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Teacher of December 2006 ─ Joanna Chow

A brief Introduction
I was born on Sep 22nd 1968. I’m a Virgo.  I moved to New Zealand with my family in 1989, and moved to Singapore in 1998 to be a Chinese teacher.  I moved back to Taiwan in 1999.

Why did I move back to Taiwan?
I often come across this question.  I made this decision when I was almost 30, an age that everyone starts thinking about their future.  This could be what many people call the time when the influence of Saturn Returns, or Confucius explained it this way, “At thirty I acted on the proprieties”.  I feel that New Zealand is somewhere that I will return to, but it is not a place where I can satisfy my adventurous heart.  Also, I am unwilling to play the role of a mother.  I never thought it was my calling.  I long for true independence.  I had to leave my parents to find myself.

Meeting Yoga
I have always believed that, “personality creates destiny”.  One of my personality characteristics is “curiosity”.  In New Zealand, where everyone is into fitness, I worked out at the gym everyday.  One day after trying Yoga I fell in love with it.  I like my teacher at that time a lot.  She had a great figure, and was very good at creating a great atmosphere and telling jokes while torturing us.

My wish to have yoga as a career started when I was experiencing a difficult time at work.  I had a hard time working in an office environment.  I am a very straight forward person and couldn’t understand why people talk behind each other’s back.  Worse, sometimes I needed to violate my conscience to lie for my work.  I asked myself whether this is something I would want for the rest of my life.  I realized what I needed was a skill not lies.  I longed for a change, and I decided that Yoga would be my path.

My journey to India reflected much of my impetuous personality.  I won’t change my goal once I decide what it is.  At the time I wanted to visit my parents, but went to India instead.   I called them when I arrived  in India. You can imagine their worries!  I learned something about Yoga back then – that is surrender, to give yourself fully into the hands of the Universe.  My life is not in my hands, I certainly can’t decide how I should end it.  All I can do is live for the moment and do whatever I want to do.  Real freedom comes when you drop everything, let go of the ego and stop clinging to things and habits.  This state is true freedom; a gift from God.

Yoga is attitude!
Everyone looks at the world from their own perspective.  What matters in Yoga is not only the Asana practice, but how it brings different messages to different people.  I don’t think of myself as a teacher, but as a messenger.  From the practice a person can get to know him/herself clearly, because our body is a reflection of ourselves. This is not something the mind can deny. Yoga practice can cruelly breaks the illusions we have created about ourselves. This process helps us return to our true Self, to unveil our masks, and teaches us to treat others genuinely and with confidence.

Love yourself before loving others
Many problems in out life start from ignorance, especially when there is a gap between ignorance of the truth and imagination.  This creates conflict for ourselves as well as for others.  To make matters worse, birds of a feather flock together.  People of like energy often play out dramas together.  I often say that we are responsible for our own misfortune.  Our feelings are held in our bodies as backache, shoulder pain, chest pain, insomnia, you name it.  Taking medicine really doesn’t work.  We can only practice Yoga to release these negative energies. From observing this process we can understand our attachments, try to cultivate patience and tolerance, and understand true love.  We should also have empathy for others.

Be free from fear
Everyone is afraid of losing youth, of sickness, and of death, but all of this is inevitable.  So can fear solve our problems?  Fear only keeps us away from true Freedom.  Since we can’t change what is, the only thing we can change is our attitude towards what-is.  Forget about the past, do not expect the future, just cherish the present moment.  Through focusing on the feelings of the body and our breath, Yoga practice teaches us a lot about living in the moment.  Only when we truly pursue our physical health, we can live in a practical way and can accept the challenge of destiny and gain Freedom.

True joy comes from caring for society
Many people think that they need to get somewhere or get more things to become happy.  They try very hard to achieve name and fortune, and shop for lots of things to comfort themselves, only to discover that it only brings momentary happiness.  Then people try to compensate for the emptiness derived from this process by accumulating more material things, creating what some religions called “Samsara”.  To be out of  Samsara we must be aware that true joy comes from within.  Yoga practice makes us a better person

Many paths lead to the One
We are here to learn different things about Life.  The most important thing is to maintain peace while facing challenges and desires.  Some people sell their souls to satisfy their ambition and ego, ignoring their most important asset – innocence.  Yoga practice helps to calm our mind from distractions so that we can listen to our true needs in the world of Maya(illusion).  It helps us to understand that we are here to find ourselves, not to gain things.

I dedicate this article to all my teachers, all my family and friends who have helped me, people who have hurt me, all my colleagues in SPACE, Matthew, who generously gave me a chance, and students who love and support me.

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