Renee Stewart / @renee__stewart has always loved movement and this passion has taken her a long way - not only is she an accomplished dancer but she is also a yoga & meditation teacher, having trained at the Sattva Yoga Academy at the foothills of the Himalayas in India.
From her homebase in the UK, Renee offers 1:1 (both online and in person) Yoga classes, group classes and retreats. Renee is gradually building a librany of on-demand yoga and meditation videos that will be available online in the future, and we were honoured when she created this Guided Meditation for us to share with you
We caught up with Renee to find out more about what drew her to meditation, her tips for getting started, as well as her daily skincare routine and philosophy.
Hi Renee, what drew you to study yoga and meditation?
Being a dancer from such a young age movement has always been something that I have been drawn too. I think we can all relate whether you’re a professional Dancer, you’re working out, or just moving on a dance floor or at home for fun. Movement has always held this beautiful quality of fully embodying the NOW.
Beyond the mind and experiencing pure presence in that moment in time. So, I guess gradually without realising my passion for dance and movement brought great curiosity to go deeper within the mind/body connection and system.
You trained in Rishikesh, India, that must have been an amazing experience! Tell us about your experience learning to teach Yoga and Meditation here?
I studied at Sattva Yoga Academy which is located at the foothills of the Himalayan Mountains, it was so beautiful! I went into my training only with the experience of Yoga through Vinyasa classes and when I left my training I had an understanding of Yoga and its tools and philosophy on and off the mat. Sattva Yoga Academy teaches an Integrated practice which includes Pranayama, Meditation, Kriya, Hatha, and Mantra. As-well as the ancient yet timeless Philosophy and Wisdom of Yoga.
Talk to us about your daily routine..how do you incorporate meditation and yoga into your life every day?
I LOVE my mornings! There’s something so nice about waking up early and watching how nature rises. I sometimes like to take a cold shower first thing when I wake up (this usually only happens every now and then!), I then do my morning meditation and then its coffee time!
After my mornings, every day is different, but I make sure I move my body. Whether that’s a walk or a workout later on in the day. I adapt to whatever each day brings! Even if it means to take things slow. The beautiful aspect of Yoga is that it can be practiced on and off the mat. Whether it’s practicing through your meditation or through the eight limbs of Yoga.
The eight limbs of yoga are qualities we can practice in our everyday lives, from the outer layer with how we relate to the world around us and to the most inner layer of us as beings.
What do you think are the biggest benefits of meditation?
Through meditation you’re creating that time in your day to pay attention to the inner nature of who you are. Who we are is forever evolving and changing which is why the practice of meditation is continuous and always different. We must remind ourselves to not see meditation as a goal driven practice but see it as an ever evolving experience! And within that experience benefits come like calming and stabilising the nervous system, stress levels can be lowered, more self awareness, and awareness to the mind.
Meditation can take some practise. Do you have any tips for those starting out?
I think the biggest misconception about meditation is that the mind has to be thoughtless and still. So when I teach meditation I invite people to drop that idea before they start. Through meditation we are understanding the nature of the mind. Sometimes the mind is frantic and sometimes it’s calm or somewhere in-between!
As you sit in meditation you are gradually able to bring more inner awareness and so you become an observer to the mind. Creating space between self and the fluctuations of thoughts that rise. For anyone starting out finding a teacher or program that supports you and your journey. See meditation as a check-in, a place to ground yourself, experience inner awareness and to hold no judgement to yourself or your meditation practice. Each day is different!
Renee on Skincare:
What’s your philosophy when it comes to skincare and beauty?
Everyone’s skin is different! My skin gets irritated when I put too much product on it, so I keep things simple. I also believe it’s important for us as women to remember that our body goes through a natural cycle every month, for most of us we see our skin mirror that cycle as well. It’s all connected.
My philosophy with beauty is to get to know and honour your body/skin, eat healthy, move your body, take time to rest, and drink water.
Talk us through your skincare and beauty regime...
In the morning I splash a little cold water on my face and usually leave it after that as I will probably workout or do yoga. Once I’ve had my shower and I’m ready for the day I’ll use the USC Live Probiotic Hydration Serum and SPF. If I apply make-up its very simple, usually just a bit of concealer in the areas that need it and some eyebrow and eyelash mascara.
In the evening I’ll wash my face with a cleanser and some warm water and will apply an oil before going to bed.
Finally, what’s the best piece of beauty or skincare advice you were given?
SPF! I apply it every day even on the cloudiest of days in the UK.