My first experience with yoga came as a member of the Alexander Fitness Center. In late 2007, just as I was getting really interested in yoga, without any warning, Alexander suddenly closed down. I became one of its many unwitting victims. Wanting to continue to exercise and with a friend's recommendation, I decided to give SPACE a try.
When I first started to practice at SPACE, I was very ambitious and competitive. I would take a handful of classes a day. With the thought of "the more, the better", I wanted to make rapid improvements. After a month of taking classes intensively, besides from letting out buckets of sweat, I realized that my anxieties and inner discomforts got even worse. Obviously, some things were not working. After some quiet contemplation, I began to understand that I needed to adjust my attitude towards how I have been going about practicing yoga. I had wrongly thought yoga is just a form of physical exercise. It is, of course, much more than that. Yoga should be practiced with a sense of ease and joy in order to achieve a peaceful mind and a balanced body. It is not about torturing oneself and twisting one's body into a pretzel-like pose or a flexibility competition.
Since I took up my yoga practice, I have gained so much from all the various teachers: Gladys would constantly remind me to be aware of my breath; Adnan taught me to focus on alignment and safety of the postures, as well as the importance of listening to my body; Michelle C. emphasized practicing with a humble heart and the concept of surrendering. Takei just naturally exuded an aura of peace; and Lee always had a joyful radiating smile. All of them allowed me to appreciate that yoga practice can actually transform my hotheaded restlessness to a feeling of joy and tranquility. It can also shorten the distance between people, allowing others to directly feel your sincerity. Furthermore, I learned how to avoid injuries in order to have a safe consistent practice.
Aside from the Asana practice, in Stephen's meditation class, I learned that yoga is not just a physical practice, mindfulness is also very important. It is just like Naichin had once stated: "External freedom maybe easily disrupted, but the inner liberty cannot be restrained." It is only through consistent practice that one can truly comprehend the key to gaining control over one's own mind resides not in the body, but in the heart and the spirit. Last but not the least, Tina's passion in spreading the word of yoga made me genuinely believe that Yoga is not just a form of exercise, it is a practice of integrating mind, body, and spirit – a path into an unimaginably rich world.
Finally, I like to give special thanks to Ms. Tang and her beautiful cleaning staff. Their hard work and dedicated effort in providing such a spotless and warm environment have allowed me to joyfully practice my yoga.
"“The source of happiness is the inner understandings and needs; the source of suffering is the inner expectations and attachments."