Read Maya Fiennes' interview in the February 2010 issue of Yoga Magazine.
In conversation with: Maya Fiennes
How did you first become interested in yoga?
MF: As a classical pianist I started yoga to help me relax before concerts and to improve my musical performance. I have now been doing yoga for 10 years, having tried all different styles including Hatha, Ashtanga Vinyasa and Bikram in search of spiritual growth. When I found Kundalini Yoga, my search was over.
Can you describe how Kundalini Yoga differs from the other styles?
MF: Kundalini Yoga is a very direct way or reaching peace. Even after one class you feel the change in body and mind. It combines breath, movement and chanting. The chanting opens the door to meditation in order to make a connection to ourselves. I have done all kinds of Yoga, but in Kundalini I find the integration happens much faster. In a Kundalini class, within 10 minutes you feel the effects on your mind, body and spirit.
Can you say a little about your love for music and how this may influence/is influenced by your Yoga practice?
MF: I realise that my skills as a concert pianist help me to connect to the music/mantras of Kundalini yoga. Through my musical skills I become the median/link between the mantras and my students. My approach is like 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. 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.
Can you describe your teaching with children? And do your own children enjoy yoga?
MF: Yoga works on developing our levels of confidence as well as the integration of mind, body and spirit. I am sure we all agree that the sooner we become confident with ourselves the better our lives become. I love to work with children to help them set themselves up for the future. I have conducted workshops with students just before their exams with very positive results. I often do Yoga with my children, and I adjust the sessions so that they become more of 'playing yoga' sessions.
How long have you been involved in television? What kind of audiences do your Yoga programmes reach? Would they be different, do you think, from the kinds of students who would normally attend a class?
MF: Through TV I reach all types of people, especially those who would not attend Yoga sessions for a range of reasons including lack of confidence, 'feeling fat', 'feeling inflexible', or simply due to lack of time. I have been on TV on the Body in Balance channel in the UK daily over a year now. We know from the enormous feedback on my website that I am able to have very positive impact on thousands of people I would never hve met in my regular Yoga classes. Now my yoga sessions are broadcast on TV internationally and the same message is coming back from people all over the world.
I believe you have some celebrities in your family! Can you reveal if Ralph and other family members have tried Yoga and whether they have found it helpful in their own lives, particularly in terms of fitness training and mental preparation?
MF: I have done yoga with most of my family including my brothers in law and I am sure they have found it useful, if not fun!
What plans have you for the future?
MF: I want to continue to reach as many people as possible around the globe with Kundalini Yoga, be it via classes, workshops, TV and writing, to help them cope with their lives better. I have just completed a new TV/DVD production and my first book is being released in January and then I will be writing a few more. I will also be starting Teacher Training this autumn.