In a world that can often be overwhelming, people are constantly looking for ways to find balance and inner peace. Yoga can be a powerful way to develop our inner strength and body and improve our potential. Fazia, now a dedicated yoga instructor, has experienced the transformative power of this ancient practice and is living proof of its incredible benefits.
Fazia, tell me about your yoga story. How long has it been since you started practising yoga and how did you turn your passion into a profession?
I started to practice yoga in 2003 while I was working in Miami, I was not fit at all, so I started to run every day and do yoga classes that I remember finding physically very challenging.
I remember I was shaking in the downward dog as my body was very weak, but I loved the effects it had on my mind. I was feeling better in my body and psychologically, feeling more positive and more in control of my diet and myself. I used to suffer from anorexia and bulimia from the age of 14 years old until my late 20’s and yoga helped me accept my body image and healed my compulsive eating behaviours. When I was not practising yoga for a few days, I noticed becoming more anxious and negative. Additionally, I had a bad back that started to hurt when I would not practise. Yoga has become part of my daily routine, similar to walking.
From 2003 until 2016, I practised yoga three to four times a week. In 2016, I went to my first yoga retreat where I was practicing every morning, it was a revelation of well-being and happiness, and since this wonderful Jivamukti retreat, I am practising on a daily basis. In 2017, I did my first 200 hours of teaching training while I still had another full-time job and I started to teach yoga to friends and family.
In 2018 I did my 500 hours of teaching training, but this time I quit my job and began to teach yoga full-time. I also did a mandala vinyasa training to make my classes more creative and a yin yoga and Chinese medicine training that helped me get pregnant naturally at 40.
Thinking of your classes, such as flow yoga, they combine breathing exercises with energising movement and elements of meditation. In your experience, how effective is the meditation done while exercising and focusing on the movement technique?
Flow yoga – where you link each movement to a breath – helps you bring awareness to your breath, body and movement. It works like therapy, but I find it more tangible and faster. You start to become more aware of your thoughts, words and actions, which is the first step if you like to change something in your life. Yoga is meditation, it can be still or moving meditation.
Do you recommend yoga for weight loss?
YES, definitely. If you practice yoga regularly and then stop, you see the difference right away and start missing it.
What are the benefits of yoga for today’s youth?
You are as young as your spine. Yoga is a practice you can do while getting older, it keeps you young especially when you practice asanas where you have your head below your heart such as inversions. Downward dog is one example.
What are the benefits for women who are pregnant?
Pregnant women are not allowed to practice in their first trimester until 14 weeks pregnant, they need to keep their energy for their growing baby. Yoga helped me get pregnant and have a baby as I was fitter and more relaxed. In my first trimester, I did not practice at all, then in my second and third trimesters, I was practising gentler yoga, listening to my body and connecting with my baby.
What about seniors?
Yoga is very good for seniors as they need to move their bodies in a gentle way. It is very good for the joints that tend to get weaker with age.
What is the recommended frequency for yoga classes?
Depending on your busy schedule I would say three to four times a week.
I read in the book “The Art of Impossible”, by the New York Times bestselling author Steven Kotler that “Flow may be the biggest neurochemical cocktail. The state appears to blend all six of the brain’s major pleasure chemicals and may be one of the few times you will get all six at once”. The chemicals are dopamine, norepinephrine, oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins and anandamide. “This potent mix explains why people describe flow as their favourite experience, while psychologists refer to it as the source code of intrinsic motivation.”
Can Flow yoga lead you to this great state for your mind and body, a “neurochemical cocktail”?
Yoga helped me get rid of my addictions. I am eating healthier and drinking occasionally, I will say that yoga became my beneficial addiction. Flow yoga clearly contributes to my physical and mental well-being, I could not imagine a day in my life without yoga. When I practise it’s my time for self-care and I hope that everyone attending my classes feels the same state of well-being.
Where can people contact you?
On Instagram FaziaYoga and I am working on developing my app, soon.
Thank you, Fazia. Let’s end by quoting you: “Namaste“!
DID YOU KNOW?
OVER 300 MILLION IS THE NUMBER OF YOGA PRACTITIONERS AROUND THE GLOBE.
*According to MedAlertHelp, a health and medical product organisation.
Photo credit: Fazia Slimane