Art & Photography / In Pictures

The Brilliance of Yoga

Follow in the footsteps of Monroe, Moss and Dafoe. Love yoga.

Marilyn Monroe practicing yoga
Marilyn Monroe practicing yoga

Marilyn Monroe was a big fan and learnt from Indra Devi, often considered the First Lady of yoga. Our former AnOther Magazine cover stars are also dedicated to the practice: Kate Moss is jivamukti yoga’s newest disciple; Gwyneth Paltrow credits yoga for being the most life changing thing she’s ever done; and Uma Thurman’s brother Dechen is one of New York’s most famed Jivamukti teachers. And it's not just for women. Another Man cover star Willem Dafoe loves the community of yoga: “You go into class and you see people every day when you are really on a roll and practicing six days a week, just by sheer habit they insinuate themselves into your consciousness, and you feel such incredible intimacy with them, but you don’t know their name, you don’t know what they do, you’ve never even heard their voice, it’s pretty wild."

Emma Henry is one of London’s leading yoga teachers and runs regular retreats at the Suryalila Retreat Centre, a Spanish farmhouse nestled in the Andalusian hills and 400-year-old olive groves. Suryalila also offers organic produce grown on site, horse-riding and massages. "In 400 BC people still needed to control their minds – they still had the mental clutter. Yet we have so much more now, in the form of adverts, magazines, television and social media," explains Henry. "We’re absolutely bombarded, and I think the rise in yoga is because of this. We need time to shut down and nurture – go inward from the constant noise going on around us. It’s almost like emptying a waste paper basket.”

“In Suryalila there are roaming hills around us, the most amazing vegetarian food cooked by a chef-cum-yoga teacher, a strong sense of community and it just seems like there’s space., so it’s like plugging in your thoughts and getting them charged. The owners met in Bali and lived in an Ashram in India together. There is a strong sense of community."

Here, Henry shares ten reasons why yoga is brilliant.

1. Yoga is magical and offers a shift in perception. The best yoga teachers make each individual student feel special. A teacher creates a magical environment that the student will carry with them – they’ll leave the studio feeling uplifted and take that nurturing environment back to whoever they’re going home to.

2. Chanting. It’s cathartic, letting go and not being judged in the process. It’s amazing to listen to even if you don’t take part. Chanting also plays a big part in switching off from the day-to-day noise.

"The physical practice of yoga keeps us in touch with parts of your body that you don’t use"

3. Bodily contact. Being in touch with your own anatomy. The physical practice of yoga keeps us in touch with parts of your body that you don’t use in any other way unless you’re doing gymnastics or dance. It's a whole body experience.

4. Sense of achievement. When you conquer a really difficult pose, become more flexible, you have such a sense of achievement and that translates far beyond the yoga mat and back into day to day life.

5. Increasing self awareness. Quoting Sharon Gannon, one of the Jivamukti founders: "How you treat others is how others will treat you, how others treat you is how you see yourself, and how you see yourself is who you are.”

6. Focus. Yoga makes you stronger mentally and physically. And strength occurs not through undermining someone or putting someone down or from getting rich, but stepping into the shoes of someone else.

7. Space to breath. Yoga gives you the space to breathe, not react, think about what you’re sending out there. Calming the chimp mind. It gives you time before the chimp mind sort of bounces in and reacts.

8. De-cluttering the mundane. Yoga offers a practice where you’re being able to be in tune with your body.

9. Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect.  That’s why we call it yoga practice, it’s not perfection, you just keep trying every time you come to a new class.

10. It’s fun, funny and kind.

The Suryalila Retreat Centre is running a special New Year celebration retreat. See more details here.

Text by Emma Sutton