In my series “Living yoga” I feature inspiring yogis from all parts of the world and ask them 8 questions about their personal yoga and mindfulness practice.
Episode number 2 is about a true happy spirit: Synne from Norway is one of the sweetest girls I ever came across. When I first stumbled upon her Instagram account @synnergyoga I was simply amazed by the way she can move her body and bend it into shapes that are just out of this world. They say the way a body moves is an expression of the mind that lives within in. And in Synne’s case it couldn’t be more true. She radiates so much passion, joy and positivity that it’s impossible not to be captivated and motivated by her. But it’s not only her gorgeous pictures that make her stand out among all the Instagram yogis. Reading her thoughts and opinions about health, fitness, mindfulness, and life in general makes you instantly recognize her as an old soul who possesses wisdom way beyond her years. Oh, did I mention she’s only 12 years old?! How mindblowing is that?
Through her passion for PIIT (pilates intensive interval training), Synne found her way to yoga and gradually fell in love with it more and more. She loves how her practice challenges her body and keeps her mind engaged. Besides the physical part, she also follows a consequent meditation routine and tries to integrate little mindfulness rituals into her everyday life.
Synne, how and when did you find yoga?
I do not have a specific date for when I found yoga and my life was turned upside-down. I always knew (or thought I knew) what yoga was: it was this cool and trendy type of exercise for really flexible and strong people. I laugh when I think about it now, because that’s definitely not what yoga is!
In December 2015 I found Blogilates on YouTube. I fell in love with her workout videos! Soon after, I made my Instagram account on January 20th, 2016. I made it to connect with others who did Blogilates’ workouts too. While being in the fitness community on instagram I also saw different yoga challenges and joined a few too. I worked out and stretched every day, and many of the stretches I did were asanas, but I did not really practice yoga. After joining yoga challenges for a few months, I decided to start to actually practice every day in early 2017. During this year I have built a regular yoga and meditation practice and I have gained a lot more knowledge about yoga. The most important things I have learned are self-realization, and how much more yoga is than practicing physical postures on a mat. So yoga was something I gradually dug deeper into.
What’s your favorite place to roll out your mat?
Our family owns a cabin here in Norway right by a lake. When it is sunny and the wind is still, rolling out my mat there feels like heaven. The sun warming my back, fresh air, and beautiful clear water… It is just my favourite peaceful environment. But I love rolling out my mat anywhere outside really (when it’s warm). And inside too! As long as I get to practice, I’m happy 🙂
What’s your favorite asana?
I love inversions! They are so challenging, but so rewarding to progress in. My favorite one might be headstand because I am finding more and more balance in it! Being upside down is so much fun and I love to keep learning new inversions and tips & tricks. However, it really depends on the day for me… some days nothing feels better than hip openers, but other days all I want is arm balances.
How do you integrate yoga into your daily life?
I love the hashtag #yogaeverydamnday created by @yoga_girl. Doing an hour long asana practice each day may be way too intense for many, and me included. However yoga is not just physical, and on days I don’t do physical yoga, I meditate (which I do on the days I practice asana as well). There are eight limbs of yoga, and asana is one of them. So on days when I don’t do asana, I practice one of the other limbs. I also believe that yoga does not have to be for hours each day. Any practice is better than no practice. Just take 5 minutes out of your day to just breathe, meditate, or flow or hold a few poses. Do it right when you wake up, before you go to bed (or in your bed!), or even when you just have five minutes to spare anywhere. Just remember: Any practice is better than no practice; five minutes of meditation is better than no practice! Just think of your practice as a self care ritual and prioritize it because it will make YOU feel better and it helps you be more patient and caring towards others in your life.
How do you find stillness of mind? Could you share your number 1 tip for cultivating mindfulness?
Meditation was something I wanted to do but I didn’t really know how… until I got my first mala from Coco & Lime. I started meditating daily in April/May this year and I have continued doing it regularly. I think starting your day off with some yoga or even just 5 minutes of meditation really sets the tone for your day. I try to apply mindfulness to many parts of my life, but it’s hard to do it all at once. I would recommend to start simple; meditating five minutes a day (we all have five minutes to spare!). From there you can decide on one thing each day that you want to do mindfully (for example eating, walking, listening, watching, brushing your teeth, etc.). Doing small mindful activities each day helps you live a more mindful life. As you continue meditating and doing mindful activities, you can start meditating longer. But just take it one step at a time.
I would also like to mention this: I get easily stressed, sad, or annoyed in some situations. But my tip is to just take a deep breath and stay present. No one can steal your peace when you inhale, so just breathe and try to be in the present moment.
What was the best yoga class you ever attended, and why?
I don’t actually go to yoga classes often. But I think the best one I have attended was this one: We started with the studio’s «normal flow» (a flow the teacher uses in many classes). After spending 45 minutes flowing and stretching, we actually just played with poses. We tried different inversions and arm balances, and really just helped each other and gave each other tips. The flow we did at first allowed me to focus on my breath and tune in with myself, but the part where we played with poses was actually really social and allowed me to learn a lot. Helping each other allowed us to get to know one other. I know yoga should be mindful movement connected to the breath, but in the end it’s all about having fun and enjoying the process. This class taught me a lot about alignment and new poses as well, and I got to know new people. I just loved it so much because it was different from other classes where we don’t interact with each other, but here we got to build a little community within the class.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned through yoga?
Yoga has helped me really be at peace with myself. I come to the mat without expectations and I learn to love every step of the way. I used to be annoyed with myself for letting my legs tighten up and loose a little flexibility in them. I would be mad at myself for not holding my handstand for as long as I used to. Now I love every step of the way. Flexibility fluctuates, strength fluctuates, the only constant thing in life is change. And that’s okay. Yoga has really taught me to be at peace with my body and mind.
If you could give new yogis an advice, what would it be?
Don’t be hard on yourself! Yoga often starts to us as a very physical practice, but remember: the pose is not the goal. The process teaches you so much. It can take weeks, months, or years to achieve something. So just be patient with yourself. Try to take a lesson out of each pose – what has it taught you about yourself? It can also be a bit overwhelming with all the styles of yoga, all the videos, and all the classes they offer at a studio. Just explore different styles of yoga, try everything you can. You will eventually find out what style fits you best.
Lastly, don’t let these «perfect» yoga pics you see all over Instagram discourage you. Yoga is for everybody and every body; you don’t need to be skinny, strong, flexible, etc, you just need to be YOU. Yoga is so much more than a physical practice. And the pictures you see on Instagram are not that person’s actual practice. Me included here; I post yoga pictures in different locations, but that’s not my actual practice. Everyone’s practice is perfectly imperfect; we flow, we fall, we get back up again, we get interrupted, we continue from where we left. That’s OK. Your practice is uniquely your own practice, the flaws and mistakes are not wrong, they’re part of the journey.