Finding the Freedom Within Yourself
“Over time, and as a result of a conscious effort to integrate more heart opening postures and chanting, the balance began to shift in my practice between my heart and head. I accepted more, judged less, loved more, strived less, gave thanks more and wanted less. In this way I found greater balance between my heart and mind.”
Yoga has been around for thousands of years but it has only been in more recent years that the phenomenon of yoga has gained such a worldwide following. Cited as a path to mental and physical wellbeing, research is showing the many benefits of yoga extend to many parts of one’s life. 99FM’s MYD Heart spoke to seasoned yoga instructor, Seodhna Keown, who has worked in both Namibia and Canada to share the healing power of yoga.
Tell us how your journey with yoga began?
“My personal yoga journey started with a very strong rational analytic approach. My head dominated! It had always dominated in every other area of my life and it is that critical analysis that I brought to my yoga practice. I was critical of myself in some postures, was always comparing myself to other yoga students, was more concerned with how I looked in a posture than on how it felt and I was deeply caught up with the thinking mind versus my feeling body. My yoga practice became a bit of a dance between my thinking mind (running to-do lists flashing through my mind while in a posture) and my feeling body and heart. Over time, and as a result of a conscious effort to integrate more heart opening postures and chanting, the balance began to shift in my practice between my heart and head. I accepted more, judged less, loved more, strived less, gave thanks more and wanted less. In this way I found greater balance between my heart and mind. I slowly developed greater compassion for myself and others, opened myself to receive more easily, discovered my joy in serving others, cultivated more acceptance of myself and those closest to me and began a regular practice of gratitude on the mat. I learned to trust myself more and listened more deeply to the wisdom of my heart and less to the critical and often unkind narrative of my overworked and tired mind. I found freedom in my yoga practice by accepting exactly where I was at. This came as a result of a strong heart opening practice.”
What is yoga?
“Yoga is for everybody. Yoga means Union; Union between body and breath; head and heart; the self and something larger than the self. It is the art of waking up and activating an inner vitality to help you feel better, get stronger and respond more effectively to the world around you.”
“Yoga is a powerful healing practice that works to create balance in the body and mind. Through yoga, we open and stretch ourselves, (re)discover the joy of movement and begin to cultivate an awareness of breath and a sense of presence in our lives.”
“While there are many different styles, each yoga class you try promises to include some combination of pranayam (breathwork), asanas (physical postures) and/or meditation. Which yoga you choose is entirely up to you. If you are looking for a more athletic and fast paced yoga, try a vinyasa or power yoga. Something more moderate, deep-working and chill, try Yin or Hatha yoga. Something that introduces the use of sound vibration (chanting) and draws from thousands of specifically designed healing sequences, try Kundalini.”
Why are some people afraid of yoga?
“I think there are a number of reasons why people are afraid to try out a yoga class. I have heard everything from I am not flexible enough to my church says yoga is the devil’s work. Many students I have worked with started out by thinking that yoga was too difficult for them or that they would look ridiculous trying to get into all the crazy yoga poses they had seen promoted in the media. I often get inquiries about my classes from people who believe that their bodies look nothing like the typical yoga body and they just won’t fit in to the studio or class vibe. The truth is yoga is for everyone. I think it is up to us as yoga instructors in Namibia to work intentionally to open up our teaching spaces to make all people feel welcome, to offer beginner classes, to challenge conservative beliefs about yoga and who the practice is for, to hold regular pay-what-you-can classes, to travel around Windhoek and Namibia to open up yoga as a healing modality to everyone and to offer training programs for Namibians to qualify as skilled yoga instructors so we can expand the reach of – and access to – yoga in this country.”
“Yoga helps us to release tension in the body and to create clarity in the mind through deep breathing, long-held postures, movement and meditation. This takes us away from habitual thinking patterns and helps to cultivate inner peace and presence. The Western world there has developed a tendency to defer to the all-powerful and mighty mind. The rational analytic mind is held in such high esteem in the way we make decisions and interact with each other and the world. Many yoga postures are designed to elevate the heart over the mind and to open the heart centre to bring balance between the heart and head. This helps us strengthen and open the heart centre so that we can be more compassionate with ourselves and others, less judgmental of ourselves and others and generally more aligned/merged with a universal flow that can support us on or off the mat.”
“There are endless scientific studies documenting the many benefits of a consistent yoga and meditation practice. Bottom line? A regular YOGA practice IS GOOD FOR YOU. Yoga is well known for promoting flexibility, building muscle strength, improving posture, reducing injuries in athletes and maintaining a healthy and flexible spine. Perhaps less well known is the fact that yoga is effective in preventing disease and supporting healing and recovery from illness. Yoga helps to calm the nervous system, promote lymphatic system drainage, reduces anxiety, boosts immunity and mood, drops blood pressure and helps you sleep more deeply.”
What does one need to know to start a yoga practise?
“Here are some of the things that I share with students who come to my classes:
- Go with an open mind
- Don’t eat a heavy meal prior to your class!
- Bring a playful, curious spirit and you might just discover something wonderful, energizing and new
- Wear comfortable clothing (trendy yoga clothes not necessary!)
- Start off easy, rest when you need to, don’t push yourself into poses that don’t feel good or right for you
- Close your eyes at times – this helps to cultivate a sense of internal awareness & presence
- Be prepared to breathe. Allow the breath to initiate your movement. Keep coming back to your breath.”
“The yoga journey is an amazing one and can feel really good a lot of the time. However, it doesn’t always feel good. When opening ourselves to entire range of what our mind and body are about, we are bound to hit some bumpy roads along the way. What helps me is to breathe my way through what emerges in my practice. Try to notice and observe what is coming up for you in different poses – do your best not to judge, attach or hook into your thoughts and judgements about yourself or your practice. This is a journey and takes time to cultivate.”
“Yoga is not a competition with others (don’t worry about what others in the room are doing) but rather the start of a journey of growth, healing and self-discovery.”
How does one get in touch with you?
“I teach flowing and healing yoga sequences to strengthen the body, find the breath and calm the mind. My classes in Klein Windhoek are small and intimate”
“I also teach large classes at PULSE Health and Wellness Studio in the Southern Industrial Area at the Lifestyle Centre. Find us on facebook.” Click here for the Pulse Page on Facebook : Pulse Health and Wellness
Seodhna is a qualified Yoga and Pilates instructor with 10 years of teaching experience in Namibia & Canada. Currently based in Windhoek Namibia, she is a partner in the Namibian wellness studio, PULSE Health and Wellness.
She also recently opened a small boutique studio called PULSE zen.