Maya Fiennes in You Magazine Jan 2010

Maya Fiennes in the January 2010 issue of You Magazine.


Maya Fiennes (left, sister-in-law of Ralph and Joseph) is a yoga teacher who counts Elle Macpherson among her clients. With her new book Yoga for Real Life, she looks set to do for yoga what Nigella has done for food.

I discovered yoga when I was a concert pianist
I suffered from pre-performance nerves which meant my hands would go stiff and cold. I overcame my anxiety by doing yoga before every concert and it gradually became an essential part of my life.
Yoga isn't about tying yourself into a pretzel
That's gymnastics. The aim of yoga is to prepare the mind and body for meditation. Ironing out the aches, pain and imbalances in the body allow you to sit for long periods without being distracted. People of all ages and body types can do it. I have taught everyone from a child of six to a woman of 90.
You need to find the right style for you
Hatha is a general term for all physical yoga. Astanga is fast paced and often called 'power' yoga; bikram is yoga practised in 38C heat; iyengar holds poses over long periods; jivamukti is physically intense, accompanied by chanting (Sting is its most famous follower); kundalini, the style that I teach, works with rapid repetitive movements and is a mind, body, spirit work-out.
Yoga helps you lose weight...from your mind
It isn't about weight loss. It deals with the far more important issue of how you think. If you're counting calories you're carrying guilt around and it's that you have to lose. People do lose weight, but that's because yoga improves digestion, eliminates toxins and gives you a far better posture.
It can make you taller
As we age, the spine becomes a magnet for toxins and becomes rigid. Yoga works on core strength, improving flexibility in the spine and stopping the build-up of these toxins. Suddenly you are standing up straight. You can gain inches and lose years.
It can help you pass exams
I taught yoga to children in school in Switzerland just ahead of their exams. The teachers were amazed by how they improved their focus - and their results. Yoga increases the intake of oxygen into the brain and bloodstream, creating alertness and receptivity to learning.
Yoga is effective in prisons
It calms the breathing and blood pressure, which helps with anger management. It is also great for ex-addicts because it gives you a high without any form of self-harm. And it's particularly beneficial for people with special needs, such as autism, as it helps focus and quieten the mind.
Yoga is not competitive
There are now international yoga championships, and it is being touted as a possible Olympic sport, but this is purely for demonstration. You cannot compete - it's about internal growth not external show.
Yoga for Real Life by Maya Fiennes will be published by Atlantic Books on Tuesday, price £14.99