Stress + rest = growth (a short life update)

The hustle can be exhausting.

In addition to a growing workload, including late-night calls with our Europe and US teams, mid-year assessments underway and new projects ramping up, I’ve also kicked up my Portuguese lessons a notch, and enrolled in an eight-week yoga teacher training (this one, to be specific). I’m exhausted from typing that sentence.

So why the boost in activity? Well, as many of you know, it is now official that Zé and I will be moving to Lisbon at the end of the year. Wahoo! Prior to this decision, I had been taking one-hour Portuguese lessons once per week, supplemented by homework and leisurely reading of Portuguese news. Though the English literacy rate in Portugal is very good (in fact, it’s better than Singapore’s, according to Education First), I want to be able to speak the dominant language spoken in my new living city. So, while I sticking with my one-hour live lesson each week, I have ramped up my supplemental learning, committing to three hours per week of study. That means listening to podcasts, reading 1-2 news articles in Portuguese per day, and speaking more with Zé in Portuguese. I have started to speak in simple sentences and am now also starting to learn simple past tense verbs. Slowly but surely, estou melhorandoI (I am improving)!

My other recent commitment is a 200-hour yoga teacher training. For years, I have been wanting to complete the training program, but never had the ‘right moment’ for it. Now that I am moving to Lisbon, I decided it would be a good idea so that I can start teaching classes on the side of work and meet some new people. Additionally, I would like to volunteer with kids or elderly folks one day, teaching them how to move and build their strength. I also think it is wise to have a secondary way to make money, should anything ever happen to my job. There were a few intake options available, but none of them outside of the April 2021 intake worked with my schedule. So here we are with a busy work schedule, daily Portuguese practice, and a 200-hour training program. When it rains, it pours!

I looked into some programs in Portugal and the US, but like many teacher trainings, they are all 3-6 week commitments. However, there is a program here in Singapore, offered by the biggest yoga studio chain called Yoga Movement, which is unique in that it offers part-time teacher trainings. This means it’s offered on weekends, with the remainder of the 200 hours done via supplemental classes during the week, along with reading and studying. Let me explain. Like any program or institution that requires a verification of its quality standards in order to operate, yoga teachers also need to have completed (at minimum) 200 hours of training with an accredited program. That covers anatomy and physiology, yoga philosophy, ethics for yoga teachers, and more. My program meets on Saturdays and Sundays, from April 10 through June 13. It follows the following structure:

  • 8-9a: Morning practice
  • 9-9:30/10a: Wash up & eat breakfast
  • 9:30/10a-12p: Debrief & morning module (e.g., Yoga Anatomy, Sequencing Classes, Cues and Demos)
  • 12-1p: Lunch
  • 1-3p: Afternoon module
  • 5:30-7p: Evening practice

In addition, we are required to take a minimum of two classes per week (16 total classes) prior to the exams in June. The exams include an alignment assessment, a written theory exam, and a practical exam where we teach a 20-minute sequence. It’s full-on, but it feels really good to work towards a personal (non-work) goal! Once I complete the training and pass the exams, I will be licensed to teach yoga anywhere in the world, as part of the International Yoga Teachers Association. Pretty cool, huh? It doesn’t hurt that signing up for the training also means I get 20% cool yoga merchandise in the studio, free yoga classes throughout the training, and unlimited tea and coffee from Common Man Coffee Roasters, my favorite café in Singapore (which also happens to be next door to our apartment)!

So, you could say it’s going to be a busy few months coming up. While most people think to get better at anything – whether it’s learning yoga or Portuguese – you need to work really hard. But in my mind, what it really takes to improve is hard work, paired with rest and recovery (hence the title of this post). Just like a working out at the gym, the body doesn’t adapt and grow, and the muscles don’t become bigger and stronger, unless we step away from the work and give ourselves time to repair. That’s why I’ve scheduled a few days of leave in over the next few weeks, kept my social calendar and workout plan light over the next few weeks, and booked a half-day package at one of the nice spas in May. Without rest, you get stress. This is what I keep reminding myself, anyway. Wish me luck!

Sam