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Hristina Conner has been an active yoga enthusiast for over 12 years and is honoured to have studied with the world's leading instructors such as Peter Clifford, Bo Forbes, Tara Lee and David Moreno. Hristina is a Yoga Alliance UK teacher and conducts Hatha and Vinyasa classes and workshops at Yoga Creation in Canary Wharf as well as yoga therapy for Tower Hamlets Council Health and Well-being department. Hristina also teaches privately for expectant mothers, artists or business professionals wanting to improve their athletic abilities, chronic health conditions or overall well-being. www.cupcakeyogini.co.uk
Why did you become a yoga teacher?
I explored various yoga styles to assist me with the stress of moving around the globe, dealing with a demanding job but also to keep me physically healthy. I was born suffering from allergies and this has led me to become interested in yoga from a therapeutic perspective as well. I am happy to be in the position where I can share my experience and encourage others to heal and to transform through yoga.
What advice would you give someone who wants to become an experienced yogi?
Yoga works from the inside out by letting your body and mind unfold naturally with inward satisfaction. By practicing to set goals and recognising to let go of them when necessary, asanas become effortless. An experienced yogi evolves patiently, reaching the place where aesthetic no longer matters, and is able to shift from doing yoga to being yoga.
What is your favourite yoga pose?
Shoulderstand! This nurturing "mother of all asanas" keeps my allergies at bay, body strong, mind calm and the immune system working happily to keep all those winter flues, blues or allergies away.
There are various yoga styles from Bikram to Hatha, how does someone find the right one for them?
No matter what the chosen path they all lead to the same place - unhurriedly unwinding our bodies and minds. Feel adventurous, be curious, taste a bit of each style and with so much on offer these days there is one to suit everyone's needs and journey in life. As long you leave a class feeling a nicer person, more content about yourself and the world around you then that is the right style of yoga for you.
What are the benefits people can gain from practicing yoga?
There are yogic tips to suit everyone's needs from boosting self-confidence, helping with chronic health conditions, calming the mind, or improving athletic abilities. I encourage my students to use the tools learnt on the mat in their daily life. Yoga on the mat is a relationship with yourself and yoga off the mat is your relationship with everything else.
Why not try a 38° North Ibiza Yogalates Retreat? [Photography by Gypsy Westwood for White Ibiza]
How would you encourage somebody who has never tried yoga to give it a go?
Friends, family or work colleagues practicing yoga are a great source of encouragement. Slower paced Hatha classes might be less intimidating and a perfect place to meet other new yogis. Make a social affair out of it once a week: a time to be curious about yourself and a fun time to spend with your friends.
As someone continues to practice yoga, what changes might they notice or experience?
Long term practice might affect the way you eat, the way you sleep, how you deal with reoccurring stressful life situations. The result is not instant and this is why it is important to keep up the practice; it takes time for the nervous system to adjust to these newly discovered positive changes. Do your practice and all is coming! (Sri Patthabi Jois)
Are there any forms of exercise or spa treatments which compliment yoga?
Many I teach combine running with yoga because it reduces the damage done by high impact sports thus our bodies are less prone to injury. I like swimming as doing the lengths reminds me of meditative movements of sun salutations. The use of yogic breath helps with the stride, speed, stretching, and strengthening the body in the safest of ways. However, sunny holidays by the sea coupled with an ayurvedic approach to massage is the most enjoyable way to compliment anyone's yoga practice.
How important is healthy eating to reap the rewards from yoga practice?
It is not essential to change your diet before starting yoga practice but your diet will change due to you starting yoga. Soon you notice you will eat more sattvik food and less products coming from the animals.
Do you have a yoga teacher that inspires you and why?
There are quite a few on my ongoing yoga journey to name just one. I am grateful to Om Anandji, Peter Clifford and Mark Riley for spiritual guidance as well as simple yet exceptionally powerful techniques I continually use in my teachings. Bo Forbes helped me integrate mind and body in order to bring emotional healing/balance through the art of sequencing. Zoe Trenwith's effortless style but physically strong nurturing asanas inspired me to be courageous and to accept the world with an open heart.