A job in China can lead to new experiences and opportunities that you might not even consider at home. Discover yoga in China while you’re teaching English as a second language and see how this ancient spiritual practice can change your life as it did for Eunice.
I first came across yoga when I was attending college in the US. My sister couldn’t stop raving about how her yoga classes helped her get into shape and decided to take me to one. In a suffocatingly hot room packed with people, we were asked to bend our bodies into all kinds of uncomfortable poses that I struggled to hold. After the class, I concluded that nobody in their right mind would want to practice yoga.
After graduating, I moved to Shanghai. My first full-time job was at a law firm, where hours would run regularly from 9 am to past midnight. The extended periods of sitting in front of a computer started to take a toll on my body, and I started feeling aches, pains and stiffness all over.
At first, I tried getting massages but found that the same aches and pains would return the next day. My body was also getting increasingly out of shape, so I decided to take advantage of my company’s gym stipends and join a yoga studio not far from my home. Even though I only managed to go to one yoga classes every one or two weeks, I could immediately feel its effects—the aches and pains that had bothered me disappeared. More importantly, yoga helped me reconnect with my body, something I had long neglected. Growing up, I always felt the need to keep achieving certain external goals—good grades, prestigious schools, etc.—to prove that I was worthy. I was in a constant state of anxiety and panic, and never felt that I could stop and take care of my body.
Yoga changed that. As I started practising regularly, I started to develop strength, flexibility and balance and became able to perform comfortably and sustain poses I did not previously think was possible. I became truly grateful for the support that my body has provided me.
More significantly, yoga helped me to be in the moment and be still. Focusing on the breath and learning to tolerate physical discomforts rather than immediately reacting to them, the mind finds a place of stillness within. As our bodies become strong and flexible, we also cultivate inner strength and the ability to see things from others’ perspectives. We become more empathetic and compassionate, and happier people as a result.
People who wish to check out the yoga scene in Shanghai can take advantage of dianping.com, which has a Tuan Guo (akin to Groupon) section that offers trial yoga classes at studios all over Shanghai at very reasonable rates. After finding a studio that you like, you may then decide to purchase a monthly, seasonal or annual pass. Annual passes can run from as low as RMB 3500 to over RMB 9000, depending on location and can be much cheaper outside of Shanghai, also depending on facilities and other factors. While a good teacher is crucial, it is perhaps more important to remember to stay connected with your body during practice to prevent injuries.
Want to learn more about life in China? Read our tips for eating Chinese food in China.
Post by Eunice Ku,
Eunice grew up in Hong Kong and the US and currently lives in Shangai and Taiwan. She is a part-time fashion design student and enjoys practising yoga as well as the violin and piano in her free time.