Singapore #Fitspo of the Week: Deborah Tan

Cheryl Tay

Strong is the new sexy and fitness is the new party. With society leaning towards health and fitness, Yahoo's #Fitspo of the Week series is dedicated to all inspirational women in Singapore leading active lifestyles. Know of any who deserve to be featured? Hit me up on and on FacebookTwitter and Instagram (cheryltaysg).

Deborah Tan. Photo by Cheryl Tay
Deborah Tan. Photo by Cheryl Tay

Name: Deborah Tan (Instagram: @debbylonglegs)
Age: 28
Occupation: Full-time yoga instructor at Pure Yoga
Status: Engaged
Height: 1.69m
Weight: 52kg
Diet: Always hungry and eats a lot, stays away from red meat and sodas, listens to instincts and cravings
Training: Daily yoga alone or at Pure, cardio and strength training once a week
Q:I heard you weren’t a fan of sports when you were younger?
A: The embarrassing truth is that I was absolutely unfit in my adolescent years. I hated PE classes in school and often tried to get out of it. I was also very inflexible! Touching my toes was impossible for me and I used to fail ‘Sit and Reach’ during NAPFA tests.

I tried a variety of different exercises and physical activities in my attempt to lead a balanced lifestyle. I took up some dance classes, tried pilates, aimed to run or swim regularly but nothing ever stuck. It was after I found yoga that I started to enjoy exercising, became stronger and healthier and yes I can touch my toes now.  

Deborah Tan. Photo by Cheryl Tay
Deborah Tan. Photo by Cheryl Tay

When and how did you start yoga?
In 2011, I signed up for my first yoga class to unwind from the stress of my desk-bound job, not knowing that it would bring me an unexpected sense of inner bliss. I’ve not looked back since. It felt like a missing puzzle piece in my life was put in place. For the first time, I found a kind of happiness that no other forms of exercise or physical activity has ever given me. It was from yoga that I learned breath and body awareness and for the first time experienced a small taste of inner peace.
Was it tough then?
Yes, it was very difficult and challenging to me at the beginning. I embarked on my yoga journey with baggage from my past about flexibility issues, disconnection with my body and breath and no sports or fitness background. However, I heard an inner voice telling me to persevere, to keep practising and trust in the practice.

Through my dedication for yoga, I’ve cultivated self-acceptance, love, gratitude for my body, health and abilities. I started achieving things I’d never dream were physically possible. I learned not to compare myself to others as we are all made different and trusted I was exactly where I was meant to be in my journey. I’ve met my teachers and like-minded people in the yoga community who continue to deeply inspire me. Without a doubt, I would say my commitment to and relationship with yoga is a lifelong one; one in which I wish to be a humble student of and never stop learning.
And then you quit your office job to become a full-time yoga teacher?
As I started seeing improvements in my practice, I developed a burning desire to continue learning and improving. After a year of committed practice coupled with the blessing and nudge from my supportive father, I listened to my calling to pursue yoga as my vocation as it evolved into a passion and became an irreplaceable part of my life. I left my corporate job, went for my first teacher training and started teaching full time a few months later.

Deborah Tan. Photo by Cheryl Tay
Deborah Tan. Photo by Cheryl Tay

What do you hope to achieve out of yoga?
What I strive for is to take my practice of yoga with me even when I’m off the mat. Learning to breathe and cope mentally in difficult situations with a positive outlook, letting nothing steal my inner peace and ultimately to live an authentic life with gratitude, contentment, compassion to all living beings and unresolved faith and surrender to the divine.
What misconceptions do people have about yoga?
Firstly, that yoga is easy, passive and slow. There are many styles of yoga. While some can be slow and restorative, yoga is definitely not always easy. For example, a regular vinyasa practice will develop upper body strength and is dynamic by nature. Also, if the style of yoga is passive physically, it usually challenges practitioners mentally.

Secondly, that inflexible people cannot practise yoga. I think I’m a living example of that misconception!

Thirdly, that yoga isn’t or is religious. Yoga can be a spiritual practice to you or you can chose to follow the more physical side of the practice instead. I truly believe anyone can practise yoga regardless of their religion and beliefs. We all have different aspects of the practice we resonate with. Yoga is nurturing and non-judgmental by nature and offers a uniquely beneficial experience to each and every person that practises earnestly.

Deborah Tan. Photo by Cheryl Tay
Deborah Tan. Photo by Cheryl Tay