Featuring Lee-Ann Barnes from South Africa

Thursday, 13 August 2020

by Justine of Just Yoga

Forty-two year old, Cape Town resident,  Lee-Ann Barnes has been working in the health and wellness industry for over twenty years. She is a personal trainer, triathlon coach, Pilates instructor and recently qualified as a yoga teacher. She is an endurance athlete whose passion is to help people reach their wellness goals.
"Yoga has helped my flexibility both physically and mentally. I now have a better range of motion in my hamstrings and a greater range of control over my emotions in my daily life."
As a personal trainer, equipping people with the knowledge and skills to improve their wellness, Lee-Ann's focus has always been on the fitness of the physical body. With Pilates differing from yoga, in the connection between the mind and the body, Lee-Ann sought to train as a yoga teacher so that she could bridge the gap, as she has always found the need for a calm mind. When she noticed that most of her clients were dealing with a lot of stress and pressure, she realised she needed to help them cope with it better. Since her training as a yoga teacher, she has been able to help those stressed clients with various relaxation techniques such as breathing, introspection and imagery in Savasana.

Lee-Ann's favourite yoga style is Vinyasa because she feels that it matches her fast-paced lifestyle. Vinyasa style yoga is about flowing from one yoga pose to the next, seamlessly, while synchronising the breath with each movement. Her favourite yoga asana is the Virabhadrasana series (Warrior 1, 2 and 3). These asanas open up one's hips, lungs and chest, while improving the ability to focus and maintain balance. She particularly enjoys it because it makes her feel powerful, invincible and energised. Postures which she struggles with are inversions. She has low blood pressure and when rising back to standing position she often experiences dizziness and gets disoriented. She manages this by moving much slower or closing her eyes.
"I know my body and its limitations. Whenever I practice a new exercise routine or asana I am always conscious of any injury and I adjust my postures accordingly" 
Lee-Ann has an Achilles tendon injury that has caused her pain, swelling and limited movement. Through her training as a personal trainer, has helped her manage the injury accordingly. Because she understands the limitations of her body, she is still able to run, cycle and practice yoga with care. She believes that injury should not impede one's fitness goals and one should seek out the right help to make adjustments to one's training regime. She finds some asanas challenging because she is an endurance athlete with tight muscles. Regular asana practice is helping her improve her flexibility.

Lockdown enabled Lee-Ann the opportunity to focus inwards. She is grateful for the mindfulness techniques that she learnt from her fellow yogis. It helped her cope with the changes in her life that took place during lockdown. Her biggest change was not being able to have face-to-face interactions with her clients and friends. She had to move her classes online since April and struggled with the fact that she could not make physical adjustments to her clients' postures when they were exercising. As challenging as it was in the beginning, she has succeeded in finding a balance and now enjoys the virtual world.

Lee-Ann finds that her yoga is continually calming her mind to access new thoughts and find renewed motivation and creativity. She has also noticed a remarkable change in her emotions. Things that used to frustrate and bother her before, no longer affect her. She is also more thoughtful in how she processes things that happen to her. Overall, it has been a very positive and life changing experience for her and one that she has built into her life.
"I try to stay focussed and fresh by attending a yoga class twice a week between work, running, cycling, socialising and sleep."
Yogi Lee-Ann's final words to anyone wanting to practice yoga is to not just do the asanas, but also educate yourself on the potential benefits of the practice of yoga. It has tremendous potential to improve your mind and body. She has seen the impact in her own life and highly recommends yoga to anyone.

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