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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 with Joe, who's a manager at Moto Yoda Yoga Kingston, and we're just going to talk a little bit about Yoga. We met because I did the ambassador program at the Modo Studio. So basically you exchange volunteering for class time and I personally found it really, really a really beneficial experience because originally I've gone to your classes and it was more so kind of just going to class and going back home, but I feel like you need ambassador program I really just got like a better stunts of the community and I just really love that and I just loved how much more, I guess, involved it was and just getting to meet more of the teachers and where the ambassadors. It was really cool. 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 yoga and when and how did you get started? Okay, well, I feel like I first started a regular yoga practice in two thousand and fourteen. I tested out a few other studios before I found Moto, because Moto actually wasn't even in Kingston yet when I was first looking for a studio and then when I did find Moto in November of two thousand and fourteen, that's when I started a very consistent yoga practice. And I got into Yoga because I used to be a competitive gymnast, then trampolinist, then cheerleader, and my body was just falling apart, as it can in sports like that, so I couldn't really do the sports that I loved anymore. I had too many injuries and it just it wasn't worth it anymore. So I was looking for something that was similar to it, where I could still move my body but it would be more therapeutic. And basically, as soon as I found motto and I started practicing regularly there, I just fell in love with the practice, not just for the physical element but, like you said, for the mental side of it and how amazing it was to bring mental clarity, and then the community that I started to get involved with. Yeah, so could you talk a bit more about I guess we already know about how you ever can be a work out to people, but I was reading to you talk more about that mental and spiritual side and kind of like go over with what's the purpose of Yoga? Like why should someone practice? That's a very load of question for God, but I think that okay. So starting to like with what the like spiritual side of it is. First of all, I think that calling 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 that concept. So I really like thinking of...

Yoga is more so that mind body connection, and that's exactly why we feel so many amazing mental benefits. Is because it's strengthens that mind body connection. It's strengthens our awareness with how our body moves in space and it really forces you to focus on your body so intently as you are moving and you are focusing on the breath, and it allows that monkey mind to drop away, that constant need to be planning or going over a story in our head. There's just not as much time for that because you're focused on how you're moving your body or your breath, like I said. So I think that's why we get so many incredible benefits mentally through it, and just focusing on our breath alone is a huge, huge tool. Was the second part of the question. Again, just kind of why someone should or why someone would get into a your practice. I think a lot of the times, most of the time, I guess, people tend to come to the practice first for the physical side, or maybe they've been recommended to it by a physiotherapist, a massage there, but this possibly their 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 such amazing benefits, not only physically but mentally. M Yeah, I was going to say that's a pretty similar story to me. I want in for the physical aspects. I was like, Oh, like, it'll be a good work out, and then it was actually only when I started meditating that kind of like the breath and the focus and all that kind of started coming together and made more sense and I feel like it just deepen everything that was going on for me. But I wanted to talk a little bit more about broad so 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 really creating that mind body connection. Is if you even just stop for a moment right now, whether you close your eyes or not, and just take a moment to take a deep breath in, nice long slow breath out, and even just from that one breath, you can feel a shift in how you feel, in your awareness, and really that breath is just bringing you to your body. I mean the breath has...

...so many significant roles, especially because there'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 the breath to increase like oxygen levels in your body. There's so many different breathing techniques that can provide many different benefits. But I think if you have to like put it under one big umbrella, it's that mind body connection. You just 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 of that's something that a lot of people struggle with. I know I really struggle with that in the beginning. So what are kind of some tips for getting to that point where you can really link your breath to your movement? Yeah, practice, honestly, it's such a thing. Like we think that practicing just the movements as what we need to do because we want to achieve this certain posture or something which is very, very secondary, if not even lower down 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 with that mindset, that reminding yourself like, okay, when, when you first learn to drive, did you just hop into a vehicle and you just suddenly knew how to drive? No, you had to learn and practice. And that'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 of what's going on in the mind. So yeah, kind of coming into it that mindset that, like, you're a beginner, it's going to take time and practice. You don't need to get it right the first time. In fact, you're never going to get it right. You're always going to be learning from the experience and even practitioners that have been studying many years and practicing many years beyond myself will have a practice where they struggle with that mind body connection and they struggle with coming to their breath and I think we just have to be kind to ourselves that that's just part of reality. Sometimes we have more going on in our lives. Sometimes it's just harder than it would be normally. Yeah, like it changes Daytoday, I know you would like I need type of work go somediser and and yeah, I think we just have to 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 appreciate the little wins, like even if,...

...just for say, you did a fifteen minute meditation, but it was only in the last three minutes that you're suddenly feeling really connected. Amazing, that is a win, and to take every little win and just focus on that, because what we tell ourselves our body here is and it's going to remember that. So if we're telling ourselves that it's too hard, we're our minds are too busy, then that's what our body is just going to keep remembering and keep focusing on. If we come into it each time at the beginner's mindset, being open minded to the experience and allowing it to be either a good or a bad experience, will it'll it'll be more helpful anyway. Yeah, I really love that mentality because I just feel like how we talked to ourselves is so important, and the Nice Ser we are ourselves, the more likely we already keep sticking with it and keep trying and, I guess, get better, other than, say, or going with the mentality that, oh, like, I'm not good at it or I could do it. Hmm, I want to sorry, go on. No, go ahead, I was going to say I want to talk a bit more. So you mentioned about how people put a lot of focus on like getting the pose right. So I'm trying to think of how I want to freeze a question. But why is like focusing on just getting the pose right? Would why we gravitate towards that and why is that something that we shouldn't gravitate towards and what should we be focusing on instead of getting that pose? But run. But I actually just listen to some Yoga podcast from other people that were talking about this and so this will be definitely relayed from them. It's from the podcast called Yoga's dead. They have some very interesting views on it. It kind of sounds a little bit counterintuitive at first when you like read the titles but it's wonderful and they were kind of talking about how a lot of it has to do, unfortunately, with social media really and how Western culture has shaped what Yoga is in the media and in the media it a lot of the time is a skinny white woman who is hyper flexible and can do these crazy, insane postures that all bodies just can't do, even if you have the exact same body from the outside, the way it looks structurally, you might be made quite differently and some people just can't move their body in certain ways and they're never going to be able to and they never have to be able to. So I think we see these images on instagram or social media and we want to look like that because we think if we look like that then we're going to feel great and we're going like all that mental side is going to come with being able to achieve this 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 body for meditation. So that movement was to just kind of start that mind body connection of the breath and to kind of get out some of the stress of the 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 up for the meditation and like wanting to achieve those physical postures. Yes, that's wonderful and, like, I agree with people having goals of wanting to work towards 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 going to 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 yourself along the way or you're getting frustrated or you're comparing yourself to other people or you're putting yourself down, then it's very counterintuitive. That's not what the main purpose of yoga is. Yeah, that's that's really interesting, because I know personally on my instagram I see a lot of like videos of people are so hyper 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're all 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 in when it's portrayed properly, like now when you see people posting the instagram reality versus the expectation, like those type of posts. I think things like that need to be out there a little bit more and choosing what accounts you follow and following different accounts, like a variety of bodies, like look at people that are short and tall and round and black and like. Look at all the bodies out there so you really see...

...how one posture, if you can just think of, let's say dancers, it's pretty well known. If you look at how that posture can look and so many different bodies and appreciate that they can all look different and be beautiful, then that can be really wonderful for social media to see that variety and to see that you don't need to be able to get your foot up behind your head to be achieving something that's good 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 you feel bad about yourself, that's only one type of body, then I do think 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, I had that same mentality. I called it these are the poses I want to be able to do, because they will they look cool, like I'm going to be able to do it, and then when I actually do it I realize like Oh, like, shoot, I should have done that, or it 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 gone into your are more so because you did other sports in the past and you weren't able to do them anymore. So I was wondering you talk a bit more 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 through yoga, and I was going to be talked a little bit more about that and who it can benefit and how. Yeah, so I would say that yoga is one of the things that saved me in a way. When I had first started, I was working in an office job. I had a lot of pain from years of injury, to the point that it was chronic pain. 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 I physically 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 of those reasons and it made a world of a difference. Since then it's been one of my biggest healing mechanisms and it is to do with that mind body connection, that chance of like slowing down, tapping into how you feel, focusing on the Brad us. I think that Yoga can be a therapy for many individuals. It's been proven to help people with anxiety, depression, PTSD, I mean the list can go on.

I think it also again, like we just kind of talked about, how to like, if you're surrounding yourself with maybe yoga that's just like that perfect little instagram picture, that might not be beneficial, but if you're really getting into a community that understands the therapeutic 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 and focus more on the healing aspect rather than kind of flexibility aspect, and I think that could even be beneficial. So, kind of going off the principles, I wanted to talk a little bit more about the Modo pillars. I was just wondering why. So, what are the pillars, first of all, and then why are they the pillars and how did they all tie into each other? HMM. So Modo Yoga has six pillars that they stand by, and it is the healthy, be green, be accessible, be community, live to learn and be peace. And so the six pillars as something that was kind of developed as sort of like the ethics or the principles of Moto and the pillars are meant to represent how a studio is run, by being green, by involving community, and also, like how the teachers live their lives, like striving to live, to learn all the time, being healthy, not in just like how you eat, but how you interact with the world and how you perceive what is health. And Yeah, the pillars are they're wonderful because they're they kind of remind you that yoga is not just the Asana practice, it's not just the physical postures. Yoga is all of those pillars. Yoga is how you live your daily life by making conscious decisions when you think about where you're going to purchase something, from where that got made, choosing local if you can. Yeah, it's a whole way of living and I think that the pillars are a really good reminder that it's not just the physical posture, that there's so much more to it. And I find myself at different times of my life like being really drawn to a certain pillar or if I'm feeling really lost,...

I turned to a pillar. I kind of turned to them as a reminder and almost a guide as to if I am feeling lost, what pillar could I work on to make me feel better. So yeah, I the pillars are wonderful. I really encourage people to dive into them further when you do your teacher training. We actually do 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, so I think that's I think the pillars are wonderful and I think that they all do tie together because they all are a piece of yoga. They're all living yoga off the Mat. Yeah, for sure. I'm even in Clath I notice 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 practice throughout rest of the day and I really love that. Yeah, I wanted to talk a bit. I guess this kind of ties in, but kind of the idea of being present and why. That's why it's important to be present in a yoga practice and throughout the rest of your day or the rest of your life. I think when you're really present you're more aware of your own thoughts and actions. I think that when we're not present. It's very easy 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 easy to just get angry and maybe want to swear at them or flip them the finger and get really annoyed and frustrated and kind of feel very angry and blaming towards them. But if we can kind of take step back and be a little 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 a really 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 a bit more compassionate towards others, and I think the more that we kind of do 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 complete enough in the day or that project didn't go as we wanted or we didn't land that posture the way we hope to. But when we can be of a more present present, we can have a bit more compassion and be like okay. Well, I had a lot going on today, like I didn't need 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 mind to be compassionate to yourself and remember to speak to yourself positively. Or, I guess, how do you remember it in your daily life? It is hard. It's definitely hard. It goes back to continuing to practice. I think 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 all it is is that moment, that just stepping back from the situation, taking a breath, connecting back with yourself and then working to approach it from a different scenario, thinking about it from another angle. Yeah, hard. It's not an easy practice. For sure. Oh yeah, for sure, like for me too. Actually read this quote one time. It said how I don't remember it exactly, but it was something about everything. All our negative emotions either come from like worry about the future or being upset it was something to happen in the past, but there's really nothing that's that negative about like where you are right now. HMM. So I just thought that thought was I'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's it. We're so focused outside of the present moment that that's where all that I don't know that, like stress and energy comes from. Like people that are focused a lot on the past tend to have more like possibilities towards depression and that, and those that tend to focus so much in the future are more 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 holding on a my mind always goes to pigeon because that's the most uncomfortable pose for me, but I'm holding that pose like I just have to think about being there 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 hard pose. Just remember that this release the tension and it's not that bad and just focus on right now. HMM. It's amazing how things like just bringing a smile to you can shift your feeling, like how you feel inside, because our body is so responsive to things...

...that we don't know, like a lot of the things that were struggling with our in our subconscious. So having the opportunity to slow down and get quiet allows our subconscious to kind of come forward, and I think that's why people find meditating so difficult, or being still and being quiet. It's because as soon as they do, suddenly their head just feel so loud, and that's because we haven't given ourselves an opportunity all day long to experience stillness, to experience quiet, so when we finally do, it's overwhelming and then we just want to escape it again. So the 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 to go 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 ideard very no, I think that that's something that's so important to remember and I think that I remember having a conversation last week with someone and she was saying how we're just so busy in our daily lives and everything's right now and it's immediate. You just don't really have the opportunity to just be yeah, for sure, absolutely. Um. So I had one more question for you, actually two more. What's your favorite style of Yoga Class and why is it your favorite, and what's your biggest, I guess, hitch for why someone should give yoga try. Okay, my favorite style right now is actually the motto sequence, which is considered Hatha Yoga, and Um, the reason I would say that it's my favorite right now is because it's so therapeutic and that it 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 sometimes they 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 top down. It's like I'm going on but I can still practice the Modo sequence because I know also, luckily, I know how to modify it so much to suit my body. So, yeah, it's probably my favorite at this moment. When I first started, I was so into like flow and freestyle and like quick moving, fast paced challenge,...

...defy what I can do, like the the gymnast in me was coming out and I was like I want to be able to do all the things. HMM. And then it shifted from some more injuries again, it shifted to Yin which is probably my second favorite right now. The long holds. I think you really love the moto sequence and yeah, if I'd pitching someone to try yoga, I mean I think you just if you, I think you want to, want, you have to want to try it for yourself. I think you kind of to ask yourself, like what it is you're looking to achieve, like what it is are you looking to get out of the experience, and that can also kind of direct you into what type of class you should try first. Because if someone is trying to get pitched on trying to start yoga but they're like they're already a high level athlete right now, doing Yin might not be the first appealing thing for them because it's just such a polar opposite. Maybe going into a flow class is actually going to be good for them because it's something that's recognizable and they can start to find that mind body connection and start to create 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 of more their favorite things, then Yin might be a great starting point. It's slow, 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 something that they feel like they can't do. So I think that if you're going to try yoga, you need to ask yourself why, why you want to try it, what you want to get out of it and then find a class that's going to match that and then go from there, because once you try one class, usually, not always, usually, you want to try another. Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I I really like that aspect of like knowing yourself and knowing what something that you'd be into. I find that that really help me, even just in normal working out. You just if 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 that they like or what it is that they want, a moto class really is great, 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 considered a half a style practice, someone that's talking about using therapeutic principles throughout the practice, and that would be a good place for someone to start. So starting with something that's to challenging or maybe to chill, because it's more so to the meditation side, which can be...

...overwhelming for some, but that nice middle 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 glad that you invited me to this. I enjoy chatting with you. No meet to you. I like, love having conversations like this because I just feel like 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 getting any opportunity to just talk a bit more about like the why, about why we 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 have to constantly come back to as a student, as a teacher. It's because that that why can change and I think it's why you started was for the physical 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 practicing to 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 the more like workout flows, like more physically demanding, and then, as I got into it, a kind of like the slower, stuck down and like my favorite one. So that's awesome. Thank you so much. Do you have anything else that you wanted to add? No, I really enjoyed this and if anyone wants to reach out and connect with me, I'm more than happy to. You can feel free to share my social networks. If anyone wants to chat about anything, I'm more than happy to do so. If anyone is interested in trying Mohoto, zero pressure, of course. But if something interested, again reach out and I'm happy to hook you up with a free class. Come in and try it out. Perfect. Thank you so much. Yeah, I'll link all the studio information in your information in the post. Awesome. I'll be sure to do that. So thank you so much. Pleasure having a good night you too. Bye Bye.

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