If you’re into yoga, you should be familiar with Nor Soraya Ghazalie. She started out with a simple and casual Instagram post on yoga and in no time she became a sensation with over 42 thousand followers on Instagram.

In conjunction with SK-II’s #changedestiny campaign where the prestige skincare brand empowers women across the world to #changedestiny and encourage them to believe in themselves and take hold of their destinies, we interviewed the PR director, mommy and yoga practitioner to talk about her life and her very own story.

Tell us more about Soraya.
I just turned 30 a few months ago and contrary to popular belief, I’m not a full time yoga teacher. I run a PR agency and I’m also a mommy, so both jobs are full time. My daughter also does yoga with me and she’s responsible for more than 50% of the pictures you see on my Instagram account.

What inspired you to start getting into yoga?
Back in October 2012, I was literally in bed doing nothing after a long day. I opened my Instagram and scrolled through my feed, clicked one hashtag, which led to another and another until I found this Instagram account called @growsobeautiful. A post they had attracted me! It’s of these little stick figurines and I thought it was cool and a fun thing to try. Back then, fitness-related things on Instagram still weren’t very popular compared to how it is today.

I grew up a dancer and went for classes religiously but stopped when I got married and had my daughter. After having a baby, I did go for classes sometimes but the magic had somewhat disappeared. I had gained a lot of weight after having my daughter and I wasn’t very active, so I thought this would be a great way to get me into the flow of things, which is why I decided to give it a go. I did it on a daily basis, posted my photos on Instagram and the rest they say is history.

It became addictive because the whole idea of posting it up was like keeping a fitness journal or a progress diary as I like to call it. I must admit that it was amusing and very encouraging to also be getting likes and comments because the yoga community on Instagram was always very encouraging. This helped keep me motivated and keep on going.

What would you say is the toughest part about practicing yoga?
The toughest part about practicing. Hmmm.. nothing ever comes easy. There’s no one tough thing I can pin point but most of the time (very common also amongst everyone) would be to stay disciplined and consistent. We always get caught up in our daily routines and find excuses to bail out.

How has yoga changed your life?
Wow, yoga has changed my life on multiple levels, which I can’t begin to even describe. Aside from helping me get healthier and more fit and everything exterior – yoga taught me to trust myself and love myself a little more each day. What does that even mean you ask? Well, I suffered from postpartum depression after I had my daughter, gained a lot of weight and had a tough time adjusting to married life and I was also young at the time. I used to have the dream ballerina body and lost it all very fast, very quickly and life just changed. I had very low self esteem, I wasn’t very confident in myself (not in the way that I carried myself or whatever but more in the decisions I was making and the choices I was making). I would always seek for a second opinion from family or friends in everything I had a problem with – I was quite negative towards myself I suppose. But with yoga, there was a lot of soul searching especially when the practice got more and more challenging and required trust within. Example?

Like learning to lean your entire head and back behind you with your arms stretched out – ready to catch your fall. Now, when I first started I did not have this kind of flexibility at all, so you can imagine how scary it was. I didn’t trust myself in terms of the strength I had, whether I was capable to catch myself, would I drop back on my head, snap my spine and become paralysed, basically all these morbid thoughts.

Of course it required physical preparation to achieve a deep bend and the strength but a lot of it was mind play as well and coaxing yourself each time that , “YES, YOU CAN DO IT YOU ARE STRONG AND CAPABLE NO ONE IS STOPPING YOU EXCEPT YOURSELF.” So this would be the key turning point for me and why I love yoga so much. The practice has allowed me to grow into a person I love. Not only am I more aware of my body and what it can do but I am more aware of what I am capable of.

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What advice could you give those looking to start it but not too sure of their body’s capabilities?
I only went to a yoga class about 2 months after I started doing it through Instagram. I’d like to call myself a by-product of Instagram yoga because online is where I really started. I couldn’t go to class often enough because I had my daughter who was about 3 at that time to attend to. I would highly recommend those who want to try to look for a free class near you (they could be community classes on the weekend etc) and give it a go! Keep a diary of your progress because the slightest improvement is so encouraging and motivating.

How has Ching Lang video resonated with you? (Ching Lang’s video for SK-II shows how she’s overcome the prejudice of her disability to pursue her dream of being a dancer.)
Ching Lang is an amazing individual that I would love to meet one day. Growing up a dancer its’ hard to imagine how dancing would be if you can’t hear the music. It’s incredible that she can feel it. She was embodying the music herself even if she couldn’t hear the music the way we hear it. She allowed that positivity in and made it her own. I love the fact she made it work for herself.

Could you tell us about your very own #changedestiny story?
I think this entire interview sums it all up. It’s funny how destiny came knocking on my Instagram handle! I was at rock bottom when I first started and I have to admit it was also a lot of heartbreak that got me through the journey in the beginning. I was so depressed with a lot of aspects of myself. I was no longer the ballerina I had dreamed of becoming, I had lost a lot of passion for dance, I was on mommy duty while my friends were only starting to take off in their career, or get engaged or get a new car even. I couldn’t go shopping and try on clothes because I just couldn’t fit into them anymore. This is what yoga did for me about a year into my practice.

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Why do you think it’s important to take charge of one’s life?
Because no one else is going to do it for you! It’s been an amazing ride being in the front seat of my life instead of the back! I know where I am going, I am more in control and there’s nothing better than feeling amazing for yourself.

Tell us what you think of SK-II’s #changedestiny campaign.
It’s a remarkable campaign and I am all for change of destiny because no one can really tell you what to do and if they are, they’re only trying to fix themselves. You just have to want it bad enough – that’s what I always say. I have seen amputees become full time yogis, big girls rocking yoga, war veterans close to paralysis. I love the fact that SK II gave Ching Lan the recognition by sharing her story because she is one amazing soul that deserved every bit of that recognition in her amazing journey. Attention is paid to everyday people which resonates so well with everyone.

I would start by asking them the question – are you content and happy with where you are now? Is there more you want to achieve? If the answer is, “Yes I’m happy there’s nothing more I want,” then my answer is simple – there is still so much out there. Don’t settle! Keep going and stay relentless in your pursuit to greatness! Change starts with yourself and no one else.

For a chance to win SK-II goodies and a yoga session with Soraya Ghazalie, enter our contest!

Emma Mallaburn
Emma is a writer, dancer and Lucky Charms lover. She enjoys baking muffins, completing puzzle sets and eating both. Her idea of the good life includes pretending she's Amy from The Big Bang Theory and throwing martinis in the faces of those who scorn her. She can be found on Twitter: @emallaburn