The Joyful Anthology

Yoga by Alia Mai


Alia Mai
Kin yoga retreats


I never imagined I’d become a yoga teacher when I began practicing 10 years ago.
Yoga enriched my life. It became a tool that allowed me to be more present with my whole self. Yoga was very personal. After 10 years of practicing, though, my life has changed. Yoga saved me. It slowed me down and called me into the present moment. Yoga helped me carve out space in my life each day to be present with myself. And in this space, I began to cultivate deep healing, understanding and love for myself. I sought more knowledge and more people who found peace in this practice that was literally saving my life.

I traveled to India, the place of my family’s origin, and lived in one of the oldest cities in the world, Varanasi. This is the city that religious Hindus believe if you die in, you are freed from the karmic cycle of birth and death. For 5,000 years, people have been watching the sunrise over the Ganges River in Varanasi, celebrating with chants of praise and sun salutations. To this day, it’s one of the most breathtaking rituals I have ever witnessed. During my time here, I reveled in the devotion of these individuals, curiously trying on their beliefs, while studying yoga and meditation from an old teacher in an ashram. I later engulfed myself in a 10-day silent meditation retreat in the small town of Bodhgaya, the town where the Bhudda was known to have reached enlightenment beneath the Bhodi tree. I read Patanjali’s yoga sutras inside and out, trying to decipher this ancient practice designed to quell the hardships of being human, a daily practice meant to infuse our lives with peace and tranquility. Living in the city, working a stressful job no longer served my greater purpose. Finding tranquility and peace became greater goals that I needed to carve out space for in my life. So I left it all and moved to the small Caribbean town of Tulum, Mexico.

Here I live a more simple life, ocean-side, moving more slowly and finding time to meditate and do yoga at least once a day. To know myself, to understand my purpose, my curiosity led me around the world and back to the simplicity of a daily practice. I practice everyday, for after 10 years, I notice when I miss a practice. To be the best version of my SELF, I must practice everyday. Yoga, to me, is not just asanas and a workout – it’s a method of healing ourselves so we can face the world with open hearts. To know myself, to have control over my mind, and to be present in each moment of my life. Yoga is my life’s purpose.

To take care of the self, find time in each day for a practice that centers you and connects you to yourself. This practice could be yoga or meditation, or it could be painting, gardening, dancing, cooking or even breathing. The key is to devote particular time in your day, be it 10 minutes


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