||Every Saturday morning, there’s a flurry of activity at the BL’s auditorium. Several pairs of slippers and shoes lie in a neat row on top of the stairs leading to the auditorium. They belong to some 40 learners men and women – who come here for their yoga lessons. We’re fortunate indeed to have the voluntary services of Ms Quinine Tao, who teaches yoga at both elementary and intermediate stages. Quinine’s a soft-spoken and gently lady. Although she’s well-known in yoga circles, she’s extremely modest about her impressive credentials.
She started learning yoga in 1975 and she’s been teaching yoga at community centres since 1976. Quinine’s also the author of “Yoga Teaching and Learning for Everyone”
and has her own yoga centre. She began teaching yoga at BL in 2001. A practising Buddhist, Quinine accepts no fees and every cent paid by participants goes to BL.
Despite her hectic schedule, Quinine agreed to answer some questions:
What made you want to become a yoga teacher?
Yoga changed my life. I would like to impart the knowledge of its benefits to those who are interested. I used to fall sick very often and hated myself for this. After 6 months of practicing yoga, my health improved. I also ceased to be a shy person and I gained more courage and confidence. I wish to thank Mr Ang Thong Hoh of People’s Association’s Sports Section who encouraged me to teach after watching my yoga demonstration at Canberra community centre during the National Day celebration in 1976.
What type of yoga are you teaching? Is it Hatha yoga?
Yes, its Hatha yoga, a classical form of yoga
Can you tell me more about Hatha yoga?
Yoga is the union of body and mind. Hatha Yoga consists of various types of postures (asanas).
A yoga learner must observe the five principles: proper exercise, proper breathing, proper relaxation, proper diet and positive thinking and meditation.
Who is it beneficial for? What are the benefits of Hatha yoga?
It’s beneficial for all age groups. One is never too old to learn yoga. There are many benefits gained by learning yoga.
- Improves awareness and concentration
- Helps us to relax and calm one’s mind
- Improves our breathing
- Helps in toning, strengthening, giving suppleness and flexibility to our overall body muscles and joints
- Strengthens the spine and nervous system
- Stimulates the internal organs
- Improves blood circulation
- Improves our posture
How many stages of yoga are there?
There are 3 stages: Elementary (24 sessions), intermediate (24 sessions) and advance stage (ongoing)
How long does it take for a person to master yoga?
There is no fixed period with respect to mastering yoga. It depends purely on the individual. A person’s improvement depends on individual progress and commitment to exercise. The ultimate aim is not the flexibility of advance postures. It’s bringing yourself to a stage of mindfulness and later to self realization. A few points to observe for those who want to progress in their yoga:
- Minding our own business. In other words, don’t look around while doing yoga and don’t compare ourselves with others.
- Awareness and concentration at all times.
- Mindfulness of breathing during exercise.
- Using correct muscles to do the yoga asanas while other parts of the body relax.
- Movement with rhythm and grace.