice that takes time to master. Don’t be discouraged if you can’t do a certain yoga pose or if you don’t feel the benefits right away. Just keep practicing and be patient.

Yoga Classes for Destressing and Relaxation

If you’re looking to relax and unwind, a great way it is to contact a yoga instructor to help improve relaxation and mental clarity. This can be especially helpful if you’re struggling with anxiety, stress, or insomnia. A regular yoga practice can help to promote a healthy sleep schedule and ease tension in the body.

Yoga instructors can also help you help deal with difficult emotions. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or sad, consider taking a yoga class specifically designed to help address these emotions. There are many different styles of yoga, so it’s important to find one that feels right for you.

At YogaLumino we have yoga classes that cater to different experience levels and needs. If you are looking to de-stress or relax, there are specific classes that can help you achieve that goal. In addition, we offer private lessons or sessions, which can be tailored specifically to your needs.

Mindful Yoga: Why Yoga and Mindfulness go Together

A relatively new form of yoga has been slowly emerging called yoga mindfulness or mindful yoga. This unique combination has a powerful effect on the practitioner, providing a path to self-discovery and healing. But what is it about yoga and mindfulness that makes them such a perfect match?

In this article we will delve into the world of mindfulness yoga, exploring the amazing benefits that this type of yoga can offer.

An overview of Mindfulness and Yoga

The practise of mindfulness and yoga have been merged together to create a powerful and holistic approach to self-discovery and healing. Mindful yoga applies traditional Buddhist mindfulness teachings to the physical practice of yoga, creating a unique and powerful combination.

Through the practice of mindful yoga, we can learn to become more present and aware in our lives. We can learn to connect with our bodies and minds in a deeper way, gaining a greater understanding of ourselves.

Mindfulness Explained

Mindfulness is the quality of being present and aware in the moment. It is about living in the here and now, and being fully engaged with whatever we are doing. When we are mindful, we are not lost in our thoughts or caught up in our emotions. We are present with ourselves and the world around us. This has been slowly integrated by athletes, celebrities, and even the business world as a way to increase productivity and focus.

Some of the benefits it comes with are reducing stress, improving sleep and concentration, and managing anxiety and depression. Its ability to do this is by creating space between our thoughts and emotions, so we can observe them without judgement. This allows us to see things as they really are, rather than how we think they should be.

Yoga Explained

For thousands of years, yoga has been used as a tool for self-transformation. It is an ancient system of physical and mental practices that originated in India. The word ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit root Yuj, which means ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. Yoga is about union: the union of body and mind, the union of mind and spirit.

Yoga is much more than just a physical exercise; it is a holistic system that includes breath work, meditation, and mindfulness. The goal of yoga is to create harmony in all aspects of our lives. When we practise yoga, we learn to connect with our bodies and minds in a deeper way.

The secret of yoga is that it is not about what we do, but how we do it. It is the quality of our attention and awareness that is important, not the quantity of physical activity. This is why yoga is such a perfect match for mindfulness.

The Benefits of Mindful Yoga

Mindful yoga comes with a wide variety of benefits, both physical and mental. In our fast-paced, modern lives, our minds are constantly racing, jumping from one thought to the next. This can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. Mindful yoga provides a way to slow down and focus on the present.

Here are 4 proven benefits of mindfulness yoga:

1. A Deep Sense of Awareness

One of the main goals of mindfulness is to achieve a deep sense of awareness. This means being present at the moment and observing our thoughts and emotions without judgement. Through the practice of mindful yoga, we can learn to become more aware of our bodies and minds and gain a greater understanding of ourselves.

This type of constant self-awareness can be beneficial in many ways. It can help us to identify negative thought patterns and behaviours, so we can start to change them. It can also help us to become more aware of our physical bodies and the way we move through life. This awareness can lead to improved posture, alignment, and movement.

2. Improved Sleep

Quality sleep is essential for good health and wellbeing. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles often prevent us from getting the rest we need. Mindfulness can help to improve our sleep quality by teaching us how to relax and let go of the racing thoughts that keep us awake at night.

Yoga is also a great way to wind down before bed. The slow, gentle movements can help to release tension from the body and prepare us for a good night’s sleep. A study published in the National Library of Medicine found that mindfulness yoga improved sleep quality in participants with chronic insomnia. After eight weeks of practising mindful yoga, participants reported less difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, as well as less fatigue during the day.

3. Decreased Stress Levels

In our fast-paced, modern lives, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to take a step back and relax. This can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. Mindfulness yoga can help to reduce stress levels by teaching us how to focus on the present moment and let go of our worries.

It does this by increasing our levels of the stress-busting hormone, cortisol. Yoga can also help to improve our breathing and increase our overall sense of wellbeing. This helps us manage stress in a more efficient way and prevents us from getting overwhelmed.

4. Improved Concentration and Focus

In our busy lives, it can be difficult to find time to focus on the things that are important to us. Mindfulness yoga can help to improve our concentration and focus by teaching us how to quieten the chatter of our minds and focus on the present moment.

The regular practice of mindfulness has been shown to improve our ability to focus and pay attention. This allows us to be more productive in our work and relationships, and enjoy the things we do more fully. Yoga is an excellent way to practice mindfulness. The physical postures and breathing exercises help to calm the mind and body, allowing us to focus on the present moment.

How to Perform Mindful Yoga?

Now that we know the benefits of mindfulness yoga, let’s take a look at how to do it.

The key to mindfulness yoga is to focus on your breath and be aware of your body and movements. As you move through each posture, pay attention to the sensations in your body and the way your breath feels. If your mind starts to wander, simply bring your attention back to your breath.

When you first start practising mindfulness yoga, it may be helpful to practice with a friend or teacher who can guide you through the process. Once you get the hang of it, you can easily practice on your own at home.

You can start by sitting in a quiet place and focusing on your breath. Remember to stay aware and bring your attention back to your breath whenever your mind starts to wander.

Once you feel comfortable with this, you can start practising mindfulness yoga in different positions such as standing, lying down or walking. Experiment and find the position that works best for you. Remember, the most important thing is to focus on your breath and be aware of your body and movements.

Final Thoughts

Mindfulness yoga is an excellent way to improve our mental and physical well-being. By focusing on our breath and being aware of our body and movements, we can reduce stress levels, improve our sleep quality and concentration, and increase our overall sense of wellbeing.

If you’re new to mindfulness yoga, remember to start slowly and practice with a friend or teacher if possible. Once you get the hang of it, you can easily practise on your own at home. Experiment with different positions and find the ones that work best for you. Remember, the most important thing is to focus on your breath and be aware of your body and movements. 

I found this article by yoga journal on mindfulness yoga to be very insightful, feel free to give it a read!


What is the one thing someone new to meditation should know when starting out?

What is the one thing someone new to meditation should know when starting out? 

That it’s not an easy practice! And I still struggle with it sometimes. 

Have you noticed every time you sit and close your eyes for meditation, your nose starts to itch, you feel the need to go to the toilet, or maybe you get this sudden urge to clean your entire living room? Anything but be still and quiet? 

You want to meditate; you know it’s good for you, but it’s just not happening. You start to doubt yourself and the practice, and eventually give up trying? If that’s you, know that you are not alone. In meditation we are training the muscle of our mind to be still and quiet. Be patient with yourself. 

Here are some common complaints/comments I hear from people when starting out. I want to help by offering you some tips on how to start. 

I am too busy; time is of the essence. 

In a world of constant doing, meditation can seem like a waste of time, so why should we sit and do nothing? The truth is, the busier we are, the more we need the practice of meditation to balance our lives. As you might already know, meditation helps reduce anxiety, gain more clarity in challenging situations, help us manage stress and pain, we feel more grounded and calmer, we perform better at work and live a more conscious life, to name the least. If all you have is 5 minutes a day, then give yourself the permission to being still and present for those 5 minutes. 

I have tight hips and my knee hurts when I sit on the ground. 

Being on the floor in a crossed legged position is just one of the many ways to sit in meditation. You can very well sit on a chair or lean your back against a wall! The idea is to find a comfortable position whatever that looks like for you. A position where you are able to remain relaxed and alert at the same time. Yoga blocks, cushions, bolsters are excellent props to use to help support your body feel more comfortable. 

Every time I try to meditate, I end up falling asleep.

If you are tired, then rest. My preferred time for meditation is first thing in the morning when I’m most well rested. If there is a yoga or meditation community you can go to, I would suggest participating in a guided meditation with a teacher. It’s not quite the same if we simply put on a You Tube guided meditation video and doing it all by ourselves at home. You can certainly do that once you get the hang of it. But first, go and experience the energy and power in collective group meditation. 

I can’t sit still for long, I feel restless. 

If you feel restless when it comes to sitting still, try first to release some of the energy by going for a walk, run, dance etc. In my experience, it is a lot easier to be still once we have released some of the excess energy from our bodies. If you have a yoga asana practice, try incorporating meditation at the end of your practice. 

Lastly, be gentle with yourself, have compassion for your body, befriend your thoughts instead of judging them, welcome all sensations, welcome all external sounds and sounds from within. Notice and witness all that you see and feel behind closed eyes and let all that you experience be part of your practice. 

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