Satya Yoga

True to Oneself
  • Urban Ashtangis – Real People . Real Inspiration : Khalid Faiz Mohamed

    By Satya Yoga | May 31st, 2017

    “Hey! 你好吗! (How are you!)”

    Door pushed open with a loud greeting. That’s Khalid’s way of welcoming himself to the shala. He is usually one of the earliest few to report at the shala for his regular evening practice after work. One simply can’t ignore Khalid’s upbeat attitude, always looking eager to roll out the mat to start his practice.

    Pakistani on the outside yet very Singaporean on the inside. Khalid enjoys casual conversations in Mandarin and Hokkien with the others before heading to his regular practice spot.

    1. Please share with us how you got started with the Ashtanga Yoga practice?

    I started practicing around 2009. One of my hiking mates who was practicing with James at The Yoga Shala Singapore invited me to attend the Ashtanga Yoga class. The shala had just shifted to Yan Kit road and James was starting a Mysore class for beginners on Thursday evening. It was a small (3 or 4 of us) and a very painful class. I could not touch my toes. Breathing through the nose was not working for me. I sweated so much and we were only doing Surya Namaskara (Sun Salutation) A and B! The best part of that first class was lying down on our back to rest. That night I had the best sleep ever!

    After the first class I went for a weekly practice irregularly. My favorite class was when James conducted the half LED class on every Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The camaraderie of struggling through the practice with fellow beginners kept me going. From doing a weekly practice for over a year, I started to practice twice a week and now 3 to 4 times a week. Initially yoga was an activity that allowed me to do something useful with my time in the evening. It has now become a habit that helps me to feel good after a hard day’s work.

    2. How do you prepare yourself for the day prior to the practice?

    I usually practice in the evening. On practice day lunch will be very light. Typically I would have porridge or sandwich and definitely no spicy food. I make it a habit to be in bed between 10.30 pm to 11pm and I’m up between 5.30 am to 6am daily.

    3. We know that your teenage daughter Nasreen has been practicing at The Yoga Shala too! How did she get into the practice?

    Both my wife and I practice yoga. My wife practices at Real Yoga. Sometimes when I practice at home, Nasreen helps to take photographs of me in poses. Thus she had an idea about Ashtanga Yoga even before going to the shala. When Nasreen was 13, I invited her to the shala for Ashtanga and my wife invited her to try out some yoga classes at Real Yoga. Nasreen decided that Ashtanga Yoga suits her best as she enjoys the discipline and challenges of the practice. She goes to the shala twice a week regularly.


    Father and daughter share the same passion for the practice

    4. Which part of the practice is most and least enjoyable for you?

    I feel a sense of accomplishment when I am done with the practice. After a long day it feels great to sweat all the toxins out of the system. I feel refreshed and I sleep very well. The least enjoyable part is going for practice after one of my hikes or after an extremely heavy lunch.

    5. What role does the practice play in your life?

    The practice has become part of my daily routine. My week will not feel complete if I miss a practice, it makes me feel FAT and STIFF. I do make a habit to leave office by 5pm for 4 days a week so that I can start my practice no later than 6pm. My family, friends and colleagues know my schedule and priorities. They understand that I don’t attend any social activities if it clashes with my practice time.


    6. How do you manage to keep up with a regularly practice given your hectic work travel schedules and family commitments?

    When I travel, I will try to do at least the standing postures or maybe just Surya Namaskara A & B. If I am not able to go to the shala I will do home practice. It is a form of training that keeps me ‘flexible’ and ‘fit’. So long as the practice does not eat into my family time there is no issue with allocating time for practice. It is MY PRACTICE so I allocate time for MY PRACTICE.


    Khalid in Uttana Padasana

  • Urban Ashtangis – Real People . Real Inspiration : Ch’ng Yah Ting

    By Satya Yoga | May 3rd, 2017

    When we first learned that Yahting makes a daily trip via the causeway to do her daily practice, we were truly impressed and amazed with her effort and perseverance. We know how challenging it is to have a regular practice, let alone show up at the shala (almost daily) at 630am.

    Her bubbly personality and contagious laughter really shine through her practice! Yahting is a great inspiration for anyone who struggles with showing up for a (daily) practice.

    1. Please share with us how you got started with Ashtanga Yoga?

    I was practising with Pure Yoga for 2 years and was introduced to Ashtanga Yoga by one of the instructors there (thanks to him). From then, I tried to explore all the yoga centres that provides Ashtanga Yoga and the right schedule time as the centre I went to had a very odd timing for this class which is impossible for me to practice. They did not have Mysore class back then and only had 2 – 3 classes per week. I was ecstatic when I found The Yoga Shala Singapore in September 2016, which is the centre practising the Ashtanga Yoga method only. Since then, I have tried to discipline myself to practice every day.

    2. We know that you commute daily across the causeway to practice at the shala! What keeps you motivated and have you had days that you feel ‘lazy?’

    I thought since I’m already commuting daily to work across the causeway, why not wake up an hour earlier so that I can practice before going to work. I do feel lazy some days but I will still drag myself to practice as I realised that is the least I expect from my practice, the deeper I can reach for the pose. If you don’t see me in the shala that day, most probably I have to start work early or I am not feeling well.


    3. What is the biggest change you have noticed since you started the practice?

    I can’t say that I have noticed a lot of changes with my body since then but one thing I realised is that I don’t get distracted by my surrounding so often anymore which used to be really hard for me. I have also slowly switched my diet to help in my daily practice. I don’t see problem as problem anymore and appreciate every day especially with my family.

    4. ‘Ashtanga Yoga is hard and difficult!’ – Do you agree? Share your thoughts on this!

    Ashtanga Yoga is challenging. There is no doubt about it. Not only it challenges you physically, it also challenges your mind to stay focus. If you have someone who claims that Ashtanga Yoga is easy, kindly introduce them to me. Maybe I haven’t been practising it the right way.

    5. If you can only choose to do 1 posture – Headstand or Backbend? Why?

    Backbend. I have a hate-love relationship with this pose. I really hate backbend throughout the years in my practice as I always thought that I am not flexible enough and I have to do it every day (except Fridays). But when I can drop back for the first, the feeling was really indescribable and I am starting to look forward to this pose every day during the practice.


  • The Way We Do Anything Is The Way We Do Everything

    By Shirly Oh | April 2nd, 2017

    Have you ever been to a group meeting / gathering where everyone shows up but not all are present? It is becoming a common sight these days where people are constantly engaged on the phone (on social media or playing games). Their body is there but not the mind.

    Practice is the same. The physical body is there and the mind has to be present. And it takes effort to practice. When you hit the same daily roadblock during the practice, what do you do? If you counter it with the same thinking or doing, you are discrediting yourself.

    You get discomfort, you feel pain, you feel fear, anger, frustration, anxiety etc.. what do you do? Get used to these emotions and do it anyway! The way to conquer anything is to work through it and not walk around it.

    We learn and grow when faced with our deepest and most intense emotions. If we constantly settle with the same outcome, the outcome remains the same. Nothing changes.

    Falling off from a headstand may be scary but nothing is as horrifying as feeling the same emotion day after day. And guess what, not being able to do a headstand doesn’t make you a bad yogi. It simply means you have to work harder.

    Showing up is just the beginning, you will need to put in the effort to create the change you want. What do you want?


    Photo credit :

  • Urban Ashtangis – Real People . Real Inspiration : Ng Lek Hong

    By Satya Yoga | April 2nd, 2017

    “I’m too old.”
    “I’m too fat.”
    “I’m too heavy.”

    Lek Hong says them every time on the mat, every single time!

    The first time I met this face-blushing lady (more than a year ago) at The Yoga Shala, she caught my attention with her heavy body, struggling with every breath and her extremely humble attitude on the mat.

    Her signature moves: head shaking, nervous, apologetic laugh and feeling conscious about her heavy body while I sat down to assist her. Nevertheless she puts in her 100% effort into the practice.

    Definitely looking better today (no more black baggy attire), Lek Hong walks through the shala door in vibrant colored clothes, shedding off some excess weight. She is no longer on medication* (after getting approval from her doctor) and she feels better about herself too.   

    Bravo! She didn’t let those excuses stop her from practicing instead she keeps coming back, even stronger than before!

    1) Tell us what got you started with Ashtanga Yoga? 

    25 years ago out of curiosity, I decided to attend a yoga class at a nearby community club. To my surprise after few sessions, my asthma was miraculously cured. Since then yoga has become a part of my life. I have attended various yoga classes (Yin, Gentle, Hatha, Sivananda), I loved it so much that I increased from once to thrice a week.

    Having to juggle my schedule among work, family and household duties, I was looking for a yoga class that was much early in the morning. That was when I found The Yoga Shala that fits into my schedule perfectly, knowing that I could practice yoga at 6.30AM before a hectic day!

    2) What were your initial thoughts and feelings about this method? Have you ever thought of giving all up and why?
    Initially I felt that the Ashtanga Yoga method was extremely hard and taxing on my body. The practice requires both physical and mental strength from me. I felt depressed and almost wanted to give up but I persevered. During that 1.5 hour of practice I felt physically lighter as I perspired. I sensed that this practice forces me to challenge myself till a glimpse of mental clarity.

    3) What are some of the changes that impacted you that we still see you on the mat regularly?
    My health. I witnessed a significant improvement with my past health issues with high blood pressure, water retention, morning nasal congestion, stiff shoulder and skin diseases. My immunity and energy level improved as well!

    4) What is the one thing you discovered about yourself taking this practice that you didn’t know before? 

    The effort in controlling the breathing and maintaining my body in a steady pose. My muscles feel more stretched and toned. My joints are more flexible, my blood circulation has improved and the practice has also helped with my weight control. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this practice creates internal heat (yang) and brings a more balanced nervous system (yin); resulting in a healthy level of my blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.

    I had been trying to do a headstand for the past 20 years. With regular practice in Ashtanga yoga, I am stronger now and finally do it! Truly amazing!

    5) Please share with us the fears that you are experiencing during the practice and how you manage them? 

    Learning the drop-back was a HUGE challenge for me. I was afraid of falling and it challenges me both physically and emotionally. Another was getting into Marichyasana (a deep twisting pose). I always feel suffocated and frustrated doing this pose and I fear of not being able to do it on my own ever.


    Bonus section:

    6) What is the one thing that you are secretly proud of yourself (for making to the mat regularly)? 

    My age. I am in my 50s now looking at hitting 60 and still going to persevere. Before this I could never imagine that I can get into poses like Sirsasana (headstand) and dropping-back (backbend). With many good teachers in The Yoga Shala, I know I will have a good support while I continue to challenge myself.

    7) One last question – how would you tell your peers about Ashtanga Yoga?
    I would tell them Ashtanga Yoga is especially good for the elderly. It’s a great practice for building strength and toning the body. Regardless your age this practice pushes your limits and makes you a healthier person, just like me!

    *Disclaimer : This is Lek Hong’s personal experience that she has shared with us. It is not a guarantee or a claim that Ashtanga Yoga treats or heals any pre-existing medical conditions. Please consult your doctor prior to start the practice or if you intend to go off any medication.


    “Infinite patience delivers immediate results.”


  • Urban Ashtangis – Real People . Real Inspiration : Debbie Chua

    By Satya Yoga | February 28th, 2017

    Debbie (aka Bee) is seen as one of the early birds at The Yoga Shala for her regular practice before she heads to her nearby office. Always quiet and focused, sometimes I wonder if she is actually half asleep.

    Morning scene in the shala – everyone is rushing in and out through the door. We do briefly exchange morning greetings a few times before we head off to conquer the rest of our day.

    We were surprised and delighted that Debbie finally made her first Mysore trip by herself. We caught up several time over of Indian breakfasts and realized that Debbie is chatty and has a great sense of humor. I guess it might have been the effects of Masala Dosas!

    Besides her regular job, Debbie extends her relationship with food and cooking from the kitchen to sharing her knowledge and recipes on her recent food blog:


    1) From exploring different styles of yoga to committing your time to the Ashtanga method, when did you realize that this method works best for you?

    When it gave me the motivation to wake up in the morning! Waking up and getting to work have always the hardest part of the day.

    I’ve tried other styles like hatha, vinyasa, hot and yin yoga. I had no idea what Ashtanga and Mysore class were. Learning it was so liberating because I had never come across a method that encourages me to be really independent and disciplined.

    When I first saw the whole sequence it was quite intimidating but I managed to learn it with the help and patience of my teacher. I’m lucky that I have a practice that I can do anytime, any place or country with no need for fancy equipment. All I need is motivation and a mat! 

    2) Having to cope with work schedule and family, how do you manage to fit a regular practice in your life?

    I don’t know how I manage really – just take one day at a time and try not to think too much. The only time I can fit regular practice in is early in the morning. With more responsibilities at work and home, I try to remind myself to be grateful that I have the chance to practice.

    It can be hard when there are long hours at work and stress. Work doesn’t stop when I get home! So I just tell myself that it is ok to miss the practice sometimes to get enough sleep.

    3) What are the “sacrifices” you feel that you have made in exchange for an early morning practice?

    Waking up early means sleeping early. It also means having a lighter and earlier dinner. Otherwise I’ll feel it during practice the next day! But it’s also important to relax and spend time with loved ones especially if they happened to be night birds!



    4) What is the most valuable gift you have received from the practice?

    It’s hard to describe what is the most valuable. I think that the practice has helped change me a lot in the last 5 years. It taught me to stop thinking too much and just be.

    I’m quite an introvert and sometimes when I feel down or depressed, it really affects my energy level. As this practice is so good for blood circulation, it gives me a lot more energy to handle challenges that are coming.

    5) What is your most challenging aspect of the practice? And why do you refuse to use that as an excuse to give up?

    If you mean the physical practice, my weakness is definitely the backbends! Sometimes I feel like it will never get better! But it doesn’t stop me from practicing because there are so many other benefits. I guess with time my backbends will improve too. And hey I can do a lot more than I ever did before so that is good!

    The other aspects of the practice basically entails being a good person which I think is the more challenging part!

    6) Being a Malaysian we know that you love your food and you can bake really well! Tell us more about this food blog and project that you are working on at the moment!

    I came from a family of cooks – my grandma, mom and sisters all love cooking and baking. Cooking is in my blood and I have been doing it for a long time. I still remember my first epic fail baking a rock-hard chocolate cake! Now that I’m married my kitchen is my playground and I’m always cooking and trying new things.

    With all the travelling I did last year, I upgraded my old SLR for a better camera effect. I really enjoy food photography so this food blog ( was a natural progression.