On a random weekday afternoon about 8 years ago when I first started working, I received a call from a Yoga Centre telling me that a friend had referred me for a week of free trial classes at their centre. At that time, I thought ‘Yoga? Isn’t that for older people? Who referred me? How did you get my number? Is this truly free? What should I bring or wear?’ I was skeptical as it all sounded too good to be true and slightly “scammy”. However, in a moment of spontaneity, I decided to give it a shot. After the phone call, I roped in my cousin to come along with me to my first ever yoga class.
To be honest, my first experience with yoga was not great. We sauntered into the studio fashionably late (didn’t know punctuality and discipline were that important – we nearly weren’t allowed in!), struggled through the entire hour-long sequence (the poses sounded funnily foreign) and within 10 minutes, were panting like dogs and sweating buckets. The practice lasted for an eternity. I was sore for days after that, aching in places i never knew existed. But – it sure felt good! Yoga, to me, feels like a completely different workout from the usual swims or runs, because it also trains your mind to stay focused. Focus, or you forget which side you’re doing during sun salutations. Focus, or you fall when performing a balancing pose. Focus, or you forget to breathe into the pose. It all begins in the mind, and our mind controls the body.
I started to feel little changes in my daily life after practising yoga. I concentrated better at work, slept well at night, felt more confident about my own body … the list goes on. More importantly, I find myself enjoying it! Yoga reminded me of my ballet days in primary school which had brought me so much joy and enjoyment. I had to stop ballet eventually after several years due to my flat feet, but the great thing about practising yoga is that it may even help you cope with certain medical conditions!
As I went for more classes. I began to feel more comfortable as I slowly understood the different names of the asanas without having to look to my left and right mat neighbours for guidance. I could see progress monthly, weekly and even on a daily basis. Gradually, my hands could touch my feet during forward bends. Gradually, I felt my feet getting lighter when I practised the crow pose. Gradually, I began to hold a headstand for longer each time. Each little milestone gleefully and enjoyably noted. Everyday, I learnt something new – from breathing techniques to correcting alignments in asanas. With practice, I learnt that you can get to every pose, slowly but surely. I have also learnt not to chase poses and let them come to you naturally, taking as much time as your body needs. It has been an amazing journey to discovering what my body is able to do – I even recently found out I’ve got hyperextended elbows! It also teaches you life skills – patience, perseverence, self-control and self-love. There is definitely more to yoga than the physical act of practising yoga poses.
Like the title of my post, yoga is a journey. “Practice, and all is coming.” – I will remind myself to enjoy the process and the benefits will come. Funnily enough, till this day, after practising yoga for so long, I still do not know who referred me all those years ago! I really want to thank whoever that person was – I would not have begun my lifelong journey with yoga if not for him/her.