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“Having a daily asana (yoga) practice helps nurture the mind and body connection”, Casey Czuj of Yoga Veda Institute and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

Having a daily asana (yoga) practice helps nurture the mind and body connection. As you move through the physical postures with emphasis on the breath, you learn to tune out the noise and go within. It is important to implement an asana practice for your dosha to avoid aggravating the mind or causing imbalance in […]

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Having a daily asana (yoga) practice helps nurture the mind and body connection. As you move through the physical postures with emphasis on the breath, you learn to tune out the noise and go within. It is important to implement an asana practice for your dosha to avoid aggravating the mind or causing imbalance in the body.


As a part of our series about “How Anyone Can Build Habits For Optimal Wellness, Performance, & Focus”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Casey Czuj.

Casey Czuj is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and has been teaching vibrational exercise since 2009. She is a Goldman Sachs alum and specializes in neuromuscular issues.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?

I grew up poor. My mom cleaned houses and sometimes I would skip school to help her clean if it meant bringing in a few extra dollars to pay bills. I was very fortunate that my grandparents paid for me to attend private school where I studied hard and took education very seriously.

What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.

I truly dedicate my success to the people who never believed in me. Growing up people always reminded me that someone was better than me, smarter than me, prettier than me or going farther in the world than I could ever imagine. No matter what, I would never compare, or I could never compete.

Hearing this gave me the motivation to love and educate myself. The more someone told me “you’ll never” or “you can’t” or “just give up” made me want to push even farther.

I always tell my clients that You are the most important person to You. No one is going to love you like you, support you like you, or take care of you like you. And the more that I loved me, cared for me, and took care of Me, the more courageous I became which help me persevere the rollercoaster ride of having a business.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?

There is no doubt, that all my clients are the reasons behind my success. Having the opportunity to work with them encouraged me to educate myself about different aliments and diseases. Each client suffered from various health issues such as physical and mental trauma, neurological issues like Parkinson and MS, or children with special needs.

The more I worked one on one with my customers, the more I learned why health is so important. I started creating programs to help each client individually, and focused on improving their diet, strength, and confidence.

Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?

For about a year, I tired to work with local hospitals to get them to send me referrals. While I had a few doctors who believed in me, and felt I was progressive and truly wanted to help people, most turned me down since I was using vibrational exercise and Ayurvedic lifestyles to help my customers.

One night after hosting an event at my studio, one of the directors from a local health insurance company walked up to me and told me that “hospitals will never want people to be healthy since hospitals are a business and businesses need to make money to survive.”

At first, I was so enraged. How could anyone say that? But it was the biggest ah-ha moment of my life. I realized that it was not meant for me to work under a hospital umbrella but to be my own person and to run my business how I wanted to, and to be able to help my clients how I saw best. To this day, I still work with everyone individually and love being able to support them and their specific needs.

The road to success is hard and requires tremendous dedication. This question is obviously a big one, but what advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your success?

Whenever I teach a business class, I always start with “Use the knowledge and experience that you have learned in life. While anyone can explain something from a book, a true teacher, mentor, educator will use what they have learned to help someone overcome their challenges, and because you have the experience you can talk from the heart which is way more authentic than someone who just recites some words that they read.”

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

I love Tosha Silver’s “Chane Me Prayers.” I love to read the prayers at the end of the book and often send them to clients if they need some uplifting.

The prayers are interchangeable and can be used in my work life or in my personal life. It was the first book I downloaded on my phone so I could read a prayer if I felt the day going haywire or needed a quick pick me up.

Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?

I have two: “you are the most important person to you” and “we all have several tools in our toolbox”

As I previously stated, no one will take care of you like you, and the more you learn to put yourself first, the more you realize how wonderful, amazing and talented You really are.

We have all been gifted with some fantastic tools in our toolbox and we need to use and share these tools with the world. Sometimes we are afraid because we think people will judge us, but in reality, using these tools is part of our growth. Once we have mastered our tools, we can help someone else learn to master theirs.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?

Right now, I am teaching a business class to help entrepreneurs start their business during this time. I opened my first location during the market crash so if I can do it, anyone can do it.

OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to create good habits? Can you share a story or give some examples?

How have habits played a role in your success? Can you share some success habits that have helped you in your journey?

Prosperity reading has truly made a difference in my life. Every morning, I read a passage from one of my many wealth mindsets books. This helped me overcome limiting beliefs, to trust the universe, and to know that everything will always be alright.

I also do a dinacharya (daily routine) which comprises of asana, pranayama, and meditation. This prepares my body, mind and spirit for the day and allows me to release any thing that no longer serves me.

Speaking in general, what is the best way to develop good habits? Conversely, how can one stop bad habits?

Start off slow and have fun!

By adding one or two diet or lifestyle changes allows for success. People feel more comfortable by adding something like a glass of warm water in the morning or replacing French fries with a salad when they first get started. If we try to give a person too many things upfront, fear sets in and they will fail.

I also love to add Fun to my protocols. People are so serious and should adapt some child like ways. I love to dance or sing in my car or bust a move in my kitchen when I am making a cup of coffee. Laughing keeps us young, and the more we laugh, the more calories we are burning. By implementing Fun, good habits naturally begin to form since fear and stress are released.

We as practitioners, trainers, or wellness coaches need to remember that our clients are not where we are in our programs. We need to be mindful that we were once beginners too, and to support them for where they are on their journey.

Let’s talk about creating good habits in three areas, Wellness, Performance, and Focus. Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimum wellness. Please share a story or example for each.

Wellness: As an Ayurvedic Practitioner, I teach my clients that you are what you digest, and to eat foods that are compatible for your dosha (constitution). We are all made up of the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether) and our agni (digestive fire) converts our food into energy.

When we eat unhealthy foods, our bodies become sluggish and our minds become dull. Prana, also known as life force energy, is found in foods such a fruits and vegetables. The more prana that flows through our bodies, the livelier we are, and the more focused and energetic we become.

Performance: As an athletic trainer, I have specialized in vibrational exercise since 2009. Vibrational training is beneficial for all ages since the vibrating platform helps increase balance and flexibility.

Over the years, I have trained professional athletes and celebrities who suffer from joint pain and injury. The vibrations enhance circulation which helps to repair damaged tissues. Vibrational training is also valuable for those suffering with neurological issues such as Parkinson’s and MS since the vibrations improve muscle strength and remove lymphatic fluid and lactic acid buildup from the musculoskeletal system.

Focus: Pranayama and meditation are a must and part of my daily dinacharya. Pranayama forces you to regulate your breath, and by controlling your breath you connect your mind and body while releasing stress. Meditation allows you to go within and increase clarity.

No matter the client, we always start with a guided meditation and alternate nostril breathing (pranayama) to remove brain fog, increase energy and rejuvenate the mind and body.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Wellness:

By drinking a glass of warm water once you get up in the morning helps to produce a bowel movement.

Eat your largest meal at lunchtime since your agni (digestive fire) is the strongest which will help fuel your body and reduce the afternoon lull.

Performance:

Find a Power Plate trainer in your area.

Focus:

YouTube has great freebies, locate a meditation group in your area, or join a class online.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal performance at work or sport? Please share a story or example for each.

Meditating is very beneficial and can be done at any time of the day. I like to meditate before I teach or have a big meeting to relax my mind. Plus, meditation helps to produce creativity and clarity.

Pranayama enhances oxygen intake which is ideal for any athlete. Diaphragmatic breathing helps you establish a rhythm so that the athlete is not taking inadequate breaths.

By eating foods that are rich in prana help reduce laziness, lethargy, and overeating. In Ayurveda we learn that like attracts like so if a person is eating cold, dry foods, their bodies will become cold and dry. It is important to eat nourishing, wholesome and nutritious foods so that your output becomes satisfying, sustaining, and sufficient.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

I always tell my clients to start with 1 minute of sitting with their eyes closed. See how you feel. Write it down. Once you have mastered one minute, move on to two, and then three and so on. In the beginning make a note of what comes up and any sensations in the body or mind.

Alternate nostril breathing in beneficial for all doshas (constitutions). To begin, inhale and then fully exhale. Place your right thumb on your right nostril and inhale through your left side. Place your ring finger on your left nostril and then release your thumb and exhale through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril and then place your thumb on your right nostril and release your ring finger and exhale through your left nostril. Repeat these steps for a minimum of five minutes.

Can you share three good habits that can lead to optimal focus? Please share a story or example for each.

Having a daily asana (yoga) practice helps nurture the mind and body connection. As you move through the physical postures with emphasis on the breath, you learn to tune out the noise and go within. It is important to implement an asana practice for your dosha to avoid aggravating the mind or causing imbalance in the body.

Meditating allows one to quiet the mind. When the mind is quiet, the brain can relax and reset. We need to think of the mind like a muscle and to strengthen our muscles, we need to exercise. Meditation is a form of exercise for the brain by concentrating on your third eye, or your breath or a spot on the wall and then redirecting your mind to this object when it begins to wander.

By focusing on your inhales and exhales, pranayama helps to alleviate the outside noise. By removing the distractions in outside life, we can eliminate the interruptions in our inner life. For example, by counting from 1–3 as you inhale and then counting from 1–3 as your exhale you are supporting the parasympathetic nervous system helps to quiet the mind allowing you to be in a more observant state.

Can you help explain some practices that can be used to develop those habits?

Alternate nostril breathing in beneficial for all doshas (constitutions). To begin, inhale and then fully exhale. Place your right thumb on your right nostril and inhale through your left side. Place your ring finger on your left nostril and then release your thumb and exhale through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril and then place your thumb on your right nostril and release your ring finger and exhale through your left nostril. Repeat these steps for a minimum of five minutes.

As a leader, you likely experience times when you are in a state of Flow. Flow has been described as a pleasurable mental state that occurs when you do something that you are skilled at, that is challenging, and that is meaningful. Can you share some ideas from your experience about how we can achieve a state of Flow more often in our lives?

  • Make a clear and achievable target within a fixed period (one week, one month, etc.)
  • Mindset — acknowledge your fears, doubts, or limiting beliefs and make one new change that will help you and/or your business
  • Skillset — recognize one skillset that needs an upgrade and begin perfecting it, i.e. by blogging, writing, teaching, coaching, etc.
  • Energy — double check your to-do lists, outlines, timetables, etc., to see where you are spending most of your time and if it is benefitting you and your business
  • Creativity — calculate the amount of time each day / week that you are being creative and look to see how you can increase your imaginative, inventive, and resourceful self
  • Uniqueness — identify what makes you stand out from your competitors
  • Unhook yourself from negativity!!! (this is an absolute must)
  • Say “No” to one thing…make a note of how it feels
  • Evolve and open yourself up to the next chapter in your life
  • Feel incredibly proud of you and your business

Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

To teach people that it is easy to start, create and grow a business once they overcome the fear in their mind.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂

I would love to have breakfast with the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, Pete Carroll. I would love to explain why vibrational exercise and living an Ayurvedic lifestyle would be so beneficial to his players and why all sports teams should make this a requirement both in the on and off seasons.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.

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