Stretching, relaxing, meditating and inner-core strength are all words that come to mind when we think of yoga. We use this ancient discipline, which originated in India, as an escape and a form of exercise. It’s a great way to stretch and strengthen your muscles, improve your body posture, relax and focus on inner self. There is nothing better than closing your eyes, listening to your breath and thinking about absolutely zilch.
Image from Mindful Pilates and Yoga
One of our great friends, Sara DiVello, is the author of “Where in the OM am I?”. It tells her story from leaving the corporate world and a job she didn’t enjoy to become a yoga teacher, something she truly loves. We sat down with her and got her take on yoga.
What first interested you about yoga?
Yoga originally seemed mysterious and maybe kind of weird. For hippie herbal tea drinkers who liked twisting themselves into pretzels while balancing on one pinky and burning incense. I started doing yoga because I was heartbroken after my then-boyfriend dumped me. I kept doing it because I had never felt so challenged, strong and totally relaxed. Yoga immediately became my refuge – a place where I could go to burn off the rest of my day and emerge rejuvenated, calm and focused.
Image from Alexa Poletti
Why do you love yoga?
That’s why I love yoga. It’s a totally rejuvenating and also challenging experience. And when I say “challenging” I don’t just mean physically. Although there is the physical challenge, thats really secondary for me. It’s not my goal to do crazy/cool inversions. For me, it’s the mental challenge -and reward – that’s really worth it. The challenge of mental stillness, that total mental silence and deep-down peace that comes at the end of the practice. Where you feel the most connected to the deepest parts of yourself – and also to something outside of yourself. Where you dwell in a calm, peaceful certainty that all is well, that all will be well. THAT is what I practice for.
Image from Yoga Work Flow
What health benefits do you and your clients gain from practising yoga?
Yoga is great for anxiety and depression. Anxiety because it helps to calm you and depression because as my friend and fellow yoga teacher, and psychologist Emily just wrote about, when you train yourself to stay still in a moment, focused only one point, you will learn that you can and will get through anything, no matter how bad it feels.
There are a lot of studies coming out about the other mental benefits as well. Physically, it tones and strengthens your muscles of course (hence why the Hollywood crowd is obsessed), as well as boosts your immunity, lowers your blood pressure, increases your lung/breath capacity, lowers your heartrate… the list is practically endless.
Image from Ive Messy
What was your yoga experience like practicing in India?
Doing yoga in India was interesting. The physical practice isn’t as popular there. Technically, the physical practice is only one small part of “yoga” – but it’s the one part that we westerners have adopted and made the entirety out if. The other parts of yoga – meditation, self-study, pranayama (breath work), living by the yamas and niyamas (which are do’s and dont’s of life – sort of like the 10 commandments), chanting and devotional study are much more popular over there. Also, we westerners have this terrible sedentary lifestyle that wreaks havoc on our bodies – especially with back pain problems, tight hips, neck and shoulder problems. So I think another reason that we’ve adopted the physical practice is to counteract all that. However, over there, I saw so many people sitting crossed-legged on the ground, and moving in ways us western bodies don’t. I’ve wondered if maybe they just don’t “need” the physical practice as much. Or maybe the practical practice is just what western cultures were more comfortable to adopting (for instance, you don’t see a lot of chanting around Western cities).
Image from The Right Nutrition Plan
– You can buy Sara’s book “Where in the OM am I?” here. Trust us, you won’t want to put this book down.
Studio Anya – A little urban escape in the middle of Manhattan, New York. Classes start at $20 per person.
Kripalu Retreat – A picturesque retreat nestled in the Berkshires Mountains, Massachusetts. A two-night weekend stay starts at $368, includes shared accommodation, classes and all meals.
Surf Goddess Retreat – Yoga is an integral and essential part of all surf retreats set amongst beautiful villas in Seminyak, Bali. Retreats start at $2795 for a seven-night package which includes accommodation, all meals and daily yoga and surfing lessons.
Sangsurya – Multiple yoga sessions a day, beach walks, gourmet vegetarian meals and spa treatments – doesn’t get much better than that! Located in Byron Bay, a five-night retreat will set you back $2145.
Zen Hot Yoga – It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but hot yoga burns more calories so you get more from your workout. Single classes in the Brisbane studio start at $25 each.