Before we begin, relax and take a ‘deep-belly breath’ and after you exhale, really think, when was the last time I took the time to breathe this deep?
This was the first – of many – things Chey from Bodhifit Studio made me reflect on. She pointed out that, as beings, we have fallen into the habit of shallow breathing largely due to our fast-paced lives.
Chest breathing can result in feeling breathless or anxious, so you can imagine the toll it takes on your body after long periods of time. Deep-belly breathing on the other hand allows for fuller, deeper breaths which has multiple benefits, but the one we are homing in on is instant relaxation.
Being aware of yourself is a prominent part of Chey’s teaching techniques. We chatted to her about how to tap into one’s mindfulness and spirituality and incorporate that into fitness. Some of us find this Zen going for jogs or hitting the gym, but for those looking for something a little deeper, something to allow a sense of relief in your everyday life, perhaps being in touch with yourself is the motivation you need.
If you’re sceptical, either deterred from contradictory diets or infomercials selling three minute workouts that will ‘change your life’, maybe it’s time to give the downward facing dog a chance – after all it’s balanced the test of time.
“Every day I see people becoming more aware of themselves,” Chey said. “A lot of people’s lives have changed around me because of yoga. You learn how to manage life better, if things feel out of balance yoga helps you bring it back together or manage stress and anxiety. Things that once where overwhelming can be accepted as what they are, you learn to continue on.”
First things first, fitness.
“I’m all about nurturing your body, I see so many people who kill themselves at the gym and don’t enjoy it to the point it makes them hate exercise. Fitness is feeling good about yourself and being able to take that time out of your day for yourself as well as being proactive to live a healthy lifestyle,” Chey said.
The next step on your road to Zen is mindfulness.
“Mindfulness is about having positive intention behind why you are exercising. Be it for longevity or health. People come knowing how they will feel after, it’s a relief you crave every week. This is because it’s switching your body off; it’s the gap in-between work and home where you can leave your stress behind,” she said.
Spirituality is something that came to Chey without even knowing.
It wasn’t until she connected with Yoga to help her battle a health scare that she developed into a wellness warrior. Bodhifit Studio was born as a result, a place she hopes will bring all her clients from strength-to-strength.
“Spirituality is something that is in my day every day routine. It’s connecting with yourself and being more connected. The type of yoga we practice works with your non-conscious and your conscious, yoga is about joining the two together. So, while you are doing physical exercise you are also connecting with yourself, whether you think you are or not.”
Yoga provides the headspace to balance fitness, mindfulness and spirituality all at once – even unknowingly.
“Yoga is a combination of the breathing and being mindful of how your body is moving throughout the class. It’s a spiritual practice, the physical side is preparing yourself for the meditation and spiritual side,’ she said.
Chey’s social feed is a mixture of impossible poses, grain-free recipes and the occasional dog photo aka Aston, head of customer relations. Though, it’s the journey yoga has helped her through which is the most honest part of her teachings. She told me yoga gave her life flow and direction.
“When I got sick I found it hard to cope. The more connected I become with yoga and the clearer my mind was from changing my diet, I started feeling like I could move easier in my body again, I felt stronger, and had more energy that wasn’t there before. My training also changed my mindset, I learnt how not to be so emotionally involved in situations that I didn’t need to – I can remove myself and be neutral now.”
For those looking for a little something extra to complement their current fitness routine, hatha yoga is the perfect combination for alleviating stress and anxiety. It focuses on stretching, breathing, relaxation, joint alignment and adjustment. It also works with your organs. Chey conducts her lessons intuitively based on the season and which organs are under the most stress at the time of year.
It also can’t go unmentioned that hatha yoga ends with a relaxation wonder called ‘yoga nidra.’ This involves blankets and a short nap while Chey plays into your non-conscious.
“Yoga nidra makes you focus on the parts of your body. Rather than thinking and allowing your mind to wonder, your mind goes to where you are being instructed. Yoga nidra is the beginning of meditation. In a bad situation, you are less likely to react, instead looking at a solution rather than the problem.”
For something a little more intense, strap on the booty shackles (resistant bands) and hit up a sculpt class. Sculpt yoga is all about toning muscle groups, developing longer leaner lines and building strength, and it includes a bit of flexibility. Be prepared to work on all the smaller muscles you may miss at the gym.
Yoga by light is a more intimate affair making visitors feel less exposed and able to completely unwind. Yoga in the dark is a version of sensory deprivation forcing you to be more in tune with what is going on inside your body because you aren’t distracted from your surroundings.
“The yoga we teach isn’t a religion it’s about worshipping yourself within. We end every class with namaste – saluting this light within you.”