Featured Teacher: Felicia
It's little wonder that Felicia thrives on warm climates as she hails from the balmy Singapore state. Her foundation in ballet was her first exposure to yoga - though she didn't realise it at the time! Felicia seems to be naturally gifted in creative fields, where she dabble before making yoga a significant part of her life.
Where are you originally from?
The balmy tropical island state of Singapore.
How long have you been teaching?
Who was your very first yoga teacher and what was he/she like?
I would consider my ballet teacher, Sylvia McCully, to be my first yoga teacher. We did lots of yoga poses in ballet class especially in the Ashtanga Yoga System. At that time, I had no idea they were yoga poses - I was only 12 years old! I thought they were just stretching exercises. But it was many years later that we were told in class we were doing the closing sequence of Ashtanga Yoga. I remember it well because we were seated in Padamasana pose. Sylvia McCully was truly an inspiring teacher, 100% devoted to her craft, highly disciplined but she had a soft side towards her students.
How long have you been practising?
If you consider my formal dance training, that adds up to over 10 years.
Originally, what attracted you to yoga?
How calm and untouchable I feel when I finish a yoga class. In essence, just how incredibly happy and great I'm able to feel after yoga. And I thought to myself that if yoga can make me feel this way, imagine what a great transformation this could bring if I just continue to practise and practise.
What motivates you to practise today?
The freedom from physical and mental suffering, tightness and tension.
How would you describe your personal practice?
My personal practice…I love the energy of a group practice, there is something very tribal and such a great sense of community when I practise in a group. I fully enjoy going to the Pure Singapore teachers' classes. I practise every day from Monday to Saturday, usually about an hour or sometimes 2 hours. My yoga practice consists of Ashtanga, Anusara, and Iyengar yoga. If I can't make it to attend a group class, my self-practice will be my own hybrid of Ashtanga Yoga to open up energy channels, and dance-like movements to bring just a little creativity and self-expression so the breath can move and thus bring more circulation to the physical and subtle part of my body.
Before you became a yoga teacher, what did you do?
I wanted to try EVERYTHING!!! But unfortunately, I didn't get the opportunity to try too many things. Before yoga chose me, and I chose yoga, I was a graphic designer. I worked in advertising, messed around in web design, packaging design and photography. I was also a trained spa therapist working at the Oriental Spa. It was such an eye-opening experience to learn and study all these healing and therapeutic treatments and especially the massage techniques - they are so useful in yoga, especially when it comes to adjusting the body and poses.
What do you love about teaching?
The real connection to people and the opportunity to share that energy that brings such a positive change to life.
What do you find challenging about teaching?
Everything, honestly….perhaps I am getting older.
Describe your ideal class (as a teacher).
My ideal class would be - I give as much positive vibes and energy to my students and they give it back to me, and then bounce it to the rest of the other students and the universe so that it becomes not just two-way traffic, but a three-way thing where we are pulsed in and out and create so much pulsation of energy that it's just open and honest and full of life and creativity!
Describe a class that you would find challenging or difficult (as a teacher).
When I see beginner students getting into an intermediate pose that he or she should not attempt to try to get into, and I have repeatedly in a compassionate manner asked the beginner students to do the modified pose instead and they still insist on doing it. I personally find that a challenge as a teacher. But over the years I have learned to let that go and just accept that aspect of teaching, and I'm constantly learning and improving to be a decent yoga teacher.
What teacher has had the biggest impact on your practice?
Louisa Sear from Yoga Arts in Bryon Bay Australia and Celeste Lau from Pure Yoga Singapore. Both yoginis are so inspiring and firm and highly disciplined. Louisa is from the Iyengar lineage and Celeste from the Ashtanga lineage. I enjoy both Ashtanga and Iyengar styles immensely.
What is your most embarrassing moment in the studio (as a teacher or student)?
Oh dear, that I would NOT want to say, cos it's just so embarrassing! No way!
Where is the strangest place you've practised yoga?
In the cinema…..I had to go watch a film with a friend, and the film was just oh soooo sooo boring that I decided to do some basic legwork movements and mild, seated front bends and pranayama! I even tried to close it with shavasana with my eyes wide open, otherwise my friend would have been real offended! Hahahaha!
Aside from yoga, what other hobbies or interests do you have?
Travel to anywhere exotic and warm, it must be WARM. I adore music, art, design, great packaging design, scuba diving and above all a good facial and massage! Oh, not to forget a good cup of strong kopi from Killiney Kopitam!
Describe your most profound yoga experience.
With my meditation yoga teacher Emil Wendell in Bryon Bay during my teacher training. We had been seated in meditation many times before, but somewhere into the 6th week of training, we had to do a special type of pranayama called "Tibet Heart Cleansing Pranayama" It was really profound and it touched a place deep inside my heart, it really brought out and into light a lot of "gung" or unpleasant stuff that needed to come out. It totally ripped my heart out - I cried and cried for a long time during and after the pranayama session was over.
If you weren't a yoga teacher, what would you be?
A yoga student, physiotherapist, or make-up artist.