The United Nations decided to have one day, every year, to celebrate yoga and to reach out to the people living in countries of the United Nations, to emphasise and share elements of yoga and how it can help to bring about improvement in health, as well as harmony and peace. Wedneday June 21st therefore marks the 2017 International Day of Yoga – “Yoga for harmony and peace”. We are marking the occasion this year by looking at what yoga means to us.
Each of us are unique in what has led us to try yoga. One of the things I love is that within “yoga” there is so much diversity, so everyone can enjoy different styles of yoga and different asanas according to our body and personal journey.
To celebrate this year´s International Day of Yoga, we decided to ask four of the yoga teachers here at La Crisalida Retreats five questions about yoga and what it means to them:
- What led you to try your first yoga class?
- If someone had never tried yoga before, how would you describe yoga, using 5 words?
- How does yoga manifest health and balance for you?
- Where is your favourite place to practice yoga?
- What is your favourite yoga style to practice and favourite asana (and why)?
What led you to try your first yoga class?
Lisa: It was my first wedding anniversary and as part of our celebrations John and I went for a lovely spa day. The massage therapist pointed out that I had back pain, my hips we out of alignment and that I had very weak back muscles – she suggested I took up yoga, saw an osteopath and had regular massage. I did all three. Some of the best advice I have ever received! I´ve not had back pain since. My first few classes I did not enjoy, so I tried another teacher and that was when I knew yoga had to become part of my life.
Ana: I will always be so thankful to my friend Andrea, who invited me to join with her my first yoga class, and to myself as well, then back on these days, I could never have imagined, the positive changes that came out of this first contact with yoga.
Veronika: A friend of mine took me to the class where she usually went. I joined her because I wanted to do some exercise, but didn´t like going to the gym. I realized that yoga is working from the “inside out”, in a physical sense using the deeper muscles of the body and from a mental/emotional point of view as well. After that class a whole new world opened for me.
Yy: My first experiences with yoga were at College, I took a Yoga class because I needed an elective and it fit in my schedule. This was (ages) ago, the class was more sports based and not what I now know yoga to be. I fell in love with yoga when a friend of mine took me to an Iyengar class. She had been going to help heal a back injury. I was very inspired by the teacher, followed her for years and was ‘hooked’ for life.
If someone had never tried yoga before, how would you describe yoga, using 5 words?
Lisa: balance, flexibility, inner peace, strength, inner awareness
Ana: fun, transforming, useful, awakening, integrating
Veronika: tuning in, grounding, toning, relaxing, healing
Yy: challenging, relaxing, uplifting, healing, opening (for the mind body and spirit)
How does yoga manifest health and balance for you?
Lisa: It’s the use of the breath, either in movement or stillness. Using the breath to stay focused and present in my body. I can learn to listen to messages from inside, these messages can help me to maintain balance. When I´m connected inside I just know what actions or inactions, what food, will keep me in good health. This connection between body and breath can help me to quieten the mind chatter.
Ana: Yoga is for me not only doing some asanas on the yoga mat, it includes kind of a “training of the mind” and some “rules”(about food, positive thinking…) that will lead most of the people that practice it, to health and balance, that`s why it`s so popular! And for me it is kind of easy to integrate yoga in the daily life, so that you get to feel the benefits of it very soon!
Veronika: Through the different techniques of yoga I am balancing the functions of my physical body while also achieving balance and calmness in my mind. When we feel balanced and “at ease” it helps us to stay healthy and away from “dis-ease”
Yy: Through the practice of yoga my physical body is toned, strengthened and purified. And helps to calm my mind. The philosophical and spiritual aspects of yoga help me become aware of judgements and suffering that come from being a human on the planet, and give me tools to navigate toward inner peace. Practicing Yoga reminds me that life is a journey, and the destination is less important than how you feel. The physical postures (asanas) of yoga challenge my body and give my mind and spirit opportunity to find ‘comfort’ within those challenges. Because of this when I meet challenges ‘off the mat’ I am more prepared to breathe my way through them.
Where is your favourite place to practice yoga?
Lisa: I have practiced yoga in many beautiful places, inside and outside, but one of my absolute favourites is on our yoga terrace at La Crisalida Retreats, with the sea in the distance and mountains all around. Sunday morning, 10.15, when Albir is slow and quiet. There is a stillness in the air. The atmosphere changes throughout the year. One time we started a class in sunshine and by the end a gentle soft mist had rolled in creating a still atmosphere, it was magical.
Ana: There is no favourite place for me, I think that the state of mind is the most important thing, but if I have to choose… I will say somewhere in India or another country with a similar climate, then the heat helps to open the joints 😉 Anyway, I do love to share the practice in a group.
Veronika: Close to nature, let it be a yoga platform on the beach or a shala in the forest/jungle.
Yy: On a sandy beach right on the water’s edge. The soft sand helps me ground and feel confident to practice more challenging postures because I’m not afraid to fall. And if I do I can easily dip in the water for a rinse. I also like to practice in the Rocky Mountains and even do a tree pose in a tree.
What is your favourite yoga style to practice and favourite asana (and why)?
Lisa: at this moment I love anything Yin. Long held postures (asanas) and a gentle opening and sinking deeper really help me to come back down to earth and take residence in my body. If I had to pick one asana from Yin, then currently it’s a tie between dragonfly (wide legged forward fold, with all its variations) or sleeping swan (a lovely deep hip opener). After holding dragonfly for 5 minutes, I feel this amazing sense of gentle energy filling my whole body. Sleeping swan is because I have lots of tightness in my hips so anything to relieve that is good for me!
Ana; I enjoy many different styles, so I don`t really have a favourite one. Right now, and because I did my yoga teacher training in a Shivananda center, I do adjust my yoga more to it`s five principles which are: proper exercise (Asanas), proper breathing (Pranayama), proper relaxation, proper diet, and positive thinking and meditation. I choose to go deeper into the practice of one asana for longer periods of time, as a way to get to know, understand and get the benefits out of it. I focus my practice in this one asana for some weeks or months, relaxing my body, allowing it with this, to find it`s way into this asana and holding it as long as it is possible for me. Right now and for some months, I`m going deeper into the practice of sirsasana (the headstand).
Veronika: It really depends on the day and how I feel. Sometimes my body needs slower yin yoga and a gentle chest, heart and hip opener, such as a supta baddha konasana (reclining bound angle) with supporting bolsters and blankets to release emotional and physical blocks. In my Yang practice I like arm balances, like Crow and inversions like Pincha Mayurasana (feathered peacock) or Scorpion, because they challenge the ordinary rules of physics 😉 Other times I enjoy a faster, and stronger, flowing style of yoga that challenges me and takes my asana practice to the next level.
Yy: I enjoy the alignment focused classes that are slow and allow time to really get to know the different postures and refine alignment and get stronger. I also enjoy Laugh yoga, restorative yoga, partner or acro yoga and Kundalini. My favourite postures are the triangle family and savasana.
More information on yoga retreats
Yoga retreats run all year round at La Crisalida Retreats, Spain. We offer different styles of yoga across the week so you can explore new styles and approaches. Click on the links to read more about yoga classes or coming on a yoga retreat.