We recently had a Q&A with Josephine Lau, badass yoga teacher and founder of Grace x Strength. On top of managing her company and teaching various yoga classes, Josephine is a chronic migraine sufferer and the mother of two. Read our interview with this warrior and learn about how she has empowered herself through the power of yoga.
How did you become passionate about yoga?
My yoga journey began more seriously during my second pregnancy. I had a very traumatic first birthing experience and was determined to find ways to have a better experience the second time around. Beginning with practicing yoga online with my now-teacher and guru, Briohny Smyth, I became dedicated to my home practice up until the day of giving birth. I ended up having an amazing, natural experience without any medical intervention. That triggered a series of positive experiences, including my realization that yoga is one of the most effective ways for me to manage my pain as a migraine sufferer. This led me to leave behind my well-established corporate career in order to pursue vocational yoga teaching.
How can a beginner yogi become more comfortable on the mat?
I learned from my guru that the best thing to do is drop all expectations when on the mat. Often, we subconsciously hold expectations or self-comparisons, such as whether we can ‘be as flexible as’ or ‘be as strong as’ such as such. Really, though, the practice of yoga starts with observing the self. I believe that if we start with celebrating our effort to show up on the mat, then we can be comfortable taking things at our own pace. In a practical sense, it might be a good idea to find that environment for yourself so that you remove some limitations; e.g. joining classes that suit your level or even starting your practice at home where you can be in your own sacred space.
I know you have suffered from chronic migraines. How has yoga helped you work through this?
Oh I can’t emphasize enough how grateful I am that God gave me the gift of yoga to help with my migraine symptoms! Firstly, I will stress that I’m not advocating that yoga can cure migraines. Migraine disorder is a complex neurological disorder that comes in many forms. I suffer from chronic migraine disorder, which started off as episodic from the age of 9; moreover, I oscillate between episodic and chronic phases. In my experience, certain breath-work techniques have been a saving grace. They are often effective in stopping my migraine symptoms from worsening. During intense migraine attacks when no form of medical pain relief works, breath-work has been the most effective form of pain management. The movement aspect of yoga has also really helped with releasing tension in my body, which can help minimize tension-triggered attacks.
How do you balance motherhood, personal life, and yoga?
It’s a constant struggle that requires conscious efforts to make sure that I don’t tip the scale on any of my priorities. The way I keep myself on track is by making sure that I plan my time for each area as evenly as I can and keeping myself accountable. Now, there are periods where certain duties or responsibilities take priority more than others. E.g. I’m currently taking further studies and training for yoga teaching. Therefore, I have to decrease my online content creation for a during this time. In general, I try to stay disciplined with executing on my daily plans to ensure I make the most of my day.
How do you motivate yourself to get on the mat when feeling tired or lazy?
There is no magical way other than just rolling out the mat and getting on with it! In all seriousness, though, it is part of the yoga practice and lifestyle to listen to our body and care for its needs. So, I’ll move according to what my body wants. There are days where I’ll just give the practice a miss and ensure I keep up with my “Minute Moment” practices throughout the day. Check out my IGTV to learn more about the Minute Moment practice.
Photo courtesy of Josephine Lau.
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