July Yogi of the Month : Biannka
The ashtanga yoga global community is quite incredible. When I was last in India I was blogging about my experience practicing at the KPJAYI shala and one particular practice was so sweet I wrote about it. Biannka, a budding ashtangi practicing solo in Cairns found my post online and felt compelled to email me. We connected instantly and have been pals ever since, geeking out on ashtanga yoga philosophy, anatomy, personal development and soul searching! I am delighted to introduce to you guys, the wonderful Biannka as our next yogi of the month.
When and where did you first start practising yoga?
I started practising yoga intermittently in my early twenties. I would go for a few months and then stop for a few years. I was introduced to Ashtanga yoga in 2011 when I attended a retreat in Dunsborough, Western Australia (I was living in Kalgoorlie at the time) and fell in love with the practice.
Why were you interested in the first place?
For many years, BA (Before Ashtanga), I had subscriptions to Australian Yoga Journal and the like. I was going through a really challenging time where my mind was fixated on the parts of myself that I didn’t like. The stories I told myself were so debilitating (and believable) I basically had no confidence, and every aspect of my life suffered. At the time, the more I read about yoga and the 8 limbs, the more I felt yoga was my path to self-acceptance, freedom and living a full life.
What is it that got you hooked?
The freedom. The challenge. The joy. The practice wasn’t (and still isn’t!) easy for me but it connected me to something that felt like home – a feeling that I hadn’t touched for a really long time. There was no way I was going to leave it – no matter how hard it was. The practice is my BFF – always honest, always loving (sometimes in a really confronting way) always there for me.
What do you love about Live and Breathe yoga?
Firstly, the love and energy Allison pours into the studio and her students.
Allison always has my back, believes in me and provides great feedback on my practice, which gives me plenty to focus on until I can check in with her again.
Plus – all of you, the community that makes Live and Breathe yoga. You are always so kind and loving whenever I can pop in for a visit. Thank you!
What benefits/changes have you felt since practising yoga?
There a bunch of physical changes of course…greater body awareness, increased strength and flexibility. The most profound changes have been internal. I’m much kinder to myself now. I believe in myself. The practice has brought me ‘space in-between’ – space between my internal narrative and how I respond to it. It doesn’t mean I don’t react and sometimes that ‘space’ happens afterwards and I’m I find myself saying ‘ohhhhh… sorry’ but that’s life and it too is a practice.
How do you stay motivated to keep getting back on your mat?
It’s tough sometimes to get on my mat and sometimes it’s tough a lot of the time. My motivations change too. At the moment, I get on my mat because I can – I am able bodied and have a sound (mostly) mind. One of my friends recently had an accident, which has meant she is not able to practice like she once did. I know she will get back to where she was but through her experience, I have accessed more gratitude for the beauty and privilege of just being able get out of bed and practice.
What’s your favourite thing about Ashtanga Yoga?
The Mysore method. I find the Mysore method truly empowering. I am able to honour my breath and use it to guide me through my practice. I think of my mat as the stage where I rehearse life. The Mysore method teaches me to use my breath to guide me through challenging postures. I can slow down when things are tough (but not too slow – that’s why led classes are handy too). Be kind. Repeat things when necessary. Let go. Keep going. Tune in. Be quiet. Listen. The Mysore method allows me to do all those things (and more) because I am able to be me, which gives me courage to do the same off the mat.
What would you say to someone who is thinking of trying yoga?
Start now. Start where you are. You don’t need ‘this thing’ or ‘that thing’ to start, all those things come with the practice.