#MyYogaLife: STELLAR Meets Full-Time Yogi Sinéad McKiernan

Sinéad was suffering from severe anxiety before she took up yoga. She tells STELLAR why she'll never look back and why we need to pick up the hobby too.

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How and why did you get into yoga?

I started Yoga about eight years ago. I was suffering from anxiety at the time and I’d tried everything to overcome it but to no avail. I enjoyed the poses during the Yoga class but when it came to relax at the end, my mind was still racing. I decided to keep at it and after a couple of months, my anxiety had completely disappeared. I can’t tell you how much more energy I had too.

How long did your training take, and what was it like?

I went to India to study Hatha Yoga for six weeks. It was intense. We woke at 5am, went to meditation and then had classes all day until 8pm. We studied nearly every aspect. I’ve been reading , studying and practicing every day since and I’ll be studying Yoga forever.

How many times a week do you now practice?

I usually practice everyday, depending on my schedule. Sometimes just 15 minutes in the morning, other days for an hour twice a day.

What do we need to do it from home?

Ideally a quiet space for half an hour and a Yoga mat. That’s all. If you don’t have a yoga mat, you can practice Yoga on a chair, in your bed or even outside. So really, all you need is yourself.

Body wise, does yoga change your physique?

Yes definitely, depending of course on how often you’re willing to practice and how long for. You’re using all the muscles in the body and it tones you up in a really healthy way, and builds your muscles too.

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Did it change yours?

Yes, I have more muscles in my arms, a flatter stomach and my legs are more toned. I also noticed my cellulite and stretch marks on my thighs have practically disappeared.

What are the biggest differences you have noticed to your wellbeing since you started?

Mentally, I was in turmoil when I first started Yoga. I was in a state of anxiety all the time. Yoga has equipped me with the tools I need to stay calm and focused. I’ve gained control of my body and mind again. It also made me eat better.

How did it make you eat better?

It made me more aware of myself and that has transferred into my daily life. I usually start my day with a smoothie, fruit with almonds and coconut milk or something like that. I make my own soup a lot, it’s so cheap and easy and a great way to increase your veg intake. I still eat meat but a lot less, maybe once a week and I eat lots of fish.  I’ll never punish myself with food so I still indulge in chocolate biscuits and the occasional takeaway. I love my bread as well!

Honestly, how long before we see changes in our body?

As soon as you leave a good Yoga class, you should feel energised but still relaxed with a clear mind. After a term of Yoga, between six to 10 weeks, you’ll notice a difference in your posture, flexibility and your energy levels. Keep practicing and the benefits will never end!

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Does it really make a difference to your attitude and demeanour?

100%. It gives you time to be with yourself which is so important. I feel that young people today know more about celebrities than they do about themselves. With myself anyway, I know that I’m less distracted now. I have time to listen to people and I’m definitely a lot more present.

Convert us! Why do we need to take it up?

Yoga can transform your life. You learn to breathe properly, it strengthens your lungs and helps you deal with stressful situations. Each pose will benefit your health and you’ll also improve flexibility and tone your muscles. It offers the opportunity to completely unwind in a quiet space and fully relax. You might even make some new Yogi friends too!

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