The ability to greet the day with a smile on is closely connected to the way we treat our body and soul. Eleonora Licheva, financial specialist at Unique Estates, has been practicing yoga for years. She tells Sylvana Vassileva about this passion of hers and the international yoga festival that she has recently participated in.
You have been practicing yoga for years. Is it difficult to master the ability to live a balanced life and what do these spiritual practices actually give you?
I Nowadays, more and more people aim for a healthy and balanced way of living, even if they consider it just a trend. I believe we are really blessed because of the fact this teaching has become more accessible to people all over the world. In my case, it came into my life spontaneously. Somehow I began to pay more attention to my physical condition, my emotions, my thoughts, my relationships with other people, to what I consume as food, and a whole lot more. The ability to lead a balanced life is one of the most difficult things to master nowadays. Even experienced yogis have moments of imbalance, which is quite normal. Yoga is a system of exercises and philosophy that trains the body and mind. It's up to us how deep we get into it. "Yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self," says Bhagavad Gita, the most famous Sanskrit poem of Hinduism. I practice and teach yoga almost every day, naturally my practices become more and more spiritual. It gives me great satisfaction to share this philosophy and skills with other people, especially when I see that this really helps them and changes their lifes for good.
Tell us more about the Udaya Live International Yoga and Music Festival and your impressions from the experience.
Udaya Live Yoga & Music Retreat is an international festival that has been organized for the third time in Bulgaria. Over 50 international yoga teachers, musicians, meditation guides and numerous visitors, with or without experience in yoga have gathered in the heart of Stara Planina. The music was varied, from authentic kirtan to electronic music that accompanied different yoga classes during the day, and live shows were featured in the evenings. There have been four stage built on plot - Water, Air, Fire and Earth. The water stage was located in the lake of Pravets itself. At the same time, classes were held on all four scenes, which allowed everyone to choose a different level of difficulty. The festival was something I had not experienced before, I admit. The energy and vibration were different and I could feel the harmony at all times. I hope the next year they choose Bulgaria again as a location. What was interesting for me too was the class of Acro Yoga - the art of balancing with a partner in which I did not have much experience so far. In addition to the power, flexibility and balance you needed, you have to trust your partner completely and stay in sync in each move.
How do you see the fact that more and more people today turn to yoga and spiritual practices? Is yoga appropriate for any type of temperament and lifestyle?
As I like to say, yoga is a way of life and there are no appropriate or inappropriate people to do so. When you choose to live consciously and start this journey to explore and discover yourself, you have already taken the first steps, even if you do not practice the physical asanas (exercises). There are hundreds of types of yoga classes, especially after its modern reading, but it is important to find your own style, even if it is only pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation. And, most importantly, at first you should not force your body with intensive practices, strict nutritional regimes, or blindly follow the way of life that is described by the eight degrees of Ashtanga yoga. It will come naturally, in time, because the road to the kivalya, i.e. the liberation of the spirit (Purusha) from matter (Prakriti) is long.
In this regards, what is your nutrition regime and what is typical of nutrition for yoga practitioners?
Typical, but not necessarily, is vegetarianism. One of the most important ethical foundations in yoga is Ahimsa, i.e. non-violence, as opposed to consuming forcibly killed animals. I personally do not consume meat and almost any animal products. I started this nutrition regime before I started practicing yoga, for humane and environmental reasons. It is important that everyone understands and chooses his/her own way of eating because one is what one eats and food is a major source of energy and it is important not only to have a good aesthetic appearance but also to have in mind the emotions involved. Therefore, to be delicious, food must be prepared with love.
Is it possible in the modern world, with this dynamics of our daily life, to observe such a way of life, as those of Yogis in the East?
My teacher is an Indian and I have watched his way of living. The Yogis in the East also have modern technologies, branded clothes, social networks and keep up with everything happening in the world, but their way of thinking is different. Western society has inherited a certain way of life and value system from the previous generations. We communicate with people who push us to the same way of life, and in order to change we need a deeper awareness, but that does not mean it is impossible. Everything is possible, as long as we want it.
Do you have a favorite guru, practice, meditation or practice places?
I could not list them all, but I'm really impressed by teachers like Dylan Werner, Punnu Singh Wasu, Kino MacGregor and David Robson. I really like Ashtanga Yoga and Vinceasa Flow, which is what I actually teach. The place is important to be quiet, clean, bright and charged with good energy, the other depends on us.