You’ve heard so much about yoga, you know it’s supposed to be great for you by making make you fit, flexible, focused and stress free. But, if you don’t know where to begin, if your doing it right, or even know what yoga is, read on! We spoke with yogi Stephanie Gongora ahead of our #YogisBreatheFree Instagram challenge to learn how she got started with her practice. Known for her beautiful 'Daily Flow' videos (also available on YouTube), Stephanie has built a loyal following of supporters who look to her for advice and inspiration.
When did you start your yoga practice and how did you come to discover the joys of being a yogi?
I started seriously practicing yoga on a daily basis just over two years ago. I grew up doing gymnastics, but stopped shortly after high school. During almost a 10 year hiatus from a sport that had dominated my early years, I found myself searching for something, anything to take its place…to no avail. I tried my hand at aerial arts, such as lyra and pole fitness, but when I stumbled across incredible yogis on Instagram manipulating their bodies in ways that I never thought possible, I knew I was hooked. I've always enjoyed being upside down, and through daily practice and pushing the boundaries of what I used to know as "yoga," I've found that my passion for yoga on and off the mat just continues to grow.
What would you say to someone who is skeptical about the benefits of yoga?
I used to be one of you! I thought yoga was boring! I didn't really think of it as a workout, and I never contemplated all of the other limbs of yoga outside of asana. But that was simply ignorance on my part. There are so many fields of yoga, so many different schools and techniques, that there is truly something perfect for everyone. No matter where you start, you can find contentment through practice, both physical and spiritual.
What tips do you have for beginner yogis who are interested in mastering their practice?
I would suggest starting with an experience teacher who uses a lot of cues, both physical and verbal. Even if you intend to practice mostly at home, learning the basic foundations of the physical practice is key to progress and safe progress at that. The mind is quick to remember the seeds we plant. Even a few basic classes with a great teacher (one on ones are even better) can cement what a pose can feel like when correct activations are made. Then you can take that home to your personal practice. Other advice would be: DON'T GIVE UP! What do they always say? #PracticeAndAllIsComing . It's so true with yoga. You may not even notice the progress at times, and it's not always physical. But it's there. And it's worth it.