India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Verve People
March 28, 2018

Striking A Pose With Yogini Natasha Noel

Text by Tina Dastur. Photographs by Karan Nevatia. Make-up by Mariyam Riyaz Nadia. Assisted by Niloufer Shaikh. Hair by Dessange

Natasha Noel tells us how yoga helped her overcome depression and live in the moment

The thought of travel sure seems exciting at the outset — exploring new places, sampling different cuisines and discovering new cultures. But what we often tend to overlook is the nastier side of travel, which is primarily made up of long journeys in a flight, train or car. We don’t realise how taxing just sitting in any mode of transport can be. That said, there is a solution to getting rid of such travel-related aches and pains, and no one knows this better than 25-year-old yogini Natasha Noel, a certified teacher who often merges dance and yoga to create her own unique brand of workout.

Today, Noel’s Instagram page is packed with images of her yoga poses that are accompanied by inspirational quotes — and her inconceivable suppleness has seen her amass an impressive following of over 1,30,000 followers. For our travel issue, the yogini shares a few simple poses and postures one can do to avoid the nagging health problems that may come with travel.

Excerpts from an interview with Noel….

“I was a dancer professionally for five years before I got a really bad knee injury. I was told by the doctor that I wouldn’t be able to dance, and so I had to give it up. At the time, I was okay with it because I was pursuing my graduation and also getting into photography. Since I couldn’t dance, I had to find something else to do. So, I became a professional photographer and would click pictures of dancers — it was as close to home as I could get. But I was not completely happy and I was still trying to find a way to fill the void inside me. Around this time, I failed a year in college and that just compounded my misery. Eventually, I was diagnosed with depression and it got to a point where I just wanted to be able to stop hating and begin accepting myself. And this is when I discovered yoga. On Instagram, I saw these women doing incredible handstands and I was so amazed by that strength, beauty and grace. That was when I got into yoga…through Instagram. Initially, I learned through social media and books and by watching YouTube videos.”

“I started doing yoga for mental health reasons. It taught me to accept and love myself regardless of my insecurities and demons. Yoga teaches you to be in the present moment, which is something I couldn’t do earlier — because I was depressed, I’d always be in the past and because of my anxiety, I’d always be in the future. So, I was never here and in the now. Karma yoga talks about doing things and letting them be. You don’t do things because you want a result. If I’m being nice, I’m not being nice because I want to be liked or want good karma; I’m being nice because I can be nice. If I get something in return, great, and if not, that’s okay too. My duty is to do it.”

“My favourite yoga pose is lying down and hugging my legs. It’s called Pawanmuktasana and anyone can do this. You can even do it with one leg — what you do in this case is you hug one leg and extend the other on the floor. You can even to do the bridge or Setu Bandhasana, where you bend your knees, lift your hips up, hold for a couple of seconds and then come back down. Both work your lower back.”

“I practise yoga every day. Regardless of my travels or work, I’ll set aside time to do yoga. If I’m busy and stressed, I’ll restrict my workout to 20 minutes, but I make sure I still move my body because otherwise I get all tight. And it also helps to destress my mind. Otherwise, on a daily basis, I do my hour-and-a-half Ashranga Vinyasa yoga.”

“For the last two or three years, I’ve been going for the International Yoga Festival, which takes place in Rishikesh. I would recommend that to anyone interested in yoga. You have different trainers from all over the world coming in and teaching, so there are different styles…and you can try varied formats.”

“The most picturesque place I’ve done yoga at would be the JW Marriott Mussoorie Walnut Grove Resort & Spa when it was snowing. My favourite place is the beach. I love the feeling of sand between my toes and the sound of the ocean. So, Goa is my favourite place to practise yoga. And I like the challenge that comes with doing yoga on a sandy surface because it works my core even more.”

“I believe that if you have a body, you can do yoga…or for that matter, any physical activity you put your mind to. It’s not about your colour, weight, gender; it’s about your will and determination to actually want to do it and also whether or not you want to get mentally and physically stronger at the end of the day. That in itself should be reason enough to do it.”

“I get a lot of students who say they want to lose weight, which is fine. When I teach yoga, I focus more on strength of the mind. Let’s say we’re doing a plank and I make them do 10 seconds of plank — and I really count very slowly! They’re shaking, and it’s okay. Point is, you can take a break, but the idea is to get back up and do it again. Say, they can’t hold for 10 seconds in their third class, but by their fifth class, they can and by the eighth class, they can hold for 12 seconds. That sense of achievement increases and it automatically boosts their self-esteem. Then, for them, it’s no longer about the weight they’ve lost but more like ‘Oh my god, my body can actually do this!’ And it encourages them to push themselves more. That’s the whole idea of yoga. Everyone comes with their own knowledge and understanding of what yoga should be and what they want out of it. I believe in getting them to train their minds first because then, their bodies will automatically listen.”

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