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April 19, 2016

Meet Phyllis Chan: a Luminary who spends her time teaching others the gift of yoga in the heavenly islands of Thailand. Phyllis makes giving back to others a priority in her life with ease and grace while continuing the move forward in her spiritual journey.

What about yoga made you decide to become not just a student, but a teacher?

I consider myself to be a student first, and a teacher second. My teaching continues to be inspired by the yoga practice. When I enrolled in my first yoga teacher training, I had already been practicing for 7 years. I was searching for something deeper, and I wanted to further my knowledge without having any intention to teach. When I came out of the training, I felt transformed and I knew I didn’t want to do anything else. 

What brought you to teach yoga in Thailand?
 I have wanted to go to Thailand for as long as I can remember. There is something about the laid back lifestyle, the beautiful beaches and the delicious food that drew me in.

When I decided to go to South East Asia on a solo back packing trip I researched teacher trainings in Thailand. I came across a training that was Yoga Alliance certified, affordable and had great reviews. This was at the Blooming Lotus in Koh Phangnan. I felt a strong connection to the studio and would come back regularly to practice and enjoy the beach. I started to teach the drop in classes, which led to assisting on yoga retreats, and which eventually led to me leading the retreats.

What's something you appreciate about yourself?

I appreciate my ability to stand in my truth.  I appreciate my optimistic views, which usually include a healthy dose of skepticism.  And lastly I appreciate my desire to constantly work, towards becoming a better person.

Where is your favorite place you've traveled to and why?

My favorite place is in Rishikesh, India. I went there because a friend told me it would change me spiritually. There is so much yoga and meditation there, and the sacred Ganges river flows through it. There are parts of the city that are quiet and meditative, while others are a complete shock to the senses. There is this colorful, chaotic atmosphere in the hustle bustle of cows, people and tuk tuks, which really make you feel like you are somewhere else.

What advice would you give someone that was in the beginning stages of
 finding a yoga retreat to attend?

Follow your intuition.
Go with an open mind and don’t be afraid to go on your own. Retreats are a great place to get introspective.
Find a place you want to travel to that’s within your budget.
Do your research, read reviews, and find a teacher you like.

What drew you to Dharma Yoga?

I have been searching for a spiritual practice that is complete, one that is whole. This sums up the Dharma lineage for me. After experiencing my first few Dharma classes, there was a feeling of coming home. This is it. This practice encompasses the entire eight limbs of yoga. I have tried many different forms of yoga over the years, and the one that resonates to me the most, is Dharma. I can’t express how grateful I am to have crossed paths with Sri Dharma Mittra. He is humorous, kind, humble and he has a way of shining unconditional love on everyone he meets. Dharma Mittra means “a friend to all”. I am honored to be in the family of dedicated yogis on this path. For me, this practice has taken me further than I had ever imagined: physically, mentally and spiritually. And the practice never stays the same, it continues to evolve and change over time. I feel very blessed to become a Dharma certified teacher and excited about sharing the teachings.

What touches your heart?

What touches my heart most is giving back, and helping others who are less fortunate. For me, volunteer work is a karma yoga practice that opens the heart to compassion and frees one from selfish thoughts and desires. I try to do some kind of karma yoga practice at least once a year. Currently, I teach yoga at an addictions recovery centre and I find it so rewarding. In the past, I’ve volunteered at a Cambodian Orphanage, an elephant sanctuary, worked with junior high/ high school students and fundraised to build homes in Latin America. This December, I’ll be going to El Salvador to build three houses as an initiative to help get people out of the slums.

What is your Inner Fire?

My Inner Fire is my natural ability to make people feel comfortable and at ease. When I first came to yoga, I had to work hard at it because I was really tight. Yoga did not come easy to me, and I had to learn to be kind and compassionate to myself. Because I had gone through this, I have a soft spot for students who struggle and I know many variations that can help them because I have gone through them all myself.

Bonus question: What's your favorite pair of Inner Fire leggings? 

My favorite Inner Fire leggings are the Flora capris. They are a flattering blend of my favorite colors (purple!) and they fit like a glove.

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