I was always vaguely familiar with yoga but had thought of it, erroneously, as something that ‘spiritual’ people do. I was first exposed to it as something that even ‘lay’ people practice when I was in my early 20s and a few people I know started practicing it and found many physical and emotional benefits in doing so.
At around the same time, I started reading about neuroscience through authors such as V S Ramachandran, Oliver Sacks and Stephen Pinker. These science-driven readings got me thinking about ‘spiritualists’ and their not dissimilar beliefs in the brain’s ability to transcend the everyday, perform in an enhanced way and to even heal itself. With a high level of skepticism, I then read personal spiritual accounts such as that of Paramhansa Yogananda. The understanding I drew from my various readings led me to believe in the interconnectedness between physical and mental health, and the ways in which each supports the other.
In university, I took a yoga class at the gym and really enjoyed it. Since then, I’ve attended yoga classes on and off in 5 different countries, trying out various styles. I found quite soon that I was more comfortable with a traditional practice and preferred yoga studio classes to gym classes. However, even at the studios, I felt that too much emphasis was being placed on students getting a ‘work-out’, with guidance on proper breathing, pranayama and meditation being neglected to a brief 5 minutes at the end of the classes.
Over the years, I think I have developed a good (but still nascent) awareness of mind and body through yoga and other practices. I am not a particularly athletic or sporty person and prefer low impact activities like swimming. I am well aware that my physical ability in yoga still has much room for improvement, which I have every intention to continue working on after the course, however I believe I have a strong understanding of the theoretical technique and benefits of asanas.
The 200- hour course responded to a long-time desire to deepen my asana practice and strengthen my pranic practice, and to correct improper techniques and alignments I have built up over years of superficial and unfocused yoga practice. Over the past decade, my work, travel and other commitments have not allowed me the time to engage with yoga more than the occasional group class or home practice. Having recently switched to freelance consultancy in my line of work, and being enrolled in a modular Master’s degree programme, I am able to move my work and study time to weekday afternoons, evenings and weekends in order to dedicate time to the yoga class and assignments. This also happens to be the only month in 2016, and the first after many years, that I am not travelling overseas! I am really glad that circumstances aligned so I could participate and really learn from the 200hr training.