Let’s get this out of the way up front: We loved Taiwan! If you don’t like upbeat positivity, you might not want to read on…unless, that is, you want to hear about some very cool developments in travel and in yoga.
The people, the food, the transport and sights of Taiwan were delightful, delicious, accessible and steeped in fascinating history. We love to travel, add yoga and we were in heaven!
This was our first time at the Easyoga annual conference, YogaLife, and it did not disappoint. The festival theme this year was Love and we seemed to fit in rather well. Our teaching approach, our Mr and Mrs Pose brand, our long relationship with Easyoga and the fact that Murray and I were married last year has meant a great deal of recent discussion on the personal and the universal aspects of Love.
We chose to build our workshop on a foundation of Rumi:
In your light I learn how to love.
In your beauty, how to make poems.
You dance inside my chest where no one see you,
But sometimes I do, and that
Sight becomes this art.
This poem introduced for our students and ourselves the idea of connection and surrender. Our yoga practice can help us glimpse this divine spark, true beauty and deep love that lies within us, that is us.
The workshop was an absolute treat with wonderfully earnest and committed students that I think we managed to make laugh once or twice :) This was our first workshop teaching through an interpreter and we can’t thank the marvellous Ruby Wang enough for her support.
Then we did something that seemed to surprise! We made time to attend other teachers’ classes at the conference. This was, perhaps, an overtly Australian egalitarian thing to do but we never miss an opportunity to share, learn and enjoy an amazing faculty. As teachers, we are always students first.
Murray and I both attended a workshop by Mira Shani on Mudita (Joy, Being Happy for Others) & Upeksha (Letting Go). It was a beautiful, philosophical introduction, enriched with a little Kirtan, then a strong asana practice with longer holds, followed by deep release in savasana accompanied by Jarret’s beautiful guitar. Their energy is a delight and Mira’s insight encouraging us to ‘round the lower back’ in each pose was a great verbal adjustment to take away. I also learned my first Mandarin anatomical term from Mira: pigu (butt)!
We got to see more of Mira and Jarret performing exquisite Kirtan at the main performance that night celebrating Easyoga and YogaLife. They were beacons of love and beautiful energy. At the same show, we were treated to a stunning practice led by teacher, and Easyoga Ambassador, Janet Lau.
‘Luminous’ is the first word that comes to mind when watching Janet’s yoga practice. In fact, I think this is how the local television station in Taiwan described her following their YogaLife interview. She has an energy & vibrancy that shines from within. Of course, she is beautiful & flexible. The transitions of her asana have dance-like fluidity but there is more substance than this. There are elements of Tai Chi, Qi Gong, energy-based techniques in her yoga practice that I recognize from my teachers. She is incorporating these techniques to great effect.
The next day I was lucky enough to take Janet’s Yin Yoga & Relaxation Class. Yin holds are typically three minutes or more in length but, when you’re flexible, it can be hard to feel something in the practice. Janet gave me really insightful adjustment in Pigeon Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana to help me deepen the pose but also release into it. She was also incredibly kind to teach in both English and Mandarin, no small feat. More profoundly, she gave an advanced shoulder and trapezius opener that was one of the first to work on this troublesome area for me.
It is often easier to ‘do’ than ‘not do’ in yoga, as in life, which is why relaxation can often be elusive without some training. This might sound counter-intuitive but in my practice this rings very true. I left the class feeling light, open and tranquil.
Janet also has a retreat coming up in Bali late September, Taking Care of the Body, Heart and Mind. For information, please find links below, but be quick, I think it is filling up fast!
While I was enjoying Janet’s teaching, Murray attended Ken Harakuma’s class. Despite not speaking Mandarin or Japanese, he managed to glean some fantastic techniques from Ken, particularly for headstand practice.
The rest of our time in Taiwan we took in Taipei, Kaohsiung and Taichung. We saw the Taipei 101, the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, the National Palace Museum, spent time in a hot spring in Beitou and caught the Gondolas over the mountains near Taipei Zoo. We took the high speed rail the length of the country and saw the Dragon and Tiger Pagodas in Kaohsiung and visited the stunning new Easyoga Concept store in Taichung.
We really enjoyed our time with Easyoga at the Huashan Creative Industry Park Flagship Store and stopped into Pure Yoga’s Pure Tower Building to take a peek at their gorgeous studios. We didn’t get to Space Yoga, Yaga Yoga in Taipei, or many others but based on this experience, we simply can’t wait to return.