Tell us a little bit about yourself :)
I'm Yongxian, from Singapore. I'm currently a yoga instructor at Yoga Lab - and loving it! I spent 16 months in the corporate world, disillusioned and unhappy, and then decided to take the leap into the world of yoga.
My life revolves around the practice - not just the physical practice but also the mental and emotional practice of mindfulness, and this has helped me so much in life. With the Jack Kerouac quote "Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don't be sorry" as my mantra in life, I make it a point to fill my life with crazy experiences!
How did you get introduced to yoga?
A lot of people were getting into yoga at four or five years ago, and I was just curious to find out what it was all about, so I just decided to try some classes. I started with purely hot yoga, then went on to do Bikram Yoga. Slowly, I found different styles of yoga and fell in love with the Vinyasa style, which I felt was a beautiful expression of movement. However, my style has really evolved - I now practice much more Hatha than Vinyasa.
When did yoga get "serious"?
Even though I had gone for classes irregularly before, I really got into yoga when I was going through a difficult time in my life. It helped me clear my head gave me a sense of calm and peace.
Can you share your biggest challenges?
The biggest challenge was taking the leap from the corporate world to become an instructor. I had a cushy job and a stable life, but I was unhappy and unfulfilled. I had toyed with the idea of leaving the corporate world for a while, but of course, it was scary. It didn't help that my loved ones were a little apprehensive too, because such a leap would mean the loss of stability - which I won't deny is useful most times. But I did it anyway, and it was the best decision of my life!
How do you handle pressure?
Being a yoga instructor, there's always a pressure to look good, sound good, and conduct a great class. Some people even expect us to be unrealistically happy and positive all the time! It did affect me before, but not anymore. I've learnt to tell myself to take things in my own stride, to remember to be kind to myself and to be genuine. If I'm having a bad day, I won't be afraid to hide it. People appreciate that, I think!
Can you share your thoughts on self consciousness?
I used to be a little more on the shy side, especially when it comes to public speaking or being in front of an audience. But I guess it just takes time and experience to get over this type of fear. When I first started teaching, I naturally wasn't the most confident, and of course I made mistakes. But what's most important is that we learn from these mistakes and trust that we'll be better the next time! That's how we grow.
How did your passion influence your life in other ways?
Yoga has taught me the most important thing in life: mindfulness. Mindfulness is the maintaining of awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment. It has taught me to simply live and be in the present, without judging it. By being sensitive to the novelty in my everyday experiences, I've learnt to appreciate life so much more.
What does your daily routine look like?
I try to make time for some practise every day, whether it is in a class or just at home. So I start with a little quiet time each day, and then head out to class mid-morning. I spend the afternoon working, writing, planning classes or resting, and I teach mostly in the evenings.
And what about your flexibility training? Where does that fit in?
Flexibility is something many people crave, but it is tough to get if you don't work on it regularly. I used to be a competitive gymnast, so I was super flexible. But because I was never taught to practise safely, I hurt myself in a lot of areas and stop stretching as a result. When I started yoga, I was very inflexible, but I knew that to get my flexibility back, I had to be determined yet patient.
So I worked on my weak areas every day, going an inch deeper each day, and that's all it required!
What keeps you motivated?
Watching my students grow, as well as seeing how my own practice, perspectives and growth have helped others in various ways is really what keeps me going. Yoga is so much more than a physical practice - there are so many mental and emotional benefits too. So when I witness how these benefits help to improve the lives of others, just as they have mine, I feel so fulfilled doing what I do.
What are your future plans/goals/dreams?
I haven't really thought too seriously about this to be honest! I prefer to live in the moment, and savour each and every experience in the present. But I guess I would love to travel the world, and live and teach yoga in different countries for the rest of my life. That would be the dream.
Any tips for passionate yogi's starting out?
Those who thinking of starting yoga but are completely lost or clueless, there are many ways to get into it. There are lots of videos online and on YouTube that can guide one through a home practice, even beginners. So if you're too shy to join a class, this would be a great way to start. But I personally would suggest trying a beginner's class at a studio! The guidance will be more personal, and the instructor would be able to teach you how to get in and out of poses safely - something videos may not be able to do. The yoga community is amazing too, so lots of people make new friends just by attending classes!
In yoga, the one thing we should all keep in mind is to be comfortable where you are and being with yourself, wherever that is. A lot of the time, people see a yoga pose and aim to get there, going further than their mind or bodies allow. This is where the ego takes over. We forget to simply be aware of what's going on in the present moment and just feel. This is one thing I've learnt a lot of in my few years of growing as a yogini - that the journey is the destination and the destination is the journey.
Anything you’d like to share?