Monday, December 1, 2014

Letter Home by Hong Gwi-Seok (Peggy)

Dear Beloved Community of Iyengar Yoga Detroit,

By the time the winter session begins, I will be back in town. Hooray! I'm looking forward to settling into our new yoga home, seeing familiar faces, employing my full yoga vocabulary, and working with my stellar students. 

I am having a incredible experience here in Korea. I'm living in the city of Bucheon, part of metropolitan Seoul, which is nearly 20 million people. I'm teaching several classes a week. A beginner class at a local community center for employees of a YWCA afterschool academy, and 3 classes in Seoul's historic Insa-dong neighborhood, a few blocks away from my paternal grandfather's traditional herbal medicine shop. 50+ years ago, my grandfather and family lived and ran the center, which is now a museum. So it feels particularly meaningful that I am here now, humbly offering my own healing art.The Iyengar Yoga community here is small, but hungry. Although Seoul is huge, and yoga is quite popular, there are very few Iyengar teachers. Like the USA, the mainstream regards yoga as strictly fitness, but those who have experienced Iyengar Yoga truly appreciate it. The Korean temperament and culture are well suited for Iyengar Yoga because Koreans love rigor and long for depth.

I use a lot of Korean in my beginner classes but more advanced classes require me to speak English. All my students know at least a little bit of English, and some are quite fluent. It has been a good challenge to be concise and do dramatic demonstrations!

I am running a twice monthly study group in addition to the asana/pranayama classes, and the participants are making much progress, as we discuss the sutras, and examine the asanas more deeply. I certainly hope to stay in touch with the Iyengar community here, even when I am back in the States.

My 10-week language intensive is about to end. Monday-Friday, 4 hours/day we met for Korean language study. In addition, I typically spend another 2-5 hours/day studying on my own. I have learned a lot, and I can get by in Korean with some ease, but I still have a long way to go, if I want to read Korean books and discuss philosophy etc.

it's been wonderful to spend time with my extended family here. Last weekend we had a memorial ceremony for my maternal grandparents and shared a delicious meal. I got to hear lots of great stories and spend time with several generations of family. Especially nice since I will be missing my favorite holiday of the year, Thanksgiving, when I will be at a meditation retreat, eating 2 tiny meals/day and sitting for hours.

In my final month here, I plan to visit a few intentional communities, and scope out where I may live when I come back for another extended stay. I'm tentatively thinking I will try to spend a full year here in 2017. I feel a sense of belonging and responsibility here that feels important to honor. There are some amazing communities outside the major cities that are organic farming, alternative schooling, and creating sustainable economies. Maybe one is interested in Iyengar Yoga?

Meanwhile, I have begun thinking ahead to 2015 when I am Stateside. I am eager to reconnect with you all and compare notes on inner and outer developments of the past several months.

Love and namaste,
Hong Gwi-Seok (Peggy)