In today’s interview, I took interest in yoga. Very trendy these days, it however often stays badly understood and is sometimes made fun of. Who’s better to talk about yoga than one of its fervent practitioner ? Camille Berra gave me a little bit of her time to tell me about her passion !
Hi Camille ! Can you introduce yourself to the readers of BetterMe.ch ?
Hi ! My name’s Camille Berra, I’m 20 years old and I’m studying interior architecture in Geneva. Besides that, I’m a volunteer firefighter.
I contacted you after having discovered your Instagram account which is dedicated to your passion : yoga. Could you explain where it comes from and what it is all about ?
Yoga is an indian practice. There are many different sorts, from the calm and meditative one to the more active and physical, but I would summarize it as series of poses and transitions executed while trying to master our movements and synchronize them with breathing.
Since when have you been practicing it and how did you discover it ?
I’ve been doing yoga for two years and I don’t really think that I « discovered » yoga. It’s a quite known activity in our society, in the movies etc. and in my opinion, a vast majority of people knows vaguely what yoga is about, that it’s linked to wellness, even if people often make fun of this activity.
What benefits does it bring to you ?
There’s many ! Physical ones first. Yoga makes all your body work and uses muscles rarely used in our daily lives, without realizing it. With a daily practice, physical changes are fast and sometimes surprising. I gained in strength, agility, flexibility, mastery of my gestures, my breathing and my cardiac rhythm. In other sports, sore muscles are very rare, injuries too.
The mental aspect is really important too. As a student, I always think about papers to write or other things to do but when I decide to do 30 minutes of yoga, I know that I’ll be able to free my mind. Yoga is totally incompatible with intrusive thoughts. Moving according to your breathing or staying in balance requires a lot of concentration, which prevents you to think about your problems. Usually, you finish your session calmer and wiser.
Health seems to be very important in your life. How do you stay fit ?
I spend the most of my time sitting in the train or at my desk in front of my computer, so I try to stay active as often as I can. I try to walk when I do small distances instead of taking my car, I take a basket instead of a caddie when I go shopping and spend a maximum of time when I go outside.
In my daily life, I set on average an hour aside for sports : yoga, floor exercises, cycling, walking…I also practice sports with a group of friends once a week.
In parallel, I try to eat healthy, avoid industrial food and take time to cook meals with fresh products. I also banned meat, dairies and oils while enjoying freely everything else without counting.
What does your typical day look like?
I get up at 6h00, take the train to Geneva to start my lessons at 8h30. I have 1h30 of commuting that I spend working, studying or sleeping the most of the time. School ends at 17h30 and I get back home around 19h30. Once arrived, I prepare my meal for the next day and take minimum 45 minutes for yoga or exercises.
You’re part of the flourishing number of women that expose themselves on social media practicing sports, yoga or meditation. What do you think about the increasing exposition and marketing of those practices that are initially based on focusing on your inner self, abandoned materialism and are really intimate ?
It’s true, I find it unfortunate that we always need to take people on social media as examples to adopt better habits and try new things, with all the disappointments that come with… We also notice quickly that a lot of people take advantage of the « health trend » to make money, which actually works.
But if we look at it differently, this trend changed the way we see and present the « perfect woman body » on social media, newspapers or television. I’m glad to see women that are more athletic and less skinny on magazines covers or to see sports tips replacing diets in articles that come massively before summer to be « bikini ready ». We know how much women, particularly young girls, can be influenced by those things and the hundreds of images that we digest every day.
Even if I find it unfortunate that this movement is this much commercialized, I made myself a reason that all event or trend is and always will be a way of making money, be it terrorist attacks or videos of « grumpy cat ». So why not using sports and health, it’s still profit but I think that, for once, it brings something positive to the consumer.
Concerning the intimate side of those « healthy lifestyles » exposed on Instagram, I admit having hesitated for a long time, by bashfulness, to share photos of myself practicing yoga or wearing sports clothes, but I don’t regret having started. Yes, these photos expose myself enormously to everyone and it’s true that we develop really fast a sort of addiction to the gratefulness brought by reactions to every photo. But I think I succeeded to turn it into a motivation instead of an obsession. I sometimes stumble on a pose that I like on Instagram and then train to reproduce it. This way, I set small goals that allow me to progress in my practice.
First of all, sharing my passion for yoga as well as a certain type of lifestyle allowed me to have really interesting discussions and debates on this subject, be it with strangers that ask me for tips or acquaintances that are intrigued by this facet of my life. In fact, it’s easier to illustrate a healthy lifestyle with pictures on social media than speaking with persons that easily can feel criticized concerning their own lifestyle.
What advice would you give to people that wish to practice yoga but who are as flexible as a wooden board (which I’m part of 🙂 )
I’d say that we don’t practice yoga because we’re flexible, but more to become it. The essential part is to try with some humor and self-derision, accept that beginnings are not very gracious and be kind with yourself. If you get desperate, just go to a yoga lesson and you’ll notice that there’s always this student who’s worst than you, that struggles but keeps going.
In reality, practicing yoga is a serie of tiny victories : one day you almost touch your toes, grab your foot. Some days everything goes right, on others you have the feeling of being stuck. The essential part is to be patient, find this pose in which you feel good today, the one that makes us release this tiny sigh of satisfaction, be it difficult or the most easy.
When you reach your limits : breath, accept it and smile. There’s a yoga teacher on Youtube, Adrienne Mischler, that I really like who, when she proposes something difficult, just says this terribly efficient « smile ! » that reminds me immediately that I have to accept my capacities and be less demanding with myself.
This website is called BetterMe, what does « personal development » mean to you ?
I think that personal development is finding something that we like and does us good. Something that maybe doesn’t have anything to do with our family or professional life but makes us good and pushes us to improve and be a better person in our everyday life.
I notice that nowadays people multiply activities, responsibilities, have busy agendas and that we have this feeling of being forced to give ourselves 100% permanently to be considered as active and interesting. I don’t criticize that, I find that being active and using your time to the fullest is a good thing, and I’m part of these people that have multiple activities, but I often notice that people have a tendency to forget themselves, to wear off, transforming those hobbies into weights. Maybe personal development is finding a little bit of time for yourself in the middle of every things that build our life, and find some balance.
Here’s the take home message of this interview:
- Live your passions ! Even with a busy agenda, find some time to practice as much as you can.
- Use experts of your domain as an inspiration and improvement source.
- Set goals but be kind with yourself when you don’t reach them as fast as you wished.