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Teacher of November 2008 - Shirlyn Shih

From the outer world

The changes I have experienced from yoga are difficult to put into words. Whether they are changes in the physical, mental or spiritual body they are difficult to express. It was only two years ago that I decided to commit fully to yoga and to take myself seriously. Before that, yoga was merely fitness to me. I practiced asana for physical exercise and to fulfill my love for dance. I did not believe yoga could change a person and thus the purpose of my yoga practice was set on refining the physical. After some time, as I stepped onto my yoga mat I gradually realized something was missing. Asana alone could no longer satisfy me on a deeper level.

Towards the inner world

When my yoga practice shifted from the physical level to a deeper exploration of my inner world, I came to realize facing the real inner self can be scary. I was afraid to see what I really wanted for myself and what the physical body really needed. Old sports injuries from overusing my body started to surface. For some time, I could not even stand for a prolonged time because of swollen knees. I stopped all exercise and practice. At that time I started Anusara Yoga. I learned to change my attitude. Besides my attitudes, I changed my practice and life style. Each time when I step on mat, I asked myself, "why am I practicing yoga today? What is my intention for practice?" I started to observe myself from the inside and to listen. I often reminded myself of non-harming (Ahimsa)

Beginning of Transformation

I have used my body intensely since childhood;all this time I have been learning how to perform the perfect dance. The accomplishment of a beautiful pose was more important than how my body felt. After school I continued to use my body intensely in my work. My body became weary and tired. I wanted to put an end to the injuries that repeatedly occurred to my body. I tried to listen very carefully to my body during every moment of practice. How the body feels is more important than which poses are achieved. If the body is not very stable than I slow down the practice and put more emphasis on the breath. Practice becomes a way to communicate with the body, to feels if the inner world is still connected to the outer world. When practice becomes an inner expression, I no longer care how many poses are achieved. As long as the body is at ease and the mind calm, the body and mind will connect, and there will be a feeling of joy during practice.

Humble gratitude towards all

I thank my first dance teacher who taught me that I could dance. Though I did not have a special talent to dance, she made me fall in love with dance and the time spent in solitude. I thank Ms. Shieh for teaching me Pilates, which enabled me to bring my body back into alignment. I thank my teacher Julie Kleinman from the Yogaworks teacher training (USA). Her selfless teaching brought my confidence back and I fell in love with yoga. I thank my Anusara teacher Chris Arcucci, who helped me find the right practice for me, which in turn helped me encounter myself from the inside. I thank Chris for teaching me full time 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, helping to find a way to stay positive when the challenges of life arise. I thank John Friend for sharing Anusara Yoga with energy and love to all who wish to practice. I thank all the students who grew with me during these years. I learned a lot from you and I thank you for giving me a chance to share what I have learned.

I thank the people and events which have challenged and changed me during these recent years. The tears helped me to ground my confidence and allowed for a growing observation of myself. The awareness and insight practiced on my mat is brought into every moment of life. Maybe I have yet to do my best, but I will grow from every mistake. Thank you for encouraging and giving me the motivation to march forward.


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