Contributor: Sandra Fang, Yin Yang Japan Ambassador
I’m Chinese Canadian from Vancouver, Canada. It’s been more than seven years since I first landed in Japan fresh and naive after my university graduation.
As a yoga teacher looking back at my youth, I have so much gratitude for being able to do what I love right now.
Last year in December, I was offered to teach a yoga workshop in Taiwan, so I delightfully jumped at the chance and went there for the forth time in my life.
Taiwan is full of surprises, it is one of the few places in the world where cultural and religious practices still stand strong in a modern landscape. If you’re tired of the concrete canyons and neon lights of the big cities, you can easily escape to the nature for a day or two. The delicious food, the friendly people, and the balance of culture and nature are what keep me coming back again and again.
Most of the people living in Chihshang are farmers. But recently some Taiwanese young people are moving away from the stressful city life to smaller towns like Chihshang. Like the manager at my guesthouse was a young man in his late 20s. He decided to give up his city life and moved all the way here after falling in love with this place at his first visit. And the chef at a local home restaurant I went to, he quit his job at a French restaurant in Taipei and moved to Chihshang with his wife and 3 young daughters. He told us, “In Taipei, I worked until 11pm everyday, I rarely had time to spend with my family. I cooked for people everyday, but I didn’t have time to cook for my own family.” He settled down in Chihshang, opened his home as a restaurant, and welcomed tourists over for dinner. He passionately explained how to make each dish and how to savour the flavours of the local fresh ingredients, while his wife and two daughters served us.
All of these people living in Chihshang have something in common. They have developed a strong bond with this land. I talked to a local farmer, he told me, “organic farming isn’t easy, the cost is higher and the profit is low. But we believe that it’s a wise thing to do in a long term, both for the environment and for our own health. This land has nourished us for many generations, we want treat it nicely.”
His words reminded me of a line from the film, Beyond Beauty – Taiwan From Above, “Only if we treat our lands kindly, will the lands treat our children and grandchildren kindly in many years to come. We are all just visitors on this planet.”
Yoga teaches us to live life in a conscious way. We all have choices as consumers. We can choose to support businesses that put people and the environment before profits.
With a lot of gratitude to the land and the people I met in Chihshang, I then traveled to Taichung, where I taught a yoga workshop. The newly opened studio, Next Yoga Shop & Studio, is the first specialised yoga wear shop in Taichung city. It is the first shop in Taiwan that carries Yin Yang yoga wear, and now people living in Taiwan have one more choice of organic cotton clothes.