My body has always been stiff, ever since I was little.
In My Teens
I couldn’t touch the ground while folding forward.
In My Twenties
I wanted to learn dancing, but I was so stiff I can only warm up and stretch by the corner of the wall in class, so I had to give it up.
In My Thirties
Being in the Internet business, it was sedentary work plus the pressure, my body became immensely tight. At that time I was always waking up with a stiff neck and getting bladder inflammations. I had gone to all the major Chinese and Western hospitals and clinics for treatments, received tons of urine test and antibiotics, but did not see any improvement.
Later with a friend’s invitation, I started practicing yoga. Even though it was only once a week, but in that short hour and a half I was able to get relief from a week long work. It is like the “healer” character in video gaming; it allowed me to do seven days of battle with the work monster.
Thirty-nine Years old
I thought this was the final “deadline” for being a mom. Filled with tension, I came to SPACE YOGA and started practicing daily and drop-by-drop, all the work pressure was sweated off and my physical condition gradually improved. Then, I got pregnant…
Forty Years Old
I went back to SPACE after one month of giving birth. The condition of my postpartum body was causing me concerns. I was very bloated and my neck felt as hard as concrete cement. My core was also very weak. Whether it was a standing, sitting or twisting pose, I felt I couldn’t engage my core muscles. In addition, I felt so tired. Taking care of a baby was like running a marathon; I could never get enough sleep. I was also very hormonal and felt completed depressed. Worst of all, I was a very impatient mother. There were lots of tensions and it felt I was ready to explode at any time!
I had all these questions inside: “not getting enough daily sleep and worse physical shape then pre-pregnancy, can I still get back to practice?” “I’m always upset with my child, how do I alleviate my emotions?” and “People who practice yoga are all every calm and I’m so grumpy, am I still worthy of the practice?”
It was at this time that I met Teacher Michelle, who just returned to SPACE to teach from her maternity leave.
“Breathing” was my biggest gain from Michelle’s classes. I was learning pranayama, kriya, meditation and chanting with her. Through her guidance, I began to observe myself through my breath. Even though when I was meditating, my mind often drifted or became drowsy due to fatigue, but I still tried to watch my thoughts as they arise and dissolve. I also watched my emotions and the fatigue as well as being aware of my inner self through the breath. Gradually, my body became softer and so was my mind. It was not because how much I have sweat in class or how difficult was my asana. That warm energy and peaceful feeling, that ease was what brought me back to class, on the mat, time and time again.
In class, Michelle would demonstrate a pose and give us two modified poses that may be more suitable for us to practice depending on our physical condition that day. She says: “please be honest in your practice.” I often think of this statement. Don’t force and be compassionate to myself. This was a very important belief that supported me through the big life changes of having a child and quitting a job.
I am very grateful to Michelle, who also has young children. I often complained that now I don’t have time to practice because of having kids and I lost myself because of taking care of children. She often say in class: “when you notice your emotions are about to explode, please remember to come back to the pit of the belly breathing.” It has helped me tremendously.
In the last two years, I have taken my husband and child to Michelle’s yoga retreats. Actually with such a young child to get away for quite a few days by myself to attend a retreat is simply impossible, but Michelle encouraged us to bring family along. She thinks yoga is not just limited to the mat; it needs to be taken into life, even into the family. Yoga should be a kind of lifestyle.