Cultivating a Practice: Yoga Instructor + Ceramicist Mai Izumitani

Mai is a ceramicist and yoga instructor based in London. She founded MAIZU, where she approaches her ceramic work with a deeply minimalistic point of view and sets out to eliminate unnecessary frills and clutter from her pieces, allowing beauty to emerge from less, rather than more. At MAIZU, she sets out to serve a gentle reminder to others to find balance and lean towards more mindful, slower living through both meditative practices of yoga and handcrafted ceramics.

My first ever big project, birthed through staying at home and having more time during lockdown last year and also my first ever piece that was exhibited, in Paris.

My grandmother’s watch next to my tattoo that translates to “Big Mama” which is what we used to call her. Though she may have left this world two years ago, I am reminded of the precious value of time and how it can often slip away right under our noses. She always told me to do things that make me happy in life because when we get older, we look back on our happiness  rather than how hard we worked.

Tell us a little bit about your journey to becoming a ceramicist and yoga instructor -- when were you drawn to each practice?
After I graduated from my Fashion degree, I began working in the industry only to realize it just wasn’t for me. I took on weekend pottery classes for fun and instantly knew that this was the perfect creative outlet I was looking for that eventually led to launching Maizu.

As for yoga, I still remember my first year of trying out yoga classes here and there just to get a good stretch. My practice was initially sporadic but I quickly found that I loved the mental effects it had beyond my physical well-being so I kept coming back to the mat more frequently over the years. Fast forward 10 years – the opportunity to endeavor on a yoga teacher training arose unexpectedly during my time working at a fitness studio and here I am now!

Yoga is deeply rooted in mindfulness and intentional movement, what have you learned about yourself throughout your practice? 
Accepting imperfection + listening to my body. Not every practice is perfect and some days its harder than others, but knowing that’s okay too. 

In the midst of a global pandemic, many of us have found ourselves feeling overwhelmed and out of balance -- for those who may be new to yoga, what advice do you have?
It’s hard to see progress at the start of any journey but be patient with yourself. If you are able to, carve out a little bit of time as often as you can to create a routine and find a style or teacher that works for you and your body. Move without any expectation of the outcome.

How else do you practice mindfulness?
When I’m at the studio, I often sit at the wheel for hours which is the perfect place to navigate my focus inwards with no distractions and naturally observe where my mind wanders.

What are you most proud of?
My self-growth.

What does your morning routine look like?
At the moment, my winter mornings are spent longer in bed and a bigger cup of matcha, whilst my days in summer often start with a cycle around Regent’s Park at sunrise. It’s important for me to respect and work with my body’s seasonal energy and circadic rhythm (when my job allows me, of course).

"It’s hard to see progress at the start of any journey but be patient with yourself. Move without any expectation of the outcome."

Who inspires you?
My parents.

Daily rituals that keep you grounded?
Cleaning - I enjoy it so much. In Japanese culture, it symbolises the idea of eliminating clutter from your life and dusting away the past in order to create space and welcome a fresh new start, a clean slate.

Best advice you’ve been given?
Learning how to fail from life is learning how to succeed better.

Favorite books?
The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh

Favorite artists?
Le Corbusier, Matisse and Eileen Gray in the big art & design world. But I have a growing love for all sorts of creatives that evoke a sense of calm through their art such as Sabine Marcelis, Alexandria Coe, Carlota Guerrero, Oamul Lu. 

Music wise, I’m currently listening to Londrelle back to back.