By Cindy H. Wang (王傳瑄)
Travelers from all over the world make their journeys to Taipei, and many of them choose to stay. Each person’s journey becomes a small piece of consciousness in time, and contributes to collective beauty of our city. Many foreigners learn the local language, adapt, and grow as they settle down. Their stories are all different, but their journeys all come from inside out. No matter where is the destination in their minds, as long as they listen to their hearts, their experience will always bring them closer to home.
Zoya lives in Xindian with her family. Every afternoon she takes a small journey with her one-year old boy to the nearby park for some exercise. She has always been agile, and her post-pregnancy slender figure seems even more fit than before. People who come in contact and interact with her are often in awe that, the beautiful and gentle Belarus woman who looks like a doll happens to speak Mandarin like a local person. Besides of being a full-time wife and mom, she is also an advanced yoga instructor who is fluent in Russian, English, and Mandarin, and has taught yoga around the world.
When she was studying in college, if anyone had told her that she would one day live in Taiwan, married to a Taiwanese artist, and teach yoga professionally, she would had laughed like it was a far-fetched fable. But years later, she is not working at a competitive corporation, she no longer smokes, drinks, or eat meat, and looks like a lively teenager. Her story is not in any form a fictitious tale, but a beautiful woman’s journey. Zoya is from Belarus. She majored in International Relations and minored in English and Chinese languages at the Belarus State University. She always excelled in everything she did, and after graduating, she came to Taiwan to study Political Science, and was recruited to work for the ROST (Russian Center for Cooperation with Taiwan) Group, where she worked as the special assistant of the President of the company. But the stress from school and the demanding job aggravated the lower back pain she had since she was a teenager. She began to practice yoga for her health, then found time from her busy schedule to complete yoga instructor certification training in Taipei.
She then left Taiwan in 2004, and moved to Malta. She lived in Malta of 6 years to be with her loved one. She also continued more advanced yoga training in India and Europe, and established Zoya Yoga center in Malta. Her thoughtfulness and patience make her a very popular teacher. She also created extended courses that last for a few months. The students who enroll in her classes all want to participate on long-term basis, as she also prefers to teach long-term course and cultivate comprehensive teacher-student relationships. She would start with basic postures and breathing exercises, then gradually introduce more advanced components physical and emotional components into the class. Analogous of any journey, it takes a beginning to get to anywhere. She would say, “it’s like no one can learn to read a novel before learning the alphabets and words, right?”
Her kindness and gentle guidance is always reflected in her classroom. After travelling from Eastern Europe to Asia, India, and many different places, her teaching has always come the guidance that encourage her students to take on their own personal journeys. She says that, “I create safe space for my student to increase awareness and allow any needed change. I am not the one to take responsibility and decide what's right for them. But I can share some yoga tools that will show them the way. However, they must choose the direction, not me. At the same time, I keep working on myself, changing myself with the help of others as they reflect my shortcomings.”
Even thou she has left school and the world of international trading, she is still majoring in “relationships.” Her marriage is the proof of the dedicated relationship with her husband. She mentions that when they were dating, her intuition let her know that he was the one person she wanted to be with. The relationship between her son and her husband is also influenced by the sense of closeness that she brings, and the baby is already very close with his father. She also acknowledges that men and women need each other, just like how the energy of the sun and the moon complement each other.
Regarding on how to build strong relationships with others, her principles are honesty, trust, and openness. Everyone needs shield for protection, and some form of disguise. But when the self-discovering process releases personal bondage, any kind mask will become unnecessary, and even words will become excessive. She is fluent in three languages, but she has never been conformed or controlled by any books, philosophies, or knowledge. She believes that only her own direct experience is true. Whenever she comes across some profound realization herself, then the experience in confirmed in something she reads, she always feel validated, but that does not mean the written words are her guidance in life.
She is also perpetually discovering her inner life. Without any religious beliefs, she believes life is eternal. The interior life is always more important than the exterior, because no matter what, everything starts with the self. She says that, “Everything relationship you build is a reflection of yourself, and it’s always better to change yourself than others.” She also recalls that compare to before, she feels her life in the present moment is better, because she always listened to her heart, and never ceased to change.
Being a Leo, Zoya is analogous of a beautiful and graceful cat. But her life is not at all about sleeping under the sun. She and her husband have moved back to Taiwan for 4 years. Her impressive credential has made her the ideal teacher many yoga studios are seeking. Many of her students are also expecting her to open new sessions again. Her teaching will always allow students of any age to uncover and build better relationships as they learn to relax and let of lies and pretenses, and become more in touch with their own bodies. The journey of happiness and self-discovery is a long path. It is also the ultimate relationship with one’s self. It is never too late, and there is never a wrong time to embark.