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Yoga, Body Image, & Comparisons: An Interview with my Yoga Instructor

Posted May 17 2012 9:14am

I am very excited today to introduce you to the woman who made me really fall in love with yoga. Back in January I signed up for a month long course that would take place in February that was called “New to Yoga.”  I had done my share of at home videos but had never been brave enough to take a class, even though all of last year that was the number one thing I wanted to do.  Wania (pronounced like Vania) was the woman who helped me ease into yoga with compassion, grace, and love.  She has an incredibly powerful story and I’m honored that she let me interview her.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Wania.  I’m so grateful and I know my readers will be too.  Just so my readers can get to know you and your story a little more, can you tell us what brought you to yoga and what you see as the mental benefits of a yoga practice?
A couple years ago doctors discovered a brain tumor and I was in the hospital for almost a year. After surgery and many months in bed, I developed a severe bulging disc in the lower back and neck, which led me to depression.  Looking for relief, I tried many things; meds, therapies, you can name it. Nothing helped me but Yoga. Yoga has helped me manage my pain and brought back balance to my body and mind.
For those of us who suffer from negative body image, how do you think that yoga can help us feel more positive about our bodies? 
We have a moment in our lives that we think we are not pretty enough, not tall enough or for example in Yoga, we are not flexible enough. Nothing is enough, but by practicing Yoga daily, you can start to see things differently. And one of the greatest gifts of life is that at a certain point you will find a deep connection and appreciation of your body as it is. It is working with the body in a way as you listen to the prana and with time, while you see your body moving through asanas, you will learn what your body can do or not. With calmness and patience, you won’t be frustrated that your body can’t do certain things anymore. You will be grateful of what you can do. Just by having your hands connected to earth, you will feel the vibration through your hands, an energy that goes through your whole body. What a great gift, isn’t it? And you will practice Yoga with a sense of gratitude and appreciation for life, making you feel beautiful from inside out, because this is what matters.
As you know, having been both my teacher and a friend, I compare myself a lot to others.  What are your tips for staying focused on your own mat and intention during the course of a yoga class? If the comparisons start, any suggestions for how to bring your mind back to focus on you?
We get worried of what people think about us and we become a miserable slave to their opinions, but others don’t think about us all the time, we are our own enemies. We are the one who thinks we need to be “perfect” but we don’t have to, we are human beings. Regular practice of yoga helps us to step out of this “darkness”.  When we feel good, we look good and we feel better about us. Not just that Yoga helps in improving our body posture, but also it can increase the physical energy of the body. I have found that Yoga is one complete solution for the physical and emotional health. Once you feel fit, energized and relaxed, you will feel great about yourself  and you will stop comparing to others.  You will discover that nobody is better or worse than you,  each one of us has our own uniqueness.
How has yoga helped your confidence and what other practices would you recommend for someone whose self-esteem needs a boost? 
I live and love Yoga, a passion that brought me to a path of inner peace and love my true self and life. Through Yoga and meditation, a person is able to remake a long lost connection with their self. We become more aware about ourselves and this helps us in recognizing our strengths and weaknesses in a better way. Once this awareness is achieved, we will feel more comfortable with our own body and mind and we will know about potential as a person.
What is your favorite song to do yoga to? 
I love the song Rakhe Rakhan Har by Snatam Kaur. It transmits so much love and calmness.   http://www.spiritvoyage.com/ mp3download/Rakhe-Rakhan-Har– -31-Minutes/Snatam-Kaur/ALB- 002105.aspx
Again, a big thank you to Wania for sharing her story and her wisdom with all of us.  She has been a huge support for me since Day 1 and is an excellent yoga teacher who balances life lessons with asanas (poses) and is a powerful woman who gives so much to the world. I’m so grateful that our paths have crossed as she has given me the gift of loving yoga and has helped boost my self-esteem and confidence during lower points this semester.  Thank you again, Wania! Namaste
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