I have been meeting some truly inspiring people this year. One such person is Dia. Dia is a yoga teacher who practices in beautiful sunny Western Australia.
Dia Yoga takes yoga outdoors, in what she refers to as ‘the most sacred studio’. While she runs traditional ashtanga, flow, yin, meditation sessions, as well a variety of workshops, she has also created what she calls the ‘yike’. A ‘yike’ combines yoga, meditation and hiking, for a holistic outdoor experience.
I came to Dia Yoga because I was interested in doing my yoga outdoors. In case I have not made this obvious through my work, Western Australia has spectacular scenery and I am happiest when outdoors.
PICS OF DIA IN LANDSCAPE
Dia is a charismatic and energetic instructor. Her classes are relaxing and fun. The focus is less on achieving the ‘perfect pose’, and more about being in the present moment.
Dia generously agreed for me to tag along to one of her yikes in the Perth Hills and interview her.
What does yoga mean to you?
Yoga for me is a lifestyle. It’s not something that I just do when I step on my matt, it’s something that I do constantly from when I wake up in the morning. It’s my behaviour, it’s the way I think, at least the way I want to think and at least the way I try to act. It’s everything to me. It’s my breath, my heartbeat and so on.
I’m really jealous of that. I wish I could incorporate more yoga into my daily life.
Very easy. It’s just conscious living. Try to be more aware of how you think, and whenever you get judgemental thoughts or stressful thoughts, remind yourself it’s bad for you.
How did you come to yoga? What got you on this journey?
I would say that when I very first got into yoga, wasn’t in a very nice way, it was more of an ego way. I was about 21 years and I went to the yoga studio because I just loved the hippie looking, good looking yoga dudes.
That’s a great reason!
It’s an awesome reason for a 20 year old, but then when I was 26 I decided to sell most of my belongings and go travelling. Then one day I rented out a house and I was volunteering in an animal hospital. I did my yoga on the beach, and that one day somehow… You know how people ask you how you found your yoga? Yoga found me. It just hit me, and then I realised ‘so this is yoga’. You feel so freaking centred and awesome, and that’s for me how I found yoga, or yoga found me.
So yoga found you when you were outdoors?
Yeah, I had my little sarong, my little blanket on the beach. There were some stray dogs running around me trying to eat my sarong up. That moment was so beautiful. That’s when I noticed that this is what yoga is. It’s not your perfect warrior pose or headstand, yoga is the entire moment, unity with nature, unity with the body of soul.
I can see a bit of a theme developing. What is the relationship for you between hiking, meditation, and yoga? You have chosen to combine these three in the ‘yikes’.
I think you can practice yoga when you’re hiking, and that’s what I’ve tried to create. What I call ‘yiking’ is mindful hiking. You focus on your breathing, you focus on your posture. You bring the same things that you would bring to your practice on the matt into your hiking. I wanted to combine these things, because these are the things that I’m most passionate about. I’m absolutely freaking passionate about nature, about hiking, and about yoga. Giving people the option of seeing these two worlds together, how much fun it can be, how much they can bring to each other. If you’re a regular hiker you can bring a little bit of yoga into your hiking, focus on your breathing, focus on staying more present. You don’t need to think about the destination, but think about the journey, someone wisely once said. Just the presence of the yoga. Then again, you can bring your hiking with nature and this beauty around us into your yoga practice. That’s what I love. I just want to incorporate nature the body, mind and soul all together.
There is definitely a very strong connection between being outdoors and being mindful. That ends up translating to what happens in meditation and yoga, I guess. That relationship is very strong.
It is, it is indeed. That is why Buddha, I think, meditated under the three, not underneath the iPhone.
I know you’ve travelled quite a lot. Where do you originally come from, and how have you made your way all the way to the other side of the world to Western Australia?
I was born in Estonia, at a very young age I moved to finland with my mum. I grew up in Finland and consider it my home country. I have travelled a lot. I started travelling as soon as I could. I have travelled around Europe, a bit around South America, and a lot in India. India is my home place, I love it through every cell of my heart. Also, I have travelled around Asia. When I was travelling around Asia, in Bali, I met my husband. He’s Australian, so that’s how I ended up here. I went back to Finland, decided it was time to sell all my possessions again, and went to Australia to start completely new.
That’s pretty scary, thats a pretty risky move. A lot of people would be scared to do that.
Yeah, I tend to do a lot of stuff like that. I’ve done that a few times now, where I’ve sold everything that I own and have gone travelling to just explore. I’ve found that people are much more happier, and this is what I love about you. The less you own, the happier you are, because you have less possessions holding you back. You’re not stressed. When I was travelling in Rio, I noticed that the rich people in Ipanema are so stressed out all the time, and then you have the people in the favelas, they would be playing the drums and singing, and they were really happy. I asked them why they were happy and they said they didn’t have any stuff and they weren’t stressed about losing any of it.
You’re a bit of a bit of a minimalist at times as well then?
Yes. Sometimes. Let’s say that I don’t let stuff hold me down. I could own a few less clothes considering I’m always in yoga gear and I never have time to wear any normal clothes anyway. I should give a few of them up. Still lots to learn.
A lot of people are scared of the idea of taking these risks, selling all their stuff and just going somewhere else and starting somewhere new. What’s the motivation to do that?
Adventure is the motivation. Anything might happen to you. At the end of the day we all have families, we all have some friends somewhere. Even if that adventure does not work out exactly how you want it to work out, you can always go back and start again. Everytime I have taken this risk, I’ve sold what I own and gone to explore and adventure it has turned out to be the best decision I’ve made. I recommend it. If you have an idea in your head, go and do it. Explore. We only have this one life. Don’t waste it just sitting back because you feel insecure or intimidated by your fears.
Even if you take the risk and it doesn’t go well, at least you won’t wonder what would have happened, at least you would have experienced whatever that is. You will end up having learnt some lesson from it, and even if it ends up being a struggle, you still have that satisfaction within yourself that you did something that you wanted to do. Even that in itself is a life learning experience.
Yes exactly, you said it perfectly. That’s the thing, no regrets.
What are some simple ways that we can become more mindful in our breath in our daily lives?
This is something I do personally, I don’t know if its the best tip in the world. Whenever I feel slightly stressed out or I feel some kind of anxiety creeping up on me, I tend to just stop and take a deep breath in. It’s the best thing. Sometimes even noticing you’re not breathing correctly. You don’t have to be stressed or anything, just take a deep breath and enjoy. Even stepping outdoors, outside your house and filing your lungs with fresh air makes me you feel like a new person. It makes you so grateful for your breath, for your life. It gives you a completely new point of view. It’s so simple. Like my teacher said, the breath is like a pharmacy with no side effects, just take a deep breath in and you’re heeled.
I think you’ve nailed it. I think it’s those simple ways are the most effective ways to bring change into our lives. It’s as easy as focusing on your breath.
We use so little of our lungs, so just use the entire lung capacity. That is my tip. Take it to the very bottom of your diaphragm. Don’t only breathe into your chest, thats what causes you shoulder pain, it causes you stress and anxiety.
A big thank you to Dia for taking her time to sit down with me.
Check me out on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and now Pinterest! I also have a Patreon account, where I post additional content weekly. Patreon subscribers receive a number of benefits, including additional weekly content, early access, and discount in the Small Wardrobe shop.