My first brush with yoga came from a course I signed up with a community centre. My teacher is a 60 year old lady who has an incredible body to perform the many challenging asanas that never fail to impress me. She often jokes she looks like a 30 something from behind! (Agree! 32, 26, 33 with a good posture!)
My short stint with her ended and I stopped yoga for 3 years. I do practise at home with my limited yoga knowledge of sun salutation and less than a handful of asanas. Yet, here I am enrolling myself for a yoga teacher’s training!
Turned out, my first day with Tirisula Yoga ended half as excited as I walked down the wooden stairs with the chanting bell announcing my exit.
Thanks to a series of yoga shock I encountered.
First, we were informed by Master Paalu, Wei Ling & Hui Yan of our project and assignment followed by practical and theory exam (human anatomy, yoga sutras & asanas!) to be completed within a short span of 4 months over the weekends. (Pardon my total ignorance about the whole course but didn’t we just need to bring our yoga mat, tower, water bottle and writing materials and have fun while learning?)
Next, we were made to work out like BMT! My body was made to go through a series of asanas which gave all part of my muscle group their biggest challenge! I perspired buckets and tasted so much of my own perspiration as I was huffing and puffing within my limited mat space.
And, with all due respect to the Sanskrit language, here I am, facing a language barrier in my own home land! I encountered names like……namascara? (clearly not for the lashes); uttanasana; konasana; utthita……which sounded very Japanese to me! I stumbled upon pronouncing words like urdhva, adho, parivritta, pachimottanasana, utpluthih…..I have no idea how to apply phonics! But funnily, I need no effort to get acquainted with this four-syllable word ~ c h a t u r a n g a . So on the first day, the sweetest memory is befriending this Sanskrit name, Chaturanga, which incidentally sounds like chatuchak (the market in Bangkok)!
On the first day, I was appalled to be asked to do headstand on the first lesson! Despite the teachers preparing us through the series of exercises and poses to strengthen and stretch, I still couldn’t do this terrifying pose! However, Master Paalu injected a dose of confidence and told us by the 5th lesson, we will all be able to do free headstand. I kept my fingers crossed.
Fast forward 3 weeks later, I find myself gradually enjoying the lessons on Saturday and Sunday. The punishing training is a springboard to an immediate result of increased strength, stamina and flexibility and I instantly feel my body transform after every training! I am able to lift heavier dumbells and hold them longer. And how I love all the Sanskrit names by now! As I googled on the Sanskrit language, a quick way to learn the word is by breaking it down and understanding the root words. This really makes sense and learning the basic asana names becomes easier and more meaningful. Just like to share, I have had my fair share of trouble trying to remember Japanese names when I first started out with my company. Names like ‘Matsunaga-san’, ‘Mochizuki-san’, ‘Kuwayama-san’, ‘Kusunose-san’, ‘Fujishige-san’ etc can drive me insane! I often find myself in embarrassing moments when I addressed them by the wrong name or simply stare at them blankly trying to recall their names. Nevertheless, I am grateful to Master Paalu, Wei Ling and Hui Yan who have been very patient with us, drilling and pushing us tirelessly on the asanas in Sanskrit and somehow, they just made their way to my head! Thank you teachers!
As for my headstand, just as Master Paalu ‘’promised”, I made it on the 5th lesson. This is like a dream come true! The moment I flip and balanced on my head, the first sight that greeted me was a pair of hairy legs (guess who, don’t sue!)! This achievement gave me a huge shot of confidence in my other asanas practice and banishes my other fears and worries and I am very grateful for that.
I will pursue yoga where my heart takes me and embrace ‘’prayatna shaithilya Ananta sampattibhyam” (verse 2.47), which is the means of perfecting the posture through effortless effort and allowing the attention to merge with the endlessness, or the infinite.
Penn Ho, 200hr Yoga TCC 07/weekend