Monday, July 20, 2015

Living in Santosha - The Gift of Giving It Forward

Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
I took a night shot of the beautiful, iconic Sultan Abdul Samad building in the heart of my city, Kuala Lumpur, last Saturday, 18 July. Built in the late 1800s, this landmark is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Take a walk behind the dark lanes and narrow alleys that surround this attraction and you'll see a different side of KL. The homeless, sleeping on concrete, cardboards or newspapers along poorly lit corridors, some reeking of cheap alcohol, drinking themselves into a deep slumber so that they can forget the meaning of extreme hunger; some utterly exhausted from a day of rummaging through the city's dustbins collecting cans and plastic bottles, hoping to earn a few dollars from the recycling centre; and some just having nowhere else to go after their families gave up on them and kicked them out to the streets.

My 3 friends and I volunteered to be part of a movement called "Giving It Forward Today" (GIFT) to distribute food to 2,000 of KL's homeless that night. It was the second day of the Eid Mubarak festive celebration here in Malaysia. Unsure where to "find" these people, we were also concerned for our safety, as we had to walk through stinky, poorly lit lanes, abandoned shops, and unsavory business establishments, carrying heavy carton boxes of food packs. 

It was indeed a pleasant experience to be greeted with smiles and gestures of gratitude as we handed out the food packs to the homeless (some had to be woken up from their drunken stupor). An old, almost toothless man even recited a prayer of blessing ('Doa Kesyukuran') to us as he received his meal. As we had more than enough to distribute, we offered them two food packs each. To our surprise, most said "one is enough, thank you".

One. Just one. From someone who couldn't remember when his last meal was, and has no idea when his next one will be. 

This evening's humbling message was Santosha...the contentment of accepting life as it is, and finding the 'enough' in moment-to-moment experience. 
I wonder how many of us truly can?

"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible" - Dalai Lama.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Hour of the Gods

In Yoga, "Brahma Muhurta" (or The Hour of the Gods) is defined as that magical time approximately 2 hours before sunrise. This is the best time to do our Pranayama or Meditation practice, followed by Asana, as it is when our Sattvic qualities rise to the surface, and the mind is quiet and free from distractions.
Brahma Muhurta outside Prana Yoga KL, TTDI, Malaysia
As I arrived at my studio (at what some would say at a "God forsaken hour") to teach my 6.30am class yesterday, I looked up at the dark sky and saw the New Moon smiling down onto the world. It was just a sliver...cheeky even... as if to hold onto its presence as long as She could, before dawn breaks and Surya illuminates the world and reveals her warmth. 

I sat down on the bench by the fountain, crossed my legs in Sukhasana, and sipped in the crisp, dewy morning air. A Nepalese guard who was patrolling the grounds walked by, his face in half shadows. He nodded at me, and put his hands in Namaste as a silent greeting. I was grateful for the absence of the usual "Good morning, Ma'am". I couldn't help but think of his family back in Nepal, in light of the recent (and still ongoing) earthquakes that shook the nation who already had nothing, and now left with even less.

I closed my eyes, savouring that special window of silence and blessedness, and did a short, 15 minute meditation.

A New Moon. New Beginnings. A time for reflection, recharging and replanting the seeds of intentions, fearing less, dreaming big, and manifesting that the Universe delivers.

Om Namah Shivaya.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Letter To Me

The 6:05 Standing Split
My dear,

Not quite the perfect "6 O'Clock", and looking more like a 6:05 on most days,
this IS your Standing Split. Remember the first time you stepped onto your yoga mat? You could barely reach past your shins, let alone grab your ankles with both hands and KISS your shin. When you signed up for teacher training, there was nothing in the training manual about being 'perfect', visually nor spiritually.

With the explosion of yoga on social media, it's pretty easy to be sucked into the trap of wanting to 'look' perfect. Remember why you practice in the first place. Do you practice to express, or to impress?

Yoga is not a be-all-end-all practice to gain mastery in something. Some days you make progress, and some days you regress - learn to be okay with it. Embrace the flux and uncertainties, ride the highs, laugh at the lows, and let the authenticity of the practice reveal itself.

The daily practice of yoga creates tapas (heat). This deep, internal heat that burns away the "could have's" and the "should have been's" will eventually make space for a deeper and more personal exploration. Learn to trust the journey, and remain open to what might be.

After all, darling, you were born to be real, not to be perfect.