By ALESHA CADET
Tribune Features Reporter
REFLECTING on her choice of profession, the popular Confucius quote “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life” comes to mind for yoga instructor Alexandra Kaufmann-Fox.
She enjoys having the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life, helping them reach their goals; whether that goal is wanting to use yoga to gain flexibility, strength, lose weight, or to help relieve stress and gain self-confidence, she appreciates it all.
With so many different types of yoga, Alexandra said the practice of it can vary greatly. Generally, she said, a yoga class focuses on aligning movement with breath, and in yoga, instructors use breathing as a guide to initiate movement and to create space for something new.
For yoga instructors, breath helps in finding length and depth, creating firmness in postures. Classes typically begin with an awakening of the body and mind and end with a cooling down period called savasana. In savasana, they focus on surrendering to the moment and taking time for gentle meditation. In addition to the physical practice of yoga, a huge focus is also brought to meditation, breathing, health and nutrition and core values and ethics.
“Yoga has been such a huge facilitator in my life; it is a great gift to be able to share that with others. It has to be one of the most amazing feelings ever to help someone achieve something they once thought they could never do. In my classes I focus a lot on encouraging people to embody the journey and not to focus on the destination,” said Alexandra.
Taking on her first yoga class in 2010 while studying at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, Alexandra practiced on and off. In 2013, while pregnant with her daughter Finn, she decided to get back into it in order to stay active. Experiencing a rough post-pregnancy period after undergoing an emergency C-section, she said yoga became the light that helped her through it.
She began documenting her progress via Instagram @BahaYogi in mid-2014 and now has a following of almost 5,000 people from all over the world. This allowed her the opportunity to make a myriad of connections all over the globe. Alexandra started teaching private yoga classes in January 2015 and also became an instructor for Baker’s Bay Golf & Ocean Club in Great Guana Cay, Abaco, in June of this year.
“My love of yoga has driven me to motivate others, including my husband Michael and two-year-old daughter who are also avid yogis. In July 2015, I successfully obtained my Yoga Alliance 200hr Teacher Training certification from Green Monkey Yoga in Coral Gables, Florida. This intensive training, rooted in the importance of a consistent personal yoga practice, self-empowerment, leadership skills and health and wellness, has encouraged me to share my passion with others,” said Alexandra.
No matter a person’s age, size, height or gender, Alexandra said yoga is for everyone. She always tells her students, “Yoga is a no-judgment zone”.
“When you take your first yoga class it is easy to fall into comparing yourself with other students or quickly giving excuses as to why you won’t succeed, but don’t let your inner critic fool you. Let go of your inhibitions and your focus on the result, and just breathe,” said Alexandra.
She said the health benefits of yoga are “cosmic”, stating that consistent yoga practice can change a person’s physical and mental capacity and also prepare the mind and body for long-term health. Physically, yoga increases flexibility, strength, balance, endurance and much more.
“Each of the yoga poses are built to fortify the muscles around the spine, the very centre of your body, which is the core from which everything else operates,” she said.
“When the core is working properly, posture is improved and this helps alleviate back, shoulder and neck pain. Yoga is also a great tool for weight loss, lowering blood pressure and bettering bone health. Combining yoga with a nutritious diet can also have a lasting effect on your gut health; pains from ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome – which I suffer from – constipation and nausea tremendously decrease. If you’re an athlete, yoga is valuable for injury prevention. All of the benefits of yoga connect in one way or another.”
Offering tips for beginners, Alexandra said find what works for you. There will be some poses persons may find harder than others, but her suggestion is to just take your time and never be scared or embarrassed to modify a pose or ask questions. Moreover, she said it is important to find a teacher who can help you build a practice for yourself.
“Everyone wants to do the cool tricks in yoga like handstands and headstands and funky arm balances, and that’s totally fine, but take time to master the basics and generate comfort within your foundation. That means, lots of Sun Salutation A and B,” she said.
Alexandra said yoga has inspired many of her Bahamian supporters to ask questions and even begin practicing. The most common concern she hears is, “I want to do yoga, but I can’t because I’m not flexible.” She emphasises for those people that it does not matter if a person is not that bendy, “as yoga is not for the flexible, it is for the willing”.
“After a few classes your flexibility will increase, no matter where you started from. I have had a lot of people, women and men, asking for yoga for weight loss and to help with increasing muscle strength, and the results that they’ve seen always catches them by surprise. It actually works. I’ve also had a few people interested in meditation and breathing workshops to help with their high stress levels and anxiety, especially huge corporations who like to give back to their hardworking employees. All in all, the feedback is what keeps me going. Even though I’m a teacher, I am always a student first, and my ears are always open for ways that I can enhance my business, attitude and growth,” said Alexandra.
She is also available for yoga sessions via Skype and by appointment in Nassau. All interested persons can contact Alexandra via email for more information at email@example.com.