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  • Take Time to Take Root

    What if I just stayed in Malaysia? Time and again, my mind wanders to this place. It’s particularly present at the moment, being surrounded by stories of migration over #ESEAHM2023. A story in particular shared the similarities of moving to a new place (to whatever extent) to the process of propagation. The sense of displacement can be jarring and it takes time to take root. And I don’t think 17 year old me realised that. I just learnt to make do, to push through. I don’t regret leaving at all, in fact I do appreciate the life I’ve carved out over 6500 miles away from where home was. Where family still is. I just don’t quite think I fully understood just what I would be losing as I gain in other ways. The number of years I’ve lived in the UK is slowly equaling the number of years I’ve lived in Malaysia. While certain parts of me have become increasingly distant, I’ve also discovered new sides to David including a deepened connection to my birth name 家伟. This I don’t think would have happened if not for distance from my birth country. Appreciation is truly bittersweet in that sense. I’ve learnt that home can exist in many places. And if anything, I’m grateful that my world has been made bigger from my experience of migration. So much to process and reflect upon, and I’m grateful that September has now become a time for me to sit with this complexity, brewing in the nurturing company of others who’ve been on similar journeys. Find out more about East & South East Asian Heritage Month in the UK.

  • Energy as Currency

    Where does curiosity lie in practice? In most movement practices, we learn by repeatedly embodying certain established forms. Yogis practice traditional postures (asana), ballet dancers work with arm and feet positions from the first to fifth, martial arts including qigong and wushu have stances mostly inspired by animals and nature. We familiarise ourselves with these forms in hopes of deeper understanding from the outside in. They are, after all, tangible points of entry for most learners, quite necessary points in the same way we needed to understand letters and basic grammar when learning a language. These forms are clear physical markers we can keep aspiring to achieve, however should not be mistaken as the only metric of ‘success or progress’ in practice. Doing so will only lead to frustration as our capacity to enter these forms are largely bound by our physical build and range of motion. We can develop strength and mobility, even modify our frame to an extent by bulking up or slimming down, but we ultimately have what we have due to the finality of our musculoskeletal structure. This is why many of us experience phases of stagnancy, being in a ‘rut’ or a falling out of love for practice. We either feel like we have ‘achieved' the aspired form, or got to a point where we felt we could not progress any further within the form. Yet some individuals seem to be endlessly curious in their practices, whatever their discipline is. They have found a way to keep their practices interesting. How so? Start by recognising that postures need not be final destinations. They can be tangible starting points for us to question the physical and expressive capabilities of our body from a place of agency and autonomy. When we think of forms as elements that constitute a roadmap for practice, we are also encouraging a less hierarchical practice by drawing focus away from a certain peak posture. We establish a more circular and cyclical relationship with practice, where emphasis is less on the arriving of postures, but an ongoing dance incorporating postures individual to our own curiosities. Practice in this way utilises a currency we can all access. Energy. The quality of motion is where the experience of practice can feel infinite beyond a checklist of forms to get through. If anything, it’s also more accessible precisely because its very nature of subjectivity transcends the degree of ableism in our bodies yet taps into a much deeper, instinctual incentive to move. Beautiful moment moving with everyone at Barcelona Yoga Conference. Think of movement as painting, through space as the canvas. There’s a clear palette of primary colours we can start with, between which we can mix to create a new shade. Even if we stick to just one shade, say the colour red, we can also mix it with water to access a whole spectrum of red. This nuanced play of colours allow a more realistic rendering of an image on a flat canvas, all the more relevant in the context of movement where we can play with varying shades of efforts as three-dimensional beings in three dimensional space. If you’re more logical in thought, forget painting as metaphor and consider exploring movement through effort percentages. For example, how does it feel to backbend at 20% effort as compared to 50%? They are both valid interpretations within our full scale of expression, away from the binary construct of on/off, active/passive, dis/engaged. Think less 0/100. Think more 0-100. The percentages in between present great opportunities for practice, infinite in a sense where you can explore in 10s, 1s or even decimals, developing a richness of response in practice. It is important to clarify that all of this is not just to indulge and affirm those who like a good wiggle in class. This absolutely applies to the level of agency we can find even within form, what it means to find dynamic stillness and investigate the tiniest degree of becoming upon every breath. Ultimately, this is an invitation to practise listening to our changing states and become more sensitive and intentional in choosing our level of effort appropriate for our practice on a daily basis than to default to 100% all the time. This is important because we quite literally become what we choose to do daily. How we choose to move daily. The process of becoming is inevitable with the passage of time. Gravity will also always act upon us. However, we can choose to play with this process. We can choose to be dynamically becoming. To have greater awareness in the way we choose to move daily is to have more choice or influence over the person we become. In physical practice, start with these questions… How can you feel more at home within these forms? Where can I move to from this form to find pleasure? What do I want to feel within this form? We will explore this in greater detail during my upcoming workshop in London… The Dynamics of Becoming 29th July 2.30-5pm UKT In person and online Book Here We will look at the way in which we inhabit and pass through form. How we work with tension, gravity and speed, alongside other intangible aspects of practice that could be a little more challenging to articulate. The workshop is particularly relevant to movers and movement teachers (of any disciplines) looking to explore and facilitate the nuances of energy, of moving between. How we can articulate the ‘vinyasa’ aspect of asana practice more tangibly without dogma as well as arbitrariness. Leading up to the workshop, you’re also welcome to participate in my weekly classes at MISSION where I offer my signature class Beyond Asana, developed very much based on this perspective. If you’d like to experience this from a far, check out my Beyond Asana classes on demand. Utilise SUMMER15 for discounted access valid til the end of this weekend (16 July).

  • A virtual forest It's been a labour of love this one. Years in the making, upon deep reflection of how to most truthfully translate my energy, ethos and the spirit of my work online. After all, I see this website as an extension of my physical self. The entire process was for sure a gratifying mindful experience as well as a playful exercise in how I identify myself, how I view my work. How I can even to choose to do so. Here are some of the considerations I've made in creating this virtual home : It's about the Journey from the very beginning I wanted this space to be an experience of calm and mindfulness in itself before anything else. This is important to me because if anyone were to make a decision to engage with my work or invest in my offerings, I would hope for them to do so from a place of clear mind. How Accessibility is really facilitating Connection I personally connect better audiovisually, which is why I shared a video of myself speaking about this website for others to get a clearer sense of who I am as a person beyond words. Other supporting videos and images across the website serve the same purpose, offering more information on the unspoken, intangible aspects of me. Recognising Power in my words This website definitely contains a lot more writing than the usual website you might expect. It is something I was advised against, but persevered in the hope that my words can leave a trail of depth in thought. I was also very conscious about my language, my choice of words. Making sure I refrain from words that reinforce capitalism and scarcity, instead using words that encourage the idea of circularity and longevity. It's in the building of Trust I created this website as if a virtual forest you can wander in and upon every visit, gaining a deeper insight of who I am and what I do. It may be longer-winded and less direct towards selling my offerings, however I'm invested in cultivating long-term trust with those who come by, and the offerings are a welcome bonus. It's how Boundaries can be set As much as this website is created to serve those who come across my work, it is also an anchor for myself to remember who I am and a point for me to repeatedly return to as I continue to grow. Doing so has allowed for greater clarity for both parties, ensuring that those who engage do so from the most intentional place. Including a practice of Gratitude The one thing I knew I’ve wanted to include from the outset is space to honour the people who’ve been significant catalysts along my journey. Also made sure to share my story, my journey at length for others to understand how I got to where I am now. To celebrate the launch of my new website... I'd love to offer 40% off any on demand videos over the bank holiday weekend. Simply enter FIRSTVISIT upon checkout. Valid until 29 May. Check out my on demand videos here. Drop by this virtual forest and let me know how it works for you across different devices. Feedback very welcome. Gratitude to Outpost Studio for bringing this vision to life, Des Iles Photography for providing most of the beautiful imagery and my wonderful brother who designed my logo.

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