NAME: Johanna Gjestland AGE: 32 PLACE OF BIRTH: Norway PROFESSION: Student YEARS OF PRACTICE: 12 years
WHEN AND HOW ASHTANGA YOGA ENTER IN YOUR DAILY LIFE? I was introduced to Ashtanga Yoga 12 years ago. I was supposed to go to a classe at a dance studio in Oslo, but somehow ended up in a tiny yoga studio instead, where i met my first teacher, Naema Noor. I can´t really tell what made me go there, but i had a friend who had practiced there a fw times, so i guess that triggered my curiosity. At that time, there where no estabilished Mysore studios in Oslo, so for years i only practiced a few times a week in the afternoon. Sometimes i wuite practising for months, but i always endend up going back to Yoga. Something was there... DO YOU RECOGNIZE ANY MOMENTS THAT HAD BEEN THE REASONS FOR YOUR DECISION TO BECOME A TRADITIONAL ASHTANGI - MEANING PRACTISING THIS YOGA METHOD 6 DAYS PER WEEK? Some people might just decide to start Ashtanga, "all-in" 6 daus a week from the first day, but for me that was something which developed gradually. I used to to gymnastics so in the beginning i was most amazed with the physicak effect the yoga had on my body. Even though i liked the physical change i started seeing in my body, i also loved staying up late, having later dinners with friends... I had a busy job at a big clothing firm...and did not want to give that up for a morning practice. But sometimes i did go to a morning practice, and i can still remember how my teacher Alex Medin, suggested that i should try to come more often. It took years to get used to the early morning practice, and a lot of changes in my way of living had to be made to fit the "new schedule". YOU ARE FINISHING YOUR STUDIES IN NUTRITION DO YOU RECOGNIZE ANY LINK BETWEEN THE FOOD THAT WE EAT AND THE QUALITY OF OUR PRACTICE? EXPLAIN US YOUR POINT OF VIEW. I think the saying:"You are what you eat" says a lot, and i will definitely say that there is a link between what we eat and our practice. I will not state what i think os correct to eat or not, because i think it is important to remember that we are individuals, with different nutritious needs, but what i can say is that eating a light, variated, vegetarian based diet, which are known to yogis as a Sattvic diet, will most likely affect your practice in a positive way. I think some yogis get too obsessed with what they eat/ or not eat!, and practising Ashtanga, which is a strong physical practice, will not benefit from dieting and starvation. The Yoga practice most often makes you want to eat light and healthy anyway, and i think it is important to listen to your body, and not force on a certain diet. THERE ARE A LOT OF ADVERTISEMENT IN MAGAZINES, BOOKS, MOVIES THAT SEND THE IDEA THAT YOGA, SPECIALLY THIS KIND OF PRACTICE LIKE ASHTANGA, HELPS PEOPLE TO LOOSE WEIGHT. DO YOU THINK THAT JUST YOGA CAN HELP YOU TO LOOSE IT, OR IT CAN´T BE JUST THIS? There is only one way to loose weight. Easily explained, that is to spend or burn more energy in form of exercise than the amount of energy you take in form of food. The body burns a certain amount of energy day without doing anything, but if you want to burn more then you need to do some kind of physical exercise. If a person starts to go to Yoga one hour a day, when he/she used to sit in the sofa, the person can loose weight doing Yoga, without changing the diet, but if he / she also changes his/her diet the change in body composition is more likely to happen. IN GENERAL, IF YOU HAD TO ADVICES US TO EAT HEALTHY, WHAT WOULD YOU RECOMMEND US TO ADD IN OUR ALIMENTATION. SPECIFY TYPES OF FOOD AND HABITS OF EATING. I tried to avoid this in your question above, but in general i think is important to have a variety diet. If you base your diet around vegetables (lots of greens!) including beans and lentils, grains, fruit and nuts, and rather eat smaller portions, more ofthen that two big portions a day, you will probably feel that your body is "happier". Some people need to take supplements because of their metabolic status, because of climate or other reasons, but not all people do. In Ashtanga we sweat a lot, and when sweating we loose minerals, so making sure that your mineral needs are covered might be a good tip. I will also recommend eating nuts (ex. walnuts!) or taking some kind of oil to cover your need of essential fatty acids. One last advice: make sure you eat some fat (avocado, nuts, flaxseed oil, hempseed oil, or other kinds of seeds) with your veggies so that you facilitate the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). These vitamins will not be absorbed in to the body without fat present. IN A WORLD THAT LIVES FOR THE OUTSIDE, OUR ASHTANGA YOGA BRING US BACK TO OUR INSIDE. CAN YOU DESCRIBE US IN A SMALL SENTENCE, WHAT YOU FEEL AND EXPERIENCE EACH TIME THAT YOU DO YOUR ASHTANGA PRACTICE. I feel gratefulness to my teachers and guiders, and a peaceful mind. THANK YOU!
* photos taken by personal archieve, Cascais, 2012.