On The Mat With: Copper Crow

The managing teacher at Pure Yoga in Singapore on the key to a healthy practice, and how you can avoid injury.

What is yoga to you?

Yoga is peace. It is a path to becoming a better human being – not better than others, but better than I know myself to be.

How can one achieve a healthy practice?

A great teacher once said, “Practice starts in the kitchen”, so eat healthy nutritious foods and lots of vegetables and drink plenty of water. As for physical practice, it’s best to do a little, but often. Work with classes that inspire you and bring joy to the heart, and do it at several times throughout the week.

How often should yoga be practised?

I encourage one hour’s practice every day. Then give your body time to absorb the benefits of that practice. Otherwise, you could lose the deeper benefits of the practice or set yourself up for injury. If you want to do multiple classes in a day, choose practices that balance one another. For example, if you do an active practice (vinyasa), follow with a passive practice (yin).

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Any advice for those who have hit a plateau?

Know that you are not alone, and that there is always more to learn and practise. Depending on your ability and/or motivation, you may want to shift to a different style or to the next level of a favourite practice. A plateau is bound to happen at some point of a practice but be content with what is and stay on the path and press on.

What’s the secret to advancing in the practice?

Breathe: do it the best you can, ideally slowly through the nose to stay calm and peaceful;
Focus: concentrate on the body/alignments of each pose so you do it the right way, enjoy all the benefits, and avoid injury; and
Feel: follow the instructions for each pose and stop when you feel the challenge/resistance.

Which yoga cliché gets to you?

It makes me sad when others cling to their opinions of what’s a right or wrong practice/style. Yoga is so much more than the poses; it’s a lifestyle. All forms of yoga are good, and each offers something for everyone at every stage of life.

I was fortunate to come to the practice when I was young. When I was 13 years old, I was inspired by the physical acrobatic elements of hatha yoga. When I began teaching, I was inspired by the philosophy of jnana yoga during my quest for self-realisation. When I married, I leaned towards living yoga, trying to develop patience in my heart to become a good husband, and to keep up with my two-year-old daughter.

What inspires you?

Being happy, healthy, and full of life. I want to continue to practise to let go of anger and selfishness, and embrace peace and gratitude.

With 30 years of practice throughout various types of yoga, including bikram, hatha/vinyasa, universal and akhanda, Copper Crow is considered a demi-celebrity in the field. His teacher training programme at Pure Yoga produces two batches of budding teachers every year. For more information, visit sg.pure-yoga.com/en/singapore/pureevents/teacher_training.php