When we featured Yah Ting in our May edition last year, the inspiration was drawn from her crossing the Singapore-Malaysia border every morning to practice at the shala before heading to work.
Here is another admirable Urban Ashtangi, Destiana, who enters Singapore regularly for her late morning practice with Adeline at The Yoga Shala Singapore, except she rides on a ferry from Batam, Indonesia!
With her bulky backpack and thick heavy mat over her shoulder, she walks into the shala with an intense gaze. One can never overlook her well-defined deltoids and quadriceps. Beneath the deceiving aggressive outlook we realize she is very shy and an introvert.
We managed to chat more after a few classes, impressed by how she travels between Singapore and Batam. A determined Ashtangi, the ferrying and queuing at the customs does not bother her at all, instead she treats herself by having an ice-cream after her practice!
1) Please share with us briefly your background?
I am a lawyer by profession in Batam, Indonesia and my first yoga class was in July 2016. In the beginning I wasn’t regular in attending yoga classes. I used to have discomfort on one side of my body that lasted for a week. Sometimes it was really bad that I could only practice once a month.
I started to pick myself back to a regular routine after I attended some yoga classes in Bali at the end of 2016. I would plan to return to Bali every month just for the yoga classes. During my visits to Bali and after attending yoga classes with different studios, I found one offering Ashtanga Yoga. It was an instruction-led group setting which gave me a first hand experience with Ashtanga Yoga.
I took up a 200-hours Teacher Training Certification in Bali too just to learn more about the practice but I did not pursue it further once I completed the course. Returning home I decided to stop attending yoga classes in Batam totally as the same discomfort recurred from repeated visits to a group class. When I was not in Bali I would practice yoga from YouTube videos.
2) Coming from an active background involving regular body fitness, why did you turn now to yoga as your regular routine?
I do regular body fitness training and am very active in Muay Thai but these caused some serious issues to my shoulders. At times it would be so painful that I had to sleep on my tummy. My fitness trainer recommended I include yoga as part of the routine which could help relax the body and relieve some tension to my shoulders.
Probably due to my job and vigorous fitness routine, I had so much anger. I became so bulky that my friends gave me a nickname “Hulk”. I was very hard on myself in keeping a strict discipline to my fitness and yoga regime.
I can feel a big difference now. I feel more relaxed and started to have more awareness of myself. At the same time I could manage my emotions and self-expectations better.
3) What is your experience in your first Mysore class?
I did some research and found The Yoga Shala Singapore which turned out to be more convenient and affordable than traveling to Bali. Honestly, I felt angry and shy in my first Mysore class. The way I was taught was very different in the Mysore LED class. My initial thought was an instruction-led class setting like the classes I attended in Bali.
During the Mysore practice I saw many practitioners who were able to do various poses but I seemed to know nothing. But at the shala I was guided individually and my practice progressed steadily with a regular practice.
4) Residing in Batam, you have to cross the border few times a week to practice in Singapore. What is your motivation to keep coming back to class despite the distance?
Mainly due to the constructive changes I can see in myself physically. And importantly, I can feel positive mental progression too. The people around me also took notice of the changes in me. I consider myself as a perfectionist. I am determined to learn the practice in a proper manner and it doesn’t matter how long it takes to learn from my teacher. This practice is my fuel to keep me calm and balanced in my daily routine and my life in general.
5) What are the changes you see in yourself after taking up a regular Ashtanga Yoga practice?
Physically I can see my body muscles are more lean as opposed to more bulky from my fitness training. I breathe better, sleep well and the pain that used to be in my shoulders has gone! I also learned to be more at ease with myself. Having a calmer temperament, I tend to smile more and feel more comfortable communicating with people. Very different from whom I was, the angry woman who used to carry a frown everywhere.
6) “Ashtanga Yoga is a tough practice” Do you agree or disagree?
Disagree, mainly because I believe that if we are willing to work hard, believe in this practice and allow yourself to take time without rushing, it will not turn out to be a tough practice.
7) What is your most fearful pose and how do you manage it every time?
It has to be Bhujapidasana as I has fallen over a few times in the pose. However, as the practice doesn’t allow us to skip a pose, I have to face the same fear each time I reach this pose. The more I fight the pain, the more I feel the pain (too much overthinking and worrying). I have learnt how to manage it by being really focused in my breathing.
8) What is the best thing you like about the practice?
Independence. When I am not at the shala for practice I can do my own practice at home daily. The best thing about Mysore practice is that it has made me an independent practitioner. If we can commit to our daily practice we can see the improvement in the practice. When I see that I have progressed, I feel good and confident about myself.