We spent five minutes with the most gorgeous and inspirational teacher, Yvette. She shares with us some very interesting stories…
How did you first come across yoga? What inspires you?
In 2000 I was going through a difficult period in my life and was disorientated and out of balance. While taking some time out in Thailand, I chanced upon yoga that was offered in the resort that I was staying at and became hooked. During one of the sessions that was held by the sea, I felt a complete sense of calm and serenity that I thought was impossible to achieve at that time. I was so touched by the experience that when I returned to Singapore after the holiday, I found a yoga teacher and became a regular practitioner and student for four years before I qualified to become a yoga teacher. I have been teaching yoga since 2004 and meditation since 2012.
Even as a teacher, I continue to practice self-study and learn from other teachers and great leaders, including HE the 14th Dalai Lama, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and many others. What inspires me most is being in the presence of these great living teachers who are so wise, witty, authentic, humble and compassionate. In my daily life, helping others to blossom and overcome their own physical and mental limitations through yoga and meditation is also a great inspiration for me to continue doing what I do.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where will it be?
I would be right here where I am and where my family and my work is right now.
How do you handle stress and pressure?
Please allow me to share one of my favourite quotes with you from HE the 14th Dalai Lama. It reads, “If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is nothing to worry about. If it is not fixable, then there is no point in worrying. Therefore, there is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
Stress, worry and anxiety are self induced and self-created. We feel stressed because of the way we think and because of the thoughts that we have. Regular periods of stress can cause mental dis-ease, leading to physical disease and serious illnesses, such as high blood pressure, heart issues and even cancer. Unfortunately, most of us blame others for our stress and anxiety and this does not help.
Practicing yoga and meditation has taught and helped me immensely in managing stress and anxiety. Whenever I feel stressed, I remind myself to take responsibility for how I feel. Then I start to become aware of the thoughts that I am carrying that is causing me to feel disturbed and put a mental stop to it. Once I have done that, I focus on what I can do to resolve the situation. Therefore, instead of wasting energy and effort on worry, I re-focus my energy on how to overcome the situation. This requires strict, regular and consistent training and increased self-awareness through the practice of meditation. In the meditation workshops that I conduct regularly, I share useful methods and advice on how to manage stress and anxiety in our daily lives.
Who was or is your great mentor?
Throughout the years, I have learnt from many yogis and great spiritual masters, some I had the good fortune of meeting personally and being in their presence of, and others that have gone before me, through their books and recorded teachings.
They have all inspired and greatly influenced me in my practice and teachings in so many different ways, some more than others. I am ever so grateful for them, including Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Yogananda, OSHO, Krishnamurti, Swami Rama, Swami Veda Bharati, Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Dilgo Khysentse Rinpoche, HE. the 14th Dalai Lama, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Thicht Nhat Hanh, Ajahn Brahm, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and many others.
I am also very grateful for my husband, my first yoga teacher, my friends and students who believed in me right from the beginning and who have supported me throughout the years, when I was a younger and more junior teacher. Many of them still continue to practice with me regularly. Without these amazing people, I would not have become who I am today.
What goes onto your mind when you step onto the mat?
When I am on my mat, I consciously put aside thoughts about my external world (e.g. work, personal life, problems etc.) and focus on being in this present moment either by concentrating on my breath or on other aspects of my practice. Time for myself is so precious as I teach an average of 20 classes a week so when I am doing my self-practice, I really enjoy it and cherish it so much that I wouldn’t want thoughts about the external world to disturb it or take it away from me.
What is the most rewarding part of being a yoga teacher?
Helping others overcome their mental and physical limitations and seeing them grow and becoming more self-aware
If someone writes a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
haha, I don’t know why would anyone write a biography about me, but if there is someone crazy enough to do that, the title could possibly be “My Journey from Ignorance to Bliss”
Who should do a Yoga Retreat?
Anyone who loves to practice yoga and would like to take time off to unwind, be in nature and spend time doing some self-study and practice and be with like-minded people
If you had to eat one meal, every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I have been to India many times for holidays and yoga-related activities and one of my favourite meals there is a delicious warm bowl of oatmeal porridge served with honey. I think that would keep me happy for the rest of the day.
Three words to best describe you:
Sincere, Honest and Inspiring
What does a typical day look like for you?
Everyday is different as my schedule differs daily. However, I like to start my day with a warm glass of lemon and honey water taken with neem and turmeric powder. Thereafter I do my self-practice that includes yoga and meditation for about an hour or so. Then I head out to teach my yoga classes and try to grab a healthy meal or snack in between my classes. If I have some time, I try to catch up on my reading and meet up with friends.
What’s the one thing, you can’t live without?
I love and enjoy doing my self-practice so I will ensure that everyday I spend time practicing on my own.