January’s – ‘The Positivity Issue’ – Download Now
Words & Creative Direction: Amy Sessions
Photography: Žiga Mihelcic
Fashion Assistant: Sarah Joseph
Aerial artist, fitness enthusiast and wellness expert, Mayassa Al-Tajir shares with us her positive approach to life.
How does your morning routine set you up for a positive day?
I am more Lark than Nightingale, so the morning is my favourite part of the day. I usually wake up at 5:30am without an alarm, just so that I can steal an extra hour of me-time before the day actually starts, this helps me feel grounded. I always start with a large cup of English Breakfast tea while I draw as I love the history of art, so I spend my first hour in the morning sketching, shading and enjoying the quiet, while the rest of the house sleeps. I feel that positivity and productivity come hand in hand, we are never happier, when we feel accomplished, and so I always start my day this way.
You follow a holistic approach to health and fitness- how did you discover this path?
This is a tricky question because sometimes I feel like I haven’t quite made it down the path as yet. I have always been looking for the path, searching, as most of us do for fulfilment, belonging, a sense of purpose, all those heavy anchors that bind. In the end, it did turn out to be a holistic approach, I just didn’t realise it at the time. I think it started after I had my second child, I had a tough pregnancy, and difficult birth, which left me with no core, I had severe diastasis recti and back issues. Both ailments were just something I was not willing to accept, so after grieving the loss of my core, I decided it was time to heal. I took up yoga, after which I followed my love for the aerial arts, and now I have a very strong core. Now each step I take, I am motivated to stay strong and keep my core safe.
How does movement impact mindset?
My main form of movement is yoga, which in itself is a very mindful approach to the movement. You are very aware of your body and your muscle movements, and your breath. In the moment of practice, the mind becomes raw and bright, you forget about your giant to-do list, as the mind becomes unblocked. I believe aerial movement needs to be extremely coordinated, you are concentrating all the time, for the flow, at times I feel I am in a math class, trying to memorise different formulas. In short, movement wakes up the mind, when you expel energy you feel energised, and the breath nourishes, and so clarity of mind always comes at the end of the practice.
What motivated you to start practising aerials and what challenges have you overcome on your journey?
I started off with yoga, which I believe is the fundamental backbone of any kind of physical exercise. My favourite yoga practice would have to be vinyasa and arm balances, being an artist at heart. I can’t resist the beauty of the poses, shapes, the strength and the grace of the human form. Thereby aerials were naturally the next progression in the journey. I like variety and I like to feel challenged, and the real beauty of aerial arts is that it just doesn’t feel like exercise as I am not a gym person, in any shape or form. I don’t even know how to turn on those gym machines. But in aerials, you combine height, spinning, drops, shapes, climbs, and dance in the practice, it is a very beautiful, inspiring art, where you continually progress on your journey, there is no end, and therefore there is no limit.
The main challenges have been to balance strength and flexibility, you require them both, and I believe that finding the correct balance between these two fundamental elements is everyone’s Achilles’ heel. You need complete core to be able to lift your own body weight, and sometimes hang on just one arm or one ankle even, and you need to be able to bend, and open your heart and breath inverted. I have never found inversions challenging, but sometimes I have said a prayer or two before doing drops.
Which inspiring books are currently on your reading list?
I am a book worm! Currently, I am reading Be Water my Friend the true teachings of Bruce Lee by Shannon Lee, which is a remarkably beautiful book, filled with inspirational quotes and life teachings, while continually focusing on the fact that we are all becoming, and we should enjoy the journey of becoming, despite the obstacles. The cup should be empty, because that is the purpose of the cup, and then, of course, you get to fill it. I am also reading The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair, a real dream of a book for any artist, it reveals the history and story of different colour pigments, their symbolism and meaning, e.g. gold is the colour of desire. How beautiful is that?
What are your health and wellness goals for 2021?
I never have actual health goals per se, but they usually tie into my aspirations for new experiences. I have a habit of trying to learn or experience a new hobby or activity with each new year. 2021 shall be the year of the horse! I plan on horse riding every week and galloping across the sand dunes. Other than that, I already have an abundant schedule which includes snowboarding and diving every week. In general, I would say I lead quite an active lifestyle, which is a blessing.
Do you have any pre-bedtime rituals?
I try to get into bed as early as I can, the earlier, the better. This ritual usually requires me to cause a distraction in order to sneak off early, while everyone else stays up. But apart for an early night, I don’t have any beauty regime per se apart from brushing my teeth. I do always review my to-do lists at night and see what I can tick off for the next day. My to-do lists are biblical, they are categorized from year to month to week. The more organised you are, the more time you have to do the things.
This issue is ‘The Positivity Issue’ – how do you stay positive?
Well I always watch a lot of Disney, aside from that, I stay hydrated and active, I make sure that I start the morning with great expectations, I get excited when I finish my morning sketch, and I am happy to meet my friends in the aerial studio, it’s all about the little things, that end up adding up I guess. I am an extremely visual person, so I take a lot of comfort in my surroundings, I love beautiful spaces or places that hold memories. I like to live a life of appreciation, and I appreciate the knowledge that I can learn every day, and I appreciate my personal efforts in that I try to make every day count, nothing should be wasted. It is a difficult trick to make sure that the mind takes nothing for granted, and in this way, everything has a purpose. When I do feel down, I try to understand my mood, and then what strategy I can apply to fix it or clean it. Sadness only comes when we feel defeated, and so I always ask myself “what does it do to your heart?” and I genuinely let it go because I need all my time to do the things I love. I live a life abundant with hobbies and beautiful friends, and they keep me flowing.
January’s – ‘The Positivity Issue’ – Download Now
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