21 Questions Yoga Challenge – Part 3

Markham’s yogi Jessie Lam poses 21 philosophical, metaphysical and existential questions meant to bend your mind as well as your body. To help you reach deep inside yourself for a possible answer, she offers a yoga pose to contemplate each question. This is the last of the three-part yoga series. In case you missed it, here’s Part 1 and Part 2.

For 3 weeks in December, I will be drawing selected questions from Gregory Stock’s book “The Book of Questions”, sharing a brief reflection on it, along with a yoga pose. Yoga is not just an activity, it is a way of life. I want to show you how yoga can be applied to different situations, both through the body and mindset. This daily exercise can help you get started and maybe find out more about yourself, to dig deeper and start discovering what your heart truly desires and what is important to you. They say it takes 21 days to build a habit. These three weeks are a perfect way to stay mindful, grateful, and organized during the busiest time of the year. Enjoy and cherish the time with loved ones over the holidays, but don’t lose track of your goals and personal well-being.


15. If you learned you would die in a few days, what regrets would you have? Had you been given five extra years of life, could you avoid those same regrets five years hence?


The pose is Wild Thing

Wild Thing CamatkārāsanaAt this point I haven’t let it all hang out, I’m learning to be more open and show more of me.

JL: I should’ve followed my dream when I graduated from university and started my own gym. I should’ve kept up with my yoga practice since I was a teenager. I should’ve thought about starting a family sooner, maybe 2-3 years earlier. But if I had done all that, I wouldn’t be here today – as cliche as that sounds. If I were given 5 extra years, I doubt I would use them wisely.


16. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life? Is there anything you hope to do that is even better?


The pose is Grasshopper – Parsva Bhuja Dandasana

Parsva Bhuja Dandasana (Grasshopper Pose)Another pose that encompasses multiple physical characteristics: strong arms, open hips, deep twist, flexible hamstrings, open chest. Every step of the way was an accomplishment, and brought me closer to this pose. Sometimes you have to try, believe in yourself, and make the leap!

JL: All of my accomplishments have been related to my passion for health and fitness. Each one has raised the bar higher. I hope to create a strong, passionate team of like-minded people, to help me share this passion we have. I will create a system, I will build something big, and I will leave a legacy.


17. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

The pose is Sundial – Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana

sundial Parivrtta Surya YantrasanaI am grateful for the ability to experience the beauty of this pose, physically and spiritually.

JL: I am grateful for my family, friends, clients, and my health.


18. Would you add one year to your life if it meant taking one year from the life of someone in the world selected at random? Would it matter if you were told whose life you had shortened?

The pose is Side crow – Parsva Bakasana

 I have one side that is better than the other, both in strength and flexbility, but different sides for different poses. When I first did this pose, I always wanted to work on my strong side, but you can’t ignore the other side, you must look at the whole picture, the other perspective, you must look outward, as much as we look inward.

JL: That extra year added would not create any value to me, especially with what I had to do to “earn” it. There are no shortcuts and no free lunch. Do what you love, all the time, as long as you dont hurt anyone.


19. If you could spend one year in perfect happiness but afterward remember nothing of the experience would you do so? If not, why not?


The pose is Bird of Paradise – Svarga Dvidasana

Bird of Paradise Svarga DvijāsanaThe balance between strength and flexbility – the strength of the rooted standing leg, and the openness of the torso and top leg. The challenge is to find the balance between the two extremes and experience the steadiness and ease of this initially awkward pose.

JL: I’ve experienced times of pure bliss, like my wedding day, vacations, parties and more. I remember them all and these memories are sacred to me. Those times went by in a blink of an eye but the memories will last forever. I am currently living a very happy life. It’s not perfect, but I love being able to look back over the past 12 months. I would never want to trade those memories. As much as I try to live in the present, which would make me inclined to accept this one year of perfect happiness, if I had no memory of it, where would I be emotionally? Would I still be driven to find happiness?


20. Where would you choose to be if you could place yourself anywhere on a scale from one to ten, where one is hardship, struggle, and extraordinary accomplishment and ten is comfort, peace of mind, and no accomplishment. Why? Where are you now?


The pose is Forearm Stand – Pincha Myasurasana

forearm stand Feathered Peacock Pīñcha MayūrāsanaThis took more than 2 years and I am still tweaking it. Being able to hold the forearm stand after so many years of falling makes me appreciate my strength and limitations even more.

JL: When I hiked the 75 km West Coast Trail, it was HARD. I struggled. I got hurt. But I had a peace of mind knowing that I was strong enough to make it, there was a finish line, and I was doing it with my hubby and cousin. If I could go back and opt for sunny days and a easy hike, as nice as it would’ve been, I wouldn’t change the terrential downpour we endured for a second. I conquered something pretty incredible and I lived to tell about it. Right now I am closer to a 3-4 on that scale. The struggle is real but I am not complaining. I acknowledge that it’s hard and that it won’t come easy, but it’s not impossible.


21. If your friends and acquaintances were willing to bluntly and honestly tell you what they really thought of you, would you want them to?


The pose is Garland Pose – Malasana

Garland MalasanaThis is one of my favourite poses. It is so comfortable and effortless, and it shows the physical fitness and flexibility required to get into and maintain this posture.

JL: As a teacher and a mentor, I would want to know what people think so that I can become better.

Jessie Lam is a Certified Personal Trainer, Fitness Instructor and Nutrition & Wellness Specialist with Can-Fit-Pro. She is also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and has been in the fitness industry since 2002; she is a 200 Hr Registered Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance under Yoga Medicine and is currently pursuing 500 hrs. She began competing at the Ontario Physique Association in March 2014 and has since completed 3 shows, placing top 10 in her bikini class. Jessie and her husband Joe left their corporate finance jobs in November 2014 to focus on their passion for health and wellness full time.


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