Feature Stories

Feature Stories

"Stretching Away Troubles"

"I used to be a machine, devoid of emotions, only seeing the pile of work in front of me and constantly working," said Po, a yoga instructor.

Perhaps many working individuals in Hong Kong, consciously or unconsciously, see themselves as machines, constantly striving and outputting every second. As a result, they accumulate physical ailments over time. So, they go on trips to Japan to recharge, get massages and treatments up north, and then continue working. "The biggest problem is that we think physical exhaustion is inevitable, and being in pain all over is normal!"

Po worked as an operating room nurse for over 20 years, rushing around and standing all day. She had experienced a back injury that left her unable to move, suffered from frozen shoulder where she couldn't lift her arms, and during her pregnancy, her weak waist required her to use a cane for walking for six months. "I've tried everything, from Chinese bone-setting, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic, to physical therapy," she laughed.

She described her busy days as "never having a moment to spare." "Every time I rushed into the restroom, slamming the door shut, it felt like a race. Everyone used their strength to pull the toilet paper forcefully, and as soon as they were done, they flushed and left within ten seconds."

Finally, one time while skiing during a trip, she had a fall and fractured her shoulder bone, requiring nine months of rest. It was a wake-up call for her. She didn't want to suffer from body aches in her old age, so she decided to quit her job and bid farewell to the mechanical life. She embarked on a new career as a yoga instructor, taking good care of herself and getting to know her body, even at the age of forty.

After practicing yoga, she realized that there weren't many people who truly understood and cherished their bodies, including yoga instructors. "When Hong Kong people learn yoga, they often pursue challenging poses or postures, but yoga is a way of life. It's about inward reflection on your own body, which is more important than external movements."

However, during her yoga teacher training, the teachers constantly pushed them to do advanced poses and guaranteed success within six months. Po, who was determined to take good care of her body, didn't want to force herself and jokingly said, "If I can't do it, I'll just do child's pose." But she witnessed many young classmates forcing themselves to practice, believing that they could only be successful by meeting the teacher's standards, resulting in numerous injuries. "So what if you can do a split? Will it make grocery shopping cheaper? Having a pair of feet that can walk steadily is already a success. Why do we have to push ourselves so hard?"

Po said she had struggled herself to empathize with her own body, accept its limitations, and let go of the obsession with "success." It was not easy for her, especially at the age of forty, starting a new career and learning alongside younger peers. The pressure was evident. "I tell myself not to care about how others see me because what others see may not necessarily reflect who you truly are. Stretch away your troubles and cherish the time spent with yourself."

Currently, she is undergoing training with another yoga instructor, a course that lasts for two and a half years, focusing on the philosophy. During stretching, the instructor shares wisdom about life. They don't pursue poses; they want students to take their time to digest and be aware of the physical and mental changes brought about by each stretch. They learn to empathize with themselves and others' bodies, accept individual differences, explore, break through limitations, and enjoy the present moment. "I feel like my body has opened up, becoming more relaxed, and my past ailments no longer bother me."

This transformation process, from the inside out and then from the outside in, completely contradicts Hong Kong's commercial competitive logic but doesn't contradict human nature at all. Po is grateful that she has transformed from being a machine to becoming a person with feelings. That, to her, is already a "success."

"Dear Myself" Self-care Promotion Campaign: http://phab.hk/dearmyself