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Get strong and supple with yogi Paige Cassidy

#Strongwomen can be super flexible too, if you do yoga that is. Yoga instructor, ex-ballerina and NPL Pro-Lifestyle athlete Paige Cassidy knows all about the mental and physical strength that this form of training creates.

Paige defines her yoga flavour as “adaptive, fun and intuitive”. She’s crafted her unique approach following 16 years of ballet and over 1000 hours of yoga training. And she’s also used the practice to overcome addiction.

As she continues on her quest to help more people fall in love with yoga, we caught up with her for the full YogiPaige experience.

What challenges have you faced on your journey?

A major challenge was finding my feet again after nine months of rehab. I was 22 years old and was trying to figure out myself and navigate life. I felt like a part of me was lost and I wasn’t sure where I fitted in. I was also unsure about what I wanted and felt like I was all over the show.

Deciding to quit my job and become a yoga instructor was another challenge. But I followed my dad’s advice by working hard on my business and on myself.

What was your #strongwoman moment?

It was the day I told my parents I needed help. It took me three months to pluck up the courage to tell them that I was not okay. It was one of the most challenging moments of my life.

During the drive to my mom, I promised myself that I will never stop caring for myself again. That moment changed my life.

I am so grateful that I was able to remind myself of my value again by going through rehab.

What role did health and fitness play in your recovery?

Movement is a great way to let go. I’ve always loved moving and have tried it in its many different forms. I started ballet at the age of two and stopped when I was 16 years old. But I continued exercising, which helped my recovery as this became my time to reflect, to get angry, to think and to just let go of people and things.

Movement, whether it’s yoga, running, swimming or walking, is like a meditation for me. It gives me the space to ask myself questions like ‘how are you doing?’ I also love the feeling of pushing yourself, which also changes you mentally and physically.

When did your love affair with yoga begin?

I feel that ballet and yoga are similar in the sense that both involve mind and body control. I started practicing yoga about seven years ago and fell in love with the movement and the control and the fact that yoga is as much about stretching out the mind as it is about the muscles.

How has COVID-19 affected you as a yoga teacher?

The pandemic has motivated me to shift my focus more online. It has also pushed me to create new ways of moving and new ways of understanding how to connect with clients and other people using social media.

More importantly. it has given me time to be more creative. I think that yoga and movement in general are currently more important than ever because people need a form of escapism and time “alone”.

What do you hope to teach your students, other than just the practice of yoga?

I hope my yoga influences power of the mind! I am an ex-addict and through this journey, yoga has shown me the importance of checking in with myself. It has also helped me realise that the mind is more powerful than we understand.

You did a 10 days of silence challenge last year. Can you tell us more about your experience?

It was probably one of the most challenging experiences of my life. Sitting with your own thoughts day in and day out makes you feel like you are crazy, but the discipline the Vipassana practice taught me was mind-blowing.

Being able to sit still, with your eyes closed for an hour has to be one of the most rewarding feelings. It epitomises the power of the mind.

My journey keeps coming back to this lesson and my 10 days of silence just reinforced that message.

How does yoga benefit you?

Yoga has been a huge part of my healing. Yoga benefits me by dedicating time to my own mental and physical wellbeing. It provides me with a space where I can check in with my head and my heart.

Being a yoga teacher motivates me to be better, I often watch people go through a thought process of “can I actually do this,” or “I cant push through anymore,” and then they do and I cant tell you how inspiring that it to watch. Its those moments in life when we think we cannot go on anymore and then we do! That is powerful to see.

Do you have any goals that you’re working towards?

My long-term goal is to have my own studio – a space I have created where people can move freely, express themselves and leave feeling ready to conquer. I want to create a movement influenced by my life, one where we can be honest that life is not always rainbows and butterflies. I want to create a space where movement becomes our medicine.

Do you do any other forms of training other than yoga?

I also enjoy running and swimming. I feel these two movements give me space to push myself physically and mentally.

Do you follow any specific diet?

I don’t follow a specific diet. I’m all about a great home-cooked meal and I love creating food with loads of colours. I eat clean from Monday to Friday and avoid meat.

On the weekends, I love to spoil myself with a chicken roast, potatoes with everything, buddha bowls, biltong, pizza, burgers or a lovely homemade soup. One of my favourite places to eat is Fruits & Roots in Bryanston.

How does a typical day of eating look for you?

A typical day of eating for me would start with a hot cup of lemon water, followed by a coffee and then usually some fruit. Sometimes, even a simple boiled potato with salt in the morning is delicious.

Lunch would include something homemade, like a colourful veggie bowl with barley or wild rice, or a full butternut with spinach or a chickpea curry. Lunch is probably my favourite meal of the day. I snack on fruit or rye crackers with hummus (I also love making my own).

For dinner, I usually eat something hot like roast potato with some creamed spinach and a plant-powered protein veggie schnitzel.

A common treat is NPL’s Vanilla Donut Whey Protein and a frozen banana mixed to make a milkshake.

What is your go-to healthy meal?

Any kind of potato with some hummus on it – I LOVE potatoes – or an orange or mango.

How do you juggle personal life with your career as a yoga teacher?

I feel that my yoga career is a very social job. Often, after rooftop yoga sessions at Jacksons Real Food Market, some yogi friends and I will have a breakfast together. I also have a Friday night class, usually at Rooftops in Parkhurst.

Afterwards, we usually get pizza at the Jolly Rodger together. I feel my job gives me space to have a social life in-between all the classes.

When I do a Switch class, it’s like meeting up with all your friends at work. It’s great! If anything, the COVID pandemic has made me realise how I love socialising and that it is such an important part of my job.

What is the best piece of advice you can offer someone who wants to start yoga?

Don’t be scared to push your boundaries. Yoga motivates us to dig deeper and that can get uncomfortable mentally and physically. Be ready to challenge yourself. Be ready to feel and be ready to understand.

Yay or Nay: What does Paige say?

  • Plant-based diet? NAY (only Mondays to Fridays. Weekends are for cheating)
  • Daily exercise? YAY
  • Road running? YAY
  • Meditation? YAY
  • Detox plans? YAY (intermitted fasting and juice cleanses are my weapons of choice)

Learn more by visiting Paige’s website or connecting on Facebook.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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