Ashtanga Yoga brought me spiritual growth and a fulfilling life
At a time when I was approaching the passing of my prime, one day I noticed a calming and relaxing yoga studio at a street corner and decided to walk in. That was how I began practicing yoga and embarked on my path of health.
When I first started practicing, even the easiest movements of circling my arms or raising my arms over head with palms together would leave my body aching for days. Forget about practicing the other balancing or standing poses. They were nearly impossible. Not able to withstand the pain, one by one, the young colleagues who started the practice with me all began to drop out. We all had this notion that yoga was just sitting on the floor, peacefully bending the body back and forth. Why did we need to do these tiresome jumping back and forth? It was not until later that we realized what we were practicing was “Ashtanga Yoga”.
After work, I would rush to the studio; I really treasured every precious moment I get to spend on practicing. Wanting to develop a better understanding of my body through yoga and to enjoy the progressive improvement, yoga became a part of my daily routine. Even though at times the practice was difficult, but that didn’t diminish my passion for yoga. I remember the first time I tried wheel pose. I couldn’t even catch my breath and I felt so discouraged that I told the teacher: “I’ll just learn it in the next life.” And there was a time that I injured both of my arms when I fell from practicing handstand. Still, I kept practicing and challenging myself, but when I finally started to overcome some of these obstacles in my practice, that “corner studio” was closed down.
Most of the other students from the corner studio began to go to SPACE YOGA. I went along also, which set me off on the next chapter of my yoga practice. I used to only practice three times a week, but at SPACE I decided to do the six-days-a-week Mysore practice. Every day the Mysore classes would be filled with students. It is the kind of class that you practice on your own. Seasons changed and the weather changed along with it, but I would always start my day off feeling a sense of wellbeing as I walked out my house every morning, so early that the sky was faintly light or still dark during the winter months. And when I entered the practice room, all I heard was the rise and fall of the breath in this large cavernous room. The flow of the energy would guide me to focus on my internal dialogue with my body. As I mindfully flowed through the poses, I also enjoyed the sense of fulfillment that came with that full body sweat. After shavasana, the fatigue and pressure would just dissolve way.
When I first started practicing yoga, I often just felt the soreness of my muscles. But after consistent practice, my arms got stronger and there was more ease and control. Even though I still can’t exactly locate the precise engagement of my core, but I felt I have more and more control of my body. Now when I travel to other places in the world, I would take the time to find an Ashtanga class to take. That allowed me to see the different teaching methods and afford me a great opportunity to interact and share with other students who are also passionate about yoga. Taking classes in different cities was always a new and interesting experience. I was able to be more familiar with the city so it was no longer a strange place. This spirit of taking my yoga clothes and practice every where, makes me feel as if I’m living in every corner of the world.
From the bottom of my heart, I would like thank Ming, Sally, Russell, Gladys, Axel and Adarsh. Their guidance and encouragement kept my passion for Ashtanga yoga alive. I also want to thank other Mysore students, who consistently went to class. Their company motivated me to get up so early each morning. I am sure that yoga will always be a part of my life. It makes my life more full and beautiful, as it soothes and relaxes my mind, body and spirit. Of course, I also need to thank SPACE for offering the “extra early” Mysore class for us office workers and providing such a high quality facility where we can take a comfortable hot shower after a sweaty practice to start the day off right.