"The teachers I have experienced at Little Peace have been really exceptional".
Moira is a 50-something-year old researcher who love Michelles morning vinyasa. Having lived in many big cities, and at times struggled with yogastudios being too far away from home and work, she felt the yoga fairy had made her wish come true, when Little Peace opened right outside her new home in Stockholm!
Hi Moira! Where and when did your yoga journey begin?
I am a bit embarrassed to realize that the first time I contemplated trying yoga was in the late 1990’s when Madonna was embracing the yoga lifestyle and showing off her well-toned arms! But hanks to Madge’s passion for ashtanga, I signed up at a new ashtanga yoga centre in Edinburgh, Scotland. This small yoga community was attracting teachers and pupils from all over. They were an exotic bunch, with dreadlocks and tales of months in Indian ashrams. I was intrigued and attended many weekly beginner classes for a long, long time. However, I was incredibly inflexible. Whatever, I kinda enjoyed it and I persisted with it.
Nevertheless, I did notice that with attending class just once a week and not completing the postures ‘correctly’, I was able to completely rid myself of the lower back pain that I used to have.
In 2001, I experienced a terrible breakup. Without getting too melodramatic, it left me feeling sad, powerless and exhausted – just all round dreadful. As summer approached, I wanted a holiday. My friend, with the crush on the pranayama teacher, had been to a yoga retreat on a Greek island and really enjoyed it, so I decided to give it a try – at least, I thought, I will get a decent suntan…
Little did I know what my body was in for! I was able to feel and see the effect happening day by day. The calm, steady words spoken by teachers also began to make sense for me in a way they had never before: “Observe pain – physical and emotional – and let it pass”, “Focus on the approach life based on ‘ahimsa’ (non-harm)”, and so on… Spending the whole day in and around the yoga ‘shala’ made me learn about the history and practice of yoga. To explore other aspects of it like meditation and yoga nidra which help improve the quality of sleep and energy levels. I made new friends from all walks of life, but with a shared interest in discovering yoga.
I came back to Edinburgh and began attending class more than once a week – it was a joy! Looking back, I think through the experience of that week of intensive practice, yoga was beginning to affect both my body and mind. I feel that taking the time to slow down and practice yoga carefully gives my brain a bit of breathing space – regardless of how far into the practice I am able to go, so long as I do what I can do as well as I am physically able then I can feel the benefit. Over the years my yoga practice has gone up and down as I changed career, and moved several times, sometimes with a studio really far from both home and work. So, imagine my surprise and absolute delight to discover Little Peace yoga shala directly across from my new home here in Stockholm! Seems like all my years of wishing for a yoga studio outside my door finally got answered by the yoga fairy!
Tell us little about your experiences at Little Peace.
The shala is a beautiful space in my humble opinion. When I first saw it from the outside, I thought yikes it rather exposed, with the window onto the street. However, as soon as you step inside, it is so airy and light that I immediately feel comfortable and ready to practice. The teachers I have experienced so far (5) have been really exceptional, always thoroughly knowledgeable and encouraging. I think the classes are challenging without killing us, which is nice ;-)
What is it like doing yoga in Swedish?
Andas in, andas utt, vänster fot och höger fot – and that’s about it for me! I am only beginning to learn Swedish, so I miss a lot in the Swedish classes but I do believe it’s a good way to hear the language. Nonetheless, I tend to go to classes given in English (especially Michelle on a Monday morning).
In what way has yoga changed your life off the mat?
I’ve found there is a mixture of physical and emotional benefits from practicing yoga. As I mentioned, it has definitely helped with lower back pain. Also, in general I sleep better when I practice regularly. I have found that the focus on steady, balanced breathing is very helpful for my other hobbies - singing and running. In fact, if I find myself under pressure, I always take a moment to check that I am breathing properly – making sure to breathe properly when under pressure really does help! Emotionally, I believe the yoga practice has helped me to more calmly observe issues – be it problems at work, or feeling anxious about money, wanting to learn something new, train for a new job – and then to make a plan on how to deal with it and go ahead and do it! I think the experience of going from being hardly able to touch my toes as a young woman to being able to get into some of the challenging postures through regular practice was a real revelation to me, and encouraged me to believe that indeed my teachers were right to say, ‘Practice and all is coming.’
What would you say to people who are yoga-sceptic, or curious but a little hesitant to beginning?
Do it! Something will happen and Little Peace is a reliable source of great teachers to learn from. If possible, try to go away for a retreat – a long weekend or ideally a week – to build up knowledge and confidence.