I have to include ‘by Panadol’ in the title because in just this month along, I found out that there are three mass yoga events happening every weekend – another one by Marigold next Sunday, and one more by the sea organized by Shape Magazine at the end of the month.
Having participated in many mass runs since I was a teenager, this is a new mass event for me and it did not disappoint.
On its third year, Yoga By The Sea was first held in 2009 and earned the Most Number of People Doing Yoga Together title in the Singapore Book of Records. Yesterday’s event attracted 2500 people, easily breaking the record of 2010 people.
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day for yoga. After the morning and late afternoon shower, the weather at East Coast in the evening was cloudy and breezy. As we were early, we found our spots just at the edge of the tents. Late comers would have to leave their chance to the weather by being outside the tent. But our spot had a stench – dog poo!
After claiming our spots, we left to visit the ‘shops’, all the yoga stuff you need can be found there, and I chose to believe, at a discounted price too. My yoga mat, which was a free gift from Readers’ Digest, was thin and slippery. I wanted another mat but couldn’t decide on the vast options offered there. Instead, my yoga teacher who was with me suggested I buy a yoga towel to lay on the mats provided by the studios. The towel was more expensive than the mats but was more versatile. Its silicon nubs on one side and stripes on the other side improve friction against sweaty palms. I also bought two knee pads. Many others were sorting through piles of yoga wear, imported ‘cheap’ from UK. The other tents had free Horlicks and massages.
The event started promptly at 5.15pm, against the setting sun streaming in through the rain trees. Yoga coaches from 21 centres, would be taking us through various poses one at a time. Mediacorp’s Belinda Lee was the special guest and she showed off her yoga moves. It was a rather long opening and I thought they took forever to start.
There would be two 1.5 hour sessions with a half hour break in between. To the sound of NUS orchestra ‘s Canon in D, we started off with a series of different breathing exercises. Understandably, many of the exercises were repeated between coaches. We did different variations of Sun Salutations, and Warrior poses. There was nothing too challenging. In the audience were a few first timers and beginners. Like in most yoga classes, men were a minority, although right in front of me, there was a man who was obviously a yoga expert – he was flexible and had great balance. Just before half-time, we ended with savasana.
During half-time, one of the coach gave a performance. The audience rushed to the stage, armed with phones and pads to record his amazing feats.
By the time the second session started, half the participants have gone home. We moved away from our smelly spot to the front, with a better view of the stage. This session was more challenging, with poses that went from beginner to intermediate to advance in three steps. My stiff body couldn’t handle the advance and I was left gawking at the coaches on the stage. (One went from bridge to wheel and back.) The session ended with a guided relaxation that almost put me to sleep, yes, even on the hard uneven ground.
The outdoor yoga was really enjoyable. I wished I had been outside instead of inside the tent, so that when the teacher said, ‘Lift your heart to the sky!’, it was not the tent I was looking at. Still, the sea breeze and live music made the yoga practise almost luxurious.
The coaches were mainly foreigners and their accents took some getting used to. Some were really fast and didn’t give us much time to change our poses. But they were really enthusiastic, reminding us to SMILE, and to feel your heart opening…One wanted us to send our blessings to all the living things on Earth. The coach I most enjoyed was Vanda from Vanda Yoga. Her instructions were clear and timing just right, and she literally oozes warmth in her teaching. Some others, especially in the second half, seems to be in their own world performing stunts, oblivious to the many participants who was not following.
For $5, the event was an experience novice yoga practitioner should not missed. I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next mass yoga soon. (Unfortunately, I missed the deadlines for the other two coming ones.)