Back in the year 2000, when I was taking my first massage class, my teacher showed us some simple yoga postures as preparation for giving massage. I was amazed at how peaceful and relaxed I felt, unlike the painful-looking contortionist tricks I had seen on TV. I’ve been learning yoga ever since and I’m totally in love with it!
Looking back on my life, I realize it’s divided into two parts: the ‘Pre-‘ and ‘Post-yoga’ eras.
I used to swim. But ever since entering my Post-yoga era, I hardly ever swim anymore. I practice yoga instead because yoga is hassle-free. No more changing in and out of a bathing suit or finding a clean pool to dive into. I literally do yoga anytime, anywhere; when I sit in front of computer, listen to a speech, cook, shower, shop, hang out with my friends. You name it… You might wonder how… I practice pranayama (breathing techniques) and simple stretches when I have a busy day which doesn’t allow for an uninterrupted 60-minute practice. I’m even practicing my pranayama right now to help me clear my mind so that I can write this article more efficiently.
“Yoga connects me with myself.”
Yoga means ‘union’ in Sanskrit. Indeed, it helps me to connect with my true self. In my Pre-yoga era, I was self-conscious about my body. I always wanted to be taller with slimmer legs. I didn’t have a single pair of shorts in my wardrobe. Now I’ve learned to accept and even love my body for what it is. Thank God, Buddha and Allah! I started to wear shorts to show off my pleasantly chubby legs. I even bought two bikinis during my recent shopping trip in Taipei. My yoga attitude teaches me: “If you don’t learn to love your body, nobody else will.”
Yoga helps me to be more mindful of my thoughts. I’ve learned to live in the present, for “the present is a present”. We often waste our energy regretting or complaining. “A coin has two sides.” For example, when you get up on a rainy morning, you can choose to curse the weather for having to put on a raincoat and getting wet. Hence, you’ll have a bad day. On the other side of that coin, you can be grateful for the weather; rain drops help to cleanse the air, ease the heat, and alleviate the drought. You know what I mean if you live in Kaohsiung as well! I remember one rainy day we were practicing yoga at the Kaohsiung Art Museum. Instead of doing ‘Sun Salutations’, we did ‘Rain Salutations’. What a happy yoga class it turned out to be!
Five years ago on a beach in Koh Samui, Thailand, I was sipping a drink and was approached by a cute Western guy. To my surprise, his opening line was: ” I think you’re the most peaceful person I’ve met in Thailand so far.” I realized then that peaceful energy can be very attractive. I used to be harsh during my Pre-yoga era and acted like a spoiled brat. I remember once my date was five minutes late. When he arrived and said sorry, I snapped back, “Yes, you should be sorry!” Now in my Post-yoga era, if my date or friends are late, I just wait patiently and gracefully use the time to practice yoga. Through yoga, I’ve learned that nothing bothers you without your permission.
I find yoga is a great ice breaker. Sometimes when I meet strangers at a social gathering, I volunteer to show them how simple and fun yoga can be. Next thing you know, we’re playing together like kids. Remember when we were children? We had no inhibitions or boundaries. With yoga in my life, I never get bored. I can always find something interesting to do. I especially like it when I come up with fun yoga postures to pose in front of a camera. No boring, old victory signs for me! I truly believe that our world would become a happier, more peaceful and loving place if more people practiced yoga.
‘Kaohsiung Yogi’ gathers at the Kaohsiung Fine Arts Museum every Wednesday morning to share yoga with people who are open to it. It’s free. Check out their facebook page. Peace & Love!