Finding happiness, or maintaining our wellbeing, are two things that most of us would been keen to achieve. Luckily, there have never before been so many tactics, methods or habits to help us get there. One such example is that of yoga, a practice which has taken the world by storm - but what is it about yoga that makes it so good for you?
Where did your passion for yoga come from? What was it that you liked about it?
When I started practicing yoga I would sit on the floor and do simple poses to stretch my hips. I could not believe the sensation my body and mind felt from a few funny ways to position myself on the ground. Beginning a yoga practice is awkward for most people and I was definitely one of them, I had no idea what was happening! I was so intrigued and began to explore more poses, eventually finding myself upside down. I began to love the process of figuring out different ways to move my body in space. It was very therapeutic for me which led to more studies of meditation and mindfulness. Yoga slowly began to wake me up to live my life more fully.
It feels as though yoga is experiencing a boom period, all over the world, why do you think this is?
I think every day the world becomes a more competitive place. No matter what job you have there is always more work to be done. So many people are stressed out and losing a sense of themselves, forgetting who they are without work or other forms of social identities. Yoga allows you to step away from obligation and focus on yourself. Focusing on breathing and specific poses helps create a higher level of awareness and mindfulness that many people are starting to benefit from. In a sense it feels like we are all learning about self-care right now, slowly beginning to find balance within our busy lives.
Is happiness an important part of yoga, what emotions does it stir up in you?
Everything that is an important part of life is an important part of yoga. You want to feel a wide range of emotions. Sometimes yoga brings me complete joy and happiness but other times more difficult feelings arise. The practice allows me to take a look at these places without reacting to find the source of the issue without judgement. This helps create growth and personal empowerment instead of avoiding the discomfort. Yoga helps me be more aware and appreciate my life as a whole.
What are the biggest positives yoga brings to your life?
Mindfulness, awareness, and a sense of self. Through yoga I have learned to understand and appreciate who I am. This has helped me build a greater respect for other people. We all want many of the same things : love, comfort, and happiness - yet we all have different ways to bring those elements into fruition. Being mindful of my needs and respecting the needs of others has helped bring tranquillity into my life.
In your experience, are people more drawn to yoga for the physical or the mental benefits?
I think with most people they are first drawn for the physical benefits. They want to be more flexible, do a specific pose, or help recovering from an old injury but then they stay for the mental side of the practice. People begin to notice they are more calm, they have a deeper appreciation for life, they have more love for themselves and are willing to show more love to others. When you begin to the process of self-study through the yoga practice it opens up many more doors than ever anticipated. The classes I’ve worked on with Virgin Active lend themselves to this process, by refreshing the yoga classes into their categories Strength, Align or Calm a club member has a much clearer understanding of what they will gain from their attendance.
Do you have any tips for those looking to lead a happy life?
Put effort into your life but don't rush the process. Letting things unfold and letting go of anticipation will help you live in the moment more and appreciate where you are. It is good to have goals and strive for greatness but don't let it take over your sense of self. Find environments that allow you to thrive and live passionately in them.
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