Hi, I’m Neil Keleher
Whether I’m teaching yoga or doing yoga or Tai Ji or Chinese calligraphy, I try to make things easier to learn and do efficiently. And that’s the idea behind another website of mine, which is in a sort of stasis right now. That website is zeroparallax .
When I was sixteen (or seventeen?) I moved from Canada back to England to join the army. At the time I thought it was what I wanted to do with my life. Because my dad is smart he suggested I at least get a trade. And so I joined REME (the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) and became an armourer, a fixer of guns.
And that was where I first began learning some of the ideas and principles that I try to apply to most aspects of my life.
Despite thinking that I was going to spend a lifetime in the army I only spent 5 years serving. I had signed on for nine but ended up buying myself out just after the end of the first gulf war. By the way, I didn’t go. I was sent to Bavaria instead where I ended up at a ski chalet for the duration of the war.
When I decided that I wanted to join the army I was about 16. I actually moved to England before graduating from grade 12. My dad had suggested that since I knew what I wanted to do why not get on and do it. I was a bit worried about not finishing grade 12, but to that, he said I could always finish it later. Or if I got into the army I could do what he did and study via correspondence course to finish my education with the benefit of being paid while I studied.
And that’s how I ended up in University studying systems design engineering after the army. I loved studying maths (or mathematics) so much while I was in the army that I decided that I wanted to do something that used it on a daily basis. In retrospect, engineering was a poor pick for that, but none the less I enjoyed my time at university. I was in a co-op program which meant that after four months of study I spent the next four months at work. Along with being in the army, it was one of the most enjoyable times of my life.
After graduating I moved to Calgary Alberta because I wanted to become a speed skater. That dream didn’t last too long and I didn’t last long as an engineer either. After three years working as an engineer of sorts I ended up quitting my job out of hand, not sure what I was going to do, just knowing that I wasn’t happy doing what I was doing. Thus followed a stint of taking acting lessons, and, I thought, a temporary stint of teaching yoga while I waited to become discovered as an actor. I eventually realized that I liked being a yoga teacher, and that’s what I’ve been doing pretty consistently for the last 18 years.
I did have a year off, where I still taught a little bit of yoga but was mainly employed as an English teacher. But then I ended up getting a full-time yoga teaching job here in Taiwan and that’s more or less what I’ve been doing since.
At around the time, I started getting into yoga, while I was still doing “engineering work” I picked up an interest in Japanese Calligraphy that then turned into an interest in Chinese Calligraphy. One of my first solo road trips was a motorcycle ride from Calgary to San Francisco to study with my first official calligraphy teacher.
Up until that time I studied mainly from whatever books I could find on the subject.
I’d say that my thirties where probably the most challenging and less fun years of my life. I think that was the time where I was mostly in search of myself with the challenge that I didn’t know that that was actually what I was trying to do.
Because I was interested in both Tai Ji and Chinese calligraphy I thought about moving to China. But then a friend suggested that I might like Taiwan, at least to start with. Strangely (or not strangely) Taiwan felt like the right place, even before I got here. I arrived just after the Revenge of the Sith was released.
While it felt right to move to Taiwan, I was still in my thirties, and so my life was still not quite as enjoyable as it had been during my army and university years.
I think it became better after my daughter was born. She arrived just after my fortieth birthday and is perhaps the best birthday present I’ve ever received.
I’d say that as a father my job is to equip my daughter with the tools she needs to survive and find her on way in the world. And as a teacher I try to do the same thing. As a Yoga Teacher I teach my students to feel their body and control it so that ideally, they have the necessary tools and understanding to feel for themselves the right way to do a pose on any given occasion.
But I’m interested in a lot more than just teaching yoga. When I moved to Taiwan I became a lot more invested in learning to read and write Chinese. To that end, I ended up building my own database of Chinese symbols and meanings using an excel spreadsheet. In the process of putting that together, I learned to touch type Chinese characters using the Cangjie Input system. The advantages for someone like myself was that it allowed me to input Chinese characters based solely on their shape.
As my personal dictionary/database progressed I looked at ways of turning it into a useful tool for others to use. I ended up designing my own lookup system for Chinese characters and one of my more recent projects has been refining that system and implementing it in a system I call the Easy Lookup system.
The main idea behind this system is to make it easy for someone to lookup Chinese characters even if they have little or no familiarity with Chinese characters.
And that’s more or less the same approach I use when teaching yoga. I try to make it easy for people to learn to use their body whether or not they are used to using their body and whether or not they are used to doing yoga.
If you have questions related to any of the above, or relative to sensational yoga poses, learning the body, or the Easy Lookup Chinese Dictionary you can use the contact form below.