Saturday, September 29, 2012


I arrived back in Singapore on the 4th of September, after being away for almost 6 months.  It’s been hot, humid and hectic but I have had some time to reflect and here are the 2 things that are foremost in my mind:

1) Home is where the heart is

Someone asked me the other day if I felt homesick during my time away.  My response was immediate – No, although the week before my return, I posted a photo of Popiah and Teh Halia (which I'd been craving) onto Facebook, hinting quite openly that I would love to have that  welcome me at Changi Airport.

I never missed home because in all my time away, I was with close friends and family.  I did miss my sister and family a lot but I was always in touch with her (thanks to Whatsapp, Viber and Samsung Galaxy S2s).

But the main reason for never feeling away from home was that I spent a huge chunk of time with my brother and his family in London.  My brother left home for University when I was 15.  He returned for National Service when I went away to study.  We managed to overlap in London for my final year.  It was great being able to run upstairs to his apartment and lie on his bed, while he made me a cup of tea.  As a bonus, he was great at Corporate Finance and the only person with the patience to try and explain the CAPM model to me, despite my shouting at him that it didn’t make any sense!

Spending 10 weeks in London gave me the precious opportunity of renewing my relationship with my brother and deepening the one with my sister-in-law and my nieces (especially the 5 year-old).  The unmeasurable element was just living together, each of us doing our own little thing and coming together at certain times of the day.  What the element of Time gifted to me in those 10 weeks cannot be bought or created in our current day where we seek instant gratification.

Society may have advanced our lives but I feel that we have also lost the beauty of doing nothing.  Sometimes it's only when you're quiet that you will hear God, who is within us.

2) You only value what you have when you lose it

My yoga practice this year has taught me more than the whole of the previous 11 put together.  That is ironic because at first glance, I hardly did much at all.  With the shoulder injury sustained early on in my trip, I went from doing a full, strong physical practice to a tiny baby practice.  I was first overcome with worries of whether I’d need surgery and then, doubts and questions about the long-term sustainability of the Ashtanga practice itself.  My ego and spirit were crushed.   

Ashtanga yoga tends to attract the more determined, driven, disciplined personality types.  In my case, over time, the yoga has tempered those traits in me. However, I never realised that I was still so attached to the practice that I could not take a day off if it wasn’t an ‘’official’’ rest day.  The injury was serious enough that I had to rest for a full week on 2 occasions and the 1st few days drove me crazy.  As my trip progressed and I still could not practice much, I realised that I had to really let it go and accept that I may not ever regain my pre-injury practice.  Once that happened, then I began to treasure whatever little I was doing and enjoying it. After over 10 years of practice, I had to re-learn the practice all over again, from ground zero.  It was truly back to basics.
On my last leg, when I was assisting my friends who own an Ashtanga studio in Copenhagen, I realised the difference when I did not feel envious watching advanced practitioners.  Instead, the feeling that welled up inside me was gratitude that I still had a practice which I enjoyed every day.

Looking ahead

My original plan was to end my Life is Short 2012 tour with a 3 month trip to Mysore.  When I sustained the injury, I wasn’t sure if that was still a good idea.  The energy in the Shala is great to fuel your practice, but what would that mean with an injury?  When I asked myself why I go to Mysore, I realised that it was to practice with my teacher and that I loved being in the Shala with Sharath.  With that epiphany, I booked my ticket.  So, with my 7th Mysore trip due to begin, in a way it’ll be like my first … going with a beginner practice, but with an open mind and with an open heart.

In a Yoga practice, the visible outward element of the Body tends to overshadow the deeper practice of the Mind.  My experience this past year has enriched me in ways I do not have the eloquence to put into words.  But it has definitely given me more of an understanding of what the practice is truly about.