We move so fast, with so much focus on achievement and performance, that the wellbeing of our world – both humanity and the planet — needs support, attention, and restoration. Anna Oswian, the respected wellness practitioner, holistic yoga alliance member, and the founder of an exclusive ‘Yoga House’ studio in West Los Angeles, believes that the world is in need of healing. Read our inspiring conversation with Anna as she shares her journey to becoming a yoga teacher and sound bath practitioner after struggling with her transition to a foreign country. Soak up her insightful guidance for your own healing journey and self-care practices.
As a wellness practitioner, what is it that you believe the world needs to do the most right now to better care for their health?
It may sound cliché but health is wealth – always. Seeing the fast pace of life and the rising number of people who struggle with their mental health, I truly feel that the world needs healing. I believe that human beings as a species really need to re-evaluate what is essential to life and, in order to better take care of ourselves, we need tools which will support this healing.
How does this healing look and feel to me? Healing takes time and evaluation to decide what to focus on, what to bring into life and what is just a distraction taking away from our personal life experience.
The world heals when we notice the beauty in each and every moment without racing and chasing after the future. Don’t get me wrong; setting goals is an amazing practice, but I realised that being present is as important as creating life visions. The world heals when we move through life without comparing and judging, but instead supporting, forgiving and loving the uniqueness of each person standing in front of us. The world heals when we discover our own potential, expand our awareness, remain curious, take care of our bodies and minds daily, and reach for the guidance of professionals like therapists, coaches, teachers and mentors. It helps simply to be a better human for ourselves and others that surround us.
“Health is wealth – always. Seeing the fast pace of life and the rising number of people who struggle with their mental health… I believe that human beings as a species really need to re-evaluate what is essential to life and… we need tools which will support this healing.”
Many of the fast-moving members of the SEELA wellness club know all about the challenge of slowing down. The way many of us live today leaves little time for taking care of ourselves; instead we are focused on pushing forward every day to increase our performance outcomes. To truly feel whole and to rejuvenate our beings, we need to remember that our health is one of our greatest assets, pause and be present.
What led you to yoga and eventually to becoming a yoga teacher?
When I moved to Los Angeles from Europe, I quickly realised that this massive step I initially envisioned was much more emotionally challenging and different than I expected; the transition felt exciting, but at the same time in my heart I deeply felt a bit lost. At that time, my dear friend invited me for a yoga class and that was the moment when I felt a shift. From the very first class, yoga brought so much more peace and guidance to my life and it gave me a sense of ‘home-away-from-home’. Once I experienced my own shift, I felt that I owed it to others that may be struggling, to share this outlet and healing tools. I began my yoga teaching journey and eventually opened my own intimate yoga studio for private clients in Los Angeles.
From this we learn that to feel a sense of good health, is also to feel at home. We can use yoga to cope with our emotional challenges and find a sense of security or peace. However, yoga isn’t the only way. We asked Anna about her experience of offering sound baths as another form of healing.
You are also a practitioner of meditative sound baths. Could you explain what a sound bath is, for those who don’t know it, and why you like to offer this to your clients? What are the benefits of a sound bath?
In the simplest of words, a sound bath is a type of meditative experience. I use sounds to help bring balance and the most natural state back to our body and mind. I decided to become a sound bath practitioner because I truly believe it’s a great healing modality and I wanted to offer my clients more tools which they can use to regulate their nervous system. I also graduated from music school so sound has naturally always played a big role in my life. There are plenty of healing properties that come from sound. It helps deepen relaxation, lower stress and anxiety levels, improve quality of sleep, heighten focus and creates a beautiful feeling of rejuvenation.
Sound Bath: a type of meditative experience that uses sounds to bring balance and the most natural state back to our body and mind.
How did you initially discover the sound bath and what made you embark on your journey towards becoming a sound bath practitioner?
I went for my first sound bath a few years ago here in Los Angeles when I was discovering different spiritual ways for self-healing. After my first experience, I fell in love. It felt like a strong release of any self inhibitions. I started to go regularly for sessions and then I decided that I would love to share this with my clients, friends and family.
Is there a way that sound therapy can be brought into our daily lives or create a sound bath for themselves at home?
I would say the best way to experience a sound bath is to go for a session with a certified practitioner who knows how to guide you through the process of healing. I love to organise home sessions and events. It feels intimate and rewarding. Recently, I have seen that there are more great facilitators emerging who know how to use this tool to impact people’s well being in a great way. “Comparison to others is detrimental to mental health. Compare yourself only to yourself from the past – and, by compare, I mean appreciate the good that has come from your journey, do not harp on the negative. Try to see the beauty in each moment and be grateful for everything you have experienced in life. The best thing comes from our worst experiences, and that blessing is called growth.
“Comparison to others is detrimental to mental health. Compare yourself only to yourself from the past.”
Anna reminds us that we need to move away from our mode of comparison. In a world of social media filters and adulation of particular lifestyles and appearances, we need to extrapolate ourselves from this by comparing ourselves only to who we were yesterday. But how do we ensure we keep on track with this daily? What can we implement in our routines to maintain and cultivate such self-awareness?
Do you have any daily rituals? If so, what are they and why do you value them?
I do have a daily ritual, and it is super simple. I love to wake up early, take a shower, make my favourite smoothie, drink water with lemon, meditate and then start my work flow. In the evening, I love to make a chamomile or mint tea, slow down by reading a book, cuddle with my dogs, take a bath with Epsom salt, meditate right before sleep and then just go to bed.
“Epsom Salt Bath: a way to soothe the body and mind through soaking in warm water with the bath salt, known as Epsom (after the English town that first learned to use it), thought to relieve tension from the muscles, restore your magnesium levels, and aid other internal functions including your digestive system.
At Seela, we always advocate a way of life that is kind for both our environment and our own health. We ask: How can we lead a life that is kinder to ourselves as well as the planet? What would be your answer to this question?
I think this is all about the daily choices we consciously make. Personally, a few years ago, I stopped eating meat because of the love I have towards animals. That was one of my biggest shifts and courses to conquer. It is my way to help take care of the planet but I don’t judge anyone who eats meat. I believe that each person has different and equally important theories and actions about how to take care of our planet.
“I believe that each person has different and equally important theories and actions about how to take care of our planet.”
We all have our individual and unique part to play in the collective healing journey. Whether healing ourselves or the planet Earth, what we each contribute will be different to somebody else. If in the process we also remove the element of comparison as far as possible from our mental state, we can accept this and become more conscious of our own actions and ideas.
Which yoga pose or breathwork practice would you recommend for anyone feeling stressed right now? Do you have a go-to for difficult times?
I do have my favourites! I love a simple breathing technique when you sit still for about ten minutes and just focus on your breath. Whenever you experience your mind start to spiral, you just have to keep coming back to your breath. My husband and I do this practice everyday and it always helps us process the tough feelings, reduce our anxiety, stress and invite more peace into our bodies.
Finally, do you have a mantra or motto that you would like to share with our community?
Yes, health is your greatest luxury, so always remember to invest your time daily into practices which help you to come back to feeling good, balanced and happy!
Anna’s personal exploration of healing practices of yoga and sound baths inspire us to find what works for us to create a greater sense of wellbeing in our busy world. The ultimate message from Anna is that our health is our most valuable form of wealth – and you are in the driving seat every day to grow and develop this wealth. Whether it is taking the time to sip chamomile tea, bathe in Epsom salt, or simply breathe, we all, as a collective, need to start taking the time to care for our own beings on a daily basis.