May 16, 2014

Yoga doesn’t Separate or Unite—We do. ~ ChauKei Ngai

ChauKei Ngai Article Image Yoga

Anyone who has done much yoga has heard that the meaning of the word yoga is union.

Like most beginning yogis, I first understood this to be the union of body and mind. My own life is built on separations that yoga has helped me to bridge. This understanding has been critical in the year since I achieved the International Yoga Sports Federation Championship.

As I have traveled around the world on the “Champion Tour,” my mission has been to use yoga to share these lessons to bridge separations and bring unity to all that I reach.

My first separation began when I was 14 and my family moved from Hong Kong to Canada. Since then I have moved between Canada, Hong Kong, the United States, Singapore, Taiwan and have traveled extensively in Europe.

While I have in some ways transcended the East/West cultural division, I always have been aware of the two worlds I bridge—the collective communal in the East and the individualism in the West. Within the yoga community, however, I began to realize that these categories were not as meaningful (the power of yoga to erase artificial boundaries and to unite).

I recognized separations within the yoga community itself. Yoga was brought from East to the West, and many different brands have developed. Yoga is not an idea or a name. I observed many black-and-white separations across different yoga schools and teachers.

When we live in a box that creates separation, there’s constantly a comparison to find a better box than the one we’re in currently. The territorial protection creates insecurity from the sense of lack and takes us to a scary place.

My practice began with Bikram Yoga. For many years it has been the best practice for me and for many others. It is simple, accessible, intense, emotional and challenging.

The postures are founded on compression and extension and opposite reactions. It also leads to a profound meditative state. In the last couple years I started to dedicate myself into various kinds of yoga.

Every yogi experiences their own sort of unity and divine connection through their own practice. This can be through chanting, meditating, fasting or selfless service.

Over time my trans-cultural experience began to take shape, especially in the past year of my travels. An image began forming in my mind of yoga acting as a means in which individuals were like so many soybeans going through a funnel.

When we practice yoga—age, family, religion, sexuality, type of yoga, society, class, status—and all the other boxes we inhabit begin to melt away. Like those soybeans going through the funnel, yoga unites us all, without judgment, to take us to the same transcendent space.

Practicing yoga in so many different places helped me to see how the world is interconnected, through news, media, technology and the arts. Let’s not forget how our connection, the high wave and the low wave, is constantly changing.

Our present limitation is a delusion. I practice yoga to expand our consciousness to infinity; many others practice yoga for health and beauty, or simply for focus. Yoga is a tool—it’s okay for people to have different ideas of what it is.

We don’t need to do the same thing, or be the same way—that’s how the Universe is supposed to be. The Universe consists of opposite forces, contraction and expansion, positive and negative, yin and yang, North Pole and South Pole, separation and unification.

We are all co-existing, the unity is within ourselves. Then we develop the capacity of kindness, acceptance and mutual understanding of others. Everyone is an extension of ourselves, and each yoga is an extension of others.

We all lead from one to another, and yoga provides the path.


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Editor: Travis May

Photo: Provided by author



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