01 sep Melissa van der Ceelen
Melissa van der Ceelen In 2018, I took my ﬁrst yoga class at Yoga Kumar. I was a runner and a tennis player plagued with injuries. I’ve always been active and I enjoy competition. So, with a competitive mind-set, I began my yoga journey. In those early classes it felt like I was at war with my body. No matter what I told my body to do, it refused. I remember the frustration of not being able to touch my toes and seeing others who could. I was very attached to what I felt the experience of yoga should be for me and being difﬁcult was not it! I can say with 100% certainty I was not practicing yoga with a gentle smile on my face. Yet, I continued to join classes. Signing up for the Pranayama and Meditation course was the turning point for me. I learned breathing techniques and experienced many emotions during those classes. I was grateful for the dark studio when the tears came and they came of-ten. (Please don’t let this scare you if you haven’t taken the pranayama and medita-tion course, it’s an amazing experience) Pranayama became an important part of my yoga practice. It helped me relax, gave me a sense of calm and made me feel positive. Finally, I was able to let go of my competitiveness. I focused on honoring my body. I became stronger, my injuries healed and my ﬂexibility improved. I stopped looking at other people in class (sitting in the front row helps a lot) and kept my eyes closed so I could “experience what was happening in my body.” I discovered that by surrendering my expectations of the present I was free to experience it as it is. As my curiosity for yoga grew I wanted to dig deeper so I signed up for the on-line yoga teacher training course with the KaivalyaDharma Yoga Institute.
I had carved out a place in my life and dedicated it to yoga.
Today, two years later, the excitement and JOY I feel for yoga hasn’t dimin-ished. Many people think yoga is solemn and serious but I couldn’t disagree more. It’s fun! I enjoy every class, even or especially, the spicy ones that really challenge me. I love listening to Master Ankan’s philosophical stories and his wisdom. There is nothing more delightful than hearing him enthusiastically say in class, “You are doing!” In fact, I can now touch my toes but as you know, that’s not important. What’s important for me now is to be present in each moment and to live my yoga practice off the mat. It’s not easy but I try every day… with a gentle smile on my face. Thank you, Master Ankan, for your guidance and support. Also, to Suhyun & my fellow students who make Yoga Kumar such a happy place!