Home Yoga with Sarah Drai
Lets face it the last 12 months haven't been the easiest for any of us. Most of us have been stuck indoors for months, With physical distancing from friends and family we've all felt somewhat lower than usual with our moods. Many of us have turned to home work outs with the bgyms closed to keep out spirits high and our minds active. One other rise we have seen is in home Yoga and we've met with a leader Yoga teacher to see how Yoga can help you and where to start if you're a newbie! Check out the full interview with Yoga instructor Sarah Drai.
Let's begin by talking a little bit about you, tell us about your journey with Yoga and how you became a yoga teacher.
My first class was in a gym in NYC and it was too relaxed for me at the time. It felt like a waste of my time so I never made it back. I was working in banking at the time and was fitting the perfect prototype of the type A overworked chiever, I was looking for efficiencies in my workout and my mind was way too busy to accept to relax.
My first Yoga class wasn’t the one which got me into yoga, therefore it’s important to give it a second, third or even fourth chance before rolling it out if your first experience leaves you feeling ‘blah'. Trying a different kind of Yoga or just a different teacher can be a game changer.
What got me into Yoga a few months later was Bikram Yoga or yoga in a hot room, I am so grateful I tried it! That heat, that intensity, that sweat and the post class and feel good factor totally blew my mind. I loved it and got hooked for years until I moved to London 9 years ago. Hot Yoga changed everything for me, my diet, sleep pattern and overall health. From there I started to practice fast pace Vinyasa Yoga.
I was still in banking but loved the physical aspect of yoga (Asanas) and started to take teacher trainings. When my banking contract was up for renewal I decided to take 3 months break from banking to teach yoga full time. 3 months became 6 and then 9. I had done the leap and couldn’t see myself going back in the corporate space. Such decision comes at a price, teaching yoga full time isn’t very stable financially compare to banking but my happiness level and sense of purpose were up so I decided to value that instead.
A yoga journey is a never-ending journey. Since teaching yoga my practice has expanded greatly. I have gone into various styles of Yoga such as Acro Yoga, Budokon Yoga, Yin Yoga, sound healing, gong and meditation. I teach those various practices and have lots more I would like to learn!
How Can yoga help with people in their daily life?
Ultimately Yoga provides self-awareness. Whether it is in your physical body or in your mind, the practice of yoga helps realise who you are. A great sense of self-awareness is the ultimate tool to accomplish what you want in your life. It’s only when you are self-aware, when you can notice the changes of feelings that you can positively act upon them. Having the ability to witness yourself as
you navigate your life allows you to become far more capable of fulfilling what you desire to experience most.
This doesn’t come overnight obviously but yoga will serve you step by step in your daily life to get there.
If you do not do any physical activity but sitting on your laptop most of the day, the simple fact of doing 20mins of yoga on your mat will help your body release stress and provide an overall feel good factor. If you repeat this daily you will feel some shift rapidly and more feel good factor will kick in. If you are very active at work/at home with young kids, the practice of meditation will provide some ‘me time’ to lower the volume in your mind. Meditation is the ultimate purpose of yoga.
In most cases, you start with the physical practice to find meditation but you don’t need to practice yoga asana to meditate. You don’t need to practice yoga to sit in mediation at all. But once you sit in meditation, you are practicing yoga.
In a time like we are in today I encourage everyone to sit with themselves and tune in.
Who would you encourage the most to start doing yoga?
Everyone. I have seen people in wheelchair, elderly with walking frame do yoga. As long as you can breathe you can find a yoga practice for you. I know that a lot of people are intimidated by yoga partially because the competitive image portrayed in social media. Let this go or you will miss out.
Do you believe there is a connection with improved mental health whilst practicing yoga?
Yes absolutely, and that’s why yoga stands out form other form of physical exercises.
The purpose of yoga is to unite the mind and body to access a meditative state beyond your thinking mind. You thinking mind is that little voice in your head which sounds like you and is commenting all the time.
Many scientific studies have proven that the practice of yoga reduces the impact of your stress response, lower your anxiety levels and helps manage depression. Unfortunately, a lot of people wait to get to those levels to get started. I my experience most people start yoga on the back of a stressful
event. They have lost it and need to sweat it, to breathe it and own it. Then they realise how helpful Yoga is to their life off the mat. Those are often the one becoming yoga advocate due to their own experience. Hence the classic statement “Yoga saved my Life”
Most yoga teachers went through this.
If you are hesitant to try don’t wait until you need it. Instead, you can see it a bit like an investment in your emotional insurance policy. You’ll limit the risk and damages by starting now.
What yoga poses would you advise a novice to start off with?
I am tempted to say mountain pause, forward fold and downward facing dog… who doesn’t need a little inverted position to close the practice!
Mountain pose (Tadasana) is the very first yoga pose, every other yoga pose can be considered as a variation of Mountain pose. The benefit of this pose is to correct your posture, the one you are in each time you stand up. Some will naturally have an anterior pelvic tilt some and anterior pelvic tilt. The first thing to correct to come to a neutral pelvic position. The overall architecture of Tadasana is: feet are hip width apart; the corners of the feet are grounded while your inner arches are lifted towards the inner thigh. The legs are engaged and the body weight is distributed equally between the left and the right side of the body. Feel a line of energy all the way up from the arches of the feet along your inner thighs to your groins, and from there through the core of your torso, neck, and head. Press your shoulder blades into your back, then widen them across and release them down your back, palms are facing forward. The neck is long and the chin of your face parallel to the ground. You are looking in front of you, assertive and calm just like a mountain.
From here, to move into your Forward Fold (Uttanasana) simply hinge from the hips to let the torso fold forward towards your legs. It is important to bend your knees as much as needed. To start I would recommend letting the upper body melt down with gravity. Avoid resisting with your head to release tension in your neck (give your neck a break from supporting your head) think of creating space between each your vertebra and can grab opposite elbows to shift the upper body side to side.
To move in a downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svasana…Yes that’s right!), bend the knees to place your hands flat on the mat, shoulder width distance with your fingers spreading wide (have your index fingers parallel to the side of your mat). Step the right and the left foot toward the back of your mat to form an inverted V shape position. Your feet should be hip width apart with your heels drawing towards the ground. Bend the knees one at the time to stretch the legs (walking the dog) and simply observe that you are inverted. Your heart is above your head and you may feel the blood flow from your heart moving directly towards your head to give you a nice yoga glow!
Tell us more about the classes you offer.
Currently I offer online classes nearly every day from 45min to 90min per session. My classes are all level, I will provide adjustment to make you at ease.
You can access my schedule of classes here: https://app.sarahdrai.com/
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