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Teacher of February 2011 - Angus Chang

I started practicing yoga three years ago. Since then, I have heard about all these amazing benefits of yoga from many different yoga teachers, but it was not until recently that I started to appreciate its beauty myself. I also realized that the more I learned about yoga, the more there is to learn. Yoga is a practice that “utilizes the heart more than the mind. There is no need to be in a hurry. One needs to work hard, but at the same time let go of the expectation of the result.” This deeper understanding was a result of my practice of pranayama (breath work), asana (postures), path of knowledge and returning to my true self.

Pranayama
My yoga studies led me to experience the fact that the breath is really a dialogue between the self and the Nature. When I take an inhale, I (the individual soul) am observing the Nature (the universal soul) breathing out. And as I take an exhale, I am observing the Nature breathing in. This interaction is as graceful as a dance of waltz. Through the breath, the Nature nourishes my thoughts with goodness, and simultaneously and unconditionally transforms all my unnecessary negative thinking. I am then able to look at myself from a greater perspective and discover that by seeing things from the objective point of view, the subjective attachment to certain thoughts would just naturally dissolve away.

Asana
To me, practicing asana is the key to calming the mind and the body. For example, to achieve inner peace when I’m in the lotus position, I must first balance out my body in all sides, front and back, left and right, as well as top and bottom, so I can feel steadiness and ease both inside and out. This body/mind alignment can be applied to all the postures; they are all a manifestation of our inner energy. When we practice poses, it is not about conquering a pose. It is about being relaxed in the pose. On the mat, I would find myself aligning to my central axis to center my body. And off the mat, this awareness is helpful in centering and harmonizing different aspects of my life.  

Path of Knowledge
I have been studying the classical yogic texts (Yoga Sutra, Bhagavad Gita) to nourish my emptying soul. It also allowed me to understand the wisdom of the ancient sages. Our mind creates a false universe and we are lost in this unreal world, busy seeking fame and fortune. After awhile, our body and mind are off balance, our spirit perishes, and we are unable to attain true peace and happiness. It is only through studying the ancient texts, can we comprehend yoga’s life transforming philosophy. Wisdom will reveal and awaken the truth.

Returning
We should not overlook the healing power of the corpse pose (Savasana). It represents the complete process of an energetic cycle. It helps to clear away any obstructions in our mind, allowing ourselves to return to a state of clarity and emptiness. We practice being in this peaceful state, without any goals or intentions, simply just exist as a witness to life. In this quiet moment, by listening to our inner voice, it’ll allow us to get closer to our divinity, understand that in the rise and falls of each thought, reincarnation has already took place, just like the inhalation and exhalation of each breath, the beginning and the ending of each class, the birth and death of each life…

Realization and Gratitude

Even though I’m a teacher, I’m really a student. I believe that everyone has this double role of being a student and a teacher. How does these two roles interplay, oppose and support each other? As Haiyun Master once said: “this is the concept of integration and respect of life taught in Yoga Sutra and not the competitiveness and duality created by the mind. “ It is another perfect example of practicing using the heart over the mind.

I am grateful I have the opportunity to share my path and my thoughts of yoga study with everyone. I give my sincere gratitude to all the teachers and the divine.

Namaste

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