The Sea And Sun Salutations event took place last weekend – with a group of yogis saluting the sun in an Elemental Water Flow sequence aboard an open boat, overlooking the city scape of the Dubai Marina. We caught up with yoga instructor for the event, Natalia Fata to find out more about the Elemental Flow Yoga series and the benefits of this practice.
SSS: What is Elemental Flow Yoga?
Natalia: There are five great elements of nature (earth, air, water, fire and ether). These elements form the structure of the mind/body and the world surrounding all. A deeper understanding of the elements allows one’s yoga practice to evolve with the changing seasons and life cycles, and this creates a foundation from which to sustain a lifelong practice of yoga.
SSS: How does Elemental Flow Yoga differ from Hatha or Ashtanga for example?
Natalia: Elemental Yoga is a nurturing, balancing and energising yoga style that incorporates vinyasa, tai chi and circular wave motion throughout the body. The only difference from the other styles is that every element class focuses on specific areas of our physical and energy bodies, where each element resides. Elemental Flow is a quiet, meditative, gentle, slow-moving and nourishing practice aiming to cultivate inner balance and restore reserves that have been depleted from stress and over-stimulation. The fluid movements lubricate all joints in the body and support increased spinal mobility, range of motion and balance.
SSS: What does the water element represent?
Natalia: The element water, known as “apas” in Sanskrit, is the forth of the five great elements. Water represents qualities such as cool, stable, heavy, smooth, flowing and soft qualities, and it resides in Muladhara and Svadhistana Chakras. It is well-known that our bodies are made of more then 70% water, which is why water serves as a protector of the body. Water manifests itself in the body as the plasma, responsible for bringing nutrients to the cells, and as the lymphatic fluid that carries toxins away from the cells. Water also correlates and controls the senses of fear and wisdom.
SSS: How and why did you get into yoga?
Natalia: My introduction to yoga happened in 2000 when I went to Turkey for my studies through the book that inspired me to start practicing yoga. What started as a way to manage the stresses of my busy demanding professional and personal lifestyle, soon became a love affair. I hope to transfer this love and passion for yoga and a healthy lifestyle to all of my students.
SSS: Why should we incorporate yoga into our daily routines?
Natalia: Yoga is the perfect antidote for the stresses of the modern world. Yoga combines mind (focus and attention), energy (life-force cultivation through breathing practices) and body (movement and postures). There is a magical quality that makes yoga different from mainstream workouts; yoga provides inner-strength, clarity and calmness; it is a unique form of exercise that your body, mind and spirit benefit from. Every time you step on to your yoga mat, you connect to your True Self and become part of an evolving and powerful, ancient tradition. Yoga is the ultimate exercise, life instruction and method of self-improvement and self-transformation.
SSS: What are three basic poses that we can practice from home?
Natalia: I would definitely recommend the basic asanas (postures) that will involve maximum range of the movement in the spine.
SSS: What are some of the short-term benefits of practising yoga?
Natalia: Yoga offers a myriad of benefits physically, mentally and emotionally to help us live our lives to the fullest, including:
SSS: What are the long-term benefits?
Natalia: Greater flexibility and a better physical body all round, stress resistance, calmness and control of the mind, healthier relationships and less stress, healing effects, and optimum health more generally.
SSS: Do you think yoga is an important practice for children to learn? And why?
Natalia: Absolutely. The earlier you begin to practice the better. In the UK and USA many schools have implemented yoga practices and mindfulness meditation in their curriculum. I think it is a great idea because everyone benefits from this. It’s important for a new generation to learn and benefit from all the amazing tools that yoga offers from a very young age.
SSS: How does Elemental Flow Yoga help to relax and relieve stress?
Natalia: Because Elemental Yoga is a much slower movement practice it teaches you to be present and fully aware by improving your attention span. When you are more present you start to observe what is happening inside of you physically, mentally and emotionally; you start listening to the messages of your body, and recognise the areas where you hold tension and stress. When this “magic” happens you automatically relax and release. It sounds very simple, but because of our externally oriented way of life, we forgot how to turn our attention inside.
SSS: Is Elemental Flow Yoga more of a meditative style or is it also good for fitness too?
Natalia: I would say it is both because it stimulates your mind, calms your nervous system, and your body significantly benefits from a deep workout in terms of strength, flexibility and nourishment. With yoga we are able to reach much deeper layers of muscles, fascia, tissues, hormonal glands and even internal organs of the body.
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