“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.
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.