TEACHER FEATURE: Annie Gan

Annie Gan

1) When and how did you first start practising?

Back in 2004, I was working long hours in a corporate job and felt exhausted most of the time. I chanced upon an advertisement of a new yoga studio opening, I didn’t know anything about yoga and was mainly interested to try something that would help me to relax and de-stress. The first class that I tried was Hatha yoga and I couldn’t do most of the poses in the class, but I remember feeling lighter at the end. When I started to attend the classes regularly about 3 times a week, I began to feel better after each class and to my surprise, I felt more energised than before and able to cope with the stresses of work more easily. After about a year of regular practice, I was convinced that yoga had a positive effect on my physical and mental health, that was unique in a way of bringing harmony and balance into my life and I never looked back since.

2) How you feel or what did you think after that first time?

The first time was a challenging experience as I couldn’t do most of the poses in the class and felt frustrated. Thankfully the instructor was patient and made me feel at ease as the class progressed. Not knowing anything about yoga also made me wonder why are we doing these poses? Why do these poses have funny names of animals and trees? I remember looking forward to the end of the class and yet, when it was the end, I was already looking forward to the next class. I think it was curiosity that got me interested about yoga and made me go back again and again, to find out more about it. As I learned more and taking different classes, I began to understand about the purpose of doing the different poses and experiencing the benefits of each pose, that made yoga interesting for me as each class was a new experience.

3) What inspired you to teach? And why do you continue to teach?

When I left my corporate job, I decided to take a break from work and travel around the world. I was also keen to learn more about yoga. Coincidently, a teacher friend mentioned about an upcoming teacher training abroad. Which led me to signing up my first teacher training program with Dharma Yoga in New York, USA. It was a 200hrs immersion program called “Life of a Yogi”. There is where I met Sri Dharma Mittra, my master teacher who has taught for over 40 years and known to be one of the pioneering master yoga teacher trainer in the USA. The immersion program changed my life perspective and Sri Dharma Mittra is my guru who taught me about the true meaning and purpose of yoga. After the immersion program, I stayed on for 6-months in New York to take daily classes with Sri Dharma. His teachings inspired me deeply and made me realised that yoga is so much more than just the physical practice.

In essence, yoga is the practice of the way of life and ultimate goal of realising our purpose in life. I found myself having new perspectives about my life and the realisation that yoga is a life long practice. It is a gift that brings endless joy, peace and harmony into our human lives, it represents different things to different people and everyone can receive the gifts of yoga, as long as they open their minds and hearts to the practice. Although I didn’t plan on teaching, somehow through my practice, it has led me to this path and I hope to share the gifts of yoga with those who are interested to learn. 

4) How has your practice affected your life and perspective on it?

There are so many aspects of the yoga practice that work on our physical, mental and spiritual state of being. Many beginners spend a long time on the physical aspect of the yoga practice in learning and doing the asanas (poses), which is normal as the physical practice is most visible and accessible to everyone who first come to know about yoga. As one progresses in their practice and they learn more about the purpose of yoga, they start to work on the subtle aspects of the practice that focuses inward, on our mental and spiritual well being, which in turn has a big effect on our physical well being. Like everyone, I started my practice focusing on the external, physical aspect but as I progressed, I was drawn to the practice for mental and spiritual well being. In my most challenging times, I have often found yoga practice to be a constant companion and providing me with strength and clarity of mind to overcome the challenges. Everyone’s life journey is unique and so is their journey for yoga practice. There is something for everyone and it is for each person to find out what their yoga practice brings to them. To quote Sri Dharma, “the only secret to success of yoga is… constant practice”.  

5) Share something fun about Annie.

I like to dance when no one is watching..