Connecting with your body through movement
Yoga with Sarah Vassella
Sarah Vassella is passionate about women’s empowerment, creativity and wellbeing and seeks to attain this through supporting heart-centered women in businesses, from all over the world, with intuitive design, online courses and mentoring. Sarah also facilitates yoga classes and creative workshops in her local community, and emphasises the importance that yoga has on a person’s overall well-being. Below, she answers some questions on the benefits of yoga and her own experiences as a yoga teacher.
HOW DO YOU THINK YOGA ENHANCES AND ENCOURAGES WELLBEING?
Yoga is a way to connect with your body - which is a temple of wisdom. You know that inner guidance stuff I was talking about? So much of it comes from your body. Movement also allows us to express energy and keep all of our bodies (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual) clear, fresh and invigorated. It doesn’t have to look a certain way and you don’t have to stand on your head or touch your toes to be practicing yoga. The kind of yoga I teach is trauma sensitive yoga, which uses invitational language and is based on empowering participants to develop their own practice and move the way they want to move. It’s less about following the teacher and more about following your own body’s directive.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST INSPIRATIONAL MOMENT YOU’VE EXPERIENCED AS A YOGA TEACHER SO FAR?
For most of last year, I was contracted to work one on one with a girl in primary school, teaching her yoga. We had weekly classes together; focused on body awareness among other things. It was very special hearing about the positive impact it had made in her life. I am incredibly grateful for that experience.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST STRUGGLE AND BIGGEST MILESTONE IN THIS PRACTICE?
I still don’t have a disciplined daily yoga practice. My mat is all laid out and ready to go but I find it hard to stick to a strict daily structure (which is something I’m now realising is a form of self sabotage). I value freedom, creativity and flow so much that I end up unbalanced in the ‘taking consistent action’ department. I let things pile up because I don’t take action and then end up overwhelmed - which makes me even less productive! But I’m learning to unsubscribe from all the beliefs that tell me I’m not good enough and I'm learning to embrace all aspects of me, even those unhelpful parts! It helps when you can call out (with compassion) those times when you are slipping into self sabotaging behaviours. Being my own boss has made me realise I’ve got to be accountable for how I spend my time.
WHAT ARE FIVE YOGA POSES OR ACTIVITIES THAT COULD BE PRACTISED AT HOME TO ENHANCE WELLBEING?
Below is a simple little morning practice you can do before work each day:
Mindful breathing: It’s something you can do as soon as you wake up in the morning, without even opening your eyes. As soon as you realise you’re awake, you can bring your hands to your heart and take 3 conscious breaths.
Arm raises: I like to find a window where I can see the sun (or go outside if it’s not too cold) you can allow your arms to raise, open your chest, tilt your head back and breathe in the new day.
Meditation: Yoga is about stillness as much as movement. You can sit quietly and listen to a guided meditation or some gentle music, while you focus on allowing a state of calm to rise within you.
Mindful cuppa: If you make a cuppa in the morning (my favourite is green tea with jasmine) while the jug is boiling you can bring your awareness to your feet on the floor. Possibly rock from your heels to the balls of your feet and from side to side. Maybe take your knees off the lock and lengthen up through your spine. This is called standing mountain.
When your cuppa is ready, you can savour the experience by tuning into your senses. Notice the aroma, the temperature, the weight of the cup, the taste, the sounds around you.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE YOGA QUOTE OR MANTRA?
I don’t know where this quote came from but I feel so empowered by it:
“Tell your story the way you want it to be.”
To find out more about Sarah’s yoga teachings, follow her on Facebook and Instagram: @sarahvassella.creative