I started practicing yoga because my body was super tight and stiff. With years of being busy at work without time to exercise, my whole body was sore and in pain. My health was deteriorating where all the indicators were at a critical point. It was then my good friend, Shirley, strongly recommended SPACE to me. She said she has been to all the yoga studios around Taiwan and SPACE was the best yoga center. Wanting to improve my health, I signed up for a membership. Ever since then, yoga has been a part of my life.
I remember the first time I took Pearl’s restorative yoga class. I couldn’t believe that lying on the floor resting was also considered yoga. It was hard to imagine what kind of effect it has. In a dark, candle lit room, scented with essential oil prepared by Pearl, she also prepared a few other bottles of essential oil free for students to chose and use. I was deeply drawn to this mysterious atmosphere. Following Pearl’s instructions, flipping back and forth, I was wondering what these postures were for and I almost fell asleep quite a few times. Actually I did hear a few students snoring, no wonder Pearl kept reminding us to just relax but don’t fall asleep. I thought this must be what awareness was about. In this kind of setting, to be able to relax, not fall asleep, and be awake to develop our “awareness” of our body is not easy.
With Pearl’s gentle voice and the support of bolsters, blankets, belts and other props, in the slow rhythm of the body, we learned to truly relax and release. Time explains it all. Since I have been practicing restorative yoga, my headaches, shoulders and neck pains all have gone away without popping any pills. It was all due to the gentle stretches and stress releases. That’s how I come to know the true power of restorative yoga and Pearl’s teachings.
As a beginner, I was really afraid of getting hurt in yoga. I learned from Pearl how to use my body correctly, not to exceed my limit and over stretch my body. She especially mentioned that any time there is a pain in a pose, you should stop and inform the teacher, so you can receive alternative instructions to practice. After all, everyone is at a different degree of ability, and there different ways to practice that is suitable. For me, who has very limited ability, that advice has been a tremendous help till this day.
I originally thought I wasn’t good enough to take workshops, but with Pearl’s encouragement, I got the courage and curiosity to sign up for my very first workshop. It was the Master teacher, Peter Scott’s course. The way he taught completely changed the way I looked at yoga. It was a revelation that yoga actually can be done this way! I learned that in fact varying level of students can still achieve the same result through use of different props and proper instructions from the teacher. And actually the more authentic a master is, the more kind and warm he is, without any arrogance at all. Peter was very gentle and humble even with me, who was probably the most inexperienced student in the course. I was able to do many poses that I have never done before as he guided me to use props and techniques that I have never tried before. With his help, I was also able to attempt the first inversion I have ever done. This once-in-a-lifetime experience provided me with lots of courage and confidence to continue my studies in other workshops. I have attended workshops with Basia Going, Doug Keller, Hart Lazer. The yoga philosophy and the energy I gained from these courses really greatly inspired a beginner like me. This just goes to show that workshops are not only for the advanced practitioners.
In addition to Pearl, I also like to thank Carol, Denise, Lars and many other teachers. Their selfless, open, and great patience and love helped me achieved poses that I could never have dreamed to be possible. It was also such a wonderful discovery to find that the mindfulness I learned in yoga practice coincided with what I was learning in my Buddhist studies.
Now when I do forward folds, my hands can touch the floor and my ankles can also be more grounded. I’m thrilled to have such improvements and I will certainly continue with my practice!