Over the past years I had the pleasure to cross paths and connect with many inspiring yoga practitioners all over the globe. It’s immensely inspiring to learn how they integrate their yoga and mindfulness practice into their daily life! I find their experience and advice hugely helpful for my own path, so I thought I’d create a means to share their stories with you, my blog readers, as well.
In my series “Living yoga” I feature inspirational yogis and ask them 8 questions about their yoga and mindfulness practice.
Here’s the first episode, featuring the wonderful Valentine. She’s a French woman living in Canada where she is following two of her biggest passions, selling books and teaching yoga.
When you browse Valentine’s Instagram page @carreyia, the first thing you probably notice is her bright smile. If anyone ever deserved the name “Smiling yogi” it would definitely be Valentine. The positivity she radiates is simply contagious, and after looking at only a couple of her captures you will probably find yourself smiling from ear to ear, too.
It’s hardly believable that she began her yoga journey only 3 years ago. She started out on her own, praciticing consequently based on what felt good for herself and her body, and in early 2017 she made the decision to embark on her first 200-hour yoga teacher training with Juna Yoga. When she had completed her YTT, she quickly found that her greatest joy lies in sharing her passion for yoga with other people, so she reduced the hours she worked as a book seller and started giving regular yoga classes in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
Valentine, how and when did you find yoga?
I found yoga less than 3 years ago thanks to Instagram and one of my best friends who was participating in a yoga challenge. It was like finding the answer to all my fears and doubts: as the months passed, it helped me make peace with my body and ultimately with my mind. I’m forever grateful for it.
What’s your favorite place to roll out your mat?
I have so many! Haha! I love rolling out my mat at home, even if I don’t have too much space (but I can find extra space on my balcony!). I love enjoying my yoga practice outdoors, under the trees and with the wind in my hair. And last but not least, I love moving in the studios where I teach. It’s so powerful!
What’s your favorite asana?
You can’t ask me that! I can’t pick one! I’m very fond of hollowback in any inversion, but you can steal my heart with a simple butterfly pose (yummyyyyy) or even a chaturanga! I love how it challenges both my physical and mental strength.
How do you integrate yoga into your daily life?
These past weeks, I’m trying to find a balance between my teaching job and my own practice. I want to continue to take time for myself on my mat, in order to explore and grow as a yogini. But I want to let me body rest, too, after the classes. So I integrate physical practice whenever I feel like it, but generally I’m more of a morning person – no matter what.
As for yoga in general, I consider it to happen not only on the mat. I try to meditate at least ten minutes a day, and it often happens just after my morning shower, before looking at my screen or eating breakfast. I just sit on my couch and close my eyes for as long as I need to. I breathe. I let go of any judgment. I allow myself to just be, in the moment. Yoga is also being a kind and mindful woman in my day-to-day life: on the bus, in the street, in the park, at home. It’s noticing all the little things that make this world beautiful, it’s smiling at a stranger, it’s being able to know how my boyfriend feels without the need for a single word.
How do you find stillness of mind? Could you share your number 1 tip for cultivating mindfulness?
It’s something I’m working on too! Can I share two techniques I love?
The first one: one of the best tips I know to find stillness of mind is to come back to concrete physical sensations. For example, if I’m in bed and feel my mind crushed by thoughts, I’ll focus on the sensations of my skin on the sheets. If I’m on the bus and can’t concentrate, I’ll focus on the sole of my feet grounded to the floor. It could be the sensations of the clothes touching your body, the hair on your neck… Anything concrete. It works like an anchor.
My second tip for cultivating mindfulness is dedicating at least one minute a day (or even just ten seconds) on focusing on what you’re doing right now. Imagine you’re brushing your teeth: focus on the brush, then the movement of your wrist, the sensation in your mouth, the look in your eyes in the mirror, the hand resting on the sink, etc. With this exercise, you’re slowly but surely training your mind to be more mindful!
What was the best yoga class you ever attended, and why?
Wow… Again hard to choose! I will pick one of the outdoor classes I had with Andreanne, aka @ze_namaze, under the full moon! It was so mesmerizing to look at the stars and being surrounded by so many souls. I felt the power of our community in my veins. We were truly ONE. The magic of yoga is bringing people together, and this is what I experienced during this class.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned through yoga?
Trust. Trusting the universe and letting go of my expectations. Knowing that everything will unfold as it has to. Trusting others. Letting them guide or/and support me when I need to. And more importantly… Trusting myself. My instinct. My voice. My body. Being confident with who I am, without judgement and with unconditional love.
If you could give new yogis an advice, what would it be?
Enjoy the journey! Each single step you take is worth it. Each time you fall, get up with a smile. Each time you fly, be grateful and smile again. We all begin somewhere, so be tolerant, humble and safe: you are perfect just the way you are TODAY.
Choose Love every single day.
Be Love, without limits.
Spread Love, with all your heart.
And of course…. Smile ! 😊