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I went to a social gathering recently of the non yogi type with my Om necklace and I had quite a few people asking me “Are you 30 years old because your necklace says 3 – 0.”

“Thank you for asking. I am not 30 years old. I bought this necklace from my recent trip to Bali in early March of this year and it is a sign of Om, the Universal sound,” as I said and smiled warmly.

Then one of the girls said, ”Om, That’s interesting. No pun intended…”

I laughed and we went on talking about life in general, and living life.

After that night, I went home and reflected my journey thus far with “Om.” My thoughts brought me back three years ago when I was going through my 200 hours of yoga teacher training and why “Om” and chanting became an intricate part of my yoga practice.

One of our mentors, who falls under the Iyengar lineage, had us not only chant “Om” but also chant a gazillion invocations and another gazillion Patanjali sutras for twenty minutes before we start our physical asana practice. In the beginning, I dreaded these chants and sometimes I even felt restless as we went through the songs.

“What’s the point of chanting?” as I asked my friend who had previously attended the yoga teacher training.

She said, “For what it’s worth, just explore the sounds and vibrations in your body when you chant.”

For the first month of chanting, I thought it was useless and that we should just skip all of the “Num, num, yum, yum” sounding vowels as none of it made sense to me. I even tried to avoid my mentor’s classes because I just did not like chanting.

For me, chanting Sanskirt was not only hard to enunciate, but I couldn’t understand any of the meanings behind what I was chanting for. There is translation right below each chant, but I was also too lazy to look into the meaning so I never really took the time to understand what I was chanting to.

Worst part was that our mentor highly suggested us chanting as a part of our finals before graduating as a yoga teacher.

“Oh did I dread chanting…” I thought to myself. I kicked and fought chanting, in silence, the whole way through my yoga teacher training.

Something happened during the third month of the teachers training. When we finish chanting The Invocation to Patanjali with “Hari Om – my salutations to Thee,” my mind felt at ease. I felt like a sense of relief, a soothing energy that flowed from the top of my head, down my heart, and permeated to my entire body.

I felt whole and centered – one heart, one soul, one mind, one body, and all together as one. There was nothing to be attached to. The list of what I wanted – new car, new gadgets, new clothes, more money, etc, all went out of the window. I felt lighter, less stressed, blissful, content, and happy just where I am. I don’t need to keep up with “The Jones” and I didn’t need to have million dollars to be happy. I was no longer suffering from perpetual wants and needs of material things.

Instead, I am thankful for what I have in life. My family is in good health. I am in good health. I also have some amazing friends, teachers, and many more amazing people who I will meet along the way.

Was there something in your life that you did not enjoy doing in the beginning but somehow you stuck with it, and now it is a part of your life? I love to hear from you about your story as well.

“Hari Om. Nameste” – my salutation to Thee. I see the divine in you, and you see the divine in me.

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Live.Love.Journey.

As a yoga teacher, I believe I learn just as much as from my students as my students learn from me. Often times these learning experiences are very settle. Before the start of each class, I would always set an intent by sending a wave of healing energy to my students. The strange part is that often times I too feel the reciprocations from my students. What I mean is that I can feel vibrations from my students but I cannot explain to you what I see, hear or feel. I just sense a field of energy, kind of like “The Force” from Star Wars. Before I confuse you here and go down this esoteric path, I would like to cite a quote from one of my yoga teachers when I asked her about this strange energy that I feel.

“How do you know that there is a Force energy within us? I mean I can feel it, but I can’t explain why I feel this Chi,” I asked.

“When you see the leaves floating gracefully in mid air, do you see the wind? And just because you don’t see the wind, does that also mean the wind does not exist?” She asked.

Her question reminded me of a time when I taught yoga in Fiji, where I could feel my students’ energy reflecting off me and bouncing back at them. I didn’t want to say anything because some times this freaks people out. However after class, one of my students approached me and asked me why she feels this crazy energy. The weird part is she has been taking yoga classes routinely back at home for three years and she had never experience this feeling before.

I thought about it for a minute and I asked her, “Have you ever had massages before? Do you remember why there are certain masseuses’ having more healing power than others? What I found out was that my favorite masseuses’ had these amazing attributes – techniques, intuition, love and compassion.”

“Some masseuses have the technique, but they just go through the motion while their minds drifts elsewhere. Other masseuses care about us and offer their healing hands to help you recover. I remember meeting this masseuse at Esalen where I felt so blessed after his massage,” as I continued.

Similar to yoga teachers, some yoga teachers sees teaching as a job to make ends meet. Some even count the number of students in their classes to reflect how popular they think they are.

After spending almost five thousand hours of Yoga / Chigong for the last eight years, I finally realized why I loved certain teachers and why I resonated with them that much. As a yoga teacher, I often take other yoga classes as well because there is a big difference between teaching, taking classes, and also having my own practices.

The difference is where my favorite teachers teach from their hearts. They genuine care about the students’ well being. It was never about themselves and how significant they felt when their classes are packed with students from wall to wall.

I am very grateful to have studied under many warm-hearted teachers and great students to guide me on this path of spirituality.

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Feel free to leave feedback and/or questions I’ll do my best to respond.

Live.Love.Journey.

 

2011 has been a crazy year for me. I had flown over 80,000 miles and had logged in more than 75+ hotel nights for work. It was also an action packed year full of adrenaline chasing, helicopter flying, rock climbing, white water rafting, racing car driving, visiting Japan and on and on.

To some people, it seemed like I was having the time of my life and that I was “Living it up.” But for me, I was trying to re-spark my passion in life because I knew I was heading towards depression, a dark and lonely place. At the end of the year, I ran empty and felt very hollow inside as if I had almost lost the meaning of my life. I had forgotten all about my passion, to spread love and joy though yoga, when I started teaching yoga part-time two years ago.

Towards the end of 2011, my work at a Silicon Valley company was in limbo, and my serious relationship was broken at best. I had learned a few months ago that one of my favorite Yoga Teachers, Mark Tanaka, started teaching at Breathe. I decide to come over in search of my heart, pick up the remaining broken pieces of it, and to forgive.

I would have easily gone down the route of drinking alcohol until I pass out, and/or do drugs to escape from these excruciating pains. Unfortunately or fortunately, I never had a taste for any of those substances as I always had to face my pain head on. Basically I had to take all the emotional traumas up the chin and I have nowhere to hide or to run away from in this lifetime. During one of the darkest times of my life, I turn to yoga and meditation for prayers and answers.

About a few weeks ago, I decided to crash Marti Foster’s class at 7:00 PM on a Friday night. Typically I would attend my routine martial arts class, but that day I was physically in pain. My lower back was all knotted up and I can feel like I had a pinch nerve in my left lower spinal column. I thought yoga might be a better route of self-healing instead of going to my usual Wing Tsun class that night.

Upon unrolling my thick black mat in the back of the room, Marti greeted me with “Hello” and proceeded to tell everyone the theme to class. During that moment, I felt a strong connection with Marti and that I was in the right place and at the right time even though I don’t know her.

“This is the year of the Water Dragon, so let’s start awakening our inner Dragon by breathing deeply and exhaling fully. Breathe as if something extraordinary is going to happen this year,” as Marti instructed the class.

I could have sworn she was talking to me, but I know I was only one of the 30+ people in class.

As I exhaled louder and louder from my Ujjayi breath from the back of the room, Marti said, “Yes, now that how dragons breathe!”

As the class progressed, I felt like Marti was unfolding new chapters of my journey.

“Let your wings spread and fly, Dragons” while we were in Shalabasana (locust) as she instructed.

During this moment, I felt like I had regained focus in my life and had taken control. When I had taken control, I felt a sense of serendipity in my heart that many great events and opportunities will unfold for me this year.

“Have faith, Allan. Good things will come to you this year. Have faith!!!” My heart tells me.

Next, Marti had us move into Eka Pada Baddha Konasana (single leg cobbler) with our hands on the mat.

“Imagined you are at the edge of the cliff and about to jump off. Look at the end of the cliff and just imagine,” as Marti suggested.

During this moment, I had realized that it took me over two years to take this leap of faith and to jump off this 100 feet corporate ladder that I had been climbing so hard at. As I looked down the edge of the building, I was no longer afraid. I was even waiting for Marti to tell us to “Jump off the cliff” and I would have done it!

During this moment, someone from our class left the room and my mind wandered off unintentionally. The focus that I had been building for the last 45 minutes had suddenly dissipated.

Within a few seconds of mental drift, Marti gently guided us back to the present with ‘“Slowly bring your dragon awareness back into this room.”

“You got to be kidding me. How did she know my mind was drifting off?” I thought to myself.

I swore I’m not the only one who lost focus in the room and surly she can’t be talking to me. Nevertheless, I had a smirk in my heart that she was indeed speaking to me.

As I refocused, I felt the flow, once again in my body, my mind, and my soul. I was surfing this healing energy and loving it.

Just when I thought Marti was done talking to me telepathically, she said, “You guys are like the dragons from the movie Avatar!”

I literally almost fell off my Utkatsasan (chair) pose. No pun intended. I knew I had to talk to Marti after class because I was here that day for a reason.

Afterwards I approached Marti and told her about my journey that came into full circle that night.

I said to Marti, “I went to Fiji about two years ago for a health seminar and I taught yoga to my friends at 5:30 AM every morning. On the fourth day of my yoga practice, asked my friends at the end of the class to help me set an intent for the next chapter of my life. Meanwhile, I played the soundtrack from Avatar, Jake’s First Flight, as a metaphor for a leap of faith. Afterwards, we got into a group hug and I thanked them for their support and I parted them to attend my scheduled Colonics appointment.”

“Here comes the part that baffles me even to this date.” I paused for a second before explaining what happened next.

The Colonics Specialist guided me into room number 3 and said, “I’m going to put on a movie for you to watch. Just relax and enjoy the ride and the movie.”

Guess which movie came on?”

“Avatar was released on December 18, 2009 and it was still showing in IMAX 3D theaters. It has not come out on video yet and somehow Fiji has a copy of Avatar. Hmmm…”

“Avatar is about three hours long and guess which part the DVD played?”

“Jake takes his first flight… It was surreal.”

“First thing I did after coming back to Fiji was to get my 200 hours yoga teacher certification. I was committed to teaching yoga.”

“I had signed up at a studio in Palo Alto and I immediately started my training at the end of Feb. During the second week of yoga teacher training, I’ve noticed something different about this studio. Not all yoga studio carries water but this one did.”

“Guess which brand of water this yoga studio carried?”

“Fiji Water…”

I said to Marti, “I felt like you were talking directly to me this entire class but I wasn’t sure if you were really talking to me.” However when you said, “You guys are like the dragons from the movie Avatar.” “I knew it was a sign that I need to talk to you about something. I don’t know what yet, but I need to talk to you…”

I then proceeded with, “Marti, I don’t know if you remember me, but I had met you about a year ago at another yoga studio in San Jose. I wanted to take your class through a friend’s recommendation but it turned out that I had misread the class schedule. I didn’t realize that you were teaching a pre-natal yoga class that Thursday night. I jocularly said, “I would be happy to crash your class and pretend to be pregnant. You had laughed hysterically at my comment. I was up for that experience that night but I didn’t want to disturb the harmonious feminine energy so I left the studio.”

“About a month ago, I saw your name on the Breathe class schedule, so I thought I would try again. Turns out that you were at a retreat and Joanne took over as a sub. She did an awesome job but I have still yet to take your class.”

Marti and I parted with a big hug and Nameste that night and Allan is ready to takes his first flight.

Had I not been able to let go of the corporate world, I would not have opened up my heart and mind. That is probably why it took Marti and I to cross path a year later.

Everything happens for a reason. In the quote of Dr. Brian Weiss, “Patience and timing . . . everything comes when it must come.”

“Have faith, Allan. Good things will come to you this year. Have faith,” as my heart tells me once again as I left Breathe Studio with a giddy smile.

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Live.Love.Journey!

 

*Picture courtesy of Avatar.

 

I was walking to a local 7 Eleven near my house a few weeks ago with my yellow Labrador, Tiger, to buy my winning lottery ticket. During my journey, I bumped into an interesting mid-twenty years old man. He wore a gray beanie with snowflake print, a black jacket, and a satchel from Symantec. He greeted me with a smile and said, “Hello, I like your doggie. I used to have a golden retriever.”

I smiled back and went on with my mission into 7 Eleven (I’ll talk about my mission of starting a nonprofit company at another day) and handed one dollar to the clerk for a lottery ticket. Before the clerk gave me my lottery ticket, he said to me, “I will only give you the winning lottery ticket if you smile.” I smile and kindly received the ticket and said “Thank you!”

As I walked out of the store, Mr. Beanie approached me for some help with his current monetary situation. He asked for a cup of coffee and I told him that I was happy to buy him one. “Would you like anything else, like a doughnut?”, I asked and he said, “No, I am just happy with coffee.” I can tell from his demeanor that he wanted both, but also he did not want to impose or project that he’s greedy. I knew Mr. Beanie was of a different person so I was determined to help him.

I said, “Instead of coffee and doughnuts, would you like Subway instead?” He gave me the gesture of unsureness with his should up to his ear and he mumbled “I haven’t had Subway for awhile.” I said, “C’mon, let’s get you some food” and the three of us walked into Subway. The clerk said “What would you like to order today?” as I look at Mr. Beanie to see what he would like. “Ham and cheese please,” he said.

While the clerk was making the 12 inches sandwich, I asked Mr. Beanie if he had enough money for a bus ride. He took about .85 cents in change out of his pocket and said, “Probably not.” I reached in my pocket and gave him what was left in my wallet and said “Here, please take this for your bus ride.” He hesitated for a few seconds, dropped his head and started sniffling. I had to admit, he got me teary eyed as well at that moment. Just then, he gave me one of the warmest hugs I have ever felt in my life. I could feel how much he was in pain as I said to him, “Everything will be alright. Everything will be alright.” Afterwards, he thanked me and we parted.

I cried the whole way driving to the office later that day, and I couldn’t figure why. “Was I sad for Mr. Beanie or was I touched by his genuine gratitude from his heart?” I had pondered for answers but none came to me.

The answer came to me a few weeks later during my meditation practice. I realized that he and I are not very different from one another. We both are going through a winter season of our lives as we walk in the path of darkness. When I helped Mr. Beanie that day, I had offered a flame of hope to ignite his own torch so that he knows he is not alone in this world. On the same token, I could not have done this without the help of my yoga teachers, friends and family in lighting my own internal flame.

It takes a huge amount of courage to ask for help. Showing our vulnerability does not mean we are weak. We are all human and we all need help at different times of our lives.

As I continue this journey inward of the human experience, I am seeking for answers to my own question – “What is the meaning of my life?”

*If you like this blog, please help support me by forward this to your friends. Feel free also to leave feedback and/or questions I’ll do my best to respond.

Live.Love.Journey!