Debunking the 'Yoga is Just a Gentle Workout' Myth: Bruce Tan

This father of one overcame a broken wrist and lack of flexibility to become a full-time Yoga Teacher


When Bruce Tan mentioned that he was planning to get certified as a yoga teacher, his friend remarked: "But you can't even touch your toes!"

So how did Tan, who started off as a casual practitioner doing the sporadic class here and there, overcome his perceived lack of flexibility to now become a full-time yoga instructor at the Yoga Movement?

For one, he listened to great advice from his trainer who allayed his concerns early on, telling him his lack of flexibility could actually work in his favour.

This has proven to be true, and helped him become a more effective teacher today, as he is better able to identify with how students feel in certain postures and help them to modify and improve accordingly.

Persistence Pays

His persistence and courage to take a leap of faith has also paid off, and having once broken his right wrist in a bike accident in 2010, regular yoga and Brazilian Ju-Jitsu has helped him to regain almost full range of motion and strength in his wrist.

Making a career switch was not the only time Tan had to step out of his comfort zone either, as his journey towards becoming a full-time yoga teacher saw him needing to overcome his initial fears of doing inversions and arm balances. These are now some of the favourite aspects of his physical practice.


Yoga and Flexibility

Tan believes one does not need to be strong or flexible to begin yoga; it is more the other way around where yoga helps you to improve your strength and flexibility.

"The way that yoga is portrayed across various media channels reinforces the notion that yoga is all about being flexible and getting into fancy postures," he said.

"In my opinion this is not an accurate depiction of the yoga practice and can actually be a deterrent to people who may be interested to try yoga but feel they 'don't have the flexibility' to do it."

That said, Tan believes there is some truth that women are generally more flexible than men due to differences in genetic makeup and anatomical structures.

Having more flexibility also means a greater range of movement in the joints which allows them to get into certain yoga postures easier.

Yoga as "just a gentle workout"

This however should not be a deterrent to males picking up yoga, which is also an activity that is often perceived as "just stretching" or a "slow and gentle workout" which might not appeal to the average male who believes in 'tougher and more challenging' types of workouts.

In truth, yoga offers quite a physically and mentally challenging exercise, and is a great cross-training option even for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

Outside of work, the father of one also takes every opportunity to teach his 4-year old daughter some techniques from the yoga practice which he feels would be beneficial for her whenever he gets the chance.

From teaching her breathing techniques to alleviate the cold when just getting into a pool, or to calming down after a fall and hurting herself. His daughter has also learnt certain postures such as downdog and tree pose as part of father-daughter play time.


Online Classes vs Physical Classes

Having hopefully ridden out of the COVID-19 storm, Tan who has taught for 5 years as a yoga instructor, shares that most students still prefer a physical class to an online class, but there is a place for both in the new norm.

"I think online classes have their place and are a great channel to reach a wider audience locally and overseas, and are a great supplement to physical classes for our local clientele especially during this past year," he shared.

"Some students like it for its convenience while others still prefer the experience of physical in-studio classes, so I guess there's something for everyone."

Judging by the fully booked schedules across most classes at the Yoga Movement, Tan may just be right.

To catch Bruce Tan's classes or to book a class at Yoga Movement, you can visit their official website here.

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