Teacher Interview #7: Lujan
Meet Lujan. The first teacher to join the MLPC. She and Alex first met at the cycling studio where Alex used to teach yoga part time. She joined Alex’s first 30 day challenge back in April 2020, and that’s when she was given the opportunity to guest teach. And It was indeed a great chance for Lujan to share her great passion for the practice outside of her family and friends.
At first Lujan did her Yoga Teacher Trainning (YTT) to deepen her own practice. On and off at the studio, she shared one thing in common with Alex (apart from the love for yoga) which is that they both did the same YTT in Yandara.
The All-Star teaches vinyasa flow that focuses on hips and heart openers. A free (karma) class every Sunday morning and Tuesday afternoon in Abu Dhabi where she is currently based. Lujan likes to theme her classes on different intentions like “a conversation with the universe”, “Releasing what is no longer yours to carry” and “Sit with your emotions”. She is a well involved and loved member of the community.
This interview was long overdue. So, without any more delay, I present to you Lujan...
Where in the world are you? Tell us more about yourself?
Lujan: My name is Lujan – not Lujain as many people call me :) I’m 38 years old and I was born and raised in Abu Dhabi. My parents are originally from Syria and Lebanon but I don't really feel connected or associate myself to a "national identity". To quote Gibran, “The universe is my country and the human family is my tribe”.
I am a Vinyasa and Yin yoga teacher and recently certified Breath Coach, a certified Rescue Diver and a newbie cyclist! I’m an extreme introvert so teaching on Zoom initially was nerve-wracking but now I love seeing the little squares of faces before class :)
How long have you been teaching yoga and what pushed you to become an instructor?
Lujan: So I got my yoga teacher training done back in July 2019 and initially started teaching close friends and family. I then started giving a weekly class for colleagues at work where we would turn the training room into a yoga room. It wasn't until lockdown that I started teaching "publicly" through this platform.
Other than wanting to develop my own personal practice, the main reason I took my teacher training was because the effect yoga had on me was so profound, I had to find a way to spread that knowledge and that's why for now I mostly don't charge for my classes (on and off this platform). I want to make yoga as accessible as possible for everyone and I'm lucky that I have a day job to support me outside of yoga.
When did you start practicing yoga (before you started teaching) and how did yoga change your life?
Lujan: My practice has always been a home practice. I initially started by using the phone app Yoga Studio back in summer of 2016. I wasn’t sure if I was doing my alignment right in poses because some didn’t “feel good” so that’s when I started taking private classes and my practice changed drastically!
I was initially drawn to the physical benefits of yoga and was super obsessed with inversions. I can safely say that when I first started, my practice was quite ego induced – I just wanted to stand on my head everywhere!
I wasn’t prepared for the spiritual effect it was to have on me – noticing and learning how to breath has been life changing and that’s why Vinyasa is my favorite style. I have also recently completed a Breath Coach Teacher Training which has been fascinating. I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing how to breath.
If you had to describe your teaching style, how would you?
Lujan: I would like to think that my style is Vinyasa with pranic flow. My absolute favorite teacher is Rob Hess who teaches Prana Flow and my style is very much inspired by him. I try to keep the movement slow and meditative yet challenging.
What is the intention you try to instill in your students?
Lujan: Throughout the flow always try to stay mindful by taking pauses. Close your eye, reconnect with earth through your body’s touching points on the mat, reconnect with the breath and reconnect with the intention you set. Life is already fast paced. So try to move slow on your mat, taking moments to remind yourself to stay present and centered, disconnecting from anything outside the four corners of your mat.
What is your favorite Mat? And why?
Lujan: Liforme! Liforme! Liforme! I have a Manduka and Jade and they’re both great, but nothing does grips like Liforme. I’ve had mine since 2016 and it’s still in great condition. It’s also good for hot yoga.
Set the scene for your perfect practice - paint us a picture!
Lujan: I don’t really have a specific scene, but I definitely prefer a home practice to a group class. I like to move at my own pace and can sometimes stay in one pose for longer breaths. During my personal practice, I always start with child’s pose as to me it symbolizes a greeting to earth, and I swear it feels like I’m getting a hug back! Also, music isn’t always a must. Sometimes I prefer silence and just the sound of my breath.
What’s the biggest myth about yoga instructors? Set the record straight!
Lujan: A strong social media presence does not mean a good yoga teacher and the other way around! Rob Hess is absolutely life changing and he doesn’t care for social media much and that has been inspiring to me.
“the main reason I took my teacher training was because the effect yoga had on me was so profound, I had to find a way to spread that knowledge and that's why for now I mostly don't charge for my classes (on and off this platform).”
What was one of your most heartfelt moments in teaching?
Lujan: It touches me very much when students cry during the flow or Savasana. It’s beautiful to see them starting to open and heal through this practice. It’s something that resonates with me very much as I cried my eyes out the first time I went into pigeon pose. It was back in 2016 and I was going through a difficult time in my life and I knew that this practice is going to help me heal.
Any advice to newbies teachers/students? (And oldies?)
Lujan: I know many have heard this before, but I can’t stress this enough – yoga is not about working towards a specific pose. It’s not an end goal. It’s truly about the journey. It’s not a competition with others or even with your own body. One of my favorite quotes about yoga is “Yoga is not about touching your toes. it's about what you learn on the way down”. So, come to your mat with unattachment and be open to self-reflection. You will be amazed.
Also, I would say to not start with group classes as you might be lost and get the alignment wrong. I’ve heard many people who have tried yoga for the first time through a group class and thought it wasn’t for them as they couldn’t keep up. So, I recommend taking a few private classes first. This is from my personal experience of course, so this advice might not apply to everyone :)
Where do you see yoga in the next five years?
Lujan: Well now that we have Zoom yoga, hopefully it will be accessible to even more people. I just hope that more people are initially drawn to it for its spiritual and holistic benefits, not just physical and to also not focus on how the shapes look but rather how they feel.
Thank you lujan for agreeing to answer the teacher Interview blog. Make sure to check lujan classes here!
Until next time, may you all be safe, happy, healthy, and free.