It’s been 2 years since I move to Perth. I still find it quite challenging to settle in. I am not sure if I am getting older and less adaptive. Or else, it is because this move is not for study, or work, or travel as I used to. It is solely a family reunion. That means it is full of possibilities, and lack of directions. In 2016, it was crazy. I was in the process of getting driving license, finding a place to live, seeking employment or study opportunities. In 2017, it is still crazy, but I re-establish VAI YOGA, meet lots of interesting people at both work and community events, and learn lots of new things. I am glad I get a bit more understanding of Perth too. It is time to reflect on my 2017:
1. Understanding Perth
I find out everyone loves Bunnings. I feel really isolated in Perth before I know Bunnings. Everyone likes DIY and gardening in his/her houses. They are so excited about their projects, fixing toilets, building steps, etc. I used to live in a tiny apartment in Hong Kong. We don't have energy left to DIY after working long hours. We also don’t live with front yards as well as backyards. Many of us see mangos but never see a mango tree in our life.
Gumtree is also a very interesting platform that you feel more connected with Perthians. When you buy or sell, someone's lifestyle is somehow exposed to you, which may be completely different from you. My husband bought a motorbike from a guy who lives in Rockingham. WOW,…His house is in the middle of nowhere, 13 acres bush land, with a few dogs, a few horses, a few motorbikes, a few cars, etc. The seller is an interesting person. Some others mark up a price of a second hand item higher than a market price of a brand new item. Some others put an ad up and it is free to good home. How funny! We never go to a stranger’s home in Hong Kong.
I used to be a public transport person and enjoy a convenient city life. In Hong Kong, we are able to access to almost all necessities in 20 minutes travel time. "I don't yet arrive" is now always in my mind when I need to go somewhere. Having said that, Perth is such a gigantic and multicultural city. Everyone has more choices if you are willing to travel and look for new experiences. I find more Asian cuisines here than in Hong Kong. I discover many beloved Asian dishes that I’ve never tried before, including Burmese noodle soup Mohinga (hot and sour fish based broth with intense aromatic ingredients) in Girrawheen, Cambodian Amok (diced emperor fish steamed in coconut cream, egg, lemongrass and lime leaves) in Mount Hawthorn. So yum!
Choices of lifestyle in Perth are beyond my imaginations. I’ve met people living in 10- acre bush land with horses and cows. Some others have caravans parked in their front yards and ready to go camping anytime, or live near the beach and enjoy all sorts of water activities. In Hong Kong, we all live in apartments, just a matter of bigger or smaller.
2. Improving English
I am embarrassed to tell you I learned English since I was in kindergarten. However, we never speak English in our daily life in Hong Kong. We are able to write and read, but not speak and listen. Since we don’t have an English-speaking environment, our English is from textbook. Now I know some words like ‘muffin top’, ‘sillybilly’, and so on. It’s funny. I did a few accent reduction trainings. Apparently it is hard to change our accent after 12 years old, but we are able to train our mouth muscles to pronounce some sounds correctly. For example, Cantonese, my first language, doesn’t have any sound you need to put your tongue between upper and lower teeth (the "th" sound). So I practice that. Lucky enough, Perth is very multicultural and they get used to communicating with others in different accent.
3. Meeting lots of people
This is the best part of my life in Perth. I feel alive when I interact with different people who share their life experiences with me. I am grateful I meet lots of interesting and nice people through my work as a yoga teacher. I do chair yoga for seniors in Bassendean 55 plus. One of my students, a 80 year-old man, takes the responsibilities of setting up the room with chairs. He told me in the old days, there are clear roles and responsibilities between women and men. Women do cooking and washing while men do heavy work. I like this gentleman very much. I met a lady who came to Perth by boat 30 years ago due to communism in Vietnam. She told me in those days, they knew they were very lucky to arrive in Australia, as many people could not make it and die in the ocean. After they arrived, they had a very clear goal to settle in Australia, learn English, and make a living. They didn’t waste a second to look back.
4. Learning new marketing skills
I used to work in credit card marketing in banking industry in Hong Kong. I am surprised my corporate marketing skills cannot apply to small business and I have to learn everything again. There are many free or low cost business workshops or business consultations from Business Stations / Business Foundations. I can learn social media marketing, how to write blogs, how to plan a marketing calendar. It is overwhelming when I wear so many hats at once as a small business owner, planning and teaching yoga classes, telling people my existence, managing finance and administration, etc. These workshops are a great platform to learn new skills. It is also important you meet other small business owners and I know I am not alone.
In 2018, sharing the joy of yoga with everyone continues to be my big goal. I am also eager to understand more about the culture of this gigantic city, and what Perthians value, and what they like to spend their leisure time. Could you tell me something about Perth and the people?
Wish you a Happy New Year!
A few years back, I searched kids and family yoga teacher training in the internet all over the world, from Asia to the Pacific, from the Pacific to the States. I am so grateful I found Rainbow yoga and completed the course with Gopala Yaffa, founder of Rainbow Yoga. Since then, I started teaching kids yoga at Multiple Intelligence School in Fiji, and then many private sessions on kids yoga / kids and family yoga in Perth. I remember what Gopala has told me that in kids yoga classes, there are no rules in the classroom other than respect. It is so true. Children require a lot of freedom to explore what they are interested. Every time I am very impressed with their creativity and what they can do intuitively in class. Since there is only one rule, it is easy for them to follow yet learn through play.
Many of us notice the benefits of yoga for kids. Physically, they build body strength and flexibility. If we don’t use it, we lose it. It is important to help children maintain strength and flexibility as a way of life. Mentally, they find inner peace through relaxation and don’t let emotions take over their mind. There are so many different scenarios in this interactive learning environment. I find it more challenging to develop children social skills than their body strength and inner peace.
I used to meet a 10-year old girl in kids yoga course on a weekly basis. She likes hugging a 5-year old classmate when she is free from doing yoga poses in class. Even the little girl looks a bit uncomfortable, she is still hugging her tightly. She is affectionate and her intention is sharing her love. I don’t stop her from hugging the little girl but ask her to look at the little girl’s facial expression. "What does that facial expression mean?" She now understands that she needs to care about the receiver’s feelings when she sends her love in her way. She used to be a bit rough to herself, hurting her toes or nails when doing yoga. She is full of energy and doesn’t know how to manage it yet. She doesn’t know how to be gentle to herself and probably why she doesn’t know how to be gentle to others.
There are many partner poses, group poses that require teamwork, physical touch and body co-ordinations. They learn how to communicate with their partners, find the balance of power between 2 people or in a group, co-ordinate with their legs and arms. These are all required elements setting up for doing yoga poses successfully. For example, when we do boat pose with a partner, pushing legs against each other too hard makes your partner fall over, pushing legs against each other too soft can’t make the pose.
Physical touch is one of the main human connections that allow our hearts to be healed. It’s important to learn the way to self-protect and protect others, self-respect and respect others. Yoga helps children develop into mindful and responsible adults. While you change partners in class, it’s a good way to learn how to do the same poses with different people in different body types, including strength, weight and height, etc.
Kids yoga becomes more dynamic when parents are engaged in yoga classes. Kids enjoy learning new poses with their parents in an equal environment. It is a two-way communications. Parents learn perhaps as much as kids learn from them. We have learned a lot in life, and then we forget something. It’s a great opportunity for us to learn in their way, intuitive, creative, non-judgmental, acceptance and so on.
Or we simply spend quality time together!
VAI YOGA and Bassendean Hotel are delighted to organize a fun-filled, healthy activity that the whole family can enjoy. Yoga session runs from 11:15am to 12pm, followed by kid’s lunch and more play time till 2:30pm. For more details, visit VAI YOGA’s kids and family yoga event on 19 Jan 2018.
Have you tried kids and family yoga before? How was it? Feel free to leave me comments or questions.
Rachel is the founder of VAI YOGA and an occupational therapist. Her yoga teaching focuses on blending two powerful healings, yoga and occupational therapy solutions, to help people face practical aspects of life.