In our new series ‘meet the creators’, we’re talking to the people out there living life in a more natural, holistic and interesting way.

We’re huge fans of yoga to de-stress and connect to our bodies, so we were excited to sit down with the brilliant Magdalena, from @yogawithmags to talk about everything from downward dogs to living sustainably.

yoga with mags

Mags is the mistress of knowing your Asanas from your Kundalini, and shares her progression and education videos on Instagram for us all to follow, so if your resolution this year was to have a go, she’s the one to watch!

  1.   Mags!  You look amazing and so flexible in your videos, it must have taken ages, how did you get started?

Kirsty! Hey! Thank you very much. It’s nice to be appreciated. I started properly about 7 years ago. I went to a free class, and it was a flow class, which was quite strong. It was the first time in my anxiety-fueled life when I got out of my head and into my body. I was hooked on the feeling of being present and anxiety-free.

The shift happened when I prioritised my practice and started to move more consciously. The first lock down helped me realise that I had the motivation but not enough, but since then, things have changed.

  1.       Do you ever struggle with motivation?

Always (haha). To be honest with you, probably 85% of things I do are out of habit and discipline I worked hard to embed in my life. If I say I’m going for a run in the morning, it’s like I’ve scheduled a meeting. And bosses don’t cancel. Even if I have to walk more of the way, it’s not about achieving but about showing up and holding yourself accountable.

  1.       How often do you practice, and for how long?

It varies and fluctuates. I try to listen to my body and do what’s right rather than having a rigid practice routine. On the days I teach, I try to do 20-30 min of conscious movement. My “formal” yoga day is Wednesday, where I practice under the guidance of my teacher on Zoom.

 Life often gets in the way, so it might be hard to squeeze in even a half-hour video to follow. In which case, I do some stretches combined with deep breathing to simply check in with my body and emotions.

  1.       What’s your favourite pose and what’s your most challenging?

Hm, that’s a tough one! It fluctuates and depends on the day, my current practice focus. I feel connected to the pigeon pose now. I love working with the bittersweet sensations in the hips.

My most challenging posture would be the dolphin. It requires an equal amount of strength and openness in the shoulders. Something I struggle with off the mat, too.

  1.       Since starting yoga, you’ve gone on to teach – why do you love it so much?

In yoga flow classes, you need to synchronize the movement with your breath, which anchors your attention in your body. This was a new discovery for me that helped me alleviate anxiety. I was working in a stressful job, where I wasn’t happy, and it got to the point that I had to be signed off because my neck went out. 

This was due to tension and stress and thus bad posture. The only thing that helped me was doing yoga every morning, midday, and evening. Otherwise, I could not move my head and was in excruciating pain.

When I was on sick leave, I invested my energy into yoga, which, aside from the physical benefits, brought me much needed peace in my mind. I had the time to reflect and began noticing positive changes in my behaviour, body and mental and emotional wellbeing. 

I like to think that I’m an average person who incorporated the profound lessons of yoga lineage into their contemporary life. I still have my bad days, and I have my vices, but I’ve learned how to connect with myself on a deeper level to know that there is no perfection in life. 

Only beautiful versions of brokenness. I honour that, and my mantra is, “make the best with what you’ve got”.

  1.       Which poses are the best for a newbie to try?

Whichever route you go, it’s crucial to remember that yoga is a kinder way to work your body, so meet yourself where you are, not where you wish you were or where you were yesterday. That’s the essence of yoga. Love your body every step of the way. It’s hard when we’re bombarded with images about how we “should” be or look like, but it’s not impossible. Appreciate what it does for you and what it allows you to do.

If you prefer something slower, then sequences closer to the ground with gentle stretches might be up your street such as

If you’re a daring individual who likes to move and try new things, give something like this a go

  1.       How much attention do you pay to nutrition and wellbeing?

A lot. I used to be a pescatarian, but now I’m a plant-based food enthusiast who doesn’t care about labels. Instead, I try to let my body tell me what it needs. 

Once you start eating well and have a varied diet, you will notice feeling sluggish in your body, hazy in your mind and generally unmotivated if you’ve been living off pizza or microwave meals. I think vegetables are essential, and luckily, I like them, so I base my meals around having a variety of them on my plate. I eat meat but not every day.

Interestingly, the other week I was experiencing fatigue and thirst that I couldn’t quench. Unlike me, I also really fancied chicken. I then remembered my fellow yogi telling me his body was constantly sore like it couldn’t recover. 

That was until his calisthenics teacher told him to up his protein intake. I cooked myself some mushroom chicken pasta, and the next day I felt much better.

Suppose you’re trying to change any habits. In that case, I encourage you to monitor how you feel and your emotions when you reach for food, alcohol or do anything that could be classed as impulsive. 

Let go of judgment, though. Beating yourself up about falling off the wagon will not help you down the line. It doesn’t matter how many times you stumble and fall but that you’re willing to pick yourself up and carry on.

  1.       How important is the holistic and spiritual practice of yoga to you?

It’s the core of what I do. It doesn’t matter why you’ve rolled out the mat. What matters is that you’re here. You showed up, and over time, you will notice changes. There are no two ways about it.

Yoga helps with healing from physical and emotional vulnerabilities. With a strong and dynamic (but doesn’t have to be) practice, body confidence grows, and with this, you get a sense of trust in the world. That’s how it was for me anyway. Now I’m learning how to find strength in softness.

I advocate strength as you can be born flexible, but you become strong through continuous practice. But foremost, we need to learn how to be kind to ourselves and through that, we can shape the routine to make it our own. Embracing this on the emotional level is a game-changer.

Yoga really is a never-ending journey of exploration. Every day is different, and similarly, every time you meet yourself on the mat, you’re a different person, and your practice will be different.

  1.   Do you have any other sustainable practices you follow?

I love cooking and baking, so I invested in silicone baking mats to reduce using tin foil.

More importantly, I think the biggest fault of the system is that the supply doesn’t meet the demand – especially when it comes to food. I do my absolute best to reduce food waste and feel strongly about it.

  1.   What are your well being goals for this year?

To make the time for self-soothing every day. This is writing and reading for me as I’m more disciplined with yoga and meditation practice than I am with those, even though I know how important they are for me in the process of taking care of my wellbeing.

My friend has recently inspired me to take up running, so I would like to stick to it for the whole year and see how things evolve.

Most importantly, I would like to feel as authentic as I can. I have done people-pleasing before, and I know I can drag it out, but at the end of the day, if you don’t find comfort in solace, you’re compromising your values. Wellbeing has many faces. I encourage everyone reading this to do what they gotta do to feel good in their own skin.

  1.   Who inspires you to live your best life, and why?

I thought it was a tricky question when I first read this set since it made me really sit and reflect.

I received so much kindness from strangers, who motivated me to keep going. I think it’s all the wonderful and kind people I cross paths with. Never underestimate your impact on someone’s life. You included Kirsty.

There are, of course, my friends whom I appreciate more than words can express. Those are the people who are not afraid to tell me when I messed up and still be there for me no matter what.

My yoga tribe is a big element. Last year, I experienced a significant loss and often felt low and like I had nothing to share. I had to run classes, though. I didn’t want to let them down. So I showed up, and they would always lift me up and remind me of the joy and abundance of life.

Nurturing those relationships fill my heart with love and makes me want to be a better person.

  1.   What one piece of advice would you share for a newbie yogi to get started?

Some are better than none. Meet yourself where you are and remember that it is a journey, and it’s about the journey, not the destination. The major paradigm shift happened for me when I realised that you can’t have the cake and eat it. 

Diets work for a while because they’re founded on making radical changes for a short time. Think of them as sprints. Making sustainable changes leads to a different lifestyle, and that’s the marathon of your life.

Also, I think yoga is for everyone. Not every teacher is for everyone. Find someone you resonate with and remember to have a good time. If your only objective is to have fun, you can’t fail.

Mags holds twice yearly yoga and health retreats.  Learn more here >



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