When I first stepped on the mat, it was in a brightly lit gym studio. I was writing my senior capstone project in college, working 2 part-time jobs, and running every morning. So the reason I turned to yoga was the promise of relieving the tension in both body and mind. But here I was even more tense than before, attempting strange poses, surrounded by mirrors, and hyperaware of how awkward I must look. Yet at the end of the class there was sense of peace. It could have been because of my very first Savasana, during which I promptly fell asleep. Or maybe because I was so busy arranging my body into the strange postures that I had forgotten to worry about everything else. Either way, here it was, a tangible sense of peace, even if it was accompanied by a soreness of muscles I didn’t even know I had. I had made it through my very first yoga class. And not only that: 2 days later I went back!How has practicing yoga impacted your life?
My yoga practice has taught me the importance of staying in the present moment no matter what I happen to be doing. A mindful meal tastes better and is more satisfying, conversations are more exciting, friendships are more fulfilling, and unwinding on the couch is more relaxing if my mind is not rushing off to the next task. My yoga practice reminds me to be here now.
What is your favorite yoga asana and why?
I have a soft spot for arm balances: Crow Pose, Eight-Angle Pose, and the like. My fear and my pride kept me from even attempting them for a very long time. When I finally did give them a shot I became so attached to the outcome that each try was a battle on the mat. Until one day I was distracted enough that when my toes lifted off the mat I didn’t even notice that I was flying. That was a defining moment for me. It struck me that there isn’t much room for outside thoughts and worries in arm balances. There is no room for fear or pride or competitiveness. They provide me with the singular point of focus, in which I have to be really present. My arm balances are my meditation in motion.
What is your favorite yoga-related book/movie?
My favorite book on yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar’s Light on Life, is what helped me take my yoga practice from the physical asana practice and turn it into the practice of yoga of life. It is what made me want to pursue teacher training in order to deepen my own practice and have a chance to share it with others. Light on Life is an accessibly-written introduction to and a comprehensive guide on the philosophy of yoga. It explains the interconnectedness of the 8 petals of yoga, and guides the practitioner on the path of integration of body, mind, and spirit.
What is your favorite inspirational/spiritual passage or quote?
“Happiness is an inside job.” It always reminds me to cultivate happiness from within instead of searching for it outside or expecting others to make me happy. Projecting happiness into the world is the one surefire way to multiply it.
What is something others might not know about you?
I have a Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering and work full time as a Product Development Engineer. Surprisingly, I think my background in Engineering and my passion for yoga complement one another rather well, as both require focus, creativity, presence, and awareness.