Urban Ashtangi : Angkana [Tan]

Not all students standing on the mat are ready to accept the actual teaching that the practice has to offer. However, having the faith and perseverance to maintain presence on the mat is a good start. 

Tan was fortunate to have her first touch of yoga practice 20 years ago in her home country, Bangkok, Thailand. Ashtanga Yoga became her primary method of practice which has become her spiritual pillar enabling her to handle some challenges in life.

1. What do you struggle most to keep the practice in your busy routine? 

As a lighting designer my work schedule is very hectic. That includes working overnight and frequent overseas trips every 2-3 months. Whenever I managed to finally recover from the previous work trip, I needed to be on the next work trip. 

Eventually my body and mind got so exhausted. The most struggling part is to get up and practice in the morning. 

I have been trying to do this for my entire life but usually only 1% of the tries were successful. Only until recently, in the later part of 2020 after a lock-down period in Singapore, I decided to commit to the morning; due to the increasing back aches that spread to my legs from spending too much time sitting for longer hours from the work-from-home arrangement.

Though I sought a few sessions of acupuncture to be able to function during my practice (2-3 days a week), my back aches kept coming back. I told myself that nothing else will pull me out of this vicious cycle if I do not change my behavior.

Therefore regardless how busy my day will be I did drag myself to the class. Placing my practice first thing in the morning makes it easier for me to maintain the consistency.

If others can do it, why can’t I? 

2. What are some new discoveries about yourself, which you didn’t notice before? 

Impermanence

When I started to become regular in attending morning practice 4-5 days weekly, it really cleared my understanding about impermanence; that nothing will exist or last forever.

I not only can adapt to my body condition but I am also able to manage my mind in any given external conditions. Moreover, I am also more aware of what is happening internally.

I would identify myself today as more of a sensitive person rather than emotional. 

3. Would you like to share your experience when you started to practice a lot more regularly than before? What made you decide to do that?

My very first yoga class had blown my mind, thus the motivation to keep the practice was not too difficult.

The COVID situation has really helped me settle down and slow myself down from my usual busy routine. Having time for myself, to heal both physical and mental health. 

I would like to quote what Adeline said to me – “You will come to yoga or yoga will come to you when you do need it.” Which turned out to be very true for me.

Nevertheless, the positive energy from Shirly and Adeline is the key to upkeep my discipline for a regular practice schedule; and having support and encouragement from them to overcome fear that arises in the practice. 

In addition, the enthusiasm from the same morning crowd makes me driven to keep up. 

4. How have you evolved as a person today?

I see myself as a person of low confidence, self- demanding, self-centered, emotional, lazy, a perfectionist and very self-conscious about what others would think of me.

I’m glad to say that I am a better version today in every area. I’ve gained more maturity, confidence and a cool mind.

Still a perfectionist with mindfulness. I am in fact very proud of myself for the years of transformation for the better! 

There is NOTHING I REGRET over the past years.

5. If there is one thing you want to make peace with yourself, what will that be?

I cannot control or expect anything/anyone to match my level of expectation no matter how hard I try or how the best I have done.

My recent motto is “Let It Go” after my favourite line from the movie Frozen.

“Practising yoga allows me to…understand myself, others and Dharma in life. Acceptance of myself, the imperfection and the impermanence.”

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