What Yoga means to you: An interview with Raechal Levin

Coming from India, I know a lot of people who are into Yoga as a physical practice. Right from our childhood, we hear commoners talking about various kinds of yogasanas and practices. However, children in India, as they grow playing and learning on the streets, are hardly motivated to explore the ancient science that can help them tune their day-to-day life.

But, of course, when somebody from outside India is practicing Yoga with such zeal and dedication, we are curious to know what lies therein. So, picking that as a clue, I thought that I will talk to few people who are into Yoga, to know what it feels like and what motivates them to keep doing it.

Here is one of those conversations with Raechal Levin, who says she has become aware of the consequences of the choices she makes in life, which I feel is the biggest gain from Yoga.

I hope you will enjoy reading what she has to say.

Raechal-Levin

Q1. How you first got into Yoga?

Ans: I was first introduced to yoga 11 years ago, when I was gifted a prenatal yoga DVD. I practiced consistently throughout the next few years during both of my pregnancies, but the demands of motherhood changed my focus from physical fitness to my children’s health and well being! It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really got back into the practice, and it was not the physical aspects of practice that beckoned, but the mental and emotional benefits of meditation practice in movement.

Q2. What kind of change Yoga has brought to your life?

Ans: Yoga has changed basically every aspect of my life, mostly because I was and continue to stay open and receptive to the practice and aware of changes that would be beneficial for me to make. I quit smoking, I eat healthier, I lost weight, I am aware of the consequences of the choices I make. My yoga practice continues to mold my choices in life, mostly because of the awareness that have developed through the practice, physically, mentally, emotionally. I guess I am slightly obsessive when it comes to my practice; I needed to dive deeper so I took a teacher training, and continue to explore the depths of myself, through the study and practice of teaching yoga.

Q3. How much time one should devote daily to practice?

Ans: I think the amount of time that you should dedicate to your practice varies from person to person… Everyone is unique and so their practice is bound to be just as unique.  Obviously, if you have an intense physical practice it might be unwise to practice daily as you could easily burn out, especially if you are practicing hot yoga, like so many tend to do here in the West. If your practice is mostly meditative it also will depend on the time you have available. Mostly, it’s a question of what will serve you best. Obviously, a busy working mother will not have the convenience of taking two hours out of her day to sit in stillness, but she is the one who would probably benefit most, from taking time to rest, and clear her mind. I recommend spending as much time as you can easily spare out of your day. Whether it’s 5 minutes or 5 hours!

Q4. Does it make sense to learn Yoga from online resources and other similar material?

Ans: I believe it is beneficial to explore all avenues of learning when it comes to learning about yoga, be it books or blogs or whatever else; but I highly recommend finding a teacher or guru, that resonates with you, so that you have someone you can trust to bounce ideas and questions off. A good teacher can teach you more about yourself than any book or article especially as they become more familiar with your practice!

Q5. Is there a particular age from which one should start Yoga?

Ans: As far as age goes, I feel any age is appropriate! We are all practicing yoga from the time we become aware of our existence, whether we are aware of it or not… Yoga is an opportunity to go inside and explore the subtlties of our own unique experience. Who’s to say the 3 year old in their down dog is any less present than the 30 something practicing their forearm stand, or Kapalabhati Pranayam?

Q6. What’s the potential of earning a livelihood from Yoga?

Ans: I doubt you will get rich doing it, but the benefits of teaching yoga are innumerable. To do what you love, to reach out and pardon the pun, touch someone, to serve the world and offer your truth. To me this is worth more than any paycheck. That being said, I know many instructors, even in this oversaturated yoga teacher epicenter of the world, who are getting by just fine on their teaching salary.

Q7. A simple reason to do yoga!

Ans: It just feels good!

Physically, if it’s all you do, you will stretch and strengthen your body; the same is true about your mind, and your heart! And you might just learn something about yourself!

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