“When I was around 20 years old I convinced myself that the only way I would be happy was if I could work out enough to get the perfect body. Over the next few years I dedicated myself to working out twice a day and counting every calorie. I reached a point where I was happy with how I looked, but I still felt unfulfilled and exhausted. This is when I found yoga. At first, I took the competitive spirit I had cultivated in the gym and transferred it into my yoga practice- obsessing about the poses and comparing myself to the people practicing next to me.
But eventually yoga became a mirror in which I could see and observe myself. It allowed me to take a closer look at my thoughts and habits that had held me back for years. Suddenly instead of feeling swallowed by anxiety and depression, these thoughts felt like a choice. And that was when I realized that yoga was so much more than moving my body into different shapes, it was a journey to self-realization.” – Irene Pappas
Irene Pappas is a yoga instructor who helps others unleash all the powerful benefits of yoga. At the age of 20, Irene took on a lifestyle change so that she could find her happiness through health and fitness. What she didn’t realize was that this change would lead her to her dream career and that the happiness she was seeking would derive from helping others around the world with their journey.
“When I first decided to become a yoga teacher I didn’t think I would ever teach, I just wanted to go through the training so that I could practice and learn more. But as soon as I taught my first class I realized that this was my path, and there was no looking back. This entire time I had been posting about my journey on social media, Instagram specifically, and people seemed to really like what I was sharing – both my words and the poses. My goal was just to keep myself accountable by posting almost daily, but eventually I realized that it was an amazing way to connect to people all over the world!” -Irene Pappas
What is yoga?
If you were to look up the definition of yoga, you would find a general definition that reads:
a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline, a part of which, including breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific bodily postures, is widely practiced for health and relaxation.
However, the unique thing about yoga is that YOU have the sole power to define what yoga will mean in your own journey. For Irene, yoga has been all about creating balance within her life. “In simple terms, I believe that yoga is the union between mind and body, between one person and the whole of humanity. The physical part of yoga is conditioning the body so that it remains healthy, and to be able to sit in stillness comfortably. The spiritual part of yoga conditions the mind to be balanced and in a place of observation instead of reacting. These parts are closely intertwined, but can to a degree be practiced separately. It is much easier to train the mind after training the body, which is why most people recommend starting with a physical practice.
Each person benefits from yoga differently. From a physical aspect, most people become stronger and more flexible. The same thing happens in the mind. With a consistent practice, the mind also becomes more focused but also more expansive,” Irene defines.
“The most rewarding part of my journey is knowing that I have genuinely made a positive impact on people that I know, and people that I will never meet. I am really grateful for that.” -Irene Pappas
All at Risk
In a perfect world, we’d all live in a problem free environment, but it’s a deep misconception that the key to happiness is ridding your life of any problems. Every day we are faced with challenges and knowing how to deal with them is the real key to having a happy life. With yoga as the leading lady in Irene’s life, the philosophy that she acquired along her journey has made Irene more comfortable with dealing with her problems. Remember, yoga is just as much mental as it is physical, therefore through mastering yoga you also master stress management and learning to deal with problems. However, even as a yoga instructor there has still been some obstacles in Irene’s life that has certainly challenged her training and reminded her that in the face of adversity, you must remain mentally strong above all.
“The biggest obstacle I have overcome has been a life changing wrist injury. Two and half years ago I started having wrist pain, but I didn’t think much of it. Eventually the range of motion in my wrist started to decrease rapidly, and I knew something was majorly wrong. After getting an MRI I found out that one of the bones in my wrist had broken and started to die and decay. The first four surgeons that I approached told me I would never use my wrist again, but I continued to search for an answer that I could live with. Finally, I found a surgeon who did an experimental surgery on me, and it worked! I’ve spent the past two years rehabbing my wrist, and it’s been nothing short of a miracle. This challenging time taught me so much about who I really am, and what I am trying to teach to my students. It reminded me that handstands don’t matter, but being a good person does,” Irene explains.
Why do you think a person’s mindset is so integral to their success?
Our thoughts dictate our reality. When we can begin to choose our thoughts more carefully, we can be happy and fulfilled in pretty much any situation.
Where do you see yourself and your brand in 10 years?
In ten years, I hope to have expanded into a non-profit organization to help provide a home and education for troubled youth on how to make smart life choices by using mindfulness and yoga. Other than that, I will continue to teach and see where it takes me.
What motivational/inspirational books have you found to be most helpful?
I love reading different yoga texts, such as Core of the Yoga Sutras. I also found A Course in Miracles to be life changing.
In addition to yourself, whom should we follow on Instagram?
There are so many people I love on Instagram it is hard to name just a few, so I will stick with the yoga school I work with @bodhiyogaacademy and @bodhimovement as well as my business partner @samseesworld