When I was young, I loved exercising – running, hiking, swimming, dancing – I have done them all. I always wanted to keep in shape by working out. After watching both of my parents suffering through serious illnesses before passing away, I became even more fearful of how disease can lead to the lost of one’s dignity and control of the body and mind. From then on, I kept telling myself that my longevity is up to God, but I’m going to live with health and ease. At that time, Jane Fonda’s aerobic dance was very popular. One of those classes was enough for you to feel out of breath. Even though I was only twenty-eight, but I already felt my body couldn’t handle such strenuous work out.
Then a friend introduced me to yoga. Although during that time, the yoga classes were mostly filled with these chatterboxes, gossiping and chitchatting throughout the whole class, but I still liked these slow “stretching” classes. Back then, that is all people knew of yoga, the stretching. After I got pregnant, I stopped going to classes for awhile because at that time in Taiwan, they didn’t recommend expecting mothers to practice. It wasn’t until my kids were born that I resumed my practice.
I practiced at the two big yoga associations in Taiwan. It was a time when the yoga community was fairly closed off and there were not much outside influence. It was even difficult to find books about yoga in bookstores. It wasn’t until 2001 that Taiwan’s yoga market started to develop and at the same time, some of my class mates were all opening their own small studios. Because the yoga industry was still in its infancy in Taiwan, so every studio all seemed to be doing pretty well. I was looking everywhere for teachers who can help me advance my practice, but I always felt that something was missing.
First time I tried Ashtanga class was in 2005 and I was immediately drawn to its power and beauty. Despite the fact that after each Mysore class my whole body would ache for two, three days, there is a sense of challenge that motivated me to want to further deepen my asana practice.
Now with the establishment of the large yoga studios around the city, it has expanded people’s view of yoga and brought tremendous benefit to the practitioners. I continued my Mysore life of being out of the door first thing in the morning. I like that feeling of starting my day with my body and mind filled with joy and energy. Through practicing yoga, my allergy has gradually improved. I also learned to condition my physical body with the steady asana, letting the stable external movements keep the senses focusing inward. As my consistent practice start to have an effect on my physiology, my awareness deepened. Slowly the attachment of the mind to the asana was turned into fulfillment of the spirit.
I still maintain my Mysore practice. I let the body immerse into the breath. By withdrawing the senses, I open the ears to the sound of the breath and gaze the eyes on the Dristi (focal point). When the breath and energy are stable, the mind becomes even. When the body and the mind integrate, every vinyasa is a Qigong-like, meditative flow. When you work on Asana (postures), Pranayama (breathing techniques), and Pratyahara (withdrawal of senses) together on the mat, your thoughts can be controlled. Yoga allows us to have a strong body and a clear mind. When the mind is still, not being affected by dichotomy, our life becomes more whole.
I am grateful for all my teachers. They enriched my learning experience each step of the way. I am especially grateful for the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and his family, Saraswathi and Sarath Jois, who carry on the important task of transmitting the teachings of Ashtanga yoga. They make it possible for people to continue to go back to Mysore for the traditional teachings, away from their busy modern life and retreat back to the simplicity of Mysore. I am thankful for having my physical and mental health, which allows me to practice with ease. I’m thankful to have yoga accompanying me towards my fifth decade on this earth. Practice consistently; let it become a part of your life. I also hope everyone can transform and benefit from yoga. Everyone has a different homework. If yoga is yours, then it is a blessing.
My students are like my own children, who are continuously growing and as a parent, I need to constantly learn and progress as well. One should adjust her teaching method according to the changes in condition and the individual needs of a child. When you stand on the mat, please courageously take off your mask and honesty face yourself. It is then that you can experience a true inner connection. Really enjoy each practice, the journey and the transformation of the body, so you can create a practice that only belongs to you.
I like to thank SPACE for providing such a perfect environment to practice and the opportunity to practice and learn with everyone. And I particularly like to thank them for allowing me to share my yoga with those can benefit from it.