Studio En is an independently managed yoga studio at Setsu Niseko designed to create a grounded space that fosters a feeling of peace and calm for hotel guests and the local community. Yoga is an age-old discipline that has become an increasingly important activity in our daily lives. Yoga makes it possible to be more present, detach from daily stresses, and move your body with the flow of your breath. But how do you get started with yoga? What exactly is the philosophy behind it? And how can it improve mental well-being? We talk to Marika Otani and Charlies Davies of Studio En to find out how we can bring yoga into our lives.
We understand that the En (縁), is a Japanese word with several meanings. What is the significance of the name behind Studio En ?
En (縁), is a Japanese word whose Kanji symbol holds several meanings including; fate, chance, connection, destiny and karma. It is also represented in Japanese to mean ‘maru’ or circle. For us the name embodies everything that yoga is about to us. Community, connection, respect, tradition and togetherness. We want to create a space that feels safe and welcoming and provides a quality and luxury experience for guests.
Yoga knows no age or gender and can be suitable for all, no matter your fitness level. How does yoga bring all people together? What are a few good reasons everyone should practice yoga regularly?
Yoga is so much more than the physical postures, although that might seem the purpose of it for those unfamiliar. It is about wellness as a whole for your mind, body and soul. Yoga is ultimately about creating union, between the mind, body and breath, through a connection within yourself and then slowly through a regular practice through a deeper connection to the world around you. It's in these connections that Yoga can bring people together.
Yoga connects the body to the mind. In your opinion, how does yoga affect our mental health?
The practice of yoga cultivates awareness within our bodies, and a connection with with our breath. The practice has been shown to lower stress hormones in our bodies, improve concentration, focus and memory amongst many other benefits. Yoga practice includes elements of meditation and mindfulness that lead to a quieter more present state of mind and overall improved mental health in many people.
How long have you been practicing yoga?
Combined we have been practicing yoga for over 35 years!
What brought you to this point, why do you love teaching yoga? How important is a sense of community in a discipline like this?
Marika: The practice has helped me throughout my life, both mentally and physically and I love sharing this with students. Practicing in a group has an energy that can help motivate us when it's difficult to practice alone which can provide encouragement and inspiration.
Charlie - I love to help people find a way to connect to their body and find some relaxation. After Savasana (relaxation at the end of the practice) seeing my students calm, relaxed and happy is a great feeling. Teaching a community of likeminded students who all share a love for the practice and compassion for each other is a very special thing to be a part of.
What does a typical day in your life look like? Do you have any rituals or routines that you absolutely can’t skip?
Marika: With work and family each day is never the same, however of course a regular Yoga practice is always part of my day.
Charlie: Being a yoga teacher and running a business means no two days ever look the same however I always prioritise time to move my body and practice mindfulness.
You offer many styles of yoga at Studio En? Do you have a personal favourite?
We love all styles of yoga but each person can find their own preferred style, sometimes through your time practicing you may find you enjoy different styles at different times of the day or even different periods of your life.
A balanced diet is essential to our physical and mental well-being. Do you have a favourite food that you like to eat before or after your yoga practice?
It's better not to eat at least an hour (or more depending on the person) before practice, but after practice a fresh fruit juice or hot ginger tea is very refreshing.
What advice would you give to someone who has never done yoga but wants to start? What is the best way to begin? What are some things to keep in mind?
The most common misconception is that you need to be flexible, this is a result of regular practice and definitely not a prerequisite. The only things you need to be able to do to take part in a yoga class is to breathe and keep an open mind. Even just showing up to practice, taking 5 minutes out of your day, is a practice of yoga in itself.
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