TEACHER FEATURE: Kuan Tan

Kuan Tan

1) When and how did you first start practising?

My yoga journey started more than 10 years ago when yoga was not as popular as today. Even though yoga classes were available in the gym, I barely gave it any attention and stuck to my high-impact body pump and body combat classes. It actually took a very bad fall leading to a serious foot injury that led me to yoga! It was the only exercise I could do while nursing my foot back to health. Looks like I have to thank the fall for introducing me to yoga!

 

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

I hated my first yoga class! I was dog-tired after work, I struggled to stay awake during the breathing exercise, I was feeling claustrophobic in a room of over 40 people, all who seemed to be exaggerating their breathing. I couldn’t wait for the class to be over…LOL. 

All these changed when it was finally time for savasana – it was very calming listening to the teacher guiding me and each body part into relaxation. I could feel that I was smiling widely but my eyes still shut and my body completely in stillness. I didn’t know what it was then, but I loved how it made me feel. The bliss or peace or serenity I experienced was how I fell hook, line and sinker in love with yoga. 

 

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

Being a teacher was my childhood dream.  However, I dropped the idea when I grew older as I couldn’t imagine myself in a class full of children.  After several years of practice, I was blessed and supported by my family, friends and even the office, and headed to India to pursue my yoga interests. After 4 weeks of living simply, eating loads of lentils, waking up to chanting mantras, practicing karma yoga, communal living, sunsets and sundowns, yoga on the mountain, yoga philosophies and more asana practices, I was elated to complete my maiden yoga teacher’s training with Yoga Vidya Gurukul (Yoga Point) in 2013. 

I started the journey to India to learn about yoga but returned from the ashram with more knowledge and understanding about yoga, but also about myself.  I’m very humbled to be able to share what I have learnt since then.  

Nevertheless, I will always be a student of yoga.  I want to express my gratitude and appreciation to all my yoga teachers who taught me all the valuable lessons in yoga and life.  I also want to thank all my students who are mirror reflections of myself.  This makes teaching and learning so rewarding. 

The more I practise, the more I share, the more I learn about myself.  This learning journey inspires me to want to continue to teach and share even more.  Of course there are not so good days, but they all add up to make the self-discovering journey much more interesting. 

 

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

Yoga has made many life concepts or philosophies come to life for me. I love watching my students “get it” when they achieve certain postures simply by relaxing. Instead of struggling, sometimes our problems or challenges get resolved when we stay calm and not try so hard.

Yoga has also made the body-mind-soul concept come to life for me. The strength of our breath to inject energy into our limbs, that both stablises our thoughts, and allows us to be stronger, to achieve more. 

As a result of witnessing the power of our breath and its control over our mind and bodies, I got interested and took up yoga therapy trainings. Over the last 2 years, it has been healing working with students and clients with different health concerns and conditions. I would like to see that the therapeutic aspects of the practice generate wholeness, which if practiced regularly, create deep and lasting change.    

My husband aside, yoga has been a close companion through my 30s, 40s and I know it will be too in the decades to come. While we can’t defy ageing, we can use yoga to strengthen our body and mind happily and meaningfully till the end.

 

5) Share something fun about Kuan.

I would like to think this is something fun about me. There have been some “fun changes” in me recently. As I learn to be more mindful in life, I like the feeling of connection with the nature and with some animals. I love taking long walks with my husband. Every step together with every breath is meditative and healing. Never knew the usual trees, leaves and flowers around me have such beautiful shapes, colours and textures which invigorate me. I thought I was going mad when I responded to birds chirping away at my windows and when I smiled back at cats while they stared into me for no reason. The truth is I am having so much fun being me in the present moment.