I work in the field of music. I thought music was my only love, until I started doing yoga and soon it also became a part of my life that I cannot live without, just like my passion for music.
A simple question that changed my life
There is a saying: “use copper as a mirror, we can see if the clothes are on right; use a friend as a mirror, we can see advantages and disadvantages.” In the summer of 2011, a friend and I met up at the gym to go swimming. After we put on our suits, my friend said to me: “I think you put on some weight. Want to give yoga a try?” A friend is like a mirror, reflecting back my weakness. So, I started taking yoga and from then on it unconsciously integrated into my life.
Yoga is not just an exercise; it is “knowledge of the mind”
When I started doing yoga, I was very excited and everything felt fresh and new. Initially I tried all kinds of classes. I liked taking basic classes to establish foundation step by step. I also liked taking the mirror-facing hot yoga classes, watching myself drenched in sweat. Every time I learned a new pose in class, I would record it in my “secrets of martial arts” booklet afterwards and review the class in my mind. That was my little highlight of the day and I would derive a slight sense of accomplishment from it.
Once in a Hot Yoga class, Denise told us to: “breathe evenly. Don’t let the breath go too far. By focusing on the breath, it will become rays of light lighting up your body, drawing you closer to your mind; gripping the mind, just like when you feel the awareness of all the parts of body connected. And by allowing yourself being in an experiential state during each practice, concentrating on each and every minute, you become an experiencer of the inside.” Later, I slowly realized yoga is not just about asana practice; it requires the interconnection of the mind, body, and spirit. Through working on the breath and the mind, it calms our spirit. Every asana needs the breath to infuse vitality in it, just like a song that requires musicality to be pleasant to the ear. This realization made me even more focused on the breath in class and slowly I also started to feel that peace of mind.
Be content, the greatest joy will be received
Towards the end of 2013, I was scheduled to go on a tour with a theater group that will last over 40 days, touring 12 cities in Mainland China. Knowing that I probably won’t be able to have time to practice, I started to get more and more anxious as the departure date neared. Denise told me: “It doesn’t matter. There is no need to feel guilty. Every stage of life all have things you have to do at that time. You have a lifetime to practice.” With that, I set off with mixed feelings. Every time in a few cities when there was a day I didn’t have to perform or rehearse, I would walk around the city. What I remembered the most was walking through streets of ordinary neighborhoods, seeing how so many people were living in such poor environment; I realized how fortunate I really am. So actually, the learning off the mat is even more valuable and hard to come by.
Gratitude and focus on the good in life
Later I also came to really like Ashtanga practice. With each fixed sequenced practice, I was able to explore my body. I’m very grateful to Ann Huang for her encouragement and demand in class. She was always reminding us to pay attention to the quality of the breath, to listen to the sound of it and not to forget to unfurrow the eyebrows, lift the corner of the mouth, to open the heart naturally and easily. I am also grateful to Sean for his strict following of the Ashtanga tradition, demanding us to synchronize our movement, breath with instructions and to do each vinyasa properly. I’m also thankful for his flowy sequencing in Hatha and Flow classes and his carefully selected music. I would like to thank Lynn for letting me learn compassion towards life and love for all beings in her Jivamukti class. I also would like to thank Jay for emphasizing skeletal muscular alignment, which allowed me to know my own body more. I’m thankful for all the teachers who have taught me; they have enriched my learning experience.
Do your practice and all is coming.
I really like this famous saying by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. I hope to persist on this path of yoga, with love and gratitude and with the humility to learn.