Yoga is very popular here in Singapore. It is popular all around the world in fact. A lot of my friends do it and quite a few have attempted to get me to do it as well. They claim it is good for the body and the mind. My mates tell me that it is soothing for the soul.
It is not really my scene.
I get my exercise nowadays by riding my bicycle and by walking and swimming too. I don't play much sport here in Singapore because it is far too hot. I have the odd game of tennis. I play against fat Englishmen and usually first thing in the morning or late in the evening. I use cunning and guile when I play tennis and I make the fat Englishmen run a lot. I serve to their backhand with a bit of topspin and I wear them down.
I don't like to lose against the English.
My good mate Simon does Bikram yoga. This is sometimes referred to as Hot yoga and it is undertaken in a room of high temperature and humidity. Simon is a very strong and fit man. He has played football professionally and he still runs triathlons. He has told me that Bikram yoga is the hardest exercise that he has ever done so it must be strenuous.
If Simon says so.
My old friend Moo runs a Bikram yoga studio back in Melbourne in Australia. Moo's real name is Margaret and I don't really know why we all call her Moo but it is all I have ever known her as. I have known Moo for more than 30 years now.
How are you sweetheart? I hope you are well. I hope you are happy.
Moo used to be a ballerina and she danced for a living.
How good is that?
My brother Richard now sometimes goes to Moo's Bikram yoga studio. He sweats it out. Like my mate Simon, Richard is also a very fit and strong man. Richard also works out in the gym several days a week. He pumps iron. He is my younger brother and one of my best mates too and I love him very much. I often refer to him as little Dick which is ironic as he is hung like a horse.
Cho bro. I can't wait to see you in a couple of weeks. Pick me up from the airport will you? I will send through my flight details.
So when I ask my mates why they actually do this yoga thing they tell me that it is good for both their brains and their muscles and they tell me that it is calming as well. Fair enough. No worries. I do my meditation sitting on the old battered green armchair on my tiny verandah and I call it thinking. Sometimes I get a little breeze on my verandah. I also do a lot of my reading there and I often doze off. When I doze off I occasionally dream and I dream that I am astral traveling.
When I wake up I am disappointed that I am still here in Singapore. I live in a climate which is similar to the artificial heat and humidity that is created for Bikram yoga. Just the act of walking around beats me down and playing the odd game of tennis nearly kills me. How people like Simon and Moo exercise in such an environment is beyond my comprehension.
I overlook the neighboring condominium's tennis courts and swimming pool and from my verandah I occasionally watch the tennis games that go on beneath me. On some weekends I watch two local guys play very competitively. One of them is a bit of a cheat. He is a big cheat actually. I have a very clear view of the court and I observe him call balls out when they are actually in - and vice versa. He also foot faults when he serves.
He steps over the line.
Sometimes I yell "OUT" when he says to his opponent that his shots land in. I also call "FOOT FAULT' on his serves and it really pisses him off. He swears at me in Hokkien and he sometimes even tries to hit tennis balls up at me. I just laugh and give him the bird – which is the raising of the middle finger of my hand. It is an internationally recognised rude gesture. The smallest things seem to amuse me now days.
I think I may be losing my mind.
I have seen proper yoga being practiced in both India and Nepal. I have visited Ashrams just to watch the yoga sessions. The Yogis who run these places think that the Western adoption of yoga is wonderful as they have made an industry out of it and they have made a fortune too. People come from all over the world to sit in different yoga positions in these Ashram. They sleep on hard stone floors and they eat vegetable gruel with the novice monks and they yoga away all day.
I have spoken at length to quite a few of these yoga masters - in both India and Nepal. I have had lengthy discussions with them over steaming cups of delicious mint tea and we have chatted away about life, the universe and everything. The Yogis have told me that true enlightenment has nothing at all to do with yoga nor eating vegetables or sleeping on cold stone floors.
I told the Yogis that I knew this already. I told them that I was well aware that Enlightenment is actually a path of compassion and self awareness and it is living and practicing humility and kindness and selflessness.
The seeking of Enlightenment is a long and tough road of absolute dedication that might take several lifetimes to achieve and there is a lot of stumbling that occurs along the way.
Life is a journey.
Not a destination.
Complete Enlightenment will likely never in fact be achieved by most of us.