Interview with Lucia Andrade

Here you'll find the interview that Lucia Andrade, Certified KPJAYI instructor, granted us end of 2019 (translated from portuguese by Padmaworld). ¡Thank you very much, Lucia, for this opportunity!

Lu, can you talk a little bit about when and how you started practising ashtanga yoga?
I started practicing yoga when I was around 15 years old on a medical advice for a knee injury. I had my first contact with ashtanga yoga during my university studies at the beginning of 2000. After trying different styles, I found in the daily practice of ashtanga yoga a self-research routine and a practical exercise of spirituality. And so it has been during these last decades.
Many people who start practicing ashtanga are surprised with the effort it demands; and automatically, many conclude that this is a very physical practice. Can you comment on this, please? And talk a little about the internal effects of this practice?
During the practice of asanas we come in contact with different thoughts, we get to know ourselves better and we have the freedom to choose how we will react in front of life events. What differentiates yoga from other bodily practices is the focus on breathing. If we observe how our breathing behaves in different emotions, such as anxiety, depression, happiness and others, we can see how one affects the other. Thus we use the breath to reach a state of calmness and contentment. Synchronizing breathing and movement we create more internal space, we expand the lungs and the breathing becomes deeper. We work the nervous system in the practice of asanas, strengthening and stretching our mind to experience the full life that we are entitled to. With a sedentary or sick body it is more difficult to keep the mind focused and clear. That is why before all other things we begin with our body, which is our temple.
What do you advise to carry out this asana practice routine in a way that we can be disciplined and at the same time relaxed?
Find the meaning, the intention that makes us practice and bring these teachings to our lives. By finding out how it helps us in the adversities of day-to-day life, we find the enthusiasm necessary to maintain the discipline of sadhana, the spiritual path. Yoga is excellence in action, not only in postures but mainly in our relationships. Devotion is a very important aspect. Seeing in our practice a moment of communion with the divine brings us a greater purpose. The tapas effort, to be balanced, needs the pranidhana surrender to the great Soul Ishwara. Put the same amount of effort and love in what is to be done.
Can you comment on the possible obstacles that may appear during practice, like tiredness, lack of motivation, pain... and how to treat them?
Using the science of yoga in our practice we can welcome any obstacle as a great teacher, which shows us to be more compassionate and gives us tools to help other people in the same situation. The yoga sutras of Patanjali teach us that obstacles are passed with the help of a dedicated, uninterrupted practice and for a long period of time. That is why you have to be patient at this time and have the confidence to move forward, not letting yourself be taken down or deceived by the small stones and treasures of the road. Differentiating the permanent from the transitory is another great teaching of yoga, everything is transforming and therefore is transitory, the only thing that doesn't transform and is permanent is the soul, the spirit. The path goes towards the inner-self, and when we are not attentive our body brings us this attention back. Sharathji told us that in the Indian New Year people offer baskets with neem leaves (a bitter tree with medicinal properties) and a piece of jaggery (brown sugar) to remember that in life we have both sweet and bitter. We must receive everything with equanimity. Accepting with a good heart what life brings us and working on constance and consistency in practice, in easy and difficult moments, like this we gradually leave the obstacles behind.
Can you explain, for those who are starting, according to your point of view, what's the reason to practice ashtanga yoga? Why practice yoga?
Ashtanga yoga is an ancient tradition, passed on from generations. Human issues remain the same as in Patanjali's time, about 2500 years ago. The method of ashtanga yoga consists of eight steps to reach true freedom. We start with the yamas and niyamas that are social norms and internal discipline for the good relationship of the aspirant with himself and his surroundings. Then come the asanas that help us maintain an erect and healthy body. To then reach the coordination and regulation of prana, our vital energy, which brings the senses inward and thus we get the focus and concentration necessary to meditate and test the true sense of union.
Can you wrap up by speaking about what changes have you experienced in your life, after so many years practicing yoga? And what is the importance of having a teacher and a supportive community?
I percieve the practice of yoga as a nonverbal therapy. It helped me solve issues and heal wounds that I didn't even know existed. Through daily practice I managed to understand that there is a space before each action and it is in it that we can decide, is where our autonomy is, and freedom to be the best version of ourselves. The quality of the relationships we have with people come from the quality of the relationship we have with ourselves. It is necessary to be happy to make another happy. Take care of oneself to take care of other. And having people around us with the same style and purpose of life helps us to perceive that difficulties and challenges are part of life and give us the inspiration to continue. In India it is said that the teacher arrives when the student is prepared. I feel very grateful for all the teachers I had and who continue to inspire me on this path.
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