My journey to yoga

It’s hard to say when a journey starts or ends, it’s a never-ending process. Sometimes you pick up pace, and sometimes you slack off with excuses. I’d divide my journey thus far into four stages which have been shaped by various circumstances and have imparted valuable lessons to me.

In 2009, I went to a reformer pilates at a cosy studio near my place with a friend who was suffering from back injury, while i enjoyed the lessons, I found myself sweating a little less than I’d like. So when an ex-colleague suggested that we try out Pure Yoga which was near our office, I jumped at it. I remember rushing to the first class and was left with first row mats, which was daunting to say the least. As the instructor recited pose after pose in Sanskrit, I remember frantically looking around to make sense of the new environment and get my body to move in a synchronised manner with the verbal cues. Having taken six years of ballet in my childhood, I’m rather flexible. However the ensuing years engaged in sailing, had left me rather stiff. I walked out of class, having worked out a full sweat and in the subsequent days, amused at aches in muscles I never knew existed. Before I knew it, I signed up with the studio for a 3-month contract, skeptical that my interest may not outlast the duration. Being with a large studio comes with the privilege of being able to try out various yoga styles, but at the same time, there aren’t many opportunities for alignment adjustments. Before long, I found myself practising 3-4 times per week.

When work took me on a 9-month secondment to Switzerland and France, there was an absence of yoga studios on the same scale as in Asia, moreover I was distracted with settling in a new environment and exploring new lands, that I found little motivation to practice When winter rolled around, the weather was miserable and days were short, I managed to find a Bikram yoga studio in a part of Geneva that I was not familiar with, it offered a monthly unlimited pass and instructions were given in French. I remember stepping into the carpeted hot room reeking of sweat and the uncomfortable proximity of bare-bodied strangers. However, the 90-minute workout erased all inhibitions, it taught me to focus on my own practice as soon as I step on the mat. I ended up doing it on a daily basis, as I really enjoyed being warm and rosy-cheeked in the dead of winter, long after stepping out of the studio. It was something I looked forward to do everyday, something that I associated with bringing me warmth during the coldest days.

Subsequently I was transferred to work in Hong Kong, I remember seeking out yoga studios even before settling up my phone line. The practice had become so important to me by then. As work got more challenging, and the hours grew longer, I often struggled to even make for the last class of the day. After one particular taxing day, I ran from the office to the studio located up a hill, and got there exactly as the last class started, but the receptionist refused to admit me, I sat in the lounge crying as I really needed to breathe and detach myself from the hard reality, even for just an hour. Often, as daily pressures get too great, we forget to breathe, and yoga becomes a time to dedicate my practice as inner serenity to myself. Now when I think back, I think it was yoga which brought me through those hardest days, I had never been in such a dog-eat-dog world till then, and my biggest lesson then was to learn to breathe and reaffirm myself the way just as I am.

It’s been three years since I have moved back to Singapore, and got back to the rhythm of attending classes regularly. I have always practised in the studio, as I thought that I’d skive or forget the sequence if I were to practise at home. For my 2015 new year resolution, I decided to practise more at home and finally bought my own yoga mat after so long. I continue to supplement with studio classes and have actively encourage friends to join me in this journey. This year, I made a resolution to master inversions, to overcome my fear of falling and to venture where I have not dared to. The motivation for joining the yoga teacher training stems from a desire to deepen my practice to extend beyond asanas and pranayama. I realised that there was very little I knew about philosophy, anatomy, and spirituality. Having taken this leap into the 200-hour workshop, I hope to continue the journey to grow in my practice, while sharing my joy and knowledge with others.

-NC