What exactly does yoga mean, In your opinion?
Yoga is a philosophical practice. From the root, “yuk” means to yolk or connect. It is not a religion, though it is often mistaken as one. You will discover a natural connection to your Higher Self by practicing yoga. The voice within you will begin to sound loud and clear. Through body movements and breath, you will learn to dig deeper into the layers of who you are, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised! In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, yoga is defined as the stillness or quieting of the mind. This quieting of the mind begins our journey to self–study. In yogic Sanskrit, we call this svedyana.
Tell me about your personal experience.
My personal experience/self-discovery.
I was in my college dorm room the first time I tried yoga. I stood in the middle of my room as I mimicked the postures on the DVD. My immediate observation was that it gave me a sense of physical release. I felt Light and Relaxed. The next day I also felt sore, but the good feeling you get after a strenuous workout implies you worked hard and your body is changing! Every time I was led through these “awkwardly” positioned poses, I somehow felt better and better, so I continued to do this a few days a week. I didn’t self-judge when I realized I didn’t look exactly like the yoga teacher on the television, I simply continued to do it with the intention to do my best. This is very important, especially for beginners. Self-judging is what holds us back from completely letting go. There is a misconceived notion about yoga- that you must be flexible or athletic. Yes, the poses will seem intimidating and difficult, but these misconceptions are obsolete; they are just fears and barriers which block people from their fullest potential. What you learn on the journey is that you must focus on the present moment, and only the present moment- not the outcome. This is the meditation component of the practice. Being present is the underlying goal.
When did you decide to practice yoga?
After college, my curiosity led me to take classes at an actual yoga studio. I wanted the “real “thing. I signed up for a trial membership at exhale spa, which changed my life. I took as many classes as I could that week. The sense of tranquility and the challenge of something new intrigued me. On the last day, I lay in Savasana, corpse pose, a posture of full surrender and meditation. The stillness in my mind and body allowed me to connect deeply. By doing so, I discovered I was meant to serve others through my experiences and commitment to yoga.
Soon after, I completed a Yoga Teacher Training program through Pure Yoga at Equinox Club in Boston. This was just the beginning of my journey. I moved to Los Angeles to continue this journey as a student and teacher. Yoga is about knowing where you are on your path and embracing it. It is about humility and grace.
What are the benefices of practicing yoga?
I volunteered at the YMCA while I studied various styles and techniques—my deep desire to learn more transcended into an authentic spiritual transformation. I came to realize that yoga is not only practiced on the mat. I experienced its benefits daily whether or not I was in a yoga class. In a world with constant chaos, I could find peace of mind even in the most stressful circumstances. It's quite a simple concept: become the observer of your life. Remain calm and at peace with the present moment; life will unfold subtly and turbulently. Do not react; only observe.
How has Yoga evolved for you?
My style of teaching is rhythmic. Vinyasa yoga, linking breath to movement, is a style in which each inhale and every exhale introduces a new posture. Conscious breathing is what allows you to focus on the present moment.
In the last few decades, yoga has evolved globally. It has become extremely broad, opening up the opportunity for everyone to experience its benefits. Yoga began as an Eastern meditative practice, and it is now a recognized form of Art and Creativity worldwide. Being part of a positive and healthy movement has been an honor. Health benefits of yoga include: weight loss, flexibility, mental clarity, reduces stress, boosts immunity, and helps alleviate depression and anxiety.
Amongst the various styles of yoga, specific classes have been created to accommodate diversity: Yoga for Kids, Yoga for Seniors, Prenatal Yoga, etc. There is certainly a class for everyone. Yoga is meant to reveal who you are when there is no distraction, negativity, or doubt. Find a way that yoga resonates with you, and you'll be amazed at how impactful it can be on your life. The health benefits of yoga include weight loss, flexibility, mental clarity, reduced stress, boosting immunity, and helping alleviate anxiety and depression.