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From depression to super yogini: Meet Sjana Elise, Instagram fitness superstar

Sjana Elise was riddled with anxiety and depression, but she turned to yoga to regain control over her life, and currently is an Instagram celebrity with over 1.3 million followers.

fitness Updated: Jul 03, 2017 15:57 IST
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Sjana says that working out and eating well is one thing, but she personally believes that health should be treated more holistically. Other aspects of health such as social, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being are equally, if not more, important.(Sjana’s Insatagram)

In a world where social media is ruled by the Kardashians, Sjana Elise (22) is the kind of role model the world needs. When she was 16, she was so depressed that she ended up in a psychiatric ward. Lying there, she would repeat the words ‘pathetic, worthless and useless’ to herself. Her way of escaping reality was by sleeping 16 hours daily and trying to stay away from family and friends.

Then, she used the potent mixture of yoga and social media to literally turn her life around. She became a lifestyle photojournalist, started practicing yoga and sharing her thoughts and personal struggles with the world via Instagram, Facebook and other social media tools. As of today, Sjana, based in Newcastle (Australia) has over 1.3 million followers on Instagram.

Motivated by the many benefits that yoga provides, Sjana has just released her first ever yoga programme, Body And Mind (BAM). BAM is available on the SWEAT app, founded by Tobi Pearce, which was launched today. The SWEAT app offers programs on exercise performance, post-pregnancy training, nutrition and others. The two other trainers along with her are Kayla Itsines (world’s most influential fitness trainer) and Kelsey Wells (female empowerment and post pregnancy training expert).

We spoke to Sjana about yoga, diet and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is what the yogini had to say:

In a nutshell, tell us about your experience with yoga.

After going through some difficult times with depression and anxiety when I was around 15 years old, I found yoga and used it as a means of recovery. From my personal experience, yoga is so much more than just a workout. It incorporates body, mind and soul collectively.

Yoga was my saving grace, and my inspiration for creating this programme is the hope that other women can experience the true essence, power and benefits of yoga for themselves. Everyone deserves to love themselves, feel comfortable, strong and confident in their skin. I want to be able to help them feel that and to truly believe they are beautiful.

What is your message to women?

I want to tell them that they are beautiful, strong, resilient, capable and courageous. I want to inspire confidence, self-acceptance and a sense of determination. I want women to feel powerful, both internally and externally. I want to empower women, and inspire those women to empower others. I hope this will generate a force field of incredible women, a community, all supporting one another on their journeys.

What would be your tips for a healthy lifestyle?

1. Nourish, not punish

Often I hear and see exercise, diet and fitness used as a way for people to ‘punish’ themselves. Happiness, confidence, self love and self acceptance are not a certain weight, size, shape or figure. A negative mentality around things like exercise and your diet can sometimes make it almost impossible to find it enjoyable and stick to it. If you want to feel good about yourself, you need to try to make a healthy lifestyle a maintainable and enjoyable thing.

Working out doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be engaging, fun and energising!

I truly believe that we should be working out and eating well because we love our bodies, not because we hate them!

2. ‘Health’ includes more than just the physical aspects

Working out and eating well is one thing, but I personally believe health should be treated more holistically. Other aspects of health such as social, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being are equally, if not more, important. Try to make sure you make time for yourself, include rest and relaxation for recovery and refreshment. Allow yourself time with family and friends. Chat, catch up over a walk, cake or a coffee. Get some sunshine; vitamin D is a vital aspect of maintaining overall health and well being.

3. Sleep!

Sleep is so much more important than we think! Being tired can affect our bodies in a similar way to being intoxicated. We lose memory, intuition, comprehensive ability, judgment and mental clarity. To be able to perform at our best, I believe we should try to aim for at least 8-9 hours sleep a night for women, and men should aim for 7-8 hours. I think that is a good excuse for some quality rest if you ask me!

This all sounds like sensible, practical advice, coming from a yogini whose body, frankly speaking, seems too good to be true. Check out one of Sjana’s yoga videos from the SWEAT app below:

Well, guess it’s time I started following Sjana, especially because she does make it sound quite doable, otherwise I’ll end up like the standup comedian Rich Ceisler, who once said,

I joined a health club last year; spent about 400 bucks. Haven’t lost a pound. Apparently you have to show up.

Follow @htlifeandstyle for more

First Published: May 15, 2017 18:01 IST