Interview: Elaine Shares Her Experience in Yoga (Singapore)
JULY 26, 2019
We think that yoga is one of the ways to change your lifestyle to better. If you practice regularly, it pacifies your mind and brings more awareness not only into your body but also in your everyday life.
Elaine is a Jezzroom's good friend but she is also a teacher at Vyasa Yoga, one of the oldest and largest yoga educational centres in Singapore. Jezzroom talked to Elaine about her experience in yoga and what yoga means to her.
How long have you been practising yoga and how did you start?
I started to practice 6 years back. I was inspired by Eat, Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and I yearned to stay in the ashram. When I passed by a Hindu temple conducting a yoga class, it stroke me that since I could not visit India then, practising in a Hindu temple could do the job for that time. I could not even touch my toes then and sun salutations gave me so much soreness. I did not give up because my teacher’s beautiful voice was so enchanting during savasana. It kept me going back for more. Savasana was my favourite asana. It was so relaxing, and I looked forward to it weekly.
I have a feeling that there are two tendencies to think about yoga. The first one is that yoga is about stretching and for those who are lazy to do a ‘real game’. The other one is that yoga contains so much philosophy and restrictions (e.g. vegetarianism) that it is not for everyone. When I started doing yoga, I was in the latter group of those who doubt. Could you please share your opinion with us regarding these two ways of thinking?
Yoga to me is a meditative practice where I move with my breath. I take this as a form of mindful practice as I bring my awareness to the sensations in my body regardless if I am moving or staying in a posture.
Stretching out the body and giving it strength and flexibility is a by-product of the practice. Philosophy and restriction are not something I would enforce on myself. Yoga is a mindful practice that has been gradually changing my outlook on life.
Have you always been a disciplined practitioner?
I practice three-four times a week. Am I considered disciplined?
- I think that in contemporary society (at least I can speak about the Western one) the idea of competition is deeply present. Either we compete with “similar to us now”, like colleagues, or with our former schoolmates on Facebook. Social media and ads are full of people we know, or complete strangers, with happy faces and shining eyes who tell us how cool and successful they are. On the other hand, we compare ourselves with our projections which we build in our minds about ourselves. Yoga is supposed to be a humble and introspective experience. I can only speak about myself, but I remember that when I started doing yoga, I often looked at others and tried achieving the results which I was not ready for at that moment. And when I could not get what I wanted I felt less motivated. Have you ever experienced something similar?
I was quite competitive as well when I first started out. I set a target for myself to do my splits but it just didn’t come. In the end, I gave up stressing myself over it and one day it came naturally. It’s so tiring to look at what my friends can do on the mat and what I cannot do. Usually, competition brings two outcomes. Either you give up or you move beyond your range of motion before you are ready and it may cause injuries. Nowadays, when I step on the mat, it is about myself and my own practice. I went through the competitive phase to come to a quieter practice. I see the practice more for wellbeing than chasing asanas. I still go for classes but I accept my physical and mental limitations and allow myself to progress at my own pace. Just like my splits.
What did yoga teach you?
Balance. Be mindful enough to take control of my practice and yet surrender to where my practice is right here, right now.
How does yoga influence your everyday life? I am especially interested in everyday communication.
I reflect my anxiety, fears and frustration in life and allow my breath to slow me down. Wherever my emotions arise, I breathe through them. I am still learning though. There are some days when frustration takes over and I scream at my kids!