Yogi works hard to connect with herself, passing that gift onto others
Breathe in. Breathe out.
Breathing is an inherent part of our lives, a small bodily function that gives us life and something that the majority of us do without even noticing.
For yogi Alice Hong, focusing on the breath has become an integral part of her lifestyle and career. Pranayama — breath practice in Sanskrit — is one of the levels to a yoga practice; a yoga practice that Hong has had in her life for ten years.
Hong’s journey as a yoga practitioner began in 2000. For 18-year-old Hong, yoga was a way to stay active. It was also a way to try out the latest trend in fitness, as yoga was at its “initial boom.”
Hong says that what initially drew her to practicing yoga was the sense of community within a yoga studio.
“There was something in the studio environment that cultivated love and support that encourages us to let go of competition or the ego and just drop into what was happening for us right now,” Hong says.
Five years later, upon completing her university major in international development, Hong had more time to devote to her yoga practice and it became a more meaningful, committed part of her life.
“Over time as I started to practice more and more, I began to hear how teachers would queue and it began to seep into a place that was much deeper than the physical body,” Hong says. “The physical practice of Hatha yoga is a wonderful portal into the self.”
In 2007, while Hong was working at the YMCA in Calgary, she was offered a one-year internship in Tanzania working in international development.
Hong was given two days to make a decision. She chose to pack her bags, sublet her home and buy the first ticket to Africa that she could.
Photo courtesy of Alice Hong. And what awaited her was one of the “hardest years of [her] life.”
Not only did Hong struggle with being away for a whole year in a community where she was a foreigner, but she also struggled internally with her love and acceptance for herself.
“In that year I really got to know me,” Hong says. She discovered that she didn’t like every part of who she was.
However, through yoga, Hong has found who she truly is, and what her role is as a person in the universe and a yoga instructor.