Yoga Isn’t About Weight Loss, But Being a Better You: Natasha Noel
Natasha Noel wears many hats - from being a Yoga practitioner and body positive influencer to a YouTube personality and motivational speaker. With a massive following on social media, Natasha often gets candid in her Instagram posts about her struggles with mental health and body image issues.
Ahead of International Day of Yoga on 21 June, Natasha spoke with FIT about her Yoga practice and how this relationship has helped her evolve into a happier, better version of herself.
A lot of people reduce Yoga to simply being about weight loss or working on a certain physical aspect of the body. Would you say it’s more than that? What according to you is the philosophy of Yoga?
Yoga is so much more than the physical body. As the second sutra of Patanjali says “Yoga Chitra Vritti Nirodha”, Yoga is when the mind is free from distractions. Now this is impossible to do in the beginning, but with the help of asanas, pranayama and meditation the mental chatter slows down. Yoga for me is the union of the mind body and spirit with the breath.
Was there a tough time in your life where Yoga helped you? How can it help other people with similar struggles?
It still is helping me. It’s helped me so much with my anxiety, depression and asthma. I was so worried, scared and such an over-thinker, however, life is better now. Calmer now. I even did a Nadi (Ayurveda pulse reading) test just yesterday in fact and found that my depression and anxiety is now decreased and I’m less prone to get stressed and angry, I was so happy. It can help people in any situation to breathe. Consciously breathe and understand that NO suffering is lifelong. It just makes us all better humans, better versions of ourselves.
You have openly talked about your struggle with accepting your body. How did Yoga help you overcome it? What would you like to share from your own experience with someone who lives with these struggles?
I couldn’t identify my body with myself and I assumed that was the cause of all my pain. The moment I relaxed, I realised that this body is just a physical outline for my soul to live. I understood I still need to take care of my home to the best of my ability. No starving, no overrating, no punishing myself. I still struggle sometimes, but I’m learning to find a balance and that is exactly what I showcase on my YouTube channel.
If you were to simplify your Yoga practice and your relationship with it for someone reading this interview, how would you do it?
Yoga or meditation is not fancy or complicated. If you’re consciously breathing doing whatever it is you do, that’s Yoga. If you are mindful of whatever you’re doing, if it’s having a bath or cutting vegetables, and I mean mindful not thinking about something nasty someone said or about how happy you are or anything, but being mindful in the present action, THAT IS MEDITATION! And this is what I do even if I’m not physically practising, I am mindful about my thoughts I’m seeing when the negativity creeps in and understand the root cause and then find tools to get better.
On days when you don’t feel motivated to return to your mat, how do you convince yourself of otherwise? What do you have to say to someone who still can’t find the discipline in them to be regular with their practice?
My depression makes me. The fact that I couldn’t move once upon a time makes me feel grateful that I am in a better space now. When I move I don’t do it to “get fitter” or lose weight or anything, I do it because I want to be better than myself. I do it because I know that when I move away from my negative thoughts, I convert my energy into positive, and when I do something I thought I couldn’t I feel proud of myself AND that keeps me going.
I always tell my viewers that if you don’t feel like doing anything, start journaling. Begin with writing small goals and achieve them. On days that I didn’t do anything because I felt bogged down, I was grateful that I did something else at least. Over a period of time, you build yourself up. You have to remember to pull yourself out of the muck. And you can. One breath at a time. You are so POWERFUL.