Stories from my past memories - childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams came true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now...
(Updated November 2020)
We love travelling and had travelled a lot during the last ten years while we were living on Langkawi Island. Wherever we went, we enjoyed our stay and travelling in the different places with different cultures, scenery and climates. We were also very happy to be back in Langkawi after travelling to some other places.
Living in Langkawi wasn’t any much different from being in a beautiful holiday destination. Many people from around the world go there for short and long holidays. Throughout our travelling regardless of whether we were staying with our family and friends, or staying in the many different tourists guest houses, I continued my daily yoga asana practice wherever we went, on top of the formless yoga practice within the mind every moment which is unseen from the appearance.
Yoga asana practice coordinates with the breath that requires certain amount of self-discipline, concentration, awareness, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation, determination, forbearance and perseverance, isn’t all of yoga. It’s one of the many types of the yoga practice that can help us to influence the state of the mind, to purify the mind, to bring the mind into the present, to channel our energy into performing self-inquiry and meditation to realize unconditional love and peace, to develop correct thinking and self-control to counter evil or negative tendencies, to develop non-attachment and non-identification towards the body and mind, to let go the ego and the desires of craving and aversion, to develop inner strength and flexibility to deal with challenges and undesirable experiences in life, and eventually be free from all sorts of suffering that derived from ignorance and egoism.
Yoga asana practice being practiced with the correct attitude and understanding helps us to realize and respect the truth of impermanence in everything, be able to let go attachment towards the qualities of name and form, and thus, be unaffected, undisturbed and undetermined by the impermanent qualities of name and form that the mind perceives through the senses. It also helps to maintain a better physical and mental health condition for us to make good use of this body and mind or this life existence, to help ourselves to be in peace and to serve other beings.
At home in Langkawi, whether we were running yoga retreats or not, I maintained my daily yoga asana practice even if it’s only for one hour in the evening after sending our retreat guests back to the guest house. When we were running yoga retreats, I would get up around 6.00 am, and would be continuing busy until after 9.00 pm, or sometimes after 10.30 pm if we brought our guests to Kuah town for dinner and to explore the local night market. When there was a short break in between yoga classes, I was being busy with preparing the meals for the retreat.
I enjoyed being busy with running the yoga retreats, teaching yoga classes, doing the maintenance work such like cleaning and tidying our yoga studio and our home where the retreat guests had their meals with us, being the driver sending our guests between our yoga studio and the guest house, shopping for fresh fruit and vegetables and what we need for the retreats, and cooking for our guests.
When we didn’t have yoga retreats going on, I also enjoyed having more free time for ourselves (my husband and I) spending time together going to the beach or the waterfalls and doing the things that we weren’t able to do when we were running the retreats. Usually I practiced my daily asana routine for about two hours when we were not running retreats, as well as writing some blog posts inspired by my daily personal yoga practice and from giving yoga classes.
Rarely, some days I would take rest from asana practice. I didn’t feel bad or uncomfortable when I don’t perform asana practice for a day or a few days, as that was the resting time which my body needed for that time being, to be away from too many physical activities. It doesn’t matter if there is no suitable time or space for me to practice yoga asana physically, the yoga practice within will never stop.
During our travelling in India for more than six weeks in the end of 2012, I had encountered quite serious discomfort on my left knee coming from the old injuries resulted from my previously more than twenty years of high impact fitness workouts and competitive physical trainings for competitions. I couldn’t walk properly. The pain woke me up during my sleep for many nights. But still, it didn’t stop me from doing my daily yoga asana practice. I still continued with my yoga asana practice with some modifications to allow my knee to heal itself with some exercises that help to strengthen and maintain the mobility of the muscular tendons that support the knees. The knee discomfort went on for four months before getting back to its normal condition (discomfort free).
These are the videos of my daily yoga asana practice in India while having the knee discomfort. It wasn’t much different from my usual asana practice, but I performed the exercises with some adjustments to accommodate the discomfort in my left knee :
Basically, I live a very simple lifestyle. Besides the daily life routines, I spend most of the time observing silence and doing yoga practice, purifying the thoughts, actions and speech, developing and strengthening the inner strength and flexibility, being aware of and letting go desire of craving and aversion, impurities or impure thoughts that arising and passing away in the mind, and sharing yoga through the blogs. I spend some of the time on doing house works, washing and cleaning which I enjoy very much. I never feel there’s any separation from yoga whether I am doing some yoga practice in a particular name and form, or just living every day life.
It doesn’t matter whether my body is at rest or in action, being with some other people or being with myself, I don’t feel separation from yoga. Whatever I do or don’t do, all are not separated from yoga practice. Buddhism practice, Karma yoga, Raja yoga, Bhakti yoga, Jnana yoga are all co-existing in actions and inactions. It’s all about eliminating the ego and egoism, removing ignorance, and to enjoy real freedom of peace. All these are the yoga and meditation practice in life every moment. Without doing any yoga asana practice or any other forms of yoga practice of particular name and form doesn’t stop the mind from practicing yoga or realizing yoga, and be in peace.
I spend lots of time being with myself (whether surrounded by people and happenings, or being alone), especially when there are no retreats. I don’t feel myself being isolated from anything or anyone, even when I am alone by myself. I don’t feel that I need to be in certain place, or being with certain people that I like, or doing certain things that I enjoy doing, to feel good, happy, love and meaningful. The point is, I don’t need to feel good, happy, love and meaningful at all. I am peaceful as I am. Wherever I am or I am not, whatever I am doing or I am not doing, I am at ease. I will try to stay out of unnecessary troubles when I can see them coming. If I can’t avoid them, I accept them as they are.
I try to stay away from social gossips and vain talks as much as possible.
I don’t need to be in the Ashrams or attend silent retreats to cut off from social life activities for me to observe silence, seclusion, self-contemplation, self-discipline, or to practice yoga and meditation, although occasionally I will spend some time in the Ashrams and the silent retreat centres. There’s no difference for me in my own practice, wherever I am, as the mind is being in the present following wherever the body goes.
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Before we moved to the first cement house in Pantai Cenang, I didn’t cook at all. My husband did all the cooking for the meals of our yoga retreats. I had started preparing food and cooking for our yoga retreats only after we moved into the cement house. This was possible after we had rented the cement house with bigger kitchen and dining hall, and we only used the wooden house as yoga studio for the retreats classes and activities. It’s also conveniently located very close to our yoga studio, where the retreat guests could easily walk to the cement house for meals after the sessions.
Before we had the cement house to prepare the meals separately from the yoga studio, my husband did the cooking as soon as the session finished while I sent the retreat guests back to their guesthouse, and then an hour later, I brought them back to the yoga studio to have meals with us. By having the kitchen in the cement house, I could do the cooking while my husband was teaching the session at the yoga studio, and meals would be ready by the time the session finished. The guests didn’t need to go back to their guesthouse and then come back again for meals wasting time in the commute.
I enjoyed very much preparing and cooking the food for our retreat guests. I had no idea how to cook or what to cook, but I was determined to try to learn to cook from watching you tube videos and getting recipes from the Internet. My husband was my food taster. It didn’t matter to me in the beginning the food tasted not so good. I kept trying to experiment cooking. Until my husband thought it was good enough, I started preparing and cooking the dishes for our yoga retreats.
Because I love eating Malaysian food, Chinese food and Thai food, I learned to cook a few dishes like Chinese style stir-fried different types of vegetables, vegetarian Thai green curry, vegetarian Nyonya sambal with tempe, Achar – vegetables pickles, boiled or mashed potato, vegetable soups, and pan fried or grilled mushrooms. Basically I didn’t have precise measurement for the ingredients that I used. That’s why they tasted slightly different every time when I cooked. During retreat rest time, my husband would prepare the chickpeas curry, vegetarian lasagna with tempe, hummus, tahini, condiment dressings for salads, homemade bread and a few other vegetable dishes that I didn’t know how to cook yet. I just needed to heat up those pre-cooked food and put the salads and bread on the table before the session finished. Marc is a very good cook. He had been cooking for a mountain refuge and a restaurant in France for a few years.
I am contented and grateful for the past and present living condition which was and is very conducive and convenient for me to practice yoga in the present moment.
All is impermanent.