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There are many moments in life where we lose balance, feel lost and disconnected from reality and ourselves. We tend to forget that, in those moments, all it takes for light to shine through is to look at our most precious side, our inner selves.

Yoga, an ancient practice based on the Indian philosophy of joining physical and mental health, is partly based on this inward journey to find balance and peace.

To give more context to those unaware, the word yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘YUJ’ which simply means: union. Yoga is the union of one’s inner self with the supreme self, going back to the roots and understanding that in the end there is no separation between anyone or anything.

It’s a beautiful journey that will open up different paths within oneself. A welcoming world, a joy of the heart to step on the mat for the first time, letting go of what is no longer serving and making space to let love and light in. I spoke to three local yoga instructors to delve into what their practice means to them.

When did you first become aware of the power of yoga practice?

Lindsay Howarth, The Yoga Life Studio

Lindsay Howarth, Aroma Yoga teacher at The Yoga Life Studio in Eastbourne, still remembers the first time she realised how powerful yoga can be “It was my first time on the mat after 5 weeks off, at the end of the class during savasana my eyes started to water and I felt really emotional, that’s when I realised I had shifted something emotional which I had been holding on to within my body. Emotions release chemicals in the brain which can be held in the body until we release them.”

Aggie Zadanska, yoga instructor

Aggie Zadanska, @aggieyoga, Facebook. Image credit: Sarah Carmody

Aggie Zadanska, a Yoga teacher in Eastbourne said: “In 2015 I experienced grief, my world as I knew was falling apart. The sadness was overwhelming. At that time, more than ever, yoga practice was my rescue. It has helped me to come to terms with the loss of my dad, helped me to see beyond sadness and despair. I stopped asking ‘Why him? Why my family?’ In fact, why not.

Nothing is permanent, all changes. Learning to accept this eternal truth, learning to cherish every moment as it is, has been the most valuable lesson from yoga practice.”

Shelly White, Yoga Spiral

Shelly White, founder of Yoga Spiral, recalled when yoga became most meaningful to her “I think the moment I realised yoga changed me has to be when I was pregnant with my first son in 2006. I was travelling and living in South America and my practice was always outdoors. My connection to nature had a deep impact on my practice and being pregnant, everything just all came together and felt so natural. I was blessed to be living on a quiet beach with the elements really teaching me so much.

For me, the surroundings, the yoga practice and this most incredible experience of having this life growing inside of me gave me the realisation that this was a very profound practice that would always be a part of me.”

What does yoga mean to you?

Lindsay said “Yoga to me is reconnecting to my true self, coming back to me in the present moment the only place where life exists. We practice on the mat what we need to take into our lives.”

Credit: @lindsay.yogafortheheartandsoul, Instagram

Shelly said ‘Yoga is a part of me, my attitudes and outlooks… but I always need reminding and going over it again! That’s why we have to regularly practice it as we continuously develop and change. Yoga is certainly a journey of self-discovery, that accompanies us throughout life and its many stages. It never gets boring as it’s never the same!’

Aggie said: ‘Yoga for me is like the most faithful and reliable friend.  It is there for me when I need it. It is a way of living- with kindness and acceptance.’

Where do I begin?

It can be scary at first to step into this new journey, but there is nothing to fear. 

There are many different styles of yoga, suitable for everybody. For example, Hatha (meaning ‘wilful’ or ‘forceful’) yoga is focused on physical practice, striking to find a balance between body and mind through calm movements. Ashtanga yoga brings fire to the practice – it is great for building strength, synchronizing body movements and purifying the body and mind. Vinyasa yoga entails poses which are deeply connected with the breath, moving from one to the other with each inhale and exhale. There are many realms in the practice of yoga to discover, and the journey can hold unforgettable moments and completely change your outlook on life and yourself.

Lindsay said “Yoga is for everyone. Your yoga practice can change day to day depending on your energy. I always say it’s like learning to drive a car or a new skill, the teacher may give lots of new instructions and prompts but in time it will come naturally to you.”

Yoga has many benefits, it can: reduce stress, clear your mind, increase energy levels and self-esteem.  

Shelly said “We are seeing the effects of ever-increasing pressures on us mentally, especially young people. We are bombarded with media, and as we try to balance aspects of life it can all start to feel like a whirlwind that we can’t get out of – yoga is like the antidote!! We slow down, breathe, listen, notice. The world is moving so quickly that we often don’t notice it, let alone really live and experience it!”

Yoga has helped many people shape their inner selves in so many ways, nurturing what we usually tend to turn away from and making it our strength. So take a deep breath, close your eyes and let yourself experience. And don’t worry if you fall – you will always get back up.

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May 2024