Sunday, 14 October 2012

8 months pregnant and taking a yoga teaching break

Thanks for visiting my yoga teaching page. Being 8 months pregnant at the moment, I am currently taking a break from teaching yoga, and instead concentrating on my own prenatal yoga practice, taking classes getting ready for the exciting birth of our first born!

Me at 32 weeks (a month ago!) at the YM studio

So often, I feel incredibly blessed to have discovered yoga before getting pregnant and being ready for birth. Yoga has helped in countless ways. The awareness and mindfulness we practice on the mat brings so much awareness to my own body, feelings and emotions that I have been going through these past 8 months. The breathing (pranayama) practices on the mat has also aided in learning how to go into deep relaxation. And of course, my physical body has benefited so much from the core strengthening (we need a good strong core to hold the baby in our belly for so long and ideal for good positioning for birth), taking care of my lower back, strengthening my legs in case of a long labour, overall fitness and wonderful hip openers. But to really sum up the main benefit of yoga, is the learning the ability to go deep into oneself. shut the world out, and concentrate on your own body, what it's telling me at each stage of pregnancy and labour and how I can work with my body instead of against it. Yes yes yes, I'm raving on about yoga. As usual. But you can't keep a passionate yogi to shut up!

So my plan is for a natural, drug-free birth. I have prepared so much by taking hypnobirthing, antenatal and breastfeeding classes (I highly highly recommend), I've prepared a birth plan and all. And I am open to the possibility of a water birth (I am gonna request for a birthing tub in my delivery suite at Mount Alvernia). And really, am just hugely excited. I am lucky somehow, to not have any fear about the pain. It's not that I have a high pain threshold or anything, but I am a believer that nature had its reasons for us to go through this intensity of labour. And pain during labour is something my mom dealt with, my grandma, and all my maternal ancestors before me. Why should I be a chicken and deny myself of the privilege of going through this physical intensity that I believe can be refreshing, cleansing and will definitely release way more endorphins upon the birth, rather than a muted, pain-free delivery. Well, anyway thats my plan for now.

So thank you for visiting my page. I will be back in action early 2013 and will definitely make a post to announce that I'm back. Meanwhile, take care and keep practicing!

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

A week of silence - Is a huge reset button

Meditation and silence has always been a huge element in my yoga practice and philosophy. Afterall, it was only after my first silent meditation retreat that led me on the path to becoming a yoga instructor. So I always fall back on it if I feel I am slipping in my practice. Or just slipping in life in general.

A few weeks ago, I went for my 3rd silent retreat in 3 years, with the same organisation, Bali Usada. In a nutshell, it was so many things. Because I had done it before, I was familiar with the schedule, what the discourses, even the surroundings and the food! But also because I had done it before, maybe I expected it to be not as difficult. I was quite humbled once again. It was hard work.

The retreat was 7 days, 6 nights. Each day starts with a 5am and ends at 9pm and there are 8 of these sit down on floor, no back support, eyes closed, 45-min silent meditation sessions a day. 8. These are interspersed with  2 talks/discourses and 2 simple exercises (blend of chi gong and tai chi) and wonderful 15 min breaks where we could make ourselves ginger tea and walk around the gardens of the lovely Saranam Resort and watch the local farmers tend to their padi fields. And of course, meal breaks. 

But like I said, it was hard work. Sometimes I felt like I was running a 7 day marathon. That thankfully had many breaks. Then again, it's meant to be hard work. Who said anything worthwhile in life was meant to be easy right? The pain in my back, the oh so familiar pain and ache that visited me every session about 2 min into the sitting was a thing I had to deal with. Then the constant wandering mind, reminded me how weak my mind had become living my everyday life. Why can't I just focus on my breath for 45 min? Why does it always want to be a monkey and go where ever it felt like? But of course, there were incredible lovely moments of clarity and bliss that came with it. Some sessions were generally better than others. And we were taught not to expect it all to be amazing. Just like life... we cannot expect everything to always be breezy and happy. 

On the 6th day at noon, we were allowed to break our 'noble silence' and were returned all our mobile phones and gadgety things. Back to 'normal life'. Immediately, my head felt overwhelmed with conversation and the intensity of the exchange of energy and words and activity was quite intoxicating. I had to lie down and breathe just to get over a one-hr lunch with our new friends. The difference was immediately felt. It's really amazing how our beings adjust to quiet and then needs to adjust back to noise. To have found the stillness in us and then feel it being rippled up again was a little disturbing, but I knew, we had to go back to our lives. 

We spent a few days on Nusa Lebongan, this small little island off the main Bali Island and we basked in post-retreat glow for a few days. We woke up at dawn and meditated with the sunrise. We spent the next few days still TV-free. It was a delicious time for my husband and I to talk about our experiences and discuss the future. I found, like all the past retreats I've had, that the weeks and months after were always different. It seemed like that there would be an acceleration in fulfilling life's deep and meaningful intentions. Like, everything fell naturally into place. It was as if, anything was possible. And I think it's got to do with the whole 'cleansing' our minds, our souls, our spirits with our usual nonsense, our usual baggage and self-limitations, and we are for a few weeks and months, more 'open' and we can read the universe's signs for us more clearly, we are simply filled with more potential to be creative, to be imaginative, to be whatever we want ourselves to be. I call it, a huge RESET button. A wonderful time to make intentions.  

I thought this is an important post on this blog. As a yoga teacher, we need to be reasonably filled up with inspiration and good energy to be able to teach and spread it. This retreat is not just for yoga teachers or seasoned meditaters. Its for EVERYONE. My husband and I chanced upon it 3 years ago while travelling around Bali. At that time, we had no experience or knew ANYTHING about meditation. We just did it out of curiosity, and also, we felt we needed direction in life. Boy did it sort things out for us. 

I recommend for all my students and friends and family to go try this. It is not expensive at all, compared to other typical retreats in Bali. It's a wonderful little program. Simple, non-pretentious, honest and just life-changing. They run English-language retreats about only 6 - 8 times a year from a 4 start hotel in the mountains in Bali, away from the touristy area and everythings very comfortable and easy. The schedule is on their website I thank life everyday for having chanced upon this. Because now I have an anchor to this ship, on this journey of life. 

Balinese healer, spiritual mentor, and good friend, Pak Merta Ada

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Yoga in the Park Singapore - Let's take it outside

For the next 2 Saturdays, 23 and 30 June, I will be teaching at Yoga in the Park Singapore as the lovely resident teacher Sabina Fernandez goes on holiday. Come join me as we connect ourselves back to nature via the practice of Yoga :) Here's a gorgeous promo video of what to expect..!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Studio classes at YOGA MOVEMENT

I am super duper excited to be part of the teaching team of this awesome new yoga studio in Singapore!

YOGA MOVEMENT opens 6th May and really, it is the most unpretentious, down to earth, reasonably-priced, non-judgemental and non-pressure type studio you can find in down town Singapore (Clarke Quay).

I got to meet the rest of the teaching crew - Sophie, Yun, Jing and Kiki with the studio owner Alicia Pan (famous singer cum yoga instructor in Singapore) a few weeks ago and I am must admit how incredibly heartened I am to meet like-minded, gentle, yet fun and bubbly yoga teachers on this harsh, mean-old city state I live in.

We also did our little photoshoot at the lovely eco yoga apparel shop Touch the Toes in Arab street.

Here are some shots from the newly launched website. Thank you Alicia for this opportunity!

From left to right: Sophie, Jing, Me, Alicia, Yun & Kiki

Please visit the site , book a mat space and come support us.
Currently I am teaching 6 classes a week and they are:

5-6pm - Yoga Basics
7-8pm - Yoga Core
9-10am - Yoga Zen
630-730pm - Yoga Zen
8-9pm - Yoga Core
1215-115pm - Yoga Basics

Here's an except from YOGA MOVEMENT About us page. I'm so proud to associate myself with it:

we’re not for the young
but for the youthful at heart
we’re for the big & the small
for the short & the tall
we’re for the weekend warriors
the after work & over worked
we’re for the yoga rookies
and the all-star levitating super yogi
our belief is your belief in your practice
take from it what you will…
one inch closer to touching your toes
a half a second deeper breath
a relaxing hour away from the kids
a step closer to your inner awareness
we have no locks or keys
no chains or whips
come as you please
our studio is your sanctuary
yoga is the movement

PS: Don't worry! I am still available for private and corporate hire

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Bun in the oven

I'm pregnant. Yup. I'm declaring my 9 weeks pregnancy to the world via my yoga blog/website and it feels liberating to do so. This is why I haven't really managed to update anything here for the past couple of weeks because my whole being is still trying to adjust to the intense new stuff that's happening to me. Here's some of the 'highlights'...

 Firstly, I have no energy. Energy. Energy. Energy. In yoga, we talk a lot about this. It's this invisible field, aura that we have within us, flowing through us, and emit to the world. The chi, the prana. It refers to physical energy as well, in terms of strength and ability to burn the calories you consume as well as the more subtle, emotional stuff. Well, for me, I didn't expect to feel this useless in my first trimester. Of course, now, I'm reading that it's completely common to just want to sleep all day and all night. But for a pretty normally - energetic person like me, this was a big blow to my self-esteem, ego and everything I was used to. I want to keep healthy and get out of the house for fresh air. My mind was willing, but my body kept me horizontal.

And then the next thing was guilt washing over me - I dont even have the will power to do my asana practice, how could I ever have the energy to keep up with a baby?

Nausea and sudden appetite for all things unhealthy like fast food and packet drinks. Making me all confused and feeling utterly horrible. Who am I?

Perhaps the most difficult thing, has been the emotional stress due to the crazy hormones. I'm weepy and upset with everything in the world. Small things tick me off and I seem to be unable to look at the bright side of anything. Basically, all my spiritual lessons I've gathered throughout the years just went out the door as my hormones took over.

When Bjorn and I were trying to get pregnant, I was full of hope and love I had for this future unborn child. We both were ready for kids and knew we would like them soon. I was expecting to be in bountiful pregnancy bliss the minute I found out I conceived and I thought I would radiate and glow and be filled with peace and love inside my heart. That was my belief. I had not expect to feel this rotten. You, reading this, perhaps also didn't expect Crystal, this glowy yogi love the earth hippie to say this about her life. But here it is.

The only thing that feels good to me now, is to be utterly honest with my feelings. Which I learnt is more important than 'trying to look at the bright side' or just meditate all day, hoping the feelings just disappear. All my frustrations at life I'm feeling now is not unreal, it's just more amplified and intense. I'm bringing a child into this world, and I think this first trimester is all about a mother trying to suss out this world, suss out herself, to see if it all is going to work out.

All I know is that I'm on this journey now, I'm ready for it. And I'm going to go into it with utter honesty, fierce love and surrender at the same time. Yoga has taught me how to breathe deep into my insecurities, to listen to my body's many different layers and also how to let go. Just because I am not practising my headstands everyday, or sitting in meditation all the time, doesn't mean I can't still learn and grow.

If you're my student reading this, I ask you be patient with me while I am on this journey, hopefully in a couple of weeks - the start of my 2nd trimester, which is meant to be the best time of pregnancy, the stone in my heart will be lifted and the joy I have inside will shine a bit more than it is now.

Namaste :)

Friday, 2 March 2012

Yoga on a helipad

Recently, I've had the pleasure of teaching the employees at my previous company (my last corporate job!) yoga in their office premises. However, the studio wasn't a make shift conference room, or office gym. It was on the helipad, on the roof, facing the beautiful, renovated island of Sentosa.

So far, the two weekly classes that I have taught was blessed with great weather. And though a bit windy, and I definitely needed to project my voice a bit more than usual, the class's energy was undoubtedly one of the most determined. My students were not fazed by the wind blowing their mat and water bottles everywhere. And although their fellow workers were all probably sitting at their desks staring at all of us secretly through the one-way glass, they carried on and practiced with so much focus and so much heart. And when savasana rolled by, the sky lit up with stars and at that moment, life just seemed like it could not be sweeter.

Somehow I am not fated to teach in conventional yoga studio spaces. First the eurythmy hall at Emerson college, random sheep fields in Wales, restored 14th century chapel in a farm, outdoor shala at Botanic Gardens and now, on a helipad facing Sentosa. This actually kind of mirrors my spirit for life. I've put myself in these 'exotic' places, it was no coincidence. Never accepting the status quo, always pushing the boundaries, trying to seize each day as it comes. And that, I'm happy with.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Life is a beach

A relentless thing yogis like to do on holiday, is have photos of themselves taken in yoga postures with impossibly beautiful backgrounds and landscapes. Here's a series of shots I got my patient husband to take of me on a very very hot midday Koh Samet, Thailand beach. Every posture has it's unglamorous side... which I will daringly bare here to the world!

Lesson learnt - to get to beauty, one must sometimes wade through unbalanced, shaky surfaces and we may fall over, But eventually with practice, you'll be able to unfold into the fullest expression of your heart and soul. And then, sometimes, we just fall over again. :)

Sunday, 29 January 2012


What an amazing, intense, physical, mental, emotional 2 weeks. Learnt so much, and still digesting it all. I will write more about it but here, I will now blog about my fav pose of mine for now - parsvokonasana - diagonal pose. This was taken at sunrise in Koh Samet,  just a few days ago, one week after the immersions.

I woke up one morning a few days ago, and was struck by a thought. Diagonals. In yoga, we often describe a posture with a meaning to how it plays a part in our lives, how it makes us feel connected. For e.g. Tadasana - mountian pose is meant to connect yourself from the earth to sky. Backbends open our hearts and teaches us to lean back into the unknown. Twists are about unwinding and releasing tension. Every asana is a microcosm of life. But not much is said about diagonals, and there are quite a few in standard asanas. 
Parsvokonasana, picture above, is a classic one. And what does it do? How does it make one feel? I know, I feel super energised and stretched out every time I perform this pose. It feels, transformational. But why? If you look at its shape, a person is literally starting in one corner, and stretching out right to the opposite corner of a 'square'. One is physically, with all her energy, rooting her base into the ground on the right, and reaching far across space, to the sky on the left. It crosses the ida and pingala, the heaven and earth, ying and yang. So when you come into parsvokonasa, or even trikonanasana (triangle) or any side bends, you are putting your body into a transformational space. You are staying rooted to your foundation, but also reaching for your furthest goals on the other side of the world. 

So yeah. Diagonals. Wow. Yoga ceases to amaze me. 

Monday, 2 January 2012

Dear yogis,
I will be away in Chiang Mai from the 4th to 28th Jan doing my Anusara Immersions 1 and 2 with Jonas Westring. Can't wait. So excited. Namaste :)