Back to Yoga

Now that the badminton season is over, I decided to continue with yoga, so that I could keep on working on my goals for this activity, which I set earlier on this year.

Starting yoga again reminded me again how different this activity was from ones such as badminton, which is what I’m used to. While strategy and coordination are a big part of badminton, yoga focuses more on endurance. I never really knew how long 30 seconds were, before I had to hold the ‘downward dog’ pose for that amount of time!

However, since I’m familiar with the basic positions now, I can focus more on holding them and pushing myself to try more complex poses. Something that really helps me push through is seeing my friends try the poses themselves, and competing with them to see who can achieve it the fastest – of course, Miss Morse, our instructor, always lets us know that we should focus more on our body, and whether we feel it can handle the kind of exertion of a particular exercise.

As painful as it sometimes is as I try to keep up with all the different exercises, I always end up feeling relaxed and refreshed after each session. With exams and deadlines approaching, this is a great way to relieve stress and stay positive, which makes this activity a great way to end my action this semester.

CAS Project: Aquarium Therapy

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fullsizerenderI came upon my CAS Project after being at an utter loss during our service meeting this month.

As one of the leaders of my service this year, I really wanted to go beyond our one hour sessions, where we were lucky to experience the happiness of the kids, but completely missed the struggles of the families. Many of these families come to Colombo from rural Sri Lanka in order to treat their children, but are daunted by the constant emotional and financial stress.

Together, as a service, we came up with the idea of therapy for the parents, but knew it would be a long journey due to the social taboo and judgment associated with therapy. Something we could start on straight away, however, was aquarium therapy. Research suggests that something as simple as a fish tank can be used to improve mental health, presenting the Maharagama Children’s Hospital with a very inconspicuous, community approved therapist.Aquarium therapy can significantly reduce feelings of stress and anxiety while promoting pleasant sentiments. This seemed like a great start to our long term goal of therapy and my CAS Project.

The Plan

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Prospective Fish

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The Fish Have Arrived

This was a task we’d been planning for around a month, and something I had written about in my previous service post.I wanted to make sure that we managed our funds properly so that there was enough left over for our other long term objectives (such as buying medical equipment).Luckily, our service supervisors came to the rescue, giving me their help and contacts in the aquarium business.

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Tank Shopping

At the aquarium shop, I made sure I got my main priorities across – a sturdy 5 by 4 feet fish tank with a plain blue background, a few simple plants, a good water filter system and fish that would live a long time. These were all features designed to calm the children and their families as they enjoyed the tank, but the aquarium owner suggested gold fish because of their bright color and appeal to children.

The Execution

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An Intense Conversation About Fish

The fish tank was set up on a Thursday, and, much like the kids, sat ready and awaiting the fish. We decided to wait a week till our next visit to put in the fish in order to give the filtration system enough time to make the environment hospitable for the fish – dead fish would accomplish the opposite of our goals.

After making the final payments, we took the fish with us in the bus for our next visit. The journey was short, and thankfully the fish were spared the harrowing experience of a Sri Lankan traffic jam.

When we brought the fish into the hospital, curious kids crowded around straight away, reassuring me that this was something that would honestly brighten their day – I think its important to remember that small, direct actions are sometimes as important as the large, long-term ones, especially with a time sensitive disease such as cancer.

CAS Project Completed!

However, my work at the hospital and with the kids are far from over – I make a point to check the fish tank and make sure its well-maintained during each visit. I want my CAS Project to make a real impact, even if it is a small one.

Yoga – End of Quarter Reflection

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Photo Credits: Miss Rebecca Morse

As this quarter comes to a close, all my progress and memories in yoga class are experiences I look back on fondly. As the pictures on my yoga posts reflect, our class grew in size and energy as the term went on, and it was a nice reminder of how far we had all come.

Looking back on the goals I set for this quarter, I am happy with the progress I made, especially since achieving these objectives were more of an enjoyment and challenge rather than a mandatory task. At the beginning of the semester, I had hoped yoga would be more physically challenging this time around, and this certainly proved to be the case. Almost as difficult as assuming poses was holding them for 10 (very long) seconds! The challenge, however, made my aching muscles worth it.

Every yoga class, we started with a routine called the ‘Sun Salutations’, which consisted of key yoga poses, such as the ‘Downward dog’ and ‘The log’. While this proved challenging at first, as most yoga routines did, processing it every day in class really helped me improve, while also ensuring that I knew the names and positions of many more yoga poses. (Once you manage to stay in ‘Downward dog’ for 10 seconds, it is very hard to forget its name!) As a major part of my goals focused on retaining knowledge about this action in order to practice and improve in the future, this was a great help to me.

Hopefully, even though I won’t be continuing yoga next quarter, I will keep practicing it at home and carry the skills I learnt into the future!

Yoga – DP2 Objectives

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Having done yoga last year, I was happy to join again, especially since I’m really interested to try different forms of yoga. This year, our new teacher, Miss. Rebecca Morse, has decided to practice more challenging and physical aspects of yoga.

Last year, I talked about how different yoga was from the sports I normally took part in, like badminton, with a strong focus on healthy living and a clear mind. This year, while a strong mind is still given emphasis, we are also exploring the harder poses and really challenging our bodies. Additionally, a really great aspect of yoga is endurance – holding a pose is as important as being able to do it, making it a very different form of action from badminton, and one that I am excited to improve.

My aims for yoga this semester are…

(a) To learn the basic poses of yoga, so that I can practice yoga at home, and improve my skills. For example, I learnt that the ‘rest’ pose in yoga is called the ‘child’s’ pose.

(b) Improve my skills in the harder yoga poses by holding it better and for a little bit longer each class.

(c) Use the breathing techniques we learn to improve my endurance and strength while doing yoga – it is very easy to forget to do so throughout the session.

Yoga -The End

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The DP1 Yoga students

Taking part in yoga was a totally new experience for me as all of my previous activities involved a lot of fast movement and quick reflexes – when I played badminton, it was all about being ready to move across the court in a matter of seconds. In yoga, i was challenged as much as I was in any other sport, however, these challenges were presented in very different ways.

Yoga tested my endurance and flexibility – by holding different yoga poses for the recommended amount of time, I improved my muscle strength while also working on my physical and mental tolerance. Another very unique aspect of yoga is its focus on healthy living and a serene mind. To help with this, we learnt different breathing techniques and meditation methods. After an exhaustive hour of stretching and exercises, it was a great way to relax and clear our minds.

Yoga proved to be a very relaxing activity not only because of all the knowledge we gained, but also because of our group atmosphere. The yoga activity this semester was made up of all DP1 students, meaning that we all knew each other very well, and were unafraid to try out new things around each other, and express our feelings.

I am really glad I tried yoga out, as it is a unique experience of an activity. The core values of yoga, such as having a peaceful conscience, and living healthy, are important life lessons that I can take away, and use, in many other aspects of my life.