Urban Ashtangi : Mark Tan

As life presented its challenges, Mark discovers solace and wellness through the practice of yoga, igniting a profound belief in its ability to not only strengthen the body but also nurture the mind and overall well-being.

1. Can you share a little about yourself and your journey with yoga? How did you first get into it?

My yoga journey began seven years ago, transitioning from a routine of gym workouts and running. Despite feeling physically strong, I experienced stiffness in my body that impacted my sleep quality, along with persistent challenges in maintaining good posture.

Having worked as a massage therapist for the past 15 years, I regularly encountered clients at the spa with various issues, particularly in the neck, shoulders, and lower back. While my primary duty was to alleviate their discomfort through massage, I also advocate for incorporating stretching as a long-term solution.

As I crossed the age of 40, I noticed an increasing rigidity in my own body. Recognising the need for a practice that could offer both strength and flexibility, I turned to yoga. Despite my awareness of its benefits, I was unsure how to begin. My search for a suitable yoga studio led me online, where I discovered “The Yoga Shala.” Though unfamiliar with Ashtanga initially, my curiosity led me to attend practices at the studio, gradually unraveling the principles of this yoga style over the course of a few months.

2. How has practicing yoga impacted your physical and mental well-being? Are there specific changes or improvements you’ve noticed?

I never realized that yoga could make a person strong, not only physically but also mentally. After practicing for over a year, the changes began to manifest inwardly. I find myself more calm, with improved focus, greater patience, a positive outlook, and enhanced stress management skills.

3. Are there any significant breakthrough moments you’d like to highlight?

In the realm of Ashtanga practice, I have witnessed and experienced yoga injuries, particularly affecting areas like wrists, knees, and shoulders. Personally, I endured a significant leg injury that required the use of crutches for nine months. Unable to work and compelled to halt my practice, it marked one of the lowest points in my life. I found myself questioning, ‘Is yoga for me? What have I done wrong?’

Nine months into a complete recovery, I immersed myself in yoga practice, approaching it with heightened awareness this time. Embarking on a yoga journey transforms you; you will never be the same. 

4. How do you envision your yoga practice evolving in the future and with the people around you?

I have always wanted to share this wonderful practice with my family, friends, and colleagues. I’ve observed that some of them have certain physical ailments that persist despite regular massages. Yoga, when used correctly, is a powerful self-healing tool.

After much consideration, I decided to enroll in the 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training. Upon completing the course, I started sharing what I’ve learned with those eager to make positive changes in their lives. It’s fulfilling to know that I have the ability to make a difference in people’s lives through teaching yoga.

I strive to put my time to good use, such as reading yoga-related books and engaging in fun activities with my daughter. My latest read is “Yoga Anatomy” by Leslie Kaminoff.

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