Say that it was short but it was not that short. It has been three and half years since I got into the world of yoga and I have been practicing at SPACE for nearly three years now. Because of my job and my interests, I spent long hours sitting improperly in front of computer and I was becoming stiff and sore in many places because of it. My right wrist was also suffering from carpal tunnel and my lower body was getting wider and droopier by the day. I was shocked by the condition of how my body was getting and realized that need to take better care of it. That was why I started on the path of yoga and now it has became something that I can’t live without.
At first I thought yoga was just about doing some easy stretches so it wouldn’t be that hard, then when I took my first yoga class, I couldn’t believe how my muscles shook from the beginning to the end of the class. That was when I realized flexibility is one thing and strength is quite another. If you don’t have the strength, there is no way you can stay in the pose and forget about even trying to breathe smoothly at the same time.
With this soft and weak body, I started practicing regularly five times a week. I would purposely pick classes that would help me develop my strength so it was natural that I ended up being in Jay’s classes. At first I felt frustrated and defeated by Jay’s stern corrections and demands. Then I looked at it differently and thought aren’t we actually lucky to have a teacher who was willing to offer corrections right there and then so we wouldn’t keep on making the same mistakes. I have since become thick-skinned and not afraid of making mistakes. By letting go of my ego and readjusting my mindset, I was able to receive so much more.
Once I developed a bit more muscular strength, I came to love the challenging and ever-changing flow classes. Practicing different sequence is like facing life’s various challenges; I may not be able to successfully complete them all, there may be weaknesses that cause my poses to be crooked, but by focusing on enjoying the moment, feeling the flow, and with the mind empty of thoughts, it has a tremendous effect of stress relieving for me. I also like the more open practice of Jivamukti classes. With Lynn’s different themed sequencing, I have more courage to take on the impossible.
After Jay came back his Iyengar Yoga studies in Australia, bringing back really solid foundation from his training, I started to learn the prop-using Iyengar Yoga from him. Jay often told us yoga practice is not about the end pose; it is about gaining more awareness and control of the body during the process. Using props not only help the body to maintain alignment, it can also help us we develop greater sensitivity to the subtle changes inside. Of course it also brought a sense of security and stability, which is very suitable for people who lack the arm strength like me. For example, using the yoga belt and block to practice Scorpion pose allowed more space to learn how to properly use my upper arms and shoulder blades. Another example is using yoga chair to practice backbend. It reduces a lot of pressure on the sacrum, allowing more space inside and the breath can be smoother. As for the ability to control, which Jay always reminded us about, needs not only attention, but also continuous practice to gradually develop. This is the part I’m still working on.
I still remember the first time practicing crow pose and had thought it was mission impossible. But now even a weakling like me can have both feet off the ground at the same time. So don’t set up any limits for yourself. There is no need to compare yourself with others. All you need to do is to patiently and continually build your foundation. When the time comes, that inner joy of accomplishment is absolutely beyond what you can imagine. This is also why I insist on taking basics classes. Yoga is an unpredictable, deep, yet wonderful path. I like to keep exploring it.
I’m grateful for all the teachers who have ever instructed me. In particularly, I’m grateful to Jay, who is tough on outside but soft on the inside. He has always been so patient and extremely helpful to me. I also like to thank all the other students who I have practiced and sweated with, who are filled with positive energy and generosity with their encouragement. It is so fantastic to have all of you around!