Originally a musician, Maya Fiennes is a yoga enthusiast who has practiced various forms of yoga for years. In 2003 and 2004 she decided to train to become a Kundalini teacher. Though Kundalini yoga is the oldest form of yoga and is gaining widespread popularity, Maya's DVD, Yoga for Real Life, is more than just another yoga fitness workout. The 60-minute DVD combines movement, breathing, and chanting to energize the body while relaxing the mind. The goal is to demonstrate how yoga can effectively be incorporated into all aspects of life.
Personally, I've never tried Kundalini before, but Yoga for Real Life stimulated my wanting to start actively practicing. Maya walks through each sequence, making it easy for the beginners, but also offers options to challenge more seasoned yogis. In the end, I was extremely surprised at how much of a workout I actually got.
Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Maya and find out a few things I've always wanted to know from professional yogis.
FITDAY: How did you first discover your love for yoga?
MAYA FIENNES: I started yoga as I wanted to relax before concerts and to improve my musical performance. I have now been doing yoga for ten years, having tried all different styles including Hatha, Ashtanga and Bikram in search of spiritual growth. When I found Kundalini yoga, my search was over, as it works on balancing the nervous system, which is vital for any performer, be it athletic or on stage.
FD: What is your favorite yoga pose?
MF: The Immune Booster. Whenever you start feeling clogged up or a cold or [feel a] flu coming on, you are in need of the Immune Booster. Close your eyes and concentrate on the third eye, located between the eyebrows. Raise the left elbow to just below the shoulder and position the left hand as if taking oath, touching the tip of the ring finger with the thumb, and then close the right nostril with the right index finger. Then start a steady and powerful 'breath of fire' - a rapid equal inhale and exhale through the left nostril just like sniffing.
This breath meditation strengthens the immune system by accessing the healing energy from the moon, mother of life--which creates an army of white bloods cells in the body, ready to fight any viruses. That process helps the nervous and glandular system to replenish. This lunar breath heals the emotional body by clearing all the unhealthy energies. It also helps remove sorrow, pain and depression.
FD: What is your least favorite yoga pose?
MF: I don't really divide poses as hard or easy or like and dislike. I think I love the challenge that every pose brings, as the more you practice it at the yoga class, the more you will have mental strength to handle real life challenges. It builds your stamina.
FD: I'm a runner. For others like, what yoga poses would you suggest for stretching and recovery?
MF: There is a very simple pranyama and meditation for recovery. After a run and stretch, sit in easy pose and look at the tip of the nose with heavy relaxed eyes. That will bring the serotonin and endorphin levels up and helps you recover quickly.
FD: What is one quote or inspirational phrase that you use during your yoga practice and also in your daily life?
MF: "Life is easy, let it happen!"
FD: What does the next 15 years look like for you?
MF: Since I started to travel around the world hosting workshops, events and retreats as well as releasing my DVDs, I have been overwhelmed by feedback from students everywhere, from those who have been helped through their recovery from diseases and operations, to those with chronic conditions, which have been made bearable thanks to my yoga. I just want to continue to spread my teachings and to touch as many people as I can in all corners of the world. My DVDs, more recently the Yoga for Real DVDs and my book are very effective conduits and I will continue to host events everywhere so that I can continue to meet my students. This January I will be in Goa hosting a retreat.
For more information on Maya and her practice, go to www.mayaspace.com.
Nicole Kennedy is a healthy living blogger and public relations specialist living in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Nicole's blog, Simply Nicole, documents her daily life occurrences as she balances working full-time, blogging, training for races, practicing yoga, eating healthy and spending time with her boyfriend. You can connect with Nicole via Facebook and Twitter for real-time blog updates, tips and tricks to living a healthy lifestyle, and more!