My interview partner for this episode of Living Yoga, my blog series about inspirational yogis and yoginis from all corners of the world, is the beautiful Sher Benjamin, a full time yoga teacher in Brighton, England. Sher is a doting mother to two teen goddesses and a fur baby, with a love of all things vintage, handmade and sustainable and a new found barefoot wanderlust through love, yoga and connection.
Sher’s journey began many years ago on a retreat in Ibiza where she experienced yoga as a journey of healing, transformation and connection. On returning to the UK the desire to share what she had felt became a necessity to teach, so she left her career in fashion to devote herself to training as an accredited teacher in Mindful Flow Yoga, with Be Yoga.
Sher believes that yoga is for everyone and her classes are designed for all ages, levels and bodies. With a strong focus on listening to the wisdom of the body and breath, Sher guides the class so that safe exploration, release, awareness and nourishment are brought with kindness to the whole self.
Sher, how and when did you find yoga?
After many years of taking yoga classes on and off, I came to my deep commitment to the practice 5 years ago. My knees collapsed, stopped me from walking for 2 weeks and forced me to reevaluate my life and change direction. I was on my knees both physically and emotionally. Initially the asana practice was intended to strengthen my thighs to protect my knees and avoid surgery, which it did, but it was the discovery of the eight limbs of yoga that had set my soul alight. After a profound spiritual experience on a retreat in Ibiza I knew I had to share what I had felt. So the journey began and I kiss my knees every day for bringing me here!
What’s your favorite way to practice?
My home practice is a spontaneous affair, listening to what my body needs and prescribing myself movement medicine and meditation intuitively. This could be anything from a long fiery flow to a little Yin, maybe some dancing, possibly a weep in balasana. I sometimes just let the music from Yogi-Tunes be my guide. I often just sit, breath and be with what arises.
What or who inspires you?
This year’s resolution was to be open to inspiration. Padma (lotus) mudra has been a big feature in my practice as a reminder to remain open to receive and blossom. All my teachers have been inspiring in different ways. Being in nature inspires me too, but it’s the recurring synchronicity that keeps on the path, antennas alert!
How do you integrate yoga into your daily life?
It’s impossible to separate my life from yoga at all! Yoga practice is on and off the mat all day and every day. I’m always exploring Yoga’s code of ethics, the Yamas, they are interwoven with daily life and are totally inexhaustible. This is my yoga.
How do you find stillness of mind? Could you share your no 1 tip for cultivating mindfulness?
Finding stillness of mind takes daily practice. I find a little 108 japa mala practice a lovely way in, to centre myself, regulate the breath and then listen to what arises. Mindfulness can be as simple as focusing full attention to what you are doing in the present moment and savouring every motion. This is a way of making the mundane magical and bringing in deep delight gratitude. I often include a walking meditation in my classes. Slowly walking on the mat, inhaling as you lift the foot, exhaling as you place it down. Spreading the toes and giving thanks for the 26 bones in each foot and our ability/ this miracle to walk on this Earth.
What makes a perfect yoga class in your opinion?
For me the perfect yoga class is the one where the teacher creates safe space for you to grow, play, explore and release. Where you connect to your inner radiance and leave feeling refuelled and connected on all levels of being. I also adore it when the teacher reads beautiful words in a long savasana!
What is the biggest lesson you have learned through yoga?
The biggest lesson I have learnt so through yoga so far is to let go of the past. That I no longer have to carry past pain into my future. I am learning to honor myself and accept myself exactly as I am. Yoga is teaching me to see my own light and step into it.
If you could give new yogis an advice, what would it be?
You have time. Be gentle with yourself. We are all designed differently and move in different ways. Enjoy the process of your journey. Keep going. Remember that asana is just a part of the practice. Find your unique way to fill up on the goodness, so that you can radiate outward benefiting yourself and those around you.
(title photo: @aimo.javier.photography)