YOGA AND I
My reason for doing yoga changes every day. When I first started doing yoga the second year I moved to Taiwan, the reason was because I was under stress. I recently wrote this down and it summed up my relationship with yoga.
On a good day, doing yoga cheers me up; it gives a pleasant feeling.
On a bad day, yoga frustrates me even more.
When I have time, yoga seems to be a luxury.
When I don’t have time, yoga seems to be a burden.
When I am emotionally well, yoga helps me to stay even-keeled.
When I am emotionally drained, yoga helps me feel a little bit better about myself.
The reason for practice never feels the same, it changes every day, every season, every year, and every phases of my life. The point is no matter what the emotional and physical stage I was at, yoga was always there to serve as a refuge.
YOGA & PRACTICE
It was in 2012 when I had the privilege to meet my current teacher Hart Lazer, who is a student of the renowned teacher, Ramanand Patel, and B.K.S Iyengar. Hart also has an extensive background in trauma, therapeutic training and counseling. It was an eye opening experience for me in terms of restructuring my own understanding of what yoga practice really is about. It was the first time where I have been able to systematically look at the psychological and physiological aspect of practice without fall into a fixed doctrine.
I was so inspired by Hart that I decided to reboot my training by enrolling in his introductory 200-hour teacher training. After three years studying with him, I have finally completed an Iyengar inspired 350-hour LEVEL 1 teacher training, 50 workshop hours and some apprentice work. Through which, I learned the fundamentals of yoga asana in the Iyengar tradition, pranayama awareness, Buddhist meditation, injury prevention, trauma healing and therapeutic approach in restoring the body. I am humbled to say that even after years of experience teaching, I am a beginner again! Hart has helped me to deepen my practice by integrating my previous experiences with his therapeutic training. Yoga practice has now taken on a different meaning. I feel the more I study, the more I am afraid to teach.
I would not say that the training was easy. I struggled through meditation, verbal precision and asana integration during this three-year span; however, I have grown in my understanding of what practice means to me and how it should be. I am often reminded by Hart: “Every time you teach, you see big letters of AHIMSA painted in front of the mat. Every time you practice, remind yourself of the three poisons- ATTRACTION, AVERSION and INDIFFERENCE (the three poisons of Buddhism)”. As I struggled through the training, I cried over my own unhappy life as much as I struggled in my own practice. My yoga practice helped reveal my own emotional reactions, and I was finally confronting my own enemies. It was quite an amazing experience. As simple as it sounds, yoga helped me to see myself clearly.
YOGA & HEALING
I find that “Duhkha” (suffering/stress) is the root of all imbalances in the body. It inhibits our body and mind, separates us from our own soul. When we are not who we are, we are not happy with ourselves physically and emotionally. When we come to yoga because of suffering, we often come with a “fix-me“ instead of a “what’s-happening-to-me” attitude.
In the first page of the introduction in Richard Freeman’s book, “The Mirror of Yoga”, he starts with “Yoga begins with listening. When we listen we are giving space to what is.” It is the “what is” that begin the healing process in yoga, and that process always starts with the self. A therapeutic treatment always starts with awareness of the self.
I now teach so that I can better understand my own intention. I am grateful to all the students that come to my classes. I look at teaching as an opportunity to practice AHIMSA and COMPASSION instead of a self serving purpose. The process is best explained in “Yoga as Therapy” by Doug Keller: “Any good therapist will involve the patient or client at least to some degree, empowering him or her to participate in the healing process.”
YOGA & LIFE
In yoga we always make complicated matter simple and back to being complicated again. The duality of yoga resembles an endless paradoxical parity of life, and that is the nature of yoga practice. Just like in asana practice, when we make it too simple, everything goes back to physical level of the practice, but if we make it too complicated, we then will miss the interconnectedness between the ego (Ahamkara) and the openness of the mind (Manas). Because we experience suffering, and relative to it, we experience happiness, and vice versa. Most of us can only experience suffering because of happiness, but rarely do we understand the happiness is impermanent.
The true bliss comes from a direct experience of happiness and sorrow without reacting to them. When you have an experience of an emotional reaction, try to stay with it and experience the inter-dependency of our true nature and the world around us, so we may develop enough attention to find peace in our life. Practice often, so we may return to a sattvic stage without holding on to any emotional reactivity.
Practice, Gratitude, Peace !