We’ve long been fascinated by the incredible ancient healing practice of yoga. For us, this time taken to invest in both physical and mental health is essential for balance and happiness. Ahead of International Yoga day, we caught up with yoga teacher, environmentalist and founder of Yoga Sonora Lotte Bowser to discuss all things yoga, her mission to make a positive difference and bedtime routines. We hope her tenacity, uplifting personality and insights inspire your own journey. Namaste.
tell us about yourself and what inspired you to start on the path to becoming a yoga teacher?
I discovered yoga shortly after graduating from university in 2012, whilst I was working in the film and television industry. I'd trained in performing arts while I was growing up, and wanted to explore other movement modalities. I quickly fell in love with the practice and it was the catalyst for a massive, personal spiritual transformation for me. I felt so passionate about wanting other people to experience the mental and physical benefits of the practice, that I did a teacher training course shortly after in 2013, followed by a second in 2016, which is when I finally left my job in music production to pursue a teaching career.
tell us something we may not know about yoga?
You don't have to be flexible to practice yoga! I think a lot of emphasis is placed upon the physical aspect of the practice, particularly here in London where it is now a regular fixture in gyms, but the asana is just one small part of the overall picture of yoga. According to the Indian sage Patanjali's Ashtanga yoga system, it is one out of eight 'limbs' of yoga. It's as much to do with the meditation practice and adhering to mindful and compassionate values, as the shapes we make with our bodies.
what are the health benefits of practicing yoga regularly?
Yoga works wonders on so many systems within the body, but perhaps one of the most important of all, is the parasympathetic nervous system. Pranayama, or the breathing techniques, allow us to decrease our heart rate, sending signals to our brain that we are safe, which powers our sympathetic nervous system down—the body's fight or flight mode—in favour of our parasympathetic nervous system—the body's rest and digest mode. This is so important for those of us who experience stress in our lives on a regular basis.
to reap the full benefits, is there a perfect amount of time we should dedicate to practicing?
Yoga is an amazing complement to any routine, no matter how much or how little time you can dedicate to the practice.
what's one important life lesson you’ve learnt and try to pass on to others?
My Granny always used to say to me 'don't trouble trouble, until trouble troubles you'. It's so much easier said than done, but I believe we could all save ourselves a lot of pain and suffering if we stopped worrying about possible eventualities that may or may not actually happen.
what does your night-time routine look like?
I try to switch off from screens at least half an hour before bed. For me, reading is the best way to wind down after a busy day.
and what does your morning routine look like?
I'm up and out very early most days as I teach morning classes pre-work from Monday til Thursday. After my early classes I'm fortunate to enjoy a couple of hours to myself to have some breakfast or exercise and catch up on work before classes start again at lunchtime.
do you have an effective mantra or quote that inspires you daily?
'What's the worst that could happen?' I try to remind myself of this a lot, as self-doubt can be such a crippling obstacle for me when moving towards my goals. I have a tendency to get in my own way sometimes and yet 99% of the time, the consequences of something not working out are so insignificant—which is why this is an important question I ask when second-guessing myself.
why is sustainability so important to you?
It was through yoga that I began to really understand my intrinsic connection to the world around me. Every choice we make has an impact on something or someone else. For a lot of us, climate change feels like an abstract concept, as we aren't directly affected, but the worrying reality is that millions of people around the world are already being displaced—or worse—as a result, and millions more will be if we carry on at the rate we are currently going. This is why I strive to live my life in the most compassionate and sustainable way possible within the means I have available to me.
Lotte spends her nights in the white edged set.