The First Step

I started yoga at the age of 36. I was stiff, not able to sit straight and not able to touch my toes in forward bend. I was weak and had problem doing a proper pushup or hold a warrior pose. I was breathing so hard and sweating too much.

There were many moments of embarrassment and awe as to what other people can do.

When i just started, I can only sit in seated wide legged forward bend. I cannot bend at all while some of the other students fold as if they were a piece of paper with their chest and chin on the ground. I felt like I was an evergreen tree in a desert.

A few months after starting yoga, I attended a multi-leveled class thinking that it is for beginners, because it is m-u-l-t-i-leveled. It turned out to be an advanced class of scorpions, downward facing trees, birds in flight and backbends. I was overwhelmed and just sat on the mat and watch the others perform. I tried EPK 2 during that session, and I thought that I was impossible for me to ever perform that pose.

After two years of practise, the body, mind has seen some improvements. I can bend forward in seated wide legged pose to maybe 30 degrees from the ground. And I can do EPK 2 quite comfortably. Looking back, I think I have come a long way and I thank my teachers for saying, “don’t compare yourself with others”, “everyone is at a different stage” and I thank myself for not letting ego come in the way, in the form of embarrassment or shame.

It is always difficult when we learn something new, just don’t give up on the first failure. Look outward for inspiration and possibilities, look inward for groundedness and contentment. Know yourself and your body and take time to reflect and practise. As the father of modern Ashtanga yoga Pattabhi Jois said, “Practise and all is coming.”

I don’t look for perfection in the poses. I am contented in this journey of self discovery of the body, mind and soul. And I believe there are more pleasant surprises to come.

Neo Chee Peng
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