Understanding Yoga & the benefits with MoonsYoga
What are the first images that come to mind when you think of the word ‘yoga’? Let me guess- hippies, Buddha, and an image of someone wearing yoga pants, legs crossed with palms touching as if they were somewhat praying. These images are not wrong, but they are secluded to that stereotype- when it is far deeper than you can imagine! You probably never realised, but you’ve practiced meditation or some aspect of yoga at least once in your life. I didn’t know this either, until MOONSyoga thought me a little more on the subject of yoga- her life with yoga, how it has given her a positive and peaceful mindset-and how it can do the same for you!
The purpose of this blog post is to educate you on yoga- it is not ‘mystical’ nor is it for any certain type of person, we can all relate to yoga because we should all tap into our inner self to fully know who we are, our beliefs and our truths. What is not spoken enough about in society today is how we are feeling, what do those feelings mean and how can we change those feelings. We live busy lives, constantly running around and forget to stop and think ‘how am I feeling’. Yoga is a personal experience, you interpret yoga the way you see it- some people may see it as a spiritual journey, some may see it as a sport, some may see it as relaxation- whatever it is, all that matters is that you are connecting with yourself. BYOS sat down with Sinead Mooney, aka MOONS, to learn about the practice of yoga, her beliefs and how those beliefs can help you if you’re feeling a little lost or a little low!
Moons first dabbed with yoga when she was finished college, but it was more of a ‘slow-relaxed-granny’s-wearing-socks type of yoga’ (as she so well describes it!) meaning she didn’t quite connect with the concept at the time. It was not until moving to Australia- where she lived for 6 years that she really tapped into the mindset of yoga. The reason she began to practice- which many of us can relate to – is to get toned, sweaty and fit, but ended up being the very thing that healed her from the thoughts of body issues and anxiety and allowed her to connect with herself,
“I wanted to fix things on a more superficial level and then when I got into it, it made me forget about all that stuff and cool the jets and go ‘right, who cares, its flesh, what’s the big deal why is everyone so superficial’ and it gave me that insight.
I’m far more about how we should all feel rather than how we should look because I think a lot of people focus on the external and I think it has made me direct my gaze internally and ask people, ‘how are you feeling’ and ‘what’s going on with you?’ more than surface stuff”.
Yoga has changed her life in many ways, one way, she jokes, “if I don’t do yoga I’m a crazy person-or more crazy than I already am!” But on a serious note, it has allowed her to identify her truths. When she explained this, I thought about how many of us don’t really know what our truths are, what do we really believe in? She explains,
“It’s because we’re so distracted we don’t give the silence and the time to actually listen within. I think that’s what yoga helps with-it gives you silence and time. just in your own head to bring a bit of mindfulness and a bit of calm and with that then comes this kind of ‘yoga high’ you get this lovely deep calm and allows the truth bubble up.”
One of the main benefits of yoga to her was that it did allow to identify what she really believes in, something that many of us don’t do enough of:
“I don’t think we all honour our truths. I think we all bounce around in a ‘what-we-should-do’ kind of world. We look at each other and we compete without realising, we’re competing and we’re not sticking to our truths. that’s probably the most rewarding way to live your life: to follow your own truth and to be truthful to yourself.”
Allowing yourself to be completely comfortable with who you are, in your mind and your body, gives you the confidence to believe in yourself and stick to your beliefs. Mantras- a statement or a phrase that you live by and believe in that carries value to not only make you a better person but to remind you of what you believe in. Moons has many mantras that change depending on where she is in her life.
Her mantra at the moment is ‘non-striving’. She describes how she feels like everyone is striving to be 110%, everything is moving so fast- we’re crashing and burning and then fine again. She reminds herself that being at 80% is ok, and you may really be enjoying where you are, and how being comfortable with where you are may allow you to discover, without collapsing,
“Sometimes, ironically, when you’re not at that point there’s no resistance and your muscle soften, and you’ll actually go a little bit deeper than you would have if you were like ‘oh I’m going to make it’. It’s that ideal of taking that resistance off your matt as well – not pushing yourself until you’re about to keel over!”
What we can all take from this mantra is that we don’t have to constantly compare ourselves to where others are in life, and feel like you should be doing what they are doing. You are allowed be comfortable where you are, even if it’s not convenient for others-always focus on you and block out the noise of others.
This leads us on to another of Moons mantra, which is ‘anti-should’. She explains how she sees the word ‘should’ as a dirty word,
“I feel like so many negatives come from the word ‘should’. ‘I should really go to that party tonight. I’m exhausted and probably gain the flu but I’ll just go out anyway because I should’ why should you? We’re here for such a short time, why do we all push ourselves and push these ‘shoulds’ on ourselves when we should be thinking more about ‘how do I want to feel’. that’s the end goal.”
Rather than focusing on what we ‘should’ be doing, according to society, why don’t we ignore that and do what makes us happy, regardless of what people think. Even though you may get a certain fulfilment knowing that you made someone else happy, it is important to remember that your own internal happiness is more important than pleasing someone else. This is something that she regularly brings up to her students in class- to remind them that internal happiness, doing what makes you feel good is more important.
“If we start focusing on what makes me feel good and the steps we need to take to get there, that’s the path you should lead because all the ‘shoulds’ in the world, you might on paper be living a great life- going to that thing and working out really hard and eating really well but are you really happy?”
A mantra that I’ve now began to adapt to my own life, and even made it a New Years Resolution, is to ‘get comfortable with the uncomfortable’. Moons says,
“The best things come from the places that were uncomfortable. You need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable- sometimes it’s a sensation, its not pain, your brain may be shouting at you to get out of there but I know its fine. I get use to it by inhaling and saying to myself I can do this and exhaling and then you move through it, and you feel good! You won’t grow unless you dabble in areas that are out of your comfort zone. The brain will tell you ‘you’re fine, just stay there..’”
Moons describes the ‘uncomfortable’ feeling as the brain shouting for you to get out of there, because it labels uncomfortable feelings as pain. This also happens in the practice of yoga- you may feel uncomfortable during meditation- sitting still can be difficult for a lot of people, but she explains- “after time, things start to calm and softness comes in and you start to tap in and you get that lovely connect and its way worth that uncomfortable feeling.” The way Moons talks about the brain is quite amusing, describing the brain as its own little narrative and own thoughts is interesting-but a view we should all take because it leads us to another of Moons mantra which is ‘you are not your mind.’
When Moons told me ‘you are not your mind’, I didn’t quite get the concept straight away because – literally-it made no sense. Coming from a spiritual level, if you were to think this phrase through- it actually makes a lot of sense. Firstly, this relates to your brain telling you what you can and cant do, when actually you can do whatever you want once you change your mindset. Moons recalls a quote that is thrown around too often these days but does have an impactful meaning to it, ‘you are stronger than you think’. Noting that it’s a ‘blasé meme’ nowaydays, she reassures her mind and body that those thoughts are doubt and the thought that you can’t do something is just that- a single thought. She mentions a quote by a famous writer that she used in her class recently,
“Mark Twain says, there has been some terrible things that have happened in my life, some of them actually happened.”
Confused? I was too. Bringing the concept of the mind back into play, the second meaning to ‘you are not your mind’ is to not let ourselves run away with our minds. We dramatize and create these stories but in reality, we are blowing the situation out of proportion, allowing ourselves to run away with our minds. This can even happen during yoga practice:
“Sometimes, when you are on the yoga mat, you think, ‘I can’t’, but your body physically can. There’s a disconnect where your mind is like a prehistoric lizard brain telling you to ‘protect yourself, go hide behind a rock, that’s a safe place’. It’s the same as getting up and speaking in front of people. It’s your ‘lizard brain’. During yoga, a really heart opening- chest open, arch your back, lengthen your throat and fling back- gives you a vulnerable feeling, people hate it. It’s because you feel exposed and your brain starts going ‘no, retreat, get out of there’. Going back to prehistoric times-your brain wants you to keep safe, find safety, hide, keep your throat from tigers-curl in-when we’re sad, we come in, we try hide and protect ourselves- this shows how the mind creates stories for the good of us in times.”
Moons expresses, “It’s important to not listen to your mind and go for it even though it may be scary.” Whenever you’re feeling low, remind yourself of your worth, what you bring to the table and remember what you are thinking is just a thought, it does not define you or your beliefs. Allowing yourself to acknowledge the mind as one small part of who you are will ultimately allow you to make conscious and valuable decisions.
Moons mantras and beliefs ultimately have an influence on how she teaches yoga to her students. I describe it as, putting the ‘normal’ into yoga.
“I play modern music, I have the giggle! My classes are me, I don’t put on a voice [starts to talk like an ancient wise monk that speaks extremely slow] and walk around my class, because that’s not me! I’ll talk normally and plonk on my bum and have a laugh.”
Moons reminds us that we have most likely all practiced yoga at some stage. Yoga is more than shapes and movements, known as ‘asana’. It also consists of breath work- a form of meditation- we’ve all sat down and focused on our breath and calmed ourselves down, this term is known as ‘pranayama’. More than physically practicing yoga, we have adapted yogi values throughout our lives without even realising it,
“If you try to be a good person, nonviolent, try not to judge people- there you go- you’re being a yogi – that’s part of yoga. There’s always stuff that’s not asana, the rest of yoga is ‘everything’. Ultimately, it’s about being a good and a nice person and being good to everyone that’s around you. That’s the thing about yoga too, its non-religious, you can bring whatever you want to it!”
Moons is a proud wearer of BYOS, devoted to the true meaning of the success necklace. Our little bar of strength is worn by many inspirational women, who all find encouragement, inspiration and a little boost from the bar. The success bar is “multidimensional” to Moons, it can be what you want to take from the word ‘success’. It is more than a piece of jewellery, it holds sentimental value in the eye of the believer, such as Moons, she explains that she often feels her necklace, and reminds herself of her successes- it can be every day successes or looking at the bigger picture:
“it could be simply success that today I had a good day and I’m not feeling down or it could be today is a success because I got on my yoga mat or today is a success because I talked nicely to myself for the whole day and I didn’t let myself run away with competition and negativity and all those things. you can interpret it any way that you want, and it changes- the success shifts to what you need it to be for you that day. It’s a reminder the feeling of satisfaction and the feeling of stopping striving and simply being and saying, ‘hang on, this is my success– being with someone I love being happy and healthy, focusing on the good stuff and the present.”
For non-stop inspiration, encouragement and motivation, follow Sinead Mooney on Instagram & Facebook @MOONSyoga & her website to book in for a super cool yoga class http://www.moonsyoga.com/
Thank you for reading! We hope you love your success piece as much as we believe in it!