Yoga is a practice that goes beyond moving the body into certain poses. It can affect our mood, lead to increased mindfulness and can also trigger some deep revelations about life. Below is a short interview with Jessica Janusz – a yoga teacher, speaker and entre- preneur, who believes in a holistic approach to wellbeing, and empowers others to be true to themselves, using vulnerability as strength.
1. Can yoga help improve our mood and emo- tional state? What is a simple technique to achieve that?
Yoga takes you out of the cycles of the mind and connects you to the present moment. It draws awareness into our emotional state, which allows us to see our emotions for what they are and then let things pass. Through this, yoga can improve our mood and overall state because we’re not stuck in any particular emotion. Instead we’re allowing the emotion to be felt and we can move through it.
The simplest technique to do that is to become aware of your breath. Close your eyes. Place your hands on your belly or chest. Notice your breathing, inhaling through your nostrils and exhaling out of your nostrils. Notice which part of your body moves as you breathe in and out. Feel your lungs expanding and releasing. Let go of any forcible breath and allow your natural rhythm to flow. If your mind gets busy, come back to the sound of your breath and the physical sensations accompanying it. In- hale and count 1, 2, 3. Hold 1, 2, 3. Exhale 1, 2, 3. Repeat for the cycle of one minute. Then notice how you feel. This technique is instant and can be done anytime, anywhere.
2. How can yoga get us to be more in touch with our emotions?
I always say to students during class: “Your yoga mat is your mirror. Notice what you arrived with today, without judging yourself for it but simply look with curiosity.” Through yoga, you are brought into a state of awareness and can quieten the hamster wheel going round and round in your mind. All of a sudden you are faced to deal with what comes up.
In yoga, you are encouraged to stay when you want to run, feel when you want to avoid feeling, and surrender when you want to control. When you give yourself this space, you notice what comes up and allow yourself to feel the emotions that are there.
Yoga guides your body to move into certain postures that open up different energy channels linked to our emotions. This is also why one can feel a release and a weight is lift- ed off you by the end of class.
3. What do you think about the development of the yoga movement in the last few years? Where do you think yoga needs to take us next?
It’s easy to recognize that yoga has increased in popu- larity over the last few years and, thanks to the internet, it’s become easier now than ever before to access it. This movement has become an opportunity for enormous cre- ativity. There are no more limits. Individuals and busi- nesses are able to bring the full spectrum of yoga forward, from practice to lifestyle, through a myriad of ways.
I believe it’s more about where we want to take yoga in- stead of where it needs to take us. The power is now with- in us to choose how to use it. It’s become easy to put a teacher, guru, or influencer on a pedestal and even more normal to look for all the answers outside of us. When we do this, it already sets us up for disappointment. Allow others to guide and inspire, yet listen first to the relation- ship with yourself.
4. What is your approach to yoga and what do you aim for your students to get out of a class with you?
Through my own personal experience, I’ve found myself in situations that have been difficult to overcome. They were familiar, comfortable, and, basically, all I knew.
I believe our painful stories have the power to heal us and others, which is how I have chosen to use mine.
My approach is all about empowering students to be true to themselves. I create a safe space for them to feel what- ever it is they need to feel and to show up exactly as they are. My purpose is to support and guide them to find their own inner guru. Classes portray how there is peace in vul- nerability and healing in truth. I encourage students to step outside their comfort zone and into courage.
5. What can you do wrong when practicing yoga?
The only thing someone can do wrong is not listening to their body. Yes, you might be in discomfort sometimes and feel awkward in certain postures, but this is different from actively hurting yourself. In our day-to-day, we’ve all experienced times where we push ourselves to a breaking point. For some, this is even normal. But in yoga, this is
one way to get injured. It’s important to take a pause when you need to pause, rest when you need to rest, and respect your own process instead of trying to compete beyond your limits.
6. Can a complete beginner start practicing yoga at home? What do they need to pay attention to?
Of course. As a beginner, you might feel more at ease starting with home practice before coming into a large public class. Nowadays, with everything being online, much is available on YouTube, live-stream, and your fa- vourite teacher’s website. Private lessons at home are also a great way to build a solid foundation for your body and your yoga journey.