One thing that I am excited to start doing on this little blog is interviewing people I meet who have had their lives changed in some way by doing yoga. I feel like there are so many great interviews out there with yoga teachers and people who have been doing yoga for a long time, and that is AWESOME, but I am personally interested in the yoga newbies, the “everyday” yogi and their journey, because that is what I personally relate to.
My amazing friend Weni who I mentioned last week was kind enough to share her story with me, and I found it super inspiring and goose-bump inducing, and I hope you will too 🙂 Also, she took all these photos herself, in NEW ZEALAND, which I think is pretty darn awesome 🙂
What made you decide to start doing yoga?
I’ve mentioned to you before I was partying too much [at that time], and using drugs. I used to party like every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I would have a big high from this, but coming down was worse than what I got out of the high. I would wake up on Monday and go to school and work, and would feel like a Zombie. I wouldn’t be able to think about anything properly and wouldn’t have any appetite. I googled what I could do to minimise the come down situation, and the internet said yoga can help. So I thought, okay, why not? Because I would be feeling maybe back to 100% on Wednesday or Thursday, which is quite a long time to feel really bad, and then I would start to party again on Friday. My conscience was telling me something was wrong and I felt lucky to be able to still hear my conscience. I felt like this isn’t me, I’m going too far. All of my friends were partying like this. Now I don’t spend time with them like I used to, which is one of the sacrifices I knew I needed to make, in order to move forwards.
So you went to a class for your first time doing yoga?
Yeah I went to a class. I didn’t know how to start and I felt like I needed someone to guide me.
How did you feel during your first class?
I felt like… very lost. I didn’t know what the teacher was talking about. But I told her beforehand this was my very first time so she said she would keep an eye on me. She was very encouraging and kept saying “It doesn’t seem like this is your first time!” which made me feel like okay, I can do this! I still go to the same class that I go to now, with the same teacher who is my favourite. When my teacher started the first class with Om, followed by a chant, I was really shocked! And I was thinking things like, how can I just change my life by stretching my body? Is it stupid to do this and expect a better me? Savasana, does that mean nap time? When my teacher said “listen to your breath” I thought HA? I normally listen to music… But even despite these thoughts, I found going to class exciting. I wanted to get out of my crazy life so I decided to try anything that might help me. My teacher asked me after class if I was feeling better after yoga, and I said yes, even though honestly at that point I didn’t. I didn’t really get the point then but I didn’t want to be rude.
After about a month though, things had started changing for me. I could touch my toes, kiss my knee, I was becoming more flexible, and I felt myself getting stronger. Then I started to enjoy the chant, and now I always start and finish my yoga with the single gentle Om that shocked me so much that first time. I realise now that it is not solely about stretching, it is about breath, about how you feel, that all parts of your body, inside, outside, everything, are connected. I started to love it, I started to want to learn from books, eat veggies, look after my body. About a month after starting yoga I was still partying, and I started feeling the incongruity in this. I told myself that this [big festival in Sydney] would be the last time I partied like that, and it was. Because you know, you start to take care of yourself after doing yoga. I can’t explain it in a words, it just happened naturally and I didn’t expect it. I don’t even know how can I love yoga so much…So I can’t explain it too much.. Haha.
Do you have a pose that is easier for you personally? And a pose that is more difficult for you?
I like being upside down. So headstand, forearm stand (which I’m still practicing), etc. I like the idea that by turning upside down you can see the world from a different perspective, and the quote “I cannot change the world, but I can change how I see the world”.. That’s inversions! I never think “I don’t like this pose, I don’t want to do this pose”. Because sometimes we are good at something and not so good at something else, so it’s fine either way. One pose that is more challenging for me is King Pigeon though. The hips should be square, but no, I just can’t. It’s very hard to bend my knee in that pose. (Me: I am a million miles from bending my knee in King pigeon too! Weni: See! Even after seven years! Me: ABSOLUTELY 😉 )
What style of yoga do you do at your studio?
Hatha. I’ve tried Ashtanga twice but it feels too fast for me right now.
What would you say to someone thinking about giving yoga a try?
Give it a try! Because you don’t know if you never try, and it’s all about the journey. It’s all a matter of time and progress. It’s not a competition. The first time for me, I was looking at my neighbors, thinking oh, they’re very good!! But after than I read my yoga teachers blog, and she said “There is not good yoga or bad yoga. Your yoga is not “lacking” today. There is only yoga. I came to classes with more confidence after that, and stopped looking at my neighbors. Yoga is all about yourself. When you’re a beginner its exciting and you maybe want to do all the fancy poses, but with time it just happens naturally.
Me: Its actually so cool because I remember talking to you very soon after you did yoga for the first time, and you said something like you couldn’t do any of the fancy poses, and I thought it will be interesting to see what you say about it in a few months. Now you are sitting here about six months later and it’s so amazing because you are like “Yeah, it’s not about that!”
Weni: Yeah! Yoga is not about the fancy poses, it just a matter of time until you can master it.. but it’s not about how flexible you are, even if you do get more flexible as a result of your practice… and it is not a competition. So don’t expect to do scorpion pose after your first class 😉 For me, it is about a journey. It taught me that when something comes easy, you usually let it go easily too. But something that you work for, like yoga, is more precious.
Ummm who else is having goose-bumps? Such a beautiful journey, and sooo lovely of Weni to share it so openly with me (and you 🙂 ). I am super lucky to have this amazing girl as my friend. I highly recommend checking out her gorgeous travel blog, she is a super talented and passionate photographer as you can see from the pics on this post!
Thank you again Weni my darling!!
And Namaste 🙂
If you would be interested in talking about your yoga journey here on Kiwiyogirunner, that would be AWESOME! I would love to hear all about what floats your yoga boat! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂