Angie is one of my best best friend. The kind of friend you felt was always here and will always be here, like real sisters . She and Jazz (coming up next in the Yogis Stories) are the two obvious yoginis i thought of when starting this Yogis Stories section and i feel so happy they accepted to answer few of my questions. Jazz is the one who introduced me to yoga and Angie is the one that followed along with me into the fantastic yoga path. Since then we formed that Yoga Gang Angie mentions in her answers... Read more below about her very own experience of yoga and feel inspired ! Have a good read !
Age : 30+
Nationality : world citizen
Current city : Shanghai, China
Current job : brand director for Naked – a lifestyle company
Could you briefly describe what yoga means to you?
Yoga is an evolution and an exploration. It’s a discovery of your own body, its strengths/weaknesses and its physical limitations; it’s an introspection into the power of your mind; it’s a way to understand your learning preference – what kind of yoga teacher inspires you and do you know why; it’s a way to connect with and get to know a community of like-minded people. On any given day, the way you feel, the way you respond to a teacher, and the way you interact with a class can be completely different depending on the person you are on that particular day, at that particular moment.
How did your path to yoga begin and how was the first time?
I did my first yoga class in my 20s, it was a bikram class, and it was hot, and boring and I remember thinking “I won’t go back”. At that time, I was dancing competitively, which involved 2-3 hours of intense practice at least 5 days a week; I needed something more stimulating, not just sweat inducing. Fast forward a few years, I had a roommate/colleague/best friend who had a consistent yoga practice, and as a curious explorer of body movement, I tagged along for a class, insisting on it being a beginner level. I was pessimistic, and to my surprise, it was OK! In poses involving flexibility, I was in my comfort zone. In poses involving strength, I was hopeless. But that dynamic, along with the exploration of my own body and movement, made the class interesting. And I signed up for another class. For the second class, my friend failed to mention it was NOT beginner until after the class. Luckily (for her!), I found the challenge fun! Aside from the class, I found myself part of a small “yogi gang” that would meet on the mat at the end of a long day at work, which was another incentive to keep on the yoga path.
Why did you continue your practice? What does yoga bring to your life?
I wasn’t hooked after my first class. I was hooked after a class with a particular teacher. I guess it was mostly the music he played, combined with the lightness of a playful practice. The music was modern, including some Bob Marley, hip-hop and sometimes even rap. The practice did not only incorporate by-the-book asanas, but also other exercises. It felt like one long choreographed dance, flowing so much that when the second side came around I couldn’t even remember what I had done the first time around. Each class was was unexpected, exciting and inspiring.
Aside from the obvious physical aspect, every yoga class offers me a moment to work on myself. I always try to end each class with a self check-in – How am I doing? How am I feeling? Am I happy, why or why not? What do I want to change? What am I thankful for? Is there something I can do better? The list of questions is not always the same, and sometimes it’s focused on other people, but it’s a general guide of thought manifestations to share into the universe.
What insights have you gained through yoga?
Your mind is the biggest limitation in your life. I vividly remember one of my first yoga classes, seeing people kicking up into inversions, holding arm balances, and telling myself “Yeah, I’ll never be able to do that!” What a horrible thing to think! I hadn’t simply told myself that I couldn’t do something in that moment, but I had told myself that I could NEVER do it, and I had accepted it. 4+ years into my yoga practice, I am doing those same inversions and arm balances I “never” thought I could do, though not perfectly. “I can’t do that” still crosses my mind, but now instead of accepting it, I instead try it anyway, and sometimes surprise myself!
What is the biggest challenge you’ve been facing in your practice in the overall (on and off the mat)?
I have found it difficult to develop a solo practice. Whether it’s a matter of discipline or knowledge, I’m not sure. But, every time I try to practice at home, it’s a grand failure. It’s difficult to focus, somehow all the poses that I know in class fly out of my head, and all I can remember is Sun Salutation.
What’s your mantra, if any? Your personal ethos?
I guess I have a few:
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Aside from literal life or death situations, there’s little in the world that cannot be done with a dash of silly and a touch of laughter.
- Everyone is doing his/her best. There’s not enough time for conspiracy theories around every corner, and it’s much easier to take everything at face value.
- If something awful happens, give yourself three days before you decide on a course of action. By that time, you’re a little more sane and thinking more clearly.
Outside your yoga practice, what other routines help to support your body and mind?
I’ve recently taken my non-violence practice off the mat and adopted a vegan diet. It was never something I thought I would do, because of the negative judgment and associations that seem to be involved, but after some self-education and inspiration from dear friends, it seemed to be the only logical step. Next, I am looking to incorporate a meditation practice.
What advice from your yoga practice you would like to share with other yogis?
Don’t focus so much on what things look like, but focus more on how they feel. When things feel right, they will look right. When things look right, they don’t necessarily feel right. Don’t get caught up by the person next to you with her foot on her head that you are not in touch with how you are feeling. Get to know your body – which muscles are tight, and which are flexible? where do you feel strong, and where needs extra work? There’s usually a part of your body that’s used to relaxing, and a part that will overwork; identify this on yourself (sometimes it takes another set of eyes to recognize this in you). If you feel relaxed in a pose, chances are that something can be working harder, stretching more and aligning better. Even the most experienced yogi is always working on his/her weakness!