I recently did a little interview for the studio I work for, answering some questions on what yoga meant to me to celebrate International Yoga Day, 2019.
Since yoga has completely transformed my entire life - physically , mentally, emotionally and spiritually, I wanted to share the interview with you in hopes it may spark some inspiration in you to perhaps start your very own yoga practice.
So here it is. Hope you enjoy!
When and how did you first come into yoga?
In 2010, I injured my back and had two bulging discs in my lower spine. It was so painful! I remember some days I couldn't even walk or get out of bed! The hardest part was that for years, nothing I tried was helping. In 2012, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and saw Rachel Brathen (@yoga_girl) post on yoga (this was before yoga was HUGE on Instagram, so it was strange to see), and how it helped her back issues. So, I decided I was going to give yoga a try. I didn’t know much about it at all, but I gave it a go any way. I had nothing to lose - and wow! I am so glad I found this beautiful practice.
How often do you practice?
I aim to practice at least 3 times a week - whether it be 5 minutes at home or a Power Flow class at Upstate Yoga. I used to think that I had to do a solid hour practice for it to even “count”. But honestly, 5 minutes makes a world of difference to your entire being. Just being present with your body and your mat, there’s nothing better.
What difference has it made to your mind?
I’m a real go-getter and often find myself going at 100 miles an hour, you know, one of those people that are always doing about 50 things at once and literally over-thinking everything with a touch of self doubt. BUT, yoga changed that for me. Yoga has taught me to slow down - slow down my mind and my thoughts. I now know I need to complete one task at a time and to stop and smell the roses (literally!). It’s a working progress, but each time I practice, I release self doubt from my mind and create all the space for good vibes to come.
How has it changed your body?
I’ve been able to heal my chronic back pain. With consistent practice, listening to my body, taking it one downward facing dog at a time, I have been able to heal my back. Of course, I still have to be mindful and I may have a few flare ups here and there - but nothing compared to what I was like before I started practicing. I’ve also become super flexible (which is something I never thought my body could do). I couldn’t even touch my toes! My body has also grown strong, not the kinda strong like a weight lifter - but a powerful endurance kinda strong! Holding those long, juicy yoga poses are the best for building a strong body and mind.
What do you find most rewarding?
When you finally get to lie down on your mat in Savasana. Nothing beats that feeling of being able to completely surrender to your mat and absorb your entire practice and it’s benefits for your mind and body. I love those last few moments when it’s just me and my breath. I’m not stressed about running errands or ticking off my to-do list, I’m just there in the present moment. No where else I need to be but here.
What was it that prompted you to want to help others learn?
I originally completed my yoga teacher training for myself, but as soon as the training began and I learnt more about yoga, the body and it’s beauty - I knew I had to share it with others. It was my calling.
How long do people have to be practicing before they can start noticing a difference?
Just once! The first time you step on that mat and breathe and move, you will already feel amazing just for being there! Everyday is different, so therefore your yoga practice will be different with each day. The best thing to do is honour your body and keep a consistent practice. With consistent practice comes that strength in the body and mind.
What steps do you recommend people take in order in introduce yoga into their lives?
Let go of all your expectations. Expectations of yourself, your body, what others are thinking, of the teacher, of everything. Go to yoga with an open heart and an open mind and it will truly be a great experience. We can often be scared or nervous to try yoga, but I truly believe that yoga is equally for every body! So grab yourself a mat, and get moving. You’ll never look back.
Anything else to share?
The yoga pose is not the goal. Becoming flexible is not the goal. Standing on your hands is not the goal.
The goal is to create space where you were once stuck. To unveil the layers of protection you’ve built around your heart. To appreciate your body and become aware of the mind and the noise it creates. To make peace with who you are. The goal is to love, well … You.
Come to your yoga mat to feel; not accomplish. Shift your focus and your heart will grow.
— Rachel Brathen
Thank you for being here!
Love and Light,