Balham and London

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COMMUNITY Yoga and Wellbeing IN BALHAM & LONDON

My recent blog Interview for the #Wellconnected project

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So...I did a blog interview recently, for #Wellconnected, a wellbeing project set up by my friends Hannah and Robyn. It took ages to put my thoughts into words!
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I talk about my #personalyogajourney, how yoga has the power to transform and share what I have learnt on the way. This is especially relevant for those wanting to try yoga and don’t feel that they are good enough: .
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β€œYou are NEVER too old, young, big, small, broken to practice yoga. There is no mould that you need to fit, whether that be super bendy, trendy, flexible or fit – because yoga is meant to be moulded to you!”
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You can read my post for #Wellconnected over here or check it out @afinebalance or @robynkristenyoga. Thank you both for sharing my story and ladies, we will break down those barriers!πŸ’œ

Well Connected: In Conversation..So why yoga?

After over a decade of corporate life and having to deal with the daily London commute, like many of us today, I found that I needed some relief and escapism from the grime and gritted teeth of a typical urban Londoner today! Yoga, to me, is about escaping my mind and giving it a break. It is how I reclaim my oft-forgotten body. I came to yoga through the lens of anxiety and a level of dissatisfaction with my life goals and how I defined β€˜success’.


Looking back to my first few classes – I had no clue what I was doing. I could not touch my toes or hold a warrior for long. What I did know was that I left classes feeling that bit lighter, a sense of relief and a strong desire to continue this form of movement that was previously foreign to me.


The love for yoga was not a slow burner! It was only a year and a bit later that I began my life-changing year-long teacher training with some lovely women.

What is your definition of wellbeing? What helps the process?

Mental and physical wellbeing is having some kind of meaning or purpose in your life, such as helping others or committing to something outside of yourself. And of course, connecting to other people, such as through this #wellconnected initiative – through which I am so pleased to be able to share my love of yoga. We should feel no shame in making time for self-care and self-love. This can mean taking time out, thinking of work-life balance and/or just doing absolutely nothing. The tendency to fill every gap or space in our schedule is super productive but it can also leave us worn out, frazzled or worse, eventually burnt out.


We only actually need to start very small and take very small steps to make improvements that last.

How has yoga helped you and what are the biggest lessons you have learned?

Apart from bringing more life to my brain cells – a steady practice of yoga has boosted my life, everyday living and will reveal joys of life yet to come. Some big elements I sit with are:


β€’ Chasing perfection – people do a lot more with less, so why pontificate and procrastinate?


β€’ Embracing uncertainty – stepping back to see what opportunity may unfurl and present itself.


β€’ More patience and acceptance – both with myself and others. This means being less hard on yourself but pushing when you need to. You need to balance the yang along with the yin.


β€’ Give yourself a break – some of the social conventions we have grown up with or live with, do not always hold true! Allow yourself to have a break once in a while from the busy lives we all live and find some freedom.

Do you have a daily yoga practice? Are there any habits you always make time for?

Yoga is often on my mind, but I do not have a daily full physical practice. I do however think and often practice yoga off the mat, such as incorporating the 8 limbs or excerpts from the Sutras into my daily life.I find myself breathing better – doing small pranayama when needed – this really helps to manage daily stress living and working in London. I often find myself stretching and doing asanas when I need some movement throughout the day. I also find continual inspiration of what I can bring to my students each week.

What are you finding interesting at the moment to support your development?

I make sure I attend a variety of classes, to learn from many teachers, their teaching styles and philosophies. I also dip in and out of online yoga teacher groups and blogs to see how other teachers manage their personal practice. Finally, my students add to my development! Building relationships with regular students allows me to see their progress and enables me to tailor my classes to meet their needs each week – this keeps my development going! 


CONTINUED BELOW

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What is your mission as a yoga teacher? Who are you trying to reach and why?

Keep it real! Satya from the yogic philosophy recognises the idea of being truthful, speaking the truth and ultimately being true to yourself. This can be a little tricky in a competitive world where we compete, not only with others, but also with ourselves! This does not always serve us. And my teaching therefore focuses on real life yoga, not the pictures or YouTube videos that depict the perfect pose, straight lines and not much variation for real life bodies. And with this, each practice is a new day on the mat, each day brings a new practice. You don’t need to do any kind of extended practice, although sometimes a good sweaty session can do wonders to eek out stress and mental discomfort. Sometimes, just a couple of minutes of deep breathing or an easy forward fold can improve your mood and mental wellbeing!

What do you think are the main barriers that stop people thinking they will try yoga?

Many newcomers to yoga are often blinded by images of Insta-yogis and yoga fashionistas. There is no mould that you need to fit – yoga is meant to be moulded to you! Thinking that they are too old, young, big, small, broken and don’t fit the well-marketed images of yoga today.


And you really don’t need to be kitted out in designer gear costing the price of a small car. Simple, straightforward yoga is the best. Yes, you can get a workout from a strong physical practice, but simply sitting still, allowing your mind to quieten down and enjoying some peace is just as, if not more powerful.

What 3 tips would you give to someone thinking of trying yoga (and help overcome these barriers)?

  1. You are good enough! There are no barriers to you trying out yoga! I truly live by the mantra that β€œyoga is for everybody”.   


2. Start where you are – we all start somewhere and don’t be fooled by the super bendies you may see on social media or other mediums.   


3. Enjoy the journey, as once you start feeling the benefits of a regular yoga practice, you may find that it can get quite addictive!