Student Spotlight: Maya Rajah

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Why you love inversion/handstand?

For me, inversions are a reflection of how rewarding and empowering consistent practice can be - not just within yoga but in any dimension of life.

Just a couple of months ago, I never imagined that I’d have the strength to balance upside down, but I was curious to keep exploring. Through the practice, I’ve learnt so much about how to communicate with my body and have cultivated more trust in myself. In place of the initial fear, I’ve started to notice a sense of playfulness and lightness has been awakened. It’s a lot of fun!

Which one is your favorite?

I don’t think I have a favourite or least favourite inversion! By practicing a variety through classes, I’ve discovered that each inversion presents a unique set of challenges, which ultimately fosters a more balanced and dynamic practice. At the same time, it’s been really interesting to witness how the different inversions complement each other by building the same foundational skills in balance, control, mobility and awareness. Some are definitely harder than others but I’ve found that approaching them as a family of postures has made the process more textured and meaningful.

What was the most difficult or challenging part of your inversion/handstand journey?

The fear! Without a doubt. But paradoxically, that’s also part of what appeals most to me about inversions. Throughout my yoga practice, I’ve noticed that so much of what I learn about myself and cultivate on the mat eventually translates into the way I relate to myself and others off the mat. Such a natural part of being human is the fear of falling and losing control in any sense. This has been a particularly pronounced theme for me throughout my life. I’ve often found that my fear of failure has hindered me from opening my heart and mind to new experiences that I’ve always longed to explore. This was my attitude towards inversions at the beginning, but I decided to just delve in. I figured it would be a good place to start facing and befriending my fear.

And how did you overcome that?

Firstly, through practicing regularly in a safe, supported environment and secondly, through facing my fear of falling by simply falling! I know it sounds like two opposite ends of the spectrum, but both have been so pivotal to my growth - physically and mentally. Before starting classes at Allign, I assumed that successful inversions were entirely about strength. Strength that I didn’t think I had. But under Gaju and Viru’s skilful guidance, I’m learning that there are so many more components involved. Particularly in technique, alignment and awareness that each body’s unique constitution determines what works and what doesn’t. There’s no one size fits all. Recognising that has made my practice a lot more of a personal exploration. Rather than trying to apply someone else’s recipe for success, I’m creating my own recipe by constantly identifying what specifically I need to work on.

In the process of doing so, there have been moments (quite a few!) where I’ve fallen. But they’ve been so necessary in helping me taste that fine point of balance and have trained me to fall in a smarter way, if that makes sense. Now when I fall I just laugh, pick myself back up and try again. I’m trying to extend that to other areas of my life too!

Anything else would you like to share?

Trying something new and stepping into unknown territory is in act of vulnerability. But for me, that vulnerability is synonymous with courage. Falling in some way or another is an inevitable part of any dimension of life that we really commit ourselves to - and that’s scary! But I’ve personally found that my experiences with struggling and falling have been my greatest teacher. They’re the ultimate opportunity to practice self-compassion and to uncover the tremendous resilience that I know we each have.