Rachael was my introduction to yoga as movement medicine. I was coming from a place of seeing yoga as "exercise" - at this time in my life, years ago, I was in a state when EVERYTHING was done simply as a means to an end. Rachael guided me to practice for the sake of joy, love & self. What an honour it is to now have her share some of her compelling wisdom with you reading now...
1. How has yoga helped your image of yourself, and the way you love & respect your physical body? As a woman, yoga has taught me to love alll of my parts. There are times where I gain extra weight, because I am an emotional eater, and I've learned to love that part of myself. It taught me I am perfectly, imperfect, at every age, size, and cycle. I want to emphasize that - because I work with women, and this is definitely a theme. Yoga is a daily practice of self-love, acceptance and purpose - it's a medicine that fosters compassion and humility. I see my body as a temple I honour every day, as a sacred ritual. It's a physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual practice to create harmony with ourselves and the world around us. 2. What are your favourite ways to sync and deepen the connection between your spiritual mind & physical body?
I would say, learning to move from the heart, rather than the head. Our head is clouded by our conditioning, our relationships with family, friends, teachers. The messaging is external, and the trick is not to allow it to pollute our internal world. Yoga is a practice of feeling, rather than doing. Learning to listen, to move from intuition, spaciousness, creativity and love.
3. Have you ever felt insecure about the way you show up in a yoga class? How did you work through those feelings, and what would you tell someone who is currently feeling inadequate as it relates to their physical body?
Humility, is big one, and it's not an easy practice. I've learned to get out of my own way a lot while walking this path. I've been teaching yoga for 18 years, before social media, and Instagram was a thing, and I am thankful for that. I didn't even know what yoga looked like when I started. Our culture, society teaches us, we are not enough. We can't possibly sustain the image of beauty the world expects from us. So, I would say, it's about learning to love ourselves, unconditionally. Nurturing, being authentic, and showing up exactly as you are. For me, when I teach, it's not about me, I get out of my own way, because I am there to serve and enhance the other. To enliven someone's day, and show them how to love themselves. I think in life, if we showed up for each other this way, we could shift our consciousness collectively. I believe as a yoga community, we are. Yoga is an ancient healing modality, that connects us to the heart. When we live from the heart, we move from love. If we move from a place of love, this planet would become a safe space for all living beings.
4. What's the one thing you wish people would REALLY understand about yoga?
Yoga is a practice for our mental health. It's a way to bring the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual body to life. It's is a true awakening experience, to be present to our true nature, which is love. It's not about fancy postures that we see on social media. Let's use breathing as an example. Our tendency, is to breath from the chest. Our breath is usually shallow, tight, restricted, and we hold the breath; which brings of into fight or flight. Our bodies are constantly overstimulated by everything around us, including the collective fear of this pandemic. So we think our true nature is anxious, stressed. We identify with the anxiety as who we are. But, it's your body, it's not you. When we learn to breathe slow conscious diaphragm breath work, this stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which brings us into rest and digest. In this state we are calm, relaxed, less reactive, and peaceful. This is where our Yoga practice becomes a practice our mental health.
5. Your go-to way to feel more beautiful, when you're feeling not-so-wonderful?
Practice Yoga, sit in the heart, breathe, and consciously let go of all of the things that don't serve me. Taking time to just sit, and be. It's a self-inquiry practice, that softens my dialogue with the inner critic, and invites self-love into the room. My Mantra Meditation, inspired by Ram Das, is on repeat - " I am loving awareness."