December 2, 2014

Interview: The Yoga Element

With the holiday season and new year approaching, there is no better time to pause.

Last week I was invited to a yoga, meditation and mindfulness workshop with Cecily Milne from The Yoga Element at The Thompson Hotel in Toronto. It was a three-hour afternoon of practicing yoga, meditation and drinking green juice. I left feeling a sense of calm that I hadn't felt in months.

I interviewed Cecily to get her insight on her craft, and how us mere mortals can learn to quiet our minds. Enjoy!

1. What is The Yoga Element?

The Yoga Element is the result of my passion for movement and well-being. It represents the balance between having a healthy, mobile, pain-free body as well as a deeper sense of awareness in our everyday interactions.

2. How long have you been practicing yoga?

I started practicing yoga in 2003 when I was a university student. For almost a decade, yoga was my main outlet for movement; a couple of years ago, I started incorporating other forms of practice into my life including strength and mobility training. Today, I integrate these other movement modalities into the yoga "asana" practice, reflecting my understanding of what it means to have a "fluent body, fluid mind".

3. How can people practice mindfulness in everyday life?

Mindfulness can simply mean inserting a few more deep breaths into the day. Or actually taking the time to think before we speak or act. Pausing for a moment and slowing down to do the things we often do on autopilot - like driving, eating, walking down the street, etc. - can lead to more enjoyment in everyday routine.

4. What are the benefits of meditation?

Creating space. When I meditate in the morning, it sets a tone for the day, sending a message to my brain that there is time to be still. When the day gets rolling, I think back to the headspace I'm in during sitting practice, and try to revisit that whether I'm in the car between clients or in front of a class. Doing so keeps the day from getting out of control, putting a pause between my thoughts and ensures that I'm fully present when teaching other people how to be fully present.

5. What would you say to someone who is intimidated by meditation, or who says they have no time?

I'd encourage them to think differently about meditation. Often we get an idea in mind that meditation has to look like sitting in lotus pose for hours at a time. In reality, meditation can look like whatever works: sitting comfortably, in silence, for 5 minutes at a time - that still counts! Maybe in time those 5 minutes become 10 or 15, but maybe they don't. The important thing is that someone's meditation practice reflects and supports their needs and makes them feel good.

6. Favourite quote? 

Today, this one resonates: "Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are dead." - Aldous Huxley
/ photo credit: Cecily, The Yoga Element