1. As a woman, a mother and a yoga practitioner, tell me what do you find the most important teaching you’ve discovered from this practice and what would you share to those who are on this path?
The most important teaching that i discover through daily practice is love. This very special practice teach us to connect with our body, and with time and consistency to make peace within ourselves by finding a way to calm our minds and hearts. We daily learn to listen, love, respect and be grateful, and this is what i try my best to teach in my classes, to help people to stop, feel and breath, and move their bodies with freedom, and at same time to calm their minds, releasing themselves from internal blockages and limitations, making a deep process of cleaning and love.
2. What is Feminism to you? How do you feel women can support each other?
Feminism – Living free from judgment.
Practicing this life tool on our mats and bring it to all areas of our lives, supporting the others women (but also men), our family member, friends, acquaintances and all the others without judging them.
3. In ashtanga practice, how do you feel we can keep the community strong and supportive for one another?
We need to overcome the crazy idea that Ashtanga Yoga is just poses, or how much someone can bend themselves, and start really showing to the students that Ashtanga Yoga practice starts in our body just to help us to have this amazing opportunity to make peace within ourselves. There is no competition, challenges, goals, fame, agendas, rushing, and pushing, our practice ask totally the contrary, time and consistency, patient and surrender, humility and love.
4. With this practice we are constantly challenging ourselves both mind and body. This requires a lot of self discipline, focus and consistency in our daily routine. In this moments we are opening ourselves up, we are vulnerable and processing whatever emotions that rises. What would be your advise in these situations? What did you find helpful to you?
Is a very deep process that have its own rhythm, and changes from person to person. It really needs the discipline, focus and consistency just to start lifting a little the superficial parts of ourselves and understand how much we need to keep practicing to have a small idea of this intense self discover process. Even when you see yourself without inspiration to keep your practice, either because you are feeling stuck, with pain, or without a light to follow, go back to the foundation, your breath! Make sure you use your diaphragm, connecting yourself to this muscle motion that will allow your body to relax, and your mind will gain once again focus, and your heart will be there present with you.
5. In this modern world we are surrounded by distractions, whether it’s the constant stream of negative news, social media and the perfectly manufactured image of how to liveness life, our appearance and body shaming. It has the power to knock us off balance. How do we nourish ourselves? How do we find acceptance?
Yes we do have these external pressures that may create illusion and ignorance affecting our internal balance, the best way to nourish ourselves and keep ourselves focus in what is relevant, is by practicing!Because all the rest doesn´t make any sense, there is no perfect lives, or bodies!
6. Who are the women that inspire you, who are the women that you admire?
The women that most inspire me is my daughter Concha, she only has one year, but she has been my biggest inspiration to practice and to live a quiet, simple and focused life. The women that i admire are all the others out there, women like me and you, people that are trying their best to find themselves and to be better human beings.
7. What are your daily rituals and routines that you feel ground you?
I have a very simple life, wake up 6am everyday, even if Concha didn´t allow me to sleep all night, enjoying the quiet environment of my home when everyone is still sleeping, with a good cup of coffee in my hand, i write my blog articles or emails for my students, walk or ride the bicycle to the school, open the shala doors and start receiving the first students, prepare our space, lighting the candles when some of them are already starting to practice, making the beginning Ashtanga mantra, and making my respect and gratitude to my beloved teachers, Sharath Jois and Peter Sanson, putting an intention of focus and energy in the class, work for three hours with each person that enter in the shala. Say bye bye to the ones that finish and leave, before i put my mat on the floor to start my own practice. Just doing my best in recovering my practice after Concha birth with no agendas or goals, remembering myself to breath and relax, observing and being present in my own blockages trying to heal and clean my body and at the same working my mind to stay present until the end. After i go back home to be with my baby, support her, and when i can, when there is time, i try to go surf, or just make a walk close from the ocean, or just sit in sun and listen the waves, this is what mostly ground me, specially if my husband, our kids or our friends are there next to me.
8. What makes you feel safe and secure?
This practice. But after i got pregnant and after Concha born, where i had to change my practice or stay a few weeks without making it, i learned a little more about this feeling of being safe and secure, that is if we are breathing, we are ok, we can do whatever we want.
9. Which element of nature do you feel most connected to?
Water. I love the ocean, I love being in the ocean, i love surfing. But also seeing other people surfing, either a total beginner or someone so experience as my husband. Although i have a lot of respect and fear for it, where i always have to remember myself when the waves are bigger than my comfort, that if i m breathing i m ok, i can do whatever i want.
10. Our energy is always shifting in our monthly practice, as female practitioners when we receive our ladies holiday, whether its a seasonal change or when we travel to different climates. How can we find a balance and a grounding when we feel these changes happen?
We should learn when to stop and when to keep going. Is very important to learn to listen and feel all this sensations and respect them. Our yoga practice is not a rigid prescription! Although we have the 6 series of poses, and we use a specific type of breath, the vinyasa, the dristhis, and also our bandhas, we always have to keep our internal observation and understand when is the time to stop and not practice, like on our ladies holidays, or to change the practice when we are pregnant, or to not practice full on when we feel exhausted, and when is the time to kick the laziness in us and with patience and respect keep going.
STOP. FEEL. BREATHE. A Yoga practice to transform body, mind and soul.
After more than a decade of teaching Ashtanga Yoga, and having the privilege of meeting so many people, men and women, of various ages, with different professions, life histories, abilities and needs. Vera felt that was important to share with everyone the transformative power of this Yoga practice, how it changes our bodies, calms the mind and emotions, and connects our innermost. And also she wanted to introduce Ashtanga Yoga to all people who never thought about practicing, and also to those who do not feel special empathy for what they consider to be Yoga. The book is an inspiration for everyone either yoga practitioners and people that never done it to better take care of themselves.
All rights @ Vera Simoes, Vera Sepúlveda & Justyna Jaworska