Interview Of The Week with Lena Kalchenko: Yoga is a way of living

Where are you from and what do you do?
I was born in Russia and that’s where I lived half my life before I moved to London at the age of 19. What was planned to be a 3 month stay is an ongoing thing. So I guess one might say I am a Londoner now. But to be honest I don’t think of myself as any particular nationality. Surely there might be some so called Russian traits in me, or some others that would reflect that I live in London. But more than anything I value the humanity in each one of us, including myself. I guess this is one of the reasons I love yoga so much. It welcomes everyone. This is the message I try to deliver in my classes. As you may have now guessed, I am a yoga teacher. I’ve
been doing it for 5 years and absolutely love it.

What made you start yoga?

I heard a lot about yoga and its numerous benefits. I wanted to try something new and become more flexible. I was around 26 when I had my first yoga experience (at least that’s what I thought yoga was back then). I was in Thailand with my cousin, who was already a yoga teacher, and we did some stretching and played with different asanas (1). I really enjoyed it but my first real yoga class happened when we got back to London. I was super jet legged. I couldn’t sleep for days and then one morning I decided to take a class at my local gym. That was love at first class! And I simply never looked back.

What kind of yoga do you specialize in?

It is very difficult to answer this question. There are so many yoga styles and they keep coming. So, I prefer to say, and this is what I teach and suggest to everyone: choose the style that makes you feel good both physically and emotionally, makes you feel welcome, makes you learn about yourself, makes you a better person. I am yet to figure out the name for this style.

I keep studying and learning about my body, training techniques, trends, approaches. I couldn’t agree more with what my current teacher, Leslie Kaminoff, says – “The best teachers are lifelong student.

How has yoga changed you spiritually and your life on a daily basis?

It is definitely an ongoing process. There are setbacks, no doubt. There are wonderful revelations, learning outcomes, and lots of reflection. Generally speaking I definitely started loving, accepting and appreciating myself more. And having achieved that I could become a more loving person to the people around me, a person who forgives. We all make mistakes, we are not perfect and some things are simply not meant to be. My yoga practice has taught me to be grateful for every given moment which is one of the most valuable gifts one can obtain in life.

It seems yoga is much more than an exercise…

I used to practice asanas 7 days a week, sometimes I took 2 classes a day. But you learn yoga goes way beyond the asana practice. It is a way of living.

What do you like most about your job?
I love to see people’s faces at the end of the class.

What is the hardest in your job?

Breaking stereotypes about yoga, yoga poses and alignment in particular.

(1) yoga poses

Lena is hosting an event on the International Yoga Day, check it out & sign up here!

yoga day.jpg

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