When you hear the word ‘wellness’, the first thing that usually comes to mind is meditation. The ancient practice has been around for thousands of years, and although it was first conducted for religious reasons, it has now been adapted by the mainstream as a therapeutic tool for better overall health. It is still met with skepticism, mainly by those who’ve tried it once and gave up after a few minutes of not being able to clear their minds, but these misunderstandings and incorrect assumptions are only preventing people from experiencing the scientifically-proven benefits of the wellness practice.
To debunk some of the common myths about meditation, we turned to meditation expert, Michael Teh. The registered yoga teacher was a young and successful investor and entrepreneur whose life changed after embarking on daily meditation. Other than reaping the rewards of good health, joy and positivity, meditation has also helped enhance his business performance – resulting in ease and abundance when it comes to investments, stock trading and other business. He now has a healthy outlet to relieve stress, along with other negative emotions, and has built more positive relationships with his family and friends.
Teh shares, “As a result [of meditation], you become more intuitive and often find the wisdom to overcome challenges. At the same time, you will find yourself being more patient, more positive and loving when faced with problems and challenges – where in the past, such challenges may have triggered you to become angry, sad, hateful, and other negative emotions”. Read on to learn more and transform your mindset.
The Most Common Misconceptions About Meditation
- Meditation is a religious practice and for those who are lost.
I would like to debunk the notion that meditation is a religious practice, and only for those who are lost. The underlying and ultimate purpose of meditation is to seek the understanding and realization of Who You Truly Are – which I termed as Self-Realization. Self-Realization is crucial in the evolution of Humanity, leading one to understand and live a life of purpose, fulfilment, contentment and joy. Knowing and realizing Who You Truly Are sets the foundation towards actualizing your fullest potential in this lifetime. The first step towards Self-Realization is to develop awareness through mindful breathing, and meditation is the tool used to develop mindfulness and awareness.
- Meditation is just for relaxation.
While relaxation is the fundamental principle for meditation, meditation practice is not just a relaxation technique. I always share with my students that meditation is not something that you need to do or perform, but rather create the right condition for meditation to happen naturally.
- Meditation is selfish.
It may at times seem that a meditator is selfish – by sitting down on a cushion for long moments, and not seen as working or engaging with the family. However, finding time for yourself and taking care of your own mental wellbeing is crucial towards being a happier person for your family and community. Meditation is a form of self-care and self-love that leads to a healthier and happier life in the long run. It aids in removing negative thoughts and emotions from your body-mind-soul, leading to positivity, joy and happiness. When you are happy, you will naturally emanate loving kindness towards not just yourself, but all other sentient beings as well – including your family and friends. As a result, you will nurture and develop more positive relationships with the people around you.
The Health Benefits Of Meditation
One must seek to understand that our body, mind and soul are one unit that makes us a Human Being. If we are not able to balance the wellbeing of the body, mind and soul, we will not be able to live a life of positivity and lasting happiness. For example, if you are constantly living under stress and pressure, this will result in unhappiness, and also cause harm to your body by breeding diseases or mental sickness. Meditation cultivates inner peace, calm and balance. It can also be used to conduct inner-healing to remove the negative emotions that have been hidden or stored inside your body and mind – this inner healing brings forth lightness and positive mental health.
Before I embarked on a journey of meditation practice, I was not aware that there were a lot of hidden negative emotions inside our system. These negative emotions arise from our day-to-day lives, be it through our eating habits, conversations with people around us, the information we receive from social media, the conditioning of our minds due to environmental and societal factors, or the pressure and stress from work – these all contribute to the deterioration of our mental and physical health. What’s worse is that we are not even aware of it. Through meditation, you will be able to develop the necessary state of mind where you are mindful and aware of these negative conditions in you, and thus also giving you the inner power to shift from negative to positive. As a result, it heals and aids in developing a positive mental and physical wellbeing.
How To Start Meditating
Depending on the fluctuations of your mind (which is highly dependent on your state of mind – thoughts and emotions), one can start meditating daily in a short time span of 5 minutes, and slowly and gradually increase the time of meditation to 10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes or even up to an hour. The aim is to not be distracted by your own thoughts and emotions, and seek to cultivate emptying your thoughts and emotions through meditation.
The goal of meditation is to develop awareness and mindfulness. Once mindfulness is developed, meditation can then be used to develop concentration. It is a mind exercise – like how we go to the gym and carry weights to build muscle, meditation can be used to train the mind by cultivating mindfulness and concentration. One should cultivate a daily meditation practice, and seek to realize the benefits of it and thus make it a way of life.
Michael’s Daily Meditation Routine
I wake up every morning to perform yoga Surya Namaska (Sun Salutation), Qi Gong movements, and meditation leading to stillness and a positive mind. I spend an hour every morning doing this prior to leaving the house – it sets the right tone and mood for the day before I start my busy schedule.
At night, prior to sleep, I will sit for a short 10-15 minute meditation to calm my mind – emptying all thoughts and emotions, leading to a very good, deep sleep. These simple yet powerful practices have indeed helped me to develop a positive and healthy state of mind, resulting in positive physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
If you are interested in attaining self-realization, visit Teh’s website for more information on his signature program “The Essence of Life Workshop Series” and weekly Yoga and Qigong classes. You can also follow him on Instagram for more mindfulness tips!
Before reading any further, I want you to notice your posture.
If you’re thinking ‘really?’ then yes, really.
I’ll help: Are you hunching? Are your shoulders close to your ears? Are you tilting forward more than necessary? Maybe tilting backwards?
To return to a correct posture, plant your feet onto the floor with your weight evenly distributed and roll your shoulders back while simultaneously lowering your shoulders away from your ears. If needed, lean backwards or forward so that your upper body is directly above your hips – don’t arch your spine or tilt sideways either, just keep the spine and body neutral.
You’ve now improved your posture. Although it seems like a snooze worthy topic, it’s actually shocking how important posture is. A brief run-through:
The Side Effects of Bad Posture
- Incorrect posture can create misalignments within your joints. In the long term, this can cause fatigue as your muscles will use more energy to compensate for the misalignment.
- Incorrect posture can cause or contribute to tension headaches due to muscular tension created within the back of the neck. Back pain can also arise from muscular tension
- Incorrect posture can affect digestion and improper digestion can lead to acid reflux and constipation
- Incorrect posture can compress the lungs (especially if hunching forward) which in turn, can cause a decrease in oxygen intake
- Incorrect posture can lead to injuries, especially when exercising.
Yoga Poses To Improve Your Posture
As a Yoga Alliance certified teacher, I will always highlight returning to a correct posture during my classes. Why? Physically, to reverse the side effects listed above. Metaphysically, because yogic text states that the spine is the spiritual centre of the body and that kundalini activation starts at the base of the spine.
So, here are five of my favourite yoga poses to perform to maintain a healthy spine:
At The Desk
Ardha Chandrasana (Standing Crescent Moon Pose): The reason I recommend this posture is because below your rib and above your pelvis is a muscle known as the Q.L muscle. When weak, it contributes to bad posture and thus, back pain. By stretching and strengthening the Q.L through Standing Crescent Moon Pose, you can alleviate back pain. Note that I’m referring to the Bikram version of Ardha Chandrasana.
On The Mat
Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward Dog): Personally, Downward Dog cracks my cervical spine every time I need a relief. While this may not happen to you, benefits include: opening the hamstring, back, chest, & shoulder, strengthening the nerves and muscles in the limbs and back, and stimulating circulation.
Vyaghrasana (Tiger Pose): Everyone is familiar with Cat-Cow Pose but there’s a less popular pose that’s even more effective. Tiger Pose requires bending alternately in both directions which loosen the legs, hips, and back while simultaneously toning the spinal nerves. It’s ideal for anyone with sciatica as it relaxes the sciatic nerves as well.
Sarpasana (Snake Pose): In the textbook provided to me by the school I went to, it literally states that Snake Pose helps to correct the posture. In particular, it can rectify rounded shoulders. By performing this posture 2-3 a week, the back muscles will really strengthen, too.
Balasana (Child’s Pose): When you wake up in the morning or before you attempt to sleep, perform Child’s Pose. There’s a reason why it’s a go-to resting pose and that reason is because it regulates the functioning of the adrenal glands. In terms of posture, it releases pressure along the vertebral column as it can separate the individual vertebrae from each other.
If the idea of adding another workout to your routine made you roll your eyes, you just did your first face yoga exercise. That’s how easy and convenient these anti-ageing facial exercises are and they’ve been scientifically proven to make you look younger just by toning and relaxing your face muscles (which are stressed from all the adulting). Does this mean it’s a pain-free alternative to botox?
Yes and no, it’s not a quick fix like botox – the rejuvenating results can only be seen after regular and consistent training. The exercises target your face muscles, which then lift up the skin. Celebrity face yogi, Koko Hayashi, puts the popular Japanese practice into perspective: “You know the importance of exercising your body muscles on a regular basis and keeping good body posture, so why not care for the face?” As a CIDESCO licensed beauty therapist, her famous clientele includes Kim, Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian – you might’ve seen her teaching the eccentric family in an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Follow her favourite exercises below:
Yoga is known to improve posture, so face yoga does the same, helping keep good face posture (you know, your resting face) and break bad facial habits that cause wrinkles and sagging. Hayashi says to not fear smiling and laughing, sharing how to lighten up an RBF here:
By maintaining good posture and a daily exercise routine, you’ll be able to see results in no time! Do them on-the-go or during your self-care sessions for a noticeably firmer face.
During the lockdown, social media became one of the only ways we could connect with each other. By sharing our experiences, we all became inspired to make the most of our time from the bread baking frenzy and TikTok takeover to “Hey MTV, welcome to my workout routine!”.
We loved that – the cyber community spirit brought us closer than ever, allowing people from all over the world to help one another become their best selves. While we showed support from behind our screens, we, too, put in the work and it became so routine that we still try to follow it until today.
Have a go at these workouts we’ve saved on Instagram:
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A crowd pleaser for targeting our favorite parts – this signature Sculpt Club workout will leave you feeling the burn (that means it’s working, woo hoo!). All you need is a mat, a pair of weights and if you don’t have a slider – replace it with a towel. Get sculpting!
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Now that you can enjoy the physical support from a workout buddy, take a jab at this superset – a fitness challenge by PWRHOUSE. Let’s see how many sets you can motivate each other to do.
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No equipment is needed for this complete home workout. Just grab a chair, lay out your mat and getting going with Karen Kho’s simple but effective routine for beginners.
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If where you live has a gym – make the most of it! Brand New Waves Running Club shares how they do strength work, a technique you can master if you’re up for the challenge.
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Stretch it out and release your stress and anxiety with this home flow by Omology Yoga founder, Kylie Denis. With how fast everything has been moving, sometimes we just need to slow down and find our ground.
If you enjoyed any of these workouts, make sure to show them your support by signing up for their classes and joining their clubs. Let’s keep the fitness community alive and well running!