Updated: Jan 9
Mindful, Graceful and Balanced is my tag line. Those are the elements that are important to me and that I want to bring to all my classes. Let me tell you what they mean to me.
Mindful. It means to be fully present in everything that we do. The mind is usually super active and can be all over the place. I know mine is for sure. Staying focused has always been a challenge for me except when I step on my mat. That is also one of the reasons why I enjoyed yoga so much that I wanted to be a yoga teacher. What I want for my students is to be fully aware of what they are experiencing at that particular moment (forever now!), observing the body, noticing any sensation that arises and feeling the breath. On that note, I find vinyasa yoga a very good vehicle to focus the mind. In essence, it is a breathing practice. We use movements to regulate the breath and use breath to regulate the mind. When we can focus on the pacing of breath regardless of the movements that we make, our mind turns into a meditative state. When the practice is done, the mind becomes more relaxed and the thought process becomes clearer.
Graceful. It is more than a movement that meets the eyes. Most people relate being graceful with beauty and elegance. It is all true but it also means doing things with ease and being truthful. It is the mindset that influences the behaviour. On a physical level, every movement is deliberate but nothing is forced. You may feel the tension in the body when you stretch but it should not be painful. On a mental level, a lot of time when we practise on the mats, our true selves come out – impatience, arrogance, ego, frustration, self-consciousness, whatever it may be. What we may want to do is to use the opportunity on the mat to understand and accept ourselves, or maybe to better ourselves – e.g. to be more patient or less self-centered. On an emotional level, when you are at peace with yourself, you will find equanimity and will naturally carry yourself with an air of grace.
Balanced. Balancing on one leg or the arms is always challenging. But it is very good for the body and the mind. It requires strength and focus and it trains the sensory integration of the eyes, ears, spine and legs. Likewise, finding a good balance in everything is essential to our well-being. For example, all work no play is just as detrimental as all play no work. Think about the symmetry of a Yin Yang symbol -- in the world of Yin, there is a bit of Yang and in the world of Yang, there is a bit of Yin. Similarly, when we focus too much on strengthening one part of the body, the other parts of our body will suffer. When we only do passive stretching without active strengthening, our body may also suffer in the long run. Stretching + strengthening is a well-balanced healthy recipe for our body. In each class, I focus on strengthening the body while lengthening the muscles. That is also the key reason why I introduced Pilates barre to my students in addition to yoga classes, so that we can find a good balance to keep our body both flexible and strong at the same time.
In short, I want my students to find focus and concentration of the mind, equanimity and inner peace when I lead them through a structured and grounding practice. You have yet to experience all that? It is totally fine. I have been practicing for years and I am still learning.