We're very excited to introduce our newest Olivia & Oliver Ambassador, Laila Marafie. Laila is a Women's Yoga & Meditation Teacher and Mindset Mentor and recently took some time out of her busy schedule to discuss her journey into yoga and meditation. Check out the full interview below, and find out more about her classes here.
How long have you been practicing yoga and how did you get started as a yoga teacher?
I’ve been practicing yoga for about 10 years now, how I arrived on the mat isn’t an unusual story. I was struggling with my mental health after a breakup and found myself in quite a severe eating disorder relapse. I kept very busy to avoid the reality of my obsessive overthinking & yoga just so happened to be one of the activities in my schedule.
I soon found that I was experiencing moments of pure mental stillness and peace when I was on the mat. It sounds cliche, but the practice of yoga was a huge catalyst for change.
Teacher training wasn’t really on my radar, it actually ended up being an overnight decision! Up to that moment I definitely didn’t have the self belief to think I could ever do anything as creative as teaching yoga, let alone retrain and leave the corporate world. But, the stars aligned & something within me shifted… I moved house, found a gorgeous new studio to practice at, a beautiful yurt in the sussex countryside - The Yoga Garden. After a year or two of practicing there I was encouraged to take their TT. It was a 9 month course that I attended alongside working my full-time corporate job. By the time I graduated, I had 3 classes up and running and I took the plunge to leave the corporate world and fly solo as a yoga teacher.
What type of yoga do you teach?
Mainly, I teach two styles of yoga, a gorgeously juicy flow that starts slow and ends slow & very restful restorative yoga, I’m also trained in Well Woman Yoga Therapy. Not all parts of my classes look like traditional yoga. I like to weave in Well Woman Yoga, functional movement, intuitive movement and I often draw upon my dance background too.
My main focus in class is to get people (mainly women) to reconnect with the subtlety of their body, building interoceptive awareness
The way I teach has evolved over the years as has my business, not only do I teach yoga but I also host retreats facilitate Women’s Circles and am a Mindset Mentor. Through this work I support women on a journey of expansion to a fresh mindset rooted in self belief by creating warm, nurturing & welcoming community focused environments for them to rediscover their peace & uniqueness through movement, meditation and conversational practices.
I have two retreats coming up! A half day winter retreat on 4th December (50% sold out) and a 3 night luxury retreat in Arundel 24 - 27 March 2022
What advice would you give to someone who wants to begin practising meditation?
My best advise is drop the idea that the intention of meditation is to stop thinking! The mind is meant to think. Meditation is about the relationship to the thoughts, not stopping them altogether. The key is allowing yourself to be the observer of your mind, rather than going along with the stories or narratives it creates. The more you are able to watch the mind & observe the thoughts from a place of awareness the more resilience you will build.
I encourante people to simply follow their breath and as soon as the realise they are thinking, acknowledge the thought and draw your awareness back to the breath.
4. What benefits can we gain from practising yoga on a daily basis?
Ooh so many amazing benefits. A daily practice of even 5-10 minutes a day (and generally, my daily self practice isn’t much more than 15 mins of meditation and 10-15 mins of yoga) will help you sleep better & relax more easily. You will feel more connected to yourself and to those around you. A daily practice will help you become more flexible in mind and body and you will notice a lift in mood after you have practiced. Yoga is also incredible for strength, joint stability and rehabilitation from injury.
A daily yoga/movement practice is always a great idea