What is Holding you Back?

image.jpg

You can pretty much find a yoga class just about anywhere these days. Sometimes it seems like there are as many yoga studios as there are Starbucks. Yoga is also being offered in gyms, community centers, or done privately as well. Yet I still hear countless of excuses of why people are not doing yoga from the very people claiming they want to do yoga. They say they want to try it, that they have heard of all the amazing benefits you can receive from it, and after many months and many conversations they still have not taken a class.

Yes, yoga is available for everyone, regardless of age, gender, body type or skill level, but I also know it is not for everybody. We all have our preferences, and if it does not interest you today, maybe it will in the future. It is not something that you should force upon yourself or anyone else. It is a decision and commitment that you must make for yourself.

But for all of those sitting on the fence or maybe a little nervous to take your first class, I thought I would breakdown some of the common misconceptions that might be holding you back.

  1. I am not flexible enough to do yoga. Probably the most common reason I hear. Looking from just the physical aspect of the practice, a lot of it can be about gaining flexible. You do not need to be flexible to do the postures, that will come in time. There are many variations or props that you can apply to your classes as well. I have heard this analogy used a lot... saying you are not flexible enough to do yoga is like saying you are too dirty to take a shower. For a lot of people, yoga is just physical, and they are working to gain the flexibility. If you want the flexibility, a yoga class is a great way to get it.  

  2. I am too old to do yoga. Let me just get this out of the way, you can be any age to do yoga. Sure, certain forms of yoga may cater to certain people, but not all types of yoga are fast paced that get you to move into handstands. If you like it a little more vigorous, try a power class, or if you like a little slower pace you can try a yin class. I have seen an 85 year old woman do a hot class. I teach classes where there is a huge age gap difference. You do what you can to the best of your abilities, whether you are young or old, and that is all you need to do. 

  3. Yoga is too expensive. Yes, with the popularity of yoga on the rise, there is a certain cost with it. I remember when I was a university student I would have difficulties paying for my memberships. But after being around the community for a while now, I can say there are many affordable options if you look around. Some studios offer a sliding scale payment where you pay what you can. Many studios also offer cheap introductory passes to try out their studio. Studios usually hire karma helpers where you help out at the studio and as compensation you get to take classes for free. Also, remember that you do not need to be in the fanciest and most expensive studio. You can even practice from home with DVDs. 

  4. Yoga is too hard. My response to that...well, life is hard. The yoga practice offers healing to you physical, mentally, and spiritually, and you also start to build a deeper connection with yourself. The only thing I can tell you to do is to ask yourself 'is it worth the hard work?' Just as in life, if you want something, you need to put the effort into it. Classes can be challenging and they can push you to your limits, but there are so many benefits you receive just by sticking with it. As a beginner, it can be really difficult, but you will eventually build up to it. Just like if you are going to do a marathon, you cannot just jump right into it with no training and expect to perfect. You need to train yourself and as you progress you get better and better. Same with the yoga practice. Commit to it and things will get easier and better over time.  

I hope these help clear up any mental blockages that is preventing you from doing class. There is no harm in trying it out. Just go to it with an open mind and try to have some fun. Hopefully I will see some of you on your mats soon :) 

Beijing Adventures

image.jpg

I made it through my first week here in Beijing! Besides a few days of jetlag, everything has been going pretty smoothly. I am slowly starting to explore the city and get myself orientated. My navigation skills are still a bit slow and I can get lost pretty easily but I am making progress. It does not help with Beijing's train system being so elaborate...so many different lines that branch out everywhere! Traffic can be pretty bad so the trains are usually quicker and easier once you get accustomed to pushing your way through the crowds of people and getting use to be stuffed into the trains. The road rule here is that there are no rules. One-way streets can easily turn into two-ways, red/green/crosswalk lights do not really mean a whole lot, cars park wherever they can fit, and motorbikes can drive on sidewalks haha It is quite interesting, and at first glance it seems chaotic but things seems to work well for them here. It is kind of like a sport trying to cross a busy street but I am getting the hang of it.

Everyone who I have met here so far seems very nice. The people are very welcoming and generous. We have a great team of teachers teaching for Uptown Yoga. We all get a long really well and support each other along the journey we are taking together. Could not have asked for a better team to stand beside.

The food is great and cheap. Chinese food is my favorite and I have definitely been eating a lot of it! :) Missing my blender to make my green smoothies though. The supermarket was less than spectacular except for the wide selection of Pocky sticks. We did find a local market with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, which helps enormously.

After settling in for the first few days, I started to do what I came here to do, teach yoga. The yoga culture is a lot different than Vancouver. It is not as popular as Vancouver (which has 2 or 3 studios on the same block) and the students I have been teaching are relatively new to the practice. I am excited though! It is great to help build a strong foundationfor them and watch them grow in every class. There is so much I can learn and explore with my own teaching as well. The language barrier poses a little speed bump so I teach a lot using body language and simple commands that they can pick up on, and I am also trying to learn some Mandarin to incorporate into my classes. I taught my first class following my traditional hot style that I am use to teaching back home. But after that, I decided to teach the rest of my classes with a vinyasa style. I just finished my 200-hour training a few months ago and I want to develop my teachings in that style more. Beijing is the perfect opportunity for me to do that. I have already taught a few vinyasa classes and so far they have received good feedback. There is more preparation that is required (sequencing, playlists, etc), compared to teaching a set sequence, but that also means I can put more of my own creativity and vision into my classes. It is an exciting journey that I picked up on, and I am glad I decided to come here!

Stayed tuned for more updates on my Beijing journey.

*My internet is really slow here and China's firewall creates some more obstacles so I will try to keep you updated on my social media the best I can.

My Big Announcement!

 
 

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." ~ Harun Yahya 

After weeks of finalizing all the details out, things seemed to have gone according to plan. And after talks and talks with friends and family it looks like I will be taking a new step forward in my life and career. On December 8th I will be packing up a big suitcase and heading over to Beijing! That's right, I will be spending the next 4 months in China doing what I love, teaching yoga. This will definitely be a new experience for me teaching abroad and in a country where english is not the dominant language (I cannot even speak a bit of Chinese). This will also be my first time traveling outside of North America. Everything will definitely be new and eye opening for me.

I will admit I was hesitant to go at first because I have never been away from my home for this amount of time before...being away from my friends and family and especially not being able to spend the holidays with them. But I know this is an amazing opportunity that came up and it will make me grow as a person and bring a whole new element into my teaching. I have always said I wanted to travel and see the world and this is my chance. I am eager to see a new culture, meet new people, and gain a new and different perspective on life. 

I am exciting to see how my teaching will grow and change. Teaching to a new set of students with a different culture and language will be challenging but something I am looking forward too! I will have to adjust my approach as I play around with what works and what does not. I am thinking a lot of demoing and hands on adjustments. Stay tuned to find out!

I will be definitely be hitting up the Great Wall of China and the Forbidden City. I am looking forward to the markets, temples, and the FOOD! Also, planning on going to some local yoga studios and experience taking classes in Chinese. So much to look forward too. I will keep everyone updated on the blog and my other social media accounts so be sure to check in from time to time. In the mean time, catch my last few classes here in Vancouver! I won't be teaching as much as I still have lots to prepare for my trip, so come out and take class when you can!

Is '#instayoga' Good for the Yoga Community?

 
 

You see it all over social media these days, yogis and yoginis appearing to contort and balance into the most difficult and stunning poses. If you check out my Instagram feed you will no doubtingly see such notable yogis @seanphelpslife, @dkyoga, @jared.fu, @kinoyoga @dylanwerneryoga, and @elleclio in some stunning photographs. Many appear to have been beautifully edited; having spot on lighting, appropriate filters, and the right setting of contrast and saturation. Each perfectly executing a pose taking place in some exotic or beautiful background. These yogis have followers ranging from 14,000 to 831,000.

As breathtaking as these photos may be, it has stirred up quite the debate amongst the yoga community. On one side, it is argued that it has taken people away from the true meaning of yoga, and instead made it more about the aesthetics and outward appearance. It ignores both the mental and inner journey/spiritual aspect. It gives the impression that yoga is all about the deepest and most difficult poses. Social media has turned yoga into a platform for self-promotion and a source for feeding the ego. 

On the other hand, others, as well as I, would argue that posting photos on social media is much more than trying to gain followers and popularity. For me, yoga is art, a form of self-expression. Besides the physical benefits you can receive from a posture, you can learn a lot about yourself as well. You learn to face your fears, your self-doubt, you learn about your strengths and weaknesses...you take a journey into yourself. Through a single posture you can dive into self-discovery. Yogis put a lot of time, effort, and their heart into their practice; it goes way beyond the physical. For most of us, yoga is our passion. I am teaching and practicing pretty much every day. I left my previous job to pursue my yoga journey. If there is something that I feel passionate about and I want to share it with the world, why shouldn't I? Just as a dancer to dance at a recital or a singer to sing a song. There is so much heart and emotions under what you just see with your eyes. If you took the time to look deep into these asana photos, you can see much more beyond the physical appearance. 

When I see all the yoga photos on my social media feeds I am constantly inspired and amazed. It makes me want to try something new; to explore different method in my physical practice, which in turn will open new doors to my inner journey. Yoga means a lot of things to different people, I think to judge and to claim something isn't yoga goes against the true idea of the practice.  

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below.