Yoga has been a transformative practice for many, and for me, it has played a pivotal role in my overall wellness journey.
In this blog, I wanted to shed light on the benefits of yoga and encourage everyone to give it a try. To do so, I interviewed my incredible yoga teacher, Charlotte Dodson to gain insight into her learnings and experiences with yoga.
Join us as we dive deep into the multifaceted world of yoga, a practice that seeks to create harmony between body, mind, and spirit, while fostering a profound connection between the individual self and the universal consciousness. In this enlightening interview, between Charlotte and I, we explore the incredible ways yoga can enhance your life, from enhancing flexibility and strength to alleviating stress and cultivating mindfulness in your everyday existence.
So, whether you're new to yoga or a seasoned practitioner, this blog is for you. It is my hope that by sharing my own experiences and the insights of my yoga teacher, others will be encouraged to give yoga a try and discover the positive impact it can have on your physical and mental health.
__________ we hope you enjoy
1. Yoga is a technology for arriving in the present moment. It is a means of staying in intimate communication with the formative core matrix of yourself and those forces that serve to bond all living beings together. How did you come to learn this? And what was the transformative moment for you
Charlotte: It took a surfing accident for me to realise I wasn't living in the moment, I was actually rushing through life. This transformative moment changed my life forever, it literally threw me onto the right path - from the advertising world to a career in yoga. I learnt to connect within myself and to really embrace and trust in my own intuition.
2. Yoga teaches us that life is a continual process of refinement, which allows us to see more clearly. What does this mean to you? How do you take this to the mat daily?
Charlotte: Every time I practice it's different, no moment is the same - as I show up to practice, my mindset, how my body feels has always shifted or changed from the previous practice. It's the intricate parts of each pose or sequence that constantly get refined, and the practice becomes a little easier and rewarding. However, each morning I return to the mat, I’m never comparing it to the previous day - even if it’s a side step or back, it’s a process, even for the most experienced yogis.
3. The paradox of this ‘work’ is that there is no ‘reward’ to strive towards; the practice is the reward. How do you overcome obstacles in your yoga practice, and how to does that fall into your everyday life?
Charlotte: Every time I roll my mat out and stand at the top, I say to myself “It’s really easy, I feel really light” - and as I've been manifesting this for over 20 years. This mindset of ease and flow has carried me through 5th series ashtanga. It's so rewarding as you achieve something you never thought possible, whether on the mat or in your everyday life. I've realised that really anything is achievable if I put mind and heart into it - I'm the only one holding myself back.
4. Yoga is a way of living and makes real happiness possible. When you started doing yoga consistently -how did your mindset shift, and what did you notice?
Charlotte: It was my attitude to the practice that made yoga consistent in my life - sometimes the hardest part is to get on the mat. I'd just start and not think about it, and before I knew it hours of this moving meditation practice went by and I'd feel deeply content and happy inside during and afterwards. It's a steady build as I've practiced regularly for many years and the consistency has allowed me to achieve deeper and better ways of being too.
5. The quality of our breath represents our inner feelings. The breath is the link between our inner and outer bodies. What are the best breathing techniques to learn to stay connected to your inner self wherever you are? And what tips can you provide about breath when you are practising postures?
Charlotte: Your breath is your absolute savour, carrying you into, during and out of every pose and sequence - sometimes the transitions are harder than the actual pose itself. Your breath is the bridge between your body and mind - and it teaches you to be in the moment, to anchor yourself to the sound of each and every breath is the key.
6. There's a few breathing techniques, but most importantly check you're actually breathing correctly - as you inhale your belly and chest naturally expand, and as you exhale your belly and chest contracts - calming your nervous system down.
Charlotte: Especially when you're new to yoga, there's so much going on - how to position yourself, where to look, and oh, remember to breathe! Eventually as you become more familiar with the practice and poses, the breath is what moves you throughout your practice, it doesn't matter what shape you're creating, the key part of yoga is your breath. It teaches you to move mindfully and effortlessly.
7. They say, “if we don't pay attention to ourselves in our practice, then we cannot call it yoga” - what does that mean to you? and how to translate that to your clients?
Charlotte: My practice is over 2.5 hours, and while my intention is to stay focused throughout the whole time, my mind does wonder, and that's okay - I just keep bringing back to my breath time and time. It allows me to stay present and in the pose rather than thinking about the next one. I also gaze along my nose throughout to bring myself inwardly, inside of the shape, rather than focusing on what I look like on the outside. I share this with my clients too - there's no such thing as the perfect shape, it's what is perfect for you right now!
8. Yoga is not a recipe for less suffering. However, it can offer us help in changing our attitude so that we have less avidya (false understandings) and, therefore, greater freedom from duhkha ( pain/ suffering) - how have you noticed this in your life? And what advice can you pass on from this?
Charlotte: Yoga is a tool that's really helped me to observe to step back and notice what's going on, rather than being 'in it', whether that be a pose, situation or relationship in life - it's helped me to not take things or life too personally or seriously and to observe circumstances as they arise. Sometimes - and it’s easier said than done - when taking a step back to see the whole picture it puts situations into perspective.
9. I believe yoga helps us get over fear and doubt. The consistency of your practice encourages you to be better than the time before. How do you motivate yourself and your clients to stay consistent and overcome fear and doubt?
Charlotte: After 20 years of practising advanced sequences, I still have moments of fear - that's only natural. Backbends teach you to embrace and go for life, rather than protecting yourself. By imagining you have the sunshine in your chest actually helps to diminish fear. This personally works for me and I share all my knowledge and experiences with my clients to help them continually feel supported and progress. I know how incredible you feel after every practice and this is enough for me to turn up on the mat, day after day and to share my knowledge and skill.
10. Yoga is the process of deconstructing all the barriers we may have created that prevent us from having an authentic connection with ourselves and with the world. How do you explain this to your clients, and how have you learned this in your life?
Charlotte: Yoga helps you to peel away layers of yourself, it's not changing you in any way - it's undoing and rewiring to find the true essence of who you are - complete, beautiful and full of life. It’s all about discovery.
During my rebrand to CD Movement, it's been the most invaluable lesson, to peel away and reveal exactly who I am as a person and teacher, and when I delved deep into myself, it's become an easy journey and doors have sprung open - creating an incredible team in the process.
I’m so excited to announce that our platform launch with cinematic film 'immersives' and more will be available in 2023, stay tuned here!
11. Lastly, what's your fav most invigorating yoga pose that has so many benefits?
Hands down a headstand - also known as Sirsasana in yoga, is an inverted posture where the body is supported by the forearms and the crown of the head while the legs are lifted up towards the ceiling. This pose is considered one of the most challenging yoga postures, but it also comes with many benefits for both the body and mind.
Physically, the headstand is an excellent way to improve circulation, as it reverses the blood flow and helps the heart to pump more efficiently. It also strengthens the upper body, including the shoulders, arms, and core muscles. Additionally, it can improve digestion and relieve stress and tension in the neck and shoulders.
Symbolically, the headstand represents a shift in perspective and a connection to the spiritual realm. It is said that when you practice this posture, you are grounding your body while opening up your mind and spirit to new possibilities. It is also believed to activate the crown chakra, which is associated with higher consciousness and spiritual awakening.
To practice a headstand safely, it's essential to learn the proper technique and build up the necessary strength and stability in the upper body. It's also crucial to listen to your body and avoid the pose if you have any neck or spine injuries. As with any yoga practice, it's essential to approach the headstand with patience, curiosity, and a willingness to explore your physical and spiritual limits.
Watch here to see how Charlotte breaks down a headstand:
****It's important for viewers to be guided correctly and to be supervised, and have no health problems either.****