First time I started yoga class in year 2005, it was for beginner. I only went to several classes (not even five) until one day the teacher came approach me after class and asking few questions. Basically he was saying that he was surprised that me as a woman had very less flexibility and not able doing any simple basic poses then laugh. Like a lightning strike, I just said that this is me and I am willing to learn. At the same moment I walked out from that studio and went home thinking on what he was saying to me. Since then I never went back to do yoga and not even think about it. Deep down inside, I only believe that one day if I have to do yoga, I will meet the real yoga teacher to help my practice. Time will tell.
Six years later, I had numerous injuries from minor to serious one. Dislocated ankle, several slip discs on the spine, shifted muscles, pinched nerves, plantar fasciitis and many more not to mention depression and being unhappy until at some point I woke up in the morning, got off the bed and not able to step my feet on the floor. I went to see chiropractor therapist and luckily she immediately spotted the physical problem that I had been suffering for years. It was building up over years due to over exercising on doing too much kind of sports from low to high impact. The therapist gave me a strong advise to stop on whatever I was doing apart from swimming and she also suggested to take pilates class. I did some research about pilates however nothing convinced me knowing that reformer involved on the exercise.
Back to square one, thinking about yoga. Where and how should I start? Then I met this young and energetic yoga teacher from India who was giving private yoga lesson at home. The same question popped out asking if I was sure that I want to do yoga with all my physical condition. The same answer, this is me and I am willing to learn. Few months passed with once a week lesson, then in 2012 I decided to go to Rishikesh, India for couple weeks to learn about yoga at Parmarth Niketan Ashram. What is yoga and what is it all about. I met many people and yoga teachers from all over the world teaching Iyengar, Hatha, Power Vinyasa, Kriya Yoga, Kundalini, Reiki, Ayurveda, Meditation and many more. Then I met a group of people practicing Ashtanga and at the same moment I felt that this is the one for me. Love the journey!
I went back home and immediately looking for Ashtaga lesson. This is where the transformation started. Instead of studio, it was a yoga shala means school of yoga by Nilesh from Mysore. With all the pain and agony I kept trying to keep up with Surya Namaskar and standing poses. When it came to sitting poses, I was crying and screaming inside. Starting from weekend student then become 6 days a week sadhana. The teacher always said to me, learn to love your body, give them your breath and control the mind, asana comes second. Thru meditation and practice, I realized that after all these years I had been using and abusing my own physical body and let the monkey mind controlling me. I have to do something in respect to my body and mind and also feeding my soul with positive energy. Even though sometimes I felt intimidated during my practice seeing long time practitioners who can jump around and bend their body here and there, still I go back to my intention that I want to be healthy inside out and motivated. After four months being in beginner class, eventually moved up to mysore style practice. Along the way, I had an opportunity to learn pranayama, yoga kriya and take spine therapy course. The understanding of 8 limb of Ashtanga was getting deeper along with the practice. The mind was so much steady and calm but firm, the breathing was getting smoother and intense, and body started to go where you want to bring them. It was like dancing when you move, every movement has it pace. Breathing and drishti kept me focus, just like a moving meditation. I felt so much lighter, especially in the mind and the heart. That was the point where I realized that I was in depression state for years and unable to see things the way it is but always the way I wanted. No need to share the background here – so sad.. Things happened for a reason and it is a preparation stage for the next level. Absorb, take it as knowledge and be ready.
In later year, I moved overseas and the first thing I was looking for was where the shala is. I met Ganesh from KPJYAI, Mysore. With the move to the new place, it was hard to find time to practice regularly. Eventually, the time permitted me to continue my sadhana five times a week starting at 5 am in the morning. Call me crazy but I love it. Asana practice was improving thru one killing adjustment to another but not killing the intention. During my stay in that country, I am so grateful to have an opportunity to practice with Ajay Kumar from Mysore who is the teacher of my first teacher and also had a 7 days intense ashtanga practice with Guruma Saraswathi Jois from KPJYAI Mysore. Until I met Master Paalu at Tirisula on my next overseas moved year after. Surprisingly, Master Paalu and my two previous teachers, Ajay and Nilesh, came from the same ashtanga lineage of BNS Iyengar and it is not something that you can find it easily. Twist of fate? Some questions are better left unanswered. It is there waiting for you to be discovered. Every teacher has their own style of teaching, every teacher has their own intention on teaching, only pure heart and strong intention will lead the way to find what you really need.
“Purnamadah Purnamidam Purnat Purnamudachyate Purnasya Purnamadaya Purnamevavashishyate”
Rhea – Ashtanga 200hr, weekday 2015