Category Archives: Malaysiana

Teacher’s Pet

Remember back in school, there would be that ONE person who would obviously be favoured by the teacher? Maybe s/he was the prettier looking kid in class or they knew the answers to EVERYTHING [stupid smart-ass-know-it-all kids. I wonder where they are and what they’re doing].

 

 

In fact, it’s no different in Bikram Yoga. More often than not, the teachers’ favourite student is the one with a great, focussed practice. I will admit, it is easier to teach the focussed students than those drama-ing at the back “Oh it’s soooo hot” [No shit Sherlock, you just entered Bikram HOT Yoga], and “Ohh my back hurts” [Are you kidding me? I just said your back is GOING TO HURT LIKE HELL!].

 

Until one day he stepped into my class.

 

 

For privacy’s sake, let’s call him A. A was here to take class with an entourage – his mum, cousin and maid in tow. The night before, Jakob texted me that A will be coming and to “give him some space and do whatever he likes”.

 

 

You see, A is not just a ‘first-timer’. He was a special first-timer. He was a special needs child from Indonesia who came to Kuala Lumpur for some form of therapy.

 

 

Coupled with the fact that A does not speak English but Bahasa Indonesia [Indonesian language] and that my dialogue is in English [my Indonesian is at best, rusty] , I was fearful. I was a new teacher, I possibly can’t have distractions coming in and out at me! What if I forgot my dialogue and started muttering nonsense up on stage? How would I control the class? How would I control A? What would he do during class?

 

 

Turns out I had nothing to fear at all. A was good, calm and he did the best he could. Sure because he was special needs he giggled or talked or made sounds during class, but then again, I have had worse drama queens in class πŸ˜‰ [And he is SPECIAL needs, and you are NOT!]

 

 

In the beginning, like all students, he had to acclimitise to the heat. Of course he didn’t know what was going on – why was it hot? He moaned and wiped furiously at his sweat but I told him “Jangan lap. Nanti lagi panas ye!” [Don’t wipe! You’ll feel more hot!]. He looked at me woefully with his big doe eyes and I prayed to God he wouldn’t bawl. He looked back to the mirror and refocussed on his practice.

 

 

His dedication to the practice AMAZED and HUMBLED me. His mum would come out after class telling me, “A tu mintak nak buat exercise hot. Jadi, kita bawaklah dia. Tiap tiap hari pun mintak!” [A was asking to do the ‘Hot Exercise’, that’s why we brought him here. He asks for it EVERY day!”.

 

I smiled. I really didn’t know what to say.

 

 

His family soon became a regulars at the studio. A’s mum said “Walaupun panas dan susah, tapi A tu suka!” [Even though it’s hot and difficult, A loves it!]. One day I asked his mum, What benefits have you seen with A and the yoga? I have always wondered how the benefits would accrue with someone with special needs.

 

 

“Ohhh, banyak! Skarang tu lebih mudah untuk dia nafas. Dan skarang pun dia tu lebih sabar sikit. Boleh komunikasi“. [Ohhh, lots! It’s easier for him to breathe now, and he’s more patient when communicating].

 

And here I was worrying whether he could get 100% benefits even though he couldn’t understand me πŸ˜‰ But, like Bikram said, try the right way and you’ll still get the benefits!

 

 

“Tu, bagi salam kat kak. Cakap bye dengan dia” [Say bye to Kak (Big Sister)].

“Bye auntie”

“BUKAN. Dia tu KAK! Bukan Auntie! Muda lagi la Cikgu Mei!” [NO! She’s not an Auntie! Teacher Mei is still young!] his mother said in chagrin. I waved it off and said that I am old enough to be called “Auntie” already. A’s mum said they’ll be going back to Indonesia for a while, but will see me after a month. That was in August.

 

 

That was the last I saw of them. I haven’t seen them since the Muslim new year, and with the eruptions and natural disasters going on in Indonesia, I hope they’re ok.

 

 

I still miss A every day. His happy smiling face, his smile as he does Half Moon pose, his mum as she tries to lock her knee, him going up to the mirrors to wipe it and say hello to his reflection during class.

 

 

A, you inspire me with your patience and dedication and love for the yoga. May our paths cross again, eventually, in the future.

 

 

M*

 

 

 

 

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A Little Bit of Affirmation

Me : I won’t be competing in October. Too chicken shit to try 😦

Friend : And why are you chicken shit to compete. Nothing to lose except your pride..

Me : Well, I don’t have the most perfect of postures. Alignment still not there.

Friend : Nobody’s perfect. Competing helps you approach that level. Not to prove that you have.

Me : And I’m afraid if I compete, certain quarters won’t be happy about it.

Friend : OK, I don’t know about that.

Me : See my point?

Friend : Sounds more like an additional excuse actually, haha.

What wise words, coming from a non-yoga person.

πŸ™‚

M*

The Ego, Self & Compassion

Threw my back out once again. This year has been a rather testing year for me, what with that immune problem [shingles], an aggravated hip tendon/muscle/thingymajig and now, my lower right back hurts. I don’t know what the hell I did, but it is sure not the result of having one too many Margaritas and ending up on the wrong side of someone else’s bed.

So I sought the advice of the always fabulous Mrs.23 aka Juicy, of Mission Yoga [in San Francisco]. She then gave me the advice I needed to hear at the right time “When u r killing u’rself/ego, don’t forget the compassion for u’rself. Be loving. :-)”

I then went back to all the times I have practiced with students. As a teacher, my practice has now changed NOT JUST because of Teacher Training, but hugely because of, how should I say … expectations. Gone are the days where I would sit out a pose of I felt dizzy or if I started cramping out too early. I do not allow myself to sit out of the postures simply because I know the students are looking at me and my practice. As a teacher, and a young [in age and in tenure of teaching] lady in Asia, I know of the concept of having ‘face’. That means, maintaing a proper image and doing the wrong thing just to please everyone and maintain a facade.

2009 International Yoga Champion (Women’s Division) Courtney Mace once said, “[Competition] happens every time you step into the hot room, and it’s a competition between the ego and the soul. And the soul always wins.”. Unfortunately for me, my ego has always won. Not the ego that says “Yes, I am BETTER than you”, but the ego that is the fear of not doing well. Essentially, 2 things always hold us back in life, and that is fear and ego, and ego is really FEAR of not doing well. Coupled with my Type A personality and ferocious tenacious attitude for perfection, I sometimes don’t know how to back down when I really need to.

I admit, some days before I step in the room and I know that I’m not feeling well, I start to get worried whether people will judge me when I opt to sit out of a posture.Β “But you are a TEACHER, how can you NOT do it?”

I then realised that like what Juicy said, I should kill my ego but above all, have compassion for MY self. Having compassion doesn’t mean being LAZY – it simply means knowing how to take it down a notch when I am not feeling it. I can count the number of times I nearly blacked out [3] but I still carried on through class even though I was already swaying and looking 5 shades paler than Edward Cullen.

Ego, Compassion and Patience. My 3 things I have to endure this year πŸ™‚

M*

And yada yada, it’s not the destination, but the journey πŸ˜‰

DoMEIsticated

I am by no means, a domestic goddess. A Bikram Goddess maybe, an Anal Cleaning Goddess too but domesticated? Cook, clean, wash, laundry? Most certainly not me!

Till I decided one day to try making homemade potato croquettes.

Croquettes or Cockquettes or Massive Cat Turds?

Sure, they ended up looking like giant sand-covered cat turds [or as my mum said, “Like a flaccid penis”] but boy do they taste. So. Damn. Good.

Hey, I never professed to being one of those people who expertly make Fine Food πŸ˜‰

It’s Dead Simple to make these croquettes, so here’s the recipe for a little Autumn / Winter snack or whenever you feel like a little comfort food :

Ingredients :

4-5 large potatoes, boiled and mashed

A tin of sardines [I used mackerel and leftover salmon in this case]

2 large handfulls of mozzarella cheese [you may omit this if you are lactose intolerant]

2 large eggs, beaten

Breadcrumbs

Oil for frying [though you may bake it if you want to be all healthy]

Salt & pepper to taste

Step 1 : Mash the potatoes [I have no potato masher at home, so I used a fork and diligently mashed those 5 large suckers while watching CSI:New York]

Step 2 : Mix sardines. At this point, you can start using your hands to get an even mix.

Step 3 : Add in cheese, salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil.

Step 4 : Shape into cat turd phallic croquette shape. However, if you are popping it in the oven, shape into a patty shape.

Step 5 : Roll in egg then lightly coat in breadcrumbs.

Step 6 : Heat some oil up.

Step 7 : When oil is hot, put in croquettes to fry. Alternatively, if you are being healthy, pop it into the oven.

Mixing it up

Right before I put them through the worst humiliation of all

And there you have it!

M*

Britney Spears

Today’s class was like a very sloppily put-together “BEST OF” Britney Spears CD.

First track : Toxic

All the damn toxins in my body accumulated from 4 days of non-practice and eating all the lovely oh so delectable goodies that will make me die a farting death in class.

Second track : Blackout

Need I say more?

Third track : Baby, One More Time

Even though I have suffered enough for 90 minutes, I’ll still come back tomorrow to die on my mat.

M*

“9 Crimes”

Got this from the latest episode of True Blood. Haunting, beautiful score and very… European lyrics [I find out later that the singer is indeed Irish].

Enjoy!

9 Crimes

Leave me out with the waste
This is not what I do
It’s the wrong kind of place
To be thinking of you
It’s the wrong time
For somebody new
It’s a small crime
And I’ve got no excuse

Is that alright, yeah
Give my gun away when it’s loaded
That alright, yeah
If you don’t shoot it how am I supposed to hold it
That alright, yeah
Give my gun away when it’s loaded
That alright, yeah
With you?

Leave me out with the waste
This is not what I do
It’s the wrong kind of place
To be cheating on you
It’s the wrong time
She’s pulling me through
It’s a small crime
And I’ve got no excuse

Is that alright, yeah
I give my gun away when it’s loaded
Is that alright, yeah
If you don’t shoot it, how am I supposed to hold it
Is that alright, yeah
I give my gun away when it’s loaded
Is that alright
Is that alright with you?

Is that alright, yeah
I give my gun away when it’s loaded
Is that alright, yeah
If you don’t shoot it, how am I supposed to hold it
Is that alright, yeah
If I give my gun away when it’s loaded
Is that alright?
Is that alright with you?

Is that alright, yeah
Is that alright, yeah
Is that alright, yeah
Is that alright?
Is that alright?
Is that alright with you?

No…

M*

I Give Up.

While scrolling through my Tweetstream yesterday … this came up :

@ninieahmad BANNED from #projectalpha on Astro as she’s a Malay yoga teacher.

Quick background for my non-Malaysian blog readers :

@ninieahmad : Famous yoga teacher in Malaysia. Sponsored by Adidas and Stella McCartney. Link to her blog here

#projectalpha : Reality TV based programme of sorts about bloggers and their lives

Astro : Cable TV network

Malaysia : In a sum, consists of 3 major races – Malays, Chinese and Indian

WHY was she banned? Was it because she’s MALAY [and hence, a MUSLIM]? After last year’s fatwa [decree] on Muslims being BANNED from yoga [which incidentally, has been lifted but I have since blogged about it here], there has been furor, uproar and confusion on the whole of Malaysia as to whether Muslims can do yoga.

To me, yoga is a form of exercise. Again, I am speaking from my point of being a certified Bikram Yoga teacher, so my comments and opinions based herewith cannot be compared with say, an Iyengar teacher who has had a different method of training / schooling. I have been practicing Bikram Yoga for 2.5 years and teaching it full-time for 6 months, and if the Malaysian Fatwa council has deemed yoga as being religious,I cannot fully comment on this matter as I am not a Muslim nor do I profess to have fully read and understood the Qu’ran.

However, I can say with absolute certainty and confidence that Yoga is NOT a religious experience. It is an experience allright, but it’s more of an exercise. Never before have I seen people of different backgrounds, races, creeds and nationalities together, in ONE room, for 90 minutes, staying absolutely silent and bending, twisting, compressing and sweating [some more profusely than others!]. And the sight after class absolutely warms my heart. Everyone sitting around, joking, saying ‘hellos’ or ‘goodbyes’ and doing some catching up, and the occasional banter / tirade / questions that come my way.

Hmm. Come to think of it, maybe Yoga really IS religious. See Exhibits below :

#1 : Oh God Mei, the room was so hot / humid!

#2 : Oh GOD Mei, I can’t get my knee locked / suck my stomach in! [precisely how I was when I first started]

#3 : Oh GOD is she ever going to get us out of [insert posture] ?! I can tell by the looks on your face. Seriously πŸ˜‰

Jokes aside, it really seems to me that it is really a lack of understanding and tolerance that has led to this fiasco. Already Malaysia is dealing with brain drain of young professionals to other countries, international headlines of us sentencing a woman to whipping Β for drinking beer and RM8billion [US$3billion] of our taxpayers money going to build a new national palace, when our current national palace is PERFECTLY FINE.

Some days I truly wonder WHY I bothered coming back to a country that already feels alien to me. If doing what I like in my country may soon result me in being banned due to some preexisting fear / judgement, why the hell should I even pay tax and be treated like dirt?

If my job allows me to travel the world, than travel I shall. Perhaps I will settle down eventually, in the future, somewhere where I will not feel alienated and ostracized just because I am doing what I love.

M*

The Day I Forgot I Was A Teacher

After a week and a bit of not teaching and 2 weeks of not practicing, I am ashamed to admit that I’m totally out of shape. If physically I’m mouldy, think emotionally, spiritually, and… dialogue-y. Yep, my dialogue, after 1 week of not being in use, has gone to the sharks.

Goodbye.

So long.

Adios.

Getting up onto the podium brought “First Class Nerves” all over again.

“Oh holy SHIT mother of GOD MARY MAGDALENE … I am supposed to tell 13 people what they’re supposed to do. Oh hooollyyy craaaaaap” before I dusted off my metallic balls. Ah, back in business. Sure I sounded shaky, and sure I totally forgot what bodies are supposed to look like / do while in a posture [I blame the nerves] but I am relieved to say I got my groove back after teaching the first set of breathing.

Till I got to padahastasana and forgot my dialogue.

“Continously… keep pulling.. just pull harder, push your knees back and lock your knees!”.

God I wanted to jump off the podium and break my neck, making it my final fall off that damn thing.

Off to read my dialogue once again!

M*

The Wonderful Wonders of Web 2.0

Warning : Potentially boring geeky post about Web 2.0 and Social Media. If that’s not your cuppa tea, please visit http://kkaroundtheworld.wordpress.com/#mce_temp_url# for some entertaining stuff! My former neighbour who has since moved to Texas [and turned out to be quite a dashing young man I must say πŸ˜‰ ] has quit his job and is now embarking on a whirldwind worldwide backpacking adventure! EXCITING STUFF! I only regret I couldn’t make it down to Texas to visit him while I was in USA though 😦

I love the interwebz – it has allowed me, via my blog [and Facebook, etc] to network with other like-minded Bikram yogis through forums, Twitter and we exchange useful information [though sometimes I must admit I tweet totally useless stuff] and connect with each other πŸ™‚ In fact, our community is so … unique and intriguing, I was supposed to write a White Paper on it last year but I got… sidetracked. OK FINE, I got lazy and I had to prepare for Teacher Training. And I got obsessed with holding Standing Head to Knee for 1 full minute, tee hee [which I still haven’t mastered, but oh well].

Most companies have now started jumping onto the Web 2.0 bandwagon. Heck, you even see small mom’n’pop shops with their own little “Like us on Facebook!” signs up [I should really take a picture of that next time …]. But what some companies think is Web 2.0 = total fail. For example, you can’t just set up a facebook page, “LIKE” it and expect 10 bazillion fans / members to tune in when you don’t even bother interacting with your core audience [true story x 1million for this jaded person]. What IS Web 2.0 anyway? For me it goes WAY BEYOND setting up a twitter account and announcing updates [*cough Machines], @MAS had it down to a pat but I’m a tad sad to see their brand personality vanish [*cough]. @yoga_rajashree had great Twitter presence, but I guess she got busy 😦 Mary Jarvis [hello Mary! ❀ ] on Twitter was awesome, but she hasn’t been on Twitter for nearly a year 😦 Β In other words, corporations need to go UP, ABOVE and BEYOND when doing Web 2.0. You can’t just do it and HOPE for the best! There is a FORMULA to it, THERE HAS TO BE INTERACTION [that’s why it’s called SOCIAL media, d’oh] – no more hiding behind screens, trolling forums, baiting people on forums [*COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGH!!!!]. For Web 2.0 to work, there has to be TRANSPARENCY! So your flight got delayed by Air Asia? Obviously first thing I’m going to do is tweet @AirAsia and then slam @TonyFernandes. I’m sorry, but that is the truth, please don’t tell me you wouldn’t do it otherwise. And if your company truly sucks donkey balls @maxiscomms ? Don’t get on twitter if you can’t handle the heat! Twitter is not MEANT for damage control [you could try @maxiscomms and TMNET, I would love to see that].

One of the BEST ways Social Media [in particular, Twitter] has been utilised is by HBO for their star show True Blood. You have ALL the characters of the series @Sookie_BT , @Eric_ofArea5 @WilliamTCompton to even Lorena, Alcide, Tara AND Lafayette in on twitter INTERACTING with EACH OTHER and their fans! Basically the characters interact with each other based on what that week’s episode was. How EXCITING for rabid fans such as I, who cannot wait for the next episode of True Blood to come out [till someone burst my bubble and said “Ya know, it could be some fat overweight dude managing all 20 accounts” 😦 ]. Even Jessica the baby Vamp has her own BLOG and she VLOGS! [OK, it could be that same 50 year old dude who’s behind it, bleh].

WHEEE!

Happy Social Media Day everyone!

*No, I’m not sick. I know the story, I just *cough

*My GOD it’s like I got hit by the Writing Fairy in the hinny! [haha, it even rhymes!]

*Fine, with the number of *coughs in my post, I really ought to have died of TB by now

M*

Blessed

Just when I start feeling sorry for myself and angry with the whole situation I’m in [I know, there’s nothing I can do about hematomas, falling and being sick], I am just amazed, humbled and truly blessed to have wonderful friends :

Jolinda – for mailing me [sealed with a KISS] a PERSONALISED copy of her EVERYTHING VEGAN COOKBOOK !!!

Kelvin Tan – for Dr.Joint Pain for my apparent ligament tear / bruise πŸ™‚ And for postponing their foodie travels to Ipoh and coming all the way to Pavilion to pass it to me. LOVED IT!

Danna-san – for the AWESOMENESS Ultimate Ear earbuds. I was whining and complaining to him [I should probably stop annoying the poor guy at work] about how I lost my headphones and I can’t watch movies on Fluffyana at night cause I didn’t want to wake my mum up and cause I can’t listen to my iPod now. Next thing I know he says “Oh I secured [like some military exercise “We have secured the location, SIR YESSIR] an extra pair of UE earbuds for you…”. Then I got sick, couldn’t walk, and he DRIVES from his place to mine to deliver the earbuds to me.

John – Tweeted how Fluffyana came without iLife [ALL NEW MACBOOK PROS ON MAC OS X SNOW LEOPARD SHOULD COME INSTALLED WITH ILIFE] and how I was on hold for ages for A Form of Life to pick up at Machines the phone so I could complain. He then passes me [or rather, Kel] a copy of iLife, iWorks, Aperture 3 AND a Mighty Mouse! WHEE!

Ai Lin & Poh Lin – my lovely cousins who got me a HUGE TUB of exfoliating salts because they recalled I was troubled by ingrowns after epilating my legs.

Trust and the Universe shall deliver. πŸ™‚

You wanna know the strangest things? Everyone I met who was so kind to me, I met on the Internet [except my cousins, for obvious reasons!]. I know they say there are crazies on the Internet, but so far my crazies have been the ones I’ve met in real life. *shudder.

So, any crazies here yet? πŸ™‚

M*