My Therapist Interview - Yoga and Barre

Interview with My Therapist ( today 31 January 2016.

We caught up with Casey Cheah from @caseycheahyogadance, who here shared her insights about the impact of yoga and barre on life.

1. How did your interest in yoga and barre begin?

I originally started practicing bikram yoga to complement my dance training. I had just started working full time in a corporate job after graduating University because thats what I was ‘supposed’ to do, but dancing was my life. I would train almost every night after work, and it was easy because I loved it. When I started practicing yoga, I found it helped my dance training enormously. I would use the 90 minute bikram class as a warm up for my dance class! After around 4 years of bikram, I started looking into teaching but the more I researched bikram yoga the more I found it didn’t appeal to me so much anymore.

I then found vinyasa yoga and it was my ah-ha moment. THIS was my type of yoga! Vinyasa was almost like a dance, just with different types of movement. I started practicing more and more, and as I delved deeper into my practice I realised there was a shift happening – it wasn’t just about the physical movement any more, it became a moving meditation. I started to dive deeper into the spiritual side, and have never looked back. I signed up for the 500 hour diploma of yoga teaching straight away and on the day I graduated I was teaching full time. It was one of the easiest and seamless transitions in my life I have ever experienced.

2. What impact have yoga and barre had on your life?

Yoga has definitely calmed me down – my life was hectic, way too hectic, and now I feel much less guilty at taking time out for me! I used to fill up every waking second with stuff – whether that was emails, work, dance, study, socialising, or just doing things really for the sake of keeping busy. I would feel so guilty any time I wasn’t active. Yoga has taught me the importance of relaxing, of breathing, of being still. It’s still a work in progress of course but I’m getting there!

Barre has been great too – its really a mixture of yoga, pilates and dance – all my favourite things! When I first stumbled across barre, my heart stopped for a moment and I thought ‘yes, this is it, this is me all over’. I started teaching barre pretty soon after that first encounter, and haven’t looked back. Barre is more physical, its about keeping the body strong and supple, and also about having fun in class!

Yoga is more than just the physical, its about the mind-body connection. I’ve found over the years of practicing yoga, my mind has shifted dramatically in the way I think, the things I value, and what is most important to me. This will always be an ongoing journey and as my practice evolves, so does my teaching. I look forward to what this year brings!

3. If someone was looking to get into yoga or barre what advice would you give them?

Just do it! You won’t regret it! You can start yoga or barre at any time of your life, its just a matter of wanting to. Sometimes you just need a little push. It’s not as scary as you might think. People have the idea that to do yoga, you need to be flexible, but really thats the whole reason to start going – to increase your flexibility! Plus yoga offers a whole range of other physical and mental benefits – improved strength and flexibility, improved mental function, better quality of sleep, improved posture, it has the ability to reduce cortisol and stress hormones in your body, increases your blood flow and circulation, plus many other things. Basically, it just makes you feel great.

Barre is the really the same – if you’ve never tried it, just give it a go for fun! Expect a really groovy workout to music, with the added bonus of having a barre there to help you balance. You’re not aiming for perfection, but rather just to move your body, get stronger and more flexible, and have a good time. I get a huge range of people in my classes, from students to grandmothers, to football players to ex ballet dancers. I get beginners to advanced students. The good thing is you can just take it at your own pace, there’s no pressure to do everything. There’s only one thing I should warn you about – its truly addictive so you will probably need to buy some more exercise clothes!!

4. Tell us about your ideal day and what you do to feel your best?

My ideal day…I would wake up early (not to the alarm but to my own body clock), and drink water. I’d go to yoga or for a walk outside to get some fresh air (or even better, walk to yoga!), then come back and have a smoothie (I have a huge addiction to smoothies!) or eggs on toast. I’d then do some work or study – I’m a bit of a perpetual student, I love working my brain and learning new things, and then have lunch. I was vegetarian for the last 8 years but only recently have started to eat meat again (thats another story). After lunch, I love to read a book – I have just finished one by Dr Brian Weiss called ‘Same Soul, Many Bodies’. Such a fascinating read! Often I teach in the afternoon, which gives me a huge sense of fulfilment. I’ve created work doing what I love so teaching is easy and fun. Home for dinner with my partner, then off to bed for an early night! I’ve given up burning the candle at both ends, and really value a full nights sleep.

Creating balance every single day is the key – finding time for exercising, for resting, for working and studying, and for pleasure is sometimes difficult but once you get used to it, it becomes second nature.

My little trick is to get to whichever studio I teach at that day a little early, set up, then have a few minutes of meditation or ‘me’ time, just to get myself calm and in the right head space. It works wonders!

5. What is a book that has inspired you on your journey, or even one that you just really like?

I don’t think I can choose just one book! But one that I have read over and over again is by Brandon bays, ‘the journey’. I think it’s highly motivational and very inspirational for anyone on a path of health and happiness.

6. What or who makes you smile, no matter what mood you are in?

My massage therapist! Seriously, if I’m ever in a bad mood and can’t shift it, I head up the road to my local thai massage place and it really helps relax my body and clear my head. The other thing that always helps me when I’m feeling down, is actually teaching a class! The energy of the class and the music always picks me up and by the end of the class I’m feeling just as great as the students. Its a win-win for all!

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