Maya Fiennes in Express

Read Maya Fiennes' interview about posing in the December 2009 Express article.


Fit: Fiennes Points About Posing

MACEDONIAN-BORN MAYA FIENNES is all the rage in London with her Kundalini teachings. If you can't get across the pond to see her in person, pop in her new DVD, "Kundalini Yoga to Detox and Destress" ($15, Acacia). Also a classical pianist, she developed a soundtrack to go along with the energetic practice, which focuses on strengthening the kidneys and adrenal glands (they control stress). And are you wondering about her last name? She's Ralph and Joseph's sister-in-law.

» EXPRESS: What's the appeal of Kundalini yoga over other styles?

» FIENNES: I have done all kinds of yoga, but in Kundalini the integration happens much quicker. Bikram, for instance, is so body-oriented that you miss the mind. In a Kundalini class, within 10 minutes you feel the meditation, too.

» EXPRESS: Why is that?

» FIENNES: We close our eyes almost the whole class and you really go inward rather than getting distracted by other people around you. So, you have time for yourself. I also set up the music for the mood. If we're doing something related to anger release, I'll use music with lots of beats. If we're focusing on healing, I'll relax it.

» EXPRESS: How do you develop your music for your yoga?

» FIENNES: I approach it like I'm an actor going to a set and taking a role. I think about what every position represents, and I find the right music to express that. I prepare a lot, and then it comes quickly.

» EXPRESS: How much does the music affect a practice for you?

» FIENNES: I appreciate silence a lot. It can help you go deeper into yourself. But music can help when we have busy minds. Then we're not as conscious of everything else going on. You can just listen to the music and go with it.

» EXPRESS: Is that like what you experience performing as a pianist?

» FIENNES: It's the same thing. Whenever I play, people say, "It looks so easy." But it's not. It's just a wonderful form of meditation. I treat every class like a performance. Time stops, and suddenly you go completely inwards.

» EXPRESS: And in your DVD, so many of the moves seem easy, but after you repeat them for minutes on end, they start to burn.

» FIENNES: Exactly. We go through the pain threshold barrier, which is two and a half minutes, and that triggers your endorphins.

» EXPRESS: Are any of these moves ones we can do at work to de-stress?

» FIENNES: You can sit in your chair and move your spine forward and backward. You have to keep it always flowing, because if you're rigid in your spine, you're rigid in your mind as well. The neck is also very important. It's such a simple exercise, but a neck roll can keep you from having headaches.

» EXPRESS: Is this mainly what you do to stay in shape?

» FIENNES: I also ride my bicycle and I sometimes [use the] StairMaster. And I have a group of people and we like to chant and run in the water of a swimming pool. You're burning the toxins and calories, yet you go to this meditative state, so you're not huffing and puffing, even if you're doing it for half an hour.