Establishing Healthy Routines with Yoga Instructor Gigi Yogini
Healthy living and self-awareness are becoming more important nowadays. Every year we have seen how establishing healthy routines has been people’s main interest. This includes trying new cleanses, retreats, organic and raw cuisine, body detox, yoga immersion and other routines that help our minds and body perform better than before. But how to get started in creating a routine for yourself if you are not a fitness or nutrition expert?
As a travel and lifestyle magazine, we care to find ways to incorporate a healthy lifestyle with a kick-ass business agenda, that can allow travel and health to work in harmony. Today we bring you a yoga instructor that teaches you not only to exercise, but also to promote a positive body image that supports confidence and courage, both on and off the mat. She is Santa Monica based Brigitte Kouba, better known as Gigi Yogini.
Brigitte has an interesting story on how she got started and what her practice is all about. This interview is about how to help ourselves to get started in a healthy routine, without necessarily following what others do and mainly listening to what our own bodies have to say. Listen up and take notes!
Brigitte, can you tell us how you got involved in yoga and body healthiness?
Growing up I had always been an athlete. Yet the combination of physical, mental and spiritual practices in yoga really helped me overcome stress, anxiety and depression during college. Following the 9/11 attacks, my yoga practice was incredible gift in my life that allowed my to transform overwhelming sadness and fear into hope and determination. As a result, I wanted to learn how to teach yoga in order to pay the positivity forward.
We’ve followed your message of loving your “yoga body” as it is. Where does this idea come from and why was it created?
Although I was called to become a teacher, I felt insecure and unworthy because my curvy body didn’t look like the “yoga body” stereotype that I saw all around me. Eventually, I overcame my fear and self-limiting beliefs to pursue the calling.
After teaching for a couple of years, I realized that I’m not the only one who felt marginalized by the images of yoga in popular media. A lot of women expressed that they were grateful to have a teacher who looked like me. So it became my mission to continue being a positive role model, inspiring women to love their bodies and debunk the stereotypical image of a yogi.
When you teach yoga, what’s the key message you want to share with your students?
Listen to the wisdom of your inner teacher. Everybody is different, so there’s no need to compete or compare yourself to anyone. Appreciate your body, in the moment, as it is.
How do you plan a healthy routine?
I love to schedule physical activities with friends. It really helps to carve out time for healthy activities that make you happy. Especially with people who are positive and motivating influences in your life.
What is one thing you never stop doing of your routine even when you travel?
I always stretch and move every day. I especially like to keep my spine flexible with simple movements, from neck stretches to a seated cat and cow breath. I’m shameless. I’ll stretch at the airport, in my hotel room, or out in public. I don’t care what people think. I like to feel good in my body.
How do you evaluate and keep track of yourself in order to keep going or to find opportunities to improve?
I acknowledge that as a human, and especially as a woman, life is like a roller coaster. I know there will always be ups and downs and that achieving optimal health is a journey, not a destination. It takes commitment.
Every day we’re making hundreds of choices. Sometimes my choices are healthier and more empowering than others. But luckily, I have developed enough emotional intelligence that I can observe my choices without judgement or shame.
What has been one of your biggest challenges for keeping up with your health options?
I grew up emotionally eating. Food was a method of celebration, community, comfort and entertainment. Although my relationship with food has definitely improved in adulthood, sometimes I still feel emotional connections to low energy food.
In order to take a little step towards being more healthy, what do you recommend people to do?
Be easy with yourself. Just because you make a “mistake” or a bad choice in your journey toward becoming more healthy, it doesn’t mean you should quit. Health is not only a physical pursuit but also a mental and spiritual one.
We know you travel a lot with your work, where have you found or seen a society truly interested in the well being of its community?
Bali, Indonesia blew me away. Every morning people put out offerings on their front doorstep and altars to bless their home, families and businesses. Plus once a year, they celebrate an entire day of silence. On this day, not only do they refrain from talking, but no one works or uses electricity. It’s an opportunity to rest and restore their bodies and minds as well as give Mother Earth a day of rest. I loved the soft and spiritual side of the country.
Let’s finish this interview with a quote: share with us your favorite phrase or mantra that helps you remember what you stand for.
Ong So Hung – I Am Creative Consciousness