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Teacher of May 2007 - Amanda Lai

I was born on the 28th of February, 1972.? I’m a Pisces.? I hated sports ever since I was a kid.? I would never stand if I could sit, never walk if I could drive.? How did someone like me become connected to Yoga?

After college I started working at one of the largest foreign consumer product companies in Taiwan.? In this company, my co-workers were mostly MBAs.? In that environment everything was about “performance”, “efficiency”, and “succeeding”.? With such enormous stress, it didn’t take long for me to become super competitive.? After a few years, I became used to it, but I also became easily irritated.? My heartbeat raced at all times, my appetite increased enormously, but my weight decreased.? Then I discovered that I had hyperthyroidism, I was only 26.? I never thought that I would get sick.? The doctor told me that it was an illness of our society, and that I should work less and avoid stress.

“You only know the preciousness of something when you lose it”. It wasn’t until I lost my health that I started contemplating what I really wanted from my life. I found that when i’m not physically healthy I am not mentally happy. Then what does a successful career really mean to me? Afterwards, I started slowing down and I quit my job. After a break, I switched to the lovely company, Johnson & Johnson. They treat their employees well. I met wonderful people there, my stress was reduced a lot, and I started my Yoga practice.

At first my Asana practice always brought me frustration and pain. I was incredibly stiff because I had never moved and I was always sitting in an office chair. I was always amazed at how those moms and grannies could fold and contort their bodies, because I couldn’t even bend forward. Different poses only reminded me of stiffness and pain in different parts in my body. Each time, on my way to the class I was tormented by the voices that encouraged me to give up. Three times a week, I took Asana classes like a prescription. I was very serious as if I was trying to finish a project for a company. I would put my unfinished work aside to go to class, and then continued working after coming home from the class. (Thanks to my executives at Johnson & Johnson for not giving me a hard time, for not working over time with everyone else. They always offered me the greatest encouragement and tolerance.) Three months after I started practicing, the syndromes of dizziness, headache, loss of hair, and my temper gradually began to lose their power over me. I knew that through Yoga I could regain my health without drugs. Since then I have never stopped my practice.

I started practicing Ashtanga in 2004, I truly felt that “this is the yoga that works for me.” Since then I have focused my practice on Ashtanga. I enjoy listening to my breath during the practice, which weaves through the movements into a beautiful song. After coming to Space, I have also come across Anusara Yoga, Jivamukti Yoga and Kundalini Yoga. I feel that all styles have advantages, and I like them all. No matter which style we practice, we are all “yogis”, are we not?

I’m thankful to all my teachers: Cheng-Ming Dong who opened my door to Ashtanga; Michael Gannet whose training I attended in Goa, India; Ashtanga master David Swensen; Sharon Moon, Rusell Case at SPACE Yoga; and my first Anusara teacher Chris Arcucci.

I’m also thankful for my executives at Johnson & Johnson CF, Stanford, Jack, CK, Alex, who generously provided their guidance at work and freedom for my Yoga tour to India. I’m thankful to Matthew and Wendy for providing a wonderful Yoga studio that offers inspiration from master teachers from around the world. I’m thankful for my husband Danny who practiced Yoga with me, my good friend Kelly who shared time to practice Ashtanga, to explore different styles, to fast, and to eat Godiva together. Namaste.

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