IF you're going to turn into a human pretzel, it may not be
a good idea to wear a mini skirt.
|A student bends backward in
this NTU yoga elective class.
Some students at Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
thought yoga, an elective subject, was all theory.
Until they turned up for their first lesson and got, well,
all bent out of shape.
NTU yoga tutor Tan Lay Pheng, 34, said: 'Of course, after
that they never came back in mini skirts for the subsequent
An NTU spokesman said the course, Yoga: Physical, Mental
and Social Development, was a popular elective, and was
over-subscribed each semester.
It was introduced in July 2003 by the NTU General Studies
Unit with one class of 30 students.
Now there are two classes with a total of over 60
Each year more than 100 students apply for the course. The
classes have practical and theory components and take up three
hours a week.
Lessons kick off with a lecture on the history of yoga, its
philosophy, diet, meditation and stress management.
This is followed by a two-hour yoga session.
Why is it so popular?
Students said it's an easy option, although some are
Third-year mechanical and aerospace engineering student Lim
Beng Kiat, 23, said it helped in clearing the 12 academic
units of general electives he needed.
'Yoga is considered three academic units,' he said.
However, he insisted it's tough.
'The challenging part is to do the balancing poses. Some
poses can be quite painful initially but at the end of the
class when you do the corpse pose, it is very 'shiok'.'
This is a relaxation pose - flat on your back, with the
toes and knees turned naturally outwards. Fingers fall open by
the side of the body with palms facing upwards.
And Mr Lim said he would be the first to join if the
university offers an advanced level yoga class.
Mr Leong Wai Loon, 23, said he did not think the class was
a simple way out to fulfil their academic requirements.
'Yoga is examinable, you still have to study it,' he said.
'It's more of personal interest for me.
'Taking yoga class in the evening helps you to relax, you
are still absorbing information but at a less intense
Yoga has fans on other campuses, too.
Ms Karen Ong, 21, a third-year marketing and communications
student at Singapore Management University (SMU) said she
chose the course because it seemed to be 'fun'.
A local university exchange programme allowed her to take
up the elective at NTU.
'After a long day of school I really would not want to take
a long academic course. Undergraduate life is quite hectic,
and taking yoga allocates two hours a week for exercise.'
NO EASY WAY
Dr Yeoh Oon Chye, 71, director of the general studies
programme, said students would be mistaken if they believed
taking yoga was an easy way out.
'They still have to demonstrate mental rigour, prove
themselves in the examination hall.
'We give 30 per cent weightage to continual assessment, 70
per cent to the exam for the majority of the general studies
electives,' he said.
But are there students who fail yoga?
Yes, said Ms Tan, who grades the papers. She wouldn't give
Guess some of the students didn't want to bend over
backwards to get good grades.
OTHER OFFBEAT COURSES
SINGAPORE Polytechnic has a General Elective Module -
Backpacking, The Fine Art Of Travel By Roughing It Out.
Ngee Ann Polytechnic's Sports and Wellness module includes
hip hop dance, canoe polo (a mix of canoeing and water polo)
Republic Polytechnic's Adventure Learning also focuses on
team building and leadership.
National University of Singapore has Heavenly Mathematics:
Cultural Astronomy. Students learn basic astronomy and
applications in different cultures.