Life Lessons from the Yoga Mat
Yoga teacher, psychologist and musicologist Athina Tamaresi from Ineayoga, tells OM that to truly love the world and to want to show up in it authentically, we must learn to accept and love ourselves first
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How would you describe your teaching style and how can it help others find a sense of connection and peace within?
I’m in love with yoga and therefore I love most of the styles out there. I teach tantric Hatha and gentle vinyasa classes. Both styles have breath and movement cleverly leading towards a specific goal, like a theme, often contentment, letting go, inner peace, all enhancing this sense of connection to both the inner and outer world. However, each person and each day have different needs.
The funny thing is that what we think we need isn’t always what we actually do. At ineayoga we (my partner Cedric Stein and I) host mostly one-week long retreats. In the space of a week, I get the opportunity to meet guests beyond the yoga mat, on a personal level and support them deeply in cultivating this connection with themselves and peace within.
How does yoga help to open up the individual and to create a more unified sense of self?
Realising the beauty of existence enhances the unity of body, mind, and presence. Yoga offers wonderful ways to connect with the body and mind, often through the vehicle of the breath. Such ways include, but are not limited to, systematic relaxation, breath work, mantra chanting, asana and mindfulness-based practices. But it’s also the teachers intention, i.e. we try to support our students in making them feel the beauty of their own being.
How do we learn to accept our inner demons, find a way through, and learn to bloom as our more authentic, better selves?
Serving the world takes courage and deep love. When we choose to serve, we choose to do so unconditionally. Love and acceptance play a key role in serving others and ourselves, they play a key role in our blooming. We learn how to do these when we take time. We need this time between things, to reflect not only on what we have done that we like and feel proud of, but also on the things we somewhat hide from others. Yoga provides a safe environment and enough quiet time, both such invaluable tools.
Through systematic practice we can cultivate self-acceptance and love. It’s a practice, a process, an intention, where we turn our focus inwards, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. You know? To love the world and to want to show up in it authentically, we have to learn to accept and love ourselves. Sometimes this learning comes by surrounding ourselves with other like-minded people that are on a similar path. Sometimes we are the support others need. In the end, the world becomes a better place, whether we support or get supported, and therefore the chances to bloom and have an enriched life are higher.
Do you have any practical tips, advice, or words of wisdom for people to try and find some sense of this balance, or greater ease in day-to-day life?
It may sound cliché, but I would say people already hold the ability to experience greater ease in day-to-day life within. We always have done, since birth. But honestly, people these days are exhausted. We have way too many tasks packed into each day, way too many plans and meetings, which creates imbalance and more challenge than we need. It’s not so much a question of what we have to learn in order to tap into a happy space.
Instead, it is more a question of what unhelpful patterns we all have to un-learn in order to create space for this sense of happiness or contentment (I think contentment is a much better word) to arise. Daily meditation, even five minutes, often helps. Good rest helps too. So, if I had only one sentence to help someone, I’d simply ask: Where in your life could you find more rest? Or: How can you support yourself finding space to recharge? Of course, taking a week off and going to a retreat is another great way to start a healthy self-care routine, deeply rest and recover, that is why we offer it.
Athina Tamaresi is co-founder of ineayoga.com