Janet Shook is a Yoga teacher who has been living in the Algarve for 11 years. When she first came to Portugal, she started to become interested in Yoga and meditation and realised that this practice could be very useful in daily life.

Before she started a new life in Portugal, she was “a dancer living in Istanbul – a very different life. When I came to Portugal my life changed, I had my son and I began to do Yoga and meditation, because it was very difficult for me to adjust. A life in a new country, losing my career, becoming a mother, the separation of my relationship, this was a very difficult time, so I started to meditate and do yoga, before that I wasn’t really interested in Yoga”, explained Janet.

Janet told The Portugal News that it was the only thing that helped her to pass through those bad moments. “Then I decided that I wanted to be Yoga teacher because this really works and I also started to work in nutrition, juice fasting, and that opened my eyes in nutrition, I realised that how you use your body and what you put in your body are very related, you have to be very aware of that, you’re body works well if you feed it well”.

Janet Shook has two different types of Yoga classes, a soft one for all levels and also kundalini Yoga. The first one is a gentle flow Yoga – just moving the body around, doing breathing exercises and feel happy and peaceful – this yoga is to relax and can be done on all levels. Then there is kundalini Yoga, “it’s very spiritual and traditional, it is like we’re going to work hard, and clean our minds subconsciously while organising our energy. It’s not really difficult, everyone can do the Kundalini class - you can always stop and breathe”.

I also asked Janet about the best time to do Yoga (be it the morning or the end of the day) and if we should have a routine or do it only when we want. “I think the best yoga is the yoga that you’re inspired to do. Schedules don’t work for everybody, people are different, some people have a really rigid discipline, they do the same thing every morning and this is amazing, but I believe we shouldn’t put things too much in blocks, we need to see first, what’s the condition of your body, how much energy do you have, what’s your lifestyle, what time do you have.”

In her case, she does practice every day, but not always at the same time. “All I can say is that the best yoga is the yoga that you are inspired to do, the yoga that makes you a better person. Don’t set your standards so high that you give up, I do believe in doing something every day, even if this something is just five minutes of deep breathing, but every day you spend time with yourself. And if you have time for the physical practice, then perfect!”.

Tips for being more present
Breathing exercises can really help. “Be with your breath, because of the physiology behind it, with deep breathing, automatically your brain is going to calm down, because they are so connected”.

Be connected with your physical body and the space around you, because when you over think, it is because you are thinking about things that have happened in the past or that might happen in the future. “So, look around you without judgment, listen to the sounds, which needs practice, looking around the kitchen without thinking “oh I have to clean it”, just being present”.

How do we achieve this? Janet explains: “It’s my most important job every day, as another thing that you do daily, you exercise it and you start to be much better, yoga is a practice and meditation needs practice, it’s not a thing that most people achieve quickly. You really have to make it a priority in your life. You have to get to a point that you realise that it is really the most important thing in your life. You have to prioritise it, decide to be present!”.

At the moment Janet is still doing Yoga classes, but she is working via Zoom. Although she prefers face to face classes, when this pandemic is over, she will continue with both formats, because with the double format she will be able to still have classes with people all around the world who wanted to join online. Also, in her opinion it is important to make things available for people “it’s not a thing that I want to keep to myself, I want people to be able to access yoga - a zoom class is €5 and we also try to manage to have everyone be present at the same time and leave no one behind”.

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