The Essence of Yoga: Yogi Farah Nofal Gives Us Her Two Cents

Yoga is a whole experience. For a clear understanding of yoga, we had to contact an expert, and who’s better than Farah Nofal the yogi herself? In an interview with the health coach, fitness trainer, and yoga teacher, we dive deep into the essence of yoga, its physical and mental benefits, and her favorite types of yoga!

How does Yoga make you feel?

“Yoga makes me feel whole,” Nofal said.

The yogi reminisces on her youth when she tried many sports: seven years of basketball, going to the gym, weight lifting, CrossFit, pilates, and running. Those different types of sports were worth her while, and she still does bits and pieces of them to this day. However, none felt like practicing yoga.

Nofal did not know she would find her aim in yoga: which is a sense of wholeness. Since then yoga’s been the only constant thing in her life. While exercising any kind of sports makes you healthy, fit, and even good-looking, they don’t provide the experience of a mind and body interaction, or a positive impact on breathing.

For her, yoga is everything; it’s all in one, and she hopes to do it for the rest of her life.

How did you get into Yoga professionally?

In the beginning, Nofal just took an online yoga class at home, and it was soothing and healing to her body and mind. However, the nerd that she is, she wanted to dig deeper and learn properly. She left the country as a fitness and CrossFit coach to go take the 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training.

She might have started for the sake of learning for herself, but her training experience was great, so great that it made her realize everyone needs yoga. So after a month of learning the whys and the hows of yoga, she went back home and started teaching yoga one week after! That was in 2015-2016, and she hasn’t stopped since.

What are the physical and mental benefits of yoga?

“It gives you strength when you dig deep into the practice, as well as flexibility and balance, lots of balance,” Nofal said on the physical benefits.

From Nofal’s experiences, everyone needs the physical benefits of yoga. Yoga strengthens the body, helps with flexibility, mobility, coordination, balance, and breathing. That’s right, yoga helps with breathing. Most people take short breaths. However, practicing yoga teaches you to breathe deeply and in different ways, such as breathing into your lungs or belly.

Everyone needs the bodily gains of yoga, according to Nofal. Athletes who work out vigorously need yoga for mobility and flexibility. People with 9 to 5 desk jobs need yoga for their back, neck, and shoulder pain, as such a stagnant lifestyle can be very bad for the body. Youngsters need to try yoga for coordination and mobility, maybe they can make a habit out of it for a healthier life.

The advantages go beyond the physical aspect, as yoga brings body harmony. Nofal thinks that people can be very hard on themselves, and especially women can be critical of their bodies. When they start doing yoga, it helps them love and accept their bodies. She gives a personal example, wherein she used to get worked up about gaining a couple of pounds. However, now that she practices regularly, she looks beyond her weight. She isn’t moving because she just wants a good-looking body, she moves because it brings goodness into her whole body.

“Once you got the physical benefits, the mental part unravels, and it becomes more rewarding,” Nofal said on the mental benefits.

As life moves fast, it can get overwhelming. One class of yoga is not going to bring you the peace of mind you are looking for, but 10 minutes of yoga a day can help you pause. It takes practice and hours. It’s not going to happen overnight. When you practice regularly, you become more mindful of your practice, meaning you’re not distracted and your mind is free.

Yoga then turns into meditation, which has a tremendous effect on mental wellbeing; you can meditate while moving, seated, or while using different breathing techniques. For her, the practice of yoga is a journey, like life. As life happens, you move, and you get to places; it’s the same for yoga. You start your journey and you learn more about yourself and evolve.

Moreover, Nofal believes that life is reflected through your yoga practice. How you approach yoga depends on your current state of mind, and where you are. On a good day, you might be more mindful while practicing. That’s just how it goes. For example, yoga is different for Nofal in Cairo amidst the stress.

Do you have a favorite type of Yoga?

Initially, Nofal was into Vinyasa Flow, which is a yoga type that’s more on the modern side. Vinyasa Flow is creative and gives you freedom when it comes to sequencing. On a personal level, she expressed her love for it and still teaches it. However, Nofal thought that she needs more, so she turned towards more traditional types for her practice.

Now she practices traditional types of yoga such as Rocket Yoga, which is modified Ashtanga. She’s also into Dharma yoga, named after the yoga guru, Dharma Mittra. These types of yoga have limited sequences so with repetition, she gets better with practicing, which means she gets better results. Moreover, it’s good for meditation because the more she does the same sequences, the more it becomes subconscious, which leaves her mind empty, able to focus more on breathing and meditation!

What’s your favorite time in the day to practice yoga?

“Definitely, the earlier the better!”

Nofal likes to start her day with coffee and a session of yoga. If it’s by the sea or somewhere she can see the sunrise, she would love it. She’s not big on practicing or even teaching at night. However, if someone is into practicing at night, Nofal thinks Yin Yoga is the best for that, as it requires you to do specific postures for 3 to 4 minutes. It’s great for night practicing as it is calming, which can help you sleep.

Nofal’s word to the wise, “Throughout your lifetime, try yoga. Make use of your time in something beautiful like yoga. Give it a go.”

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