So excited for you to meet this month’s yogi! To see everyone who has been interviewed, please click here.
1. What’s your yoga origin story?
I was 23 years old. I’d just graduated from university and wanted some adventure. As fate would have it, I landed a job in Hong Kong for at least the following six months. I packed up my bags, reluctantly kissed my boyfriend (now Husband) and family good-bye and set off on my adventure.
My experience in Hong Kong was completely life changing in the sense that I was completely on my own, I didn’t know anyone, and no one knew me. I felt like things were changing but wasn’t sure how. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and that was okay. I had no expectations, only adventure on my mind.
I was introduced to yoga at a Canadian owned studio in the middle of Hong Kong Island. My first class took my breath away. I had never felt so centered, so content, and so connected with myself and my body. I felt so plugged in that I knew from that moment that it was want I wanted to do. I wanted to teach, live and breathe yoga.
Later, I heard one of my teachers, David Life, describe an excerpt from chapter 6 of the Bhagavad Gita, in which Krishna proclaims that one comes to yoga in his life only by having practiced it in a previous life, and is pulled toward it against one’s will, as toward a magnet. I understood then exactly what I had felt in that first moment on my mat.
As I reflect back now at that decision I made almost 8 years ago, it’s interesting to me that I chose a path where I would have to use my body, and speak publicly in front of groups, sometimes large groups. You may be wondering why is that a big deal? Well for one, I’ve struggled with my body image for years, ever since I can remember. I’ve also had a stutter since I was very young. Public speaking in school was my worst nightmare, sometimes even being reduced to tears before even starting a presentation.
Putting myself, and my body out there in front of my students and cohorts and practising that kind of self-acceptance on a daily basis every time I step onto my mat has been both thoroughly rewarding and challenging. But like a magnet I am so strongly drawn to this path that I’m not able to look back. Teaching Yoga for Round Bodies was just an extension of that mission, to share with people that health, happiness and yoga, comes in all shapes, sizes, and abilities.
2. What pose do you love? Loathe?
There are so many yoga poses I don’t know how you could choose just one. Right now I loooove pigeon pose. I love it because it allows me to get down low and close to the earth, I mean how many activities do you do on a daily basis that get you down in there, and connect to the one thing that supports all life. My teachers have always taught to try and avoid labelling love and hate, or good and bad poses, so I try not to categorize them that way. I also try and use more positive language in my life like using the word challenging, instead of hard.
The pose that I find most challenging is Sirsasana, Headstand, no wonder it’s called the King of all poses. It’s one of those poses that has never felt quite right, and is one that brings up some deep fears. I know one day that I’m going to get there, when I’m ready for it, it will happen. It’s actually my goal to be able to get into headstand by the New Year. My husband is helping me by putting together some different body weight exercises to increase my upper body strength and some visualization exercises to help me get over my fears. Wish me luck!!!
3. What advice would you share with other curvy yogis?
Yoga is all about being in the present moment, so focus on what you can do and not on what you can’t.
4. Who’s your favorite curvy icon?
It’s really hard for me to name just one: any woman living their life with confidence is an inspiration to me. But my top three curvy icons are Adele, Melissa McCarthy and Christina Hendrix who in my books are all equally unapologetic-ally fierce and confident women.
5. What’s your favorite Yoga Resource?
Because I teach different styles of yoga, I like to draw on many different resources. I love all books written by the masters of yoga, Swami Sivananda, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the Yoga Sutras by Patanjali, and The Heart of Yoga: Developing a Personal Practice T. K. V. Desikachar. I also love drawing inspiration from more modern yogis like Sharon Gannon and David Life of Jivamukti yoga – and Anna Guest-Jelley :). The greatest resource of all though is my own practice, body, and life.
6. What Quote Inspires You?
“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Ghandi
And the quote that inspires my yoga practice is “Do your practice and all is coming.” -Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
7. Wild Card, anything else you’d like to share?
Yoga is like anything in life; we have good days and bad days. We have to practice and keep at it. There have been times during my teacher training, or intense emotional practices when I wanted to cry or scream out in anger, there were times when I couldn’t help but giggle with a friend, reminding each other not to take ourselves so seriously, and times when I truly felt supreme bliss and joy when getting into the full expression of a posture for the first time after years of effort. No matter what emotion, or experience yoga helps to bring us through, I remember the words of another incredible teacher, Sharon Gannon; “Through repetition the magic will be forced to rise.” And that’s really what it is: this life and this practice is magic; it transforms us in so many ways.
It’s important to remember though to be kind to ourselves, and know that we’re all just doing the best we can with what we have. I used to think that I had to change the way I looked to be happy, but the deeper I go the more I realize that all of those outside desires are fleeting. All the strength we need is within, everything that is required to be happy and feel peace is within. Just remember to breathe and begin from where you are.
Tara Lazanis is a certified Ashtanga Teacher and has taken additional training in restorative yoga and Yoga for Round Bodies™. However, her style of teaching is influenced by the many teachers she’s had the honour of practising with. She’s also a Thai Yoga massage therapist, a jewelry maker and a lover of anything crafty. You can find out more about her, her teaching, and her yoga inspired jewelry at www.TaraLazanis.com