I started attending Yoga class in 2003 in a gym club on and off for half a year. When I look back now, it is clear to me that I was not doing it correctly at that time. I did Konasana by resting my elbow on my leg, without using any strength at all. I thought to myself, “Yoga is not that difficult, I just need to rest in the pose!” I brought that mind of thinking, namely, that I was not so bad at Yoga, to re-start again in 2009 by joining a Yoga centre because of shoulder pain and the hope to lose weight.
At the beginning of regular practice, I was always being adjusted for alignment and asked to use strength in the pose by my first master, Master Kapil. I wondered why all my alignment and concept about Yoga were wrong before? Fortunately, I didn’t feel frustrated but was just curious to learn the correct way to perform the poses. Otherwise, I would have quit Yoga and wouldn’t have been the “me that I am” today. After 4 months’ practice, I started getting the benefit of losing weight; shoulder pain had gone and I felt more energetic. I thought I was ready to attend “Power Yoga” class then! But I “squatted” on the mat after half an hour of my first attempt! It did not however stop me. I kept on practising and the situation shortly improved.
Many other aspects about Yoga have been unfolded to me in my Yoga journey. Firstly, breathing technique – we breathe every moment, why do we have to learn how to breathe after being alive for so many years? Secondly, Yoga Sutras – Yoga also has a “bible”! This is interesting. Thirdly, meditation – it is a relatively normal topic – sitting still without moving has always been my strength. Of course, it is a deeper topic than I thought. Fourthly, Mantra chanting – although I didn’t understand the meaning of the mantras at the beginning, I liked the melody. Fifthly, cleansing technique – when my master asked me to join the cleansing class, I asked what we would do and he just said we would drink a lot of water. “Okay, I drink a lot of water normally anyway. It won’t be difficult for me,” I thought. When I saw my master carrying a big bottle of distilled water, with an assistant bringing in several buckets of water into the classroom; and hearing others talk about their experience in class, I understood it was more than that! I was a little reluctant to step By Candy So into the classroom to “cleanse” myself in front of my master! Sixthly, right diet, life style etc. Strangely enough or I may be lucky, all these invaluable concepts were unfolded gradually. I was interested in learning more without any hesitation.
In the second half of 2010, I was asked if I was interested in undertaking Yoga teacher training. I resisted teaching as I didn’t think I had the talent. Further, I was too shy to speak in front of people. But I was eager to learn more about Yoga besides asanas (postures). I was still hesitant to enroll on the training until in March 2011, only four days before the course started, I signed up with sudden impulse. Then I took levels 1, 2, 3 of Advanced Hatha Yoga Teacher Training Courses in a row, bearing “just for fun” in my mind without putting any stress on myself.
I still remember I couldn’t escape from my first time of leading the warm up session in the last class of the 200 hours Yoga teacher training! Master Yogananth was clear who hadn’t done it yet! The intensive training was so tough but we enjoyed the “sweet pain” very much. I felt I got muscle pain all over my body every day! However, the pain was kind of subtle that I couldn’t feel it in class the next day. I enjoyed my time very much and will always remember my “sweet experience”. The “sweet pain” is worth it as my flexibility has improved a lot within a short time. I have learnt how to practise myself and have made some good friends. Stretching or practising asanaa every morning while listening to Mantra have become part of my life. Seeing the pictures we took in class has become one of my best forms of entertainment.
Is life planned or unplanned? I kept challenging myself in new things that I had never thought of doing or resisted doing (sometimes out of fear or because of lack of confidence). Now I volunteer to teach Yoga in a charity organisation. I never thought I was good at writing; now I am sharing my Yoga journey with others in this article. Who knows what else I will try to do and how my future unfolds? I have become more aware of my feelings and the emotions deep down. So I begin to understand myself more out of this Yoga journey. Thanks to every master and every fellow practitioner I have met along the journey. I have learnt a lot from each of them. I believe that the right things will unfold at the right time. As Master Yogananth said, to achieve the final posture is not the most important, keep practising without setting any rigid goals while experiencing along the journey is more precious. It is a simple but deep and meaningful statement. The way we practise Yoga will affect the way we live our lives. Don’t give ourselves too much pressure. Don’t take things too seriously. Learn to undertake challenges playfully. Balancing between persistence and letting go will go a long way in every aspect of our lives. We will feel the joy when gratefulness fosters naturally.
Yoga is the union of body, mind and soul. My practice has been transformed from a physical exercise to more a practice of awareness of my feelings and emotions. I have changed my approach to practice by having a thankful mind with a focus on feeling every part of my body and my breath. There is still a long way to go on the journey, but I am sure I am heading in a joyful path, no matter how the external environment evolves. The seed of joy has sprouted inside me.