Sunday, 18 March 2012

Yoga by Rachel

This is an interview with Rachel, one of my teachers during my 4 weeks here at Samahita. She's a really good teacher and she has helped me to understand many things about yoga.

How and when did you get into yoga?

I first started when I was a child, I used to do the headstand for long periods of time, although I didn't know it was yoga at the time. My mother didn't really stop me. Then I didn't do yoga again until I was at a friend's party in France where a friend was teaching partner yoga. So we were helping each other into these postures, and it was just lovely. And after that I started to go to classes in London. This was around 1999. I decided to become a teacher in 2005 after I did my teacher's training. Before that becoming a yoga teacher was a dream I had, maybe from the first time I went to a yoga class. But I knew I had a long way to go.

Do you think everyone should practice yoga?

Yoga has many forms so the physical postures is just one aspect. I think everyone can benefit from those, but also from the other limbs of yoga. The asana is more physical, but there are also less physical aspects, such as meditation. And also the state of yoga is something that I think people experience whether or not they practice the postures. So yes, I think everyone should get to experience the state of yoga.

Do you teach different people in different ways?

Yes. I love teaching people individually because I think we are very different, physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically. I enjoy finding the approach that works for each person.

What does yoga mean to you?

I think it means a state of being connected to your higher self. And experiencing every moment with awareness. And it doesn't necessary have to mean practicing postures, although it does help.

What is the most important thing to remember when practicing yoga?

You can only ever be where you are. And if you let that happen, self-acceptance comes and true progression arises.

Do you have some tips for someone who is just beginning?

Find a good teacher! To begin with, a good place to start is at the beginning, take a beginner's course.

How important do you consider the mantras?

They are only important if they are said with intention and meaning. I think that if you don't really connect with them or have a real aversion to them, they're not completely necessary. I think you can still have the intention in your heart without saying the mantras, but they do help. And they're said to be more powerful when you say them in your mind. That's what I tend to do when I'm practicing asana.

Can there be yoga without pranayama (breathwork)?

Yes. Other styles of yoga, such as Iyengar don't focus on the pranayama. But Ashtanga does. They both lead you to the same place, just using a different approach. Ashtanga should definitely be done with the breath, otherwise it can be a little bit harmful and cause strain on the body and mind.

Give 3 examples of how yoga can help us.

It can help you become more self-aware. And more flexible and strong and healthy. And it helps you become more calm and to let go of stress.

Thank you Rachel!



Friday, 16 March 2012

My yoga

Since my one month yoga holiday is soon reaching its end I want to talk a little about yoga. I could write about the philosophy behind yoga, or about the rules and guidelines, but you can probably find all that on some really good webpage if you're interested. Plus, it wouldn't really be yoga from my point of view, from my own experience. So I decided to write about what it all means to me, what is my yoga?

I'm quite new to yoga, and it's only during the past few weeks that I've begun doing my own practice, instead of a lead class. Mysore is the word used in Ashtanga for self-practice. This means that a teacher is present, but they only assist you where required, and give you new asanas (postures) when they see you are ready to go deeper into your practice. Before I started doing the mysore I went to lead classes, during the first 2 weeks here. This gave me a really good base, kind of a stand on which I could learn to balance. I learned the basic asanas and began to remember the sequence by heart. But it was not until I started the mysore that I learned what yoga could be, for me. During my first own practice I already realised that yoga will teach me more about my body than I could have known. It felt like I was only getting to know my body, from the start. I was so happy when I realised this, it felt like I suddenly started a new friendship, with my own body. Then on the second day I realised how stiff I was. I could feel blocks in my body, remnants of emotional traumas and behavioural patterns. I was disappointed at how strong these barriers inside me seemed to be, and I knew I had a long way to go to unlock them. But I also noticed how I had already begun the process of opening them. I felt emotions rise to the surface only from doing that physical practice. A huge relief came over me, it felt like I was releasing emotional strains that I didn't know I had. And simultaneously I feel that my whole body is gradually changing. I feel taller and stronger, and just more in touch with my body. I also feel a sort of calmness, especially right after each practice. That particular feeling could be enough of a reason to continue doing yoga when I go back home.

I know that this process is only in the very beginning, the experience is only starting. Realising this, I see a glimpse of what yoga can give me. It's incredible how they knew thousands of years ago exactly how I should use my body. I have no doubt that everyone can benefit from yoga.

I'll soon post an interview that I did with one of my teachers here, to give you an idea of what yoga is for someone who is much more experienced than me.



Monday, 5 March 2012

Ignorance Is Not Bliss

I went into work for a free breakfast today, and while eating, I was browsing through today's paper. I came across some statistics about what Australian school kids know (or don't know as it turns out) about where food comes from etc. I will post a picture of it below. Anyways, this is all insanely appalling to me. Seriously, how can you think yoghurt comes from a plant? It's so sad because there's no way you could ever expect these kids to make smart choices about food since they don't even know what it is. It just goes to show that, again, the root of the problem is lack of knowledge. It is so important that kids are taught where their food comes from, and what it actually is they are eating. I'm getting so annoyed and sad by this so I won't write any more about it. But people, talk about food, show interest in it, find out what it is you are putting in your body, choose that which is best for you and our planet, treat yourselves with love and pass that mentality on to your children!
I will be back with something nicer next time.

apologies for the poor quality of the picture.

<3 Anna