MONICA SHAKA and her yoga practice

DSC_0442Monica a yoga teacher, singer, mother,

Having been to a few other yoga classes, I can say that what is special about your class is that you get us to do a lot of hand stands and postures with our feet up against the wall, could you explain the benefits of this posture?
Inversions have a wide range of benefits, from the obvious strengthening of the arms and upper body, to boosting ones confidence. We reverse the effects of gravity on our circulatory, digestive and lymphatic systems whilst changing perspective for a moment ! As children we love doing handstands and hanging upside down. Its fun and it feels good. Doing inversions keeps us young in all ways. It also gives one immense satisfaction, especially if there is an initial fear. Ideally one should do an inversion 10 minutes a day.

For some positions you talk about massaging inner organs this I really felt after your class. Could you tell us more about this.
Our organs are like our motor. If the motor is kept clean, it can function well and for a longer distance. Regular fasting is recommended in order to keep our system clean. Many diseases start in the intestine and stagnation in this area can cause sluggishness, prevent good absorption of nutrients and be a breeding ground for illness. By doing postural twists, we ring out our vital organs. As we release, fresh blood comes rushing through to reoxygenate and nourish the organs hence preventing stagnation.

Could you tell us how and why you became a yoga teacher?
I have been practicing yoga since I was 24 years old, 23 years ago. I initially started yoga for my double scoliosis that was giving me a lot of pain. With the modeling, long days and high heels we had to wear, I would often end the days in excruciating pain and unable to stand. As my practice progressed, I realised the multiple benefits of this discipline and knew that one day, it would be my path. At 42 years old, and after having finally settled with my children in France, I felt ready to pass on the knowledge. I got my certificate and stepped into my path.

After years of teaching what is noticeably different about your life, as a yoga practitioner and as a teacher?
The discipline and constancy that teaching yoga has given me is remarkable. It was hard for me to find the time and discipline to practice every day. Teaching was the only way for me to incorporate this rhythm into my life. Not only would I be passing on the knowledge, but also making my life better. My everyday life has improved drastically, in all areas. The mental strength and clarity yoga gives me is indescribable, let alone the physical benefits. My conscious choices and behaviour have made me a much happier person overall. The strength overcomes the fears, the hesitance, the doubts….most of the time! The progress is continuous.

How would you say that yoga can help with confidence?
Yoga postures have direct benefits on the body and mind. A simple inversion boosts your confidence, and there are many inversions to choose from. Meditation and pranayama help calm the mind, get rid of the clutter and see things more clearly. Lack of confidence comes from negative mind patterns. These can be changed.

Is confidence part of inner beauty? And, if so why?
Definitely. Someone who shines from the inside out is very attractive. Confidence, not to be confused with ego, is inspiring and allows other people to shine as well. When you are connected to your strength, the pure strength and radiance of the Universe (what they call ‘Purusha’), we become channels. We are born with this energy, a baby radiates this beauty and confidence. The problem is that most of us lose it along the way with all the issues that can cover up the ‘Purusha’ inside of us.

Is a strong body, a strong mind?
Absolutely. My sister used to joke with me when I was younger and acted at times very hesitant or unclear. She would say I was acting ‘scoliotic’ ! The spine is our backbone, it leads to and supports our brain. I can personally testify that a strong body is a stronger mind.

Would you say that any body could experience inner radiance through yoga practice?
Yes. If the right intention is there.

You have experienced being a model? Is a bone structure, colouring enough to be beautiful
For certain jobs, like editorial, a good bone structure and colouring might be enough. I mainly did catwalk. I felt that a certain presence was required and appreciated. 

Does inner energy have a role to play in what we project?

Definitely.

Has the experience of modeling helped you in your yoga vocation? If so, how?
I never liked being in the limelight. Modeling definitely helps you get used to that. More than the modeling, I would say that my 20 years working on my singing, taking numerous workshops, courses and giving concerts has helped me learn to take the space I need to take when in front of an audience. This I can apply when teaching yoga. However, I feel as a teacher, I am just channeling the knowledge. It’s as if I enter a different space where I, Monica, doesn’t exist anymore.

I have often heard girls, whom are not in the modeling industry, are made to feel uncomfortable about their physique, I would like them to understand that there is more to it than meets the eye. Is there anything that you could tell them?
I started modeling rather late, when I was 21 years old. I was lucky never to have been aiming to be a model as I had other interests, like singing, so physical beauty was not my main concern. But castings can be rough, and having gorgeous girls around you as well. I would recommend having other main interests to keep the focus away from just your physical aspect. Cultivating your inner self with hobbies and curiosity for all the wonderful things around us. Also, surrounding yourself with real friends to keep you grounded and to have fun. Seeing the bigger picture. It is easy, but extremely unhealthy, to zoom into ourselves, and the industry will want to push you into that very lonely place. Zoom out ! And realise that you are much more than just your physical body.

Email: monicashaka@gmail.com

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *