20 minutes with Justin James: Resident Yogi at Four Seasons Resort Langkawi

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Kerala-born Justin James has transformed the yoga offerings at Four Seasons Resort Langkawi into a new treatment and healing concept, embodying the philosophy that yoga is for everyone. After graduating from the internationally acclaimed Bihar School of Yoga, Justin gained certificates in Vedanta and Ayurveda physiotherapy, a degree in travel and tourism management and a post-graduate diploma in wellness management. To this day his focus remains the same – the benefits of yoga for the individual – and he has brought this to the Resort. We sat down with Justin to learn more about the health benefits to yoga and his thoughts on the Resort’s latest yoga initiatives:

What influenced you to teach yoga and how long have you been practising for?

I was inspired by the benefit of yoga itself. Yoga cured my asthma when I was young and it helped me to build confidence. I started to practise and teach in 2004.

What are your favourite aspects of the job?

Being able to help introduce yoga practices into people’s everyday lifestyle routine.

What inspired you to teach yoga to children? How do these classes differ to those for adults?

I found that yoga helps children to focus more on their studies. For kids’ classes, I use balancing and animal-like postures with more interaction to make it more fun and engaging for them.

What kind of yoga techniques do you personally recommend? 

Personally, I would recommend sun salutation postures followed by shoulder stand pose, fish pose and shoulder pose. To finish the practice, I would do an alternative nostril breathing exercise.

What are the benefits of yoga? How have you best benefited? 

Yoga helps to give you more awareness and focus in your daily life. For me, it is more about the physical benefits, such as gaining inner strength and helping to boost the immune system.

How long did it take you to cure your asthma? 

It took me about a month of regular practice with a combination of yoga postures and breathing exercises, which eventually led me to feel like I had built an immunity against asthma.

Why do these poses cure asthma? 

Sun salutations allow you to have a greater awareness of your breath and give you a chance to breathe deeply during your daily practice.

Fish pose encourages deep respiration, while shoulder stand pose works with the thyroid gland to boost the immunity system.

When I was 20 years old I got an asthma attack twice after stopping my yoga practice for just three months. As such, I realised that I need to continue my yoga practice regularly to maintain my health and immune system.

Four Seasons Resort Langkawi launched Stand Up Paddle Yoga this year. Why do you think this area has become so popular?

Guests who visit Langkawi are mostly interested in the nature and outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and rainforest trekking. SUP Yoga is a great addition to our range of outdoor activities, especially for guests who love the beach, the ocean and the sun. The calm azure waters of the Andaman Sea combined with the islands in the distance creates the perfect serene backdrop for these classes.

How do the natural surroundings of the island enhance the yoga experience?

The pristine natural surroundings of Langkawi are ideal for practicing yoga because they gives us a chance to inhale clean air from the surrounding lush vegetation and to listen to the sounds of the birds and the gentle lapping of the waves.

What’s new for 2015/2016 in terms of yoga at the Resort?

Alongside the new SUP Yoga, we are planning to personalise our current 4 Elemental Yoga (Jiva Yoga, Joythi Yoga, Dhara Yoga, Prithvi Yoga) program; meaning that we will base it on guests’ personal desires and needs to work on balancing their chosen element. In turn, this will embellish the already gratifying experience of our Geo Spa.

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