By Amanda Low

People often shy away from yoga because they think of themselves as not flexible or that yoga is just too easy. I remember attending my first yoga class when I was 18. I joined a gym at that time and I was also at my heaviest weight.

With my self-confidence constantly deteriorating and I no longer love my body or how I look, I decided that it’s time for a change. A healthier change.

At first, I started off with attending their cardio classes but then I was curious about yoga and I decided to try out one of their yoga classes which seemed to be quite a popular class for the gym members. I fell in love almost immediately with yoga, especially after a practice. I am quite flexible because I was a gymnast and took up ballet when I was younger. During high-school, I joined the cheerleading team as well which helped a lot with my flexibility and strength. Therefore, I thought yoga was going to be easy for me. However, I was wrong.

Every time during a class, I would just focus on getting to the end pose instead of focusing on the beautiful transition of each asana. Although I never thought of anyone around me as a competition, I was however constantly competing with myself. I always told myself that I have to try the hardest and most advanced variation and get to the end pose as what the instructor was doing. However, whenever I reach home, I completely forgot about what happened during the practice and at what state my mind was in. I felt lost and unsure every time I try to practice on my own because the classes held by that specific instructor only happens once a week.

Meet MAYI - More to explore

Since then, I wanted to explore more about yoga and learn how to practice on my own without depending on the instructors from the gym. I then discovered MAYI by searching through the web for instructor courses. The first ever event I joined with MAYI was during the International Day of Yoga at Kiara Park. Without any hesitation I signed myself up for the International Yoga Instructor Course (IYIC). The classes they offer at the gym was completely different from what I learned through the IYIC. They were rather more intensive instead of helping me to find myself within.

Everyone in MAYI was extremely supportive and they made me feel at home. I went through my first level of IYIC without any complications and I got my certificate. Since then, I’ve incorporated yoga into my everyday lifestyle.

I’ve always thought that if I just lose weight through dieting and cardio I would be happy. However, that wasn’t the case.

I didn’t feel either healthy or happy. Yoga has taught me to understand my body and not just about how it looks like physically. Yes, it is important to keep fit and healthy but understanding your body is on a whole other level. Yoga combines both breath and consciousness through physical stretching which I have never experienced before while doing any other sort of exercise.

Yoga helps me to realise

In yoga, I focus a lot on my breath during the transition of an asana, through that, I came to a better understanding of my body and mind. Setting aside an hour per day to practice yoga is like having a short break from my busy thoughts throughout the day especially the ones that make me question my choices in life and lowers my confidence. Yoga helps me escape these thoughts for an hour, guiding me back to my conscious, my breath, my body, and my practice.

Although the stillness did not last long, it definitely made a difference for the day. The postures and flow of a practice always seemed to express freedom and peace. I still have yet to master more intermediate and advanced postures but I know that if I follow this path, this journey, and through ahimsa (non-violence), one day I would be able to reach my goals. What matters is not about where we’ll end up, what truly matters is where we are now. As a university student, tempting approaches like clubbing, drinking, smoking and eating unhealthily often arises. Yoga has helped me realise how important health is and how these approaches will jeopardize my healthy lifestyle.

I practice strength training for about three to four times a week which helps a lot in toning my physique. However, strength training often leaves my body feeling tensed and tight due to the resistance. With the amount of responsibilities that life throws at me (uni work, family issues, social issues), and my training routine, the tension can sometimes be overwhelming.

Everyone carries stress in our bodies from duties and obligations, hectic lifestyles and other issues which many people suggest to just keep it all together, instead of just letting go.

Through practicing yoga, I have been able to escape the tension of life and just redirect my attention to myself and the energy within. Yoga has helped me tremendously in my hectic lifestyle. I combine what I learn on the mat to my daily activities. For instance, whenever I feel overwhelmed by emotions, I just pause a minute to stabilise my breathing and remind myself that there’s a place inside me that’s grounded and strong. I am then reminded of who I am, and that to every problem, there will be a solution.

Self conversation

Through yoga, I found the most important conversation a person can have, a conversation with myself, my body and my mind. I thank the universe for leading me to this path and helping me discover the beauty of yoga. Oh, such wonders it has brought to my life. Because yoga has made me more aware and present with my surroundings, I realise that human nature, we are constantly evolving which is just downright extraordinary.