HF： HOKK Fabrica
HF： 作為瑜伽教練，你的目標是什麼？ 你在什麼時候決定要成為導師？
What is your mission as a yoga instructor? At what point did you decide that you wanted to teach?
C： 自小，瑜伽就已經成為我生活的一部分。 我的父親是我的第一位瑜伽老師，我們的家庭有一位上師Sri Swami Satchidananda。 他就像我的祖父一樣，對我影響甚深。 我在他的ashram度過了許多個暑假。 我從沒真正想過自己會成為一名老師，但是當我在2002年開始瑜伽導師培訓時（主要是為我自己……不真正為了成為老師），感覺就像我走上了正確的道路。 很快，就有人要我教他們。在我的瑜伽旅途中，我了解到因材施教是多麼重要。
Yoga has been a part of my life since I was a child. My father was my first yoga teacher and our family had a Guru, Sri Swami Satchidananda. He was like a grandfather to me and a major influence in my life. I spent many summer vacations at his ashram. I never really thought I would be a teacher, but when I did my teacher training back in 2002 (mainly for myself… not to actually teach), it felt like I was on the right path. Before I knew it, people were asking me to teach. In my journey, I have learned how important it is to make available these profound teachings in ways that are relevant and applicable to a diverse range of people.
Now, my mission is to create a more inclusive and accessible space in the world of yoga — not only for practitioners, also in training teachers to be aware and skilled to work with people of all abilities and backgrounds.
Could you share with us some of your most memorable yoga teaching experiences?
C： 我教瑜伽很久了，結識了很多不同光譜的人，也有很多故事分享！ 其中一些是：
我最初是在紐約Integral Yoga Institute當代課老師。 有一天，一個裝有木義肢的女人走進了我的課。 當時我沒有經驗，所以我不知道該如何在教學上配合她的需要。她著我繼續教，然後她自己會跟上，並在過程中教會我一、兩件該注意的事。我從未忘記她，因為那天只是看著她，就學會如何改編教學。
I’ve been teaching yoga for a very long time and have met such a colourful bunch, with so many stories to share! Here are just a few:
I started out as a substitute teacher at the Integral Yoga Institute in New York. One day, a woman with a wooden leg walked into my class. I was very inexperienced at the time and I had no idea how to accommodate her in my class. She expressed that I should carry on teaching and she would adapt and probably teach me a thing or two in the process. I’ve never forgotten her because I learned how to adapt poses seamlessly that day, just by watching her.
Another memorable teaching experience was when I started to teach prenatal yoga in Hong Kong, and woman in her 40s walked in. She had never tried yoga before, and didn’t ever think she would get pregnant. She was a motorcycle enthusiast and suffered an accident prior to getting pregnant. She had limited mobility and a titanium plate in her leg. She couldn’t get down on a mat and up again, and had to practice in a chair the entire time. After the yoga classes, she expressed her gratitude for being included and engaged in the class even though she did not have the same ability as the others in class. I remember her fondly because she reminds me how important it is for all students to have respect and dignity irrespective of their ability.
I also had the privilege to work with a young boy with a rare genetic disease and developmental delay. His family were one of the first to give me a chance when I started teaching yoga to children with special needs. His mum said to me, “I cannot even get him to put on a sock. How can I get him to practice yoga?” However after a few weeks, she said to me that he practiced yoga and mantra in his room all the time and she never thought it was possible. This memory really touches my heart and inspires me every day to keep doing what I do.
Share with us some of your struggles or problems faced in the journey of pursuing yoga.
I’ve had many struggles in the past in my own journey as a student. I have experienced injuries which were a direct result of my allowing teachers to adjust me despite my better judgement, thinking that somehow it would make me a better yogi. This is why I truly believe that students must have agency — exercising their own power and making decisions for themselves.
I also experienced a major setback during my second pregnancy. I was following popular prenatal yoga practices at that time and suffered from a terrible pain in my hips because the practices created joint instability. I couldn’t walk and my physiotherapist recommended I avoid yoga altogether. At the time, I was also grieving the death of my grandmother but didn’t have an outlet. I fell into a postnatal depression. I was lucky in that I had the right kind of help to come out of it, but I realised that women going through the major life transition into parenthood need the right tools to support them physically and emotionally.
In teaching yoga to communities with vulnerabilities and special needs, it’s easy to get disheartened by the world, which is why taking care of my mental health and keeping my mind strong and steady is of utmost importance. Meditation is a huge part of my life and daily practice, and it’s hard to find classes in Hong Kong that includes it as part of yoga. I struggle with how yoga is offered in the mainstream. The way yoga is marketed here does little to highlight the many often-simple tools a person can rely on to find peace of mind and feel good physically – and we as an industry really need to change that.
How do you foresee your practice of yoga evolving in the future?
The yoga industry has changed so much over the past 50 years. I come from a direct lineage with a Guru and connection to the Indian roots. Now yoga is in a post-Guru era and the teachings are more available than ever. With more people of different ages and abilities practicing, you can now start to see the diversity of practitioners and my hope is that a diverse range of body types, ethnicities and ages will be celebrated in the way we market yoga.
The history of abuse in the yoga world has also come to light. I have been saddened to hear about how yoga teachers have abused and treated many of their students. (This is probably why the Guru culture is dying.) The yoga industry has changed in a way that responsible teachers must now follow a new code of conduct. I see teaching language and the scope of practice evolving as well to help avoid injuries and abuse in students. I still cringe when I hear a yoga teacher scold a student for taking a modification. Without realising it, teachers exclude students when they demonstrate an advanced pose and then do not offer any step by step guidance to begin. Many students are told to “just watch,” or “just take child’s pose.”
Finally, I see yoga coming back around full circle to a holistic and integrated practice. I see yoga teachers becoming more accessible and students taking charge of their own health and wellbeing. As more people progress in the physical side of yoga, they will be more curious to go inwards. How many times will it take for a person to contort their body to realise that if they have no peace of mind, they have lost the point of the practice? I foresee that the inner teachings of yoga – beyond the physical practice – will also form a major part of a more holistic and integrated practice.
A life without yoga would be……
C： Yogis是善良的靈魂，他們富有同情心地服務於周圍的人們，使事情變得比被發現時更好。我知道有這麼多的Yogis會默默做一些小而美的事–—保持街道和公共廁所保持清潔、欣賞別人等小小的善舉。瑜伽教導你遵循非暴力和誠實的生活。如果把它拿走，世界會是什麼樣？ 大概不是很好。
Yogis are kind souls who serve those around them with compassion, leaving things nicer than how they find them. So many yogis I know take small, anonymous actions to leave the streets and public toilets cleaner, to appreciate people, and to offer small acts of kindness. Yoga requires you to follow a life of non-violence and honesty. What would the world be like if you took that away? Probably not very nice.
How do you hope to see yoga culture change in the years to come?
C： 我很樂意看到更多更方便且平易近人的瑜伽空間，人們可以在那裡一起自由地忘我練習。 我希望看到瑜伽老師能夠共同努力，使我們的行業更加容易接近和具包容性。我希望看到更多的殘疾人練習，並成為老師。因瑜伽獲得力量的人若能走出來賦予他人力量，這是我很樂見的。
I would love to see more accessible yoga spaces, where people can practice together without any self-consciousness. I hope to see yoga teachers working together to make our industry more accessible and inclusive. I hope to see more people with disabilities practicing and becoming teachers. I would love for those who feel empowered by yoga to go out and empower others as well.
Share with us one important life lesson you’ve learnt through the years of yoga practice.
That yoga really isn’t about shifting your body into different shapes. It’s about living an authentic life, taking care of your body and mind, looking after others, staying calm and focused, regarding pain and pleasure with balance, and making the world a better place through small, consistent acts of kindness. It’s also about regarding every human being you encounter with dignity and respect.
How important is it to create a truly inclusive culture in and beyond the world of sport?
Our society is only as good as our weakest, poorest, and most disabled member. If collectively we can uplift those who are vulnerable or disadvantaged, the world would be a better place. It doesn’t matter which industry you are in, be it yoga, sports, beauty, etc., everyone can make their space more inclusive and welcoming.
How do you hope that yoga can empower or change others’ lives?
C： 你投入多少於瑜伽練習中，就是你將從練習中得到的東西。這就像投資在自己身上一樣。如果你的練習超出了身體層面，並包括其他例如自我探索，培養仁愛和同情心、禪和服務別人的方面，你將感受到變革性的改變。 你想要研究多深入，都是取決於你自己。
What you put into the practice is what you will get out of the practice. It’s like making an investment in yourself. If you take your practice beyond the physical aspect and include the other paths of self-inquiry, cultivating kindness and compassion, meditation, and service, you will feel transformative change. How deeply you go into it is up to you.
There is a style out there for everyone and whether you dip a toe or dive in fully, that’s up to the student to decide. We will welcome everyone with open arms.
Is there a difference teaching people with able-bodies and mixed abilities?
Regardless of whether you are able-bodied or have limited ability, there is an inner world of each human being to consider. Limited ability could also be mental or emotional. If you only regard a human being based on their physical appearance you are already limiting your students. The way I teach is to consider an entire human: physical, energetic, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Then offering options for all the layers and levels, making sure that the students know that there is not only one “right” way to practice yoga.
What do you think are some of the things that able-bodied people take for granted?
The ease of movement. Being seen and acknowledged and being heard. Not having your intelligence underestimated because of your ability. These are things we often take for granted.
What does feminism and masculinity mean to you in 2020?
Equality cannot happen without equity. In life, there are those with resources and power, and there are those without. Coming from a family of privilege, it’s my responsibility to do my part, however big or small that can be, to help those who don’t come from the same privilege. Not everyone will have the same opportunities in life. If I can offer opportunity to those who are willing to grab it, I will. All that is needed is education and awareness.
To me, feminism means that women get the acknowledgement, respect, and support they need to thrive. When women can grow and prosper, so does a whole society. Women do a lot behind the scenes. One of the main areas where I see women needing support is with their transition to motherhood. A woman has to change her identity, her family dynamics, and balance her career, making many sacrifices along the way. Especially in Asia, I’ve seen how society expects women to carry on as usual without offering any support. I know so many mothers who support ageing parents, unemployed siblings, distant relatives, partners’ debts, and manage their careers, homes, and children – and no one even bothers to acknowledge their struggles or their efforts. Instead, these are simply things expected of a good Asian daughter, wife, and mother.
One of my core services is to empower women as they go through pregnancy and early parenthood. I offer both in-person and online trainings in this regard because it is so important to offer a woman the right kind of physical, emotional, and mental health support as she goes through some of the biggest changes in her life.
Who are some of the people who have inspired you along your journey?
C： 人會根據在他們生命裡的人們，慢慢成為自己。如果不是因為以下的這些人，我將不會是今天的我：我的老師——Swami Satchidananda和我所有的老師。Mother Teresa是我的英雄，還有我自己的母親，她是帶著無私笑容的典範。 我想在自己的生活中延伸他們的一些崇高品質。我的丈夫，孩子和姐妹無條件地支持我。 他們提醒我，我只是人，以最好的方式挑戰我，並激發我照顧自己。
A person becomes who they are, based on the people in their lives. I would not be who I am today if it were not for the following people: My Guru, Swami Satchidananda and all my teachers and mentors. Mother Teresa is a personal hero for me, as well as my own mother, who is a fine example of selflessness with a smile. I would like to develop some of their noble qualities in my own life. My husband, children and sisters support me unconditionally. They remind me that I’m only human, challenge me in the best of ways, and inspire me to look after myself.
My beautiful little niece Talia who was born with a rare genetic disease and shifted so much in my life. She, along with her family, taught me the power of acceptance and courage, and are the inspiration behind creating YAMA Foundation.
My cherished friends who encourage me daily to “go for it” and, of course, every single one of my students to whom all my work is dedicated to.
Three words to describe ‘you’ working out or doing sports.
Dedicated, open-hearted, balanced
Describe your body in one word and why.
Strong — because I can physically lift those who cannot lift themselves, and I have the capacity to hold a space for a person going through darkness.
When do you feel the most body confident?
After my daily practice of yoga, pranayama, and meditation.
HF： ‘Every body is a yoga body’, 你如何看待這句話？
‘Every body is a yoga body’, what are your thoughts on this?
C： 我認為這句話代表著無論什麼身材、體形，任何人都可以練習瑜伽。 我想補充一點，瑜伽不僅是一種身體練習，而且實際上不完全與身體有關。 瑜伽是一種自我實現的方法，它使你的身體強壯健康，而且還有更多。如果你只關注事物的身體方面而忽略其餘部分，那麼你確實會錯過最好的部分。
I think this phrase implies that anyone can practice yoga, no matter your body shape or size. I would like to add that yoga is not just a physical practice and it’s really not about the body at all. Yoga is a method for self-realisation, which includes being strong and healthy in your body, but also much more. If you only focus on the physical side of things while ignoring the rest, you are really missing out on the best parts.
Has yoga/ sport changed the way you feel about your body?
C： 是! 因為瑜伽，我學會了感謝和尊重我的身體。我永遠不會像運動或瑜伽廣告中的模特那樣苗條，但我是強壯的並歌頌我自己的曲線。
Yes! I have learned gratitude and respect for my body. I will never be skinny like the models on sport / yoga commercials, but I am strong and celebrate my curves.
HF： 在你看來，瑜伽是什麼？ 瑜伽的目的是什麼？
What is yoga to you? What is the goal of yoga as you see it?
C： 根據「Integral Yoga」的說法，我來自的派系，瑜伽的目標和每個人生來享有的權利，都是體驗輕鬆的身體、平靜的心靈和有益的生活。
According to Integral Yoga, the lineage I come from, the goal of yoga and the birthright of every individual is to experience an easeful body, a peaceful mind and, a useful life.
HF： 你還記得第一次接觸瑜伽嗎？ 什麼時候？怎麼樣？
Do you still recall the first time you were introduced to yoga? When and how was it?
C： 我不太清楚記得第一次，但是我有一個特別的回憶。那時候，我是一個蹣跚學步的小孩子，跟著父親在他的房間裡練習瑜伽。他當時在做一個shoulder stand，我跑進房間，坐在他旁邊，試圖模仿他在做的動作。
I don’t remember the first time exactly, but I have a distinct memory of me as a toddler practicing yoga with my father in his room. He was in a magnificent shoulder stand and I ran into the room, sat next to him, and attempted to imitate what he was doing.
How relevant is the practice of yoga to the fast-paced, modern lifestyle, particularly in Hong Kong?
C： 非常感恩有這麼多的瑜伽種類和工作室供人們選擇。 有些人喜歡剛硬和留很多汗的瑜伽。有些人則喜歡mantra和精神層面的東西。 有些人仍想減輕壓力和緊張感。另外，香港的戶外空間有限，因此我們目前的瑜伽環境與香港的生活方式息息相關。
I’m grateful that there are so many styles and studios for people to choose from. Some people like their yoga hardcore and sweaty. Others like mantras and the more spiritual side of things. Others still want to reduce stress and tension. Plus, Hong Kong has limited outdoor spaces so our current yoga environment is very relevant to Hong Kong lifestyle.
I just hope that our industry can shift its message away from having to perform or look a certain way in order to succeed, and more towards teaching people how to relax and connect to themselves.
What do you think are some of the common, incorrect assumptions about yoga?
Wow, there are quite a few:
That you have to look a certain way to practice
That yoga will make you look a certain way if you practice
That you need to be flexible
That it’s a religion!
That there is a hierarchy in poses (because some of the most advanced poses are the most basic!)
That it’s just about poses and contortion
That you need expensive gear to practice
That you need to spend a lot of money to access a class
The list goes on…
Do you think there are any stereotypes about people who do yoga and what do you think of those stereotypes?
C： 當然有刻板印象。 我聽過這些聲音：瑜伽愛好者被描繪成新時代嬉皮士或沉迷於排毒的高瘦女性。瑜伽愛好者是素食主義者。 瑜伽愛好者是行動主義分子。 還有更多。 最大讓人痛心之一的是瑜伽愛好者動輒就品頭論足。
Of course there are stereotypes. I’ve heard them all in my journey — yogis are portrayed as new-age hippies, or high strung skinny women addicted to detox. Yogis are vegans. Yogis are activists. There are many more. One of the most hurtful is that yogis are judgmental.
在生活中，有很多標籤。 我選擇不關注他們。 與其浪費時間去擔心這些不必要的細節，倒不如去支持我的同伴和朋友們，共同創造一個更具包容性、友善的瑜伽空間，這一點更為重要。
In life, there are so many labels. I choose not to focus on how someone labels me or my fellow yogis. Instead of wasting time worrying about these unnecessary details, it’s more important to support my peers and friends in the work they do and to work together to create a more inclusive and accessible yoga space.