You might have noticed that more and more yoga selfies and photos of yoga products are being shared online. The accessibility of this wellness practice is a contributing factor to its popularity. There is practically a yoga school in every city today. In this article the beautiful Natalie Soderstrom tells us about her personal yoga journey.
1. Tell us about you!
My name is Natalie, I'm half Swedish half Thai and I've been in Hong Kong for 8 about years. Originally came here to model, fell in love with the city and ended up staying much longer than expected. Started my path to health and wellness studying holistic nutrition and now I also teach yoga and meditation at different studios and for events. I spend my days going between modeling and teaching as well as being part of other creative projects.
2. How has your yoga journey started? Was there something certain which led you to it?
My yoga journey didn't start with ease, I struggled like many others do. Having a dance background after a while I connected to it being a certain set of movements like a dance choreography. After a while I just enjoyed stepping into a room allowing someone to guide me through the movements, I didn't have to think I could just feel and move and I alway felt good afterwards.
3. How would you describe yoga in 3 words?
Yoga to me is an inner journey of self exploration, it's liberating and an art of moving energy.
4. What was your first class like ?
My first class was a horrible experience... hahah I always wonder how people have stories about how their first class as amazing and wonderful. My friend dragged me to class and I had no idea what I was getting myself into to. I thought all the poses was weird and felt uncomfortable, I didn't understand what they were doing or saying since they used a lot of Sanskrit names for the poses. Everyone was OM-ing and it felt like it was a cult. My friend kept dragging me to class but it wasn't until I started hot yoga I was hooked. I did that religiously several times a week for years and it was great for me to get disciplined but these days I do classes I feel like doing on that day depending on mood and season.
5. What impact has yoga had on your life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved, transformed? Did your lifestyle change and in what way?
I feel like I have a life before yoga and one after. Yoga has changed me in every way. I'm kinder, more patient, emotionally stabile and feel more empathetic. Yoga is a lifestyle itself. I've changed not only as a person but how in live my life in general. I'm much more mindful about what I eat, how I eat, just more mindful about yourself and everything and everyone around you. The teachings we learn on the mat ripples effect in to every part of your life. I think it's rare that you meet someone that has changed for the worse.
6. What would be your advice for those who want to start but don’t have enough courage/motivation to do so ?
Yoga is for everyone! I understand if you see people online or on Instagram doing crazy poses and thinking you might never be able to do that and that's not for me and so on. Yoga is a self exploration and it's about getting to know your own body, meeting your body where it's at and surely there might be poses you might never be able to do but don't get discouraged by that. One easy way is to pull out your mat at home and start watching some YouTubes videos. Or get a yoga buddy that's just starting out as well and go together. Look for classes for beginners and get the basics in. As with anything we do we're never experts or good at it from the beginning, it takes time and hours or practice to first of all get comfortable with it and then to get further to the next level. One thing yoga definitely teaches you is patience.
7. In your opinion what type of physical activity/sports compliments yoga well?
I think yoga is a good compliment to ANY other physical activity. Yoga can be a workout by itself but can also be more versatile as an additional stretch of the body as well as a workout for the mind. That's what I love about yoga that you can pick and chose from different styles of yoga and find something that suits you that day whether that's a slower pace or more active faster pace. No matter if you're a trailer runner, tennis player, you do crossfit, weights or kickbox, everyone can benefit from yoga and most likely even enhance you in your other physical activities.
8. Do you think swimming and yoga can be compared?
With both swimming and yoga you use your whole body when you move. Swimming laps can be quite meditative and I can see the resemblance with hitting the pool and entering a yoga studio and almost zone out of your life and be present in the moment. Being in your own lap lane is like being on your own yoga mat, all that matters is your body, your mind and your breath.
9. What is your perfect active holiday like ?
My perfect active holiday contains of activities outdoors in the morning. I love being in nature and since I've been living in Hong Kong for so long I really enjoy cooler and less humid climates. I love mountain air and beautiful lakes, any dramatic landscape to remind and connect me to nature which in Hong Kong I rarely do unless I'm hiking. I love being active in the morning so you can relax in the afternoon and still have moved and accomplished something rather then just lounging around all day. I feel lazy if I don't move!
10. What is your dream holiday destination ?If you were going to a beach/ pool resort with your loved one which pair of shorts would you buy for him ?
Right now I'm dreaming of Morocco and I would choose the Guilin Rafting (the middle one on the picture). I picked it because I loved the idea.