Chana Rachel: What inspired you to start doing yoga?
Lola Kreisman: There is so much more to yoga than what we're told in the studio.
LK: I don’t look at yoga as a sport, but as a way of life and a state of mind. The physical aspects of it- Strength, flexibility, balance etc.- are just the cherry on top. But each of these is just a reflection of the mental and emotional levels which are affected as well. Meaning, the stronger my body becomes from the practice, the stronger my mind and character become as well.
Yoga means "union." Its purpose is to create unity between all the aspects of the self- physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. One of the ways to do this is through the physical and meditational practices of yoga, which help quiet the mind. We all have millions of thoughts rushing around in our heads all day, and we listen to them all as if they were real. Most of us aren't even aware that we're doing this. We are not our thoughts, or our emotions. The real you is much deeper, it's the you that can observe your thoughts to begin with. The physical practice and meditation help to connect with that real you by silencing all the inner and outer "noise."
The primary focus in yoga is the breath. Breathing is a physical action, but it's also the connection point between the physical and what’s beyond. It's our instant connection with our source who at every moment breathes life into us, just as he did in the moment of our creation. You can call it God, the Universe, Mother Nature, whatever helps you feel connected with that infinite place within you. When combined with the different physical movements, the breath literally shifts the energy in our body and can therefore impact our emotional state. That's why it's not uncommon to cry, laugh or experience sudden emotions during the lesson. The cool part is that even if you don’t know about the spiritual/emotional aspects of yoga you still get the benefits of them through the practice.
Most people, including many regular practitioners, don’t know how deep yoga really goes- it's a whole world. And as I learned more and more about it in my teacher training, I became more and more inspired to teach and share this beautiful gift of yoga.
CR: I See that you have a lot of photos in nature, why davka in nature?
LK: I love colors. If you look at my Instagram page you’ll see what I mean. I have a deep appreciation for all the beauty found in nature. There's nothing like practicing yoga while breathing in the fresh air and being surrounded by grass, trees, the sky, flowers, etc. It all makes for a beautiful practice experience.
Seeing these things inspires me and helps me connect to my creator who created these beautiful things, and it becomes a more holistic experience.
A lot of the original Indian yoga poses were inspired by nature. The ancient Indians would sit for hours in nature and observe it, then imitate the things that they saw. That's why many poses are named after different animals or flowers. For example, there's lizard pose, crow pose, garland pose, lotus pose, tree pose etc. This is another reason why I find it more authentic to practice in nature, though yoga can be done anywhere else just as well.
CR: Which pose do you connect to most?
LK: Camel pose- a heart opener. You sit up with your knees on the ground, your toes tucked under or flat, and as you inhale you arch your chest upwards and bring your hands to your heels. Your body forms a kind of O shape. Opening your heart up to the sky in this way feels amazing to me.
Heart openers (aka backbends) are about opening the heart chakra, which represent hope, love and connection, to your fellow man, your creator and of course to yourself. I like practicing heart openers before Shabbat, because it’s a beautiful way to tap into that unique energy of peacefulness and love with family, friends and my creator.
In the beginning these types of poses were hard for me because they require a lot of flexibility in the back and I, like many people, don't have that naturally. But after a while of practicing them I started to love them and enjoy that feeling of openness.
The thing about yoga is that if you don’t like a certain pose, that’s exactly why you should practice it. It’s important to embrace the parts of yourself that aren’t perfect and be willing to work on them and eventually see progress. It's very emotionally and mentally rewarding. Your practice is a microcosm of how you are in life; Say you have a pose you are having difficulty with, the way you react to it, is exactly how you'd react to a similar situation in your daily life. So by working on the mat, you're gaining tools to deal with the rest of life off the mat.
CR: biggest accomplished this year:
I left my comfort zone and moved into my own apartment in a new city.
CR: Whats your secret favorite yoga piece:
LK: A pair of black and white geometrical print leggings.
CR: The quote that keeps you going when you feel like giving up:
LK: Everything is temporary and will eventually pass. Zoom out and look at the big picture. On the larger scheme of life, life is good and I trust that everything is for the best.
CR: How do you see a connection between Yoga and Judaism?
LK: Shabbat – Shabbat is an island in time.
You get to disconnect, take a pause from life and stop worrying about things- because there's nothing we can do about them anyways. This gives you a sense of liberation to really be present. You can keep Shabbat externally by making kiddush and going to shul, but if your mind is not present and you’re thinking about all the things that you need to do or the things that happened during the past week, you're not really keeping Shabbat in your mind and that misses the whole point.
Yoga helps me experience Shabbat on a much deeper level because if during the week I practice for an hour or so every day, on Shabbat I have a whole 25 hours to practice being present and quieting the "noise."
Lola is based in Northern Tel Aviv and offers personalized yoga sessions according to her practitioner's personal needs. Lola specializes in Vinyasa yoga, (meaning dynamic flow) and offers 1 on 1 sessions and couple sessions at approx. 150 shekel an hour. Contact Lola at 0546-266945 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips by Lola:
*If you don't have much time to practice, even 10 minutes a day is better than an hour once a week.
*Turning off your phone on Shabbat helps you disconnect and be more present to spend quality time with yourself and whoever you're with.
*I wish these skills were taught in schools. Kids today would benefit so much from learning the practice of quieting the mind and getting in touch with themselves.
*Lola is wearing our Safari Running Skirt, for orders PM