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Urban Ashtangi : Patricia Cheok

As part of the secretariat team at a private education institute for family physicians, Patricia’s journey into yoga began unexpectedly. A voluntary-based organization was offering almost-free yoga classes in her neighborhood over 20 years ago, prompting her mother to sign up out of curiosity and a desire for a family-friendly weekend activity. Since then, her reasons for practicing yoga have evolved, now driven by a pursuit of knowledge, body awareness, and a sense of accomplishment after each session.

Patricia’s introduction to the Ashtanga Mysore practice was during her 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Course. She appreciates the method’s spontaneous nature, eliminating the need to plan or decide on specific asanas before each practice. The intensity of each session is also a draw for her. She started practicing the Mysore method in mid-2022, and her journey continues as she delves deeper into the practice.

1. Is the subject Yoga a form of fitness or spiritual activity to you? What does this practice mean to you at the moment?

I started practicing yoga as a form of fitness and recreation. However, as I embarked on the 200-hour YTT in 2022, I gradually became aware that yoga extends far beyond mere physical exercise.

Unfortunately, I injured my shoulder in early June. This has been quite frustrating, as I’ve had to skip or modify certain poses. I often feel like I’m not getting the most out of my practice.

Currently, my approach to the  practice involves finding a balance between acceptance, letting go (of the injury and pain), and not completely abandoning my practice.

Just as how one would step away from the mat after each practice with awareness, I try to take a step back and take time to reflect occasionally.

2. What is the biggest fight / antagonist with yourself in life / in practice?

Definitely the part about waking up really early (on a Saturday!) and showing up for practice – especially when I haven’t quite mastered the discipline of going to bed early. And right now, the sense of disability stemming from my stubborn shoulder injury.

3. What other activities / interests do you engage in besides yoga?

Bouldering – still a noob at it. 

Swim / cycle / run – for general fitness

Cooking / baking – somehow it helps to take my mind off things. The cleaning up isn’t that enjoyable though!

4. Looking 5 years back, do you see yourself as a different person because of the practice? 

Someone who was less self-aware and not so equanimous, perhaps?

5. Moving forward, what are the areas in life you wish that knowledge from the practice can help you live better?

“Yoga is the practice of being present in the moment and then finding contentment, equanimity and most importantly, being grateful for what we have and who we are now.”

~ Singh, Vikram Jeet

I haven’t fully embodied the art of being present, and I seek to have a better understanding of this concept and practice both on and off mat – and in doing so, live better.

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