Student Spotlight: Mandy Jiang
How were you introduced to yoga and what is it about Iyengar Yoga that has captured your interest?
It was just about over a year ago. I happened to join a yoga class called Iyengar Yoga at a Japanese healing center. I was first impressed by the teacher’s age, as she was around 60-years-old, which is the oldest yoga teacher I had ever met. During the class, I found a huge difference between Iyengar Yoga and other yoga I had tried. Iyengar Yoga focuses on alignment and teaches that there is a “right” way to do each posture. Each posture is held for extended periods, often assisted by props (such as blanket, blocks, straps, etc.) while the student adjusts their body and corrects their alignment, helping to build strength and stamina. When you think about practicing yoga with props, you probably think Iyengar Yoga is easy. SORRY, NOPE! If you do Tadasana with absolute alignment, I swear that you will sweat! Yes, simply standing on a yoga mat can make you sweat.
Right after my first class with this Japanese lady, I knew that this was the yoga I had been looking for! But she only taught two classes per week, and I couldn’t fit into her schedule very well. So, I did research and found Po.
I’m attracted to Iyengar Yoga not only because of how we practice it, but also because it has no bias against gender, age or body shape. At Studio Po, you will see quite a lot of senior and stiff male students. This is yoga, no bias!
At this stage of your practice, what is your favourite asana and why?
My favourite asana is Adho Mukha Svanasana. It is such a holistic asana! I can practice it anywhere and can always go deeper. What I also find is that I can easily find and focus on my breath when I am in this asana.
What has been the biggest surprise for you in your practice of Iyengar Yoga?
Have you found that there are lessons or benefits from your yoga practice that you carry with you in your daily life? Can you share an example?
Absolutely! I used to have a migraine every month before menstruation, and it was always on my right side! After I spent two months practicing at Studio Po, my migraines were gone! Iyengar Yoga not only teaches me asanas, but also teaches me to learn my body again. When I practice some asanas, I realize that I have light lower back pain from my right side, and my right shoulder is definitely tenser than the left one. Body is connected, so it makes sense that my migraine should come from my weaker right shoulder and right lower back. Different asana practice corrects my daily standing, sitting and walking postures, and helps alleviate some of my physical pain.
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” - BKS Iyengar
How did you find Studio Po and why have you chosen to take Iyengar Yoga classes here?
There are a few yoga studios designed for practicing Iyengar Yoga only. Studio Po is one of them. Studio Po provides not only great facilities, but also great teachers!! That matters to me a lot. Po Teachers are all very experienced, but more importantly, they are very humble. They teach students with their passion and compassion.
“Confidence, clarity & compassion are essential qualities of a teacher.” - BKS Iyengar
“The art of teaching is tolerance. Humbleness is the art of learning.” - BKS Iyengar
Yes, each Po teacher has those qualities! Here, I want to thank every single teacher who teaches me at Po. Stephanie, Sharon, Jane, Jennifer and Nozomi. I feel I am very lucky to be one of your students!
What is one piece of wisdom that you would like to share with someone beginning his/her Iyengar Yoga journey?
Do I have any wisdom? Not yet. I’ve been waiting for the moment of my enlightenment, so I practice. All those yoga masters find their enlightenment and true wisdom by practicing yoga every single day and every single minute they can for their whole lives.
Yoga is a life long journey, so “Practice, Practice, Practice”. That’s the only way to find the true wisdom.
What has been your experience so far practicing Iyengar Yoga during your pregnancy?
I resumed my yoga practice in my 2nd trimester. To me, practicing yoga when I am expecting is a whole new experience. Pregnancy certainly slows down my progress in asanas, but it develops my focus on observing my breath and going inward. Now when I am breathing, I am breathing for two. The more I can focus on my breath, the calmer I can be, and the more happiness I can generate. In my religion, which is Buddhist, we believe the foundation for development of the child on a morally and spiritually higher position starts in the womb itself. A baby will carry the mother's thinking and moral living. Every Iyengar Yoga practice develops my quietness and happiness and hopefully my baby will carry these imprints.