Stretch and breathe under the light

Stretch and breathe under the light

An ancient form of exercise, yoga focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing that boosts physical and mental wellbeing. Here Syaza Diyana shares her experience at Under the Light Yoga, as a novice in a practise that comes with a rich heritage.

Being an avid HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) enthusiast, I never stray far from what I love doing in order to get my weekly workouts. It’s fast paced, time-efficient and burns. However, as much as it’s fun to do, I often forget to be kinder to my body as it is constantly pushed to its limits.

This is why I decided to step out of my comfort zone to give yoga – a practise that promises peace of mind, relaxation, and a deep understanding of the connection between mind and body – a chance.

Founded by Noriyuki Kuramochi (Nori) in 2006, Under the Light Yoga Studio (UTL), located at Publika Shopping Gallery is a brand new yoga space that originated from the Under the Light Yoga School in Japan.

Inspired by reading of books related to yoga, namely by Pantajali – author of the celebrated yoga sutras and the proclaimed father of modern yoga – Nori was enthralled by the idea of being able to still our minds through yoga, especially since stress and anxiety were becoming major issues in Japanese society.

Nori’s vision was for people to come together to practise a holistic approach to yoga in a comfortable environment in order to reap its full benefits. This in turn led him to create a modern yoga movement in Japan. After 10 years of dedication, UTL is now one of the largest Yoga Alliance teacher training schools in Asia with over 2,000 yoga graduates.

Seeing that Malaysia is immensely rich in culture, diversity and is open towards different traditions, as well as being very receptive to health and wellness, UTL decided it was the perfect time to elevate yoga in Malaysia as the industry is maturing in our country.

UTL offers both traditional and modern yoga classes that are catered for beginners and intermediate students. They also have classes that are multi-level in which both beginners and advanced students are welcome to join. In such classes, the yoga teacher will observe the students and give them different variations of yoga poses based on their capabilities.

Having not tried yoga before, I made my way to the studio one fine rainy morning with an open mind, and the excitement of being able to try something new.

Among the types of yoga practised at UTL are Hatha Yoga , designed to align and calm your body, mind, and spirit in preparation for meditation; Vinyasa Yoga,  an energetic form of yoga where you fluidly move from one pose to the next while connecting your breath to the movements; Yin Yoga, designed to help you sit longer and more comfortably in meditation by stretching the connective tissue around the joints; and Power Yoga, designed to  build internal heat, increase stamina, strength, flexibility and reduce stress. Prenatal and Alignment Yoga are also available.

Notably, at UTL, the yoga instructors are certified yoga graduates under Yoga Alliance and are dedicated to guiding students through their yoga practise. Students are ensured of always receiving proper guidance when practising yoga and are taught to correct their posture and understand their body alignment during their practise.

With the sweet inviting smell of mild scented candles and soothing music playing in the background, people began filling the vacant spots in the class that morning. Once everyone was settled, Cay Mee, our yoga instructor shared a warm greeting and began by giving a proper explanation of what the class was going to entail. We would be working on our shoulders.

The hour-long class then commenced with Cay Mee walking the class through each yoga pose with simple demonstrations, paired with clear and easy instructions. Circling through the class after each demonstration, Cay Mee made sure the students in her class were doing the yoga poses correctly. I personally had some help from her as my body learnt to adapt to the new unfamiliar postures.

The yoga poses, especially the Downward Dog – arguably one of my favourite poses which provides the body with a total body stretch, fused with relaxing methods of breathing had put my mind at rest. Moreover, since it was the first time I had given my shoulders such emphasis, it was surprising to feel as if I was receiving a shoulder massage rather than gently stretching and working on them myself.

UTL has simple, clean spaces with no mirrors lining the walls of their rooms at the studio. One might find it odd, especially those who frequent the gym. However, the reason behind this is because the absence of mirrors allows students to pay attention to their inner self whilst focusing on the behaviour of their body, breath and mind during a yoga practise.

As a whole, it was a delightful and relaxing first-time yoga experience as I walked out of the studio with a straighter posture than before.

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