Category Archives: Women

“Fate will carry the willing man…”

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“Surrender” she said.

There’s a bolster lying vertically down my mat, and I’m standing at the top, feet apart. I had just come up from what seemed like a failed attempt of an unsupported drop back…because the floor seems so far away, and the breath just wants to leave me hanging midway.

“But it’s not the same as letting go. If you let go, there will be too much weight suddenly on your hands when you reach the floor. Just..surrender”, adding in the technicalities with a little smile.

I am beginning to marvel at this one simple word “surrender” that embodies within it an immense articulation of what it really means to allow life to play out on its own course. On the mat and equally off the mat. A word that is supercharged with a lot of energy and emotions that not many are willing to venture past beyond the point of contemplation. Because surrender is possibly the hardest thing one could attempt to do in the face of the unknown.

Fata viam invenient, Seneca once wrote. Fates will have its way. Ducunt volentem fata, nolentem trahunt, fate will carry the willing man and drag the unwilling. Reminding us all that there is a higher hand that is at play, or a discourse of life that has perhaps been written somewhere beyond our own ability to see and understand.

It is not even the end of the first month in this year, yet the word which I have made a point to work on more, delve into deeper, understand it further has been featured so many times since the start of the year – both in my own personal life and in the conversations I seem to hold with those around me.

Like that conversation I had with H a couple of weeks ago over lunch when she related her desire for a child and the emotions that arises as she goes through rounds of fertility treatment. I asked what it felt like every single time the process did not work, that time of the month that arrives to let you know yet again your effort, money and hope has yet to produce the kind of fruit you’ve been wanting. “Agony” she says. “Partly because of the effort you put into preparing your body to be at its healthiest, you plan your life and your schedule around this process and mostly because the doctors and those around you are confident that it will work this time around…and then it doesn’t”.

“This time, I’ll need to get things in order up here before I go in for the second round” referring to her second upcoming IVF treatment while pointing to her head. We spoke of expectations and keeping that in check, but mostly of surrendering to the process. And preparing the mind to accept the possibility that she will never be able to experience the sensations and emotions of an expecting mother.

But the word is steeped in so many different connotations. Letting go. Acceptance. And in a less positive light, complacence, or even worse having the ‘je ne sais quoi’ attitude to life. But these are just semantics I believe. There are inevitable situations and circumstances that we have to eventually acknowledge as being out of our control. As Gregory Maehle puts it “totally accept that you are a machine operated upon by God”. That our own bodies can betray the best of us for reasons unknown.

There is however, a distinct beauty that lies beyond that point of surrender. A beauty that presents itself in moments of silence unravelling a bigger picture that is so often overlooked because the desire to have things the way we want it to be, at the time we want it to happen, to have the final say to the outcome is far more persistent than the desire to see what may lie ahead and beyond the actual ‘wants’. Which reminds me of a beautiful verse from Al-Baqarah that reads “…and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know” (216:2). And perhaps that is the essence of surrender, giving in entirely to the unknown despite our best efforts and allowing fate to carry us through willingly.

“When you meet the right one, you will know in your heart”

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I am finally coming around to working my way through that box of books I brought back from Mysore in November. There is a book about Shri K Pattabhi Jois and the personal accounts of his students and family members

It’s a new habit of mine lately to scan the table of contents first and to jump straight to the part which catches my interest first. Naturally, I zoomed in onto Saraswathi’s interview. I think Donahaye and Stern did an awesome job in keeping her answers in its most original form, edited only as much as is required, but still allowing her voice to come through. Because it certainly felt that way. Reading it was like listening to her talking at the Sanskrit College in October when she and Sharath were invited as honorary guests for their contribution towards spreading the light (and method) of yoga.

I remembered the first time I had ever seen her in person. In Brickfields when she was in Kuala Lumpur for her 2014 Asia tour. My journey with Ashtanga yoga then was new, and I wanted to find out what the hype was all about being able to practice with immediate family members of Shri K Pattabhi Jois. I remembered a room packed with people so early on into the morning, and the gentle rhythm of chanting from the temple nearby. When I saw her it wasn’t really anything special. She struck me as a regular woman. And though it may be anti-climactic in that sense, there was an energy that emanates from her and throughout that entire LED class. I didn’t know what it was or exactly which moment in that entire class that made me realise I wanted to spend an extended period of time practicing with her, but I knew that very night I will be headed to Mysore sometime in the year just so I could practice in her class again.

In an earlier account somewhere in this blog, I wrote about the first 2 weeks in Mysore being filled with a combination of confusion and disappointment. I loved being close to her but that persistent thought of “I learn more and progress more at home with other teachers then here” was the main theme at least for those first few days. Week 3 & 4 was when the magic took hold and I began to understand that learning and progress occurs in so many other ways that the traditional method of learning I grew up with.

My experience of her are fond and warm, very much like a warm embrace of coming home. Even when I barely knew anything about her personal life aside from the fact that she is the daughter of Pattabhi Jois and the mother of Sharath Jois. I remembered at the end of my first practice in KPJAYI when she stood next to me, leaning against the rows of pictures lined up on one side of the shala, and casually asking me where I had come from. “Malaysia”, I said and her face lit up and immediately peppered me with questions about Ganesh and his wife.

There is a firmness in her touch, yet a kindness that follows through closely behind that. The only adjustment I would ever get from her are the rare support in Utthita Padangusthasana, and at the end in Shirshasana. One morning she called me to stand next to C, who was also about to enter into her Utthita Padangusthasana and made us complete that posture next to each other while holding our legs steady with both of her hands. I wished someone had took a photo of that! C and I laughed about that all throughout breakfast admiring her skills at multitasking all these students in her shala.

If anyone ever catches her eyes, there is a kind of gentle humor that resides in the depths of her soul. It’s like a gentle crinkle of the eyes and a smile that is just there for no reason at all. A day before Diwali, she was in class adjusting as usual, singing to her favorite songs. By then I’ve developed the habit of occupying my thoughts and movements within the perimeters of my mat but the strange voice of a woman humming eventually made me realised it was her singing. It was only when she stood in front of me, I realised she had an earphone in one ear and walking around with an iPod too.

It was luck that my stay there somehow coincide with that event at the Sanskrit College because that night, while she was giving her speech, was the first time I realised her immense contribution not just within the circle of Ashtanga practicing community but beyond that as a woman. I don’t know if she ever realised this, but being the first female Sanskrit scholar (largely thanks to Pattabhi Jois’ insistence as well that women should receive equal education) and later the first and perhaps the only yoga teacher at the time to be teaching Ashtanga to a mixed group of men and women opened up space to reconstruct, expand or even reimagine the role of women within the Indian society. I believe, her exposure in the Western world helped reinforce her presence within the social fabrics of the traditional Mysorean family life. Reading her accounts of having neighbours and family members giving her grief for moving back to Mysore after having her 2 kids while her husband was away working with Tata Motors was heartbreaking nonetheless.

I have been blessed to be introduced to yoga through so many other wonderful beings. The journey that started if at all by chance all the way back in 2003, and the amazing souls I had met and learned from since then is responsible in its own way for allowing me to be where I am today. Those that we learn from, especially in isolation for long extended period of times (as in committed to one teacher at one time) undoubtedly leaves its mark within us. The way they speak, adjust, teach and sometimes think eventually and to a certain extent is reflected in the way that we speak and teach. And that I believe is the most beautiful outcome from a student-teacher relationship.

At the end of her interview for this book she said:

When your mind is strong you stay with one teacher (…) when you meet the right one, you will know in your heart

Before I left, some of the more common topics circulating around the breakfast table in Mysore was “would you come back to practice with Saraswathi or would you try Sharath?”. My answer was always the same, to practice with Saraswathi for as long as she is around. Because I know in the depths of my heart that I would miss no other teacher more than I do for her.

Contemplating on Tbilisi..Tbili..what? – Day 2 Pre & Post Natal TTC

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Day 2 of Pre & Post Natal TTC. We had a quick recap of yesterday’s module, and Haika joined the group. I remembered one of the teachers whose studio I go to once in a while mentioned that the yoga circle in Malaysia is really not all that big. It is in fact very small. And you will end up seeing/hearing the same names over and over again. And to prove that, Haika turns out to be one of the Yin Yoga teacher that used to teach at Upward in Saujana. Unfortunately though, she is currently in the process of moving back to Germany with her husband, so you won’t be able to find her there any longer.

Yesterday, Jaq (as one of the girls called her today which I thought was both informal and rather cool) broached the subject of having me teach and manage her studio in Tbilisi. I knew apart from the one here, Sun Yoga has another ‘branch’ all the way in Tbilisi. Except at that point I didn’t know where this city is apart from the fact that it has a very pretty nice ring to its name.

I have been restless for a while now having been in this country for the last 5 years with no real “move” in between. Of course this has always been the country and the place to which I will always call home, but the feeling that I am growing roots when my wings are yearning to flap and fly away is quite a feeling to decipher. So when the idea to jump on a plane, pick up and move to Tbilisi is presented right at my feet, I had to use my energy to keep myself from pouncing on it immediately.

Clearly there are more things to be worked out before any real move can happen. But my research of the city and country so far has made me even more keen. And having Jaq stopped momentarily during class yesterday to hand me Sun Yoga Tbilisi card and say “Here, I think this is meant for you. It keeps falling off my notebook all day long, it must be a sign” and today when I was asking around for change of coins to stock up on the parking meter and she pulls out a Georgian coin and goes “oh wait that’s a Georgian coin, ah there you go! Must be a sign”.

Coincidental? Perhaps. The question is now what do I do with my current life here? 6 months is the minimum should I agree to go, with a prospect of staying for a year. A whole year! Of adventure and travels to neighboring countries which by the way includes Turkey. At the same time, a prospect of learning the ropes to run a studio, a juice bar AND teach at the same time. I mean wow, this is like a tailored gift for my belated birthday!

Ok right. Day 2 Pre & Post Natal TTC. Where were we?

We got to draw stick men on mahjong paper, as we come up with poses specific for the first, second & third trimesters. We learned the basic sequence of a prenatal class irrespective of audience and how far along they may be in their pregnancy is spinal health. I had lines drawn in green marker pen all along my back and neck to demonstrate to the class of the trapezius muscles. I was enlightened of ALL the wonderful and not so wonderful things pregnancy does to a woman’s body. With so many complications, I wondered briefly in that entire time how any woman can voluntary and even YEARN to subject themselves through these phases in order to have a child of their own. Perhaps something that I can only  understand when the time comes for me to be wanting the same things. Perhaps an understanding that I will only gain when I see the faces of potential mothers and to-be mothers attend my prenatal class flushed with the glow of pregnancy and excited of the future to come.

The most important takeaway for Day 2 is – for a woman to be healthy and minimise the complications arising from pregnancy as much as possible, is to build strength and fitness way before she intends to conceive. That does not mean 1 or 2 months before you gear on your baby making skills, but preparation for that should happen at least 1 year before a couple plans to conceive. Even though you could technically make a baby overnight (given that timing is perfectly done so) you can’t build strong muscles nor gain strength in one day. So ladies, enrol yourself in some form of fitness program much earlier before talks of starting a family even begins. My biased suggestion would of course to start yoga, whether it be strict regimes of Ashtanga or a fast free flowing Vinyasa, these can only do your body good in the long run, with or without a baby on its way.

Happy Baby Pose! .. oh you mean this is actually a yoga pose?

“Some of them swim in circles” – Day 1 of Pre Conception, Pre Natal & Post Natal Yoga Teaching Course

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In keeping with the true fashion of fulfilling Yoga Alliance requirement of  ‘continuing education’ for Registered Teachers, I had enrolled into a Pre Conception, Pre Natal & Post Natal Yoga TTC. Now that is a mouthful to be typing over and over again for the next 4 days and so this training will be referred to as just Pre & Post Natal Yoga TTC.

My interest to focus on yoga for women came almost as simultaneous as the day I picked up that Jamu book in Ngurah Rai Airport in March. I knew that women’s need are multi dimensional yet specific at certain points of her life. And what better way to explore this further through a short 4-day TTC with Dr. Jacqueline Koay from Sun Yoga. 

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, other than at the end of this 4 day I would ideally like to know, with confidence, how to successfully teach prenatal women and guide them through all the way until their postnatal phase. As a bonus it would be nice to be able to help those trying to conceive achieve their desired goals as well.

There are only 6 of us who signed up for this course which makes it all the more enjoyable as interaction are more intimate and there’s more time for questions to be attended to. Jacqueline was a life force on her own. When she introduced herself as a mother of 5, with the eldest being my age, I was floored. Later on the way to University Malaya where we were going to spend Day 1 learning up the theory of hormones, conceiving, and all the awesome she-bang that comes with making a baby (no pun intended of course hah!), we found out amongst other things that she was an Oxford educated, ex McKinsey consultant, now serving WHO as a surgeon in Jakarta.

Our day was spent in the Anatomy class, where we sat in one corner surrounded by preserved sliced brains, hearts, feets, hands, and fetuses of various months in glass jars. Theory classes such as this has a tendency to get dry very quickly, but thanks to what I’d like to attribute as partially my own interest in the topic (back to Biology class yay!) and her ability to weave in her own experience and stories made the whole learning process quite enjoyable.

Our conversation was bar none, educational but explicit all at the same time. It really felt like I was back in high school doing Biology class, except this time it’s the teacher who asks ‘naughty explicit questions’ instead of those hormone raging innocent 15 year olds themselves. I mean heck, we are talking about making babies here and inevitably the topic of sex would come up (I don’t expect anything less from a Pre & Post Natal TTC otherwise!). “So what are the best sex positions to make babies?” were some of the questions thrown to the group.

So within the span of roughly 5 hours, I learned that missionary, spooning and doggy styles are the best ways to make sure a baby will be a result of a hot lovemaking session. And to be extra sure of it, one must go into a bridge pose or a shoulder pose so that gravity can aid all the little swimmers to their destination – THE EGG. I learned that there are such abnormalities like sperm swimming around in circles lost of direction and never able to find where their other chromosomal half that leads to the woman not able to conceive.

And amongst her many entertaining stories, are also serious stories like nasty tears and surgeries in the labor room. Vivid description of how a vajayjay can look like right after labor – “like torn liver having to be sewn up”.

So that is day 1 of 4. Tomorrow we get to do the fun stuff as we head back to the shala and put some practice back onto the mat.

Infertility Poster

Causes of infertility – which includes sperm with giant heads. Seriously.

 

Be students, be teachers..be truth seekers

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This year’s International Women’s Day was especially special for me as I had my first experience of teaching a corporate yoga class at the IWD event that is annually held at the place that I work for. I had made known my intention early in November last year, and as circumstance and fate came together I was eventually given a 1 hour slot during the activities portion of the event.

Of course they failed to tell me that my yoga session would be at 4pm, 15 minutes after the afternoon tea break and will be running at the same time as the manicure/pedicure session, the ‘luxury’ goods auction and the treasure hunt which they called “the amazing fund walk” where participants search for clues and get to keep the prizes they find along the way (which I found much later included cosmetics from Bobbi Brown)

Nevertheless, 7 people turned up in this beautiful studio. Earlier in the day as I was rolling out the mats for the class, looking through the ceiling to floor glass windows and the green park outside, it felt for a few seconds like I could own this studio  and be teaching in this kind of space for the rest of my life. It felt surreal.

 

One day, my future studio will look similar to this too

One day, my future studio will look similar to this too

The 7 ladies that turned up had a varying mixture of experience with yoga. Some were completely new to it. As I went through my sequence, one that I had been prepping for a few days before (which is rather unusual for me) I realised that makes teaching fun for me was the spontaneity it allows me while I am in front on my mat demonstrating one pose flowing to the other, and another until we finally come to Savasana. So out the huge sunny window went my plan and I taught what I knew.

I guess I must have grown comfortable with my Saturday group that teaching a completely new group came off as a little unnerving. I looked ahead at faces which I have never met, most smiling, ready, but some skeptical. Perhaps that little voice in my head was tuning in a little too loudly to the negativity that I seem to pick up from the room.

Although the class ended quite ok, I opened the floor to questions or comments at the end. One lady said she never knew yoga could be so hard. And of course that little voice in my head goes off on a bullet train speed chastising my choice of poses for the day. And I had to remind her (and more so myself at that moment!) that as with all things, practice, practice, practice and all is coming.

Needless to say, all of my energy was completely drained by the time my day ended. I couldn’t quite figure out why as teaching always leaves me high on a buzz or serves to pump up some of the energy life force but realised the answer a day after as I was about to start my Saturday afternoon class.

L, a lovely British lady whom married a Malaysian and settled her for the last couple of decades is one of my regulars. She walked in while I was setting up and said “you look really tired” and instead of choosing to explain my rather complicated experience from the day before, I replied that I had no make up on (like WHO actually puts on makeup before they teach??). Because she was my only student in that afternoon session, and because we have this familiarity about us as I had seen her for the last 5-6 Saturdays, I felt like I could give her the attention she needed, thrown in with the detailed explanation to suit exactly where she is now.

Towards the end, as she came out of her Sarvangasana, I felt somehow teaching this class gave me that familiar energizing feeling. I taught and I was reenergized. A completely opposite effect to the previous day. I took the opportunity to thank her and told her it was such a joy to teach her that day and that all of my tiredness seem to have just evaporated away. And she told me something that made me realise why I love what I do and why every moment that lead me to being able to teach yoga was absolutely worth it.

“Sometimes I dread coming down here with all the other things  I have to do. But everytime I walk out of your class, I always feel 6 feet tall”

As I ponder back to this conversation, watching her achieve her own breakthroughs in her practice, I realise what makes teaching so enjoyable and empowering for me is to be able to follow through with the student as both mine and their practice evolve, improve and grow with time. On the flipside, what makes it draining at times is succumbing to the negative thoughts and the desire to make each session as accessible to everyone as possible, at the expense of my own peace of mind.

Ultimately, I think we are students as much as we are teachers to one another. And at the end of the day, beyond the peace, and happiness, we each seek enlightenment and truth in its own unique form, whether it be through our work, or how we generally choose to go through life.

Be students, Be teachers, Be politicians, Be preachers, Be believers, Be leaders, Be astronauts, Be champions, Be truth seekers

– The Script, Hall of Fame

2012 – A year of adventure and personal triumphs

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2 days before Christmas and one week before the turn of another year. 2012 has been especially generous and kind to me and I wanted to take this time to reflect back on what this year meant and all the achievements accomplished.

1. The Italian Job

Back when we were 12, my best friend, Z and I made a promise when we turned 24 we will go to Cape Town, South Africa as one of those trips you make to celebrate a milestone in your friendship. At 24 we figured we did not have the means nor the resources to go so the trip was postponed for a few years. Finally at the end of 2011, when we decided that it’s finally time the venue was changed to Italy.

For months we planned, and in March we flew into Rome and thus began our 10 days Italian trip termed as “The Italian Job”. It was our first trip together and we covered Rome, Naples, Sorrento, Capri & Florence in that 10 days. We ate loads, walked loads, and had our unforgettable “Paris Hilton & Nicole Richie” moment which involved getting stuck in a 3-pointer turn close to the Prada outlet, pushing a car manually, and waving frantically from the side of the road to flag down for help – all because we didn’t know to get into reverse mode on a manual car on a European car, you’d have to pull the knob up before pulling it back to reverse.

Endless trips of gelatos

Blue sky in Sorrento

THE best meal of my entire life, and just the way to celebrate turning 27

Ah, joy

17 years and going strong – my awesomepossum BFF

2. Vikasa Yoga, Teacher’s Training Course

The trip that altered everything internally and within me. They say to build or break a habit, keep doing something for 21 days. The 1 month spent on the beautiful island of Koh Samui fulfilling a schedule of 6 days a week of yoga, philosophy and self inquiry gave me the amazing gift of a new habit. My morning practice is invaluable to me as it provides me with the time and space to center my thoughts and get in touch with what really matters before I face the crazy rat race each day.

I discovered my love of teaching, that I could combine it with my obsession of healthy food, healthy living and geeky thirst of wanting to know every muscle and every bone in the body. I experienced an unexplainable sensation of joy, incomparable to any kind of happiness I have ever felt that moved me to tears. And most importantly I learned forgiveness is without a doubt, very very possible.

Setting our intentions out into Koh Samui’s skyline

When you are so alike, it’s not hard to bond over a very short period of time

3. The most beautiful, intimate, and amazing wedding to date

When Nan and Indar got engaged late last year, I knew deep down this was a union that will last for a long time to come. Their wedding this year solidified that belief as I became part of their beautiful wedding and watched happiness oozing out of every action, every event, every gesture and word that they uttered. Although I could not attend all of their events, I was especially honored to be able to walk with her into the temple as part of her family entourage. At her reception, I gave my first wedding speech ever and was ultimately relieved and proud that it went down as planned where the audience laughed when I wanted them to – perhaps this could be the moment that began my career as a stand up comedian? Haha ok maybe not..

Still, I had a lot of fun and their marriage re instilled my beliefs that weddings CAN be a fun and a joyful affair.

If happiness can be encapsulated to just one couple, this would be it. Congratulations Nan & Indar!

 

Of course there are other achievements I’ve reached this year in my career which remind me that I can indeed achieve anything that I put my mind to, and perseverance will eventually pay.

Looking back into the past 12 months, these 3 events stood out amongst all the rest precisely for the impact it has on me. It reminded me that God is generous in all His beautiful and mighty ways. Subhanallah

Closing the year off, I will be in Jakarta to visit a dear friend from Vikasa. Indeed this has been a year of travel, a year of adventure, a year filled with self inquiry and revelations of who I am and a year filled with challenges yet a one that is brimful with rewards too.

May 2013 continue in momentum of these positive growth and may it be filled with abundance, joy and love. Happy New Year!

“..and stand together, but not too close together, for the pillars of the temple stands apart”

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Yes, I am still very much alive despite the weeks of hiatus. In the 3 odd weeks that has passed, I had been taken away by the chaos that is life. I spent one weekend teaching yoga classes in a rented community hall just at the lobby of my apartment and saw the biggest turn out in my teaching career so far – 14 people in one session. That, to me was by far the most fun I had teaching yoga so far.

Another weekend was spent running around town, picking up my tailored sarees just in time for the wedding of two dear friends whom I hold close to my heart. It was my first Indian wedding, and possibly the first wedding that I had been genuinely excited to attend and be part of. I got to be part of the family and walk the bride down the ‘aisle’ at her temple wedding and watch the priest that married off her parents, did the same to her and the groom. Way earlier before the whole procession started, I got to shop for my first saree, and had it tailor made to fit. When I realised I had more than one occasion to attend, I made another. I love these two piece of clothing with such novelty, that if I could frame them and hang it for all to see, I would.

I sat in the car with Nan, the bride, minutes before she will walk out of the bridal car, into the temple and officially tie the knot in a Ceylonese tradition. And I can tell you, she is the most chilled-out, relaxed, unfazed and unperturbed bride I have ever seen. Not that I have seen many in my lifetime, but I think there are not many out there who will be able to sing along to Aladdin’s “A Whole New World” out loud and still make jokes just before she goes down the aisle.

During their reception, one of her favourite aunt described her as “chillax”, a word that Nan had coined and now has become very much part of her vocabulary.

I got to put my Olympus micro lens to good use as well, and was extremely happy with the result I got. Putting humility aside for a little while, I think I did about as good as a job as their hired photographer 🙂 Nan thinks I should pursue this photography thing seriously, and Z told me “fuck consulting, just go take photographs and teach yoga”.

Earlier in the year, while the both of them were down in town to kick start the wedding planning they had asked if I would give a speech at their reception. To which of course I said, yes! Can I read out loud a poem too? That was in March. On December 1, and 14 days before the reception, I decided that it’s about time I sit down and write out what I plan to say and maybe work on memorizing it too. And memorized it I did, reading it over out loud while alone in my apartment, and over and over again while driving in the car. Practice, in this case, makes perfect sense indeed. After the 5 minute speech, I had random guests coming up to me telling me I did a great job with the speech (phew!) and I especially recalled an old man that I saw from the temple wedding who came up to me and said

“What a wonderful speech you gave tonight. I can tell you, I have been to many many weddings, and your speech takes the prize”

Wow. I have no doubt that he has been to many, many, many weddings before. From this experience I learned, writing a speech straight from the heart is always the best way to go about it because when you eventually say those things out loud, the emotions that go behind each word is effortless and genuine.

I took an excerpt from one of my favorite poets, Kahlil Gibran from a poem he wrote as part of his written work called The Prophet. I decided to do this without having to Google ‘wedding poems’ despite it being (as I had found out much later) a very popular poem to be read at weddings. This was the portion which I read out loud for the beautiful bride and groom –

“…let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you (…)

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow”
-Kahlil Gibran On Marriage