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Yogi of April – Steven Chan

At the end of 2006, after being told in no uncertain terms that I needed to switch my career track, I started to think about the direction of my life. It just so happened that I was reading a magazine article about yoga studios and it sparked my interested in yoga, so I just called up SPACE YOGA’s Tien-Mu studio directly to inquire about taking classes. The sales staff who answered the phone was very warm and friendly. She patiently answered all of my questions and helped me set up my first class and visit. At the time, she asked why I was interested in practicing yoga. I answered that it was to prepare for my next job. Naively, I thought all I needed to be a yoga teacher was half of year of practice and then I would be ready to sign up for the 200-hour teacher training which was starting six months later. (It was not until later that I realize this really was my true calling.)

The first class I took at SPACE was Amanda’s Ashtanga class. To a stiff joint beginner like me, it was really an unwise choice. Before we chanted at beginning of the class, Amanda even introduced me to other students in the class as “the student wants to be a yoga teacher in the future”, adding more pressure for me to perform well. I was already sweating from the heat and we haven’t even started doing any yoga postures. For my own masculine pride, I completed all the poses with everyone else, but I was already worried about how I was going to survive the days to come.

In high school, I had practiced Japanese Kendo (sword-fighting, meaning “Way of the Sword”) for three years, representing my school in competition, winning awards and medals. Unknowingly, those years of training had developed my competitive spirit. And when I started working, I had joined a gym to work out, so I can look manly and strong. After I started to practice yoga, I realized my past attitude towards being competitive and having a hard body, not only made my yoga practice more challenging, it also caused lots of various injuries. After some time, I had to slow down and contemplate. How should I practice to avoid injuries? Where did I go wrong with my practice? After some time of self study and exploration, I discovered that not only was my body hard and stiff, my personality was also hard and rigid, which made my yoga practice even more difficult. So as I slowly learned to soften my attitude and let go of my rigidity, my physical flexibility also improved and chances for injury lessened. All of these lessons could not be easily learned unless they were through actual personal experiences.

And now that I’m a yoga teacher, starting to share yoga with others. Along the way, I like to thank Amanda’s friendly care, Shirlyn and Naichin’s Anusara teachings, Sharon Wang’s encouragement, and Ada’s prompting, as well as all the teachers who have ever instructed me. All the service and cleaning staffs at Tien-Mu and An-Ho are all unsung heroes. And my fellow practitioners at Tien-Mu studio: Mei-Yin, Ling-Ling and Susan, it is you who pushed me forward along the way. And lastly, I don’t even know how to express my deep gratitude for the ceaseless, continuing support from my family. If I can choose, I would come back and be a part of this family again in the next life.

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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