In the Sanskrit text, there’s one form of yoga called Rāja yoga, which means ‘king’ or ‘royal’ yoga. Rāja is the pinnacle of yoga, and it is meditation.
- David Sutcliffe, Co-Founder of Yogaline
Yoga and meditation go hand in hand. In fact, it would be almost impossible to have one without the other. After all, you can’t focus on your physical body without the presence of your mind, and vice versa.
Recently, Yogaline Co-Founders David, Amanda and Hai got together to discuss the connection between yoga and meditation, and how they’re using these practices to ground themselves during this turbulent and unprecedented time.
Here’s what they had to say.
On maintaining relationships
‘David and I are opposites really,’ explains Amanda. ‘I hate running, but David loves it. He also lives in Bali, and when I flew from the UK to visit, I got heatstroke within five days! Yoga is where we meet in the middle.’
For those that don’t know, Co-Founders David and Amanda are siblings, and its yoga that has brought their relationship closer together. ‘We’ve always been close,’ Amanda continues, ‘but we haven’t had much to relate to each other. It’s nice to have yoga as this ‘thing’ that connects the two of us together.’
For these two, yoga isn’t just about finding time in the day to connect their own personal mind and body. Instead, it’s the foundation of their entire relationship as brother and sister, what connects them closer even when, geographically, they’re thousands of miles apart.
It’s great for managing those mutual physical pains, too. As David explains: ‘Both Amanda and I have bad backs, so yoga really allows us to manage that pain and work through it together!’
On getting through self-isolation
I’m a huge fan of Kundalini yoga,’ says David. ‘I like it because it’s very accessible, and they have kriyas [a combination of posture, breath, mudra, meditation and chanting] for everything, whether it’s anxiety, depression, or handling an over-active mind.’
Right now, we’re all facing the challenges of anxiety, low mood and an over-active mind. Kundalini yoga, then, might just be the practice that helps us maintain our sense of grounding while stuck at home and dealing with new pressures. This practice certainly works for David. ‘I perform Kundalini yoga for 25 minutes in the morning, and for me it really sets the day up.’
Amanda, on the other hand, focuses on the small moments throughout the day to keep well balanced through self-isolation. ‘Any kind of breathing-based meditation I find particularly good at the moment,’ she explains. ‘It’s important to realise that, through all this stress, you can have minor hyperventilation moments, so taking five minutes to work through a breathing exercise and try to meditate is essential to help fight against that stress that creeps up on you.’
Hai agrees. ‘When I practice in the morning,’ he explains, ‘I started noticing that my day is a bit calmer in terms of the mind, and because physically I’m feeling a bit looser, I’m generally more relaxed. Also, especially during lockdown, I’m quite aware of when my mood is low, so I’ve been practicing yoga a lot more to bring more awareness to my mental wellbeing.’
On setting intentions with yourself
Everyone has a different intention for practices like yoga and meditation. For some, it’s about working through an exercise routine and using it as a way to keep challenged and disciplined. ‘My only intention really is just to try and improve on what I did before,’ explains Hai, ‘whether that’s improving my flexibility, mobility, or something as simple as my mood. Life is always a progression and it's up to us to decide how we progress.’
For Amanda, however, the primary intention is to reduce the everyday stresses and tensions that arise in our modern way of living. ‘I quite like at the beginning to do a mental body scan,’ she says. ‘I literally think through my body and work out where I’m holding the most tension, and then I work out what the physical or emotional trigger has been, and then plan my practice around that.’ Amanda continues: ‘On the rare day you don’t have a physical tension, you have a gratitude day!’
On personal health and happiness
‘The best piece of advice I ever got was from a close friend of mine,’ David explains. ‘He said, “don’t try to achieve happiness all the time because it’s unrealistic. Aim for contentment instead”. The way I translate this, which I think is appropriate to now, is that everyone has lost their distractions and coping mechanisms for the things they don’t like, and through this time they have to sit and try to be comfortable with themselves. Rather than trying hard to be happy, aim instead to be content. It’s about trying to make peace with the things that make you sad or cause you pain. If you can do this, most of the time the issues will just fall away and disappear.’
In a similar vein, Amanda explains the importance of letting yourself off the hook during this time. ‘It’s really important to know that it’s okay and that you can’t do everything all of the time,’ she explains. ‘There’s been a lot of social pressure in the last decade or so. Everyone has three different careers and a social profile to upkeep, but none of this is real. It’s okay to have a day in bed because you are feeling sad right now, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I find that hugging my cat is particularly helpful at times!’
Some advice to beginner yogis
‘I’m still definitely a beginner,’ says Hai, ‘but if I share any words of advice, it’s to just start practicing. If you have 10 minutes, spend 10 minutes. If you have half an hour, spend half an hour. Whatever works for your schedule, it just needs to be consistent. For me, I really feel the benefits when I practice three or more days a week, sometimes it's for 10 minutes and other times it's up to an hour.’
Amanda agrees. Her advice is to ‘just get on the mat.’ She expresses that it’s important to listen to your body, too. ‘Everyone is different, and the stretch should feel good. There’s definitely nothing wrong with doing a modification. Also, don’t skimp on Shavasana. It’s the most important part of yoga!’
‘Oh, and don’t forget to buy Yogaline!’ David jokes.