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Teacher of June 2010 - Michelle Chu

Yoga has been a process of transformation to me. Since the first day I stepped on the mat, my inner self has been undergoing an evolution or transformation. And this change has continued to evolve every time I move on to and off the mat.

I remember when I was a teenager, I had heard about how “Life is Suffering"- Dukkha, one of the Four Noble Truth from Buddhism. Back then, I couldn't appreciate or understand the meaning of this truth. I thought to myself: with all the beautiful places on earth to travel to, all the amazing food to enjoy, and people around to love and to be loved; why would life be suffering? As years passed and my life unfolded, I experienced the heartbreak of losing loved ones and that led me to realize how impermanent and unpredictable life is. I started to think about the "BIG" questions in life - what is it about? And why are we here?

To me, Yoga is a way of life; it is a very powerful tool to encounter all the mysteries in life that flows to and through us. The yoga mat is like a magic mirror that reflects truly where you are in life. Whatever happens in life is reflected on the mat. And while on the mat, breathing is the most important aspect in yoga and it is also the bridge to our awareness. If we are mindful of our breath, we are developing awareness. Once we are aware, we are in touch with our inner wisdom and that is our best mentor. Wisdom is something within us that guides us in how to respond wisely to each moment in life without knowing what exactly that moment is until it happens. Meditation allows us to learn and grow through introspection.

When we cultivate the awareness on the mat by being mindful of our breath, the same quality of awareness also happens in life as well. Yoga then gets expanded into other areas of our lives and it becomes much more than the asana, the pranayama, or the meditation. Yoga then becomes the way of life - the way we walk; the way we cook, the way we eat our food or even the way we water the our herbs. When yoga manifests itself in all aspect of life, it is no longer just a noun but a verb as well. When there is a dialoguing between our life and our yoga, we are transforming and changing within. Over time we may still have the same outward appearance, but we have become a completely different person on the inside. The transformation process is very much like a snack molting or a larva undergoing metamorphosis into a butterfly.

Yoga may also inspire us to explore other aspects of life. For me these aspects have been surfing, cooking and many other activities. I am totally amazed by the parallels between yoga and these other dimensions! Through surfing, mother nature has taught me to be humble and operate only on the very present moment. It is just like in yoga, we practice to focus on each breath, one at the time without thinking about the previous one or the next one. The sense gratitude towards the source of life I have when I practice Sun Salutation also shows up when I am cooking. It has taught me to respect and be mindful of how we grow, prepare, cook and eat our food. All of these things bring a sense of love and joy to my inner self and in time it also extends out to people around me.

As for my quest for the answers to the "Big" questions in life, I haven't really found "the" answer yet and maybe the answer is not even what it's all about. But I have a feeling that the truth probably lies in bringing yoga into life and experiencing life itself with full awareness…


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