This new episode of “Living yoga”, my interview series with inspirational yoga practicioners from all parts of the world, features Lexi, a radiant yogini from Canada.
Alexia, or Lexi as her friends call her, is an educator specializing in early childhood education, and mom to two adorable munchkins. Originally from Southern France, born in beautiful Provence region near the Côte d’Azur, Lexi has lived in Quebec, Canada, for 15 years and moved to Montreal one and a half years ago. She considers herself lucky to do what she loves for a living: working with children and doing yoga (often with them). She says she’s a real chatterbox and sometimes even thinks she talks too much. She always tries to find reasons to smile all the time. She loves pickles and ice cream (but not at the same time), cold pizza and lasagna in the morning.
Lexi committed to a regular yoga practice only a year ago, and after experiencing how good it made her feel and how it helped her develop a loving and thoroughly positive body image she can’t help but step on her mat every single day now. Inspired by her friend Valentine she decided to take the next step and registered for a Juna Yoga teacher training which is set to begin next year.
Lexi, how and when did you find yoga?
I don’t really have a date for when I started yoga because I had already been doing a little bit of it for my fitness practice, but mostly for stretching after my training. My decision to incorporate yoga on a daily basis was one year ago, in mid-December 2016. I was feeling down, having just moved to Montreal, this big and scary city. I had lost my motivation for fitness and didn’t really know what to do with my life anymore. And one day I was scrolling through Instagram and saw all those pictures of people practicing yoga and talking about positivity and self-love. So decided to give it a go and really commit to a daily practice and see what it could bring into my life.
What’s your favorite asana?
The million-dollar-question! I’m racking my brains and I’m still not sure. I am in love with Natarajasana, the Dancer pose. I don’t know why really. Even when I could barely lift my leg at the beginning of my practice, I already loved it. The lines it creates, the divine stretches that come with it. Plus, let’s be honest, my butt looks great in this pose, haha! But seriously, I love it. And Hanumanasana. I had a love/hate relationship with it. Never, in my 20 years as a dancer was I able to achieve a full split. But then four months into a regular yoga practice, I could suddenly do it. I was so flabbergasted and didn’t understand just how I made it work. Now, I understand the pose and love how I feel when doing it.
What / who inspires you?
That’s a big question. In my life, it’s my big sister. She doesn’t even understand how fantastic she is. Smart, strong, beautiful. She is an amazing mom, a wonderful nurse and my inspiration for success and happiness. I love her so much. In my yoga/spiritual life, it would be anyone who takes time for themselves, and for being happy. For sharing their love, their life with others. We live in such an individualist world, so when I see people who are willing to share their thoughts and experiences with the world, my heart feels a little bit fuller every day.
How do you integrate yoga into your daily life?
Well, for the physical part, I try to do between one and two hours every day, but I am also happy if I can only do ten minutes per day. You know, with family, work and social life it’s often hard to find the time, so you have to commit to a minimum and see where it goes from there. Some days I think: “10 min and that’s it” but end up flowing for 90 minutes, and on others days I am really motivated but end up doing only 15 minutes. It’s funny, but that’s how life is!
Now for the hard part of it: I do a minimum of ten minutes of meditation every day. I never force myself, but I do try to push my limits a little bit. If I can’t find a peaceful mind, I will put @aubreyyrenee’s meditation tapes on. She’s this little fairy whispering in my ears, telling me how magical and fantastic I am.
How do you find stillness of mind? Could you share your number 1 tip for cultivating mindfulness?
That is something I work on every day. It’s harder to achieve than we think. I don’t know if we can ever attain complete mindfulness, but my tip is “pay attention”. When you walk, feel the ground under you feet. When the wind blows in your face, feel its temperature and the smell it carries. When you talk with someone, look them in the eyes, notice their smile, their quirks. Pay attention.
Which aspects make a yoga class (or a yoga teacher) a great one in your opinion?
I love it when a teacher smiles. I know some people are not like that, but if you want me to come back to your classes, you better give me a smile. It just resonates with who I am.
I also believe that small classes are preferable because I love when the teacher has time for every student. I once attended a great Hatha and Yoga Nidra class but with around 60 people in the room it was jam-packed and the teacher was speaking too softly so I barely understood half of what she said. But then again, I had a magical moonlight class with @ze_namaze with 200 other yogis this summer and it was one of the best classes I ever had. Imagine 200 souls under the stars, sharing a full moon and simply being there and joining their hearts all at the same time. It was pure love.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned through yoga?
To love myself! After two kids and after stopping my fitness journey, I felt lost and even disgusted with my body. I had always had body issues since I was a child. Unfortunately, my parents never encouraged me in a self-loving way, so I had a long way to go to cultivate it myself. But I found a way to understand the wonders of my body, to truly appreciate what it can do and what it looks like. It’s a work in progress, always, but I am stronger than ever.
If you could give new yogis an advice, what would it be?
Be patient with yourself and have fun. I keep reminding me about this every single day. No two practices will be the same, the same pose can feel totally different from on day to the other. That’s normal. Embrace what your body allows you to do, accept that nobody is perfect. Love yourself just the way you are. If you are shy and don’t know how to start a yoga practice, take your best friend with you and go to a yoga class together. You won’t be as shy.
And don’t be afraid to explore different styles of yoga. There are so many, and not all will be right for you. Just experiment. Don’t take yourself too serious, laugh if you fall (or if you achieving something.) Be proud of yourself, always.
Follow Lexi’s journey on Instagram @gwenntaer