03 Aug Teacher Feature – Cassie Lee
I love yoga. I love practising it and studying it and talking about it. You’d think I’d been doing yoga all my life it’s so integral to it. But in fact, I only came across yoga when I was 28 and I only began practice in earnest when I was 32… the same year I did my first yoga teacher training.
Prior to yoga, I didn’t have a regular physical practice of any kind. I couldn’t touch my shins let alone my toes! I’m not a dancer, nor a gymnast. I hadn’t done any strength training or conditioning. I don’t have any martial arts background or a PT or Pilates background. Two or three times a week I would drag my butt to the gym in my corporate day lunchtime and force myself to run for 10 minutes then lift light weights. I didn’t mind it, I wasn’t good at it, I just did it because it gave me a little lift and energy for the afternoon still to get through. I was working in commercial property as a portfolio manager for international banks headquartered in Hong Kong. The stress of it was easily seen imprinted in me.
When a friend took me to my first yoga class all I remember thinking was it was fun to try and do the shapes and coordinate my brain and body. The class itself didn’t really impact me, it seemed like just another way to move and feel silly. It was after the class when I felt the resonance of the class still in me for days – as confidence, as good sleep, as a lighter mind – that my curiosity was inspired. I didn’t know what was going on, only that something was.
I added yoga to my on/off fitness schedule and didn’t really give it too much attention, only that thereafter it was a little bit in my peripheral vision, a little bit there, stuck, in the corner of my eye. Nagging me: “don’t you want to feel good and real and alive all the time?” But the itch was buried deep under a life already built and being lived, and to shift that in any way would mean a larger undoing. A bigger confrontation. I wasn’t ready for a couple of years yet.
But eventually, as they say, “life finds its way” and the sensible, good life I had built needed to be reckoned with as probably not the truest version of who I was and am. So, I did it. In fairness, not intentionally all the way at that point – I just decided that, if nothing else, I would like to know how this mode of physical effort could have such an impact on my heart and mind. I was humbled by not knowing and opened to want to know. I signed up for a Yoga Teacher Training Intensive in Hong Kong in 2006. I didn’t want to be a yoga teacher thank you very much and I didn’t care at all about spooky ‘enlightenment’, I just wanted to immerse myself for a moment in its practice and study, and to know how it worked. Logically, practically, scientifically even.
That was the beginning of the journey, I am here now 11 years later and in addition to being able to touch my toes with my leg behind my head before breakfast (#jokingnotjoking), I am somewhat informed on the psychology and spirituality of this practice. This practice of self-reflection, of mindfulness, of living and feeling experience in each moment, of seeing the many aspects of ourselves and the deeper essence of nature beyond that, of not being pulled this way or that by parents or friends or social media, of holding steady to this gift of life we embrace intentionally, daily.
I love this practice of yoga, I could talk for days and, in fact, I do cos, in the end, I did become a yoga teacher! I gratefully share this practice with people every day and see directly its impact as each undertakes their own journey.
By Cassie Lee