We first encountered Chelsea at The Yoga Shala Singapore many years ago and she came across as someone who is serious and has that ‘don’t-mess-with-me’ look! But we soon discovered that beneath the aloofness lies a warm, fun loving and generous personality.
She is easily one of the most grounded, down-to-earth and selfless teachers we have met! A dedicated and disciplined Ashtangi, Chelsea has inspired many through her years of teaching.
Chelsea shares her struggles and what inspires her practice.
1. Why did you shift from IT to teaching yoga? What was the trigger?
I got burnt out after being in the IT industry for many years. I decided to quit my job and was searching for a new path. I have been practicing yoga as recreation for a couple of years and saw a Yoga Teacher Training Course (TTC) advertisement. That was when I started my training as a Yoga Teacher.
After the 200 hours TTC, I couldn’t find any yoga teaching job as I had no contacts so I continued to train in India. I started to
advertise to teach private yoga classes after I came back.
2. What makes Ashtanga Yoga different from the other styles of yoga?
Ashtanga Yoga is both strength building and works on our flexibility as well. All the jump backs / through and chaturangas help build great strength. While some other styles of yoga call for instructions all the time, which can be too disruptive for a inner self practice, Ashtanga Yoga is a very calming and meditative method.
3. How do you maintain your motivation and consistency for the practice?
I love my practice and I have my teacher to thank for always being there as I meet my most challenging poses. If he never gives up on me, why should I give up on myself? If we are patient with ‘failure’ in learning the pose, we simply have to keep working on it and that is how we can keep our motivation going.
My practice is important to me so I will find the energy to work on it consistently. Sometimes I see my students working really hard and I find inspiration from them as well.
4. What is your biggest AHA moment on the mat?
That happened when I was able to do my first drop-back. I struggled with that for months even though my friends at the shala said that I should be able to do it. Letting go of control to regain control in the drop back and come back up is very humbling and great for a egoistic person like me!
5. Share with us one of the most difficult asana (posture) you have encountered and how it has shaped your practice!
I have always struggled with Laghu Vajrasana and Kapotasana (Intermediate series involving deep back bending). Both poses test my patience and keep me humble to my practice. I have been practicing these poses for years and yet they are still work-in-progress. It is a love-hate relationship with these poses but having faith in my practice is my greatest motivation.
Keep practicing…and they are getting better. It is a long, long journey…
Chelsea is currently teaching at The Yoga Shala Singapore and makes time to deepen her practice annually with Sharath Jois at the Shri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute (Mysore, India).