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Stories From The Mat

Yoga Feature

Interview by Lauren Hunsberger

Photography provided by Ilia Karimi

Reflections magazine: What inspired you to write Lily Finds Her OM Way?
Lilia Karimi: Yoga is such a special practice, and every time I leave my yoga mat I think to myself how incredible it would be if everyone took the time for themselves to reconnect with their breath and surroundings, to move their body. It was after I came back from my first yoga-teacher training five years ago that the idea came to me to write this book.

It’s inspired by a meditation experience I had where we all focused on the natural surroundings, such as the wind, ocean, trees, etc. We all meditated on one element of nature and then shared what we learned. It was such a profound experience.

RM: Why and how do you think yoga and meditation are good tools for kids to have?
LK: Yoga and meditation help us bring awareness to how we are feeling and why, and it can help us be in the moment. By introducing children to these skills at a young age, we can promote more mindfulness in children that leads to less stress and more outlets for handling emotions. It also can invoke a sense of curiosity about the world we live in, which is such a beautiful thing.

RM: Do you have any tips for introducing kids to the concept of yoga?
LK: Practicing small movements or techniques at home is a great start! Lily Finds Her OM Way is a very playful and imaginative story, so even reading this book to children is the perfect introduction to the practice of yoga without forcing movement, and instead by encouraging play!

RM: How were you introduced to yoga?
LK: I started practicing yoga when I was 15. My mom took me to a hot yoga class with her best friend, and I immediately loved how I felt after the class as if I was completely refreshed! For a few years after that, my practice was on and off until my senior year of college, when I dove deep into yoga and have continued ever since. It’s now been a little over a decade since yoga has been part of my life.

RM: What is the greatest lesson you have learned from yoga?
LK: Ooh, this is a tough one! So many things. A great lesson I’ve learned is self-acceptance. Yoga is essentially a study of the self, and through yoga you can learn about your patterns. How you interact on your yoga mat is similar to how you interact with the world.

When I first started practicing, I’d go into a class and rarely give myself a break—pushing myself through every chaturanga and challenging pose. Now, I know how to listen to myself, give breaks, and let my body relax when it wants to. It’s taught me the ability to slow down and tune in with myself so that I can truly give my best self to others.

RM: Do you have any plans to combine yoga and writing again in the future? More books?
LK: Yes. This is definitely something I’d love to continue to offer in the future! It’s so fun for me to put these creative ideas into physical form.

RM: How do the two art forms (yoga and writing) complement each other?
LK: As you hold yoga poses, you can notice your thoughts and every detail of what’s happening in the pose. Both yoga and writing require the practice of mindfulness. With yoga, it’s more about noticing yourself in the pose, your body and your thoughts. With writing, you are deliberate about each word and how you use it. You notice every little thing about how the words flow together. Most people think because a children’s book is so short that it’s easy to write, but it actually means there is much more intention with every word! The two art forms can be so peaceful and creative in different ways. They are both also a true form of enjoyment and relaxation for me!

RM: What was the most challenging thing about writing/publishing a children’s book?
LK: Getting myself to write and continuously edit was hands down the hardest part in the beginning! I also chose to self-publish my work so I could produce a work of art that I truly connected with. The logistics around this were more of a puzzle. It was important for me to have sustainably sourced paper, and it was quite a challenge finding an ethical printing company and making sure the paper was recycled. Seriously, not a lot of places offer this for book printing! I’m happy with the outcome of my book since it’s Forest Stewardship Council–certified (FSC) paper.

RM: What can members expect from the event you are hosting here in October?
LK: The event in October will include a story-time reading of Lily Finds Her OM Way, followed by a kid’s yoga session! I’ll also have coloring pages and stickers for the book, along with a book signing. It will be a blast!

 

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