x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Life Lessons: Cheryl Parsons, yoga instructor

Cheryl Parsons moved to Dubai from the UK in March 2005. After working as a radio news presenter for three years, she decided to become a yoga instructor. Since completing her training in India in 2008, Parsons has been teaching with Dubai's Zen Yoga studio.

Amy Leang / The National
Amy Leang / The National

Cheryl Parsons moved to Dubai from the UK in March 2005. After working as a radio news presenter for three years, she decided to become a yoga instructor. Since completing her training in India in 2008, Parsons has been teaching with Dubai's Zen Yoga studio.

Be present. For so much of the day, our minds run a seemingly incessant race between the past and the future. We stress over imagined scenarios and dwell on awkward events to such an extent that it is amazing we get any work done at all. Yoga has really helped me to calm this "chitta vriti" or mental chatter, or at least learn to turn it down a frequency. So today, why not stop and smell the roses? Be mindful of this moment because it will pass, and if your mind is somewhere else, you will not have lived it.

Variety is the spice of life. Through my job at Zen Yoga, I have had the pleasure of teaching so many different people from a range of backgrounds. From golfers to runners, injury recovery patients to pregnant mums, every person presents a fresh challenge. I try to count myself lucky, regularly, that I have this opportunity to live and work in such a cultural and social melting pot.

Just breathe. The breath is the biggest indicator of how we are feeling at any given moment. The marriage of breath, mind and body is also at the heart of yoga. So next time someone cuts you off on the Sheikh Zayed Road or a red light threatens to make you late, try to tap into the simple power of your breath. After a few deep breaths, I find it easier to act rationally rather than react.

The impossible is always possible. If I had a dirham for every time a new student said to me: (a) I'm not very flexible or (b) I'm not very strong, then I would probably be a very rich woman. Yoga has taught me to see the seemingly impossible as achievable. It just takes determination, patience and practice. Whether it is being able to do a difficult yoga pose or kick-start a new business, the journey towards the "challenge" can also be half the fun if we allow ourselves to enjoy and learn from the ride.

Laughter really is the best medicine. Since starting yoga I think I have fallen over more times than I ever did as a child. Whether it is face planting on the floor during a new arm balance or toppling over in a handstand, I have learnt to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again, and most importantly, to laugh and enjoy my efforts. I also try to do this off the mat, approaching challenges with a playful rather than serious spirit.

 

As told to Helena Frith Powell