Yoga is a discipline that originated in ancient India and is now practiced all over the world as a means of improving physical health and mental well-being. It involves a series of physical postures, called asanas, as well as breathing exercises and meditation techniques. The practice of yoga is aimed at achieving a state of balance and harmony in the body and mind, and promoting overall health and wellness. It is often noted for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety, improve flexibility and strength, and enhance focus and concentration. Yoga can be practiced by people of all ages and fitness levels, making it a versatile and accessible form of exercise for many individuals.
An Expert Guide To Fruitful Yoga
Organic Aromas interviewed Lily Allen-Duenas, an international yoga teacher in a bid to understand how we can all tap into this gem that is yoga.
OA: You wear a number of hats; meditation instructor, holistic healer, vegan nutritionist, reiki master and to crown it all, an international yoga teacher. You are the founder of the Wild Yoga Tribe. Please walk us through how you first discovered yoga and why you chose to make it your life passion and mission
Lily: My journey into yoga began with meditation when I was 10 or 11 years old. At a YMCA summer camp, I first learned what meditation was. They offered morning meditation sessions along the lakefront, and I was introduced to five different techniques over the days. I was immediately drawn to the practice and its ability to calm my mind.
It was at the age of 16 when a soccer teammate invited me to attend a yoga class at her mom’s gym. Although I grew up in California, where one might think yoga was well-known at the time— it wasn’t mainstream yet. This was the 2000s and yoga wasn’t a household name. It wasn’t popular. So, I had never heard of yoga before. In fact, I vividly remember joking about going for frozen yogurt after class, because yoga sounded a little like “yogurt.”.
But the moment I entered the yoga studio and began the practice of asana, I knew that this was something profoundly different than I’d ever experienced before. It felt like coming home. It was as if I was remembering something I had forgotten. Yoga slowed my mind down, dropped me back into my body, and gave me a deeper sense of peace than I’d ever experienced before.
As I continued to practice yoga during university and beyond, I eventually found myself burned out from seven years of marketing management. So, I spent a year asking my heart and soul what my purpose was meant to be. I spent extra time in Shavasana each day to listen to my inner voice. It took a year of deep reflection, but I finally heard the call to become a yoga teacher and help others on their path to health, wellness, and wholeness.
OA: Your initiative/company exudes an emphasis on community or tribe as you put it. Tell us why you felt the need to embody community at the core of your focus
Lily: There are many yoga teachers who start their own yoga companies or brands and call it “Yoga with X” or “Yoga with their name.” However, I knew that starting something called “Yoga with Lily” was not for me. I wanted to focus on collaboration, connection, and community.
In my opinion, there is no better way to navigate this world than by surrounding yourself with people whom you admire, respect, and who challenge you in different ways. And who better to surround myself with than fellow yoga teachers, yoga students, and those on the path to health and wellness?
That’s why I created the Wild Yoga Tribe, and why I host the Wild Yoga Tribe podcast where I have a conversation each week with a different yoga teacher from around the world!
While the true path of yoga is a very personal, intimate, and individual journey, it is widely known, accepted, and celebrated that there are others on this path. In fact, most of the eight limbs of yoga can only be achieved by oneself, but it is the community and connections that make the journey more meaningful.
In Buddhism, this community is called a “Sangha,” a group of people walking the same path as you, who lift you up, remind you of the teachings, guide you when you stray, and help you in any way you need.
That’s why I wanted to create a community of yoga teachers and students – a place where anyone and everyone can come to learn more about yoga philosophy, psychology, and methodologies.
A place where we can all share our knowledge, experiences, and practices with one another. A place where we can lift each other up and grow together.
OA: You use aromatherapy in your holistic practices, tell us more about why you use essential oils and the best oils for fruitful yoga and meditation experiences
Lily: Yoga and pranayama both incorporate the breath in powerful and meaningful ways. While I do not recommend using any scented candles, incense, perfumes, or oils during your asana or pranayama practice, I do believe that essential oils can and should be used after completing your asana or pranayama practice to help maintain the sense of peace, calmness, and openness you generated during your time on the mat.
Yoga doesn’t stop once you step off your mat, but the benefits and feelings you created during your practice can fade away due to daily stressors and distractions. Essential oils are a wonderful tool to help maintain this state of mind. Personally, I use peppermint oil to alleviate headaches, lavender oil when I feel stressed or can’t sleep, and beautiful blends such as Organic Aromas signature blend to help me find and keep my calm.
OA: For people who have never thought about yoga for holistic wellness or feel that they are too unfit for it, as a yoga teacher, what would you say to them
Lily: It saddens me when people say they can’t do yoga because they feel they are not flexible, fit, or in shape enough. The truth is: if you can breathe, you can do yoga.
There are incredible stories of people who, after car crashes, have broken limbs and are left paralyzed. Yet, they can still practice yoga. One of my yoga teachers, Rodrigo Souza from Brazil, is in a wheelchair. He’s the founder of AllihopaBrasil.
Yoga is not just about the poses, it’s much more than that. The path of yoga has eight limbs, and yoga asana, or the physical postures, is just one of them. There’s meditation, breath work, yamas, and niyamas that teach discipline and restraint, and so much more. If you have a body and are breathing, you can practice yoga. It’s not about being flexible or fit, it’s about connecting with yourself, your breath, and your body.
OA: You offer yoga classes, courses, retreats and workshops. Since you started, internationally and at home what has been the response in general, are people hungry for holistic wellness?
Lily: Yes, I believe that people are increasingly looking for ways to improve their health and well-being, specifically seeking balance and stress reduction techniques. I think people are becoming more aware of the negative effects of chronic stress on the body, such as physical pain, poor sleep, and digestive issues.
As a result, people are realizing the importance of prioritizing their wellness and actively seeking ways to learn more about it. I am grateful that people are turning to yoga and my courses, retreats, and workshops to help them on their wellness journey. It is an honor to be a part of their path toward better health and well-being.
OA: Share with our readers 3 practical things to do when you are a newbie to yoga; also give us your final tips on how to optimize nutrition while leveraging holistic living for a healthy happy life
Lily: If you’re new to yoga, the best thing you can do is find a teacher. It doesn’t have to be me, but I would welcome the opportunity to help you! If possible, try to find an in-person teacher in a studio as it provides the most optimal learning experience.
However, if you’re nervous about attending a practice, I recommend taking one of my courses on how to get started with yoga. It’s normal to feel like you don’t know what’s going on or what to expect, but having a yoga mat and a space in your home dedicated to practice can help.
You can also check out free online classes, or if you prefer, join for a Zoom class or schedule a private class.
Setting a goal and being clear about your intention is vital to stay motivated. You can decide to practice yoga for 10 minutes three times a week or an hour five times a week, or attend one live class every week for the rest of the year. It’s up to you, but make sure to set realistic goals.
Lastly, optimizing your nutrition is important for overall health and wellness. Eating more fruits and vegetables and less processed food is recommended by doctors worldwide. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is also crucial as sometimes we feel hungry when we’re dehydrated.
OA: In closing, when you are not helping others achieve their wellness goals, what do you do for fun to unwind. One may assume that a yoga teacher is always ‘zen’ and does not need to relax
Lily: Wow, that question really made me laugh! A yoga teacher is definitely not always zen. We are humans and we are just like you! And our minds actually work just like yours.
A lot of my students often say, “I can’t meditate my mind’s all over the place.” And I say, “My mind is all over the place too! That’s why I meditate!”.
So, yes what I do to relax is practice yoga, meditate, mantra chanting… But when I need a recharge I love taking a bath, reading a book, and walking in nature. Sunshine is healing!
Lily Allen-Duenas is the founder of the Wild Yoga Tribe and the host of the Wild Yoga Tribe podcast. She is an international yoga teacher, meditation guide, and holistic health and wellness coach. She helps overwhelmed individuals reduce their emotional overload, and find balance, breath, and space for self-care.
In his autobiography, “The Story of My Experiments With Truth”, Mahatma Gandhi wrote extensively about his practice of yoga, stating that it helped him remain calm and centered amid the tumultuous political climate of his time. Gandhi is often seen as a great example of how the principles of yoga can be applied to everyday life, and his legacy continues to inspire people around the world to this day.