Stumbling upon yoga
It all started 16 years ago, when Erini was 14, way before the break-out of the internet. “I used to be a night owl. One day, I stumbled upon a Lebanese TV channel. There was a lady called Amani who used to air at 5 am. I remember her so vividly. I had no idea what yoga was. The world was so closed back then. Amani used to do gentle movements in a garden. I would join her behind my screen every morning at 5 am, for a week, two, and three, until I started going to bed early.”
“Now I am 18, the internet broke out! I started working for corporates. It was such a stressful time for me. I was young and confused, always overthinking, and struggled with many emotions that I couldn’t process at the time. I struggled. Despite looking young and happy, I was not at peace. “
Stumbling upon healing
But then there was YouTube. I found yoga again, a great deal of content! I started to incorporate it into my life, day by day until it became a daily ritual and the only time of my day when life made sense. Sometimes I will sleep on the mat after I’m done; it feels like home. Yoga helped me manage my anxiety and overthinking.
I started reading and learning about yoga. I took a deep dive from there. As I went, I learned how yoga brings unity to the mind, body, and soul. To flow; you need to be present, to be here, in the now. You have to synchronize your breath with the movement. And because what we do on the mat, we take it with us off the mat, I learned to be present. The more I did yoga, the better and more connected I felt. Something was shifting.
Healing through movement
I also had chronic issues with lower back pain. My doctors kept saying I was fine, but I was not. I was constantly in pain. I used to work for nine hours on a chair. It was frustrating, but when I did yoga, it released all the tension in my body, I felt better, and the symptoms started to subside! Yoga contributed miraculously to my mental and physical wellbeing. “Now, I do multiple types of sports, so movement is in my life, but when I’m not doing yoga, something feels missing.”
Teaching the art of flow
Erini felt like yoga had become a cornerstone in her life. She aspired to get certified and share this practice with people through teaching yoga. She wanted to be an instructor and offer people all that yoga offered her. Erini is big in the business game, having kicked off her career in Corporates at 18. She is now a brand marketing director, but at the same time, how she truly wanted to connect to people was through wellness. She quotes, “I always had access to yoga and it was the greatest support system for me when I had none.” It never failed me, and nobody ever stepped on the mat and regretted it. “I wanted to get certified at 25, but then life happened. I kept solidifying my practice until I got certified at 28. Now I teach Vinyasa and Yin yoga. “
Erini got certified, just at the time the pandemic kicked in, and quarantine had us all. “After staying home for a while, I set out to tour around Sinai, and I started teaching my friends while traveling and giving workshops and retreats in camps. Now, I live in Ras Sudr, a piece of Sinai that keeps me connected to nature. I am also frequently in Cairo, and I am teaching between here and there.”
“I genuinely believe in healing through movement. Everything that happens to us emotionally or psychologically happens to our bodies as well. It’s all connected, and the body truly keeps the score. Moving the body is one of the simplest ways that we can heal both our body and mind. I’d say I’ve had my fair share of traumatic experiences, the most recent of which was the death of my father due to Corona; it was beyond traumatic for me. When I felt ready, I got on my mat and flew. It felt like something had been released from my body, and I cried it out. I cried many things, moments, and feelings out on my mat. Other times, I feel happy and I step on my mat, and it feels like I’m celebrating myself today.
“In yoga, we love to incorporate breathwork and we also stress on syncing the breath with the movement. That alone gives permission to the systems of the body that go on high alert during times of stress to return to normal functioning. Furthermore, when the breath deepens, the lungs expand, transmitting messages to the brain, which in turn tells the muscles it’s OK to relax. It’s been proven that yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system (the calming part), and therefore it’s extremely beneficial for our psychological and physical balance.
Erini quotes, “Yoga is not a sport. Sports are competitive; yoga is a mind-body practice; it’s a state of flow. “It led me to practice other types of flow arts or movements; pole dance, poi, acro flow; all these movements give me happiness and healing and I hope other people find those things in movement, too. “