This post is part of our Viewer Journeys series, in which we introduce you to a yogi or yogini from our community whose story has inspired us. We feel that sharing their stories will enrich your own journey. In this post, Namaste Yogini, Heather Gregory, interviews Rena Phillips about her Namaste experience.
One really amazing thing about the digital age and our Namaste Yoga Community is how it can help friendships form between people who otherwise would never have met! This is true of our Namaste Yoginis. The three previously featured yoginis all reside in the United States. Today we bring more international flair to the mix with our newest Namaste Yogini, Rena Phillips, a native of Australia!
Rena's Viewer Journey is unlike any shared on this blog to date. She is a highly creative, in-demand graphic artist and amateur body builder! Her yoga journey truly touches every aspect of her life, and she is very generous in giving the gift of Namaste Yoga to her friends, loved ones and co-workers. She even made a yoga room at her office, complete with Namaste Yoga DVDs, so anyone can take a moment out of their day and experience Namaste!
"Even if all you do is the warm-up, the breathing brings you back to the now and you're not stressing about all the stuff you have to do," Rena explains. "All you're concentrating on is your breathing, which in turn relaxes you."
Bodybuilding has been a passion of Rena's since she was a teenager. "I saw pictures of fit and toned women in fitness magazines and fell in love with the look of muscle," she shares. "The best thing about working out with weights is that you can totally change your body shape. It takes some work, but the end result is worth it!"
After a long haitus from the sport, Rena decided this year to begin training again with the goal of competing. "The year started well and I was learning from different people and getting trained and coached and my focus was strong," Rena recalls. "What slipped by the wayside was my yoga practice. I missed it, but could not find the time to do much of it."
The result was a medical issue that gave Rena the opportunity to reassess her strategy. While she is still recovering, she has a solid plan for getting back into training. "My workout plan includes a five-minute warm-up, followed by 10 minutes of weight training before finishing off with 15 minutes of Namaste Yoga. 30 minutes with two of my favorite exercises: weights and yoga, my perfect workout partnership!"
Rena has previous education as a personal trainer, and highly values the importance of stretching. "It's important to use it," she says, "or, yes, you lose it! Even if you're not very active, stress and emotions can be held within the muscles of the body, and occupational hazards of sitting all day at a computer can really cause tight neck and hamstring muscles. Yoga is perfect for easing all those tensions, and it really doesn't take long to feel the benefits." Rena can also attest to the advantages of having a yoga practice when training intensely for another sport. "Yoga will let your body move more freely, and isn't that what you want if you're playing sport or exercising? There are so many benefits from practicing yoga! I find it funny when people talk about bodybuilders having such big muscles and they can't move. Wrong! I've seen many pictures of very muscular men and women doing the splits. That's what stretching will do for you. Freedom of movement! Get into it!"
When Rena is asked about her yoga practice, she says Namaste Yoga is the best yoga series she's ever found. "It's only 22 minutes, who really can't make time for that in their day?" Rena says her illness taught her that it's really a matter of keeping the things that benefit you most at the top of your priority list. She is living proof that letting those things fall to the wayside can be detrimental to your health! Rena says her favourite part is the progression of poses, the amazing scenery, "fun and gorgeous girls, Kate's soothing voice... it's the whole package. When it feels good, you want to do it."