By Ng Yivon

Truth be told, I have never had an interest in Yoga, having always thought that it is an exercise for old people, the perception reinforced by its slow movements. My sports are usually more vigorous – running, swimming, cycling, walking and Taekwondo.

A few months ago, I injured my back in a bout of frenzied activity, playing badminton and training for my Black Belt in Taekwondo.

I was bed ridden for a few days. I then tried many remedies. I first tried traditional Chinese massage at several centres. Although I obtained temporary relief, the pain soon returned.

I was then recommended to see a Chiropractor but after several sessions, the relief also proved fleeting as the pain soon returned. As a last resort, I consulted an Orthopedic Surgeon at a leading private hospital. After many tests including taking X-rays, he pronounced that I did not suffer any slip-disc in my back. It was comforting to know but the pain nevertheless persisted.

This dragged on for several months but the pain still persisted. When my mother who also suffered from back pain, heard from a friend about MAYI Yoga, she persuaded me to attend the Yoga Therapy for Spinal Health #HappyBack class at the Damansara Utama centre on a Tuesday. I was reluctant but was getting desperate as the back pain was really getting me down.

The Battle with Self-Doubt in Yoga

I was still not convinced after the first session and it took a lot of persuasion from my parents to get me to continue. In these classes I was taught different poses or Asanas that help with stretching the target muscles, strengthening the core and back muscles, and muscles that help with inner balance. In addition to that, I also learnt postural awareness and correction, Pranayama (breathing) techniques and meditation.

My teacher, Dr. Kuga has great empathy and awareness of the different individual needs of each student. She often recommended specific exercises that she felt would further improve my condition.

Never having done yoga prior to this, I struggled with the postures and remembering what was being taught at first, but after a few classes and a lot of practice, the learning gradually became easier and smoother.

Slowly but surely, I noticed that the pain levels in my back were less intense. This further fueled my motivation to continue practising yoga and to be more aware of my posture in my everyday life, be it standing, sitting, walking, driving, lying down etc.

My favourite part of every class were when we were doing Pranayama exercises and the meditation sessions in the Shavasana pose at the end of the class. These exercises taught me how to consciously relax all the muscles as well as allowing me to dissolve all stressful thoughts. This is something that most of us find difficult to do in our busy and stressful daily lives.

After having completed this set of yoga lessons, I can say that my back pain is now a rare occurrence! My mood has greatly improved compared to when I first started, and I feel more in control of myself and my life. My mother, after joining these classes alongside me, has also shown improvement in terms of managing her pain and stress. I can see that it has helped others in my class too. These classes help us to realise that most pain does not naturally occur due to ageing, but is instead caused by bad posture. However, this can be easily rectified through constant vigilance. I now also realised that not all pain and injuries require drugs, painkillers, physio therapy, hospitalisation and surgery. Lifestyle changes and natural remedies like yoga can sometimes be equally effective and better offer a long-term solution.

I am truly thankful for the health benefits that I have gain by practising yoga for even a short period of time.

It has led to me to self discovery and the revelation that pain and injuries can be caused by inane things like bad postures and stress, and that healing can come from within through “harnessing the power of the mind”, helped by exercises like yoga.