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natiF. | Functional Wellness
natiF. | Functional Wellness

Episode 2 · 1 year ago

Yoga Q&A with Yoga Instructor Joanna Castles

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Joanna Castles is a student, teacher and Studio Manager at Modo Yoga, Kingston. In this interview, Jo and I will be discussing some of the purpose and benefits of yoga, the importance of breath, the portrayal of yoga in the media; and tips for being more present in our daily lives. 

Hey guys. So I'm here withJoe, who's a manager at Moto Yoda Yoga Kingston, and we're just goingto talk a little bit about Yoga. We met because I did the ambassadorprogram at the Modo Studio. So basically you exchange volunteering for class time andI personally found it really, really a really beneficial experience because originally I've goneto your classes and it was more so kind of just going to class andgoing back home, but I feel like you need ambassador program I really justgot like a better stunts of the community and I just really love that andI just loved how much more, I guess, involved it was and justgetting to meet more of the teachers and where the ambassadors. It was reallycool. So I'm here because I wanted to do a little interview with Joe. So my first question for you is how long have you been practicing yogaand when and how did you get started? Okay, well, I feel likeI first started a regular yoga practice in two thousand and fourteen. Itested out a few other studios before I found Moto, because Moto actually wasn'teven in Kingston yet when I was first looking for a studio and then whenI did find Moto in November of two thousand and fourteen, that's when Istarted a very consistent yoga practice. And I got into Yoga because I usedto be a competitive gymnast, then trampolinist, then cheerleader, and my body wasjust falling apart, as it can in sports like that, so Icouldn't really do the sports that I loved anymore. I had too many injuriesand it just it wasn't worth it anymore. So I was looking for something thatwas similar to it, where I could still move my body but itwould be more therapeutic. And basically, as soon as I found motto andI started practicing regularly there, I just fell in love with the practice,not just for the physical element but, like you said, for the mentalside of it and how amazing it was to bring mental clarity, and thenthe community that I started to get involved with. Yeah, so could youtalk a bit more about I guess we already know about how you ever canbe a work out to people, but I was reading to you talk moreabout that mental and spiritual side and kind of like go over with what's thepurpose of Yoga? Like why should someone practice? That's a very load ofquestion for God, but I think that okay. So starting to like withwhat the like spiritual side of it is. First of all, I think thatcalling it spiritual at first can be a little tricky for some people.It can kind of put up some red flags if they're not comfortable with thatconcept. So I really like thinking of...

Yoga is more so that mind bodyconnection, and that's exactly why we feel so many amazing mental benefits. Isbecause it's strengthens that mind body connection. It's strengthens our awareness with how ourbody moves in space and it really forces you to focus on your body sointently as you are moving and you are focusing on the breath, and itallows that monkey mind to drop away, that constant need to be planning orgoing over a story in our head. There's just not as much time forthat because you're focused on how you're moving your body or your breath, likeI said. So I think that's why we get so many incredible benefits mentallythrough it, and just focusing on our breath alone is a huge, hugetool. Was the second part of the question. Again, just kind ofwhy someone should or why someone would get into a your practice. I thinka lot of the times, most of the time, I guess, peopletend to come to the practice first for the physical side, or maybe they'vebeen recommended to it by a physiotherapist, a massage there, but this possiblytheir doctor, as ways to deal with something that's going on in the body, and so that tends to be what I initially bring someone to it,and then when they do start to practice as when they start to feel suchamazing benefits, not only physically but mentally. M Yeah, I was going tosay that's a pretty similar story to me. I want in for thephysical aspects. I was like, Oh, like, it'll be a good workout, and then it was actually only when I started meditating that kindof like the breath and the focus and all that kind of started coming togetherand made more sense and I feel like it just deepen everything that was goingon for me. But I wanted to talk a little bit more about broadso what is the role of breath and your practice? The role of breath, wow, there's a huge role to it and the biggest role is reallycreating that mind body connection. Is if you even just stop for a momentright now, whether you close your eyes or not, and just take amoment to take a deep breath in, nice long slow breath out, andeven just from that one breath, you can feel a shift in how youfeel, in your awareness, and really that breath is just bringing you toyour body. I mean the breath has...

...so many significant roles, especially becausethere's so many different breathing techniques. You can use the breath to energize yourself, you can use the breath to calm yourself down, you can use thebreath to increase like oxygen levels in your body. There's so many different breathingtechniques that can provide many different benefits. But I think if you have tolike put it under one big umbrella, it's that mind body connection. Youjust bringing your awareness to the breath allows everything else to drop away. Yeah, I that's a really good explanation. It's so I know a lot ofthat's something that a lot of people struggle with. I know I really strugglewith that in the beginning. So what are kind of some tips for gettingto that point where you can really link your breath to your movement? Yeah, practice, honestly, it's such a thing. Like we think that practicingjust the movements as what we need to do because we want to achieve thiscertain posture or something which is very, very secondary, if not even lowerdown on the totem pole of what Yoga, Oh for all is. But yeah, it really is just that need to practice and coming into it withthat mindset, that reminding yourself like, okay, when, when you firstlearn to drive, did you just hop into a vehicle and you just suddenlyknew how to drive? No, you had to learn and practice. Andthat's exactly what that awareness is like being able to calm the mind down.And it's not actually even calming the mind down, it's just becoming aware ofwhat's going on in the mind. So yeah, kind of coming into itthat mindset that, like, you're a beginner, it's going to take timeand practice. You don't need to get it right the first time. Infact, you're never going to get it right. You're always going to belearning from the experience and even practitioners that have been studying many years and practicingmany years beyond myself will have a practice where they struggle with that mind bodyconnection and they struggle with coming to their breath and I think we just haveto be kind to ourselves that that's just part of reality. Sometimes we havemore going on in our lives. Sometimes it's just harder than it would benormally. Yeah, like it changes Daytoday, I know you would like I needtype of work go somediser and and yeah, I think we just haveto be kind to ourself. As we go into something that's a newer practice, remind yourself that it's not going to go well every time and just appreciatethe little wins, like even if,...

...just for say, you did afifteen minute meditation, but it was only in the last three minutes that you'resuddenly feeling really connected. Amazing, that is a win, and to takeevery little win and just focus on that, because what we tell ourselves our bodyhere is and it's going to remember that. So if we're telling ourselvesthat it's too hard, we're our minds are too busy, then that's whatour body is just going to keep remembering and keep focusing on. If wecome into it each time at the beginner's mindset, being open minded to theexperience and allowing it to be either a good or a bad experience, willit'll it'll be more helpful anyway. Yeah, I really love that mentality because Ijust feel like how we talked to ourselves is so important, and theNice Ser we are ourselves, the more likely we already keep sticking with itand keep trying and, I guess, get better, other than, say, or going with the mentality that, oh, like, I'm not goodat it or I could do it. Hmm, I want to sorry,go on. No, go ahead, I was going to say I wantto talk a bit more. So you mentioned about how people put a lotof focus on like getting the pose right. So I'm trying to think of howI want to freeze a question. But why is like focusing on justgetting the pose right? Would why we gravitate towards that and why is thatsomething that we shouldn't gravitate towards and what should we be focusing on instead ofgetting that pose? But run. But I actually just listen to some Yogapodcast from other people that were talking about this and so this will be definitelyrelayed from them. It's from the podcast called Yoga's dead. They have somevery interesting views on it. It kind of sounds a little bit counterintuitive atfirst when you like read the titles but it's wonderful and they were kind oftalking about how a lot of it has to do, unfortunately, with socialmedia really and how Western culture has shaped what Yoga is in the media andin the media it a lot of the time is a skinny white woman whois hyper flexible and can do these crazy, insane postures that all bodies just can'tdo, even if you have the exact same body from the outside,the way it looks structurally, you might be made quite differently and some peoplejust can't move their body in certain ways and they're never going to be ableto and they never have to be able to. So I think we seethese images on instagram or social media and we want to look like that becausewe think if we look like that then we're going to feel great and we'regoing like all that mental side is going to come with being able to achievethis beautiful posture, but it's really has...

...nothing to do with actual physical posture. So when Yoga originated, they practice these physical postures to ready the bodyfor meditation. So that movement was to just kind of start that mind bodyconnection of the breath and to kind of get out some of the stress ofthe day and and then prepare the body for a seated meditation. Yeah,it's it's always actually been about meditation. That is like yoga means like yoke, which is like a weakened and that is where the meditation aspect comes from. So, yeah, the physical movement is meant to be a warm upfor the meditation and like wanting to achieve those physical postures. Yes, that'swonderful and, like, I agree with people having goals of wanting to worktowards something, but there's always needs to be that check in of why,why do I want to work towards this? Am I doing this because it's goingto benefit my body? Because I feel good practicing up to that point? Great, if you feel good practicing up to that high level position,that or posture that you're going for, great, but if you're hurting yourselfalong the way or you're getting frustrated or you're comparing yourself to other people oryou're putting yourself down, then it's very counterintuitive. That's not what the mainpurpose of yoga is. Yeah, that's that's really interesting, because I knowpersonally on my instagram I see a lot of like videos of people are sohyper flexible and it's like it's entertaining to watch and you think, well,like, I wish, but I could do that. But yeah, we'reall built differently. So would you say that the PROMT, I guess,the provalence of Yoga, in the popularity of Yoga in social media and,I guess mainstream media, do you have more damaging for Yoga or beneficial?I kind of think it's a bit of both. I think it's beneficial inwhen it's portrayed properly, like now when you see people posting the instagram realityversus the expectation, like those type of posts. I think things like thatneed to be out there a little bit more and choosing what accounts you followand following different accounts, like a variety of bodies, like look at peoplethat are short and tall and round and black and like. Look at allthe bodies out there so you really see...

...how one posture, if you canjust think of, let's say dancers, it's pretty well known. If youlook at how that posture can look and so many different bodies and appreciate thatthey can all look different and be beautiful, then that can be really wonderful forsocial media to see that variety and to see that you don't need tobe able to get your foot up behind your head to be achieving something that'sgood for you. So I do think it can be beneficial in that way. But if you do surround yourself with that instagram feed that is making youfeel bad about yourself, that's only one type of body, then I dothink that that's negative because you're kind of skewing your view of what it is. For sure. I know personally when I first started getting out, Ihad that same mentality. I called it these are the poses I want tobe able to do, because they will they look cool, like I'm goingto be able to do it, and then when I actually do it Irealize like Oh, like, shoot, I should have done that, orit wasn't warmed up enough. You end up doing more damage and good.But I wanted to talk more. So you were saying how you originally goneinto your are more so because you did other sports in the past and youweren't able to do them anymore. So I was wondering you talk a bitmore about how yoga can be a form of healing or form of therapy.I know there's a lot of problems in research studies right now about therapy throughyoga, and I was going to be talked a little bit more about thatand who it can benefit and how. Yeah, so I would say thatyoga is one of the things that saved me in a way. When Ihad first started, I was working in an office job. I had alot of pain from years of injury, to the point that it was chronicpain. It was happening every day and there were days that I couldn't walk. I would have such a bad pain flare up in my hip that Iphysically couldn't walk. I would go see doctors. They'd have no idea,like physically what was wrong. They would look and nothing like physiological was there. So Yoga was one of the things that I started doing for one ofthose reasons and it made a world of a difference. Since then it's beenone of my biggest healing mechanisms and it is to do with that mind bodyconnection, that chance of like slowing down, tapping into how you feel, focusingon the Brad us. I think that Yoga can be a therapy formany individuals. It's been proven to help people with anxiety, depression, PTSD, I mean the list can go on.

I think it also again, likewe just kind of talked about, how to like, if you're surroundingyourself with maybe yoga that's just like that perfect little instagram picture, that mightnot be beneficial, but if you're really getting into a community that understands thetherapeutic principles of Yoga, it can be incredibly healing and helpful. Yeah,I feel like I could talk about the healing thatthorits for like ever. No, yeah, I love that. Yeah, even if I guess social media andfocus more on the healing aspect rather than kind of flexibility aspect, andI think that could even be beneficial. So, kind of going off theprinciples, I wanted to talk a little bit more about the Modo pillars.I was just wondering why. So, what are the pillars, first ofall, and then why are they the pillars and how did they all tieinto each other? HMM. So Modo Yoga has six pillars that they standby, and it is the healthy, be green, be accessible, becommunity, live to learn and be peace. And so the six pillars as somethingthat was kind of developed as sort of like the ethics or the principlesof Moto and the pillars are meant to represent how a studio is run,by being green, by involving community, and also, like how the teacherslive their lives, like striving to live, to learn all the time, beinghealthy, not in just like how you eat, but how you interactwith the world and how you perceive what is health. And Yeah, thepillars are they're wonderful because they're they kind of remind you that yoga is notjust the Asana practice, it's not just the physical postures. Yoga is allof those pillars. Yoga is how you live your daily life by making consciousdecisions when you think about where you're going to purchase something, from where thatgot made, choosing local if you can. Yeah, it's a whole way ofliving and I think that the pillars are a really good reminder that it'snot just the physical posture, that there's so much more to it. AndI find myself at different times of my life like being really drawn to acertain pillar or if I'm feeling really lost,...

I turned to a pillar. Ikind of turned to them as a reminder and almost a guide as toif I am feeling lost, what pillar could I work on to make mefeel better. So yeah, I the pillars are wonderful. I really encouragepeople to dive into them further when you do your teacher training. We actuallydo as part of our distance learning. We do a project on each pillar. So it's a way to like dive into them further. Yeah, soI think that's I think the pillars are wonderful and I think that they alldo tie together because they all are a piece of yoga. They're all livingyoga off the Mat. Yeah, for sure. I'm even in Clath Inotice the teachers will always draw the practice into the rest of the day.So if it's a later practice, we'll talk about how the day went,or it's a morning practice, talk about carrying, I guess, the practicethroughout rest of the day and I really love that. Yeah, I wantedto talk a bit. I guess this kind of ties in, but kindof the idea of being present and why. That's why it's important to be presentin a yoga practice and throughout the rest of your day or the restof your life. I think when you're really present you're more aware of yourown thoughts and actions. I think that when we're not present. It's veryeasy to, for example, okay, I'll come back to like driving again. If you're not being present and someone cuts you off, it's very easyto just get angry and maybe want to swear at them or flip them thefinger and get really annoyed and frustrated and kind of feel very angry and blamingtowards them. But if we can kind of take step back and be alittle bit more present, than it allows you that opportunity to be like,okay, maybe that person really didn't see me, or maybe they're having areally rough day, maybe they're urgently trying to get home to see somebody.It allows you to type take take that moment to step back and be abit more compassionate towards others, and I think the more that we kind ofdo that step back, the more we can do that for ourselves as well. It can be very easy to get frustrated with ourselves if we didn't completeenough in the day or that project didn't go as we wanted or we didn'tland that posture the way we hope to. But when we can be of amore present present, we can have a bit more compassion and be likeokay. Well, I had a lot going on today, like I didn'tneed to get that project fully completed. I have time to do it tomorrow. I think it leaves room for compassion.

So what's your biggest, I guess, tip or piece of advice for I guess keeping that idea in mindto be compassionate to yourself and remember to speak to yourself positively. Or,I guess, how do you remember it in your daily life? It ishard. It's definitely hard. It goes back to continuing to practice. Ithink every time that I find I notice that that comes up for myself,I try and just take a breath, just take a nice slow breath in, slow breath out. If I'm in a situation I can close my eyes, like if I'm at home, I'll do it with my eyes closed.If I'm in my car, obviously I'm not going to do my car,but you can really still be driving and take that breath. And sometimes allit is is that moment, that just stepping back from the situation, takinga breath, connecting back with yourself and then working to approach it from adifferent scenario, thinking about it from another angle. Yeah, hard. It'snot an easy practice. For sure. Oh yeah, for sure, likefor me too. Actually read this quote one time. It said how Idon't remember it exactly, but it was something about everything. All our negativeemotions either come from like worry about the future or being upset it was somethingto happen in the past, but there's really nothing that's that negative about likewhere you are right now. HMM. So I just thought that thought wasI'm like, that's true, because usually you're thinking about something that's gonna have. We're worried about something this gonna Happen everything with me. That already happened. But really stressing about what's going on right in front of you. That'sit. We're so focused outside of the present moment that that's where all thatI don't know that, like stress and energy comes from. Like people thatare focused a lot on the past tend to have more like possibilities towards depressionand that, and those that tend to focus so much in the future aremore anxious. Yeah, so learning to find that balance is definitely tricky,but it can do wonders. I find that practicing yoga even, I guess, strengthens that ability to be present. I know, like when I'm holdingon a my mind always goes to pigeon because that's the most uncomfortable pose forme, but I'm holding that pose like I just have to think about beingthere and being in the moment, and I guess see the good in it. And I love my teacher. They like to smile when there's a hardpose. Just remember that this release the tension and it's not that bad andjust focus on right now. HMM. It's amazing how things like just bringinga smile to you can shift your feeling, like how you feel inside, becauseour body is so responsive to things...

...that we don't know, like alot of the things that were struggling with our in our subconscious. So havingthe opportunity to slow down and get quiet allows our subconscious to kind of comeforward, and I think that's why people find meditating so difficult, or beingstill and being quiet. It's because as soon as they do, suddenly theirhead just feel so loud, and that's because we haven't given ourselves an opportunityall day long to experience stillness, to experience quiet, so when we finallydo, it's overwhelming and then we just want to escape it again. Sothe more that we practice that opportunity of allowing ourselves to have silence and stillness, the more that we can comfortably meet that busyness. It's not going togo away, it's just being able to comfortably listen to it and decide,okay, this thought that's coming in right now is not really serving me,so I'm going to come back to my breath. I really like that ideardvery no, I think that that's something that's so important to remember and Ithink that I remember having a conversation last week with someone and she was sayinghow we're just so busy in our daily lives and everything's right now and it'simmediate. You just don't really have the opportunity to just be yeah, forsure, absolutely. Um. So I had one more question for you,actually two more. What's your favorite style of Yoga Class and why is ityour favorite, and what's your biggest, I guess, hitch for why someoneshould give yoga try. Okay, my favorite style right now is actually themotto sequence, which is considered Hatha Yoga, and Um, the reason I wouldsay that it's my favorite right now is because it's so therapeutic and thatit allows you to get the mind body connection to get a workout in,to get a stretch without pushing yourselves too much out of the limits. No, as I mentioned earlier, I have a lot of injuries and so sometimesthey flare up and right now currently it's my right shoulder, my neck,my right hip, both my knees and my ankles, so pretty much topdown. It's like I'm going on but I can still practice the Modo sequencebecause I know also, luckily, I know how to modify it so muchto suit my body. So, yeah, it's probably my favorite at this moment. When I first started, I was so into like flow and freestyleand like quick moving, fast paced challenge,...

...defy what I can do, likethe the gymnast in me was coming out and I was like I wantto be able to do all the things. HMM. And then it shifted fromsome more injuries again, it shifted to Yin which is probably my secondfavorite right now. The long holds. I think you really love the motosequence and yeah, if I'd pitching someone to try yoga, I mean Ithink you just if you, I think you want to, want, youhave to want to try it for yourself. I think you kind of to askyourself, like what it is you're looking to achieve, like what itis are you looking to get out of the experience, and that can alsokind of direct you into what type of class you should try first. Becauseif someone is trying to get pitched on trying to start yoga but they're likethey're already a high level athlete right now, doing Yin might not be the firstappealing thing for them because it's just such a polar opposite. Maybe goinginto a flow class is actually going to be good for them because it's somethingthat's recognizable and they can start to find that mind body connection and start tocreate that awareness with the breath. Where someone that's maybe never done yoga,never done sports, maybe they're more so quiet reserve, reading is one ofmore their favorite things, then Yin might be a great starting point. It'sslow, it's restorative, they're not going to be pushed to the limits,they're not going to have to feel judged compared to someone else that's doing somethingthat they feel like they can't do. So I think that if you're goingto try yoga, you need to ask yourself why, why you want totry it, what you want to get out of it and then find aclass that's going to match that and then go from there, because once youtry one class, usually, not always, usually, you want to try another. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I I really like that aspect oflike knowing yourself and knowing what something that you'd be into. I findthat that really help me, even just in normal working out. You justif you find something you like and you're more likely to stick to it.Yeah, absolutely, and I think if someone doesn't know what it is thatthey like or what it is that they want, a moto class really isgreat, and not just to like say that like has to be Moto,because obviously I do love Moto, but even just finding what would be considereda half a style practice, someone that's talking about using therapeutic principles throughout thepractice, and that would be a good place for someone to start. Sostarting with something that's to challenging or maybe to chill, because it's more soto the meditation side, which can be...

...overwhelming for some, but that nicemiddle point of there's movement but it's not overdoing the body. HMM. Well, thank you so much. This was this was a really good conversation.I actually learned a lot that I didn't know from before. I'm so gladthat you invited me to this. I enjoy chatting with you. No meetto you. I like, love having conversations like this because I just feellike it deepens the understanding and I know for a lot of my viewers,a lot of them have practice yoga, do practice yoga, but just gettingany opportunity to just talk a bit more about like the why, about whywe do it. HMM. I honestly think that that question right there,the why, is huge and I think that it's a question that we haveto constantly come back to as a student, as a teacher. It's because thatthat why can change and I think it's why you started was for thephysical practice. Then years into it, that's not really what you're looking for. You kind of have to reevaluate that why and making sure that you're practicingto match your new why. That's really good to hum in mind actually,because I feel that for myself and I started, I liked kind of themore like workout flows, like more physically demanding, and then, as Igot into it, a kind of like the slower, stuck down and likemy favorite one. So that's awesome. Thank you so much. Do youhave anything else that you wanted to add? No, I really enjoyed this andif anyone wants to reach out and connect with me, I'm more thanhappy to. You can feel free to share my social networks. If anyonewants to chat about anything, I'm more than happy to do so. Ifanyone is interested in trying Mohoto, zero pressure, of course. But ifsomething interested, again reach out and I'm happy to hook you up with afree class. Come in and try it out. Perfect. Thank you somuch. Yeah, I'll link all the studio information in your information in thepost. Awesome. I'll be sure to do that. So thank you somuch. Pleasure having a good night you too. Bye Bye.

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