Although we only properly met Fahima Zard (more popularly known as @life_of_fee) on International Yoga Day, we’ve been watching her videos on Instagram for years. With a background in gymnastics and dance, it’s no wonder Fee has the ability to bend and stretch in the way she does, and here – we chat to the gorgeous yogi about her passion for yoga and zen life in Byron.
How would you describe your overall health and fitness philosophy?
It’s simple really – try your best to live an active lifestyle and eat well – and then just work on accepting yourself as you are. I actually receive many emails from girls asking me about my fitness regime and diet. I remember initially I was hesitant to reply to these emails as I believe every person is so unique and different and really what may work in terms of diet/exercise for one person may not necessarily work for another. I was somewhat concerned though (from these emails I was receiving) as there seemed to be too much focus on the specifics of diet and I could sense the suffering this was causing some of the girls. I do encourage everyone to be physically active everyday and that might just be going for a walk some days.
Some people love yoga, others cross fit, others maybe surfing, tennis or running. Find what YOU love to do and you’ll find committing to it much easier. I am also a big believer in eating organic, unprocessed whole foods along with plenty of greens. I’m not super strict with my diet though and I still love to eat bread, pasta, pizza and absolutely love, love, love cheese! I don’t have any digestive problems with dairy (which for many others is not the case!) Really, the most important advice I can give to anyone is to not obsess too much about health and fitness. This just causes more stress and takes up vital energy that you could using toward digestion (!) or better yet a healthy, balanced mindset.
You’re a Bondi girl residing in Byron. What do you love most about living there and how would you describe the energy?
Byron is breathtakingly beautiful that’s for sure! It has been an absolutely amazing two years living up here and my partner and I often say now we don’t think we’d move back to Sydney. The energy up here is just so calm and peaceful and there is this deep connection to nature which is felt throughout the entire community. It’s an amazing place to help you stay centred and grounded and most locals have a great work/life balance which is awesome. I also run the beach most days which isn’t something I tended to do regularly when living down in Bondi and [my partner] Dunx and I swim pretty much everyday (which would have to be what I love most!) I have developed some amazing friendships up here as well and have met so many people who inspire me in different, creative ways. We definitely feel beyond blessed to call this place home and cherish the time we get to spend here.
Describe a typical day in your life.
A typical day in my life would be waking up between 6-7am (maybe earlier if I’m teaching early) and heading down to the beach to meditate/swim. Coming back home, I’ll usually grab a coffee and make a smoothie. Then I’ll either head straight off to teaching or if I’m teaching later in the afternoon I’ll do a yoga practice. Most days I practice for about two hours a day. I’ll usually split it up though and do a bit of vinyasa in the morning and a bit of yin in front of the TV at night.
In my down time I love to garden and cook and I’m forever trying to catch up on emails. Dunx and I like to watch sunset together most days (when we are home) and then maybe some Netflix goes on as we make dinner. It’s a beautiful, blessed life but I find for me it’s really about being disciplined with my daily rituals. This is mostly what creates my happiness and fulfillment. Serving others, teaching and being on purpose is huge part of that for me.
How do you find balance and what is your favourite way to relax?
I do like most people love getting a good massage – especially when I’ve been working really hard and my body is sore. I don’t tend to go and get them very often though so really it’s my meditation, running and yoga practice that I run toward to when I need to unwind, relax and let go.
What advice do you have for beginner yogis or those wanting to get into yoga but don’t know where to start?
Simply check out your local studio! Don’t be afraid to try out different classes and just test the waters. You have to start somewhere and only by giving it a go will you begin to work out what style of yoga you resonate with the most. You can also jump online to yogaholics.com.au where Power Living have all their online yoga! Most studio classes are completely accessible for beginners so don’t be afraid to jump in and just give it a try!
F L O W A V E 💦 When we work with repeated undulation throughout the entire body (including the limbs) we are able to find a harmonious balance between the extremes of contraction and release. There is a continual flow between rigidity and receptivity which is necessary to produce the wavelike motion – with too much of one element ruining the effect of a connected flow of energy from one point to another. It provides the perfect balance between Sthira and Sukha (steadiness and ease) and creates the foundation for a practice built upon both flexibility and power. The continual shift between engaging/relaxing makes it easy to sense where there is either stress or weakness in the body and (using the breath) Flowave encourages all areas to be continuously strengthened throughout the practice and then also let go of and released 💙🙏
There are many different types of yoga. Can you explain your particular practice to us?
I mostly practice what is called – vinyasa and yin yoga. Vinyasa is a style of yoga that focuses on linking breath with movement in a continuous flow – so it almost becomes like a movement meditation. Yin yoga is more passive and relaxed – where you hold poses for longer and get an overall deeper sense of release. Flowave would also come under the banner of a vinyasa style of practice as it’s very focused on the combination of breath and movement being linked and done together in unison.
What benefits have you personally seen from practicing yoga (both physical and mental)?
The benefits of practicing yoga are truly endless. What I love about the physical practice is that it encourages all areas of the body to be both strong and supple. This promotes more balance and symmetry in the body as well as helps aid in things like digestion, energy levels and even our emotional state. In terms of mental benefits, yoga is all about training the mind to stay present for longer. If we can learn to cultivate more awareness in our daily lives then we can learn to slowly put an end to our mental chatter and all the suffering it can bring. For me personally yoga has transformed my life and my way of thinking.
“The more I practiced the more I seem to learn about myself as well and it somehow brought me to this level of awareness and clarity that I had previously not had access to. I knew, very early on that it would me a lifelong love affair.”
I can catch my mind wandering off into negative thinking and as I start to observe this happening I can create a little distance between myself and whatever it is my mind is wanting to dwell on. I find it much easier to let things go now and stay in a more conscious, balanced state. It has helped me let go of many fears and doubts and instead choose to live from a place where I’m more concerned with contribution and growth rather than my own certainty and significance. My practice allows me to see the beauty of my imperfections and also helps me to let go of my egoic ideals. I’m so much more willing to try new things, accept failure, work hard anyway and have less expectations and attachment to the outcome of my efforts.
The key is to practice everyday. Settle the nervous system using the breath. Settle the body using the movement and settle the mind using stillness. When I am diligent with my practice I am clear. The clarity I receive brings me into my centre and is deeply settling and grounding. When I am diligent with my practice I am kind. I have patience and compassion for all things. Judgement and negativity are removed from my being and my heart is loving and open. When I am diligent with my practice I am fearless. I stand in the power of my true potential with both grace and strength. When I’m diligent with my practice I am happy. I am soft and warm and funny. When I am diligent with my practice I am…free. Practice my friends and all is coming @aloyoga always 💙🙏
If you had to choose just one yoga pose as your favourite, what would this be and why?
Oh I don’t think I can choose just one yoga pose as my favourite! It really depends on how my body is feeling and exactly what it is I need to strengthen or stretch at any given time. I do usually tend to start my practice with a downward facing dog or a standing forward fold so these are probably the foundation poses of my daily practice. Trikonasana (triangle pose) is also one that straight away comes to mind.
What are some of the little things that make you smile everyday?
Waking up and seeing my partner’s sleeping face, seeing my students dedication and progress, watching the sun bouncing on the water in the mornings and watching the plants in my garden grow and evolve.
Apart from yoga, what other workouts do you enjoy?
I obviously still love to dance and I have always loved to swim in the ocean – sometimes I’ll also take the board out with my partner and go for a surf (if the waves are really good!) Moving up here I seem to have discovered a new found love of running the sand and my partner and I play frisbee on the beach as much as we can! We’re actually obsessed! Personally, I believe that yoga is enough (for me) to stay fit and healthy so the rest is mostly just for fun rather than feeling obligated to do it as part of a workout regime.