Featuring Laura Araujo from the US

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

by Justine of Just Yoga

New Yorker, Laura Araujo, started her practice of yoga techniques as a young girl. Even then, she believed that yoga had far more depth to it, than asana practice. Currently, Laura is the brainchild behind the Mindfulness, Activation, Purpose and Surrender Institute, or MAPS Institute, which is dedicated to helping people find and sustain balance in their lives. Laura's vision, through the MAPS Institute, is to enable people to be more productive and effective at work; have deeper and more fulfilling relationships; and live a more meaningful life.
"Yoga has changed my life in so many ways, but mostly, it’s granted me a closer relationship with my breath, and a heightened sense of awareness of how to use my sensitivity in my personal practice, and my teaching."
Yoga and mindfulness have helped Laura, and many of her students with coping with anxiety and mood disorders. Laura believes that because of her yoga practice, she now has a greater relationship with her body and sexuality. Because many of the yoga asanas stimulate the vagus nerve, which works to regulate your parasympathetic nervous system, Laura is confident that she is able to activate optimum brain functioning as result. 

"I am inclined to be extremely pitta which means I can sometimes be competitive and fiery. I humbly recognize when this energy affects my breathing, my mind, and my relationships. Ashtanga practice has helped me to invigorate that energy when I need it most and use it for good."
Laura  has studied a number of different styles of yoga ranging from Bikram, to Ashtanga and finally Yin, while also training a Sound Therapist. Bikram yoga consists of the same twenty-six poses and two breathing exercises performed in the same order for ninety minutes. It is generally performed in a heated room to release toxins, stretch muscles, and improve circulation throughout the body. The Ashtanga style of yoga, focuses on flowing from one asanas to the next, in the exact same order while linking every movement to a breath. Yin yoga is lower and more meditative, focusing on holding an asana for longer to target deep connective tissues, like fascia, ligaments, joints, and bones. Being trained in all of these styles, enables Laura to offer her students the best yoga therapy for their body. She has often worked with students with various injuries and is able to select the correct asanas and style of performing the asanas without exacerbating their injuries. Laura is a big proponent of using props in her classes especially with those students with injuries or ones that lack a higher level of flexibility. Reminding the body, and rechoreographing muscle groups that have become negligent often takes a huge amount of the strain off those target areas, and allows for healing to happen, even while practicing.
"The most challenging “pose” is integrating yoga into my daily life. The practice of integrating mindfulness, and the consistent relationship with my breath and emotions is the real yoga in my opinion, and I’m still working on it, and will likely until I watch my last exhale."

In the peak of her yoga career, Laura used to practice yoga at least three hours a day, and teach three to four classes, sometimes group or individual. Now, she has slowed this down a bit, but still practices asanas, breath work, mindfulness and meditation, on a daily basis. Laura enjoys asanas that improve and challenge her spine mobility. Kapotasana (pigeon pose) is one of her favourite ones as she finds that it gives her a great stretch while also boosting her mood.
"I can’t imagine living without yoga. The days that I don’t, my body, my mind, and my nervous system do not work with me"

Yogi Laura Araujo's final message to anyone interested in starting yoga, is to know that you don't need to be bendy and flexible, nor do you need to be spiritual.  She believes that, if you’re not any of those, it may actually work in your favour. Because when you start to see the incremental changes in your life, it will be a big motivator for you to continue with your practice. She highly recommends, finding a yoga teacher you can trust to give you the full picture of yoga in all its depth and glory.

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