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Yogi of August – Maggie Lo

Few years prior to joining SPACE, I was always too busy working and never had time to work out regularly. It made me felt like I was an urban fenced in chicken. I did wanted to become more fit and then there was one time when I was hanging out at the bookstore, out of curiosity, I bought Naichin Tang’s book, “Loving Yoga”. After I read it, I started to develop a great interest in yoga. So in the next few years, I tried out various popular yoga studios and community classes, but because the students were all of varied abilities and the classes offered had inconsistent and inappropriate levels, I felt I was not making any noticeable progress. Finally I just decided to practice at home. Studying on one’s own really challenges one’s persistence. Besides not practicing consistently, I also came across some questions that could not simply be answered by reading books. So in 2008, I decided to find a professional yoga center to deepen my yoga practice, and I found SPACE to be the right place to start a consistent and a systemic yoga practice.

Before I started practicing yoga, my busy and stressful life often left me feeling I was about to drown in the flood of to-do lists and time. My body was tight and mind was not calm. With a consistent practice after sometime, I discovered that all changed. Every time I stepped onto the mat, I felt the whole world had quiet down. There was only me and my body soundlessly yet passionately conversing with each other in this space, discovering all the different possibilities. I can remember when I first started practicing Ashtanga, the fear and shock I felt watching other student practicing headstand. But with the teacher’s guidance and having overcame my own fear myself, I can also recall the inner joy and the self assurance I felt the first time I came up to this same exact pose. My asana practice not only helped me release tension, it also significantly improved my strength and stamina (The fact that I was able to climb the Jade Mountain this May was the best proof to my improved fitness. Without my regular yoga practice, I don’t think I could have attained this goal.)

Another way yoga had changed me was my view on the world and myself. I used to be really attached to certain things, not able to let go. But, reading some of the Yoga texts, such as the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali and the Hatha Yoga Prapidika had helped me extend my understanding of yoga from the physical asana to the deeper level of the mind and spirit. Indian sages believed that mind, body and spirit are connected. Our physical health is determined by the peacefulness of the mind/spirit. And yoga has been developed according to this principle to help us achieve this goal. I experienced this truth through my own yoga practice. To me, yoga is a complete lifestyle. The asana and yogic diet allowed my body to be healthy and the wisdom of the yoga philosophy on life taught me the importance of letting go and non-attachment. It also allowed me to control my emotional swings, thereby not letting myself be influenced by the external environment in order to reach a balance of mind, body and spirit.

SPACE provides a full yoga schedule for different level of students. At the beginning, I would try out all different kinds of classes, but strangely, I found the classes I end up attending the most was Ashtanga. Slowly, that became my main practice. The chanting at the beginning and the end of each Ashtanga class helped my mind to settle. The fixed sequence helped me to focus even more on the present moment. I noticed that the students who like to practice Ashtanga all seemed to have a certain characteristic. They all placed high demands on themselves, all sought perfection. So during practices, we needed to be careful not to get injured by striving too hard. Because of the advantage of fixed sequence, if you have an established practice, you can practice on your own outside of classroom. And even though after each Ashtanga practice, I came out drenched with sweat, but the sense of physical and mental ease and joy that came along with it had kept me coming back to onto the mat.

This is my second year at SPACE and I like to use this opportunity to thank all the teachers who have ever guided me. Their passion towards yoga allowed me to receive so much in each class. I especially like to thank Ethan. In each of his classes, he would explain in detail how to avoid injury and how to find the key to the pose. And he loves to share his passion and experience of yoga with us, each time leaving us with a sense of wonder. Ethan has all the qualities of what a good teacher would be to me. He is dedicated, patient and has an open heart that is willing to share and listen. I’m very touched by him. I also would like to thank Jay for his patient guidance and support when I first entered the Ashtanga world. Lastly I like to give special thanks to Rachel Tsai. She is strict yet humorous. I’m always happy to take her classes. Her encouragement had led me wanting to try new things. Her in-depth knowledge of Indian philosophy and Ayurveda allowed me to gain further understanding of yoga. I also like to take this opportunity to thank all the service staff at SPACE. Because of their hard work, we have a sanctuary in this fast paced city.

My friends and family all know that I love yoga, but when they inquire as to why, I couldn’t really answer them clearly. I can only tell them that yoga has brought me positive changes, making my mind and body healthier. I also love the kind of person I have become; someone who is more open and accepting of people and things and more contemplative of my connection to the universe. To understand this kind of feeling, you have to personally experience it yourself. If you would like to change your life, why not try stepping on the mat and start your own yogic journey.

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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