I have been through a "Devil wears Prada" period in my life. It was after the economic downturn and every business was tightening up their belts. I ended up working on projects on my own that were meant for many people. I was putting in so much overtime everyday that I could only sigh as I watched by the office window the sun setting and found myself still being there to see it rise in the morning. The busyness caused my chronic headache to go from an occasional to a daily occurrence. Costly headache medications, muscle relaxants, acupuncture sessions, bags after bags, packages after packages, none of them cured it. And when it was acute, I still had to deal with all kinds of clients and other interpersonal issues. I was mentally and physically exhausted, hurting my mind, body and wallet.
Dragged by a friend to go exercising was how I got into the world of yoga. We thought it would be fun to try out various studios. After trying it for a year or two, in 2011 I found an outlet where my body can vent and settled at a small studio to practice. Every hard-to-release pressure from work was released after each sweat drenching practice. And the most surprising part was that I started getting relief from my hard-to-cure headache through this increased practice. Each time the symptom started to show up, I would ease the onset by practicing alternate nostril breathing. Unknowingly, yoga practice gradually became an intimate part of my life. Just like that stepping onto the mat developed into an indispensable part of my daily routine.
At the end of 2014, I started a more intensive practice. Unintentionally I started to lose interest in eating the big meals that I used to enjoy and my body became lighter and lighter. At that time, I had limitless curiosity towards asana and yet when I have to practice forward bends or splits, they felt like my Achilles heels. No matter how much effort I put in, practice after practice, my inner and back thighs did not seem to budge. The more I wanted it, the more my muscles got tense. My frustrations became harder to appease. What I got in return was endless tears and I’m not even sure if I was shedding tears or sweat. With all these escalating bottlenecks and questions, I decided in 2015 to join Heidi’s teacher training and hoped this intense training would bring the answers I was looking for.
The biggest lesson and realization I got out of the teacher training was the concept of Ahimsa (non-violence). By trying not to put undue demands on my body, applying viveka khyatih (discernment) towards new and old knowledge, and using minimum effort in maintaining the depth of the practice, I start to get to know my own body. I’m very glad that I had chosen to give myself the gift of teacher training. It was like a beginning that its continuing effect lasted through each and every practice afterwards. As I brought my awareness onto the mat, the teacher’s instructions were no longer just background music; instead they soaked through drop by drop and became a part of my body. The muscles that were always gripping finally were willing to let go. As long as I brought the breath in with the asana, I gradually was able to hear my body’s message at that moment. My mind slowly became calmer and less tense. This transformation subtly shifted my attitude in life as well. The issues that I cannot solve overnight I now know to observe and work with them. Problems that I can’t resolve right away I have learned to understand. Things that I had hard time letting go, I know to label them and let them sit. When they resurface again some day, I am able to face them lightly.
After I let go of my bias against large studios, I joined SPACE, which offered a richly staffed teaching team. I am grateful to have such opportunity to encounter so many great teachers. I particularly connected to Vivian and Jamey’s teachings. Especially with Vivian’s teachings, I felt deeper and deeper each time I take her class. With her precise instructions and detailed explanations, I always gained a new understanding even in a basics class. The way she always shared her own experience in practice served as inspirations that through slow digestion became more and more meaningful to me. I’m also grateful for the friends I met on this path, sharing the same passion and energy.
Loving yoga really is a path of no return. I’m enjoying the scenery along the way and continuing to feel the clam and ease of the present moment.