Article: StrongVoices Interview #1: Sarah Lisa Yous, yoga and mindfulness coach
StrongVoices Interview #1: Sarah Lisa Yous, yoga and mindfulness coach
Our first StrongVoice is Sarah Lisa Yous, also known as F'low Me Yoga. Thanks to Sarah's holistic approach, I got to know myself, my body and my limits better and steadily expanded my horizon. Above all, I have experienced the practice of gratitude, mindfulness & acceptance in the way Sarah lives and teaches. Actively integrating these thought patterns into my life has led to noticeable, positive changes. Even if it sounds a bit exaggerated: I am firmly convinced that without the "Yoga Mind" and Sarah's Yoga I would not have had the courage to found AMELI.
That is why I am so incredibly grateful to share Sarah's personal insights and tips with you, in the hope that the words will also move, motivate and inspire you. And if you are from Zurich, join me in one of her classes or in her retreats.
Sarah Lisa Yous is a yoga and mindfulness coach, offering yoga classes and workshops under the name F'low Me Yoga. She started yoga in her mid-20s in order to release stress and find inner peace. Inspired by a trip to Bali, she completed the 200h Yoga training "Krama Vinyasa Yoga Therapy" with Rae Indigo (Miami) in 2015, followed by the 300h Advanced Yoga Teacher Training with Les Leventhal (Bali) in 2017.
With her classes she wants to pass her personal yoga experience on to others and accompany them on their way to a better physical and mental awareness.
"Through yoga, I’m more grounded, calmer and in tune with my intuition. I’m more confident to make my own decisions and, I trust to go with the flow. I am happier, and I feel." - Sarah Lisa Yous
OUR QUESTIONS FOR SARAH:
How long have you been doing yoga and what do you like so much about it?
I've been doing yoga for about 10 years. What I love about it is that it's an ongoing process that has no end. It’s a lifetime practice. It's not like: you got it and then you’re done. Just as everything in life is in a constant change, we also change constantly. My experience on the mat changes from day to day, moment to moment. And so, I can always discover something new and go deeper.
What I also love about the practice is that it works on different layers. Physically, energetically, mentally and emotionally. The more you practice the more you get to know yourself and become aware of subtle shifts. What you learn and discover about yourself can then help and support you in your daily life. A simple example, if I start to notice that I push myself too far on the mat, exhaust my self during the practice, it might be that I’m also doing that during my day to day life. By starting to back-off a little during the practice on the mat, to respect my actual energy I can then maybe also start to do that off the mat. Same with fear or other strong feelings. If I’m afraid of some specific poses and use to act within my comfort zone I might also do that in my daily life. When I start to work on these challenging poses, start to leave my comfort zone, I might gain a lot of self-confidence and start to trust myself more. This then has a beautiful effect in other aspects of life. For me, that’s where the magic happens. It’s not just any other sports or hobby, it’s a lifetime practice.
What are the most considerable changes for you since you started practising yoga regularly?
My life has changed a lot since I started practising yoga so regularly, because it changed me.
There have been many shifts, but I would say the most significant one is my lifestyle. I moved away from the business career I was aiming for and now follow my passion and what feels right to me. I’m so much closer to myself. Through yoga, I gained a lot of self-confidence and trust. In the past I didn’t really know where my journey should lead me. I kind of felt this pressure of “you need to fit in and be successful”. Through yoga, I’m more grounded, calmer and in tune with my intuition. I’m more confident to make my own decisions and, I trust to go with the flow. I am happier, and I feel.
Why did you decide to teach Yoga and what is so special about your Yoga classes?
Actually, 8 years ago, I could have never imagined yoga one day. When someone told me, I should become a teacher I said: No way, Yoga is something I’m doing for myself, it’s my little island that I need to ground. I thought that by teaching I would lose that.
But when I was in Bali the first time, with my boyfriend 6 years ago, I joined different classes, yoga styles and teachers. Until that point, I joined the same 1-2 teachers and only knew their style which was more Hatha based. I had no idea about the wide range of different styles or the philosophy behind it. In Bali, I finally found my favourite yoga style, Vinyasa Yoga and some of my favourite teachers. Each of them with their own style of teaching Vinyasa Yoga. I was so inspired that I started to think about creating my own signature style and yoga label. As my boyfriend said again, “you really should do a training and start teaching yoga” I said YES, I should. After the first training I was hooked. The first big shifts started then, and I just wanted to share this with others. I enjoy passing on my knowledge so much.
The special thing about my style? What I often hear is that my style is very dynamic. Although it is Vinyasa Yoga, which many teachers teach, I think my classes are even more dynamic. The movements become almost like a dance, maybe that's special. Also, that I offer variations for different levels. You can take my class as a beginner but also as an advanced yogi. But also, that I incorporate meditation and breathing — and even if it’s just a snippet the philosophy of yoga as well as the mindfulness teachings.
To me it’s important that I reach people with the message that it is a holistic lifestyle. It’s not about being more flexible or stronger than the person next to you, but about your own journey. That you stay honest with yourself and work with the capabilities you have. It is a holistic system that at the end should bring you closer to who you really are.
How do you integrate yoga into your everyday life?
On one hand, I make sure that I have a daily practice. It’s not always an asana practice (which means the postures on the mat) but mediation or pranayama (breath control). Sometimes I do my breathing exercise under the shower after I get up. Equal breathing 4,4,4,4 for instance (inhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts).
On the other hand, I do my best to live yoga off the mat. In the eight limbs path of yoga the first two steps are the Yamas and Niyamas. Kind of an “ethical code of conduct”, which helps us find and stay in peace with ourselves and our surrounding. They are my guidelines through everyday life.
Other ways I integrate yoga into my everyday life are….
Trying to be present where I am. When I ride my horse through the forest, it’s actually a nice moment to reflect on things, but also instead of losing myself in thoughts or think about what to do next, I look at the trees, breathe the air, notice details and concentrate on the horse.
I’m mindful and aware of what I consume. Nutrition but also what I consume in general, media, clothes I buy, movies, books, etc. I try to consume and do things that lift me up and are healthy for my mind and body.
I try to respect my own energy level more and more which is a big challenge for me because I like to be super busy. So, these are just some examples. Generally said, I try my best to life in a way that creates peace within and without, and not drama or stress.
And if you only had 15 minutes a day to do one exercise session?
I would usually do a breathing exercise and some simple movements through the spine and hips. Like a few cat & cows, spinal rolls or sun salutations, simple stretches, or a meditation. Actually, it depends on what I need at this moment and this comes to me very intuitively. Some days I feel stiff or my neck hurts, so I might need some specific movements to release tension. Other times I feel imbalanced, anxious or nervous, then I would go with some pranayama’s and a meditation. If I need more energy, I would use a specific pranayama to enhance the energy flow.
Which breathing technique can you recommend to reduce stress and get away from the situation?
I would recommend Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) as it has a beautiful purifying and balancing effect. It’s one of my favourites. Or an equal parts breath with retention. Inhale 4, hold 4, exhale 4, hold 4. Both, I also use them at work when I need some distance and notice that I am too excited or nervous. To calm the nervous system, I would recommend focusing on longer exhales, you could inhale for 4 and then exhale for 5, 6 or event 8 counts, with or without a retention at the top and bottom.
Is there a particular mindfulness practice that you do every day that helps you to be more aware of the moment?
I really believe in breathing — When I notice that the head is playing some stories, is wandering off repeatedly or hangs somewhere in the past, I take a deep breath and try to focus on what is here. Sometimes it’s also closing my eyes and sitting in stillness for a minute and checking in with myself.
Favorite AMELI bag?
The CENTRAL in vegan apple leather.