“Often, it is not about becoming a new person, but becoming the person you were meant to be, and already are, but don’t know how to be.” – Heath L. Buckmaster
When I was in my teens and mid-twenties, I often obsessed about what the world thought of me, if what I did/wore/said was good enough, felt unsure of my capabilities, was never confident enough to speak my mind if my opinion differed from the madding crowd.
It wasn’t all bad though.
Even as I did not have any remarkable talents like being able to play volleyball or a musical instrument with supreme virtuosity (I was a late bloomer who needed lots of time to emerge from the cocoon), the mildly obsessive compulsive disordered person in me mostly managed to make up for it by meticulous attention to detail in preparation work, study time, organization and packing skills. To borrow a Guna word, I was an extremely Rajasic person, full of passion (translate : quick temper, falls in love easily) and energy (I loved being occupied with things to ponder and chores to do).
When I was about 24, I tried yoga for the first time in my life for a grand total of 2 weeks. It was a Hatha yoga class and the mundaneness literally blew me away. Then, I was neither emotionally nor spiritually mature enough to appreciate what yoga had to offer other than the very relaxing deep sleep at the end of class.
Fast-track 11 years down the road, during which I packed on :
1 financially-draining (now defunct) relationship
3 stand-up paddleboards
4 full-time employers
5-year old daughter born out of wedlock
6-island solo backpacking trip to Greece
8 Catholic spiritual retreats
9 months learning the cello at age 31
10 sales & marketing staff under my wing
I found yoga again on a stand-up paddle board in March 2013, came to realize that I was finally ready to accept what it had to teach me and started practising in a studio since. The past 11 years had done its work and developed me in Yama and Niyama, such that I began to find meaning and meditation in Asana and Pranayama this time round. Of course the learning is far from done, but I truly enjoy the humbling, enlightening, gradual learning process that yoga has presented. Through practising asanas, the onion of me was peeled even more layer by layer as I discovered new areas about myself which had previously not come to light before – my fear of falling over in handstands even when the wall is there (which reveals a residual lack of faith in my abilities) and my not being able to actively prevent myself from falling over badly in a handstand (that I have a delayed reaction to stimuli due to overthinking).
Yoga also helped me further unlock my inner potential, turning my double-edged swords the good way. Stubbornness was moulded into persistence, inability to take strong stands chiselled into non-judgement, emotional eating kneaded into a keen interest in preparing my own nutritious meals. Ironically, as Patanjali beautifully described in the Yoga Sutras, it always requires the passion of Rajas to strive for tapas, or self-discipline, to attain the peace of Sattva.
This picture of Urdhva Dhanurasana done on a standup paddle board out at sea with the sun and breeze in my hair, truly epitomizes for me the heart-opening that yoga has done for me.
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200HR TTC (Jan/Feb ’14)