As a cheeky scrawny kid in Sydney, born into a Chinese Vietnamese (and divorced Singaporean) refugee family, the “othering” I felt made me desperate to be different from my family, yet too shy and intimidated to jump into the skin of anything else.
Being the product of a working class immigrant parents in the Australian 90s meant a few things:
Do what you can to fit in. Don't attract attention.
Suck it up. "You think this is hard? Try fleeing a war-torn country by boat, giving up your life savings in the dead of the night!"
Work hard - specifically in math and science. A white collar economy-proof job is a must. No one has time for creativity and the arts.
Suppress your feelings. Don't talk about it. Don't acknowledge it. Be a man.
Ignore the blatant racism as conservative media and politicians push their "Asian Invasion" rhetoric.
A lesson from dad
My dad always told me children only had to worry about two things: health and happiness. We'd have the rest of our lives to stress about everything else.
The advice sounded simple enough. After years of running away from all things my family symbolized, I ironically find myself doing the yogic and self work to peel off those iron-clad layers I cloaked on, and return to those basic principles: health and happiness.
Some of those layers were false promises. I thought after that degree, after that job, after that pay-rise — then happiness would come. Being so laser-focused on one end goal stopped me from tending to whispers in my head longing to be heard. Transfixing myself on the final destination prohibited me from enjoying each live moment — also known as, being happy.
I've had to remove myself from the seemingly mandated understanding of what work and life mean. I've had the pleasure of working in communications for a national breast cancer charity, managing the publicity for chic venue openings in Singapore and producing segments for a breakfast TV news program in Australia. There's since been a shift.
Ironically, in the Godzilla of all rat races, I find myself living my best life in New York City.
Yoga has been my entry point in working with young people. I’ve taught yoga classes in gyms, classrooms, hallways and cafeterias. I’ve used mindfulness as a technique for behavior management, counseling and family-school community building. Now my goal is to help young people see the diversity of pathways they can choose from and see themselves in those envision futures.
Yoga is just the start
I don't care how bent your knee is in warrior 1, how straight your headstand is or if your hips touch the floor in child's pose. What I'm interested in is how young people can use the tools of yoga (not just asana - the yoga of poses) to cultivate grit, motivation and perseverance. Beyond the mat, I want young people to see how this personal growth and development can have a tangible impact on their lives — especially as it relates to their dreams and careers, through my Multitasking Dreams initiative.
Young people today have their own layers of undoing, not too dissimilar to mine. While our foundations are different, our scars vary in size and arsenal differ in depth, Oprah says, we all just want to be heard.
Being still. Connecting with others. Tuning into yourself. Being aware of your limits. We start to hear ourselves. We find our voice so others can hear us.
I'm a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher through my 200-HR Teacher Training certification with Yoga Vida and Yoga Alliance Children's Yoga Teacher through my Children's Yoga certification with Little Flower Yoga.