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Yogi of September – Vanessa Shen

Three years ago spring time, during a beautiful encounter at SPACE, I came across Yoga. At that first practice, a familiar, knowing feeling of joy, along with the flow of my breath, awakened the inner world of my consciousness. And it validated the possibility of rebirth through Yoga.

Traveling down the path of yoga, there were many heartfelt moments of gratitude that afforded me the understanding of Yoga not as an abstract concept, but as something concrete that can closely connect me to life. And indeed, Yoga connected me to SPACE, given me the opportunity to sow the seed of my rebirth in SPACE’s fertile soil. Throughout the seasons, with the nurturing, guiding lights from the SPACE teachers, the selfless care from the service team, and the fertilizing teachings of the master teachers from around the world, my yoga practice started to bear the first of its sweet fruits.

With asana practice, I began to become more aware of my own body, establishing an ever more intimate connection, one that was missing before in my life. I also came to understand it was only the fear and ignorance of my own mind that caused injuries during practice. And yet, injuries themselves were the best teachers for self inquiry and study. I came to recognize that the disciplined Mysore practice was not just the best way to improve my physical practice; when combined with an orderly lifestyle, it also had the power to free me from the excessive material desires. In addition, the pranayama and mediation practices allowed me to renew my inner dialogue with my soul, enabling me to understand that non-grasping is the only way to fulfillment.

Through the nutritional science of Ayuerveda, I realized the potential of healthy eating; I came to appreciate the connection between my body and food, thus I became more mindful and selective with the food that I eat in order to receive the maximum therapeutic effect. Yoga increasingly became a big part of my life; its effect can be felt on so many different levels. My body is lighter, my heart softer and my head is clearer. No matter what the ever-changing external environment is like, my practice brings me a sense of internal balance. With that inner harmony, I’m able to then face the world with ease.

I like to express my sincere gratitude to all the fellow yogis at SPACE, who abided on my side as we practiced together to sow the seed for spiritual wellbeing. I’m particularly thankful to Russell, Sally, Gladys and Axl. It is because of them that I was able to deepen my faith in the Ashtanga system and the Mysore practice. Many thanks to Stephen’s guidance in pranayama practice, letting me taste the nectar of pranayama and meditation. I’m also grateful for Naichin for clearing up questions I had about alignment and for sharing her spiritual wisdom. I’m deeply in debt to Rachel Tsai for bringing Ayurveda into my life, allowing me to experience the therapeutic value of an Ayerveda diet and giving me the opportunity to uncover the hidden cook within. It was also through Rachel that I became acquainted with the great Yoga scripture - Bhagavad Gita. In reading through its inspiring verses, life’s truth was revealed to me and they serve as a constant reminder to see one’s true self clearly and to let go of any false convictions.

To me, Yoga exists in between the stillness and action, beyond life’s dichotomy. Understanding this, we can be more compassionate toward each other, more able to spread the joy of peace. As expounded in Bhagavad Gita:

"You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty."

"Perform your duty equipoised, O Arjuna, abandoning all attachment to success or failure. Such equanimity is called yoga."

Each month we will honor a SPACE student for his or her passion and dedication to the practice of Yoga. May their stories serve as inspiration to us all!
Asana of the Month
We will focus on a different Asana every month and delve deep into and explore all its inherent possibilities!

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