Interview with Julee Yew-Crijns
by Julee Yew-Crijns
1. When and why did you start practising yoga?
I took my first yoga class at university in 1994. I was not inspired to practice it regularly right away as I was distracted by student life and a lot of activities new to me. I only started to practice regularly when my best friend took me along to her class back in Malaysia in 1999. There was no profound reason for starting yoga practice. It was solely a physical love to begin with. I started practicing regularly because it made me feel good.
2. How has yoga helped you in your life?
Over time, I noticed how I had changed- feeling more relaxed, less reactive, more focused and also more mindful. My relationships with everyone became so much better. I guess you could really say, yoga practice changed my life. I realised some years later that everything I learn and encounter on the mat applies to how I flow in my life. I see this relationship clearly now.
Aside from this, I also used to have terrible body image issues. Yoga has really changed my relationship with my body. I have great respect & great appreciation for my body now. It is not that i am completely over these issues, but i am so much more comfortable in my body that I am not even afraid to put myself out in the big social media world now. It’s a huge thing for me and I am grateful for it.
3. What does yoga mean to you?
For me, yoga is a complete mind body practice. Physical practice keeps the body healthy, meditation keeps the mind healthy. I think there is some confusion sometimes and there are some who think that physical practice and meditation are separate. Meditation can also happen during physical practice. Just taking time out to focus on the breath can clear the mind too. If practice is focused, meditation happens too.
However, I think it is important to stop every day and just sit quietly to watch the thought waves, even if it is just for a moment. The mind is an incredible place. I believe meditation & physical practice should happen side by side.
4. What is your favourite yoga pose?
5. What is your most memorable yoga moment?
- When I took my first Vinyasa class and experienced the freedom of movement & creativity
- When I did my first teacher training. There were only 5 of us. It was an intimate & life changing month.
- When I first met my teacher Shiva Rea
- When I met you!
6. What inspires you?
Possibilities inspires me. Waking up every morning to an abundant of possibilities and going to bed, looking forward to the morning. I feel so blessed to be given this life and this moment.
Love also inspires me. Love is so powerful. When love is present, possibilities are endless. And I mean love for anything. In an all inclusive sense.
7. What do you love about teaching yoga?
Yoga is such a big part of my life. I get so much joy from being able to share it. Not just the asana practice but also the many magical and inspiring stories. Some stories and inspiration have been passed on from teacher to teacher, so it is not possible to hear these stories if these gifts are not also passed on.
The big thing of course is also sharing asana practice. For me, it’s really like playground time- when we laugh and play and discover the many things that we are capable of. A time when we breakdown many of our perceived limitations that we accumulate in our adult life. For me, it is exciting when I see someone have an “aha” moment. When they find something within themselves. And this is also what I love about teaching yoga. Every class is different. You just never know what you’re going to get.
First published in Interview Q&A with Victoria from Inspired Yoga, Sweden